by Lyla Arthurs
Oral History. I interviewd this person for 30 mins and created his story in his voice
|I am transgendered, not a cross dresser or transexual. I don’t like to wear women’s clothes just for a laugh, and I still have all the appropriate bits in the right places. Nor am I a hairy panty wearer. I don’t get my kicks from bashing off in a pair of my missus knickers. But from about three years old, I wanted to wear clothes of the opposite gender, and knew that it would be disapproved of by other people in the household, almost like it was imprinted in me. I think it’s genetic, whatever the genes are get mucked up, X, Y something chromosomes you’re born like it for whatever reason.
My aunty and my grandmother used to like dressing me up like Robin Hood and stuff, but also quite often as a girl. They actually said other people wouldn’t approve. My grandfather and my mother didn’t know, nor did they like it when I played fancy dress. I would pinch, or borrow mum’s tights and big stretchy knickers, then sleep in them with pyjama trousers and socks over the top. When I was about five, I would try and see how many pairs of grannies tights I could get on at a time, and still walk. The answer was twelve pairs of forty denier support tights, and I could just about bend my legs.
When I was at primary school I used to hang out with all the girls. I didn’t fancy the girls; I wanted to be one of the girls. Yeah, I climbed trees and played golf because I enjoyed doing that too. But I didn’t want to live as me, and I didn’t like my pee pee. The older I got, from about eight or nine, the more interested I got in other clothes and makeup. It would have been a year later that I first left the house and went round the block dressed fully. I wore make up, mum’s glasses, a big floppy hat, and heels, dressed as what I thought was a woman. On another occasion I went to a lingerie store at the top of the road, and bought a suspender belt, knickers, and stockings, claiming it was for my sister. Funny enough the woman behind the counter looked like Tootsie, and she must have wondered what the fuck was going on. I think she would have probably guessed I was an eleven year old boy.
I would have been about ten when my mum found her clothes under my bed. She flipped and thought that I was a sexual deviant, and my father went along with it. All they did was shout, call me names and there were threats, “If we ever find it again there will be consequences”. I’ve spent a lot of time blocking that out. I then went to greater lengths to hide the stuff at the back of the bed, by putting stuff in front of it. I also hid it in cubby holes, wherever I thought they wouldn’t find it.
During my teenage years, from about eleven to fourteen it became quite sexual, even though it isn’t usually a sexual thing. But, I put that down to going through puberty. I didn’t know then whether I liked effeminate guys, or whether I was gay, or wanted to be a woman and go out with guys; I didn’t know what was going on, even though I did like girls and had a girlfriend, then it just kind of calmed down a bit. At the time though it was agony; it led to me wanting to commit suicide on a few occasions, because I couldn’t be who I wanted to be or who I knew I was.
At about fifteen or sixteen, I’d gone to my old man a few times pissed out of my skull to talk to him about it. He wouldn’t talk to me when I was pissed, and I wouldn’t talk to him when I was sober. I wasn’t happy with who I was and the way I had to live, I was blocking those feelings with drugs and alcohol. Eventually when I was half cut on one occasion he would talk to me. He asked me if I was gay, and said he would pay for an operation etc. Because I’d already been made to feel like an absolute pervert I refused the operation. If I’d been supported when I’d been younger and not ridiculed I would have done it, but I really just took it as an insult.
At eighteen years old I joined the Royal Marine Commandos, spending almost nine years serving in places such as Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. By the time I left, my rank was Captain, which is equivalent to 1st Lieutenant in other army ranks. Being able to fulfil my need to dress was restricted because of long periods away on active duty, which could make me a little anxious. When home I lived mainly off base, which meant I could dress then without anyone knowing. Within the military homophobia is huge and rife, and what I was fell into that category. It was alright to put a dress on for a laugh, but not to be transgendered. As an officer it’s imperative to keep the respect of rank and file. I knew zero gay marines or paratroopers, they will be there, but you wouldn’t know, you would lose the respect of the boot necks should it get out. Being a Royal Marine made me feel more normal, I got to act as a man and forget about being transgendered. Putting on 35 pounds of equipment and strapping two firearms to your body is a very powerful experience in itself.
Today at the age of thirty four, for the majority of my life I live as a man. If I could change tomorrow, flick a switch and it would all be right I would. But it isn’t as simple as that, so I stay as I am. I’m not so unhappy that I’m going to cut my own penis off or jump off a cliff, as some people would or do. And I don’t feel the need to go the whole way because it would just destroy many parts of my life. It would be extremely difficult, and hugely emotional. I work in what would be considered a manly job, and do all those things that would be considered normal for a male. I have been married to a woman, and have had several long term relationships with women, which has resulted in having and raising children. Currently, I am engaged to a woman, but would also consider myself slightly bisexual. I’m not attracted to men unless they are extremely effeminate, I am also attracted to men as women; but I haven’t acted on it.
When the need takes me, I still dress as a woman. It gives me a rushing sensation, like taking drugs. If you’ve ever taken class A narcotics you’ll understand what I mean, the tingling all over and shallow breathing. I enjoy the illusion of presenting as a female; I want to be accepted as that when I’m out. I want to get it bang on, to the point where you can go to a straight club and nobody would know the difference. When I can’t dress regularly I get quite depressed, for me it feels correct.
My hope for the future is that people will become more educated on the fact that transgendered people aren’t of any threat to anybody. We’re not a threat to society, we’re not a threat to other men, or women, or children, or babies, and people just need to realise it. It’s just not an issue, what’s the problem? I do what I want, they do what they want. It’s more accepted for somebody to bash their wife than it is for a man to put on women’s clothes, and I think that’s terrible because I’m not actually doing anybody any harm. The only harm I’m doing is to myself by not doing it when I want to.