I was a solitary but never lonely child born in central London not long after rationing ended, who spent their childhood buried in books and listening to the radio (or ‘wireless’ as many people still called it); television (B&W, 3 channels, two aerials) was a later expensive luxury which was only on for family viewing, during which we watched news and documentaries (this was still a time when people went to cigarette-smoke-infested cinemas to watch newsreels before the two features), though general entertainment was soon added. I was probably what would now be diagnosed as slightly autistic (according to this score and this chart from on-line quizzes I still am, though like all such things they’re best taken with a large pinch of salt) as for many years I needed some kind of ‘comfort’ item to take out with me wherever I went (usually a very small toy or trinket), and I’d re-read the same book over and over again, or obsess over details of pictures and drawings. Even well into my teens I did this, having passed through various phases of counting, stealing toys from local shops (not to gain attention if I was caught or because we were poor, but simply because I could), and a fascination with setting fire to things to see the different ways in which they’d burn, and always had my favourite clothes which I would wear until they became so frayed it was impossible to repair them (an early manifestation of not really liking change?). I was also for a while thought to be a late developer as I so rarely spoke, but apparently I must have spent all that time just listening and internalising everything, for when I did eventually speak it was in short but grammatically correct sentences referring to specific things.
As a child growing up in the 1960’s, and with the middle of Portobello Market a couple of blocks away for fresh fruit & veg as well as the Saturday stalls and arcades full of antiques and other items from the nearby Victorian terraces and small mansions (I was especially interested in things such as music boxes and clocks and similar mechanical delights whose workings could easily be seen and understood), I was dimly aware of but unconnected to the hippy / counter-culture that was all around me, because I was too young and insular to understand it, and so would rather run up to the canal and all of the waste-ground near the railway warehouses and gas containers (little changed a decade or so later when as a teenager I wandered around the area with a camera), or play inside the run-down courtyards of nearby decaying tenements before they were demolished; also, all around were lots of still undeveloped bomb-sites which provided even more adventures.
Being judged a snob by local children because I didn’t want to spend hours kicking a ball around or argue endlessly about other people paid to kick a ball around, only made me retreat even more into the world of books, but as I was sailing in the Lake District with the Walkers and Blacketts, trekking through Africa and scaling Himalayan peaks with Leo Vincey, following the Eternal Champion across the multiverse, and catching up with the latest exploits of ‘Harry Palmer’, this was no great loss. I had no idea who the Beatles were until after they split as I knew only Classical music, though I was quickly to discover David Bowie and The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd and many others because of secondary school (contemporary pupils were mostly into Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, but I preferred Uriah Heep because the tracks were longer and they told stories, and Hawkwind because of the synth-rock), later developing a like for Ambient, ‘Gothic’ and esoteric, Symphonic Metal, and dark folk.
I became more anti-social as I entered my teens (by which I mean I actively avoided social situations rather than being overtly aggressive, so probably more accurately asocial), and it took many years for my parents to teach me to look at people when I spoke to them rather than addressing a spot on the floor between us; later, having learned to raise my head, I was told not to look at them because I was staring, which was rude, so I tried looking past them but that implied I was bored or not paying attention. I found this all very confusing, and though by my mid-teens most of this behaviour had disappeared as I was forced into the almost permanent interactions of secondary school I could never fully understand what was required of me from my fellow pupils, but as if to compensate for this I soon fell victim to bouts of deep depression which, rather than leaving me exhausted actually imbued me with a strange sense of energy, and so I had to resort to taking long fast walks in an effort to tire myself out so I could later fall asleep without too much difficulty. Then, intermittently throughout my 20s, I was almost passively suicidal, by which I mean I didn’t actively seek my own demise but rather went to bed each night not caring whether or not I awoke the following morning (sleep itself was a welcome oblivion), and when I did so, had thoughts along the lines of “Oh, I’m still alive, I suppose I’d better get up.”
My primary school (1961 - 1969) is still doing very well at Notting Hill Gate, and was full of wonder, for even those teachers whom I thought of as stern were so good at their job and made learning so much fun that it didn’t matter. Home life was in a similar vein as my father (who worked in a book shop) was always bringing things for me to look at or read (e.g. lushly illustrated versions of the Iliad and Odyssey in the style of Greek vases and friezes, Pear’s children’s encyclopaedia, Ladybird books teaching how to safely disassemble batteries or create solenoids, Jackdaw folders with their illustrated leaflets and fold-out educational toys), whilst near school was a small local library with the central one easily accessible just off the High Street. My mother (who had been secretary to one of the senior managers at Whiteleys department store in a role that would now be called a PA) had an outlook on life forged by rejection of her strict upbringing (being beaten across her hands with a ruler for the slightest infraction and then being expected to carry on sewing) and an enjoyment of life in general. Both parents lived and worked in central London during the War with all its attendant horrors and privations, and were lower-middle class though without the snobbery often shown to those of working-class status and the fawning deference to those deemed of higher status, so when father retired due to age and ill health (he’d had TB as a child) my mother went back out to work as a secretary / accountant for local businesses such as Mac Fisheries and a patisserie, then later taught herself about antiques to work in another shop where she purchased items from local auctioneers.
Secondary school (1969 - 1973) was a long-gone Grammar in Marylebone where people were admitted based upon their potential ability rather than background, with subsidised uniforms for those poorer working-class boys who couldn’t afford the full prices, but for me it was a generally horrendous experience, and only the discovery of mathematics and physics and simple designing kept me sane as I was expected to learn by rote boring facts about geography and history which I could easily look up in books should I need to know them; such was the aversion created by this atmosphere that it took me decades to develop a liking for these things as I rediscovered them on my own aesthetic terms. Being thought of as a “mummy’s boy” didn’t help much either, for whilst neither excessively weak nor remotely effeminate I had tended towards walking and gymnastics rather than what was to me the pointless competition of team sports♦, but thankfully there were a few other loners in different classes across the same year so we tended to stay together when outside class.
This attitude and the accompanying bullying by a few boys who seemed forever to be jockeying for a higher place in their incomprehensible and ever-changing pecking order only made me shun them even more. Like all cowards, they targeted the weakest to advertise their alleged prowess rather than anyone who may have been able to fight back and thus threaten their status, on one occasion even going so far as to demand people take seriously their claims of knowing someone who had discovered a corpse in a rolled-up carpet (even in those days this was a stupid urban legend easily dismissed by lack of evidence such as reports in local papers), and seeming to relish their ignorance in not knowing the difference between an ellipse and an eclipse, but with so many books to take my mind elsewhere, not to mention radio plays, TV documentaries & plays, early serials and costume dramas, as well as films both current and revivals of what was then considered vintage (Cocteau, Lang, et al), I was never starved of new things to discover. Such thugs eventually met their comeuppance as a larger bully appeared on the scene, so Schadenfreude was a concept I discovered quite early, though nowadays bullies are most likely people who deserve sympathy from their prey and society at large because violence towards others is a perfectly valid form of self-expression, and to deny them this ‘right’ oppresses them. My naivety regarding the motives of my peers continued into the first year of work, as even there I was targeted because of my difference, where the boy judged most sympathetic would be sent over to converse with me and gain information, only then to return to his local group and regale his colleagues with hilarious stories. Naturally, this only made me retreat even more from social interactions, more specifically with anyone of a similar age, for even as a child I’d found adults to be more interesting and informative as my parents had friends from Academia and various professions; it may have been that members of my peer group were just as insecure as I was, but why the pathetic posturing and bravura, why take it out on the few like me?
