I am honored to feature the remarkable Talia in T-Girl Spotlight!
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Hi there, my name is Talia and I have been enjoying Hannah’s blog for a few years now. She is always insightful and often I find strength in what she shares. I guess one of the biggest things I have learned is that all our journeys are unique, and they are all equally valid.
My journey is, as I see it, a little unusual and I wanted to share that with you. I want to show what might be a different approach to the usual, one that has worked for my specific circumstances and one I hope might resonate with some of you.
I am 51 now and live in New Zealand. I was around 8 when I realised, I wasn’t like the other boys but, that was the 1970s and back then I lived in England. Let’s just say, these matters weren’t discussed then, especially in a military family. So, I did what so many of us do, I pretended to be ‘normal’ whatever that word means.
I left home and tried to transition at 18, we are now in the 1980s and I am in Scotland. Once again, the world wasn’t ready, and I gave up. That was that as far as I could see. Talia was a dream, one much like the dream I once had of being an astronaut, one destined never to become reality.
3 years ago, that changed. I couldn’t keep this bottled up anymore. I reasoned that my best outcome was to die a miserable old man filled with regret. Not the best life. The trouble was I had married in my late 20s and didn’t want to destroy my wife’s life or to lose her. I love her deeply.
Marriage is a compromise. It is a partnership between two people and as they change so does the relationship. To me though the key thing was that I love my wife and she loves me. How the heck could I make this work?
I kind of just did it. Please don’t for one-minute think I am some super-confident woman. Absolutely not. I work in a large organisation (well large for New Zealand) with around 5000 staff. I was finding it really harrowing telling people of my plans to introduce Talia at work so, I arranged a 15-minute spot at our annual conference and came out on stage to 1000 people at once. Sounds scary? I wasn’t, I couldn’t make out any faces other than a few friends who knew in the front row. Job done.
The speech was so well received I have adapted it into a diversity advocacy speech which I now deliver to companies throughout NZ and even Australia. I must have spoken to over 100,000 people by now and the message is always the same. Invisible diversity (i.e. people hiding their difference) is everywhere. Embrace it, let people be themselves at work and not only will they benefit mentally (enough of a reason in itself) but so will the organisation. Happy staff work better.
Today I am fully out as Talia at work, she goes to the office every day in a variety of outfits which I love so much more than the old suit and tie. Having colour, shape, and style to play with every day is such a release from the old world where I was limited to a colourful shirt and maybe funky socks on a Friday. I have joined Global Women as their diversity lead (https://www.globalwomen.org.nz/member/talia-child/) and was a finalist in the NZ Women of Influence in ICT awards in 2019 for my advocacy work (the first trans-woman ever nominated).
My friends and family know accept and love Talia. I have flown from New Zealand to London (as Talia the whole way) several times. OK the first time I flew Thai reasoning they might be more used to ‘people like me’ but since then on a variety of airlines, even through the Middle East. I have never ever had a problem or noticed a sideways disapproving glance.
You should know I am 6’5” with a US17 shoe size and the moment I stand up any pretence I pass is lost. My voice, while not gruff, sounds exactly how you might expect, again once I speak, passing is no longer an option. But passing as what? I am not a genetic girl I never will be, I am me. I pass 100% as me, how could I not? I have learned to embrace that. As the great Dr Seuss said, “why try to blend in when you were born to stand out”? I stand out and I love that, I even sign off my social media with #glamazon. That is how I see myself.
Ahhh but my wife I hear you ask. Well she isn’t ready (after 3 years I suspect she never will be) to meet Talia. So, I live as him at home. My wife is totally aware Talia goes all over but is secure knowing that she won’t ever lose her husband unless she is ready.
Is this ideal? No of course not, but it is a compromise I can live with. I am living my dream while keeping the marriage with the one person I love most in the world. It works for us.
Boy-me was a loner, he had few friends and was always miserable. Now? Now I have so many friends and I am the happiest I have ever been. We all find our own ways to deal with the amazing gift we have been given. This is mine. I hope you read this and feel in a small way less alone. Whatever path you choose – be the best you possible.