FRANCES

(she/her)

25th June 2018:

Frances, who uses she/her pronouns, invites Ryan and Lee into her house to chat about, among other things: birth charts, conspiracy theories, finding chosen family in Melbourne, and finding or hearing your own voice or truth amidst the various and often conflicting messages you’re receiving from your environment and the people around you. Frances also shares her frustration at undergoing voice therapy to recover the voice she used to have, the joy of wearing the clothes you missed out on wearing as a teenager, and how apt it is that she’s a Scorpio – the sign associated with rebirth and transformation.

TRANSCRIPT

F: Should I shut the curtain, or is it – do you think it’s fine?

 

L: It’s alright, it’s fine – yeah

 

F: Gorgeous

 

R: Today’s the 25th of June 2018, we’re sitting here with Frances. Just by way of introduction, do you mind telling us how old you are and what pronouns you use?

 

F: Yeah for sure, so my name is.. well you said that already [laughs]. I’m 25 years old, and I’m mostly going by she/her, but they/them is still cool as well. So yeah. If you call me ‘they’ I won’t mind.

 

R: Really broad question, but what kind of things do you like to do?

 

F: Um, ok, so. I’m really into astrology [laughs]. I’m an artist, so I’m doing like commission art at the moment. I’m into the occult. Just, y’know everything esoteric. Oh it’s really embarrassing [laughs] to say for some reason – I don’t know

 

L: I’m already so interested –

 

F: Conspiracy theories and stuff, I love. And you know, the metaphysical [alughs]

 

L: What’s your favorite conspiracy theory?

 

F: Um, oh. How do we narrow down so many conspiracy theories?

 

L: [laughs] Is there a genre that you particularly enjoy?

 

F: Yeah mostly illuminati stuff. And you know, extraterrestrial kind of conspiracy theories because there’s just no way we can know for certain, and we can like mount up all these internet theories that we’ve found. But there’s no way we can know for sure, right now, from our positions. So that’s what really cool about it, is just the not knowing. That’s part of the fun, cos I’m a huge analyzer and stuff, so its fun to put my mind to something like that. Anyway.

 

R: Can you tell us a bit about, what like artistic projects you’ve got going at the moment?

 

F: Yeah, sure [laughs]. So basically, I’ve just been doing like, do you know – birth charts, astrological birth charts or natal charts. I’m going to explain this really badly. But like where all the planets were, the alignments they were making, and where they were at the exact time you were born. And its different for everyone. So obviously when you look into that, there’s all these – everyone has different, y’know, astrological influences on them. And it can, if that’s your thing, it can be really insightful to do that research, and find out, y’know like – where your sun is, and where your moon is, and where your Venus is. And obviously its like, quite a queer religion at the moment [laughs], I feel its astrology, it’s a huge social lubricant, is talking about where your sun and moon rising are. Cos I think it can reveal a lot about a person [laughs].

 

L: How did you come to this?

 

F: Astrology?

 

L: Yeah

 

F: Well like I said, I’m totally just fascinated in anything metaphysical. It was a way of understanding other people, another kind of form of psychoanalysis I guess. Yeah actually, that’s where it would have come from, because I’ve always just been like a psychological type. Y’know, just analyzing people and wanting to read people, and understand people, always. So astrology was like a great little, y’know [laughs] – unofficial way of sort of understanding people and getting like some sort of profile. Yeah, understanding people, that’s just, I dunno, I used to be really into psychology and, well still am. Just everything – very Scorpio, actually – [laughs]

 

R: [laughs]

 

F: Yeah, what are your signs?

 

L: I’m a Taurus

 

F: Taurus –

 

R: Well, I used to be Gemini, which I’ve never thought fit me –

 

F: Used to be Gemini?

 

R: Well apparently, y’know how they added – they added a sign, is that right?

 

F: Ugh. I have a lot of resistance to the whole like astrology thing. Yeah I don’t subscribe to the ‘its changed’ thing. So – if you were, so you were a Gemini? [laughs]

 

R: Um, I was just secretly happy, cos it pushed me into Taurus

 

F: Oh, so okay –

 

R: I’ve always more felt, like a Taurus

 

F: Maybe if we looked at your chart you’d have other Taurian influences. So don’t totally discount – you’ve gotta look at your birth chart

 

R: Oh, right

 

F: Gemini is really cool, cos that’s the sign of communication, so perhaps that’s why you’re here? And thought, and one-on-one conversation, and expression

 

R: Ohhh –

 

F: And Scorpio love the – I’m Scorpio because Scorpio is all about transformation and rebirth, from more, sort of a Phoenix from the ashes, becoming truer each transformation

 

R: Can I ask if, if these interests have connected you with like communities here? Is that something that you –

 

F: Yeah, totally, I think so. Well like I said, I sort of found astrology as this, at least in Melbourne, its really found a place in like queer discourse. I dunno how to say it. I don’t fully know why that is? Perhaps it is because lots of queer people are quite introspective, and also interested in understanding themselves and others?

