For almost a week now, I've been arguing with our IT service desk about how my company email address needs to change.
They want to add my new name as an alias which isn't what I need. They also just want to change the name that is displayed to people. Both of those changes would leave my old, dead name visible for anyone to see. I don't want that.
I want my dead name to disappear. That isn't unreasonable. I don't want someone to stumble across my dead name a couple of years from now.
They don't get it. Someone has just changed my displayed name and if anyone clicks on it they can still see my dead name. I have explained to them FOUR times now that this is incorrect. They have tried to close the request on me four times and I keep reopening it because they still haven't got it right.
The latest insult is that I could see the notes that someone had written against the request. "User is not happy. She wants her name to be changed everywhere."
I'm gonna cry before the week is over.
I don't like the term 'passing' because it sounds to me like I'm trying to fool people. I'm not 'passing' as male because as far as I'm concerned, I am male. These aren't 'tips for passing' as such, because it's just how I am and what I do, and my way of doing things won't work for, or resonate with, every trans male out there. I think we each need to find our own way of feeling comfortable with what we are and how we present that to the world. There is no right or wrong, and what feels natural for me won't necessarily feel good for another trans man. But here are my thoughts anyway.
My husband has told me, more than once, that I have always 'walked like a man' - whatever that means - so I thought I'd try to describe what that is for me. I have never attempted to walk in a consciously masculine or feminine fashion. I have to admit. I just walk. When I asked my husband to describe my walk to me, he said I take longer strides than the average cis woman, and I don't sway my hips. He also said I walk purposefully, as if I know where I'm going and want to get there. Since I ditched my last piece of 'female' clothing last year, he said he's noticed that I pull my shoulders back more and that sometimes I 'strut' when I walk. I'm not entirely sure what that means.
I do think I'm more comfortable in myself, now that everyone knows who I am, and now that I don't have to dress in any female clothing anymore for appearances' sake, so maybe that extra comfort has made me a little more confident.
I've never worn high heels. I've always been more comfortable in flat shoes and boots. Maybe that has influenced my walk.
My hair is short. I cut it myself. I trim the back and sides with an electric hair trimmer and I cut the top with scissors. I admit that I haven't yet found the confidence to walk into a barbers' and ask them to cut it for me. But I hardly ever went to visit a 'female' hairdresser, even before I came out. I've always cut my own hair.
I don't wear makeup and I didn't like to wear makeup even before I was out. Lipstick, on the odd occasions I wore it in the past (such as on my wedding day), never lasted more than ten minutes before I wiped it off - it always made my lips feel funny. I was never very good at putting on makeup when I had to and I always felt wrong in it, so it was something I avoided.
I've always had a thing for aftershave rather than perfume (I think it smells nicer, generally) and I've bought 'male' deodorant for years because I preferred the scent. There's a thing I did discover, many years ago, about the difference between 'male' and 'female' deodorant. When I was supposed to be female, I shaved my armpits, as 'women' are encouraged to do in our society. If I had 'female' deodorant and used it after shaving, it stung horrendously - and women were supposed to buy special 'no sting' deodorant (which was more expensive) if they wanted to avoid that particular discomfort, not just use any old female deodorant. But here's the thing - 'male' deodorant doesn't sting after you've shaved your armpits. Whatever they put in 'female' deodorant that they don't put in 'male' deodorant is the culprit. But male deodorant smells nicer anyway so I've used that for years. And I stopped shaving my armpits a long time ago.
My clothes are mostly casual. I have a couple of suits, dress shirts, ties and the like, but they don't come out often. Mostly I'm in jeans with button flies (I like button flies far more than zips) or chinos. I will wear a t-shirt over my binder and a long sleeved shirt over that. Sometimes I will button up the shirt but usually I like to leave it unbuttoned. I rarely tuck in my shirts. I find that if I tuck in a shirt, it's a little more obvious that my hips are larger than my waist. I haven't been taking the T long enough for it to have had a noticeable effect on the shape of my body (although it is happening, slowly - my waist is thicker and my thighs are thinner than before I started the hormone). When I do need to tuck in a shirt, I wear something over it, such as a jacket or waistcoat. My jeans and trousers sit on my hips, not my waist.
Obviously, I wear a binder. Not only is it there to change my shape, it makes me feel more comfortable and confident. I've been wearing binders for years but only started wearing them seven days a week last year. It's probably more psychological than physical, but I feel more 'me' since I started wearing them full-time. I've bought binders from three different manufacturers but I prefer one of them over the others. It's easy to get them, too, because they're available online from a stockist in this country. I wear a packer, too, and they're available from the same stockist. That's also a psychological thing, I've found. I feel better when it's there. I feel bereft when it's not. When I bought my first packer, I soon realised that the one I'd bought was too big. I switched to a smaller size soon after and I tend to re-order the same 'make and model' when I need to.
I have, in the past, spent a lot of money on STP devices - some very expensive ones have turned out to be a complete waste of money - but I didn't know that until I'd tried them. These days, I make my own. I know what works for me, now, but it did take a little experimentation.
I don't think I'm 'fooling' anyone with how I look and behave and dress - but I do now feel more at ease with myself. Whether other people think I'm female, or male, or neither, doesn't matter to me as much as how it makes me feel to be presenting myself as me.
And I'm not trying to be a 'typical male' - because there is no such thing.
I've been seeing a psychotherapist for a few weeks. It was a recommended course of action by the psychiatrist at the GIC and so I signed up.
AI couple of weeks ago, I had a moment of clarity in one of our sessions. Yesterday I had another one.
I have to give myself more time to grow into myself. Into the 'new' me.
I've spent so much time and energy in the past year trying to speed things along, with GPs and the medical profession; trying to prove to others that I need treatment and I need to transition; trying to convince everyone that I am what I say I am, that I haven't given myself time to experience it.
To feel it.
I am changing - and I have refused to acknowledge or even recognise those changes. I've been so wrapped up in trying to get from A to B that I haven't stopped to admire the scenery or enjoy the ride.
So I am slowing down. I'm not going to get anxious about the T not affecting my body as rapidly as I'd hoped. Because, it IS affecting my body. And it's affecting my mind. My personality and my disposition.
