I didn’t know how to tell her.

I’d never told anyone I was terrified.

But I knew I had to.

I loved her so deeply, and I was beginning to realise she loved me too; and I was so afraid that after I told her she wouldn’t love me any more.

That she’d be as disgusted with me as I was with myself. And I wasn’t sure I could bear that.

For there’d been a long time when I really believed that if anyone came to know this about me I would die of shame.

But I had to do it.

So that night I said -

I can’t remember what I said. I can’t remember how I put it, but the thing was…

We hadn’t been going out very long, less than a week, but we’d known each other for months.

I know there is such a thing as love at first sight, because that’s how it was the first time I saw her. She was staying in our flat until term began. She was sitting with her feet up on our sofa. She was wearing the most beautiful long black silk antique skirt. She was in pain. She had cystitis.

Not very romantic, I suppose, but I didn’t mind, and went round and knocked up one of my lecturers who lived nearby to ask if they had any bicarbonate of soda.

And they did, and it helped, and then for weeks afterwards whenever she came round to see us I would hold my breath hoping she would come up the stairs to my room in the attic.

And then feeling so happy when she did…

And then eventually we had a drink together in a grotty pub called the Whey Pat and we seemed to understand each other so well.

But I was very scared of telling her, and I learnt later she was very scared of telling me, until one night there was  party in the cottage she lived in and I got a bit drunk and kissed her.

And I thought she would be so furious with me but she wasn’t, she looked ecstatically happy.

And that’s how we ended up in bed together.

It was so lovely. But I couldn’t get a hard on.

It wasn’t because I didn’t think she was sexy, I did, I thought she was the most beautiful person I had ever met. It was just…

And there was something else, too. Something else I couldn’t tell her.

I couldn’t tell her I’d fallen for her the minute I saw her photo, maybe 6 months before, because that would have been most utterly ridiculous.

I was studying in Granada at the time, and my best friend had sent me the student newspaper with her photo on the front page. I’d thought she was so beautiful and that she was kind of person I would love to have a relationship with. Only that was ridiculous.

Because she was fashionable and glamourous and had lived in San Francisco and was going to be the editor of the student newspaper. Whereas I…

I was lonely and unfashionable and ugly and most painfully shy.

And I was spending my time going to the Alhambra, mostly, and writing stories and poems and possessed with this stupid dream of becoming a writer.

I would eat alone, mostly, and there were two shops I would go past on the way to the cheap restaurant where I ate.

One had the most gorgeous women’s underwear, and the other one lovely flamenco dresses and I so wanted to be able to wear both.

I was far too frightened and ashamed to look openly into the windows and would kind of sidle past them looking at them sideways because I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing me looking in.

And various men had propositioned me which I couldn’t really deal with at all because before she died my mum had instilled me a real terror of men having sex with me and anyway, as far as I could tell, that wasn’t what I wanted at all.

What turned me on was the thought of being a woman and wearing woman’s clothes, and that wasn’t the same thing at all. That was a wicked and disgusting thing, I thought, and tried very hard not to think it.

But what it also meant was that I didn’t really want to have sex with women either, and I’d just broken up with a really lovely girl called Barbara because I was far too ashamed to talk about it all.

But with Susie it was different. I had to talk to her. And I said…

Well I couldn’t tell her all that, and I couldn’t tell her the truth either which was that in trying to repress my being trans I had repressed my own sexuality. And a whole load of other things besides…

But I couldn’t tell her that because ‘trans’ wasn’t even a word at the time. there was no word I knew for the way I was. It was just unspeakable.

So I can’t remember what I said. I must have stammered something about wanting to be a girl and being ashamed of it and she said…

She said…

She said she’d always known there was something very feminine about me and that was one reason why she liked me.

And her saying that saved my life.

And we did learn to make love to each other, and it was wonderful, and we had two daughters and they made us very happy.

They’re both grown up now, and so very gifted and talented and successful and loving and beautiful. And I have a grandson too...

I loved Susie for 33 years, and she loved me.

From the time we first met until the time she died.

And I love her still…