Excerpt from my memoir “Paralian: Not Just Transgender,” Chapter 5, “Swabian Ocean”: “As a teenager, I started to feel like a dwindling army, spread over too many fronts. Slowly but surely, I spiraled into a deep depression. My parents were in no position to help me. <...> I had no choice but to overcome all obstacles by myself.”

Gradually, the stress at home, alongside my other troubles of a Transgender male, became too much for me to handle. I became suicidal. During this phase of my life, I frequently jumped up onto bridge railings, despite being probably the worst athlete anyone had ever laid eyes on. With no sense of balance or coordination, I would teeter at the edge of the abyss. <...> Thankfully, these moments of tempting fate taught me how much I loved being alive. After only a few months of contemplating taking my own life, I dug deep and found courage. And I made a decision: whenever faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, I would do my best to stop running, stop resisting, and instead choose to embrace them.”

I’ve experienced times like these more than once over the years (and probably will again). It just got too much sometimes as I became a sherpa struggling through my very own Himalayan mountain ranges. As life added bag by bag to my transsexual load, the weight began crushing me. Laboring on, lonely, caught in a storm, the air thinning with every step I took, it seemed soothing and attractive to simply jump off the edge of a cliff and have it done with.

I am glad I never jumped. It’s not just a cliche: there always IS a way. And life is damn beautiful precisely because those forbidding mountain ranges sometimes rise up way too high in front of us. So we go forward, put one proverbial, optimistic hiking boot in front of the other, over and over, until we conquer those mountains. We have the strength to do it more than once in life if we have to. And along the way, throughout our journey, we discover moments of pure happiness we’d never have found otherwise.

More info: liamklenk.com

1972 – 1st birthday with mom

1973 – a small boy trapped in a girl’s body

1978 – 1st grade portrait

1982 – at home with my dog Cora

1985 – with my grandma

1990 – High School graduation

1995 – still trapped, a month before gender reassignment surgery

1998 – the times in between

2001 – at lake Zurich with Sami

2002 – in a hat and a suit

2004 – studying natural sciences

2006 – happiest in the water

2008 – traveling in Palawan

2009 – diving Mexico’s cenotes

2013 – graduating in Hong Kong

2016 – taking life by the horns. Being who I always was: Liam!

No one can tell you who you are. You know best. Embrace it and be true to yourself. It’s the only way to be happy!