Breaking with the past

So there was a point to the last post. Over and above what I actually had to say in it (though its something I’d been wanting to write about for a while now).

A week back, I had a brief exchange with a certain Sophie, who said two things: that she thought me brave for being so “out” and so prepared to link back to my past; and that she herself had gone a long way to break links to her past.

Bravery over-rated

On the first point, I’m not sure what to add. “You’re so brave” is one of those things I keep hearing and not understanding. I’m not. I’m just not. “Brave” would be feeling what I feel and pretending still to be a bloke: it would be (pointlessly) living out the rest of my life in silent suited anonymity. Or maybe that would just be stupid.

But this? Brave? Nah. Its what I am and the fact that people sometimes laugh at me for it and sometimes try and hit me for it – that’s just occupational hazard. Still, in line with my newfound politeness (not modesty) I’ll try and agree with folks who say this in future. Or at least not push them back.

Accepting the past

But what about the link to the past. Ah. Now there I know I am in two minds: know also that my view is shifting.

Back at the start of transition, I felt I’d always keep my past in full view. I’m not so sure about that now. Not that I’m planning or thinking I’ll ever go full stealth. But because I’ve shifted.

The old me – the me that I tend rarely now to name – is growing ever more distant and yes: ever so slightly alien. Was I EVER him, I find myself wondering.

Well, yes, of coure: and I’m not unproud of my achievements. The me who exists now the me who can build a scoring system, write an academic article, or pen a short story: that me is the direct linear descendant of the old me, the “he” who learnt those skills.

And yet.. . and yet.. . I feel increasingly estranged. I noticed it the very first time whilst filming a couple of months back. The crew wanted to see me reading something work related. I picked up a random piece of paper and – it was something relating to an old contract. A piece of paper with HIS name on it.

(see.. . there’s him and there’s me: I even think about us that way).

I covered the name. Whatever film we are making now is about me: not him. And I hadn’t quite realised, ‘til I did that, just how far I’d come, how strongly I felt about this stuff.

Out and proud

So maybe I’m not quite as out or as brave as I sound. I’m very publically trans: though maybe that is in part my own take on how passable (I think) I am.

I always had a media presence, and that has been exacerbated by “becoming” trans. I believe in standing up for people – and it makes sense to stand up for those I am now closest to in terms of interests and characteristics. So, of course, I’m out and trans and proud to be part of that community.

But yes: if I happened to be more confident of passing, would I be so loud?

Interesting question. I’m a pragmatist. I don’t worry overmuch about being linked to my past, because I know we all are – and I know that the past fades quickly enough.

Right now, I just have no belief in ever quite passing fully. So I don’t object to being openly trans. If that changes, though, will i?

Good question – and one to which I have no instant answer.



3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    SophieH said,

    Brave, it’s all relative really isn’t it? What is brave to me is, I suppose, not the same for you Jane. Maybe brave was in fact a poor choice of wording when I think back now. Possibly ‘courageous’ might have been a better word.
    With some thought I am compelled to make a comparative assessment of what I know of your former life relative to my own. On one hand you would appear to be a successful journalist and writer where as my own former life is a twisted train wreck of academic underachievement and career failures. As far as I can ascertain viewing my life in a retrospective sense, my complete and utter failure to function effectively as a male is entirely down to my constant awareness of my transsexual nature.
    I could never settle into anything and felt the constant discomfort of knowing deep down that permanence could never be achieved until my gender issues had been confronted. In short I feel that the lack of courage displayed by the former me in effect wasted half of my life coupled with the guilt of lying to almost everyone who knew me.
    Your former life seems to me to have been something to be proud of where as mine is something I’d prefer to forget as much as is humanly possible. In many ways I find your present position rather enviable (in the nicest possible way). Perhaps it’s because I see my life as beginning at the point of transition therefore all that went before is now an irksome irrelevance. I like me now, well most of the time anyway. I didn’t like me then and am still trying to deal with the mess left behind by the former ‘me’.

    As I said at the beginning of this comment ‘it all relative’ as to how we see others levels of courage or lack of it as the case may be.


    • 2

      janefae said,

      Oddly, no. I think there is far less difference than appears.

      I was a mediocre everything and in some sense it puzzled me. Given where i started (in terms of immense personal and intellectual privilege) i should have soared. But i didn’t.

      I limped. I sputtered, occasionally, very occasionally feeling safe. the rest of the time feeling…what? Out of sorts? Or just outside.

      I never ever felt i belonged to the male fraternity, which meant i had no idea how to function properly in the various male-dominated environments it ws my fate to inhabit. They seemed to know the rules of the game: i didn’t even know its name.

      In the months, now becomng years since i started to transition i feel at one and together in a way i don’t ever remember previously doing. i’m a half-and-half betwixt-and-between person right now.

      I’m variously mocked and got at and threatened by people who shouldn’t: and there are workplaces who will no longer allow me through the door.

      But for all that, i feel more together, more at home, more able to be me, whoever that is, than i have felt in the 25-plus years preceding.

      So maybe i didn’t quite do the train wreck as spectacularly as you did: but i’ve been crashing in slow motion my whole life up til now.

      And that’s the difference. Or the sameness.

      All the best,


  2. 3

    SophieH said,

    You are absolutely right Jane. I mistakenly looked at the very public side of you and what I considered to be the things which would make me happier. The way you described ‘limping and sputtering through life mirrors my own experience and I assume so many other women with ts histories.
    I suppose your very public past is a lot harder to escape than mine as well. Possibly, the issues I have or rather hold against the old me are just something for me to baulk against and blame for not starting my transition earlier. Tammy (my fiancee) and I met Lisa Du Preez, a post op and rather successful ts woman on Sunday. She bought it a little further home to me just what could have been possible had the old me not been so cowardly. She transitioned age about 19. I suppose that this is only one of the factors which make me want to erase all trace of the old me but at the moment seems very pertinent. I even hate ‘him’ for the way ‘he’ looked and ‘his’ over compensation.
    One example of the way I feel about the past is that I was offered an 850 euro discount on the price of facial surgery during a consultation with the surgeon. I turned it down on the basis that I don’t want any photographic evidence of that me after the operation.
    I don’t know if all this will make any sense to you but it really is how I feel, hence to me your very public transition does seem terribly contagious.

    All the very best for the coming weeks from Tammy and I.



    PS As a woman I think you are going to have to learn how to take compliments 🙂

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: