NEVER BLEND IN – Lose the Label if it’s Limiting YOU – Part Four of a Series by D.C Vickers.
Read the first 3 parts of this candid testimony first:
Read Part One here:
Read Part Three here:
I met, and married my first wife whilst working for the Civil Aviation Authority, who at the time had a base at Bletchley Park (famous, of course, for its code-breaking activities during the Second World War).
I eventually summoned up the courage to tell her about ‘the other me’, which didn’t go well… we were about to get married and I can still her shouting that the wedding “had all been paid for by her parents, so we were going through with it”. With such an auspicious start to married life, it was never going to end well. And so it was… not long after the birth of our daughter, we split up with her citing me wanting to be a woman as the reason and me citing her infidelity with a guy that I shared an office with as a reason. We went our separate ways for a while, then got back together to see if we could make it work… we couldn’t. At the this time we were living in Melton Mowbray, and it was farcical. The guy that she had been having an affair with would come and stay, and I’d have to go away for a day or so. In the end, I found a flat in Leicester but the timings didn’t work out quite right and I had to live in a tent for a week whilst she and her bloke remained in the house. I was working too, so trying to maintain some semblance of normality at work without looking completely dishevelled as I’d taken that days clothes out of the bag in the tent was, well, taxing.
I rented an apartment in the centre of Leicester and this really gave me the chance to work out what I was, and what I was going to do. I spent the vast majority of my time (outside of work) as Danielle but I knew I wanted more; I needed to live fully as a woman. A few things happened which scuppered the whole thing – firstly, I went to the doctors and ended up with an appointment at the local Gender Identity Clinic, then I came out to a friend at work (she was brilliant about it) and then I visited HR to have the chat about potentially starting work as a woman. So far, so good, and 2000 was shaping up to be a life-changing year. Then one day in Leicester it was market day and I decided to stroll around – that day set me back years. It all started as I walked up the main street and some youths on bikes came past, stopped and then came back shouting and hurling abuse, which in turn meant that everyone else turned around to see what the commotion was about; remembering my days from Swaffham, I kept on walking and said nothing, even though I wanted to burst into tears. Finally, they got bored and cycled off and I was left, still shaking, to walk around amongst the small market stalls when I saw out of the corner of my eyes a couple of stallholders pointing at me, nudging each other and clearly finding me very amusing.
Needless to say I wasn’t so amused and I went back to my flat totally dejected. I’m not sure I can find the words to describe how I felt, but my already thin confidence was completely shot. How could I live as a woman if this was going to be my life, one of perpetual ridicule and animosity? Then, to top it all off, I missed my appointment at the Gender Identity Clinic; it was a genuine mistake (I’d got muddled up with the dates) but it sealed my fate at the time and whilst I continued to dress in private, I couldn’t face going out in public again.
I’d hit my low point.
A Long, Slow Rebuilding Of Confidence
That low point was around 2000 – 2001 and it’s been a rocky ride ever since, but the trend has been upwards all the way. Fifteen years later and I’m out and open about my transgender nature, but rather than just skip through that time in one sentence, let’s take a slightly closer look as it involves my second wife and how we got to where we are now.
By the time I’d hit my late twenties and early thirties I’d already lost count of the number of times that I had told myself “I’m fine with being transgendered – it’s okay. I’ve accepted myself”.
Only I hadn’t. Not really. But I didn’t know that then and it’s only with the wonderful benefit of hindsight that I can realise this now. I mention this because it explains, in part at least, why when I met my current wife I wondered how to broach the subject, and figured that actually I’d let her know that I had worn women’s clothes and that I would still like to occasionally wear ladies underwear now and then.
At the time I was so frightened to lose her, and having gone through a divorce because of my crossdressing, I wasn’t about to got through it all again; but that implies that I planned it, that I made a conscious decision to lie about what I wanted. There was no plan, no attempt to deceive, no conscious attempt to hide it from her… I hadn’t actually accepted myself at all and I was still under the illusion that I could control the crossdressing and the transgender feelings.
As the years went by, my urges got stronger and I ended up getting rid of all my male underwear about 10 years ago. Then I’d buy a skirt, then a top, maybe wear a bra that she was throwing out, and over time I accumulated everything again; all the garments that I purged myself of when in Leicester, I now found myself getting once more. My wife was not happy, this was not what she had bargained for and to her it seemed that I had mislead her on purpose, and that I had not told her the truth. Yet she stayed with me, supported me in various ways, and all the time she hated it. She still does, but stills buys me the odd thing now and again, and we even went out together with me dressed (casually) as a woman to see a film at the local arts centre.
