Funny numbers

  • Posted on June 7, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Hanging on in there? Still reading my blog after all this time? Maybe you’re waiting for the juicy stuff before finally giving up? (Maybe I am!) Well, life is certainly interesting, even though I’ve lived in a bubble of my own since 2010, when it first dawned on me that I wasn’t actually some kind of weird unspeakable pervert living inside a ‘nice bloke’ persona.

I wasn’t a ‘nice bloke’ at all. That’s only what everyone else thought.

Last week I was coming to terms with the emotional build-up as I hit the six week mark; today I noticed it is just 40 days to go. The headache hasn’t completely gone, so it may not just have been stress at all. The fear is quite under control.

But these numbers are small, as I reflect on the scale and speed of things. Soon after I started my journey, media accounts of gender dysphoria were almost entirely sensationalist, and the first big thing landing in my marital living room (scary) was Channel 4’s My Transsexual Summer. In the three years since, a number of younger trans* personalities have emerged, written, acted, performed, interviewed and been recognised around the world. Musicians, actors, authors, journalists have used their professions to present being transgender or transsexual as simply one of the diverse outcomes of birth.

During the same time many hundreds of trans* people worldwide have been murdered for being trans*. Each year the Transgender Day of Remembrance has counted them, named them, remembered them. The media have broadcast and published the most appalling stories, even resulting in the death of trans* individuals. The public, such as parents at schools, have treated children, parents and teachers with incredible bigotry, as bullies. All over the world trans* people have lost everything, including hope, because society has proved unready to see the world and humanity as it is. Religious bigotry has been vile and violent.

Small change

And yet in this same three-year span, we have seen the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 in the UK, and many states in the US fighting this way and that to legalise it. Yet trans* people still feel marginalised as a special case. Lesbian and gay ‘rights to love’ are also terribly recent, and Section 28, legislating against teaching the acceptability of same-sex love only disappeared in 2003. Trans* people are still a step behind.

In a few weeks my prepared envelope receives its final insert, and goes off to request my Gender Recognition Certificate. This possibility only arrived in 2005, and still I have had to go through the mill of psychiatrists and an unsupported two years of so-called ‘real life experience’. Are you lesbian, or gay? Did you ever have to prove it to a string of psychiatrists in order to be believed, or validated? Was it ever in anyone else’s gift to pronounce you lesbian or gay? Do you need a certificate? Were you ever written in stone as heterosexual at birth? Have you ever had to tick a ‘homosexual’ box on a form? I set out on this journey to freedom to be myself just five years after legal permission to declare your own gender became possible.

These are the small numbers.

And the really big numbers?

The really big numbers are those identifying as transgender. Even narrowed down to strictly transsexual as in my diagnosis, 2% to 5% is a conservative estimate. That is what, about 12 million people worldwide? None of whom are believed and trusted for being who they say they are, administrated out of existence until extensively tested against subjective means. And perhaps a majority of these will never be fully accepted.

Zooming back in again, I am in one of the fewer countries where that is possible. I live in a city where there is above average tolerance, I have had a comparatively easy route through three years to achieve where I am, and in 40 days I shall have a few hours surgery, and then I shall feel completely at one with myself. And single.


Just to lighten up, I went shopping today. Pre-hospital and recovery stuff, so in the spirit of a first and a second, here we go, because they made me smile.

For the first time I needed to buy sanitary products. Post-surgical care you understand (the surgery isn’t that complete!). And yet it felt perfectly normal, and such a far cry from the anxiety buying my first female clothing ‘as a (nice) bloke’ in 2010.

For the second time in my life, I needed to go to Mothercare, for a baby changing mat. Decisions! Pink? Blue? Well, not the one with the matching bib … And would madam (proud grandma?) like to leave her email for future offers …? No; I don’t expect to be back. (For those not in the know, this is a matter of wipe-clean convenience for post-surgical aftercare.)

Nothing like a sense of reality, is there? Big numbers and little numbers can both be important, if difficult to compare.


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