What it means to be transgendered
I first came across this concept when I saw pictures of Tula (Caroline Cossey) in one of the tabloids.
Seeing her, I couldn't believe that she hadn't been a she from the very beginning and that was my first mistake. In fact, it's the mistake many make.
Tula's story is one that for a while was very highly publicised, not the least of the reasons was that she was a Bond girl. I don't think the studio that was producing For Your Eyes Only even knew that the stunning girl in the swimsuit used to be a man.
She appeared in Payboy in 1981 and was outed in 1982, which basically stopped her modelling career in its tracks.
Growing up in Norfolk, England, the then Barry knew there was something wrong with his life and having been bullied and picked on at school, he left home to become Caroline.
I can remember his article in the Sun newspaper (if 'newspaper' is an accurate term) where Caroline stated that she'd tried going down the gay route, but it just didn't work.
I couldn't understand the mentality back then. I thought that Barry was a bloke who liked blokes. How gay do you want to be?
In fact it took thirty years before I actually started to get it and understand what it meant to be transgendered.
When I said it was my mistake, thinking that she had always been a she, she had - just in the wrong body. It's a bit like making tea in the wrong cup. It's still tea, but it should have been in a china cup, not a mug.
My friend, Rachel
She was the one who really opened my eyes to what it was to be transgendered.
We met at work and I knew instantly what she was. Frankly, I didn't know what to say, but she took the need for me to even think about it out of the equation and did most of the talking.
I would say that at that time, it was pretty obvious that what I was looking at was a bloke who was trying to be a woman, but over the years I saw her blossom and now you'd never know any of what I saw ever happened.
True, it wasn't cheap and there was a list of ops and procedures she went through that probably cost a fortune. I know the dental veneers weren't free for a start.
But this was her dream and as we got to know one another, I asked questions and she answered them. There was no embarrassment, I mean I was truly intrigued by what happened to her both physically and mentally.
I'll admit, the people at work thought there was more to our friendship than just being friends, but not only did I not care, but nor did my better half, Penny - who interestingly also worked for the same company.
Right mind, wrong body
Let's get this straight here and now. Someone who's transgendered is literally the right mind in the wrong body.
I have heard no end of stories about people who have tried to suppress the need to be the person they are on the inside - outside too and have come to grief as a result, many not surviving. Some get over it by being 'themselves' on a part-time basis, but that's usually because work or family commitments don't allow for anything else. It's not unusual however, for part-timers to become full-timers eventually, but it's often not until they've exhausted all other possibilities.
Some M2F cross-dressers (otherwise referred to as TV's - transvestites) most of the time, have no intention of becoming women on a full-time basis. Those who practice cross-dressing are more often than not viewed by Joe public with even less regard than transsexuals. They see TV's or CD's as really perverted. They are not to know that there is a chasm between cross-dressers and Transsexuals and to them, they just lump everyone in together like they have by lumping the transgendered in with the gays, lesbians and bisexuals, when in fact, more often than not, they are not gay at all - even partially. What's worse is that the gays, lesbians and bisexuals aren't altogether happy with the idea of sharing their movement with the transgendered either.
It's probably difficult to understand if you don't have those same feelings or needs - even worse if you're religious. I know only too well what they think about the whole TG thing. They think it's something that can be cured. A few pills, maybe a mains electricity cable to the temples and presto!
After all, God doesn't make mistakes.
I beg to differ and not because I'm not a religious person, but because we're talking biology here, which it's patently obvious, is not infallible. We're talking about how the body and mind don't always match and how we really are more than the sum of our parts. It appears that while someone may well be male on the outside, they are not necessarily male on the inside too - or vice versa.
This is not something that can be cured by any means other than by changing the body to fit the mind. Changing the mind to fit the body doesn't work. They've tried that and failed miserably. So the only way to change what the mind needs to be wrapped in is to change the body.
Thus was the case with Rachel.
She gave up her family and her children, taking more crap at work and elsewhere for doing what she did than most people could take in a lifetime. In the end though, she made it; coming out the other end stronger and more at peace with herself and everyone else than she ever had been before.
Rock-on I say.
Living with transgender issues
When it comes to being transgendered, I'm the last person who can tell you what it's like because I cannot recount from first-hand experience. I can only tell you what I have been told; what I have seen for myself and believe me, seeing what Rachel went through and hearing her story was a real eye-opener.
I saw the way she was treated at work by people she was supposed to be able to trust; supposed to respect and that had to be difficult when they were sniggering behind her back, pointing fingers and making snide comments.
It's this that is the sad face of what we describe as civilisation.
How civilised is it to mock, ridicule and generally make miserable the life of someone who through no fault of their own has found themselves out of kilter with what they were supposed to have been all along?
How deep does this go and how far will they go?
This isn't idle curiosity, it's a deep-seated need to be the opposite of what the physical gender suggests. This doesn't make them gay or lesbian either, although many less financially fortunate than Rachel have had to go down the path of offering sex for money in order to fund the process of the change, which for may male to female transsexuals is the only way it will happen, .
Some men are so visually masculine, it's hard to understand how they could possibly want to go down a path that's possibly going to cause issues down the line. Sometimes it's difficult to hide the fact that the woman before them used to be a man. Similarly, some women who are transgendered are so obviously feminine that it's difficult even after all the surgery and hormones to disguise that fact.
This is just testament to how strongly this can affect someone. It's not all about coming out the other end looking like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie - which I'm sure some wish would happen, but just to feel and be right - however that appears to others.
Like I said earlier in this hub, others with malfunctions in their physical makeup are treated with so much more respect and compassion than the transgendered who are seen by so many as substandard or worse - perverted.
It's not a perversion; not a choice either.
It's just nature.
Sometimes people are born with things wrong with them - which is exactly what happens here. They are perfect but for the fact that the brain is one sex and the body is another, why shouldn't they be allowed to fix it without being ridiculed or persecuted? Some things don't grow quite the way they should and often there's no rhyme or reason for it; that's just the way it is. That shouldn't preclude them from being able to make it right.
In God's name?
They deserve respect, but instead, many inflict pain, mental anguish and even death upon them, sometimes with religious conviction.
I was told by a friend of their cousin who was beaten almost to death for being a transsexual. She was told during the beating that she was an abomination, that God wanted them to do what they were doing. What's worse was that while the boys beat and kicked at my friend's cousin, their girlfriends videoed the proceedings with their phones - a mistake they later regretted as it formed a pretty much open and shut case for the prosecution. Not that it made the girl concerned feel any better as she recovered from her ordeal.
Would you beat someone who suffered from polio or cancer? Would you ridicule someone with no legs?
No. I don't suppose you would.
Is it any wonder then why some can't cope with the idea of being transgendered?
You can't help the cards your dealt with, but in some games you're allowed to change them, make a better fist of what you have and I say full power to the courage and tenacity of those who go through with SRS.
It's not an easy journey and I think if we are to call ourselves civilised, we owe it to treat those who have to tread the path of transsexualism with a little more respect, compassion and understanding.
I'd like to say a little thank you here, to all those who have made this hub possible. All those at BC and especially to Rachel, for without her story, I'd never have started writing in the first place.