An unfortunate downside to this early and easy access to books and information resulted in something which is now afflicting the younger generations due to the internet: with all the answers readily available elsewhere, it’s becoming increasingly harder to remember anything except when it is used regularly, for example coding. Also, with no relations other than my parents, I grew up with a blank spot for names which only increased as I got older, so that I now have to interact with someone for many weeks before I remember their name even though I fully know who they are and what they look and sound like. I also tend to over-analyse everything and sometimes become paralysed by indecision when there are too many choices available, for example when having to select a furniture fabric and I’m given sample books each with up to 100 pages, and I still concentrate on details at the expense of the larger view, which results in my photographing an interesting door or window but not necessarily the building in which it resides. As with many people in engineering and programming, I’m also slightly OCD, so all thing considered a bit of a hodge-podge of symptoms.
I genuinely saw no reason to have any friends, and this attitude still holds generally true today even though my current state actually makes me able to feel good about socialising at work when I was employed; doing so now I have retired (see final paragraph of this section) is certainly possible, but I’m probably too selfish to make it work as I would only want someone to go out with when I needed to, rather than what seems to be the current norm where people arrive unannounced and I would be expected to stop whatever I was doing so I could accompany them somewhere (taken to an idiotic conclusion what would be the point in starting anything if I might always be interrupted?), and having already had friends who lived on the other side of the city and “just happened to be in the area” 10 minutes before they knew we sat down for dinner, the last thing I need is a repetition of this behaviour, so any potential friend is as better off without me as I am without them.
On those rare occasions when I have contacted someone through modern social media, who has then expressed an interest in learning more about my experiences and attitudes, all that happens once an initial exchange of messages has occurred and in one recent case an agreement made to do a Q&A or AMA (Ask Me Anything), a follow-up request for clarification from me after a few weeks of silence resulted only in more silence. I am the first to admit that my social skills are still somewhat sub-par (purely due to inexperience rather than lack of ability) and I am unable to extemporise which is why writing is my preferred form of communication as it allows for revision before publishing, but doing a Q&A / AMA is easy as I would have time to prepare answers, so this sudden cutting-off (especially when no reason is forthcoming) only makes me not want to risk trying to reach out in the future, not because I fear rejection as I take this to be the normal response but simply because there seems no point when those who initially appear interested then just drop out with no apparent cause, especially as the reason may be due to a simple misunderstanding which I cannot clarify.
I admit I am lonely at times, but the feeling is usually quite muted as my entire life has been spent finding things to educate and entertain myself, and the reaction is more of a mental than emotional attitude that manifests when, for example, I discover a nice piece of architecture in an oft-bypassed alley and wish someone was with me to share the encounter, or with a flash of colour a chattering jay alights in a nearby tree, but the time and effort required to find and maintain connections with such a kindred soul, not to mention continually second- and third-guessing them as I try to determine what they actually mean or may do based on what they say or think I might want to hear (for my own good, naturally, as I have been assured by such people in the past as if they were doing me a favour by lying to me), I no longer consider the expenditure to be worth any possible reward if all I’m doing is alleviating my loneliness.
Being a classic under-achiever since primary school (“Could do better” was the marking that followed me as I only ever got 7/10 or 8/10 instead of the 9 expected by my teachers), I left secondary school at 16 rather than remain for the A-levels I knew I would fail as I had no interest in them (I obtained only a single O-level pass and a pair of CSE grade 1s). The atmosphere in school was in any case by then chaotic as some classes eventually became split in half, with those swots like myself who wanted to learn remaining at the front whilst those who did not staying at the back and doing whatever they wanted as long as it was quiet. Even with those meagre qualifications I easily passed the entrance exams and so went straight into a well-paid job (£16 per week before tax & NI) and the start of a three-year apprenticeship with the Post Office (later British Telecom after the split), starting in electro-mechanical Strowger telephone exchanges before progressing to testing and maintaining their purely electronic System X successors, then transferring over to various computer-based systems (including what was then the biggest private database in the country), eventually coding websites and smaller databases for such things as fall-back details and exchange commands for emergency services and banks, and a logging & billing system for certain kinds of private circuits.
During the 3-year apprenticeship I went to technical college and reached C&G level 4/Final (HNC equivalent) in Maths, Physics (a specialised stream that concentrated on Electrical Engineering so covered such things as valves & various diodes and transistors, transformer theory and design, Norton’s & Thevenin’s theorems etc.), and Radio & Line, and unlike school this environment, though often pressured due to the subjects’ increasing complexities, was still made to feel interesting because we wanted to learn, and the teachers themselves were passionate about their subjects and enjoyed imparting knowledge. There was also time for constructive play in a workshop, messing around on lathes which most of us had already learned at school, drawing, and even pottery. Plus, it was the 1970s, and despite the often horrendous fashions on display it was a fantastic time for new pop and rock music as by then I was fully aware of what was happening. It was also a time for rapidly changing electronics, as early 4-function calculators such as the Sinclair Cambridge became affordable as they fell below £20, and early scientifics became available; their use was argued pro and contra, as some considered it an unfair advantage over those who still used slide-rules and books of log and trig tables, but all a calculator provided was the ability to do things faster and to a higher degree of accuracy, and as understanding was deemed more important even than memorising, the devices were allowed as anyone who didn’t know what they were doing would still get the wrong answer even if they could refer to their notes.
There were many downsides to the period, especially the tail-end of the Cold War posturing where national leaders decided they would rather destroy the entire world in atomic conflagrations rather than deal with an ideology that conflicted with their own (I was on holiday in Chichester during August 1968 when I saw on the news grainy footage of Russian tanks invading Czechoslovakia), the constant disruption to travel and sometimes near-weekly bombings caused by the IRA (flushed with funds from sympathetic Americans who relished the destruction they enabled♠), numerous strikes complete with the idiocy of secondary picketing resulting in rolling electricity cut-offs and water rationing(!) again. Many people still didn’t have a telephone to find out what was going on from their local showroom, and visiting them by often long bus journeys was pointless as strikers deliberately ignored the blackout schedules (whilst naturally demanding sympathy), but in a sort of hangover from the bunkered-down War mentality of our parents we just got on with life (though still upset about the killings and destruction, of course, as we dutifully queued at a stand-pipe).
My upbringing was typical for the age of my parents, their financial status and location, and the decades in which it took place, and though an only child I was not spoiled, for unlike today’s parents mine knew how to say “no” and could discipline me with a good hiding when necessary (no, it wasn’t abuse, and I quickly recovered knowing what the boundaries were). Holidays were taken on the South Coast or in Roman / Cathedral cities in Wales and the South-West for all but the last few years as finances became severely strained, but their entire lives were grounded and based on old-fashioned ideas of being sensible: don’t be afraid of insects and spiders; it’s all right to feel uneasy during a thunderstorm but as long as you’re inside there’s no danger, and if outside follow these precautions; when having a picnic place a dollop of jam at the edge so any wasps or ants will generally leave you alone, and so on.
