At the end of my last blog post I said that I had had confirmation that the next Butterfly Club open meeting was happening, and that I would be going along. Well I did go, and while it was a very positive experience, it wasn’t quite what I had expected.
On Tuesday night I came home quick, made a very fast evening meal after having prepared most of the ingredients the previous night (none of your out-of-a-packet rubbish for us) and had it all eaten by about 6.20pm, which I think is some kind of record. As usual, I had my meal wolfed down much faster than my wife and daughters, so I raced upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom with a range of Kirsty’s clothes. Bra, dress, waist cincher, panties, and tights all went on, quickly covered up with Bob’s jumper and jeans. Then I managed to cut my face to ribbons trying to shave as close as possible – not the best look for a girl to have and there’s only so much that you can cover up with concealer!
The night before I had packed my bag with everything I would need (make up, shoes, breast forms, wig etc) so I grabbed that bag, put on my coat and left. Actually, I didn’t put on Bob’s coat, I put on Kirsty’s coat. My little signal to the world that this was something different from a normal male trip out, but subtle enough that it wasn’t blatantly obvious. I’m wearing the coat in question in the pic on the left, which I only include here as it was bargain of the century – a good-as-new woollen M&S thigh length coat for £9. On a good day eBay is a girl’s best friend.
So off I went in the car into the centre of Belfast to the top secret location for the Butterfly Club’s open meeting. It officially began at 8 but I had arranged to arrive a little early to give me time to do my make-up. I was met at the door by an older gentleman wearing a suit and tie, who asked if I was Kirsty. Assuming he was the doorman I nodded and laughed nervously at the absurdity of this question considering I would have looked unquestionably male at the time, coat notwithstanding. On reflection now as I write this blog, I realise that is it actually the first time in my life that another human being has called me by my chosen female name.
I got shown into what appeared to be the ladies’ disabled toilet to get changed. It was ok really, there was a full length mirror and a smaller wall mirror. I was mostly dressed already, so it was just the make-up run which I’m getting down to just over 20 minutes now, and then my nails. I messed up the nails a bit because I didn’t wait long enough for them to dry, then got some on my skin, had to get the nail varnish remover out to clean up my hands and so on. The pressures of wanting to look my best in a hurry I suppose. I reckon the big red cut on my chin probably looked worse anyway.
In the middle of all this I heard one other male voice outside the door mumbling something, then the doorman’s reply “there’s one in there getting changed” obviously referring to me. I had expected more people. At about ten past eight I emerged from the changing room / ladies’ loo as beautifully feminine as I could manage ready to face my public. My public consisted of two men, one of whom I had met already. The man I had thought was the doorman introduced himself as Linda, and then introduced the other man as Nicky. At least Nicky is a gender-neutral name so it felt a bit less surreal.
I followed these two down a short corridor into a cosy room laid out with settees, all the while very conscious that even though I was only wearing 2-inch heels I must have towered at least 10 inches above both my companions. I felt nervous and self-conscious. Real people had now seen me fully feminised and it was the point of no return. Still, they didn’t immediately burst out laughing on seeing me, which was something of a relief.
A quick digression now on pronouns. I think the appropriate and polite thing to do where transgender people are concerned is to use the pronoun appropriate to how the person is presenting. So when I am presenting as Kirsty, I prefer to be “she”, when presenting as Bob, “he” is absolutely fine. What I hadn’t legislated for in my own trans grammar, is how to refer to people presenting as male while using female names. I’m going with “he” for the purposes of this blog as they were both presenting as male, but if that is not appropriate, please let me know. I’m making this up as I go along after all!
Linda is the president of the Belfast Butterfly Club, not a doorman. He also makes a very nice cup of tea. Nicky is much more experienced at trannying (if that’s a word) than I am, but he had also come along to check out the Butterfly Club. So essentially the three of us sat around for about an hour and a half speaking about our trans lives, what we wanted from the club, and even a load of chat that was nothing to do with being trans at all. Within about 5 minutes of sitting down I almost forgot I was dressed, it just seemed the most natural thing in the world that I would be presenting in a feminine manner because that is who I am. It also helped that Linda and Nicky were both very complimentary about my appearance, which gave me a glow inside – I’m so shallow! And listening to two voices of experience was a real eye-opener for me, particularly in allaying my fears about being out in public.
Really I have two main fears about going out in public; being attacked/ridiculed, and being recognised. On both counts, they told me that what was in my head was massively worse than reality. They said that they have never been attacked, and the worst ridicule is a gang of youths shouting abuse from 40 yards away. As for being recognised, they both said that you don’t realise how different you look when dressed and that it is very unlikely that anyone would recognise you. It sounds plausible to me, but my wife is far from convinced (that’s maybe for a different blog). I think that if (and it is still “if”) I go out in public it will be with other more experienced girls, at least at first. There’s safety in numbers after all.
So overall I had a lovely experience with two really friendly people. I realised quite early on that this wasn’t the Butterfly Club at all, this was Linda vetting potential members as well as offering support. Linda gave Nicky and me each a membership form, which I initially stuffed inside my handbag as I though it was just a flyer, but retrieved later. As I had enough cash with me to cover the small membership fee I filled out the form there and then and handed it over. I hope Nicky joins too, I liked him.
The following day I received an email from Linda confirming directions to the club’s own premises (a converted garage of all things) where I would be welcome to attend the regular weekly get-togethers every Wednesday with a group of members most if not all of whom will be dressed in their preferred gender. I can’t wait – and updates will follow, obviously. I’m nothing if not a diligent blogger!
One other thing – I am now an official member as listed on the club website. Kirsty is no longer a figment of my imagination, I have external proof of my existence! Click here, then click on “Membership” and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Until next time
Kirsty (member no 194)