Friday, February 22, 2013

Transition in the Town that likes Alice

Someone asked me recently, why am I so public, honest and open in my blog? Why so outspoken in my music? with my opinions about Trans issues? The subtext was 'you pass, you're a woman (or almost), you can just melt into the background. Why place your head above the parapet, why make yourself so vulnerable? It deserved an answer and here it is.

Life is full of journeys. Over the last eight years there has been one recurring one; traveling to the Gender Identity Clinic in London. Invariably those journeys start for me at the main station in Llandudno. Opposite the station entrance stands a statue of Alice. I should explain here that Llandudno is Alice in Wonderland Central; from the White Rabbit in North Western Gardens to the Mad Hatter on the seafront, statues abound. Alice Liddell, on who the character is based, holidayed here as a child. In the book, Alice's adventures are so full of symbolism and recurrent motifs; riddles that defy logic, frustration, subversion, body parts that are all wrong and experiences that defy any attempt to understand them. Welcome to my life.

I can easily identify with a girl who found her body changing in ways that were far from comfortable. I have only to think of my first puberty to give a shudder of horror. Watching the effects and ravages of male hormones on my childhood body was like being taken over by an alien or watching a car crash in ultra slow motion. Now I'm trying to put it all right. If only transition had been as simple as taking a potion marked 'Drink Me!' But it wasn't. Even for Alice, changes had unforeseen consequences. I can't see into the future but I'm all too aware that the change from one gender to another is so much more than rearranging anatomy. Changing gender is about changing how others see you; showing them that the image they received was a distorted picture, like an old fashioned TV set with an inadequate aerial.

Doing all that isn't easy. Like Alice, if what we see or experience doesn't fit, we freak out or search for ways to resolve the puzzle. In a world unkindly constructed around gender stereotypes Trans people present an anomaly. You are neither one thing or another. As a teen, I rashly chose to beat a path down the middle. It was brave and exposed, like walking along the top of a wall instead of choosing to walk alongside. One side, the boy's one, had to be a complete no no. The girl's side seemed totally unattainable. I took inspiration from 'Rebel Rebel'

'you've got your Mother in a whirl, she doesn't know if you're a boy or a girl...'

Hair, clothes, colors and mannerisms were all chosen to foster ambiguity but it was the Glam era and nobody was fooled. I was still seen as a boy, just a weird one. Ironically it wasn't what I wanted, more what I could get. Though I blended right in with all the other music weirdos I would have given anything to be just clocked as a regular preppy girl like others at school and passed by as one of the crowd. I'm aware, as I've met other Trans men and women that there are those who make a go of being a third sex. I came to accept that it just isn't me. I gave up trying to walk the wall.

When I began my transition eight years ago I still wanted to melt into the background. That is so difficult when you are starting out; there is hair in places you don't want, body parts that don't fit. The 'wrong' mannerisms, voice and just about everything, give you away as a 'boy in a dress'. In time, voices change as do mannerisms, modes of speech and more important, your hair. These days I have no difficulty passing. I walk comfortably on one side of the wall and people pay no mind. I'm accepted as a woman, people are kind to me, I can live life as me. Like Alice, I've finally gotten into the garden and the changes along the way have been every bit as momentous. The trouble is, that like Alice, once in that longed for garden, I'm even more aware of of the absurdities and injustices that surround me, not only against 'girls like us' but women in general. They're cruel, unfair and they don't make sense. As time has passed I've seen others become the subject of hatred, abuse and ridicule and lately I've gotten back up on the wall and taken a look around. What I see isn't pretty; it looks an awful lot like the stuff I put up with for so long. These are my friends getting hurt and I don't bail on my friends.

So on Twitter and Facebook recently, I felt compelled to post: "If you're chained in love, trapped in a one sided relationship, abused, taken advantage of & Trans, I'm here writing and singing FOR YOU :)" It may seem like dashing back into a burning building but I feel that I have to write, sing and be public about who I am and what I've battled through in the struggle to be me. I owe it to those who aren't so lucky, who need inspiration and support. This is my contribution, small as it is.

Hugs, Jane xox


  1. The more we are seen out and about the better it will be for future generations...

  2. Absolutely Caroline, I so agree. There's been a slow and gradual realisation that maybe people need to know I'm Trans. It felt strange, because almost my whole life I've wanted to melt into the background. Having achieved that I realise that it ironically it doesn't help anyone...when Trans men and women are accepted, welcomed and valued, 'passing' might seem less relevant. My lesbian friends don't try to pass as straight....why should I masquerade as cis?

    Hugs, Jane x

  3. Jane, first of all, the writing and flow of thought in this piece is magnificent - just an absolute pleasure to read, and I'm hoping, in the not too distant future, you will spread this work from cover to cover in a full-length volume... In all of our lives, being true to one's self, is not a snap your fingers and it comes about deal. Perhaps there are those who know who they are from the get-go. Others choose to live behind a veil... Some people are cast into circumstances that are beyond their control, like yourself. Much to your credit, you have chosen to embrace your circumstances and give voice to it. It's brave thing to do, and it is an inspiration to all those who must circumnavigate this place called Earth.

    1. Monkkey, thank you for your comment. I deeply appreciate it. Coming from someone who writes as well as you do I have the greatest respect for your observations, they're so affirming. Being brave and open about my journey and what it has taught me is very liberating but hopefully also of inspiration and benefit to others. We are all individuals on this journey. Everybody has their own unique take on things. Yet what I have learned (particularly from you) is that some of that is transferable to others. There are thousands of common threads and patterns in all our lives. With each new insight from my friends I begin to see their shape more clearly. The best that I can hope is that I can do the same for you and for everyone else. :)

      Hugs, Jane xox