A few days ago one of my favourite comedians came out as being transgender. Jordan Raskopoulos from the “Axis of Awesome” comedy music group revealed that after years of being unhappy, she finally decided on a tour of my native UK that it was time to transition, and she talked about a sequence of events that will sound familiar to anyone who is transgender, and after a few days, it has inspired me to talk about my experience leading up to coming out to everyone as transgender back in 2012.
Firstly, it seems only right to post Jordan’s video….
I realised whilst thinking about my own experience that I often tell people about the basics, or refer to them in very brief overviews, so I figured that for those who have only known me since I came out as transgendered in 2012, it’s time to give you pretty much the full story of the months leading up to July 2nd 2012, the day that Kate was born and Nathan died.
So I suppose I should go into a bit of a background really. I was 27 at the time January 1st 2012 came around. I had known
since the age of about 5 that I wanted to be female, but had kept it pretty well hidden from friends and family, with very few people actually knowing. I first started telling people when I was around 16 and in my final year at secondary school. The reaction was pretty positive at first, but quickly started turning negative and I went back into my shell, barely speaking about it.
Over the next 11 years I did everything that you would think was typically masculine. I grew a beard…and didn’t shave it for a long time, and even when I did I rarely went shorter than stubble. for example, on the right is me in what I think was 2010. I would work what were generally define as typically masculine jobs and I don’t know how, but I gained a reputation as being somewhat of a flirt. Again, I have no idea why as I don’t really do flirting, nor have I ever done.
Anyway, so when 2012 turns my plans to change gender felt like they were never going to go any further than a plan. What’s strange is that I often say that I could have probably gone through my entire life male and been relatively content, even though I desperately wanted to be female still. Infact, some of my friends were generally surprised when I would bring it up as I didn’t mention it that often at all.
At this time I was talking to a girl from Canada pretty much every day. I had known Jodi for what must have been around 10 years at the time, I considered her arguably my best friend. Over time I became to grow attracted to Jodi and she was pretty much the only person that I felt completely at ease with. I then told her whilst on the way home from a college course that I was taking at the time that I loved her and had become attracted to her. She rejected me lightly, although to be honest I don’t know what I was expecting to come of the situation given she lived in a town called Slave Lake (about 3 hours north of Edmonton, Alberta) at the time.
Over the next few weeks the communications became less and less and I don’t think looking back on it at the time that I gave her enough space. I was quite a needy person to say the least, and I couldn’t cope with not talking to her for even just a day or two. I’m the type that used to wear my heart on my sleeve, but I was probably too open and looking back on it I can’t blame her to grow to hate me. However, I didn’t realise at the time until one of her friends, a guy called Nolan, said some less than favourable things to me and after that things just deteriorated.
I was not in a good place at all and as I say, looking back I can’t blame her for hating me. March 16th 2012 was the last time we spoke after I used some less than favourable words when berating her for how I felt she had treated me at the time. I even used a certain word beginning with C. Despite feeling fine at first, by the end of the day I was completely empty. It wasn’t the first time my self-destructive nature had cost me a friendship that meant so much to me and I decided to do something about it.
The following day Lincoln City were playing away at Bath City and at this point I had been going to every Lincoln game for about 7 years, and yet I almost got off of the coach before it had set off. I was not in the mood at all, but I stayed on the coach and used the coach, in perfect silence, emailing off to various psychologists around Lincoln asking for help. I started seeing one of them, but I never told her that I wanted to be female. Despite not telling her that, she picked up that something was amiss and my unhappiness was more deeply route than simply losing a few friends here and there.
It was at that moment that it clicked. Everything fell into place. It was almost like an alarm bell started ringing in my head. It was the epiphany. After 27 years I knew it was time to become female. It wasn’t going to be easy though as at the time I was living with my parents (I had moved back in with them following my year in Nottingham) and I felt that they wouldn’t be supportive, and so I moved out and to Newark, all under the illusion that it was simply to be closer to work.
The months pass and I gradually start letting the friends that knew beforehand that I wanted to be female that it was finally happening. I went on occasional shopping trips for clothing and wigs, and built up a little selection, and I remember the day that I got my breast forms was one of the happiest, if not the strangest day of my life. I started dressing female at home, but struggled to find shoes due to my size 11 feet.
