3. My Story

sunny-day-1I write my story in the hope that those I love will have a better understanding of who I am, the struggle I’ve had through life and the obstacles I’ve had to overcome in society just to be me.

Life can be hard and it can be easy. It can be filled with wonderful things or it can be empty. Life can be an expression of ourselves or a burden we carry. Those of us blessed with lifelong good health often take it for granted and those who are not have that extra load to carry. Being physically disadvantaged is one thing but being psychologically disadvantaged can be a nightmare. I am not talking about mental health here. That is a condition which affects our ability to show our intelligence and display our capabilities. I am referring to a condition psychiatrists have begun to call Dysphoria and specifically Gender Dysphoria. Having this condition does not affect our normal day to day living nor our ability to function in society but it does eat away at the very core of our being if we do suffer in this way. Of course it is possible to treat this condition but the only really effective method and most suitable solution is for the sufferer to undergo gender re-assignment surgery or GRS, sometimes called sex re-assignment surgery or SRS. It is a misnomer to call it a sex change for that is not what it is. It is really corrective surgery in which the physical appearance and function of the patient is brought as far as is practically possible in line with their psychological profile. In my case I was a woman trapped inside a man’s body.

Having this surgery may be impossible for some people due to their own personal circumstances, health or other factors. I guess I have been one of the lucky ones, if one believes in luck. I shall say therefore that I have been blessed by my circumstances and situation to be fortunate enough to overcome my gender issues and now after surgery am able to live out my life as the woman I have always been. 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 told me in  later years that at that time she remarked about my looks to the duty nurse. ‘Doesn’t he look funny?’ she said, to which the nurse replied, ‘Indeed he does not!’ I suppose all babies look like dried prunes when first born. I know my own two sons did. Fortunately we begin to fill out quickly and then become the apple of our parent’s hearts.

It’s funny how things work out. More and more I am convinced that things happen because they are meant to be. One morning I was listening to a song on the radio and my youngest brother immediately sprung to mind. It wasn’t the tune or the lyrics,. maybe it was the genre. However, the two things seemed in my mind to be like a jigsaw puzzle. The song fitted perfectly to my brother, his lifestyle, his attitudes or whatever. Perhaps I am inventing the thought but it happens frequently. Association, that is the keyword. Places, events, individuals, things all seem to be part of a huge jigsaw puzzle and each is an important part of it. What jigsaw is complete with even one piece missing? It is though everything has a purpose, everything is there for a reason. When at a very early age I realised I was a woman, or girl at that time, little did I know then that the outcome, the full transition just had to happen. Everything falls into place at it’s appointed time. One thing is certain, at least to me it is and it is the fact that no matter what we do, what plans we make, what decisions we take, it is all meant to be the way it actually happens. Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps I am completely wrong but nevertheless it seems that way to me. Too many strange ‘coincidences’ happen for it not to be a plan.

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 and 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 her back yard 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 where 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. I will come back to that in a later chapter.

Mum evidently was born and raised in Liverpool also. She was the middle sister of three born to my other grandmother and her first husband. Winifred or Win as she was called was the eldest, then mum and then Gertrude or Gertie the youngest. Her mum married twice. Her first husband evidently mistreated her and she took beatings from him. I am not sure but I think he died rather than my gran getting divorced from him. She later remarried and her new husband was the only grandad we knew. From what my mum told me later in life, he was no saint either. Anyhow she had a son by him, Tony and he was my mum’s half brother and one of our uncles. We didn’t see much of him and he left England sometime in the 1950’s bound for New Zealand or Australia. After that I don’t know what happened to him. I do remember Tony, my grandma and my family being in New Brighton one day. Tony spent most of the day chasing girls.

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 was born later in April 1954 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.

When I was young my cup was filled with love. My parents valued family life and forsaking other avenues of pleasure and self indulgence ensured that we, their children, might have all our basic needs met. It was a struggle for them and looking back now I often wonder how they managed but they did. As I have said, I was the eldest of five and often it was said to me that I was my parent’s love child. Not that my siblings weren’t equally loved but it seemed to them at least that the first born would be special. They were absolutely right but not in the way they thought! We all received the same amount of love and affection. None were allowed to feel left out of things. Of course siblings have their own differences and agendas but as the eldest I was expected to set an example. That led me to gain the nickname ‘bossy boots’ among other names. Outside of the family things were entirely different for me. There was no love out there, except maybe from relatives and being as I was a very timid child, I was often bullied. Looking back I guess also that I was quite effeminate. That wouldn’t have helped me amongst the boys. I suppose too that I took my anger caused by the bad things that happened to me out on my brothers and sisters. Perhaps I was trying to hide the fact that I was really very timid but I was only fooling myself. It was only much later in life that I began to gain confidence, lose my timidity and become me.

Where we lived as children in the heart of Liverpool, the only playing areas were either the back streets or waste ground. There was a lot of waste ground left open after the war where buildings had been demolished by the severe bombing that had taken place. It was 1952 and I was almost seven years old. It took many years for the Country to recover from the ravages of war. So most of my younger years were spent playing on bomb sites. Vehicular traffic was light, hardly anyone had a private vehicle and most people took public transport or walked. Life seemed far slower than it is today and from what I remember people were more friendly. I suppose that was due to the war years which had united them against a common enemy. It is usually the case that catastrophe, war and hard times unite people. We had to make our own amusement, we had no television or computers in those days but we did have radio like most people then. Although television had been invented some years earlier, not many folk could afford one. Only those who were more well off financially could buy one. However we did manage to get our first television in 1953 in time to see Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. During the following five years, television aerials sprung up everywhere. We had our aerial fixed to a mast in the garden as there was nowhere to fix it on the single storey prefab that was our house. The house itself afforded us luxuries that most folk did not have at the time, things like an immersion heater, a refrigerator, a washing boiler (the washing machine was still being developed) with a mangle attached and an all night burning fire with a back boiler which served to heat the water as well as keeping the house warm. As children, we only stayed indoors when it was raining and we watched people and traffic from our sitting room window going up and down the main street. We would occupy ourselves with a book or comic to read or perhaps paint or colour in a picture. No computers, no calculators, no hand held electronic games. All those things came many years later. We did not even have a telephone and if we needed one we would have to go to the public phone box down the street. Occasionally mum would treat us to the cinema if a suitable film was being screened. I remember the radio we had. It had a large tuning dial and it operated using a large external glass encased accumulator or wet cell which had to be recharged every few days. Dad used to take me along with him to exchange the old battery for a recharged replacement. He went to a local recording studio about a quarter mile up the street. I would be around four or five years old at that time. I remember sitting at home every Sunday lunchtime waiting for the Sunday lunch and listening to that radio. I will never forget the Billy Cotton Band Show and Around the Horn broadcast at that time. Other programs like the Goons came later and all of them were really enjoyable to listen to. Happy days. Well for most of the time they were. How many children today play hopscotch, rounders, skipping, hide and seek, and games like them? Perhaps at school they might but only there. Some children today are involved in a sport of one sort or another but many are too much glued to the television or computer screen playing video games. Maybe we would have been just the same had we those things that children these days take for granted.

Times were hard just after the war was over. Food was still in short supply and rationing was carried out for some years. I remember the ration books that my mum had. Inside were tear off portions that could be used to buy certain foods with the correct money of course. This way everybody was able to have a share of what was available. Well in theory at least. As always there was a ‘black market’ in operation whereby for extra cash you could obtain more ration books. I suppose this is human nature at it’s worse but it goes on anyway. I think it was around the mid-fifties before we saw an end to the need for rationing. Often as a child I would get in the weekly shopping for mum. I don’t remember my siblings doing the same although they must have at some point. There were one or two shops in the back streets behind where we lived but mum would often go shopping in a nearby main street. Although our street was a main street it lacked grocery shops so we had to go elsewhere for food. Mum would write a list of things to buy but whenever I did the shopping I invariably went without it because I could remember everything on it. I don’t think I could do the same these days though! We played in the back streets because the traffic was very light, the only regular vehicles about were a milkman’s float and the weekly wagon delivering coal. Almost everybody bought coal. We used to sneak up behind the coal wagon and jump a ride by hanging on to the tailboard. I suppose that would have been considered dangerous but in reality the wagon moved very slowly. One or two boys used to keep hanging on though even when it moved away fast. We got a severe telling off though if we were caught. I remember that for the most part there was an attitude of respect for adults and those in authority. People in those days were far more likely to ‘clip us around the ears’ for misbehaviour. Not so these days. I remember the man who used to ride about on a tricycle with one wheel on the back and two on the front which supported a cool box containing ice cream. Obviously he couldn’t carry too much ice cream as there was no way to refrigerate it. I think he went back to his shop or depot to refill every so often. The ice cream was nice though!. Then there was the ‘rag and bone’ man. Where the tag ‘bone’ came from I do not know but essentially he collected rags or old clothes and would exchange them for a few pence. If he received an exceptionally large amount of clothes he would give a  goldfish in a small plastic bag filled with water.

We played many different games as children much as they do now., hide and seek, hopscotch, tag, football and cricket, rounders, skipping and a few others. During the summer months mum and dad took us out on weekly day trips, usually to the seaside and it was such fun getting things ready for the day out. We would make sandwiches with all different fillings, take a cake and biscuits some lemonade and a few items of fruit. We had to be certain we’d packed our swimsuits too! Half the excitement was in the preparation and getting to the destination. If it showed any signs of possible rain dad would tell us that the trip was off but most of the time he was just teasing us. Unless it was pouring down with rain and unlikely to stop we would make the trip. Often on the journey home we would tuck in to the remainder of the sandwiches and we would all be very tired after the day’s events. Those days were some of the most enjoyable times in my life and were only made so because our parents loved us so much. I thank them both.

From the moment we are born we seek attention. As we grow we seek love, we seek to be accepted and to be a part of things. When we are children we seek the love of our parents and if all is normal we get it. In our dealings with others we seek acceptance but often don’t get it. We form relationships and hope there is love there whether it be deep friendship or the intimacy we crave for in a marital relationship. Having been married myself I know now that this doesn’t necessarily last. When I was young I felt loved and wanted because my parents loved their children and went out of their way to show it and because of that love I felt secure and as happy as I could be. 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. I took a bizarre pleasure in the fact that I was being anti-social. It was like being accepted in a weird sort of way. In actual fact I was wasting my life. It got progressively worse as I grew into my early twenties until one day I decided to go for a drink in a pub. I began to slowly form friendships and realised that after all, I could be accepted but I was leading a double life. My cross dressing was a compulsion by this time and a major part of my life. I had to be careful not to allow anything to interfere with it. As I have said, I wasn’t particularly interested in girls but rather I was fascinated by them and so envious too. It was a great surprise to me that I found myself dating some of them. When I met E, my future wife, I fell in love with her. This was the first time I had ever loved anyone outside of my family. It wasn’t really a sexual attraction but I just fell in love with the person. I do still love her deeply even though we are now divorced. So it was that we got married. That was an amazing thing to me and I think now that I had just allowed things to develop and happen because subconsciously I was craving love and affection. She proposed to me one day and I went along with it. That seems so selfish and unfair to her but it wasn’t like that at all. I gave up my hopes and dreams to give my wife the love and attention she deserved. I gave her my life and was devoted to her. I was in denial and thought that was the end of my days of cross dressing but the thoughts were always there. Being as I was in a man’s body having sex was quite normal for me and my gender issues had been repressed, or so I thought. I never let my wife down by bringing up the subject. As far as she was concerned she had married a man who loved and cared for her. During those early years of marriage we were happy and fulfilled. We took holidays abroad and generally enjoyed ourselves. We had saved enough to buy our first house after living in an apartment for two years. After a few years she became broody and naturally followed our two wonderful sons. It was not long after the birth of our youngest son that her attitude toward sex began to change. I put it down to post natal depression so I didn’t push her. As the years passed by she began to grow colder toward me and sex was out of the question. Despite many years attempting to revive the marriage and change her attitude toward me, she wasn’t interested. I became more and more lonely and rejected. She would not take advice and lost all interest in our relationship as well as in me. Many a night I wept alone in my room wondering why I was being treated this way. After some years we became unofficially separated within our own house. I had moved into another bedroom and she would only speak with me about matters regarding domestic issues. I was in a loveless marriage and I kept it all inside. No one was aware of my situation. We had no close friends but rather had spent all our time together and with the children. I persevered with my situation until the children had grown into their late teens by which time I had made up my mind to restart my life. I have to say at this point that my cross dressing habit had not left me despite being married and I had been actively dressing since a few months into the marriage. Of course nobody knew about that but I had to confine the times to when she was at work and when the children were at school. Now I began to have thoughts of doing something about my gender issues. This led to me ‘coming out’ and ultimately undergoing gender re-assignment surgery to finally start my life as Shirley Anne.

I still feel unloved, except for the love from my two sons and at the time of writing I have no-one in my life. Of course there is the love from my siblings but I hardly ever see them these days. It was during the years I was having these problems with my marriage that I found God. For almost all of my former life of forty three years I had been an atheist but during the summer of 1988 I had begun to read the Bible and started to study it later that year. I took it with me to read on a camping holiday we had planned. The children were very young and were asleep quite early in the evenings so we both had time to relax and do other things. E had become ‘confirmed’ at church as a teenager but I think she had been forced to attend church by her mum. Her dad was not a believer. I think that this made her to reject anything to do with religion although we both had been attending services at a local Methodist church for some years. I had instigated that because I wanted to rear our children in a Christian way even though at that time I really didn’t understand it all myself. Anyhow E’s heart was not in it I guess and when in the following year I confessed to being ‘born again’, she became more antagonistic toward anything to do with my new found faith and beliefs. I had found real love in Christ but was losing the love of my wife. Naturally I prayed for her and still do in the hope that she finds peace with God.

