In the first of a news series, columnist Lisa Bond takes her first wobbly steps into womanhood
BY LISA BOND
Once upon a time there was a girl.
I’m better at beginnings than endings – isn’t everyone? But that’s how my story began.
Unlike most girls, I was completely unaware of the fact that I was, in fact, a girl.
Little clues, like putting on a pleated skirt and playing Amy out of Little Women with my cousins, or a fascination with the “Triumph has the bra for the way you are” advert passed me by. As did most things, to be fair. Fast forward half a century, however, and now I know who I am – and I’ve got the socio-political gendero-femino knickers to prove it.
The trans “debate” in Britain is now so entrenched it’s virtually become white noise, as opponents and allies trade accusations and rebuttals. Yet few of your actual trans voices have made it into the media. Fewer still are late transitioners, such as myself, or ones that are potential faces of Dior or Heinz Alphabetti Spaghetti. Again, like myself.
Since I transitioned at the age of 50, four years ago, my life has borne virtually no resemblance to any common trans narrative. I haven’t stepped seamlessly into womanhood, in gleaming patent heels and well-cut suits. Nor have I marauded the ladies in John Lewis like a pink dalek, in search of lesbians to define ruthlessly out of existence.
No-one told me, four years on, I’d count my primary feminine characteristics as extreme devotion to my rescue cat, and an obsession with the arms race between my boobs and belly.
Abruptly single, I joined Twitter. I joined the august ranks of the local Labour Party, I learned the trumpet and joined a punk brass band, going with them on a World Tour of Dunkirk during its anarchic and very gender fluid fishing festival.
I kept working as a jobbing writer – leaping some obstacles and tripping over some others. Above all, I had fun, being myself for the first time in my life and revelling in wholly unsuitable outfits and looks.
At the same time (after some thought) I decided my previous male heterosexuality was now female homosexuality. Enthused, I began asking out women right, left and centre – only to discover that, in transitioning, I’d somehow acquired a rare superpower called reverse gaydar, giving me an unerring ability to home in on the straightest, happily marriedest, three kids and countingest women around. I can pick out a straight woman at an L-Word convention in San Francisco, in Pride Week.
This column is real life: a trans woman taking her first wobbly steps into her female and lesbian identities against the background of a virulent and thoroughly beastly British transphobic culture. Only it’s without the boring stuff about ideology or science or politics, because that sort of thing is for enthusiasts, and I’d rather train tortoises to high jump.
It’s also the story of what it’s like for a woman to start again at a time when most of her contemporaries are placing bulk orders online for Werthers Originals for their grandchildren. My cis British Asian bestie – a pocket dynamo I met on one of my first evenings out as a woman, who’d separated from her husband of decades just two weeks before – shared my journey, and a fair amount of Prosecco as well.
Finally, it’s also the story of reinvention in later life. Last September, I began a nursing course at university. The medical stuff is all right, but the real shock to the system was realising most of my fellow students were young enough to be my granddaughters. Now I’m the momma of them all. Ironic that.
Lisa Bond is a writer and person living in 21st century London. Identifying mainly as a carbon-based, bipedal life form, her hobbies include being a lesbian and transgender woman. To keep her off the streets and usefully distracted, she recently became a student nurse and hopes eventually to meet Alex Kingston. In 2018, she took part in her band Brunk’s legendary world tour of Dunkirk, where her punk and ska trumpeting skills were much admired in French.
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