A fter my gender issues complicated my relationships with 'straight-acting' gay men, I had to reconsider my identity - and the centrality of maleness within it. Gradually, I came to define as ' transgender '.
I understood that transgender could include cross-dressers, transvestites, male-to-female MtF and female-to-male FtM transsexuals, and anyone else who considered themselves beyond the traditional gender binary. Having found a suitable term for myself, which allowed space for me to explore my gender, I wanted to find places where I could express myself meet like-minded people. I spent time at Brighton's Harlequin club, but it seemed to be winding down: It was partly replaced by occasional 'tranny' nights, which were always hosted in LGBT venues: Their high-camp playlists and their lip-synching drag acts, who avoided any critique of gender, felt unbearably conservative.
I withdrew from the scene, frustrated. Explaining my identity became ever more laborious: Disillusioned by my failure to fit into the LGBT scene, Transvestites In Brighton from constantly compartmentalising my two personas particularly in a stifling jobI entered counselling. After months of therapy, I stopped seeing myself as divided, considering myself essentially female but continuing to present as male.
My answer to the perennial question of transition often phrased as "Would you go all the way? The expense and effort put me off - not the idea. I'd read plenty of literature that explored sexual and gender difference in an intelligent way. Now I was finding places to meet people who shared my opposition to sex and gender norms. This was the queer scene, welcoming anyone who defined themselves against mainstream LGBT culture - both its clubs and its Transvestites In Brighton obsession with accessing 'straight' society's most conservative institutions.
My engagement with the queer community began at Brighton Pridewhen I joined a protest against the army and the police recruiting there, just a few short years after they lifted their bans on homosexuals. We hijacked the parade, carrying a pink banner "Transvestites In Brighton" "Cunts not cops!
Genetic women dominated the group - and although I was made welcome, sensing none of the historical tension between certain lesbian-feminists and transsexual womenI was the only MtF person there. My friends encouraged me to involve myself more in transgender communities, persuading me to enter Miss Transgender despite my awkwardness about the concept of a pageant. I bought a stunning dress and hit the catwalk. I clammed up on stage particularly when asked which EastEnders character I'd bebut I had fun and I met an amazing range of transgender people, who shared my critical attitude towards conventional LGB and particularly T culture and helped me find vital support networks.
These were the Clare Transvestites In Brightona volunteer-led meeting place and counselling service for people both MtF and FtM considering or undergoing gender reassignment, and the Gender Trust.
Have Your Say forum, organised with local LGBT focus group SpectrumI learned more about the local transgender community, and our place within the city. I understood the need to build bridges with the police, who promised to "Transvestites In Brighton" a transgender liaison officer I don't know what became of thatand realised just how difficult life could be for trans people, particularly transsexuals, who have no option but to be 'out' - especially those whose backgrounds were less privileged than mine.
I was still looking for a trans counter-culture. Understanding just how few transgender people there are, let alone how few are open about their status and want to be involved in a 'scene', I knew this would be tough, but the Transfabulous festival was a revelation. Its performances were thrilling: Happy to delve in and out of this scene, I still felt able to function as male. Finding this scene accepting but rather too masculine for me, I found a local genderqueer scene, as London's Club Wotever moved to the south coast.
There, I met people in transition mostly FtM who shared their journeys with me, explaining how they entered the NHS pathway and the trials of the ' real life experience '. But eventually, the divide between my body and my mind became unbearable. I was no longer able to tolerate being perceived, addressed or Transvestites In Brighton as male and, more crucially, I no longer felt able to function in a male body - my coping strategy no longer worked. Seventeen years after first consciously realising transsexual impulse, the time had come to transition - however much effort and expense it entailed.
The first question was: You are invited to post comments and questions for Juliet below, and are very welcome to share your own experiences. Once her transition was under way, Juliet Jacques set out to make new friends who understood the specific challenges of transsexual life. Gender reassignment can take its toll on the mental health of vulnerable individuals. Juliet Jacques considers her own relationship with depression and anxiety. As Juliet Jacques continues on her journey of gender reassignment, she reaches a stage feared by many: Topics Transgender A transgender journey.
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