I transitioned, the whole smash, in the 1970s.
I write about the trans experience to help educate and to raise sensitivity. I identify with you in having to learned about gender from books and articles in magazines and newspapers. I still bear the emotional scars doing this as a child and never daring to speak of it once I was old enough to understand that everyone would get really, really, really mad at me for daring to tell the truth about myself — that I was a girl. As one physician once said to me (herself a person of transition). “That’s quite a think to put onto a child . . . to make the child bear that all alone for years.”
If memory serves, Sandy Stone, a contemporary of mine, called it the Obligatory Transsexual File that every trans kid had — a stash of newspaper clippings and magazine articles. For all their faults, my parents subscribed to lots of publications, some scientific, and every once in a while an article would appears and I would seize it and hide it in the stash. I kept a “diary” I wrote, in Morse code no less!, where I wrote to myself about how much it meant to me to be a girl. We’re talking a kid who is just learning to read and write and I’m doing that?! We’re talking desperate to somehow deal with it.
I hope this generations of kid who know early (my mother said it was at 28 months in my case) will never have to go through that. Nor will they not be allowed to socialize in their true sex, nor be forced to go through a disfiguring “wrong” puberty. That was the worst.
I was lucky in two ways as a kid. One was that Christine Jorgensen became a sensation in 1953 when she had surgery. It was headline news in all the major papers at the time and everyone was abuzz about it including my best friend who was a “tomboy,” but today would be called “trans man” by some. We kept each other’s company and confessed our dark secrets to each other.
Years later in the HBO documentary What Sex Am I?, Jorgensen is interviewed and she speaks to the “courage” we supposedly had. She said it was need. She compared it to telling a person who was bound in a wheelchair that there was a way the person could walk. It was not courage to opt for that.
I keep referring back to Stonewall and the watershed year of 1969 when Biber started doing affordable surgery in the USA, otherwise transition was a cul de sac. Medical transition after that was a real possibility.
I was very lucky to have been in the right places at the right times so that I transitioned early and with a minimum of tragedy.