From the age of maybe five, I had always been confounded by having a girl’s body. I managed to avoid it influencing me much up to around ten, when tiny breasts began to bud on my chest and Tim, my big brother, told me to put my t-shirt back on. From that instant, I was locked into femaleness. At eleven I went to an all-girls school. I started my periods, and grew hips and a contempt for myself that went so deep, in the end, I forgot it was there.
Magical events would happen when people called me a boy. Sometimes this would be embarrassing, for instance when I was about to take off my clothes in a female changing room, but still I would thrill at these little exchanges. I kept my hair short, grew muscles to throw the discus, developed a deep voice and began a very, very long journey of androgyny. At fourteen I realised I was gay.
Eddie tells Mia about the moment he realised he was transgender. Post continues…
I was at an athletics meeting, waiting for the discus event, and I caught myself staring at a girl hurdler and imagining kissing her. ‘Oh fuck. I’m fucking gay.’ I look forward to the day when young people will say to themselves, ‘Oh great—I’m gay! Woohoo! I can’t wait to tell my mum!’ Not in England in the early eighties. I managed to hide it for a while, but other girls at school began to sense something was different and kept their distance. I had my first kiss at sixteen. With a girl. Gentle lips. Perfume. Slight fingers on my cheek.
I went to music college at seventeen and felt somehow obliged to try sex with a man. Kissing a woman had been infinitely complex and tantalising; this was harsh, direct, unsubtle. I confirmed for myself that I was a lesbian and confessed to my mum. She ran from the room and didn’t talk to me for a day. The grim disappointment in her eyes slowly dissipated as I graduated from college, won a big scholarship and went to West Berlin to study. I then embarked on a serially monogamous love-life. Seven years was consistently the time limit, straight from one deeply loved woman to the next. There was always a point where I couldn’t give any more of myself. And then I left. If I’d met myself in a bar, I would have felt sorry for me.
From college to my job in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, that was how my twenties spun by. No Taliban limits for me. I drank and partied and ate and travelled myself away from any deeper self-knowledge, until I understood what needed to be done to escape the cycle of semi-pleasure/semi-misery.