by Hetty Mochrie
It’s not to say I’m not the same person, I still am – I’m just more myself, more confident, more independent, more me.
It’s a new chapter in life and I do feel like I’ve been reborn.
Sometimes I don’t even recognise my old name and the act I put on to fit in, I don’t recognise it as me.
As far as I’m concerned that person is dead, the mask has been put away and the woman behind the mask is all that remains. Unlike a mollusc, without its shell I am a lot stronger for it, and a lot less vulnerable.
That’s not to say that coming out as trans came without its difficulties. There was the initial fear of using female toilets, going to buy clothes in the female section of clothes shops and the constant fear that I would not be accepted.
For me it was more internal – I found myself feeling I had to try harder, that most people didn’t automatically accept me for who I am, whereas, in actuality, the majority of people I knew were extremely supportive of me.
Well, apart from one large exception – my parents.
It was around May last year, the week before I was due to move out of student accommodation and go home.
I was dreading it. Although my parents always acted like they were supportive of trans people, I somehow knew they would act differently if it was one of their own children who was to come out.
I initially wasn’t going to come out to them and just spend the summer in the closet.
I then realised how miserable that would make me so I took the plunge and sent a long text to my dad explaining that I was trans and had been living as a woman under the name of Hetty for about the past 3 months.
Initially he seemed supportive but that was all to change the following day.
I was told I was selfish, that I hadn’t thought of how it would affect my family, and that I was not to be out during the summer, that my younger brother would be bullied because of my gender identity.
The comments became increasingly negative and dismissive of my gender identity.
The dread of going home became even worse knowing that I would not feel safe at home, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to survive in that environment.
To make matters worse, my parents had booked a week-long holiday that they were to go on with my brother and I. This was something I didn’t feel would be safe or helpful to me, especially since I had just came out as trans to a negative response.
So I told them I wasn’t going, in fact I had never agreed to go.
They turned around and told me that I wasn’t staying at home because they didn’t trust me to be in the house on my own.
Ultimately they went on holiday without me, but I was left with nowhere to stay and only the clothes I was wearing and a bag containing some belongings.
After a day of trying to find somewhere to stay, I tried to get the key to my parents’ house off of a neighbour who had already been told not to give me the key by my parents.
I was effectively made homeless as the only choice I was given was to go on holiday in what would most likely be a toxic and unhelpful environment.
So with nowhere to go in Newcastle, I had to stay with a friend in Leeds for a few days, then a week in Leamington Spa, then a few weeks in Cambridge.
I never went back home. I eventually ended up with a flat on campus in Stirling, which I stayed in for the remainder of the summer.
It still hurts me knowing that the only people who were not supportive of me after coming out was my own family, but I also realised how emotionally abusive and controlling they had been over the years. It felt a lot better to be free of them.
For the first time in my life I was not being controlled by emotional manipulation and it felt good.
Of course, I was flat-broke, no longer having any financial support, but the university was extremely helpful in making sure I was in a safe situation.
I’m also extremely thankful of the friends who let me stay with them.
So coming out had its ups and downs for me.
Yeah, I was made homeless; yeah, I don’t speak to my parents anymore.
But I’m finally able to be myself, and I feel a lot more comfortable in myself because of it, a stronger and better person.
I was always brought up to believe that caring for yourself was selfish, that you had to put others before yourself always. I still occasionally feel like that, but I’ve also learned it’s important to look after yourself, important to be happy, important to be safe.
And if that means cutting some people out of your life then so be it.
I have been out for about a year now and I’ve never been happier.