Yesterday was undeniably traumatic. In blog terms, it excited more comment, more interest than anything I have written to date. I got a lot of mail, both on and off board (thanks to all of you).
And it left me thinking: there are so many trans persons out there who live in fear, not just of the rest of an aggressively transphobic world…but also of the very people who are meant to support and assist us. I read other blogs on a regular basis and it doesn’t take long to read between the lines: the nervousness, the fear, the insecurity because not only do we travel a very different journey to most of the rest of the world.
We must also put up with an establishment whose very raison d’etre seems to be to question, belittle and undermine. My heart goes out to you, girls.
And I am not going into that space!
I am out and proud and trans, and if that causes the rest of the world the occasional local difficulty, tough! Get used to it.
This piece, today, is for all the rest of you: those who don’t quite have the same privilege of self-confidence that I am blessed with, and for whom coming out is harder. A struggle.
Also for the two of you – you know who you are – who spent an evening giggling at my expense just because I happened to use the m-word (that’s “militant”, in case you hadnt guessed). Like… when it comes to tactics I am the world’s least confrontational. Poster girl for Ms Consensus 2010. And yesterday I got very, very angry.
My name is Jane. Mostly Jane Fae: occasionally Jane Fae Ozimek. That’s who I am, legally and otherwise – and I don’t need any cheapskate piece of paper to prove otherwise.
I lived too much of my life as an uncomfortable and unhappy bloke. I am a woman: always have been; but took a while to realise. I started transitioning officially some 8 months ago. In truth, the process began some years before that.
I “resist” deed polls and the like not because I am conflicted over my gender or my identity, but for the same reason I have resisted and helped others to resist every organisation that seeks to control and bully for the last 30 years. Because I have a right to be me and I have a right to be heard – and nobody is allowed to take that from me.
I am 52 and 6’2”. I have size 11 feet and hair that sometimes reduces me to tears through its unruliness: its scraggliness; its all-round refusal to play ball. So, for me, the Holy Grail of “passing” is always going to be a challenge.
Oh: don’t get me wrong. I glow when – rarely, still – I am acknowledged as female. I love every single part of the new me…from my slowly expanding baby boobs (and hips), to my wardrobe, make-up and hairdo (thank you, Kris, for that!).
I take time over my appearance and if I can’t always be a living icon of idealised womanhood, at least I can look smart and feel good.
I just don’t measure myself by how far I match up to some male wetdream of what a woman “should” look like. (And there’s a pic of me going up today: I’ve left it off the blog for far too long. Just give me time to work out how to upload it!)
I write for a living. Law, IT, politics, policing. Also sex, sexuality and relationships. I’ve written books on statistics, IT and database marketing. I’ve also written about the discrimination inherent in the British view of sexuality. In between times, I get to ask politicians the sort of rude and irreverent questions other people only dream they could.
I’ve been an activist for years: initially in mainstream politics (a former Liberal parliamentary candidate). More recently in the field of sexual rights. I’ve started to campaign against the stupid and controlling attitude that many organisations (GIC’s included) have on name change. I am also very interested now to collect histories of trans oppression from people who have experienced it. Don’t be shy: just e-mail me.
I live with my partner, love and fiancée, andrea. She gets me intellectually, though i think she struggles at times with the emotions behind what I am doing and still supports as best she can. I share a house with a surreal daughter (Tash), a grumpy step-daughter (Megan) and an ineffably cute 5-year-old boy (Rafe). Despite dire warnings to every woman he has ever met, not to call him “cute”, they continue to do so: I predict mayhem when he reaches puberty.
I also own a senile and much-loved black cat (Misz) and a stroppy fluffy mongrel of a cat (Kitty).
I am out to everyone I know: friends, relatives and work colleagues. That has cost me a bit – but less than I expected. I am now persona non grata in the Middle East – though as much for my insistence on writing about personal and sexual freedom as my sexual identity – and have lost some (quite lucrative) work out there.
I jettisoned the last of my male apparel months ago. I walk the streets as I am: a somewhat strange looking woman. I am used to comment, sniggers and the oh-so-original “is it a man or a woman?” jibe. I have survived three rather nastier attacks: in the worst case, I suspect andrea and I only escaped serious violence as a result of police intervention. Nice one Cambridgeshire!
I have had my bum patted by a senior executive who really should have known better.
I use women’s loos, changing rooms and am happiest when I’m out in women-only clubs. I have many wonderful and supportive female friends – both cis and trans: I still struggle when it comes to relating to men – and my two encounters with the NHS mental services to date have both been milestones in making that relationship a lot harder.
Before coming out – and since, my theme…the song I go back to time and again has been “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked”. Two reasons, really – though almost every single line thrums with significance.
The first is the obvious lyric: the assertion of defiance in the face of adversity:
“It’s time to try
I think I’ll try
And you can’t pull me down!”
The second, though, is more subtle and is about the price we pay to undertake this journey and a reminder that sometimes, to be ourselves, we need to leave some things behind:
“Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!”
And that is the most important lesson of all. To be true to yourself, sometimes, you have to take a stand and let go of other things: love, approval, whatever. Restrictions that in the end do little except tie you down and make you feel crap: different things for everyone.
I know who I am: I’m Jane. What about you?