Last month, my prescription was late. The delivery of the hormone was late. I went five days without it. At first, I was annoyed and anxious. By the time it arrived, I had realised that I was actually calmer and less aggressive than I'd been for a few months.
That was a surprise at the time. I hadn't noticed how much it had bumped up my aggressive tendencies until it was gone. I explained to the therapist that I had noticed this about myself. Guess what she said?
"That's why the RLE is so important. It's not just about proving you mean what you say to the medical professionals. It's about giving yourself time to experience and understand the changes you're making. To your personality as well as to your body. You're becoming a different person even if you've always thought of yourself as that person."
That was a bit of a light bulb moment for me. Sounds silly, but I really hadn't thought in those terms before.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that.
I had always thought that I knew who and what I was. I thought the RLE was a step I had to take to prove who I was to others.
Now I know it's more important to me to view it as a step to take to learn and accept who I'm becoming.
Here in the UK, the Women & Equalities Select Committee (a government thing) has been conducting an inquiry into trans* issues for around six months. Last week, they published their much-anticipated report on their findings and their recommendations. Rumours had already abounded regarding the recommendations their report was likely to make, and it turns out most of the rumours were true.
So, maybe life will get a little easier for trans* people over here, if any of those recommendations are taken forward by the government. I certainly hope so.
I spent a couple of hours yesterday, reading through the report from start to finish. It took a while because it was lengthy, but they seem to have covered most of the things I was expecting, such as how the National Health Service is failing us, and in fact, discriminating against us, how the Prison Service needs to be reformed, how education - in schools, colleges, universities, the NHS, the government departments - everywhere, basically - has to improve. How non-binary people are discriminated against in ways that are just too heartless for me to find the words.
Most of their recommendations are sensible, long-overdue, and not difficult to implement. Other countries have already implemented such simple changes as self-determination of gender identity, making the processes in England (and Wales to some extent) outdated and discriminatory.
Currently, as the process stands here, I will have to wait 17 months for my initial appointment at the Gender Identity Clinic that I've been referred to, rather than the required maximum waiting time for any NHS appointment of 18 weeks. Once I finally get to see someone at that GIC, I then have an assessment process that will take between three and six months, after which someone will decide whether I have 'gender dysphoria' and am in fact transgender, as I claim to be. They will decide that - not me - and their decision will determine whether I get any treatment. That means, time elapsed could be close to two years before someone tells me whether I'm a good candidate for testosterone treatment. Then, as I understand it, they will suggest to me that - if I am hoping for any kind of surgery - I should try living 'in role' so that I can prepare myself for how it will feel to be 'male' for the rest of my life.
I believe I know what it feels like to be male. That's the whole point! And I've been living as male for a f'kin long time already! I may have only 'officially' changed my name last November, but what's a name anyway? I could have chosen a gender neutral name if I'd wanted to. And, at the moment, while I'm already dressing in my male clothing, with my male haircut, and my male mannerisms and my male name, I wonder if I should have done that - chosen a gender neutral name. Because I know what people see when they look at me. Because I can still see it, too. I have a female face. I look like a drag king. Or maybe I look like a butch lesbian. Or perhaps, to some people, I look androgynous. I don't know. But what I do know is that I'm actually getting more anxious now, knowing that I am on a waiting list and that it's such a f'kin long wait. My 'dysphoria' (I hate that word!) has actually become worse as I think about how far away that appointment is. I spent a chunk of time yesterday looking online for what I know is illegal T. And looking for the so-called 'natural' alternatives to T. I need to do something. I can't wait two years.
Dammit! What started out as a fairly positive post ended up as a miserable one. I'm sorry. My original purpose when I started to write this was to say how pleased I was after reading the Inquiry report. How optimistic it had made me feel. How, I had started to think that, by the time I do get to see someone in the GIC, the laws may have changed, or the waiting lists may have shrunk. Or that the government and the medical profession might have actually stopped thinking of 'gender dysphoria' as a mental illness. I'm not mentally ill. I'm certainly not mentally unstable. My problem is that I have the wrong sex organs, that's all.
How do you spell 'woohoo'? is it 'woohoo' or is it 'woo hoo'? One word or two?
I've just had confirmation that the Dr is going to write me prescriptions for testosterone.
Not sure which emoticon to use...
So, I spent a fair amount of time on the web yesterday, researching the various ways I can change my name. While there are some very simple ways to do it, there seems to be one best way that is accepted as 'official' with regards to obtaining a passport and driving licence in the new name, so I reckon I'll have to go with that.
And then it got me thinking about names. For years, I thought I would be going for James as my new name. It just seemed like "me". I can't explain it any other way. Then I liked Jamie for a while too - and with Scottish blood in my family line, James gets converted to Jamie quite often in Scotland, so if I went for James as my official name, I could still let people call me Jamie, I suppose, if that was what I wanted.
For the purposes of registering on this website, I called myself Jay. And I realised I like that name lots too. Last night I came to the conclusion I was still undecided on what I'll end up choosing, although all my favourites begin with J. My birth name begins with J so maybe it's for that reason that I'm seemingly sticking with something beginning with J. My signature could remain the same, if I have a first name beginning with J. My last name isn't going to change any time soon, it would appear, now that my husband is backing me in my desire to transition. But I'm pretty sure that's not the reason I initially decided on James, all those years ago. Changing a signature isn't a big thing. Changing a name is. Choosing something that will work for the rest of my life is a big deal.
But there are millions of names out there to choose from, so how does one choose the perfect new name?
I work for a company that has over 100k employees. There is only one other person, in the whole of the company, who has the same last name as me. Given the size of the population, that's a little surprising. Guess what his first name is? It's Jay. I only remembered that fact last night while lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep.
But today, I think I'm a James, after all. And I think I always have been.
So, I told my dad and my brother that I am going to transition.
There was the expected silence, and then I waffled a little more to fill in the silence, not entirely sure what I was saying but I knew I was rambling. And then I asked if they had anything to say.
My dad said, "It's your life and I wouldn't dream of trying to tell you how to live it. Do whatever makes you happy."
My brother said nothing, but I did notice he suddenly found the rugby on the television rather fascinating. So I said, "You're very quiet. What are you thinking?"