 

R: Where were you born and where di dyou grow up?

 

F: So I was born in Tasmania, which is the most southern state [laughs] of Australia. Which some people say is ‘overseas’

 

R: [laughs]

 

F: Um, so yeah I was raised sort of in a semi-rural area of Northern Tasmania, which was relatively isolated when you weren’t, y’know when you weren’t at school. Cos, y’know, there’s just like paddocks around your house, kind of thing. So a lot of time for like ruminating and feeling isolated I guess. So that’s probably why I just am in my head all the time.

 

R: Um, when did you move to Melbourne?

 

F: So I moved to Melbourne when I was 18, I think? Sort of, as soon as I could. And I don’t even know why Melbourne, but it was just like, divinely orchestrated that Melbourne is where I came, because that’s where I met like, pretty much my soulmate of a housemate. [laughs]. We’ve lived together for like 6 years now, and they’re queer as well. And you know how you just fall into really, just divinely orchestrated situations which y’know, are so seemingly by chance? Yeah so when I was 18, I was just like, I need to get the fuck out of here. Cos I – yeah – I just felt like, I dunno, I was like vibrating as this, totally static shut down person, who had no opportunity to self-realize or… yeah it was just really bizarre living in that space for, what like my whole life up until that point. And then coming to Melbourne has just been this like experience of, I dunno, yeah like it all coming out. Like 18 years, like seeping out of me, and that’s been really – so its been a really intense like 6 years. It’s just been this, ever since I got here, its been this intense upsurge of 18 years of static, so. Yeah

 

R: Have you been living in Brunswick this whole time?

 

F: No, so the first house I moved to was in Northcote. And that house has been knocked down since. And then after that I lived in Preston for a second [laughs]. For a really quick moment. And then I moved in with my housemate in their family home in Ivanhoe, so it was like, me and them, and their dog [laughs]. Who is their childhood dog, that was, that was the first year I got here, the end of the first year I got to Melbourne. That was my second family that I found, or chosen family. And we’re still a chosen family. 2012 – so its been like 7 years I guess. Yeah, so I was pretty lucky to find, find my little family so soon after leaving the first, or my family of origin. Who I’m still in communication, or like, know still, it’s good, its getting better and better with age. For them it’s kind of like, I dunno, these revelations are coming at them now. It’s hard because it’s kind of, at this point in my path or whatever, it’s like this moving vehicle that I can’t put brakes on. Like it’s, okay I’ve started hormones, okay I’ve got surgery scheduled for next year – like I want to be able to slow the pace for my family to be able to process all of that, but its just – I dunno, yeah it’s like a moving vehicle that’s just like taking you, taking you along with it. And it’s totally weird because for 18 years of just like, any, not letting any truth seep out, to now it just being like, here’s what’s happening, here’s what’s happening. Like there’s a lot of guilt attached with that, because it was – yeah obviously to keep your connection with your family safe, you sit on that stuff for as long as possible. I thought I was gonna be sitting on it for my whole life. I was like, this truth, if this is true, needs to be buried…

 

So I can’t even, I wake up every day, and I’m like, I can’t believe this is like actual reality. I totally get like, inundated with feelings of like it being quite unreal. And being like, oh my god – I’m so glad I’m not in Tasmania with my family of origin right now, because just to, I dunno, yeah it’s really hard to integrate. It’s such a compartmentalized kind of idea that they could know everything about you now, after how ever many, 22 years or whatever, of knowing a sort of – a censored version, a watered down, and cookie-cut, and very deliberated – but having that perspective of you for so long. And now to just have all the truth come at them, yeah there’s a lot of guild in that. And then you feel guilty for feeling guilty. Cos, y’know, anyway. As you can tell, that’s still a very real thing. I get hit with it in the mornings when I wake up, and right before I go to bed. I’m like – oh forgot about that aspect of my life. Y’know, I felt this sensation of it being like a race, but then, I’m like – no Frances you need to slow it down, it can’t be a race. But its almost like, once the cat is out of the bag, or like once the barrier is raised, that’s what it was a bit like for me – it’s like start running now. Cos you’ve fucking waiting to run for 18 fucking years, and that’s a long time to wait.

