The following are some of my diary entries from when I transitioned (with the names removed). Please bear in mind that these are just one person's experience and aren't intended to represent a whole minority group or anything.

December 1999:

I was just sitting in the same room as my mother, hiding my face with my left leg, and I started crying and she noticed. She asked what was wrong, and I said that's just what I'm like around Christmas. She asked me what was wrong again. I said I didn't know and ran into my bedroom, in the dark. Unfortunately, she soon followed me again and tried to have a talk. I knew she wouldn't go away, so I told her everything. No more secrets. I told her about the cross dressing and about how the more I learn the more I realise I know less about myself than I previously thought. She said it was all in my head and said I was "fucked up" (I know I'm always saying I'm fucked up, but it's not exactly a good thing to hear coming from your mother). Then she went off on one about how I was a normal boy a year ago. For a start, don't call me normal or a boy if you want to get on my good side. And I've been like this as long as I can remember, but it's only just now beginning to surface as it's been growing since it first started. This is how long it's taken for it to get to the outside. I've always been screaming below my skin, but now you can see it. When I said that she seemed OK with it a while back? Clearly she wasn't, she was just in major denial. Eventually she left the room. I was extremely emotional right then, and far too vulnerable to lie. After crying to myself for a bit I finally got up and wrote this.

January 2000:

I got some eye shadow today which looks pretty neat so I'll be sporting that down the pub this Friday. I'm also getting some boots with a co-worker in London tomorrow. Plus I plucked my eyebrows a few days ago, and one of my friends at work was the only person that noticed, or mentioned it anyway. Probably the former.

July 2000:

My mother told me about when I was in high school and one of my friends who lived near me would walk home with me. He'd have his head up high and look confident, while I'd hang my head down, all slouched, and generally look depressed.

August 2000:

I watched Ma Vie en Rose again, with my mother this time. She said "It seems perfectly sensible to me that there's lots of left handed and dyslexic transsexuals, you're wired up wrong." She really annoyed me by smirking throughout the whole thing no matter how much I insisted that I was being serious saying that my brain was wired up differently to the standard way, not wrong in comparison to "normal people."

I finally went to London to see a psychiatrist. At the train station, none of the doors to the train seemed to want to open, so this woman who presumably worked there shouted out at me "First four carriages, my dear," and it took me a good few seconds to work out that yes, she really was talking to me! I just can't explain how that felt to anyone who's not a transsexual. Sorry, but it's kind of indescribable to finally be perceived as how you perceive yourself, in the correct manner, when all your life you weren't. I mean, you probably take stuff like this for granted but all of the little things, getting called "sir" or someone saying to me "Well done man!" can really make me depressed. It was just great to hear people refer to me like that woman did, and especially so from women. For some reason, whenever a man calls me "my dear" it just sounds condescending and like he's trying to establish a dominating figure over me, whereas a woman saying it might as well be calling me comrade or sister or something.

The psychiatrist I saw seemed much more down to earth than I was expecting, though said one or two odd things. I think it was just "bloke" humour though. At any rate, he gave me the prescription after hearing all the relevant parts of my life story, so I'm still really happy about that!

Once I got back to the town I live in, the first thing I did was go to a local chemist, a small shop type affair. The guy at the counter checked that I really was sure what I was taking, and gave me the oestrogen gel right there and then, and ordered me the oestrogen pills for Monday.

My coming out letter, sent to my co-workers:


This is just a quick message to let you all know that I'm an MTF (male to female) transsexual. This means I was born with a discrepancy between my mental gender and physical sex, and I am taking the necessary measures to fix my body. I have been on hormones since mid August and although there is not much difference yet, after a few months the effects will be hard to hide. Eventually I will have to be treated with the correct pronouns etc but for now I just wanted to let you all know to avoid confusion. I hope this clears a few doubts you had as to just what was up with me. :)

I think it is fairly important to add as it is not well known, that being a transsexual is not something that I chose to do. If I could not have transitioned, I really would not have been able to cope with life at all, and would have ended it -- sorry to be so detailed but I can't think of any way to tone it down while showing how serious it is for me -- which is the only choice any TS I know of has had to face. No one ever chooses to have the discrepancy between their mind and body and it's not much of a choice to fix the mistake. It's just something that happens and I should be a lot happier (and apparently already am) the closer I get to having a body that fully reflects who I am.

