Early Life Part Two – The School Years
“Don’t expect anyone to understand your journey, especially if they’ve never walked your path”
I, like many others in this life, tread a solitary path of acceptance, which begins early in life during our primary school years. Making friends is a natural progression for all of us once we are out of our mother’s arms. I say mother’s, because mine and l assume most father’s; are out working during the day, from before we rise to the time we went to bed as wee nippers. We all have a need to belong; to connect with another soul who we see a similarity within. I never really found that albeit from time to time.
My first friend I made on my own was with a girl opposite called Charlottte. She had blonde and slightly curled hair. We were together pretty much every day playing in her Wendy house, sand pit with spades which had water and little figures inside their handles. I remember being upset when her family sold up and moved away. To where, I do not know, after all, I was pre-school age. I do not know why I remember Charlotte but the memory of her has never left me and I get a wave of happiness filling me. Seems odd that someone whom I spent a blink of an eye with, should mean so much to me compared to someone who I have known since the age of 6 or 7.
Going through school I found hard. For some reason, I was seen as an easy target by the other kids. I started Ysgol Croes Atti in Flint at the age of 4, in 1976. Back then, one half of the pupils were taught through the medium of english and the other half through the medium of Welsh. Being so young at the time, we did not understand and so we would ‘fight the Welshies’, not realising we too are Welsh (Cymry). There used to be a separation net in the yard. Now, the school is a Welsh medium taught school which is just fantastic. A kid by the name of Mark yanked a chunk of hair out of the back of my head and I, in turn, thumped him until he bled. We were hauled in front of the head mistress and given a right talking to. We ended up progressing through the same schools up to the age of 16.
1979/1983 – Ysgol Gwynedd (Flint). My first assembly and my first nose bleed. I remember that day like it was this morning. The newbies were sat crossed legged at the front and Mr Hughes – the Headmaster, was up on the stage with the other teachers, welcoming us newbies on our first day to the Gwynedd Junior School. He was an amazing head teacher and he always knew every pupil’s name and their parent’s! In fact, he sees my mum in town from time to time and knows her by name and asks her how my elder brother is doing and he went there 40 years ago! So there I am, sat crossed legged in the front row looking up and not really paying much attention to Mr Hughes’ assembly address and I have an itchy nose and so I scratch away. Before I know it, my nose is bleeding a flood. Next to me is a kid called Dale; and he brings my nose bleed to the attention of Mr Hughes and tells Dale to take me out to the wash room and we go. From that day, we were close friends. At least that is what I thought. In 1982, school trip down to Black Rock sands not too far from Porthmadog in Gwyned,d and he locked me out of the tent we shared with 2 others on the first night. Great start to a week away. From then on, we were never friends and he acted as if he had done nothing wrong. Mind you, I did catch our supper that week – a rainbow trout. First and only time I have eaten one, can’t remember the taste.
I spent the majority of my years here on my own walking around the E-shaped building, talking to my imaginary friend who eventually I could visualise as if she was real. Many a time I would sit crouched up behind third wing looking out beyond the school fencing and over to the play area and the Gorsedd stones (Flint hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1969 and, as a result, has its own ring of Gorsedd stones). I would just talk away and ask questions to understand why I was on my own, had no friends to play with and Why I felt different? Why the girls wouldn’t I play with me either? No answers came that made sense. I couldn’t tell anyone because it was bad enough being bullied for being the shortest kid, let alone had I told someone that I wanted to be a girl. I could not handle being bullied for that, were it to get out and I knew that it would eventually. No, keep it between myself and Bronwen (who existed for me only). So, that is what I did throughout my school years. She did come back for a fleeting visit a few times in my adult life but, I have not spoken with Bronwen for a number of years now. Maybe one day again….
Ysgol Uwchradd Y Fflint (Flint High School) 1983/1988. I opted to go here because I thought I could my elder brother’s hand me down uniform to save expense for my parents. Turns out, I could have gone to the Welsh medium school in Mold – Ysgol Maes Garmon. But, I have always been aware of cost of living. First day of school, I am dressed in full uniform – black trousers, shoes, white shirt, school tie and red jumper and black blazer with school motif on breast pocket. I open back door to have a look see out and I see a friend’s sister doing the same and dressed exactly the same ba a skirt instead of trousers. I look at her and I am envious because she gets to dress in a skirt and I am stuck with boring old trousers – not fair. I am not a happy bunny walking to school. I had never really thought of the differences of uniform up until then, I do not know why. I guess just a coming of age thing I suppose. However, I do remember when that all changed for me. It was 3rd yearP.E and I noticed for the first time how different boys and girls were. Their were identical twin sisters in my class and on this particular day, one of them was wearing the short shorts which were very typical of the era – brown with a white trim. Looking at one of the sisters,I knew how much I wanted to look the same in the groin area. Trying not to make this seems pervy but it never was. I just felt so envious. Girls I had grown up with were developing in women – what I could not. After this time, I decided to block all thoughts on my longing to be female and be a MAN.
As much as I tried not to, I could not stop myself from cross-dressing. I would make up any old excuse not to go out with the family just so I could dress. When I did, everyday stresses, tensions angst would simply fade away in to nothingness. I was FREE I felt like ME and at ease with myself. I had to gauge the time careful so as not to get caught by any member of my family. On many an ocassion, it was extremely close. In fact, my mum came home early whilst I was still dressed a few times, never before had I ever undressed as fast as I did. Heart racing. I always thought my mum knew I was cross-dressing but she has told me since that she never did. Hard to believe that I got away with it.
When I was in my final year at school, 1988, one of the biology teacher’s was retiring, I forget his name but I can it in my mind. Hate it when that happens. Anyways, Mrs Stephenson asked if any the lads in the form class would dress as school girl to give him a bottle of whiskey, card and that. I was nominated by a lad called Martyn. Mrs Stephenson looked over at me and asked if I would. I gave a resounding NO! Secretly inside I was saying Hell yeah! If I had, would I have had the conviction to transition earlier than I have? Maybe, in an alternate universe, perhaps. A golden opportunity to show a part of me that was really the whole of me.
I had my first proper girlfriend at 15 -18 years old and ‘persuaded’ me to don her bikini one summer’s day. It didn’t take much if any persuading ha ha. We just laid on my bed and held each other. I managed to hold back the cross-dressing in the 3 years we were together. When we broke up, the need to dress broke free to the surface and that was it, any given opportunity and I would. I felt a mixture of emotions all at once but never once was it erotic or a turn on. I did feel dirty most of the time. Why? Because it wasn’t the done thing was it. After all, in the eyes of the law, I was now a man, an 18-year-old man. I would try and knock this ‘need’ out of me by head butting doors, walls, thumping myself in the head and throwing myself as hard as I could down the stairs. I thought if I could cause myself a head injury, then this ‘need’ to be a woman would go – but no.
Looking back now, I should have spoken to my mum at least and explained what I was feeling and how long I had been wanting to be a girl. I always knew that she would understand but, there is always that nagging fear of rejection preventing one from doing so. How different times were back then compared to the present day of the 21st century. Trouble is, regret plays a big part in my life which it shouldn’t. The time wasn’t right for me to transition earlier in my life but what if it was? At least I am who I am now and that is what matters. I am happy within myself and the happiest I have ever been even though I do weep over one thing or another and I do not feel that I have to restrain the tears anymore.
I could have gone on and on here in parts but, I tried to keep it short and not go off on too many tangents. I probably will go back and revisit certain points and elaborate further in the future. Sometimes, I need to do that and I do, in my head. Now that I am transferring what is in my head down on to paper, albeit digitally. I think i will leave it here for now.
(( Cwtch ))