13 February 2016. There I was, sat eating my tea watching The Voice, when on comes this Talk Dark woman and during the intro piece she says…
When I was a child I never realised I was a girl
I just didn’t think I was a boy
I kind of thought I was an alien
… my partner turns to me and says “what’s it like hearing someone else say your words?” the tears streaming down my face said all she needed to know.
You see during my primary school years I used to tell the other kids I was an alien, indeed when they asked where I came from I would say “another planet”. So to hear for the first time another trans person say they felt the same was a real emotional jolt, though I didn’t quite realise how much of an impact that moment would have at the time. Up until that day I had only ever told my partner about my alien thing (aside from the kids all those years ago, obviously) I certainly didn’t tell the psychiatrists – far too real and personal! The woman from the tele was Jordan Gray, having initially not being chosen she came back to The Voice a few weeks later and I joined Twitter (after years of avoidance) so I could follow her progress. Joining Twitter brought further changes in my life. I found out about new bands and consequently started going to many more gigs, including Whitby Goth Weekend for the first time. I also found this trans community – something that never existed back in my day. As I said to a friend recently ‘in the year I hit my 50th birthday I feel 25 again’.
But those initial words from Jordan triggered a lot of thoughts, not just to when I told the other kids I was an Alien but also the clues from my childhood that I was trans (even though I didn’t know it at the time). The times when I would line up with the girls but then get moved. The time I bought my first watch with my mum; having been given the choice between the red and blue strap I chose the red one, the shop assistant said “girls prefer red”, sadly my mum corrected her. Then there were my transition years. I was very much a goth during my late teens/early twenties and this allowed me to almost transition before I knew what trans was. I realise now how much having a nickname from the age of 14 helped me, being able to abandon my birth-name in all but a few circumstances let me develop my own identity without the burden of a male name. I was also very public about my status during my transition, I joined the university LGB society (no T back then – we’d only just fought for the B!), campaigned on queer issues and became an SU sabbatical officer. The contrast between how out as trans I was then and how ‘stealth’ I’d become has caused me some angst and guilt over the past year if I’m honest.
Then Jordan announced she was playing a gig in my hometown, I’d not been there for over 20 years but I had to go. Strangely seeing my old house had little effect on me, but when I saw the railway station it really hit me – I sat down on the pavement and cried; I think I saw the station as my escape out of there into the wonderful freedom of London. I decided against going back to see my school, I think that would just have been too much emotionally. Over the past year, thinking back to where I came from and how I got to where I did I’m not sure how I did some of it to be fair. This past year I’ve been described as “a pioneer” and “inspirational”, I feel like neither. I was just doing what I had to do but ultimately I just feel lucky.
There’s a scene in Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean that’s always stuck in my mind– this is one of the few films with a trans character from my transition years. Joanne (played by Karen Black) describes lying in bed with the man who raped her pre-transition begging her to sleep with him; she’s lying there staring at the cracks in the ceiling tracing out the life journey that got her to that point. The little moments and decisions in our life are like the cracks in the ceiling leading us down a particular path. Had my school friend’s sister and her friend not introduced me to Goth and The Batcave; had Maria at Funny Wonder not recognised me at the Alien Sex Fiend gig and introduced me to the Bradford/Leeds Goths and ultimately had the Psychiatrist I first saw at York hospital been not been open minded (unlike his CX colleagues) things could have been very different for me. There were many junctions and paths along the way and things could have taken a different turn and I could have so easily buried my trans feelings. Had it been that way, watching The Voice on 13 February 2016 may have led to a very different turning point in my life.