(Please read this after the previous post - The Preamble - below)
It has taken a long time for me to come to terms with my gender identity and I proclaim it now with the same reservations I've had since starting on this voyage of discovery more than thirty years ago - I fear the truth being used against me.
But, as I once said, "It's about time I learned that it's better to be hated for being truthful than being loved for being a liar" and this is delivered in that spirit.
Unlike some transsexuals who proclaim knowing they were "trapped in the wrong body" from an early age, I have no such recollections. In fact, I have very few solid memories at all and even the ones from yesterday are a haze!
However, what I have are memories of things that happened that I have redefined in later life to mean more than perhaps they did at the time.
Thus, I remember being at nursery and being told off for trying on a lady's hat from the dressing-up box. Was this me expressing my innate femininity or just a toddler messing about?
I can remember being around 8 years old and being invited to a friend's fancy dress party and wanting to wear make-up. Did I ask to be a clown because I was too afraid of expressing my femininity or because I genuinely wanted to be a clown? I have no recollections of liking clowns before or since... whereas I have many where I wanted to be a girl.
I can remember my mum telling me when I was around 11 years old that I would have to wear tights as part of a fancy dress costume she was making and, instead of being horrified at the proposal, welcoming it and thinking it only right and proper that I should wear tights. Surely this points to my flourishing female identity? I would certainly think so since it soon lead to my first intentional crossdressing experiences.
However, where I have memories of wanting to express a female identity through my appearance at this age, I have none of feeling "trapped in the wrong body".
I can remember being at unease with my flourishing male body but I have always associated this with the feelings every person goes through during puberty and I see no reason to redefine them any other way.
However, where I did feel trapped was in the illusion that society hated me.
I didn't know it was an illusion at the time of course, and so I lived for the next 25 years hating myself for what I believed was wrong with me - and when you hate yourself you don't give anyone else an excuse to join in with you! So I resisted revealing my desires to anyone else until, 17 years later, I could not keep it bottled up any more and I came out as a transvestite.
Yes, a transvestite - not a transsexual. As far as I was concerned, transsexuals were those freaks who wanted to live as a woman! So I couldn't possibly be a transsexual when I had no desire to be a woman and in fact, if I had my way, I wouldn't crossdress ever again!
But the desire to crossdress wouldn't go away and only got stronger and stronger until I was struggling to control it at all! Things got to such a head that I would come home from work in tears because I'd spent the day tortured by my desire!
I wasn't stupid, I knew this was no way to live. So I sought counselling and I didn't like what I discovered about myself. My worst fears were confirmed - I hated having a male body and I wanted to live as a female 24/7!
I've spent the last three years coming to terms with that - and transitioning was part of that process. But whilst I dislike my male body and I obviously want to live as a female 24/7, I don't feel - and never have felt - "trapped in the wrong body".
I think my feelings on this have been shaped by the fact I was born with deformed legs and feet. I would never dream of saying I'm trapped in the wrong body just because I wasn't born with a physically perfect one. I feel exactly the same way about being born with a male body: I wasn't born into the wrong body. I was born into a physically imperfect one.
However, gender identity doesn't rest solely on our physical bodies - if it did I'd be quite happy living as a male! - but also includes how we feel in relation to our bodies.
And this is where I may have some genuine news for you - just as I'm not bothered with having my legs or feet fixed, I'm not bothered about having my sex fixed either. In fact, I'm quite resistant to it.
Instead I find myself slowly accepting that just because I dislike my male body and want to live as a woman 24/7 doesn't automatically mean I have to re-align my body to a female one. I can leave things exactly as they are.
In fact, when I'm happy living without medical intervention (and, in fact, find myself resistant to it), I would say that was a very sensible thing to do.
Which brings me to the subject of my gender identity:
Considering that I dislike my male body but don't want to re-align it to a female one, you might consider it to be an enigma.
In which case, I'll ask you to read the above post again and pay closer attention this time!
Addendum (17th March 2012): Just forced myself to look at my naked body in the mirror and I was wrong. So so wrong! I feel a bit of a plonker for not doing that BEFORE posting the above but at least I know better now.