Saturday, 21 December 2013

Three Unwise Men

Yet another bawbag is frothing at the mouth.
This latest cretinous oaf, a Russian actor of whom this reporter at least has never heard, says he would "stuff queers into an oven and burn them alive."

Not exactly an original thought, but that he is capable of any thought, clearly being way down on the evolutionary scale, is something I suppose.

I am a tolerant woman, I meditate, I try to see the best in all people and I am trying so hard to find something, anything, redeeming about this man.
Nope, I got nothing.

What is it about two men in a loving relationship that men like this are so terrified of?
Well, jealousy for one, as anyone who can come out with a statement like this you can bet your bottom dollar does not have and never has had love from another human.
Couple that with scant education and fear of the unknown and there I guess you have it.

They are fine with two women fucking so long as they can join in, but not their woman, oh no.
She is his property, shackled to his kitchen.

It puzzles me how these he-men want to hang around women at all.
50 Cent Tweeted "If you a man and your over 25 and you don't eat pussy just kill yourself damn it. Lol.”
Clearly not the best educated of men.
That ‘lol’ at the end sounds a nervous laugh, as if he's trotting out a well practiced hetero line he really has no faith in whatsoever.

Mister Cent, you hate ‘pussy’.
You're a violent misogynist.
Surely for you hanging out with women is faggy.
I don't understand why you wouldn't embrace hunk on hunk love.
What could be more macho than that?

I can see how you and our Russian toss pot would be great together.
Imagine it, hitting metal with hammers, necking bourbon, hoovering up lines of coke, wrestling naked in front of a log fire, then, coated in musty man sweat, fucking each other for Jesus till the early hours.

It’s weird that you have so much hate yet call yourselves men of God.
What God?
I guess it's the almighty Old Testament God, the fire and brimstone one, the it's Yahweh or the highway God.

The kind of men you hate so vociferously is exactly the kind of man Jesus would have been.
A peaceful, awake, aware, gay man.

Oh come on, of course Jesus was gay!
FYI, that does not mean he fucked sheep.

Why is it you guys when talking about homosexuality go immediately to bestiality?
The bearded beast from Duck Dynasty is the latest case in point.
For him sin “Morphs out from homosexuality to bestiality, then to sleeping around with this woman and that woman.”
Yes, women are less than than dogs in this world view.

Actually I had no idea who or what Duck Dynasty was so googled it.
Seems he invented a device which enables humans to enact a holocaust on a species.
What an ass.

Another thing I cannot understand with you guys is your obsession with buggery.
You hate the idea of sticking your cock in a man’s anus but almost pathologically cannot wait to ram it up a woman’s.
News flash, not all gay men have penetrative sex.
Get the fuck out!
I know, it’s true, bet that blows your minds.

It is so easy to trot out the most idiotic nonsense as fact if you have never really got your brain in gear.
If it caused no harm it would just not be good enough, not where we are well into the 21st century, with all that human history to learn from.
Oh but it does cause harm, harm to those it is directly aimed at, and harm to the rest of us who have psychically to take it on board.

See, you rain this bilge down on us and we have to cleanse cleanse cleanse, scrub away, hose down the dirt, and atone for all your ignorant blather.
It is a heavy psychological burden.
It is unconscionable.

Knowing you have such paucity of thought I guess you imagine you speak for us all when you spout such tosh.
Well, you don't.
There will be a few lobotomised thugs that might try to canonise you, and really you are welcome to each other.

I’m sure by now you’ll be opining that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
No sirs, they are not, not if that opinion incites violence, is a hate crime, which pretty much everything that oozes out of your mealy mouths is.

You are an anachronism, anathema.
We are evolving and you’re stuck, flailing in the primordial soup.

At some point in our lives we must take time to stop learning and start thinking.
We must question everything we have been taught in our own unique way, and through critical examination based on all the research we can muster come to conclusions.
This is the way to enlightenment, to cast off our primitive beliefs, understand all we know, and advance.
This however requires there to have been some learning in the first place, and I am absolutely naming names.

Everything we know is a process of elimination arriving at the least wrong of all the options, and we must strive to get to the next level of least wrong.
That is our path, that is how we survive as a species.
Staying stuck at the most wrong level is not big, not clever, and really no-one is laughing.

