Last Modified On 02/11/2004
Ginny - April 2000
For My SRS Page click here
I am 42 and have worked in engineering since leaving school at 16. I joined the Royal Air Force as an Aircraft Engineering Technician Apprentice in 1974 and did my apprenticeship at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. I ran cross country for the station and was a member of the gymnastic display team, I also played tenor drum in the Apprentice Pipe Band (this meant I could get into the mess for meals ahead of everyone else!). After leaving I never stayed in contact with anyone, although recently I became a member of the Royal Air Force Halton Aircraft Apprentice Association and am in the process of re-establishing links with others. See my RAF page here.
On leaving the RAF in 1985 I secured a job with Lotus Engineering as a technician. I stayed for five years and then went contracting in Europe after a couple of ‘fill in’ jobs. On my return to the UK in 1994 I went to work for Ricardo Consulting Engineers in Sussex as a test technician. In 1997 I was promoted to Development Engineer. I retained this position until June 1999 when I was unfairly dismissed. In the October of that year I managed to find work as a relief support worker working with a household of physically disabled people with learning difficulties. In the April of 2000 I won my case against Ricardo, my former employers. In the May I started work on a production line as a fitter for a company manufacturing vacuum pumps. Jan 2001 saw me move to their R&D dept. and June saw me out of work as their business took a nose dive. July and August spent selling Double Glazing (I do apologise but I needed the money). November saw me working as a cashier at a Sainsbury Supermarket. Feb 2002 I quit that job before I flipped out completely and haven't had a job since then. That is my professional life dealt with.
My personal life is rather more complex. I felt different from a very early age, I have memories dating back to when I was only 18months old. I was a gentle but emotional child and preferred to play games involving my imagination. I disliked (and still do!) football and other rougher boys games. I thought that puberty was when one decided whether to be a man or a woman until, at about the age of eight, I was informed that boys grew up to be men and girls, women. Also around this age an older boy, upon seeing me beaten up by a boy my age without any retaliation on my part, informed me that in order to avoid this occurring more frequently I had to fight back. I resolved to be tougher and fight, I also tried to get involved in the rougher games and never ‘chicken out’ of a dare. This worked, although I hated having to do it.
At twelve years old I knew there was something seriously ‘wrong’ with me sexually. Then the April Ashley scandal hit the press. Suddenly, I knew that this was the answer to my dilemma, I COULD become a woman! At the same time I knew that I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt for fear of ridicule and rejection. Puberty was upon me and I was trapped into ‘becoming a man’. Well, if she could change her body and become a woman and I couldn’t, then I would change my head and become a man. I couldn’t live as a mixture.
I lost interest in education and became disruptive. I gained five ‘O’ levels without any effort on my part. When asked what I wanted to do for a career I informed them that I wanted to be a parapsychologist. When I was told that I would have to go to university I rejected the idea and applied to join the RAF. I signed up for 9 years without giving it any thought. I didn’t even know what the apprenticeship involved. I was unaware that it involved studying at college.
By this time I had been involved in a relationship with a man for about three years. When I had asked him about wearing female clothing I was told in no uncertain terms that ‘Gay’ people didn’t do that.
In the RAF we were bombarded with propaganda about the Russians getting gay people into compromising situations and then blackmailing them into spying for them. all of this served to make me repress my feelings very deeply.
I continued with my disruptive ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude until I failed my ONC finals and was thrown off the apprenticeship and sent out into the RAF as a single trade technician. I was into motorbikes by this time and used to get up to all sorts of crazy stunts to try to stave off my encroaching depression and feelings of worthlessness and guilt about my sexuality. Beer figured large in this also. I wore my hair long and no amount of military crap could dissuade me. The RAF and I had a long running battle with regard to my attitude and appearance. I was however very good at my job and I believe they tolerated my ‘eccentricity’ because of this. I hooked up with a local chapter of the National Chopper Club and became a full blooded ‘Bro’ biker. By my early twenties though I had sunk into a very deep depression and distanced myself from all of my friends on the bike scene. It took me about three years to drag myself out of this and recreate myself as a ‘normal’ member of society. I got married and learnt to drive a car. I didn’t last long though and I was soon back into the bikes and beer. In 1987 my wife gave birth to a son, I wasn’t ready for that and felt left out and alien. This was when I went contracting. We got divorced and I had hooked up with a West Indian girl I had met in Germany. This was a fiery relationship from the word go and it suited us both. At this point I knew I had a real problem looming. My sexual problems needed urgent attention and I was prone to bouts of mania and depression.
is Loosely based around the myth of Blues Artist Robert Johnson selling his
soul to the devil in order to make good music. It was also the final attempt
of my subconscious to inform me that something was in need of urgent attention.
