Transition for HSTS: What Can Be Expected for Life?

 Foreword

One often hears only of the poor outcomes when transsexuals are discussed in public forums or in the press and visual media. The prostitute, the public spectacle of the middle aged man dressed up as being “brave” or the publication of a tragic suicide or murder of yet another transsexual. This is, I know from personal experience, what many people fear for someone they love when that person tells them they are transsexual and intend to transition. Though it was some considerable time ago now I know my own mother and father held these same fears for me and vocalised them in an attempt to dissuade me.

I am a Homosexual Transsexual (HSTS). It should be noted that the vast majority of transgender people one sees in the media are not HSTS, but are instead men who suffer from Autogynephillia (AGP) and whose gender dysphoria has lead them to adopt an alternative personality, of someone of the opposite sex. These people have usually led successful lives as men and tend to transition much later in life than HSTS do. These transgender women rarely manage to integrate themselves back into society as their acquired gender after transition and often fulfil some position within the trans community or LGBT movement.

This is not true of HSTS who can usually pass as the opposite sex very early in the transition process and go on to live very normal lives, accepted as women by all those around them.

If you are reading this as a parent of a young HSTS and are concerned about what kind of life your child can expect or if you are a young HSTS with similar worries about your own future, I can assure you that it is possible to live a very normal and successful life after transition, especially these days, where medical help to transition is available to children under 18. To that end I have opted to give a very brief outline of my life so far after 31 years post transition, as part of the information on this site in the hope of perhaps allaying some of those fears.

My History

I was born in 1964 in the UK to a working class family, the eldest of 3 boys. From early childhood I was always gender non-conforming, somewhat feminine in my expression and behaviours and physically small (the complete opposite of my brothers). Fortunately my parents were loving and after I didn’t grow out of my behaviours after a few years simply assumed I was homosexual, which as I approached puberty I and everyone else around me realised I was.

There was, though, something more going on. I recognised that the disconnect I felt to my natal sex and the anguish it caused me was an issue and learned very early that I was transsexual, but kept this secret to myself until my late teens. Back then there was no medical help in the UK for under 18’s and the first gender clinic for children did not open its doors there until I was in my 40’s.

Childhood was difficult, trying to fit in to an expected gender role which required me to try to adopt (unsuccessfully) behaviours which were quite unnatural to me, while coping with the problems Gender Dysphoria caused me. This recognition, though, made me quite resolute and capable as a child and young adult. I was determined not to fail or let this thing beat me, a trait I have witnessed often in other HSTS. We tend to be quite strong willed individuals. I was also, ultimately, very fortunate that puberty had next to no physical effect upon my body and I still looked like a pre-pubertal small boy at 20 years old.

More or less as soon as I was an adult, I left home and tried to exist in the world as a young gay male, afraid of what transitioning would do my life. This  was an abject failure. The cognitive dissonance caused by the gender dysphoria coupled with the recognition that I was no more like the gay men I met than I was the straight men around me, was causing my mental health to suffer. By the time I was 21 I had sought psychiatric help and had been officially diagnosed as suffering from Gender Identity Disorder. By the time I was 23 I had transitioned and was living as a woman in society. By 25 I had undergone Gender Reassignment Surgery.

Concerns about transition

At the time of my announcing my transition to my parents, they expressed many of the fears I have hinted at above and more besides, about what my future (if any) might look like. I too had my own concerns but I knew that this was the only way I was ever going to be happy with my life. They worried about things such as who would employ me, who would love me as a transsexual and they were concerned if I would have to live a sad and lonely life?

Outcomes

I am pleased to report that I experienced no such problems. I passed as female from the moment I began my transition and unlike so few seem to do today, I told nobody of my transsexuality. There were no protections back then for transsexuals or even gay people and secrecy was our greatest ally.

Relationships

While the first couple of years were tricky on the dating front I was never short of male attention, even after disclosing my trans status. Nor was employment an issue I had previously been working as an insurance clerk before transition and I got a similar job in a neighbouring city but as young woman and began to study to become a lawyer at night school. Two years later after my GRS I moved back to my home city and continued with my life and studies while now working at a law firm as a paralegal.

I dated a couple of men after my GRS but it was clear the relationships were not going to last. At 26 I was also working a second part time job in a local bar to help pay the bills for my study and living expenses where I met a charming and funny man the same age as myself who played on the football (soccer) team. I very quickly developed a friendship and a crush on him, though it took him another 4 months for him to ask me on a date!

After we had been dating a couple of weeks, quite terrified at what his reaction might be, I told him of my past. He was shocked of course and struggled with it and the implications of it for a day or two, but he said it didn’t matter and that he loved me and within a few months he had moved in to my flat. We bought our first home together about a year later and today, 27 years on I am still very happily married to this man. Tick that one off mum and dad!

Career

Obviously not being able to have children (and this was before gay adoption was accepted in the UK) I threw myself into my career and despite the latent sexism of many of the men I worked with was very successful. By the time I was in my mid 30’s I was managing a large law firm and at 40 I set up my own niche law firm with a colleague which we built to be the largest of its kind in the UK before selling it to a multi-national. By the time I was 48 I had moved into corporate governance and we either set up or acquired various other companies including amongst various others 3 additional law firms. Today I am a senior executive and shareholder of a large business group with circa 600 employees. Tick two mum and dad!

