Both Sides Now

Bows and flows of angel hair,
and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere,
I've looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun,
they rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done,
but clouds got in my way.
I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall,
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels,
the dizzy dancing way that you feel
As every fairy tale comes real,
I've looked at love that way.
But now it's just another show,
you leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know,
don't give yourself away.
I've looked at love from both sides now,
from give and take and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall.
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud,
to say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I've looked at life that way.
But now old friends they're acting strange, they shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained, in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
from win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall,
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all

(Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell © 1967 (renewed) Crazy Crow Music, as featured on the albums Clouds
and Both Sides Now. Also recorded (and charted) by Judy Collins, and Clannad & Paul Young.)

 

Latest News: Jaye officially became Julianne in August 2011, and is now glad to be living and working fulltime in her affirmed gender role...

SO, why write a bio? After all it might seem somewhat narcissistic, but then it may also be cathartic, a log of one’s journey... and if on the way it helps understanding, or even helps another person on their journey, then that’s also good. So here goes, in no particular order, but more a stream of consciousness... which I will add to as and when I can or feel inspired to... in the hope that it will in turn inspire others.

* * * * *

Why? If this even really needs to be addressed at all, because there are many things that people do without asking or needing to know why they do them... Well the first thing to say is: for me it’s like that scene in Billy Elliott, when he is just leaving the audition for the RBS and they ask him what it feels like when he dances. Initially, he finds it hard to put into words, but then it comes to him: “I feel free... like electricity running through my body...” That is in a microcosm, how I felt when I was finally able to allow Jaye to express herself. It goes far beyond clothes, fashion, or style, even femininity: it runs from something far deeper, an inner yearning.

Purging: Many of us have gone through phases of “purging” at some point in our lives, probably for all kinds of reasons. From my background of having grown up with an intense, personal faith, I find the very term “purging” curious – implying a sense of cleansing, and therein a notion of perceived uncleanness! Maybe that was how I felt, unclean, or that it was wrong? But is anything ever that simple? I am sure that each of us will face or hit all kinds of challenges throughout our lives, and likewise we will probably handle them in different ways too. But what I do feel different about now is that I found a sense of belonging, of community like no other that I can draw on for support.

Perception: For me personally, the added complication of faith, saw an intense battle inside me – a “perceived” conflict between my expression of Jaye and my heartfelt beliefs. I say “perceived” because over time I realised this conflict was more imagined than real: how I was seeing things rather than as they really were. In that sense, I hold strongly to the view that to all intents and purposes the person you see before you as Julianne today is not really that much different from the person who formerly presented as male. The issues are more about societal constructs of conformity and an overstated adhesion to an assumed gender binary... life as it turns out is so much more of a spectrum of greys and colours: and all the more interesting and vital for it too!

Belonging: For so long I felt that I was alone, a freak, perhaps someone who was ill? Even when I discovered the wonderfully diverse transgendered community on the Internet – which proved to me I was NOT alone – I still came and went with emotional peaks and troughs, creating and terminating online identities several times, and returning the clothes to drawers or cupboards (I am lucky in that I have never actually binned anything!)... Only to return some weeks/months later. However, deep inside my confidence was growing, although at this point I hadn’t truly allowed "her" into my world. It was only in mid 2004 when I experienced my first real makeovers and started to venture out in public for the first time as Jaye: that itself was some kind of 'birthing' experience...

Makeovers: To be honest I dreaded looking in that mirror that very first time: I really thought I was going to look dreadful and I would easily be able to just walk away and never even want to do it again. But it says something for my friend Linda’s delicate and thoughtful makeup skills... and for something like 20 minutes I sat speechless gazing at this familiar but changed face who was looking back at me. Those of you who know me will recognise that I am rarely lost for words, well this was such a moment.

“Well if God loves you, he also loves Jaye doesn’t he?”

Conflict: It was then that I began to make some life-changing decisions and probably the main one was to stop fighting and allowing "her" to flourish. Hence I also withdrew gradually from my spiritual struggle, to ease the sense of perceived conflict I was experiencing. The reality for me was that I just could NOT let Jaye go – even if I had wanted to (which to be honest I didn’t): it would have been like killing a real person.

I finally accepted that she was inside me, as much a part of my world as any other aspect. For me this has been a huge revelation, and reaching this point has meant that so much of the pain I felt over the years has eased. Sure, it hasn’t answered anything like most of my questions, by any means. But that sense of conflict has been removed, and many friends have told me I look and seem healthier and happier for the outcome. I certainly feel like a new person, and even my wife and sons have said that I am generally easier to live with now.

Future: As for the future: we don’t really know where it’s going to lead: we will just have to see, but it is certain that I am on a journey which will involve many changes, and doubtless challenges on the way. Again, I recognise there are some people (although a rare minority) who will accuse me of making selfish decisions, but that often reveals a lack of informed comprehension about the issues facing trans people: it is so little about actual “choices” in the usual sense, as all-too-many of these are effectively made for you by circumstances etc. It is more about making the best of difficult situations and doing what you know inside to be real and true to oneself. Sadly, in many cases this often means being separated from families and loved ones, and at extremes total alienation: I am fortunate and very grateful that such a sad experience has not been mine...

One thing I do know is that I would not want to change my past years of experience all that much, especially being part of one and having had a lovely family of my own. Life has for me worked out the way it has, and I have chosen not to have too many regrets or overthink the "what ifs? It has also been a privilege to meet, befriend and support, where able, many other people in a similar situation to mine.