A few days ago I was at a loose end and picked up the iPad and had a browse through a lot of my older blog posts, going back to when I first started writing “Kirsty’s World” in February. It was very striking both how far I have come in a very short space of time, and also how my view of myself has changed in that same time. So what I want to do here is both look back at a few of those older posts in the light of how I feel about my life now. This then leads on to some personal stuff and a significant (I think) decision that I have taken.
I’m going to start less than four months ago, on the day when for the first time in my life I fully presented as female in the privacy of my own home. I told the story of that day in a post entitled “The Big Day Arrives“. Looking back on that day now, it has taken on a significance which I could not have foreseen. It was the first time I ever looked at myself and what I saw reflected what I felt. I can only liken the experience to imagining you had spent your entire life from birth in a completely darkened room, devoid of all light. You know no different, and through a combination of your other senses, you begin to piece together a view of the world which seems to make some sort of sense. This is your normality, and it’s hard to imagine how life could be any other way. Within the confines of what your world seems to offer, you are content. Then one day someone comes along and switches on the light. Even if the light is switched off again, you can never go back to the way things were before, because you know the light exists and you will seek it out. On 7th February this year, my light was switched on. Nothing has been the same since. It is interesting to read now that I was determined that the day would not be a one-off, and that I needed a female existence. I think I have one now!
In my next post, “Reaching Out From Here“, I wrote about joining the Angels forum, and also my first contact with the Belfast Butterfly Club. The section about calling the Butterfly Club in particular feels odd, as I now know the person to whom I spoke on the phone that night quite well, and consider her a friend. I have also learned my t-grammar better now so I can correct my usage of “he” and “him” when referring to my two companions the first time I went to the Butterfly Club open meetings in the post “Making Contact“. If someone is using a female name, they wish to be thought of as female regardless of how they are otherwise presenting. So Linda and Nicky – my apologies. Nicky never did join, by the way, although I hear she has turned up at other open meetings. But overall, the Butterfly Club has become such a big part of my life in the last couple of months that it’s strange to go back to a time when it was new and exciting and even to some degree intimidating.
This is all a preamble really to the post I did in March called “Identity and Labels“. There is so much that I said in this post that just isn’t the case any more. I’ll start off with the obvious howler. Trans and trans* are not the same thing. Trans is transsexual, trans* is trans-anything. So when I said I was trans, what I should have said was that I was trans*. Keep up at the back there! But the real problem here for me and for my family life is that those things that I wrote a little over two months ago were part of an evolving picture. An evolving picture that leads me to the point where I think that my first guess might actually have been correct after all. I’m going to reproduce a full paragraph now from that post;
A few months ago I would have just said I was a crossdresser and left it at that. A man who likes to get dressed up as a woman from time to time. But I really don’t think that fully covers it. But I’m not transsexual either, I don’t have a burning desire to live the rest of my life as a woman. There are too many things I like about my male life for that, not least of which are being a husband and father. Having said that, every time I have to stop being Kirsty and go back to being Bob I feel very sad, like I don’t want my time en femme to stop. I never feel sad to leave Bob behind when I become Kirsty.
I think back in March I already recognised that this was a changing picture. Remember, I wrote all this before I had ever even ventured out of my house in anything other than male clothing. This has changed so much. I have actually lost count of how many times I have been out – going to the Butterfly Club, dining out, shopping, going for coffee, and all with no problems whatsoever. My male life now feels like the black & white sections of “The Wizard Of Oz”, with the world bursting into glorious technicolor whenever I become Kirsty. I love being a woman. It feels natural and right, and I feel so much more comfortable in that role than I do as a man. So when I wrote back in March that I didn’t have a burning desire to be a woman, that was true, but now I do have that desire. That’s not to say I’m going to act on it, there’s too much else to consider, but the desire is firmly there. I want to be Kirsty all the time. And I am less and less happy as a man. I spend a large portion of my male time just wishing I was female, hating this blundering inelegant gender I have been forced into. It is always on my mind. Does this mean I am transsexual? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s far too early to say. But I can’t dismiss the notion as easily as I could a few months ago. I have been told by people online and people in real life that based on how I describe myself and how I act I am probably TS. Even today in work my confidante Lauren told me that she thought I knew what I was, but I won’t say it because it frightens the life out of me. Maybe she’s right. So I will continue to not say it, even to myself.
Obviously such an escalation of my female existence and change in my self-image has caused problems on the home front. It’s not appropriate for me here to go into details of private conversations with my wife, but there have been some tough times. I love her dearly, and I don’t want to hurt her, and at the same time I don’t want to lie to her either. I tell her how I am feeling but I wish she could see that just because i want to go full time doesn’t mean that I will go full time. She says she isn’t a lesbian, so why would she want to live with a woman? Yet she expects me to live as a man even though I don’t feel like one. These conversations go round in circles, making neither of us happier and both of us more exasperated. I think the best thing to do is avoid the subject as much as possible. She seems ok-ish to cover for me when I go out to the Butterfly Club or the occasional other outing, so I need to be happy that she does this. It could be very easy for her to simply refuse to co-operate with me, and I should be more grateful. She is a huge facilitator of my female life, even if she does it under slight protest.
The kids are an even bigger consideration. Our two daughters are both so happy and seemingly innocent (I’m pretty sure the 4 y/o really is innocent) that to give them such a shock as seeing their dad become a woman before their eyes, might cause them irreparable harm. Even if they could accept me as the woman that I want to be, it is less likely that school friends would all do the same. The thought of my kids being bullied because they have a trans dad haunts me, and is probably the biggest single factor in me thinking that I will not be going full time no matter how much I might want that. I need to sacrifice my needs for theirs. Such is the nature of being a parent.
Now for that significant decision. Thanks to this increasing identification with the feminine, and my increasing distress at the conflict between my responsibilities to my family and my need to be a woman, I have decided to undergo some counselling with a specialist gender counsellor. About a week ago I emailed a local counselling service that only counsels on gender identity issues. I have been allocated a counsellor and am just waiting to hear from her and get the first appointment set up. There is a possibility that my wife my also take part in sessions designed for spouses coping with trans partners, but that remains to be seen – I think she is waiting to see how I get on. I’m not expecting to be given any great solution, but I am hoping that professional help will enable me to see more clearly what I really want, and to weigh up the pros and cons of the various scenarios. Without that objective help I get too emotional just thinking about going full time (or worse, staying male), but then I feel equally upset at the thought of what a transition would do to my family, never mind what would happen in work.
But all this has grown out of looking at old blog posts, so to go back to that, I am continuing to self-identify as transgender or trans*, because I just can’t be any more precise. Or I can’t allow myself to be any more precise.
I promise normal service will be resumed next time, with Wednesday night adventures aplenty, and maybe even a restaurant review – I have another dinner date with my good friend Andrea coming up!