On the 30st of April, the Second Edition of the Transexual Day of pride was being held at the Batshaw Center in Montreal. The event, which has been organised by the CTTQ (Coalition des Transsexuel(le)s et Transsexué(e)s du Québec (Transexual and transexuated Coalition of Quebec)) and that was directed by Danielle Chénier, held a series of presentations, both serious and humoristic.
At the cabaret Le Cléopâtre, gala organised by the ATQ (Association des Transsexuel(le)s du Québec(Transexuals’ Association of Quebec)) crowned the event. Alterhéros was at the presentation titled “The beginning of the transition, and transition at work”, with Pascale-Anne Laroche and Julie-Maude Beauchesne.
It was with much emotion, honesty and intensity that Madam Laroche told us her personal story. At the age of 8, she already felt different and that she was standing on the margin of society’s expectations, regarding her sexual identity.
“What is the similarity between being different and being a superhero?”, she asked the audience.
The people in the audience timidly tried to give a few answers: “You must live a double life and have the courage to stand for yourself, to be true to who you are”. Like the X-Men, (supposing that we trade the word “mutant” for the word“different”), you must fight great odds: the fact that we transexuals are misunderstood. It is also the fear to be rejected, and to find the courage to find your place in society and to heal the psychological wounds that ensured. To consider yourself different and to admit it is a personal coming-out.
Photo: Jean-Pierre Vu
But the day eventually comes when we must confront society, a public coming-out. Mme Laroche often wondered who she truly was. “I used to buy women cothes, and once I was wearing it, I felt very good in my skin, although a feeling of shame led me to repress those feelings”, she told us.
On the outside, she tried to blend in society as a man, but it failed. “It did not work and it became a huge burden to carry. I felt suffering and death…”
The transition: For us and for the others
It was simply too hard. The day finally came were she decided to take her chance, what we call a transition. She lost friend, because for them, friendship between a man and a woman is something that cannot exist.
“How was I going to live my life? How would I succeed with my career? How was I going to find someone who would love me and accept me the way I am?”. These were amongst the questions that she asked herself. She had to bear the inquisive stares of others and their accusative glances, passing for a freak or enduring pejorative stereotypes. “I am only asking for respect”, she told us. The path to acceptance is a battle fought everyday. “But life is very beautiful, and we have to learn to stay with people who can understand us.
“We can’t go at war against society! It would be wrong!” said afteward Julie-Maude Beauchesne, journalist for La Voix de l’Est. On an enthousiastic and entertaining tone, she revealed us the secret for success: Her transition at work.
She made us notice that: “The sexual identity is a very important question in society. Just think about the first question that we ask about newborns. Is it a boy or a girl?”.
“To be transexual is when the gender in our mind does not match the physical gender. I used to look at myself in the mirror; I saw a boy, my I was a girl!”
The moment she started her transition, she also had a plan in mind. “One’s own transition is the only one that is important, but also the other’s, because they also have personal work to do about it.”, she noted.
Finally, the social transition is as important as the physical transition.
Transition at work
The first step was laser epilation, and to be followed by a therapist. “It makes it easier to ask good questions and to think more deeply”, she says. Hormonotherapy was then the signal that marked the beginning of the physical transition.
Photo: Jean-Pierre Vu
Inevitably, what had to follow was the coming-out at work. She indicates to us that, unlike gays and lesbians, transexuals may not hide their transition to the rest of the “world”. The coming-out is even more difficult and is not an option here.
She began to mount up a complete file on the topic of transexuality, and she started to reveal her transition plans, in an explanatory letter to her closest colleagues.
Afterwards, she climbed up the corporative pyramid by going through the syndicate and she eventually reached the bosses, who received well the new and who even congratulated her professionalism.
To conclude her plan of action, a letter that was written alongside the direction was distributed to the whole company. Later on, upon returning from a week’s vacacion, she had become Julie-Maude!
Once again, she emphasised that the social transition is very important, and that there will be failures among successes. “You know, in everyday life, it doesn’t change a thing, wether you had the operation or not. You have to elimitane fears, treat other’s transition softly, with patience. You must take care of your garden, plant the seeds, so that the woman may grow one day”. This metaphor visibly reached her public.
“There are many transexuals who succeded in their life and career, and who live normaly”, she vehemently pointed out. (Check out Lynn Conway’s Website at the bottom of the article).” Throughout the hardships, we get out of this as a better and greater person. We gain in maturity. We fixed up the mess that was inside us, and now we can make the most out of life, at 300%! It is important to affirm ourselves, and to put an end to the fear. We have to show ourselves!, said a member of the audience. “It’s fun to be transexual!”, concluded Beauchesne.
The place, which was crowded with people of all ages and of every sexuality, was immediatly filled with the sound of applause. It is a new perspective to what Simone de Beauvoir wrote: “Were are not born a woman, we become a woman”…
Le Centre 2110 – Educational courses, help peers, information et references, 514-848-2424 extension 7880
Association des Transsexuel(le)s du Québec ATQ), (The Transexual Association of Quebec), 514-254-9038
The Transexuals Coalition of Quebec (TCQ)
Lynn Conway – Informatician, electricity engineer, inventor, research director, engineering professor (University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, MI), multilingual Website
Entre l’ombre et la lumière – Journalist and businesswoman, Julie-Maude Beauchesne is proposing to transexuals at the beginning of their process a Website filled with useful information.
To live, at last – Patrick Verret recently published her book, Changin sex to live at last. The biography of Manon who became Patrick.
Translation by David Patenaude