Ryan to Roxy - My 8 Steps
“The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be … Roxy.”
Roxy Hart, Chicago
My name is Roxy Greyshaw. It wasn’t the name I was born with, but is is my name, my true name. I am Roxy Greyshaw. I recently joined Arcadia and saw the post so wanted to put my own story forward. Thank you to Alex for proofreading and editing; I’m not much of a writer!
Read at your peril!
1. Develop a rapport - this is when you get chemistry with someone of the sex/gender you are attracted to.
I guess the first time this happened, I can’t really be sure how old I was, but I was young. Maybe 7 or 8? I’m not sure. We’ll call him Scott. He was a boy in my class, and we were good friends. It’s an age where friends are friends, and there were very little social/playground politics.
What I liked about Scott is he liked to play the same games as I did. I liked to pretend I was a Galaxy Ranger, which was an animated show about these three people, two men and a woman, who saved the galaxy from various threats - I’m a bit hazy on the details.
Anyway; we would play Galaxy Rangers together, and I would play the woman (a quick Google search told me her name was Niko) who was great looking, in that big hair, strong thighs, animated 80’s way. And she had psychic abilities, so I felt magical and mysterious!
Scott would play one of the guys; not sure which, but I always engineered the plots of our adventures so that he ended up having to “save” me from something. Not very empowering, really, being a damsel in distress; but I suppose it wasn’t about being rescued, it was about feeling like I was a girl, and back then, being a girl in television and film meant being rescued!
This lasted only a year or so, but I remember an attraction to him. Obviously not sexual - at least I don’t think it was. I don’t think I knew what it was, I just know I liked him, and liked being in his presence. It came to an end when I moved out of Darlington (the place I was born) when I was 10.
2. Trying to be straight - when we try and conform to the sexuality society expects to be.
I moved to Doncaster and this ended up in a new school (obviously lol). And it was at that moment, that I realised I was different.
In my old school, because I had grown up with these other kids, and we were all still young, it didn’t really matter that I might have been effeminate, or a little fey; I was just Ryan (my birth-name. I maybe should have mentioned that sooner … I’ll edit this bit out … I bet I don’t!).
But when I got to Doncaster, everything about me came under scrutiny and the bullying started almost immediately.
I wish I could say I stuck to my guns. I used to wear a lot of bright colours whenever I could. I knew dance moves to every pop song that was released pretty much on the day of release. My pencil case was glittery and so was pretty much everything I owned. I loved glitter. I still do. If it sparkles; I'll buy it.
(Just an aside: My family accepted me for what I was and am. I will maybe write that in another article if I’m invited to do so, but for now I will stay on topic.)
So yes, I conformed. I suddenly developed an interest in football. A game I hate with a passion; because it was what I used as my cover. I was actually quite good at it. The bullying eased a little; especially with the other boys in my year. The boys in the years above and below me continued to give me trouble, on the walk to and from school mostly, but the more I threw myself into football, the better my situation got.
I played football constantly; I played it at school on the team, during breaks, then afterwards with some of my friends. I had three friends who, every day after school, we would meet up and go and play football (just the four of us!). My parents were concerned about my sudden change (posters of the Spice Girls and Steps! got changed to football players), but I was adamant that I was into football.
The years went by and at 13 I got my first girlfriend. Sarah was one of the more popular girls at school. Her name was ‘Little Sarah’ to everyone in the year, because she happened to be best friends with another Sarah who was really tall, who was unfortunately referred to as ‘Big Sarah’ (she wasn’t big, she was tall … poor Big Sarah).
I could have probably got by on my faked enthusiasm for football, but, no matter how much I lowered my voice, tried not to be so fluid in my movements (I must have looked like some kind of robot), I was often teased for being a ‘poof’. So I needed a girlfriend. I knew Little Sarah fancied me, because Big Sarah had told my friend Craig, who told me … courtship at school was a complicated process!
So I asked her out.
I realised now another reason, probably the biggest reason I chose Little Sarah, was that I wanted to be her. She was so gorgeous. She had long blonde hair, big blue eyes. She wore a ton of make-up, which was probably to hide the acne, but I didn’t care; I just wanted to do the same! She wore short skirts and wedge heel shoes. She always looked so pretty.
