You can always trust the Huffington Post to make you think before breakfast. Yes even on a Sunday morning this still holds true and on this Sunday morning I couldn’t help but notice one particular story in my favourite online journal which just screamed read me.
So you will not be surprised to know that is exactly what I did .
The story concerned research carried out in to homophobia at three separate universities in Germany, the United States, and Essex which suggest that this fear and loathing of being gay or though they don’t mention it lesbian, or trans may be due to those concerned having same sex attraction themselves.
Now I can almost bet there will be a number of testosterone fuelled homophobic males who on
being told this information will no doubt be muttering aye that’ll be right under their breath, however on closer examination this information should come as no surprise to anyone and it certainty doesn’t come as a shock to me.
The picture below shows the rainbow flag flying at half mast from Glasgow City Chambers on the night when our city held a vigil to remember the victims of the Orlando massacre. Far be it for to suggest that this image could be a metaphor for some people to take a far closer look at themselves than perhaps they’ve been used to but believe me someone has to do as it and as a transsexual woman who comes under the LGBTIQ umbrella I feel I am in a stronger position than most to make the case.
I state this point because as someone who is very much in the rainbow rather than over it, I can say both with pride and at pride that I am not only a friend of Dorothy I’m one of her besties. This however was not always the case, for more years than I care to remember I attempted to live a lie. I tried as hard to fit the traditional male stereotype and where I grew up part of that involved being homophobic in public when in the company of male friends and acquaintances.
The fact that in my private time I was dressing as a girl and longing for the day when I could be the woman I secretly knew myself to be was according to the world around neither here nor there and fact my mother knew about my secret was written off as just one of those things. You see according to our very uptight society that was Scotland/Britain in the 1970’s, this kind of behaviour was always written off as just a passing phase even though I know nothing could be further from the truth.
Believe me I hated being homophobic in any way shape or form. I knew what I was saying was wrong not just about the individuals concerned but about myself you see I knew I could never be a straight man or any other kind of man for that matter I knew with every ounce of my being that I wanted and needed to be a woman before I would ever be truly happy and at ease with myself.
In the Glasgow of the 1970’s I was trans before most people had ever heard of it. To deny this may have been the safer choice at the time but it was also mind numbingly claustrophobic as I was having to deny myself the right to be who I was. Well how many straight boys do you know who would be a member of the Osmond’s Fan Club and have pictures of Donny all over their bedroom wall and then move on to The Bay City Rollers, collecting
copies of Jackie every week and having secret outfits up to and including lingerie. Though I don’t think I had a dress far less lingerie as glamorous as those in the pictures below. I don’t think my mother would ever have let me be so daring no matter how much I may have wanted to be.
So as you can see, my homophobic language was due to the institutionalised homophobia of the state and the internalised homophobia/transphobia which can only come from fighting a war against your natural instincts. You see I’ve always liked my men and now living as the woman I’ve always known I was I am in no mood to deny it. However growing up in a more socially and culturally conservative country, and that can apply to both Scotland and Britain did have an impact on how I viewed others and when you are encouraged to see difference as being negative through the press and media it should surprise no one that you perceive people in this way and develop the notion of other. Believe me when I say your teenage years are not called your formative years for no reason.
Fortunately, the world has come a long way since the days of my 1970’s youth and now members of the LGBTIQ community have the same rights as our straight sisters and brothers we can even get legally married should we find Prince or Princess Charming, and this generation of trans teens can leave school on the Friday afternoon in their birth gender and return on Monday morning in their acquired one. How I wish I had been given that chance when I was in my teens because believe me I would have grabbed it with both hands.
Alas however that was for a future generation rather than mine. The world of 1970’s Scotland was shall we say a lot more prejudiced and narrow minded than is the case now and far less rainbow friendly. Most people I knew growing up would refuse to acknowledge that they had ever known a gay man, far less a lesbian or trans person and would probably say that it was restricted to showbiz types. This is a world away from the self confident Scotland of 2016 with rainbow flags and pride marches in all our major towns and cities and yet there are still some people who would sooner hide their true selves than attempt to come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity.
