For most of the time I have been writing this blog, there have been two people in my male life who know about my female life. My wife, who has known about all this before I even did anything, and my work friend Lauren, to whom I sort of outed myself spontaneously. Well as of Friday night, that number has swollen to four. This time was different, because the situation didn’t arise organically, it didn’t just come up in conversation, I deliberately chose to out myself to two old friends. Also, the first men I have told, which potentially could have been different from telling a woman. In my imagination, coming out as MtF TS to a woman is saying “I want to be like you”, whereas coming out to a man is saying “I don’t want to be like you”, one a compliment, one a rejection. At least so it seemed in my head.
When I had been through my counselling sessions over the summer part of my plan for expanding my female life while retaining a male one for my family’s sake, had been that I would start to come out to more people. I had even attempted this a few months ago with my friend Pete, although both our families intervened to mean it didn’t happen. I still do intend to come out to him at some stage. But when I did see him back in July, he asked in conversation if I had seen a mutual friend, Vincent (aka Vin) recently. The answer, much to my shame, was no, I hadn’t seen him in about a year. Vin, Pete and I were close friends in the past and went on holiday together a few times in our single days. Now with work, family and kids (not to mention my female side taking over my life!) it’s easy to just drift out of touch. And so I resolved to meet up with Vin again, not primarily so I could out myself to him, just so I could meet up with an old friend again.
As I wrote in a previous post, I had tried to hook up with him a few weeks back but he inconsiderately was in Wales, but we did speak on the phone and resolved to go out for a drink at some point. My wife also suggested that I ask along another old friend, Jonathan, at the same time. Yes, I thought, I could do that. Could I out myself to both of them though? I didn’t know. I would have liked to have thought so, but I don’t think I really knew I was going to do it until I actually did it.
I had exchanged a few texts with Jonathan earlier in the week, so I knew he was available, and on Wednesday night I called Vin. In fact, I called him while I was sitting as Kirsty in the car park outside Costa Coffee in Lisburn waiting for Andrea to turn up. He agreed to meet up on Friday, but wanted to check with his other half as they normally dine out together on a Friday evening. He called me back to confirm just as Andrea and I were carrying our coffees back to our table. The downside of this of course was that I had to revert to the full Bob voice to take the call. My female voice is poor, but I’m sure any eavesdroppers would have certainly noticed a significant drop in the pitch of my voice when I answered the phone. Andrea courteously said she wasn’t listening, so we sat down and enjoyed our coffees and had a wee bit of a chat. I even told her I had arranged to meet two male friends and… well, you get the picture. I won’t go into more details of Wednesday because while it was very pleasant – a coffee with Andrea and then a chat with her and Michelle at the club – it was less interesting than what followed.
The three of us had arranged to meet in the bar of a hotel in central Belfast. That venue was chosen because it’s somewhere that is less likely to get too crowded, and there isn’t any loud music played so we can have a decent conversation without having to shout. I arrived shortly after 8.30pm to find Vin ready and waiting. He bought me a drink and we sat down and exchanged a few pleasantries. Jonathan arrived shortly afterwards and very soon it was like we were all 15 years younger. I was having a really good time, the craic was great. But I had this niggling voice at the back of my head – we’re having a catch-up, talking about what’s been going on in our lives recently, and I have failed to mention this huge, life-changing thing that has featured incredibly prominently in my life. On the other hand, I was scared that I would bring everybody down when the evening was going really well and we were all having a nice time. I really didn’t know if I was going to say anything or not right up until at about 11.20pm, by which time we were all, ahem, nicely lubricated with inhibitions lowered but control retained, I had my moment.
I am going to try to recall what happened. There will be quite a bit of paraphrasing and I must admit that it’s a slightly alcohol-affected memory, but the sense of what happened is fine.
Me: There’s something else has been going on with me that I haven’t told you about yet. Something really significant but quite shocking. It will definitely change how you view me forever. Something I have sort of known about myself from a very young age, like 6 or 7, and (Mrs Kirsty) has sort of known for about 15 years, but I have basically fought to suppress it all my life. But for about the last year I have decided not to suppress it any more and accept who I am. Can I tell you both something in absolute confidence?
Vin: Of course you can. But what can it be?
Me: Well what do you think it is?
Vin: You’re gay?
Me: No, I don’t find men attractive
Me (looking down in embarrassment): Yes. Kind of. Not really.
Jonathan: You’re in the wrong body. You want to be a woman, you think you always should have been a woman.
Me: Yes. That’s about it.
So that’s it. Less than 5 minutes of conversation from a standing start and I had outed myself as TS. The odd thing was, I didn’t feel particularly nervous making this confession. I have known these two men for a long time, and I had faith that they would react well. My faith proved to be well-founded.
