My name is Alex, Alexander for short. I was born in Chelmsford, Essex. I lived in Essex for 5-weeks, up until now I thought I lived there for two weeks. What have I done in my life? I've done a lot of things, most of them being rather interesting. I have ran marathons in one year. I have completed University and have gone on to train as a teacher. I left England. I came out as transgender. I cycled a lot of miles. I created an art platform. I learnt how to clean houses. I got married. I like sitting. I own an Xbox. I have friends and isn't that the most important thing.
When I consider my life if it is always been fairly unremarkable. I don't perceive reality as it's happening, alternatively read it in the present and leave very little reflection as it happens. It's a bit like being in a video game except everyone keeps telling you it's real. This is likely down to my depression but can also be down to various factors. I have troubles conceiving what's in front of me and therefore failed to understand it's importance. This could be seen as a negative but I rather see it as a way to achieve things. Without needing to be weighed down by the pressure of expected reality, instead I take nothing seriously. I could be stood in front of 50 million people but I don't perceive it to be real and in doing so I am able to bypass nerves and pressure to consider reality after achievement. This has been a recent development in my thought process.
When I wake up in the morning I consider what we could do do with great vigour. It is incredibly important for me to achieve something in the day and it must be meaningful. Everyday I wake up with this intention but sometimes it doesn't match. This causes a lot of trauma which is unrecognisable to me until it falls on top of me and I don't have much left to say. I've always struggled with the concept of being a human being. I never understood what it really meant. I then went on to to understand this through how humans move behave and and express themselves. It may sounds like I'm an alien and maybe this could be true. I could be a witch, Wizard, Labrador or just the regular human that you see everywhere else. I understand this is strange but don't worry it's likely to make sense.
I always knew that I was special, in what way wasn't quite clear. I grew up up in Basingstoke. It is boring town and offers nothing beyond existence. saying this it left a lot of chance to be good at something because everyone else didn't really show the same passion, for example in my college, in my class I was always the top 3, because no one else really showed any passion towards what they were studying and so by default I look really good. This set me up with an ego complex and insecurity because being honest, I've never ever known really what I'm doing. I realise a lot of people I would consider the same feeling. how could we know what we're doing until we've done it. When considering where I ended up so far, it's quite amazing, even if my life is quite unspectacular.
Art is everything. If I didn't have the medium for expression I wouldn't know what else to do. The world is very boring and this was shown to me through a John Berryman poem. This poem allowed me to be liberated from the expectation of life and what it had to offer because if it's considered boring everything else is exciting. We create our own joy. For me existing is about conversation, caring, hugging and listening. I never thought I would end up this way, an out transgender woman who loves football, but I'm here I have to do something because if I don't do anything, I haven't done anything. We once visited Nigel shafran, a photographer based in London. There were about 20 people in his studio and he made a cup of tea for each of us only to realise the milk was off. This meant he had to to make another 20 cups of tea. He had a bike on the wall, with no wheels, just a frame and this to me was the greatest artwork of all, because it was his friend. He once said to us “you've got to do it to do it, because if you don't do it, it you don't do it” and this made me realise that no one is waiting for your next action, you have to make them look forward to it. At this point I am nowhere near getting this right, but I guess I have another 30 years to try.
The concept of age is fascinating to me. Since turning 30 I have subconsciously created wrinkles on my face, because this is what is expected. Why is it that turning 30 means you are no longer 20? This autobiography is also attempting to be funny. I am not sure how many autobiographies you have read but this probably won't be like the others. This is not to say my life is entirely unique, but it's remotely impossible for me to tell you someone else's life. Everyone's life is unique as a result.
A bit about me, I have a bad back. It's quite hunched and this happened when I was younger because I was always taller than everybody else. Someone once said to me that wouldn’t envy my body because my feet were too close when I stood still. People would comment on my back even now and everytime I say I don't know how to fix it. I have grown into to my bad posture. Sometimes I sit with my back straight but I do not recognise who that person is. A bit more about me, I always want humour to follow most of my life because existence is absurd and humour allows us to be alive. I have big dreams of being on SNL but I just seem to be on their YouTube channel watching. Something always holds me back. I believe there is no excuse for bad design, it is a lack of effort for details. A text document with a basic font on a web platform can have better design than someone has no desire to design properly. I am also a font snob. Sometimes I feel as though I am too negative but on the whole I consider myself to be positive. I am obsessed with websites.
