I was catching up on blogs over the weekend and I found this from Lynn. She has kindly asked for me to provide some answers as well. I thought it sounded interesting, and as I was struggling for a topic today I did it straight away! Sorry if they are long winded J
AWARENESS: When did you first feel trans? How did it make you feel? Did you embrace or run from it?
I want to say I knew I should have been a girl right from my earliest memories. But I’m not sure that saying I should have been a girl is the right way to put it. I so desperately wanted to be a girl, and I wished for it so badly, and was always so disappointed when nothing happened (hey I was very young, you can believe in wishes at that time!). I never did understand why I wasn’t one throughout my childhood.
Did I embrace it? That is a tough one to answer. When playing on my own I was always the girl I wanted to be, and when playing with my female cousins I never complained about playing with their dolls and toys.
Me and my female cousins also put on plays for the adults (as kids do) and I always made sure that I dressed up as a girl when we did.
I had a few girlfriends when young (which the adults thought was ever so cute), and spent time after school with them baking with their mothers or playing with them whilst on holiay. My male friends thought it was funny and made fun of me for it, though at that time I didn’t care.
But when playing at home in the same room as my parents, or with friends or my brother I hid it as well as I could.
Does that count as both embracing and running? I’m not sure.
ADOLESCENT COPING: How did you cope with growing up? What about puberty? How was school, or teenage life?
People say that they would love to go back their teenage years. I really, really wouldn’t. It was hell – from the bullying at and after school to the fact that I was growing up and going through puberty which brought home the fact that I was going to lose the frame that I had and become man. When my shoe size went above 5 (and yes, I know now that I have it very lucky with my frame – but at the time…) and my legs started to get quite hairy I really got upset over it.
I didn’t feel a connection with many people and outside of a small group of friends became somewhat of a loner. I started to get really emotional about things (which didn’t help the bullying obviously, it was somewhat of a game to see just how much they could make me cry). The teachers in my school were zero help; they just told me man up and ignore the bullying and stop crying. Until I did something back to the bullies and then I was again told I should just ignore them and punished for rising to them.
I do not have pleasant memories of that school.
My parents were great, but really didn’t get the fact that I was crying so much and, for my own sake, I really did need to stop crying because it’s something that boys just don’t do. But, they gave me a huge amount of support through school, both for academic things (ensuring I studied when I should and that I took time out when I should) and when I was bullied. The teachers may have ignored it completely but they never did, and did their best to stop it.
As for the dressing, well whilst I knew something was wrong all of my life, it was not until I was a teenager that I started to dress (except for the play clothes as a youngster). Quite how it can feel so right, and yet so guilty at the same time is strange.
EARLY LIFE/ UNIVERSITY / COLLEGE: Having grown up - at least physically, how was life? Did you fit in or fall out? Did you stay home, work away or go to University, college or work?
I think that growing up where I did, and the crap I had to deal with at school actually helped me here. I was discussing it with an old friend recently. Where I grew up nothing was expected of anyone. You got some dead end job, or you started stealing. That was the choice, and not one that I was prepared to accept. By the time I was 15 I had decided that, screw it, I was going to get out of there. And the only way to do it was to study and get a nice job. This also didn’t help with the bullying of course. When you turn down joy riding to study you get called lots of names, when you go to 6th form and university people start telling you that you have ideas above your station and that you think you are too good for where you came from. Looking back… Yes, I had ideas above my station I was not going to sell myself short just because people expected it!
I think one of the most shocking things is that some family members (not, I hasten to add my parents who supported me all the way) thought the same thing about me – for daring to want to go to university and study for decent job.
And I think the same thing occurred to me for the fact that I was trans. Whilst I did not embrace it during my early adult life I did decide that it was not going to get in the way of trying to do well. It made things harder, but it was just something I was going to have to deal with. (That would come back to bite me in my thirties…)
But… The school I went to did not prepare me well for college and uni. As nothing was expected from the students nothing was really done for those who wanted to try – this even came back in the Ofsted reports for the school, in a positive light no less! Paraphrased: the standard of results for the school is poor – but considering the area that sends the pupils, nothing more could be expected and it is doing its best. As an ex-pupil I would like to disagree. My math background in math made physics A level a struggle (I barely passed that exam – I got the concepts, but could not prove any of the equations). And the first year of computing was not simple as the rest of the class had been taught at school, and I only had what I had taught myself at home (on a C64 – in the 90’s not a good choice of development machine!)
I made it through 6th form with a few, but not many, friends, and then went on to uni. Again, anything where I just needed to understand the concepts I had no problem with (programming, problem solving, database design etc) but those things that needed good math skills (advanced math, data communications – calculating entropy etc) I struggled with. My results list looks like it’s from two different people. I either got very high marks or barely scrapped a pass, but nothing in between. At university I started the pattern for friends that I have now. Lots of acquaintances, and I get on with most people, but not many close friends.
