Lukas' Story

Copyright © 2005, Lukas Romson



Lukas Romson (Sweden)

Transactivist, Law student,

Member of the board of GLBT-Socialdemocrats



My story:


Itīs raining, the sky is dark gray and a thunder is coming in from the north.


Itīs Swedish summer, we laugh and explain for Steven Whittle, our guest. But of course, as an Englishman he understands what weather can be like, even if it's summer. We are soaking wet as we stand under some trees looking for more guys joining us. Itīs Stockholm Pride 2005 and we are some transguys who have decided to meet and have a nice picnic on the lawn. We found a table at the nearby youth hostel instead, filled with colorful GLBT-people of all kind this week. And no-one raises an eyebrow, even when Sara, a rather tall MtF-transvestite, joins us for some minutes. This is our week. But it hasnīt always been.

My first Pride was Europride 1998, also in Stockholm. I had just starting to "Come Out", only to myself, my husband and some close friends. Not as a transsexual, but as a FtM-something. Maybe transvestite. I had never heard of a FtM transvestite before, and when I read about some Drag Kings in the PrideMagasine I thought I must be like them. Because they were the very first FtMs I had ever read about. But I was wrong, it turned out I was very different from Drag Kings, in fact different from transvestites too. And there was not much you could learn about transgendered people those days. Europride-98 was actually the first big event that invited "genderbenders" into the gay community in Sweden. No wonder I felt lonely, very lonely.
It all started two years earlier. I was on my way to switch off the light in the living room, seeing myself mirrored in the window. No clothes on, I did think that it was an odd image. But why, I instantly thought. What had I expected? A lean body, with no curves, I thought. The body of a man...

But I was 26 years old, a married mother of a son and my body hadnīt been looking manly in many years. But obviously I hadnīt recognized that. From that moment, I tried to put the puzzle together. Starting with testing going out dressed as man, (After talking to my husband, whose first question was if I was thinking of a sex change. My answer, "absolutely not" does feel a little funny today. Itīwasnīt at that time, though. Everything, every thought, was a matter of life or death.) I got on to thinking about my childhood. I was a typical "boygirl", who hated jump rope, Barbies and make up. I used to fantasize about me as an Indian, saving a lot of animals from hunters and then riding away into the forest. This playing was always alone. Though I actually had lots of friends until third grade, I chose to be alone very often. But, maybe because this was in the seventies, no-one ever said anything to me about being a little different.

