Juno Dawson has spoken candidly about her gender identity
Author and Attitude columnist Juno came out as a trans woman publicly in 2015 after previously living as a gay man. Her new book The Gender Games is out on June 1. Subtitled ‘The Problem with Men and Women From Someone Who Has Been Both,’ the book is part a memoir of Juno’s own transition so far and part an exploration of several of the issues around gender.
The author sat down with Attitude’s editor-in-chief Matt Cain for our Summer issue – available to download and in shops now – to discuss her own experiences living as a gay man, and her theory that some gay men are actually trans women but don’t know it yet.
Juno first realized she was trans as a young child, but didn’t fully understand what that meant. “I remember when I was 10 or 11 years old, realising with great disappointment that I wasn’t going to magically turn into a girl. I had wished, I had prayed to God, I had prayed to Satan, I had done it all, but I wasn’t going to become a girl. I wondered what else there was.
When she eventually discovered what homosexuality was, she assumed that, because she liked boys, she must’ve be gay. “Then, in about 1996, when I realised I fancied guys I thought, ‘Oh, I know what that is, there’s a word for when a boy fancies other boys. I must be a gay guy.’”
Juno describes her identity as a gay man as a ‘personal misdiagnosis’, and believes that it is a more common phenomenon than one may think. “I think that there are a lot of gay men in the world who had the same personal misdiagnosis, because we didn’t have the information that we have now,” she says. “I think there are a lot of gay men out there who are gay men as a consolation prize because they couldn’t be women. That was certainly true of me.”
This may seem like a controversial statement, but it is something that Juno has experienced since she came out as trans. “I would never deem myself fit to tell anybody what their gender is,” she affirms. “What I will say is that, and I think this is true of all trans people, once you are an out trans person, you become like a helpdesk.
“There are two or three gay men who have come to see me and said: ‘Oh, I think I should be trans but I don’t want to do anything about it. It’s too hard, I’m too old.'”
She opens up about the various elements of her life that led her to realise she was a trans woman, in order to encourage other people to explore their identity and start a healthy discussion about gender.
“With the increased awareness of transgenderism,” Juno says, “when we sit down and think: ‘Oh God, why am I struggling with alcohol, why am I struggling with drugs, why am I doing chemsex, why am I up all night on Grindr?’ Now one of the questions we’re asking ourselves is: ‘What’s my relationship with gender?’
“The whole point of The Gender Games is that I would love all the people who read it to question their relationship with gender.”