The Fifteen Minute Dragon.

When I was 8 years old sitting in my classroom at school, the school secretary (I think her name was Catherine, it will be for the sake of this post) came into the classroom and spoke to my teacher before instructing me to gather my stuff and come with her. I left the room where she told me calmly that my family wanted me to go into Bath to see them. I thought nothing of this request; it was an ordinary sunny day (July 14th 1998 to be precise), I had celebrated my dads birthday with him, my sister Leanne and her boyfriend Ollie a few days before and I was looking forward to lunchtime with my friends as always. I was too young to really wonder why I was being taken into Bath.

Catherine drove me in her car from my school in the village of Kilmersdon to the RUH in Bath, somewhere I had been only once or twice before. My oldest sister, Rachel, met me from the car and walked me to a bench by the entrance. She was crying. We sat there as she told me that our dad was going die, and probably die today. We went into the hospital to the ward where my dad was resting. I didn’t know this at the time, but he was rapidly losing a battle with cancer.

He lay in a bed, awake but motionless and unable to make much of an expression on his face. He was drinking by sucking water from a star shaped sponge that was wedged on the end of a straw. I had been to this ward a few days before to visit him; his smiling face showing signs of pain, but only through an overriding determination to smile at his son and daughters.

Time to back track just a bit. My parents had recently divorced, they were living in separate homes and my dad liked to go out and drink like any other middle aged man, maybe finding help or acceptance at the bottom of a bottle. After one night he decided to drive home and he crashed his car, apparently skidding on some ice. I later learned he was probably over the limit – DON’T drink and drive, even if it’s just you it affects initially, the ripples can last forever. Cancer can be triggered – fast – by any combination of events (smoking, bad diet, whatever); I learned in later years that the inevitable stress from the divorce, a (slight) decent into alcoholism and a car crash were likely triggers in my dads body and cancer had also killed his dad too so it was already in the bloodline. Back to July 14th now.

We stayed in the ward for about an hour, talking to each other and to medical staff who were passing. After lunch we returned where a doctor told us he had improved so I asked if he was going to live, I think this was the first time I’d really said anything. I still didn’t understand the gravity of what was happening. I wasn’t given a straight answer. That evening I went back to my mums house for dinner and to sleep and in the morning I started to prepare for another day of school. My dad made it through the night but died that morning, needless to say I didn’t go to school and we went straight back to the hospital.

Rachel was there again, along with Leanne and Ollie as well as my dads friends Dolly and Johnny who had driven up from Plymouth as soon as the news reached them. Turns out the plan was for me to go and stay with them (I fucking LOVED visiting Plymouth so I was fine with this) when we were done at the hospital. We all went to see my dad in his bed (now in a private room) where we stayed for some time talking before we left. We were half way out of the hospital when something triggered in me and I finally realised what was happening. I ran back to the room in tears and threw myself on his bed and cuddled him, kissed him once then left back into the corridor. I asked a nurse if she could walk me back to my family. I was at Dolly and Johnny’s house in Plymouth less than 3 hours later.

After a week I came home, just in time for my last day of school before the summer holidays. July 23rd, also my 9th birthday. I was happy to see my friends and teacher again and enjoyed my last day before summer. Two days later was the funeral, a room filled with my mums family (none of my dads family lived in the UK, they had a funeral of their own in Australia), and his friends and colleagues. I sat between my uncle Robin and cousin Bob (my choices) who both comforted me as Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles was played at the end of the service and a curtain was closed in front of his coffin. I stayed with old family friends that night, Crisp and Nora, who were like grandparents to my sisters and I. Loving, beautiful people who are now sadly long gone too. My life as a child is a blur from that evening, into what has now become normality for me. One year later we spread his ashes in a field and a stream just outside the village of Holcombe, the specific place is somewhere I have intended to but never visited since.

In the months between his crash and his death I would spend most of my weekends with him. We would walk to school (almost an hour walk together and probably why I love walking so much now) singing Harry Belafonte, Fats Domino and Neil Sedaka songs as we walked. We would go swimming on Saturday mornings. One day he stopped coming into pool with me and would watch from the side instead, as I showed off in the water. I knew something was wrong one day when I looked up and he wasn’t in his seat, but I still never knew he was ill. My family did a brilliant job of shadowing his sickness until it was absolutely necessary for me to know he was dying. I hated this for years after but have learned now that your parents and older siblings are there to help you create happy memories and will never let on to negativity to the family’s youngest.

Before he got sick he used to keep my sisters and I in a healthy supply of sweets and chocolate, taking us on tours of the Cadbury’s factory he worked in. We would play Vikings in the garden (whatever that was), make water slides with sheets of tarp and the garden hose and ride bikes together in a disused quarry nearby, a place I still visit today with friends sometimes.