The message was : You are about to face the biggest demon in your mind.....your
transsexuality. It pre-dated my actual confrontation by about a year. It is
drawn in ballpoint pen and depicts me approaching the crossroads with a case
full of harmonicas. Upon completion I was unaccountably afraid to sign the
original, in retrospect it was because I was going to change my name and so
there was a conflict between my conscious identity and my sub-conscious (female
and as yet unamed) identity.
I started to produce pictures that were quite surreal and dark. These came out of my subconscious and when one hit me I became driven and wouldn’t stop for anything until it was completed. I was not prolific but they continued to be produced over a period of years. Back in the UK I started to slide into the second of my really deep and prolonged depressions. I had told my partner of the first one and how I had pushed my friends away. She resolved to stay with me through hell and high water. My response was to raise the intensity of the storm until she couldn’t cope and had to move out. I’m afraid I put her through more than any person deserves. She was messed up for a few years afterwards, but she is a resilient person and I am glad to say, she is once again happy and in a good relationship. We remained in contact and she used to ensure that I occasionally got a good meal and did what she could to help. My life at this point was at a low ebb and I was barely able to function. I would go to work and eat a bacon roll and a cheese scone when the canteen trolley came round at ten in the morning. On my return home I would sit and stare at the walls and think until the early hours when I would go to my bedroom and sleep on a mattress on the floor. This would be repeated for days at a time. The routine broken only by the odd visit to the chip shop or chinese take away at weekends and the occasional, and very welcome, stay at my, now, ex-partner’s flat.
Unbelievably it was during this period that I was promoted to Engineer status. At the same time I also visited my son and ex-wife in the States. During this visit her husband suggested that I seek the help of a psychotherapist. This I did and it was a crucial turning point in my life. By April 1998 I was able to start to confront my sexuality and admit that I was probably bisexual, if not gay. I ‘came out’ to friends on my fortieth birthday after they had discovered that it was my birthday and tricked me into going out for a celebration drink. My ex-partner took me to a ‘gay bar’ that a gay work colleague had told her about. She had to physically drag me into the place when I freaked half way across the road to it. I spent that summer making new friends and exploring the gay scene. No one seemed interested in me as a potential partner and my friends would often discuss whether I was in fact gay. I had long hair and wore my nails long and painted. I didn’t have a clue as to why I was so persistent about my nails. I had bitten my nails since about the age of ten. One day I decided to paint them and they looked awful. I stopped biting my nails there and then and have never again had the urge to do so.
By the autumn I was aware that I wasn’t gay. I had a dilemma, if I wasn’t straight and I wasn’t gay, then what the hell was I? My depression had lifted somewhat over the summer but now it came crashing back down on me. At work I was involved in a test project that was very stressful and having to deal with this too. I believe I had something of a breakdown at this point.
In December I met a transvestite who invited me to go to a ‘tranny bar’. On going I realised I had ‘come home’. I thought I was a Tranny and felt elated that at last I was finding out what I really was. My ex-partner sorted me out some clothes so that I could go out ‘dressed’ the following week and made me go home that night in the clothes. My first time ‘dressed’ I went out in public in a square off the back of Brighton town centre! The feeling was incredible for me and the whole thing incredibly amusing to her! I was terrified driving home, my head full of ‘what if’s’, the police, the neighbours etc. At the same time I felt very comfortable and normal.
