The recent announcement by Phillip Schofield, the co-presenter of ITV’s This Morning, that he is gay has left me with some interesting thoughts.
Firstly to Phillip: You were brave and you have my respect. Well done and I truly hope this takes away some of the weight you have been carrying around for so long.
Phillip and I are of the same generation I guess, mid-fifties now and so born in a UK that was less tolerant than it is today. I came out to my wife as being transgender getting on for two years ago. Since then, there has been a slow build-up of courage which has allowed me to adopt a lifestyle and image with which I am far more comfortable. On the odd and infrequent occasions that I have to ‘man it up’, I feel increasingly uncomfortable doing so. It has become like I am only dressing up as a man and I worry much more that someone will call me out for faking that than when I am parading around as my usual – and quite real – self in skirts and makeup.
To come out completely in one’s more latter years can be very difficult for some different reasons. Though Phillip Schofield has lived very much in the public eye, being outside of it does not mean that I can glibly throw a switch and transform everything to be as I would want it. My father died a year ago, but before that, there was no way I could tell him about my sexual identity, nor can I tell my mother who now resides in a home. At that stage in their lives, they would simply not be able to understand or come to terms with it. Doing so would have amounted to causing them a great deal of worry and confusion for no real gain.
So, I will settle for knowing that I was brought up and deeply loved by two of the nicest people on the planet.
It does leave me in this interesting position though. I have a wonderful wife to whom I am now also now a wife (some adjustments and concessions yes, but we love each other deeply), and I have a super brother to whom I am now a sister (thankfully nothing has particularly changed in that relationship but the acknowledgment and understanding is now there).
I am nobody’s daughter.
Because my parents raised a boy into a man and I never told them how I felt, nor showed them the changes that others have accepted in the ‘new’ me.
I was perhaps never in a possession of the necessary self-knowledge that would have had me come out in earlier life anyway, far less the courage needed to do it back then, but I remain envious of those who transition to their new life earlier and are able to have their parents on board with who they really are.
Yet I do hope that every last one of them is loved and accepted as the daughter or son that they have now become.