I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I felt wrong, but when I was small I didn’t really understand what it was. I knew it was something to do with gender because it often came out as feeling jealous of girls – not because of the things they could do – it was more because that was what I wanted to BE. It’s very hard to explain because it was never about trivial things like playing with ‘girl’ toys or wearing ‘girl’ clothes – if it had only been about that I could have just done those things anyway. It was more a feeling of being completely misunderstood when people saw me as male. I just knew that was not me.
I always cross-dressed – my doctor calls it cross-dressing, but actually I wouldn’t call it that – I’d just call it dressing. But it never made me feel happy. I was acting my feelings, but I was never fulfilling them. It was always a sad thing, but I felt I needed to do it because it was the only thing I COULD do to express myself – it wasn’t enough but it was all I had.
I didn’t really understand any of it until I was about sixteen and then the only knowledge I had of transgender things was from horrible stereotypes in films in the nineties. Transgender people and transvestites were always portrayed as ugly and funny – even in the noughties there was the bad transvestite in Little Britain. That was only a few years ago, but it was so abusive and terrible – directly making fun out of a transvestite because that’s obviously funny. That was the attitude. That was the kind of media I was exposed to when I was growing up and I guess seeing that stuff triggered transphobic feelings in me, in a way. I saw it as a funny, ugly thing, which made it very hard to accept that I was one of those people. It was the only thing I had that closely represented myself and I was scared of that. The media has such a huge impact on how we perceive things and our understanding of the world – even of ourselves.
At first I tried to ignore it or to do other things about it that weren’t as scary as transitioning and telling everyone I knew. I kept telling myself that it could just be a phase. I thought about it a lot and tried different things out in my head: ‘Could it be this? Could it be that?’ For a while I thought maybe it was sexual fetish stuff, but that led to disgust with myself and huge amounts of guilt. It wasn’t until I split up with my girlfriend that I decided my life wasn’t going to be OK until I was completely honest with myself and with everyone else. I realised that no compromise would make me happy, so I do need to transition.
I came out as transgender in July last year and I’ve been through the therapy and diagnosis stage and have just been granted treatment, so I am starting my hormones soon. I have to accept that in lots of people’s perceptions I am going to be that nineties stereotype of a ‘gender bender’ maybe for the rest of my life. But I am hopeful I will change enough for that not to be the case. Hopefully in a couple of years I’ll just blend in – except for being absolutely gobsmackingly beautiful of course!
I guess what’s important to me is that people understand that transgender people are real – that we’re not some weird character like on TV. People do seem to forget you’re an individual person as well as being transgender. And in the end we all want the same thing, which is just to feel comfortable in our own skin.