Leon Dietrich


43 Years, HaNnover

“Sometimes it takes time and
role models to bring change. …”

Published: May 2022

One Life, Two Outings plus Migration Story – One box is enough!

Since my birth and in the first moments of the perceptions of myself, I knew that I did not fit into this existing body costume and into the “classical” distribution of roles. The assigned colors (red and pink) and the ideas of society were not compatible with my self. I was nevertheless – without being listened to or recognized in my existence – pushed into the female system. Be it through education or the societal guidelines in kindergarten, school, training and the work world. At that time, transidentity and intersexuality were not yet as visible as they are today.

There was no knowledge transfer, contact and counseling centers – simply nothing, although trans* and inter* people have existed since there are living beings on planet earth.

So I resisted this female costume since childhood and fled for many years into the lesbian identity, in which I was allowed to be more or less me, wear male clothes and behave as I wanted, simply not female for me. I accepted this “hiding place” and outed myself as a lesbian to all the people around me as a matter of course. The reactions, many questions, prejudices and discriminations were very familiar to me due to my Scottish-Turkish migration history from an early age – I was already “trained” in having to endure this discrimination in all ways. What else could I do?

My mother was not surprised and said that I had always been like a boy anyway. With the difference that I always was and am one. She didn’t know any better, how could she? The rest of the German-Scottish-Turkish relatives reacted differently. From “we always knew that” to “this person is not coming into my house anymore” everything was there.

It was a tremendous effort for me to be hidden inside myself for all those years. Every time I had the courage to really “come out”, something happened that set me back: fear of the reactions of my family, friends, colleagues, fear of losing my dream job, fear of the separation from my former wife. And at some point you learn to play this role, try to convince yourself that it will be worth living somehow.

But the I-am-allowed, to be free and the desire to let this body costume disappear, became stronger and stronger over the years. To look at myself in front of the mirror and – then as a child as well as in adulthood – to feel the desire to simply throw off this ballast and to finally be able to be happy and free … this dream, this feeling was energy-draining and unattainable, because I could not get out of myself. The fear was too great for many years.

Whenever articles about trans* people appeared or I saw them at the CSD, this feeling and the desire for freedom came up. Inside I was torn, but I tried to function, to get up again and again and tell myself “you can do it”.
When I came out to my wife in 2018 and talked about the great desire to break free from the chains of suffering, because I can’t and don’t want to be like that anymore and feel the same way as Balian B., I triggered great shock and had to endure the classic reactions: “You don’t want to be a man. I love you the way you are. I love your feminine bust. Sure you are very masculine, but I also like the feminine side. I don’t want a man with a beard and lots of hair. You are good the way you are, why do you think you want to be a man now? If you are actually going to do this, then I will divorce you …”

That was only a fraction of the sentences that rushed through my insides and caused hellish pain every time. I loved this person more than anything, and I tried to understand her side as well, but did she want to understand me? After the conversation with my wife, I first decided for us and our marriage and tried to bury the longing again. Only I noticed that I didn’t succeed so well anymore, because the longing and the suffering pressure were very hard to bear. Two and a half more long years and recurring conversations with my wife later: “If you do this, I’ll divorce you.”

Then I met great people who were just like me, with identical life stories. These two people gave me the strength to take my next step: in 2020 came Corona, and because of all the arguments with my wife, I temporarily moved to the country with my dog at the time, a French bulldog.

There I had a lot of time to think – the first time that I took a lot of time for myself and was not always available for other people. Finally it was my turn!

Simply EVERYTHING from the past years came shooting up like a tornado wave. In the 4 weeks my life changed by the second. My wife realized her threat and I stood alone. And due to a local change of profession, I was also facing a new beginning there.

I took all my courage after 41 years and outed myself a second time. If not now, when then? First with my inner circle of friends, then with my colleagues and finally with my superiors. The response was mostly very positive!

Since 2 years ago I finally feel free and I am glad to have taken this important step, even if it took many years for many different reasons. Sometimes it takes time and role models to bring change. Today I am allowed to be a role model and would like to encourage many people. Do not be afraid, because you are not alone! It is important to make gender diversity and the different facets visible and to bring the knowledge about it into all areas. Looking back, I sometimes wonder where I had developed the strength to get up again and again and keep going. It was the many great people around me who gave me strength and courage. Of course also my desire and joy in life and the fact to be able to give courage and strength to other people.
These experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, with all my facets:

My name is Leon Dietrich, my birthplace is the earth, my nationality is human, my politics is freedom, my religion is love and I love people and our democracy!

Dear Leon, Thank you very much for YourStory!