Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Dec 1952
I grew up in a nice and reasonably well-off family, with mother, father and a younger brother. School was always easy for me, and in spite of living with constant feelings of being different I never lacked friends. Also being very fond of animals I kept everything from stick insects, toads & salamanders, mice, chinchillas, rats - they make lovely pets! - to lizards, a fox cub and a couple of boas.
I was aware of my trans side from five or six years of age, and identified as a heterosexual transvestite from when I first saw the word at fourteen.
A year later I stumbled over a newspaper article about transsexuals. The accompanying photos of 'men' with breasts both fascinated and worried me, but being totally hooked on women I didn't think this was for me. Soon after I made my debut as a girl though - in the city centre & broad daylight, but at fifteen I had no problems passing as a female.
Having had the address to the Swedish chapter of Virginia Prince's TV organization FPE/Phi Pi Epsilon lying around for some years, I finally contacted them in 1971. When a year later I met my wife to be I immediately told her about my 'transvestism', which didn't worry her much.
Anneberg, 19 yrs old. For many years this was the Swedish TV haven, with yearly winter and fall tranny weekends.
The same year I finished my military service - in military intelligence, which actually made some sense - and enrolled at the Stockholm Royal Insitute of Technology. A fascinating experience: Some of my military friends were happy to accompany this young lady to pubs and rock concerts.
As for making sense, the officer in charge of our secret operation, Major Gunnar Syrén, had a son my age who after four years as the Commander-in-chief of Sweden's armed forces, presently is the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee. Major Syrén himself eventually retired, moved to Gotland and wrote a book about the ancient Scandinavian art of spicing schnaps.
In the spring of 1973 I pierced my ears - with a sewing needle and a rubber eraser - and started wearing massive gold ear-rings also as a man. A year later I told my best friends at Uni about "Erica", wore a long skirt for the yearly students' ball, and started dressing as a woman for our weekend parties.
The solemn biker in Rochefort, Belgium, 1974, and a happy young woman in May the following year.
Another example of different projections; All three photos from 1973.
In June 1975 T & I got married.
I was a member of FPE for fifteen years, spent a couple of years on the board, answered letters, interviewed potential members to be, participated in annual sexology seminars at Uppsala Uni, with the odd occasion at NYU thrown in -
but all this time I felt slightly estranged from the rest of the members; When they donned frilly dresses I wore faded
jeans and T-shirts ...
... and in January 1981 - just after the birth of our second son - I succeeded in getting legally prescribed female hormones without being properly classified as a transsexual. This had taken me fifteen months with the Stockholm 'TS team', and when reluctantly they gave in, they told me that not only was I the first one to accomplish this - probably I would also be the last.
Judging from the lasting sense of peace that estrogens brought to my life it was obvious that this no-do attitude of the medical profession was a fundamental mistake, and I was
happy to note that in the 2001 edition of HBIGDA's Standards Of Care there's a new understanding of the relief that hormone treatment can bring to tormented trans people.
There were two more trans girls like me, though, and when, in the early 80s they both realized they were really transsexuals, this shook my world; In my diary I wrote "I want to be a girl!", but I also stopped dressing as a woman, cut my hair quite short, took the rings out of my ears - and seriously believed this totally unexpected turn of events to be the result of my feeling so much more comfortable with more estrogen in my system.
Nothing but this, of course; Feeling more integrated, thanks to minor bodily changes but fundamental ones to my mind - as if my brain immediately recognized the influence of estrogen, and found peace. Nothing more to it than this.
Soon after, I found a new job with the railways, and for the next seven years I was a happy "former trans". Not that I ever wanted to be rid of my trans side, but life undeniably was much easier this way - not least with two kids around the house. Also, I never even contemplated letting go of my hormones; This was all thanks to them.
After these seven good years came seven bad ones, with an ever growing frustration and endless letters to one of my - now - post-op transsexual friends. I realized I could never again identify as a transvestite, but the more dramatic alternative just didn't make sense. It wasn't that the idea in itself scared me, but with society persistently claiming that post-op transsexuals are heterosexuals, and with a family I loved - how could it be that this word - transsexual - totally occupied my waking hours?