This has been the introduction to my first autobiography titled “ I guess to have an autobiography you should have done something” and I feel I have.
There are moments in life that instigate from a decision for change. This change is not the overall intention but eventually leads to a new path. I began running because I wanted to remove my breasts. As I was seen male they were considered “man boobs” which was not a thing that would help me find someone to love me and eventually validate me. These became apparent to me when I was in the changing rooms during our Physical Education class. One of the stronger kids, who had a six pack at an early age said to me “hey Alex, put your elbows together “. As part of a reaction I did, and saw that they had made cleavage. They laughed and then moved on to another thing. And I didn’t even really acknowledge them. It wasn’t until I was older and I decided to start running. This was an attempt to reduce my boobs and I would have a “cool chest” like the guy who asked me to put my elbows together.
My friend started jogging, so I went with him and we talked about how good it was for us. The next night I asked him if he wanted to run again. He said no; so I went. And then I went the next night and the next. I kept running until I worked out that if I ran the park 4 times it was a half marathon. I usually ran at night and this was something that felt normal to me. The feeling of being out at night felt like a ritual. One day I decided to run the park 4 times and it happened to be 30 degrees. I bumped into a friend and he asked me what I was doing. I said, “I’m running the park 4 times because that’s a half marathon.” It was Sunday.
This habit followed and led me to run four marathons in one year. It first began with the Greater Manchester marathon where I decided to sign up. I trained every other day for the marathon and ran 13 miles every Sunday. I had a lapsed social life so I had a lot of time on my hands. I went to the first marathon and ran this in 3 hours 52 minutes. It was the fastest time I managed to achieve. I had no idea what to expect and had very little preparation. I just ran it. For the first 16 miles I was invincible and was almost sprinting, as if I could do this forever. And then the last 10 miles began to work on me as I felt my legs slowly die and fail to move. It was so hard to run I had to walk and I couldn’t help but feel as though I was failing, despite the fact I was still in the race.
I remember when it was that time I felt like I just wanted someone to kill me so I didn’t have to continue this exercise, at least I had an excuse then. But I continued and the last 10 miles we’re double the time it took me to run 16 miles. And then I saw it. I saw Old Trafford and I just started to sprint. It was a reaction that come from my body more, but was driven by the fact that I was not going to end this limping. I was going to sprint it home. I began sprinting and dodging people as I passed and saw that every person I overtook it was 4 people because of the way the road was set out. I overtook 25 people or so. And then I finished it and my heart just kind of relaxed. My mind told me, it’s over and you don’t need to run anymore. After telling myself that I could never stop running during the marathon and having to stop because of physical issues, the fact I could stop was the best feeling I’ve ever felt. I couldn’t walk very well after. My legs had locked and they were so sore I couldn’t even bend my knees. I had to keep standing. My friends were meant to pick me up but I had no phone on me. I remember feeling as though I have just achieved something that would change my entire outlook on everything all together. It was never going to be the same.
We then went to Nandos.
Shortly after, we had booked the Kiev marathon, with some friends that I was training with. The roads were so large and this race was much quieter than the other and I felt as though the road would consume me entirely. There were guards with guns manning the sides of the road and acted as staunch audience members. My friend was Lithuanian and spoke Russian and was willing everyone on that passed us. I told him to keep his breath and save that energy because by mile 16 you’ll want to die.
It was the wrong time but I began to sulk. Back in school they used to call me the “incredible sulk” because I could pull the biggest sulks in the world. I was so good at them. It happened here. It was at this point where I realized my nipple was bleeding through irritation from the t shirt and some rain that had occurred earlier in the race. It came the time to see the finishing line once again, and there was the same feeling I had from the last time where my body just started sprinting because I knew I could eventually stop. I continued to sprint and my friend was behind me. He was really tired, as was I and his wife’s father jumped over the railing and helped him along. As I was running independently for the first time. I had finally stopped and all of a sudden the medic team came running over to me, to my surprise. I then looked down and remembered the blood on my t shirt and I told them it was just a bleeding nipple.
I slowly hobbled around to the side of the finish line and my friend said to me “where’s your medal?”. I replied “I’m not sure, where did you get yours from?”. He told me you get it at the finish line so I hobbled back to the finish line and asked them for a medal.