If you three unwise men have read this I expect you'll be frothing at the mouth once more.
If on the other hand you manage to read a book, see a little lightbulb go off over your head, or have an epiphany and come to terms with your own latent homosexuality, then we’ll welcome you.

What you each need is a hug, love and guidance.
Until you realise that and drag yourself out of the mire, then please, for the love of humanity, shut the fuck up.

Julia Brightly

December 21st 2013

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


In nineteen eighty nine I wrote a song called ‘PWA’.
It was in part inspired by American playwright and activist Larry Kramer and his efforts to get the then POTUS George Bush Senior to release plant based drugs without the hold up of trials to people who were dying from HIV and AIDS.

Instead of tackling this problem head on people in power began to talk instead of God’s biblical wrath against homosexuals, and in Britain a series of government TV commercials were produced showing commandment like tablets crashing to the ground in slow motion, espousing safe sex.

Bush memorably referred to ‘the giggle factor’ when he thought about gay men as many lay emaciated at death’s door.
I still don’t get the joke.

Thirty years on we as a species have come a long way, but unfortunately not always in the right direction.
Here in Britain, since adopting and repealing the notorious Clause 28 which made illegal the promotion of homosexuality, we have passed same sex marriage into law whereas in Russia, a short hop away, buggery obsessed men with self-imposed ignorance would have homosexuality made illegal or, as in Iran, punishable by death.

They see a queer conspiracy lead by packs of limp-wristed nancy boys who lurk around school playgrounds luring children into lives of butt-fucked depravity.
Feel sorry for these poor fools, their heads filled with all this hogwash.

Homosexuality equals emasculation, they’ll say.
Oh how could there be anything worse for a man than to be in touch with his emotions?

Men are strong, hit things with hammers, blow stuff up, are kings of the castle, whereas women are chattel, here to give birth to and look after their spawn, while in desperation pop valium washed down with gin in Tupperware cups, having “walked into another door”.

The traditional roles.
How people love to waffle on about tradition.
Men destroy while women cower, that’s tradition.

In Nazi Germany, in living memory, homosexual men were rounded up and murdered, although some high ranking male officers were indeed homosexual themselves.
They hypocritically didn’t see themselves as such, they were ‘real men’ who just happened to like a spot of sword swallowing, taking warm showers, riding the top deck of the bus.

Lesbians were deemed first and foremost asocial as their predilections fostered ideas outside of bondage, but were also slain after men tried and failed to fuck the perversion out of them.

Pink for a boy, black for a girl, triangles that is.

The concentration camp, another Great British invention.
Long before Hitler cottoned on we had them in South Africa during the Boer War.

I was born just 14 years after the end of WW2 and it would be another 8 years before homosexuality in Britain became legal, when we entered the age of enlightenment.

Sadly a leap forward is often followed by a backlash.
HIV and AIDS were like manna from heaven to the unreconstructed bigots amongst us.

At the time of writing ‘PWA’ it was predicted that 5,000,000 Africans would be dead from HIV and AIDS by 1991.
This was roundly ignored.

That figure today is 30,000,000 and rising.

You see so long as it was blacks and gays dying we were fine with it.

It's as much a black disease or gay plague as measles.

There is a hangover from white Christian Missionary in Africa that gives vent to the absurd idea that homosexuality is against God, is not natural, brings nothing but misery and disease, and that sodomy, intrinsically connected in the minds of the vacuous, is the work of the Devil.

With over 400 animal species known to have homosexual behavior, what’s natural?
There is more anal sex amongst heterosexual couples that homosexual.
As for all that religious hokum, there is no God.

We in Britain are responsible for much of the backward thinking in the world as we once spread ignorance and hate throughout the Empire.
Now we know better we must continue to lead by example.

In India they have thrown off those shackles, though their treatment of transgender people leaves much to be desired.

America, land of the free, home of the brave, shelterer of huddled masses, has categorically rejected the stupidity of uptight short sighted pig headed politicians and their wish to drag us all into to the mire.

Stephen Fry’s TV documentary ‘Out There’ recently showed us where we are at globally and where we are in danger of going if we allow the most dim witted control.