I wrote my first "Could it be that I'm a transsexual after all?" letter during a June 1990 business trip to Munich - it took just a couple of beers in a sunny Bier Garten for my brain to take off in un-expected directions - and the following year I cancelled quite a few appointments with my hairdresser. Of course I wasn't going to start dressing in women's clothes again - nothing like that. I simply like long hair. Ok?
In the summer of 1993 I could tie it into a short pony tail, and shortly afterwards - I think ... ? - I relocated one of the piercings and put a tiny gold ring in my ear. Over the next few years I actually managed to find also the other two piercings, and - without too much blood-shed - put rings in them as well ... and later added two more - to the consternation of my colleagues who never even saw me with long hair before.
Hiding my inner turmoil behind quite an ordinary facade - were it not for my hair & earrings ...
My crucial moment came in June '97. By this time I hadn't dressed as a woman for 14 years, but in spite of this I had just managed to convince my doctor that more potent (sic!) estrogens was a pre-requisite for my continued sanity. The day after my oldest son's graduation - don't try to convince me this was a mere coincidence - I went to Paris on a business trip, ritually took the first dose of my new medication and walked out in town - only to stumble over the gay quarters, a lovely gay bookstore, some lesbian magazines ... and in just a fraction of a second I realized that I never was this very heterosexual man "who should have been a woman", but an equally homosexual woman with obvious body problems.
I could have sworn the floor started shaking quite violently in the store; I got physically nauseous & dizzy - but I also bought one of the magazines, sat down at a sidewalk cafe, had a couple of strong beers and tried to grasp this new turn of events; I'm really a lesbian !?!
Undeniably I did have my first lesbian friends before I was 20, and during the latter part of the 70s and the early 80s I was a frequent guest at Stockholm's lesbian clubs, but still ... ?
Only a couple of days later I was walking down our office corridors smiling at the fact that my colleagues didn't have a clue their boss was actually a dyke!
Strangely enough it wasn't until my shocking moment in Paris's "Les mots a la bouche" bookstore that I realized why I was already wearing waist-length hair and five ear-rings.
Both photos from when I was still trying to be a male manager in a male dominated, technical company. Sweden '98, London '99.
Eventually finding the answer to my life's riddle was an incredible relief, but it was to be another year before I knew that I had to do something about it - a calm, quiet year lived as "really a transsexual woman" - who should have acted accordingly were she only younger ...
This was also what we told our sons, the obvious advantage of which was that this new state of things didn't worry them much.
The day after I had my hair curled for a 1700s style wedding - trans at that, with the bride being the groom & vice versa. Stockholm, June '03
1998 being the year when Stockholm hosted Euro Pride my timing couldn't have been more perfect. Only months after my first visit to a trans event in 15 years - a small scale seminar about the sex change process, which still didn't interest me much ... - I was heavily involved in arranging an InterGender seminar for Pride week, and James Green's visit to Stockholm later that fall. I was also one of the seven or eight people who - at an historic October meeting - decided to introduce "transperson" as the common denomination also in Swedish.
Taking the train to Linköping for this June '99 lecture was my first 'real' time out as a woman since 1983.
On the 28th of October 1998 I had my first visit with my doctor to be. I seriously believed that I simply needed to discuss my situation with her, but the moment I sat down in her chair I told her that "I want to have
a sex change" - almost as scary as my Paris bookstore experience! - and then added that "if I ever get an ok to this, I will probably end up as a hard core lesbian" -
- to which this clever woman replied "That's ok with me. We're here to talk about your gender, not your sexuality".
I chose the date for my social transition carefully; I told my boss in January and my colleagues a month later - in groups of no more than 5-10 - had my impressive nose reduced in late March, and Monday 3rd April 2000 - only days after my face had recovered from the surgery - my colleagues were introduced to Erica. The same afternoon I flew to Madrid for a railway standardization meeting - with passport & tickets still in my male name.