Jonathan said that as far as he is concerned, it makes absolutely no difference to him. It doesn’t change our friendship at all. Then first Vin, then Jonathan reached their hands across the table to me to shake mine. They both thanked me for trusting them with this, and seemed genuinely touched that I would do so. I was so relieved that it was going so well. At this point I had to nip off to the loo (the men’s, which felt weird) and had a bit of a sniff and a tear or two in private. Then back I went for round two…
I told them that I went to a transgender support group every week, and that over the summer I had several sessions of counselling for gender dysphoria. At this point Jonathan asked me if the support group was the Belfast Butterfly Club! This surprised me greatly to say the least. I found, and still do find it hard to believe that a non-trans* person would have heard of us. Anyway, I smiled and said “I’m on the committee of the Belfast Butterfly Club”. But I asked how Jonathan was aware of the Club. He said he remembered there being an ad on television (a TV ad!) many years ago featuring the club with local radio personality Candy Devine. Now this was obviously many long years before my involvement with the club, but I find it astonishing to think that we had enough funds to pay for TV advertising. Perhaps it was a sort of information spot on the local news magazine show. I definitely have to ask Linda about this, if anyone knows she will. He also added that he had heard a little bit about gender dysphoria and if that was what I had then I had his sympathy. Truth is, without a formal diagnosis I don’t want to claim that is my condition, but it seems right.
I explained that I had had feelings in this direction from early childhood, feminising my name as a child, dressing up in my mum’s clothing while she was out etc. They seemed to pick up on the feminising my name part, because Vin asked if I would prefer them to call me by the feminised version of my name. I replied that no, I wouldn’t, because I didn’t actually use the feminised version of my male name as a woman. I was quite shy about revealing my chosen female name to them, for some reason I thought they would laugh – not that there’s anything intrinsically funny about the name Kirsty, just that I feared that whatever name I gave would provoke some embarrassed laughter. Of course, it didn’t. They both said “Oh, OK” and then proceeded to call me Kirsty on and off for the rest of the night. Vin in particular did this, apologising when he accidentally dropped a Bob into the conversation. I assured him that it was ok, and considering how I was looking (completely male apart from the hairless arms and long nails) it was perfectly ok to continue to call me by my birth name. But that didn’t stop him, I was getting Kirstied all night long, and I loved it.
I asked if they would like to see photos of me as a woman. I was very careful to stress that “no” was a perfectly acceptable answer, and I wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t want to see. But of course they were both very keen to see. So I showed them this photo of me taken last week during my shopping trip with Andrea.
It didn’t provoke much of a reaction either way, just “oh ok then”. It was all very matter of fact. Jonathan made a comment about how you don’t have to wear a skirt to be feminine, so I showed them this one next…At this Vin made a comment about how he thought I looked slightly apologetic in both photos, as if I was subconsciously hiding. I didn’t really agree with this, so I showed them another one…
That one was better apparently, although at the sight of a third picture of me clad in denim Jonathan did point out that I had a real denim thing going on, so one final picture was required with me looking a lot more glamorous…
“That’s more like it” said Jonathan. More like what? I like that dress a lot, but I certainly wouldn’t go shopping in it.
And speaking of going shopping, I told them about the various outings I have had, both by myself and then with Andrea and more recently Michelle too. I told them that since late April I have been going out in public as a woman at least once a week, and I haven’t really had any bad experiences or any times when I have obviously been called out as trans. Now there have been times when I’m pretty sure I have been read, particularly by shop assistants, but invariably they have remained professional, polite and friendly, so that’s fine then.
I was telling them about last week’s shopping trip in particular, and then in some detail about the thing that Andrea and I are going to be doing together in the coming week (just wait till the next blog to read about that!), so given I was speaking about her quite a bit, I also showed them this selfie of the two of us together last week so they could see my BGF
Vin is a regular restaurant-goer, very much the galloping gourmet. So I mentioned that Andrea and I have been going out to restaurants monthly since May, and with Michelle too in the last couple of months. The next question was, how would he feel about coming out with us some time? Answer? He would love to, and perhaps bring his other half with him too. And not only that, he then offered me the use of his spare room as changing facilities, and then we could travel in together. Happy to help in any way, basically.
There was so much more going on that evening, but I have gone on for quite a while as it is. I was thanked profusely by both of them for trusting them with that information. Jonathan in particular seems genuinely quite emotional that I would consider him a good enough friend to confide in him. It really was such a special evening. In fact, I would say that if I could have written a script for the perfect reaction to me coming out, it still wouldn’t have been as good as what actually happened. I am blown away by the love and acceptance I received without question, without any delays to think about it. And I’m having to pause writing to wipe my eye now, so I think that says it all really.
Yours on cloud nine