And he turned to me and had a go at my husband, blaming him. That was totally unexpected and, I think, a little unfair. Admittedly, while I was considering moving out - thinking about splitting from my husband - I did talk to my brother about it. I've moaned about things my husband has said and done in the past, and so it's more than likely my fault that my brother now has a lower opinion of my husband than I'd like. But my brother's words were pretty venomous. Not what I was expecting at all. He blew up, spouted a load of hurtful stuff and stormed out of the room.
I decided not to go after him, having realised that it was probably better to give him some space. My dad said, "Give it time; he'll be alright." Then he told me it's going to take a while for him (my dad) to get used to it, too. He said he wanted to apologise up front in case he still calls me by my old name occasionally, because it's going to be a hard habit to break.
My brother returned and repeated what he'd said previously and then he left the house. My dad and I stared at each other for a while and then we started talking. Initially about my plans to transition and then onto other things. My dad talked about my childhood and how he'd noticed plenty of times that I was never really a girl and how it all kind of makes sense really although he will never fully understand it. He said that all he ever wanted for his kids was for them to be happy and then he talked about his own childhood; about how his parents fought all the time but that they loved each other madly and they loved their children. We did a lot of reminiscing and then he reiterated that he wants me to be happy, before I decided it was time to leave.
I haven't seen my brother since that day. I don't really know how long to leave it before I approach him. But I did receive a message from him where he apologised for the words he'd used. I replied to say it was fine (which it wasn't really but that wouldn't have helped) and that I thought he should concentrate on himself and his family and forget about me for a while. He replied to say it was just a lot to take in. And I suppose that's exactly it. It is a lot to take in. It's a lot to process. I've had forty years to come to terms with what I am and what I was going to do about it. It's only in the last three years, give or take, that I've actually thought that I could do something about it.
People around me have known, to varying degrees, and for varying lengths of time, what I am. But now that I'm actually doing something about it, from their point of view I suppose it's a major shock, and they're facing a new reality that they never expected. It's just that, from my point of view, that happened the wrong way around. I expected my brother to be the one who said, "Fine; go for it." I expected my father to not understand and to be upset and to reject what I said. But to have my father say it's fine and my brother to storm away, well, that was unexpected.
It can't last forever, surely?
Two days ago, I composed an email to be sent out to selected people at work. I was going to send it out myself but then my mentor (I call her that, because she's been helping me a lot) suggested it might be better if the email was sent by my manager, with a few words from him to show he's supporting me. So I sent my composed email to him along with a list of people that I wanted him to send it to, and he wrote a very nice intro to it and sent it for me.
Almost immediately, I received three replies from senior managers, saying stuff like, "Well done" and "I'm proud of you" and "I'm here if you need anything".
Today, I arrived at my desk and a guy came over and said, "Thanks for sending me that email. Thanks for including me on the list because I could tell you chose that list of recipients carefully. So I thought maybe that means you see me as a friend." One of the reasons I'd sent it to him was because I can tell that he's pretty influential at work. He's not a senior manager but he's well respected. And when my mother died, he was the only person to say "I'm sorry" and offer me a hug. So I suppose I see him as someone I respect and I kind of hoped he might be on my side when he found out what I'm doing.
And he confirmed that he is on my side. He said, "If you need anything, if anyone gives you any sh*t, if you want to talk to someone, I'm here."
So I said, "There is one thing..." And I explained that, in January, when I will be full-time male after the HR systems and the IT systems have been changed, and my new name is there for all to see, I fully intend to use the male toilets from day one. He said, "And so you should!" But I explained that, because I haven't ventured in them yet, I don't know the layout and I want to know where the stalls are and where the urinals are so that, when the time comes, I can just walk in and go where I need to go, without looking like I'm lost. And without feeling like an intruder.
So he took me inside and showed me around
He said that when I go full-time in January, if I feel I need some backup, especially at the beginning, he'll go to the toilets with me. isn't that nice?
So far, everyone who knows (and it's not a very long list yet) has been incredibly supportive.
At work, anyway.
The only fly in my ointment is my brother. He's still having a hard time with this. He's the only one who has had anything negative to say. I hope that changes soon.
I had a chat today, with my manager, and we're drawing up a plan of who to tell, how to tell them and when to tell them.
It's scarily daunting. It's not only the people I work with, such as my immediate team; it's the people I interact with or the people I see every day. Such as the woman in the restaurant who makes my hazelnut latte each morning, or the guy who delivers parcels to our desks, or the security guards at reception, or the cleaners. Those people don't know me but they see me and they talk to me and they think they know me - and they will be surprised (shocked?) by the upcoming name change. So I can't avoid telling them; not really.
The guy I sit next to... we're on a first name basis and I know he likes cycling and he knows I like cycling and we've had chats about the Tour de France and the Vuelta and the Giro... but that's about it. He knows nothing else about me. But I still have to tell him.
Everyone at work will know. And I mean everyone. As soon as my email address changes... well, everything changes. People I don't actually know will see my dead name disappear from the directory and a new name appear. And therefore I have to be prepared to receive enquiries and questions from a bunch of people who thought they knew me and a bunch of complete strangers too. And I'm talking about a company that has 100,000 employees.
Bring it on!!!
It was a good night.
My train arrived late into London and I had to double-time the walk to meet with the psychologist, but it all went well enough.
I was hot and sweaty and feeling dishevelled by the time I arrived but, to be honest, I didn't look as bad as she did. It was evident that her office had no air con and she had had precious little fresh air all day. She looked more tired and dishevelled than me.
The interview went well. We covered old ground but that didn't rattle me at all. I simply answered the questions honestly and straightforwardly. I've been asked the same questions so many times now, and while they would have annoyed me six months ago, they didn't yesterday. It's as if these people don't read each other's reports - or maybe they're trying to find a different answer.
Anyway, a little over one hour after meeting her, I was checking into my hotel.
I found the gym and used it then took a shower and ordered room service. Great food, I have to say. I spent the rest of the evening reading and listening to music until my eyes started to close.
