Being born the wrong gender is tough, but being born half the wrong species is just a shit-ton of bad luck. Kitty-Madison is a Dutch woman whose sole goal in life is to be as mermaid like as possible. This is her touching story in her own words (cue violins).
When I was 15 I saw the film Splash, a movie from 1984 about a mermaid who falls in love with a man from the dry land. It's based on The Little Mermaid but with real people. That film is the main reason for my new life. I didn't care too much about the story, but I absolutely love the underwater images. Madison the mermaid is really graceful, fluent, and feminine. I can't even describe the feeling. I still long for the same experiences Daryll Hannah had. To this day, every time I see Splash, I just have to get to the water. There I find my peace and my home.
I was born as a boy. It's a fact that I'm in the wrong skin. But the fact that I wanted to become a mermaid has just enforced my feminine side. I've got tattoos on my arms because I tried to live like a man for a long time. In the end there was only one solution, become a woman or end it all.
After I saw the movie I just had one dream: To try and live my life like a mermaid. I just couldn't let go. Despite all the people who criticized me and didn't believe in my perseverance, strength, and love for mermaids, I still carried on. I tried to live out the myth as much as possible. And diving with compressed air just isn't an option, so I learned how to free dive. This meant that I could stay underwater for long times without oxygen tanks. And of course I needed a tail. My first one I made from an old legging and fins. I kept on trying different techniques to improve my tail. But some wore out really fast and others couldn't take the chlorine. After much experimenting, I met a guy at a diving convention who makes custom diving suits. He made my first mono-fin. Later, when I became Kitty-Madison, I bought the same tail that Daryl Hannah wore in the movie. Orange with glitters, custom made for me. I immediately felt a lot better. I love the water and by then I could stay under water for several minutes easily. But still something from my dream was missing. I was a male mermaid.
The last step to my mermaid existence was a transition. From this moment on my name is Kitty-Madison. My old neighbor was named Kitty and I loved that name so much that I just took it as my own. The mermaid from Splash is called Madison. My dream was almost fulfilled but the preparations for the surgery involved a lot of emotional pain. As a boy I often felt that my gender was wrong, and to top it of I wanted to become a mermaid. When I was a man I feared many times that I wouldn't be able to achieve my goals, and that was a really painful realization. But after some time I approached a specialized gender team that helps you with the process of becoming a woman. After 30 minutes I realised that it would take too long and that it wouldn't make me any happier. Besides, I felt that they wouldn't understand my dream of becoming a mermaid. My life was hanging by a thread, I didn't want to continue living this way.
After this difficult period in my life I decided to take matters into my own hands. I found my own gender-psychologist and after only four weeks I got the go-ahead. They put me on hormones, which made me tired and restless. I couldn't even be a mermaid for a while. I never had any real physical pain, but the emotional pain is still very deep from when I was a boy and to this day. I lost a lot of people around me in that stage of transition. But I guess they aren't real friends. To this day I still get hateful comments from strangers on my blogs.
Living as a mermaid requires huge financial sacrifices. But I don't mind spending money on things that I truly want. I keep my tail in a fire-safe room. It's my most valuable possession. Not just financially but also emotionally. And I had to buy more stuff to make my dream come true. A real mermaid can see underwater and never gets water up her nose, so I needed to find solutions for those problems. I bought special lenses without corrective strength, about an inch in diameter, so the water can't get into my eyes. And I've got a tom nose, the same silicone plugs that they use in synchronised swimming. You just put them up your nose and nobody can tell you're wearing them.
Now I'm a happy person. I ride my bike, I swim, and I take yoga to keep fit for my life as a mermaid. I'm in the pool four, five times a week. The first time I dove into the pool with my fin I had some very mixed emotions. Go for it, it's your dream, isn't it? But on the other hand, what if I drown. But now I'm so experienced in swimming that I've started my own company. I give workshops to teach people how to swim like a mermaid and you can book me for a show. I'm not making any money off my business but it suits me. If I could make real money with this I would never want to work again. I feel so much love for life as a mermaid that I would give up my real life. I'm glad that nobody made me choose between me lives. I really love my boyfriend, but if he tries to make me give up my life as a mermaid, I would choose life as Kitty-Madison the mermaid.
AS TOLD TO CHARLOTTE BACKX
PICTURES BY KITTY-MADISON AND GEERT VAN TOL