The awake and aware people of the world know that sexual orientation is something we are born with, that it is not black or white but a rainbow, a beautiful multicolored rainbow.

Ignorance and fear are inexcusable in this day and age, and the perpetration of those two states of being on mass populations by spiteful God Botherers is abhorrent.

As both the L and the T in LGBT I feel it keenly.

If you think that these issues have nothing to do with you, think again.
Ignore the knocks on doors at your peril as one day the knock will be on yours.

We are your sons and we are your daughters,
All we bring is love, don’t turn your backs on us.

Julia Brightly 
October 22nd, 2013

Link to the song ‘PWA’

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

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 as 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 its 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.

Julia Brightly
October 9th 2013

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Children of The Revolution

That was the week that was for Operation Yewtree.
First Dave Lee Travis went to court to face 12 counts of sexual assault, then Rolf Harris was charged with 9, along with 4 counts of making obscene pictures of children.

Yewtree, in case you’d gone to the moon, is a police operation carried out initially to investigate reports of sexual abuse of children by Jimmy Savile, radio DJ, TV personality, tireless worker for charity, friend of politicians and royalty, loving son to his dear old mum, The Duchess.

As we now know the reports turned out to be true and for 40 years he preyed on the most vulnerable people in society.
Yes, we all knew the rumours but no-one had proof, other than his victims, who were so young, so alone, so traumatised that they could not speak out.

When Louis Theroux met him he denied being a pedophile when asked outright to camera, a denial that fooled no-one.
What’s more it seemed clear that he’d indulged in more than one bout of necrophilia with The Duchess’ corpse.

Now every shot of him has been expunged.
When the BBC run old Top Of The Pops episodes it’s like he didn’t exist.
But happen upon one on youtube and everything he said and did show him for what he was.
Once he was outed the rest of them began toppling like dominos, but there were already signs that all was not well in that world of weird men.

Jonathan King was an incredibly successful songwriter and record producer of such inane but huge selling hits as ‘Loop Di Love’ by Shag, and ‘Leap Up And Down And Wave Your Knickers in The Air’, and presenter of long running BBC TV show ‘Entertainment USA’ where he’d report on what was happening in New York, although what was really happening for him was not captured on film, or certainly not broadcastable.

In 1997 he was awarded the BPI’s Man Of The Year award, with a personal endorsement from Tony Blair.

In 2001he was arrested for sexually abusing countless young boys.
He was released on bail stumped up by Simon Cowell.
His innocence was protested by the likes of Simon Bates and Max Clifford.
He was found guilty on all charges, sentenced to seven years in jail, and put on the sex offender register for life.

The one thing we repeatedly hear from his and the others apologists is that in those days it was just how things were, it was in the culture, it was acceptable.

By those days they mean the 1970’s and dark days they were.
Men ruled everything everywhere, women were chattel, children slaves.
Misogyny and racism were institutionalised.
If in doubt watch any clip of TV show The Comedians for a stark reality check.

Whist Marc Bolan and David Bowie showed us that there was a new way, a light out of the darkness, we had to at first see through the glitter, Gary Glitter to be exact.

‘D'Ya Wanna Be In My Gang?’ he asked.
Not really, Gary.
‘Do You Wanna Touch Me There, Where, There?’
No, Gary, absolutely not.

In 1999 he put his computer in for repair at PC World and the tech servicing it found 4000 images of hardcore child pornography, for which he served time.
Since then he’s repeatedly offended and has miraculously escaped with his life. 
For example, in Vietnam, to where he once fled, there were allegations of rape of 11 year old girls, and had they lead to a conviction would have carried a mandatory death sentence.
He is currently out on bail having been arrested in London for sexually abusing 14 year old girls with Jimmy Savile in Savile’s ‘Clunk Click’ dressing room.

That dressing room was the setting for many of his conquests and it is said involved numerous TV personalities of the time, some of whom have been arrested lately, such as Freddie Starr.

Freddie Starr, like so many of his peers, pleads his innocence, yet they somewhat contradictorily say that the offences for which they are being accused were such a long time ago that they should not be pursued, or, fumbling, that they cannot remember that far back.

