This week sees the anniversary of when I irrevocably changed my name for ever.
I did it with an on-line Deed Poll company and will always remember savouring the moment by holding my finger over the send button for a few seconds before finally doing it.
Of course I will tell you that I didn’t change my name, I merely corrected a mistake that my parents had made. I knew from a very young age what my real name was, it just took me a lifetime to tell everyone.
I’m sure that anyone who has done the same will tell you about the thrill when your new drivers licence and bank cards and other official documents come through. I even enjoyed getting my Council Tax bill, and when my first wage slip came I showed everyone at work ‘look it’s in MY name!’
Six months, almost to the day, after getting my Deed Poll I got my HRT prescription. Of course it’s still early days but I feel so much better, Validated is the word I use to describe how I feel, and I think I’m getting a few tell tale pains in my breast that say I’m beginning to change physically as well. This morning I pulled my dressing gown on a bit too quickly and got a sharp pain when I brushed against a nipple. I never thought that I would be looking forward to that happening.
Probably the most important thing that has happened though was coming out to my daughter at long last.
My ex had been aware of my transition for a couple of years but had always asked not to tell our daughter ‘just yet’. This had been a source of conflict between us as I was becoming increasingly dysphoric at the thought of even wearing gender neutral clothes. I was scared that my emotional pain would be mistaken by my girl as anger at her, so I told her the truth.
She was great and took the news so well, I hugged her and told her how proud she makes me.
In one of those twists of fate she was accepted into Edinburgh University at the same time as I had to move flat. She coincidentally moved into student accommodation about three hundred yards away from where I now live!
Of course life ain’t always a bowl of cherries, but I can say without a moments hesitation that transition has been an entirely positive thing for me. I can’t think of a single thing that I regret about it, apart from not doing it sooner. But even that isn’t a real regret, I might not have had the same relationship with my daughter if things had been done differently.
And the future? Well, I’m going to start nagging the GIC to put me forward for surgery. I know that that’s a way down the line, but I know in my heart that I am ready. Like changing my name it’s a mistake that needs to be corrected.
For the past couple of weeks our Facebook group have been discussing personal safety and keeping yourself out of potentially difficult situations, especially now that the nights are getting darker earlier.
Of course no one wants to be alarmist, but we are all (and especially women) at risk from at least the threat of violence, whether verbal or physical. Most commenter’s seem to agree that spotting and avoiding trouble in the first place is the best option.
Here is a brief summery of what we spoke about.
- Plan ahead. If you are going out and know what time you will be heading home arrange for a taxi to be waiting for you.
- If possible travel with friends! Know what time the bus is due. That will save you standing in an exposed location waiting and alone.
- Be aware of your surroundings and scan the street ahead to avoid potential confrontation. It is better to take a short detour than to realise too late that that group of people outside the pub are looking for a vulnerable person to hassle.
There are plenty of websites giving advice but some seem to think that we live in an action movie and give very impractical advice. Here are some links to some of the better ones that were posted. suzylamplugh.org and this one.
As expected we were given some excellent advice from our members:
- Let people know where you are going and what time they can expect you.
- Don’t panic if you are confronted, try to keep calm and walk away. Don’t become angry or aggressive yourself, this could make the situation worse!
- Have your mobile phone ready, if a potential attacker thinks that you have help on the way they may think twice.
- Carry a personal alarm and keep it handy. You don’t want to be rummaging through you handbag looking for it.
If you are caught out don’t be afraid to report it to the police. Most forces take LGBT hate crime very seriously. Remember, it may not help you but it could help the next person! zhooshbrighton.co.uk has some very good advice on this matter as does this police website on LGBT safety tips, and Stonewall’s “how to report hate crime” if you don’t want to report it to the police.
Remember that a confident person who looks like they know where they going are less likely to attract unwelcome attention than someone who looks timid and afraid. Be careful but don’t be put off enjoying yourself.
After a very stressful Christmas and new year (work problems, now sorted I hope), I feel I can start looking forward to what might be an even better year than 2013, if that is possible.