 

L: It makes so much sense that you’d just be like, woo-

 

F: Totally. So yeah, exactly… and I remember when I was in the months coming up to starting hormones, I was like, the barrier was still drawn for some reason, even though I had the – you know how it’s just like mental shifts can take time, and you’re like, one part of you can be like, fuck I just want them now, like please give them to me, I’m starved! And then the rest of you is just like, frozen on the spot. And it’s like, it’s not, you don’t even consciously know why you’re still frozen on the spot. But yeah it took me so long to be like, all systems go. Like time to start hormones, once it was, that’s when the barrier was raised. And it was just like – became a like, yeah, fast.

 

F: Like, I was never confused about wanting to do these things, because of my own decision-making process or intuition. It was because I’d been told that’s, y’know, are you sure you want to do that? And all, just all these societal pressures on – how would I say that? – external kind of influence that made, gave me confusion. Or like, made me question, is this the right idea, made me freeze a lot more. Cos I was like, maybe they’re right, y’know? Even though, I don’t feel aligned with what they’re saying, but they’re all saying it. Yeah so I found that it was like, I had no confusion whatsoever, but over years of totally compiling every kind of fucking perspective, I was like, there’s like a thousand voices, who’s to say mine is right? If they’re all saying different things, y’know. But then your voice just does speak the loudest, if you give it – y’know, if you give it a sec. And if you have some quiet time. You’re just like, oh I was right all along.

 

L: Yeah [laughs]

 

F: But that was my experience

 

F: There was a question which was, when did you start, y’know, thinking about your gender? And it’s interesting like I think, I think I was like, very kind of more – my childhood was more nonbinary to an extent. I guess how i was gendered, I took in the kind of like, nonbinary influences. I don’t know how to really say that. Basically, I was just like, I’m happy being nonbinary right now, cos I don’t know what gender is yet.

 

L: Yeah

 

F: Although, always still knew that it was gonna become something, if that makes sense? Always felt innately female, but my schooling experience, like with peers, was more that they reacted with me like: stop pretending to be a boy. So it was never like, stop being girly, or stop being feminine, or like – it was like, you’re lying to us. You’re trying to pass as this thing that you’re not. And so I think I only recently worked that out, because like, they’re obviously, there’s so many conflicting and contrasting messages that you’re getting from like everyone in your environment. And if they’re all saying different fucking things, you’re like, what is the truth? Or what is their truth? And is there any kind of collective truth, or objective truth even?

 

And like, how is that not like meant to fucking confuse anyone? Even if you know what the truth is within yourself. How is that not meant to confound you. That you’re getting, like so many different opinions from the outside on like, what is such an internal thing.

 

F: People’s reaction to me was sort of like, you’re almost not real. Or you’re like a display or something. It’s really strange. Cos it was like, yeah like stop pretending kind of thing. And I was like, I’m trying, I’m trying to do what you want. But I really can’t ascertain what that is. Cos my parents and teachers or whoever, or like the adults, want me to grow up to be, or grow up to be a boy, or [laughs] – grow up and be a boy. And you’re all saying, stop it! [laughs]. That’s what I got from my peers in primary school. Why are you pretending? And like, we kind of hate you for being false. I don’t know, anyway [laughs].

 

L: I think a lot about – y’know when you see like someone walking down the street with a little kid. And they’re like, saying too many things to the kid, like tell me what you mean and walk faster, and the kid is just like having –

 

F: Exactly –

 

L: So much trouble, like –

 

F: So much stimulation –

 

L: Cos they’re so little, and they’re still figuring out how to like, thing –

 

F: Totally –

 

L: And they can’t cognitively process things as fast as like an adult can. And they’re putting that pressure on that little kid to like hurry up. And I just think, if they’re having that much trouble like walking and talking, imagine trying to process these high concept ideas about your identity. Which little kids that age, are.

 

F: Yeah, exactly –

 

L: They’re just, but it’s much more murkier, harder process

 

F: Yeah, exactly. It’s ongoing I guess.

 

R: So how would you describe your gender?