Only a couple of days before, I seriously believed that a big whisky would be necessary for me even to dare enter the office, but Sunday evening I was suddenly all calm. Monday morning there were fresh flowers on my office desk, and I got more compliments than could reasonably be expected in a year. Tuesday, our chairman opened the Madrid meeting with a totally relaxed "Welcome my lady & gentlemen", and they all called me Erica, seemingly without effort or awkwardness.
Stockholm Pride before my nose job & still pre op - the effects of estrogen visible mainly on my arms ....
July 2000 - an outdated legal system forced us to file for a divorce. But we did pass the magic 25 yrs!
In early September my application was filed with the authorities, and on the 20th of Febr '01 I was summoned to Rättsliga Rådet - The Committee for Forensic Psychiatry, Social and Medical Legal Questions (sic!) - to get my verdict, which turned out to be "We hereby conclude that you are of the female sex" - and I left them with a feeling of emptiness rather than relief; Was this all there was to it ... ?
My first couple of months as a legal female were dominated by frustration from not knowing when the next step was due, but once I realized that I would have to wait until late summer I settled down to counting weeks - 2/24 - two
passed & 24 to go - 7/19 .. 13/13 .. 25/1 .. and exactly six months later, Aug 20th, my status as a woman was confirmed also physically by our lovely surgeons Johan Rinder & Gunnar Kratz.
The top one is an authentic photo from my session on the table, taken with my camera by the anaesthetist.
I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks in Karolinska Hospital, and felt strangely calm and unaffected by what had just passed - as if having SRS is the most natural thing in the world. When, after a week, I was allowed the first glimpse of my new body I realized that it really was - like they simply uncovered what was always there. Also: T visited me every day, our sons came to see me, several friends, colleagues, my brother and T's sister; Could life ever be better than this ?
At a big party, two or three years later, a charming woman opened up a conversation by admitting that she had seen me in a very intimate situation ... having been the head nurse in the
operating theatre that day ;o)
Fifteen months post SRS Johan completed the picture with silicone implants - "To give your body a more natural contour". I was quite easily convinced and soon felt that they are for real, but regrettably T - who had begun to like my small but genuine ones - never got used to them.
Invitations to mammography and testing for cervical cancer are examples of what comes with legal recognition as a female. Needless to say I kindly declined the latter, but was told by my doctor to have my breasts examined on a regular basis.
A parallel process was my burning engagement in trying to make RFSL - the Swedish Lesbian-Gay-Bi organization - trans inclusive. This was an aftermath of the '98 EuroPride, where some "women only" spaces were explicitely declared "non trans". Many RFSL representatives acted against this discrimination, but officially the organization still worked only for homo- & bisexual equality.
For the next three years I attended the RFSL congress as a female Stockholm representative - guys & gals & nothing in-between - mainly to argue for the addition of a T after the L,G & B. Already at the 2000 congress this question was the main attraction, and after a five hour debate - we lost by one vote.
At this point even a number of ordinary, non-trans lesbians left the room crying ...
... and a year later the first speakers opened the debate by saying "Please excuse us. We were wrong. Of course you belong with us." There was only one courageous guy in the hall who dared to oppose us this time.
I then took a necessary break before agreeing to be on the board for two years, starting in 2003.
Founded in 1950, and so being one of the oldest organizations of its kind, the English name for RFSL now is "The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights"
11th Sept '02 - to the day one year after the WTC
attack, and one before the murder of our foreign minister Anna Lindh, whose portrait is in the poster I'm leaning against ...
All in all our new life as two middle-aged ladies was very nice. We were still experts at spending both pub evenings and month-long vacations together without ever running out of things to talk about ...
... but on another level T naturally longed for male company in her everyday life, and I found it terribly frustrating to finally have surfaced as an out 'n' proud lesbian - only to realize that there wasn't much I could do about it. Not even socially.
