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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 17 April, 2014

Column: ‘A little girl in rural Ireland’ – My experience growing up transgender

Stacey gives a personal account of life as a transgender person in a small Irish town.

Image: snowmentality via Flickr

Warning: This story contains a graphic description of sexual assault which some readers may find disturbing.

MY NAME IS Stacey and this is my story.

It is a beautiful sunny summer’s day in small town rural Ireland, I’m a tearful little girl sitting at my bedroom window. Outside, the other kids are playing, but I never go out to play with them. If I try, they will only make fun of me. I look at their pretty summer dresses – I long to have a pretty dress all of my own, or even just a doll to play with.

Years later, I come home from school, dashing up the stairs in the hope my mum won’t see me. My eye is bruised, my lip is cut. I know it’s easier to take the slaps, the kicks and the cruel name calling. It’s easier not to fight back, as it would make them hurt me more and for longer. Long ago, I discovered that my best friend is my imagination. In my mind I am a beautiful pink princess and loved by everyone. There is no place for hurt and pain, only days filled with friendships, happiness and laughter.

I move to a big city, one that is easy to get lost in. This is where I need to be, this is where I can find a place to fit in and where I find my first ever friend. I find a creative job that I excel in, a small room, and a friend. I have never known friendship so I struggle, I let my guard down and confide in her my closest secrets. Next day in work those secrets are revealed, and the bullying starts again. My hurt now comes from betrayal, from losing the only friend I have ever known. I move on, find a new place, a new job. This becomes my life for the next twenty years – the same pattern repeated over and over again.

Danced all night

It was a long hard week, I finally have a whole weekend off. At last I could hit the town. I loved my girly nights out more than anything, I take hours getting ready, make up, nails, then the dress. I’m so nervous going out, it takes a lot of courage, but I manage to do it each time. I know there is a good chance perfect strangers will make fun of me on the street, I’m practically immune to it at this stage.

Walking home, I feel so alive, having danced and danced all night. I didn’t hear anyone approach from behind, not until it was too late. A forceful shove sends me up against the wall. I struggle for balance in my heels. I hit my head on the pebble dash wall, it spins, in a daze I feel blood trickling down my face, then the hands on my head pushing the side of my face against the wall with such force, more hands, another laughing taunting voice. I am powerless. Rip go my panties, more vile taunts, then pain like never before – in the struggle the beer bottle breaks, and my warm blood flows down my legs. Not even my imagination can save me this time, I feel every thrust. After, dazed and confused, I struggle home trying to block out the pain. I’m unable to cry, there are no more tears, I am forever changed.

The police find me walking aimlessly. Their first response is shock then, eventually, they laugh at me, not to my face, but behind my back. I grab my bag and leave, refusing care or to make a statement. I will suffer for the rest of my life for not seeking medical care.

There is no escape anymore, my mind is filled with horrors, so I can’t even escape there.The pills don’t scare me I welcome them one by one. I am finally going to find peace. I smile at this thought as I close my eyes for the last time… but my peace was shattered when I opened my eyes again.

Finding answers

The secret I shared with that “friend” all those years ago is that I’m a girl trapped in a man’s body, my brain identifies as female but my body is male. This means that I am trans, a transsexual person – I am a girl and have been all my life.

Everything changed for me one day when I met some other trans people in Dublin, I finally found a place where I fit in, friends to love and care about me. I finally found answers to so many questions.

Through their friendship and support I finally found the courage to transition. This means that I am seeing doctors about finally making my body match my mind. It will be a long hard struggle, but I will get there because that is where I will finally find peace.

I take hormones. I wish I could describe the peace these hormones give me. It’s like an inner turmoil has suddenly stopped. I’ve discovered happiness. Right now I look like a man in a dress, I have a long way to go before I will look otherwise. I find it really difficult to go outside in public, spending most of my time alone at home.

Being trans it’s very difficult to find work, so I can’t afford things like laser hair removal. But that’s OK – it’s how you feel inside that counts, and I feel like a beautiful pink princess.

The author’s full name has not been published at her request.

For more information and support, contact the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) at teni.ie or 01 873 3575; or the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 77 88 88.

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