Another Transgender Journey
My religious experience is of the Anglo-Catholic Church in England, Baptist, Church of Christ, and Salvation Army; the High Church of England, in Australia. Converting to Catholicism with my husband in the early 1980’s and now a fringe dweller of the Ecumenical Catholic Church of Australia – a church conceived and birthed by gay Roman Catholic men and women in the US, Britain and Australia.———————————————————————————–
Hello, my name is Andrew and I have come through Transition from Female to Male achieving a full Legal Transition in February 2002, in May 2003 my wife and I were able to get married in a church.
Born in 1954 into Post war England I appeared to be a girl child and they named me Anne after the Princess. I have another brother and a sister.
Initially I was not conscious of my gender but saw myself as male, as though there was no question that the missing article wouldn’t suddenly appear. When I began High School at age 11 I remember that I was pleased to be attending a high school where everyone wore a tie because it made me feel better about the box pleat skirt and I had managed to prevail upon my mother to buy me boys elastic sided boots and these two made me pleased for a time.
Well, when my innards began to follow the cycle of the Moon I became undone because, quite suddenly I knew what gender is and that I didn’t have the right outside to my inside.
In November 1966 our parents decided it would be better for all of us if we came to live in Australia since a recession was verging and the coalminers in the midlands were on strike with their wives coming to our small shop for credit – mum and dad were slowly going broke.
I remember the intrusive trips to Australia House& NSW House and, for a time, forgot my worries – I seemed to have the knack of putting my cares into or out of a safe place whenever I needed to. It wasn’t until 1968 that every thing suddenly thrust itself to the surface of my mind and the door slammed on the safe place and I had to begin to deal with ‘it’.
The year previously I had had my first few status epilepticus episodes, (to lead to bipolar affective disorder at aged 17) and then I had come to Christ during a Crusade led by one of the then local evangelists, giving my life to the Lord Jesus seemed on the one hand to provide a rock and on the other began my questioning and pleading of God as to why he had called me to be Christian and made me a lesbian – I thought. I believed myself to be a whole person a person not defined by having sex with anyone but by being me – for that time, a woman who loved women. I spent my 15th year looking for loop holes in the Book of Leviticus to find a way I could be myself fully and escape the fires of hell.
At 18 I sought out an older man in our Youth Group at Matraville Baptist Church engaged myself to him and propelled him to the altar. The idea of having sex with a man was repulsive and scared the h* out of me. I reasoned that provided I did what was expected of me I might be OK.
By February 1975 we had two Sons and at the end of the 1980s it got so that I could not keep the fear of difference within myself and I began to look for sympathetic pastors and priests to give me guidance.I was unable to find any in the Baptist Church though an evangelist did exorcise me, to no avail.
Some while after we converted to big ‘C’ Catholicism, I came out to my family and my husband wouldn’t accept it at first because of the “existence of the boys”, the usual response is that we cannot be gay or lesbian if we have slept with a member of the opposite sex.
They all came to accept it but not like it. At church they were quite happy to let me carry on teaching Scripture and being a Lector on Sundays and week days. I had a friend say to me that she had never heard of a Christian becoming gay…
My BAD got to be very bad by the early 90s, even the antipsychotics didn’t help and the epilepsy was still out of control. I just couldn’t manage the continuing saga in my Soul, as fast as I coped with one thing another popped itself up. Frustrated with my unresponsiveness to the Antiepileptic drugs I quit them cold turkey and went to visit a Naturopath. The herbs didn’t help at all and the hallucinations were the worst I had until February this year.
I was Manic for three months and eventually found the right psychiatrist thanks to Catholic Family Life Centre, from where the counsellor referred me to one of three really wonderful psychiatrists who, between them, were to provide me with a Psychiatric Report to allow me to begin Transition. I began in February 1997. I had been Cross Dressing for at least three years and I remember the grin the doctor had on his face when I finally admitted that I knew I was Male. He said “Go out and do it”
Just prior to this God gifted me a wonderful priest who found out about ‘Acceptance Sydney’ a Group for GLTBQI Catholics, and arranged for one of the gay Acolytes to drive me there and back again. It was in this safe haven that I completed my transitioning, the guys there named me Andy and so I took the name Andrew at my first Name Change.
I had entered Wollongong Uni to do a BA in Psychology & Philosophy; it was in the Module called ‘Changes through the Human Lifetime’ that I learnt most of what I know about the Psychology and Neurophysiology of human sexuality and gender. I entered there in 1995 as Mrs Anne Brewer and left there in 1998 as Mr Andrew Brewer.; Graduating as Andrew James Blair the following year.
I met my wife, Jessica at the Gender Centre, just before the transgender Ball & since neither of us had a partner we went together, that night I nearly lost her because I spent a lot of time talking with some of the guys.
By New Years 1999 we were engaged, I proposed at the Sydney PRIDE New Years Eve Party, on July 15th 1999 I received my Decree Nisi – Mr A Brewer versus Mr J Brewer and on the 16th we went to Births Deaths & Marriages to change my name again, this time to Andrew James Blair.
Jessica is the Blair and the nearest we could come to marriage then, was for one of us to change our name – it was cheaper for me to do so than Jessica, maiden names cause a bit of a problem because for us both to revert to it would have cost $166.00, the family didn’t want a Jessica Brewer and my Mother didn’t want a Jessica Bennett so I became a Blair. ($83.00) Ho hum money
August 21st brought us to the Wayside Chapel of the Good Shepherd where the Pastor led us to pledge our selves to Holy Union. We were living in Darlinghurst at the time and attended the Wayside chapel because we both volunteered there, me as a Phone Counsellor. By this time I no longer discriminated between denominations but went where we were happy to be with those who wanted us there.
November 2001 saw me completely through surgery – the part I could afford – the little bit extra now costs about $200,000, hence I obtained a Legal Transition.
Obtaining my final and complete identity as male I did my final round of ID changes with
Name Change Certificate,
Birth Certificate, Wedding Certificates,
Divorce Papers + letters from doctors attesting that I had completed the necessary legal and surgical steps for Male-hood.
At the beginning of 2002 the laws defining male-hood and marriage were revised to allow ftm males without’ phalloplasty’ to marry.( women) Jessica’s Medico-legal transition had been completed in 1997 & so we couldn’t legally Wed then because we were roughly the same sex.
Once the new laws of 2002 redefined Male-hood we approached our then Anglican Rector & asked him to do so but he was loathe to, being himself a gay man he didn’t want to rattle the Sydney Clergy.
In the meantime, a gay friend of mine, from Acceptance days invited me to his Ordination to the Diaconate – he was to become a Deacon in the Ecumenical Catholic church of Australia.
The Bishop agreed to marry us on 31st May 2003; I think we were the first doubly transsexual couple to marry in NSW, after the landmark Kevin & Jennifer case that made it all possible.
Today I have 4 grand children whom I am forbidden to see, though my younger son, who is gay, & his partner visit us from time to time. Neither my brother – a Baptist Minister, nor my Sister a founder of a strict Baptist Congregation in Queensland, will have anything to do with either of us.
My uncle & aunt in New Zealand, who are not believers, have no issues with us.
Enough for now I am probably over length as it is