After the Kiev Marathon
At the starting line of the Paris Marathon
With the same friend, we had booked the Paris Marathon, now by this time I had also already booked the Greater Manchester Marathon previously and didn’t look at the dates before booking. I saw that the two marathons were within the same week. One was Sunday and the other was the next Sunday. It became apparent that I had to run two marathons in one week.
I had been training as usual and was ready to run Paris and I decided I was too heavy so I planned out three super fast runs at 5 miles each. This was to reduce my weight so I could be faster, apparently. I was very unspecified with my training, a lot of it was guess work. I ran the first run feeling great and proceeded to the next and at the end of the second my knee was injured, under the cap. I couldn’t walk. I had to stop the third run and still went to Paris in the hope it might work out.
We arrived and I couldn’t be walk and considered not running the marathon. But I bought a knee brace which meant I could run somehow. So I did. For 16 miles of the race I was going at a good pace and I jokingly said to a man who was championing people along, “can we swap places?”. He laughed, jumped over the fence as I began walking due to the pain. He walked with me and told me he had ran 100 miles in one go. This made me realise its not that far and a lot of this was psychological, despite my injury. I saw my previous times past me in the form of the time runner (the one who sets the pace for that time). It was like my dreams were fading every mile I slowed down. But I had no choice and I accepted the reality. I knew I would need to finish the race despite all of this. I am not sure why it meant so much to me to complete this race, but I think it was my desire to never stop doing something. I made it my life mission to run, and ironically, now at the age of 30, I do not need to. I do however find myself incredibly excited when I meet someone training for a half or full Marathon. I am a wise old tree that is just tired and I’m okay with that. I finished the race, and it was my slowest time. I completed the race in 4hrs 55minutes, but considering I had to walk most of the last part, it made sense. We finished the race and we all met up on the floor and just stopped with our medals around our necks.
There was another Marathon to run, mind, and this race was happening in 7 days from the end of the race. I knew I had to complete what I set up, despite my injury. I made it home to Brighton, from Paris and went to work and did all the things I usually did at work. I didn’t however run, to allow my knee recovery. It was possible to run still, and I wanted at least that to make me continue. The Greater Manchester Marathon was fast approaching and I looked at my route to complete this task. I will break it down into sections so you can follow. This is like the lead to the climax, just warning you.
To get to the Manchester Marathon I had to; 1. get on a train from Brighton to London at 22:00 (1 hour journey); 2. a 6 and a half hour bus journey at 12 at night; 3. arriving at 7 in the morning in Manchester; 4. find the race starting at 9; 5. leave my jumper because I could not run with it on, I threw it into a bush; 6. begin the race, I was alone for the first time running among a huge crowd of runners.
Now the race, (then I’ll continue the numbers of how I got home). I started the race off in a bright fashion. I was heading out at a good pace and I really enjoyed the first 16 miles. It was a surprise to me how well it was going considering my injury, I could barely feel it. I felt as though, this was going to be my time and I could actually do this. Then, it happened. My knee gave way and I could no longer run. It stopped me suddenly and I physically couldn’t run despite my efforts to dig deeper. I had to walk, it was the only way to move forward towards my goal. I remember never stopping but I had stopped in my mind. If you stop running in a Marathon it is near impossible to start again. I walked as well as I could, and I can still remember the emotions of disapointment towards my own failures as I continued walking. I looked over to the people cheering and they have this tendancy to do their best to give you their energy to allow yourself to complete the race. That is the most remarkable thing about Marathon running, thousands of people went out their house to cheer on people they don’t know and they look at you with such hope that they truely believe in you. This doesn’t happen often and I am very sure their energy and hearts follow me to this day. I remember looking over to these people and they told me to keep running, but I had to look at them and say, “I can’t anymore.”, and it was not down to lack of physical fitness, determination or even desire, my body had literally stopped functioning and all I could do was just complete the thing I started.
I walked and walked for 10 miles. About 9 miles later I bumped into a man. He was from the area because he spoke with a northern accent that felt like it hugged me tightly. I spoke with him about what happened and where we were in the race. He said to me “Yeah, I am not killing my body over this” as he continued walking. He added “I have work in the morning”. I laughed. And then it happened. I saw the end of the line. I saw Old Trafford. I said to him “I gotta go, have a nice day at work tomorrow”. And I ran.
