I was born at Ryde Memorial Hospital, Sydney in March 1963 and pronounced a boy, My mother, Nancy, was a process worker and also worked in milk bars and TAFE cafeterias. Dad's name is Hilton and he was a supervisor for Goodyear Tyre and a storeman for Kmat. They are both retired now and mum does a lot of volunteer work for the Red Cross. My two brothers were older than I was and I also had one older and one younger sister. When I transitioned their reaction was mixed but these days the whole family lives in Queensland and is very close. If we can't see each other for a while the phone lines run hot.
When I was in my teens, both my friend Denielle and I were lucky that our families supported us. We were ostracised by many trannies in Kings Cross because we still lived with our families and they had lost theirs. I guess they couldn't stand being reminded of that. I did get to know quite a few of them and became a 'Clayton's friend for when no-one else was around. That was the way it was: 'You're there--I am here! Don't talk to me untill after so and so has gone...'
As a kid I don't remember particularly thinking that I was a girl but I liked girls games and toys-- not boy stuff. Our neighbours all seemed to know that I was different, probably because I was always helping them around the house and in the garden. I didn't have any trouble with the kids in our street either. The bashing started at infant school. I was so terrified, I would lose control of my bowels and urine and hide in the closet. The bashing continued through primary school and it was there that I started smoking cigarettes of course. I used sex as a tool and become a 'teacher's pet' so that I could stay behind after class--but no teacher ever touched me in a sexual way.
I think I got a reputation for being tough (probably because of the smoking) and people started to leave me alone. My second oldest brother had been involved with a few bashings of his own. He had bashed two teachers, and he would just walk out of school, so people began to assume that I had the same violent nature. Mum took me to see Dr Wallman, our family GP, and asked him to send me to a psychiatrist but he refused. He had done that with a set of twins previously, one of whom had said that he wanted to be a girl, and six months after they had seen the psychiatrist they were dead. They both suicided--even the one who hadn't thought he was a girl.
The challenges really brought home to me how different I was to them and I didn't cope very well. My brother's reputation had preceded me once again and sex was another 'thing' that I used to keep the bastards away from me. I don't think Dr Wallmart knew what to do with me but he knew that I was on the edge and probably figured that a live kid on drugs was better than a dead kid on nothing--so he prescribed Valium for me. The result was that I spent most of my time at high school in a drug-induced daze. Fairly predictably, I tried to overdose on Valium (which obviously didn't n work) and ended up taking a year off. Eventually I couldn't stand it any more and left school completely.
For a long time I thought I was gay and I had a lot of trouble trying to come to terms with that idea. My ambition when I was a kid was to be a singer and glamour girl--I loved sequins and feathers and all that. What I ended up doing was working on a machine in a factory that make plastic bags and I hated it. I really went off the rails for a while and both Danielle and I flirted with prostitution.
Then a couple of gay guys and I went to Kings Cross to see a show at Les Girls, where I saw transsexual performers such as Carlotta and Toye de Wilde. It was a revelation. I had no idea that a boy could become a girl and the minute I saw them I thought, 'That's me!' I managed to talk to a couple of the girls, which was just as well because there was no information available that was of any help to me. They told me about a doctor in Sydney I could see-- and that was the beginning of my transition.
I told my parents, who were totally confused and blamed themselves, They just didn't understand what was happening, but then, neither did I. Eventually they met a couple of my tranny friends, including Danielle, and tried really hard to adapt to the situation. Meanwhile I received a great deal of support from Seahorse in Sydney and my friend, Noeline. If course I used to dress up in my glad rags and go out for the boring into you--it was 'wicked' and 'scandalous'. I got the impression that everyone expected me to stop carrying on under their noses, go away for my gender reassignment operation and not come back until after 'everything' was done.
I had my operation at the Masada Hospital, Melbourne in 1989 and remember saying, 'Thank God that's over'--now I can get on with the rest of my life'. Mum went to Melbourne with me. When dad rang up to see how I was he said, 'Well, I might have lost a son but now I have another daughter', which I thought was really nice. No-one can ever be entirely happy with being regarded as a guinea pig but I was reasonably pleased with the way I was treated at the hospital; I was certainly happy with the outcome of the operation. After that, I touched base with reality and grew up. I did Year 10 at Meadowbank TAFE under the name of Kristine, which I thought was pretty cook and it saved a lot of arguments later when I had to present my qualifications. No prospective employee have insisted on seeing my high school results so far but I often wonder what the expression on their faces would be like if they read that Kristine attended an 'all boys' school.
It would be wonderful if school records, trade papers and apprenticeship papers etc. could be changed to reflect the true indedtity of a person, particularly if the documents were made gender neutral (the Queensland University of Technology will now change the name and gender status for transgender students). I never did become a glamorous singer but, unlike many trnasgenders after transition, I managed to earn a living by doing house cleaning, working as a process worker and supervisor, andI also acquired a forklift operator's licence.