In just over a week I hope to get my diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria confirmed at my second GIC psychiatric assessment and then begin on hormone treatment and the long road to Gender Confirmation Surgery. I hope to get assistance with hair removal, I have a lot, and the process is very expensive and beyond what I can comfortably afford although I do what I can when I can.
I don’t know about you, but the closer the goal becomes the more impatient I am to reach it. I hope to be able to meet a few Facebook Friends in person at Trans Pride Brighton, I have already pencilled that weekend into my diary and can’t wait to have fish and chips on the promenade!
A couple of years ago I was a mess. I was an habitual drinker and if I’m being honest I was a borderline alcoholic. I can’t remember the last time I had not woken with a hangover.
Then one day as I was showering I caught site of myself in the mirror and saw myself and what I was becoming.
I realised that I was killing myself and that I was killing myself because I could not face the truth about myself.
In that moment I woke up and accepted myself as I had always known myself to be, a transsexual. That evening on my way home from work I went to the supermarket. But this time rather than heading for the drinks aisle I went to the women’s clothing section and picked up a skirt. Amazingly I picked the right size. Over the next couple of months I regularly bought clothes and makeup and stopped getting my hair cut. Ever since the late 70s I had had my hair cut short in a 1950s ‘manly’ style.
I began searching the internet for support but became distressed because I could only find sex sites.
However, I eventually found a couple of sites that offered support and steered me in the direction of the Transition Support Service-Scotland and my local LGBT centre which host a regular T Time event. It took me several months before I plucked up the courage to go to these services in person but when I did go to T Time, clothes clutched in my overnight bag and got changed, I entered a world of instant acceptance and understanding. I knew I had come home. Since then my life has changed utterly and mostly for the better. I have lost the weight that my drink habit had given me (over three stones) and no longer smoke. I don’t want my nice clothes stinking.
I changed my name by Deed Poll to Susan. I’m not sure why I chose this name, it came to me when I was a small child, about five years old. I realised that my parents had given me the wrong name. I also realised that I should never tell anyone this as I would get into trouble. Even at that age I knew I was a girl and had hidden some of my sisters clothes in my toy box to wear for a precious few occasions before they vanished. I remember my grandmother asking me if I wanted to be a boy or a girl. I knew that I had to lie and say ‘boy’. That sent me on a lifetime of lying about myself, with only the odd lapse in concentration.
At 13 my mum discovered I had been wearing tights. She sent me to my room and after a couple of hours of careful consideration came and told me I was depraved.
I found solace through music and song-writing. I might not be a good musician but I can write songs that state flatly that I am transgender while at the same time saying something completely different. No one has ever asked me to explain what certain lyrics mean, they just weren’t listening I guess. I am now starting to build bridges with my ex-wife and I am hoping to be open and honest with my daughter. I am no longer ashamed of myself and feel I can be a better parent now that I am not drinking. I have had one psychological assessment at which the doctor said that if it was up to her alone to make the diagnosis then I would already be getting treatments to help me transition fully. My second appointment is at the end of January, only eight weeks at the time of counting. I fully expect this psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis. If you are reading this then you are probably transgender or a very good ally. I’m sure you will understand the excitement I feel when a new piece of ‘evidence’ confirming my reality drops on the doormat. I could barely contain myself when I got my first wage-slip made out in my real name, and when on the same day I received my cheque book and driving licence I wept tears of joy and relief.
I don’t know how many years I have left on this planet. I am 53 years old and spent 45 of those years hiding behind a mask of cynical bravado and an alcoholic haze. I intend to spend those years as healthily and happily as possible.
If I might be allow myself a little vanity, I think that I have a pretty good body for someone yet to start hormones. I have hips and long legs, my arms are shapely and my wrists are thin. Apart from the fact that I am as hairy as a gibbon (which I am addressing with laser and electrolysis) I sometimes wonder if I nearly became a girl in the womb, but something took a left turn at the wrong moment (as it were). I’m not sure where this is heading or if it has a point so I will wrap it up.I just want to say that I am happy at long last, and the friends I have found are the best friends I have ever had.