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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2020: Chloe's story

chloeThis November, University Hospitals Dorset are marking Trangender Day of Remembrance, which honours those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

As part of this, we will be sharing staff and patient stories to raise awareness of the diversity in our NHS family.

Chloe, a hospital patient, has told her story below.

"I first knew I felt different at eleven years old. I had just started upper school and coming from a family of eight children, I would sometimes be left having to borrow my sisters school shirt; this was enjoyable for me and I realised I felt good about myself in girl's clothes.

Growing up I did not understand what identity I was; I didn't identify as being female at the time however I knew something was different.

When I was thirteen I moved into foster care which was an all-boys home and therefore I never had an opportunity to dress in girl's clothes, however I continued to have a desire to do so and the thoughts did not leave me. Whilst in foster care, I had some intimate relations with a couple of boys; these experiences brought clarity to me that I had enjoyed this as though I was a female.

As I grew older I continued to have relationships with both boys and girls however there came a time in my life where I felt I needed to have a long-term relationship with a female because I needed to fit into society and be normal. This is when I met my first wife; we remained married for ten years and had three children together.

During this time in my life I began to experiment more and began wearing ladies clothes more frequently however in those days if you were caught wearing women's clothes, you were considered a freak. I felt I had to be married and lead a 'normal' life to fit in as society did not accept transgender people as they do now therefore I felt I was held back and consequently did not access proper support until many years later.

My second marriage allowed me to be more open about my gender. It was easier for me to identify as female. My wife was supportive and would buy ladies clothes specifically for me, however this was behind closed doors and I still felt the pressure to fit into society.

There was one occasion I went out dressed in lady's clothes with make-up and a wig on, but I could not find the courage to get out of the car and ended up coming home again without anyone seeing me. As a result of my identity, my second marriage fell apart and I consequently turned to alcohol just to get to sleep at night. Alcohol quickly became a coping mechanism for me and also helped me to block out my identity issues.

When I was in my forties I approached a private hospital to discuss gender reassignment, however not much came of it and I felt I needed to make the most of what I did have, however I continued to deeply desire truly wanting to be female for many years and still do today.

If you know inside you are feminine, it is difficult to cope with not being so biologically. I just wanted to come out and be a woman but every time I tried different ways it didn't work. A psychiatrist I spoke to some years ago made a joke about it and suggested that lots of men wore woman's clothes. I wasn't able to express enough how it was so much more than just wearing women's clothes. My emotions are deeply saddened by remaining in a male body and I often cry about it.

Fast forward to 25 years later, I found myself under the care of an alcohol service after spending many years trying to numb my emotions with the bottle. As a result of this I have been able to work on the root cause of my alcohol misuse being my gender identity and have had support to complete a referral to gender clinic, have been accessing extra support through charities and feel as though I have been born again.

My confidence has grown, and I now feel confident and proud in telling people my name is Chloe. Although I biologically still need medical intervention, I feel more like a real woman than I ever have. It is never too late to be who you really are!"

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