I ran as fast I could go, and despite the injury the knee was more rested. I ran and ran, and like the other times every time I over took someone it was 4 each person and then I ran into a clearing, seeing a stretch up to the finishing line. It had been coming closer and closer but due to the adrenalin I was likely unaware of my environment. I woke up to my environment and saw I was alone in the final stretch and I looked up to the audience, the crowd, and everyone was looking at me, and unlike now, when I find people stare at me for reasons of confusion, they looked at me as if to will me on and on. I looked at them, left to right and shouted “Come on!” and gestured my arms up to suggest a higher noise. I shouted again “Come on!” and pushed my arms higher and harder. I continued running and the race was over because I had passed the finishing line. A man was there to give me my medal and a photographer was there to present me with a picture and I looked at the camera with an intensity I can still feel. I was broken, authentic and generally human. I feel these emotions now as I type this. I hope you can read them.
7. I had to find my way back to the bus station amidst the crowd. I saw people celebrating with their friends, family, and I had no one there. I caught a taxi because it seemed the logical thing to do considering my hips had frozen up and it wasn’t a good idea to get lost slowly. I had a bus to catch.
8. I got to the bus station and sat on the bus. My legs weren’t so able to bend but I did my best. I had left my jumper on a bush in the middle of the town center so I just had my T-shirt and medal and shorts, with all my stuff in a bum bag.
9. I got off the bus around 20:30 in the evening and arrived in London. I made my way slowly to the train station which is an odd walk, especailly when you are in a hurry. It was cold and I looked over my left when crossing a road and saw some people and they smiled at me. They said “Congratulations!” and I said the same to them. They told me they had done the half Marathon and felt great. I told them I had done the full Marathon, and I was cold. I then looked down to realise how ridiculous it must have seemed and they would be right. What kind of insane behaviour was this? It made sense to me at the time.
10. I got back to Brighton station at 22:30 and the concept of walking home like normal was crazy so I indulged myself to a taxi ride. The man who drove me looked at me a bit weird because I looked like a rogue runner with a medal around my neck. I hobbled back home and got back. I walked into my lounge and looked at my friend, who was playing the Playstation and looked up at me. I told him, “You wouldn’t believe the day I had”.
The morning after
My Mum asked me for something inspirational for her work computer desktop
Life in Photography
Ever since I was working with Photography there was a sense it would carry me somewhere. I was at college and I began taking pictures of lamp posts after my tennis lessons because I would need to wait for my mum to pick me up. I was using a Sony Erikson walkman phone.
Final Fantasy IV
It may seem odd to include a video game as a defining part of your journey, but it only really occurred to me lately the importance at being exposed to some of the ideas within the game.
Final Fantasy IV is a role playing game for the PlayStation and its since been remade for the PlayStation 4 and other consoles. It is a story of a character called cloud and his journey with a group called AVALANCHE. It also focuses on his relationship with a girl called Aeris who is seemingly from another planet. Cloud is a masculine boy who has feminine features.
During one of their quests he has to infiltrate a man called “Don” and the only way into the house is to dress as a girl. I was seven at the time and the concept of dressing up as a girl was so scandalous, given the impression people had made it to be around me. I got to wear a super cool purple dress with a red bow, in the form of a pixelated character who looked somewhat like me and pretended to represent me. I had became him. I got to walk around outside in the most amazing dress ever and then go into a place where only girls were allowed. I found that this process was so revolutionary for me to awaken something from within. I found that being this character made me so happy and to be with such a wonderful girl in Aeris. It was full of acceptance, because it was a mission and it was the only way.
I recently played this part of the game and I still had that excitement of a moment where I was presented a chance to be who I really was. I am not saying this game made me transgender, but it definitely opened the door to the possibility.
The game itself is revolutionary beautiful and telling of a world we lead ourselves into now. The landscape was made up of a still image that a character could run over, and every other step you’d get caught by odd creatures and you could attack them with your amazing sword and friends. You also had magic powers in the form of Ice, Thunder and Fire. You could also cure people with said magic during battles. The soundtrack is utterly spell bounding and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a game as beautiful as this. I know it is a cult game and you’ve probably played or heard about it.
