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Alice

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I tried to post this before but it ended up being too long a post. So this time I will seek to break things down into manageable sections but in the same thread.

My eventual coming out was actually my second attempt. My first attempt was back when I was 24-years-old and it didn't go so well. So I will do a quick recap of that.

I've struggled with sometimes severe gender dysphoria all my life. I am one of the trans people who actually did stand in the kitchen for hours with a kitchen knife trying to pluck up the courage to be rid of that thing between my legs - on more than once occasion. I knew that I was 'different' from the age of 2 when I was at playgroup playing with a toy car. There was a toy garage and a boy of the same age who was playing with the cars. He wanted all the cars to himself and I had this single purple beachbuggy type car with rounded body work and a flower on the bonnet. He wanted it and started having a tantrum because I had it. I looked up for some adult help and I saw a girl with a push chair in one hand, a doll in the other, wearing a dress and tights. My memory is quite clear on some things but on this bit it is a little faulty because I see her with a ponytail and at that age no girl has hair long enough for a ponytail, so I may be confusing my memory with another one or the adult supervisor had a ponytail. But I couldn't understand why I wasn't the same as her and why people were treating me like a boy when I should be like her. That was my first awakening that there was a difference between the genders and my first questioning of my own gender. There were many many more incidents throughout my childhood and my teens were particularly difficult but I kept it very secret. I knew from an early age that I had to keep this secret. There was an effeminate boy on my street who liked playing with the girls and every time my father saw him, he would call him a 'puffta' or a 'sissy' and tell my that I don't want to be one of those freaks. My Grandmother would repeatedly tell me that she only liked boys and didn't like girls (much to my sister's distress). I had no fiction books because fairy tales were for fairies - but my sister had all the fairy tale books. I had lots of toy soldiers, a train set that never got played with, a scalatrix (sp?) that never got played with. I spent most of my time playing with lego, drawing, or dressing up my Action man. All my soldiers were Nazi Germans. My father's politics are far right and he is extremely racist and used to go gay bashing with his friends, boasting that he had been charged with GBH from beating up a 'puffta'. - Even if someone guessed that I was 'different' and offered me an opportunity to express myself, I resisted it with a passion. So I had a teacher who brought in some Victorian women's clothing and talked about how boys used to wear dresses in those days and allowed me to try them on, encouraged me to get involved in drama and put makeup on me for the school plays - I avoided drama because I was terrified that my father would find out I wore makeup for it. A baby sitter offered to put makeup on me and allow me to wear one of my sister's nighties but I resisted because I was terrified my sister would tell my parents... and she did... and that was the last we ever saw of that babysitter. She left one of her cassette tapes and I listened to them everyday until I discovered my own music taste.

I was bullied a lot at high school and I took up pen pal writing. I had pen pals all over the world but one particular friend I had been writing to for 9 years every other week, who lived in Mauritius. When I was 24, I eventually plucked up the courage to tell her that I had these feelings. I actually kept a copy of the letter I wrote her, which is unusual. In it I wrote that I felt like I was being torn apart inside that part of me wanted to be a macho Viking type warrior and the other half desperately needed to be a feminine woman. She wrote back telling me not to become a woman. But my dysphoria just wouldn't settle back down. In the past, it was like the sea, it came in at hide tide, but then went back out again and I got bad dysphoria about 2 months of the year and manageable dysphoria for the rest. But this time for 6 months it was really bad.

I used to do karate in town and at the bottom of the street was a place for transvestites called Transformations. There was no internet like today then, there was an internet but it wasn't so easily accessible like now. I had no idea where to look for help. So one day I plucked up the courage to go to Transformations. I didn't have a clue what I was doing so just went to the counter and asked them to make me a woman. They gave me a make over which cost a lot of money in those days, half a week's wage for me. They put a long blonde wig on me, had me change my clothes and wear all these padded undergarments, and then put my makeup on with a trowel. When they finished I felt completely fake and when I looked in the mirror, I felt looked like a pantomime dame/drag queen. It wasn't me. So I thought that I mustn't be trans after all and that what I suffered was something else entirely. And I went back into the closet and suffered in silence once more.

I developed a coping mechanism whereby I told myself repeatedly that gender is a social construct and that it is all just in my head. I knew that the dysphoria tide would go back out again and I just needed to suffer in silence until low tide once more and I could cope with it. That worked for the next 22 years. But eventually my island of masculinity was destroyed by a tidal wave of dysphoria and that's when I started dealing with my gender dysphoria properly... and I will post about that and how I eventually came out to the world later.
 
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OzGirl

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Wow Alice, we share a few similarities! How bad was your dysphphoria, and in what ways did it affect you?? Looking forward to reading the next chapters of your story!

Hugs,

Allie
 

Katie

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I am one of the trans people who actually did stand in the kitchen for hours with a kitchen knife trying to pluck up the courage to be rid of that thing between my legs - on more than once occasion.
Sounds all too familiar. I even employed a hammer in one of my attempts.

at that age no girl has hair long enough for a ponytail,
Not impossible. Both of our daughters had very long hair and frequently wore pony tails at the age of 2. All of our kids were born with very long hair. Our oldest daughter had hair to her jawline when she was born. By the age of two both of our daughters had no problem wearing their hair in ponytails.
In the past, it was like the sea, it came in at hide tide, but then went back out again and I got bad dysphoria about 2 months of the year and manageable dysphoria for the rest. But this time for 6 months it was really bad.
This seems to be the case for many of us. Dysphoria tends to get stronger and longer as we age. The more our assigned sex and our gender identity diverge as we age, the worse the gap gets. Many of us limp along for years or decades with one foot on one path and the other foot on the other path. Eventually the gap between the two paths widens to the point where straddling the two becomes impossible and we are forced to pick one or the other, or in too many unfortunate cases believe that moving forward is impossible and end the journey prematurely via suicide.
 
