I don’t think anyone would have been good enough for my in-laws, so I try not to take their frequent digs seriously. Nothing I do is right. I’m too thin, I haven’t given my husband a child, my degree in psychology is ‘useless’. I’m not up for the girly lunches and shopping sessions my mother-in-law lives for. I dread to think how they’d react if they knew I was transgender.
Luckily we only see them a couple of times a year – we’re in London and they’re in Sydney, Australia. I prefer to see them on their territory. My parents have travelled down from the Borders a few times, but my dad’s a farmer and London’s not his favourite place. My mum’s very glam so she’s more their sort of person, but both worry about giving away my secret.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was a girl and I finally told my parents when I was 15.
I’m Lucy now, but I started life as Alasdair and it wasn’t easy. People are much more accepting of all the issues around gender identity these days, but I’m 37. It was hard being a farmer’s son (their only child) and knowing I was a girl thirty years ago.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was a girl. I finally told my parents when I was 15. My mum found it really hard but my dad was surprisingly ok about it. We had one long chat where he said it was up to me what I did and how I lived my life, but he would always support me.
When I went to university three years later it was as Lucy. No one ever questioned my gender, even though I’d just started treatment. I’m very slender – probably a bit androgynous; my voice never broke and there was no sign of an Adam’s apple. I was just accepted as a girl. Apart from making sure I never changed my clothes in front of anyone, there were no problems. I was constantly asked out by boys but wasn’t brave enough to go. Instead, I just enjoyed dressing, acting and being treated like a girl.
When I went home for holidays I tended not to see any of my old school friends. I didn’t want to explain myself. So, for me, life started properly at uni.
When I came round I had no idea things had gone horribly wrong; I’d had a bad reaction and suffered a cardiac arrest.
My dad paid for me to see a psychiatrist. Once it was confirmed my situation was genuine, I was referred to a specialist for hormone treatment and surgery. It sounds old-fashioned now, but gender identity issues were viewed in a completely different way even just 20 years ago.
I was 24 when I went for my first surgery and wasn’t nervous at all. When I came round from the anaesthetic I had no idea things had gone horribly wrong; halfway through I’d had a bad reaction and suffered a cardiac arrest. The doctors resuscitated me but I’d been kept in a coma for three weeks. My parents were convinced I was going to die.
I don’t want to go into all the details but the final part of the surgery was never completed. I doubt it ever will be, either. So I’m no longer a man, but neither am I a complete woman. That was devastating, and it took me a long time to come to terms with what happened. My mum changed her attitude completely and ever since then I’ve been Lucy to her, no reservations. My dad was so upset for me that it made me stronger and determined to cope. He took me to two further specialists who said further surgery shouldn’t be considered. I decided to live my best life as Lucy and hoped I’d eventually meet someone who accepted me for who I was.
Tim’s a doctor and children adore him. I backed off when I realised I was falling for him – if anyone was born to be a dad, it’s him.
Once I’d recovered and completed my doctorate I took up a placement in Adelaide for a year. That’s where I met Tim, a rugby-playing Australian doctor. He’d left Sydney to have some freedom from his overpowering parents.
He sounds like a stereotype, but he’s not. Although he seemed brash, loud and overpowering at first, he’s the kindest and most gentle person I’ve ever met. He’s a paediatric doctor and children adore him. It’s one reason I backed off quickly when I realised I was falling for him – if anyone was born to be a dad, it’s him.
I finally told him the truth after months of trying to find the right words. I honestly thought I’d never see him again. He was stunned but incredibly sympathetic, and insisted it made no difference. He said he loved me and nothing else mattered.
We carried on seeing each other for the next six months and things got better every day. I had no idea what it could be like to be with someone you were totally in tune with, who wanted you to be happy and planned to stay around forever. We had spats like everyone else, but only over little things. We were in total agreement over the big things.
I stopped worrying about not being able to give him children because I knew he genuinely wanted me. For the first time I considered telling my closest friends about my true past.
Their favourite subject is when we’ll give them grandchildren – they’ve even offered to pay for IVF.
That all changed when I met Tim’s staid, conservative parents. I realised they’d have a hard enough time accepting me as Lucy. Telling them I started life as Alasdair would be impossible. They’re homophobic and openly, viciously critical about transgender issues. If they knew the truth, they’d do everything they could to turn Tim’s sister and brother against him. They’d make life as difficult as possible.
When we got engaged his mother scared the wits out of me by planning a huge wedding. Instead, Tim and I married quietly in a register office in Scotland. My parents were there; we told his we’d eloped to Mexico, which is where we honeymooned.
I’ve never felt I could shout about myself from the rooftops, and now I never will.
That was seven years ago. Their favourite subject now is when we’ll give them grandchildren. They’ve even offered to pay for IVF treatment. We thanked them and said we’d let them know if we wanted to go down that route.
I’ve never felt I could shout about myself from the rooftops, and now I never will. No matter how accepting the world might be, it would end Tim’s relationship with his parents for good – and he’s already given up enough for me.