Irish writer opens up about navigating life as a blind gay trans man

Peter Murphy shares how overcoming disability and realising his trans identity helped him to unleash his inner power.

The image shows a male presenting person holding a trans flag over their head in a show of trans power. The image is shot from the ground looking up towards the sky. A pink, white and blue flag flies in the hands of a person with their arms raised over the head. The person is standing with their back to the camera.
Image: Nito via Shutterstock

Despite being diagnosed with a severe health condition as a child, Peter Murphy faced his disability head-on and overcame many obstacles. He describes his experience of learning resilience as a blind person and accepting his gay and trans identities, both of which allowed him to discover his power.

With great power, comes great responsibility, and I’ve felt very responsible all my life despite the challenges that have come my way. To what purpose, you ask? To live my life to the fullest, despite the obstacles littering my path. This is my story of how I’ve navigated life as a blind, gay, trans man.

When I was eight, I was diagnosed with a severe condition called Bardet Biedl Syndrome or BBS, which caused me to become visually impaired. Despite this, I persevered and went to mainstream school because I was determined to prove that I could succeed with an education just as easily as someone with full sight. 

I’ve done my best since then to live life with the ambition to drive through when dark days come my way, and life gets hard. In short, it’s a condition that causes several kinds of blindness, an obesity gene, kidney issues, and polydactyl ally, which means extra digits on the hands and feet. There are six features to BBS, and I have all of them. 

When I was in secondary school, it was much harder to get about, but I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I found ways around difficult tasks. I had been doing braille since primary school, and I also completed a series of mobility training with the NCBI from ages 10 to 18. 

Thankfully, since I was using a computer with a screen reader, and a plug-in Braille display, I was able to access my books and other learning materials for primary and secondary education. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about college since quite a lot of the assigned readings and other materials needed to complete assignments aren’t available in audio or electronic format, which is half of the reason why I was so stressed and ended up leaving halfway through my degree. 

As well as the impact of Covid-19, which left me without a lot of support. No personal assistants were available during lockdown, and I struggled greatly with online lectures. Not to mention what was going on at the time inside my mind or the mental impact of already losing most of my eyesight and feeling isolated for not being able to find accessible ways to continue my course.

At fifteen, although I didn’t say a word to anyone, I started to explore gender identity after a very informative talk we had from ShoutOut. I spent a year thinking I was gender fluid and six months thinking I was demi-boy. After another talk from the same organisation weeks away from the mock examinations, it hit me like a train that I was a boy. 

All the times I spent in the garden with my cousins collecting bugs and making houses for worms and caterpillars, my obsession with bears and pirates as a child, the way I feel kinship with dashing knaves like Peter Pan, Spider-Man, Disney princes and mischievous imps like Jack Skellington, Penguin, The Riddler, Joker, Jareth the Goblin King and Loki from Noise mythology, all began to make sense. 

I had my appendix taken out in the winter of 2017, which meant that I couldn’t wear my school’s mandatory skirt because it was too restrictive for my healing wounds, so I wore jogging bottoms. It wasn’t much, but it was the most gender-affirming thing I had at the time.

Once I began an access course in NUIG, I was able to fully express myself, whether it be as a blind or trans person, and to explain to my lecturers and classmates that no matter what my student ID read, I used he/him pronouns and the name Louis, which I was going as at the time. 

I was so determined to get my writing out there in the world that once I discovered a website called Quotev, I published quite a lot of poetry and fan fiction, as well as some original fiction. That was until I was manipulated and brainwashed; groomed by someone nefarious who I still don’t know the name of. 

I still have nightmares about that part of my life. My mental health has not been very good for the past three years, but I don’t think anybody in the LGBTQ+ community has a track record of a perfect bill of mental health, now do they? 

Despite the situation, after having feelings for a fair few boys in my primary and secondary school, this was my first “real” relationship. Yeah, it left me with a lot of scars, and it could have gone a lot worse, but at least I’m still here to tell the tale. 

Looking back on it, there are so many red flags that I probably should have realised, but I was brainwashed, lied to and manipulated. I was just a very naive little boy, fresh out of school and straight into college… But I’m also a stronger man for it now. That time of my life taught me lessons that I didn’t know I needed to learn. 

Now, I’ve been to Let’s Get Talking, a nonprofit counselling and psychotherapy service, and had twenty-odd sessions with an HSE counsellor, I’ve learnt even more about myself and healed quite a lot from everything that’s happened over the last few years. 

I’ve learned a vital lesson that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’, which is now tattooed on my left arm. And some lessons need to be learned first-hand in order for you to remember them.

I plan to come out this autumn as a gay trans man and start living my life to the fullest. I plan to take every day as it comes and hope that brighter days are ahead of me.

I know I can weather the storm of living the difficult path of transition that’s ahead of me as long as I keep in mind that it’s my life and I can do what I would like with it. And there’s great power in that, which reminds me of the Spider-Man quote, “With great power comes great responsibility,” because I found my power as a blind, gay, trans man, now I just have to have the responsibility to go out there and chase the life that I want for myself.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.