Meet Toni Roche-Simmons
GDAC: Can you tell us a bit about your story? I’d really like to learn more about what GD was like for you as a child and how that led to your trans identity.
Toni: I was always seen as 'different' when I was a kid. Even my own mother used to call me 'queer'! Gender dysphoria wasn't something I knew about. All I knew was that I didn't want to be like the other boys.
In my early 20s I moved from a small village to London. That's where I met so many gay and trans people! This was when I began with my trans ID.
I went to my then gp and explained to her how I felt and she told me that I was trans! Unfortunately she retired soon after and subsequent gps told me that I wasn't trans but either a transvestite or a drag queen! This was back in the early 90s!
I then met a trans women who would sell me some of her hormone pills. Not recommended at all as there has to be a medical professional to keep an eye on you. But I bought them from her until they affected my mental health and I had to stop taking them.
Then it was different relationships with guys until my last relationship which lasted 11 years. When that finished I decided to transition
Where are you currently in your transition?
I have fully transitioned and had my surgery in 2013. February 5th. 8.20 am was wheeled into theatre. Was in hospital for 8 days in total. I've never had surgery before that and I was very calm! It took about 10 months until it finally hit me that I'd had the most invasive surgery I've ever had or even ever likely to have! It felt like a truck had hit me haha. But in a good way. No complications. No side effects from the surgery at all.
Do you feel well represented by the current trans lobby and how trans is portrayed in the public sphere? Is there anything you’d like to change?
I don't feel represented by any of the trans groups there ae out there today. It could be because I don't exactly believe some of their thoughts on various topics. In fact I feel more represented by the women who we're told hate us and want to erase all things trans!
I’ve heard many trans people over the years say that if society was different – more accepting of gender-nonconformity – they might not have decided to medically transition. What do you think of that statement?
Personally I would have still transitioned. And society is way more open and accepting than it was, say, 10 years ago. The reason society is not as accepting is due to the few who say they are trans yet do nothing whatsoever to transition and yet want full access to women only spaces.
There are several trigger topics in the media lately. Would you like to comment on any of these?
Trigger topics in the media today glamourize what it means to be trans. It's definitely not a bed of roses when you transition. It's not a Disney movie outcome at all. They don't want to talk about the suffering, the pain, both physical and emotional and the losses of friends and even families because one has decided to transition.
A. The use of puberty blockers & medically transitioning minors - The use of puberty blockers for children and youths is wrong. We all went through puberty and most of us hated our bodies when we went through it. But it is a part of natural transition from adolescence to adulthood. We all go through it and giving PB to children who are questioning who they are is wrong. Through puberty we learn who we are and then live our lives.
B. The affirmative/informed-consent model of medical care - There needs to be more therapy and less medication for the young people who are questioning. The professionals are very quick to affirm that one is trans without asking the reasons why one is feeling the way one does. It's a case of 'one size fits all' scenario when it comes to therapy like this.
C. Trans people in sports - NO NO NO! I don't care what people may think of me! There is no room for trans women in women only sport! Maybe have a mixed athletic teams which will cater for all, but a definitely NO to trans in women only contact sports!
What advice would you give a young person who’s questioning their gender identity?
It's okay to question your gender identity. We all do in our lives. It is a part of finding out who we really are. There is too much importance on one's gender identity these days. Just be you and you will find your own path in life and just enjoy your journey. It's not important at all what gender identity you have. Just be you!
We have a lot of parents following our work. What advice would you give to parents of children/youth who are questioning their gender identity, or who have come out as trans?
Hmm. What would I say to parents?
Listen to your child and tell them it's okay to question. Then if it carries on, find a therapist who deals with children that is not wrapped up in the trans affirmation.
Explain to them that it a part of life to question who they are and where they fit in in life. This includes their sexuality as well as their gender identity.
And if they do come out as trans, tell them they are loved and explain that they don't have to transition straight away (when we do finally come out as trans we expect everything straight away!! We are selfish creatures that way!)
Some of the youth usually suffer from autism, ADD, ADHD, etc, and changes in their lives can be overwhelming as it is. Imagine when their bodies are changing and it's something they cannot control. Then imagine someone coming along with a pill saying they can magically stop all that changes in their bodies. It is not a magic pill. It is a lifetime of side effects. There is no quick fix. And society needs to stop all the affirmation and telling children there is a magic pill.
Thank you again for these questions. I could have carried on answering each point forever haha. I could write a book on what I truly think about certain topics
Follow Toni on Twitter @roche_toni