I met Morganne quite a few years ago. Morganne was going out with a dear friend of mine who provided us with vegan treats for our cafe. I adored this couple and could sit and chat with them all day long. Unfortunately they have broken up now but I still love bumping into each individually whenever I can.
Throughout the years Morganne has made some big decisions. Not only emotionally but physically. What really struck me about Morganne was that no matter what was happening externally his strength, calm energy and deep belly laugh would make me feel at peace no matter what external factors he or I were going through.
I'm sure that transitioning from the world seeing you as female to the world seeing you as a male would be a tricky and somewhat complicated process but Morganne's inner love and good vibes mean the external changes ain't got nothing on this vibrant soul.
So let's get stuck in!
It annoys me a little bit when I fill out a form or any official document and I have to write down my title. Am I Mrs, Miss, Ms? I feel as though it is ridiculous to have to explain to everyone if I am married or unmarried etc. Anyway apparently Ms is the title I use when I am not interested in giving over my marital status. Meanwhile a man just writes Mr. It’s all boring and away with titles completely I say BUT it’s how the world works and I know many people who don’t know or feel worried to call a female who is trans a male or a male a female. Can you explain how you’d like to be addressed? He, She, They?
Personally, I prefer the title ‘them/they’ and I also feel comfortable being called ‘he/him’ when people use those pronouns or titles, it helps me to feel safe and seen. For example, I’m more likely to have an engaging conversation with someone that respects those pronouns because they really ‘see’ me. When someone calls me ‘she’ I get an uncomfortable feeling like someone isn’t really interested to get to know me as a person.
The titles of Miss/Mrs/Ms vs Mr has always annoyed me too! Silly antiquated ideas about women and their role/relationship to men. Time we just dropped ‘titles’ altogether and see people for who they are and not what’s between their legs.
Where did you grow up and what what was your childhood like?
I was born in Bowral in the southern Highlands so we were one of the ONLY mixed raced families there at the time……mum’s Jamaican and dad’s Australian. My mums not terribly dark she has kind of olive skin. My sister who has a different father is much darker than me so we have always stood out, so this sense of being different started early.
I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy I’d always steal my bros stuff and I’d hear him come home and I’d have to quickly rush and throw his skateboard back in his room. I was always trying to wear his clothes.
When I had figured out the language around who I was I thought… yep that makes sense, I’m a lesbian I’m attracted to women, I was bout 15 or 16 by that point and we’d moved to Sydney and were living on the Northern Beaches at an all girls Catholic School. So ummm yep super fun (laughs). Although I never felt like it bothered me or there was something missing. I never felt really distressed about it. I've always accepted who I am and I feel comfortable with that.
Can you give a brief description on what it is like to know you identify as male but are in a woman’s body? For me this is a somewhat spiritual experience in the sense that the soul, the essence of you, identifies as someone completely different to what the world sees you as. Like you said if you were referred to as ‘she’ you would feel like people didn’t ‘see you’ for who you are. This is confirmation to me that we are something more than the skin and flesh we are carried in. Thoughts?
I guess it’s different for everyone and in terms of my personal journey, I know that each day I look more male and feel comfortable with that (Morgs had just started taking testosterone at the time of this interview) but the changes are slow, and that’s actually a really nice process for me.
When my voice started to get deeper and I heard a recording of it I was like ‘that’s me!’ And it was huge to feel like the voice in my head matched the voice others heard too.
I agree that it’s a spiritual experience and growing up a ‘tomboy’ kind of meant that I’ve always felt fluid in my body, so I’ve never felt trapped or like a man in a woman’s body. I’ve always just felt like me and like my biggest qualities as a person are my heart and ability to make people feel safe and calm. I don’t think what I look like on the outside could ever trump or change what’s in my heart.
What is the physical process of transitioning like?
I have been on testosterone now for 10 or 11 months and that’s been a really interesting journey in being comfortable in my own skin because there are heaps of physical changes that happen. These changes happen quite slowly like I remember really early on trying to do push ups, full body push ups and I couldn’t do one! well I could do a really straggly one on my knees. I thought this is ridiculous it’s never going to happen. Then a couple of weeks ago I thought I’m going to give this a try again……. so I got down and did a full body push up and did like 7 of them. I thought hmmm ok that was ridiculously easy. Nothing had changed except that I’d started taking testosterone, I hadn’t trained any further. The testosterone allowed my body to do this whole muscle redistribution thing to a more masculine shape.
At first I was hugging people and they were like 'oh ok that’s a little hard'. I’m like 'Oh sorry!' I literally don’t know my own strength anymore.