I inherited the diary he wrote on the year he moved to the UK (he was about 21 or 22) and lots of letters between him and his family back home in India (before they moved to Australia). He drew me pictures and gave my birthday cards, all of which I still have, along with certificates of his qualifications and RAF credentials. I have some of his jewellery too, including a ring engraved with his initials that I am wearing on a necklace as I write this, on July 11th, his 76th birthday, 4 days away from the 19th anniversary of his death.

When I am reminded of him nowadays I am only ever filled with positivity, as I have inherited his ability to use happiness to overwhelm darkness, at least when I am thinking of him if nothing else. I can still see the pain in his face the last time I saw him alive but I can also see the happiness in him on the day he gave me my first bike or the day I completed one of his Easter Egg hunts in the garden.

‘It’s your life, do what you want with it’ is a phrase I’ve started using. I use it when people ask me “should I have a latte or a flat white?’ or ‘should I buy tickets to see *a band* in September?’ I mean the answer literally; if you want to see that band in September then buy tickets, worry about the money later. Grab life by the horns and all that shit, and make it your own. Make decisions to benefit those you love and for a cause you believe is right, but remember to look after yourself too because you are just as important. It is okay to put yourself first sometimes. Most importantly, make decisions that will allow you to build happy memories with people who you know will want to remember you when you are gone. Do things for people that you will be remembered for 19 years after you have gone, even if they are so small.

When I was young, he wrote me a story which I can assume he made up on the spot as I can’t find it anywhere on the internet. I can’t find the original anymore but it went something like this:

‘Once upon a time there was a fifteen minute dragon. When it was born it was so tiny that you would’ve been able to hold it in the palm of your hands. As it got older it grew and grew and grew until it was the biggest dragon you’d ever seen, full of colour and breathing flames as hot and bright as the sun. It kept on growing for a whole fifteen minutes until it couldn’t grow any more, and at the fifteenth minute it exploded in a ball of flame and colour then into a million shimmering dragonflies, each one fluttering and glimmering in the air. Now whenever you see a dragonfly you know it came from the fifteen minute dragon, the most beautiful creature to have ever lived.’

I used to love that story. I know now that he was the dragon.

dThis photo is from (I think…) 1977, a couple of years before my oldest sister was born.

Matilda.

I know I’d said I’d post regularly but sometimes I just don’t have anything to write about! Sorry about that. Here’s a few random little bits of writing to fill an otherwise impending gap…

Firstly, some identification spiel: Some gender fluid/gender neutral people don’t identify as transgender, some of them do. Some people who don’t identify as transgender but are GF/GN might be having medical treatment to help them achieve a physical goal. Some people do identify as transgender and GF but are not receiving any treatment. I identify as trans and GF and will (hopefully, provided I beat the NHS funding cuts) be receiving medical treatment to help me achieve a physical goal that matches what’s in my head.

I’ve read stuff/heard people say they’re confused by this, assuming that because I’m trans I want to have a full sex change. I do not. I am happy in a male body, although I don’t like identifying as one. The HRT I am waiting for will help with my physicality and allow me to identify more as a woman than a guy. I will still identify as GN because I’ll still have some days where I’m happy to just be a bloke but I’ll have more flexibility to be a woman too.

That kind of leads on this. I’m going to three Pride gatherings this month, the first in Bristol and the first time I’m strongly considering going out in full femme. I have been wearing (some) female clothes in public; heels, pencil skirts and leggings mostly as well as makeup (and my hair is nice and long now) but nothing particularly ‘risky’ or that reeeally identifies me as a girl, boobs and a bra for example. A friend of mine said to me the other day ‘you could just wear a really padded bra if you wanted to’ and while I know this, I haven’t had the guts to do it in public yet. I guess this weekend is gonna be a big step, Pride seems like the best place to bite bullet and go for it….!

Next, onto the why this post is named Matilda. I went away for a few days to London recently, my first trip away since I went public about being trans/GF last year. To most, this doesn’t sound like much of an ordeal – I’m only going to London for three nights – but I packed twice as many clothes as a ‘normal’ person would because I can never predict what mood I’m going to be in(girl day/boy day), leading to never knowing what I want to wear. I also had to consider a girl outfit that would be suitable for throwing myself around on stage, the first time I’d have dressed like a girl particularly visibly (I ended up just wearing black leggings and a Gender Is Over top, ha). Anyway, all the guitars I own have names; Sadie, Bellatrix and Bronwyn but the guitar I took with me to use at the gig I was playing is called Matilda. The gig and the trip was another milestone for me, being able to dress comfortably and confidently in a town/place I don’t know and performing to a crowd on a girl day. Both of these things were successful, I eve managed a girly shopping spree on Oxford Street. i didn’t use Matilda in the end but she was involved in this important weekend and I had to the call the blog something. Tom Traubert’s Blues by Tom Waits has also been on constant rotation recently, a song often mistakenly called Matilda.