So we became an item, and the rumours about me died down. I was passing as a straight boy.
I was not happy.
3. Develop a crush - When you first fall for someone; this can be full on love, requited or not, or simply a crush that reinforces the feelings you are having.
While I may have had a strange attraction to Scott when I was a preteen; there was no denying how I felt about Craig (who I mentioned earlier). He was one of the boys I played football, and I was completely taken with him. He was so athletic and handsome. He had curly hair and a sexy smile. I used to count down the hours to P.E. because, as friends, we got changed next to one another. To see him in a state of undress was the making of my week.
Of course I never told him; I was terrified at people even thinking I wasn’t straight, let alone tell someone about how I felt!
But we did have one incident. I’ll spare you a lengthy description, but one day it was just the two of us, and he started talking about the (then) infamous lesbian kiss on the soap Brookside (sorry, young people, you’ll have to Google it). A same-sex kiss on a popular television show was a HUGE deal, and it was a topic at school as much as it was in the homes across the country. He said, quite out of the blue “shall we try it?” And to my everlasting regret, I said “No! That’s gay!” Because even presented with the opportunity to kiss the boy I fancied so much (it could have even been called love), I was so scared at it being a prank, or simply just somehow being made public, I said no.
I am kicking myself to this day … just in heels.
That was never spoke of again, and, over a few months, I stopped hanging out with him and the other boys because ...
4. Came out to yourself. - accept yourself as having the sexuality you have.
… I realised what I was; a girl. I was a girl. I wasn’t Ryan. I looked at my penis and hated it. When alone in the house (I was about 14 by this point) I would tie the cord of a dressing gown round my head to make a ponytail, tuck my penis between my legs, and look at myself in the mirror.
I was a girl.
It was liberating and terrifying all at the same time. Every time I was alone in the house (I have no siblings), I would get into my mum’s clothes (luckily, my mum is chic as f*ck) and flounce around the house. I would lip sync to songs. I would pretend I was being interviewed, not because I wanted to be a celebrity, but because I wanted to say the things a girl would say, but out loud.
I began to call myself Faye (after Faye from Steps! Big fan!).
I felt comfortable.
5. Confide in someone you trust. - Tell someone for the first time.
Though I didn’t come out as a trans-girl (because I didn’t even know that was a thing, back then), I decided to come out as ‘gay’, because I fancied boys, so that seemed the most appropriate label.
And of all the people I could have chosen to tell first, I chose Little Sarah!
Yes! We were still together! We have been together for three years by this point. I will answer the questions I presume you want to ask: Yes we had sex; we lost our virginities to each other; we carried on having sex through the three years, but very rarely; mainly I let her do things to me while I thought about guys (mainly Craig and my history teacher Mr. Carey!). Selfish I know, but there you go.
Why did I tell her?
Well, we were both 17 at the time, and had decided to go to the local college instead of 6th Form. It was there I found a more accepting and open atmosphere, and I wanted to take advantage of that! But Little Sarah was my best friend, as well as my girlfriend.
So I told her. She cried; I cried. She said she loved me, and I told her I loved her as well, because I did, but that we couldn’t be together. She promised to keep my secret, and we became firm friends. I was a lucky, lucky girl (I still love you, honey).
6. Tell your friends/family - Tell everyone else.
I went through a period of being quite angry at the world. This is hardly groundbreaking news; every teenager goes through something similar, gender aside, but mine was late coming.
About a month before I was due to finish college, I awoke; it was March, my birthday month and decided to say "f*ck you" to the world, and make a f*cking statement. So, I reached for the ridiculously large bag of makeup I had stolen (yes, I used to shoplift makeup … I was a boy then! It would have raised questions. And besides, no one is watching the boy in a makeup shop; I owe Boots a small fortune), I put on a full face of makeup; not drag-queen style, not too over-the-top, but there was a lot on my face. I’m surprised I could even open my eyes, so thick they were with mascara.
I put on some skinny jeans (didn’t quite have it in me to go for a skirt I had gotten (stolen) from BHS), and a bright yellow t-shirt, which I did that thing where you turn it into a bra like thing … admit it; you’ve done it. Clip-on earrings, painted nails, and hair into a tiny ponytail, as I had been growing it out for a little while. I put on a pair of my mum’s kitten heels (which I had to squeeze into, as my feet were definitely those of a young man). I was armed and sorta ready.