I struggled immensely with my faith and the fact that I was dressing as a woman. It was hard for me because I thought I would lose the only true and everlasting love of God. I am at peace now for I believe that God loves me despite my shortcomings, despite all that I have done and I feel a love deep inside that I could never get or feel from another human being. I know that I am loved, that I am accepted and I don’t have to seek love anymore.

It is fair to say that not all of my school days were bad. I remember my days at Infant and Junior School as being for the most part very enjoyable. I was a very keen learner and for a long time was top of my class. During these formative years things did get progressively worse as far as relationships with my peers were concerned. In any school, in any class of children there are always those who are strong willed and strong in character. Some use this attribute to bully others. Being a very timid child I was prone to such bullying. I did have one or two friends but still I became very introverted over time and I put some of that down to the fact that I was bullied quite often. As a result I couldn’t develop as I might otherwise have done. By the time I had reached my early teens, I was very shy indeed. I am not saying that the main cause of my shyness was due to bullying but it certainly contributed to it.

Most girls I have known have been gentle compared to boys and I was more like the girls in this respect. This thought served to cement the already deep feelings I had in regard to my gender identity. I thought I was a girl inside my boy’s body. Psychiatrists now recognise this condition and refer to it as Gender Dysphoria. Being gentle, timid and a bit shy seemed to me to be right for a girl. I know now of course that this was a very simplistic and inaccurate view of females. They are much more than that. However, we learn as we grow.

I was picked on more and more as I grew up and I lacked the natural masculine instinct to retaliate. During puberty, testosterone began it’s destruction of my body but had no affect on my mental disposition nor on my timidity. My early years of cross dressing now grew with a vengeance and it served as an escape from my physical being.

When I left school and started my apprenticeship as an electrician the bullying I had suffered during childhood continued and it wasn’t until I began to socialise that it eventually stopped. Or did it? After I had gone through my transition I found that the bullying took on a different guise. Now it was homophobic or just plain ridicule. I fancy that I have progressed in my journey enough now to be more recognisable as a woman and less the transsexual. It is all a matter of degree I suppose. I know I am accepted now because people who don’t know me accept me as a woman and I am treated as such. Anyhow for the most part, I have no problems except when some people get to know and I become in their eyes a novelty, someone to whisper about. Sad really I suppose but that is human nature. I wonder how they would feel if they were me. I don’t have a problem with it though, I am past that stage. People like that are the ones with a problem, not I.

I guess you would call me a perfectionist, a stickler for accuracy and preciseness. I like things to be in order, clean and tidy. I abhor untidiness. As a schoolchild it was often commented that I was slow and methodical. I would always be the last in completing my work, whatever it might be. I remember vividly one particular day in junior class. I was writing an essay and was taking a very long time ensuring that my handwriting was perfect, having been shown earlier the correct way of writing. My teacher had wondered why I was taking so long until she saw the finished product. I was complimented on my good work but encouraged to be quicker next time. I found that difficult to do whilst maintaining the quality.

During my junior and early senior school period I was constantly top of my class and now as I think on it, quite a clever child. However, I had been held back somewhat by not having achieved a pass in what was then called the eleven plus examination. My teachers could not understand the reason for this but it may have been partly due to the distraction of bullies. I struggled too in senior school because of the bullying and I failed to achieve as I think I should have been able to do. Notwithstanding, there were children in my class who were very bright, more so than myself. I managed to excel in a couple of subjects and gained O level GCE’s in three. I will always remember a certain child who took a dislike to me because I faired better at Technical Drawing and was always top of my class in that subject. He went on to attain nine O levels and a further six or seven A levels and then on to University but he never did get a higher result than me in Technical Drawing. Strangely though it was a subject I didn’t really enjoy or even like but I suppose it was my attention to detail that made me excel.

It is because I am a perfectionist that I take time in trying to look my best so that I can feel comfortable in society and not self conscious. It is difficult to be confident when all your life has been subject to bullying but I think that I am now past that point and can hold my head up high and be proud of the woman I am.

I am a good learner, slow at times maybe but I get there. It is the same with my womanhood. I observe, I copy, I perfect and make adjustments. It seems to work. I pick up on bits of information and file them away for later use.

This is how I learned to do many things which I was not fairly competent at doing  and that applies to everything I do even when I apply my make-up. By watching other girls, picking up ideas and suggestions I have discovered that less is definitely more when applying make-up. I must have looked an odd sight when I first ventured out ‘en femme’ properly that night in Manchester. I overdid the eyes, lips and basic foundation but I suppose the foundation was more important as it was difficult trying to hide the shadow, although my facial hair wasn’t very dark it still showed through unless covered properly. I felt so sorry for those whose facial hair was black. The problem was I tried too hard to hide the masculine face and by doing so only drew more attention to myself. I gradually learned to tone things down and became much more feminine in my appearance as time went by. It wasn’t however, until I began hormone treatment that the softness of my appearance became evident. I remember on one occasion when working in my sister in law’s house just a few months after starting on hormones. She passed a remark I will never forget when she said that I looked much younger than usual. I knew it was because of the hormones but I didn’t reveal myself until later in the year. After years of treatment there has been a vast improvement.

When I look back and remember those days when I dreamt of being a woman, my role model was always glamorous. She always wore full make-up with lashings of powder and lipstick, eyes so heavenly laden with mascara she could barely lift open her eyelids. This gave her the impression of a more sultry and sexy look, in my mind anyway. As far as I can remember mum was always well dressed and wearing make-up whenever she was going anywhere special but did not usually wear make-up, or much of it, during her normal day. It never occurred to me that the wearing of make-up was not supposed to be an all day thing unless you were in a job that required it for appearance’s sake. When I first came out properly dressed with the intention of looking as feminine as I could I mistakenly overdid things in an attempt to hide my masculine features. Not that I looked overly masculine, far from it but I wouldn’t be accepted as anything like a woman without something to cover my face. Some make-up was definitely needed. Facial hair was one of the main problems but I was fortunate at least not to have dark hair so covering it was less of a problem. Nevertheless it did need covering. There are special preparations designed specifically for this purpose and they do work. However, the make-up becomes too heavy and the whole point is to be able to pass as a woman without too much of it being necessary. I have learned over the years and especially now that I am a woman that the adage ‘a little is a lot’ certainly does apply if you are to look your best and appear as natural as possible. Many other considerations have to be realised too. For example, some men have very square and masculine facial features, large bodies, feet and hands which make it all the more difficult to appear feminine. I think that this is a real tragedy for those who are transsexual and not merely transvestite. The transvestite realises that they have limitations but do the best they can and just get on with it. To them it doesn’t really matter too much because they only get into the role occasionally and some of them couldn’t care less anyhow. For the transsexual though, who wants to transition fully, it can be devastating having too masculine a body.

I have seen so many ‘girls’ looking exactly what they are, blokes in frocks, because they overdo the make-up and dress. Others make a reasonable attempt to get it right and make a good job of it. Over the years I learned many things. I began to learn about all the different beauty products too. I found that some of the most expensive make-up products were not always the best and did little to improve my looks and complexion whereas some of the less expensive ones were very effective. The problem is though that not all the cheaper products are good for the skin. I discovered a very inexpensive compressed face powder that did not require a foundation, was kind to the skin, looked more natural and lasted for months. It required very little in application to be effective in achieving a perfect finish and I use it to this day.

In the early years, applying make-up took me a lot of time, probably the best part of an hour. Now all it takes me is usually ten minutes! Experience and a more rational approach using the adage that less is more, definitely does work. I see lots of women who wear make-up and I think to myself, they don’t look as good as me and have probably spent hours doing it. I apply make-up every day. I won’t go out of the house without it.

My hair was always a problem. Always frizzy with lots of split ends. It’s texture and condition has been vastly improved with correct care and attention and importantly a proper healthy diet. I think perhaps the hormones have helped too. Because my body produced testosterone it had an effect on my hair and affected my hairline and I lost some hair as a consequence. I have had at the time of writing some hair transplant surgery which has corrected the loss and I plan to have further treatment soon. In the meantime my hair has grown in length and has become much healthier.

When I was younger a certain question was constantly on my mind. To be accurate there were a few questions which were all related to my searching for an answer as to why I wasn’t born a woman. I mean by that a woman in the physical sense. As children we are by nature inquisitive and always seeking answers to questions about the things around us, even our own selves. Gradually we discover the truth about things through our parents, siblings, friends, strangers and of course our formal education. However gender dysphoria is not a subject easily discussed nor understood by the majority of the adult population let alone by children.

There are some parents who have recognized problems in their offspring and sought professional help and guidance when their children have manifested unusual behaviour for their assumed gender. By the time the child has reached puberty something may have been done to recognize their plight and by sensitive counselling and psychiatric help and surgery they go on to lead normal healthy lives. These cases are however rare it seems and as more often is the case the problem has only been one of a physical nature where perhaps there has been an abnormality in genital development which is then corrected by surgery. Where the child has no support because the symptoms of disphoria are not so obvious the problem then becomes deep rooted in the child’s psychological development and often the child will become withdrawn and introverted. From the child’s point of view there is no help, no solution to their problem and this can lead to abnormal behaviour such as closeted cross dressing. I myself fell into this category.The child sees no problems with the mechanics of cross dressing only the fear of possible consequences should they be discovered. This can lead to all sorts of further problems in the child’s development. This again was my own experience and it led to my anti-social attitude as I went through puberty into adulthood. I needed my questions answered, so I thought, but it was better that I might find a solution to my situation and I dreamed of the day when I could have an operation. Unfortunately I let things drift along and it wasn’t until much later in life that my circumstances encouraged me to take action. In a way it was providential that I should have my operation when I did because surgical procedures had taken great strides since the early pioneering days of the 1960’s. It would have been much more desirable to have my operation at as early an age as possible but I could not. I am not unhappy with my results though, in fact quite the contrary. I feel that I was in the care of one of the world’s best surgeons, one who has built his reputation on his unique techniques and procedures. The result for me is wonderful.

As I mentioned earlier, it is more difficult to look feminine if surgery is performed late in life but I seem to have been blessed in this respect judging by the remarks I receive from people. Added to this I have always looked younger than my true age, Whenever people ask my age they are surprised when I tell them because they say they thought me fifteen years younger. That’s nice.

As far back as I can remember I knew I was different. There was something about me that I felt just wasn’t right. Some of my friends and acquaintances might still agree on that point! I recall a time when I must have been about three or four years old according to what my mother said,when I put on a pair of her stockings. She had caught me wearing them and bouncing up and down on her bed with them on. ‘Little boys don’t wear nylon stockings’, she said. ‘Only women wear them’, she continued as she scolded me. Those few words stayed with me all of my life and they triggered a response within me to question why I wasn’t a woman, or a girl. I knew then that I was acting like a girl in other ways too. I knew something was wrong because as I grew the desire to be a girl grew stronger and this was re-enforce by my constant desire to wear my sister’s clothes. I simply hated being a boy.

I always remember how fascinated I was when I sat and watched my mum applying her make-up whenever she was going out somewhere. I yearned for the day that I could be doing the same. Mum never prevented me from watching her, never suggested that I should be doing something else and never explained why she was doing what she was. I knew that it was just what girls did to make them look better, something a boy never did. I don’t ever remember any of my siblings watching mum in the same way I did. So it was that I grew up with my brothers and sisters and holding deep feelings inside for all those years. I found the time and the opportunity to cross dress as often as possible. Sometimes I would wear some lipstick that I had acquired by rummaging through mum’s make-up bag for old tubes. Sometimes I would even scrape off some lipstick on to paper for use later. I remember though that removing the lipstick could be a problem because mum wore a deep red colour. It was very fashionable in those days.

When I was in my teenage years and on until I began my working life, I had to share my bedroom with my brothers. The eldest brother and I also shared a wardrobe. These were difficult times for me, being as I was and feeling the need to dress. I was terrified of being caught, so having female clothes of my own would be taking a tremendous risk. However, once I began to earn a wage I started to see if it was possible to buy some. I remember quite distinctly how the thought would not leave me and I agonised over making the decision for weeks. I did a lot of window shopping, looking for bargains and checking the prices of things. This in itself was difficult. In those days men simply did not stand in front of women’s clothing stores looking at the goods on display. To do so only attracted attention and that was something to be avoided at all costs but I persevered. I would walk past slowly and take a quick glance in an attempt to see anything that I liked. I would stand in front of a shoe shop and pretend to be looking at the men’s shoes but I was always looking across to the women’s section. I yearned to be able to buy myself a nice pair of high heeled shoes. One day, after struggling with my thoughts, I decided to take the plunge and buy myself some clothes. What was I thinking? How could I get them home without anyone seeing them? This particular day I bought myself a skirt, a simple black skirt which I had seen in a shop window. I entered nervously into the shop and asked the lady if I could buy the skirt for my sister’s birthday present. Whether she read through that little lie I am not sure but the sale went through. I left the shop with excitement and couldn’t wait to get home and try it on. It wasn’t enough though because I had set my heart on buying a pair of shoes too. Several times I had seen the shoes I wanted in another shop window. I again plucked up the courage and went inside. This time however I was greeted by a man. He was the manager. At first he had thought that I was interested in buying a pair of men’s shoes and he asked politely what type of shoe it was that I was seeking. When I told him that I was buying a pair of shoes for my sister’s birthday present he looked at me in a different way. He suggested that my sister come and try on the shoes but I said I wanted to surprise her. He asked her size to which I replied that it was a size eight. My size in shoes. He again looked at me and pointed out that it would be difficult to get a lady’s shoe in that size but he would see if he had any. He returned from the stockroom with a pair of black high stiletto heeled shoes in a size seven. Although he maintained that they might be too small in size, I made the purchase anyway. What the man must have been thinking I have no idea but I was just eager to leave as quickly as possible. Later when I tried to get them on my feet I found it very difficult but once they had been worn a couple of times it wasn’t too bad. These days women’s shoes come in larger sizes so it is far easier to get some that fit properly.