There are these strange changes that happen. Another one is facial hair and the deepening of my voice. Now when I hear my voice back I think, yep that sounds like me. There’s this whole new resonance to it. I used to get shy when I was playing my guitar and singing and now I’m like ‘hand me the guitar!!’ So there’s this whole new weird and amazing journey of getting comfortable in my skin again. I wish I had of worked this out earlier.
What held you back?
Well it wasn’t until I spoke to someone, a therapist. I was already toying up the idea and he said ‘You know you don’t have to do this forever, you can start and if you find it’s not right for you you just stop. The female hormone oestrogen is dominate so once you stop your dominant hormone will kick back in again and you will go back to where you were. You can just stop’.
I was like ‘oh ok, so I have the option to stop if I want to’. I mean there are some things that are permanent like body hair and other things like that but for the most part yea you’d go back to where you began.
So I thought oh well fuck it I’ll just give it a go then. It’s been so good, amazing for me.
I’ve heard increasing your testosterone can make people get aggravated or even angry. Have you experienced this?
I think it’s hard because there’s this perception that I would get angry so I’m really trying not to get angry. I think in the cases I have got angry I would have got angry in those situations anyway.
I think that me getting angry is perceived as something more intense now because I have a booming voice and so it kind of comes across as a different anger. I got really angry about the whole plebiscite thing but everyone in the community did so.. . . well that was the most messed up thing that ever happened. So yea I wouldn’t say more angry it just get’s perceived differently.
What was it about the plebiscite that made you so angry?
I think my anger at the plebiscite came from a range of places. As someone who grew up gay- you’re whole life is criticised. “How do you know you’re gay/lesbian?” And to then feel like everyone- the people that teased me for being gay, the people who would stare while I held my partners hand down the street, the people that would whisper ‘is that a boy or a girl?’ gots to have a say on the validity of me and who I love. I’m just like everyone else who wants to fall in love and have the chance to celebrate that love.
What other physical changes have you made?
For years I’ve always wanted a breast reduction. I’ve always had an issue with the size of my chest it’s always been way to big. Then in the last couple of years I researched it properly. I think I started doing this because I have more trans friends in my friendship circle now. They had all gone down that path so it seemed much easier to access for me. I realised that I had the option to get a reduction or I could go fully flat. This was appealing because it meant that my identity would be really fluid. To me there was this separation between taking testosterone OR having chest surgery, they were two different things that I had on the go. Then once I had the testosterone I started researching chest surgery and it all moulded into each other and I realised I can get the chest I really want whilst being on testosterone. They kind of go together because when you are on testosterone your whole body shape changes so to get the shape I really wanted testosterone would help as it creates a better frame to go with the flat chest. I start to get this nice body shape so if I didn’t go on testosterone I’d have this really feminine body shape with a flat chest so it wasn’t going to be ideal.
Do you find it frustrating that it’s such a physical thing that you have to think about. Like you are just you and you want to exist just as you but it becomes so physical does it bother you?
The absolute worst thing is that because I’m growing a beard, which I really like, there’s an external representation of what I am injecting (the testosterone) you know, but then I recognise that most people would just see my chest. So if I’m out in public and I have to go to the toilet I have this problem. . . Do I go to the boys toilets or do I go to the girls? If I go to the boys people are going to look at me but if I go to the girls I can just put my head down and not say anything.
For me it’s not something I have to navigate and so many others will never have to deal with this kind of issue we don’t ever even think about it.
Its not until I have a conversation like this that I realise that I have to deal with all this kind of extra stuff.
Especially when I have a conversation with say my siblings especially my brother who is really pragmatic. His solution is ‘just do it like this, or why don’t you just do this’ he’s really black and white. It makes it so hard to explain to him what I’m going through and there’s no real clear answers.
I have to say - ‘You have no idea what it’s like to be me’ and then he says ‘yeah you are right, I don’t’. I have to remind him that my life has many more intricate details and they all lie in that grey area.
A good example is When I was in the UK I was in the mens section at a department store. They had the winter sales on and I was like awesome I am going to buy a pair of jeans. I went to try them on and the lady at the change room said sorry you’ll have to go to the womens change rooms downstairs. I said yes but I just want to try this on. She said yea this is the mens change room and the womens change room is downstairs in the womens department. I said yes but these are mens jeans that I got from the mens section so……. anyway she just cut me off and insisted I go downstairs.
