I’m constantly shocked at just how easily I have been able to go out in public as a woman, and how little attention I have attracted. Perhaps the relative ease with which I have achieved the level of “out”ness that I have reached is at least partially responsible for my mind racing ahead and wanting to present a female image to the world more and more often, in fact at all times. Or maybe it’s just what my friend Valerie South calls the “Pink Fog”. Time will tell, but I seem to be increasingly identifying with the feminine and rejecting the masculine, and it shows no sign of abating. There are developments afoot which I’m not quite ready to blog about yet, which may help me understand just what this all means for me, but for now I’ll just continue to enjoy every opportunity I get to let out my inner woman. I just wish there were more of them.
Every Wednesday I go along to the Belfast Butterfly Club, our local TG support group. So much you know already. What I am determined to do is to spend some time interacting with the real world beforehand, and not just hiding away in the relatively safe environment of the club premises. I’m not going to blog about what happens in the club much more, because it’s just a few friends sitting round having a chat and a cup of tea. It’s great, and I love going there, but it’s probably not the most exciting read. Anyway, what could I write? I went to the club, chatted with some combination of Andrea, Michelle, Linda, Adrienne, Michael, Pamela and Terri, drank some tea, went home. At least my blog posts would be a lot shorter! On reflection, I think I’d be better concentrating on what happens outside the club.
Wednesday week before last I went out shopping, which is my usual pre-club activity. For some reason I was feeling particularly confident in my appearance, and I browsed round the clothing in Marks & Spencer for a good half an hour without a care in the world. No funny glances, no double takes, yet again I was getting the feeling that I was either passing as a woman, or going unnoticed. It wasn’t the first time I had had this feeling, but it still felt every bit as wonderful as it had done previously.
This time round however, I wasn’t just doing a bit of browsing, I was genuinely looking for something a bit more summery that I could wear over the coming months. If you look at the outfit I was wearing for my shopping trip, it’s not exactly appropriate for Northern Ireland’s fleeting summer. My initial thought had been to get some sort of maxi dress, but they are quite strappy which I thought would show off too much of my unfeminine body shape. Coincidentally, both Val and my great online friend Ruth Martina have blogged recently about this very problem, the difficulties we trans* girls have in summertime, and they voice the problems better than I could.
Well after a lot of browsing and holding various items up to the mirror in front of myself, I finally found a really lovely combination of a white blouse and blue floral patterned skirt. When I held them up to myself at the mirror they certainly looked the part, but they were a little more expensive than what I would usually pay for clothes. Not break-the-bank expensive, but enough that I didn’t want to take a chance on whether or not they would fit. This meant one thing – for the first time I would have to brave the ladies’ changing rooms.
The changing rooms in this particular shop are attended, so there was a woman standing at the entrance to the changing rooms checking how many items you were taking in and giving you an appropriate token. I picked the blouse and skirt off the rail, both in size 16 like all my female clothing, and took them up to the changing room. “How many items”, she asked. “Two”, I squeaked in my best female voice. Not great, but a bit better than the last time I had tried to buy something. She handed me the token and in I went to the shock realisation that… women’s changing rooms are exactly the same as men’s changing rooms, but with more background chatter and less flatulence. I slipped off the clothes I had been wearing and looked at myself in the mirror in my underwear and tights. An odd feeling, the male shoulders were still there but with a full bra and a bit of secret magic to give myself some cleavage. I still had my tights on, as well as the hair and make-up, so on the whole I still looked more female than male, which pleased me greatly. On went the blouse. Great. I loved it, and it fitted perfectly. Then the skirt. It looked as good on as I had hoped, but it was too big!
I’ll let you into a secret here. Since the end of February I have been taking regular exercise and cutting down on the amount of junk I eat, drastically reducing cakes, biscuits and crisps, and as a result I have lost over 20lbs and still counting. I’m probably still around 10lbs away from my target, but my resolve is strong. When I joined the gym, I told my wife that I wanted to lose weight, get fit and improve my general health. She replied “You don’t expect me to believe that do you? You just want a flat stomach so you look good in a dress”. Very astute, is Mrs Kirsty.
Anyway, the size 16 skirt being too large was the first real outward sign of that weight loss, so I was delighted. Only problem was, in order to try on a 14 I would have to go through the whole process again. I changed back into my own clothes, and emerged from the cubicle. More conversations followed. I had to explain to the attendant that the blouse was perfect, but the skirt was too small, and I was just nipping out to get a smaller size. I even managed a little happy chat with her about how it’s great, my diet must be working. All fine, and more acceptance to make me even happier. Then I got back into a different cubicle and tried on the blouse and skirt combo again. This time it fitted and I was so pleased with the look I took a picture.
Back out I went again, nodding at the changing room attendant that everything was fine this time, then I joined the queue at the tills. Just as I approached the tills, a woman arrived from another direction at the same time. When we were called forward, we looked at each other, gesturing to one another to go first. Eventually she smiled at me, put her hand out and nodded for me to go ahead. I nodded and smiled in acknowledgement and mouthed “Thank you” as I approached the till. I recount this because it’s the first time that I have had any sort of interaction with a “real person”, i.e. not someone who is paid to be nice to me like a waiter or shop worker, and throughout our little exchange I never felt that she was treating me as anything other than another woman. Maybe I’m deluding myself, maybe not, but it felt like more wonderful acceptance.
I paid for my items with little fuss and walked briskly out of the store and back to the car. Another self-imposed test passed, and a beautiful new skirt and blouse in my bag.
More fun next time!