Ipswich: Transsexual hate crime victim considered suicide

JULIA Ford said she contemplated suicide before making the life-changing decision to become a transsexual at the age of 49.

She said: “I used to sleep with a razor blade at the side of the bed. It was either change or commit suicide.

“I got to a point where I was so depressed I couldn’t carry on living the life I was living. One morning I woke up, looked at the razor blade, picked it up, but put in a drawer and went to see my doctor.

“I then went to a solicitor to change my name.”

Miss Ford started taking hormone therapy around three years ago and describes herself as a pre-op transsexual.

She said she had felt like a female trapped inside a male’s body since she was a child.

Miss Ford, who is from Ipswich, said: “I was born a Catholic and was at a Catholic school. I was a rebel, because I had a feeling inside. I was always with the girls and not with the boys, but what really caused a rift between the teachers and myself was that they would try to force me into the boys showers. They would call me dirty.

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“They didn’t know the reason why. I wasn’t dirty. I just couldn’t go in with the boys because in my mind I was a female.

“At 12 years old I was kicked out of school because, in their eyes I was just a disturbed child. Being a Catholic school I didn’t want to bring shame on them.”

For years Miss Ford tried to suppress her feelings.

“My life existed of work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, eat. That’s the only way I could find to cover it up.

“Back in those days, in the 1970s, I just thought it was me. If I had told somebody, they would have locked me up.

“I had to pretend for everybody else, living this lie – apart from one person who was aware of my true identity.

“I was in a relationship for 23 years. I told her about me from the start because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide it. She accepted me for who I was. She passed away and that left me all alone in the world.”

The tragedy became a pivotal point for Miss Ford, who decided to change the way she lived.

“I felt like someone had lifted a 10-ton weight off me. I felt like I could start my life. At my age it was late in my life to do this, but at least I could start living some of my life as me.

“Now I’m not living a lie. I’m just me.

“I love my life. I make the most of it. People can see I’m happy and I get on with most people.

“It’s hard work being me, but I like being me. Nobody will stop me from being me.

“I have to be strong to be me. If I was weak I wouldn’t get anywhere in life.

“I know I will get the occasional comments from people, but the next generation is going to grow up with a lot more understanding than the generation that’s here now.

“Other transgender people have nothing to be ashamed of. Hopefully my story will give them hope and strength.

“Life can be good. Life’s what you make it. Just be strong, have courage and the confidence to be yourself.”

n Victims of hate crimes can contact the Suffolk Hate Crime Service on 01473 668966 or Suffolk LGB+T Network on 07739 914944

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