We wanted to do a couple of blog posts to help people understand more about the ‘T’s’ amongst our LGBTQ community. Especially with this subject being the hot topic of conversation in the Guernsey at the moment.
We wanted to put some ‘voices and faces’ to the Trans community of the Channel Islands, along with giving some facts about gender dysphoria. We hope to dispel some myths, break down some barriers and create a better understanding of this very misunderstood condition and the effect it has on peoples lives.
We are lucky to have two local Trans ladies involved in Liberate, Sarah from Jersey and Rachel from Guernsey. Our first blog is about Sarah who appeared in the Channel 4’s ground-breaking program My Transsexual Summer.
Channel 4 followed seven transgender men and women as they came together to share their intimate and on-going experiences of changing gender.
My Transsexual Summer tells the story of seven bright, funny and articulate individuals, who are undertaking some of the most profound changes any human being can go through. The program gives uniquely personal insights into what it’s like to change gender in Britain in 2011.
Sarah’s experience on the show changed her life. “I had arrived in the UK less than four weeks before my first time at the My Transsexual Summer retreat. I had come from the tiny island of Jersey and moved to Swansea, of all places.
The last of my male clothes were still stuffed in the boot of my car, but I was presenting to the world as Sarah every day. I knew less than five people in the whole country and had only met another trans person on one occasion in the past.
I had just started my new life as female and every day had a new challenge, and every day brought up new obstacles that I had never come across before.
The first day of the retreat was a mass of big challenges for me. The first of which was that I had to meet a group of strangers – I’d spent the last year of my life avoiding exactly those kind of situations. For the last year or so I’d felt so frustrated, trapped and depressed by being in a male body that I hid myself away from almost everyone.
It seemed that I’d lost the ability to interact with people, and now I was faced with six strangers – trans folk all way further down the road of transition than me. Daunting was not the word…
That first weekend changed my life forever. The seemingly simple things about the people I met will always stay with me; Donna’s confidence, Drew’s kindness, Max’s self awareness, Fox with his calm determination and Karen with her elegance and story which just blew me away.
The one thing that changed me the most that weekend was the way Donna and Drew took me under their wings and helped me with my makeup and wig. I hadn’t noticed just how bad they looked, they just drew attention to me instead of blending in. I was just making it all up as I went along, overwhelmed by the enormity of completely changing everything about my masculine life into some semblance of femininity.
I left the retreat with a different outlook on life, I could feel my confidence growing, slowly. I was starting to feel like I could be happy.”
The help, advise and support Sarah received from everyone she met on My Transsexual Summer gave her the confidence she needed to live her life the way she wants.
“Coming out to my mum was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I genuinely thought there was a big chance it would be the last I ever saw of her.
There have been three or four times in the past when I tried to tell my mum. Sitting at the harbour cafe back in Jersey over a bacon roll and a cup of tea. Standing in her new kitchen eating cup cakes (not every attempt involved food!). Each time the words formed inside me but they could not escape my throat. I kind of had an idea of what I wanted to say but nothing ever came out. This time was different though, with the advice and support that I got from my new friends and, in particular, Drew’s mum, I no longer felt alone.
The fear I felt waking up that morning was indescribable. I couldn’t sleep much the night before and my hands were visibly shaking as I drove to pick her up. I had rehearsed what I wanted to say, how to present the news and prepared myself for whatever reaction she might have.
I was absolutely blown away by her reaction! I had prepared for rejection and shouting… What I had was my wonderful mum asking questions, making sure I knew what I was doing, and trying to understand the journey I was starting.
So many trans people out there do not have this reaction from their parents, I was so lucky to have such an accepting reaction from my mum. It was the best I could hope for.
The biggest lesson I took from the whole experience and one phrase that I kept repeating to myself was: ‘use your allies’! Reach out and speak to people that can help you. Speaking to the others in the group and hearing their experiences of coming out really helped me prepare. Speaking to Drew’s mum and learning that there are parents out there that accept their children no matter what gender they are gave me hope for what may become of mine.”
If you are in the UK you can watch My Transsexual Summer on 4oD by clicking on the image below.