What It Feels Like For A Girl

I was born in the wrong body.

This is my earliest memory.

I lived with all the wrong people.

This is a close second.


When Doctor Who came along in 1963 I was four years old and knew both those things to be true.

I wished I was his granddaughter and he’d whisk me away, not to go fight monsters but to get as far away a possible from the horror of home, a home full of abuse, physical, mental, sexual.


Fortunately The Beatles came along. 

They were like beautiful creatures from another planet and for the next few years saved me.

The abuse didn’t stop but they were always there, smiling, shaking their mop tops, twanging their guitars, being sane.


Eventually though they had to go but joy of joys along came Marc Bolan.

Suddenly boys wore girls clothes and make-up, and I embraced it.

My father had other ideas.

One day I came home from school to find he’d covered up the pictures of Marc that adorned my walls with heterosexual soft core porn.

I was 12.


For four long miserable years I endured hell on earth, not helped at all by the likes of Gary Glitter and Jonathan King, though fortunately Jim didn’t get to Fix It for me in his own special way.


At 16, with all the hutzpah I could muster, I reinvented myself as a would be pop star and blasted my way out of there as far as possible.

After a bumpy ride I landed in The Passions, fell in love with a German Film Star, and started on the path to discovery.

It took another 34 years till I saw the signpost and took the right fork.


In July 2009 I was living in New York City.

I called Callen-Lorde, the LGBT clinic in the West Village of Manhattan and booked an appointment to talk about becoming a woman.

They said sure, October.


I wondered why it would take so long.

Were there really that many big girls blouses out there?


Making that initial call was euphoric.

Something that had been on my mind my whole life, that I had pushed back and back and back was now out in the open, and I had at last taken the first step in making what I had dreamed about become reality.

I figured they’d given me a three month cooling down period, and that if I was serious I would wait.


October came around and I was a bag of nerves.

Although for the past year I had been living as a woman it had been in private.

Now there I was in a dress and make-up opening the door to a new life.


I went to the receptionist and barely able to speak conveyed that I was there for gender reassignment.

No one turned to me, pointed and laughed.

No one screamed I was sick.

No one tried to pummel me to the ground.

Instead very matter of fact she gave me a few forms to fill out and sent me forth to the fourth floor.


Coming out of the elevator I expected to find myself surrounded by a gaggle of overly made-up men in twin sets and pearls sitting pinched but no, it was a waiting room like another, just a few ordinary people peering into their devices.

No-one looked up when I entered.


I was taken to a nurse to get my blood tested.

Then, after all those years of inner turmoil, there right in front of me was The Doctor who was about to change my life.


He was gentle, kind, open, warm, asked me the same questions any medic would ask a new patient, told me I would need to see a psychiatrist, and if that went OK would start me on hormone treatment straight away.


Within two weeks I got the green light and on November 2nd 2009 received my first scrip.


For 50 years I had tried to live in the gender my body said I was and failed miserably.

I felt like an alien.

But I had to survive and back then there was no possibility at all of doing anything other than invent a male persona.


Transitioning is not a matter of becoming a woman, it is becoming ones true self, and fifty years of living as a man, living a lie, took a lot of stripping away.


Many things had to be unlearned, like walking.

As a child I watched other boys and copied them, settling on something they accepted.


I’d developed a deep voice and it took me a year of consciously training it to be in a higher register, with a different resonance.

I thought I’d never manage it, but with perseverance I did.

The phone is hardest.

“Hi can I get room service?” I’d enquire in my best female voice.

“Certainly sir.”

The first time someone said madam I jumped up and down on the bed whooping.


Other things too take a while to adjust, things you wouldn’t immediately think of.

Clothes buttoning, for example.


Before I started transitioning if someone would call unexpectedly I would be like a whirling dervish getting out of make-up.

After I started transitioning and someone called I would be like a whirling dervish getting into make-up.


Now, four years on, I feel I’ve made it, at last, finally, hurray, deep breath, and relax.

However, nothing fully prepared me for misogyny.


I have been a lifelong feminist, ever since I witnessed my father beating seven bells of hell out of my mother.

But unless you are a woman you cannot fully comprehend how a man can hate you for being who you are.


We see sexism everywhere, from the myriad photoshopped magazines to Page Three, from billboards to plastic pop stars, treating women as disposable objects, male fantasy meat, cum sluts.


In my work as a touring sound engineer I have come up against much discrimination, mostly from trolls sporting mullet hair cuts, dubious metal band tour T-shirts, and homemade tape holders strapped to utility belts, posture perpetually at a slant due to the copious rolls of gaffa hanging off them.

When they see it’s me, a middle aged woman, come to mix a band at their venue, they grunt and shuffle away, knuckles dragging the floor, cursing.


More insidious is the outright hatred that can rear it’s ugly head when a woman dares stand up for herself.


Once a man employed to help me screamed in my ear that I was a fucking bitch and he was going to fuck me up, this during a song I was endeavoring to mix.


Then there are the comments men write on social media sites, in anonymity of course.

Lauren Mayberry is the latest victim.


Lauren is the singer in pop group Chvrches, friends of mine, and she has men posting on Twitter threatening to rape her, saying things like they will find out where she lives and fuck her anally, and she would love it, or that, being Scottish, they’d fuck the accent out of her.

I shit you not.


Who are these people, what makes them sink to these depths of human depravity?

Would they be so bold if their mothers found out?


The man screaming in my ear was a bully and clearly extremely unhappy with me being there, doing what I know he considered men’s work.


What made it worse was denying it when confronted with what he had done in front of another man, my boss.

He fully expected some kind of secret male bonding to occur where they would both raise their eyes, snigger, and go get a beer together.


I felt sorry for him, the poor insecure frightened fool.

Fortunately my boss was a decent human being having none of it and stuck up for me.


Should I have to put up with this as I try to do my job?

Should women like Lauren Mayberry accept filth smeared all over their lives because they are in the public eye?



It’s abuse.

Stop it.


We are the other half of the sky.


I spent last year with a touring group of twelve in which there were five women, a rare and wonderful thing.

I was privileged and honored to be included as one of the five, and I thank the men for that too.


We talked about anything and everything with openness and love, yet there were some topics I could not fully engage in.

I’ve never menstruated so cannot say what it was like to get my first period; I went straight to menopause.

I don’t know what it would be like to be able to give birth, to be a mother.

I missed out on so much.


I was born in the wrong body.

I knew that from the very start.

Parents, if you have a child who knows this too help them as soon as possible, preferably before puberty.

You will never regret it.

That I have become a woman, albeit at this late stage of my life, is the best thing that ever happened to me, because I am finally me, happy in my skin.


People have said oh you are so brave.

Well, yes, coming out was terrifying, but once it was done the feeling of wellness was overwhelming.

What was hardest, I now know, was for 50 years staying trapped in that body, cold and alone.


Boys, it is not weak to be loving, open, compassionate, kind.

It is essential.

Don’t hate what you don’t understand.

There’s no need to be afraid.


Do I know what it feels like for a girl?

I am figuring that out more and more each day.

I’m on a wonderful adventure, and now my feet are firmly on the ground.