We just can’t help it. The world wants, and many trans women want, us to put a pin in our lives and say: this is when I first knew I was trans (I’m going to stick with using the word trans because transgender/transsexual, it’s a whole battle thing – I prefer transgender myself). And for many, there’s some kind of weird cred/affirmation in it being as early in life as possible, because there are knob-ends out there who think that the only “true” trans person is one who’s known about it since potty-training.
That said (written), here’s my pin :).
I didn’t let myself know consciously that I wanted to transition until I was 23. There’s a good reason for this. The week I realised I wanted to transition was the week I decided I wasn’t going back home after college. Because home wasn’t a safe place (abuse stuff – enough said). I spent 3 weeks feeling really happy for the first time in my life, after I realised this is what I needed to do – then I told my best woman friend, she freaked out (because she was a product of Greenham-Think) and talked me out of it, and there it lay for another 25 years. I’m not blaming her (mostly), I wasn’t ready yet. It was the 80’s, I was still trying to come to terms with being bisexual, AIDS was just happening, and I had (as it turned out) a whole lot of work to do on recovering from abuse before I was ready to accept that I’m actually a woman, and start doing something about the structural anomalies…
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood, and seeing in what ways my transness was sneaking in without anyone noticing (especially me). Mostly, the big clues are in the literature I was reading. There were a whole load of books I read and obsessively re-read all the way through my childhood and teens, and they almost all had gender/transgender themes. The 3 that most stick in my mind are (in reverse order) Triton by Samuel R Delany (a social scifi novel in which the main character gets changed from a man to a woman in around 20 minutes near the end of the story); Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon (in which the Ledom, the people the main character finds himself in the middle of, are all both sexes physically, and don’t do division of gender-roles); and earliest of all, The Marvellous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum (the first of the sequels to The Wizard of Oz, in which the boy Tip, its main character, discovers at the end of the book that he’s actually the Princess Ozma, hidden as a baby by turning him into a boy – and he agrees to being turned back after being reassured he won’t lose all his friends, and becomes a kickarse princess who sorts out the problems in Oz).
And the thing is, I never really wanted to do boy things – but I never really wanted to do girly-girl things either. I never wanted to dress up like a princess or whatever. And in my early time of transition, this bothered me, because it felt like I didn’t have the “cred” – or more significantly, it made me wonder whether I was “really trans”. but the more I’ve felt my way into who I really am, and accepted that I’m the hippy dyke I like to call Womandrogyne, the more obvious it is that things haven’t changed since I was a kid – I’ve always wanted to be who I now am. I always liked bright colours, but I’ve always turned up my nose at girly-girl clothes. Even now, almost all my clothes are women’s clothes (well, shoes are hard when you’re a size 11), but none of them are feminine, I’m your basic tomboy.
It’s a happy thing to look back across your life and see yourself continuous in this way, even though I did a very careful job of hiding my womanhood from anyone who might do me harm, until I was big enough and strong enough to be that vulnerable and take my shields down.
It feels like I’ve spent my whole life “passing” as a man, and now I’m done with “passing – I can just be me, and damn the torpedoes, we don’ need no steenkin’ cred. Here I am – a lot of trans women can’t make head or tail of me (and my lack of interest in being heterofemme) – but lesbians get me straight away.