You know the classic trans narrative? – “from my first memories I knew I was a girl”. Well not me. I think I always got on better with girls than boys. My bestie from the age of 5 was a girl from round the corner. We watched Andy Pandy together and stuff like that. However, my childhood, was pretty normal I think. So when were my first dysphoric moments? In my early teenage years I guess. I recognise them now as dysphoric moments although at the time like most of my age I had no idea what Gender Dysphoria or being Transgender was. I am not even sure those terms had even been invented back then. I dabbled in complete privacy in my teenage years and no one even knew. I parked those thoughts and emotions well and truly. I used my mum’s make up when I had the chance and those chances were few and far between.
However on Sunday (28/05/17) I was talking with Eva about what I now know was one of my first dysphoric moments . I reckon it was in the mid 1970s.
I went to school in Harlow. Burnt Mill Comprehensive, off First Avenue and right next to the town park. Being a village kid, I used to get a coach into school every day. Anyhow I digress. Harlow Council used to put on free concerts every summer, They had some really good bands play there during the 70’s and early 80’s and the towns youth turned out in there thousands to watch them. (See the picture below).
I was lucky to be able to go to some them as I grew older and mum and dad allowed me. The headline act was always supported by some local bands. I can remember going along to see Dr Feelgood, Darts, Caravan and Heatwave to name but 4. Normally accompanied by my first experience of Woodpecker Cider, the dreaded alcohol. I had my first date at one of those concerts; was beaten up by a gang after one concert, waiting for my dad to pick me up and also what I consider to be one of my first dysphoric moment.
I remember one night. A steaming hot summers night. The park was packed, with thousands of people. The bandstand, which is still there today, used to have a moat in front of the stage. I remember being in the crowd and a woman, well she was probably in her late teens, early twenties was in the moat, splashing herself with water. She was drunk or high, who knows. She had jeans and a white cheese cloth top on (no bra). She looked stunning. I so wanted to be that woman. I remember the guys at school talking at lunch on the Monday about the girl in the water. You know, boy talk……. I sat quiet that lunch time because my head was all over the place. How the hell could I say anything. I did not even understand what I was thinking and they would not have a clue either. So I parked those thoughts, buried them deep inside. They found their way out eventually. It just took them a very long time. I never ever regret parking those thoughts. After all I would not have my own children or a grandson had I of not. But I do think if I were a child of the early 21st Century, life would have been very different.
So back to that bandstand. This moat in front of the stage has now been filled in. The steam still runs through the park but the moat can be seen no more. On our way back from the coast on Sunday Eva and I stopped off in Harlow and had a wander around the park showing her some of the sights from my youth. I have so many memories of that park. So many memories.
Below is a picture of me from Sunday standing where the moat would have been, in front of the stage. Alongside is a picture of the crowd from one of those concerts.
Harlow bandstand 2852017