a reading for
word is out @ midsumma 2001
melbourne's gay and lesbian arts & cultural festival
Sponsored by Hares and Hyenas

Monday 22 Jan 2001
The Builders' Arms

Pride March 21 Jan 2001 Anniversaries
The Tyranny of Round Numbers

A reading by Julie Peters

It's now ten years since I changed my name to Julie. And thought I'd pause to reflect on what I've done. But why are anniversaries important? Why is 10 years important?

Was it the right thing to do? I've enjoyed life so much more in the last ten years than the previous 40. I was sick of hiding; sick of not being myself.

Do I understand my transgenderism any better now than before? No. But I no longer care that I don't understand.

I still have daily reminders of my XY chromosomes: my base baritone voice and facial hair. Ten years on I don't feel 100% woman.

What gender am I? I am of the Julie Peters gender. Gender owns me less than ever before. But I am the least stressed when people relate to me as a woman. Culturally I am woman.

Ten years ago I never expected to be publically transgendered. I couldn't love me for being transgendered. So how could anyone else? Ten years on, I find transgender rather ordinary and wonder why I was ever worried. I don't understand the hoarse voices who still see us as evil incarnate.

Eight is a round number in octal numbers.

8 year ago I had an operation that helped me free my soul. I started to like myself; like myself more than ever before.

Three months after the operation I felt depressed? I didn't understand. When I caught a glimpse of my new body in the mirror I was overcome with the most delicious joy. Why depressed? Disoriented! Easy! What happens when your absolutely biggest most extraordinary dream comes true?

You are left without a dream. I've always been a dreamer. I had to search and find new dreams.

Seven is a round number in base seven numbers. There are 7 days in a week.

7 years ago I sang publically for the first time with the Melb Gay and Lesbian Chorus.

6 years ago people were saying things about the transgendered that were untrue; building stereotypes and vilifying my people. Anna and I encouraged each other and we found a voice.

Crusader Hillis was editor of MSO and gave Anna and me a transgendered voice. I still wasn't exactly proud yet but I had to fight these untruths.

5 years ago, still cynical, I found a voice in politics - as a colour story - the tabloid Democrat. I wondered if I was chaotic enough to make a difference.

3 years ago I left the ABC

2 years ago I bought a paddock

16 is a round number in hexadecimal numbers

16 years ago I finished my degree.

20 years ago I became a crew leader with the ABC, a Technical Producer.

23 years ago I took my first female hormone. Joy oh Joy!

25 years ago is when I first broke out of the downward suicidal spiral I was in. I acknowledged I would only survive if I stopped fighting my transgendered nature. I waxed my legs for the first time. I plucked out all my facial hairs. It felt good. It felt like I was achieving.

31 years ago I started University.

34 years ago I realised I didn't believe the Catholic model.

35 years ago my puberty started. It was the wrong puberty. More and more I felt worthless.

43 years ago I made my first Holy Communion.

44 years ago I learnt that I lived in a society that believes gender is immutable. I knew they were wrong. But I also learnt that the big people didn't care for my opinion.

45 years ago I started school. I enjoyed to learn.

48 years ago I learnt the big people were a confusing inconsistent group and could not easily be pleased.

Now what's 2001 minus 1951 = ??


I've just figured out what's going on. I've just got my act together and I'm 50 already.

Is it important?

It's the tyranny of round numbers! 50! Half a century. 5 decades.

I've just examined my past. My past is my past. What importance should I give my past? I couldn't deal with my transgender any earlier than I did.

It does show how I got to where I am now.

The present is important.

The future is important. Being 50 mostly makes me examine my future.

Yes I will die. But I've got so much to do and I've just figured out how to start.

As an 8 year old I determined I'd live well into my 120's.

I am enjoying my life more than at any other time. I'm excited by a conversation, a walnut tree growing from a seed, an idea, a walk, a friendship, words I've strung together, a dream, a stormy day.

I still get depressed and tired.

But my next seventy years won't be encumbered by guilt, fear and self-loathing.

My transgender has taught me to be at peace with myself.

Where will my journey end?

To quote seven-of-nine "Irrelevant!"

I write. I plant trees. I listen. I read. I talk. I dream. I am.

The journey IS the end.

© Copyright Julie Peters 2001