A couple of weeks after this trip we had a heat wave and I started getting my legs out (without tights) in public. Thanks for the compliments. Without being bigheaded – I know my legs are fucking awesome and I flaunt them because I don’t have any boobs to show off and I’m a strong believer in working with what you’ve got, so legs and bum it is. But it seems that wearing a skirt and a bit of makeup to work doesn’t quite cover up the fact I’m a guy, combined with the un-education of older generations and the fact I have a fucking beard shadow that I would kill to get rid off (electrolysis can’t come soon enough) I still get addressed in ways I find plain offensive. ‘Alright geez’ from the same bloke on a number of occasions makes me want to punch someone. Yesterday I had a chap say ‘I was hoping to speak to the young lady I spoke to the other day about *insert product here* but you’re not a young lady are you’ despite being as close to femme as I can comfortably be. Doesn’t take a genius to see that a guy a dressed as a girl clearly doesn’t want to be a guy, surely…

So I end on a question. I work in retail, do I (and how should I if I did) correct these people in my place of work? I have the company I work for’s exquisite reputation to uphold but also my own integrity to maintain. Note – if this was in public, I’d correct them immediately, not caring if it started an argument or discussion, but that’s not something I’d be comfortable doing in my shop.

As always, thanks for reading. If you see me at Pride (Bristol, Bath and TransPride in Brighton) then say hello. I’ll be looking fucking FABULOUS, legs n all.

UPDATE: I never made it to Pride. Too many bullshit obstacles in my way. Better luck next time, I guess. 

😦

You can get Gender Is Over merch here: genderisover.com

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Long Live The Stag and Hounds. 

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I couldn’t let that go by without posting something, so here’s a post.
I had a gig last night with my band, Ghost Of The Avalanche, and it was a bitter sweet show because it was the last ever gig we will play at a venue in Bristol called The Stag and Hounds, as its closing down at the end of the month. We pulled out all the stops, got some friends on stage with us and did everything we could to give the place a proper send off in true Ghost Of The Avalanche fashion and needless to say (I think it was) it was a success.

Live music for me (and loads of people I know) is a way of escaping battles in your head. It is a safe place, a place of acceptance, a place you can let go, enjoy yourself and know you won’t be judged. I’ve met dozens of people at shows who’ve said they’ve struggled all week because of whatever is going on upstairs but the couple of hours they have watched bands playing at whatever gig I’m talking to them at has totally erased all those thoughts from their head. I know that feeling well myself, and getting home after a show knowing you’ve had a few hours of ‘down time’ is a feeling like no other.

The Stag and Hounds closing down is a fucking phenomenal blow to the UK underground music scene. The bands were ALWAYS good, the beer and food is decent and cheap, the staff, sound engineers and infamous promoters are all legendary and every punter in there (at least when I’ve been there) is there for the same reason, a love of live music. Seeing it close is hard, knowing it’s one less place that people like me have to go to as a place of safety, acceptance and escape.

Last night we played a song called ‘The Park’ which is about me dealing with anxiety. I introduced it with a speech; telling everyone in the crowd to look after themselves, be open with each other, talk to your friends about your battles, that it is okay to not be okay and to look after themselves and one another.

I’m writing this to echo what I said last night. This is me talking: I am sad that my favourite venue is closing. I am scared I won’t find the exact escape I get in those walls anywhere else but I am thankful I got to spend so much time there and now it is closing, I will hold memories in that place for as long as I have the capacity to remember them. I’ve met a fuck-ton of amazing people in that place too, some of whom have become jam-mates (if you read this, waddup Matt from DC, that was fucking good fun last night!) and best friends. I love you mad people!

If you supported my bands as I played there in any way, thank you.

Long fucking live The Stag and Hounds. 

Footage of the show can be found here: https://youtu.be/R1lELlJ8sIw

Photo credit: Simon Holiday

Bad Blood.

Today I had my first appointment at a gender identity clinic. A few people knew this and they all wanted to know how it went, so this post is is simply so I don’t have to repeat myself as well as explain a bit of what I want out of gender treatment.

So, today was like a prelim appointment before I see a specialist. I met with a volunteer at the clinic – an ex patient (lets call them J to maintain confidentiality) – and the session was a couple of hours long. It was for me ask questions and get direct answers (the internet is a dangerous place and everything I have learned from it was corrected in todays meeting) and also to give J the opportunity to explain exactly what the clinic can offer me and how everything works. These meetings essentially speed up the process when I see a doctor or a therapist as I (theoretically) will have already have had my questions and queries answered. My apologies about the excessive use of brackets, someone give me a grammar lesson!

So sometime towards the end of Summer my name will be ‘top of the list’ and I’ll be the next person to be assessed for gender dysphoria at that particular clinic (they do about two assessments a week i think). This will be done by a specialist doctor and a gender identity therapist who will hopefully officially diagnose me with the condition (although my GP has already informally diagnosed me, but then it’s pretty obvious I don’t want to solely be a guy any more, right?) and ‘suffers from gender dysphoria’ will go onto my medical record in some sort of medical record-esque way.

