TDoV – A day of Celebration and Awareness

By – Rachel Cruz

Hey Everyone! My names Rach.

Today, the 31st March is TDoV… What’s that I hear you say? It stands for, Trans Day Of Visibility. Its International, and dedicated to celebrating transgender people, raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.

All my Trans Sisters and Brothers have a story to tell, about challenges they’ve faced, and decisions they’ve had to make, on a journey full of such diversity.

So, here’s my story …

I remember at 5 years old feeling different. I would dress with my niece in girls clothes some days, playing house, shop, wearing my Mum’s shoes, it felt quite normal.

As the years went by, I began to purchase female clothes and shoes and dress up in secret. The guilt would come, and I’d throw everything out that I had bought, and eventually the feeling inside of wanting to dress like a girl would come back, I’d buy more clothes and shoes etc, and the cycle would repeat itself. There was no YouTube in those days, no media awareness of being Transgender.

I got engaged for the first time at 18, trying to have the life I was expected to have and even got into Bodybuilding. At 24 years old I was a 25 stone Bodybuilder. This was all to escape the feeling I had inside, telling me what I was wearing was not right, it just wouldn’t go away.

After my sixth engagement, I thought I had my life on the normal path. Good job, new car, nice home. I’d been with my girlfriend 5 years, not dressed up once in secret, I had this beat.

The day of my wedding came… This was it…In that moment from nowhere, I said to her we need to talk. We excused ourselves from the priest and went into a room at the side of the alter. It was like I was on autopilot. I told her, I had to be true to myself and that I couldn’t marry her as I was a woman, a transgender woman, I felt such relief. I had kept this inside for over 40 years, and I couldn’t any longer. I never expected to do that that day.

As the weeks passed, I began to live the life that I was always meant to live as who I truly was. I registered with a GIC (Gender Identity Clinic) in Daventry and began my Transitional Journey.

It was January 2016. I felt desperately lonely and even had thoughts of suicide. Months passed and through no fault of my own, I became homeless in the November. I registered as homeless and was fortunate enough as I was classed as a vulnerable woman so was given somewhere to stay in temporary accommodation.

February 2017, I started to get stability in my life, somewhere to live, my own home, got myself an interview for a job, not just any job, but my very first job as Rachel, as a Woman.

I remember having passed my interview the week before, standing outside the office where I froze with fear. This was it, the first day of the rest of my life. Rachel was here…

Many other challenges came my way, but I kept my eyes on the finish line. Fake friends came and went, but gradually, new genuine friends came along, some who I now consider family stayed.

They simply loved me for being me. Even at my lowest times, my glass was always half full. You see I was never alone, my family was worldwide, the LGBTQ+ Community and everyone in between.

I’m now over five years Transitioning, four years HRT and on April 25th, I’ll be 2 years post GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery).

So now you know why, TDoV is so important to me.  We celebrate but also raise awareness of discrimination worldwide.  Today is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of our transgender community.

Kura has been a wonderful, supportive company to work for, and I have excelled during this pandemic. Promoting, supporting and educating about diversity and inclusion should be a priority everywhere!

I hope sharing my story helps in raising awareness and understanding.

“You are the Artist of your own life, don’t hand the paint brush to anyone else”…