Josephine Hughes 00:03:
Hi, I’m Josephine Hughes. I’m the mother of two transgender daughters who came out in their teens and early twenties. I told my own stories in series one of Gloriously Unready. In season two, I’m finding out more about transgender people’s experiences because as I adapted to having transgender daughters, it helped me a lot to get to know transgender people. In this series, I ask, “What’s it like to come out as transgender to a world that is not always ready for you? How can you ever be ready to tell the people that you love that you’re not the person they think you are?”
Today’s guest is Joanne Lockwood, a trans woman who came out later in life. For Jo, this presented the challenge of telling her adult children, working through her identity with her wife, and navigating changing relationships with friends and work colleagues. Jo, I’ll let you introduce yourself because I think it’d be really lovely if people were to hear from you.
Joanne Lockwood 01:16:
Thank you, Jo. My name is Joanne Lockwood. My pronouns are she and her. Oh, what do you want to know about me? I’m 58 years old. I’m married to my beautiful wife, Marie. We’ve been married for 37 years this year.
Josephine Hughes 01:31:
Got to get that right. You might get into trouble.
Joanne Lockwood 01:33:
Wow. Yeah. 36. 36. Sorry. 36 this year. Been together for 38. We’ve got two wonderful children. Our daughter’s Charlie. She’s 31. Our son is 28. Yeah. 28 now. Both fantastic. I gender transitioned … It’s never an exact date, but 1st of March 2017 is the date I often use. It sticks in my mind because it’s the day after I sold my business.
Josephine Hughes 01:59:
Joanne Lockwood 02:00:
My IT company.
Josephine Hughes 02:03:
Joanne Lockwood 02:04:
That was the last link in the chain that was holding me back. I mean, in reality it was a sliding process from probably July 2016 onwards. I think I did my change of name deed the 25th of July 2017. As I say, most trans people, there’s no one date I transitioned today. It’s an evolving process. But I was in IT. I was in electronics. I joined the RAF when I left school. Decided it wasn’t for me. Got into computing and ran a computer company based near Portsmouth for the best part of 20-odd years. I got to my late forties. As I describe it, it was past my sell-by date. I was a bit mouldy. You get on this conveyor belt of life with pressures, expectations. I just backed the stop button one day. I said, “No, no. Hang on a minute. I’m really not enjoying my life, my career, my gender. I need to change. In fact, the only thing I don’t want to change is my family.” That was my red line there. Protect my family. But everything else is quite up for grabs.
That was six years ago. I started a business, an EDI consultancy practice. I help businesses become … More inclusive is probably a good word. I work on inclusion and belonging, positive people solutions. I also do a bit of trans awareness and LGBT awareness as well into businesses. I do fireside chats. I’ve traveled all over the world. I was only pinching myself. I was sitting on a train last night, coming back from Manchester, almost reflective disbelief of where I was seven years ago. Poor mental health, frustrated with my life, heading to a place I didn’t want to be. I look back and go, “Wow, how did I get here?” It’s a transformational change. It’s incredible. Yeah.
Josephine Hughes 03:48:
Look, I think that’s so interesting to hear because so often transgender people are portrayed as these sad people with their dysphoria. We should feel sorry for them. But that’s not what you’re saying at all, is it?
Joanne Lockwood 04:04:
No. But I’d be the first to say that I’m privileged.
Josephine Hughes 04:06:
Joanne Lockwood 04:07:
I recognize the privilege I have. I’m white. I speak English as a first language. I’m relatively eloquent in my accent, the way I speak. People have said I’m articulate. I have a level of intelligence. I’ve got a stable family. I’ve got a home I live in. Relatively financially secure. I have a lot of privilege. I guess, once you get to your fifties, back in the ’80s or ’90s, we called it bounce back ability, didn’t we? That was the buzzword. It’s a bit like if you remember the Weebles. They keep wobbling, but they don’t fall down. I’ve got some resilience and some robustness of personality. But I recognize that my mental health today is robust. I went through a phase, I’ll say five, six, seven years ago, where it was a bit mushy, a bit dodgy. But I managed to bootstrap my way out of it. Just pull myself out. I do live in a privileged world where not everybody has this luxury. I know that many people are caught in this vortex of transitioning or not transitioning. The societal pressure, the media. It’s daunting. It’s not an easy world.
Josephine Hughes 05:17:
Lack of access to healthcare as well is a big thing, isn’t it?
Joanne Lockwood 05:18:
Josephine Hughes 05:18:
People are waiting for ages. Yeah.