She knows that I want to live as a woman, but doesn’t want to see me transition. I want to transition, although I’m actually quite happy to be “transgender” and I’ll explore this in more detail later.
Although I had come out to various people over the years, about 3 years ago I reached a point where I could no longer live completely as male, and I came out at work. My boss was supportive and I penned an email to send to all the staff explaining that I was transgender and that I may appear at work as a woman called Danielle.
Sending that email was possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. I wondered what would happen, what would my colleagues say, and how I would face these people after that email had been sent. I was shaking and it was an anxious moment when I pressed “SEND”.
Seems I needn’t have worried. I literally spent the next two hours answering the replies to my email, all were supportive and understanding, but a certain realisation dawned on me at that moment. Many of the emails contained personal information about their own families, or their own lives, and I learnt things about people that I never would have found out otherwise – other people were opening up to me, just as I had opened up to them.
I learnt a lot about others from that one email that I had sent out; not in a literal sense (although that was true too), but that by being open and honest, vulnerable and yet somehow courageous, you could connect with others. That was a powerful moment and it’s why I have tried to help others – you know, it’s okay to be you.
Times have changed a lot, even over the last ten years let alone since the early 70’s when I was making my first forays into a world that I knew nothing about, but felt ‘right’.
And so what of being transgender? It means many things to many people, and I don’t try to place a definition on it, yet it is who I am. Perhaps it’s who you are too. Yet I’ve learnt something about myself, for years I read about those ‘passing as a woman’, about ‘being read’, about ‘achieving a feminine voice’, it seemed that if I didn’t want to be a man, then I would have to become a woman. What I have learnt is that I don’t need to become a woman to live as a woman. To me that’s a really important distinction – yes, I would love to transition fully, but I have found a certain peace in myself by presenting as a woman yet not trying to hide that fact that I was born male. I try to look feminine, but that doesn’t mean I have to walk around in a pretty dress to do the shopping – I don’t have to force the “I’m really a woman” issue, I’m quite happy to say “I’m transgender”. I don’t exactly try hard to disguise my male voice, and that’s difficult to do when you’re trying to shout over the noise of a chainsaw when I’m training!
These days I’m happy in my own skin, just being me. Just as much as I love gorgeous frocks, I’m equally happy to be wearing casual women’s clothes, jeans and a top, flat shoes and a bit of make-up. I’m focussing more on living my life as me, and certainly at the moment that’s not quite being either a stereotypical man or woman (whatever they are).
I recently read something on a forum that provides support for transgendered people, it was quite simple yet quite profound… someone who was confused about being transgendered wanted to know how they could tell if they should have been a woman. The response summed up exactly what I felt, and to paraphrase it, “you don’t need to fit into society’s construct of what a man or a woman should be, just ask yourself the question… how do I prefer to present myself?”
I’m me. I’m transgender. And it’s okay to be you too.
But that’s for the next article. If you would like to contact me to discuss anything regarding this series, or about being transgendered, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read Part One here:
Read Part Three here:
National Diversity Award Winner, David E. Watters, is a teacher, motivational speaker and writer; a passionate equality advocate, committed to enhancing the lives of young people and adults who may feel marginalised or limited by labels.
As a teacher, he is committed to developing the whole person through creatively challenging students to embrace their unique value, and that of others, to encourage them to fulfill their full potential. He was nominated for an Excellence in Diversity Award 2015, for his contribution to enhancing the diversity agenda within education and for two European Diversity Awards because of his work with the Give ’em Hope Campaign.
As Director of NBI Associates, David devises and delivers engaging, enjoyable and interactive Diversity and Cultural Enhancement workshops utilizing Cognitive Behavioural and Performing Arts strategies for individual, corporate and academic clients.
Watters is also the founder and coordinator of the inclusive, inspirational and international Give ‘em Hope Campaign; an online initiative which utilises all available social networks to encourage and uplift those who doubt their validity, feel isolated or limited by labels, through the sharing of written and video testimonies. The campaign was honoured at the National Diversity Awards 2014 when it won the Community Organisation Award (Multi-Strand).
Watters was a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK; taking the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 and successfully achieving Marriage Equality for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.
His passion and expertise has brought many opportunities to write and speak on social change and his book, NEVER BLEND IN, brings together this wealth of experience and the voices of those whom he has met along the way.
BOOK WEBPAGE: https://www.facebook.com/groups/106980051654/
GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN PLAYLIST: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2D507F373FE6BC7D
GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN GROUP (or FAMILY as we call it): https://www.facebook.com/groups/GiveEmHope/
GIVE ‘EM HOPE PAGE (Come and LIKE us for news and Inspiration): https://www.facebook.com/GIVEemHOPE/