Charlotte Johnson: Full Interview
Charlotte’s story is very upsetting and contains descriptions of abuse. It is provided in the format of a written interview transcript, which can be accessed by clicking the button below.
Interviewed by Paula Smith
13 June 2019
PS: Paula Smith recording Charlotte at 2BU Wakefield. Charlotte has something prepared, so I’ll hand it over to Charlotte.
CJ: Okay. When I was born at birth, I was born female in a boy’s body and I have always known who I was, but growing up in a family what made me feel scared of knowing what I wanted to be living as – a female girl. And they said to me that nobody will help you as you are a stupid child, and I feel so sad because I was never loved by anybody in that family and they just took the mick out of me for being different and for being the real me. [Whispers] Shall I continue?
PS: Yeah, you can continue. You’re doing very well.
CJ: It started when I started going to my high school and I had people coming up to me in class saying to me, that ‘I’ve heard you are half man, half woman’ and I said, ‘please can you stop picking on me’ but they ignored me and started shouting at me and they – they called me very bad names and I told the teacher, but he never did anything about it at all. And not being funny but I never had any friendships at school, at all, and everyone just stared at me, saying I am a stupid person. And then I got up and walked out of class because I was upset about what they said to me but it didn’t end there because at lunchtime they was bullying me and then I had pencils put up my nose. I got pushed down the stairs. My head was bleeding very bad and I just got up and – I walked out of school and I was walking to that house with my head bleeding and then I got back to the house and [name] said, [name] and [name] said look what’s happening to me at school, but all they said is ‘you will be fine’. Should I continue?
PS: You can continue, yeah. You’re being very brave.
CJ: It all started when [name] started to invite her alcoholic friends to the house to have a party. And then they all turned up and walked into the house shouting, loud music and I was trying to sleep upstairs but all they did is get louder and then Steve, her friend, said ‘we’re partying ‘til midnight’ and I tried to turn off the music and then Steve told – ‘what do you think you’re doing?’ And I said, ‘turning it off’, and he said, ‘no’ and then he turned it up, then he grabbed me and started punching me in the chest and then he put my head in the [?] window and my head was cut but [name] just started to laugh at me, saying ‘you’re sort [?] you’re so stupid’ and she said to me, ‘you will be fine’, that’s all she ever said to me at that house. I –
PS: It’s okay, take your time.
CJ: I fell to the floor, saying ‘I don’t feel so good’, so I went upstairs to run a nice hot bath and then I closed the bathroom door and I started to undress and then I laid in the bath and started to enjoy a lovely hot bath and then they was a knock at the door. And it was [name] saying ‘I need to use the toilet’ and I said to [name] that ‘I am trying to have a hot bath’ and she just ignored me and opened the door and sat on the toilet and after she had a wee she started looking at me in the bath, saying ‘you have a small willy’ and I said ‘but what do you think you are doing’ and she started laughing at me and saying ‘it’s nothing I haven’t seen before’ and I just put my head underwater and started crying because I’d said to myself that this isn’t normal, that they’re watching me in the bath, and I said ‘it’s sick what you are doing, watching me in the bath’, and she said ‘it’s normal’…
I said to [name] and [name] that ‘I need to sit you down and I need to tell you something but you may not like what I have to say to you’, and then they sat down and I said to [name] and [name] that ‘I am transgender and that I am going to begin living my life as a female girl’, and they said to me that ‘we are not supporting you in any way because you are a stupid boy and you are not normal in the head’, and I said, ‘this is who I am, and you have to understand that I am going to become a female girl and live a happy life in me’. And then she started calling me really nasty names and I started crying because they never loved me at all because all they cared about was the money I got every month. And [name] said to me, ‘but I can’t look at you’ and, the day after, I dressed as a female girl and started walking down the street dressed as a female girl with make-up on my face and my hair down to my back and my nails painted black and everybody in the family just took the mick out of me… saying to me that it will fade away soon, and I turned around and said, ‘this is the real me and get used to it because I am going to be living my life soon as a female girl’ and I said to them ‘all you care about is the money that I have’ and, I said ‘this is the real me and get used to it’… Turned around and said to me, ‘in this family you was never loved by any of us when you was born, at birth, because all we wanted was your money you was getting’, and I said to [name] and [name], ‘why was I never loved by any of you – in that family?’ And they all turned around and said to me ‘because you are ugly and stupid’ and [name] turned around and said to my face that she wishes I was never born at all because we never loved you at all, so I turned around and said, ‘why say that to my face for at all?’ My brothers and sisters said to me ‘it’s true… about what they are saying to you and I just walked out of the house and said to myself ‘why?’
So they decided to take me to the swimming baths and when, when we got there [name] and that family took the mick out of me because I wouldn’t take my t-shirt off because I had a problem with my chest and I said I wouldn’t take it off so then I ignored them and just started to climb in the water and tried to swim and I couldn’t do it so they just started laughing at me so then – they told me to go on the big slide and I sat on the slide and I was scared because it was too high for me. So I said give me some time to breathe but then they was picking on me, saying I am stupid and then they pushed me down the slide and I fell in to the water, fell into the deep water, and it took two people to get me out of the water because I couldn’t get out of the water.
When I contacted social services to speak to someone to tell them what was happening to me in that house and then they came out to see me the day after, and I just told them everything what that family was doing to me and they said to me, ‘come with us in the car [?]‘ and when I got in that car and I never returned back to that house because I threw my phone away so they couldn’t find where I was and I said to the social workers that ‘you made me so happy’ and they said that ‘you are more than welcome, it’s our job to make sure that you are cared and supported by people who love you’.
PS: That’s a fantastic story. It is, it’s really good. And how does it make you feel talking about that?
CJ: I think it makes me happy.
PS: Yeah? And you fell happier now, where you are?
PS: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
CJ: I just call 2BU my family now.
PS: Yeah, and you feel safe?
PS: And that’s the main thing isn’t it. You feel safer now than you did then.
PS: And you’re happy?
CJ: Yeah, I’m happy, yeah.
PS: That’s good. I’m gonna stop the recording because I think that was brilliant.