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#212 Helen An Old Queer Woman

Photo of Helen
I manage the best I can being different.


This story is about an old, queer woman… Me.

Well I always knew, always sure, but it’s other people you see. They don’t see – or maybe they do. Well they do, of course, but best not to say.

Fourteen, having decided all the shouting, emotional stuff wasn’t going to affect me any more. My father came back from the war. I think we would call it post traumatic stress now – that was the shouting. Being a bit different… not quite… well…

Born and labeled “Boy”, but I knew this didn’t work, head and body not in sync.

I said this is who I am. Girl. “You will grow out of it, it’s a phase”. But it didn’t and it wouldn’t.

Fifteen, this is who I am. Girl. The swinging sixties had yet to begin. They said “if you keep saying these things we must see the doctor, the doctor will send you to a mental hospital.” This was 1960, read psychiatric hospital now. “Do you know what they do there? It’s electric shock, don’t think you want that!”

No I didn’t, so I manage the best I can being different. It’s the Sixties, anything goes. Long hair, long nails, unisex dressing. It was a Wow moment. I knew who I was.

Two weeks after my 15th birthday, working in a factory. The factory manager saw a bright young thing and took advantage. Raped. No place of safety. Police not interested, did nothing. Well, it was an educated middle class manager and a kid mixing with the wrong kind. No case. No prosecution, no support. Get on with it. That’s what you do.

My mother knew a man in Fashion. I have a new job. End of factory – a new more creative experience. I was good. The man sent me to do design at the local Further Education college, part time after work.

Mixing with young artists. “Would you like to be our life model?” “Is the money good?” Oh yes.

This gave me confidence to be and helped the hang-ups.

No photos available; body and mind not in sync. Photos pre-transition destroyed, torn up, burnt. Well, why would I need them?

This old, queer woman is remembering the help from the LGBT community in Malaga, Spain.

Franco dead, everyone being who they want to be, no restrictions, my lesbian friends suggested a doctor. A German, he worked with transfolk at the university… he had a practice in Marbella.

To begin the begine.