After this diagnosis I’ll basically then be offered a smorgasbord of treatments for me to pick and choose from with an end goal of (hopefully) my body matching what is going on in my head. I can have full surgical procedures to have bits added on or taken off (I’m not interested in surgery), HRT, laser treatment (to remove unwanted hair that HRT doesn’t take care of) and a number of other treatments. HRT and laser are my current wants; upping my production of oestrogen in an attempt to suppress production of testosterone is the normal ‘first treatment’ and will continue for the rest of my life. After that I can have anti-androgens to cease production of testosterone altogether which will render my reproductive organs more or less sexually useless as well as promoting the development of breast tissue and minimising other male characteristics like body hair, body odour and fat stores around my body.

Simply put, when I’m presented with these options, I’ll be jumping at having my beard tamed by laser treatment (it’s almost impossible to have it removed altogether) as well as taking the oestrogen boosters to minimise the ‘male drive’ in my system. If I start growing boobs while taking them then that’s a bonus in my eyes. I’ve wanted my own boobs for as long as I’ve been dressing as a girl.

That about sums up today and hopefully explains a bit more about what is happening in my head to anyone who is still trying to understand it. I have a ‘Gender Is Over’ pin badge which was on my jacket today and got masses of attention so I’ve added a picture of it along with a couple of other favourites of mine. A Google search of the slogan will direct you to their site (top result) where you can find out what it means, why it’s important and where you can buy one if you want one for yourself.

Timeline: I went to my GP saying I wanted a gender clinic referral in November 2015 and he put me in for blood tests immediately as you can’t be referred to a specialist without them. The initial test came back with a ‘prolactin spike’ (stress hormone in men and an indicator of thyroid or diabetes issues) so I was tested for all of these which took me to May 2016. I found out then I don’t have ‘bad blood’ (as my GP put it) and he processed my referral. This was accepted in June 2016 and I have been waiting since, until today (today was a volunteer meet and NOT something I had to have, I still have about four months to wait). You can do the maths; if you’re in the UK, want to see a gender clinic and your initial bloods come back okay you can expect to wait about 16 months, although this is expected to increase. I’m not getting into NHS politics.

Music: today was about 6 ours of traveling (I don’t drive so buses, trains and one of my best mates cars, Celine, were the rides of the day) so I listened to loads of music. For anyone who cares:

  • Russian Circles – Empros
  • Mastodon – Crack The Skye
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
  • Every Time I Die – Low Teens
  • Baroness – Blue
  • MUTation – The Frankenstein Effect
  • Andrew Bird – Are You Serious

I also spent waaayy to much money in Topshop and New Look while I was waiting for a connection but I got a fucking stunning dress and some other little bits so I really don’t care.

Until next time 🙂

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Body Positivity.

I haven’t written anything on here for a while because I genuinely haven’t had anything to talk about, but sitting on my bed this morning deciding what to wear (today is a girl day and I went for crushed velvet leggings and one of me Gender is Over tops) I realised that there is bit of my story that I didn’t mention (I’m referencing blog three, by the way). It’s also something I’m glad I forgot to originally include because it’s given me the opportunity to expand on it.

During my late teens/early twenties when I was really starting to discover my interest in being gender neutral/fluid I was also part of a scene, just like anyone else alternative at that age. I’ve always been into heavy music and have always ‘worn the uniform’ of skinny jeans and black band t-shirts and there became a phase when MySpace was at its highest point of taking selfies for your MySpace profile, and they had to be taken at arms length or in the mirror with your emo-fringe hairsprayed across your face and as much of a pout as possible to show of your lip piercings if you had any. I fell right into this and took millions of photos just like everyone else to put on my own MySpace profile.

Now, this wasn’t exactly a thing I really enjoyed about my scene  – I did it because it was the fashion and I wanted to fit in, just like every one else – because I wasn’t ever happy with my appearance. This was when I started to buy girls clothes and creating a female wardrobe (the one I mentioned in blog three and never told anyone about) and I also used to take these MySpace-photos again when I was dressed as a girl but obviously never uploading them. It was something I never understood why I enjoyed doing but I did it none the less. When the selfie-taking phase died off and Facebook became a thing, I also stopped taking selfies and embraced the next social media trend along with everyone else. I didn’t however stop doing this when I was in ‘girl mode’ because it was a way I really felt I got to be myself.

Nowadays, I have a selfie stick and my Instagram feed has become more peppered with photos of me when I’m feeling particularly confident on a girl day, along with photos of guitars and other crap I enjoy. Although I have come out as GN/GF I still don’t totally dress how I would like to, certainly not publicly anyway.