Their general attitudes were classically liberal†, so when for example they saw a long-haired man wearing a T-shirt advertising not the latest Rock band but Hitler’s European Tour 1939 - 1945 with a suitable coloured map, their initial reaction was that it was disrespectful (without remonstrating him about it, of course), but then they said it was right that he could wear it, not only because that was one of the very freedoms that had been fought for, but also that his generation would grow up not knowing the horrors they had experienced. This outlook was further demonstrated a few years later when on one of our many walkabouts in the City they were approached by a tourist in his 30’s (this wasn’t particularly unusual as my mother was always having protracted conversations with people in general and those working in shops, for she somehow attracted such things and in any case enjoyed learning about other people, as indeed I do now), who with an obvious German accent and evident anguish apologised to them as older people for all the suffering they had endured; but, he had actually been born as the War grew to a close and thus could not be held responsible for anything that might have been done by his own parents or relations (if applicable), and to hold him in any way personally accountable for the decisions of his country’s leaders was beyond daft.
42½ years since joining the Post Office and 3 months before my 59’th birthday in 2016, I had 4 days to decide whether to take early retirement or from the following week never have a wage rise for as long as I remained there and also more than treble my travelling time, to work as a script-monkey on shift-work in a call centre (where I would have been sacked after a month due to persistent lateness caused by cancelled and delayed trains, being bored out of my skull, and endless stress due to dealing with illiterate morons). The previous week, I had been vetting components for RoHS compliance and previously had created the formal certificates ready for the head of division to sign off as a representative of the company, as well as searching for replacements for obsolescent parts in on-line catalogues, and amending drawings with AutoCAD. However, a mid-level suit had obviously promised to staff the call centre as quickly as possible regardless of how vastly over-qualified anyone might be and whose skills might be better employed elsewhere, so once I had run various financial forecasts based on projected pensions (with 5% per annum losses due to taking it early) and lump-sums added to my existing savings, this was probably the easiest decision I had ever made, and by the end of the first week away (which felt like a month it was so liberating) it was as if I had never done anything else. I was also fortunate in that I left at the beginning of the year and so had summer and autumn ahead of me when I could go out for long walks with my camera, revisiting old places and discovering many new ones. Having lived for 15 months on my redundancy money, I am now 60 and have my work pension, though given the recent political upheavals and resultant financial instabilities I have no way of knowing how much of my potential income will be lost in the meantime (those who voted for this mess and moan about their suffering can console themselves with having got their country back); it will be another 6 years until I get anything from the government, but that should be a nice replacement for the top-up I’m currently taking from my savings.
As a child, gender identity was not something I even knew existed♣; I just accepted myself and was neither happy nor dissatisfied with it: genetically and physically male. It is true that puberty left me feeling very strange, but again I knew it to be normal and didn’t feel strongly about it one way or another (there was definitely no revulsion or desire for reversion). I was attracted to women so knew I wasn’t gay, but always seemed to end up being the best friend rather than a boyfriend; this didn’t bother me at all, though as I grew up my fantasies tended to incline to being with a woman as a woman rather than an observing male. I also had a quite large disconnect between my mind and body, often to such an extent that the ‘I’ of my mind/ego/id only seemed to be an inhabitant of my physical body, rather than a necessarily corporeal part of it; after all, the former can’t exist without the biological construct of the latter.
When I was about 30, I was suddenly hit by what at the time I called ‘body shocks’: they initially presented as what I much later discovered was body dysmorphia, before quickly becoming so-called secondary gender dysphoria (primary being that from a very young age, possibly even your earliest memory, you knew your body was wrong). I’d awaken from deeply satisfying dreams of being female, and upon seeing my morning reflection in the mirror literally not know who it was; even without any remembered dreams, the mirrored-image disconnects manifested in increasingly stronger terms so that it became almost physical as well as mental and emotional, but I had no idea what do to about it. (This was entirely unrelated to the mirror-image effect where one is so accustomed to seeing a reflection that seeing a left-right reversed image as other people perceive you can be a little disconcerting, but it’s still recognisably you.) It eventually reached the point where I was having regression nightmares before I’d even made up my mind to do anything; by that, I mean my post-op dream-self was having nightmares of awakening from what she thought was a successful reassignment operation, only to find that nothing had changed.
The model Tula (Caroline Cossey) was still newsworthy at this time (having in 1982 had to pre-emptively out herself in advance of a tabloid exposure) as she publicised her continuing fights to change the law by petitioning the ECHR (see PFC’s site), and with my sudden reactions for the first time I paid full attention to such things, though I was already aware of Amanda Lear, April Ashley (whose divorce ruling set back UK legislation by decades), the travel writer Jan Morris, and musician Wendy Carlos. All my information was gleaned by going to libraries and book shops, and poring over the better Sunday newspapers for stories that were informative rather than the salacious exposés typical of red-tops.
The disconnects rapidly became stronger until I felt almost sick, so knew I had to obtain help, and through my thankfully very understanding GP of the time was referred to the psychiatric department at St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital (since demolished to make way for a gated community) where, based on my limited knowledge of things I said I didn’t seek surgical intervention as I just wanted the feelings to go away. This was not untrue, as I had no real idea of what was involved and how it would affect me, so only sought what I hoped would be the easiest solution. Psychiatrists and psychologists came and went in various guises and across different departments and disciplines, even some kind of utterly futile pastoral care complete with the stupidity of Rorschach and TAT, but all with the same results: they only asked questions I had already thought of and answered, with nothing leading to any kind of resolution.
In addition to this, writing out my feelings help tremendously, so having in the mid 1980s written various poems to help express my sense of isolation / disengagement, between 1988-1992 I created a pair of complementary 100,000 word novels whose main character was trans (I had a few years earlier developed a liking for writing sci-fi and related fiction), though being a fantasy novel she was able via technology to achieve what might be termed a consciousness transplant into a genuinely female body based on her own DNA, so in most of the stories she was biologically female, with one adventure being about her return to the club at which she had transitioned and appeared as a cabaret performer, to help a friend whose parents had arrived unexpectedly. The first book was completed before I’d even begun any treatment, and apart from not comprehending the dramatic (and often debilitating) intensity of emotional upheaval due to taking hormones, it was surprisingly accurate, which I thought boded well.
All the while, the shocks became more intense and lasted longer, so after over a year of pointless treatments I decided I would do whatever was needed to end them, even if it meant drugs and / or surgery of some kind. I was referred to Charing Cross, who whilst placing me at the tail-end of a long waiting list did provide me with details of a couple of support groups, one of which was the long-vanished TVTSSG that used to have a home in an alley off Shoreditch High Street, and to this I went regularly, often twice a week. This will sound like nothing to most people who are accustomed to social interactions and going out in the evenings, but even those experiences were new to me; such was my need for contact and information, however, I just did what I thought was necessary to learn as much as I could and seek potential answers, for at the very least I would learn what wasn’t possible, and the consequences.