Joanne Lockwood 05:21:
I was privileged. I got involved with GenderGP before they were flagged as a problem, a menace to society or whatever the GMC accused them of. I was getting hormones through them. I have a fantastic GP, so I was able to set up a shared care agreement with my GP. He referred me to the GIC quite quickly. I had one-to-one sessions with him. I wouldn’t say counseling as such, but mentoring sessions where he was immensely supportive of me, and understanding. He was one of the first people that ever validated me. I changed my name at the surgery. From a GP, primary care perspective, I’ve had a fantastic experience.
When I actually went to the GIC, I got my first appointment … Oh, 2018, I think it was. I’d been on the waiting list about 18 months at the time, so it was before the massive waiting list. I saw Doctor Lorimer. He’s fantastic. I remember him saying at the end of the chat, “Well, the horse is clearly bolted. There’s no point in me standing in your way now. I’m happy to write you a prescription.” So I got prescriptions for hormones on my first appointment to the GIC, which is unheard of, really. It’s always two, three, four visits. But he recognized that I was in a good place. I had taken responsibility for my own life. I’d got on with it. So, for me, the GIC was more of a rubber stamp. It wasn’t a gatekeeper for me. I know some people, they see it as the magic key to the next stage of their life, which is why the frustrations exist.
Josephine Hughes 06:53:
Sorry. Just to say for anybody who doesn’t know, the GIC stands for Gender Identity Clinic, doesn’t it? People have different experiences.
Joanne Lockwood 07:01:
Some people wait a long time. Some people have a negative experience. Some people are fobbed off, and they’re told to come back in six months. I don’t know. Maybe I was just trans enough at the right time. I ticked the box. I don’t know. I didn’t have a rocky road like many.
Josephine Hughes 07:18:
Yeah. Yeah. If we sort of circle back to what you said, because you said everything in your life, you thought, “No, this isn’t right,” apart from your family. The red line, almost, was your family. But as somebody married, living as a male, two children, did it worry you telling your family? Often, the thing that transgender people say when coming out to your family is it’s actually the hardest thing to do because you risk being rejected.
Joanne Lockwood 07:51:
Rejection. Yeah, you do. Yeah. Humiliated. Rejected. My wife and I were going through some marital difficulties around our 25-year mark. Our two children were leaving home, going to university. We had a big four-bedroom house. We were living effectively in separate rooms. My wife was spending time in the kitchen. I was spending time in my office. The kids were spending time in their bedrooms. We were coming together with trays in our lap, if you like, in the living room watching telly. It was a performative marriage. It wasn’t that we were unhappy. We just weren’t really spending a lot of time together. We got to this point where, to cut a long story short, both I and my wife, we explored other options, let me just put it that way, independently. We’d lost a bit of spark. It came to a head. I call it our Olympic breakup because it was basically during the opening ceremony, the London 2012 Olympics. We had a massive discussion. It lasted until the end of the Paralympics in the middle of September.
Josephine Hughes 08:57:
Joanne Lockwood 08:57:
The whole of the London 2012 Olympics, we were either at each other’s throats, shouting and screaming at each other, or trying to reconcile in various guises. I moved out for a while. I rented a flat. I was seeing somebody else briefly. During that reconciliation phase, you go through that five bottles of wine, and then you start telling the truth. Then you start shouting and screaming at each other. It just becomes unproductive. During one of those lucid moments, we were doing a show-and-tell sort of thing. You tell me something I don’t know, and I’ll tell you something you don’t know. It’s almost like a way of attacking each other passive-aggressively. I’m going to hurt you even more.
She shared some things that she was getting up to with people. I think we were driving on the road at the time. We weren’t looking at each other, so it was quite easy to have a conversation where you’re not actually looking at something. So I just said, “Oh …” I can’t remember the phraseology I used, but effectively, I think I said, “I cross-dress. I wear women women’s clothes. I’m not sure about what’s going on in my head. I’ve been doing it all our marriage and before that.” I think my wife, Marie, went, “Is that all?” On the scale of things, the big stuff she’d just dropped on the table, mine was like a distraction.
Josephine Hughes 10:11:
Oh, wow. Yeah.
Joanne Lockwood 10:13:
When we finally rectified, at the closing ceremony of the Paralympics, I think it was, I moved back in. We agreed to sell the house, which was like the chain around our necks. We sold it and moved into a flat on the waterside. It was our dream home. We were able to have a new future, so we got back together again. When we agreed to reestablish our relationship from the point of destruction, it was rebuilt with this on the table. It wasn’t like it was a secret. I reintroduced in a time of stability … It was not a condition. It wasn’t a condition of getting back together. It was in the deck. It was there.
