Always feeling different

Always feeling different

I knew I liked girls when I was probably six or seven years old, though I didn’t know why I was feeling that way. When I was about 18 or 19 I decided I was gay – it was all I knew at the time. I didn’t have an understanding of what transgender or transsexual was.

I was always attracted to straight women and I couldn’t understand what that was about. It worked for me at that time though, so I was happy with that.

It was hard to have long-term relationships with straight women, because they would always go back to men. So when I was 30 I decided I would be interested in lesbians. But when I started going out in the gay community I felt different. It was hard for me to come across anyone I found attractive.

I used to have a strong reaction to bridge women, so I would engage them in conversation. I was really surprised to hear that they didn’t feel like men – they dressed like men, but that was about presentation. They didn’t want to be labelled in a particular way.

I was studying counselling at that time and learning about gender issues. I hadn’t had much exposure to it, and I found that lesbians weren’t very open in talking to me about it. There is still so much confusion around the issue.

I then started dating feminine lesbian women and there were also some issues there. Every now and then I found them to be a bit masculine and that made me uncomfortable at times.

But for the last two years I have been with a partner who has a lot of knowledge on the subject. She helped me to understand that I was transgender.

I don’t want to change my sex and I don’t want to become a man. I am happy this way and I am not going to go there. That is where a lot of the confusion and misunderstanding comes from.

Most of the other women I have met who are in a similar position will have the operation and change their sex, so I do feel quite alone. I am sure there are others out there, but I haven’t met them.

I am now beginning to understand why, when I go out on the scene, I am not attracted to lesbians. However, I sometimes find feminine lesbians attractive.

I now formally identify as transgender. I don’t specifically dress like a man or wear men’s clothes. Maybe if I was a man I would be happy to wear men’s clothes, but I am comfortable with the identity I have got.

I wear women’s clothes, but I wear pants and a shirt that are not of a feminine presentation.

People would not know I am transgender by looking at me – they usually see me as a tomboy. Straight women are often attracted to me though. I don’t know whether it is for fun or because they are attracted to a male energy.

If people ask how I identify, I will often say I am gay. But I will say I am transgender if I am talking to someone who has an understanding of gender issues.

In my experience, the straight community has been more willing to understand it. When I talk to lesbians there has sometimes been a negative reaction. A few women I have spoken to when I go out on the scene just look at me in a really confused way. I have definitely found that within the lesbian community there is a lack of knowledge.

* Not her real name.

As told to Cara Davis

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