As part of the general transition process, and indeed something that was necessary to even begin any kind of voyage of self-discovery (for me and some others, for most it was self-actualisation and -validation as they had always known what was wrong), I started facial electrolysis, the pain of which was the worst I had ever felt and not something I would ever wish to repeat, but such was my determination that I lay as motionless as possible for up to 3 hours at a time as the fine wire was inserted and heated up. I also went to see Russell R who gave out hormones from his Earl’s Court practice on a sort of ‘self-test’ basis in the belief that anyone who disliked their effects after a fortnight or so would not then want to proceed with any kind of transition; or even if they did wish to, would never be able to live with the long-term commitment required if they couldn’t accept even the short-term changes to their body and libido. For me, however, the changes that occurred even within the first few weeks were so wonderful I knew I could never go back, so I saw Russell R the minimally mandated number of times and was left to pursue my own goals with knowledge and real-world examples from people who frequented the support group, who were in various stages of development.
A few months after having begun taking hormones (see the following section for a time-line of significant events), I decided on my first piece of major surgery: a tracheal shave to reduce what was, even for a male, a very protruding Adam’s apple. This was performed by Peter J (who later also did my nose and breasts), a highly regarded private surgeon who showed me plenty of before and after images from previous clients, and informed me of the incredibly rare chances of things going wrong. I had already investigated this, and so also knew of the possibility of stretching vocal chords, but this surgery had very inconsistent results that were only temporary, and if there were complications it could mean a complete loss of voice. Even if successful, it would result in a voice which sounded rather strange as the tighter chords, vibrating at higher frequencies, were still operating within a chamber of the same size, so any resonances would remain unchanged. This was far too great a risk to take and with no one remotely sensible having undergone the procedure (no reputable surgeon would go anywhere near the operation) I considered it far better to sound a little rough (or even be thought of as male over the phone where there were no visual cues) than not to vocalise at all, so the tracheal shave was performed with a resulting success that was greater than both Peter J and I had hoped for, leaving only a minimal scar to one side that was all but undetectable, and a couple of ridges above and below where the bulge had been.
The second person I later needed to consult was the psychologist Bryan T, my second referee who lived in a wonderful home full of books just south of the river; his interview was so relaxing that I left without even knowing his opinion, and it wasn’t until I telephoned him the following day to wonder what his verdict was that I learned he would recommend me for surgery as he deemed my goals realistic, and as by then I had travelled and worked in role for almost a year with no adverse effects it was reasonable to assume I would continue to do so.
Something that was very important and cannot be emphasised enough: at no time was I under pressure from any of the professionals to make a decision as to my future. It was always made very clear this was entirely my own choice, and whilst this might cynically be considered a complete abnegation of responsibility on their part so they could always claim anything done by a patient was entirely their own decision (yet Russell R was later accused of ruining their lives by such people who refused to take any responsibility for their own actions and so blamed him for their choices), for those with any sense it was actually a way for each person to learn as much as they could about something that would affect the rest of their lives, if they continued with even the basic drug regimen, never mind elect to have various operations.
Even before being given my pre-med for the main operation (not afterwards, as it makes people very drowsy so like me they may not even be aware of the later full anaesthetic), I was asked if I still wanted to go through with things, for whilst any doubtful or negative response of “No?” or “Help!” or “Am I doing the right thing?” would mean everyone had wasted their time and effort, they still needed consent as I could have withdrawn it at any time (and, yes, legal implications lest anyone awaken afterwards and realise they had done something they already regretted, never mind there were no guarantees for the surgery, only an assertion everyone would do the best they could with what they were given).
My transition time-line is shown below (costs include separate hospital bills and anaesthetist’s fees, which varied wildly depending on location), completed in less than two years (which was fast even then), but like some others I was employed in a well-paying job and was judged to be stable and sensible (which surprised me even though I was always questioning things and learning as much as possible, analysing my own decisions and motives), though I was also thought to be unsuitable for full transition by Russell R due to my social awkwardness which took further years to slowly lessen. I was also fortunate in that I could do everything privately rather than rely on the ever-decreasing resources of the NHS, and all things considered I spent £16,000 (which almost wiped out my savings at the time), but I considered it money well-spent which is perhaps a measure of how necessary I thought it was.
- 1991-07-03 : [aged 34] began electrolysis.
- 1991-07-08 : began Ethinyloestradiol (later switched to Premarin).
- 1991-10-14 : began Androcur.
- 1991-12-11 : tracheal shave removed 95%+ of hideous lump (£2000).
- 1992-03-16 : gender confusion from shop assistant when showing my credit card with then-current male name.
- 1992-05-01 : changed my name and began ‘real life test’.
- 1993-02-23 : electrolysis costs reached £3000 (200 hours).
- 1993-04-03 : gender reassignment surgery (£4733).
- 1993-06-28 : [aged 36] breast augmentation (unrecovered post-surgery weight loss AA → B) & minor rhinoplasty (£1785).
Charing Cross was (and I believe still is) one of the best clinics in the country, but its waiting times were horrendous; even then a preliminary appointment was at least 3 months away (now a full year or more), and potential surgeries were years in the future, which only put strain upon people who may have spent many months or even years to reach that initial point of seeking help. It could be argued that having waited so long then a few more months shouldn’t make any difference, but either desperation for some form of progression or just a desire for possible outcomes is a very motivating force, which leads to an understandable impatience if answers are not forthcoming (whether those answers are what you want or hope for is of course another matter entirely). And there are physical factors to be considered, for no matter your background or feelings if you’re 6′ 5″ tall with the body of a rugby player and a neck like a bull, or you have early-onset male-pattern baldness and spade-like hands textured with 80-grade sandpaper, you will never pass and no amount of wishing or dieting can change that.
It was simply the best (though initially far from easiest) decision I have ever had to make, and once the drugs fully kicked in after a couple of weeks I knew as well as felt it was the right thing for me to do, though obviously there was a case of my thoughts and reactions being affected by the changes in my body chemistry, but some people can’t handle even those initial effects. Although I knew many trannies in the support group who were ‘half-way’, all but a few were only so due to lack of finances or stable home environments, whilst those who had no intention of ever having SRS (sex-reassignment surgery, completely separate from transitioning which is when people change from living as one gender to do so as the other, regardless of any intended surgery) were happy in their chosen lifestyle. This was something I admit I could never understand, but that didn’t make them any less trans as such surgery is a very personal choice and determined by a variety of circumstances, not all of them financial or indeed sexual, with the former concern being why some turned to prostitution (though they may also have had drugs habits to fund as well as obtaining hormones via underhand means, having been deemed unsuitable for treatment by psychiatrists and so resorted to self-medicating even though acting outside of the system could never lead to a recommendation for surgery with anyone reputable).
Something I asked myself a lot at the time was: Am I a real tranny? The sudden onset of body dysmorphia was absolutely genuine, very disorientating, and increasingly worrying; there was no history of anything remotely like it, I had never even once wanted to cross-dress either for aesthetic or sexual or psychological (comfort) needs, and there were no obvious external triggers. Nor did I ever suffer from anything that was actually gender dysphoria, so technically the answer is “no”. Did some deep-seated problem then emerge, or did I want to become a woman and somehow reinvent myself, with being trans the nearest I could get? I had no idea of the underlying truth then (if there was or can be such a thing), or even now, over 25 years later. Given that I have gone through the main operations and have presented, lived, and worked as female, and am treated as such, and the fact I have never for a microsecond ever regretted or doubted my decision, I still don’t know if what I felt then was the result of some kind of self-induced need for change (but if so, what was its cause?), and as it began over a year before my mother’s health problems it cannot be attributed to that, so I wasn’t trying to replace her by becoming her.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter to me as I am very happy in my new life, though not in some weird narcissistic manner in which I’m thinking “Oh, look at clever me and what I did,” as I have seen a few behave even during their transition as if they were merely trying on cosmetics for the first time, and in some extreme cases it became a case of self-fetishisation. I thoroughly enjoy myself and cannot imagine how I would have lived (if at all) had I not gone though with the procedures, and being trans is after all only a small part of who and what I am, as I consider myself first and foremost a designer and photographer, reader and writer, computer user and DIYer. I will never deny it’s a part of me (it is a fact, after all), but to use it as the defining characteristic of my entire identity and existence is beyond stupid.
