The Ramblings of Selina from Switzerland



Issue 18
Summer 2002

It seems a long time since the days when gender matters occupied a large part of my thoughts and to a great extent controlled my life. The Northern Gender Dysphoria Conference which I organised in Gateshead in April 1997 is in fact only five years ago but seems more like double that time. So much has happened since then.

Although I read, with great interest, anything relating to gender which arrives in my mail box, including of course Gendys Journal, this is now really my only contact with the gender scene, apart from a few very important friendships and attendence at the biennial Gendys Conference in Manchester. This is of course how it should be and I confess that I do not understand, but feel sorry for those people who carry all that baggage with them throughout their lives.

Perhaps the less regular contact with the gender world is coupled with my move two years ago to live and work in beautiful Switzerland. The superb air and scenery makes problems seem smaller and life is good, although we still much prefer British food! To the best of my knowledge I have never met or seen another TS person in Switzerland, although I am. sure that they exist, in some considerable numbers.

Recently I have, through a common interest in old Rolls Royce cars and automatic music machines, become friendly with an eminent Swiss cosmetic surgeon. On a number of occasions we have touched on gender matters. He tells me that he has a colleague who specialises in GRS and he has himself undertaken cosmetic work for TS people. He is absolutely comfortable and has no hang ups about doing this type of work and he tells me that his charges are actually less than in the UK. One day I might trade him my services in connection with his cars or instruments in return for his professional services. I am also told that he knows of one girl who was a top entertainment personality here, who he judged to be really beautiful and to have everything she could wish for, yet notwithstanding all this, she committed suicide. So I guess this shows that some people really are deeply disturbed to the point where nothing can save them. Just make sure that this is not you.

The Swiss people are very polite and even the children will always say gruezi (hallo) to you as they go by. If anyone suspected a person of being TS they are far too polite to mention it. Personally I have always believed that TS people have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact they should be proud of their unique experience of seeing life from both sides. I have never made any attempt to hide my past, although I do not go around with a placard proclaiming that I am TS. I do not pretend that I am anything other than what I am. Remember that if you do not hide it you have no fear of exposure. I am pretty sure that the answer to being accepted is to be totally confident in yourself and avoid continual thoughts of gender. Dress in a quiet and ordinary way for the work that you do and do not go around looking at people to see what they are thinking about you. The correct attitude is to be far too busy and preoccupied with your own affairs to have any other than a passing interest in people in the street. Never, never look hard at other people and avoid eye contact unless you know them personally. Here endeth the lesson!

I would be interested to have the experiences of a Swiss person who is either seeking gender treatment , is in the process of transiton or has completed transition and to know how it compares to the UK. If I ever actually meet anyone I will ask them but meanwhile, do we have any Swiss members of Gendys or does anyone know a Swiss TS person who could be persuaded to write about their treatment? I believe that Switzerland was one of the first countries to allow correction of the birth certificate.

Now to change the subject somewhat. Normally I would not risk embarrassment by mentioning anyone by name but I feel that in this case an exception should be made to congratulate and thank the surgeon who did such excellent work for me and many others and who is still working at the age of nearly 70. I hope that Michel Seghers won't mind my recording here what a wonderful and dedicated person he is. He still regularly gives me a call to see how I am and "to keep in touch." When he finally has to retire he has promised to come to Switzerland and stay with us. He already did this before we left Newcastle-upon-Tyne. (by the way I am still married ) Incidentally the good news is that he tells me that he now has someone working with him to learn his skills and carry on his good work.

When Alice asked me to "write something" I really did not know what I would write about but I seem to have rambled on for long enough. A few final words of advice to these of you still "going through the mill". Walk tall and confident. Don"t expect unrealistic goals to be reached. Be reasonably patient (but not too patient - you have got to push or you will end up bottom of the list. Gender correction is not the answer to all problems but it certainly helps. Don"t believe anyone who has stupid fixed ideas how a MtF TS- person should live or work. Remember that in the last war women worked all sorts of heavy machines in factories and on the land but it did not make them any less women. I still do exactly all the same things that I always did, which includes getting very black underneath vintage cars, and wearing old clothes and overalls when I am doing these sort of jobs. The nice thing is that I can by contrast glam up whenever I feel like it. If you do all of these things (you don't have to work on cars) the dark clouds will surely lift and life will be fine - maybe even brilliant if you are lucky. Remember that you are very, very special people. Good luck. Love from Selena.

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