One of the joys of being me is that i get to go to strange exotic places and meet even stranger more exotic people – without in any way being encouraged to kill them!

OK. The daily grind, as i put it, tends to involve interviewing politicians, lawyers and criminals – and having to guess which is which.

But writing about sex and sexuality means that the boundary between fun and professional life is just that bit laxer. I mean: who else gets to interview their subject in a jacuzzi? Or at an all-night party.

So it was on saturday night, being over in London for the weekend, i decided to find out for myself what the transgender “scene” was like. That may sound like a strange thing to do.

After all, i’m transgender: surely i know already what the scene is like.

Actually not. Because for me, this is very much about identity, rather than sex: so being transsexual is about living the gender i feel most comfortable in. Its certainly not about converting that experience into anything else.

It was therefore with some trepidation that i descended on a party in West London. Scary! At least to begin with. A great many transvestites: very few taking quite the same path as myself.

To begin with, it seemed like the old cliché applied most definitely. To wit: the transgender world is like Belgium. One country, two different languages.

But its not. Not really. Oh: there are definitely those for whom dressing seems to be mostly something to enjoy, with little further thought given. But to split the world so absolutely into serious and non-serious trannies? Nah. It doesn’t work.

I met Helen, a long-term dresser, who really, really needs to transition. One can sense it in everything she says, and wish only that she would stop making excuses for why she can’t.

I met Danielle, who is currently doing what feels like the bravest thing in the world: dressing – but not transitioning. That means she gets all the hostility, all the danger – but none of the legal protection i get. I asked her later about that. She said she probably would transition. Eventually. In her own time.

Saddest of all, i met someone who had ceased to transition and come off the hormones. Weak will? A rejector?

No. Three years into hormone treatment, she discovered a lump in her breast. No more hormones. Too risky.

I couldn’t imagine anything worse: to discover yourself – and then have everything taken away again. Very humbling.

I left the next day: tired, not quite so scared by it all, having learnt a bit more about the world of transgender.

If you want a neat country metaphor, we’re more like America. Loads of different states, all a bit different, all a bit the same. Mostly friendly.



3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jenny Alto said,

    The metaphor I always think of is Esperanto. We come from a lot of different places yet we have something in common, there are a surprising number of us about yet most of us you wouldn’t know if you passed in the street.

  2. 2

    Sabine said,

    Actually, Belgium is one country, three languages. German is the official language in a rather small area near the German border.

    If you are looking for a nice holiday place, try the town of Zeebrugge, Belgium. Direct ferry connection to Blighty, great beach, super food in large quantities and good beer. If that doesn’t put hips on you, nothing will. Culture just a couple of miles inland, up the canal.

    The Flemish love you guys, as long as you stay sober enough not to require medical attention.

  3. 3

    Trisha Dee said,

    Nice to see someone who sees the diversity of what we are without adverse comment.

    While ‘The United States of Transgender’ doesnt really have much of a ring to it, I think it does describe the potential for community.

    I dont do the ‘Scene’ much either but I believe strongly in community….


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