I went to university at home, as it was a choice of having my own transport and living with my parents, or selling the car and renting a student flat elsewhere. It’s a poor reason to pick a university, but I’ll be honest I have never regretted the decision.
CAREER: What you do and how you think it has shaped you (for better or worse). Is there something you long to do?
I studied Information Technology at university. A mixture of programming (I wouldn’t say software engineering as that covers different concepts and levels of knowledge), database design, network and communication studies and micro-architecture. On top of this professional studies were also included. I decided that this was much more my personality than the software engineering course itself – as it was described by students during our visit to the uni whilst in the decision process: IT is for those who like daylight, and software engineering is for those who like basements and pizza – by a software engineering student.
Whilst in my sandwich year I worked for a production control company – converting their dos system to windows. Things went so well that when I returned to uni I stayed on part time, and when I finished uni I went to work for them full time. It was a great company and I was working directly for the MD.
After 6 months I got a job offer in Holland and jumped at it – also a programmer, but in a job that I quickly realized I could mold as I wanted to. Take on responsibilities that look interesting and try to solve issues.
It’s something I kept in all of my jobs since, and as a result I have gone from senior developer in my current company to team lead / project manager / Scrum champion.
Is there something that I long to do? I would love to open my own bakery or restaurant. But seeing as I cook as a hobby and not as a job I don’t see it every happening… At least this way I keep it fun!
RELATIONSHIPS: Single, married, long term relationship, divorced, happy to be single? How is family life?
Married for 8 years now, and loving it!
A blind date in 2000, and a week later a day walking around Amsterdam chatting and leading to living together and getting married. She knew about my dressing from early on living with each other, but I lied to her about the why. And yes I do feel as guilty as hell about that.
Life is still good, and we are learning what our new relationship is. Who knows what the future holds, but I am not as concerned as I was two years ago.
COMING OUT: Have you? Would you? If so, how was it? If not, why not?
Until three years ago I would never have said that I would come out. But a few panic attacks and a week recovering from valium put paid to that.
I came out to a colleague first. He was very understanding and sent me a text the same day. He gave me a lot of help in the weeks that followed trying to keep me calm.
Then there was Mrs Stace. I was about to have another panic attack and I knew the only way to stop it was to speak to her. 11pm on a Sunday evening is not the time to come out to your wife. We talked all night and the next day we were both a wreck at work the next week.
She made me go to the doctor and the rest as they say is history.
I came out in the office the day before I started to live full time as Stacy, the reactions were amazing, I got lots of support that day, and on all of the days since. There were one or two people who had issues, but they were never nasty to me, they just didn’t know how to react around me.
And family… My family has been amazing as well. My parents were adamant that I was not transsexual when I first told them – but they were in shock. After thinking it though, and definitely after seeing the real me for the first time, they stopped calling me by my male name in private and started asking if they could send daughter cards for birthdays and Christmas.
I don’t think that I could have asked for more from people.
THE WAY FORWARD: What’s next for you? What are your hopes - trans, or otherwise?
Well, after the appointment at the VU this week next on the list, trans wise, is to prepare for the operation. I am not looking forward to the pre-work there…
On the family front it’s just to try and continue figuring out my new relationship with Mrs Stace and to try and continue enjoying life.
On the work front it’s to try and get the best I can from using Scrum in the office, and to try and take my career to the next step in the coming years.
WORDS OF WISDOM: Anything you’d like to share to a younger you or to other trans people?
To a younger me… Stop feeling ashamed of yourself. It’ll come good in the end, and you know what? It’s possibly even better for the trials of youth! Never give up, never stop trying. You are going to be the person that you should have always been. Not at the right time, but then who is to say what the right time is.
You are going to have the most amazing spouse! Make sure that you tell her that J
Oh, and sorry – by your mid-thirties you are still going to be lost by the more complex advanced math. Sorry.
To other trans people… Don’t give up, and don’t let it run your lives for you.
Be the real you that you are, and please note the real!
There are no wrongs and right here as long as you are true to yourself. Please, please do not think that you have to act in a certain way – you do not need to act how you think people expect women, or men, to act. You will only lose yourself this way and end up hiding behind a façade even bigger than before and people will never know the real you.
Try not to feel too sorry for yourself, you’ll be doing a disservice to yourself if you do. Life sucks, work with what you can and do what you want to do! You’ll be happier for it!
Lynn passed these questions on to 7 other people, I haven’t really thought about who to ask to take up the mantle… I’ll come back to that…