David Nigel Vincent Monck was born in June 1955, in Rugby Warwickshire, the first of two sons born to Anne Josephine and Peter.
With blonde hair and blue eyes he was a healthy bonny boy. However he did not realise so young in life that he was about to start a battle. A battle that would last for the next 57 years, with an enemy he could not see nor understand, yet felt its presence.
That enemy was within him.
He was born with a hard wired female brain that over the forthcoming years would conquer the male body it was born into. To David it felt like a virus. A virus so strong and resistant, it could not be cured. He tried desperately to fight it but each time he did so, its resistance would grow.
At the age of 5 he acquired a jigsaw puzzle . 25000 pieces all black except for one. He strove hard to put one piece in place each day. When he was born, a tree was planted. One that was supposed to blossom. It would grow over the years into a majestic tree with strong roots feeding it and helping to define its shape, character and personality. Would it ever flower?
He accepted at an early age that his life was going to be different. His mother had put out a dressing up box of her old clothes that he used to love wearing. His friends were mostly girls and he preferred the games they played.
Throughout his young life he continued to wear his mothers clothes, trying to be secretive, but when his father caught him he was severely scolded. His realisation that he should have been a girl was clear to him, but what could he do. The word transgender didn’t exist in those days. There was little or no understanding of the condition. He tried to stop the urges to dress but his brain wouldn’t let him. This was a strong enemy that was not going to be defeated.
The virus got stronger. He was progressing with the jigsaw puzzle.. One piece a day but it was all dark, and why was one piece different? Where did it fit. He felt like an ugly caterpillar.
He was born male and he had to fulfill that role . He was bullied constantly at school. Why wasn’t he allowed to go to girls school. He just could not understand. He left school at 18 and the relative safety of home to work on a farm where he continued to dress secretly by acquiring his own clothes.
Two years later he had a nervous breakdown. His life was at rock bottom. He could not cope with the emotional stress that his brain was now causing him. He felt he could not fight anymore. Every time he purged the desire to dress, the virus would resist and his brain would strengthen tenfold, its need to have a body that matched it.
He continued to fight and tried to do all the things that were deemed macho. He tried hard to hide this overwhelming desire to be female. He started to date girls. He was never truly happy though.
Eventually at the age of 26 he fell in love. At least that what he thought it was. He got married. He had twin sons. A week after their birth his mother died. He would never be able to tell her his true feelings…..that she really had a daughter.
He adored his two boys, but the marriage to his wife didnt feel right. His desire to be female was overwhelming. He became extremely secretive. He stayed though out of a sense of guilt, a sense of deep love for his children. Inside though he was dying. Dying physically and dying emotionally. Sex was a chore to him. He became suicidal……He knew clearly who his enemy was, but how could he conquer something so powerful. How could he find a cure for the virus that was now deep rooted in his body.
When his twin boys were 17, their mother sadly died. It was a tough time in his life, sad and traumatic. He now had to be a mother to the boys aswell. In a way it was a relief. He could now start to live his life as he wanted. He was progressing with the jigsaw puzzle but there were thousands of pieces still to place and one piece that still didn’t seem to fit anywhere.
He did whatever he could to help his sons. They left home and then he was on his own. He started up a garden maintenance business, absorbing his life into hard work.
One day at a time the jigsaw took shape. On April 14th 2014 he managed to put the last black piece in place. The small gap right in the centre was for the remaining piece. He looked at the piece that was coloured in blue pink and white stripes. Then suddenly came the warmth, the realisation of what this meant. His future became clear. He slotted the final piece into the gap. Then an overwhelming sense of freedom enveloped him. Freedom from that life time enemy. Freedom from the terrible virus that now had been miraculously cured. The tree was cut down, but not completely. Slowly new growth appeared and the tree developed a different shape but with the same strong roots it had had before. Blossom buds started to form….. Would they ever open…..time would tell. The caterpillar he had always been pupated . Some time soon a beautiful butterfly would emerge.
The blackness in his life was gone. Now my life was full of colour. A new beginning… A new dawn. I changed my name legally to Joanne… A mix of my mothers names. My journey started. I was now on the transitional pathway.
Which route would i take…. I chose a narrow path because there was only room for me. It was my path and mine alone. I was happy. For the first time in my life i felt content. My feelings matched those of my brain. My future was now crystal clear. I found an inner strength and determination that i never had. I found confidence and positivity. My eyes began to sparkle… I was looking at an amazing future.
I started Hormone therapy through my GP and started the move toward gender reassignment through Charring Cross Hospital.
I joined the South East Coast Ambulance service as a Community First Responder volunteering my free time to help people in my community in times of medical emergency. I became a Diversity Champion for the Ambulance Trust . I have completed many courses in diversity awareness. I joined the National Ambulance LGBT network. I am also now a health and wellbeing Champion. Just recently i became a hate crime ambassador for Sussex Police.
My life is full. I was nominated for a National Diversity Award this year.
On February 7th 2017 my journey will end. When i entered the long tunnel at the start of my journey i encountered many obstacles. However i pressed on and the light at the end is in my reach. Next year on that day i will have my gender surgery.
A new life. Reborn
The tree will blossom
The beautiful butterfly will hatch, dry its wings and fly off into a world of colour. Free.
Written and provided by Joanne Monck.