In all of this continuing narrative, there have been two very important people missing: my parents. Mother became very ill during my visits to St Mary Abbot’s and, after being diagnosed with cancer (inoperable due to its advanced stage and location) was suddenly given a handful of weeks to live; she survived a few more months before dying. Although initially able to look after himself while I was at work, my elderly father (who was actually old enough to have been my grandfather and grew up with wooden monoplanes only to later see astronauts from the later Apollo missions driving on the moon) became increasingly weaker and was probably suffering intense grief (I felt nothing at all, I was so locked-down), and he died a couple of months after I began hormones, 18 months after my mother’s death. Both knew of my interest in Tula, and mother had read the first book of my new pair, but I can’t say how they would have reacted had they known I was even looking into things, let alone would soon begin my own transition.
My general appearance is somewhat odd due to my varied genetic heritage: I am tall and slim from my father, but with a roundish face and high cheekbones from my mother (who looked fully Chinese to most Westerners though she was actually half); my eyes are small and deeply-set, and I have a very small mouth with a large over-bite and thin lips that might be considered surly. My skin is fine and clear, and my neck is noticeably narrower than my jawline (which is obviously good as many men’s necks are in line with their ears); in fact it is actually quite weak, and for many years I had trouble with various aches due to craning my head forwards. I also have narrow shoulders and am now slightly pear-shaped, which is another advantage, as is the fact I have a pronounced waist rather than the straight line from arm-pit to hips that most men possess, and my hands are nowhere near as large as those of a man of comparable size; only the broad thumb-nail is a bit of a give-away. I sometimes elicit a slight turn of the head from people who pass me, but I have no way of knowing if that is because I have been ‘read’ or if they have merely reacted to how plain I am, or how unruly my hair sometimes is (it’s very fine now due to age and the hormones, and tends to lift or curl in windy and wet weather); or, they just look at people in general. Fortunately for my sanity and general well-being, I have long passed the stage of extreme self-consciousness / paranoia where I reacted as if every raised voice or laugh was directed at me, though I still wince a little inside if someone does what I assume to be a double-take.
I am the first to admit I present an often drab figure in terms of how I dress for all but the hottest of weathers, for though I’m still nicely slim for my height and age (38″ / 28″ / 39″, 5′ 10″, 60) the measurements are not as large as they may seem in relation to my height, and it’s only recently that my waist has been so large as until my mid-40s it was 27″ (24″ until my late 20s). I tend to wear dark, non-descript colours such as dull green or greyish-green, and as I enjoy walking both as a means of transportation and exercise I wear rather chunky shoes which allow my toes to spread out and help maintain an upright posture (I was very round-shouldered as a child and always stood with slightly bent knees; it took years to correct this).
I had to completely re-learn how to move my body, but not in any clichéd male vs female manner or becoming camp, rather I had to learn to move as a fully-expressed human being because my earlier life had seen me behave in a somewhat rigid fashion: I barely swung my arms as I walked and tended to stride quickly rather than walk as I only wanted to reach my destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. Slowing down and loosening up was actually harder than it might sound, for even with all the beneficial effects of the early hormones there were many years of self-imposed conditioning to undo so I could start with fresh foundations (apologies for the architectural analogy), and now I’m so relaxed and free I barely have a thought about something as innocuous as raising my hand to trails my fingers through a hedge: it all feels perfectly natural, a few seconds of passing sensory delight. Since then I have learned basic Karate for strength and co-ordination, and bits of Wing-Chung for smoother movement as I now look after my body and keep fit with simple boxing exercises (full impact against pads, not shadow) and free weights to maintain a toned rather than muscular physique, for despite now being on levels of hormones that are borderline placebo the massive amounts taken earlier combined with other factors increased the chances for early osteoporosis, so it only makes sense to allow my muscles to help relieve some of the stress from my bones.
The lead-up to, and the duration and aftermath of, my transition, was as relatively smooth as it could have been, but without any false modesty I attribute that greatly both to the manner in which I ‘came out’, and the support I was given by the more sensible members at the TVTSSG. At work, having spent some time with HR to determine whether or not I would even keep my job (contemporary cases had made this situation very uncertain), and been assured that the work was important, not the gender of the person doing it (the wages themselves were never an issue as people were paid according to grade and had been for decades), I arrived one day wearing pale eye-shadow and a blouse that was almost indistinguishable from a shirt (and of course this meant travelling on public transport too, not protected in my own vehicle away from scrutiny, so naturally I attracted odd looks early on when I was returning home with a face swollen and sometimes slightly oozing from a 2-3 hour session of electrolysis). This change of clothing at work elicited no direct reactions at all, though questions were raised to various managers, and once the truth came out via rumour and a final official announcement, I was pretty much left alone to get on with things, which was perfect for me. I was never ridiculed, threatened, or was the target of any form of harassment. A couple of colleagues told me in private they thought I was brave or mentioned they knew of someone else who had transitioned, and I took that as the compliment it was intended as rather than throw it back in their faces (why would I do that?); as for being brave, I didn’t think that at all as I was so desperate to get something done I was just glad I had reached that point in my life.
The biggest problem for me was and still is my voice, partly because it has a flat London intonation (meaning there is very little cadence), partly due to the fact I simply don’t use it very much despite having very good enunciation, and though I learned early on to form all the words at the back of the throat and project them up and forwards without causing an excessive amount of sibilance, I still sound very throaty with a low tone as might be heard from a heavy smoker (although I don’t); this is made worse by low quality microphones and speakers which tend to eliminate higher frequencies.
Even those colleagues at work who knew of my background treated me as female, for my reactions were always what most of them considered to be such. An example would be when John C said “typical woman” to my quip of “never too early for chocolate” after I had been offered some by another member of the group whose birthday it was. Should I have taken that as an insult, that I was being pigeon-holed, or that all women were chocoholics? It was just office banter between people who had worked together for years, and like most English humour there was always an underlying layer of sarcasm. It was all perfectly normal. My attitude towards the work / life balance seems to align with that deemed to be female, in that I was never career-driven and, being happy with my pay, made my free time and home life a priority; yet, as is currently assigned to stereotypically male behaviour, my primary input mechanism is visual, whether it be the geometry of ornamental brickwork, sunlight shimmering on a crow’s feathers, the complex curves of flowers and trees, or a wonderful sky-scape.