 

F: Oh shit. [laughs] Um, well see that’s what’s sort of like a work, obviously, always a working thing. But just like, I dunno. I’m female. That’s it really. I’ve got definitely like androgynous potentials I think, which I did explore a lot more leading up to my transition, just because it was like, this was kind of turning sort of masculinity or, not that I’ve ever sort of identified with masculinity, but, of what was expected of me, I guess – and what I was trying to match up to? I dunno. Androgyny was sort of my way, yeah, to not conform to the gender that I was expected to conform to for so long. And just couldn’t fucking do. So like the best I could do was androgyny. I used to, yeah I used to identify as nonbinary just because, because it’s a gender nonconforming identity. But for me it was a way to distance myself from what was expected or what was prescribed for me. Yeah. But I’m, I think, yeah I think there’s just no getting around it. Yeah, I identify as female. So that’s my gender. [laughs]

 

R: Um, is there a place in Melbourne that is particularly meaningful to you?

 

F: Yeah, my best friend’s family home. That I moved into and found a family there, that’s probably like the most meaningful place in Melbourne to me. Just cos, yeah I moved in there, and it was just like an explosion of lots of things. Y’know how you have those places. It’s just this cute suburban house, but [laughs] – sort of like huge life happened there.

 

L: Yeah

 

R: Do you mind telling us a bit more about the relationship you now have with your family of origin?

 

F: Yeah, for sure. [sighs]. [laughs]

 

R: It’s a tough question –

 

F: I’ll give some context I guess. So I have a nuclear family, and so I have my biological father, biological mother, and then biological older sister. Yeah so our relationship. Um I’ve always been closest with my mum, and so she has always been the kind of role in the family that has like filtered any incoming communications from me. Or any sort of revelations, or like whatever. Changes and what’s happening, from my end. And has filtered that back to the other two – kind of, like at her discretion [laughs]. So in a year in a half, the most, literally the only trans-related conversation I’ve had with my dad was like, I dunno, the dog was reacting differently to me or something. And my mom was like, maybe it’s because of your hormones! [laughs]. And then I was like, to my Dad, maybe its cos my hormones. And he was like, oh! And that’s literally the only acknowledgment in real life, that anything is different than it used to be. And like that’s really bizarre. At least he, I mean at least he hasn’t been at all disrespectful to me, or oppositional. How I see it, is that he’s just doing his thing, which is trying to process something which is like so outside of his world to this date, that [laughs]. I’m just happy to give him some time, or like all the time he needs, and yeah I dunno, just like navigate my own life while he navigates that addition to his life.

 

L: And with your sister?

 

F: Oh my sister’s an interesting one. Cos we, we were cute little friends when we were really small. And I worshipped her, I think. Although I don’t really consciously remember that, but I’m told I did [laughs]. And then, y’know, like we started to like fucking hate each other so much. And we’re actually, if I was to think of, y’know, my antithesis – she would be that. So we’re completely fucking opposite. And I was, to her I was just this grumpy little, her grumpy little brother, y’know, my shit little brother that I hate -and I was like, you don’t understand me at all, you think I’m your brother [laughs] for starters. And I can’t talk to you, like I can’t be real around you or anything. I think the closest we’ve ever been is literally since I came out. I dunno, like its, almost like it’s, I don’t know if she’s embraced me her as my sister, I don’t know – but its paving the way, almost, it’s felt a bit better than it ever has. And that’s really cute. Like I know she is also like, so overwhelmed by this. I think the first thing she said to my mom, was like, I don’t know how to relate now, is it my brother, is it my sister, or – I’ve always thought its my brother, and I can’t get that idea out of my head. And it was like a violation to like, her understanding of reality I guess. But now I think she’s probably getting it more, and one time I cried and she hugged me and started crying, and that is like unheard of, for the two of us. Emotional chaos. And then silence around that chaos, was sort of like, reigned supreme in my childhood household, so – to have any kind of headway, is really good. So yeah my mom is like my main, my main kind of confidante in that family. And we text everyday kind of thing. And she’s, I dunno, she just sort of said, hey I watched this documentary on [laughs] – just gives me documentary recommendations, and is like, have you watched it yet? [laughs]

 

L: [laughs]

 

F: And its kind of like, oh my god. Yeah, I dunno there’s this one Australian politician whose a trans woman, and she’s like, have you watched Kate yet? Have you watched the documentary about Kate? And I’m like, yeah she is a lot of older than me, so like [laughs] – I dunno how much we’re gonna relate, also she’s like right-wing [laughs] So, it may be difficult to find like huge common grounds, but yes, the fact that we’re both trans will be like, an interesting watch

 

L: [laughs]

 

F: Anyway, cute little things like that. Which is appreciated [laughs]

 

F: Sometimes it’s a bit like, all we talk about is trans stuff, and I’m like, I’m scared of just like boring the fuck out of you. Or like, y’know making her think that this is where I start and finish, or whatever. I dunno, but then transness bleeds into everything else in your life, and everything else in your life bleeds into transness. And yeah its hard to really like separate them from one and another.