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TonyaJanelle

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Reading your story @Alice and @Katie responses, I'm wondering what it was that kept me from going as dark.

I had all those same thoughts, thought about doing it, but never seriously enough to pick up the knife.

Whatever it was, it allowed me to straddle the paths for 54 years
 

Monica

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Hi Alice, yes, breaking up your story in bits is probably better for a few reasons. I'm so glad you are here telling it. I won't spoil you telling your latest news, but I was very happy to get your latest letter. Been meaning to check out more of your videos. Bad Moni!
 

Alice

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My coming out story Part II

My dysphoria used to come in waves like the ocean tides. There would be some months when it was really bad, and other months when it was low tide and just lapping the shores quietly in the background. It was always there but in different degrees of intensity. I knew that if I held out in the bad months the tide would recede.

I started dating a Japanese woman when I went back into education at the age of 25. She was initially my Japanese tutor but things developed between us. She was a very sexual person and liked to experiment a lot. This led to her treating me like a woman in the bedroom and that was really nice. We had quite a long relationship but eventually broke up in 2002 on a trip to Italy. In Naples we were walking across the square after a trip to Capris and there was a trans woman being heckled as she crossed in the opposite direction. My girlfriend turned to me and said, 'You want to be like her don't you?'. I was a bit shocked and replied, 'I admire her bravery'. We broke up during that trip, she became really withdrawn throughout and refused to hold my hand or let me touch her. On the way back to the UK she told me that she had changed her flight and was heading back to Japan and that it was over between us. I wasn't fully sure why this was happening but blamed not being honest with her about the trans woman. When I met my future partner, I was honest with her in the first week of dating. We had met in Japan and developed an online relationship. She came over to the UK and I met her in London where we spent a week before she returned to Northumberland with me to study English at a language school. During the time in London, we visited Oxford and on that evening, I came out to her, that I wanted to be a woman. She said, that made a lot more sense because it was like dating two people with me. We had a bit of fun, she did my make up for me, she bought me some sexy lingerie for Christmas that year. Things were great. But after we got married and moved in together, I dressed fully for the first time with a wig and makeup and she freaked that she wasn't a lesbian. She persuaded me to grow a beard to prevent crossing dressing. Sex became a chore for a baby and nothing else, and eventually dried up completely after a miscarriage. She later told me that the reason we stopped having sex wasn't because she didn't want it, but because sleeping with me was like sleeping with a woman even when I had a beard. She eventually became pregnant through IVF - we are both the biological parents but my daughter wasn't the result of sex.

Things started to turn bad when I was a PhD student. I didn't have a lot of support from family and was more or less on my own while studying. I had a lot of set backs... the birth of my daughter added pressure, my father was in bad health, my partner had an infection that due to incompetence led to it spreading to her kidneys and she ended up in intensive care. Later, my daughter had a lot of learning difficulties and bullying led to us moving her schools. I passed my viva but that left me with no access to any further university funds. My corrections were extensive because my examiners wanted me to make the sub-argument the main argument and the main argument the sub-argument - effectively a new thesis. Trying to do that with no money was a real struggle. I saw the university counselor for help with dealing with anxiety and stress and he started to probe me into the underlying causes. He knew that I was hiding something from him and I was prepared to tell him the BIG secret that I was trans.

Things started getting worse and I had a perpetual cold. My supervisors were putting pressure on me to complete deadlines that I started to continuously miss. I could not sleep, I would on average only manage 2 hours on a good night and would often go without sleeping for 2 or 3 days. Eventually things got so bad with my health that I could not maintain consciousness for more than 2 minutes and I ended up in an ambulance to the hospital with the real flu, a kidney infection, a bladder infection, and something else that they could not determine... all because my immune system was shattered from the stress.

The university suspended me for 6 months and I was put on tablets for depression by my GP which I weened myself off in those 6 months as I took up hiking to improve my fitness, health, and well being. I just started walking a mile down a hill and back every day for a couple of months, then increased it to 5 miles, and by the end of the 6 months I was doing regular 10 mile hikes. I managed to apply for a job during those months and when I went back my supervisors set me the task of completing a 10,000 word chapter on Ireland with a one week deadline. I had to pull a lot of all nighters to complete it but managed the deadline. My supervisors said that I had gone off course and missed the point of the chapter. The university refused me anymore deadlines and the university's health officer advised that I withdrew on health grounds. I had a job in hand (at least I thought I did) and accepted a MPhil for my PhD thesis... the dean granted permission for a 130,000 word dissertation for a Masters that would normally be 50k words.

Then the Brexit vote happened and the job I had lined up disappeared with it. I had a part time job in a wine shop that I had on and off as a student since the 90s. The owner used to live next door to me as a child. But in 2018 the business folded and I was made redundant. As part of my work search commitment to receive state benefits, my work coach made me apply for a job every single day of the week. At first this was a bit tedious but doable... but as I progressed it became more and more difficult to complete the application forms. I couldn't tick the box Mr, I couldn't tick the box 'male', I couldn't write my name... it would take me all day and most of the night to tick those boxes and I was beginning to shake while trying to do it. I was getting angry all the time and would shout at my partner and daughter for the tiniest digressions.

I had to keep leaving the room so as not to shout at them. Taking my daughter to school was a nightmare as I watched the mothers picking up and dropping their children off... and I felt excluded.

Eventually, I sought some help from a friend called Jack who I went to university with. He used to sit next to me when we were doing our Masters together, and while I went on to do my PhD, he left to become a social worker. He was bisexual and used to be the bisexual representative at the university's LGBT+ society. I met him in a coffee shop that was quite crowded and we caught up. He knew I wanted to tell him something important but it was too busy to tell him there, so I offered to go for a walk with him, and guided him down a quiet back street where I came out to him.