I knew I had embarked on a path that could lead to me progressing beyond transvestism to transsexuality and even possibly .....SURGERY! I was comfortable with it and decided that for now I was TV and if I felt that I was unhappy with that I would deal with it as and when. As and when happened over the following few weeks. At first I realised that I wasn’t a TV I was a transsexual then almost as an aside I knew that I wanted to undergo Gender Reassignment Surgery......badly. The repression of the past thirty years was crumbling rapidly and I was starting to recall long lost and repressed memories. This was a time of much reflection and emotional release for me, not to mention the gallons of tears. In February I approached my manager at work to sound him out about where I stood with respect to this. In April I made a presentation to the department explaining about transsexuality and myself. In May Tricia and myself got together and I also started to see a psychiatrist. I started on female hormone treatment at the beginning of June. On the 11th I changed my name in preparation for my change of roles at work. At this same time I was asked to run a test bed for the first time since the previous October. When I attempted to do it I suffered panic attacks and general feelings of disassociation and hot and cold sweats. I went home sick after telling my boss. The following day, having suspected the hormone regime to be at fault, I repeated the way in which I had taken them. This had no ill effects and so the following day I returned and attempted once more to test the engine. I suffered the same symptoms and again went home sick, this time for the remainder of the week. I sat in the sun in the back garden and went through things in my mind. I realised that what was happening was due to the traumatic experience of the previous October when I had had a breakdown. On my return to work the following week I told my boss that I couldn’t test engines and requested other work. To summarise events, they basically organised a meeting in personnel and bullied me into resigning...BANG I was out of work, offically female and looking like a man. It took me over a month to get the courage up to go to the job centre to sign on! I was terrified and in danger of losing my house. I was immediately put on a course for the long term unemployed and set about trying to find work. I made quite a few friends on that course, and the staff, whilst staying very much in the background, kept a watchful eye over me. I was given a psychomteric assessment and scored 100% in every category bar the admin. speed. I was officially clever! This shocked me as I had always thought I was marginally above average at best. At home my life and house were in tattters but here was I a bloody Rocket Scientist! My self esteem was at rock bottom and this revelation kind of kick started it into improving. The job in October saw a disorientated and scared me having to help people to live their lives whilst I was still unable to cope with my own. I had to take them out to social functions and generally out in public. It forced me to become at ease with myself in public and worked wonders for my self esteem. People seemed to like me!
Tricia - April 2000
Now I am back on track and feeling happy for the first time in my life. My family accept me and my Mum is an absolute diamond. Tricia moved in with me just before Christmas and is now co-owner of our house. We go through ups and downs and it has been a difficult time, but we are always there for each other in times of trouble when no one else understands. We are very close and I think a lot of people are fascinated by our relationship.
In April I finally got Ricardo to an industrial tribunal and was vindicated. The tribunal awarded me £13k in damages and the story was all over the local press. They reported it fairly and referred to me as Miss Bourne. The gutter press got hold of it though and twisted it and sensationalised it. Referring to me as ‘he’ and ‘Mr H******’. It is finally over though and now I can get on with my life.
I am hoping to undergo GRS later this year and be where I wanted to be all those long years ago. I am finally going to grow up to be a woman.....
And I did. Find out more here
Some Fun Stuff
a few other bits and pieces about me. I love music, my first album was Glenn Miller which I bought at about the age of eight. For birthday treats I used to go to see big bands at the local theatre. By the age of eleven I had seen Syd Lawrence, Harry James (brilliant) and Count Basie( a bit beyond me at the time). I loved the more uptempo pop music and used to drive my parents mad by playing ‘Goin’ Down’ by the Monkees repeatedly. This is still a big favourite of mine :-). In my teens I got into Heavy Rock as well. Black Sabbath were a particular favourite and I guess I have to accept some responsibility for my brother Jon’s taste in music.
Boogie Woogie has always been a particular love of mine and as I entered my twenties I discovered the Blues. A few honourable mentions musically must go to Slim Gaillard, Gerry Mulligan, Louis Jordan, Harry (the Hipster) Gibson, Louis Prima (and Sam Boutera), Sonny Rollins, AC/DC, Bonnie Raitt, Howlin’ Wolf, Meade Lux Lewis and many, many more.
About ten years ago I started to mess about with the harmonica, playing along to blues tapes whilst driving my car. It didn’t matter what key they were in, I would just mess about trying to find notes that fitted. I had messed with the Sax for years without much success (it’s difficult to drive and play!) and again I suppose I had some influence on Jon.
One day in Germany I had a row with my partner and got steaming drunk. I decided to annoy her by playing my harmonica as loud as I could to some tapes. When she got home from work I was in full flow. Unfortunately, for my plans, it sounded pretty good. She encouraged me to go for it and I suddenly realised I could play! I gigged with a couple of local musicians a few times before we returned to the UK.