From third to ninth grade I donīt think I had a single friend in school. Eventually I got other friends, in church when I was a teenager. And I still dressed oddly, one of my favorite shirt was a male shirt, and the fact that a learnt how to tie a tie at thirteen was probably a result of something more than the riding competitions, where you had to were a tie. But, the fact was that I had acted different as a child and as a teenager. People had just not told me, so I didnīt think of it. When I was 18 I joined a fantasy society, and took a male alias. So now, at 26, I had went to a lot of parties in the society as a "man". I was very sincere that people called me my male-alias, and I always acted as a "gentleman", and no-one else had a cross-gender-alias... And still, no-one told me it was wrong or odd! But today, many years after, I realize they did think it was a little odd, but were too nice to say anything. Or I was to unaware to hear, I might not have wanted to hear. So when I started to think about my gender identity, I had actually lived part time as a man already, without me thinking about it. From thinking to dressing as a man in "civilian" clothes took less than a year, but to stop being scared when I was in them took much more time. 
A year after EuroPride (two-and-a-half year after my very first thoughts) I found myself in the middle of my second life crisis, after the first one about accepting me being trans-whatever. Now I had to accept I probably was transsexual, and that was a true nightmare. You shouldnīt think it would be such a big deal. After all I was rather open as an FtM-transvestite, almost all of my friends know and I did dress as a man together with them when I could. But the step from defining myself as a transvestite to defining as a transsexual was very painful. I was scared of loosing job, family, friends. It turned out I didnīt, but at that time I couldnīt know and my nightmares about mobs chasing me through empty cities were many and made me wake up, not wanting to go to sleep ever again. I was scared of myself, very much, seeing myself as a monster, a joke. My family suffered with me, I couldnīt be a very good parent and I stopped talking about how I felt with my husband. We grew more and more apart, and I couldnīt do anything about it since my burden already was heavy.
In the same time I started engaging in the trans-movement. So I was in the middle of a lot of work and responsibility too. What had started with a telephone call about a trans-inclusive party very fast ended up in people asking me to do things. So I did. Summer 1999 I was responsible for the first all-inclusive transtent in Pridepark, Stockholm, a drag-king workshop and a "gender-swap-workshop". I did still not think of myself as a transsexual, but I did know I was a man and nothing else. And an openly gay man, as a result of my gender identity. I had made a bunch of new friends in a world I never knew existed before, the GLBT-world, and was up to my ears in idealistic work but I loved it! It made me feel better, together with a note from the hospital saying I would get an appointment, in some month. The world that had fallen apart slowly began to come together. 
The following years I got my diagnosis as transsexual and started my transition. The day I got my first testosterone injection I was enchanted, delirious. Six months later, I realized I couldnīt go back to my work as telephone salesman; I had lost all my customers due to my transition. Not because they were bigots, but because they wouldnīt recognize my voice any more and therefore the relation was broken, they would never get their "funny girl" back as a salesman.
As my payment relied on my sales result, I had to instantly build up a new circle of customers as a man (which is quite impossible when you're in the middle of a life crisis and having two doctor's appointment a month), or get a new job. My boss had, to my surprise, being very understanding and my working colleagues had been more supporting then I could ever had imagine, but sadly enough none of that could pay my bills. I considered a new job, but without a new ID that was impossible and I went to studies instead. My son had had the news half-a-year before my hormone treatment and took it very well. His mates never said an evil word and the teachers were wonderful and caring when I explained. My marriage was worse on. We had grown apart and in 2001 we splitted, ten years after our wedding. We were both relieved I think, and everything got better at home. 
A year later I made my way into the board of RFSL, the Swedish organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Rights, and I have never been more proud. It was the same congress where the organization included transgender people in their statutes and we who were "transdelegates" were the happiest transpeople you have ever seen. And it didnīt matter that my chest ached after my mastectomy, the board meetings were still fascinating. The only fly in the ointment was that I couldnīt wrestle with my son for the moment. But my relations to him, my ex, to my parents and my sister, my friends, all just grow better. As they started to treat me as a man I didnīt have to be so angry and suspicious any more.
My ex and I continued being good friends and lived together for three years, and he was always my best support in helping me proofreading all the text you have to write as a lobbyist. At Pride 2001 we were not there together, as the year before. But my son was there, in the Parade shouting and whistling the whole way, and when I wasnīt engage in some seminar we had a great time. We still do, every Pride we spend some time together and listens to the artists.
In autumn 2001 I got my new legal gender identity and could apply for college as myself. As far as I could tell, when the semester started, everyone identified me as a man. My GRS followed after some weeks and my classmates never knew anything else than me getting a large operation. I never got around and told them, oddly enough.  I had already  marked very clearly I was a gay man and an activist and I liked that. And no-one seemed to have a problem with it. But nevertheless, being openly transsexual was, and still is, much more complicated, and is seen as more "shameful" in Sweden.  Sadly enough, because it shouldnīt be. But I was afraid of being judged as a "fake-man", and I didnīt dare to take the risk. I still do that, from time to time, I think we all do. But hopefully we`re getting more confidence as more people learn how to treat us respectfully.
That's what I fight for right know, respect and equal rights. Iīm still a transactivist, having moved on from the board of the Swedish organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Rights to the board of GLBT-Socialdemocrats. And Iīm still proud being gay, and starting to declare Iīm proud of being transsexual. I do courses for people in the union, politicans, high school students and so on. And I talk to my colleagues in my party, convincing them equal rights is for transgendered people too. As well as I do talk to and listens to transgendered people, on meetings and on the internet through my own resource site, Lukas Lair. Funny enough, after making that and taking a web design course this summer I`m becoming a rather good hobby-web designer, even if I never planned to.
I live a good life, having an apartment where my son lives with me half the time. After some complications from the operations and some unemployed time I now study law, wanting to specialize in discrimination, human rights and GLBT-law (an subject unknown in Swedish law schools). I mix with my old friends as well as my new, sometimes in the same time. And I have finally realized that there are people who care about me, as I do for them. I still finds that fascinating and new, though.
And my engagement in trans issues and other people brings me back to the picnic. We sat there, somewhat ten boys, ten FtMs, and we just enjoyed each others company. It would have been impossible when I started my journey, there were literally no open FtMs in media, not even the two small GLBT-papers we have. The only thing we had to read was about miserable transwomen, a picture which probably would not help them either. But today, we sit here and we actually thinks ten of us is very few. But then we realize itīs Pride, and many of us are out there just having fun. That's also new, transmen and transwomen partying with gays and lesbians. We are a little more welcomed now, much has happened in six years. There is a committee looking through our needs for anti-discrimination laws, there are portraits of all kind of transgendered people in media as well. We are included, to some point, in the GLB-Community. And we have started trying not being ashamed.

And when we start to break up, going back to the PridePark, the sun is shining again. And Iīm feeling free, free in a way I never felt in my old life. Free to be myself, to be visible and be aware of myself. I do have my right to my name, my gender, my body. Itīs Pride, I have a lot to do, but right in the very midst of it all I can feel peaceful. I have got a serenity I never had before, when I had to be someone else than I truly am. And I am not ashamed, Iīm proud. As a transsexual I have worked harder than most people being who I am. Iīm proud over the result!





August 16, 2005

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