I’m not trying to fool anyone when I’m dressed as a girl, I know I’m still biologically male – and I’m okay with that – and I’m not really bothered about being identified as one even though I’m dressed as a girl, although it is funny when friends of mine apologise for calling me ‘dude’ or something similar (seriously, I don’t care. Call me what you want!). Anyway, I’m still not totally happy with my appearance and the reason I am waiting for HRT is simply so I can attempt to get rid of my fucking facial hair without having to layer on make up, something which I hate doing, to help me pass as a girl when I want to, which is my ultimate goal.

When I get to this point I will ‘ramp up’ how I dress in public as I still don’t feel comfortable wearing some of the things I want to while my face is still unmistakably male. Although having just taken a break and made a cup of tea and read back that last sentence I feel like now I’ve just admitted to wanting to dress even more feminine that I might actually have the guts to do it, haha. See attached photo of me feeling particularly feminine a couple of weeks ago and yes, this is pretty much the ootd when I’m at home by myself…!

I’ll leave it at that for now, I’ll be posting again in a few days as I have my first appointment at a gender identity clinic very soon and I’m looking forward to writing about what happens there. It may be useful for anyone who’s thinking about getting help for similar issues to my own but doesn’t know how the system works in the UK.

If you are struggling with anything in your head I urge you to speak to your GP and ask for help. If they won’t help you, don’t take no for any answer and make another appointment. Chase up any referrals you get offered. I wouldn’t be going to the gender identity clinic myself if I hadn’t gone to my GP originally and the other people I know who are receiving help for various mental health issues wouldn’t be getting that help without seeing their own GPs either. I know it’s scary, but the help is there and it can only be accessed if YOU make the first step. So please, if you’re struggling, open your mouth.

Questions on this post – or any previous ones – are welcome and encouraged.

To the bloke who I was talking to in the pub last night about referencing your daughter in my third blog – if you read this, it was good to see you and I hope your hangover isn’t as bad as mine!IMG_2586

Transgender Day Of Visibility 2017.

Transgender Day Of Visibility 2017.

Firstly, a huge thank you to any one who took the time to read my last post. The shares and responses have been overwhelmingly positive and some of the messages I have received have been some of the nicest things I’ve ever read. I’ve even been given flowers by a dear ex-colleague and had an old school teacher get back in touch with me to share some of his own experiences and cement my point of us not being alone. Please keep sharing it if you want to, it is there to help people as much as possible!

I mentioned briefly in my last post Trans Day Of Visibility (TDOV), which is this coming Friday (31st March). Although it’s a day that many people are unaware of, it is something I am hoping will gain momentum over the coming years in the same way that Pride festivals are doing in towns and cities around the world. It’s a day that is separate from Trans Day Of Remembrance – a day dedicated to remembering trans people who have died at the hands of trans phobic violence and crime – as it’s focus is more on celebrating trans people in society and their contributions to it.

Now for how you can get involved and show your support. You’ll have seen (if you’ve been to this blog before) a pink, blue and white striped image. This is the Transgender Pride flag, one of many variations of the rainbow Pride/LGBT flag most people are familiar with. TDOV has many goals and reasons for existing and one of the aims of the day is to encourage people to display this image at their place of work, as a way of showing trans people they’re welcome and accepted there. This can either be in the form of something simple like changing your desktop screensaver to the flag colours and making it visible, wearing a pin or button badge of these colours or hanging a trans pride flag in your window. If your employer is reluctant to let you display anything (they should be called out for this, obviously!) then you can adorn your car with a small flag or bumper sticker, for example, or share the image on your social media. The more people that do this will encourage other members of the public to ask why you are displaying this image, prompting you to explain your support of TDOV and increasing the publics’ knowledge and understanding of trans people and their roles or involvement in society – and that just because we may feel we’re in the wrong body or wear different clothes to what society say we should depending on our birth gender assignment, we are still normal people who live normal lives and we are no different from any one else.

Some of you will want to show your support but may feel you have read this post ‘too late’ or have not heard of TDOV before today, but it’s never too late to show your support! I will always encourage others to display the trans flag or colours (along with other pride/LGBT+ flags) to show solidarity and support of the community. If you still want to do your bit regardless of it being TDOV or not, you can purchase flags, badges and stickers from most decent online stores and there is no end of places you can display them.

I’ll probably be wearing baby pink and blue this Friday (considering I always wear black, I’m terrified of blinding people by wearing more than one colour) and the shop I work in will have a flag hanging in the door over the weekend.

Thank you for reading, let’s see your flags!

My life with gender dysphoria, anxiety, and suicide.

Published for Trans Day Of Visibility, March 31st 2017.

I have decided to go public on my battles with mental health. Society seems to be encouraging more and more people to be open with their issues in an attempt to show solidarity and support for one another. I’m hoping that – although my story is not a pleasant one – some people may find parts of it useful or even comforting. I know I’m not the only one who has had the feelings and battles I have had but I didn’t know this until reading or hearing other peoples stories. I’m now in a position to share my own and in doing so I want to show others that you’re not alone.