I kept my head down looking at the ground, and I was crying my eyes out and shaking like a leaf with fear, as I told him my story and that I was trans. I then looked up and saw that I had made a grave mistake. His face was one of shock. He gave me a quick hug and apologised that he didn't know what to do and had to get back to work. He literally ran off. I ran after him, but he apologised again about work and dived into a chemist to avoid me. Leaving me in the middle of town, on my own, crying my eyes out, and shaking like a leaf. How could I've been so stupid. What had I done?

I will continue in Part III
 

Alice

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I managed somehow to get myself to the station - thankfully, I wasn't driving that day. I got home and locked myself in the bathroom and cried my eyes out. Trying to hide it from my family. The next day I was hiking - a project I was doing on YouTube called the Grand Tour of Northumberland and it was the second episode. I have no idea, how I managed to pull that video off. It was a bit of a daze to be honest. Off camera my hiking partner knew something was up and I told him half truths but he kept on prying. Every single hike after, he would pry some more. Eventually, I went around to his house and told him that I would tell him what was wrong when the time was right but I needed him to back off while I sorted it out in my head.

On the Monday I came out again to my partner, I told her, remember when I said I wanted to be a woman when we first started dating. Well I can't control it. I can't stop shaking and crying. I dropped my daughter off at school and I cried all the way home. When I picked her up and she was in the back seat and I was crying silently all the way home again. My partner told me I needed to see my GP about it. We both thought that there would be some sort of cure for it. I came out to my GP which was really difficult and he referred me to gender services, but after that I was left on my own.

I sought help online and made a post on TZ and on SP. A trans woman called Steffi answered my call on TZ. At first nobody really answered me on SP. Steffi was worried that I was a suicide risk and I had to check in with her every single day to confirm that I was still alive. She invited her friend Lesley to help out and between the two of them they answered all my questions and urged me to seek out my local transgender group, Be: Trans Support and Community. I remember the first day of going, and I got to the street where it was held, and I very nearly turned around and went home, but I knew that Steffi and Lesley would want a report of how it went, so I forced myself through the door.

I was expecting weirdos and drag queens and what I found was people just like me. Similar experiences to me, who were warm and welcoming. There was no pressure to talk but they got my story out of me and then the most amazing thing was that they hugged me. That feeling there were people who cared about me.


It was around this time that Moni reached out to me on Susans and between Moni, Steffi, Lesley, and the people at Be, I started to unpack who I was, breaking down the walls I had built, challenging my internal transphobia that was eating me up.


The dysphoria was still really strong and I couldn't control my mood swings. One moment I was elated and the next I was eaten up with dysphoria and depression. It was like bipolar only it switched every 7 minutes (I timed it once with Steffi). All the time constantly. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I couldn't stop shaking. I just needed it to stop. After dropping my daughter off at school one morning in February/March 2019, I found myself stuck on the bridge crossing the river trying to calculate if it was high enough to kill myself if I jumped. Probably not, if I aimed for those rocks head first, would it be enough to kill me or would I just end up paralysed or with brain damage in hospital and worse off than I am now? I just needed the shaking and mood swings to stop. I needed the crying to stop. I couldn't live with this anymore. I eventually concluded after 3 hours of standing there, that it was not high enough to kill me.

I confessed to Steffi, Lesley, Moni, and the folks at Be what had happened. Steffi gave me two weeks supply of estrogen to try. It was not enough to make any permanent changes and it was just a very low dosage. Within a week, the shaking and mood swings had stopped. It was like my brain was saying, at last... this is what I need. I obtained more estrogen online and started to self medicate. I informed the gender clinic that I was doing this and they told my GP to monitor my blood but my GP refused to do so. He told me that he was uncomfortable treating trans patients. I told him about the bridge incident and not being able to stop shaking, I asked him to prescribe low dosage bridging hormones that could be better monitored than buying online, he refused and recommended St John's Wort... I just told him I tried to kill myself and he recommends St John's Wort... WTF?

Things were still eating me up inside though and Moni convinced me to come out to my hiking partner in March. I was terrified. Again, I am not sure how I managed to film the video. After the hike, we were driving back to reshoot a bit of footage in a church because there had been a service there in the morning. I came out to him in the car. I said, remember when I couldn't tell you that thing last year, well I need to tell you now. He replied only if I want to, and I said yes. I told him that I had gender dysphoria. He asked what does that mean, so I told him that I was transgender, again he asked what does that mean, so I said you know LGBT, well I am the T. I've been so far in the closet that I am best friends with Aslan. A very tiny part of my brain developed like a woman's brain instead of man's brain and I have difficulty putting the two together. In my head I am a woman but outside I have the body of a man. He replied, so does that make you a bit like Eddie Izzard, I said not really because at the time Izzard was still just a cross dressing comedian, it is a lot more deeper than just wearing clothes and make up. He asked what does that mean, I said well I will need to get surgery at some point to fix below for me because we can't change how my brain is but I can change my body and that's the only known cure for this. He said, 'Thank god, I thought you had murdered someone'. I asked if he was fine with me being trans and if he still wanted to continue doing the hiking and videos. He replied he was good with it and didn't have a problem. Afterwards we went to the pub where his car was parked, and he drove home. I sat in the car shaking and trying to pull myself together again when I got home he had sent me a text reaffirming that he was fine with me being trans and thanking me for telling him.

About 3 days later he sent me another text saying, 'ha ha ha, I just got that Aslan joke'. That was the confirmation I needed that he was fine. He had given it some thought and was good with it all. The following week, I came out to my other friend and his wife. I invited them to the house for a coffee and told them I needed to tell them something important, and told them that I had gender dysphoria and that I was transgender. Immediately my friend's wife asked what my name and pronouns were, and I told her Alice, she/her and she started using that straight away and corrected her husband when he got it wrong. She asked if she could come with me to a Be meeting and the people at Be agreed that she could come. She bought me a top and some makeup as a present. Before when I went to their house, I was ushered into my friend's office where he would talk about typical 'boy things' - cars, gadgets, etc. After coming out I was ushered into the living room with a cup of tea to talk 'girly stuff' -fashion, makeup, tv shows, life as a woman etc. and now my friend's wife is my best friend and he is pushed out to his office while we chat.