Scared shitless they ran into the arms of Max Clifford, solicitor to the stars.
Max Clifford has now himself been charged with 11 counts of sexual assault.

Is their assertion that the offences took place way back in the dark ages a defence?
There is no statute of limitations.
Even if it was a defence how does that account for Max Clifford whose alleged reign of terror continued to the mid eighties, or Dave Lee Travis’ latest in 2007?

The argument that it was in the culture, that everyone was up to it, that it was acceptable, will just not wash.
At the same time as these men were sticking their dicks into every available orifice Esther Rantzen started Childline, and John Lennon no less said that after women’s rights must come children’s as children had none.

It is about power, and it is not just the preserve of celebrities.
My own mother was sexually abused by her father from the age of 8.
It was systematic, calculated, relentless.
He held court in the Magic Kingdom, where the secret potion that all good little girls drank was administered.

I had no idea.
He to me seemed a gentle, warm, caring man who occasionally touched me in a way I didn’t like, who died when I was a child.

It’s shocking when someone in the public eye who we revere is proven to be abhorrent.
It’s horrifying when it’s one's own family.
It makes us wonder how on earth we didn’t see it.
We didn’t see it because they are cunning predators who work hard sub rosa.

I don’t know anyone who was surprised when the revelations about Jimmy Savile started to appear, but we are all staggered by the scale of it, and by what we can now see as his and others brash hiding in plain sight.

But The Hairy Cornflake, our cuddly breakfast time DJ friend, or Rolf Harris, everybody’s grandfather?
Now when I think of DLT’s jingle ‘whack whack oops’ I don’t think of sunny breakfast mornings before gaily hopping off to school, I think of it being him whacking off over an 8 year old.
When I think of Rolf Harris I don’t think of him happily painting pictures on TV, the meaning slowly revealing itself, I think of him wanking his flaccid penis to an erect state and asking his victim “Do you know what it is yet?”

Of the others who’ve been arrested under Yewtree, Jim Davidson, well known racist, is not going to be prosecuted, not because he has been proved innocent, but because there was insufficient evidence, not none, to guarantee a prosecution.
Sure, he was not on everyone’s favourite person list from the get go, but what about Ken Barlow, aka William Roache, longest serving and most beloved star of Corrie?
Or Tarby?

I suppose I mustn’t forget Stuart Hall, laughing gnome on ritual humiliation TV show ‘It’s A Knockout’, but I’d like to.

There are a slew of outer circle people who have been arrested, TV show producers, staff drivers, all caught up in modern day Rome, a debauched, despicable coterie.

It’s big stuff, big ugly soul destroying stuff.

Is it an aberration or is it truly part of what we are?

It is undeniable that this behaviour was accepted back then, it is all there to see on youtube and no, it was not black and white but full blown in-your-face colour at prime time.

It is there today too and you don’t have to look far as in every issue of The Sun men are encouraged to leer over topless girls, or in The Daily Mail where they continually gush over 14 year old curves.

I have heard pedophiles proffering the argument that they have a right to be what they are in the same way as homosexuals.

Let’s be clear, homosexuality is a loving union in mutual appreciation, respect, and consent in exactly the same way as heterosexuality, whereas the likes of my grandfather raped children and scarred them for life.

He knew exactly what he was doing.
To call it pedophilia somehow excuses it, and listing it in the DSM as a mental health disorder somehow legitimises it.

I do not believe that any of the people mentioned here acted beyond their mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong.
They boasted, they swaggered, they felt it was their right, they lived by their own code of justice, they made up the rules in their own warped world.

But they are not aliens, they are human, and we feel it deeply as it defiles each of us.

They took our children, our beautiful loving children, who looked up to them for guidance, hope, security, protection, and fucked them.

With enormous strength and courage the victims are speaking out, they are the children of the revolution.

At last we are saying no, you will not do this anymore and you will you not get away with what you have done, as we evolve, open our eyes, and heal.

Julia Brightly

September 4th 2013

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Shrink Wrapped

This morning I went to see a shrink.
I walked into the empty reception area and, through what seemed like bullet proof glass, told the receptionist I had an appointment, handing him through a slit the letter I’d been sent to confirm it.

