A Tranny life……

3 08 2010

Almost two months on the dole and my flatmate and I are in desperate times, the rent is two months in arrears and due to the nature of our tenancy (we’re “employees” who pay the agency to live in the flat and keep squatters out until they knock it down at some point in the future) we can’t claim housing benefit. We’re both short on money and Emma (the flatmate) who signed on at the same time as me still hasn’t received a penny due to some kafka-esque bureaucratic nightmare in which the Social don’t believe her situation yet have no problem with mine.

So today things were coming to a head, we could  both be out on our collective and shapely behinds this time next week. I spoke to my dad, not so much asking for money (I do hate having to ask money off my folks but sadly these days I have little choice) but just for moral support in what is quite a scary and uncertain time.

For most part of my life my father was quite a distant and private character, it was only until two years ago that I found out why. Like me he is a transvestite, a lifestyle choice we both revealed to each other during one of our pub lunches Oop North. Neither of us had idea of the secret life of the other, my dad was waiting to sus out if I could be accepting of who he really was and in quite a funny yet heart-warming moment I told him I was more sympathetic than he could have imagined. Quite a mind-bending  situation I’ll grant you but at the same time a wonderful moment which may become a scene in a film someday. At that point we both understood each other a helluva lot more than we had for the past thirty years.

So I told him what the situation is, that for the first time in my working life I was on the cusp of being employed in a position relevant to my degree in Media. It is only a freelance job with just few hours a week, not enough to live off but it’s a step in the right direction. I am genuinely excited about this in a way I’ve never felt about a job before. So many of us suffer in work that means nothing to us , as if suffering and misery somehow is more worthy than enjoying life and doing what you are genuinely good at that to see an opportunity to haul yourself out of the horror you have to take the risk and go for it.

We both reminisced about the jobs we had previously and how we felt about them, for him he worked over 30 years for British Rail moving from one souless office to another until eventually he was made redundant for his trouble. For over three decades he bit his lip and said nothing as he was expected to, pretended to be something he was not as conformed to Society’s rules. For some twisted reason we are supposed to consider this to be more noble and worthy than taking the gamble and living how deep down you feel you should.

My dad, who calls himself “Emma”  is free of those chains now but still experiences some conflict because he is an out and proud transvestite. He volunteers on a local steam railway, one of the passions of his life for as long as I can remember. He gets some money from this, just enough to supplement his pension but a few weeks ago he was asked to leave. In a typically British form of bigotry no names were given, no statements made, nothing was said to his face but it was apparent that some on the railway were not comfortable with my dad’s change of circumstances and made it their business to force him out.

Even still in the 21st Century and after so many hard fought battles a person who is different and causes no harm to anyone else is still prejudiced against by the mundane and vocal few who find it impossible to live and let live. Small minded and petty little people, those who make life a misery for everyone else because their world view has to be imposed on all around still have the power and the compulsion to interfere and judge. My dad and I could not comprehend the arrogance and spite of such people who rather tolerate those who are different from them have to destroy  lives when it is no business of their.

We didn’t feel anger, instead we felt pity for those pathetic and backward types. Perhaps they are bitter that people such as us can be strong enough to be who were are rather than who society expects us to be, what is imposed on us without asking. Perhaps their whole lives have been a lie and they realise what a cosmic joke it has all been and when they see folk such as us with the AUDACITY to walk unashamed they want to bring us down out of spite. Or maybe, some people are just cunts.

We then moved on to the sense of community that being part of a minority affords us, something the mundanes are clearly envious of. Because we still suffer prejudice from an unenlightened few we look out for each other. My dad remarked with great fondness the sense of belonging he feels when attending a pride rally and told me how he had his picture in the local paper. It was heart warming to hear the joy in the old man’s voice when he spoke of this for he was truly happy with his life now.

When critics go on that Pride rallies are a step too far and that straight people don’t “flaunt themselves in other people’s faces” they miss the point. For us we have to live our lives in fear that who we are will get us into trouble even though we aren’t causing harm to anyone else. With a Pride march we can walk in daylight and be PROUD of our identity instead of having to lie just to fit in with other people’s arbitrary rules and expectations. For one day a year we don’t have to be ashamed of who we are, we don’t have to put up with other people’s issues projected on ourselves and we live how we want to, how we should be able to live in any decent a free culture.

So yeah, despite our unusual situation my dad and I get on very well and understand each other on a deep level. And yes, he leant me the money to cover the rent arrears on the promise that when I finally start making it in this big scary city I pay him back. We could go for a girls night out in Manchester some time on that money, to Canal Street where we can live how we should and be happy with ourselves.