Sarah Jane's Story
Copyright © 2003, Sarah Jane
Sarah Jane (UK)
Air Cargo Pilot
Dear Lynn,

I am writing to you, following reading about the 'Bailey' controversy on your website. I had hoped that his brand of discrediting what is a very serious condition had been eradicated from the medical profession. I'm sorry that this appears far from the truth. In the United Kingdom I initially encountered similar derision from my first health care professional and had to seek assistance elsewhere to gain the help required. Not an experience any of us would I imagine wish to go through again.

The fact that Bailey calls us 'Gay Men' particularly struck in my mind, as I am a happily and well balanced woman with long term partner (we can't marry in the UK yet). Oh, and as a kid I dreamt of being a mother and stuff... so very heterosexual and not dissimilar to many of my Girl-friends memories... so to be categorized as a 'Deviant Male' instead of a woman is somewhat horrific.

Anyhow I thought it would be good to write and offer my support as I should not wish that young girls in the early stages of their transition are scarred by such supposed 'quasi' scientific research.

On a happier note, I have a number of friends whose pages are posted on your site and I understand that this has given much hope to the many people of all ages struggling to come to terms with their identity, so I hope the successes site will flourish, and debunk the myths propagated by the likes of Bailey.

As to my story:

I'm one of those 'quiet' folks who tends to try and get through life without putting my head over the parapet too much. However, the 'Bailey' situation has really got to me! I have included a precis of my story, and although I guess it will only serve to reinforce the stories of others 'experiences' as opposed to giving some 'Earth shattering', 'stop the presses kind of revelations'. But maybe that's the interesting part a common thread between us all no matter what our race or where we live in the world so I hope it is of some interest maybe just for the point of comparison.

My story started in the early sixties when I was born in Devon England in an idyllic fishing town with a harbor and beaches to play on. By the age of three and in fact my earliest memories I vividly recall playing dress up games and mothering my teddy bears. The games involved feeding them, putting them to bed, having tea parties and such like. Sadly this was soon to become a clandestine game, as my family are of a generation where gender stereotypes were all important.

My schooling in the early years was spent avoiding the 'Boys activities' and games, in fact much of it in reflection must have been quite solitary as I enjoyed books, and fantasy games with a couple of girls. It was at this time that I enjoyed the delights of the harbor and with maternal family involved in boatbuilding, trips were great fun, and much self confidence developed from the outings in small boats.

Like the saying, "all good things must come to an end" our time in blissful idyll was shattered when as a family we moved to a new part of the country where I attended an All Male school. I have heard of the flight into hyper-masculinity with other women, and this was undoubtedly my delve into this form of camouflage. Amazingly I even had a few girlfriends along the way, although very little developed, my using the Aids epidemic and the lack of the necessary precautions getting me out of that Conundrum.

After school I drifted through several possible careers, tried law school which I loathed, and finally obtained sponsorship from a now defunct holiday airline to train for my Airline transport pilots license. This was of course great fun, well trusting a young person with an airplane has to be good for the ego. After a few years of hopping round the European holiday destinations, which allowed me to live in two worlds - a male persona at work and a female persona at home. Being in a job with irregular hours and living in the London Area meant that I could enjoy the freedoms of womanhood whilst my Work colleagues were unaware of my other existence.

I saw a documentary on television and read Jan Morris's book Conundrum, which made me realize I had nothing to be ashamed of. So I made an appointment to see my local doctor, at this stage fearing that my hard won career would come to an abrupt end. My own doctor was sympathetic but unsure of how to help me. Having had no prior experiences of Gender dysphoria, he referred me to a colleague who was far more sympathetic and immediately started me on the course of hormone therapy which would revolutionize my life. Sadly the necessary meetings with a psychiatrist were not so good but a quick change to a sympathetic and understanding individual really helped my journey.

As the body changes started, I advised my then Boss and the human resource people. They were sympathetic but felt that following discussions with the safety and regulations division of our CAA that it would be better if I had a job on the ground whilst transitioning and one suspects founded by a need to keep the Duty Rosta's intact. Doing a job which involved planning everyone else's flights was undoubtedly professionally gaulling. However, as I was blissfully serene and at peace with myself the time rushed by. Following 'various disappearances' I returned to work to find myself out of a job as our airline had gone into receivership!
Whilst keeping my head above water with a variety of aviation related jobs, I fortunately met an ex-colleague with whom I had flown on a number of trips and who had always kept in contact whilst I was desk bound. He told me about a cargo and parcel company who were hiring. I mailed a resume, and after a refresher course and tests regained my License.

The tests were interesting. I knew I could fly big jet airplanes, but as a woman the tests seemed strangely harder with all kinds of interesting scenarios being thrown at me in the simulator. Another and I understand highly successful female captain told me the same happened with her, so maybe its the old adage that to succeed in what is often perceived as a man's world one has to be better than the boys. Or maybe I was being viewed as one of those people who having flipped the gender divide should somehow fail at this hurdle. Given the professionalism of the industry this last thought was discounted from my mind although even to this day it is still lurking in the darker recesses of my mind.

I still fly cargo today and head all over Europe and a little further afield. The regular medicals are interesting, especially the question on Menstruation, at which point my pencil hovers and I try to leave the box blank.

However the part of my life for which I'm most proud is my relationship with a loving and thoughtful man, its nice to take a part in his world, and support his activities, feel secure and so rather akin to a Mother figure. I scurry around proudly telling everyone about his exploits, leaving out my stories. As friends and acquaintances ask about my last trip to Moscow or Milan I try to steer them back to the conversation about the lovely card he sent me.

I enjoy homemaking and the Arts, from which I have forged many new friendships, and I suspect had I not have followed through with coming to terms with this Conundrum I would not live such a full and varied life. I rediscovered an earlier passion and have a small sailboat which has put me in touch with another group of people.

I have to admit that recently an amusing but in a way sad moment was when a little girl came over as I sat on the beach by my boat and asked which "ones are your children?". Evidently her mother had suggested she find a playmate, and as I looked like I should have a child I was fair game. I say Funny, because I was amused and touched to have been so assimilated, and sad I couldn't oblige with the request.

Maybe though that is the important 'thing' in life, feeling part of the clan and not an immigrant who is trying to assimilate herself, or as I felt like an illegal alien trying to act a part prior to transition so that I wouldn't be detected.

Well Lynn, that's me nearly 40 years history in an email, and as I said earlier that my story and certainly earlier experiences are not dissimilar to many others who have taken this path in life. Maybe that's a good thing for which I don't think the jury need be out on for long.

To close I attach a picture of me as I think this says a thousand words. I saw some childhood photos buried in my cupboard not long ago, and on each one there is a scowl or frown - so this must be an improvement!

All the best, take care.

Kind regards,

Sarah Jane


Sarah Jane <>



Return to TS Successes Page