An alumni of Loughborough University talks about her transition story and what advice she would give to others.
I am an Alumni of Loughborough University, who only recently decided to seek medical intervention with my gender. As part of the process, I have been asked to write this narrative. I feel it would be good to share my story, where I hope it may help another transgender person out.
I guess we should start when I was 7/8. This time is quite a blur. But I can remember at this age having a fascination with women’s clothing. I remember promising myself that when I was older – no matter what I would buy myself women’s underwear to wear underneath my normal clothes. Where no one would know who I was. This, as a young child, was a very surreal thought. Shortly after this promise I made to myself – I felt wrong, felt like: “that’s not what a BOY should do”. So I hid this – so much so, until rather recently I had forgotten about this moment.
Thinking about it, as a young child, I would always strive to find opportunities to wear women’s clothing, even if it was not a conscious decision. Whether it was probing dares to wear a dress at a friend’s house. Or wearing all women’s clothes in a primary school talent show, or fully fledged playing Frank N. Furter in a small college show. My amazing friend, who I got on super well with let me borrow their clothes for the Frank N. Furter show, she even threw in some other clothes for me to try out, this was mostly Corsets, underwear, stockings, suspenders. I felt so in my element, and even after performing on stage, I was so proud that all the hate I got just washed over.
Even at this point, I still did not fully understand myself. I just knew that I felt good like this.
My first year University. A time that I probably should have reinvented myself. However, I was scared – new people, people I do not know, and did not know how they would treat me. Towards the end of my first year of University, I dated an amazing person. She 100% understood me, even though I did not myself. She let me wear her clothes in private, with just the two of us. I felt super happy with this small step. This relationship ended just over a year later due to both of our mental health at the time.
After the breakup – I realised, I had some money, I could buy my own women’s underwear – so I did! Even though I felt super nervous about my housemates finding out. During this time, I felt amazing. Weirdly it felt like the start of me.
This did come crashing down shortly after, however. I started a new relationship with another girl. I was so terrified to be myself at the start, that I threw everything in the bin. A couple of months into the relationship I decided I MUST explain things to my girlfriend, as I did not want to hide myself the whole time. She was amazing about it. She wanted me to be me. And from this point started the great start of the rest of that relationship.
Throughout this relationship, we both enjoyed shopping for underwear together, although she did not like that, I had nicer underwear than her. I also made a very close friend this time. They are honestly so amazing and have been a big anchor to my life. I trusted them with everything and told them a lot about myself. They also reciprocated, once she knew I liked the idea of lingerie, she lovingly gave me her spare suspender belt. To which I still treasure to this day. I got to see the Rocky Horror Picture show with them not long later. This was such a great excuse to buy a cute corset, skirt, and stockings. We had such a blast, and I felt so good being in public dressed up with no judgement.
Fast forward to when I got my first job, and more importantly, my first proper income. This was amazing, adult money! First thing I bought was a nice bralette, my first bralette from Victoria Secrets. Wearing this became a staple, it helped me feel feminine whilst appearing how I ‘should’. Buying this helped me focus more on what I wanted. I didn’t question my gender at this point, again it just felt right to feel feminine.
The relationship with this girlfriend was going well, I even contemplated proposing to her when she graduated. Things turned sour though. Mostly because of me. I started experimenting with myself more and was scared I was becoming too feminine around her. So, I found support in other friends. I used to share some quite intimate pictures of myself (never naked) with others to seek advice and acceptance. To which they sometimes reciprocated. It was only after I realised how bad this was, even though it was never intended in a bad way. Either way my girlfriend found out, and we broke up shortly after. A devastating event, to which I was unable to even talk to my family about as they had no idea of who I was.
Even though this blow felt huge at the time – it has allowed me to grow, I opened to more friends about who I was – and as such felt a lot more comfortable to start being myself more and more. It almost became second nature to female friends, once I knew them a bit, to talk about myself. All of which were incredibly supportive.
