Some background: I have always believed I have known I am transsexual (as cumbersome as that sounds, I am not going to say ‘I have always known’) since way back, describing it I use words like ‘suffocating alienation’, ‘isolation’ and even a feeling of ‘loss’. I transitioned when I was 40, in 2008. I made a number of bodged attempts when I was 17, 24, 30 and when I was 37 I tried to leave the whole problem behind me. I went completely off the rails in the early ’90s as I struggled even to go to work and lost a job because of it.
I’ve been hanging out in the London gay and trans scene for around 23 years. In the ’90s, there was no ‘transgender’ per se, I’d go to trans clubs (or alt/goth clubs) and found myself surrounded mainly by individuals who described themselves as ‘transvestites’ or ‘cross dressers’. The way we looked, the way we acted and the language we used were very different and quickly I’d be labelled ‘oh so you’re a transsexual’ and almost pitied, ‘I don’t envy what you’re going to have to go through!’ I was labelled this even though I never used those words to describe myself.
I was on AOL in the mid-to-late ’90s and used to hang out in a chat room called ‘The Gazebo’ which was a pretty good place for trans people to meet up and chat, again the differences between CDs & TVs and TS individuals were respected, however one change I noticed was that ‘the gender spectrum’ was treated as a hierarchy within which it appeared to me that some of the chatters aspired to become transsexual, they saw it as something they would work towards.
In about 1999 I completely removed myself from the trans* scene both online and offline, as there was little of interest in it for me and anyway I was able to express myself how I wished within the social scenes within which I was active, I was living a double life I guess, but most of my friends, colleagues and some of my family knew me as ‘Miranda’.
I came back to the trans* scene around ten years later. What I found was very different. I found people who told me they were transsexual, who described themselves in a way that emphasised a sexual aspect I had only been used to hearing from the ’90s TV and CD crowd. Also, my preferred look of tshirt, jeans and trainers appeared to be frowned upon. It was apparent to me a number of individuals describing themselves as ‘transsexual’ appeared to be refugees from the fetish scene, something I have never had any part or interest in.
There was also this incredibly arrogant attitude, whereas in the ’90s the CD/TV would very often use the gents, or very cautiously and respectfully use the ladies, suddenly it was all about the ‘right’ to use the women’s facilities, with no attempt to understand why any woman would object to this.
What has caused this? Maybe the rise of the importance of ‘the individual’…? There are those who see their own freedom as their rights that accrue to them yet remain oblivious to the fact these rights are ‘won’ in the sense someone else’s are lost. It is very clear and very apparent to me that the idea of ‘identity’ is being pushed further and harder, and I truly believe this is reactionary to the point of being almost in opposition to the women’s rights movement.
I never fought to be labelled ‘transsexual or a ‘transwoman’, but this has now changed as I see people who have nothing to do with my life speaking for me.