Now all I had to do was to get my new clothes home and hide them away. Over the next couple of years I went through many phases of denial whereby I would throw away my female clothes and shoes. Evidently this is what most transsexuals experience until they finally come to terms with their gender identity. It is called ‘purging’.

Dressing in women’s clothes had never been a sexual thing with me as it is for some. Although I have to admit my feelings were aroused, that is the shear sensuality and feel of the garments made me feel more comfortable than I felt when in my usual dress. I felt such a freedom. It was like being released from a prison, as far as my imagination could tell. It felt so right and natural. I knew I should be wearing them all the time but it was frustrating because I knew I couldn’t. My very first outing dressed as a woman didn’t come until I was twenty-two years old. I had bought my first car after passing my driving test in April that year. It was 1967. In the summer of that same year I bought a small car, a Hillman Imp if anyone can remember those cars. A small saloon type car with a rear engine but it allowed me to break free of the confines of home life, my parents and siblings. It gave me the freedom and the opportunity to dress. Still however, it wasn’t easy. All my life I lacked confidence and I found it hard buying my first pair of high-heeled stilettos and skirt. Remember, back in those days it was a rare thing indeed for a single man to be in the women’s department of a clothing store never mind buying clothes as well. I managed however somehow. My sisters had an awful lot of birthdays in those days! I was reluctant to buy make-up because of the difficulty in removing it later before returning home. As it was my outings were kept as it were literally on the street. Where else could I have gone in those days? Afraid of being found out I kept my trips to rainy days. This gave me the opportunity to hide beneath an umbrella and in the dark become quite inconspicuous. The added advantage was that I could get changed inside my car and nobody would notice. The windows would steam up and they made perfect cover. I was always careful to park in a quiet street where the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian was light. I changed into my clothes and put on my high heels, took my handbag and umbrella and ventured out into the street trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. My first time was very frightening and those four inch heels took some getting used to but I gained experience with each step I took. Eventually the shoes became easy to walk in. I felt safe and secure under that umbrella because my face could not be seen bare of any make-up. I did manage to wear lipstick on future outings and that made me feel much more feminine somehow. Those early years walking the streets did bring me peace of mind but as I grew older I began to struggle with my feelings. This was something I knew nothing about but it appears that most people who suffer gender dysphoria go through these phases, so I was no exception. I began to fight the urge to dress and frequently purged my wardrobe of all things feminine trying to be the man everybody thought I was. I was in denial. I must have wasted a small fortune doing that.

During my teenage and early twenties years I had no interest in women whatsoever from a sexual standpoint but I used to envy them and their ability to be women naturally. I wanted so much to be the same. I had spent many years buying female clothes only to throw them away after a few months. As hard as I tried it was useless. The more I tried the more I failed to stop dressing. I wasn’t running away from dressing but running away from myself. During that time I did get the opportunity to come out but the wall surrounding me was a large wall indeed and I hadn’t the courage to climb it. Once, soon after I had started working and without a car in which to hide all my clothes, I was found out. My secret became exposed.

One day after returning home from work, my mum and dad called me into the sitting room for a chat. When I lived at home with my parents my younger brothers and I shared a bedroom. It was 1963. I sat down and they said to me, ‘Is there anything you wish to tell us? Anything on your mind or troubling you?’ ‘Nothing’, I replied. ‘Why?’ ‘Well’, said dad, ‘your brother couldn’t get into the wardrobe today to get his clothes because you had locked it. Did you lock it?’ He continued. I admitted that I had and I knew then deep inside that they had discovered my secret. ‘We had to break open the lock to get inside’, said dad. ‘We found a package with women’s clothes in it. Are they yours?’  What a golden opportunity that was for me to come out, reveal everything and let them know that I wanted to be a woman. How my life would have changed had I done so at that point but you see, I had no courage, no confidence. I was living a shy and introverted life and at that time I was very anti-social. My life revolved around my job, my obsession with dressing and the only hobby I had that interested me, astronomy. I denied that the clothes were mine and that I’d found the package but had no idea what was in it. I told them that I planned to open it that day as I’d no time the previous evening. What nonsense that was. Had I had my car then of course they would never have found them but I was only nineteen and hadn’t enough cash to buy one. Besides which I didn’t learn to drive until two years later. Dad told me to get rid of the clothes straight away so I took them and went for a walk and dumped them in someone else’s bin and came home. Nothing more was said on the matter and it was put to rest. My parents kept it to themselves and kept it from my siblings. They knew my explanation was a lie and that there was something more deep rooted. I suppose they didn’t want to pursue the matter for fear of hearing the worse. They had the grace and love not to put me under pressure but I wished they had. From that time and until I began to mix with people and socialise some six years later, I was constantly asked why I wasn’t dating girls. I would see my brothers and sisters enjoying their lives, mixing with their friends and eventually getting married but that sort of thing wasn’t for me. Once I was asked by my mum if I was ‘gay’, although they didn’t use that word for at that time it wasn’t used to describe homosexuality. My dad told her to leave me alone as I would find someone when I was ready. He didn’t like the idea that I could be gay or that I had feelings to being a woman so he lived in the hope that I would forget those thoughts and settle down some day. I could sense the unbelief in his heart even as he spoke. Later of course I did find someone and settle down. Well for the first few years at least. At this point I must say that I have never had feelings of being homosexual.

The life I had chosen was to take me further and further away from my heart’s desire and I drifted on with the pressures of everyday living and the needs of my marriage partner. I don’t regret having met my wife and the early years of our marriage were wonderful but even then my feelings and desires to be a woman were very strong. It wasn’t long before I started to dress again at home, when my wife was at work and I had a day free. I loved my wife and still do even though we are now divorced. As I write, we have two wonderful sons who are beginning to find their own way in life and I myself have arrived at my destination after a long journey getting there. At this moment there are still some things to do but at last I am physically the woman I was psychologically and getting on with life.

I hear from some ‘girls’ how they are supported by their spouse and family, how some are loved so much that even having transitioned, life goes on almost as it did before. I have learned however, that this tends to be the exception rather than the rule. I know of girls who have gone their own way but still maintain a relationship with their estranged wives. There are also those who, having agonised over their situation, have been compelled to follow their hearts and complete the transition even though in doing so it meant divorce and separation from their loved ones .There are those who have been in a loveless marriage and despite all efforts to resolve their problems decide to follow a path to transition, often after many years of suppressing their feelings. There are so many reasons why girls transition, the main one is obvious, they are women trapped in a man’s body. There are so many different situations and subsequent consequences that will ensue once that decision is taken and followed through.

I can only speak for myself of course and my experience might be the same for many or for few but when other people are involved it is most definitely harder. This is how it was for me although I have to say my sons seemed to accept things quite quickly. At the time of writing, my spouse however is still bitter but at times can be quite amicable. I understand. As I have said, things could have been so different but it takes two to make a marriage work as it should.

So I was basically back to square one as they say. Alone, sometimes lonely but that’s how my life has tended to be save for a few wonderful years early in our marriage. I think it is destiny. I am a firm believer in that. Many will say that is a nonsense and that our future is in our own hands but I think we are just following a plan. Well it seems that way to me.

Would I have changed my life given the opportunity? Most probably but whether I would have the confidence that for a very long time in my life was absent, is a matter of conjecture. I think I would have almost certainly done many things differently and much sooner too. I would need that confidence though. Things are as they are so I get on with my life. I suppose that I would say that I am an independent sort of person, one who shuns help unless I specifically ask for it. At the same time I like making friends and being sociable. I was for so many years cut off from people by my own choice, I didn’t need them or want them in my life. Now things are different and I am completely the opposite to my former self. The problem is that although I am outgoing and sociable, I still have no real friends. Many acquaintances but no one I could call close to me. Long ago it made me happy to be that way but now the opposite is true. It makes me feel sad.

Circumstances play a very large part in anyone’s life. Often our hopes and dreams, our desires and wishes are held on hold because our circumstances prevent us from pursuing them. To live our lives as we wish is governed by our work, family and friends. It is easy to say we can do what we want and many people are content with their lot but given the chance, the opportunity to change, they most probably would. It is foolishness of course to think that the other man’s grass is greener when often it is not. Human beings are peculiar creatures. how often do we tire of things after a long time desiring them? My whole life had been fraught with the desire to change my physical state and finally be the woman I knew I really was. This had been a desire that I never grew tired of. Now since my operation it has been the only thing I ever desired or wished for that has not lost it’s novelty value! How could it? The reason for that is that I have always been a woman. It was never just a case of desire only. It was about who I am. Yes, some of my earliest wishes and desires remain, some have been fulfilled some have not. Some of those things I had fulfilled I have enjoyed but they have passed. Now I wish for different things.

I suppose my greatest wish is just to be accepted, to be loved and accepted. Of course I would love to have a close friend and perhaps a relationship with someone. Those desires are always with me. I admire those who forsake their own hopes and desires to fully or partly transition because of their circumstances, whether that be family, career, health or whatever. It takes courage. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had my own circumstances been different. What would I have done had my marriage not failed. I can answer that right now. I most probably would not have transitioned. Such is the love I have for my former partner. Alas it wasn’t to be and yet I feel I have never felt happier in my life being a woman

Have you ever loved someone so much that it hurts? I am not talking about family here but someone whom you’ve met and perhaps have married or perhaps not. Neither am I talking about being in love, for I hold that to be something quite different. Many of us can testify to having been in love but to love someone just because they are is something special. It isn’t a sexual thing either, it is simply loving them.

For the best part of my life, in fact almost all of my life before I met my wife I was anti-social. Some would say that I was afraid of life as my mother once said to me but I think that was not true. I was timid and shy. I was lacking in confidence. My personality was introvert. Many of these things I would say were attributable to the bullying I had received over the years. Perhaps there were other reasons too, I am not sure but if you were to ask me now I would say it was a reluctance to go down that road to manhood, especially as it didn’t feel the right road for me. I know now that at that time in my life and until I finally ‘came out’ that I was suffering from gender dysphoria. Then it was unknown to me that there was a condition or that it was treatable, I just felt wrong. This could have been a contributing reason for my introverted personality and anti-social behaviour. I was angry at the world, people, establishment, society and it’s constraints, almost everything you could imagine and yet at no time did I ever feel lonely. I had no friends out of choice. I had abandoned the only person who considered himself to be my friend years before at school when I was between the ages of seven and twelve. I remember one evening when I was at home and in the garden pursuing my hobby of astronomy, stargazing with my telescope. I think I was eighteen or nineteen years old, when this long lost friend called at my house to see me. We hadn’t been in contact for more than six or seven years. Mum came outside to tell me that he had come and that he wanted to see me. I refused point blank. Mum was insisting that I see him but I stood my ground and stubbornly refused. I can say now that I am ashamed for doing that but it was how I was in those days. I was not the sort of person that anyone would wish to know socially and it was all my own doing. I wanted it that way. It is said that we are all schizophrenic to some degree and I took that to it’s limits. At work I was very amiable and friendly but I would not allow anyone to get close nor to become part of my social life. In fact I did not have a social life. Again, that was my choosing. I didn’t want one. Having a social life would inhibit me. It would prevent me being a closeted cross dresser. It might interfere with any future plans I might have had to change my life. I did think about these things a lot but somehow never got around to pursuing them. I wish now that I had done that sooner rather than later as I finally did.

So it happened that I never met anyone socially and as a consequence  never began a relationship. I would never fall in love. So I thought. One day whilst at work however changed the course of my life. I decided to have my lunch in a pub local to where I was working at that time and this became an occasional treat. I did not consider extending that idea to visiting a pub in the evenings though. That was to come a couple of years later when I was just turned twenty six.

It was to that same pub I went to for lunch that I went one evening. The bar staff were very friendly to me and one woman became, in her words, my second mum. That pub became my regular place to go in the evenings but it was far away from my home. Eventually someone talks to you when you are alone in a pub and gradually the ice surrounding me began to melt away. I made a few friends there, both male and female and was amazed at the way the girls found me attractive. I didn’t respond because girls had no interest for me sexually and I was secretly jealous of them. I will add again that I was not attracted to men either. I just wanted to be like the girls and so we were only friends. In fact I had no feelings of attraction to anyone until one evening in January 1973, the twenty seventh to be exact. That was when I met my future wife. Yes, I had one girlfriend before we met but nothing came of that. There was a barrier between us which I could not overcome and we split up. I suppose she was my first love. On that night in January I was standing at the bar when a friend asked a favour of me and that was to buy a few cans of lager and take them to the bus stop at 10.20. Eddy, a mutual friend, was working as a conductor on the buses and his bus stopped there at that time. He wanted to have a drink when he finished work but the pubs would be closed by the end of his shift. I took the money from her and bought the beer. Later in the evening I duly went outside to the bus stop and waited for Eddy’s bus to arrive. A girl sat there alone waiting for that same bus. I began to talk to her and discovered that she was on her way home and needed to be there before it was too late. I asked her to come back into the pub with me and I would see her safely home later. The bus pulled up and we climbed on together. To my surprise she knew Eddy too. I gave him his beer and explained to him that I was hoping she would come back into the pub with me. He said that the bus wasn’t moving again until she got off. She took a chance and did so. My friends were amazed to find that I had exchanged the beer and returned with a girl. She became my wife a mere eighteen months later. I have loved her from that very first meeting and although we are now divorced after a marriage lasting just over thirty years, I still do. I always will. Unfortunately our marriage wasn’t to last our lifetime. When you love somebody, it should be unconditional and for me it is. Nothing can change that. Our marriage failed for a lack of closeness between us, something I had no control over. She simply did not want me close to her. She seemed content just to be a mother to our two wonderful sons. Yes, we did all the things that parents do when they have children, the annual parent’s meetings at school, the Nativity plays and summer games and all the things we like to do with our children. Outwardly we were just like any normal couple. Privately our life together was very different. After many years being single I met my wife and settled down. This in itself was an unusual move for me to make but I suppose I was in denial about my gender issues. In any event we married and at first were very happy together. My gender issues were not the cause of the marriage break down but it became an issue later when we divorced.