He looked it up down, tapped some keys on his computer, scratched his head, sat back in his chair and read the letter again, a look of consternation crossing his already mardy face.
He thrust it back through the aperture and without looking up mumbled “Take a seat.”

A few minutes later another man popped up in the glass cage and sat next to him.
They had a little confab and both shook their heads.
This second man came out to the water cooler next to where I was sitting.
I looked up at him and smiled as he ambled by.
He snarled.

Wow, I thought, these two are the grumpiest patient care people I have ever seen.
Having been looking for employment the past couple of months I would happily do it better.

I took out my iPad to read while I waited.
I heard a door opening and looking up was surprised to see the area full of people waiting for appointments, in varying degrees of distress.

We all looked over, like meerkats.
A woman called out a man’s name.
We looked around but no-one got up.
She said the name again, louder.
With dread and horror as I realized it was my old name, the name I had when I was a man.
I closed my eyes hoping she’d figure out the error and get it right, or would just give up after which, letting enough time pass so no-one made a connection, I could get up quietly and leave.
She said it for a third time, this time loud enough that people on the street turned their heads.
I opened my eyes, steeled myself, stood up and walked the gauntlet over to her.

“That’s not my name” I hissed as she fumbled with the combination lock on the door.

I could feel all eyes burning into the back of my head, my mouth so dry it literally felt like there was a sock in it.
I’d rather have walked on hot coals back to that water cooler.
She was mortified too, poor thing, trying to apologize as she finally punched in the correct sequence of numbers and we both fell through the doorway in relief.

We entered a little cubicle where she and another young woman quizzed me.
It was clear they were in training and more than a little out of their depth, but I smiled and we carried on.

“How did you do at school?”
The words Eleven Plus, Grammar, and GCE gave them cause for concern, as if I was speaking gibberish.

“Do you ever feel like you are a famous person?”
I mentioned this to a friend after and she said, “Did you just tell them you were in The Passions?”

“Do you ever feel like people are talking about you behind your back?”
Not the best time to mention the receptionists I figured, so kept mum.

After fifteen minutes trying to catch me out they told me to wait in reception while they spoke with the head honcho, then they’d give me their assessment.
Cautiously I opened the door and was relieved to find it again empty, and the receptionists replaced, presumably their shifts over rather than turfed out for their narrow mindedness callousness.

With barely enough time to regain my composure I was called back in, this time to a spacious office where sat a man, mid forties, leaning back in his chair behind a large desk, the two students seated to one side looking very down in the mouth.
I feared the worst.

“Do you know why you’re here?” he asked, eyes piercing my skull.
I glanced over at the girls hoping for a clue but their heads were bowed, looking at their trembling hands.

“Well” he continued, “I am a psychiatrist and your GP has asked me to assess your mental health before referring you on to hospital.”

I expected the door to open and men in white coats strap me into a straight jacket.

“I’m not sure why they sent you here as Charing Cross have their own psychiatrists, but as far as we’re concerned you clearly have no mental health issues so I see no reason why you cannot be treated for gender reassignment on the NHS and I’ll be writing to your GP in the next week or two informing them of this. Goodbye.”

I know.
Two weeks to write a letter!

The girls showed me out in silence.
I concluded they must’ve had a dressing down for using the wrong name and putting me into an awfully embarrassing situation which I thought particularly unfair seeing as it was most likely his error.

It was a kind of surreal and not altogether pleasant experience, my first and hopefully last encounter with the NHS mental health department.

In the UK one can have gender reassignment on the National Health Service but there are a number of hoops to jump through.
The psych eval was number two, the first being to register with a GP, a family doctor.
Step three is referral to a Gender Clinic for primary care such as hormone therapy, and for me this will be Charing Cross hospital.
To qualify for this one has to live full time in one’s chosen gender for a period of one year.
This is cruel as it is the hormones that give the confidence and body shape to do that successfully.

These hormones are Estradiol, estrogen, the female hormone, forms the breasts, redistributes fat, alters body shape, and Spironolactone, an androgen blocker, stops the production of testosterone.

In the US, where I lived from 2002 until recently, hormones are prescribed immediately after registering with a clinic and being assessed by a psychiatrist, something I did in 2009, and for which of course I had to stump up cash.
No, Obamacare doesn’t cover it, though it is now tax deductible.
Fortunately because I had been on hormones over there for nearly four years my GP over here prescribed them straight off the bat.