A couple of months later I did Northumberland Pride with Be. I was terrified of someone spotting me and spent half of the Pride avoiding cameras and newspaper photographers but I did my first Pride. A couple of weeks later, we did Darlington Pride with Be and this time I was a lot more relaxed and proud to be there. Nobody knew me in Darlington and I went shopping for tights, clothes, and makeup with a couple of trans women. That night I attended a friend's party who lent me a dress and did my make up for me. It was the first time since that drag queen disaster that I was seen by strangers in make up and female clothing. I spent all night talking to a psychologist who told me to by myself and not to overly think things. Later that year, I did York Pride, Leeds Pride, and then the big one, Newcastle Pride but by this time I wasn't bothered if the journalists or public saw me. Pride did wonders to make me proud to be me and more importantly, I no longer ran away at the end of Be meetings. I was no longer scared to be seen with wonderful and amazing people. I was proud to walk across Newcastle with these fabulous people.

But I was till not out in public as myself and I still was not out to my parents, sister and extended family... My father was a far right activist with a criminal record for gay bashing in the late 60s / early 70s. How was I supposed to come out to him?

Part IV to come
 

Monica

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Alice, I'm so happy to see you posting your experiences here. I'm learning a few things I didn't know. Look forward to the latest installment, been too long since we talked. Tell the folks at 'Be' I said "Hello, from the Yank!" Love you!
 

Confused

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My coming out story Part II

My dysphoria used to come in waves like the ocean tides. There would be some months when it was really bad, and other months when it was low tide and just lapping the shores quietly in the background. It was always there but in different degrees of intensity. I knew that if I held out in the bad months the tide would recede.

@Alice ......Wow! I thought I was alone in this. Most of the times mine has remained in the background, but I have had some waves as well.

Hugs,
Mike
 

Alice

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Part IV

I had been using the name Alice since Christmas 2018. My daughter had bought me a book called 'Alice' by Christina Henry. In it a girl called Alice who is exceptionally tall has to come to terms that she might be a magician (substitute trans for magician and a lot of things start clicking into place), as part of the narrative she has to pretend to be a boy for her own safety. To top it all off the man helping her shares my deadname (that's not an excuse to go hunting out the book - respect my name). So I settled on Alice for my name. About a month prior to that, shortly after my first meeting with Be, I had made a list of names that I liked and tried them out in front of a mirror... I can't remember all the names on the list, but Jenny was on it which I dismissed because it sounded to close to my mother's name, 'Jane' and Skye was on the list. Alice was on the list too. However, it was the book from my daughter that clinched the name - being a present from my daughter meant that it was more than just a coincidental book. I chose to use Skye as my second name. I was unsure whether I was going to take Skye as my new surname or if I was going to use it as a middle name. Eventually, I opted to use it as a middle name because my wife wanted to keep our surname and it made things easier with my daughter's surname too - it is a bit more difficult to change a child's surname than an adult. Had I been single and without children then my surname would have definitely changed.

I had spent most of 2019 using Alice among friends but not with family, and unpacking my internal transphobia. Learning to be confident in myself and accepting of myself. Learning to overcome my sense of shame and embarrassment. I started working for Be as their communications director in June 2019 as means of giving back for all the support and help that I had gained - which is what prompted me to go to the Pride events - how can I represent Be as their communications director if I am too scared to attend Pride? But I was still being eaten up inside... I still had this conflict going on between being myself and hiding for the sake of society's expectations - particularly a fear of my parents.

My wife too went through a lot of phases. After the third meeting at Be I had decided to transition and told my wife. She blamed Be for it and begged me not to go anymore. I told her that Be was the only thing keeping me alive. She hated my masculine persona and she was on the verge of divorcing me. But she really liked myself. She used to say that it was like dating two people. The trouble was that she wanted Alice but in my male body and I couldn't do that anymore. Then she went through anger and depression... she alternated between crying and being nasty to me. I just kept my mouth shut, offered a hug when it was not rejected. Eventually she came to terms with it and decided that she couldn't be my wife but she would remain with me as my partner sleeping in separate rooms. She eventually refused to hug me but she is more supportive of me. Sometimes she will get depressed and cry about losing her husband but there's nothing I can do about that anymore. It is not a choice, either I am alive and me, or I am dead. So either way she is going to lose the old me - at least this way, she gets to stay with the person who she really loved for as long as she wants to stay, only now that person is manifesting herself on the outside and not just hidden away.

At the start of December 2019, Katie at Be had a long talk with me when I was full of self hate and self doubt about what my options were... I could go back to where I was before in the closet but would things ever really go back to normal? I had told her previously in the year that I had come close to killing myself and that should never be an option. She asked me about what was holding me back and I admitted it was fear, I was scared of people making fun of me, I was scared of what my parents would say, and I was scared of losing my wife and daughter... She told me that I should never have to live in fear of who I was to the point where death was preferable to life. So we can rule out going back, I had to move forward but I was terrified of coming out to my parents.

Katie told me that sometimes you just got to suck it in and jump both feet into the pool. Put on a dress and walk across town and who cares what other people think. Sure, some people might laugh at me, some might call me names. But I can just ignore them and be me. Every year I read A Christmas Carol at the start of December and the final wisdom of Scrooge was echoing in my mind as Katie said these words to me - the talk was a lot longer than what I've laid out here... it was a full 2 hours of one to one support from her.

"Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them ; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset ; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed : and that was quite enough for him."

