It isn’t unusual for modern pre-teens to have questions about themselves, their environment, school or development.

When I started to question myself it was the mid-1970s and I was ten years old at my local primary school. I didn’t have a sister but a girl next door was almost my age and we had used her dressing-up box since I was about 7 or 8. Given the age, that meant skirts and dresses.

So as senior school approached I realised I could not go to the local comprehensive school (now a High School) as I was tall, skinny, very intelligent, and had feminine gestures. The latter had led to some minor bullying by the girls at my primary school. I knew by likely experience that the local comprehensive school would be bad, potentially dangerous, and that I could not see myself finishing the school. Fortunately my intelligence won me a space at a boy’s school 20 miles away. Whilst this was a state school it was also a high-achieving school with 400 years of history.

I effectively hid at that school for seven years and worked all the spring and summer breaks – thus keeping out of the radar of the kids I knew from primary school.

I finished that school in1984, age 18, but still didn’t know how to describe myself. Libraries weren’t useful for the “what am I” questions and on-line searching was still a decade away.

Indeed, it was several years after I had bought my first apartment that access to the internet became a reality. I joined a few Usenet groups and suddenly realised I was transgender. I was already in my mid to late 20s when I finally put a label on myself, two decades after I knew I was different.

Having a name for my feelings meant I could do some research, but that was as far as it went because of my government job.

Many years later, in 2008, I found myself in a restaurant in my home town. The waitress recognised me and apologised for the way she and her friends treated me at primary school!


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