Josephine Hughes 10:48:
Yeah. This is me. Yeah.
Joanne Lockwood 10:51:
Yeah. All of my indiscretions, all the Marie’s indiscretions, all the stuff that we weren’t proud of, it wasn’t swept under the carpet. It was just acknowledged. We don’t need to talk about it. We’ve done the talking. We’ve done that. We’ve just said, “We want to be together forever. Park it.” So we explored a bit of cross-dressing fun together, more privately. I think I shared over the course of the next six months to a year how I needed to explore more of this. At the time, I’m not sure Marie gave me permission as such. She wasn’t going, “Yeah, this is a good idea.” It was like she was willing to go along with what I needed to do. But I didn’t have a destination. I didn’t know if I wanted to transition. I didn’t know if this was me. I had so many limiting beliefs going. A person like me, I don’t do this sort of stuff. It got more and more serious.
Then, like many trans people, I grew a beard. I tried to bury everything and said, “I can fix myself.” In 2014, I grew this big … It’s a modern hipster beard, the beards you see today. I had a quite impressive beard. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I’ve cured myself.” You can’t look in the mirror with a beard and take yourself seriously with a wig on. It just didn’t work. That lasted about four months. I think I decided I cured myself. I was okay. So I started packing all my shoes and wigs and makeup and dresses away. As I did it, I thought, “Uh-uh. It’s back.”
Josephine Hughes 12:21:
You didn’t kick.
Joanne Lockwood 12:22:
Didn’t fix it. So the next day, I shaved the beard off.
Josephine Hughes 12:30:
It’s one or the other.
Joanne Lockwood 12:31:
I said no. The middle of 2014, I found some local trans support groups, Beaumont Society spinoff-type things. Marie drove me to a local monthly trans meeting in Portsmouth. She dropped me off at this pub, came in with me to make sure that it wasn’t a weird thing going on. She checked it out. It was okay. She saw that it was friendly. It was safe. She said, “I’ll see you tonight when you get back.” I ended up having a great time, meeting people, sharing stories, having conversations, getting out once or twice a month, dressed. I met some people who we went on holidays in Blackpool together. We’d have away weekends.
What happened was, I found, in the early stages, there’s a huge amount of anxiety going away for the weekend because you have all this apprehension about, “Will people like me? Will they hate me?” All this nervousness. “What clothes am I going to wear? What am I going to look like? My makeup will be a mess.” All the anxiety of going. What started happening was I had anxiety coming home, having to leave that life behind. I realized that the anxiety of becoming me at the weekend disappear completely, and the anxiety of going back to the old me was worse.
I guess, in 2016, it came to a head. I promised my wife in 2016 that I wouldn’t tell our children until our son had finished his education. He graduated. Went to the ceremony. A week later, I think we had another bottle of wine argument. I said, “I can’t keep lying to the kids. I can’t keep lying. I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to tell the world. I’ve got to tell the children first.” I drove to Shoreham, Brighton, to see my daughter. She said, “What’s up? What’s up?” I said, “I need to have a chat.” So we had a chat, cried a bit, drove around a bit. Had a Chicken McNuggets drive through and a milkshake. Sat on the seafront of Brighton with the roof down. Told her and drove back. Told my son. Daughter was teary. Not sure it was okay. Son was like, “Whatever. YOLO. Get on with it. Whatever.”
Then, a week later, we got invited by Jack a Land Rover onto the America’s Cup, the big sailing thing going on in the Solent near Portsmouth. We had corporate hospitality. We were drinking Prosecco or champagne from the moment we arrived at 10 o’clock in the morning all the way through the day. Our glasses were never empty. We were absolutely drunk. Again, we probably had another drunken argument. I sat there. I remember sitting there at Port Solent on a chair at midnight on my own, on Facebook, just putting a message to the world: “I’m trans. Get over it.” Something. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote. Then came home, passed out. Woke up the next day. I thought, “Oh, I’ve got a sneaky feeling something happened last night.”
Josephine Hughes 15:31:
Joanne Lockwood 15:36:
Woke up Sunday morning at 10 o’clock. You go, “Oh, yeah. Yeah. That’s what I remembered.” The mistake I made was to delete the post without reading or checking who’d liked it or who commented.
Josephine Hughes 15:49:
Oh, wow. Yeah.