I would like to adopt children but have never tried to do anything about it because the laws are too defined and unbending even for those who are considered to be suitable candidates. in 1999 several law reforms relating to industrial relations, domestic violence and property law were passed by the Queensland Parliament in order to bring De-facto and same-sex relationships into line with conditions covering heterosexual married couples in these areas.
I couldn't help wondering where that left me as a woman--a boy who, with the help of the medical profession, grew into a woman. And what about the girls, who, again with the help of the medical profession, grew into men. Are we male or female? That depends on which government department you deal with and what state you live in. Federally we aren't too badly off. The federal government has acknowledged our change of gender (after all the surgery has been complete of course) provided we produce a letter from doctor dear that the surgery is irreversible. Documents attesting to that fact fly across the country at such a rate they burn up by the time they arrive at their destination.
In the State of Queensland, particularly, we faced a great many challenges. We couldn't be issued with a new birth certificate reflecting our change of gender and we couldn't marry the partner of our choice. I could have married a female-to-male(F2M) transsexual legally but, although I was in a long-term relationship with my male partner, that relationship was not recognized for what it was because we were considered to be a same-sex couple. Transgender people to have a Bill, an Act of Parliament of amendments to legislation already in place, to clarify where we stood in the community.
Where do we, as a community, draw the line or set the boundaries? Who decides who is transgender, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual and so on--do we let the politicians do it? Many people in our community identify with homosexuals, male-to-female (M2F) people attracted to women, female-to-male (F2M) attracted to men. Is a M2F attracted to men gay because she has a vagina and her partner has a penis? Is a F2M attracted to women gay because he has a penis and she has a vagina?
Regardless of whether you are a F2M or a M2F, what is between you legs at birth currently decides your future worth to the community as a whole. Society has an absurd curiosity about genitalia and this is reflected every day in just about every form of documentation we are required to sign. The big question is (whether you are pre-op, post-op or no-op) who are we? Where do we fit in? Our legal status is in limbo depending on which state, government department or person you deal with. In addition to that, we must cope with neighbours and people who, on an everyday basis, often refer to you as Ms or Mr based solely on the sound of you voice or appearance.
My preference would be do do away with the word 'transgender' completely and go straight from male to female. A few words added to legislation, or a small alteration here and there to existing legislation, would eliminate so many of the obstacles we face that prevent us from living worthwhile and fulfilling lives. What other section of the community is compelled to undergo the most intensive, intrusive and exhaustive medical testing and analyses over many years to ensure that they are sane people? How many of you have been forced to prove you sanity? How many other members of society are forced to put in as much time, effort, and money just to conform to the ideas of genitalia-correct people who believe that we have somehow been given the wrong bodies to begin with.
We do it because we are different -- very different. We are forced through endless psychological, medical, psychiatric, religious and peep pressures to fit in. Nearly forty-five per cent of transgenders forfeit their lives through suicide because they can't cope with that kind of constant pressure. In the end---this is the way we are. Society has decided how we will look, act and talk, A parade of people with different hats decides who 'passes' and who doesn't. Because society has decided all this for us, I believe it is up to society to protect us, nurture us, and be there when we need them---but this is not the case at the moment.
The way we deal with society's assumptions is in our own hands and in the hands of the well-intentioned people who believe in us. All I want is to be an active and participating member of the world at large---not relegated to the outskirts of society for the entertainment of those who see us as men in dresses on stage; or as a sex change; or as a prostitute for men and women to fulfil their sexual fantasies.
I don't want to see my transgender friends drown in alcohol or choke on their own vomit through talking drugs because they don't measure up to a community's expectations---and there have been quite a few. I don't want to be hidden away in bed-sits or isolated to wait for the deep sleep to end the pain. I don't want to be an 'in your face' type either. I want to be able to get married and adopt my future husband's children, if any. I also want to be able to love, care for and protect the children of friends and family, who in their last will testament have given me the guardianship of their child. I want to be able to live, love and work in an environment where I am protected from vilification, harassment, and discrimination of any kind.
It should be mentioned here that there are some truly wonderful people working within the system trying to right these wrongs---none more so than those who tried to change things in Queensland where transgendered and inter-sexed people had no protection under state law at all in many areas. Like members of the transgender community, those who sought to help us continually had their hopes for improvement stomped on for years because we were not politically palatable or the climate was not considered right for a change.
Change eventually came to Queensland! in March 2003 the Queensland Government passed amendments to the anti-discrimination Act to include GENDER IDENTITY (the medical term). This has released the tension and grustration of being (legally at least) treated as a non-human.
With that protection comes the responsibility of living in a diverse cultural community. Although the law now protects us, education relating to the dynamics of gender identity still has a long way to go. I will always assist whenever and whereever I can to put a human face on this issue.
Personally, I look forward to a future where I can live a full and productive life, stay healthy, gain some financial stability---and never have to was my face again.
Source : Transgenders and intersexuals by May, Lois