My name is Julie. I am a 62 year old transwoman and I started my transition in 2014 when I was 56, late as it was, but better late than never I say! Why have I transitioned so late in life? Well, I didn’t just wake up one morning and think, “Hey, I want to be a woman!” No, it’s far more complex than that. Let me explain. I started identifying as female when I was 13 – about the onset of puberty – just when I started to become aware of my body. In a way, even that was quite late, but there were signs before that, and I was just too ‘busy’ being a child – and what a charmed childhood I had at that! I was brought up in a small town in the south west of England. I had 2 adoring parents who loved both me & my sister, and provided everything we could possibly need or want – a lovely home, holidays, presents, security and most of all, unconditional love. But all that changed on the night of the 4th of December 1971 when my parents were killed by a drunken driver in a car crash coming home one night from my uncle’s. I was just 13 years old. From that moment on everything changed. My life turned upside down. The love and security that I had was suddenly gone. In those days neither I, or my sister, were offered any kind of counselling. We were just told to get on with it – can you believe that! My sister had it a little better as she was a few years older, newly married with a young daughter, but I had no one.
It was just a matter of months after the death of my parents that I started identifying as female. I didn’t quite know what I was doing or that there was even a name for it. I just thought that I was somehow ‘gay’. I also didn’t know that there was a distinction between being gay and ‘trans’, I just knew I was different and that I had to keep it secret. I dressed and behaved very femininely. Miraculously, I didn’t receive much bullying at school because, I assume, that people still felt sorry for me about losing my parents, and the belief going round in those days was that you just don’t get gays in a small provincial town. That sort of thing, so the belief goes, only happens in in places like London. So this belief inadvertently, no doubt, protected me.
In 1976, and at the age of 17, I set off to London’s gay scene to naively find love! I found it all right, but I also found something I didn’t want – promiscuous sex, seedy nightclubs and shallowness. Although my hormones were soaring my reason for being was to be loved and to be in love – don’t laugh! The love that I found though was only fleeting, but what I really wanted was a boy/girl-‘like‘ relationship, not a boy/boy one, and then, about this time, I finally discovered I could put a name as to who or what I was when I met some trans women in Germany during a holiday there. But my craving to be loved was so overriding that I sacrificed everything in the pursuit of that, including my gender identity issues. In 1979 I did eventually find lasting love with my first partner. It was also about this time I came out as trans to both my partner, who was surprisingly okay about it, and to a therapist. The term ‘trans’ or ‘transgender’ wasn’t in use then. The only one being was the ugly word of transsexual, which I hated and still do!
It was in the early spring of this year that I tried to take my life, my second attempt as it happens, but this time I rang the Samaritans, and with their help I was taken to a doctor who referred me to a specialist in London. I was 21. Hoping to achieve my dream at last, my hopes were swiftly dashed when I met the doctor. He was an arrogant, insensitive and self opinionated man. No way could I ever see him again. I then saw a LGBTQ+ advisor, who was not only useless but made me feel guilty, and lastly, I was referred to a psychologist for counselling. Seeing this person finally killed my dream of becoming my true self as she made me feel that there was no hope or future in changing my gender. In fact, she too made me feel guilty and uncomfortable about how I felt and who I was, and fed me with horror stories and used scare tactics to talk me out of it. I felt I had no option but to resign to staying as I was. Now so scared and vulnerable, I felt abandoned.
For the next 10 years or so, and still with my first partner, I lived a miserable life. My relationship degraded and I was subjected to mental torture and coercive behaviour by him, and every time I looked in the mirror I hated myself, the way I looked and everything about me. My self esteem went rock bottom, then at 33 I met my second partner and fell head over heels in love. He was my knight in shining armour – I mean, really! He was handsome, itelligent and romantic. For the first time in my life since my parents died I felt I was loved. My gender issues took a back seat as I was swept off my feet in a whirlwind of romance and magic, and I embarked on a brave new life, with him at the helm. I moved to a completely new area to be with him, changed my job, changed my life in every way, but after 7 years the fairytale romance came crashing to an end. I moved again, this time to Scotland, and began yet a new life. For another 15 years I managed to keep my gender issues at bay. To do this I rejected my feelings, trying to ‘man up’ and even pretend that I wasn’t trans in the first place. It’s surprising what you will do to be ‘normal’, to blend in, keep yourself sane, to appear that you’re like everyone else, except of course I wasn’t, but the whole charade inevitable fell apart in the autumn of 2013 when I realised, again, that what I was doing was being someone other people wanted or expected me to be.
I saw a counsellor and told her that I was transgender and that I couldn’t do this pretence thing any more. I was now 55. After I had done some research into trans issues I came to the terrible conclusion that I was too old. Despite this I decided to forge ahead anyway. I would transition and be damned! So I got myself referred to a gender identity clinic and started my transition, and after lengthy psychological assessments I began hormone treatment in May 2015. At long last I was finally going to be my authentic and REAL self. I always knew who I was but no one had ever actually ‘seen’ or ‘met’ me – not the real ‘me’, if you can grasp that concept – but the real person that was to be Julie – the woman buried deep, deep inside. In August of that year I came out to my family, friends and ex partner. Surprisingly, they took it very well. I was very lucky, very few people rejected me and those that did I didn’t care about any way. In 2018 I had a hair transplant to fill in areas where my hair had receded, then last year, in 2019 at the age of 61, I had full vaginoplasty. This year I also gained full legal recognition in my new, rightful gender. I still have a few things left to do before I’m finished, such as breast augmentation, tracheal shave and, most importantly, facial feminisation surgery. Unfortunately, this last procedure is non-funded and a very costly one at that. Nevertheless, one that I MUST complete which is why I set up a crowd funding page to help meet the costs, but despite this I am now living my authentic life. I can behave, talk, walk, dress, and interact naturally without having to be guarded or careful with everything I do or say, and that is so damn liberating! The road to get here was so long and tortuous but I got here nonetheless, and I finally started to live the life I was meant to.