Michelle’s transgender journey
14 May 18 - 13 May 19
Service user Michelle Madison finally began her transition in her forties, having grown up feeling like a freak in the seventies, when Information about transgendered people was scarce and often negative. She now plays a vital role in raising awareness of transgender issues and helping HPFT to adapt its services accordingly.
Whilst there is much to celebrate, Michelle has faced some tough challenges such as acceptance by some of her family members.
Michelle said: “I was seven years old when I realised I was different and that I was attracted to feminine things.
“I grew up thinking I was a freak. As I grew older I threw myself into body building and took steroids to masculinise myself. I hoped I could ‘fix’ myself but at night I dreamed of being able to live as a female”
Michelle married and had two children but her wife was unaware of Michelle’s secret. The constant fear of discovery led to Michelle’s first suicide attempt in 2010. When she was finally diagnosed with gender dysphoria* Michelle said: “I was relieved beyond belief; it no longer felt like a dirty secret or fetish.
“Without the support from my friends, family and allies I would never have made it. The feminising hormones change so much more than just your physical appearance, they alter your emotions and thought processes and everything you thought you knew about transitioning no longer applies.”
Path to recovery
Following a significant overdose Michelle was placed on life support, later being sectioned and transferred to HPFT’s Swift Ward. She said: “I’m now in a much better place due to a combination of getting my medications right and the support of the mental health teams.
“Being invited to join the Service User Council and other opportunities to represent the trans community has given me a sense of purpose. Being able to be honest and open about my journey and for my experiences to be valued is such a great outcome. I now live a life I could never have dared dream of and I am finally on a path to recovery.”
Where to get help:
NHS Transgender Health https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/
* The condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex