Hannah’s Story: Life would Be Boring If We Were All The Same…

For Pride month, we asked some of our members if they would like to tell their story and why they are proud. If you would like to contribute, please email londonirishlgbtnetwork@gmail.com 

Here’s another of these stories but first, grab yourself a cuppa.

Life would Be Boring If We Were All The Same…

by Hannah Doran

I always knew I was different. And I thought I knew why. None of my friends had Irish blood, none of them were dragged off to church on a Sunday, nor were they aware of the mythical lands that are the County Mayo. I had somehow escaped being sent to the local Catholic schools. That’s why I knew I was different, oh and being the product of an act of parliament but that’s another story. And I conned myself into believing that because that was the easy way out even through it didn’t address the simple fact that I wanted to be a girl.

My childhood at times was quite lonely, yes I had friends but few of them were really close. I struggled to fit in at times simply because I didn’t fit in. I knew that I would have been much happier French skipping with the girls instead of half-heartedly chasing a football around at Junior school. And then there was that small question of why I was on the only ‘boy’ who didn’t mind wearing a dress in the school play. Oh and that other question that kept coming up…”Why couldn’t I have just been born a girl?”

Then I became a confused teenager. Or more accurately a confused teenager with spots. I was confused about why I wanted to be a girl, why I was attracted to both boys and girls and there weren’t a whole bunch of people I could approach for help either. Section 28 was just around the corner and if the School Library had ever had an LGBT section those books had long since gone. Plus being the mid-eighties, there was no internet (yes kids this was the time history refers to as the dark ages). And then it happened, I found myself standing in front of the mirror at home wearing a skirt.  I looked at myself and sort of felt comfortable with what I saw while at the same time I just saw a freak. I didn’t know the term transgender (or transsexual as we were referred to back then). I didn’t know there were others like me.

The eighties were slowly drawing to a close and I watched an episode of the Prisoner where Patrick McGoohan found himself the sole resident of the village. What would I do if I woke up the following morning and found myself the sole resident of my local town. I was 17/18 at the time so I figured my first through should have been to raid the local off licence…but no, my first thought was to raid Miss Selfridge… I had kinda figured out who I was but I wasn’t mature enough to admit it or confront it. It was also around this time that I saw that rare thing. A documentary about someone who had transitioned (m to f). Had I not been so far in the closet and so much in denial, this may just have blown my mind.

Rainbow Flag in watercolour

Twenty odd years went by, I was suffering from depression and anxiety and I wasn’t living, I was just existing. Turning 40 I was hit with a wave of confidence. I had never felt this confident before and it lead me to deal with the question that I had been trying to surpass all these years. I had been living as a straight man for a long long time and I was getting tired of it. It was still a slow realisation that I was transgender with a sexuality that at best was a grey area.

And then one day I stood in front of the mirror and said “I am transgender” out loud. Cliché or not,  I really did feel the weight lift from my shoulders, but it was something I needed to experience, it was something I needed to do. I needed to come out to myself. I needed to admit I’m Transgender & Pansexual. I needed to admit I was me. I needed to get used to this.

A little more time passed by and I randomly entered a competition on social media and only went and won. At this point it was only this platform where Hannah was anywhere close to being out. But now she had won a ticket.  So there I was one frosty February morning walking down my street on my way to the station as me for the first time really hoping I didn’t bump into anyone. But feeling alive and liberated, soon enough I was walking the concourse at Kings Cross. This was massive, an impossible dream come true. And one of my biggest anxiety’s had already been put to bed…no one was taking any notice in me. Everyone else was too interested in what they were doing and where they needed to go. And besides I needed to get across town to Excel.

Getting home late in the afternoon I was still buzzing. I had spent the day doing something that I didn’t think was possible. And I remember saying to myself almost in disbelief, “Did I really do that? I want to do that again.” And I did a few days later. Food stocks were running low so a trip to the supermarket was in order, I never said this was going to be a glamourous story… Being late February I could leave the house in the evenings under cover of darkness. So I did. And walking around the supermarket I learnt something, no one was interested in me, yes my head went down to avoid eye contact.

