People are happy to chat at the gender clinic. All I have to say is “Do you fancy a chat?” I am still the one who starts it.
We have a story, with a set of assumptions: a cultural artefact. We are “trans women”. I reject that, to an extent; Allison rejects it completely, or at least does not trust it. She is a solicitor in the legal department of a large company. The management know. They are happy with her work. The colleagues must know something, they will note her long hair and her increasingly stubble-less cheek.
She is having electrolysis. Charing Cross offer eight hours of electrolysis, she says, and we are appalled: you need hundreds of hours. She wants to take transition slowly: she wants to complete electrolysis before next year before she goes female at work. I say I could not delay, I had thought of transition in September 2002 and in early March realised I had to make it as soon as possible: I did my arrangements at work in a hurry and transitioned six weeks later.
That’s how trans women are, she says.
I don’t understand immediately. There are other ways of being, such as gender-queer-
All these are definite positions. She does not know. She is uncomfortable expressing herself as a man, with the way people interact with her, and she wants to try expressing herself as a woman. She does not want to be a particularly attractive woman, just to blend into the background as a woman. She wants electrolysis and speech therapy to be just right, because she wants as good an experience as possible of transition without being read and insulted too much; or she might just revert after a few months.
You can’t know how it will be for you, or how you will react. Allison wants what she wants, and does not want to be seduced by a cultural phenomenon or understanding, for she is uniquely herself. She thinks the counselling here, six hours, is quite insufficient, not nearly long enough for a conversation like that. She wants her mind clear on it.
Oh, I want to be beautiful. I said I had difficulty passing and Allison doubted that.
Actually I did not ask about pronouns. I tend to feel that those of us AMAB who want to express ourselves female should have female pronouns, and am fairly sure female are appropriate- but it is not my judgment.
I also met a trans man recently on T. I thought he was on T, because of his upper lip, but he has always been hairy there. He is in a punk band, and he wanted to see the speech therapist about singing: it can be dodgy as the voice breaks. In the church choir, I heard (around 1980) that you should just not sing for three years, which he finds appalling. I find it hard to credit, but he had mistaken, and had no appointment, but the speech therapist found space for him anyway.
He’s been on on T only a few weeks, and he notices changes. Imagine a tenor Oh! of pleasure, rather than soprano Ooh!
-Oh to be transitioning at that age, said Allison.
Leaving the clinic, I said, “How was it for you?” We walked up the Fulham Palace Road chatting. He was dapper, and I thought trans- I went from 90% certain to 20% possibility when he said he was there for a job interview. Normally with interviews the panel try to make it as informal as possible, but this was very formal. Well, I say, the service is in heavy demand and we are quite damaged people.
Isn’t everyone? he said.
Yeah, s’pose. That is a good attitude for a counsellor: everyone needs counselling!
Art work now: more Henri Rousseau.