This morning, after another trip to the gym, I showered and checked out before finding a great coffee shop along the street from my hotel, which is where I am now. My train departs in around 50 minutes so I'm just passing the time and reflecting on yesterday's interview.
She told me to schedule a follow up appointment with the psychiatrist next month and then another one with her in January when she will recommend top surgery. She's already emailed the psychiatrist to agree with his assessment that I need a better T prescription than the one I currently have.
All in all it's been a worthwhile trip to London. Again.
Peace and love, everyone.
I was awake before 3 am, having had one of the most disturbing dreams I've had for some time. I didn't get back to sleep; instead I got up and browsed the internet then I read for a while. And now I'm back on the internet.
Yesterday was a good day for some reasons and a bad day for other reasons.
Good: I got another appointment with the doctor for the end of this week. I got assigned a specialist trans* case worker by our HR department. I bought a train ticket and reserved a room in a posh hotel for a trip to London next week.
Bad: I got stuck at work longer than I'd hoped for and this meant I hit the traffic when I finally finished. I then got stuck in more traffic heading into the city and realised I wasn't going to make it in time for my monthly FtM group meeting in the city centre so I had to abandon thoughts of attending, turn around and go home, which made me angry. I'd been looking forward to that session for three weeks.
This morning I feel weird. I feel full of doubts. I'm questioning everything I've done recently. I'm questioning everything I've set in motion. The dream has caused these feelings, I know. I dreamt of my mother. She said to me, in the dream, "You're so self-absorbed. This is the most selfish act of your life. You're going to ruin everyone's lives. Everyone around you is going to suffer because of what you're doing. You're going to kill your father. He won't be able to cope."
I know what she was referring to, even if she didn't actually say it in the dream. She could only have been talking about one thing. And of course I know it was only my own subconscious mind. But now I'm thinking, "Am I going to kill my father? Am I doing the wrong thing?"
Well, I'd better log off and get ready for work.
It's raining - again.
It's the middle of summer here... "Summer" is a relative term. It means it isn't freezing cold but it doesn't mean we necessarily see the sun. I haven't seen any blue sky for around a week.
But I received a reply from the online doc who told me that they "don't have any reservations about proceeding".
It seems I might have passed their assessment process - or at least, I passed that part and I'm moving on to the next part of the process, whatever that is. So I didn't blow it completely, with my questionnaire responses and with the content of the conversation I had with the 'assessment counsellor'. I think that means I might be allowed to think that the doc is going to write me a prescription at some point.
In my dreams, I've always been male. I don't often remember my dreams - not unless I'm woken up in the middle of one - but when I do remember them, my image of myself is how it should be. I remember telling a friend about that when I was a kid and they laughed at me and thought it was weird that someone with a girl's body saw themselves as a boy when they were asleep. Apparently, that wasn't 'normal'. Most people didn't dream like that, it seemed. When I got laughed at, I decided to keep that little nugget of information to myself for many years.
This morning, I was woken from a dream when our dog barked. At the point in the dream where I left it, I was looking in the mirror. And I had a very nice beard.
Too eager? Most definitely.
That's the only word for it. I think I took on too much and it's worn me down. But at least I've realised now.
My dysphoria (oh, how I hate that word - it's so clinical and doesn't adequately describe the situation) has become so much worse since I got myself on the waiting list for the GIC, came out to everyone and changed my name. So I thought that a good way to remedy that would be to find lots of stuff to occupy me. I volunteered extra hours at the local LGBT centre, I took on training for Advocacy work, I volunteered to prepare a bunch of articles for LGBT History Month in February, and I agreed to take on a similar task for March, preparing a bunch of articles and biographies for posting to the company LGBT Network's website in the days leading up to 31 March (International Trans Day of Visibility).
I've worked hard on the preparation of those items; throwing myself headlong into the work, to distract myself from the dysphoria. And to distract myself from the knowledge that I couldn't write my usual stories. That writer's block was killing me because that's my usual outlet and I didn't have it.
So, I've been spending weekends prepping stuff for March (I have to do it at weekends because of the way our company network is set up - so many websites & resources aren't available at work because they're blocked by the security systems). I have full biographies of around twenty five different notable trans* figures from history, as well as information on notable trans-related events from history. I have written a "Trans 101" for people who know next to nothing about the subject. I have written articles on non-binary identities, a piece on non-binary pronouns, articles on understanding & respect, and I gathered together a bunch of verbatim quotes from trans* people I know; these quotes span the full range of experiences of being trans* and come from people who identify as belonging somewhere on the trans* spectrum. That final piece will be posted on 31 March and, even if I say so myself, it's a very powerful piece - emotional, thought-provoking and sincere. And it gives a real flavour of the thoughts and experiences of trans* people.
I asked the Trans* Advocate at our company to read and review all the stuff I'd prepared for the lead up to 31 March and she said she was "too busy" and I hadn't given her "enough notice" - that was on 10 March. By my reckoning, I've given her 21 days to read the stuff. So she obviously isn't interested. But what annoyed me more was she said, in her emailed reply to my request, "Be very careful with the language you use in anything you write - I wouldn't want you to offend any of my trans* colleagues."
Like, what?? I AM ONE OF YOUR TRANS* COLLEAGUES!
Does she think I don't know what I'm talking about? Does she think I don't know what it's like to be transgender? Does she think I'm going to be insensitive and use inappropriate language and terminology?
I've known I was transgender since before I was ten years old. Just because I have refrained from transitioning until now, doesn't make me a non-expert.
So, anyway, I've reviewed everything I've written & prepared; reviewed it so many times now that I've become word-blind - and now I don't trust anything i've written. And I'm so annoyed that I've come to this point. Because I know that I threw myself into that task so heavily that it was bound to hurt when I had finished it, regardless of anything the company's Trans* Advocate had to say.
Because, at the end of the day, I was doing it all for myself, not for anyone else. I needed the distraction. I so desperately needed the distraction. And now I want to delete everything and forget I ever started it.
And I want to cry.
But I can't cry. I haven't cried for months. I seem to have lost the ability.
So instead I pick fights with my husband. Yeah, that's really productive, isn't it?
The only good thing to have come out of all of this is that my writer's block has gone. I wrote three chapters for one of my books, yesterday. I just finished one chapter for another one, and I enjoyed doing it. The words have come back. Now that I have my trusted outlet again, maybe I'll be able to pull myself together.
