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Time to move to Spain

Medically retired at short notice our plans to move to Spain are brought forward by a few years. With little time to spare, this is our story.

How life changes - Being Transgender in Spain
Thursday, June 13, 2024 @ 10:36 AM

I started this blog in 2015 when I moved to Spain with my wife. The main reason for contributing to this site, apart from my enjoyment of writing, was to help others who wanted to move to Spain. To share our ups and downs, our experiences. As time went on, my blogs got less prolific as we settled into life here. I posted during Covid lockdown but not afterwards and there’s a good reason for that, which I will describe below. 

Last week, I decided to commence a new blog, outlining the last few years in my life and how it relates to my life in Spain. Spain has been mainly wonderful for me and my life has improved immeasurably. I’ve decided to share my story and experiences to show how accepting Spain is for people like me.

It’s taken quite some thought as to how I would do this. We don’t always get a positive response as you can imagine, but you only have one life and I believe that hiding away helps no one, least of all yourself. I hope you enjoy and it brings some support to anyone in a similar position to myself. Spain has many different sides to it, this is my story...

My name is Carla and I’m a transgender woman living in Spain. 

I’m from Liverpool and I’ve lived in Spain for nearly nine years. I have found that Spain is very accepting towards transgender people, yet only now have I found the courage to tell my story on this forum. Why? It’s to try and normalise it for people who maybe have never met a trans person before and would like to know a little more. 

There’s no typical story about transgender people. Like everyone else, we have our own story about our likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, but also about how we came to be the person we are today. I came out as transgender in later life for a variety of reasons. 

Despite the recent leaps in acceptance, it’s incredibly hard to tell your loved ones what and who you really are when you’ve been trying to hide it all of your life. I knew from an early age that I was different from most people. I didn’t really know what and why, I just felt that something wasn’t quite right. At school, when I looked at the girls in class, I felt I was more like them than the boys. 

There’s a stigma to that. In a world boys are told to be one thing and girls another, anyone who steps outside those strict binary rules are ridiculed and often much worse. It was noticed yet I never really felt bullied. I was often a called a girl, and wondered why this didn’t bother me. Like others, I experimented with clothes and makeup in secret but as I grew older it because harder to live with. You are made to feel dirty, abnormal and the guilt is hard to live with. 

As I grew older I found ways of dealing with it. I was what they called a ‘new romantic’ in the late 70s and early 80s, so wearing traditional women’s clothes and makeup as a man was acceptable. I loved it and even though we were often targeted for abuse and threatened I found a comfort in feeling somehow authentic. 

I found that I was a lot more empathetic than my male friends. When I spoke to women, they would tell me I listened more and was easy to talk to, unlike other men. They told me they felt safe and not under any pressure to be dated. Many of them thought I was gay. 

I trained as a nurse and loved that job. I was privileged to go on a hen night when one of my colleagues was getting married. To this day, I’ve never known any other man who has been afforded this privilege. I will admit though, that I didn’t last the distance as it got just a little bit disruptive as the night wore on. 

I did male things of course. In fact I ‘passed’ for most of my life as a man. I loved football, yet my main memory from school was not being allowed to play hockey in PE. When out with ‘the lads’, I hated the competition for centre of attention within a group of people, especially when there were women in the group. I went into teaching adults in my late 30s and made it a mission to ensure every person in my classes would get an equal chance at expressing themselves. I took special interest in trying to nurture those who struggled and gained satisfaction in seeing them succeed. I mention this because they are seen as feminine traits. Traits I possessed, whereas many of my male friends didn’t. 

I taught LGBT studies to a large organisation together with lecturing at university to classes of women in ‘break the glass ceiling’ courses. I taught with a transgender woman who became a friend of mine and the classes of women were incredibly positive.

As I grew older, like many others, I continued to ‘dress up’, much like other trans women. I kept it hidden and remained feeling guilty, especially as I was now in my second marriage. 

