Looking in the bathroom mirror one day, I knew that I should have been a girl. A strange though for a severn, eight or nine year old boy to have. I’m not sure when I began to “borrow” my sisters, mum’s, or cousins clothes. I didn’t think that they knew. I nearly got caught one day. My sister was downstairs and she said something to my mum. I just knew that mum was going to confront me. At that time I had “my clothes” under my matress, (I hadn’t brought any female clothing at this point, I was too young). Climbing on to the railing at the top of the stairs I lifted the loft hatch and put the skirt and tights inside. I then went outside as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I knew they wouldn’t search the loft.
I wasn’t confronted about my gender identity until I was 16. By this time I had a small collection of female clothing hidden in my wardrobe. My mum had gone into there one day whilst I was at school because of her suspicions about me. One day my step father approached me in a relatively understanding way. It was agreed that I could wear female clothing in my room. My mum was very unhappy about this, and she didn’t want to discuss it with me, although she tolerated it as long as I stayed in my room.
When I was 20 I was having psychology for my mental health problems. I had tried to commit suicide several times, I was self harming everyday and I also had anorexia. During the sessions we would also discuss my gender identity, and I tentatively made plans to live as a woman. I was struggling to live at home in female clothing, and outside in male clothes. It was a painful experience. I wanted to live as a woman, but I was scared to do so at the same time. I’m an insular and self conscious person, with anxiety that becomes psychotic and paranoid. My psychologist and I made plans for me to transition during the winter, giving me the opportunity to prepare myself for this huge change in my life.
However, during September I decided that I was going to transition into the female role with immediate effect. It was a terrifying experienced which triggered extreme anxiety, and yet at the same time I felt liberated. I was now living an authentic life, which was a blessed relief for me. My cousin was fantastic, my mum was furious, and my father did the absolute best he could. He found it difficult but he did so much research on gender identity and what it means to be transgender. How amazing to have his support. I also had a close friend who was very supportive. I’m not going to go into all of my experiences at this time, as I’m gradually using this piece of freewriting to explore and express my experiences.
During the first sixth months of living full times as a woman I did not look convincing. Because of rushing the process I hadn’t grown my hair out, and trying to have a short feminine hair cut didn’t suit my face. On top of this I was experimenting with clothes and didn’t have the greatest wardrobe. I was training my voice without the aid of a speech therapist, and this was a slow process.
On two occasions during that first six months I got assaulted by gangs of teenagers. I also had some nice experiences where strangers would come up to me and say how courageous that I was, they wished me well. It was amazing that strangers supported me, but it was also painful, a confirmation that it was obvious that I was trans. Naturally this affected my anxiety and paranoia. I was traumatised.
Over time, living as a woman became more natural, people didn’t notice that I was different. I was accepted as a woman, and the voice training had worked so well that even on the telephone I was accepted as female
However, the trauma of those two assaults stuck with me, and I was terrified of being assaulted again. Sometimes I would walk down the street shaking and with tears rolling down my face. I feel sad to think I was so traumatised. Ultimately this paranoia was so strong that I decided to revert back to living in the male role. I say role because it was an act. It wasn’t me. But the anxiety and paranoia eased and I was more able to walk down the street and engage in some sort of life.
However, not living an authentic lifestyle was devastating. It’s hard to revert back to live in the male role when your a woman. My drug use increased, as did my self harm and suicidal behaviours. I took more drastic efforts to end my life, more severe than the overdoses that I had attempted before. Somehow my body will not let me die.
Living in the male role, having reduced anxiety and finding it easier to function, but experiencing the pain of not being true to yourself is so hard to explain. I cannot find the words to express myself at this point. Maybe one day I will come back and re-write this paragraph.
Over the years, with lots of therapy, I had improvements with some of my mental health, but would have severe and life threatening relapses. The amount of times my next of kin have been informed that I won’t make it through the night is shocking. How they have coped is beyond me. During one of these times, once I had regained consciousness and spent time with my next of kin and her partner, she spoke with me and made it clear that if I didn’t get help in relation to my gender then I would end up killing myself.
There have been times I have been able to wear female clothing at home, and times where I haven’t been able to. I’m not sure how to tell you, but it’s easier to live in denial than to be female at home whilst the rest of the world sees a male. There’s has also, at times, been some inner turmoil when I’m living in these mixed gender roles.
Over the years I have become more accustomed to living in the male role, but I can’t highlight any masculine qualities. I’m sensative, gentle, caring, in touch with my emotions, able to allow people into my life, able to support people emotionally. Are these feminine qualities, or are they masculine; aspects of the modern male?
I’ve lived so long in the male role but I can’t define what being a male is. However, I can say that right now I want to live in the female role, that I’m a woman in a man’s body, that I’m scared of becoming the woman that I believe myself to be. London is far more acceptance of difference, of gender identity and of transgendered people than the small towns and cities which I have lived in. London gives me the opportunity to explore my gender more fully. Counselling is the next step, and taking baby steps towards transition. I’ve started to wear nail varnish, blouses and pretty socks when I’m out. These are but baby steps, but they are steps that I am comfortable with.
Who knows what the future holds.