 

L: How do you feel like, different parts of your identity interact, or live alongside, or with your transness?

 

F: How do you mean? Can you clarify?

 

L: [to Ryan] Can you clarify? [laughs] This is usually your question –

 

F: Sounds good though –

 

R: What other aspects of your identity

 

L: Yeah, interact with your transness or are informed by?

 

F: Oh whoa, definitely romantic relationships is just like – family, well all relationships – well just like, romantic relationships have the fucking spotlight right now at least. And definitely when I started coming out, um – I dunno [laughs]. How do I answer it? Definitely that is like the most interesting kind of difference, definitely. Well – everyone I’ve known forever has like, haven’t really related to me that differently, cos now its just like, there’s a veneer that is gone, I’m less silent, and I’m less shut off, and I’m more empathetic, and I’m more – it’s just like, its almost like, there’s more life-force bled into me, kind of thing, now that I’m out. Which is really interesting. Even looking at photos. When you look at photos of me before I started to transition, there’s like less light? Like less life-force being bled into that person? Which is, chilling [laughs]. And now you look at photos, I look at photos of myself, and its just like there’s more light, there’s more life-force being bled into her, and I’m like yeah, it’s so fucking interesting to see that difference.

 

F: Anyway, and I guess, how that relates to romantic relationships, is that there’s more of me available now. Transitioning, I guess, and embracing it, and living the fullness of it all, has just like brought so much out, good and bad. Just a bit of a Pandora’s box, in a way. But in the best fucking, like the best fucking Pandora’s box –

 

R: [laughs]

 

F: As well, and I’m still cool with that [laughs]

 

F: But yeah, now I feel like there’s more available of me, probably. And I fucking am so happy about that. I’m so happy about that. So happy I can give more to people I care about, and there’s less awkwardness, cos it was really like – I was more on mute beforehand, and now the mute button is off. And that’s fucking intense, and it hasn’t, it hasn’t been the kindest to my mental health, I’m going to be honest. Like my mental health has taken a bit of a nosedive since I’ve started transitioning. Cos people kind of assume, it’s gonna be, when you start, you know having the time of your life – but it’s, it’s kind of like this is where the real work starts, or like where my, my dealing with the trauma that, was just literally stagnant. That’s when this starts for me, y’know, and its been fucked, and there haven’t been many people I can talk about it with, cos doctors are like, this is a huge time, and that’s all they can say. At least they can say that, that’s good. And I’ve been trying – at first I was trying to like ascertain was it hormones that was fucking with me, or was it, is it issues that literally could, just had to sit stagnantly in me, which now…y’know now that I’ve committed to truth I guess, this is their time? And I think it’s probably that [laughs]. Y’know, um its really interesting just like, it being a bit of a grey area, with doctors and psychologists who are like, I’m not sure if it’s the hormones or your life experience. And not really, yeah that being a grey area. Should I change medication? Is it not medication at all? It’s interesting, definitely interesting negotiating your transition and everything, but like, mentally, emotionally, physically, comes with that negotiating with like the medical, the medical professionals who are still like, there’s not a huge, not a wealth of research around this. Y’know, and who are sort of just, taking it tentatively I guess.

 

L: Do you mind if I jump back and ask you about – so you said you came out to your parents, your mom, about a year and a half ago, is that right?

 

F: Yeah, I should try and work it out. Yeah let’s say it was a year and a half ago. So I came out to my Mom as non-cis basically, or,  I think I dunno, I said gender nonconforming or probably nonbinary, or… Let’s just say I made it very clear to my Mom, which was by way of making it very clear to my family because she was the link there. Um, maybe that would be like, 4 years ago now? Maybe I’m way overstretching that? But it was definitely my early 20’s, say 22 or something. So there was quite a lot of time when she and my famly knew that I was gender nonconforming, and that took like a lot of time, a lot of time to stick. And I remember when it old her there were tears on her part, and it was weird, like [laughs]. I was like, fuck, what’s gonna happen when I come out as trans, y’know?