It made me understand my sexuality in some ways. Although I was Seven at the time, I still fancied girls, but I felt I was one as well. So to be a character who was a girl but a boy, but got to be a girl, and the girl I was in love with (in the game) was still in love with me regardless.
It would be nice to think this process passed into my dating life after I came out as transgender but it was always a struggle. I couldn’t help like I was turning everyone gay, because I guess I was a convincing boy and semi attractive. It was my performance as a boy that was easy to see past.
It’s odd to consider that such a video game would leave an impact on me. I was a child who would play football, racing and shooter games. But this game stuck out and changed my life. In some ways I wish I could live in the game. My current feeling, as I play the game, is that because Aeris is currently captured, apart of me is speaking out that I need to save her - even though she is playing out the story over and over and over. But I find that the story has touched me so much that I felt as though it really was me.
I am not sure if it has any connection, but Cloud wore a purple suit thing and when I was 6 or 7 I wore a purple wizards cape in a film called “Alexander the Magician”. I can’t help but think that I had emulated this character and how much it impacted me is to be reveled as I get older. All I know, is that I was destined to go through this journey of transformation, as cloud did, but the thing where we differ, is that I was actually a girl - and he got to be one because he had to save the world. But being a girl saved mine.
I always imagined what it would be like to be married. It was always this sense of ultimate achievement, like a sweet love song that would be hard to reach. I met my partner in the midst of happy solitude. I had rode the storm of single pressure and desperate desire - a point of positive giving up. I had chased loves that were reminiscent of Neil Diamond’s Summer love - spoke with my uncle about his past loves. He spoke as if he had seen a past reality leave. But there was an air of romance that didn’t feel possible for someone in my position. All the songs I listened to, were for the wrong people. They were always conveying people I wasn’t looking for.
I never really considered my sexuality. I just knew I was transgender. I grew up as a straight white male, scary stuff. I never felt comfortable with this and dating was near impossible. When it came to sex it wasn’t natural, it came with an overwhelming pressure. I had this thing that I wasn’t meant to have and I’d put it there. It didn’t make sense to me. I feared sex. It was something I had to pretend I liked to appease the other because they wanted it.
Following this theme of growing up “straight”, I had spent a lot of time trying to fit in. I was not so good at it at first but I eventually suppressed my personality and feelings to appear as if I was a boy. I never became a man. Some boys would be like, look at her, and I’d be like yeah she has a really nice smile. I only ever looked at women with a sense of adoration and at points it upset me.
In secondary school I would be mesmerized by the girls and their school trousers. I had to wear these baggy ones, but they could wear different trousers. I wondered if it was the person I was attracted to or the fact they were born in this way. Whatever they went on to be, they seemed happy in their skin. I have rarely felt romantic feelings towards a man. And growing up this was expected of me I think. If I was someone who dresses up “as a girl” (that concept doesn’t exist by the way), then I must be looking to be with men. It’s the only way. I convinced myself I wasn’t gay but it turns out I was. In what way didn’t make sense to me just then. I never came out as gay because I basically loved the same people “as a boy”, when I am a girl. I’m a lesbian. Interesting, I thought. And then I met my partner.
I met them at a cafe after we made a connection. And they arrived and sat opposite me and I was completely calm. It was like someone had just laid a blanket over my entire existence and every day I felt as though I was okay, even if it felt like a bad day. I looked into their eyes and I saw none of the pressure, none of the expectation, just the sense to show them myself as I got to know them. I remember their long legs and kind eyes. I didn’t need to know anything else. Of course we hung out but I knew I loved them shortly after I kissed them by the river. That sounds romantic and it was quite.
Regarding my sexuality, my partner has no gender so my own sexuality becomes even more obsolete. All I can say is that we have a lesbian relationship, but they are my husband. That’s all I can describe it as. They are not a girl, so they are not my wife of course, I am the wife, therefore they are my husband because the other alternative is spouse and that sounds scientific. Above all, they are my partner and everyday is simpler because I have them with me each day. I know I love them because it’s just so obvious and simple to me. The complicated part is life and that continues to evolve.
Regarding marriage, it’s very simple, our relationship is there and we live together, marriage has not changed a whole lot and for this I am happy. The whole concept that your life begins at marriage with a person, is baloney. You began when you met them. For me it is the simplest feeling I’ve ever felt and the easiest decision I ever made to continue loving them.