INTERVIEWER: Wow. Going back to, you said when you were a child you told somebody. So did you… presumably you had feelings about your gender as a child.
INTERVIEWER: What kind of… how did you… what experiences did you have of that?
As a child, I saw myself growing up and becoming like my dad. And I never saw myself growing up and becoming like my mum. I grew up in a… on the one hand, society wasn’t as gendered as it is now, and also in particular with the school system, we didn’t have school uniforms. So I was never so strongly having to conform to those kind of stereotypes. So I often wore trousers to school because you could just wear whatever you wanted. So we didn’t have that kind of segregation. But it was in the ’70s a very different kind of society, in that most women who had children were stay-at-home mums, and the father would go out to work. And I would still say it’s quite a sexist culture as well. And then of course, afterwards trying to unpick this in therapy, wonder how much was that influencing… but I just don’t, I’m not convinced.
INTERVIEWER: Not convinced of what?
That a sexist society which privileges men over women would make me want to be male. And I think that was one of the big things with language, when people said ‘so you want to be a man?’ I would often say ‘no, I don’t want to be a man’. It was not about wanting. If I want something, I want you to recognise that I am a man. That was the ‘want’ bit. But I don’t think I ever wanted to be a man. I was just one! I didn’t really feel I had a choice over that.
So that was one thing, that I saw myself in my father’s footsteps rather than my mother’s. That was a big one. Perhaps what was very difficult in the ’70s, what kind of role-models would girls have? Mine were definitely, you know, of the Robin Hood type. And all of that kind of stuff. I had very little interest in dolls and kind of what we I suppose associate with ‘girl play’. So for Christmas I wanted a little train and train track, and that kind of stuff.
I remember at school, one of the big defining me as a girl, was having to go to… what’s it called? When you have to do sewing and needlecraft and… Home ecs, I suppose. And boys would be allowed to do woodwork. And there was just no discussion about it. And that really annoyed me. And I was also therefore particularly bad. And that was that internal conflict. Because I’m very good with hands, I’m quite artistic and… but yeah, whatever knitting had to be done looked awful, and I think there was just an inner rebellion.
INTERVIEWER: Just on principle?
Yeah, yeah. But not spoken about. So I never asked, you know, could I change to woodwork or anything like that. I would have felt just too shaming.