Why I began living as a woman - then decided to transition back

By the end of my seven months as Sarah I was frightened, angry, lonely, confused –  and, perhaps worst of all, bored. Utterly bored with the topic of transgenderism

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Recently, a friend posted on my Facebook timeline a link from a dubious news source intimating Caitlyn Jenner might be harbouring doubts about her transition. My well-meaning acquaintance had included with the link the personal message: Ahead of your time. 

Though I appreciated the compliment, I deleted the posting. I have no interest in stories about Caitlyn Jenner and am proud to have never seen a single episode of the Kardashian reality whorehouse of which she presumably is the madam.

Yes, both Caitlyn and myself began our public transitions around the same time this year– she with plastic surgery and Vanity Fair covers and myself with charity shop sprees and YouTube makeup tutorials – but any association beyond our relative positions on the transgender spectrum is as insulting as equating Snoop Dogg with Duke Ellington on the basis of their shared skin colour. 

I have been living as Will again for over two months now, after seven months as Sarah. Because I’m a public figure and the decision was met with some publicity, I originally wrote an essay called “Seven Reasons for Will's Return” in which I outline the factors for my decision to once more live as a male. 

The essay covers, among other items, my exasperation at public abuse, the disarming prospect of no longer attracting females, and a lingering resentment to what I perceived as an oversight of my comedy in favour of the identity politics du jour: transgenderism. 

I should note, of course, that being Sarah was not an entirely negative experience. “The truth,” as the adage goes, “lies somewhere in the middle.” 

I received far more acceptance, or at least disinterested tolerance, than I ever did flagrant abuse. After all, had the obverse been the case, I wouldn't have lasted seven months as her. 

Additionally, I was the recipient of an amount of press better-earning comedians would have obtained by paying two grand to a PR firm. Hell, I even managed to get laid a few times as a female. 

Yet by the end of my seven months as Sarah I was frightened, angry, lonely, confused –  and, perhaps worst of all, bored. Utterly bored with the topic of transgenderism. Another redeeming aspect of my experience was the development of firsthand empathy for what minority comedians endure once the journalism and entertainment industries reduce them to their marketable externals: race, gender, or sexual preference. (“As a black/female/gay comedian, what do you think about. . .?” ad infinitum)

Girls to Men: Jamie's Transgender Transmission Timelapse

I am a character comedian and satirist whose style has always evaded easy categorisation, therefore it was inevitable I would choose to depart a lifestyle I feared could pigeonhole me into creative irrelevance. 

Admittedly, I've never been one to do things by half-measures. At university, I once memorised the entirety of Swift's “Modest Proposal” just so I could deliver it as a lecture, replete with powerpoint presentation on how to cook the children. So what was it all about, then, these seven months as Sarah? 

It might seem blithe to say it was a learning experience, although this strikes closer at the truth than any other answer I could offer. Simply and honestly put, being Sarah was something I underwent in yet another attempt to discover myself. And throughout the process, I discovered I am not a woman. 

In my more grandiose moments, I am reminded these days of the song “God”, in which John Lennon lyrically journeys towards a rediscovery of himself through a litany of negations. “I don't believe in Elvis,” he sings, “I don't believe in Beatles. . .”

And so I now sing, “I don't believe in Sarah. . .I just believe in me.”