Joanne Lockwood 15:50:
I had absolutely no idea who’d seen it. So I started phoning around everybody I knew. My brother first. I went, “Did you see it?” He went, “See what?” I went, “Okay. You haven’t seen it. This is the situation that I am. I’m trans.” I just worked my way around all my friends list, everybody I could think of, and just owned it. That was the beginning. This part of the story I thought was the end, or the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, which ever way you want to look at it. What I realized was, that moment where I told the world, it changed not only my life, but my wife’s life, my children’s lives, forever. I didn’t appreciate … I’m going to use the word selfish, but I don’t mean selfish in a negative way. But, in a dictionary definition, I did it for me only. I didn’t do it for anybody else. I did it for me. It was my own decision for me. I didn’t realize what impact that selfish decision would have on those around me.
I look back six, seven years now. I realize that transitioning for me was almost like pivoting on the spot. Transitioning for everybody else was like going this massive great arc around me. They had further to travel, more confusion, more struggles. Yes, I was going through my own battle, my own demons, but everybody had their own journey. I always think that transitioning is more about the close people around you than it is about you, yourself. It’s going into this vortex. I call it a vortex. You open the door, you go in, and your life is all over, basically. You don’t know what’s up, what’s down. Your brain’s everywhere. The mission is to try and get out the other side without damaging yourself or bottling it and going back the way you came in. I was really focused on trying to come out the other side intact with my family, with my relationships. That was my priority. I realized that I had to work at what we had to create new, or to build something the next. That was the real epiphany I had.
I remember laying in bed. I said, “I’ve just wrestled with the fact that you said you were going to tell me that you were a trans man. You would take testosterone. You’d grow a beard. You’d develop stubble. You’d smell that manly odor. I said, “I’m just trying to rationalize how I would feel if you transitioned.” I said, “I would struggle. Even knowing everything I know now, I would really struggle to accept you transitioning to be a man.” At that moment there, in my head, I had this epiphany. I go, “That’s how difficult it is for her and my children to accept me.” You can be as open-minded and as warm and generous as you can be, but it’s a big ask. It’s a really big ask. It shouldn’t be. I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t be. But it is a massive ask to ask someone to embrace you just like that.
Josephine Hughes 18:42:
I think it’s because you’ve seen someone the same way for so many years. Sometimes I talk with other parents. It seems to me that parents with younger children sometimes have children coming out in their early primary school years. It’s different. For them, it’s almost like they haven’t had those years of imagining someone to be what they think they are. That was the shift I had to make. I had to make this shift in seeing that my daughters actually weren’t my sons. I’d seen them as sons. I’d seen them as men. So just having to, in a sense, change gear, I found that really challenging, I think. So yeah, I think that’s a good description.
I think it’s all about letting go of your own thoughts about that person, what you thought they were, in a sense, and just recalibrating it. But I think, as my friends said, which I’ve used in the previous series, she said, “If you can just see it’s like they’re a book with a cover, and it’s the cover that’s changed.” I do think that’s very true, actually, because what I discovered over time, of course, my kids were exactly the same people. Their personalities didn’t change.
Joanne Lockwood 19:58:
I often described it as a rebrand, like Cif and Jif and Opal Fruits and Starburst. I used to have a joke that I was Marathon. Now I’m Snickers. I’m still sweet and still got nuts. I used to tell that joke because it was. Really, for me, I was still the same person. When I look through my glasses at the screen, I still see the same person. I’m still me, but other people see me differently. If I show Maria a picture, I’ve got Timehop and my Facebook Memories on my phone and things like that. Often something will pop up from 10-15 years ago. I’ll look at it and go, “Wow, that was me, wasn’t it?” I now look at it and think, “Oh, that’s my dad or my brother.” I don’t see me in it anymore.
Josephine Hughes 20:47:
Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah.
Joanne Lockwood 20:48:
But if I show it to Marie, Marie goes, “I don’t want to see that.” Marie is more worried about seeing an old picture of me than I am, I think because in the early stages, I was wearing wigs. I was wearing lots of makeup. I was physically trying to look different in order to comply with societal rules. Since I’ve had my hair transplant, and I’ve obviously been living as myself for seven or eight years now, what I see in the mirror aligns with who I am. This is Joanne. This is who I am. I’m female. People accept me as who I am.
