My new interview series aims to publish an interview per week from a trans person. Week one is me.
Part One: Trans Joy
What’s your name and why is it important to you, why did you chose it? Also, your pronouns?
My pronouns are she/her, and my name is Caledonia.
Callie, mostly, for short. My dead name also began with a C, and for reasons relating to my youngest kid’s name, it was important to me that I have continuity with my initials. So I was only looking at C names. I thought about Cara for a long time; there’s a character called that in Sword of Truth, and she had a really traumatic past that left her messed up but functional in the book’s present. Felt like I could relate, you know? But I eventually decided I didn’t want a name that I felt anchored me to past trauma, it didn’t seem healthy. I tried Calliope for a while, the Greek muse of epic poetry since I’m a writer, but it never really fit. I did love Callie, but not enough to go for Calliope. And I wanted a connection to Scotland in my name, so I was looking at Scottish names and Scot Gaelic names that began with C, and there was just nothing there for me. Then I saw Caledonia, and it wasn’t listed as a name, but I just loved the idea. It starts with a C, it’s not Scots but there is a Scottish connection, and I can still go by Callie. And something I didn’t realise until later; my name was essentially the first visible sign of transitioning that I had. And no really batted an eye. Looking as I looked, if I’d been called Laura or something, people would have double-taked, assumed I was trans, etc, but with Callie it must just sound unisex or they reckon it’s a nickname or they don’t have preconceived gender expectations and just roll with it. That was cool, I liked that.
If you’re out, what was coming out like? If not, what are you most looking forward to about being out?
I’m partially out. My friends know, my kids know, my uni knows, my bank knows. My parents and siblings don’t as of writing this, but should by the time it’s posted. My doctor does. In the street, people don’t realise I’m trans. It’s not that I’m stealth, it’s that I’m very butch, very masculine, as a woman. My clothing transition was essentially that my shirts now button from the other side. I don’t really do makeup unless it’s a night out, and my baldness means I can’t have any the cool sidecuts I like. Wigs are either very femme or for “guys.” It’s difficult. I look masc because I want to, but I’m treated like a man which is dysphoric, and not really something I can blame people for. I’m going to explore it more in the coming months, maybe try and find some wig styles I like, or try a minimalist approach to make up instead of no-makeup. I’m going for laser, and I will be on HRT soon, which should help. And eventually I’ll get FFS, so that’s very exciting.
Do you have a funny anecdote about being trans? What is it?
I was in a club in Liverpool and I was pretty drunk. I bumped into a woman and spilled her drink down her top. It was totally my fault, so I apologised and bought her a drink replacement. Later on, I went to the loo. I was at the back of a massive queue and she was at the front, and when it was her time to go she grabbed my hand and dragged me into the cubicle. She did a pee, and then insisted it was my turn. I sat on the pan. This was very validating, she was treating me exactly like she’d treat one of her cis women friends or a cis woman who was a complete stranger. But it was also so embarrassing that I physically couldn’t pee. I said I was done, we left the toilet, I lost her in the crowd, and I went back and rejoined the queue to go pee.
What has been the best thing about transitioning or what is the best thing about being trans?
People have asked me if I wish I was born as a cis woman and I say no. Our experiences, good and bad, shape us, they form who we are, and I literally wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t trans. Also, I might have had kids as a cis woman, but they wouldn’t be the kids I have now, and they’re pretty awesome. Mostly awesome.
So for me it comes down to those experiences I mentioned. From feeling lost as a child, like I never had a place, I never fitted in, to finding myself as an adult. It took me a long time to accept being trans and a longer time to like it, but I’m there, and I really, really like who I am now. I wouldn’t want to be someone else. There’s a sense of contentment that comes with really just accepting who you are, and I love that, I love that I just get to be me.
You’ve time travelled into your own past and found a very sad younger version of yourself. What three things can you tell young you that there is to look forward to?
What you hope will happen, will happen, and it’s better than you’ve imagined. What you’re scared will happen, will happen, and it will be amazing There’s no need to fear it. And what you need to have, you’ll have that too, eventually, though there will be a few false starts until you get there.
Part Two: We’re not just our genitals, so here’s some non-trans joy
What would be your ideal way to spend a day?
Sleeping in to like 10 and then just having a very chill morning, slowly having breakfast, and getting dressed, until 12. Then a nice walk in the sun, maybe near some water. I could go to a museum in the afternoon, or some indie boutique shops, and then have a nice dinner around sevenish. In a restaurant, I’m not cooking, and then maybe read a book in the evening. All curled up on a soft couch under a blanket.
But the most important part, the only part of my day that is essential, is that every item on my to do list would need to be ticked off the previous day. I’m writing these answers in October, my to do list currently stretches into January, so this isn’t likely to happen.
I’ve had relaxation days; I’ve had mental health days where I’ve just switched off, but they always come with a kind of guilt that I should be doing something right now. I just want a relaxing day with no alarms, no deadlines, no being somewhere by a certain time. Everything is just rock up when you want and leave when you’re done, and nothing is needing my immediate attention. No guilt.
Yeah, I just realised I’m describing a holiday. I need a holiday.
Family are the people who love us – by blood or otherwise. Tell me about someone really important to you (as anonymous as you like) and what’s great about them.
Well, obviously I love my kids. I say obviously but if I don’t mention them and they read this, it would not go well for me.
Other than my kids, I want to shout out Fiona and Gillian. They’re both incredible, I love them so much, and when I was doing my deed poll, I had them both sign it because there was no one else I even wanted to do that for me.
Pets, or favourite animal?
I have two cats. Jinx is pretty much the standard cat; pretty, mostly disobedient, cuddly on her own terms, thinks she owns the house. Adora is utterly gorgeous but not very intelligent. They’re sisters, from the same litter, and I’m glad I got them together because I’m not sure Adora would even know how to be a cat if she didn’t have Jinx to cheat sheet from. She’s obsessed with light and spends half her life trying to catch shadows.
We also have two rats, Bubbles and Blossom. They love to cuddle but are also shy, so they’re favourite place is inside my daughter’s hood. She wears her rat jumper back to front so they can sit in the hood against her chest and poke their heads out to see what’s going on.
We have three mice: Sherlock, Watson, and Moriarty. I had nothing to do with this.
We also have a leopard gecko. She came from a pet shop with bad stuck-shed and lost some toes. Her name is Blue.
And there are many, many fish. There were eight, but then they kept having babies and now there’s lots.
What’s your passion? Hobby? Favourite music, book, food, your team, your job, anything, what do you really, really love?
It’s pretty much the unifying theme in everything I love. Telling stories and being told stories. Reading, TV, computer games, it’s all about the stories. Roleplaying games are communal storytelling. My writing is storytelling, and the short films I’ve made were storytelling, and even the way I approach marketing is from a storytelling perspective.
What have I not asked that you’d really like to talk about?
This is where I get to plug my novel. Under the name Caledonia Fife, I write satires of modern Britain as seen through a transgender eye.
Attack of the 50 ft Trans Woman will be out soon, and following that a book about Book Burning that I haven’t titled yet.