A remarkable interview with a Gender fluid, Transgender (Male to Female), Intersex XX (primarily female with a few male characteristics) and Asexual

dunedin3.jpg

How old are you now?

46 in physical years old, 10 years living full time female

Where did you grow up?

Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand

Many of the readers won’t know the area you were born in so could you describe it, especially the attitudes towards LGBT, if any

Dunedin is an interesting place to visit, some call it the Edinburgh of the south. It is a lot different today compared to when I grew up. Beaches, flat and hill suburbs with a wide range of people from different back grounds. I think today it is more LGBT+ friendly than it used to be. In the 1980’s most LGBT+ Venues were in somewhat of an underground mode, word of mouth was the way to find out where they were.

How do you identify yourself sexuality or otherwise?

Gender fluid, Transgender (Male to Female), Intersex XX (primarily female with a few male characteristics) and Asexual

When did you first discover about yourself?

I knew at a young age that I was different, but did not know the words Transgender and Gender fluid back then. Hard to put an exact age on it, my best guess at when, somewhere between 2 and 4 years old, well before primary school.

Tell us a little about your early adult life?

Too painful to relive in detail. Suffice to say, I was stuck in the closet until I moved city to where I live now.

vicki 2Who did you tell first, and how did they react?

Who did you tell first, and how did they react?

One of my high school friends, who was out as Gay. I learned a lot from him. He was very accepting of me and introduced me to some of the local venues ( bars and two night clubs). That was in the late 1980’s while I was still a student at Otago Polytechnic, studying Business Computing. At that point in time, the Homosexual Law reform had gone though, but most venues were still in what you might call “Underground mode”, somewhat word of mouth, with the exception of one night club, which was openly LGBT, but open to all. My sister who I was flatting with during my Tertiary days had an some idea that I could be gay, she was a bit surprised when I changed from Gay to Asexual and then later Transgender. I wonder if she ever picked up on my Lesbian side.

The first person I told that I am Transgender to is a now ex Girlfriend. She was very supportive and I learned a lot of skills from her, the kind of things that mothers teach daughters, make up, hair styling, dressing, walking in heals, in a sense “how to pass”. She gave me the confidence to go out in public with her, dressed female. Part of me will always love her for that.

What was the reaction from your family?

Even now, some of the family are still adapting to me living female, while others are happy for me to be me. The first Christmas I wanted to dress as true me(female), I was told to get changed into male wardrobe or no dinner. If there had been somewhere open to go else where, I would have, so I put a male layer over what I had chosen to wear, had dinner and relocated to my accepting brothers house for the remainder of that trip of visiting my family. Upon arriving at my brothers house, I removed the male layer & redid my make up, I was upset, dysphoric and if I had not been so strong, I might not be here today to be doing this interview. Part of me was also quite annoyed at my families inability to grasp this simple truth;” I am me regardless of what I am wearing”.

How did you deal with it?

I drew a line and said this is me, I am still me no matter how my body, orientation or wardrobe changes.

What about work, were they OK, are they aware about the situation?

One employer knew I crossed dressed, and had no issue with it. Another employer called me gay, but also had no issue with it. At a hotel where I became bar Manager for a while, they were phobic and less than politely got rid of me for want of better words. My stock takes were too accurate and showed up “skimming” by other staff members.

So what’s the next step for the future?

At this point, legal name change and reassignment of gender on my birth certificate. I am at my best living female, My fluidity currently means I have “Butch” and “Fem” days, but still identify as being female. After the legal things have been done and I update all my documentation (Drivers license, Lease, bank accounts, Utilities and so on), I will then return to work search. I have tried applying for work before all the legal framework is in place and the results were disappointing, My Identification was deemed not to match who I am. I intend to reapply with the new documentation. My birth name is too dysphoric to be addressed as all week long at work by customers and fellow staff members. It took 9 years and several previous “test driven” names to find a name that felt like a good fit. “Vicki” is who I am today and in the future, I have no doubt of that. My original birth name <Dead Name> has but one use as a “Middle Name”, to avoid the cost of reprinting all my qualifications and getting all my references rewritten in my new name.

What about when people don’t know how to react or speak to you, how do you deal with that?

Somewhere along the line I lost count of how many times people asked “what are you?” My answers have included “offended at the question”, ” a human being” , “female if you are asking how I identify”, “LAFT” (Gender fluid Transitioning Asexual Lesbian) and from time to time “what are you?” as an answer when experiencing dysphoria.

vicki 1.jpgDo you think talking about it in general helps others became more aware, and do you think being visual about yourself actually helps or educates anyone out there?

Do you think talking about it in general helps others became more aware, and do you think being visual about yourself actually helps or educates anyone out there?

Yes, talking about my experience and transitional path helps others to understand what have been though. I try to concentrate on the positive side, but I can say that it is not always “plain sailing”. By being my true self in public, I feel somewhat like an ambassador, Showing the positive side of being diverse. Last year I helped with many street appeals including the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation and other voluntary work, being the positive face that shows I care about all people equally I also sent submissions to a few Parliamentary Select Committees on various Law Changes in progress, including the Equal Pay Act Amendment Bill. From what I post online in various locations, I hope other people beginning their path can learn from my experience.

Due to the accusations of gay men being transphobic recently, do you have any issues with gay men’s attitudes towards your sexuality and gender?