When I look at old photographs, I just see a younger version of me. I don’t see somebody else anymore because I’m so comfortable with myself and my own identity of how I look. I’m happy with how I look. I actually don’t care whether you’re happy with how I look or not. It’s about how I feel about myself. I feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m no longer going through that early stage transition where I’m hyper aware of passing, or worrying what people are going to say, or if they’re going to notice me. Now it’s fine. I mean, if I were to wear jeans and a T-shirt, and I get misgendered, you go, “Whatever.”
Josephine Hughes 22:00:
Yeah. You’re comfortable within yourself, so you don’t need the approbation or whatever of anybody else. You can just be yourself.
Joanne Lockwood 22:10:
It’s funny sometimes at weekends. Marie and I may be going out shopping or going downtown or going to the cinema or something. She’ll look at me and say, “Couldn’t you put a bit of makeup or tight yourself up a bit?” I say, “I just feel like a slob day.” She said, “No, I want to be proud of you. Go and dress yourself up a bit.” I go, “All right.” So I nip off, come back downstairs with a dress or a nice top or something, and I come down. She goes, “Oh, that’s better. I’m proud of you now. I fancy you rotten now.” She wants me to look good as well. I make the effort for her and for us rather than anybody else.
Josephine Hughes 22:40:
That’s interesting as well. There’s still that mutual attraction as well between you two. That hasn’t changed.
Joanne Lockwood 22:47:
Yes. She ticked bisexual on the census. She identifies as a nouveau queer woman because she has embraced a side of her own sexual attraction that maybe she didn’t know she had, or didn’t admit she had. But she’s not shocked or saddened by my physical appearance. In fact, we joke about, I’ve got the small boobs, she’s got the big boobs, and those sorts of things. She’s completely comfortable in a naked sexual orientation way with my identity as well.
Josephine Hughes 23:18:
If we circle back a bit, it wasn’t all plain sailing with your family, was it, with your daughter?
Joanne Lockwood 23:26:
No, no, no, no. Not at all. I make it sound easy. No, it wasn’t. My daughter effectively rejected me completely. It was all dead to me type stuff. Wrote me a letter saying, “Never ever talk to me again. Don’t put your name on a Christmas card. I don’t want any presents from you. I don’t want to hear from you. I don’t want to do anything, basically, and you’re not coming to my wedding.”
Josephine Hughes 23:42:
That must have been-
Joanne Lockwood 23:45:
That was tough for Marie-
Josephine Hughes 23:45:
Joanne Lockwood 23:46:
… because it put Marie right in the middle. Yeah. I put Marie in the middle. I mean, obviously, I was devastated. We had two Christmases where we had to spend them apart. Marie would go see our daughter on Christmas Day. Then we’d come back and have Boxing Day with my son. My son was okay. Well, okay-ish. It created this division in the family. On the original planned wedding date, I was uninvited. I wasn’t uninvited. I just wasn’t invited at all, and barred. COVID hit. The wedding got canceled. It got deferred by a year and a bit. During that time, we managed to have a reconciliation.
My daughter was going through a tricky patch with her fiance at the time. It culminated in a situation where she needed her dad more than she needed to be upset with me, so we had a conversation. We had a couple of tough conversations. We had a couple of drives. We had a couple of drive-through chicken nuggets and milkshakes on the front again to have a chat. For Christmas, she said, “What do you want for Christmas?” I sent her a link to an Amazon, a set of hoop earrings, which I fancy. She said, “I can’t buy you earrings.” But then there’s plenty of other stuff that she’ll buy me. We’ll go out together, and we’ll joke about stuff.
Her birthday, we went to The Ivy in Brighton. I needed the loo, and she needed the loo. I was thinking, “She’s going to really freak out if I go to the loo with her, isn’t she?” She didn’t. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to The Ivy in Brighton, in The Lanes there, but it’s got one of these really amazing women’s toilets. They’re one of the ones where it’s all decorated. There’s big seats in the middle of makeup areas. It’s like a real boudoir. So we’re in there taking photographs of each other with the chairs-
Josephine Hughes 25:36:
Joanne Lockwood 25:37:
… in the little makeup suite. You think, “Yet she’s worried about buying me earrings.” We’re in the ladies’ toilet together larking around. I just thought that was a bigger red light for her, sharing a cubicle, adjacent cubicles. Some things are easy for her. Some things aren’t. She works in early years. She works with preschool children. A lot of the children she works with, either their parents identify as nonbinary or trans or something, or even some of the children she looks after identify as trans or nonbinary, or some of the other people who work there are. So she’s not trans negative. She’s just confused by Dad.