So, on the last Be meeting of December, I put on a dress (given to me by my friends wife and new best friend) in the freezing cold, parked my car at the opposite side of town and I walked across Newcastle. A friend from Be offered to come with me for support. I kept my head high and I walked like I was heading the Pride parade. Inside, I was a bundle of nerves, but I put them aside with my mantra from the book 'Alice'...

"Don't scurry like a mouse," Hatcher said, his voice harsh. "You'll draw them to you quick as flame if you do."
"Start by holding your head high," Hatcher said, "You're only a mouse if you let them make you one."

But I did it... I walked across Newcastle not just once, but twice - there and back. Nobody said a word to me, nobody laughed, everyone just minded their own business with barely a glance at me. On the last Saturday before Christmas I had a meeting with an outside LGBT+ charity about their disaster at representing trans people - another story, and they were seeking to make amends. Again, I put on my only dress and headed to Newcastle on a busy Saturday afternoon before Christmas. This time people looked at me, people commented to each other, nobody laughed though, nobody said anything to my face except two people asking for directions and neither laughed or mocked me when I gave them the directions in my not feminine at all voice. All the time the mantra in my head... 'you are not a mouse, hold your head high, don't let them treat you like a mouse, you are a lioness and bullies are scared of things that bite back. Be a lioness not a mouse. Imagine you are at Pride... TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS! Be proud of who you are!'

But I really wanted to come out to my family. However, I was unemployed, and we relied on my family's support to get us through Christmas - without their help, Santa wasn't coming for my daughter. So, me and my wife agreed that I would wait until January before coming out to my sister and then come out to my mother afterwards. Then hopefully with their help, come out to my daughter and father at the same time in May after my sister and mother have had time to process things. That was the plan but plans rarely happen like they are supposed to...
 

Alice

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Part V

Christmas came and went. And my sister started discussing with me the possibility of doing some work experience at her place of work helping children with severe autism. It required a police check and we agreed some provisional stuff over the Christmas period. After the first week of January when my sister started back at work, I went around to her house with my documents for a background check and that's when I came out to her.

I asked if we could have a word because there was something I had to tell her, and I told her that I suffered from gender dysphoria. She's a senior nurse and I didn't have to explain what that meant to her, but she asked me if that meant I was nonbinary, and I said, 'no, I am female'. And then I poured out the entire story from day one. She listened and she asked me if I was not just gay because she thought I was gay. I was bullied at school for being gay even though I showed no interest whatsoever in men. I was bullied because I refused to join in an attack on a trans woman when I was 11-years-old. A local trans woman was walking by and the boys I was with started calling her names and throwing rotten plums at her. I didn't have a clue at the time what a 'trannie' was but I wasn't going to start shouting names at people and throwing rotten plums at them. I was in a bit of a shock that this person might be like me but how could that be possible? It set me on the path of reading whatever I could find on trans gender and would take me to the point where I was made to look like a drag queen - with a few suicide attempts along the way and a few attempts at trying to find the courage to cut off my bits below. Eventually the boys noticed that I wasn't joining in and pinned me down and forced fed me a rotten plum. The next day the entire school knew about it and because I refused to attack a trans woman, everyone assumed that I must be gay because idiots often don't know the difference between trans and gay. But the entire school turned against me that day and my life was hell until my final year at school, with beatings every day unless I was fast enough to find somewhere to hide before they could catch me. I was practically banned from the toilets at school and any attempt at using them resulted in another beating. Anyone who tried to be my friend - if it was found out, they too got a beating because if I was gay, then any boy trying to be my friend must be gay too. So, my sister assumed that it must be true because everyone said it was true.

I explained to my sister that I was actually pansexual and that I was attracted to people's personalities rather than their bodies and I just happen to be more attracted to women than men because men mostly treated me like shit and sometimes, not often, but women would sometimes treat me nice. So I ended up coming out twice to my sister that day but as expected she was more interested in me being trans. She asked why I was such a chauvenistic pig to her during our childhood which I expected her to ask and I answered honestly that it was a mixture of jealousy and trying to hide who I was inside. Trying to suppress myself.

She told me that I shouldn't give my entire life story like that and just say I am trans because it sounds like I am trying to apologise for who I am. That she was exhausted from hearing my story. I specifically told her not to tell Mam and Dad because I wanted to tell Mam at the end of the month after my sister had time to digest what I had said. She gave me a hug and I went home.

The next day, she sent me an email with a link to a TERF site telling me that she will never call me Alice and will always call me the name my parents gave me. This came as a shock. She then outed me to my mother on the same day. My mother came storming into our house demanding to see me. I came downstairs and she started screaming at me, 'I know, I know'. So I replied, 'You know what?'
'That you want to be a woman!'
I replied, 'Yes, what did she tell you?'
'That you want to be a woman!'
'Yes'
'Well just look at you, you don't look like a woman!'
'So?'
'When are you going to tell your Dad?'
'Not sure yet'
'Well it is ridiculous!'
And with that she stormed out of my house again.

The following day, I was at Be again and while I was sat chatting to people about what had happened, I got a text from my sister:
"What you have to understand is that I thought you had cancer. This is what I told Mam weeks ago. Then I find out that basically everything that I have ever known, built memories around, grew up with was all complete and utter lies. It is a betrayal of trust to an epic degree. ... This is like finding out you are adopted or your Dad isn't your real Dad. You may have come to terms with it but it is less than 24 hours for me"

I didn't reply. I didn't want to burn any bridges between us.

