Victorias Secret Journey – I’m your stereotypical transgender MTF, if there is such a thing? I have known since before I could speak and demonstrated it too apparently! However I grew up in a good family with strong values and was much loved, I didn’t know nor understand what was going on in my head until a long time later.
I have taken part in a lot of things in my time and excelled at many, with time in the military, awards and trophies for leadership and physical prowess all great indicators of achievement and overcompensating, because I couldn’t be the girl my head kept telling me I was! But don’t get me wrong I am no Caitlyn Jenner – no gold medals for me!
I dressed from an early age and loved every minute of the excitement and “rightness” of those times, but this was always followed by confusion and guilt. I have spent a lot of my time leading others in work and sport, and it has taken me a long time to realise this is my maternal instinct wanting to help and guide those in need.
I have been through a large part of my life feeling that something was missing, sometimes it was just feeling unsettled and sometimes it felt like a person wasn’t there that should have been? Looking back I was living in black and white, whereas now I live in colour every day. Don’t get me wrong my life isn’t perfect, but its way less complicated. As I got older, like so many of us, I explored these feelings and started with a pair of knickers which soon progressed to more underwear, makeup, wigs, heels the “full Monty” as it were, and each addition affirmed those feelings, whilst frustratingly made me need more of the same. I constantly faced the mirror with a feeling of disappointment that I didn’t look right, but excited as I saw glimpses of the real me in there too. I wore nail varnish on my toes and often wore my underwear to work, terrified of getting caught but exhilarated with the achievement of being a little more me!
So I dressed, I accessed the internet and learnt I was not as alone as I thought, I stayed indoors terrified my secret would never be anything more than a dirty secret – as that was what I believed society saw it as. Like so many my knowledge and attempts at being the real me were fumbled at best and I did eventually venture out to BNO at Pink Punters where I spent a whole evening too terrified to speak to anyone other than to order a drink or three as the alcohol helped with the nerves, and I think helped me cope with the walk back on my heels on that long walk back to the Camponile (its only over the road but its a million miles when your feet hurt from your 3 inch heels after a night out).
Things progressed and I realised there were places to go to get a proper makeover, I tried some, who to be honest, were just people who understand and offered a service, and some who just wanted your money, and some where every person going through their door is dressed the same and the same style wigs and makeup. But within these was an Oasis – Translife and of course Andrew Maggs, a lovely warm hearted person, who, whilst runs a business actually cares about you and what you want, he is qualified, not only with certificates but inexperience too as he is one of us. Andrew’s facilities are very warm and inviting, and the greeting you get could not be more friendly, backed up by a knowledge of many years and first-hand experience, funnily enough, I met one of my best trans friends (Gloria) there as she was leaving as I went in, but we didn’t realise as we were both in drab at the time! Anyway, you could not be in safer hands with Andrew and his partner, and I cannot recommend Translife enough, I still use what Andrew taught me as the basis for my day and evening looks , and to me the fact that he is so passionate about sharing and helping is what makes his service so fab! I spent a long day there and buzzed all the way home having bought a few bits of makeup, and a beautiful wig that I couldn’t take my eyes off from the minute I walked in. Andrew still runs his online business as you will know and if I am honest is one of a select few who sells at a great price with no “trans tax” added because of who we are!
As time progressed I realised that I didn’t get a buzz from wearing the clothes, I just felt right when I dressed, I saw a counsellor for a couple of years which really helped me get my head straight and I can say I am trans now and not be ashamed, but still it wasn’t enough.
Then I had an epiphany, oh alright a moment of insight! I was working in a very male-oriented environment when a group of girls came on site, and whilst all the other guys were shouting and wolf whistling, all I could think was “ooh I love her hair, and her shoes and wish I was that little” etc etc, and I realised it wasn’t a subconscious choice it was ingrained so deep in my brain that it was my first thought not my last. I moved for a job from the south coast to Essex, and then the job fell through, so now I needed to let out the woman inside, I had previously worked in Brighton for over 20 years and never really regained the corporate Life desires since, so decided this was the time to actually make it real.
It took me a while but I plucked up the courage to go to the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) at Charing cross, terrified they would cart me off in a straight jacket in a transit to the nearest loony bin, but “NO!” apparently I am an ideal candidate as I know what I am, and although I had to say it out loud that I wanted to physically become a woman, they could not have been more supportive and totally focused on helping me get to where I need to be. Have no illusions they are part of the NHS so things take time and they are constrained by this, for example, all the mail has to go to the main hospital first and then it comes to their satellite office so quite often goes missing, and believe me it infuriates them more than it will ever upset you. They have financial constraints and physical restrictions like all other businesses, and maybe if they were more transparent would help, but let’s not forget these people have been doing this a long time and until last month because of NHS guidelines and the confidentiality of patients were not allowed to text you with a confirmation of appointment – you had to be told in writing in a letter to your door or picked up when you were there!
