The sad little girl
I can picture the earliest memory of when I wanted to be a girl, but I remember being very young arguing with my mother about why I had to stand up to use the toilet. Wearing girls clothes back when I was that young was awkward, being that I never had much chance when both my mother and my sister weren’t around. I was caught a couple of times, yelled at, physically abused. It was drummed into me that early on by my mother that anything not conforming to the gender binary was not tolerated.
Well that was my mother’s point of view, my father was largely absent in those years due to working 14-16 hour days in logistics, as we call it now. I recall an argument between them when I was about 9 or 10 about the film Rocky Horror Picture Show; A friend of mine had been singing one of the more well known songs from it and my mother was appalled that someone would let a child watch such “perversion”; My father argued that transvestism was not perversion, but part of normal sexuality… we left the room to let them argue, which was kind of normal for my childhood.
At around that age I had out grown my sisters clothes, so I found a box of my aunt’s clothes that were being stored in our shed while she was in England. She was a small lady, so they fitted me being a boy, and I had this collection up until my mother found them and disposed of them over time as they were found. Psychological and sometimes physical abuse accompanied such discoveries.
I changed friends in my early teenage years, mainly to fit in, but also as a safety mechanism. My friend I mentioned earlier was coming to terms with his own sexuality, he became openly gay in high-school. I didn’t want that stigma, I didn’t identify as gay–I had no interest in men, and the neighborhood we lived in was not very welcoming to diversity other than Ford or Holden.
I didn’t have my own clothes at this point, I would sneak some of my sisters clothes that would fit when I had the chance, but fearing being outed to my friends I didn’t keep anything incriminating in any draws or my wardrobe fearing discovery by my friends. That was until I discovered amphetamines at 14.
The first time I uses “speed” the urge to dress was uncontrollable, I ditched my friends and went home. Thinking my sister was staying at her friend’s house I went in her room to grab some clothes–she was home, and I had woken her up by the creaking noise of her wardrobe opening. I mumbled something and scuttled back into my room. I didn’t get to dress up that night, but from then on I knew this was a real part of me that had to be let out.
I collected clothes and makeup from my sister over my teenage years, to make sure nobody found them I put a lock on my wardrobe. Being someone who grew and sold cannabis, I figured this would more likely arouse suspicion related to that, than any choice is clothing.
I never shared my secret with any of my “love” interests at the time, I didn’t see how it would be compatible within a “heteronormative” paradigm. Storm was one of these interests.
Birth of Portia
I chose to keep closeted in my early 20s, so my social outlet when female was always the internet–I had built a pretty close relationship with the internet over the years and to say the web was my second home would be placing too much consideration for my physical location. I lived on the net, so I needed a name.
Fake internet names in the web1.0 era–I chose one that suited my love of automotive engineering: Portia Karraira (I have since chosen to use ‘Portia” with my real last name on most internet sites). I was content being a cyber-entity, I worked as a web designer/developer so it didn’t matter what I was dressed in when I was working from home–well when I had the place to myself.
In my 20’s I was living with just my mother in the same house I grew up in. My father had left to go live in a state of semi-retirement after my mother had kicked him out. I had the place largely to myself I could live almost up to a week en femme.
My amphetamine problem was getting quite bad by this point, and I was selling it to support myself; as I was becoming no longer able to maintain the self-employed web design status. This inevitably caused conflict with both my mother and the police and I soon found myself homeless with charges pending.
It was during my 20’s that I first shared my secret with a girl I was seeing, she was a law student and identified as a lesbian, so I didn’t mind telling the girl in my bed why there was a lock on my wardrobe. The relationship didn’t last, but from then I tried to make a point of mentioning it to whomever I was going to be involved with.
Homelessness is something you take any option out of so I moved in with my father into his tiny 2-bedroom place in Fremantle. The relationship with my father wasn’t the best when I moved in, and it was a few turbulent years while I got myself clean and back into employment. I had no female clothes during this time (I had no male clothes other that the shirt on my back that I was wearing when I arrived in Fremantle).