The following week, I attended the funeral of someone who had only been to a couple of Be meetings and was really struggling to cope with their gender dysphoria and being in the closet. They very sadly chose to take their life because they feared too much the prejudice of losing family, friends, their job, and the pressures of society. At the funeral they were cremated in their name and gender given at birth and only myself and their wife knew the real reason that they took their life. It was told to everyone else that it was mental health and a collection was made for a mental health charity... but the thing that stuck in everyone's hearts was hearing a eulogy from a 7-year-old... at the time a year younger than my own daughter. There was not a dry eye in the place. I was asked to attend by Katie and it was a big wake up call for me. It put a line through any notion of suicide. I could never put my daughter through that much pain no matter how much pain I was suffering myself. It really made a big impact on me. Such a sad loss of life out of fear - their life mirrored my own in so many ways - similar age, similar upbringing, both had daughters of similar age, lived just two villages apart, both born in the same hospital, both struggled with the fear - the embarrassment - the shame - the anxiety - the stress of being trans gender. Both being eaten up by the dysphoria. I attended in boy mode so I would not stick out as trans out of respect for the widow.

The following week my father (still clueless) asked me to get him some shopping when I was out, and I called by with his groceries that he requested. My mother answered the door and demanded to know when I was going to tell him. I said I hadn't thought about it but was thinking that perhaps a letter might be the best thing and that way he has nobody to lash out against with his temper. Keep in mind that this is the man who pulled the door off its hinges when he found out I was dating a non-white girl when I was in my twenties. He went for me, I ran out the door and held it shut against him, and he ripped it off its hinges in his rage. I ran to my grandmother's house and stayed there until things had calmed down. You think I am going to tell him face to face?

I left and went home, and I had no sooner got through the door when the phone was ringing. I kicked off my shoes and ran to the phone and it was my mother, 'I've told him'
'And?'
'He was shocked and in disbelief but he doesn't want to talk to you or see you anymore'
 

Alice

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Part VI


It was then I decided it was best that I come out to my daughter. My wife had a girls night out planned with her friends and I told her that I would tell my daughter then because it was better that it came from me and not my parents or sister. I had been building up slowly to telling my daughter, I read a Boy in a Dress to her and I took her to York Pride and to Newcastle Pride. I introduced her to some of the people from Be while at Newcastle Pride and we went on some of the fun fair rides and she got a slushy and spoiled rotten by everyone who wanted hugs - lots of hugs at Be. On the way home from Newcastle Pride she asked me about what Pride was about and I told her truthfully and she said that was stupid, people should be allowed to love who they like. She asked me about Be and I didn't tell her about being trans at that time, but I told her that it helped people to be themselves. She said that she was proud of me for the work I did at Be.

On the night that I planned to tell my daughter, I arranged for my friends to come around to the house to play Monopoly together with my daughter (my daughter loves board games), and we had her favourite food for dinner that night with popcorn and cakes etc. to eat while playing monopoly. Before my friends came around, I sat her down and told her that I had something important to tell her. I had a small trans pride flag and I asked her if she knew what it was. She said that it was the Be flag (cute) and I told her that it wasn't just the Be flag, that it was the trans flag. I explained to her what the colours meant, that blue then pink meant someone was told they were a boy when they were a baby but really inside they were a girl, that pink then blue meant that someone was told they were a girl when they were a baby but inside they are really a boy. She asked me what the white meant, and I told her that sometimes people are told they are a boy or a girl but really inside they are neither a girl nor a boy and we call that nonbinary. She asked what do you call the other colours, and I told they are trans gender and that Be helps trans people. She said that she thinks that she might be white, and I asked her why, and she said that she doesn't like typical girl things like unicorns and the colour pink. I told her that doesn't mean she is nonbinary or trans, you don't have to like girly things to be a girl and that was a revelation to her. I asked do you feel like a boy? And then I said do you feel like a girl? And she said yes. So I told her that means she is probably not trans and probably not nonbinary but if she ever did feel differently in the past, then not to worry about it. I then told her that I was the blue and pink. That I was told I was a boy but inside I am really a girl and that I am tired of hiding being a girl and pretending to be a boy all the time. I told her that I was going to change and become a girl all the time and that my name was going to change to Alice because of the book she gave me for Christmas called, 'Alice'.

She was perfectly fine with it all. In fact, she became my strongest ally, telling my wife off for not calling me Alice. She made hundreds of trans flags - drawing and colouring them in, making them out of lego bricks, making bracelets or the best one I like the most is when in RE at school and she has to colour in a picture of Jesus and the disciples, she colours him in trans pride flag colours or the rainbow colours of the Pride flag. My friends came and everyone was calling me Alice all night and we had a great evening.

However, apparently, my sister is spiraling into full TERF mode. She phones me a couple of times full of hell against me. Don't call me cis, I am a woman etc. I hate Alice she murdered my brother etc. She ended up claiming to need to see a psychiatrist and taking time off sick from work. Then in mid February, I get a text from my sister asking to 'borrow' my daughter.

No way was I going to let my daughter go with a TERF to be turned against me. So I said, no not yet, it is too soon. And explained that she needed more time to come to terms with who I am before she can see my daughter. WWIII erupted and it took a lot of diplomacy and a lot of help from Be to make sure I replied respectfully without burning any bridges. But she crossed a line when she threatened to have social services remove my daughter from my care. Then I lost it with her. Eventually my mother phoned me and demanded to know why I wouldn't let my daughter go with my sister and that the reason was to have lunch at the local pub near my house because my brother-in-law was meeting his daughter for the first time after his ex had refused to allow him any contact but now that she was 18 and a legal adult she wanted to meet him and his ex couldn't stop her.

I relented and allowed my daughter to go because under the circumstances they would all be too much engaged in my brother-in-law's daughter than my daughter. I told my daughter truthfully all that was said and that my sister, nana, and granddad didn't like me much because I am trans. My daughter was pretty switched on and I didn't have anything to worry about.

Then my father had a hospital appointment and went with my mother. While there they called into the mental heath services part of the hospital and reported me for being schizophrenic. They apparently asked them to elaborate and they must've told them that I was saying I was trans and in return they got given some leaflets about a talking matters mental health service - which was quite laughable from my point of view.

