I was sad to hear of the death of Jan Morris this weekend. I have always enjoyed her writing and interviews given by her over the years. A lively and interesting person. However the overriding memory is the debt I owe her for writing about her journey as a transexual, as it was then described, and her subsequent sex change. Like her from a very similar age I had known I was female. I had also hidden it for many many years. As with probably most all transgender people I became troubled and unable to cope with the dysphoria even though I did not understand what it was.
Then fate took my hand. I was in my local library just randomly looking for something to read when the cover of a book with a geometric black and white cover caught my eye. A quick glance and I thought it looked interesting and I took it out. I started reading it that evening and I didn’t put it down until I had finished it. A light bulb moment, I knew why I felt like I did. I was transsexual, to use the terminology of that time. Everything made sense, I knew. I had no idea how I was going to deal with it or where that incite would take me, but I knew. The book was Conundrum by Jan Morris. Her book changed my life, opened my eyes and allowed me to begin my journey to where I am now, a transitioned transwoman.
Subsequently, I read several of her books and came to know her through her writing and essays. The way she was so matter of fact about her transition and that it was an aspect of her life, not the be all and end all of her life I found refreshing, matter of fact. Interestingly though she is well known for her transition, and this will be an abiding feature for which she is remembered, it is for her writing that she wishes to be remembered. Thankfully her writing is memorable. In 2008 she came 15th in The Times List of the best writers in Britain since World War 2, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and in 2005 won the Golden Pen Award for her outstanding contribution to literature. There is every chance her writing will become her lasting legacy. I have also read that she has left a manuscript with her publisher to be published posthumously. I look forward to seeing what that is about.
I also reflected on how fate has also impacted on my journey through transition. Although I had been working my way tentatively towards transition, I have mentioned before the amazing the couple who have supported me and, without judgment, while I have transitioned. What struck me was that fate had taken me to her door for my first meeting. It had been totally unplanned and spontaneous. In a different way another light bulb moment, a connection which led me to where I am today.
I am so grateful that fate has been present in my life.