Although most people on my shift and [my friend's] shift are now calling me Zoë, you can all call me [my old name] for a long while yet. As long as you avoid phrases like "it," I really don't mind. ^_^ This letter is more to let you know what's happening and why, rather than to prompt any changes you need to make.

I appreciate everyone's support for this, thank you. It means a lot to me.

Thank you,
[My old name].

August 2000:

OK, so yesterday I came out at work, via e-mail. I mean, my shift and [my friend's] shift already knew I was Zoë, but not the rest. So I sent an e-mail to everyone at work, and got lots of fantastic replies and no bad ones, yay!

That e-mail always seemed like such a big deal, until about five minutes after I'd noticed it had been sent out (the rough draft was accidentally sent out by HR), and that's when I'd calmed down, realising no one was coming at me with sticks or anything, and that's also when the flood of e-mails started, most of which were from people I'd never talked to. And they were so touching...

September 2000:

I'd like to think that today has been rather productive, much better than my usual days off work where I sit around getting lonely. I got my name legally changed to Zoë! Then I watched Good Will Hunting on DVD again, and half way through I suddenly noticed how I was cuddling a cushion tightly throughout the film, and I cried through the emotional bits, which I'm sure I didn't do last time. And I never hugged cushions, I'm sure of it. In fact, I distinctly remember questioning why we had them a year or so ago... Then I got another appointment with the psychiatrist. I told the secretary that my name's now Zoë, and so she called me that, and that felt just great... It's just the little touches like what people call you that can make all the difference. I still acknowledge that I've changed my name way too early, and I just know my boss is going to have a fit, but I really don't care. I couldn't take it any more and that's all that matters in the end: I needed to do this. Later on, I met up with a friend so that I could hold his hand while he got his tongue pierced. Apparently when he was talking to the piercer, it transpired that he assumed I was his girlfriend. I'm not sure whether I'm "passing" or he was just trying to be charming, but he treated me just like any other woman, which really did top off a great day.

October 2000:

Everything at work's been updated, my e-mail address and my login, so when I log calls it says I logged them and not my old name. I can't tell you how great it feels to see my name on everything at work wherever I go now. It's like I actually look forward to logging calls because that's my name that goes there.

October 2001:

I was so nervous today. This was the day I was going into hospital. My girlfriend hugged me in bed. I love her. We went to the wrong hospital on time, and had to quickly go to the right one. I forgot what my nails look like without black nail varnish. I was given a laxative-esque drink that tasted of really sour lemons, but in a good way. The staff are friendly.

I now know what my surgeon for tomorrow looks like. He reiterated the risks to me. Twenty-five percent chance I won't have enough sensation to climax. Ten percent that I have to come back for more surgery. My mind is made, I'll take the risk. I know the risks. I'm too nervous right now to be reminded of them the night before surgery. I'd like to feel my lover's gentle touch inside me one day. It's not your fault, it's nature. These things happen. I still dream and I hope that dream with her and I as ourselves becomes a reality.

I haven't eaten anything solid since noon. I'm not seeing the two people I love, my mother and my partner, until after the op. I've had apple juice and really thin soup. I had the laxative-esque drink. I've just shaved all of my pubic hair off. I feel OK.

I'll be awoken tomorrow at six thirty, have a bath, get nervous and be unconscious by eight hopefully. I know how this is futile given how I'll type this up afterwards, but: wish me luck. It's OK, lots of really nice friends already have. I'm already lucky - I already have great friends, a supportive mother, and a lovely girlfriend who's the cutest and most beautiful woman I've met.

I've had a bath. I've had a relaxing pill. I'm told to relax. I look at my picture of my lover. I smile.

That's it. I hope this helps someone, in some way, anyway.

Update: As someone reminded me, scientists pointing to the hypothalamus claim that transwomen's brains are the same as any other women's, and transmen's brains are the same as any other men's. This indicates that the brain of a transsexual is wired up the same way as a non-transsexual of the same gender (or opposite sex, to look at it another way). So they're not even wired up differently, let alone wrong. As someone else reminded me, scientific research in this field is too young, and gender too varying, to be able to come up with more than improper generalizations about brain chemestry. This is really beyond the scope of this write-up, but if you're interested in the subject, I'd recommend Anne Fausto-Sterling's book Sexing the Body, ISBN 0-465-07714-5.