This is about coming to terms with gender dysphoria (GD to save typing), anxiety, self hate and suicide as well as the moments of my life that have led up to writing this post. To those who actually know me well; this won’t be easy to read, some of you might hate me for the things I say and the language will be fucking atrocious. This isn’t a cry for help or sympathy and I want it to be clear that as I write this I am the happiest I have been in my entire life. Everyone has a past, this is mine and although it may be uglier than most it isn’t as ugly as some. The point of this story is for me to tell you to talk to one another about mental health in general, and I urge you to before it could be too late.

My life with gender dysphoria, anxiety, and suicide.

When I was about 6 my parents split up and I was passed between two homes for about a year. At my mums I slept on her bedroom floor because I didn’t have my own room. At my dads I shared my sister Leanne’s bed. I loved staying at my dads because we used to watch Robot Wars on Saturday, play Lego together and Leanne would sing me songs as I fell asleep. When I was seven, my dad got pissed up and flipped his car on some ice like a weapons-grade bellend which triggered the development of cancer in his body. Six months later – two weeks before my 8th birthday – he was dead. DON’T drink and drive you fucking idiots, and stop using your fucking phone at the wheel while we’re at it!

My older sisters dealt with the death in their own ways. I was forced – for lack of no other option – to move in permanently with my mum. A year or so later, We moved to another town into a house with her boyfriend whom I didn’t like, where I knew no one and where I started at a school I didn’t know. The long and short is that I wasn’t happy, I felt neglected, the house I lived in was loveless and full of lies and hatred, my sisters weren’t really in my life, I missed my dad and I didn’t feel welcome in my own home. After my GCSEs I couldn’t decide what A Levels I wanted to take so I temporarily dropped out of education. My mum didn’t want to home me unless I worked full time and paid her rent (which at 16 I didn’t want to do because I still had dreams of being a fuckin’ rock star) so she threw me out. I was homeless at 16 for two weeks until my support worker Fiona found me a flat.

In the 4 or 5 years that passed (between the ages of about 16 and 21) I moved from flat to flat, making friends, doing my A Levels, playing music and getting fucked up on my dads inheritance because I didn’t know what else to do. I remember feeling angry almost all of the time. I’d spend nights alone crying for no real reason, fantasising about what it would be like if I wasn’t there. I used to shout at the ceiling ‘IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT’ as if my dad was listening but after a while I knew I was alone and that’s when it started to sink in that I didn’t want to be alive any more. I used to wonder what it would be like if I could go back and start again in a new body with parents who were alive and actually showed me they loved me.

Now on to the GD bits. It was during these years that I started to notice a change in my brain and that I was starting to feel differently about myself. I was starting to become more interested in my appearance yet feeling more uncomfortable with how I looked at myself. I started to imagine what I would look like as a girl, and I used to project my ideal image onto my girlfriends at the time. I would suggest clothes and outfits for them to wear or ways to style their hair because this was as close as I was going to get to being a girl myself. I was confused, upset and unhappy because I didn’t know who I was or what identity I wanted to have.

Enter: The Internet.

Somehow, sometime, while aimlessly browsing websites of items of clothing I dreamed of owning or wearing, I noticed that there were people out there who didn’t give a fuck about what they wore and they were actually comfortable in public wearing clothes ‘designed’ for the opposite sex. This presented me with a moment of total clarity – aside from anatomical, biological and evolutionary differences, what is the fucking difference between guys and girls? Theres no difference between black, white or Asian people so why should there a be a difference between having a dick or a pair of boobs? And why should I dress like a guy just because I was born into a biologically male body?

This was – and still is, generally – my opinion of being Gender Fluid (abbreviated to GF to save typing). Right in the middle of the GD spectrum, not seeing any difference between being male or female and having the freedom to associate with either gender. I accepted this idea as beautiful and decided this was how I wanted to live. The problem was getting there, so I started to do it in secret. I had two separate wardrobes, a ‘male’ one and and a ‘female’ one, the latter of which I never told anyone about until years later. I knew that my mum and most of my family would be blown away by the fact that I wanted to be accepted as a girl or GN and I was scared of what my friends and people around me would think.

At the age of about 22, a couple of years after I had first discovered I wanted to become GF, I plucked up the courage to tell someone about the ‘female’ me. The only reason I told this person is because she had told me something painfully personal in confidence, and as a result I knew I could trust her, so I told her how I felt. Although I still felt scared, she didn’t give a shit and was supportive, but we’ll get more into that later.

A couple of months after the above conversation (I was now 23 I think) I was fucking broke and basically my only option to not become homeless again was to move back into my mums house. I had to figure out a way to live my adopted female life now I was living under my close-minded mums roof and simply put, I couldn’t do it. She was always there and I had no privacy at all. I couldn’t talk to her about it because I knew how she would react – it’s not her fault she’s from a different generation but at the same time that didn’t help me. I was permanently male, so I was permanently unhappy. I passively took it out on my bandmates and girlfriend at the time and spent as often as possible at the bottom of a bottle. Too many of my friends were picking me up in the middle of the night and giving me a shoulder to cry on or helping me clean the wounds I’d created on my wrists. I’d have panic attacks coming home from work about going back to my fucking room and I felt like a neglected child all over again.

