An article by Sue Pascoe, Area Chairman of North and East Yorkshire CWO
I was born with conflicting sex characteristics, some visible some not. I was assigned male at birth. I was 5 years old when I first had a sense that I was a girl. My Mum named me Susan – and at home, my Mum allowed me to be Sue. It has taken me years to gain an understanding of the research, but I have now come to the conclusion it’s likely my mother had an hormonal imbalance while pregnant. There are many research papers that indicate the biological basis for being transgender and that also makes sense to me too.
When I was a teenager my visible sex variation was surgically altered without assessment of my non-visible variations. I was made more functionally male. My family was told by doctors this was the right thing to do. I was given no choice in my bodily autonomy even though I was old enough to have a valid opinion.
Having a male personae outside and female one behind closed doors was a pressure. In my early 20s I sought help, but I was given something called ‘conversion therapy’. They made me feel ashamed and just tried to persuade me to bury my female identity. So I went into the world as the best person I could. I went to university as a male, but every night in my flat alone I was Sue. It was a relief when I met a woman who accepted me as I was. My career went from strength to strength. I became partner of a very well respected accounting firm. We had a lot of money and a beautiful home. However, when my wife became pregnant with our first son, her feelings towards my identity as Sue changed. She felt that to be good parents, there wasn’t space for Sue in our lives. I needed to be seen to be male and only male.
For more than 20 years, I did my best. But in my 50s, once my children had grown up, I felt I had to explore my feminine side again. I finally told my wife I needed to seek professional help without guilt, and I needed to be honest with our children. She felt our relationship couldn’t continue and fi led for divorce. Unfortunately it was very acrimonious, and included bitter disputes and the freezing of assets. At my lowest point I was homeless, penniless, without my family and living with health problems having contracted encephalitis on a business trip to India and gender identity issues. I had lost everything. It was only then that I started living as Sue full time.
Eventually I spoke to my doctor and saved up for surgery. I went to India for my gender surgeries. The NHS could not support me without many years of waiting . This was a period of understanding and love from most people but extreme hate and discrimination from others for no other reason than I am transgender. It was therefore brilliant to hear the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, state that “being transgender is not an illness”.
Now I’m mentally strong again, I’ve recovered from my ill health, I’m complete as a woman and my divorce is behind me. I am Sue now, as I was always meant to be. My gender identity and my body now fully match. I’m at peace with myself.
This has allowed me to step back into society, business and politics. I now run my own business advising organisations like Channel 4 on how to become more inclusive. After becoming the first trans person to address the Conservative Party Conference I was selected as one of the party’s candidates in the European Elections for Yorkshire and the Humber. I now Chair the Conservative Women’s Organisation for North and East Yorkshire. I can’t thank my party enough for the way the vast majority of members, my own MP and both Prime Minister’s have treated me.
It was great when Boris Johnson wrote to me personally saying how important he believed it was ‘that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and be given the opportunity to succeed on merit’. That letter is in my file with his Christmas card showing Dilyn the Dog. But I have to say my abiding memory of 2020 was being on a zoom charity call with Boris and Carrie listening and watching a lip sync battle of various Conservative MPs and assembly members, some in drag, Edwina Currie in a red wig and red opera gloves. Who says Conservatives don’t have fun!
It was a privilege to be listed in the 2019 “PwC 50 Inspirational people” and to continue to support the PwC ‘Shine’ LGBT network group and Alumni group.
I am honoured to be a trustee board member of Yorkshire MESMAC the sexual health and LGBT+ charity for Yorkshire and surrounding regions. I now have a media profile across SkyNews, BBC News, Travel Show, Panorama, Politics North, ITV Current Affairs, San Francisco Bay News to educate others sensibly and with reason about the lives of trans people just being ordinary human beings like everyone else.
Our on-going challenge for the LGBT community is to combat the moral hysteria which has been thrown up through fear and propaganda against transgender people, and see legislative changes which support everyone’s gender identity and expression. We only wish to live our lives like any other person and be shown respect and dignity to live in safety, peace and harmony with others.
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