My husband has really changed his opinions and outlook since that chat we had back in October. I can't quite get my head around how supportive he's being. And even though he'll probably never read this, I want to thank him. He's being wonderful.
The other night, while I was at my FtM meeting, he went to a pub to watch the football, but they wouldn't let him in because the place was crowded already. So he wandered back to Canal Street. Canal Street is the heart of the 'Gay Village' here in Manchester. In the past, my husband wouldn't have gone there altogether voluntarily, by which I mean it wouldn't have been his suggestion to go there. But on Monday, I took him there before my meeting and took him into one of my favourite bars. After the bouncers wouldn't allow him in the pub of his choice, he went back to Canal Street and visited a couple of bars, then went back into Taurus (the bar I'd taken him to).
Inside, one of the barmen recognised him from earlier and said, "Hey, weren't you here before, with your wife?" My husband replied, "No, I was here with my husband."
He told me all this after I left my meeting and met up with him. He said they'd had a great chat and the barman had welcomed him as if he'd been a regular at the place.
We visited another place before we headed home - Churchills. My husband had never been in there before, either. It's the kind of place he probably wouldn't have dreamed of setting foot inside, only a few months ago. Saturday nights in Churchills are a riot of diversity and I love them but it's not really my husband's thing. Or, it wasn't. Before we left, he suggested I should take him back on a Saturday night.
When we got home that night, he said he'd really enjoyed himself in the bars on Canal Street and that we should go more often. I've been going there for years but not with him. But it seems that's going to change.
I'm looking outside as I type this and the clouds have just rolled in - and they're black. I think we're in for one huge storm any minute. Yesterday, we had one. The rain was monsoon-like. It flooded everywhere, and yet the water had all disappeared half an hour after the rain ceased. Presumably because we've had a couple of weeks of almost unbroken sunshine.
I know I'm rambling about inconsequential rubbish but it's because I don't know how to articulate what I want to say. I've been away for a while. And now that I've remembered to come back, I feel like I need to apologise. That may be a little weird, really, considering I don't actually know anyone on here, although I did convince myself for a while that I did know people.
The reality is, I'm here for a distraction because I'm angry. Although I had been told, six months ago, that I had maybe between 73 and 84 weeks to wait before the Gender Identity Clinic sent for me, I recently discovered that wasn't accurate - and it's more likely to be over two years. Now, that might be only an additional 20 weeks, but that's another four or five months. And I changed my name and went full-time last December. Without a sniff of any hormones. And it's driving me mad, because I'm constantly meeting new people, or speaking to strangers on the phone, and feeling somewhat obliged to explain the situation to them. Which I don't want to do - not to complete strangers, because it's none of their business. And it's awkward and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Here comes the rain.
I feel like people at work are looking at me, waiting to see changes that aren't happening. Everyone's being polite and they're using my name and the correct pronouns, but I see them looking at me questioningly. I have to keep reminding myself it's probably strange for them, and a new experience. Although I know there are other trans* people who work for the company, none of them are in the same location as I am, so I'm something of a novelty. And I may be wrong about this, but I believe I'm the only out trans male at work. All the other out trans* people I know at work are either non-binary or trans women.
So I decided I couldn't wait much longer. I couldn't wait for the GIC to send for me in another 18 months or 2 years from now. I have looked into private treatment and I have discussed it with my GP, who agrees that would be a good move, at least in the interim, while I wait and wait for the GIC. And I found someone who is willing to treat me - prescribe the T for me - if I pass her assessment process. So far, all the correspondence has been via emails. But I've just sent an email that was difficult to write.
A couple of days ago, the remote doctor sent me a bunch of questions to answer, as a prelude to an appointment with an assessment counsellor. The questions were very probing, rude at times, and bordering on offensive in some cases. Now, I expected to have to answer intrusive questions in a one-to-one assessment scenario, face to face with a trained individual, but I didn't expect to have to sit down and compose responses like I just have, and send them via email. The experience has left me very wound up and angry, and at the same time I'm wondering if I've just dashed my chances of receiving treatment from her. What if my answers tell her something about me that make her think I'm not suitable for treatment? What if I've just messed up big-style?
I'm worried. But I'm also still annoyed at the impudence of some of the questions. I need to find a way to calm down and just wait for her response. So I'm going for a walk in the rain.
I hope everyone is ok. Take care of yourselves.
That was my first Christmas as a man. Officially, that is. Unofficially, I've been that way for years
But all the documentation, and the websites, and the bank cards and credit cards that I have in my possession, showing my new, real name, they all tell me that I'm officially a man now. (Notwithstanding the fact that my birth certificate still says "girl" on it, but it'll be a long time before that gets changed, so I'm not counting that).
I've just changed my gender on here, in that little dropdown thingy on the profile page. That's a technical term, for all the non-IT people out there - "dropdown thingy"
I just changed it. From "Transgender" to "Male". Because when I logged in, I looked at my profile and thought, "My gender isn't transgender. That's an adjective to describe me, maybe, but it's not my gender." At best I would choose "Trans male" if it was there, or "Trans man". Or maybe "AFAB". But, hey, I'm male and I'm proud of it. So I changed the dropdown thingy.
I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone on here a fabulous 2016 and I hope it brings each and every one of you everything you desire. Personally, I desire the T, but I'm in for a long wait, it seems. Maybe this time next year my voice will be a little deeper and I'll be moaning about having to shave every morning before I go to work, but who knows...?
Hey... and before I forget... if anyone in the UK happens to read this and they are planning a visit to Sparkle 2016, and they feel inclined to have a wee dram or a cup of tea with a Mancunian who is also planning a visit to Sparkle 2016... well, as long as you're not an axe murderer or something...
My thanks go to all you guys and girls who have provided such valuable advice to me this year. Much respect. And hugs. Ok, maybe just one hug. A quick one. Before anyone sees.
Have a Happy New Year. xx
I haven't been around for a while (sorry!) because I've been burying myself in work (lot and lots of it) and in other stuff, to occupy my mind, or to distract myself from unwanted thoughts to be more precise.