The final step, the one I am most keen to complete, is SRS or GRS, sex/gender reassignment surgery, turning my bits around, a procedure that would cost me upwards of thirty grand in the US.

I’m no medical tourist, before you reach for your green pen.
I’ve paid taxes and national insurance here for over thirty years and do so now.

SRS for many but not all transgender people, is the final stage, the last piece of the jigsaw.
After years of hormones, the gradual reshaping of the body and mind, after laser or electrolysis hair removal, after voice training, after trachea shaving, comes the vagina.

Those of a nervous disposition look away now - for male to female surgery the glans of the penis, the head, is turned into a clitoris, the penis itself turned inside out to form the vagina, the testicles removed, the labia formed, and the urethra repositioned.
We’re talking major surgery.

Not everybody chooses to have it.
Some people do not want to have to go through the pain, discomfort, and the three months minimum recovery.
Some simply cannot afford it.

I have had done and paid for everything so far, including the trachea shave, where an incision is made under the chin and the trachea, the Adam’s apple cartilage, is shaved to reduce or remove its prominence, feminizing the neck.

It’s a long journey, a gender journey, and one not to be taken lightly.
Yes, it has been wonderful, calming, life affirming, to be able to at last admit to myself who I truly am and, most importantly, to feel good about it.
But there are pitfalls, should you, reader, be thinking about choosing this path.
It is not uncommon to find that the thing that makes you feel complete makes other people run for the hills, or want to beat you to a pulp.

Within the blink of an eye home, job, friends, can all disappear.

I’ve been lucky in that most of my friends have stuck with me.
Not all though, and not all those who’ve stuck around have found it easy.
It must be quite a thing to have a friend you’ve known for 30 years seemingly out of the blue declare themselves female and start wearing dresses and make up in public.

After the initial shock and embarrassment most folks come around.
Those that don’t, well were they really friends?

I travel a lot as a touring sound mixer, and in early transition found myself in some tricky situations, with my name change papers in one hand, and my old passport in the other, trying to get into, for example, Russia.
The thing is to stand your ground, be open, sincere, smiling just enough, not too much that you look insane, or more than they already think you are.

In Japan one time the immigration official looked at me, a woman, looked at my passport, a man, put a hand to his forehead, exhaled deeply, and waved me on, shaking his head.

In China I had five men in uniform all looking at my face, then my passport, up and down, up and down for 20 minutes, jut-jawed, grimacing, then begrudgingly letting me pass. 
I walked through with all the dignity I could muster.

One thing it’s worth bearing in mind at these situations, should you ever find yourself there, is to remember that sometimes the straightest looking people cross dress.
Oh yes, it’s a lot more common than you’d think.

Most who transition do so later in life, when it is hardest.
When the skeleton has formed, the voice dropped, the beard thick, the head bald, all the will and pills in the world may not produce the effects society deems appropriate.

The best time for anyone to change gender is before puberty, and thankfully that is beginning to happen now.

When I was eight years old I would go to sleep every night hoping I would wake up a girl, and cry every morning.
This was the nineteen sixties, when homosexuality was illegal, men were men and women were terrified.

Just the other day I saw an article in a national newspaper about a happy heterosexual couple who had both changed gender.
We’ve come a long way since I was eight.
But there are people who would’ve looked at that happy couple and called them freaks, or worse, much worse.
We can have two happy people who don’t fit into a warped nonsensical bigoted hateful view of humanity or two miserable people who do.

I ‘pass’.
This really helps, as no gang of uncouth youths have tried to hospitalise me.
But I am now a middle aged woman which presents me with a whole new slew of discrimination, not least that I am failing to get work.

A friend who is still struggling a bit said to me recently “I don’t understand why anybody would chose to be a middle aged woman.”

There’s nothing I can do about being middle aged.

Gender is not black and white.
It’s a rainbow.

Fortunately I am a citizen of a country that recognizes my condition as something essential to treat, that will do so for free at point of need, and will allow me to become my gender of choice legally whether I have had SRS or not.

Now, gis a job.

Julia Brightly

August 22, 2013