Of course we had to divorce eventually because of my transition but the love I have for her will last forever. I have been hurt so many times by my former spouse. I have been rejected, neglected and often ignored but that does not change my love for her. Unfortunately that love did not keep us together and she would never support me as a woman in any case. I don’t think she knew fully what being transsexual is all about. I could never get her to understand  that my personality hadn’t changed, the person who is me was still that same person after my transition. That person was still the loving and caring person I had always been so it was extremely difficult for me to come to terms with all the rejection. Not only was I being rejected because I had followed through with my plans but I was being rejected as a person too. I understood her attitude because she must have felt let down and rejected too even though it wasn’t strictly my fault. Her former husband was now a woman but you have to remember all the years that faithful husband and father had suffered through her rejection. Communication is the key here. One thing we could not do as a couple was communicate, at least when it came to personal matters and that was a failing on her part not my own. Her unwillingness to talk or even admit there was a problem inevitably lead to the breakdown in our relationship. She seemed to lose more and more interest in our marriage after the birth of our second son as the years went by. No amount of trying on my part would change that. All attempts were met with the same disinterest.

For the greater part of our marriage, sex was non-existent. Even before I married I had not had a sexual experience. I had not even been in a relationship of any kind. I wondered what my sex life, if any, would be like after my complete transition into womanhood. I had not given much thought about the possibility of post-op. sex. Neither did I reckon on the effects that hormones would have on my thinking or my desires. I would listen to other girls and what they said about their partners and relationships. It seemed that many were in relationships prior to them having any operations and that to me was odd because I couldn’t understand what they were all about. How could they be attracted to men in a heterosexual way given that they had not yet fully transitioned? Why were men attracted to pre-op. girls and then remain their partners after transition? I was confused. My mind was thinking homosexual attraction which is foreign to me. In reality, being a transsexual wasn’t and isn’t a physical issue. It is more a psychological one. It is about who we are and not our physical appearance. I realise this basic truth now but even for me there was no real attraction to men prior to my operation and hormone therapy. Perhaps I was simply a slow developer. During the first twelve months after my operation I was asked many times about my relationships and if I was enjoying a good sex life. I tried not to reveal that I’d had none. My first experience came just one month later. I suppose it was the guy’s approach, his attraction and interest in me which drew us together. I lap up compliments, most girls do. It wasn’t very long before we were in bed together enjoying some fantastic sex. He was the guy who ‘switched me on’, who released me from a sexless existence. I was like a child with a new toy. I couldn’t get enough of this wonderful experience. Since that day I have had other partners and for the most part enjoyed them all. I have found that it takes very little to turn me on to sex, sometimes even writing about it is a turn on. I have been a little promiscuous I know but that has now ceased. I don’t want to be that way but the flesh is weak. Sex alone cannot satisfy and if I am honest I would have to say that having a relationship with someone was much more important. Having said that, I wonder why my marriage failed but I suppose our relationship wasn’t as strong as it should have been. In fact I know it wasn’t. This is something that I have been struggling with for some years now. I accept things as they are though, I have no choice. It is hard searching for answers as to why the marriage failed and even more so in the knowledge of all my efforts to save it. It is said that time is a great healer but I know I will never get over my loss. My greatest fear is being left lonely. I yearn for human contact and seek it at every opportunity. As the Charles Dickens character Mr Mc.Cawber said, ‘I am expecting something to turn up’. Life goes on as usual.

I came into this world alone and no doubt likewise I’ll return. I live in the hope of meeting everyone I know and those estranged from me when I am in Heaven for I truly believe in that place. Yes, I believe in God, the Maker and Creator of all things and one day I know I’ll be with Him and with all my friends and loved ones. It is such a pity that in this life those things are not always possible. We fight and struggle with each other. We may say we love each other but find it difficult to really show it. True love is a complete dedication, an act of total unselfishness, a life given over in it’s execution. My Saviour Jesus did that. None of us can claim that we love each other in this way. Some may think that they come close but perfect love is a total sacrifice of one’s self. We have to compromise because we are human and mortal, consequently our relationships suffer. The love we offer is but a shadow of the real thing. My life is lonely as I have said. My loved ones go their own way, my partner is no more and is filled with bitterness of heart. I wonder what our lives would be like if we really loved one another in the way God loves us. Well one day I hope to find out. I guess everyone is searching for that special something in their lives. They look to their religion, they have their own interpretation on life and the scheme of things but in it all there is a basic need of love. Yes, my life is a lonely one and for many years it has been the same. I survive only because of the love I know I have in Jesus.

In this world I have nothing. I remember the song, ‘I, I who have nothing’, sung with passion by Miss Shirley Bassey, a truly remarkable singer. It went on, ‘I, I who have no-one’ and although the song was about a lost love it does ring true for my own situation. I have loved and lost, I was neglected and rejected and am now alone. I often ask myself, ‘Why, why was I treated this way’? I don’t think there is anything worse than being rejected and unloved. It strikes to the very core of one’s being, straight to the heart and can only be erased by love. That is why we search, that is why we reach out. The desire to be loved and accepted is more powerful than the fear of rejection but often we are knocked back. Another song goes like this, ‘I get knocked down but I get up again’ and if we don’t get up again then we are truly lost. I have learned to get back up again but it is still a lonely life when there is nobody to share it with. I miss companionship, the presence of someone to confide in, someone to talk with apart from someone to love. I live in the knowledge that I might remain lonely for the rest of my days but still I live in the hope that I will not.

Throughout the years of my youth when I was, say, around the age of seven or eight I had one burning ambition above all other things. This was to somehow become a woman or rather, as I grew up to understand the mechanics of it all, be the woman I knew I was deep inside. This desire was so strong it was constantly on my mind whenever my thoughts began to wander. Whenever I had the time to reflect on life I would dream of the future and imagined myself having an operation and coming out of it as a beautiful woman. I had no idea of how this might happen or how I would go about achieving it. It was all dreams but I thought that as an adult I could learn what to do and I longed for that day when I could do it.

My adult life was to start off on the wrong foot. My plans went astray and I myself was the cause of the problem. I still lacked confidence and this prevented me from ‘coming out’. It prevented me from getting the ball rolling and seeking help and advice, such as it was in the nineteen-sixties. I knew something had to change.

We wish and long for many things as children some of which are just pipe dreams. As we get older our desires usually change and our whole outlook on life changes too. We are influenced by peers, family and everything around us. It is rare for an eight year old child to realise a dream or desire when they reach adulthood. their aspirations have moved on and it is more usual for an older child to have a better idea on what their future may hold. For the transsexual child it is different. They do have a strong desire, a hope which will come to be if they can follow their hearts. Not all will find the road ahead easy and many will fall by the wayside in the attempt. They may suffer depression, may become introverted and may lack confidence. Often they will opt for a secretive, closeted, dual lifestyle. They may present themselves to society as being conformists but in private they will indulge in their other role, their preferred gender. Their lives are one of compromise.

Some transsexuals maintain that being transsexual does not necessarily assume a desire to have gender re-assignment surgery in order to be accepted in their preferred gender and live outwardly normal lives that way. There may be many reasons for doing that such as health, family, finance (it is an expensive affair) or other things. Personally, I think it is essential to have the surgery if it is feasible. I have always considered my own operation to be one of corrective surgery rather than for cosmetic in order to be as far as possible, physically the woman I was psychologically. To my mind there should if possible be a reasonable attempt to the acquisition of female genitalia and breasts. Many may disagree but as this is my own personal journal I have to present the facts as I see them. I do however respect the views of others.

My life is still filled with dreams, of future things and times gone by, of what is to come and of things I’ve done. I ponder at the thought of finding love and happiness and what might be. I think about the past and all the joy and heartache I have borne. The saddest thing of all was the rejection and never really knowing why. The endless nights of pain and anguish and pillows wet with tears. The wasted years. Is everybody’s life like mine? Do others suffer so? When will it end and can I change my lot? Nobody knows. I only live in hope. Whilst I do believe in fate I still believe I have a part to play. Whatever decisions I make, to me I think fulfil that pre destiny. So really speaking, if all that is true, anything I do will not change the pattern of things. There is no way of knowing this however or proving it to be true, at least on this side of the divide between life and death. So then what is the course to take? I don’t think it really matters except that circumstances play their part too and whatever plans I aspire to make can be held back from fruition because of present situations. Some of us are creatures of habit, others are not. I tend to fall in the former category but having said that there have been things that I have done which have not been subject to the restrictions of habit, that is they are spontaneous. The whole of life appears to be a gamble at times. We none of us know the outcome of the dice thrown for us. I spoke with a man who had it all. He had made his fortune through his own efforts. Happily married with children. Now he found himself alone with only his money to comfort him in this world. His wife had left him for whatever the reason and now his future had changed from what it might have been. It is so easy to fall into the trap of relying on material possessions too, I know they can give us a feeling of security to some extent but even that can be taken from us. We strive for happiness and quite rightly so, for what hope is there in this world that is secured through riches and wealth? Absolutely none. I pray to God that He will look after me and He does. Not everyone has that faith though and their beliefs and trusts lie elsewhere. That of course is their prerogative and privilege and my own beliefs are not intended as a witness to my own faith here. So it would appear that we all aspire to things in our lives. We all live in hope of one sort or another and we all need our desires to be fulfilled but some are happy with very little while others have higher aspirations. Whatever it is that drives each of us, we must be happy. At least in what we do. Maybe the right word to use here is contentment. We should be content with what we have whether it be much or it be little. If we rely on others too much we may be let down. How much can we expect from others? Very little it seems. Even those we know and love will sometimes let us down but that should not prevent us from striving for love, happiness and contentment in our lives. It is with this attitude I turn to my own future, always hoping, always believing but that whatever happens, I know it was meant to be.

When the actual decision to change my direction in life had been made I began to search the advertisements in the newspapers looking for some inspiration. I had left he Church some months ago and had made my mind up never to return. I had simply lost faith in the congregation and it’s leadership. For quite some time I had been feeling unloved there and left out of any decision making in Church matters. After all I had been a member there for almost ten years. I didn’t feel appreciated in my ministry, not that I was seeking it for I consider that to be wrong. I was being taken for granted. My faith is strong and unfaltering. I know I am a Christian and will always remain so but my reasons for leaving the congregation were based on my Christian brothers and sisters attitudes toward me. I had issues concerning the treatment of young people in the Fellowship and my role as a musician. On reflection I suppose I was being weak and too self centred when I should have been more servile in my attitude. That’s as may be but I am only human and will make mistakes. In some respects I miss church life but in other ways I do not. I missed playing in the band and leading the congregation in worship but somebody else will be doing that now. Anyhow, those things are behind me. Perhaps one day I will return to the Church but for now I just speak with my Father in private.

One day whilst browsing the advertisements I noticed a group of articles under the heading ‘Personal’ and I glanced down the page to a group calling themselves the ‘Beaumont Society’. This evidently was an organisation which supported those in society whose loved ones were transgendered. I realise that I was such a person and maybe they could help me. This hopefully would be the avenue for me to pursue my lifelong ambition to become the woman I knew I was. I circled the advert but didn’t pluck up the courage to telephone them until the following day. When I did a woman answered my call and after a couple of questions she suggested I call another group called the ‘Northern Concord’. They were a self help organisation for transgendered people who met weekly in Manchester. I called the number and somebody called ‘Christine’ answered. She was very nice, informative and welcoming. I tentatively asked about the meetings and she was quick to give me directions on how to get there and looked forward to meeting me the following Wednesday. The meetings were held in the ground floor of a night club which the group hired every week so there was a small entrance fee. I had a couple of weeks to sort out some clothes, make-up, wig and all the necessary things for a night out as a woman. When I look back to that day, I must have looked a sight! It has to be sad that although I thought I looked smart in my outfit it must have been obvious to those I met on the way there that Wednesday that I was a guy in a frock! It is a learning curve after all, I’d spent most of my life looking like a bloke. I was surprised at the ease with which I walked down that street in Manchester that night just two days before Christmas in 1998. It was a dry Wednesday evening and I was making my way to the night club for my first proper outing ‘en femme’. as it was my first time I was naturally a little apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect. I had never done this before in public although it had been a dream all my life to do so. My marriage was on the rocks, my wife had lost all interest in our relationship so I was out to have a good time and get something of my life back. I was apprehensive it’s true but at the same time I felt so relaxed and in a positive mood. I was greeted at the door by a young man named Chris who then introduced me to Christine, the woman I’d spoken to over the telephone and with whom I’d arranged to meet. Christine was also transsexual but for health reasons, I learned later, could not have an operation.