I thought. . . What are these men doing in this change room that is so taboo that I can’t go into my own private little cubical?! I have to go all the way downstairs to go to my own change room with my ‘own kind’ it was so weird. Is this like an open forum change room and there’s dicks everywhere? whats going on? Some sort of secret mens business that I’m not supposed to know. So I stole a three pack of underwear in protest.
What would you say to people who are going through something similar to you?
A good support network is worth gold. My best friends are worth their weight absolutely.
There are days when it gets a bit hard and they, and their entire family have to remind me some that no it’s not you it’s the way the world is set up. Getting rid of negative people is important too.
At the moment I don’t talk to my mum because we just see too many things so differently and I just thought this is really exhausting I don’t have the energy to make this ok for you. I just need to make this ok for me right now and sometimes that’s really hard, you know, because my brother and sister remind me that mums getting to that age, what if she has an accident? you don’t want to miss out on years of having a relationship with mum because of a small dispute. I say ‘no I do because the relationship is actually so unhealthy for me’. It’ better for me to not have her in my life right now. Thing is they just don’t get it but it can be exhausting. I think part of my attitude is that I’ve never been the kind of person that make people do a lot of hard work. If people just see how at ease I am, how comfortable I am, if they can see that I’m still just me then they can relax and feel at ease, as I do.
I ran into someone I used to work with and she said ‘Oh have you got a cold? Your voice is really husky?’ I just laughed and said ‘No babe no this is just me now this is my voice’. She apologised and felt really bad and I said ‘No it’s ok its’ so chill like I’m glad you said that because here we are now just having this conversation and that’s ok’.
Are you a spiritual person?
Kind of..... um yes. It’s more about energy I guess. I’ve done lots of sound healing sound baths. You get the most trippy hallucinations from that stuff. I can’t help but think that everything synchs up, like your brain waves synch up with the sound waves, you know they are in unison.
I believe that we are so susceptible to things like energy. I’ve had a few people do reiki on me before and without even touching me I’ve had this experience where I felt as though I had buckets of cold water being poured on me.
There is stuff about myself that I have been aware of - I used to do refuge work. I used to work at a womens shelter in Glebe. One of the things that I could almost always do, was someone would come in and they would be feeling really distressed and I was always able to just calm them down. So that kind of happens with a hug and just generally sharing energy with someone. My energy just naturally calms them down. I had this ex who said ‘Hanging out with you is like having my own personal valium everything is just much easier’. She would have trouble sleeping but then I would come over and she would be like awesome I can have a nap now and she would just sleep for a couple of hours, all I had to do was lie next to her.
It’s really interesting and I try not to manipulate this energy but it’s kind of fun when people are drunk and a little bit angry and I can just walk in and calm them all down.
I did this meditation at a big hippie festival. There was this woman from Melbourne who did sound healing and she had these big quartz bowls and each bowl, when you hit it with a soft mallet, would make a specific note. They were all tuned and each note was supposed to resonate with different points in your chakra. She would just have them all out and play them and she explained that when she played them they would synch up with the group that was meditating. There was this one note though, that each time she hit it it just didn’t flow! so she ended up avoiding it for most of the session. At the end of the session she said that this note synched up with the throat chakra. Does anyone have anything going on with their throat? a sore throat or something?. Then this woman from the meditation said English is her second language and she has trouble communicating.
I get these really intense hallucinations when doing these sound healings and suddenly I’m seeing all these things usually colours and this particular time I was lying there and with each sound I could see a particular colour dancing around. I saw all these sounds and I started giggling because I’d come out of my body and I was kind of dancing with them. Then I realised I was giggling and then I could see that I was out of my body and I was dancing with the music. I suddenly sat up and got a bit of a fright and thought what the fuck just happened? and everyone was still meditating. It was really trippy.
Wow that really sounds like you were at one with the energy from the music.
I have had a few other experiences like this. I remember another time this guy hit a huge gong and as soon as he hit it all these black balls came flying out of the gong and just bounced over everyone that was lying there. I just watched the whole thing happen it was awesome. The way that I see it is hard to explain but it is phenomenal.
Sounds like good drugs.
No completely not. No drugs.
So Morgs are you in love now?
Yes! I am currently in love. It’s all still pretty new, but I’m happy and I feel like I’m onto a good thing 😊
Where do you think you'll be in five years from now?
In five years? Hopefully with a degree under my belt. Hopefully living up on the mid north coast of NSW where I can take life a little slower, but I feel like as long as I stay true to myself- in five years I should be right where I need to be.
Thanks Morganne. Love you.
If you want to follow Morganne's journey you can head on over to their Instagram account here