"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Human Interest Story

Not long after I began to present as the woman I am, the editor from a local paper got in touch with me. She asked if I would be interested in sitting down with her to be interviewed. It seems that she thought a story of someone transitioning from male to female in our community might be a good "human interest story".

Now, first of all, I was living in a very small town in a very large county in Central Ontario; a large county with a relatively small and closely-linked population. Since I was a teacher at the only high school there, it seemed unlikely there were more than five or six people who hadn't already heard that one of the older teachers who "used to be a man was now a woman". More importantly, something felt wrong about being the feature for a story in the newspaper. It might be that I didn't feel prepared to tell the real story.

I declined the opportunity to chat with the editor and no human interest story was written about me.

From time to time, it occurs to me that a well-written piece might have been more than interesting - it might have been illuminating for readers of that paper. And yet, what might they have learned? For many, the fact that someone had done what I had done was the story, and that much they already knew. I suspect the editor thought the real story was one of struggle to get up the nerve to defy convention - a story of bravery.

Closer to the real story is that being authentic is essential for everyone. Not hating myself for pretending every day was important. Decades of self-harm were coming to an end.

Oh yes, for the curious, of course there is a dramatic story of the disruption my deception caused. Decades of thinking there was something wrong with what I wanted for myself; hiding it from people who loved me. Certain I was damaged goods, I hid myself, because in that world, what was true about me and what I wanted to express were wrong, maybe even illegal.

The story that could have been told to that editor, if I had thought of it then, was that being a woman is one of the least important things about me. Of all the things that make me unique, just like most of the women of the world, being a woman is a very small thing.

Here is the real story. Some, and perhaps, many men have a huge problem with any woman who denies their entitlement and says that being a man is no special achievement at all. Transitioning to female from male (or male to female) challenges that entitlement.

I am convinced that as societies become truly civilized, we will all be judged (if judgments are made) for the unique qualities we contribute. Being a woman, like being Caucasian, will be among the least noticeable ways of describing who we are. At just about the same time being transexual will be the non-event it should be; something essential to the individual. Such a change will unavoidably affect those close to us, but it needn't be newsworthy.


  1. How about just being a great person regardless of the wrapping we come in? I can't think of anything that matters more

    1. On the same wavelength yet again, Joanna!

  2. I'm glad you declined the invitation to be the subject of a human interest story. No matter how we might feel about ourselves and the courses we have chosen, we still need to protect ourselves. That need was probably the prime reason I stopped blogging. As for the rest of your post, I agree wholeheartedly. As a species we can display remarkably primitive, unenlightened behaviour.

    1. Yes Tom, at that time, self-protection was a factor. While most had heard of what I had done, a newspaper article might have drawn too much attention.

      I have often wondered why you stopped writing your blog posts. I do miss them.

  3. Hi Halle,
    Our granddaughter announced to us in a matter-of-factly manner there was a transgender pupil at her catholic primary school. Not a big deal for the students once it was explained to them. She took first communion as a male. I can’t imagine that happening a few decades earlier. But no doubt that catholic school and its principal are supportive of all students and you get a good feeling on grandparent’s day as the children spend time showing you around and their class work.
    I don’t think it’s a human interest story, but an interview that helps alleviate ignorance, bullying, prejudice and stigmas directed against transgender might be another matter. I guess it depends on the editor, the audience and the circumstances at that time.
    Best wishes

    1. Young people are mostly accepting. Once the initial curiosity had passed, I was their teacher. Full stop.

      Sadly, even the very best newspaper article is unable to come close to the personal touch. When someone seems to be different, get to know them better. They are likely to be among the most interesting people you will meet.

  4. I agree, just as is oft the case for those who don’t appear differently, on first impressions. Best wishes,