I had to make what was quite an emotional decision today. I had packed up a lot of my dresses I had from when I was in Chichester. I had saved them for concerts and public appearances and at the time they meant all the world to me. Since I made my decision to give up opera and classical singing, and stop kidding myself that I am not trans, I really didn’t know what to do with them. I just put them in bin bags and tried not to think about it. Today as I was leaving the house, a bag of them fell down and spilled out on the floor. As I didn’t want them just getting kicked around the house and getting ruined, I made the snap decision to donate them.
There is a dress agency in my town which I gave them to, if they can use them, great, if not they can donate them to charity. I felt a bit sad letting them go, but also a bit relieved. When I was in Chichester, I believed that a great singing career was ahead of me. I had done well with my performance diploma and my degree, and I’d surrounded myself with a lot of people who had encouraged me to follow this path, whatever my misgivings. I remember each one of these dresses, where and then o bought them, and what I wore them for. The pale green one I wore for a music festival in Bognor. The black one was for an Armistice concert. The red one was worn for the anniversary of the local amateur operatic society, and the nude one, well, I never got to wear that, I just bought it and badged it away for a special occasion which never came. I wondered why I had accumulated such a collection of pretty dresses and ball gowns, and dozens of pairs of stilettos, but you have to understand, I believed that my future was going to be as a classical singer, travelling around the country if not the world, singing arias and being lauded as a ‘diva’ or a ‘prima donna’, being given awards and garlands of flowers, appearing on TV next to Russell Watson or Kaff Jenkins, it seemed reasonable at the time, but so facetious now talking about it, but at the time I was deadly serious.
I did a couple of photo shoots hoping I could be a model, and I wore some of the dresses in these photos, which I still have. I was talking into doing a modelling portfolio by an ex ‘friend’ I knew in Bognor, who even took topless pics of me, which would help me to get a recording contract. In fact, I just think he wanted to take topless pictures of me for the hell of it, and being so detached from my body, and not even liking breasts, I must say I didn’t really care much. It made sense at the time I guess, but in actual fact when I was dressed up, and in my stilettos and hair extensions, I kind of felt like a drag queen. Maybe that was because I knew about my masculine side, but had pushed it down, out of sight, and was determined to make the best job I could of being a woman. I knew I couldn’t be ‘mumsy’ and goo goo over babies, and knit little wooly booties, bake cupcakes and watch chick-flicks, I could never be that kind of a woman, but being an “opera diva” did appeal to me, having the lavish dresses and perfect hair and the powerful voice, and being able to hold the audience in the palm of my hand, well, that was different. I cultivated a real ‘diva’ persona, and it made me a bad person, arrogant, combative and jealous.
I’m steadily going through a lot of my ‘feminine’ clothing and bit by bit donating it. A couple of my big ball gowns I gave to a costume workshop who rent out dresses for pantomimes. Hopefully they will make use of them, and it seems quite apt, doesn’t it, that they be used for pantomimes? Much of my life as an ‘opera diva’ was pantomime. I have read of similar things other trans people have done in order to deny their trans status, and to fit in with the status quo. Like the trans women who surprise everyone who thought they were good ole boys who liked their rugby and fishing. I saw a TED talk by a trans man who had had success in a former life as a beauty queen, and I related to this straight away. I felt like over-compensation to me. I really wanted to make a success of being a woman, and to be the best woman I could be, even tho my gender dysphoria precluded me from sexual relationships, and the thought of getting pregnant horrified me. I was brought up to believe in the ‘Godly Wife’ – the life’s goal of every good Brethren sister was to marry young to a good upstanding Brethren man and start breeding, but it made me feel uncomfortable. I believed in things such as my ‘body clock’ and my ‘instincts’ and ‘hormones’ kicking in once I got into my twenties, but they never did.
I realised a couple of years ago that I was just marking time, and saving up for a day that would never come. I was no more going to wake up one day with an invite to perform at the Sydney Opera House with Russell Watson, than I was to wake up one day pining for a baby and maternal bliss. I realised that in fact, I didn’t even enjoy opera, it was something I saw that I could be successful at and be respected for. I always wanted respect, which is something I feel has always eluded me. I don’t want to do this anymore, I do not want to be like Florence Foster Jenkins, an ageing dowager still crazy for the limelight. It is not who I am, or who I ever was.
The thought of being someone who has become a caricature of themselves is not an appealing thought, and I can no longer see myself as this in the future. The dresses I’d stockpiled were never going to be worn to the Last Night of the Prom or for my winning X-Factor performance, not even for local theatrical performances or variety shows. Nobody, as it turned out, actually liked opera as much as I thought they would. I’m also throwing out most of my CD collection, most of which I have not even listened to since buying. I have thousands of CD’s of operas, full scores and solo albums by the likes of Maria Callas and Pavarotti who I thought of as ‘role models’. They were for my ‘study’ to listen to and emulate. I really wanted to make this work, but in the end I couldn’t. Living so long in denial has been a terrible burden to bear, it’s only now I’ve been able to verbalise it, and say out loud, I’m trans. This was never going to work once I admit that irrefutable fact of life.
So, finally throwing out these dresses, stiletto heels and all the other garb, marks to me an end of an era, which is going to allow me to grow into the person I should have been instead of what I perceived that people wanted me to be. I’ve gone back to exploring other kinds of performance, comedy and spoken word. I no longer care if I can sing soprano ‘top C’ and if indeed I go on T, this note will no longer be in my repertoire. That’s no loss to me, just kiss it and let it go. Move on. I’ve gone back to where my real interests lie, music technology, video editing and production. And above all, I’m more comfortable now I can ditch the makeup and hair extensions and wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. There was a time I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup, so look how far I’ve come. I’ve even bought myself a few funky suits. I can be myself now, and be honest about the way I feel about the way I am, and always have been. Being trans is, at first being able to recognise it, then being able to reconcile your life with it, stop hiding from it and make peace with it. That’s what I intend to do now. You need to be honest with yourself first, before you can be honest to other people.