That’s the one thing that you never really hear about transgendered people. Men who become women obviously still have male sized feet, and as male feet are generally bigger than female feet, it’s harder to find shoes as most shops don’t stock over Size 9. It was all over the internet shopping, but the problem is that most shoes designed to be over Size 9 for women look ridiculous. If you type in “high heels uk size 11” into eBay then I can pretty much guarantee that they will all say crossdresser, or something to that extent, and more than half of them look absolutely ridiculous. I was stuck with either shoes that were designed for women but didn’t really look like it, or something that even drag queens wouldn’t be caught wearing.
Finding clothes was also a bit tricky as one thing I’ve noticed whilst shopping for women’s clothes is that size 16 in one shop isn’t the same as a size 16 in another shop. It’s exceptionally difficult to find resemble sized clothes without trying them on, and at the time I had no-where near the confidence that I do these days. I still find it really weird now when people say that I am a confident person and very vocal because I used to be very shy and quiet.
I did eventually compile a half-reasonable wardrobe, and would post pictures of me wearing clothes (without ever revealing that it was me) on places such as DeviantArt, such as the below, in which I had just shaved my legs and done my toe nails, so I decided to flaunt them. It seems weird now looking at this because I haven’t once worn a skirt or anything that reveals me legs in the entire since I came out, with the exception of when I’ve gone to see my doctor and worn dresses.
Anyway, I decided on the date that I was going to come out to everyone, July 2nd. There was the little matter of at that point deciding how to let everyone know. The most difficult thing was probably going to be where I spent most of my days and that was at work. At this point I had two jobs and I told my boss at my main job first. I don’t have the email anymore, mainly because I don’t work there anymore, but it went like this…..
I trust all is well?
Basically I have to let you know something that will be happening in the near future. Basically in July I will start the process of becoming female. No, you haven’t just misread that, I’m going to have a sex change.”
Now when she read this email I have no idea what went through her head. I got a quick email back saying that we’d have a meeting about it. A few hours later we went into the meeting rooms and she was definitely supportive, and it makes me laugh now because she just couldn’t get her head around it at first. I hadn’t given a single hint to anyone at work, other than two people, that I intended to become female, and Layla’s face was a picture of befuddlement. She was brilliant though.
Throughout the next few weeks Layla helped put everything into place ahead my me coming out to everything and she thought it was best to tell everyone at work a week early. Now, I’m going to stop the main story here to specifically thank two people at Vodafone, Layla and Amy.
Amy had known from early on since she started there that I wanted to be female, and she was so supportive. Layla, bless her had no clue until I told her, but I couldn’t have come out to everyone at work without their support. Both were flawless and I couldn’t thank them enough. Even though I don’t really speak to either of them (I burnt a lot of bridges when I left Vodafone) now, they will have my eternal gratitude.
Layla decides that it’s best to let my specific team know before the wider department knows. I am sat there listening to “The Mighty Rio Grande” by “This Will Destroy You”. Infact, before I tell you the next bit, here is the song, listen to it before continuing (it’ll help what I write next be put in context).
So listened to it now? Well I was listening to that when the men in my team were taken away by the manager to be told. At that point this song, plus the situation, overwhelms me horribly and I start crying at my desk, although no-one that doesn’t actually know what’s happening knows why. I’ve since been told that some people thought someone had died. I couldn’t stop myself and I just had to be taken away from the desk by Amy, a girl called Hannah and another girl called Claire (I’m not entirely sure if Claire actually knew at this point).
Have you ever had that moment in your life when everything feels so overwhelming that you can’t control yourself anymore? Well that’s what happened to me. I had planned this for 27 years and now it was finally happening, but it becoming common knowledge equally delighted and terrified me at the same time. Layla soon returned from the meeting with the men, and she noticed that half of the team had disappeared and came in hunt of me. I had all four supporting me and understanding me to the point where they were tears of fear, joy and many others.
I returned to my desk and I could tell that the guys didn’t know what to do. I got messages over the I/M system of support from them, although I get the feeling that they were just confused and didn’t know what to do. I sat in the meeting after the women were told and a woman called Angela mused that she had tried to set me up with one of her friends just a few days earlier.