 

Cos that was just almost like the first, that was breaking the ice, y’know? Like what happens when I really bring out the main dish? And yeah, that was just like a really bizarre reaction, I’m going to be honest, to receive. And it took her so long to just even get that I didn’t like gendered things, even though I never fucking have my whole life, I just kept my mouth shut and internalized my fucking pain over it. But like, on the very cusp of telling her, cos what happened that day, she was like, ‘ooh you don’t want to wear that jacket, it’s a bit girly.’ And I was like, Mom, like I think I was like, ‘Mom, what the fuck!’ And then she’s like, ‘ohhhh, what??’ [laughs] And I was like, we seriously need to, I was like gritted teeth, we need to have a talk. Cos I was just like, this can’t continue [laughs]. Like weird fucking comments like that. Y’know, whatever. Yeah so anyway we had the chat that day, it was just like, don’t say, y’know like, ‘that’s quite girly dadada.’ I tried to like, get the – I guess we just talked about like gender nonconforming, blah blah blah stuff. And I dunno, she probably leaked that back to my Dad at her discretion. I don’t want to sound, it’s all in good humour really, cos like, I do have a good relationship with them actually. It’s, y’know, to be honest I don’t harbor too much hostility about this, because its just like, literally so far out of their experience, that I wouldn’t expect them to y’know, to know what to do, know what to say, know when their meant to do shit, like that’s quite, in my perspective, that would be like a really high taskmaster thing [laughs] to expect of them. I dunno how to say it. Like, I don’t expect them to be super trans experts, or like whatever – because they’re just not, never have been…

 

L: Do you feel like you’re currently part of a trans community?

 

F: Yes, definitely. Because I was, how I think I personally found myself involved, or becoming involved in the trans community, its more when my friendship group sort of was getting more into music and art. And so the music scene opened up all these [laughs] other trans people in Melbourne, or at least a whole bunch who were interested in music.. So that is definitely how that link occurred. I think that’s quite a, accessibility wise, that poses a big problem cos you’ve got one type of, not one type of people, but like you’ve got like people who are interested in music and who are going out to gigs and parties, and blah blah blah – so that’s one means of meeting others. Which has like, a question mark over accessibility, because y’know, not all, we don’t all party and y’know, we don’t all, we’re not all sort of privy to that stream. But that is how I met a lot of other trans people.

 

L: How do you think, or if it has at all, how do you feel like the trans community has changed over the last few years?

 

F: I mean, I can, also when I’m talking about this stuff, I’m zoning in on what access I have to it. Which is in Melbourne and in this particular kind of social thing, so it’s not gonna be a hugely macro perspective. I dunno. Cos there’s probably a lot of different Melbourne queer scenes anyway, but I’m sort of honing in on this, what I’ve seen on the internet – that’s all I know, right now. And people I’ve met in real life, and so I think there’s this realization at least in this kind of pocket, everyone’s really different and there’s actually not going to be total cohesion all the time. And I think that’s probably the next step, is to realize that we can accommodate for that without it toppling said community, or said kind of cohesion. But I think that’s the next kind of how do you do that, y’know? I think that’s the next thing. Being integrated but also recognizing that there are different parts to a whole. And I think that’s like, all over the world, that’s what [laughs] I think that is kind of happening. I dunno, yeah. I think that’s my answer [laughs].

 

F: I was sort of thinking about how, y’know how when you’re a child you’re not necessarily um, deconstructing your gender or whatever. How I sort of, I think how the transition I noticed from being, feeling like I was more free, I guess that’s why, I dunno – I think it was when barriers were coming down, and its almost like you’re a child and then more and more and more constrictions come in to try and shape you, and like try and tell you what you’re not allowed to do, and what you are allowed to do. I noticed my parents would tell me off more and more and more, for like behaviour or how I spoke, sound of my voice, everything, my mannerisms, everything, for not being – for being too girly. That’s when I guess I was really like, oh okay so I’m meant to be something that I’m not, y’know. Well I felt like my whole childhood and adolescence was like an intense like training to try and like, pass and not be, I feel so much fucking safer now, y’know, than I actually did before transition because like, the whole thing felt like a fucking drill session. Like drill training, where I was like, trying to seem um, yeah, just like cis enough, even? Or whatever, to not get shit. And I didn’t, couldn’t do it anyway [laughs]. But like it was fucking hard. It was like trying to like method act all the time. And even like I never made the great performance, like you know, I just, it was gruelling. To try and like method act all the time.