She misgenders me. She gets the pronouns wrong. She’s the only person in the world that I … I don’t allow it as such. I just think our relationship is better by not having that as an issue between us. It bothers me, not bothers me. I still go, “Oh, she’s done it again.” But I don’t let it affect our relationship because if I sit there and go, “She, she,” and I made a big deal of it, it would just get awkward. I can’t be bothered. I don’t need it to be awkward. She still calls me dad because I’m still her dad. I’m not bothered by being Dad. It’s a bit comical sometimes when we’re in the supermarket. She shouts, “Oh, Dad!” She goes, “You’re my dad. I’m going to call you Dad.” “Oh, it’s all right. Go for it, then.”
We’ve got our own little way of communicating. It’s fine. I’m determined that their child doesn’t address me with male pronouns or call me by a male name. That’s a conversation she knows we’re going to have to have at some point. She knows I want to have it. She’s not sure how she’s going to have it, either. So we’ve kicked that one to the long grass. We’ll see what happens with that one.
Josephine Hughes 27:36:
I suppose the thing that’s coming across in terms of what you’re telling me is just how it’s just this almost total honesty. That’s what helped you and Marie, wasn’t it, was just this process of being completely honest with each other?
Joanne Lockwood 27:51:
Open dialogue, talking, recognizing that we both have concerns. We’ve both got our own identity. We’ve both got our own things that make us happy, make us sad. It’s that ultimate respect that I don’t have to be right. You don’t have to be right. We just have to find a way of living together with it to make it work for us both.
Josephine Hughes 28:14:
Yeah. Yeah. For the sake of pure curiosity, and I think probably because some parents who are listening to this might be really interested, you talked about when you first went on hormones and had this big rush of estrogen. Then the testosterone was suppressed as well. Did you get very emotional? Is it like the ups and downs that we associate with the menstrual cycle? Was it that sort of thing? Or what was it?
Joanne Lockwood 28:38:
No, I don’t think it’s a cycle. It’s not a cycle because it’s very stable, very flat. You’re getting, effectively, a constant delivery. I think the last time I had my testosterone levels measured, it was about 0.2. I think that’s actually quite low. Most women tend to have theirs around one, or just below one. So 0.2 is negligible. My estrogen levels are at about the 600-700 mark, which is typically a 30- or 40-year-old non-pregnant woman type thing. The rush of emotions at the early stages, yeah, they were quite a shock. You do burst to tears without control. You can see a movie or some telly, or something just catches you, and you’re blubbering. You can’t stop it.
Even now, I’m still much more in touch my emotional side. Everything drags me in. I feel it here. I feel lots more, not just in the tears in the eyes, but I feel it. I emotionally connect with people, with situations. I’m empathetic by default, if you like. I understand the impact of testosterone, how it really is a very powerful hormone in what it does to your brain. The aggression, the way you see the world, the way you have to fight for your place in the world. Once you take testosterone away, you realize that all these ways you’ve reacted in the past, all these ways you’ve done things, you take the testosterone away, and it completely changes your outlook on life.
I’m not making excuses for toxic masculinity or bad men, but you can understand that if you haven’t got control of your brain with some of these hormones, it can be really, really hard to separate that. Like I say, I’m not making excuse for anybody, but not having testosterone has made a huge difference to my ability to be calm, empathetic, relaxed, see the beauty in the world. I’m more of a collaborative, cooperative person. Even my daughter, she says I’m a much nicer person now. I don’t think I’ve changed. I’ve just had this program removed at my head. You think about the rogue robot, and you have to reprogram it. I think I’ve had this rogue program in my head controlling me, and I’ve been fighting against it all my life. Now that bit of program has been taken away. That really is the estrogen-testosterone balance. I’m not playing at being me. I’ve now uncovered the real me who was under there all the time, but being suppressed.
Josephine Hughes 31:19:
Yeah. Jo, you talked about your family a little bit. What about the other people you were telling that day you had to retract on the Facebook post? How did you find your friendships went?
Joanne Lockwood 31:34:
Yeah. I ran my own business. My two business partners were men. Most of my customers, it was male-led organizations. They were small businesses. I really couldn’t face coming out at work, so I bottled it until after I sold my business and transitioned. But I was also the National President of the Round Table. I’ve been in the Round Table for 20-odd years of my life. The Round Table’s a men’s club, unashamedly. I still support its right to be single sex, single gender. When I was national president in 2008, 2009, I think there were 10,000 members. I was traveling around the country to black-tie dinners. I had a huge network of male people in my life across the world. It was a real struggle because you can’t control what people think or say about you.
