I have a very clear memory from my schooldays of being 13 years old, and in 3rd year maths class. My maths teacher walked into the classroom and without saying a thing, wrote the word “Extrapolation” on the blackboard. He knew how to make an impression on a class of 13 year old boys – yes shocking as it may seem for a girly girl like me, I went to a Catholic boys’ grammar school. So he asked one of my classmates
“Do you like to extrapolate?”
“What about you, do you like to extrapolate?”
“I love to extrapolate, me. You can’t beat a bit of extrapolation.”
And so I learned the meaning of the word extrapolation thanks to a smutty maths teacher’s masturbation innuendo.
I only mention this by way of a preamble to my own bit of extrapolation. My progress has come on in leaps and bounds in recent months, and if anything is accelerating. But where is it going? Is there an end point? Have I even reached it? All these questions and more will probably not be answered, but I’m going to have a pretty good think about it.
I know to a certain extent I’m retreading old ground here, but maybe that’s no bad thing. Thinking back to the start of the year, when I had my heart in my mouth telling my wife that I wanted to get dressed up at home, it is astonishing to think how far I have come. There is no way I would ever have believed that within the year I would be completely comfortable with interacting with the world as a woman, that I would have formed some strong and meaningful new friendships with other trans* women, that I would have been on a 5-day holiday presenting as female 100% of the time, that I would be out to and socialising with at least a couple of old friends of my male self, that I would have joined a book group as my real female self, and perhaps most incredibly of all, that I would have documented it all in a blog that has somehow managed to get over 13,500 page views in a little over nine months. Astonishing as this all continues to be to me, I am brought back to that third year maths class and to the idea of extrapolation. Look at the progress I have made, join up the dots of all these landmarks, and then follow that line into the future. Where is it going? If it’s an S-curve, am I approaching the top line or still on the steep part? If it’s the steep part, what else is there to come?
It was very clear to me when I returned from my holiday with Andrea and Ruth in Eastbourne that getting back into some semblance of a routine was going to be hard. Strangely, the most immediately noticeable thing to me was my flat-chestedness. After more than five days of spending every waking hour wearing my forms, not having them there felt like someone had hollowed out my chest and there was a great cavity where my breasts should be. Even though the physical sensation abated somewhat in a day or two, the emotional response hasn’t gone away, and every time they get replaced in their rightful spot, it feels like I’m back to normal. It’s part of a psychological switchover that seemed to happen around that time, and about which I have already written on this blog. It is simply that before Eastbourne I felt like Kirsty was something I put on over Bob, whereas now Kirsty feels like reverting to my real identity, and it’s the male persona that is the front, the facade that I have to present to the world.
Outing myself to some friends was another big step. It has gone remarkably well so far, and in a way I wish I could come out to more friends. The problem is, I don’t really have many friends to whom I can come out. Not that are close enough anyway. There are several acquaintances, but if I told them they’d probably just think “What are you telling me for?” It’s all related to the issue I feel I have had for years, which is that I don’t really understand how a man is supposed to behave, and I certainly can’t do it naturally. I think that because of the fear I had up until this year that I would be discovered as not a “real man”, I didn’t act authentically with new people and I found it hard to get close to others, or let others get to know me. That is changing, even in my male form, although one side effect of this is that it has been observed that Bob is getting camper – even Mrs Kirsty has accused me of “mincing” on occasion.
My wife has also accused me of wanting to be caught, as she puts it. You know what? She’s right. I hate the hiding, the lies, the sneaking around and subterfuge. I want everyone to know, or at least I want to be able to present as the woman I feel I am on the inside all the time. However, I am genuinely not going out of my way to be found out. I know that my wife views the consequences of me being outed generally as completely disastrous for everything – our marriage, our children, my employment prospects – but I don’t see it like that at all. I think that children would adjust quickly, if it was an issue with school friends it would be little more than a nine-day wonder, and adults will mostly not care. I do see however that I am unlikely to ever be able to be full time without causing a major upheaval to all our lives. But what upheaval is more major than transition?
When I look at the pace of all these things that I have done, it seems to be picking up. It was around six weeks from I first dressed until I first presented as female in front of anyone at all, and another month after that until I first ventured out in front of the general public, a quick trip in and out of a supermarket. By comparison, in the last six weeks I have been on that holiday, come out to two old friends, socialised as Kirsty with both of them separately, and then (so far successfully) joined my book group, my first non-trans*-specific group where people only know me as Kirsty and don’t know my history. That’s a lot of seriously significant things packed in to a relatively short space of time. Of course there is a theoretical upper limit to where this can all go, and we all know what it is. It is living as a woman full time, transitioning in work and with family, legally changing my name and gender and yes, even surgery. That is the ultimate end point for any trans woman. It is literally impossible to go any farther. But would I go that far? It seems unlikely.
I just can’t get the thought out of my head. It could work. It could be do-able. I could have a chance. Despite what Mrs K thinks, the more I do, the more convinced I become that I have a chance of a female life. But if the price of that is that I no longer have a family life, is that a price I am prepared to pay? No it isn’t. But that doesn’t make it any easier to live with this knowledge every day that there’s this life waiting for me that I’m consciously avoiding. On the flip side, if I transitioned I could imagine myself sitting as a woman with no spouse, no kids near me, brothers and sisters avoiding me, desperately sad because of the hurt I caused everyone in selfishly pursuing my dream of being a woman. I can’t win.
To get back to what brought all this on, what does happen when I extrapolate everything? Let’s face it, if my progress continues unchecked it is all going in the direction of being full time. The consequences of that would be so potentially devastating for my family life that I don’t think I could ever go that far. So what else is there that I can possibly do that doesn’t commit me to a certain course of action? Maybe I should speak to Gender Essence about another block of counselling from them to help me find it. Maybe I should just bypass that, speak to my GP and tell him I think I have gender dysphoria. That is a course of action that until very recently I thought would be more or less committing myself to a one-way ticket on the road to transition and surgery. Of course it isn’t, it’s more like sitting on an incredibly slow-moving conveyor belt to transition, and you can jump off an any point on the journey. Maybe that’s the thing to do, but it would be an incredibly hard sell for Mrs K. I can only push her so far, and I do care about her so very much.
Perhaps I have to resign myself to a life of regrets, whichever course I take. Stay part-time and regret that I never transitioned. Transition and regret the effect it had on my family. There’s no answer that satisfies all my criteria for happiness. Sorry that’s leaving everything rather unresolved, but that’s a pretty fair summation of the situation. I am simultaneously more fulfilled than I have ever been in my life, and also torn in two thinking that I have no real choice but to sacrifice my own fulfilment for others. For one other. For my wife.
Normal service will be resumed next time, with fun and frivolous talk about going to restaurants, shopping and mini skirts.