My story begins in 1945.
The War had just ended and mum and dad were re-united. Dad had been wounded in battle earlier that year or late 1944, I am not sure exactly when. It was the morning of November 21st, a wet Wednesday. Mum had been in labour for some hours now as she lay in bed in the Royal Hospital in Liverpool. It was 9.15 in the morning when I took my first breath and after the usual cutting away of the umbilical cord and a wiping down, I was placed into my mother’s arms.
Mum was born on 11th August 1922 and dad four years earlier on 17th November 1918. Dad was the youngest son and child to his parents, my paternal grandparents who had left him orphaned at an early age. I do not know the circumstances of their deaths but only that my dad had to spend as far as I can gather, his youth in an orphanage in Liverpool. I am not sure how many brothers and sisters he had but I do remember one sister in particular. Her name was Constance but everyone called her Connie. This was a very typical name for a girl in Edwardian times. It was at Aunty Connie’s house that I spent the first three months of my life. I believe it was a shop on the corner of Edge Lane and Jubilee Drive in Liverpool and she lived in the rear part of the building which backed on to Kensington Park. It was in the back yard of another aunt, Margaret, who lived a short distance away some fifteen months later during a visit that I injured my leg by falling into an open grid. I still have the scars on my leg were they stitched up the wound. I have vague recollections of the incident and I think it is my earliest recollection. I was about eighteen months old. I have only a couple of memories from those days and I am surprised that I can remember that far back. My most significant memory was of an incident that happened when I was almost four years old. That was a realisation that I was not what I was meant to be.
After three months living with my aunt, mum and dad were fortunate to find their own place to live. It was after the war and houses were scarce but the local council had begun erecting some new prefabricated houses in the area. It was into one of these that the three of us started to live. That would be February 1946. Later that same year the first of my brothers and sisters was born. Derek was born on 14th October then on 10th January 1948 came my first sister Carol followed by my second sister Jennifer in late 1950 on the 15th December. My youngest brother, David, was born later in April 1955 on the 23rd. We spent our early childhood there until mum and dad decided to move again in 1958.
That year saw us all living in suburbia. This was a two storey, three bedroomed property in a nice tree lined road out of town and it was like living in the country for us. I lived there until I got married in 1974. At that time only my youngest brother and I lived at home. Our two sisters and the other brother had married and flown the nest already. We spent some lovely times as children in both those houses but sometimes things for me were not so good. I was constantly bullied when I was young and I would be the first to say I was a little effeminate. I had the underlying problem with my gender identity although that didn’t affect my general happiness.
When I started my working life however I was very reluctant to form friendships and relationships outside of my home life and so my workmates never became my friends socially. Maybe it was my shyness, maybe my feelings of vulnerability, of being ‘found out’ which prevented me from socialising. I say found out because of my lack of interest in dating girls. That is not to say I had any homosexual inclinations, I didn’t. Many a time my mum asked the reasons for my not wanting to mix with people but she never got a straight answer. My real desire was to transition and become the woman I was supposed to be and was inside.
It was a great surprise to me that I found somebody I loved and I got married. I was in denial of myself and stayed that way for many years. We had two sons, whom I love dearly but later, when they had grown to adulthood, my partner and I divorced. This had nothing to do with my gender identity issues, the marriage simply broke down.
In the year 2002 I finally realised my lifelong desire to be true to myself and to live my life as a woman. I went through gender re-assignment surgery in Thailand and now live happily as the person, the woman I always was…………
Shirley Anne Feb 2009