I have now been transitioned twenty years. On Monday 29 April 2002 I went into work expressing myself female.
That is the moment which matters to me. There are milestones- buying a wig, meeting others, going out among the straights, making the decision, seeing doctors, getting hormones- but going into work is the moment that expressing female became my ordinary life. I left the office on Thursday 25 April and went to get my ears pierced, then walked home, feeling slightly self-conscious with gold studs in my ears and my man’s coat and shoes. I went away for the weekend with the Community Building group, who had known me as Abigail for over a year. Then I went into work.
Ten years ago I had a party, and now I hardly feel like celebrating. I hate getting read, and I have no motivation to work on my voice, or buy a better wig, leave alone consider my “mannerisms and gestures”. I feel damaged and lonely. I internalised transphobia because I was surrounded by it, and it has hurt me. So my process of transition continues: I thought myself worthless, and now assert I have value. Patiently I affirm myself, which helps me to heal.
I am delighted to see younger trans people, including some phenomenal talents, making a go of life. It gets better. There is vicious, virulent prejudice and hatred encouraged for political purposes by those in power, and trans people are becoming more visible. Tens of thousands of trans people in Britain have had the courage to say “This is who I am” and to be themselves.
Transition was right for me. Expressing myself female remains right for me, because I am female. I had to pretend, when I was presenting male, and it became unbearable. A huge amount of self-hatred and contempt, initially unconscious, forced me to struggle to make a man of myself, until my nervous breakthrough. Now I affirm my femininity.
Transition has helped me be myself, know myself, value myself. I wanted to be rational and intellectual, and in reality I feel deeply, and my feeling self is where all my motivation comes from. I needed to transition to know my own desires. I needed to accept my feminine self before I could form loving relationships, and as I have got to know myself better I have been better able to relate to others, more deeply.
Slowly I cease to fear myself, and the world.
I still feel terribly inadequate, and there are people who love and admire me. I am safe enough. Online, the hatred for trans people can feel overwhelming, but my experience walking through the world has been that any threat or mockery is rare, quickly passing, and not really dangerous.
In 2001 I believed it possible that in five years’ time I would be presenting male again, but I knew I was completely stuck: I could not move forward in my life without trying transition. Twenty years later, presenting male seems unimaginably horrible to me. If transition is right for you, it is really, really right. It is so much better to be yourself than to pretend.
This is me.