So I am officially transgender – Eureka, I am not Mad (well that’s measured by degrees, careful all of you that know me!) YAY! It’s ok to be me!!! All I had to do is tell everyone else, easy stuff by comparison! NOT!! As once that genie is out of the bottle there is no going back, or pretending it’s a joke! There is no part of our journey (whichever trans person you are) that is easy, but we are all on parallel journeys and society is catching up with us slowly. So I get on with it, I tell my mum and my friends, and they were all fab, but not one of them had a clue, but more of them than I expected said “What took you so long I love you no matter what and don’t care, now you can be happy!” But I was/am lucky and know many who have been pushed away by their family and friends. There is no going back, and it’s a hard choice, but for me there was no other way as I am fixing something that’s been broken for a long time. Have no illusions, I am 6ft1 and 14 stone so will never be “petite” or a “skinny mini”, but then I like to think I have a bright mind and definitely a good heart.
I never used to look in the mirror except to shave, and hated to have my picture taken, so even though I had changed my name by deed pole and notified everyone from banks to tax man all the way to car insurance. I had no work and could kick around at home in guys clothes and just say I was full time, so I did two significant things, I started looking at what I could do for work and I had always wanted to Foster so I started chasing that dream! Plus and more importantly for my soul, I decided to make some changes to me that were a little more permanent. Well girls I can tell you that cheap wig you bought when you first worked it out and you laugh at now is no joke, it’s part of the journey. As a guy hair is just there and gets in the way in the shower for drying after sport etc, but as a woman it’s your crowning glory, expect to have bad hair days, expect to not like it but don’t ever trim your own fringe it never works!! So with this in mind I started my research, I visited salons all over London and the UK trying to find someone who got it! I looked for about 6 months, and came across Debbie at Hair in Xs, they have been providing hair systems for over 20 years to cancer victims, Trichotillomania (pulling your own hair out) Alopecia sufferers etc etc and are NHS approved, but more importantly for me they had been looking after trans women for just as long. So after a few false starts elsewhere I went to see Debbie and her team, I went as Vikki, I entered another world, the salon only sees 2 clients at a time, I asked a million questions, I drank tea I chatted with the girls, nothing was too much trouble for the team, and I left from that consultation having booked my hair appointment even though there is no rush, I am not good at waiting once I have decided, and then proceeded to write loads of questions to Debbie by email, one after the other, and again nothing was too much trouble, in fact Debbie does all the Consults herself, and she has forgotten more about the systems then you would ever be able to ask about.
So I get my hair done, feel free to go have a look as my pictures are the top set on the transgender page of the Hair in Xs website, its remarkable how much of a difference it makes, even my mum has said my hair is now my crowning glory. Not bad for a guy with male pattern baldness at the back and some thinning on top, but that’s the beauty of the systems, they are bespoke to your needs, no two are the same, and they can deal with anything unless you are completely bald. I have looked hard and long and I cannot find anyone else in the UK who provides this service. You have to go back every 6 weeks to have it tightened as its attached to your hair, there is no head shaving no glues put on your head, it enables your hair to grow too, I went in with short hair and mine is now down to my shoulders, but I like it longer, plus I can choose straight curly, long short, colour etc, nothing is too much trouble, in fact, I changed my mind three times on the day and still got exactly what I wanted, and it was all just a walk in the park for the team. Watching the process revealed is fascinating and the thought and care that goes into it is amazing. The downside is I wake in the morning with my hair in my eyes some days, but every day starts with a smile now.
So permanent Hair = no going back, daunting at first maybe? Actually it’s the best thing I ever did, it’s given me a huge amount of confidence not least of all as I cannot pretend to anyone anymore, I still love cars and bikes, and especially fixing them but now I have to put my hair up and be a little more careful of my nails, but it’s weird as I am more me than ever, I am just about to start as a Foster Carer, so realising that dream, they know I am trans, and embraced it, there are many children out there who are too and have been kicked out because their parents don’t understand, of course I also have other life experience that is relevant, 2 kids, bereavement, children’s custody court cases etc, so its not just that, but there is a growing need for Trans Foster Carers, and of course it plays into my need to be maternal too!
I play badminton at 2 different clubs every week and Ice or Roller skate a couple of times a week too. I got Breast Augmentation (privately) in July last year, and lower surgery will be end of this year via GIC /NHS, My son, Husky and I live in a little 3 bed bungalow and its all slowly coming together, when I look back it’s been a tough ride and not one I would wish on anyone else (but some of that is job-related), but once I realised it wasn’t a choice I moved forward, and when I look back now I smile as I have a much happier life now. Actually, I think the truth is that I am content with myself now, all of my friends have commented on how much happier I am too. I guess partly because I am no longer trying to prove anything to myself or anyone else! And because of it I am also doing charity work and am organising a big rally at the end of this year for Lady riders only. So if I can do it so can you!
I get out and about in Brighton, Leeds and Manchester amongst others, so if you see me and want to ask any questions, or just share a cuppa and some cake (I love cake!) please don’t hesitate as I am very open and honest about it all but would love to hear your story too!
Sophie’s Bit Having met Debbie and her team I could not endorse her work enough she gives freely and provides a great service we at Translife would recommend her services wholeheartedly. The great news is that she is opening a salon in Brighton as of April 2018 you can pop along for a consultation and see the wonderful work she does for yourself.