Incredible as it may seem to me, yesterday was the 6-month anniversary of the first time that I ever fully presented as female in the privacy of my own home. My “dressing day”, as I called it at the time, was meant to be the culmination of years of denial fear and suppression, and would be me finally allowing myself to dress how I had always dreamed of doing. What I never thought it would be was the beginning of a much wider adventure giving me a female life, a presence in the real world as a woman. No matter how wonderful it felt at the time, if someone had told me that within six months I would have done all that I have done, I would have thought they were barmy. But here I am.
The number six crops up again in that a few days ago I had my sixth and final session with my gender counsellor. I really do feel that my time with Colleen has been very useful indeed for me, and has helped my settle on a plan for how I cope with my feelings about my gender. As we approached the end of the session I asked her how she viewed my progress during our time together, and her response pretty much mirrored how I feel myself about what has gone on. For the first three weeks I was all over the place, ideas firing off about what I could do, how I could cope, implications of transition. During the second week I genuinely believed that transition was the only realistic option for me. Then right at the end of week 3 I made the decision that I wouldn’t transition and the second three sessions have been about me learning to cope with that. There have been times when I have felt very down at the prospect, and frustrated with my wife’s lack of appreciation of just how hard it is to say “I am a woman, but I’m going to force myself to live as a man”. However by the end I am resigned to this being my lot. In fact “resigned” sounds too reluctant and negative. I don’t want to feel negative and I won’t allow myself to feel negative. I am happy to continue to have the opportunity to be the woman I am, even if that isn’t on a permanent basis. I have to think about the last six months and be happy at the change in my life. Despite all the turmoil, I am genuinely happier and more fulfilled than I have ever been.
My counsellor indicated that there was an option for me to have further 3-week blocks of counselling if I felt it was necessary, but right now I think I have come to the end of that particular path. I know what my plan is, and I need to stick to it. The unknown is how I will feel when parts of the plan become real. Once I come out to a few more people, beginning possibly in the next week or two, when I go away for my trip to the TLI weekend and get to be full-time Kirsty for four days, or the holy grail, if and when I join a non-trans group as Kirsty. That could all cause me to change my outlook again. If everything goes as I hope it will go, it may make me drift back towards wanting to transition – actually, let’s be honest, I want to transition now, but it could weaken my resolve to remain part-time. On the other hand, if it goes badly and I get bad reactions, it could potentially set my confidence back and stop me going out, which would be devastating. So possibly in two or three months when these things are starting to happen, I may need more help, but I hope not. I hope I can keep on this path and stay happy.
I said I know what my plan is, and it is quite simple. It has evolved over the weeks I have spent with my counsellor to the point where it is now, and it will evolve further as I think about it myself. But fundamentally the plan is to allow me to accept myself as a woman, and to continue to be there for my family as a husband and father. These things which appear contradictory are what I have to reconcile, and that is just what I intend to do. So, the plan itself
– I will come out to people I trust. I had an abortive attempt with my friend Pete a few weeks ago, but laid the groundwork. I have identified a handful of other people with whom I feel safe sharing Kirsty’s existence. Over the coming months I intend to tell them who I really am. If they react well, and I wouldn’t tell them if I didn’t think they would react well, then I have more people with whom I can discuss this most significant part of me and hopefully friends with whom I can socialise as my real self. If they react badly, well then they weren’t really friends at all.
– If anyone asks me directly if I am transgender, I will not lie. That’s not to say I’m going to go out of my way to tell everyone and anyone, but I am not going to blatantly lie if someone appears to have realised that I’m not just Bob. I am not ashamed of who I am, and I am not going to allow myself to feel that way again.
– I will maximise my opportunities to spend time as Kirsty. Whether this is my usual Wednesday evenings at the Butterfly Club, spending time with trans friends outside the club, other things I have already done like dining out and shopping, the transgender weekend I am going on in October, and hopefully, socialising with cisgendered friends who know about Kirsty.
– I will try to become involved with a group outside the transgender community. The trans* community is great, and I am happy and proud to be a member, but in order for me to feel that I am being the woman I am, I need to be myself outside that environment. Whether or not I will be accepted remains to be seen, but I have to try. Specifically what type of group is still unclear, although a book group does appeal. I need to find one first of course.
– I will not miss out because of fear. If there is somewhere I want to go, or something I want to do, I will not allow myself to be dissuaded from doing it because of fears about how others will react or will perceive me. I am not a bad or immoral person, at least I hope not, and being TS doesn’t change that. So I will live as full a female life as possible, without taking stupid risks. I will do what any other woman would do, and I won’t do what another woman wouldn’t do.
And that is the plan. If I can stick to that, then I think I have a chance of some kind of fulfilment. I think I can cope with the male persona’s continued existence. I heard someone say once that to a large extent we decide to be happy or sad. I have taken a look at my life, my family, my gender identity, I have arrived at this plan and I have decided to be happy. I think it can work.