This is the story of former UK soldier Claire (not her real name), who lived as a man for 40 years, and dreads the day she will tell her son about her new identity now that she’s taking hormones for her transition. The emotional anonymous confession was just published on BBC.com last Saturday, with title “My son doesn’t know I’m transgender.”
“I served in the army for almost 20 years. I was married, I had a son with my wife and we seemed like a picture-book family,” she wrote. “Inside I have always identified as being female – so it has been emotionally absolutely draining to present as a man. But to be honest about it felt like I would be imposing it on my family, and threaten the opinion my child had of me as their hero.”
Claire started having transgender feelings when she was six. Her mother walked in on her dressing as a girl at age 12, and she was told very clearly by both of her parents to never do it again.
Growing up in a traditional household and knowing that she would not get any encouragement and support, she joined the military as a way to control of who she was as a person.
“I wanted to force myself to think I was male and try to be comfortable with that. I was almost trying to kill off my female identity, but I couldn’t because it is who I am,” she wrote.
She later on married Jane (not her true name) and had a son, but her gender identity issues were such that she would seek out dressing services to dress as a woman before returning to the army as a man.
Coming out at that point of her life, she thought, would have been very costly so she kept her struggles a secret. She feared that she might lose her military career, her son might get bullied, her parents would get very upset, and her family would suffer.
Her marriage ended when she drifted away from her wife. “In the end it felt like the easiest thing to do was destroy our marriage rather than taking the step to tell her and risk losing it anyway. So I started spending more time out and distanced myself from her and eventually we separated and divorced,” she continued.
She had since met and fell in love with a new partner Sandy (not her real name) who accepted her for who she was.
“I accept now that I am quite simply in the wrong body – there is no choice here,” she wrote. “Now Sandy and I have been together for two years and I present as a woman when Sandy and I are at home together, or on a Friday night when we go out together into town. She knows I’m the same person however I’m dressed and whether I have make-up on or not.”
While she claimed to be in a comfortable place right now, having decided to start moving towards medically transitioning by taking hormones, Claire hasn’t told her family and her son who is in his twenties now yet.
“My desire to not tell my family is in direct contrast with my happiness. But at some point I need to bite the bullet and do a full transition. I am worried some day I will realise I have wasted my life pretending to be something that I am not,” she concluded.
The personal struggles of transgender individuals in the military are only a part of the issues they’re dealing with on a daily basis. Indeed, the story comes amidst the recent announcement by Donald Trump to ban transgender people from serving in the US army.