Transgender activist: 'There is nothing to be ashamed of'

Mon Apr 6, 2015 8:05pm EDT
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By Kieran Guilbert

OSLO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - John Jeanette Solstad Remo was 61 years old when she transitioned from a man and started living as a woman in Oslo. Here she recalls how she always felt she had been born in the wrong body throughout her childhood, marriage and navy career.

"I knew at the age of four that I was a girl, rather than the boy that I was born as.

I put on some girls clothes at home and asked my mother if I looked nice. She said, 'You're not nice and you're not allowed to wear that – I will never see you in those clothes again'.

I said I would never do it again, but I lied. I went undercover and I continued to dress as a girl as often as possible - because I was happy in those clothes and it felt natural. It was me.

I'd never heard of gender identity at that time, I just thought that I was more a girl than a boy. But I had to be tough, fight, and play football as boys did. I didn't like it, yet I had to play the role.

When I was 10 years old, I looked in an encyclopedia and found that transvestism (dressing and behaving as the opposite sex) was a sickness or illness – that was the first message I ever got about how I felt, because I had nobody to talk to.

'No', I said to myself, 'I am not sick' – that became my mantra, I survived with that belief.

At the age of 15, I had gone out by myself one night in a dress and high heels when I bumped into some students I knew. One of them recognized me before I could run away.   Continued...