Been doing a bit of training for ATH (Action for Trans* Health) here in the UK - training to become an Advocate. I'm also volunteering for the Trans* programme at the LGBT Foundation here in Manchester, so I have been spending a fair amount of time hanging around the LGBT Foundation headquarters on Richmond Street. I was there all day yesterday. That's where the monthly FTM group meets although it seems like months since I've been to one of those (but it hasn't been months at all).
I've been preparing a bunch of articles and stuff for LGBT HM to be posted on our company LGBT+ internal website, and also preparing information and biographies of notable trans* people for the week leading up to 31 March (International Transgender Day of Awareness) - the plan is to have a different article and a different bio uploaded to the site each day of the week leading to ITDoA.
I've done all this (and I am continuing to do it) because I still have my writer's block
If I can't write something, I send myself crazy.
I hope everyone is doing ok... xxx
I've spent a small fortune lately on clothes. And every single thing I've bought, I've loved - and everything has fit me perfectly.
Two things about that surprise me.
Firstly, when I used to shop for women's clothes, I'd buy something (without trying it on, invariably, because, in bricks and mortar shops, I hated using changing rooms so I didn't use them, and when buying online, you just don't try things on) and I'd get whatever it was home and try it on. And find that it didn't fit. It took me ages to work out that I always had an image of my own body that never really matched reality, for some reason. So, I would always get the sizes wrong. I was completely useless at buying female clothing. I had stacks of stuff I never wore and every six months I'd have a clear out and bag it all up and take it to a charity shop. All brand new, never worn, stuff.
Secondly, I hate - loathe and detest - shopping. Always have. As soon as I was hooked up to the internet, that's when I started my online shopping. The world wide web and online stores were invented for me; I'm convinced of that. But, still, I don't like shopping at all. I do it when I have to, not because I want to. I'll wear clothes until they're pretty much falling apart and have to be replaced.
Over the last couple of months I've bought loads of clothes, though. Casual shirts, cargo pants, jeans with button flies. And they have all fit me better than I would have expected. I've been wearing men's clothing at work for a few months and, either nobody has noticed, or if they have, they haven't mentioned it.
Last week, I decided to buy a suit. I did desperately need a new one, admittedly. I've tried buying men's suits in the past and never found one that seemed to fit right or look good. I'd get the trousers to fit right and the jacket would be too big. Sleeves too long. Shoulders too big. That sort of thing. I know you can get suits where you buy the jacket and trousers separately and therefore in different sizes, but I've never been interested enough in buying clothes that I would make such an effort. So what I've tended to do is buy a black jacket (blazer type) and team that up with black trousers I already own. Not perfect, but at least they fit. Then I spotted a suit, online, last week, that was ridiculously cheap. And I thought, well, if it doesn't fit, I won't have wasted too much money on it. So I bought one. It was delivered the next day.
When I tried it on, it was absolutely perfect. I mean, it could have been made for me. And, even if I say so myself, I looked effing good in it. I paraded in front of my husband and he agreed, it's the best suit I've ever bought. So yesterday I jumped online again and ordered two more, in the other colours that they have available. They will arrive tomorrow. And, while I was online yesterday, I bought half a dozen shirts and four ties. And then I just seemed to go mad after that, buying all kinds of clothes. I've spent an absolute fortune. And for some reason I couldn't explain, I was excited about all of it arriving.
And then my husband pointed something out to me, not half an hour ago, that I hadn't considered. He reminded me I've been working out quite a bit lately. And I've been concentrating on my upper body more than I have in the past. And he told me it's working.
That's why the clothes are fitting me better.
Or maybe I'm just better at buying men's clothes than women's.
Things that make me smile…
Seeing the leaves appearing on the trees in spring. Watching winter give way to spring always makes me happy. The leaves are bright and vibrant and fresh. It seems that, suddenly, everywhere appears to be more alive. People smile more and I guess it’s because they are more hopeful and filled with expectation now that the darkness and cold of winter is becoming a memory.
Blue sky. Don’t get me wrong, I love clouds (I’m even a paid-up member of the Cloud Appreciation Society) - but you can’t beat a blue sky. There’s something basic and primeval about the way humans react to certain colours - and the blue of the sky is one of those colours that homo sapiens have reacted to for millennia. It’s ingrained in our DNA, I believe.
Seeing Valentino Rossi win a race. Go Vale!!! You’ll always be my hero. #46
Jumping on one of my bikes when the sky is blue and heading through the countryside never fails to put a smile on my face. If you’ve never ridden a bike, you’re missing out on what could well be one of the best experiences of your life.
Watching children jump into puddles left by the rain. Or watching them play in the leaves when it’s autumn. Reminds me of when I was a kid.
The smell of good coffee. Heavenly. Also the smell of nutmeg or cinnamon.
Talking of smells... There’s this aftershave (cologne) that I fell in love (or lust) with when I was a teenager. It is called Aramis. One of my teachers wore it every day at school. If I ever catch a whiff of Aramis, I grin like a fool.
Music. Music always calms me. Or it invigorates me. I’ll listen to many types; there aren’t many genres I don’t like. The only exceptions are musicals and country music - I’ve never managed to get into them. But most other types of music will make me relax and smile.
Writing. That’s another thing that calms my mind and makes me happy. Except when I have a block.
Tomorrow, I'm talking to my team. They know I'm transgender but they don't yet know I'm transitioning. We all work in different locations, so we're a virtual team. I haven't seen two of them since February, one of them since some time last year, and my manager since maybe June.
A couple of weeks ago, I hinted, none-too-subtly, to my manager that it might be a good idea if we could all arrange to meet, in the same location (probably London), before the end of this year. I suggested we could make a thing of it, planning our work for 2016, going out for a meal and a drink in the evening, and while we were all there together, I could tell the whole team, face to face, about my plans. Unfortunately, the getting-together in the same location part hasn't worked out. So tomorrow, I'll be in Manchester while the rest of the team will be in London and Edinburgh when I tell them, via telephone, what my plans are.
Plans that are already well under way.
