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I received an email a week or so ago which prompted a loss of emotional control in work, something which is quite unusual for me. It was the confirmation of a ferry booking, but for the first time the booking was being made in my female name. I know this is taking a bit of a chance as I don’t actually have any ID in that name yet, but I’m using my real surname (which I’m not sharing with you, dear reader) and I’m hoping my counsellor can give me some kind of explanatory letter which will help if questioned. However, I’m assured that it is almost unheard of to be asked for ID so fingers crossed all will be well. The point is, I will be taking this ferry as a woman. So the email came through, and I read down the details, departure point, arrival point, date and time etc. Then I got to the passenger listing and read “Kirsty Surname, Adult, Female”. Even writing that now, even without my actual surname, it gives me a shiver. Seeing it for the first time on a sort-of-official notification, was overwhelming, like an independent confirmation that I exist as a woman. And overwhelmed as I was, I let out a huge audible sob. Two colleagues looked up and one asked if everything was ok. Thankfully, I also had an equally huge smile on my face, so I was able to pass it off as a snigger. But soon I made my way to the loo where I could let out a few happy tears in private.

I have decided at this point not to write any more about what the ferry crossing relates to, as I think the reality will make for better reading if I haven’t built it up too much in advance. So pardon me if I leave you in suspense for now, but it will be worth it when the time comes.

To pick up now where I left off in my previous blog post, I finished up my first counselling session and arranged for another next week (this week now). We anticipate six sessions in all, but I’ll take each one as it comes. I am pretty certain that I will attend the second session as Bob, both for practical reasons with work, and also as a result of the reaction of my wife to finding Kirsty waiting for her in the car after my first session.

I made my way back round to my car from the Rainbow Project, again with no problems or stares as far as I could tell. I called my wife as it was still around 5 minutes until she finished work, and asked if she would like me to collect her, or if I should just wait for her in the car park. After a long and uncomfortable pause, she decided to walk round to the car park to meet me. She arrived, and it was not a pleasant experience for either of us.

Trying to take a selfie with my wife the last time I was Kirsty with her - I think my expression captures the light mood that night

Trying to take a selfie with my wife the last time I was Kirsty with her – I think my expression captures the light mood that night

She has seen me presenting as a woman several times, and in fact the most recent time was probably the best, and we had fun and a bit of a laugh together. She even hugged Kirsty for the first time, although she did immediately recoil, shaking her head and saying “No, too lesbian for me”. But this time was different. Although we were in the car, we were in public and it seemed to be too much for her. The reality of her husband out in the real world dressed as a woman (to her mind) was too much to bear and she was very shaken and very emotional. It was during this ride home that I realised that I couldn’t put her through this again and resolved to go to counselling as Bob the following week. It is likely that I will go as Kirsty again the week after, but at least that time it won’t be such a shock and my wife will have time to decide if she wants to get in the car with me or take the bus. I do hope she comes with me.

She also raised another concern, and it’s one she has also raised any time I have cautiously asked if she would ever go out with me while I am in Kirsty mode. And that is recognition. If someone who knows Bob saw Kirsty alone, they might not realise we are the same person. If that same person were to see Kirsty and Mrs Kirsty together, it would be almost unthinkable that I wouldn’t be recognised. She could have a point about that.

I dropped my wife off near, but not very near, to our daughters’ school so she could bring them home. I’m still not ready for that particular revelation. So on I went in the car for a quick bit of window shopping prior to the Butterfly Club. Except since I had just been paid a couple of days earlier, window shopping turned into real shopping and I bought myself a gorgeous black & white knee length skirt. And the diet and exercise regime is definitely working, because I (rather optimistically, I thought) lifted a size 12 skirt off the rail and went to the changing rooms to try it on only to find that, heavens above, it fits. Five months ago, I had to put on a waist cincher to button a size 16 skirt closed! Yay slimline Kirsty!

I arrived quite early at the Butterfly club to find Michelle just finishing up getting herself ready. She looked perfectly fine to me, but she has very exacting standards for herself. There were just the 2 of us for about 20 minutes and we had a lovely chat about how my counselling had gone. Michelle also became the first person to whom I said I was TS, to not much of a reaction.

More people gradually drifted into the club. There was a committee meeting due to take place, my third since joining the committee, and for the first time since I had joined the trustees would also be present. I was introduced first to James Grant, and then a second trustee arrived. He was about to be introduced to me when he looked at me and said “Didn’t we meet earlier today?”. It was none other that the Colin who came to greet me at the door of the Rainbow Project. Small world!

The other 10 O'Clock Girls, Michelle (left) and Andrea

The other 10 O’Clock Girls, Michelle (left) and Andrea

Colin is a director of Cara-Friend, a prominent LGBT charity in Northern Ireland, and as part of this role he is also a trustee of the Belfast Butterfly Club. As it was the first time we had met properly, disregarding the earlier case of mistaken identity, he asked me a little bit about my history and how I ended up at the Butterfly Club. I told him how it had been a long road, and how it has taken my until the age of 43 to realise I am TS. Then he told me something that made me feel better. He was married with kids just like me, then 15 years ago at the age of 53 he realised that he was gay. 10 years I can give him on my own realisations! OK, I’m not a gay man but it’s a similarly applecart-upsetting revelation. And he seems to be very happy in himself. Maybe there’s hope for me yet

Eventually Andrea arrived and joined us at the committee table. I’m not going to air our dirty linen in public, but she doesn’t take any nonsense that girl. The committee meeting went on for quite a while and I was glad when it finished so I could get back to the comfy seats.

Before too long everyone else had drifted off and as seems to be becoming the norm, Michelle, Andrea and I had the club to ourselves by not long after 10pm. We should call ourselves “The 10 O’Clock Girls”. It’s the part of the night that I find most enjoyable, just the three of us chatting together. And in between the general chat Andrea asked how I had got on at counselling. I told her what I had told Michelle, that I am finally admitting that yes, I am TS. She smiled at me and said “Well yes, I knew that“.