Tree growth rings showing a year for each ringI am often asked questions like “When did you become male?” or “When did you know?”

The first is easy to answer: in 2003-4 when I went through the transition process. This included testosterone treatment and eventually chest surgery, although I couldn’t afford surgery until 2006.

The second is a difficult question to answer. I knew at 27 when I started the process, but in a way I’d always known.

It’s not like part of me is transgender and the rest isn’t. Being trans is also a part of everything I do, but sometimes not relevant, or I’m not conscious of it.

Think of the rings on a tree. Each ring is a year of growth. Sometimes you can point to a ring and say ‘that’s when a cold snap hit and the tree didn’t grow much from then on.’ I wasn’t male from 2004 onwards; I was always male, but it only became obvious from 2004 onwards.

It’s different for everyone though. Some people’s gender identity is more fluid. There would be evidence of cold snaps in each of their tree rings, sometimes large parts of the year, sometimes none. Sometimes they are one gender, sometimes another, sometimes not thinking about it and getting on with other parts of life.