Another example was when I had to provide a statement as part of an investigation when an old manager of mine was falsely accused of racism by paranoid and incompetent people (the woman concerned was so unstable that every time I spoke to the colleague sitting next to me, whose travel stories I always enjoyed listening to, she made notes in a little book that we were discussing her in the hope to have him dismissed - she deemed him a racist Nazi because he opined she was ignorant of the job she was supposed to do). My observations of overall interactions, and the levels of detail I managed to provide the investigator, as well as my use of highly descriptive language (my vocabulary is in the top 10% for my age-group, with another more interesting test producing a similar result) led to the HR representative (who didn’t meet me until after my full transition, but because of the still rare nature of such things even in such a large organisation knew of my history) commenting to the effect that “no one would mistake you for anything other than a woman”, which nowadays would be taken as an example of conforming to gender stereotypes of possessing observational skills, though women as a class could hardly be accused of being eloquent when some of them behave like this. Thankfully my testimonials helped the tribunal reach a verdict of Not Guilty. I was later asked by the HR representative to help with some internal procedures when Gender Recognition Certificates came out, as despite my early instability when I was pre-op and dosed up on hormones, I soon became one of the more stable trannies they knew of. For a time I also acted as a mentor and educator for others who considered themselves in the same situation or just wondered what was possible, and though many were just ‘weekender’ TVs even those whose feelings ran deeper were put off when I informed them of the long-term effects of hormones, the often excruciating pain of electrolysis where no matter how bad it gets you have to remain absolutely still to avoid scarring, and the more detailed aspects of often experimental surgery (yet more pain, but from my own perspective well worth the effort).
As for what is now a contentious issue (primarily in the US), this was never a problem at work, for when the time came for me to change my name and begin the ‘real life test’ (this didn’t negate the previous months of travelling to and from work and shopping and living as a female, but rather marked the official beginning of living that way and thus started the countdown-to-surgery clock), the women in the building were called to a meeting and the criteria explained to them that part of this test involved me using the women’s loos; were there any objections? There was not a single person who even raised it as a potential threat or violation, and the only restriction I was asked to adhere to was to bypass the loo near the canteen, for this was used by many people from outside the building who might not be aware of my situation. Given there were 11 other floors for me to use, as well as the unisex loo for disabled people on that floor, this was a very small concession and in any case after a few weeks I ignored the restriction and met with no negative attention from anyone (in fact I even had a few compliments on my progression from women working on other floors who had never met me before). The few times I’ve been caught short whilst out shopping or wandering around with my camera and needed to use the toilets in department stores (or in Paris, the beautifully clean public ones), there has never been the slightest hint of recognition as everyone is only there for one reason. I’ve even been in communal changing-rooms (pre-op too), and though I was nervous no one took any notice.
I have absolutely no idea how many people who serve me in shops know what I am; all I can do is judge them by their actions, which is to treat me as the woman I present as (being called “love” and “dear” or “ducks” by various traders is hardly an insult either, despite all the protest of SJWs and their ilk who have no idea of sellers’ banter and laughingly claim that being called such is ‘offensive’), and I don’t think I can be that bad as I am still approached by people seeking directions to various places, even when wandering around with my camera when I might otherwise be mistaken for a tourist. Also, if I was that obvious, I doubt I would have been invited into the local pre-primary school to give a little ‘show-and-tell’ about my rat snake (recently deceased and missed a lot, and purchased because unlike many other pets it wouldn’t go mad with lack of attention during the days when I was out at work), as children especially are good at picking up that sort of thing and aren’t afraid of voicing their opinions. Then again, perhaps they do know and genuinely don’t care as I seem stable and sensible, for I am now able to hold a conversation with for example a shop-keeper about one of their displayed antiques or approach an elderly stranger to enquire about local history, I still find what seems to pass for general interactions (especially about sport or the weather) completely pointless and I am still all-but useless at extemporising unless it’s a subject I know very well. Writing comes naturally to me, however, and is my preferred form of communication as it allows revision and clarification with multiple definitions and explanations, parenthetical comments and explanatory footnotes, whose structure works well on a page but which if spoken would result in a confusing series of rambling digressions.
As a tranny, how much discrimination have I encountered, and how bad was it? The short answers based on my own criteria are: barely any, and easily dismissed.
The single source of mis-used pronouns I encountered whilst in the early stages of my transition was from my dentist, who had helped me with some of the pain of electrolysis on the upper lip by giving me anaesthetic injections before my treatments (but not too many as there are adverse effects); I found his use of masculine descriptors very upsetting and almost a rejection of what I was going through, and it was very confusing for his assistant, but he had known me since I was 5 and so I had to allow for this and not correct him at every turn as would probably happen nowadays, complete with an expletive-laden rant about status denial and other such things.
It is we trannies who are doing something outside the norm (here meaning statistically in the majority, so abnormal is by default a minority blip that’s barely above the level of background noise, definitely not wrong and certainly not immoral as such value judgements are irrelevant to numerical facts), and though it is obviously very reassuring and validating to have your external gender presentation confirmed by the words and actions of others (as happened to me when the shop assistant queried my identity in March 1992 when I tried to pay with my credit card bearing my old name, thus informing me I was progressing to a point of ambiguity), to demand at the beginning of your transition full acknowledgement of the desired goal is itself somewhat intolerant: it takes time for people to adjust to a new reality, especially if they have known you for a very long time, and if you don’t pass or have a confusing presentation to strangers, they cannot be blamed for making initial assumptions. Anyone who is transitioning through official channels should in any case be carrying a letter from a doctor and / or psychiatrist clearly stating the bearer is undergoing medical treatment, so if there are any misunderstandings it can be produced to hopefully clarify matters; I was fortunate in that I never had need to use mine, and once I changed my name it was no longer necessary as all of my bank and similar cards had been changed with the minimum of fuss and no awkward interviews.
The least said about the poseurs who demand everyone else call them by their preferred non-negotiable pronouns of the week, the better. If someone is addressed or referred to with pronouns that best fit their presented gender, then for those of us living in the real world where we don’t expect everyone else to accommodate us and any peculiarities, it’s a good thing; but for them to ‘correct’ people by saying “How dare you! I’m zee / zer / zey.” (but be careful if you’re in Holland near the Zuiderzee), all they do is risk ostracising not only themselves from those who might otherwise have been more receptive to their sense of identity, but everyone else. I am not claiming we should always fit in to mainstream society, for outliers of any kind are actually a good thing as they not only announce what is possible (whether good or bad) but also help revitalise a community which might otherwise become stagnant. To demand special consideration and behave as if everyone should be mind-readers, however, is selfish and unrealistic, and as everyone is a unique combination of DNA and circumstances this ought to be sufficient, but somehow that doesn’t seem to be enough for them; I wonder why?
Have I encountered any form of discrimination? That depends on your personal definition and how militant (regressive) you want to be, but from the viewpoint of the person most affected (that would be me as an individual rather than as part of some nebulous collective to which I am assumed to belong), I would say no, not at all. At work, both during my transition and the long recovery after my main surgery, I was treated by the company no differently than any other employee who needed time off for medical reasons, and afterwards, when I was moving around between divisions and groups as my jobs changed, I was treated by the existing member of the groups and their managers as just another employee, to be judged on how well I fitted in with the existing practices, and my knowledge and its execution. How many of those whom I met knew beforehand of my situation I did not know, and as no one ever raised it with me it was never an issue (though had anyone approached me I would have been willing to discuss matters). That is not to say I have not encountered any difficulties, but no one remotely sane would ever consider transitioning to be simple regardless of how driven a person can be once they start and realise this new life is what they need (and I say ‘need’ rather than ‘want’ as in the experience of myself and most others at the time, it soon becomes something approaching an imperative, which is why delays of any kind can be so traumatic).
