Career Tranny?

By 8th March 2016Blog, Featured

This is a term I recently came across when reading another person’s blog. It was said in a derogatory manner and was directed at transsexual women and men who stay in the public eye both during and post transition. That is, those of us who choose not to live in stealth and who tell our stories, either in the written media or, as is becoming more common, on television and radio.

As one of those at whom this term is aimed I feel that I should explain why I remain out in the open and ready to “take the flak”. For me, at least, there are two reasons for doing this.

The first is quite simple: I feel strongly that someone has to stand up for the transgender community and advocate a better understanding from society. I am old enough for it not to be a great issue to me and have, I feel, thick enough skin to take the insults and criticisms that will inevitably come my way. I also feel that I have a good understanding of this condition and the aptitude to express myself such that I can make some difference, no matter how small. In short, I feel I have something to offer.

The second is that it is unlikely I could ever live in stealth, even if I wished I could. I was lucky enough to have the support of my children and, until his death in 2009, my father all of whom supported me through my own transition. It was no easy journey for them either but they stayed the course and my daughters are still here with me now.  My youngest was 11 when I made the decision to transition and told her what was going to happen; it is she who has had the hardest time. Young and adolescent school children don’t hold back when there is an easy route to cause hurt to a peer; she suffered in many ways more than I did. Knowledge of my change is therefore not restricted to a small circle of people. I am well known locally as a transsexual woman and I have no intention of moving just so I can disappear. This is perhaps the downside to a successful and well-supported transition – I could not hide even if I wanted to, without abandoning those I love. The flip side of this is what happens to many others. They are cut off and disowned by their friends and families. They have no option but to start again and can do so in anonymity should they wish – many choose to do just that.

So am I a “career tranny?” No, I am just an individual who is of the opinion that I can make a difference. I believe that in a small way I can make it easier for those who are forced into hiding because of bigotry and misunderstanding in society. It is also a major reason for my change of career late in life and in becoming a therapeutic counsellor. Of course, there are also others who choose to live stealth because it is simply what they wish to do and I salute them for their own strength of character. The person who made that accusation about ‘career trannies’ should be glad that there are people, like me, who are prepared to take the flak which enables them to disappear and live in stealth. They can hide, with the knowledge that someone else is out there trying to educate and inform the society from which they are hiding.

Nowadays there are significantly more young transsexuals openly undergoing transition than for example 40 years ago. They are learning to live their lives in a society which still does not understand the condition of Gender Dysphoria, that they are dealing with, but is becoming more tolerant, in many countries at least, and therefore slowly accepting.  They are young and have a whole life in front of them, when they can live as the women (or men) they should have been from birth. Younger transitioners generally have no children and are thus less restricted in their quest for a new life. Their circle of friends and acquaintances, thanks to modern social networking, is likely to be large and their identity is thus more widely-known; it is also far more likely to be a supportive and loving network. They can also choose to ‘disappear’ and cut all ties to their past, many do so and lead successful lives in their acquired gender without their new circle of friends and acquaintances being aware of the past identity; young transitioners are far more able to blend seamlessly into society than late transitioners such as myself.

The parents of young transitioners are usually better-informed and more supportive than could have been expected 40 years ago, when I was learning to grow up with this condition, largely due to the internet and better understanding within the medical profession. The younger members of the transgender community have the right to live in peace and to lead their life as normal members of society. It is we “career trannies” who will, in part, enable them to do so, just as those who went before us opened the eyes of society to this unfortunate condition by being pioneers in their own way.

I can’t deny that I dislike the term, but if my willingness to be open about my history can help others to deal with their own Gender Dysphoria, or that of a close relative or friend, then I am happy to be counted as a ‘career tranny’.