The entrance fee had been waived as I was a newcomer. I was glad of that because I’d just paid for parking and I hadn’t very much spare cash because of Christmas. Christine was very welcoming and she introduced me to everyone there. We had a few drinks and there was music to dance to or just listen. It felt so natural being there with all these people who, like myself, had a story to tell. I was to learn though that we were not all the same in our outlook, our personal ambitions or our need to be there as we each explore our feelings. Some of the ‘girls’ were just cross-dressers or transvestites. Others were, like myself, transsexuals.

After an hour or so, Christine, Gwen, Linda, Jamie and myself decided to move on from the club and go elsewhere. I felt safe in their company and began to learn how to be ‘street wise’ in this place I’d come to eventually call special to me. This was where I was to learn what it meant to live as a woman if only for a short period each week and to gain confidence to become the woman I was.

Yes, it is amazing just how confident I was and more and more became after that first real night out dressed as a woman. It was as though I’d always dressed that way. It wasn’t the fact that I was hiding myself either because those whom I met or saw had never seen me before, didn’t know who I was, so there was no need for that. In fact I often wondered how those other ‘girls’ managed. Quite a few of them only changed into their femme persona on their arrival at the club in which we all met. They seemed to cope even in the knowledge that others could see them as males and not be bothered about it. I would see them and talk with them as they transformed themselves into women for the evening. To me it hardly seemed worth the effort for many of them would be ‘en femme’ but for a couple of hours. I could never do that myself and I changed as early as possible  so that I could stay ‘en femme’ as long as I could. That was often up to eight hours at a time. How I longed for it to be twenty four hours and every day. I eventually got my wish. Anyway these people who changed at the club, as far as I knew, were all transvestites. I don’t ever remember seeing a transsexual changing in public. There must be something in that. I think it would have been an embarrassment for me to have had to change at the club. I suppose the reason for that was because I really only wanted the world to know me a woman, as Shirley Anne. When the time came for me to come out to my family, friends and acquaintances, I found the idea to be rather daunting and yet, because over the previous two years I had become more confident, perhaps more blase, I didn’t hesitate but just did it. I would often say to myself when faced with such hurdles in life, ‘what is the worse thing that could happen as a result of my actions’? With that thought I knew everything would work out. Yes, it would be difficult. Yes, there would be obstacles to overcome. Yes, there would be taunts and awkward situations but to let these things stand in the way of my destiny and desires would have been a stupid thing to do. I had to go through with it. I would never have forgiven myself had I not done so. It is easy to say with hindsight that many of the things I did through transition and through my life in general could have been done in a better way. Perhaps they could but the end result would not have altered. It took me many years, even after childhood, adolescence and early adulthood to lose my naivety but life is a learning process and some learn more quickly than others. I know people who are very streetwise, know all the pitfalls in life and consequently sail through it all quite easily. As a child, my self confidence, self consciousness and persistent bullying all took their toll and I grew up to be very naive and ignorant of so many things. I learnt very quickly what was safe, what was not, what was acceptable and what was not through meeting people and listening to their experiences. Of course there is always chaff with the wheat and all that needed sifting out. Some people are only after what they can get from you or for some unknown reason take a dislike to you and throw you or attempt to throw you off track. I guess the essence of what I am saying is this, that you listen and learn, make friends and associate with those who really take time for you. As someone who like me, was a bit naive during my transition and for a short time afterwards, it pays to observe these things. I have found though, that most of the transgendered society are very friendly and very supportive of one another.

Did you ever wear high heels? During Elizabethan times it became fashionable for ladies to wear shoes which had a small elevated heel. These shoes were influenced by trends in Europe. The French or Italian aristocracy probably being the main source of influence. Why was it that heeled shoes became fashionable? I am not sure. According to women’s fashions of the day, the legs were always hidden beneath layer upon layer of clothing. If the purpose of the heel was to enhance the calf muscles, which it does, or make the shoe look more stylish, which it also does, it seems to me to have been a waste of time as the shoes could not be seen under normal circumstances. Possibly they became fashionable because it gave the women extra height and therefore made them more noticeable. Perhaps wearing of high heeled shoes was a fetish of the day much as it is today for some people. Who really knows? Italian shoe makers were extravagant in their designs and experimented with different ideas. It was they, many years later in the twentieth century who ‘invented’ the stiletto heel which has seen many variations in style and height since it’s beginnings. The stiletto heel has come in and out of fashion during the latter half of the last century but has remained popular especially in the transgendered communities. Most girls adore wearing high heels but they also like to take them off! They are not the most comfortable of styles to wear and are most certainly not designed for walking too far in. I found it very difficult to wear high heeled shoes at first and my mistake was to wear the highest I could get my hands upon. I have learned sense since those days. It pays to educate your legs as it were over a period of time by gradually increasing the heel height until you become accustomed to wearing them. There is an upper limit to the height of heels that can be worn and that is determined by the size of the feet. It is a simple matter of geometry, a small foot can only wear a relatively small heel height and a larger foot a relatively larger one but the effect is just the same. The foot is raised at an angle to the floor and the ball of the foot has to carry the whole body weight. Over long periods in wearing the heels, they become uncomfortable and can have a detrimental affect on the spine. They are though, very feminine, very sexy and they do attract admiring glances from the men folk. One of my passions is the buying and wearing of shoes in all sorts of styles although I have to say that my collection is probably very modest compared to those of other women. My own personal comfort height in heel is about four and a half inches. Anything higher than that for me is hard to walk about on even though I do possess a few. They are just for fun. I call them my carpet slippers, they are alright to wear if you can sit down most of the time!. Nobody in their right mind would walk about in heel heights too high all day long. One style of shoe that I have never been attracted to is the platform sole. I think they are dangerous because I cannot feel the floor beneath my feet. Many girls however, like them. It takes practice to wear high heels and it should be done gradually so that the leg muscles can gain strength and become accustomed to them. There is also a right and wrong way to walk in high heeled shoes. I have observed transvestites hobbling and teetering on ridiculously high heels with their legs spread apart trying to maintain their balance. They are walking as a man would do or somebody who was not used to them. It isn’t easy being a woman sometimes but it is worth it!

Now high heels are great to wear indoors, on carpets and level floors but when wearing them for the first time in years out in the streets is something else. This isn’t a problem now and I always say, you cannot beat experience. What an experience too, high heels, a skirt and top, make-up and the obligatory wig and handbag. Well after all my hair at that time was still growing and I hadn’t ‘come out’ as yet. I had to spend the rest of the week in male mode or ‘drab’.

Some of the girls at the club were genetic females who accompanied their husbands and supporting them in their ‘hobby’. One such couple were Gwen and Linda. Linda being the wife. I felt however, different. I hadn’t given this much thought over the years because I had always considered myself a woman trapped inside a man’s body. Eventually I met with a few transsexual girls who, like me, were the same. I had a lot to learn about it all and was amazed at my naivety. Here I was at fifty three years of age and it was all new to me. I learned a lot over the next two or three years and importantly, how to go about achieving my lifelong desire to become a woman physically. I had big decisions to make, life changing decisions. Once taken and acted upon there would be no turning back the clock.

Over the next couple of years going there once and sometimes twice weekly I became more feminine in my appearance and my attitude. I became more and more passable as a woman and my confidence grew. From that very first day I went out socialising ‘en femme’ I felt really relaxed. It felt so natural being a woman. I knew I was on the right path.

One night in late Spring of 2001, I was returning from my usual Wednesday evening out ‘en femme’ in Manchester and I found the downstairs lights at home were still on. It was about one thirty in the morning so I knew that someone was still up and about. My wife would have long since retired to her bed as she arose early for work and liked her eight hours sleep. Our youngest son would most probably be doing the same. He was at an age where he seemed to live most of his life in his bedroom. It had therefore, to be our eldest son who being nineteen often persisted in staying up very late. This particular evening I had decided to drive directly home without changing my clothes beforehand. Usually I did change before coming all the way home. Looking back I guess you could say it was fate. I parked the van in the garage and teetered in my high heels over the concrete path to the front door. I quietly opened the door. Our house had a small porch so there was another door inside leading into the hall. I noticed a light was on in one of the two front lounges and the hall light was now off. I assumed that my son was now watching the television in the lounge. I hesitated but finally decided to go inside and try to make it to the stairs and up to my bedroom. Just as I was about to open the inner door the hall light came on. My son must have seen me but as the door had a frosted glass panel he would not have been able to see clearly. I had not switched on the porch light either. He asked if I was coming inside to which I replied, ‘In a minute’. What was I to do? I had thought he would just go about his business, maybe to bed but he lingered about in the hall or the lounge. It was as though he knew something and was being curious. I decided to reveal myself. ‘OK’, I said. ‘Are you ready for a shock’? ‘What do you mean’? Came the reply. ‘Switch the hall light back on’, I said, for by this time he had switched it off. He did so and I took a deep breath and walked in. His face was a picture. I could sense the thoughts whizzing around in his head and said something like, ‘This is what I do on a Wednesday evening’. I then told him that as it was late I would explain more to him the following morning but now I have to get some sleep. I did see him the next day and I explained to him about my gender identity problems and that my intentions were to fully transition. I had to tell him about my relationship with his mum and what had been going on in our marriage and the reasons for my decision. It was a lot for him to take in and I know it took some time before he and his brother were able to accept the situation. He asked if I had told his brother and I told him that I hadn’t. I had not wanted to tell either of them prior to their forthcoming examinations so that they would not be burdened with it all. Unfortunately my eldest found out too soon. He had just finished his first year at university so was able to cope with the news. I told his brother a couple of months later when he too had finished his examinations. I found it extremely difficult to explain my feelings to my sons and I felt I was letting them down. I tried to explain how their mum and I had grown apart and how the relationship had deteriorated over the years without going into too much detail. Once they both knew, there was then a long period of adjustment to get used to the way things were going to be from then on. It was around Christmas that year that I told then that my plans to transition were about to start, how I was starting hair removal, having hormone therapy and preparing for surgery. They seemed to get getting used to it but I know they must have been hurting inside. Throughout the process I kept re-assuring them of my love for them and how going through transition would not affect that love and support. Since my operation both of my sons have proved to be loving and understanding. Sons anyone would be proud to have.

In the late months of 2001, three years after my first outing to Manchester, I was out with three friends in one of the bars there. Jane, a close friend and I were with a married couple who were also our friends. The husband was transsexual and had let it slip in the conversation that ‘she’ was going to have the operation in the following May. She had been on hormones for some months. It was during that evening that I made the final and definite decision to complete my own transition and to start down that road to have my own operation. Little did I realise that just eleven months later I would be back home after having had that same operation.

In December that year of 2001, I made my first appointment at Liverpool Epilight Clinic to begin the long process of facial hair removal. I continued with that treatment for more than fifteen months by which time most, if not all the dark hairs had been permanently removed. However it has taken a few more years to rid my face of the remaining grey and white hairs because I had to resort to electrolysis. The epilight treatment could not do that. This treatment is ongoing as I write this. It takes much longer at only half an hour each week. At this point I will say that shorter sessions using electrolysis is much better in reducing any likely hood of skin damage. The epilight treatment actually benefits the skin in many ways. The result is that my skin is much softer than it would otherwise be. In January 2002 I ordered my first hormones and anti-androgen tablets from abroad, Thailand by coincidence, using the Internet, I must state here that it is very unwise to take any medication without medical supervision. These preparations can damage your health if not taken under medical supervision. I was about to make an appointment with a psychiatrist who was also a registered doctor of medicine anyhow and he would be monitoring me as would my own doctor, once she knew. So I began the hormone regimen early that month. At the same time I organised the first of three visits to see a psychiatrist who specialised in gender dysfunction or dysphoria as it is sometimes called. His clinic was in the heart of London. Now this was going to be a real test of my confidence. The first appointment was in early February and I’d asked my wife, we were still married at this time, to take me to the railway station in Liverpool. She did so but reluctantly and so there I was out on my own standing on the platform in Lime Street, Liverpool trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. I had failed. I was ‘clocked’ by a few people. This was a real test of my confidence and self assuredness. Not everyone latched on to the fact that I was after all still a guy in their eyes. I found my way onto the train. I had purchased the ticket using the Internet and it had been posted to me so I didn’t need to stand in a queue to buy one. Having found my seat I began to relax and waited for all the other passengers to board and take their seats too. Fortunately none of the passengers seated around me paid any attention to me at all which helped me to relax in confidence. I tried to read but found it difficult. I was too excited and was wondering how my interview would go. After a long journey the train pulled into Euston station. It was quite a long walk along the platform to the main concourse where I hoped I would find the taxi stand. I was wearing four inch high heels which I had become accustomed to and as such they were not a problem. I’d chosen a smart skirt and top and a lightweight coat to complete my outfit and if I say so myself, looked rather elegant. I had decided not to take the subway thinking that it would be easier by taxi but I changed my mind and walked to the nearest subway station. I was clocked by some young schoolboys who had walked past me. I reached my platform and by then they had reach theirs. Unfortunately it was directly opposite mine. The taunts and jeers came as expected and they shouted across the gap between us. I walked to a quieter area where nobody was any the wiser about my experience. The tube train arrived and I found a seat. I had to take two trains to get to my destination. As I sat there facing other passengers a guy smiled at me. It was a ‘knowing’ smile but he was nice and just sat there presumably admiring me and not saying a word. Next to me sat a man with his young son. They were much too involved with each other to notice me. A couple of women sat opposite and likewise paid me no attention. I was happy about that after the recent taunting and once again my confidence grew. I’d thought in the past that being clocked in London would be no big deal, after all it was the capitol city and quite international and cosmopolitan. Many people from different countries and backgrounds lived and worked there. Being a transsexual woman would be no problem. That wasn’t always true. It just depends on where in that city you are. I survived the journey to my next connection. They say that during certain times in the day the tube trains get very full and my next train was no exception. I was forced to stand and suffer being squashed by my fellow travellers. I will never forget a certain young couple next to me. She looked deep into my eyes and turned to her boyfriend to whisper in his ear. It was blatantly obvious she was talking about me. Clocked again! I was thankful that it was only a short ride and I was relieved to get out of that situation and back into the street. Soon I arrived at my destination which was only a few hundred yards away from the station.

