Saturday, October 27, 2007

27th October
There's a photo that's just emerged from my filing cabinet.
In it, I'm sixteen years old.
I'm sitting in a group of about 70 boys, all dressed uniformly in black suit, white shirt, and hideous purple striped tie.
Sitting in rigid rows, all according to the number of years we've been at the school.
All grouped with our masters and tutors in front of the hideous, oppressive, house we had to call 'home'
I'm in the third row, about fourth from the left.
I'm standing not quite in line.
My shoulders are hunched, my cheeks are hollow.
I look terrified.
There are people in the photograph who have looked out for me. A boy called Potter sitting in the prefects row who has directed me on stage. A boy called Corran standing next to me who is the hooker for the school rugby team and who, in spite of his high status in the hierarchy, still agreed to demean himself by sharing a study with me.
And so protected me.
That year, I've discovered the theatre is my home.
I've also discovered, because they give me girls' parts, that it's a girl I would much rather be.
And maybe even am.
That's the main reason I'm terrified.
A girl in the group on Thursday was talking about how her father has communicated to her the fact that, as far as he's concerned, she does not exist.
Thinking about her has helped me understand that that was precisely the message I had learnt at that time. The whole world had told me: as a transsexual you do not exist. There is no future for you.
Who i was was literally unspeakable: there were no words then to describe me.
The girl in the group said: "But I do exist. Here I am".
And now, dear love, is trying to live that out.
But I agreed i did not exist. I internalised that lie. I cannot reproach myself, because I had no choice at that time. There was no other information available to me.
And so I tried to live as a young man.
Luckily, I never wholly succeeded.
I never learnt to stop crying, for instance.
I grew my hair long as soon as I was able to.
I absolutely rejected the 'masculine' choices society offered me. I refused to become a real man. I refused my father's career, or the career as an academic society mapped out for me.
I tried to become a writer. And failed.
I became a nurse.
I became a parent: and as a parent, tried to be both mother and father to my children.
And somehow, as I look back, it were those acts of resistance - that seemed pretty feeble and insignificant at the time - that saved me.
But whenever I look back at that photo, and think of the incredibly damaged young person i was - utterly alone, convinced no-one would ever love me, feeling like a worthless person, an utter nobody - I want to pay tribute to his courage.
My courage.
All our courage.
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