This summer has been the most extraordinary time of my life. Back in June I was at the bottom of a deep, black hole. I was sleeping in my car and friends sofas, living my life on autopilot. There was no hope. If I didn’t try and change something I don’t think I would have been able to muster up the will to live for much longer. I knew that my only hope was to confront that problem. The one that had bugged me since I was small. The problem that I had put so much effort into running from. I’m not male, I’m female
I’d also been in contact with someone from Twenty/Twenty about a documentary they were making for a few weeks, just some phone calls, I didn’t think anything would come of it but told them that I was about to start living full time as female and they seemed keen to meet me. I remember that boat journey from Jersey well. The feeling I had having a smoke looking out from the back of the boat watching my island home disappear was one of desperation, my last chance to feel good about myself. If this didn’t succeed I didn’t know what would happen. As I arrived in Weymouth I knew there would be a camera man waiting and I was still dressed in my male clothes… Sitting in my car waiting to disembark I hurriedly put on a bra, false boobs and my wig. This was day one. This was the beginning of my life.
I wanted to be part of this documentary because I knew I needed all the help I could get. I decided early on that if I was asked to take part I had to do it properly. I had watched lots of trans related TV shows in the past and some of them had really touched me, even reduced male me to tears and I wanted to be a part of something that had that effect on others. I wanted to show other trans men and women that if I could make this work then so can they.
Looking at how I am now compared to those first few days I feel like a completely different person. Being part of My Transsexual Summer has changed my life forever. It has been, far and away, the most positive experience of my life. I will forever be grateful for being asked to be a part of it. The people I met have become like family to me and it was a privilege to share such an amazing time in my life with them. The personal journey I had was just amazing and I have not only the trans people to thank but the production crew too. Some of the lessons I learnt will stay with me and benefit me for the rest of my life.
The response from people who have watched it has blown me away, I’ve had literally thousands of mails and tweets offering support and gratitude. I think it’s amazing that people I’ve never met have taken time out of their day to find me and send me lovely things, I totally didn’t expect that.
I’m going to stop gushing now, I need to figure out what to do next, how to use this experience to continue to help others and myself.
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Today (20th November) was the international transgender day of remembrance. Events and services were planned all around the world for people to get together and remember the murders of trans people. A few friends, Fox and me went to the Brighton Methodist center on St. James street where about fifty people eventually turned up and we had a lovely talk from Stef, from the Claire project and heard songs from an LGBT choir. There was also over a hundred lilac, purple and black cards laid out on a table in the middle of the circle with the names of trans people who had been murdered, their ages and where they died. For me the most moving part of the service was when we were invited to stick these cards on the wall. Reading the names on these cards made it real. These were all real people like me, who died because of who they were. After there was a chance to have tea and cakes and meet some of Brighton’s bestest trans folk.
One thing that surprised me though was the statistic that trans people of non-white ethnic origin are much, much more likely to be murdered or become a victim of crime. I have no idea why this is but it’s wrong. The plight of trans people who aren’t lucky enough to be born in such accepting societies needs to be highlighted. I know Paris Lees, of TransMedia Watch has recently travelled to Turkey to investigate their shockingly high murder rates for trans, it will be interesting to see what she has found out.
Two things prickled me though…
First and foremost, every political party was invited to join us and show their support. None could be bothered to turn up. In Brighton, arguably the UK’s most trans friendly city, not a single member of our great ruling parties saw fit to spend two hours of their Sunday afternoon to come down and give the trans community a visible message that they cared. Transphobic crime and murder happens in the UK a hell of a lot more than I want to imagine and I wanted to hear what the government was doing about it.
The collective ignorance from politicians in general says a lot about where trans people stand on their list of priorities. I, for one, would like an answer why!
The second thing that made me think was that although the TDoR was that it was a day for remembering our dead. More specifically though, it was to remember those murdered. What about the suicides? Depending on where you get the statistics from, fifty percent of trans people attempt suicide at some stage in their life. God knows how many succeed. This day should be for remembering our trans friends that have died, no matter how they died.
The thing that’s been getting to me the most these last few days since the first My Transsexual Summer went out and people have started knowing who I am, on the internet more than anywhere else, is the constant highs and lows, peaks and troughs that my life seems to have become. One moment I’ll be reduced to tears by a lovely email sent to me by an old friend that I haven’t been in contact with in years telling me how he remembers being in a pub in Ibiza with me, six or seven years ago and how I was crying and telling him how unhappy I was and how glad he is seeing m on TV now having found the cause of my problems and how happy I looked.
The next moment, it seems I’ll read a negative or insulting comment on my blog or on twitter and it will really affect me. I’ll get angry and hurt and react in some way. It seems like a never ending rollercoaster.
I realise that I’m wrong letting the negativity get to me, I can simply choose to ignore it. The amount of positive, supportive and nice comments, tweets and emails I’ve been receiving has far, far outweighed the bad.
I knew when getting into this documentary thing that there would be negative feedback and I thought I’d prepared myself for them better. Life is just a learning curve after all. At the end of the day it says more about the person being nasty than they could ever say about me.
Radiate positivity and it will be reflected back.