However, my father started talking to me again but didn't want to know anything about me being trans. I was permitted to visit the house once more but only if I didn't wear makeup or any female clothing. Basically he wanted a lift to the barbers and there was nobody to take him but me. I dropped him off at the barbers and went to do some shopping. I finished my shopping and he was still having his hair cut because there had been a long wait. I sat down and waited for him because it was warmer in the barbers than my car. After he finished, he tried to get me to have a hair cut (I was growing my hair out), and I refused. He kept on insisting, and that he would pay, and I said, no. We left and I dropped him off at home. He said, 'You are not going to start wearing dresses are you?' and I replied, 'Probably not very often, most women wear jeans or trousers, do you want to talk about it?' and he replied that he didn't want to hear it. So I let it be.
 

Alice

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Part VII


I had intended on changing my name on March 29th 2020 for Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV) but Covid happened and I couldn't get anyone to sign my deed poll for the name change and besides everywhere was closed for lockdown, so it made no sense to rush it. However, in June the restrictions were lifted slightly and I could visit the bank once more. I arranged to get my deed poll signed by two of the leaders from Be who lived together - got my name changed, took my deed polls to the bank and doctors and had my name changed there too. I spent the summer updating my store cards and driving license. And in June I came out to the world in a YouTube video that got a lot of support from people in the comments and I saw my subscribers double:
My Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZjWjvWNTmw Out!

A week before coming out on YouTube, I told my mother that I was going to come out to my Grandmother and uncle before I released the video. She didn't want me to come out to my grandmother because she's in her 90s and she feared the shock might kill her but I explained that my grandmother watches my videos on YouTube and will find out that way and it is far better she finds out from me in person than from YouTube.
I arranged to call my grandmother in a couple of days time but when I called, my mother had beaten me to it. The first thing she tells me is, 'I know, your mother has told me, I hear I am to start calling you Alice'.
My grandmother was fine about it, apparently she already knows some trans women who live near her and work at the local charity shop and volunteer at the place where she lives. She told my mother off for not accepting me. She told my mother that she has to decide now whether she can accept me or if she wants to disown me but as a mother herself, she could never disown any of her children. Apparently my mother replied that she wouldn't disown me but my father was a problem in accepting me.

Later when I spoke to my mother, she told me that she wasn't going to disown me but she wouldn't call me Alice until after I have 'the operation' but my Dad would not have me coming to the house in women's clothing and if I turned up in a dress then she would never forgive me and she would disown me. That she had compromised in not disowning me, so I had to compromise in pretending everything was as it had always been - being deadnamed and wearing men's clothes. So I very rarely visit or call now... and not just because of covid restrictions but because it is not good for my mental wellbeing to be deadnamed by my parents who have failed to show the support that a parent aught to show their child.

I used to get really stressed about living up to my parent's expectations and was terrified of losing their love and approval to the point where I came close to killing myself more than once because I struggled to hide myself in order not to make them ashamed of having me. And now I knew that was all a waste of time because what is the point of seeking approval of a parent who can't support their child with a simple thing as a name change and a piece of cloth. All that worry and for what? Parents who don't love you unconditionally. What a waste of my life trying to live up to their expectations of me instead of living my own life to its fullest.
Over the summer I had a number of job interviews. The first one I explained that I was trans but they asked me to continue the interview in my deadname because that was the name I had used to apply for the position. I didn't get the job which on hindsight I am grateful because if they were truly trans friendly then they would've allowed me to conduct the interview as Alice. The second, third, and fourth interviews I did as Alice and I passed all three of them. I was more confident and smiling in these interviews. I was myself and enjoying being myself. I accepted the position from the first interview and I am now working full time as Alice. I started wearing a woman's suit and then switched to skirts after the first couple of days. I use public transport to get to work as me. So I am standing at train stations and metro stations wearing a skirt and make up and my trans pride face mask. I get called Alice at work. Everyone seems to know who I am - even people outside my team, so I can assume that I am the topic of conversation at break times - or at least I was until they got bored and started discussing something else instead. My team obviously were introduced to me as Alice, and they all use she/her pronouns, I use the Ladies toilet from day one with no issues at all. I didn't try to hide that I was trans, I don't pass very well, I have to wear a head scarf because I have hair issues on top and can't stand wigs. I have longish hair now but it is patchy on top and the hair that is there is very fine so difficult to see unless you are close up. So I always were hats and scarves.

My colleagues asked if it was ok to ask me questions about being trans and I told them I would sooner they ask me than try and find the answers elsewhere. They all know that I work for Be in my spare time and many of them donated money to Be over Christmas. Working full time as Alice and using public transport to commute to work has really boosted my confidence. I no longer need the mantra 'You are not a mouse', my head is held high and I ooze confidence. I am not just proud to be Alice, I am proud to be trans too. All the hate I get on social media for correcting the misinformation of TERFs and bigots, just makes me more proud to be trans, more proud to be me, more strong, and more confident than I have ever been.
 

Alice

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Part VIII


On Christmas Day, I open my gift from my sister and inside is a voucher for afternoon tea (not likely to be able to use it before the expiry date because of lockdown) but a much better present was the card that contained the voucher was addressed in my sister's handwriting, 'To Alice'. Almost a year earlier she had sent me an email telling me that she would never call me Alice, and followed it up with phone calls telling me how much she hated and despised Alice... and I got a nice Christmas card and gift from her addressed 'To Alice'... my best Christmas present since my daughter gave me the book 'Alice'.