A little sign was placed on the iron railings which surrounded the base of the large old office block. A small gate opened to a fairly steep set of steps leading down to the entrance of the clinic. Quite an inconspicuous location I thought at the time.

I entered the door into the reception area. It looked like an open plan lounge with a kitchen attached and an office area to one end. This is what it was. I was greeted by the secretary who I learned later was a post-op. transsexual. She was very pleasant and offered refreshments for which I was most grateful. It was almost an hour before the psychiatrist arrived but I had been early anyway. It is difficult to get somewhere far away and be right on time but rather than be late, I made sure I was early. Another girl sat with me and she had the first appointment and went in soon after he arrived. I was the doctor’s second appointment and waited a half hour before he could see me.

I had no real idea what to expect when I went into his consultation room but he was so nice and very professional and I felt relaxed and at ease. After a few introductory words he encouraged me to speak about myself, my childhood, family, youth and of course my feelings toward my gender. I told him how, since as far back as I could remember, I knew that I was a female inside and how throughout my life I’d been haunted by the fact that I felt trapped within a man’s body. He asked about my marriage and my relationship with my wife, her feelings and attitude toward me. I spent the best part of an hour explaining things to him. He asked quite a few questions but let me do most of the talking. The meeting went very well and he told me that my condition was real and that I was suffering from gender dysphoria. I would be assessed as to the suitability for gender re-assignment surgery, the very reason for my visit to him  I now felt assured that I was doing the right thing. He told me to make another appointment to see him in three months time which was May. I was keen to have surgery that year and did not want a long drawn out consultation and I asked if that would be possible. He suggested I could have surgery early the following year but I insisted I wanted it before Christmas. He said that after two more visits I might have my request for a referral to see a surgeon. I was over the Moon with excitement. After the May appointment, the next one would be in August and hopefully I could receive the referral and organise my trip to Thailand for surgery.

The journey home met with no problems, nobody noticed me and I was able to relax and savour the day’s events. I’d arranged with my wife for her to collect me in Liverpool and she didn’t let me down. She didn’t speak much about my day but just kept the conversation alive with small talk. This was typical for her because she would not confront a situation. It must have been obvious to her that I was serious in what I was doing but it made no difference. I had of course kept her fully informed of everything but she lacked an interest as she had done for so many years. Never once did she challenge me or ask to sit with me to talk things out. We had been sleeping apart for about seven years by this time and she wasn’t showing an interest in that either.

On my next visit to London, in May, I again travelled by rail but on arrival took a taxi to the clinic. This consultation lasted but a half hour. Dr Reid asked more questions but this time it was mainly about my current lifestyle and how I was coping living full time as a woman. He gave me much advice regarding the operation, breast augmentation and procedures and asked if I’d any particular surgeon in mind. I explained that my intention was to have the operation in Thailand under the care of Dr Suporn, a very qualified surgeon specialising in this sort of procedure. He could see my determination and when he suggested I make another appointment to see him in August I pressed home my request for a possible letter of referral so that I could proceed with the organisation and arrangements that I would have to make. After a short hesitation he agreed to supply me with such a letter on my next visit. I had been adamant in my desire to have the operation that year and I think under the circumstances he relented and gave in to my wishes. I was elated and left that clinic so very much excited. Now I could plan ahead and start the ball rolling. I made the appointment with the secretary and started back home.

Dr Suporn Watanusikal was a brilliant surgeon by reputation and he was based in Chon Buri, Thailand. He had developed his own unique technique in implementing reassignment surgery and was considered one of, if not the best surgeon in his field.

Normally in the United Kingdom it is only possible to obtain a letter of referral after consultation with two psychiatrists or psychologists together with having lived in the preferred gender for at least two years. At the time of writing, the requirements for the gender re-assignment  operation in Thailand are not the same but at least one referral is essential and living in the role in some cases can be as little as six months.

So it was in June that year I began to make all the necessary arrangements and had a provisional date on 14th October to have my operation. By the afternoon of that day my physical transformation was complete.

My youngest brother, David and his wife Tracy offered to take me to Manchester airport for my connecting flight to Heathrow where I would fly on to Bangkok, Thailand. By the end of August all arrangements had been made and it was now a waiting game for the big day. My wife would not communicate with me at any time much as she had done so over the last few years. I was torn between my love for her, her attitude toward me and the need to get my life back on track finally to pursue my lifelong desire to have my operation. Over the years I had fought that need and sacrificed my own desires for those of my wife and children but this had to change. There was no alternative to what I was about to do. My marriage was a sham and had been that way for so long and yet I stuck close by my wife in the hope that things might improve. How foolish I was and had been. Despite all my efforts all I got was rejection. On the morning of my departure my wife looked at me and said, ‘If you really loved me you wouldn’t be doing this’. Talk about an eleventh hour plea! I held her in my arms for the last time and said to her, ‘I do love you, I always have but what would change between us if I stayed?’ ‘Nothing’. I was broken hearted inside but I left with my brother and so began my journey proper into womanhood. Oh how easy it must be for those who are not married. I was caught up with all my plans and preparations not to let things at home get me down and it was not until my return home one month later that I felt the grief of my lost love. I had feelings of immense sadness and loneliness for many years during the latter half of our marriage but it seemed harder now. During the next two years leading up to my divorce I began to accept my loss but on that day I broke down and it took me many months to eventually come to terms with it all. I still have moments of sadness when I think about it. At the time of writing I was still living in the same house as my ex-wife for at this time we were having difficulty in selling it. I am still treated with disdain and I am often ignored but it changes nothing. I still love her.

So I arrived in Manchester and the three of us had coffee and chatted until it was time for my departure. David and Tracy left and I proceeded to the check-in desk. The main lounge was fairly empty that day and I sat down and watched the planes until I was called to proceed to the boarding area through Customs. All my papers were in order and I went through with no problems. Mind you it was an internal flight but even so there was a tightening of security after the recent terrorist activities. I had decided to travel to Thailand wearing a wig for my own hair was not very long and it lacked style. I wore a skirt and top with a jacket which could be carried on arrival in Bangkok if it was too hot. I looked every inch the woman, so I thought, until one guy who spoke with me asked if I was going for the operation. I had to say yes of course, for he knew but he wished me all the best and went on his way. I have to admit that this sort of thing happened quite frequently before my operation and even later on my return home but over the last few years nobody has made such comments. This for me is a realisation that my transition is complete whereas before I was just going through the various stages.

I took my seat on the short journey to Heathrow and a young couple sat beside me. They were going to the Far East for three months visiting various places before returning home. They were newly married and they brought back memories of my early years of marriage. I wished them well on their journey and let them be.

I had some difficulty at Heathrow in trying to find the correct route to board my main flight but eventually I found it. All the passengers had to queue for the bus which would take us to the aero plane and one or two people in that queue made me feel a little nervous as they repeatedly stared in my direction. I looked them straight in the eye and smiled. It worked. It usually does. We had already passed through Customs and now we were all off to Bangkok. Most of my fellow passengers were on holiday but there were some who seemed to be on business. You can always spot them I feel. I settled down to the long flight ahead. They say that long haul flights can be a cause or contribution to contracting deep vein thrombosis because of having to sit for long periods without any muscular activity. I’d been aware of that fact so I took it upon myself to get up and walk about as much as possible. Fortunately I was seated near the rear of the compartment  where there was a small space free of any furniture or fixtures and I and a few others made use of the opportunity to exercise there. In fact the area was never without somebody using it just for that purpose. The in-flight movies left much to be desired so I listened for the best part to the various radio stations that were available. They were broadcasting old comedy shows such as The Goon Show, Around the Horn to name two but however much one is interested in a pastime boredom eventually steps in. I remember taking more notice of the plane’s location screen which showed things like altitude, temperature, speed and estimated time of arrival as well as it’s current position. there was a man sat in the seat in front of mine who was using his laptop computer and it appeared to be in Chinese, Although I knew I shouldn’t have been looking, I was fascinated as he selected blocks of pre-written script and pasted them together to form meaningful sentences. Well meaningful to him that is. I could have watched him all day and not learn anything about his work. It appeared to me that the language cannot be written word by word but has to be compiled from blocks or phrases which when linked make sense. That is how Chinese language is used. In any event I had no idea what he was doing and I chastised myself for being nosey. Once in a while I would look out of the window but for a long time there was nothing at all to see except mountains or desert when we were over Afghanistan or northern India. Eventually we crossed the border into Thailand and soon we landed at Bangkok. The views over the surrounding countryside were wonderful and I was amazed to see such a lot of water in the form of rivers, canals and small lakes dotted about. I love seeing the landscape from a few hundred feet up, it gives a real impression of perspective.

I sailed through Customs quite easily and after collecting my bags made my way out to the main exit from the airport. I was informed that the nurse who had been assigned to look after me would be there to collect me and take me to the hospital. She would be looking after me for the duration of my stay in Thailand. I saw ahead of me a crowd of people standing behind some metal barriers each of them waiting for passengers from the flights. Some of them were holding up pieces of card with the name of their passenger written on them. I searched until I saw one with my name on it. It read Shirley Anne. A diminutive woman with a big smile on her face was holding that card and trying to make herself seen amongst the milling crowd but I saw her quite easily and gave her a wave of acknowledgement. She promptly made her way out to greet me which she did very warmly. Not only was her greeting warm but I could feel now the tropical heat of that land too as we made our way out of the building to the car park area. It was only a short walk to the car but we had to negotiate all the hustle and bustle of that busy place. On the way she suggested I get some bottled water for the journey and promptly bought some for me. Her name was Wannee and she was around forty years old. She was a very warm and pleasant woman who would become a friend as well as a nurse during my stay. The journey to Chon Buri was fairly long taking the best part of an hour down the motorway. The road was all concrete as tarmac evidently would not stand up to the intense heat. For a great deal of it’s length the motorway was elevated which gave wonderful panoramic views of the countryside. It was really nice to be chauffeured for a change instead of having to drive myself. Wannee and I talked about so many things and I learned that she was very keen to improve her command of the English language which incidentally she spoke quite well. I became in her eyes, ‘The teacher’. Her English was far and above my command of the Thai language of which I knew very little. I quickly learned phrases like ‘Soh wadi ka’ which roughly translated means ‘greetings’ and is spoken whilst bowing forward with the hands together and touching the tip of the nose as most people from the Far East seem to do. The Thai people are beautiful, charming, very hospitable and polite. Being a Westerner alongside other girls like myself stood out among the crowd because of our height. Most people in Thailand are smaller in stature.

Finally we arrived at the hospital. Not knowing what to expect I was taken by surprise by it’s modernity. Wannee took care of my suitcase and other luggage and arranged with the duty nursing staff my check-in requirements. I was then taken to be weighed, x-rayed and finally moved upstairs to my private room. All the rooms on my floor were occupied by transsexual girls like myself who were undergoing gender re-assignment surgery, breast augmentation or some other gender related surgery.

I was given time to unpack and sort myself out before the surgeon would pay me my first visit. The room was very spacious and had it’s own ‘en suite’ bathroom, television, telephone and a wonderful  balcony behind a glass wall with sliding door access and views over the beach and seafront. I was told to get undressed and put on my hospital regulation gown.

An hour or so later I was visited by Dr Suporn and his lovely wife Aoi. The doctor went into great detail regarding my proposed surgery and as I was having breast augmentation too we discussed how that was to be done. I was shown in graphic detail the whole procedure relating to the re-assignment on his portable computer. Now I am a little bit squeamish when it comes to things related to surgery and the sight of blood so I would much rather have forgone his carefully prepared demonstration. I tried to look as interested as I could out of politeness and respect for the man. After all he was the one who would make my dreams all come true. Aoi measured my chest as she tried to assess a suitable size for my implants. We tried different sample breast forms inside my bra until it was decided which was the most suitable. I wanted to be sure that I would look as natural, normal and as well proportioned as I could be once it was all over.. Surgery was scheduled for eight o’clock in the morning of the following day. I had arrived at the hospital around three o’clock in the afternoon but had been so busy that I hadn’t noticed the passage of time. I had not eaten anything all day but of course I was not allowed to have any food in any case. A little surprise awaited me before I could relax and get some sleep. Not having had major surgery before I was not prepared for what came next. One of the duty nurses came into my room holding a length of rubber tube, a funnel and a container for holding water. You will have guessed by now what these things were for. Colonic irrigation is the polite phrase. Not exactly fun but absolutely necessary especially as I was about to have abdominal surgery. I can say that the nurse was finding the whole thing amusing after my seven journeys to empty what she had pumped into me. Finally it was over and she gave me a mild sedative and soon I was fast asleep.