I may or may not have already mentioned that I was assigned a 'specialist' HR case worker by the company I work for. It's his job to help me with stuff like getting my name changed on all the HR and IT systems. It's his job to help with guidance and 'awareness training' for those who need it - my colleagues, I mean, not me - I'm fully 'aware'. He is supposed to be able to help me with the planning of communications, whether it's via emails or face to face meetings or briefings. He's supposed to explain to people the company policy regarding transitioning in the workplace, diversity policies, reiterate what's acceptable and what's not acceptable with regards to how they treat me. He's supposed to be available to explain to people and plan the practicalities of such things as using toilet/washroom facilities. He's supposed to be assisting me, basically.
So far, he's been useless.
I'm not sure if it's only my perception, but I get the impression he's uncomfortable talking to me. Or uncomfortable talking about the subject. I have to keep chasing him for information.
I fired off an email to him before I left the office today, asking him to update me on progress with the changes to HR systems. If I don't have a reply waiting for me when I get back into the office tomorrow, I'm going to request that someone else is assigned to me. It's stressful enough without having to wonder what he's up to and what progress he's making.
My manager has been great. He even said to me yesterday, "I want to make sure you understand I'm there for you; 100% with you in this. I think what you're doing is really brave and I know the whole team will support you. And I completely support you. And I'm not just saying that because I'm your manager and it's supposed to be my job to support you."
So, tomorrow, I tell the team. And then I want to tell a few other people around the office; people I've had some kind of working relationship with over the years; people who will be sharing the toilets/washrooms with me soon, even though they don't yet know it.
And then I'll have to tell the security guards, because if I don't, they'll wonder what's going on when a new ID badge appears with a new name on it and I go to the reception area to collect it. They're a generally nice bunch of guys that I've had a laugh with over they years, but they don't know about me. And they're all incredibly big and masculine, as security guards tend to be, so I'm not sure how they're going to take it. But I shouldn't really care about that, I know. It's not really their concern what I do with my life, as long as I flash my badge and follow the procedures and do the job I'm employed to do.
And that sums it up, really, doesn't it? These are a bunch of people that I have become acquainted with over the many years I've worked for that company. They don't know me, really, and I don't know them. They're not my friends. We don't hang out after work. We don't socialise. I know all of them enough to say hello to them and to ask whether they had a good weekend. And they do the same to me. And as long as I continue to do the job to the best of my ability, the job I get paid to do, then whatever else is going on in my life is not their business.
That's what I keep telling myself. So, why is it that I find myself rehearsing conversations with all of them in my head, night after night, keeping myself awake?
I'm going to be a good boy today and I'm not going to complain (much).
Feeling fairly upbeat, actually - certainly compared to the last time I visited the site. Since I last wrote, my questionnaire responses were passed to an assessment counsellor, and she emailed me to arrange an appointment to talk. We spoke on the phone a few days ago. The worst part was that she covered ground that had already been covered in the questionnaire, in that she asked similar questions that touched on the same subjects, and while I kept my calm and provided the responses in a polite manner, I was still thinking to myself, "Why do you want to know intimate details about my sex life?" and, "Didn't you read the questionnaire?" She asked me what kind of lower surgery I want and I could feel myself getting exasperated (because my answer was on the questionnaire) so I had to take a few breaths before I responded. I don't even have a hormone prescription. At this point in time, surgery of any kind is quite possibly years away, judging by the pace of things in Gender Services. Can't they just give me the T before we get to that kind of discussion? I didn't say that out loud, of course.
Anyhow, I managed to get through the interrogation without messing up too much, I think, because the next day, the online GP emailed to ask if I was ok after the conversation, and ask whether I needed any more 'counselling'. I hadn't felt as if I'd had any 'counselling' though. If I'm totally honest, I feel that the conversation with the so-called assessment counsellor was a waste of her time because we basically rehashed the questionnaire. But what do I know? Maybe she was reading between the lines, or monitoring stress levels in my voice, or drawing conclusions from the pauses in my answers to the questions. Or maybe she was checking that I was giving the same answers as I'd already provided. I haven't a clue. It's part of the process, I realise that. And I have to play the game.
The truth is, I don't need any counselling from her. I have a very nice counsellor already. I've been seeing him on a weekly basis for a couple of months. He's great. And I can continue to see him for as long as I want. He has boosted my confidence and reassured me about many things. I always feel better after I've had a session with him. And I had a session with him yesterday.
I know I said, a while back, that I didn't want to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I think I was being stubborn back then. I can recommend it now. Even though, when I first visited him, I didn't think it was going to be a useful exercise, I can say now that it has been.
So, I still don't know whether I'm going to get a T prescription from this online doc anytime soon, but do you know what? I've survived this long without one, so I have decided I can survive as long as it takes. And if I have to wait another two years, I'll wait another two years.
Gotta go now. The football is starting soon. I'm sitting here, resplendent in my Republic of Ireland jersey, waiting for kickoff. Come on, Ireland!
I logged on here a couple of hours ago to post something, because it's been a few days since I last visited this site. I've been busy at work this week and too lazy to log on in the evenings. And I started reading instead of writing. And then I got totally distracted by a Twitter notification *rolls eyes*
Last week, one of my all-time music heroes favourited one of my tweets and I was beside myself with excitement and glee (I know, I'm easily pleased!)
Tonight it happened again. Different all-time music hero, same effect *rolls eyes once more*
Is it just me? Or do other people do that? (Get excited, I mean, not roll their eyes...)
I wanted to tell someone. I wanted to tell anyone who would listen. "He favourited my tweet! HE favourited my tweet! He read my ****ing tweet!"
Anyway... I took part in that call at work today. The one where I talked to over 100 strangers about being transgender. I was nervous as hell last night (couldn't sleep), worried in case I was going to make a fool of myself. I was nervous as I waited for my turn to speak. And then when I opened my mouth I just couldn't shut up. I talked about some of the things I've already blogged about here - my mother, my brother, my husband, how they accepted me (or not) and how I've spent half my life hiding what I was and how I can't do that any more. I told everyone that I have to be me at work from now on; that I can't hide it any more. It's too tiring; it's too draining to lock it all away. I hinted that I'll probably be transitioning while I work there (and of course that's entirely dependent on whether I get the help I need from the medical profession - I have an appointment next Monday and my husband is coming with me).