Once I started working again, I started to build a wardrobe of female clothes. I had no problem shopping for them–I had spent the majority of my income in the early yearsop-shopping so I had things to wear in public; I started spending on clothes I would wear in private. Living in such confined accommodation I found it difficult to hide my female wardrobe from my father and it became unspoken that it was known.
During this time I was drinking heavily and having random sexual encounters with women I would meet at pubs. This was unlike me, who had a somewhat limited sexual history up until then. I never told any of these women, there was never any intent to continue to see them.
I had largely avoided relationships when I was getting back on my feet, my theory being that anyone interested in me would have as much problems as I do. This meant I never took a sexual interest into a female, who I respect enough to not mention by name, (another “its complicated” who identified as lesbian), a good friend until it got past the its complicated point. We were close friends for about 2 or 3 years before we became intimately close. Then,unexpectedly, after 10 years of not speaking, a former love interest from high-school comes back into my life.
A good friend she was, ode to her, and returned to being the “friend”, She knew the Storm would pass and that she would be the one picking up the pieces of debris; she stepped aside as a lover and became the friend again. Of course Storm, being the destructive bitch she is, was out for maximum impact. I made the mistake of moving in with Storm instead of seeking adequate shelter from the rain.
Thinking I had reached my happily ever after with the return of my highschool sweetheart, I happily shared with her my secret. She claimed to be ok with it, that its something guys do. It was just a claim, she never wished to meet Portia, and upon seeing a picture of ‘her’ she insisted that it wasn’t me.
The relationship was turbulent and ended and my bestie and myself moved to Melbourne (well she moved, I just went with her to carry her books and guitar). I couldnt rebuild again, I was cold, I wanted to come home.So I left my best friend in Melbourne. Pretty much literally as we had an argument before I left.
When I arrived back in Perth I called a neighbour to pick me up from the airport and then I called Storm; Yeah I still missed her–she didnt even believe I had gone anywhere and just thought I had made it up and hid out for the duration of the trip. I recalled why I left in the first instance.
I needed to get my career back on track after this trans-continental sojourn so I went back to work for DEC (Department of Environment), doing a job I wasn’t “allowed” to do a few years prior–it made me feel go to be getting somewhere but it was hardly fulfilling. This was highlighted with 2 consecutive days work which ended up is us not saving a baby Swan River dolphin (which was ultimately saved by the water police the following morning), because as well meaning as we were none of the DEC staff present were qualified to handle marine mammals.
A few days later I was having my morning tea at my desk at work, a tweet came up regarding mid year enrolments at Murdoch Uni; I thought about actually having a job where I could make a difference–and do that job as me. I thought about my history with the law and my career as a public servant. I responded t the tweet and filled out the application. A few weeks later I was accepted to law school.
I thought I could transition at Murdoch; and I knew if I had a law degree at the end of it, I could use that to start a new career in trans advocacy if I couldn’t re-start my career in web.
Here & Now
I ultimately left my job at DEC for the Department of Housing (same job, same government–much different culture!) and subsequently left that after a serious bout of depression; I eventually came out after this, and was a major contribution to the recovery of my depression.
I was living about 20-40% of my live as female, depending on my study schedule, I was still not femme at uni, tho I am out to most of my social network there. To me that was the next important step to living full time as a female, I am aiming to start next semester en femme. I dress female around the house and out shopping, and am currently seeking suitable part-time employment where I can work in my desired gender.
The decision to seek hormone therapy was done after a great deal of independent research on my part and I feel that was an important step I need to take.
Epilogue (for now, there is more to add to this, and it gets explicit)
I am now one month on HRT, and my life is so much happier even tho I’m still in the same poverty trap as before. I intend to expand this text, give a lot more detail into the instances where I have been the victim of anti-trans violence. I do need my story, the full story to be told, but this is something I’m still living thru myself.