Also this process took several years, but around Xmas '06 we told the first of our friends that we seriously considered buying two separate flats.
Predictable & funny but slightly sad: When T's female friends realized that I was gradually changing from her 'former husband' to 'girlfriend', one or two were quite jealous.
At my father's grave on what should have been his 80th birthday. T took this photo a mere week after our factual separation. 19th August 2007.
They didn't need to worry, though; This summer she realized that even my undeniable womanhood will not change the fact that to her I will remain a beloved husband and the father of her beautiful sons. Hence quite an abrupt termination of our life together thirty-five years and three months after we first defined ourselves as a couple.
Those were nice decades though;
Gt Barrier Reef July 2005.
Both photos © Seventh Wonder Imaging, Cairns
To be on my own after all these years was sad and strange - but also quite exciting. Actually it wasn't until T moved out that I realized I had never really been single. This came with a liberating sense of freedom
and I decided to make the best of it, seeing friends several nights a week ...
... but after half a lifetime in a rewarding relationship I needed less than two months to know that being single didn't at all agree with me.
With almost perfect timing I met X at the "pre 2008 EuroPride" party in Sept '07. We had known each other by name for a few years, but this time was different. Being smart, attractive, my age, acclaimed lecturer specializing in
sexuality & gender, she was a dream come true for this new dyke in dire need.
Regrettably this wasn't to be; After three beautiful months the very foundation of our relationship crumbled under forces out of our reach ...
... and a week later my oldest friend caught me totally off guard when he invited T but not me to a magnificent dinner party. At the time of writing - first page update - I still haven't heard from him. Strange way to end a friendship of four decades.
This was all inexplicably painful but those months with "Erica's" first girlfriend did straighten my back and gave my eyes their sparkle back.
The irony of fate: The supply of middle aged lesbians in town being far from ample, those who noticed my radiant new self were men.
My early February signing up for LGBT web community QX Qruiser - and its 105 000 (sic!) members - proved to be my ticket to a new world. A week later I had my first internet date - with Lena, who was already in a relationship but took me places, introduced me to numerous nice lesbians and told me what clubs to join.
In mid March Katarina & I met for our first hesitant conversation, in May she spent a day with me on my motorbike - a rare favor in that twenty years ago she had two of her own and decided "never again" -
and in July we went to little known Lithuania for a lovely mini vacation.
Hill of Crosses, north of Siauliai. The latest count revealed some 14 000 big crosses and 41 000 smaller ones.
* On the 29th of January 2009 my first grandchild was born * There's more about this new phase of my life under Family.
March 2009; Since August Katarina & I have spent most weekends together and we're now busy making plans for this year's vacation; Maybe a trip to Transylvania ;o)
With both our birthdays in mid December, and not being able to celebrate together our first year as a couple, we went to Paris for this year's Grand event.
Katarina not really having seen the midnight sun, we rented a car and drove to Björkliden and Riksgränsen - 220 km north of the Arctic Circle - for the 2010 Midsummer holiday. Her amazing feat was to drive - single-handedly - straight from Norrtälje to Björkliden - "We want to experience the bright nights, don't we?" - pulling up outside our hostel at 7 a.m; 1370 km/851 miles in 19,5 hrs - including stops for meals, petrol stations, visits behind bushes and some sightseeing ;o)
The last two were taken just before midnight, June 24th.
On the way home we saw a number of these invigorating warning signs. Regrettably we met no bears.
In early September, we spent a week in southern Poland - lovely old Crakow, with the amazing new occupation museum in Oskar Schindler's factory, monstrous Auschwitz & Birkenau extermination camps,
Zakopane with its 100 yrs of international skiing traditions, and a day's detour through northern Slovakia.
Left: Cracow's main square. Right: Birkenau/Auschwitz II "freight yard" where Oskar Schindler rescued some of his employees.
Amazingly beautiful Slovakia, south of the Tatra mountains.
To be cont'd
New Year's Eve 99-00, with high school friends - a last cigar for my life as a man ...