A week before I plan on coming out to everyone….and before anyone asks, I have no idea why I chose July 2nd, and the rest of the department are told. I was actually fine with this one. There were no tears with this one, mainly because I was on the phone with BT at the time trying to get them to deliver something for a customer that they had promised. The 30 or so Project Managers are told by Layla what is happening, and when they all march back downstairs I can tell that they’re all shocked, as you would be. The reaction was generally positive though and in particular, a guy called Vic. Me and Vic got on very well during the four years that I was at Vodafone and I don’t have a bad word to say about him. Never have and never will.
Again my I/M system goes crazy with messages of support and regardless of what happened and how many bridges I burnt, I can never thank those 50 or so people at Vodafone for being so accepting of the situation and making the initial stages of the transition easily.
It’s four days before I come out to everyone and at this point I had never once worn female clothing outside of where I was living, but that changed when I went to a social club for anyone who cross-dressed. I decided to make a visit and my sister, Sarah, came with me for emotional support. Sarah had also never seen me in female clothing, so when I open the door to reveal Kate for the first time, I can see that she’s trying to hide her shock and somewhat level of amusement.
Me and Sarah have always had a strange relationship in the sense that we obviously have that bond of being related by blood, but we didn’t know each other until I was 11 and she was 9 (we were adopted into different families). We get on absolutely fine, but we have precisely nothing in common from what I remember. Infact, I don’t think I’ve actually seen her since the evening in question. I hope she doesn’t think it’s down to her saying that had we not been related then chances are we wouldn’t be friends :P.
Anyway, so there I am, dressed in female clothing out of my house for the first time in my life, and I am absolutely petrified. Most of my friends don’t even know that I want to be female and this point and there I am about to walk into a room full of strangers in full on Kate mode. I shake as I sit down but am quickly calmed by Lynn, the person who I had been talking to for a few weeks (her blog is http://yatgb.blogspot.co.uk/, it’s very good), and she quickly makes me feel at ease. Despite enjoying it, I didn’t continue to attend the group for much longer, mainly due to not having transport at the time.
By now my part time job knows and all that’s left is to get around to July 2nd. I bust my hand the day before and so getting dressed on the morning of the second is made even more difficult. Trying to do up a blouse when you’re not used to the buttons being on the left hand side is very strange. Even now, almost four years on, I still struggle with them. Anyway, I eventually get dressed, make up’s on (yes, I used to wear make up, I don’t so much anymore) and the exceptionally bad wig is on, and I start my walk.
It was the most terrifying, and yet liberating 25 minute walk of my life.
I arrive at work and those that don’t know, in other words those in other departments, think that I’m doing it for a laugh and it’s just a one day thing. I soon start correcting everyone and they’re all like “ooh, ok then”. I didn’t lose any friends at work surprisingly, but I still think it took a few days for people to catch on that I wasn’t kidding.
It was then time to announce my plans to change gender to the world. Work knew, now it was time for friends to know, and what better way to do that than to write a Facebook post and post a video on Youtube? I had been hinting that something was coming for a few months.
The reaction on Facebook was pretty awesome. With more likes that I’ve had on most of my status’ and 58 comments, below is a snippet of some of them.
Then there was the Youtube video…..
The first few weeks were very interesting to say the least. I made a lot of new friends and it actually got a lot of conversations going with a lot of old friends that I hadn’t spoken to in so long.
Coming out as transgender was the best thing that I ever did and I wish I had done it sooner, but it took arguably the darkest time of my life to open us the opportunity, and to those friends that have stuck with me since I came out, and arguably more important, those that have accepted me into their lives having never known me as Nathan, I say thank you.
I’m not going to sit here and claim that the last four years have been a doddle, and there are occasions where I question whether life would have been easier had I just stayed quiet about the whole situation, but then I come to the conclusion that no, I wouldn’t have been.
So that’s the story leading up from the moment I decided to become transgender, right up until the moment when I revealed that I was transgender to the world. I am in a far better place than I was at that time and am generally a lot happier. I am not fully female yet, but at least I’m now almost there.
I write this article just over a week before I see my doctor and talk about the final operation, and whilst it terrifies me, I’ve overcome a lot of terrifying moments to get to this stage.