'They told me to be a lesbian': Trans rapper from Wolverhampton opens up on dysphoria and discrimination
Nate Ethan Watson - believed to be the UK's first transgender rapper - opens up about his life story ahead of Wolverhampton Pride 2019.
“I don’t want to be a transgender, I just want to be a man.”
Born and bred in Wolverhampton, Nate Ethan Watson started hormonal treatment to transition from female into male a little more than a year ago.
The easy-going and friendly 34-year-old has been a guest on Victoria Derbyshire, having played at last year’s London pride and also partnering up with Ministry of Sound, D Double E, and Tim Westwood.
And he’ll be performing at Wolverhampton Pride this weekend as well.
WATCH Nate's 'Like it or Not' promo:
With a long rapping career, Nate released four albums as N’Chyx – before transitioning – and more recently a single called ‘Like it or Not’, which he released under Nate Ethan Watson.
A man of many firsts, Nate not only believes he is the UK's first transgender rapper, but he was a talented sprinter as a teenager and, just last month, graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a first in his public health degree.
Considering surgery as the next step on his transition, Nate has set up a go fund me page to help achieve his goal. To him, it is a matter of simply matching his physical body with the man he has always been on the inside.
He said: “The surgery is a big big thing, because it’s a definite.
“Most of my dysphoria comes from the top so if I could have done it before, I would have.”
Gender dysphoria is where a person experiences discomfort because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.
After starting the transition, Nate admitted he lost many friends and had to endure frequent discrimination.
He added: “You’re just trying to live your life, but then you get all these barriers. The depression doesn’t come from us who want to start transitioning. A lot of times, it comes from people and those discriminating against us.”
The lack of health professionals trained in treating dysphoria has had a negative impact on Nate’s transitioning treatment as well as his mental health.
He mentioned that, for many years, the doctors would misdiagnose him with depression and anxiety.
When he finally came to terms with his dysphoria, he said he was told by doctors it was “OK to be a happy lesbian”.
“That crushed me,” he said. “I don’t know if I should call it transphobia, discrimination, un-education. But that was the first barrier that I felt. I could’ve given up because they didn’t refer me, they didn’t put me through to any assessment. They just told me to be a happy lesbian, basically.
“But then I went home, thought about it – and I went back a few weeks later.”
The next doctor, Nate said, was “the most educated doctor he had ever encountered” – and it was from here he was able to proceed with his treatment.
After a long and difficult journey, Nate still faces issues with his transition, not the least with the prospect of Brexit.
A no-deal Brexit could have an impact on the distribution of hormones which are fundamental to Nate’s transitioning.
Without his medication, Nate could be in danger of de-transitioning and even going back to having suicidal thoughts.
“I’m a bit nervous cause I haven’t got concrete in my mind on what’s going to happen,” he said. “My clinic is moving to Spain so I don’t know when Brexit kicks in, how or if it’s going to affect me in any way”.
Even though the physical transition has only begun just over a year ago, Nate has always felt like a man.
“It’s weird even now sometimes because growing up I was always male,” he said.
A partner once told him he was actually never a lesbian but a man. Nate believes that those closest to him knew he was actually a man all along.
However, because Nate didn’t want to be seen as anything other than simply male, he used to be wary of being called ‘transgender’.
“I was like: I don’t want to be transgender I just want to be a male,” he added.
Nowadays, Nate’s understanding is that labels might be useful to open doors and that they help people better understand him. Labels, he says, help people identify and, potentially, accept transgender people with more ease.
Nate faces with humour some of the differences between life as a male and a female.
“People react different to me now as a male. It’s funny cause I was always the one that pays for stuff, especially in relationships, but I feel like when I was female, I could get away with not doing it or maybe forgetting to do it.
“Now, you better make sure that you’re opening that door for the women.”
Nate also finds it funny how people are less friendly now that he is seen as a biological male: “People were more polite. More friendly. People were more smiley.”
But he didn’t always face things with a sense of humour. When he first started taking his hormones, Nate avoided looking at old photos of himself.
But now he says he doesn’t mind his past as a biological female: “I embrace it cause it’s just part of my journey. I’m going through an openly puberty stage. Because I’m doing it so openly that people might see it and they’ll change as well.”
Nate has a new single “Like it or not” about being yourself and empowering people, available on Spotify.
He will be performing his music at this year’s Wolverhampton Pride on Saturday, October 12.
By Cilene Tanaka
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