It was late in the evening and there were just two checkouts open next to each other. So I took my choice and started unloading the trolley. And then the supervisor tried to suggest that the other checkout may be quicker. Well before I could react the check out did with “Oi leave her alone, she wants to come and see me.”  The supervisor is now officially dealt with! And everyone is looking at me but I don’t care, someone had just described me using the she and her in the same sentence and my body has just realised the nice chemicals into my brain.

Coming out publicly was by far the scariest thing I have ever done. I knew there was nothing to stop this happening now. In the Trans community there are so many people who have been abandoned by family and friends. I kinda feel like a fraud as none of that happened to me or maybe I am just surrounded by people who are more open minded and more mature. I have just received love and support and three years later there are people around who only know me as her.

I was cooking a curry one evening when a message arrived questioning whether something had happened to my Instagram account as he this person was had been seeing a lot of photos from a Hannah Doran… Oh, someone had noticed they little change I had made. I wasn’t going to reply right away because I was cooking. Which gave me time to consider my options. This was someone I had been friends with since I was four, there was only one option. I was coming out.

Coming out via a message app was one thing, but coming out face to face… I had pre-warned that I had news forgetting that this couple would try and guess… They came up with some good ideas. But nothing even close. With heart in mouth it was me who was going to get the biggest shock. Their reaction was “How do you want us to refer to you” and “If you want a makeup tutorial…” WHAT! I had not prepared for this. I had prepared myself for the worst. Not this, not kindness and understanding.

So I have now come out to some friends (we are still friends by the way). Time to start telling the family. Dad had three brothers and  three sisters which has equated to 17 cousins on that side of the family. And perversely the one person I am closest to lives the furthest away in South Africa. So I’m going to have to send a message. It took me four days to sent that message simply because I was scared. So the message was sent on a Monday evening and I left the room for a few minutes. Then I heard a message arrive and I froze with fear. It’s a family thing that normally messages are reply to three days later. But in this moment I didn’t need to look at the phone as I know who that message is from. I was soon crying. The love and support was overwhelming. 

Over the next couple of weeks I came out to everybody else. Yes I have lost a couple of people (non family) from my life. Yes its sad but then again they were happy to hang around when I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t, when I wasn’t happy. And now that I am being true to myself, they didn’t want to know despite saying they would always be there. I don’t need people like that in my life.

Transgender Flag

People tell me how brave I was to come out and maybe I was. But its also true that I had reached that point in life where I was suffocating in the closet. I was prepared to lose people just so I could breathe. But I was never brave enough to came out to my parents. Dad had already passed when I started to accept myself for who I am and it was obvious that mum was in the autumn years of her life with failing health. And being an only child in that situation I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that her little boy would have been a lot happier growing up as a little girl.

Maybe she knew. She would often say “It would be boring if we were all the same.” She would also say to me, “I’ve lived my life now you go live yours.” And you know what I am living now, I’m living my life the way it was always meant to be lived and I’m living it with Pride.

So 2019 arrives and there is a family gathering at home in Mayo. This would be Hannah’s first trip back home and the first time a lot of people met her. One of the things I had planned to do after breaking an ankle in 2016 was to climb Croagh Patrick and it was quite fitting that I did so as her. More a personal pilgrimage than a religious one It was also the week an uncle asked someone in Ballycroy (where dad was born) if she knew my father. She knew of the family but not my dad, but that didn’t stop my Uncle from then introducing me as Pats’ daughter.

It’s taken a long time, but finally I like being me.

One thought on “Hannah’s Story: Life would Be Boring If We Were All The Same…

  1. Dear Hannah, Congratulations/comhghairdeachas. I know you have heard it said, ‘you are brave.’ Yes you are to me! In fact the word courage looses meaning when I read your story. I am delighted you have had such affirmation from family and friends. It is a measure of how beautiful a person you must be to be so loved and accepted. Thank you. Bernárd Lynch🌈

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