I marched into college, and held my head up high, and for no rhyme or reason I said to the people gathered in the common room: “I’m Roxy and I like dudes” with supreme confidence. I should note that 'Roxy' had come from nowhere! I had planned to say "Faye", but Roxy sprang to mind and I've been Roxy ever since.
Little Sarah cheered (as did Big Sarah, which always made me think she had told her), and then I started to cry. My makeup was utterly ruined. But I had done it.
When I got home, my mum and dad were waiting for me, as the college had called them about the “incident in the common room”, which, I learned later, my mum had kicked off royally, stating it was hardly a matter for a parent to be notified if their child wanted to declare their sexuality.
I’ll not go into detail about the conversation, but all I can say is that my parents were AWESOME. They were (and are) amazing. It was actually my dad who asked me if I wanted to be a girl, and I said yes, and he promised to do his best to call me ‘Roxy’ (which he does not, without a second thought).
I was happy.
7. Your first heartache. - The first time you have your heart broken, either by a lover, or maybe you fell for someone who wasn’t like you in terms of sexuality.
While I might have felt a puppyish love for Craig, it was Olly who first broke my heart.
We met at University. I was studying Biochemistry and he was studying History … which makes him sound boring, but he wasn’t. He was so cute; he too had curly hair (what can I say? Curly-haired boys = hot), and wore lots of tweed and corduroy. He was a bit bohemium. He came along to the Gay and Lesbian Society that I too was a part of, and he asked me to go on a date.
We were together for three years, and they were so wonderful. We would spend all our time together, and I thought; 'this is the man I am gonna spend forever with'.
But since this is a question about heartache, I’m sure you can all guess how it ends.
Just after graduation, he told me he wanted to go New Zealand, where he had been born (though not raised). He had dual citizenship, and wanted to move there because … why not? It’s bloody New Zealand! I immediately assumed he meant the two of us, and then he made it clear; he wanted to go alone, and it was the end.
To say I was inconsolable was an understatement. I locked myself in my room and cried and cried, for weeks. Even after that I spent all my time thinking about him, occasionally giving in to emotion and weeping; especially after wine. Bloody wine.
Getting over Olly was the hardest thing I had to do. He made me feel beautiful. He encouraged me to be me; he loved me as Roxy, as the person I was, and I loved him.
If I am honest, it still hurts today.
8. Explore the culture.
University was the first place I heard of transexuals. I actually thought I was a transvestite, initially, because that was the only ‘trans’ I had heard of.
But I knew it was more than that. I hated my penis. It felt like a growth, something that needed removing. I hated looking at it. I hated it when lovers would touch it during sex; it was a constant reminder that I was a boy, even though I didn’t feel like one. I wasn’t a boy. I was a girl called Roxy. God had stuck a penis on me by accident; maybe He’d been distracted when I was coming down the conveyor belt.
It was the Gay and Lesbian Society (who are now the LGBT Society!) at University that helped me with the culture. They took me to anything remotely gender-bending; drag shows, mostly. But any gay bars that had any kind of trans clientele.
It was there that I meant Joanna. She was in her 40’s at the time (though swore she was 22 whenever had the audacity to ask her her age), and was a regular at a pub we (‘we’ being me and three lesbians who were determined for me to ‘find my people’) often frequented.
One night, she came over and asked to buy me a drink. I told her that I wasn’t into girls, to which she laughed so loudly I thought everyone in the pub was looking at us. She explained that, while she appreciated being called a ‘girl’ at her age, she knew she wasn’t going to be my type. So she bought me a drink, and then my education began.
I shan’t go into it, but she explained what a transexual was, and the difference between sex and gender. She took me to trans-nights in various pubs; to Canal Street in Manchester, and helped me discover the trans-woman under the ‘not quite sure what I was’ teen I had been.
And thus, Roxy Greyshaw was truly born.
Thank you Joanna. I’ll always miss you; every day.
And thank you for reading my 8 Steps! Who gets the toaster oven?