Conclusion

I have personally known and corresponded with other HSTS who have had similarly successful life paths. One owns and runs a successful model agency having been a model herself. Another is a senior corporate lawyer at a “Magic Circle” law firm and a third owns and runs a string of hair salons. Each of these women are married to their long term partners. Similarly each of these women live stealth with few if any knowing of their transsexuality. While I don’t know her personally, Kay Brown, another HSTS woman, owns several tech companies in the USA and has led a successful life as mother and business woman.

The point is, as MtF HSTS we have the opportunity to lead normal lives within wider society. We have little difficulty attracting sexual partners or life partners. Our career prospects are no different to those of natal women and if anything they are improved (unfairly so) by not usually suffering the career interruptions caused by childbearing. We are not all sex workers as seems to be the opinion of many people or those who exist only in the “trans/queer community”. We are accepted by all around us and by the men in our lives as women.

Transition for HTST is not the doomsday scenario it is painted to be by the media and others. Have faith, stay grounded and things have a tendency to work out.

April Ashley MBE: Fame and notoriety

In the UK, by far the most famous of the HSTS transwomen who were aided by Dr Burou was April Ashley. Unfortunately, her fame was perhaps less welcome than she might have desired.

Born George Jamison in 1935, April was a classic HSTS. She was bullied in her youth for her femininity and, according to her autobiography, never fully masculinised. Fully homosexual, she joined the Merchant Navy, where she was preyed on and raped.

In the late 1950s she moved to Paris and joined the cast at the Carousel Theatre, where she met Coccinelle. SHe took her name, ‘Ashley’ from the character in the film ‘Gone With the Wind’.

In 1960 she took £3000 in savings – a fortune in those days – and went to Casablanca. She became the first British person to have Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS) at Dr George Burou’s clinic there.

April Ashley with Arthur Corbett

Returning to London, she hit the celebrity glamour circuit, working as a model and dating film and theatre stars. In 1961, however, she was publicly outed by the Sunday People, a now-defunct tabloid that specialised in the salacious. With much of her career in tatters and many doors closed to her, in 1963 she met Arthur Corbett, who was married and had four children. He was Eton-educated and the heir of Lord Rowallan, as well as which, he was known to be an autogynephilic transvestite. (Today, it is well known that autogynephiles or AGPs are strongly attracted to HSTS transwomen.)

As is so often the case, though, having divorced his wife to marry April, this marriage also foundered in short order and a hugely notorious court case ensued, as April attempted to secure a financial settlement. The court decided that her husband owed her none, because, since she was legally male, they had never been legally married.

After the trial, April Ashley returned to occasional modelling, writing and public speaking. Although a life long activist for trans rights, she otherwise lived a quiet life and, at time of writing, was still doing so, in Fulham, West London.

April Ashley was able, finally, to legally change her gender marker in 2004, after the UK Government passed the Gender Recognition Act. In 2012 she was awarded the MBE for services to Transgender equality. She always maintained a friendship with Labour Politician John Prescott, whom she had met in the Merchant Navy.

In later life, April suffered considerably from osteoporosis, because she was not prescribed a maintenance dose of oestrogen HRT to keep this at bay.

Sporus: The bride of Emperor Nero

Transsexualism, in the form of HSTS or, as the DSM-V has it, ‘Early Onset Gender Dysphoria’ has been around for a very long time. However, it was not until recently that we have begun to know something of the lives of HSTS. In antiquity, many were known of but few had their lives documented or recorded. Indeed the only one we are aware of was a slave called Sporus, who became the wife of the Roman Emperor Nero.

Sporus was what was known as a ‘puer delicatus’ or ‘pretty boy’. In Rome, these were almost always slaves, because the sexual role they played, of recipient in anal sex, was considered taboo for a Free man. It was normal for these boys to be castrated in order to preserve their feminine appearance longer. This was probably what is now called an ‘orchiectomy’ or ‘orchidectomy’, which involves the removal of the testes but not the penis.

Sporus had caught the attention of Nero because he closely resembled the Emperor’s wife. After Nero killed the poor woman in a fit of temper, he selected Sporus as her replacement. She was duly castrated and formally married. Nero paraded her around the city as Rome’s First Lady.

Unfortunately for Sporus, Nero was deposed and killed and his successor took her as his wife, as a part of his spoils. Calamity followed calamity when this husband was also killed and the new Emperor again took Sporus to wife; but this one had no intention of feting her. Rather, in order to humiliate her and thereby to humiliate the memory of his late predecessors, her former husbands, he planned for her to be gang-raped and then torn apart in the Circus as a treat for the people.

Sporus killed herself. Hers was a sad life, but one that should be remembered.

Although there are records of transgender individuals appearing in the pages of history between Sporus’ time and ours, these are rare and most appear to relate to autogynephilic transvestites rather than HSTS. One such, for example, the Chevalier d’Eon, lived ‘half his life as a man and half as a woman’. Clearly he was a classic Western AGP.