One of the contemporary books I read was Janice Raymond’s paranoid rant The Transsexual Empire, a 1st-wave TERF’s manifesto filled with vitriol and an active refusal to empathise with her targets (yet she and her successors demand empathy for their alleged ‘plight’ because they are of course de facto victims), in which she posited that MtF trannies were raping (her actual description) female spaces so as to redefine them based on masculine ideals or parodies of what a woman should be, thus denying real (‘cis’ in current terminology) women their experiences and somehow robbing them of their lives (yet if a born woman chooses to look like this it’s all right?). This vicious harridan caused untold harm to some I knew, and even someone as initially confused as I was found it a little unnerving as in my case and a few others’ the attack was aimed at people who hadn’t even done anything yet (though as men we were automatically guilty of every heinous crime against women), and whilst my memory is unclear on the following point and I have no desire to re-read the diatribe, I think it ignored genuine abnormalities such as Klinefelter syndrome (XXY chromosomes, which affected Tula). Despite Raymond’s fears and delusions (or hopes, if she was attempting to create some form of self-reinforcing backlash?), all any of us wanted to do was whatever was best for our current selves and get on with our potential future lives, but any improvement in our individual circumstances was deemed unimportant, for we were apparently assaulting the very concept of (genuine) femininity.
Even back then, Communist / Marxist rhetoric was being used as a means of exclusion and division (yet they always claim to be a uniting force bringing everyone together for the common good), and it continues today with newly-converted advocates proudly announcing how, having retrained their methods of thinking to see everything in terms of systems and intersections (self-brainwashing to a state of intellectual rigidity with more than a hint of self-righteous smugness), the only thing which matters to them is the strength / health of the collective as any individual freedoms gained, despite benefiting that person, doesn’t advance the group’s status and may even be harmful if it conflicts with what everyone else wants, either because it disagrees (heretic!) or because someone has more advantages than another (‘privilege’ in modern psycho-babble). As with all collectivists, they only want their own little group (and thus themselves) to be afforded special status, with everyone else deemed either a potential convert or enemy, just like the fundamental religions they so closely model yet also claim to oppose (except the most misogynistic and homophobic one, of course).
Naturally, they want everything both ways, for when in the ascendant they claim to speak for everyone and appropriate differences with all the zeal of a primary-school stamp-collector, thus their voices should be heard because they represent the under-trodden (unless they are women fighting the Patriarchy in other countries dominated by men, for all cultures are equal and to criticise from a position of privilege is racist despite religion being only an idea); when challenged, and because they deliberately conflate an idea with the person holding it, they automatically make everything personal (“the personal is political”) which is why their only reaction to any contrary opinion is to seek its banishment, its holder ridiculed and ostracised, preferably silenced before being sent away for ‘education’ (taken to religious extremes, murdered).
The first and only instance of direct discrimination I have ever encountered at work was from another tranny, though not for the obvious reason of fear of exposure. At that time there was no kind of company support mechanisms for any of the LGBT community, and so the HR department acted as a sort of unofficial go-between, asking for informal helpers or guides to mentor those following them, not to help with the transition in any way or to become friends, but just provide reassurance that the company would not suddenly decide to sack them for no reason (recent court cases had made this scenario not as unlikely as had been hoped). A more senior tranny was contacted to see if she would meet me somewhere neutral for a chat, or if she didn’t want to meet for fear of being betrayed by proximity to my early development, an over-the-phone conversation would help reassure me; but no, she wanted nothing to do with me at all. Why? Not because of my physical / medical state, but because she was a mid-level manager and I was ‘only’ a mere technician!
When walking around Aldwych in 2015, a young man waiting at a bus-stop with some friends said “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘t’.” There was no heckling, or calls for me to be chased or assaulted, just a vaguely amusing way of saying he had identified me, and he may not even have known whether or not I heard as he was speaking normally rather than shouting. Did I find this ‘offensive’, did it threaten me in any way? No, and no. All that happened was someone read me, and stated as much. It was not a lie or a slander, and there was no attempt at violence, for it would have been so easy to add various expletives; all that happened was a statement of fact, though I was of course miffed that I’d been read. I am a tranny, he saw me as one, and said so. Am I supposed to get upset about this when I know what I have achieved and that in most occasions seem to pass? If so, why? He wasn’t attempting to deny the validity of my existence or adversely affect my safety, it was uttered in the same tone he might have said “nice” as a women he found attractive passed by.
If an unshaven man with smeared lipstick can claim discrimination when barred from entering women’s lavatories and their dishevelled appearance shames any remotely conscientious transvestite (Dermablend is your friend), or someone shows no evidence they have even begun electrolysis or laser treatment after claiming they began their transition 2 years earlier (by which time anyone with any resources had not only fully transitioned but also had final surgery) and their overall bald yet hirsute appearance is actually of someone transitioning the other way (but look, they grew their nails, which seems contradictory to their assertion they are not aligning with gender stereotypes), then anyone can identify♥ as anything (a smug lying fat girl claiming to be a man, for example, despite obviously never having been anywhere near hormones) and so the entire concept becomes utterly meaningless as it has no limitations to define help it (things being as much what they are not or cannot be as much as what they may be). It is also an insult to all of us who spent a tremendous amount of time and effort (not to mention an awful lot of money) to do their utmost in passing, or at the very least presenting an appearance where anyone can see that a concerted effort has been made.
It is very obvious to all but the most moronic and those attempting to gain attention for how achingly hip they mistakenly think they are that being TS isn’t a trendy fad or something to identify♥ with to be down with the hip dudes and cool cats as if it was nothing but the latest fashion or piece of performance art (“This is the new me, ta-da!”), or like so many activists who seem to use it as a statement of some kind in the same way that decades ago (and probably still nowadays given their rigid mind-sets) there were women who became Lesbian out of political motivations rather than to fulfil any emotional and sexual needs as part of who they genuinely were. It seems to be something to assign themselves when they do not and likely never will experience any kind of gender dysphoria (and if what I felt as a secondary is anything like that felt by primaries from their earliest childhood recollections, it’s not something to particularly enjoy), for they seem utterly incapable of defining themselves by what they do (abilities - photographer, designer, writer, film-buff) and how they think (attitudes - conservative, communist, Christian, atheist), rather than external characteristics of what they are (attributes - white, female, tall, homosexual).
Nor is it a status to confer upon a child by parents who want their offspring to be a special wonder-kin and apparently score points in an oppression hierarchy (do they not even know it leaves people sterile?): it’s a fully-lived life-long experience with devastating consequences if done by people who are either not fully ready for the change, or who really don’t know what they want (“Oh, silly me; can I go back to the way I was?”). It worked for me and everyone I knew who decided on reassignment surgery (whilst those who did not knew they would be happy to remain that way for the foreseeable future), but we were the lucky ones who quickly merged into the background of general society and so didn’t appear in the professional accounts of those presenting interesting or difficult cases.
