I was 14 when my auntie sat me down handed me a book with a woman in suspenders on and said,
"Your dad dresses like a woman".
Well I was 10 steps ahead! Being the inquisitive child I was I had searched my parents' bedroom endlessly since about the age of four. Hanging on the rail would be size 8 clothes and on the other side size 14.
To begin with I just thought nothing of it, but I realised over time that they must belong to someone else! As the years went by the collection grew, and it was not just the size that marked them out, the shoes were like boats, and the outfits were circa Donna Summer in her hey day!!
I cannot remember this bothering me, even when I found out at 14 it didn't faze me. When I had boyfriends spitting it back at me that somehow I was a bad person because my dad was "a tranny", it still did not make me feel less of her. My dad was just simply my dad, if he chose to wear a dress, who was he harming? The real harm was for her, psychologically, hiding it in order to get us through our childhood.
So when my auntie sat me down and said about it, I was wise to what she was saying. Of course I didn't realise he was going to leave us and go and live in London and do all the other things people "transitioning" do.
That is what devastated me - my mum and dad were divorcing.
The years went by, ("my dad", and no "she" would never be mum, I already had one), faced such discrimination and prejudice, both before and after surgery. She never achieved the success in her career that she had as a man.
But, I never stopped loving that person with the twinkling blue eyes, who taught me I was special and could take on the world. And was always at the end of the phone to give me the best advice.
She took on the might of the UK Government when she realised that even though she had gone through so much to achieve "acceptance", she was still not a woman in the eyes of the law. It was devastating to think that even though she had a vagina she would be sent to a men's prison!
And she won! I was with her in Strasbourg on the 11th July 2002 when the European Court of Human Rights found that the United Kingdom had breached the convention rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private life) and Article 12 (right to marry).
This paved the way for the Gender Recognition Act 2004, and the subsequent Civil Partnership Act 2004, Tran's inclusion in the Equality Act 2010 and Marriage (same sex couples) Act 2013.
Now one would think that my dad lived quite happily after this, applauded by the LGBT community, writing books and attending conferences, but her 15 yearlong pursuit of recognition was airbrushed out of history. She was broke, the road to recognition had taken their toil physically, mentally and financially. We had been working tirelessly since 2006 to finish her book, but life takes over, we both needed to work and time was limited.
And now she has gone; and I am left to pursue the telling of her story alone. It's really hard at times as the pain of her loss is still so profound that I have to halt writing, her voice jumps out of the page at me. Her story must be told not only of the tenacious spirit that exists in all of us, but the determination she had to affect change for those coming after her, how difficult life as a woman is and most of all how special a father and grandfather she was.
"Our" forthcoming book will be out very soon; I am currently pursuing agents and publishers.