Speaking as someone who has had to overcome her own barriers with regards to this issue I can understand all too clearly why certain individuals may wish to conceal their real feelings. One reason could be that they were brought up in a religious family and don’t think they would be able to come out to family and friends. Another issue often used by those who indulge in homophobic behaviour is that they don’t want to be a disappointment to their parents and the wider community and fear a loss of respect amongst their peers. There could also be other factors at play which are too many and varied to go in to and I can totally appreciate that I know how difficult it was for me but to me when the choice comes down to living a lie or a happy and rewarding life there is in end no other choice to make.
Speaking as someone who has come out as a trans woman I know the journey is not an easy one but believe me it is easily the best decision I have ever made. I say this because I know the improvement it has made to my quality of life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. You see I know how much I’ve grown in confidence since I finally made the change and decided to transition and live my life as the woman I had always known I was. It was the perfect way to celebrate my 47th Christmas in December 2008 and every day thereafter by giving myself the one present no amount of money could buy. That present was the right to be me.
Now the shrewd amongst you will have noticed that I’ve kinda given my age away in that last paragraph. Well I am 55 tomorrow and believe me this woman is having more fun in my mid fifties than I did in my teens and early twenties. Well it has often been said that a woman is like a good wine she matures with age and I hope I may be proof of that saying.
I make no secret I am enjoying my womanhood, I’ve waited a long time to live my life as my true self so you can be sure I’ll be making the most of every chance I get to be the best I can be. The reason I mention my age is to illustrate that many trans people and particularly trans women wait a long time before finally coming out and that is to a large extent due to the added pressures society puts on us to fit in their nice binary gender norm. Eventually however there comes a point when you realise you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole because try as you might it doesn’t work, it never has and it never will. It is when that realisation finally dawns you know you have to be yourself. You see despite all your protests that this can’t possibly be you deep down you realise that you can’t fight your nature and begin to learn the truth of the old Shakespeare quote which I will paraphrase by saying methinks thou doth protest too much and it finally dawns on you that only one you’re fooling is yourself. You see if there is one thing we are loathe to admit it’s the fact that our real friends know a lot more than we ever give them credit for.
It has to be said that any coming out or transitioning will have risks and you may lose some friends and family along the way. As for my own experience I have been reasonably fortunate and though I have lost contact with a small number of people who for reasons best known to them have been unable to cope with my transition I have actually gained more friends than I’ve lost since making the change. As for which friends will stay with you and who will walk away let’s just say that though I could have called it right about 90 percent of the time there were a few surprises on both sides which are best summed up by these words from one of my favourite songs and that of course is Caledonia. ‘ l lost some friends I needed losing, found others on the way ‘.
So to anyone who is trapped in the cycle of internalised oppression my advice would be simple get yourself down to your local rainbow friendly bar and enjoy yourselves. You never know you might just like it more than you think. Well I’m sure many of you will have heard of the well known rap star Eminem. This was a man whose lyrics to some of his raps were so homophobic that many people including myself called on him to be banned from Britain. That however is in the past and the man who was also known as the real slim shady is out and proud and identifies as a gay man. So if Eminem can come out and be honest with himself believe me anybody can.
So broadly speaking I agree with the findings of the research and I do that to some extent at least those who shout the loudest are more often than not the ones in the largest closets. Now it is true to say that there will be exceptions to the rule, but I have always believed that who protest too much have usually got something to hide.
So you’re still insisting you’re straight are you? if you are then maybe it’s time to go to the mirror and take a long hard look at yourself. I remember the night i did. I knew straight away I was a woman whose time had come. You see I realised that the day I stopped protesting and admitted I was one of the girls I had to tell the world my truth and fly my flag with pride.
Love And Best Wishes