Coming out as trans has made me happier than ever

I used to be surly because I was in so much pain (Picture: Ira Giorgetti)

The nature of coming out as transgender is that you have to keep doing it.

First you come out to yourself, then to your nearest and dearest, and then you have to keep coming out to doctors, bank managers, landlords, HMRC, the DVLA…

It’s a bit of a grind, but a satisfying one.

I came out publicly a year ago in front of the whole acting industry, my existing audience of over a million people, and the international press, instantly making headlines in multiple languages and trending on YouTube and Twitter.

It was a bit like a wedding – hectic and happy in equal measure. But before that, there were two comings-out that I’ll never forget – the first two people I told.

Number one was my ex, someone I had truly loved once upon a time and who was trans herself. ‘I’m sorry this has happened to you,’ she said. ‘It’s a curse.’

She never spoke to me again. I knew straightaway that I didn’t agree with her, that I already felt so much better than ever before, and time has proven her wrong.

Transition has been an absolute blessing for me. I used to be surly because I was in so much pain; now I’m a lot happier. It brings me so much joy when strangers call me ‘Miss’ or ‘Ma’am,’ or when my niece asks Auntie Abi to read her a bedtime story. 

My friendships have blossomed: ‘I forget you’re trans sometimes,’ an old acting buddy said to me after just four months. ‘You’re so much more natural now, like you’ve always been Abigail.’

My work has improved – you might think hiding in the closet would make you a better actor but the relaxation of coming out makes for better performances. My career has reached heights I’d never dreamed of, and my online audience reacted with an explosion of love.

I can’t believe cis people walk around feeling like this every day without crying tears of gratitude (Picture: Ira Giorgetti)

My body became a home rather than a vehicle for commuting in: The lines on my face disappeared and I’ve relaxed so much that my blood pressure literally decreased.

Sex is better, orgasms are much more intense, and all my girlfriends (cis and trans, in case you were curious) have been lovely. Lesbianism came naturally to me, and I’ve fallen in love with an amazing woman. 

My mental health has also improved – before coming out I woke up every morning at 0500, wishing I was dead – now all those thoughts are just gone. It’s like gravity has been turned down 20% – everything is that much easier. I can’t believe cis people walk around feeling like this every day without crying tears of gratitude.

But there is also hardship.

Number Two was a friend, a trans woman and a Muslim. ‘I think I’m trans,’ I told her. ‘Every day feels like going to war, it feels like living in the trenches and I just can’t do it anymore.’ ‘Lol,’ she said instantly. ‘Well, being trans is a different kind of war. But one that’s worthwhile.’

She was right.

A few close friends and colleagues vanished from my life. I thought they would be on my side, but I was hurt and confused when they abandoned me.

Being a woman is (no surprise here) tough sometimes: Men interrupt me to explain things I already know, or shout sexual comments at me in the street.

When I hold hands with my girlfriend we get angry looks or yells from passersby and never know if it’s misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, or all three. We mostly ignore it.

I still worry what people might say if they see me with my nieces and nephew in public, pushing a pram or holding their hands across the road

I would never go to the police over something like that, not after what they did to Konstancja Duff and the women at Sarah Everard’s vigil.

I’ve learned too that Britain – the country I was born in and that I’m grateful for – no longer loves me back.

I am on a 26-year waiting list to get hormone replacement therapy. That isn’t a misprint: at the rate my local Gender Identity Clinic is seeing new patients it will be 26 years before I get a first appointment.

Cis people can get the same medicine from their GPs in weeks, but we have to wait.

There’s no need for the NHS to have segregated clinics for us; other countries did away with that practice years ago. I’d like to put down a deposit for a house like some of my friends are, but instead I have to spend my savings getting the same healthcare cis people take for granted – and I’m lucky that I can do that.

I’d like to be able to get married someday, maybe have a family, but first I’d have to fill out a 45-page form to get permission from the government’s Gender Recognition Panel, which is frankly insulting. If I don’t, my marriage license would wrongly list me as a ‘husband.’

The government has been told multiple times by the Women and Equalities Select Committee and just about every LGBT organisation in the country that Britain is failing its trans citizens, but nothing gets done.

My political opinions have radicalised. How could they not?

There has never been a trans MP or member of the House of Lords; every law we live under was written by cis people.

I’ve been told to kill myself by strangers so many times that I’ve got used to fighting – I can hardly take a compliment now without falling apart.

I’ve seen MPs and councillors, of all parties, publicly say they want to take away some of our rights. I’ve seen academics sign documents calling for our ‘elimination.’

I’ve seen the groups who compare being trans to bestiality and rape being given platforms. I’ve seen well-known names call us ‘an epidemic.’

I still worry what people might say if they see me with my nieces and nephew in public, pushing a pram or holding their hands across the road.

I worry I might be asked to leave when I do ordinary things like buy new clothes or use the loo. People judge me before they’ve even met me. A different kind of war indeed.

I still believe being trans is a blessing. It’s precisely because I value my life at last that I’m so grateful for it, and so firey in my insistence that it’s worth the same as yours. 

The third person I told was my mother.

After I confided in her I explained how much better I was already feeling, and she said, ‘I suppose I just don’t understand why you couldn’t feel that way before?’ A perfectly reasonable and loving question.

‘Because Mum,’ I said, ‘I’m trans.’

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

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