I knew there was lots of tittering and joking, and probably casual homophobia and transphobia going on behind my back. But I found it really awkward because I wanted to go to this dinner, and I got told I couldn’t because it was a stag do, and I couldn’t go as a woman. If I was dressed as a woman, I couldn’t go. I said, “Well, you invited me last year.” “Yes, but you told us you were a man last year. This year you’re telling this you’re a woman. You can’t come.” I was having a chat with my friend. He said, “Well, you can’t have your cake and eat it. You have to pick a side.” I went, “Yeah. Okay. I get it.” Then I actually sat down and reflected and thought, “All the years that I dragged Marie along to events where she was either the only woman or a minority of women, the women were there to hang onto their husband.” I thought, “Why do I want to sit in a room with 10 drunk men talking about football and cricket and rugby, which I used to find boring anyway?”
At one point, I felt I was being rejected by them. Then I realized that I was rejecting them because I didn’t actually want to be in that environment. I’m now through a lot of that. I still get invited back to these things, anniversary dinners and these sorts of things. I go into them, and I come out just feeling exhausted by the male company and the male attitudes and the male view of the world. I find it completely exhausting. Give me a room full of women any day. I appreciate not every room full of women … It can also be a bit testy. But give me female company any day because I just find this conversation so much more relaxing, so much more collaborative, and so much more exciting to talk about makeup and shoes than football and drinking.
I had a few friends who walked away, some old school friends. I was a bit disappointed because they work for big companies, and I thought, “You know, their EDI policies.” Their wives just said to Marie, “Oh, yeah. They’re really not interested in meeting Joe again, ever.” One of my friend’s mums who we used to send Christmas cards to, go around there occasionally, got the message that she didn’t want even see me, either. So I got cut off from a few people. But the majority of people were either, “Whatever,” or “Fine.” You don’t hang onto everybody.
I’ve found that I’ve developed new friendships in my new life. But those conversations are far less exhausting because when I’m meeting people who’ve known me before for a long time, you just feel that there’s a complication in that relationship, for them and for me. Sometimes it’s just exhausting. It’s hard to relax. Whereas, the people who only know me as Joanne, it’s just easy and light. I don’t have to explain myself. I don’t have to look them in the eye and say, “Do you remember that time we were in Tallinn, in Estonia, having a stag weekend? Do you remember all that fun we had in those bars?” I don’t want to have these conversations. They misgender me more often than not. As I say, I just find those conversations really, really, really hard.
I caught one of my friends. I think it was a couple of months ago. I was at this dinner, and I caught one of my friends out of the corner of my eye just looking at me. I was trying to work out what was going through his head, where he was going. It was almost like they were wresting in their brain what they were looking at and listening to. I think one of my friends described it, that it’s not that we’re not friends, but that friendship has parked. They don’t have memories with me as Joanne. They have memories of me as I was before. Most times when you get together in a group, you end up reminiscing, don’t you? You reminisce about the old times. It’s awkward for everybody to reminisce about the old times with me. We’ve never put the investment in just to create new memories. But why would we? They want to go off and do man stuff, and I don’t.
Josephine Hughes 36:30:
Yeah. You don’t. Yeah. Yeah.
Joanne Lockwood 36:34:
I appreciate that sounds a bit social construct and a bit I could do it if I wanted to, but I don’t want to. It’s not playing the woman. It’s not saying, “I can’t because I’m a woman.” It’s like, “I really don’t want to.”
Josephine Hughes 36:45:
You just don’t want to. Yeah.
Joanne Lockwood 36:48:
No. I’m sure if someone says to you, “Do you want to go do that?” You go, “Actually, going to that room, it’s going to be boring. I really don’t want to go. I’m old enough and ugly enough now to say, “I don’t want to do that. No, thank you. Bye.” I still sometimes reflect and go, “Could I have been happy as I was?” Obviously, I don’t know because I haven’t got a control group. I haven’t got a parallel me to see how that other person would’ve turned out. So I don’t know. But I think about all the times where I was wrestling with my cross-dressing, or the pressure, the stuff that was going through my head, the mush and all the thoughts that were going on. I sit there now, and I’ve got no other little voice in my head.
I was walking through Manchester yesterday thinking … I was joking to my friend. I got to the hotel. Seven years ago, we used to go to Manchester together. I said, “The first thing we used to do was put our bras on, put our wigs on, put our boobs in, get our makeup on, and go and hit town.” Tonight the first thing I did was take my bra off, take my shoes off, take my makeup off, plunk onto bed, and put the telly on. I wasn’t interested in going out at all. Some of that’s an age thing. But also, some of it’s I’m just completely comfortable-
Josephine Hughes 38:05:
With who you are.