Around six thirty the following morning I was awaken by yet another nurse and lay there whilst she shaved my genitals and surrounding area. Now I have never had anyone do that to me before and I found the procedure quite novel but it tickled a lot. It was all I could do to stop laughing and her gentle touch didn’t help at all. Finally she me told to take a shower using some special anti-bacterial liquid soap. I dried myself, put on the special garment I was to wear for the operation and climbed onto the theatre trolley which had just been brought into the room by the young male orderly. Wannee came with me and we made our way down the corridors, into the elevator and on to the operating theatre. The theatre nurse prepared me for the surgeon. I was fitted with cardiac monitoring sensors and a drip was connected to the previously fitted tube which was in my left wrist. The anaesthetic was administered through this tube. I looked at the clock high on the wall facing me as I lay there unable to move. It was precisely eight o’clock. Then all went black. That was it! I couldn’t change my mind now.

The next thing I remember was being gently woken by a young nurse who was stroking my temple and whispering quietly in my ear. ‘Shirley Anne, wake up now, it’s all over’. I opened my eyes and smiled at her. I noticed the clock on my wall and it was exactly four in the afternoon. The nurse went about her duties recording my condition, checking my urine bag and other things then finally left me a while so I could gather my thoughts and rest. From that moment on and until I left the hospital to complete my recuperation at the hotel I was well looked after and cared for by all the nursing staff and duty doctors. It took me a while to regain my appetite and I began to eat again the next morning. Slowly I regained my strength but I was not allowed to get out of bed until late on the fifth day and then only for a short time. The greatest fear was that I might fall or my stitches would come out. It was hard having to stay lying down for five days but it was essential that I did so. I was heavily bandaged and looked like a baby wearing several layers of nappies. If I did get out of bed I had to be very careful as I also had to carry my urine bag. The previous four days had been rather boring and very much routine. Wake up have some breakfast, if I could eat it, read the newspaper, watch some television and gaze out over the sea view. The days were broken by the frequent visits by the nurses who went about their duties emptying my urine bag, giving me my medications, bed baths and taking blood pressure measurements  I was often asked later if I felt sore after the operation. Was I in pain? Well it was only the tight bandaging around my chest that caused any real discomfort. Having breast augmentation causes a build up of fluids which added to the pain by increasing the pressure. After three days the doctor cut away those bandages much to my relief but the build up of water had made my new bosom twice the intended size! It would be another two weeks before the excess fluid was syringed out and my breasts could look anything like normal in size.

On the morning of the seventh day a small group of people came in to my room and stood at the foot of my bed. They were Dr Suporn, his wife Aoi and several nursing staff including Wannee. The doctor was there to remove my bandages and the internal packing that he had placed inside my vagina to prevent it’s collapse during the healing process. Obviously he was making sure that everything was in order and that there were no complications. I remember with amusement how he sat there gently removing the packing into a bucket and it seemed to be never ending. I was thinking about stage magicians who pulled out endless lengths of handkerchiefs from their pockets and I smiled. When he had finished doing this he presented me with a hand mirror and I was able to see for the first time my new vagina. I was so thrilled. After he cleaned me and spoke a few kind words to me I thanked him for his wonderful skill and the result of his work. I was left in the capable hands of Wannee and another nurse. Wannee presented me with a dilator and proceeded to show me how to use it. I was to use it twice daily each for two hours for the next three to six months gradually reducing the frequency after that. This was something I had to get used to for the next few years but at least now I only have to use it occasionally.

She inserted the dilator for me the first time and when it was in as far as it could go she placed a two litre bottle of water between my legs to stop the dilator from being ejected. Unusual but very effective. Dilation was necessary to prevent the shrinkage of my new vagina and to maintain it’s depth especially during the healing process. It was during the healing period that dilation was most difficult and painful but it became easier as the months passed by.

Two hours later Wannee returned and helped me to remove the dilator and allowed me to have a shower and get dressed ready to leave the hospital. Meanwhile she began to pack my belongings for me. When it was time to leave I said my goodbyes to the nursing staff and Wannee took me down to reception and I was discharged. She used her own car to transport me to the hotel and I wanted to make a contribution for her expenses. Evidently that wasn’t necessary as she was able to claim expenses as part of her contract. She made it clear that I was in no way to assist her with my luggage and that I was to just relax and take things easy.

The town of Chon Buri I suppose could be compared to any one of many small English towns in many respects except for the climate of course. There was nothing outstanding about the place as far as I could see. It was just a busy little town going about it’s daily business. Situated between Bangkok to the north and west and Pataya in the south, both busy tourist places, Chon Buri lacks the attraction these other places provide. I was surprised therefore to find my hotel somewhat up-market. No doubt there were other hotels just like it dotted about but I was unaware. The hotel was situated off the main highway which ran through the town, in a large cul-de-sac. It was an impressive building with a glass frontage and inside boasted a very large reception and lounge area. With Wannee’s help I signed in and was given a room on the third floor which overlooked the main entrance. We used the elevator to get to the room.

The room was quite large being classed as a double and indeed was fitted with a double bed with bedside units and a telephone. One wall was covered in wardrobe space with a television refrigerator.and cocktail bar all built in. Under the full room width window was a seat. The bathroom was fitted with a bath and shower, toilet and large vanity mirror. There was an electric kettle and daily complementary water, tea, coffee and biscuits were provided. This would be my home for the next three weeks.

I began to unpack my things as Wannee explained how best I could douche my vagina over the bath using the special antiseptic solution and syringe provided by the doctor’s clinic. This was something I had to maintain for some months but I quickly mastered the technique. I settled down to yet another dilation session and Wannee left me for a couple of hours assuring me of her return later. She really was a dedicated nurse and I could tell that nursing was a major part of her life. She wasn’t married except to her profession. Over the next three weeks we became very close friends. I learned something more about her three years later and on reflection it was not really a surprise. Obviously I shall not divulge that information, I have no right to do so, save to say that she was an excellent nurse and friend to me. It was a very sad moment when I had to leave later.

When I was at the check-in desk I saw a young girl who was co-incidentally booking her room too. However she left for the hospital for her own GRS immediately and I did not see her again for another week. We met up again on her return and we became close friends. Her name was Geraldine and she was from the Philippines. She was unbelievably beautiful. When I first saw her it never occurred to me that she was pre-op.. When she arrived from the hospital a week later I decided to visit her in her room and make her feel welcome. I learned that she really appreciated that and welcomed my friendship. We spent a lot of time together after that and became very close friends. She wept when I had to leave for home. On that day I tried to concentrate on getting my things together and into the car that was to take me to the airport. Geraldine was so upset and I could see the tears in her eyes as she put on a brave face, give me a hug and said her goodbye. I tried not to get too emotional and it wasn’t until I was seated on the plane that tears began to pour out of me. I really missed Geraldine and all the others there too but mostly Geraldine. I had been like an older sister or aunt to her and we had grown so close. She has since moved to the United States but we still keep in touch by Email.

My three weeks at the hotel were spent mostly indoors. We were not supposed to do much walking for obvious reasons and at first it was a bit painful to do so anyway. There were quite a few girls there from around the world all having undergone surgery of one sort or another and we met up for mealtimes and had a good chat together.

In the evenings we had entertainment with our dinner. Many Chinese people stayed at the hotel and it was customary for individuals to get up and sing karaoke. Although I was invited to do the same I declined the offer. I don’t think my voice at that time was feminine enough to pull it off but I enjoyed the efforts of the others. One of the most important things about being post-op. is to look like and be accepted as a woman, so when one evening I was joined by two Chinese gentlemen for dinner they asked about my husband I was very flattered. Over the next few years those sorts of compliments have been more regular.

So I tried to keep occupied as much as I could. Other times were spent dilating or just relaxing. We each of us had to visit Dr Suporn’s private clinic daily in the afternoons but it was very close to the hotel and just a short walk away on the main road. Aoi would be there with her children and nursing staff. We also had free Internet access while we waited to see the doctor. After my first week at the hotel I used to accompany Wannee to the hospital each day during the week while she visited the other patients there. I enjoyed meeting girls from all different places who had come to Thailand as I had done for their own surgery. Such was the popularity of Dr Suporn.

In my final week there I was taken along with Geraldine and another girl to see a local market, a Buddhist Temple, a shopping mall and one night to a variety show in Pataya by way of a break for us. If ever I return to Thailand I would make it more of a holiday but I would go and see everyone at the clinic.

Leaving Chon Buri and all my friends was hard but it seemed more difficult for Geraldine. She came with Wannee, another girl called Sonia and myself to the airport at Bangkok. I made my way to the concourse with my new found friends and booked myself in for the return flight home. I was confident in their presence but later, when alone, I became less so. Waiting for my flight was a tense time for us all and we spoke in small talk as people do when something is about to happen. Nobody likes saying goodbye but we try to put on a brave face. We hugged and kissed and finally said our goodbyes but I could see that Geraldine was having a rough time dealing with my departure. We had both grown so close during our short time together and she was like a daughter to me. She had many troubles in her life and as such living at home was hard. She desperately wanted to leave the Philippines but was torn between her own ambitions and her family. She had an American boyfriend and hoped one day to go to America with him and start a new life there. She was an intelligent girl and would do well given the opportunity. Tears filled her eyes as she struggled to say goodbye and let me go. I held back the tears trying to make things easier. Easier for who? I was hurting inside too. It wasn’t until I was seated on the plane that I began to weep a little for I knew that it would be many years before I would see Geraldine again.

I felt so alone sitting in the waiting area and indeed I was. I kept looking at my reflection in my hand mirror and thinking to myself, ‘Do I look OK, do I pass’? I knew I was no Madonna, no Mona Lisa and I knew in my heart that there would be difficult times ahead. Gradually my femininity grew and now I think I pass very well as a woman. Well after all I am one! At least the guys I meet see me that way. Usually these days only those whom I knew previously or those who have found out reveal their knowledge of me.

The flight to Heathrow was pretty much uneventful but I settled into the long flight home and tried to get some sleep. I managed a few winks but I have never really been able to sleep when travelling so I remained awake for most of the journey home. The flight was something like eleven or twelve hours long but it made no difference, I stayed awake. On arrival at Heathrow I made my way through Customs to board my connecting flight to Manchester where I was expecting to see my brother and his wife who would be taking me home. I waited in a cafe for the flight and had some tea and a sandwich. Now I have to confess that I wasn’t at my best that day. My hair was a mess and I am not sure my make-up passed the test either but I was at last, back in England to begin my new life as a complete woman. I was paid kind attention by one man and then another but I wasn’t sure if they were just being polite, curious or if it was genuine admiration. It may have been my appearance but it may have been that I had been ‘clocked’ in that they were not sure themselves. Either way my confidence was beginning to wane a little. It can be so difficult when confidence is lacking and my life had been that way for many years. I was improving day by day and the occasional knock back was hard to bear. Finally I was able to board the plane to Manchester and I sat near a window and waited for my fellow passengers to finish boarding. I was keen to get home and gather myself together. I was unfortunate to be on the same flight as a group of young football supporters returning home from an away match in London. They were probably supporting Manchester United but I am not sure. I didn’t take much notice of them. I guess they were in their early twenties and they were full of high spirits and very noisy but fairly well behaved. My mistake was to look over in their direction. One of their group definitely did clock me and began to snigger with his mates. They glanced back in my direction but they said nothing. Perhaps they were more mature. There is always one in a crowd who wants to be a nuisance. Anyway my pride took yet another knock but it served to remind me to make a more concerted effort in the future to look more like the woman I was supposed to be. It takes time to turn down the volume so as to blend in with all the other females on this planet and I was learning the hard way. I was fortunate though to have a middle aged couple sitting next to me.The woman must have grasped my predicament because she began to engage me in conversation and kept me talking during that long half hour flight. I was so grateful for her company. I made certain that most of the passengers disembarked before me and my passage out of the plane went smoothly. I went to collect my suitcases from the carousel but heard my name being announced over the tannoy system. ‘Will Miss Shirley Patterson please report to the luggage desk’? I knew it. My luggage had not arrived with me from Thailand. They took my details and said that they would forward my cases to my house the following afternoon. Well at least I didn’t have to struggle home with them myself I thought. I had my medications, toiletries, dilation and hygiene equipment with me in my hand luggage so I wasn’t too bothered about the rest. The luggage was duly delivered to my front door as promised.

After a long walk to the waiting area, there was my brother and his wife waiting to greet me. I must have looked a little disheveled when I met them but they said I looked well. I suppose they were just being polite. Big hugs all round with the greetings, ‘Hi sis, how are you’? I have a wonderful brother in David. We made our way to the car park and began the drive out of the airport. David explained that he wasn’t taking me home directly because E had said she didn’t want me there that day. I thought that was an odd way to act because I would have to go there the next day anyhow, I lived there but I accepted the fact. It didn’t matter much really as my brother and his wife were putting me up for the night in their house. I had a good night’s sleep after some dilating but I was worried that I might soil the sheets so I took the precaution of covering the bed with my bath towel. After a nice breakfast I was driven home. E didn’t say much to me as I expected but my brother took her to one side and spoke with her. I have no idea to this day what was said. Both the boys were out and I didn’t see them for a while. I found many changes had taken place during my absence. The rear lounge had been emptied of rubbish and decorated as had the bedroom above. I made that bedroom my own because it was fitted with a vanity unit and it would be very handy when I was doing my daily dilations. Some external work had been started in the front garden too. This had been undertaken I think with a view to selling the house at some point although we hadn’t yet talked about that and it wasn’t agreed to do so until we were divorced two years later. I settled into my new room and was glad to have a proper bed at home on which to sleep after years of roughing it on a mattress on the floor in my study.  The room had been used by my eldest son but he moved into a larger room at the front of the house. Over the next twelve months or so, I began to systematically empty all the accumulated bric-a-brac from the wardrobes and drawers until the only things in the room belonged to me. My other refuge was my study at the top of the house where I kept my computer and business paperwork. Both these rooms were fitted with locks so they remained private. I prepared all my own meals which I had done for a couple of years anyhow and was therefore essentially living alone. That too I had done for some years but under different circumstances. Often I was left alone. My wife stayed away from home and the boys were either at university or somewhere with their friends. It was during this time that I began to prepare myself for divorce and for my financial security.

