For transgenders, getting a normal, safe job is never really a career option

IF THE gays think they have it hard, try being a tranny for the day, says 28-year-old Roisin, who adds that she knew from the age of seven that she was trapped in the wrong body. “I can relate to how Panti and people from the gay and lesbian community feel about the effects of homophobia, but in terms of abuse you can step it up a few notches if you can’t tick the male or female box. I’ve been called scum, faggot, bloke, freak. . . the list goes on and on. It’s tough, but the alternative was never an option,” she says.
“When I read about what happens in Russia, it’s absolutely inhumane. People are being set up on fake dates and then they got bottles broken inside them. It makes me sick. We have enough of an internal battle on our hands let alone having to deal with being attacked by people we don’t know and who, more importantly, don’t know us.”
Roisin – not her real name – who was born male, says she used to ask her mother as a child when she would start becoming a woman. “I used to ask her when my boobs would grow. It was a very confusing time. Things didn’t get much easier throughout adolescence where I knew I didn’t fit in one way or another. I wanted to be a woman, but obviously I was growing into a man.
“Of course, I didn’t fancy girls, so I had to go through a lot of difficult emotions. It’s insane to think that I grew up in a country where people had to repress their sexuality, yet establishment figures were abusing children.”
Roisin was attacked and discriminated against for being different in her teenage years because she was more effeminate. “By the time I was 16 I had been sexually abused and beaten up. I took a lot of drugs throughout those formative years in order to somehow block out what was going on in my head. The worst part is, I had no one to talk to about it, so I had to deal with it alone, which was hell.” As soon as she hit her twenties, Roisin got breast implants and started taking hormones. “But I still looked very masculine and people used to slag me and call me a man and all that kind of nasty stuff. Oddly enough, I even got smacked in a gay bar once for being a tranny, so basically someone who was discriminated against became the discriminator when I stepped on their turf.
“The thing is that if you are gay, you fit into a mould and you are either male or female for starters. Because I have yet to have full gender realignment surgery, people don’t know how to pigeonhole me. I was born a man, then got breasts and started wearing short skirts, make-up and six-inch heels. All that and I still have my male genitals. People find it hard to get their head around.”
When people are confronted with something or someone they can’t place, their reaction can be callous and damning. “I was out of the country recently and an Irish guy came up to me saying: ‘I’ll break your jaw. You’re a disgrace to the Irish people.’ I was just walking down the street, minding my own business.”
“The funny thing is, I don’t really get too upset. I used to, but now I get on with life. I’m extremely proud of who I am and I happily walk the streets safe in the knowledge that I am true to myself and a lot of people resent that because they aren’t true to themselves. Rather than get upset and bitter about someone slagging me, I just say, ‘Ah yeah, sure, knock yourselves out.’ I don’t care what you do, but you give a damn what I do, so I must be doing something right.”
Roisin also got her teeth and nose done as well as laser surgery to remove unwanted hair. She has to get her brother to inject the hormones into her stomach for her. “I still need to get my voice done and obviously in the future I will get gender realignment, but not now. I work as an escort around the world, so it’s my money maker.
“I’ve had other jobs before, like working in bars, dancing, hostessing in the Mediterranean, hairdressing and working as beautician. I was a sales assistant for a while, but that didn’t work out.”
So clearly getting a ‘normal job’ wasn’t on the cards for Roisin. “Its tough to try to get a career going and go to college and all the rest, so a lot of transgender as we are called – where we are still pre-op and have the best of both worlds in a way – end up escorting because you provide a unique service, which pays well.”
The service Roisin provides does involve having sex with clients. “Needless to say my work itself is insane sometimes. Most of my clients are straight men, who just want to try something different on the side. I’m very good at what I do, but I get asked for some very f***ed up stuff. I won’t go into detail for client confidentiality reasons , but wigs, fake pregnant bellies and standing on people with six-inch stilettos is mild. It can be dangerous though. I was a victim of a hate crime, where I was gagged and bound and beaten up by three men. It’s horrible and scary.
“The community of trannies in Ireland is small, that’s why I’m abroad a lot – there’s less competition, and you do your own thing. Here there can be bitchiness and jealousy. The TS have the best or worst of both worlds – the bitchiness and jealously of a woman, mixed with the physical strength of a man.”
Finding friends was not easy – most of Roisin’s friends aren’t trannies. “It’s easier now. I’m quite the exhibitionist and I like dressing up when I’m out and about. I love the attention and I’m a bit of craic so my friends need to be open-minded and fun.
“Relationships are much harder. Finding love and the white picket fence is not really a reality when you’re a tranny. You are just someone’s erotic fantasy and they only care about what’s between your legs. But like everyone else, I want the love story. Why not? I have had boyfriends, but I never got to meet the family. There is huge stigma attached to going out with a tranny.”
Things might change when she gets full surgery, she hopes. Surgery and other treatments are expensive – tens of thousands of euro. The HSE will assist with some of the procedures, which can necessitate going abroad for treatment. But there is still considerable personal expense, according to Roisin.
“I know I’m different, but I still get on with things and I have a great time. I meet no shortage of lunatics, freaks, and a mixed bag of people from all walks of life all around the world.” Roisin prefers to be exuberant and extrovert rather than judgmental and boring. “There are lots of people around who are really dull, who want to judge me, but I don’t let them get me down. Everyone has a cross to bear, some bigger than others, but so what if someone slags me from time to time. I feel sorry for them and move on. I’m not going to spend my life feeling sorry for myself because someone said something bad. Screw that. There’s way too much crack to be had.”
Sunday Independent