After the call, I was flooded with emails from people who had heard me speak. All of them were using words like "inspirational", "brave", "role model" and I felt like a fraud while reading them. How could they possibly think those things when I'm guilty of denying all of this for so long, terrified of how people would react? I can't get my head around it. I was even asked to attend a meeting in December to talk about the subject again in front of a bunch of execs - C-level suits. I quickly declined that offer.
But the best thing to come out of it was an email from a guy I met in February. We attended a course together back then and he had told me how, after years of marriage (to a woman) he had finally admitted he was gay and they had amicably divorced and he had turned his life around. He heard me speaking on the call today and wrote to me to congratulate me. It really meant a lot to me to read his words. Back in February, I had been calling him brave and today he used that word on me. I accepted that word from him, because I admire him. It was him, and people like him, who had made me realise that I needed to do something with my own life and that it was always possible to turn your life around. It's never too late to do something that will help you reach for your dreams.
I've just spent a week away from home, working. Early starts: late finishes. Not so much sleep over the past few days but it was a good week, nevertheless.
I've spent the last few evenings in the company of my team mates and my manager. It was the first time we had all managed to get together like that for a couple of years. And it was great to see their initial reactions to my appearance were positive. It was great to experience their total acceptance of who I am first-hand, in the flesh, because while we've all interacted over the phone many times, that was the first time I've been in their presence since I began to transition.
I'm lucky to work with people like that. I'm also lucky to work for the company that I work for. The acceptance is almost universal. Over the course of this week, I met many of the other employees and had to introduce myself and talk to them; the vast majority were strangers to me before this week. Not one person looked at me oddly when I gave them my name. Not one person avoided me when they realised I was transgender. Everyone behaved impeccably towards me.
This week has boosted my confidence and self-esteem enormously.
Peace and love to everyone.
I know what works for me. The best therapy for me is immersing myself in my music or my painting or my writing. So I just bought myself a new synthesizer. It was either that or download a shed load of new music. And I've spent quite enough money on music downloads lately.
I seem to have lost my muse when it comes to writing. The stories are in my head, but they aren't making it onto the virtual paper of my computer screen, for some reason.
It's annoying; having all these tales rattling around inside my brain but unable to get them out. I have this one story on my mind at the moment that is almost perfectly formed. I have the characters, the storyline, a lot of the dialogue and most of the action between the two main protagonists, but each time I sit down to write it, there's a block - and I sit, staring at the screen, thinking, "How do I start?" It's stupid. I know the whole story; I know how it starts, how they develop their relationship, how their tale ends. But can I get it out of my brain? Nope.
The last time I had a block like this, I worked out what I'd done wrong. On that particular story, I had backed myself into a corner, leaving me with a chapter I knew I had to write, but unable to get it out. So I went back and changed the previous two chapters, allowing me to then attack that next chapter differently. It worked. But now, if I can't even make a start on this new story, I can't get myself out of the corner. And these two characters are occupying my dreams as well as my waking mind, so I have to do something about them soon. Otherwise, I may have lost one of my therapies for a while.
Maybe that's why I'm rambling on here. Sorry
Monday morning, first thing, I had an appointment with a GP. Not my GP but one at my practice. She was lovely. She was also not 100% surprised when I told her I was trans and that I wanted her to refer me to a GIC. She said that I was the third person in the past couple of months who had approached her about the same thing.
There's more of us around, these days, it seems... Personally, I think it's just people like me, getting braver or at least less scared to poke their head above the parapet.
The doc then went on to suggest that "Gender Services" in my area (those were her words, not mine) are really poor (I knew that already, of course, having done some research) and that it would take a while to get an appointment with gender identity specialists, but, in the meantime she would do two things. Firstly, she would get me an appointment with a psychologist, asap. I kind of expected that, although I'm not too thrilled about the thought of analysing my life with a stranger, only to have to do it all again when I do get to sit in front of a gender specialist. Secondly, the doc said she would call a meeting with all the other docs in the practice and work on a strategy for trans people who approach them in future, because she knows these docs are not being as useful as they should be right now. She wants to get all the GPs together to agree to a unified approach and get them all up to speed on what's available, what they should be doing, providing, etc. Which can't be a bad thing. So, although I'm still no better off, the fact that I turned up on Monday and she knew she couldn't help immediately means she has been spurred on to do something about it. Hopefully that will happen. I'm gonna make another appointment to see her in a couple of weeks.
Monday night, I attended my first FtM group meeting at the local LGBT centre. There were around eighteen of us, and when the guy who was running it asked, "Who's new tonight?" around half of us stuck our hands up. So I didn't feel out of place on that front. I did feel out of place on the age front - they were all so much younger than me. But I was pretty pleased about that, in a funny way. Because, when I thought about it, that meant they had most of their lives ahead of them to live in the way they were supposed to live - as men. Me? I've lived over half my life already. Faking it as a woman.
It was a really good evening. Everyone was so nice and friendly. I'm going to make it a regular thing. They also have social evenings where significant others can join. My husband's looking forward to that.
Work was crazily busy this week. Again. For two solid weeks, I've hardly had time to breathe. I've been falling asleep in front of the TV at night. But I feel more relaxed, even with the pressure of the workload. I'm sleeping better than I have in ages.
The "coming out" call at work (the one I did last week) was recorded at the time, and this week the LGBT network sent out the replay details to everyone, so I've had a few more emails, messages and phone calls about it. All very positive and encouraging, which was nice. They're going to run a follow up call in early December and they've invited external speakers from Stonewall and GIRES as well as other helpful bodies who can provide advice. I've been invited to take part again; they want to run a Q&A session. Goodness only knows what kind of questions I'll be asked. Hopefully only polite ones.
Since I started to come out more and more, I've had a couple of awkward questions. Well, frankly, rude questions. One person asked me how I have sex. I told them it was none of their business. Another asked me how big my d**k is. For a moment, I was tempted to ask, "Which one?" Just to confuse them. In the end, I settled for, "It'll never be as big as yours, because you're just one huge d**k, aren't you?"
I know, I know. I need to get myself in check. I'm sure I'll be asked worse things than that before all this is over.