I had a few different keys by now and found a local pub that held regular jam sessions. I was fast becoming quite respected as a musician. I hooked up with a couple of guys and formed a band. We used to get steamed in the drummers basement on a Sunday afternoon and just jam our heads off. Eventually we took it out into a few local pubs and received quite a good reception. Since then we have re-formed and changed line ups a number of times. The core of that band split in 2000. I quit playing publicly altogether for a while. In 2001 I went to a local open mic venue that a friend had recommended to me. I played a couple of solo improvisations on the Harmonica and blew everyone away. I was extremely uncertain about myself at this point and this bolstered my ego considerably. At that venue I was approached by the organisers of another local club to go and play there the following week. I did that and have appeared there every month since. I made my first debut as a vocalist at this club singing a self penned number. Since that time I have gone from strength to strength confidence wise as a performer. I currently perform with a number of other local musicians as duos or bands. However the main thrust of my efforts is with my friend Allie as a duo called 'The FeralKatz'. We perform all original material some penned by Allie some by me and some collaboratively. As I write this (end of July 2002) we are about to perform at the Worthing Fringe and also at Brighton Pride. These two events will be the first time I will ever have played Sax in public before.
For years I have been trying to find the right sound. I play Lee Oskar harmonica’s ( I gave up on Hohner about two years ago) through a Shure Green Bullet mic and occasionally my vocal mic (an AKG). In addition I have a MicroVox Harp Mic which is held between the small and ring fingers. This enables me to use acoustic techniques whilst amplified.I used to play this setup through a White limited edition Marshall Bluesbreaker re-issue with the channels linked. I have tried all sorts of set ups in the past and this was the best until now. I loved the sound of it when it was cranked right up! It is a two by twelve combo and it weighs a ton, but I thought it was worth it. However I started to find it too heavy for me to handle physically and decided I needed to find something smaller. I kept looking around for something suitable but nothing seemed to fill the slot. Eventually, having read a lot of accounts of modified amps for harmonica, I seized my old Laney LC15 with an odd glint in my eye. I designed a new cabinet for it and ordered a Jensen P12R speaker to replace the old H&H 10inch that it had as standard. The 12AX7 pre-amp valves were dumped in favour of 12AU7's and a GZ34 rectifier valve replaced the cheapo solid state rectifier. Coupling caps were changed and plate voltages reduced. A digital delay has been built and fitted into the amp too. As I write this I am hoping to pick up the modified amp tomorrow to fit into the new cab. It should sound absolutely stunning. My fingers are firmly crossed.
As I now seem to be incorporating my Sax into the repertoire I had better give a mention to it too. It is a Selmer Model 26 Alto built around the end of 1928 or maybe just into early 1929 (Selmer didn't have an exact record). It is Silver plated and has a quite mellow sound compared to modern instruments which are tinny by comparison. The mouthpiece is a Brillhardt 5star which I have fettled out even further to give a raw edged sound. I use a soft reed 1.5 or 2 so that I can control the aperture easily which is large. This means I can bend notes and make the thing really sing and scream. Just as well really as my fingering technique is basic. It suits the style and sound I require from it.
Meanwhile back at the harmonicas; I don’t read music but if I hear something I can usually pick it up straight away and play it. I have to confess that I don’t even know the note sequence on a diatonic harp but I know where to get the sound I want. My style is quite unique in that I employ the gap in my front teeth to pick out single notes and can tongue this while using my lips to bring in other notes and chords. I am told that it sounds like two or three harmonicas are playing at once. I don’t know, I usually have my head down and eyes shut so that I can get into the ‘groove’. I don’t know if I circular breathe or not but I can play without pausing indefinitely. Maybe one day I will get a sample of my playing onto this page so you can judge for yourself.
My other ‘thing’ is writing. I write songs, poetry and philosophy. The only thing better than writing is talking which in my case usually means going off on a rant! :-) I love it, outrageous generalisations and wildly inaccurate logic just to see if I can get someone to go for it. My friends are always telling me off for it, but they know it is just a bit of fun really. I also love reading and thinking about reality, my own approach is via quantum cosmology strained through a fine mesh of philosophy. Favourite writers in the field are Julian Barbour and David Deutsch.
©Ginny Bourne 2002