Joanne Lockwood 38:07:
… being me. It’s an amazing feeling to have just that calmness, one voice. Whatever happened seven years ago when I transitioned and started taking the hormones, whatever happened, could I have got rid of my feminine voice? I don’t think so. But I know that the masculine voice has no room anymore. It’s not welcome. With all of the stuff that’s going on in the world, we’ve seen this stuff in Florida at the moment, the attacks on trans people. People who are gender critical have these views on our government. The political football, the mainstream media, everything we see at the moment that’s going on, I just see more love in the world. More people embrace me than criticize me. We’re pandering to a vocal minority.
Yes, there’s things to talk about sport and violence against women and girls and safety. Yes, I know we need to resolve all that. It’s not trans women who are the problem. It’s predatory men. It’s dangerous men. Yes, we want to solve those problems. I often think that what we do today is not for me. It’s not even for my children. It’s hopefully for our children’s children or children’s children’s children. It’s a generational thing. I just hope the direction of travel, that in 2123, this will just be a bad memory, as will be racism and antisemitism and homophobia, that we as a society will evolve further. I take hope from Gen Zs, Gen Alphas, who are more liberal, more open about their identities. I’d like to think that in the next 30-40 years, we will start seeing a shift as we get more accepting of nonbinary identities, certainly. Gender becomes less important.
Josephine Hughes 40:00:
That’s brilliant, Jo. Thanks so much. It’s just so interesting to hear what you’ve got to say. I think it’s also part of the reason why I wanted to do this particular series to hear from transgender people, is to hear their stories and to hear how they’ve transitioned. I just think it’s so helpful to know that you’ve reached this place where you’re feeling so secure in yourself, and you’re okay being you. You don’t have to dress up. It’s just this is who you are. I just think that’s really encouraging for those of us that are parents to hear that, so that we can believe that for our kids as well. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Finally, where can people find you?
Joanne Lockwood 40:44:
If you’re in business, you’re on LinkedIn. linkedin.com/in/jolockwood. See Change Happen. S, double E, change, happen, dot, co, dot, U-K. Or, if you Google my name, I’m fairly prolific over the first five or six pages of Google, so you should be able to find me there.
Josephine Hughes 41:00:
For those of us who have never questioned our gender, it’s hard to imagine what it must be like to experience that part of yourself that is insistently telling you that something’s not right. I imagine that until it’s resolved, it’s something like tinnitus, a sound that won’t go away, that you’re always aware of, that constantly distracts you from the task at hand. I know for at least one of my daughters, that coming out has brought with it a deeper sense of calm and the ability to relax. The tension of fighting herself has gone. I find it truly heartening to hear Jo talk of how she doesn’t have to dress up or pretend. She truly is a woman.
Over time, as a mother of transgender daughters, I’ve come to understand what it is to be a woman in a totally different way. When my kids first came out, I was still very much wedded to the idea that they were male because of the outward signs of their sex. I found it hard to accept that they’d always been female. To me, it seemed like an uncomfortable choice that they were making to be transgender. However, now I can say that I see them as women. This isn’t because they pass as women. There’s still a way to go in terms of them passing, if it ever happens at all.
Actually, passing is not important. Passing implies an expression of femininity that is rooted in old-fashioned ideas about male and female roles. No, I see them as women because I understand that is truly who they are. Who knows what happened to give them male bodies, and that’s not who they are inside. To me, as a mother, what I long for is a society that is prepared to listen to and accept the variety of the human experience that gives us transgender people.
Transgender people are challenging us as a society to examine at a deeper level the way we understand men and women. Why do we call transgender women men in frocks, yet criticize transgender women for not looking feminine? Why do we disregard nonbinary people and transgender men because they were assigned female at birth? Why do we insist that transgender people follow binary norms that we don’t apply to cisgender people? Yes, I’m someone who likes wearing dresses, but I don’t call them frocks.
I’m with Jo. I believe that younger generations are much more opening to questioning the gender binary. Ultimately, I believe that will play out towards a much more accepting society. That’s what I hope for. That’s why I wanted to give transgender people the space to speak in this second series of Gloriously Unready, because perhaps as a society, we’re unready, but we can embrace the change and all that it teaches us about love, difference, and acceptance.