From my first impressions of the question, I am surprised that it is not pre op trans men that complaining.While over the years I have observed transphobia in many forms; more recently, it is the issue of deadnaming (refering to birth name rather than name that I live as) and used and birth assigned pronouns that comes to mind. Having said that, this is not necessarily transphobia as much as that they met me when I lived male and are still adapting to my name and pronoun change. In order to try to avoid making similar errors in pronouns, unless told other wise, I use other peoples pronouns that they have told me to use, or for a stranger, gender neutral pronouns and best match their gender to how they are presented.

I always like to ask a topical question, what are your thoughts on the political climate in regards to lgbt and the right wing in your country right now?

Life is getting Better Together here, Gender Diverse was added last year to the department of statistics official figures.

Any last thoughts

There is a lot more that I could say about my life. In the last year or so I have done a lot of voluntary work in the form of street appeals, condom packing, Marshal for the Pink star walk, Mock Juror for the New Zealand Law Society and so on. Yes an asexual person helping with condom packing.. not as weird as it sounds; while sex might not be my thing because of the nasty experience I mentioned at the beginning, for those who enjoy it, I have one message for you, “love safely, diseases don’t discrimate”. Thank you for this opportunity to share with you, my inside view of my life.

What is it like to be gender fluid?

vicki 4Ever wondered what is like to be gender fluid? Lets start with a simple definition: Orientation and / or Gender changes over time. 

For me this path began long ago. My parents way back when assumed me to be straight. Over the years they have since learned that was not correct. Though the early years of my life, I created an illusion of being a straight male, while knowing deep inside me that I was meant to be female. Back in the early 1970’s not many people talked about Non Binary Orientations such as Transgender, Gay Lesbian Bisexual and so on in the household I grew up in.

image

Somewhere along the line, a lesbian couple bought and moved into a house up the street from where I lived. When people talked about them, it was with homophobic tones and derogatory terms; so at a young age, I learned that anything outside of the binary norm was somehow considered “wrong” for want of better words. Back then I couldn’t understand why, they were friendly people, who unlike some other neighbours, didn’t throw wild, loud parties most weekends.

vicki 1At my primary school, I was frequently labelled a girl; Ironic really as that was who I was inside, even then. Later I was labelled as gay, queer and other phobic terms by other kids at school; something that would follow me right though to the end of my 7th form (UE) as it was known back then. There were rumors at high school about the gender of some of the teachers, ranging from Gay to Bisexual to Lesbian. In hind sight, one or 2 of my teachers were probably Intersex as well.

As the years rolled on by, the gender of people that I was attracted to started changing. Inside my self, I still yearned to be female, but had no idea how to explain that to my family, or doctors and so on without ending up in some sort of institution; so I remained repressed and silent about who I felt I was.

In the early 1990s, I was diagnosed as having depression, hardly surprising given that I had been repressing my true self for so long. Looking back, my Depression was a symptom of the need to transition. After I moved city, I came out as gay, although my parents tried to tell me I was Bisexual. While the Homosexual law reform was passed in 1986, there was still a lot of stigma and homophobia around in 1991. Even up here in the city where I live, which was socially about 5-10 years ahead of my birth town as I call it; within the LGBT community there was a lot of infighting between genders. This also lead me to hold of my transition even longer.vicki 5

While I made friends with some cross dressers and transgender people, some were more accepting than others. Some of those friends went on to transition before I did, others reverted to dressing male full time. All during this time, I managed to remain friends with people from different genders and back grounds. This gave me hope that one day we would all be united in equality and recognised rights and learn to accept this simple fact; we are all human and all have our own unique qualities.

Over the years I dated a mix of people from different genders trying to find my ideal match of someone who would accept me as being me. 10 and bit years ago, I started the first steps towards my transition, Cross dressing firstly just behind the scenes, then later as my confidence grew, out in public. I began to live “out” full time, each day feeling more comfortable dressed “female” rather than “male” / gender neutral, learning the important things like walking in heels to how to apply make up and so on. I started to “test drive” names that felt like a good fit as to who I am. After 9 years and many names, I decided to test drive the name “Vicki”, the name I use today. I had finally found a name that was a good fit.


After a nasty experience, I became asexual overnight, and still am to this day to a large degree. My fluidity to this day means that some days I am more “fem” for want of better words than others. 

After extensive research including side effects and asking my doctor about being put into the Hormone Replacement therapy program, I was referred me for an assessment, prior to starting hormone replacement therapy. At the initial Specialist appointment, My first prescription was written. The day started the treatment, I felt like I was one giant step closer to true me. Several months later, after blood tests, the specialist adjusted the prescription levels.


Over the last 10 years I have gradually introduced “Vicki” to friends and family. Those who have known me longest are finding it hardest to cope with, while new friends are more readily accepting as that is the only way they have known me.


Now I am at the point of legal name change and reassignment of gender to female, from my birth assigned gender; Its a big step; the loss of “male privilege” means statistically, any future job is likely to have a lower hourly rate, than if I had remained male. I think the price is worth it to be addressed as I identify, along with the pronouns They, Her, She and Miss; ideally my gender shouldn’t effect my hourly rate; within my life time I hope that will be true for all people of any gender.

I have left a bit out of the above, The battles with Gender and body dysphoria, The unpleasant parts of being out which are being dead named, or addressed by birth pronouns, rather than how you identify and so on. Those readers who are Transgender will know what it is like, for everyone else, imagine being addressed as your opposite gender, eg Tom being called Jane and those are just random names to show you what it is like. That is a form of bullying and can significantly affect a persons well being if addressed by it many times a day, all week long.

 

Since Vicki wrote this article for Pride matters she finally got her name and gender changed legally May 26th 2016 as the effective date.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