It was covid that finally brought me out. Being at home with my wife during our strict lockdown meant I couldn’t dress as myself anymore. It hurt and when the lockdown ended, I confessed all to my wife. Spain gave us the harshest of conditions to live under but oddly, it helped me as I navigated my way in the world in my authentic female self. How could this be? Well, the hardest thing for anyone who has come out is negotiating yourself through public life. We stand out, especially when we are new to the outside world. The masks helped to keep me anonymous. 

It took me about nine months before I went out fully. Before that I was limited to short journeys in my local area to take the bins out for example. It was nerve wracking, especially when a car passed or I encountered another person. The first time I went out a car pulled up alongside me and I panicked. I was about to turn round when I saw that the driver had stopped to speak to someone on the other side of the road. Relief! 

My first full outing was with a newly found transgender friend. We went to Torrevieja, to a hair salon where I bought a new wig, to replace the cheap Amazon efforts I had worn previously. We then went for an ice cream on the beach front before a glass of wine in a local bar. I now know that this is very daring for your first time. It’s so different now of course. 

Enjoying a glass on wine in a bar in Alicante

Spain is incredibly accepting and I can count on the fingers of one hand the negative issues I have in public. None of them were serious. It’s usually a comment or a man following me and making suggestions, sometimes quite filthy.

Four years on, I am living the female world and many of the issues that go with it. The comments, especially on social media are common, but in public I am treated with respect. I speak to women who are on their own. They would never speak to me as a man. I’ve found that there are a great many transgender women here on the Costa Blanca, many of whom are friends. There’s also an active social life with the local LGBTQ+ group, who are incredibly friendly. There are many transgender friendly places to eat and drink, although concerning myself with the ‘right place’ doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m accepted everywhere here and use the rules that anyone else would apply. For example, I avoid sports bars full of men and the ‘rougher’ establishments, but most people do that anyway.

I share my story to try and break the stigma that currently surrounds us, especially certain UK politicians and media outlets. It’s different here in Spain and I’m extremely happy and comfortable in my gender and have amazing support from my wife and family. I am happy to share my experiences with you, but I will gauge the reception I get from this post before I decide whether to post further.  

If you have any questions or want to know more, please feel free to ask. I am an honest open book and generally see the positive in people. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and look forward to contributing in the future. 

Love, Carla X

Like 3


emmabo said:
Thursday, June 13, 2024 @ 12:36 PM

Dear Carla.

Your life story and mine are like two drops of water. There is still much to be desired for us transgender people but I am so happy to say that I feel so safe and fine in Spain, where, like you, I have had few negative experiences. We both know that, if you look at other European countries, that is not a given. I therefore feel privileged to live in this country for more than one reason. Fantastic episode in this blog dear, I keep reading with much love.

TomB1 said:
Sunday, June 16, 2024 @ 10:10 AM

Wow, you must have been a handsome man because you are now a beautiful looking woman. Best wishes going forward.

Stinkey said:
Sunday, June 16, 2024 @ 8:05 PM

Hiya Carla, I was going to say that I see many trans men who have become women and I often wonder about their sense of dress code, many seem to dress like old aunties which often makes them stand out from others? So seeing your picture was look wife and I have a trans friend who used to love dressing up in designer clothing which made her stand out in public, plus she was 6,3" tall and an ex bodybuilder, she always gives me a big hug with giant arms wrapped around me,making me look extremely small, hehe..I'm so glad you are happy maybe one day we can all meet up for a glass of wine..Best wishes Steve here Maria x

Charlietwice said:
Tuesday, June 18, 2024 @ 2:55 PM

Thank you for your kind replies. Stinkey, yes, I try to dress appropriately for my age. Some of us have no choice but to stand out and if you are ever in the area, my wife and I would love to meet you both for that glass of wine. TomB1, thank you for the compliment. Emmabo, yes I feel safe here. I have been welcomed so well by all nationalities I have encountered.

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