After playing a gig one night (I’d been living at my mums for about two months) I didn’t want to go back to my prison cell of a room so I started to walk out into the country to a spot I used to go and think at when I was a teenager. I walked for hours and hours along a fucking railway line until I didn’t know where I was. All I knew was a train from Bristol to London would be due in a couple of hours and that not long after the sun came up it would all be over. I felt ready to accept my fate and I couldn’t see that the actions I was willing to take would have consequences on other peoples lives. I felt like I was never going to be the person I wanted to be, I had fallen deep into the rabbit hole and I couldn’t see the light. I was ready for it to all be over. I dialled 999 into my phone – just incase I had a sudden change of mind or heart – and sat down on the tracks. I sat there for about an hour on the cold rail when I decided to press dial on that number, I still don’t know what it was that compelled me to call it. The dispatcher on the other end of the phone asked me what service I needed but I just sat there in silence. She asked again. I stayed silent. She said something like ‘blow the microphone if you are in danger’ so I did. She said a few more things to suss out my situation and I eventually managed to respond. I can’t remember what I said, but before long I was screaming and crying and shouting as she walked me over the phone back to civilisation, to an awaiting police car where she then ended the call. I was taken by the officer to a holding cell for my own protection, stripped of my possessions and was then was told I was being detained under the Mental Health Act. If I remember correctly, the dispatcher and responding officer decided that I was a threat to myself and I needed to be held for evaluation. I had never been so scared in my life, I fucking wished I’d never dialled that number and I’d waited for the train to hit me. Everything was now out of my control. Over the next 24 hours I was assessed by a huge team of people who very quickly determined what the root of the problem was: the relationship with my mum. Hearing this from a team of professionals felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was released with a guidance plan and some strict instructions on what to do next, the first thing being to find somewhere new to live before my health or even my life paid the price. I learned after the above experience that it is okay to be selfish and break off relationships that are toxic or restrictive especially if it is to take care of yourself. The day I moved from my mums house was the last time I spoke to her in over three years, which was time I needed to get my head straight without our relationship hindering me.

In the months that followed, with continued guidance and help from professionals and friends, my mood drastically improved. I still had issues and I had bouts of suicidal thoughts but I now had ways to keep them under control. The main thing was that I was now living somewhere new and with enough privacy that I was able to be my female self again. I was doing so more frequently in the comfort of my home as well as starting to feel more and more confident, although I was still far from happy or ready to come out publicly.

I had lived in my new flat away from my mums house for about four months now, coasting through life and wondering what I was going to do about what was in my head, when my friend Sam was found dead in his house. A year and half later, another friend of mine, Callum, was also found dead in his flat. Same group of friends. Both of them had hung themselves. Either of them could have been me. No one knew anything was ‘wrong’ with either of them, no one knew anything was ‘wrong’ with, certainly not the suicidal bits anyway. The night I found out about Callum I decided it was time for me to address my issues because I was still feeling confused, angry and suicidal at times and I didn’t want to be the next person hanging from that fucking noose. The times of both of these deaths are the only times I’ve seen my other friend called Sam cry, and that fucking hurt watching a close friend in tears at the loss of another. I didn’t want to be responsible for being the next person inflicting that pain on him and I didn’t want anyone else to feel the pain I felt because of his sadness. So, the night after Callum’s death, I drunkenly told my friend Beth about myself, and her response was ‘can I come clothes shopping with you if you publicly come out?’ to which I answered affirmative. I’d already plucked up the courage to tell my then partner about myself and she was immeasurably supportive and equally excited, so now three people knew about the female me. I went on in the coming weeks to tell my friends Charlie, Jim, Josh and Sam (I had to tell Sam because he sarcastically asked me ‘have you got gender dysphoria or something?’ in response to something I said while we were pissed up at the pub) along with my band mates Nick, Harry and James and learned that none of them gave a shit. A few more close friends and some colleagues at work were next to be told and none of them gave a shit either. After this I went and maxed out my credit card on a fucking ton of clothes from Topshop to give my female wardrobe a much needed boost and I then started to seriously consider actually going public. I bought a Deed Poll kit from a law firm and prepared to change my name. I started to ‘teach’ myself how to walk again, taking smaller, more ‘feminine’ steps with my feet turned inwards to try and make my movements look more female. I started experimenting with make up and growing my hair and I shaved off my beard. During this time (I was now 26 in early Spring of 2016) my colleague Lily came over before going on a work do and she was the first person to see me in a pair of Joni jeans from Topshop instead of the usual mens jeans I wore in public. She said they looked nice and asked me where they were from so I told her, she responded with something like ‘you should wear girls clothes more often!’ and that was pretty much the final push I needed to go public.