A contemporary book by Bryan T of studies from Charing Cross made very depressing reading due to the wide range of interacting mental-health issues and regrets about surgery. Even amongst those I knew there were far too many who wrongly assumed that having operations would sort out their sometimes shambolic lives, and the worse their current situation the more they thought of surgery as a panacea instead of what it truly was: not an ending (though obviously a significant goal to be achieved), but rather the first step in the rest of their future lives. Some even went so far as to believe that the mere act of transitioning would somehow provide them with things they didn’t currently possess, yet the major factor in being accepted for surgery (and the whole point of the ‘real life test’) was to maintain a regular job and be financially self-sufficient, travel to and from work in public rather than a sympathetic club at night in the safety of one’s own vehicle, go out shopping, etc.. If these things were missing prior to transition, then they would not appear as if by magic afterwards, and though being one’s true self might make the acquisition of these things easier because of increased happiness and greater mental / emotional stability, they still had to be worked for and then maintained.
Finally, those so-called ‘victims’ who claim to be such because they don’t get everything their own way instantly and for whom other people don’t accede to their demands: they have absolutely no idea how fortunate they are to be living in liberal European and Western societies, and now rather than in the 1950’s. To use their own terms (always cast as insults) they are highly privileged, for not only do they have the freedom to protest against the prevailing paradigm and current Zeitgeist (that latter tautology only proving they have no idea what they’re really saying), but also they are so coddled they need to invent means of oppression so as to give their self-imposed ‘suffering’ some meaning. They are terrified of taking any kind of responsibility for their own actions, whereas blaming everyone else means they are merely reacting to alleged provocation; the irony being that it is they who in their demands for safe spaces and enforced language policing are oppressing everyone else who holds a contrary opinion, by denying them platforms for open debate and calling for them to be sacked from their jobs.
They have no idea of what it was like even 10 years ago, never mind before they were even born, and yet those of us who transitioned in the 1990s considered ourselves fortunate to be doing so then and not a decade earlier, because societal attitudes and especially laws were changing to accommodate us (by which I mean providing us with legal protection, not granting us preferential status as seems to be the goal now). I am of course not saying that being a tranny is particularly easy sometimes (or at least the transition process isn’t), especially for primaries who grow up knowing everything about their bodies is wrong since their earliest memories, but through the internet they now have available to them a fully interconnected system of support groups and contacts on-line all day, as well as personalities and commentators on YouTube and other platforms documenting every aspect of their lifestyles or ongoing changes (covering such a wide gamut of political and social positions that some are even accused of not being ‘real’ trans because they disagree with the SJW collectivist mindset), so to claim as many do that they are being prevented from expressing themselves is beyond ridiculous, especially when disagreement on even the slightest point is conflated with systemic oppression and mere words are deemed to possess physical attributes so as to be capable of actual bodily harm.
♠ Whilst I do not and will never condone what they did, and concede I will never know what it was (and is) like to live in a fractured city, never mind country, there is a vast difference between the IRA’s goals and those of most modern terrorists. In vastly over-simplified terms, the IRA wanted a seat at the table, their voices and concerns aired, representation and power within an existing social / governmental structure; the Jihadists and others, however, not only want to destroy the table and all who sit around it, but the building in which it resides and the entire country surrounding it, to be rebuilt in their own image and with themselves as the sole arbiter of what is acceptable or not.
♦ I have always considered competition against other people who will be better / faster / stronger than myself as utterly pointless, just as I will often be better / faster / stronger than someone else unless injured or aged; the only thing that should matter is that I improve on my own previous self, or at least stay at the same level which as age slowly advances is actually an improvement. If that attitude makes me a cissy, then yes, I was, and still am.
† In the traditional UK rather than US sense where it implies someone is borderline Communist, meaning I don’t care what consenting adults get up to as long as it doesn’t adversely affect me. Why do those who consider themselves in a minority shout it at every opportunity? Why do you think their sex life is of interest to me when I don’t care what they do or with whom? I also reject all the status quizzes which seemingly accompany every piece of official literature, wanting to know sexual orientation and racial background and gender identity, colour of skin, and so on. No, absolutely not. If everyone is treated the same way regardless of the colour of their skin or hair or eyes, their presented gender, or their sexuality, then none of those factors are relevant. The only time it should be an issue is when dealing with people who have physical disabilities such as blindness or are confined to a wheelchair, in which case it is only fair to publish literature in Braille (but only in the native language of the country, not translated into dozens of others for those who even want street-signs changed to suit them), or provide ramps if practicable.
‡ I do not oppose social / scientific change, merely question change for its own sake (yet also observe the rules of “just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s always worth keeping, just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s automatically better”); if society as a whole benefits, then there are knock-on effects that are advantageous to me, which is why I agree with ‘socialist’ healthcare like the NHS (an essay for another time as many people who claim to oppose it are the first to call upon its services, with Ayn Rand being a famous hypocrite). I do however fully support scientific investigation and experimentation just to learn new things as, no matter how small or apparently inconsequential, all discoveries inform us of our place in the universe, and given the amount of money spent on warfare the pitiful leftovers used to fund such things as particle accelerators and space-craft are well worth the expenditure. That we are able to even know (and understand most of) what we have discovered so far (especially in the last century) is, I think, absolutely amazing, and though many recent advances were unfortunately driven by the desire for better weapons or to boast of superior ideologies, it only accelerated what would have happened anyway (even if retarded for centuries or millennia by religious zealots).
♣ A recent and to me very worrying development has been the rise of apparently diagnosing very young children with dysphoria, when all they are likely doing is playing. Let them experiment with gender roles and by all means let them discover their own sensibilities, as that’s safe and temporary and will probably be just a phase they are going through, but even if the child is indeed a ‘primary’ and knows that things are indeed wrong, to flood an undeveloped body with hormones which will change how they grow and steer the course of their entire life is an irreversible choice which shouldn’t be made without full knowledge of the consequences, which children by definition cannot do.
25 years ago, the number of TSs with other mental health issues was fairly high (not helped by how they were sometimes treated by society at large, so the current greater acknowledgement and acceptance is obviously a good thing), especially related to self-image and -worth (both of which still affect me to some degree now), so to group everything under the general heading of Gender Dysphoria and claim it can be used as the basis for a life-changing decision is, I think, totally irresponsible. Someone aged 16 still has a mind and body in a state of flux, so if by then feelings remain the same and with a greater experience of their lives and an expanded vocabulary to reason out and explain themselves, they determine that yes indeed that is what they truly want, then I would consider it appropriate to start them on hormones so they can discover the effects and stop if unhappy with the results (MtF only; FtM means taking testosterone whose effects are quick and completely unrecoverable), but still wait a few more years whilst living in role to determine whether or not they wish to continue like that for the remainder of their lives, whether they elect to have any surgery or not.
♥ To say they identify as something other than what they actually are or even wish to be shows an unbelievable lack of both self-awareness and the fundamentals of how the most basic of civil societies truly functions in the way that people react to and interact with one another. Someone either is or is not something, even if desperately yearning to be something else (or merely deluded), and as the vast majority of them make absolutely no attempt in either dress or manner or indeed any external indicator to present themselves as how they wish to be treated, how can it be everyone else’s fault when they are ‘mistaken’ as something they do not like?