On New Year's Eve, I did some last minute shopping and I overspent slightly in the supermarket. I needed some petrol for the car and ended up putting in more than I had in the bank, so my card was declined when I went to pay. The man serving me was my old boss from the wine shop who I had worked with on and off for over 20 years, who I lived next door to for 10 years. He told me that I had to complete a form and that I would be given 24 hours to return and pay for the petrol before the police were notified. He took my name - my new name Alice XXXX, and he didn't recognise me, my home address - keep in mind that he has visited my home on more than one occasion to pick me up or drop me off from work and he still didn't recognise me, and my vehicle type and registration... I have a 'new' car now because my old car was in an accident in November 2020, he probably would've recognised me had I the old car because a Mitsubishi colt was not a common car where I live but now I drive a Toyota yaris (hate it). Then he asked me if I was related to my deadname. I replied, 'I am' and then he started telling me how my deadname used to work for him at the wine shop... thankfully another customer came in and I could make my escape before I wet myself laughing. I got in the car which my wife and daughter were sat in - who my old boss also knows by sight but failed to realise. And then as we drove away, I couldn't stop laughing. I don't pass very well and most people can tell I am trans, they're nice to me and respectful but they know I am trans... but I must pass better than I thought if someone who has known me all my life can't recognise me.

I love work but sadly we got sent home for the current lockdown and I have to work from home until further notice.

One last thing that got lost in my coming out story is my uncle - my mother's younger brother. I came out to him at the same time as my grandmother but I didn't speak to him. Instead I sent an email. I didn't get any reply from him. In August, I mentioned to my mother that he hadn't replied. Apparently, he never got my email because he had changed his email address and forgot to tell me. He sent me a letter in the post along with a necklace with the trans symbol on it apologising and hoping that I didn't think he was not accepting of his niece. I confess I cried when I received his gift and letter. He followed it up with an email and sent me more jewellery because he trades in costume jewellery on ebay. He's actually my second biggest supporter after my daughter in the family.

Now, in terms of coming out, the only problem is my parents. Still got a long road to travel... the waiting time for treatment on the NHS is just shy of 6 years, and I've been waiting 2 years and 3 months so far. I am self medicating in the meanwhile, and now I am working and earning a decent wage, I can afford to get assessed and start HRT privately - just waiting for Covid restrictions to ease, it may be a wait, but it will be quicker than the NHS. I've spent most of my first wage packet on my wardrobe. I took out a loan in November to buy work clothes, boots and a handbag, I had to pay some of that back and I bought myself a couple of new jackets (one for work and casual, the other for hiking) and I am waiting for some new hiking clothes to arrive in the post - hopefully they will fit. By the end of March I want all my male clothes gone, just holding onto one or two things for now because I still don't have a lot of female clothes that are my style - I've got a few clothes that people have handed down to me which are nice but not quite me. Hopefully covid restrictions will be eased by the end of the year with the vaccine and I can pass all these clothes - both male and hand downs to other people who need them at Be.

And in short, that is more or less my coming out story. Without the combined efforts of Moni, Steffi, Lesley, and everyone at Be... I wouldn't be here today. It was not easy coming to terms with who I am, but I eventually got there and I love being myself. I still have a way to go but really glad I am where I am. While many had a horrible 2020 and sadly many people have been lost to Covid over the last year... but honestly I have had the greatest year of my life in 2020. I went from a scared person pretending to be a man and considering suicide because I was too scared to be myself, to a confident and proud trans woman. From long term unemployed to gainfully employed full time in a job I love with work colleagues who respect me for who I am.

Hopefully this will help someone on their journey... always remember two things... (1) suicide is not option; don't be scared people are too involved in their own lives to worry about you. There are lots of people who genuinely care about you, strangers in the trans community who are waiting to be your friend who genuinely care that about you, accept you who for who you are, and want to help you on your journey. And (2) you are only a mouse if you let people treat you like one... be a lion and strut about the place like you own the joint - nobody is going to mess with you if they think you've got teeth. Make every day your own personal Pride parade and remember Trans Rights are Human Rights! every time anyone tries to make you feel small for being yourself... they're just jealous because they are too afraid to live their own lives. Be YOU, Be PROUD... just Be!
 

OzGirl

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Alice, thank you for this fascinating and detailed account of your coming out, you are obviously a great storyteller! I so hope your family come to see you are your true self, and relise the love you, not what you are wearing!

Hugs,

Allie
 

Monica

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Alice I remember when you told your first 'friend' and they were so unkind. You explained to me about the area you live in and the anticipated fear you had of coming out. It is a more rough and tumble place. You told me of your sister and the hostility she sent your way. You have been through really extreme difficulties in your journey and you have prevailed. I just want to say how proud I am of you. You are really inspiring. You are a role model for looking up at the mountain, being scared, but doing it anyway. From such a difficult start, you have battled and battled for the genuine you. I'm happy to have you as a friend.

I wondered if you wanted to post your coming out video on your You Tube channel here. I think it is worth showing. Hey, I know the Zoom times are weird for you, but you should consider stopping by a zoom here. I believe they have Saturdays and Sundays in Northumberland!
 

Alice

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Alice I remember when you told your first 'friend' and they were so unkind. You explained to me about the area you live in and the anticipated fear you had of coming out. It is a more rough and tumble place. You told me of your sister and the hostility she sent your way. You have been through really extreme difficulties in your journey and you have prevailed. I just want to say how proud I am of you. You are really inspiring. You are a role model for looking up at the mountain, being scared, but doing it anyway. From such a difficult start, you have battled and battled for the genuine you. I'm happy to have you as a friend.

I wondered if you wanted to post your coming out video on your You Tube channel here. I think it is worth showing. Hey, I know the Zoom times are weird for you, but you should consider stopping by a zoom here. I believe they have Saturdays and Sundays in Northumberland!
couldn't have done it without you Moni - thank you so much for all your support. I really really appreciate it. Thank you.
 

Monica

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Oh your picture is so cute! Not as cute as Maisie, but pretty damn cute. You have her on cute accent though. She definitely barks American.

Well, I hope I helped. Our friendship, I know, has helped me! 😁
 
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