 

I remember like, when I started high school, or maybe it was like in year 8 or something – I realized that my voice was drawing a lot of attention [laughs] to me. Cos literally I had to teach myself to speak in a different male passing way, like I literally had to learn that. And I didn’t realize that until recently, but like, that was a huge training regime that I inflicted, not inflicted on myself, but like, alright Frances, this is your next part, your next kind of task is to try and have a passing voice so that you don’t get in as much hot water as you do. Before I got socialized, I had the voice that I wanted to have. I spoke in the way I wanted to speak, testosterone or not. And then I started doing my training, which was like, ok speak in monotone, that’s the only way you can sound like the others, or like, sound like those people who you’re meant to be like [laughs]

 

L: And you thought that consciously in your head?

 

F: Oh, it was like you need to speak, so if you speak in a monotone it will sound low, it will sound deep, it will sound how boys sound. And you’re meant to sound like them to survive, because you look like them. Apparently. Or like, people think that’s what you are, so you need, it was consciously – I’d train. It’s really ironic, because I’ve been doing voice therapy to try and get my fucking voice back. Which is going well, it’s just ironic as fuck that, y’know, I spent those years trying to – y’know, speaking monotone, trying to train my brain to speak like them – and now I’m trying to undo that damage that was done by like…whoa I guess yeah. By that kind of regime, training regime that I spent my early adolescence doing and now I’m paying so much money to try and yeah, undo the damage. But I mean it’s working, it’s all well and good. It’s been a time. With it, y’know, finally like getting my voice back, like the fucking voice that I spoke with when I was a 13-year-old, and finally hearing something that sounds more like that, at least I hope? I dunno, it’s a time.

 

L: It hurts my heart to think about kids policing themselves, like doing y’know, because of what’s coming in on them. Practicing these things at home, on their own –

 

F: Yeah, drill training – like, it’s another thing that’s sort of adjacent to my experience, trans experience, is that mental health is never far away from my – I mean issues with mental health. And I’m not surprised at all. Y’know, like, how are you meant to get through these experiences where you’re meant to like dissociate from yourself without having quite intense coping mechanisms. I don’t want to say that that’s the case for all trans people or anything, but like, looking back t my experience it’s no wonder that I’ll probably be in therapy for the rest of my life. With like, just like, from all of, like all the survival mechanisms that you try and employ. And that’s why, like this last year has been so intense, I think. Cos it just, I was a bit like, I dunno, it all used to go in, but now its coming out, or its like – yeah. I dunno [laughs].

 

L: There’s this popular idea that transness and mental health issues are like, one and the same? But it’s like, very often accompanying this thing –

 

F: Oh my god, yeah – they’re not. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wanna say something about that. Okay. So just from my experience, if I’d been raised with my parents taking the lead of like, how I was expressing myself, and nurturing that, and not placing constriction and then, y’know a whole lot of external stress being placed on simply the expression of myself. If that had not happened, I would have, I would be quite a mentally well person. People say like, being trans must be really hard. And to be honest, it’s like the easiest thing in my life. Because it’s just like, its literally just a fact. The hardest thing about being trans is like, your interactions with others. In my experience, it’s never been about me, or… that has caused pain.

 

L: Um, one of the questions we were gonna ask you about: what is the hardest thing about being trans, and then if we flip that and say: what do you think one of the best things about being trans is – what would you say to that?

 

F: It’s yeah. It’s just like, my whole adolescence that I didn’t get to live, I finally get to live it now. Kind of thing. So it feels like all your Christmases’ have come at once, in a way. That’s how I felt. There are fucking shit days as well, but those days are really great [laughs]. It’s interesting, when I started my transition I guess, one of the first things was like, oh cool I get to wear what I always wanted to wear now! So I had this huge backlog, ever since I was a teenager and started becoming aware of my identity and stuff, I had this huge backlog of clothes that I’d never gotten to wear, make-up looks that I hadn’t gotten to do, just waiting for me. And it’s interesting cos like the clothes I’ve started wearing to begin with, were almost like, 13-year-old Frances. And then it was like 14-year-old Frances, 15. And now I’m sort of like, 16-year-old Frances [laughs]. Just because like its graduated to that point. But it makes, it makes me wonder like, what would 25-year-old Frances be wearing?

 

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