The next couple of years I went through a lot of heartache. I remember sitting down one day with E in the presence of our eldest son because she wouldn’t sit alone with me to discuss anything. That had been a problem with her for many years. I had been very badly treated by her over the years but still I loved her and it was hard to say to her that I wanted a divorce. After all, I was a woman now but as far as the law was concerned not yet recognised on my birth certificate and therefore the marriage remained valid. The law was changed in 2005 allowing my birth certificate to show that I had been born as a girl. I filed for divorce in the Spring of 2004. I had filed on the grounds of her cruelty and treatment to me. As I have always said, I had been snubbed and rejected over many years. This was met with a counter petition on the grounds of my unreasonable behaviour but really it was based on the fact that I had transitioned. It made no difference and was not worth arguing the matter. The details of the settlement were finalised late in the year and the divorce was granted on November 2nd. We placed the house on the open market the following Spring but to date it has not sold. I write this down in July 2007 and as I write I wish for better things in my life and a place of my own.

So my life as an outcast in my own home continued until slowly the atmosphere between us mellowed and she began to speak to me. The problem we both had was the fact that the house wouldn’t sell so we couldn’t go our separate ways.

Not long after my return from Thailand I went to Manchester to meet up with old friends. I went to one particular club and spoke with a girl called Joanne whom I’d not met before. She was a pre-op. transsexual. I remember very little of that first meeting but evidently Joanne could not forget me. It was some months later when we next met in a mutual friend’s house where I was spending a weekend. She came over for one evening. She was very much attracted to me and I found I had similar feelings toward her so we became close friends. At this time in my life, it was July 2003, I was very much mixed up in my feelings and in my sexuality. I was never sure if I was attracted to men or to women or both! It seemed to me to be more the person and not their gender that was the attraction. I might have just been desperate for love, something I’d not experienced on a one-two-one basis for so many years. I suppose I was lonely too. Joanne and I met up occasionally but I knew something was not quite right. She made excuses for not seeing me and a few months later her girlfriend came to see what was going on between us. That was it, the end of our friendship. Later I wrote a letter to her girlfriend apologising to her for I had no idea that Joanne had been lying to me regarding their relationship. The following day Joanne sent me a nasty text letter in reply. How foolish I had been not to see the type of person Joanne was. I was broken hearted but now I am a lot wiser. Now I have come to terms with my sexuality having discovered that I am indeed only attracted to men and as such have experienced intercourse as a woman. I would like to have a partner of course but whether I would marry, I am not sure.

Since I have always been transsexual, I have become by default, a member of a rather exclusive group of people. In the eyes of Society, a fringe group with many sub-divisions. Each ‘member’ sees themselves in a different way. Some are transgendered, others are cross-dressers, some are homosexuals or lesbians. Some are male, some female and others androgynous. There is a measure of bonding between them all. I suppose it is the same for any group. The bond is stronger in each sub-division because individuals see themselves and others in the same situation. This is only natural. People who are like minded, have similar interests or physical similarities will have an affinity to each other. Not only can they sympathise with one another but they can also empathise because they are the same. They are totally at ease with each other. We follow like sheep whether we are conscious of that or not.

Whilst I am a member, generally speaking however, I am not necessarily in agreement with the behaviour of some groups or what they stand for. I am inclined to be more in agreement with those who are like myself. Not for that reason but because I believe being transgendered is valid. Many times I have said that I class myself as a woman and not merely a transgendered person. In certain circumstances I am forced to qualify my status as being a transsexual woman but a woman nevertheless. It is surprising just how few people in society actually know what being transsexual really means. They associate Transsexualism with other things such as being transvestite, cross-dresser and even child molester! Such is the prevalent ignorance generally speaking. There is a tendency to feel uncomfortable when confronted with something outside of a person’s normal experience and many just cannot cope. Some do but some are hostile. Everything is down to education or lack of it and the ability to accept things which are out of our control. It takes time and very often a long time before what was considered abnormal to become normal, familiar and acceptable. People being what they are will always, initially at least, resist change. Essentially, nobody wants to be out on a limb, isolated from the group but rather they want to blend in and be treated the same as the rest. It is because of this fact that many who have, like myself, transitioned, find themselves in an awkward situation. On the one hand they don’t want to lose all contact with others in their general group but on the other hand they have a need to be as inconspicuous in the world as is possible. We find ourselves being labelled by association. Totally wrong of course but nevertheless true. This is why I do not generally mix with other transgendered people as a group but confine my contacts to those who, like myself, are really women.

Nothing really changes in this life or so I have found. Circumstances, status and other things may change one’s lifestyle but in essence our own needs remain the same. I have heard stories of people gaining financial wealth and it hasn’t altered their lives much in any way. There are others who change their lifestyles dramatically but after a while become dissatisfied with it all. There is a basic need which monetary wealth cannot satisfy. There is a need within us all which each one of us, if we were being honest, would appreciate more than anything else. This is the need to feel accepted and loved. Some may disagree with that statement but it is only when love and acceptance are missing do we miss them and yearn for them. Some seek these things through religion and faith and are satisfied with that. In human terms, just being loved and accepted by others is sufficient and important whilst we exist this side of eternity. Living in a society is desirable, for the most part. Few of us choose to isolate ourselves from others. In this world it is difficult to do that but it isn’t impossible. We are by nature social beings and we need contact with other human beings. Life however can at times become clockwork and mundane to the point of boredom but that can sometimes be caused by simply an attitude of mind. We can educate ourselves into thinking that all our actions are enjoyable and not boring at all. The need to feel loved and accepted by others cannot be fulfilled in this way. We have to rely on feedback. We need to know by the actions of others that they care about us. We can be in a crowd of people and yet still feel lonely. There has to be a response from others, a demonstration that they care. Some find happiness in life, some do not. Some find acceptance and some do not. Some find love.

We grow up thinking that our lives and our own situations are something special and indeed they are but we often do not recognise or imagine that other people’s lives are anything like the same. It is only through contact and intimacy that we begin to understand that our own lives are much like anybody else’s and that other people have similar issues to deal with much as we do. We are none of us special in this respect. Yes, there are those who aren’t very rich financially and those who are comfortably well off. There are those who are moderately wealthy and those who are just managing to survive. The one thing we all have in common is that our basic needs are all the same. Our family structure will be similar too, despite our differences in social standing but although we are all very similar in many ways, we are all individuals and as such we differ in many ways also. For one, we all either fall into the category of male or female and in some cases neither, or should I say, both. Then there are homosexuals, lesbians, bi-sexuals and by far the majority, those who consider themselves to be heterosexual. There are those who are psychologically in one genetic category but physically in another. There are those who like to imagine themselves to be in the opposite gender and occasionally dress accordingly. Simply put, we are all individuals but we can be similar in many ways.

As individuals we think for ourselves, we know the difference between right and wrong, what is acceptable in society and what is not. It is because we live in a society that we have rules of behaviour. These rules, or laws, have been laid down over countless generations and they serve to ensure a peaceful co-existence with our neighbours. However, many of the accepted values and ideas have been brought about by people who consider themselves to be heterosexual and so may be biased in that direction. They do not lend themselves sympathetically to people who fall outside of their socially accepted norm. and consequently make life for these people at times, unbearable. New legislation is being established due to the efforts of equal rights campaigners in order to redress the imbalance. Gradually through education and legislation the social climate is changing and we find those who were previously social outcasts are now being more and more accepted. Much of what we think and do has been inherited and it takes time to readjust to new ideas.

We are none of us special even though we would like to think it. We tend to go with the majority over certain issues because of the need to feel accepted and not isolated. If we are seen to show concern for the minority amongst us it is sometimes taken as a weakness and we can be ridiculed for it. They say the best form of defence is attack and it is often better to ridicule someone than to take their view it would seem. Those who know better make a stand against injustice.

Writing as a transsexual person, I have a first hand knowledge and experience of ridicule, misunderstanding, un acceptance, gossip and many other things because I stood for my rights in society. Life has improved for me but it has taken time. There is a gradual transition toward acceptance much as there was in my own journey to womanhood.

On the subject of transition, there was a point somewhere along the way when I became more apparently a woman and less a man, naturally so. The operation was only the first step. The hormone therapy served to make me a little feminine in appearance at first but since the operation it has been more effective. People can be very observant and they notice things that are a little different from what they expect but I have experienced an increasing indifference to my physical appearance as time goes by. Once I was ‘clocked’ quite often but gradually it has become a such a rarity now as to not exist. This is such a blessing, knowing that I’m accepted as a woman and it helps me to further strengthen my confidence, something I lacked for so many years.

Imagine if you will, what it must feel like to lack confidence throughout childhood because of timidity, ridicule and bullying then having to grow into adulthood, be rejected by your spouse, mocked and ridiculed because of your gender dysphoria and undergo transition in such a hostile society. Being accepted and loved is important to each of us and it is difficult trying to live without it. My life has been hard for me at times but for some it is even more difficult. It is a cruel world and we all have to live in it, so we just try to do that.

I have no friends at the time of writing who really care for me. No-one to confide or put my trust in. I lead a solitary life but as I look back over my life it has always been the same. In my childhood there was but one boy who befriended me. However when my parents took us away to live elsewhere that friendship died. Some years later this boy, now a young man came to our house uninvited but I had no interest in rekindling our friendship. I refused to even see him so eventually he left. Since then I have never been able to bond with anyone outside of the family. Any friends my wife and I shared before our marriage soon drifted away. I call them friends but they were more like just drinking buddies. Real friends are closer than that. When I did make an effort it was not through lack of trying on my part. So when the opportunities arose to make friends with anyone, I simply was not able to. In the years leading up to marriage I had not been interested in forming any relationship with anyone. Once married we both of us lived for each other. Sadly, that wasn’t to last either. Now I find I sometimes yearn for friendship and a relationship with someone but I am not sure I could bear having someone too close to me if my own freedom would be compromised.

I often wonder where my life is headed. I sit and think to myself how things might have been different or how they might change. I think about the loneliness and whether it will go away or simply get worse. I have seen lonely people, I have worked in their homes. Living alone has it’s advantages but it isn’t the living alone that is frightening, it is the lack of friendship and companionship, the lack of someone to talk with. Nobody is an island unto themselves completely. We all need contact with others and we shouldn’t therefore reject those who reach out to us. I sometimes think that I should just uproot and move to pastures new, somewhere different and remote from where I now live, abroad perhaps. That would mean breaking off relationships and putting distance between myself and my sons. They of course might do the same. It sounds so easy and many have done it. If I were more financially secure I might consider giving it a try, after all I could always return if things didn’t work out. Anyhow it is all thoughts and may not happen.

If I were to be very honest with myself, I would have to admit that I have always been envious of women who give birth. To me it epitomises what being female is all about. The prime function if you like. Obviously there is more to being a woman than just bearing children. Every other aspect of womanhood is what makes women who and what we are but the basic function is to procreate. I would never be able to bear children. In a way I suppose I am just like any other woman who cannot conceive and give birth except that in my case, I was not given the chance as I was born without ovaries and a womb. My feelings however were strong so I struggled throughout my life in an attempt to be the woman I was supposed to be. As far as wanting to raise children as a mother, I had no desires, it was only the act of conception and birth that I longed for but that could never be. I am fortunate to have been blessed with two lovely sons whom I cherish and love dearly. I was present at their births and secretly wished it was me lying there and bringing them into the world. That experience however belonged to my wife. I was never jealous of her but was envious of the things she could do openly and naturally as a woman. I felt this way about all women and it was as though I was being denied what I knew should have been mine.

My maternal instincts therefore were not strong and I am not sure if I would have made a good mother but who knows? No woman can guarantee that she would or not be a good mother. I like to think though, that I would. In any case I was a good father.

I was more like a typical ‘Tom boy’ type of child. I cannot say girl because physically I was a boy but as a boy I was very timid and shy. I was very much a ‘Mummy’s boy’ and felt a closer affinity toward my mother than to my father. I always remember my mum encouraging me to go and play with the boys which I really didn’t want to do. I was too much of an easy target for the local bullies. Growing up teaches us a lot about ourselves and as the years passed by my awareness and realisation became driving forces in my life. I often wondered what it would be like to be married as a woman, having a husband to look after me and protect me. Strangely, it seemed to me, that dad wasn’t the type of father who would force any of us to do anything he thought we ought to be doing. He did love us and it showed. We were I think, close as a family and did many things together. I can not remember a time when my dad tried to encourage me to be more of ‘a lad’. I am glad he didn’t because that would have driven a wedge between us. He was under the impression that I would one day find a girl and settle down to marriage and children. He was right but it did not last.

Now I have to update information. As you have read life changes, circumstances change and so it is the case for me. I continue to live together with E under much better circumstances than those of recent times. We have been on speaking terms again for a few years now and have enjoyed holidays together too. Socially, we dine out often and occasionally do other things together. I think I am more accepted now than I ever was before and life is far better than it has been for many years.

Shirley Anne Oct 2011