Thanks Lily.

A few months after that works do, in the Autumn of 2016 – after a Summer of starting to reinvent my image and changing my name and legal documents – I came out publicly via my Facebook and Instagram pages that I was GF and that I had changed my name. My legal name is now Amelia Elsa Pereira, the first two names are recognised male in places like The Med and South America yet recognised female in North America and the UK, so I chose to bridge the gap and asked to be referred to as Melia, or Mel for short – although people call me Amelia, Mels and everything in between. In truth, I don’t care what people people call me, it was more the process of changing my identity so I felt more comfortable in my own body. My old name is a name from my childhood which I am trying to forget and Amelia is a name that has no attachments to me and it has helped me re-identify with myself. Note –  My preffered pronouns are they/them but I’m not a snowflake who gets offended when people call me he or him, life is too short and I have bigger things to worry about (cue all my friends who just call me ‘cunt,’ thanks you massive heroes!).

Nowadays (March 2017), I tell people there is no such thing as a stupid question and encourage people to ask me about GD, being GF and mental health in general. Since coming out I have embraced the female me and tend to identify more transgender than GF, probably because I’ve gained so much confidence. I like it when people ask me about these things and all though I’m still not in the body I want to be in (more often than not I’d kill for a pair of boobs, but with legs like mine I guess I can’t be greedy, right?!) but I am still the happiest and most comfortable I’ve ever been in my entire fucking life.

A young girl in a coffee shop asked me recently ‘why are you wearing a skirt?’ to which I responded ‘because I’m crazy!’ which made her laugh, before her dad said ‘he’s a punk, punks don’t care what other people think!’ which really made me smile, because I had just realised I’d become one of the people I’d wanted to be that I’d read about on the internet all those years ago. I didn’t give a shit what people thought about me anymore. I was wearing two inch heels, ripped fish nets and a wet-look pencil skirt with a rolled up, cut off band shirt on and my now long hair tied into a messy bandana and make up on and I felt like the sexiest fucking person in my town. As I write this paragraph I’m wearing electric blue leggings and a top that says ‘Gender Is Over’ and the shit I’m wearing underneath would make the straightest of guys think twice about spending a night with me.

People around me tell me I am brave for coming out GF but I personally don’t think I am, although I am eternally grateful of people who say such empowering and positive things to me. The bravery in me comes from sucking up the death of my beloved dad. I came out GF for one reason only: if I hadn’t done, I would be dead. For now, I am happy – the happiest I’ve ever been – but I still have a long way to go. I’ve attempted to rebuild a relationship with my mum although she doesn’t understand what’s going on in my head and maybe never will, it’s not her fault she’s from a different generation I guess. I’m also on the waiting list for specialist help as well as HRT and other stuff. I have an incredibly encouraging friends around me, I have discovered a whole new level of friendship with my female acquaintances and I no longer feel shy about a clothes shop sale!

The moral of my story is this: NEVER be scared to talk about fucking anything that is in your head. Your close friends won’t judge you even when your own head is convincing you they will. I spent most of my adult life coming up with ways to disappear and it took two of my friends killing themselves after almost throwing myself under a fucking train to see clarity and sense. All I had to do was open my mouth. ANYONE you regard as a friend will listen to you, especially those who have used your shoulder to cry on in the past.

I hope anyone reading this has found something they can take away from it. Nothing is more important in life than being comfortable in the body you’re in and it is vital to remember that people around you have to and will accept you for the person you are. Be comfortable in your body, project the image you want to and adopt my life motto for your own – ‘just work with what you’ve got.’

I didn’t chose to on the gender dysphoria spectrum, but I am. I am a transgender, gender neutral human being and identifying as one is the proudest fucking moment of my entire life.

X

I wouldn’t be here or be able to write this without the help of some very important people. To Tom and Chelsie for being there in the middle of the night more times than I can probably remember. To James for answering the phone and making me put down the knife. To Nick for buying me a record which became essential in the start of my transition (Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues). To David and Alex for being my voices of reason during one of the darkest, toughest and most harrowing points of my life. To Fiona for putting a roof over my head and for being there for fucking years after. To Hannah for helping me put things into perspective, no one should scared of their past and you shouldn’t either. And to Clive for telling me everything was going to be okay the night it all went too far, thank you, so so much.

To Mary – the first person I ever told – thank you for getting the ball rolling just by accepting what I was saying. I owe you more than you will ever know.

Some songs that help me:

  • Against Me!: FuckMyLife666 ‘Theres a brave new world thats raging inside of me’ – this song was crucial in my coming out process
  • The Beatles: For No One – for when I miss my dad and want to cry it out
  • The Beatles: Good Day Sunshine – for when I need to be picked back up after
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan: Farewell Mona Lisa – (not for the feint hearted) for when missing Callum just gets too much
  • The Zombies: Care Of Cell 44 – a feel good song for when I am worrying about someone special.