Originally published 14/11/2018
I knew from the age of 4 that I was different. I knew two things by the age of 11; one I was “wrong” and two I wanted to become a royal marine commando. I achieved the latter aged 17. After serving over 13 years in the marines, I entered the realm of outdoor education and had new goals to achieve. To turn my attention away from the fact that I was “wrong” I worked continually to gain instructional qualifications in mountaineering, diving, climbing, kayaking and powerboating. I worked my body so that I could sleep at night and escape the thoughts in my head. This behaviour was something that I had instilled in myself from an early age as I struggled with and ran away from what and who I am and so I submersed myself in increasingly masculine and hazardous activities.
Then with the advent of the internet I finally realised there were other people out there who I could identify with and it slowly dawned on me who I was and why I felt the way I did.
After several years in the outdoors I applied to become a fire fighter and once again new challenges awaited. I also started building my own house in 2011 and by this time I had been attending gender identity clinics for a few years. I had become fully reconciled with who I was and I was waiting for the right time and peace within myself to coincide with waiting for my children to grow and be of an age where they could both understand and accept my identity.
Finally after 14 years in the fire service I started my transition in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in October 2016. My workplace transition has been a success. I have had time accorded for clinic appointments, laser treatment, voice coaching and recovery from surgeries. They have also supported my wishes to represent SFRS at Pride events, LGBT+ organised training events, Stonewall workplace and school role model courses, media training facilitated by GLAAD and facilitated by Scottish Trans Alliance/Equality Network,and my attendance at Scottish LGBTI Police Association’s conference.
As we approach Transgender Day of Remembrance I feel extremely grateful and lucky for the ongoing support that I receive from my wife Jennifer, my children, my family, friends and my employer, this has enabled me, finally, to truly embrace my gender identity and be visible, step up and speak up for those trans people who are not in a position to do so.