While I am in isolation I have been looking back and wondering why it took me so long to transition. I know I am “mature” and I was growing up pre-internet but the main reason preventing me from transitioning was fear.
It seems there were many stages before I came to the realisation that I am transgender. In about 1968, when I was at university, one of my then girlfriend’s friends was studying endocrinology There were many conversations about gender and hormones though strangely none that I remember specifically about transsexuality. I remember desperately wanting to ask her about whether if I took hormones it would make a difference. I wasn’t thinking clearly enough that might mean changing gender. I had not heard of April Ashley who was the first transsexual I came across and the idea of actually changing gender seemed truly impossible.
I just knew I wasn’t happy being male and didn’t fit in with society’s concept of maleness. I had worked out I wasn’t gay. I had supressed any notion I was a girl which I had been proclaiming loudly when I was three to all and sundry. Naturally I was ridiculed for such a stupid idea.
So secretly, like so many of us, I wore feminine clothes to give me some solace when the anxiety and pressure became too much, only to feel guilty immediately afterwards and to purge any clothes I had purchased. I think almost all of us go through this phase at some time. Wearing feminine clothes just made me feel “right”. There was nothing sexual about it.
By this time I was in my 30’s. I had come across Jan Morris’ book Conundrum. I found it quite by chance in my local library having picked it up because of its unusual cover design and its title, thinking I wonder what that’s about. Flicking through the book in the library I realised it was something to do with being transsexual. I read it as soon as I was home not stopping until I had finished it. It really was a light bulb moment. Someone had undergone a sex change operation (as it was then called). I knew from that moment on that I needed to have a sex change…it was possible.
The internet had arrived and now I could do research. I found other transgender people, Tula, wow she was beautiful and had become a James Bond girl. Yet I was scared. Fear stopped me from coming out.
My research led me to a herbal doctor in the US who had a herbal regime for feminisation. I started the regime and for more than ten years I religiously took the pills, my body changing but more importantly I felt so much better in my skin. I was doing sufficient for me to know I was female I was transgender, yet fear prevented me from taking any other steps.
Fear kept me in that place for years until I met the couple I have mentioned before who just took being trans as normal. Who didn’t see the problem. I know they were aware of the difficulties in transitioning. However, it was more important to be oneself and face it than to limit yourself and hide. To be riddled with anxiety through keeping such a secret.
So I am now fully transitioned socially and am waiting for GRS when this current crisis has been overcome.
What of the fear? I was scared to the point of shaking all over when I first stepped out, fearing the worst. Each time I would get home and find I was still in one piece. I hadn’t died, been attacked. Most people took absolutely no notice. Slowly my confidence grew. Strangely, it was only me that had felt it would be such a big deal.
I got better at handling everyday situations. I am self-employed and in the last six months I have come out to work colleagues and nothing has changed. True some handle it better than others but I am still working. The worst I have has is “I don’t care what you do in your private life”. I have been lucky.
So with hindsight, a long time coming, I know I allowed fear to control my life for too long.
I am so grateful for my friends who would not let me hide anymore. I feel so much lighter and free, able to face the other life challenges that do not go away through transition. I have found I now have so much more energy to deal with those challenges that was previously dissipated on fear.