Birmingham Transgender woman speaks of “living hell” ahead of International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31)Posted on 23-03-2018 by Maria Hughes
A woman who spent years battling her gender identity has spoken of “surviving 71-years of a living hell” ahead of International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31).
From a young age, Vic, not his real name, knew he was not like the other boys. He had no interest in football or running about, but enjoyed dressing in women’s clothes.
Until two years ago, the 71-year-old, from Walsall, spent the rest of his life trying to conform.
Now known as Simone, a name she is using to prevent being identified, she said: “I did the best I could to fit in as it was during a time when you couldn’t do anything else – I lived in a small village and at 13 I found out I was probably gay. It wasn’t something that was ever spoken about and sexuality was definitely something which wasn’t discussed in school.
“After leaving school I continued fighting my true feelings, and tried to conform. By the age of 21 I was married, two years later I was divorced.”
Simone, who is in the process of divorcing her third wife, began dressing in women’s clothes in the privacy of her own home and was accused of infidelity when a woman she was dating discovered the outfits in her wardrobe.
She added: “I began working again, driving buses. I’d wear women’s stockings and underwear under my male uniform – nobody knew and nobody noticed.”
After passing psychiatric reviews for gender dysphoria, Simone is now preparing to undergo surgery to complete her transformation to a woman in June.
She added: “I changed my name and began dressing as a woman permanently. I wear estrogen patches, a 38D bra and dress appropriately. If I didn’t tell them, a lot of people would never know I started life as male. When I’ve had my operation, I will know I have survived 71 years of living hell.”
The transformation has not been easy. Simone describes her coming out as “petrifying”. It was the support of Ageing Better in Birmingham, a £6 million programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, which has allowed her to love the life she now lives.
The “life changing” scheme runs across the city to tackle isolation in the over 50s.
So far 4,700 people have benefited from the Ageing Better in Birmingham programme, which was launched in April 2015 and delivered by an Ageing Better Partnership, led by Birmingham Voluntary Service Council. Community events, clubs and activities have been adapted and developed to encourage more people to take part, get together and form new initiatives.
To ensure help gets to where it is most needed, four priority areas have been identified – Isolated carers, ensuring the older Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community does not have to go ‘back into the closet’, Tyburn, which has a high over 80 population and Sparkbrook where mobile communities face particular challenges.
After a chance meeting with an Ageing Better in Birmingham representative, Simone was invited to sit on the Age of Experience panel, a cohort of older people involved in the decision making across all aspects of the programme.
She said: “By talking more about our true feelings, we can break down the stigma that prevents many older people from being open about loneliness. The human need for friendship and support does not go away with age. It actually increases.
“There are groups out there and Ageing Better in Birmingham is there to help people find out what’s going on. Working as part of the Age of Experience team has also had a huge positive impact on my life.”
For information about programmes taking place near you, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 678 8876. For LGBT groups information, email: email@example.com or call 0121 643 0821.
Ageing Better in Birmingham is part of the National Lottery funded Ageing Better programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. So far 4700 people have benefited from the Ageing Better in Birmingham programme, which was launched in April 2015 and delivered by an Ageing Better Partnership, led by Birmingham Voluntary Service Council. Existing community events, clubs and activities have been developed to encourage more people to take part, get together and form new initiatives. For more information about the programme, visit https://www.ageingbetterinbirmingham.co.uk