When I was 24, I was attending a festival. A girl who I had had a crush on for years was there. We got talking and hit it off straight away! The night we first spoke, I showed her a picture of the bra I was wearing under my onesie. She loved it, and from that moment, I felt very confident. Shortly after we started to date. It was the first time I had dated someone from the beginning that accepted and knew me from the start. I will forever remember that. Later that year, is when I first started properly questioning my gender. This is mostly due to conversations I had with my girlfriend. She was really open about her sexuality, and how her best friend was trans. She was the first person I came out too as being non-binary. The relationship did not last much longer than this. However, after this I came out on social media subtly, changed my pronouns and name etc…
To share my journey and to feel more feminine online, I created my private Instagram account. This was an amazing idea. For once I could be myself online, no negativity, no family. Just me and my friends. I only received positivity and support from this, and I have been super lucky to know so many amazing friends.
Throughout the following year I changed my name at work and started to talk to my colleagues about my pronouns. Which was tougher than it should have been with some.
I started to actively appear more feminine, I started to try make up, I started to wear padded bras to give me some sort of breast and I started to investigate what clothes are more unisex. I also wanted to present more female than male. I also started to look into surgery at this point. The best and most fun part of this transition was starting to go to the salon! I wanted to naturally grow my hair (and I had destroyed mine form 8 years of home dying). My hairdresser has been an absolute star, and my hair has been slowly growing out since!
One night, I was having a sober night out in a club with many of my friends. I am not sure why at all – but it was at this point I decided I needed to tell my parents. Until this moment, I had never had discussions about who I was with them. I went to the sofa in the club, and did what I knew I could, I wrote an email. I decided not to send until the morning as I wanted to sleep on it. The next morning, I sent the email, and shortly after got a lovely call full of support and them explaining that they had their suspicions. A huge step which certainly was worth the difficulties to express.
I soon realised that I was not non-binary. In fact, I am a woman. I was 25 by now. A lot of my friends at this point said that they thought the same about me and realised even before me! After talking to a few key friends, I did it. Again, I changed my pronouns on Facebook to she/her, as well as updating my profile picture to me in a dress. As before it took me longer to come out to both work and to my parents about this. But I did and have been very proud of this.
At the start of 2020, I decided I needed medical intervention and that I wanted help to change my appearance to make me feel more comfortable with my body. It took me a whole 6 months to gather the courage to talk to my doctor, of whom I already had monthly meetings with because of my mental health. Unfortunately, this ended up being delayed as my GP was away EVERY time I called up in June. But I managed to catch them in July. One of the scariest calls ever, but my GP was incredibly understanding, and that day referred me to Nottingham Gender Clinic.
Whilst waiting on my referral letter, I was in touch with my hairdresser about options to look more female, we managed to book in a hair extension session – where I got amazing hair extensions done, when lockdown rules allowed of course. Having this hair was incredible and helped me so much! I have had some of my favourite memories with extensions! Both are from members of the public. One shop owner corrected themselves on my gender – this made me glow all that day. Another day, a small child shouted: ‘look at that girl’s hair!’. Such small gestures from other people completely made my day and completely helped me feel accepted and feel like me.
My referral letter came through in August/September. My heart sank – 34 months waiting list. I felt stuck. I had considered going private before this, but this solidified it. In November/December I started researching and asking friends on their routes.
By the middle of January, I felt enough was enough and with some nudges from one of my best friends I started the communications. And now we are here, where I am writing this narrative.
I know my journey is only just beginning now, but to anyone reading this. Try not to be scared to be you. You are awesome! Yes things are scary, but our world is becoming more and more accepting. Please don’t rush into anything. It’s never too late to discover the true you.
Most of all, do what makes you happy, be with those who make you happy and accept you for you.
If you are struggling, the LGBT+ Association at LSU is a great start to meet others, a step I wish I had taken years ago. They are all amazing!
Featured header image designed by Annabel Smith.