OK. So this is one of the more difficult pages on the site to write. Mainly because for me personally, my gender identity is quite a complex issue. But also there’s a general lack of understanding of the complexities of gender vs sex in society as a whole. And let’s face facts, if you’re cis-gendered (gender matching sex) it can be a bit mind melting to attempt to understand how someone might not be like that. I promise you though some of us are.
My Own General Musings on Gender Identity & Expression
Now I’m not an expert in gender identity or anything like that. I’m just one person who is speaking from my own experience and my own feelings. I don’t expect another person to feel exactly the same way I do, this is partly the point, nothing is black and white in this domain. This is why I tend to dislike the multitude of labels that people seem to want to apply, I never feel like any of them really fit and only ever apply them to myself for the benefit of others rather than myself.
So let’s start with a picture, they paint a thousand words or so they say. Behold the Gender Unicorn!!!
I think this graphic is absolutely fabulous. Each of the arrows represents an infinite scale and an individual can sit anywhere on each attribute. What it shows is that there are multiple parameters that make up a person’s gender and sexuality as opposed to their sex assigned at birth (often considered biological sex) .
This seemingly infinite number of combinations of attributes is very much at odds with our need as human beings to categorise, label and understand everything. Trying to fully understand the inner workings of a person is incredibly difficult, damn near impossible in fact. When you are able to clearly label someone, it’s often only because their outward expression seems straightforward. There’s potentially a lot going on underneath. What I always say to people is try to just see a person, it’s their behaviour and actions that define them. What they wear, whether their behaviour matches what you believe is appropriate for their sex, should not matter. If you have a connection with the person, if you get on, great go with it. If they’re not your cup of tea, that’s fine too, just move along, you don’t have to be friends with everyone.
I meet people of all gender identities and some I get on with some I don’t. I’ve got mates who are very masculine blokes and ones who are total girly girls, totally different people but we connect on some level that allows us to have a positive relationship.
Growing Up In The Closet & Bursting Out
I grew up in the 80’s/90’s in a small village just outside Wigan called Orrell. It certainly wasn’t the most diverse of places or one that was particularly accepting of people who were different. There was certainly an accepted way for boys to behave and I fitted that pretty well, outwardly at least.
I knew something was different about me from about the age of four. It took me until my twenties to really understand who I am. Sadly took me until my mid thirties before I felt confident enough to be myself publicly.
I remember back when I was a kid I loved this old 60’s film with Danny La Rue called Our Miss Fred. It was basically a comedy about a drag queen caught in occupied France, passing as a real girl. I recall every time I watched it, thinking how good La Rue looked and quietly wishing I could be like that every day. But it wasn’t the case, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t miserable, in fact I was pretty happy in most respects but there was always this thing bubbling underneath and it caused me numerous problems.
I guess it was part confusion, part frustration, what it manifested itself in though was anger. I was a bit of a scrapper, regularly getting into fights, a bit dirty on the rugby pitch (putting it mildly) and really its not a reflection of who I am. As I got older and chilled out a bit, I suffered periods of depression and bouts of crippling anxiety, I’m not saying hiding my gender identity was the root of all problems but it seems a bit of coincidence that I’ve suffered none of the above issues since coming out.
I guess the point is, I burned a lot of energy on trying to hide my true self and I hurt myself the most by refusing to acknowledge fully who I am for so long. I made many mistakes and treated some people pretty badly at times because even on the best of days, there was always this niggle of something not being right in my head. Living like that gets to you in ways that are very difficult to articulate.
I guess my eureka moment, the point I knew things had to change, actually came in two parts, see I’m a proper queen, she has two birthdays, I have two revelations.
Part one was in 2014 when I went to a fancy dress party in drag. I’d made a lot of effort and when I looked in the mirror before getting dressed, just with my face on, it hit me, I felt great. For the first time in my life I actually liked the person looking back. I knew I couldn’t contain this side of me any more and I started being true to myself in private at least and for a while I felt happier than I ever had.
Six months later, just prior to Priscilla’s bow at Grillstock, I sat at my coffee table in a bit of a state. My marriage had ended, dressing like a girl in the house and sneaking out for late night walks around my neighbourhood wasn’t making me feel good, in fact it felt dirty and shameful. On the table in front of me was a bottle of Red Leg and a large number of pills. I came very close to doing something very stupid.
But thanks to a random phone call from a very good friend, I didn’t and soon after I introduced the world to Priscilla. Despite the fact that going full queen is really a caricature of me, exaggerated in every way, that first time felt like I was being closer to the real me than I ever had before. That whole weekend felt incredible and I was on cloud 9 the whole time. Even when Charlie sprayed me with champagne and almost ruined my makeup.
And that was it, everyone knew this wasn’t a one off, they realised it wasn’t a joke and the support I received made it easy to just say YOLO and come out properly.
These days I walk down the street, head held high, I feel no shame about who I am. I have a killer wardrobe, I actually love clothes and don’t dress like a tramp any more. I take pride in my appearance and more importantly I take more care in how I interact with people. Maybe its finally having a feeling of self worth, maybe it’s just not being angry and frustrated any more, I’ve not worked that out yet and am not sure I ever will. But I don’t care, feeling content and comfortable in my own skin is the best thing that ever happened to me.
So that’s a fairly brief version of my self discovery story. I’ve glossed a lot of details and some things are always going to stay private to be honest. I hope you enjoyed reading it, or at least found parts of it interesting. And I’m going to leave you with a quote from someone I admire very much…