Well that month went quickly didn’t it? Astonishingly, it is just over a month since Andrea and I returned from our trip across to England to visit our good friend Ruth and her partner Kate. And I have spent a month writing about it, and then having an opinion dump last week on my thoughts about passing. So now that’s all out of my system, it’s time for a bit of a catch-up. I’ve been out and about a fair amount but I’m just going to do a quick summary for posterity of what I’ve been up to.
Wednesday 27th May
My first time out since returning from England, and also at eight days the longest I have gone with no Kirsty time for over a year. To have been fully myself for five days non-stop and then going cold turkey for over a week was not easy. But after leaving the family behind for that time I needed to be with them for a while.
I arrived quite early at the butterfly club premises and after a quick chat with Michelle, was able to get changed and out again by around 7pm. I asked Michelle if she minded if I did my own thing and went out by myself. I know different people feel differently about these things, and I’m not saying that my view is the definitively right one, but I think it’s important to be out and about by myself. I want to take my time to enjoy just being me. I like the feeling of being the only trans* person in the room (or shop, or restaurant) from time to time. It’s at these times that I can come closest to forgetting that I am trans and just be who I am. When I’m not in the company of trans women, discussion of trans matters is firmly off the agenda and I feel closest to being just another woman. Of course, I need the company of other trans women too because sometimes the shared experience is invaluable, but I don’t need it every second.
Anyway, for some time I have felt the lack of a nice pair of black heels, so I headed off to Bow Street Mall, and specifically Primark (hey big spender!) in search of some. I had nearly bought a pair of nice nude faux-suede heels in a size 9 at Primark in Belfast a month or so earlier, but in the end I decided against a purchase as I already have a few pairs of decent nude or beige heels. My hope was that I would be able to find something similar in black. And I was in luck. In fact, what I bought was nicer than the nude pair I had seen in Belfast. Finally, a nice pair of black heels (in size 8!) are mine. I wouldn’t get to wear them for a few weeks, but here’s a pic of the offending articles.
I went to meet up with Andrea and Michelle at the M&S Café at Sprucefield, but first I called in to Boots to pick up some foundation and concealer, the bedrock of this girl’s look. As I was poking round the No7 display trying to find my shade in both, I was slightly startled by the suddent appearance of a sales assistant who had served me a few times before at the No7 counter. She greeted me like a long-lost friend;
“Hellooooo, how are you? Haven’t seen you in here on a Wednesday night for a while, what have you been up to? Your friend not with you tonight? Y’know, smaller, black hair?”
Obviously meaning Andrea. I replied that I was meeting her shortly, then continued with a bit of weather-related small talk. She tried to get me to take a Boots Advantage card, so I just took a leaflet to keep her quiet. Unfortunately as my legal name isn’t Kirsty (who knew?) it’s not really an option for me. I paid for my makeup and went on my way.
This woman was clearly trying to be friendly and accepting and was all smiles, but I didn’t get a good feeling as I walked out. I’m putting it down as a read. I don’t think she would act in that overly effusive manner with a cis woman, so I felt I was being treated differently. And clearly I stick out like a sore thumb enough that not only does she recognise me coming in, but even what night I tend to be in on. Obviously nowhere near as bad as Mr Oaf in Haworth, but still differently. And if you read my previous post, you’ll know that for me differently = not good. And the effusiveness of her greeting also provoked a bit of a feeling of another bugbear of mine, which is people expecting all trans women to be super-camp flamboyant entertainers, drag queens basically. That’s not me. I’m quite quiet and, blog notwithstanding, private. I’m a fan of the good old-fashioned traditional British style of retail interaction – What do you want? There you go. Goodbye. Time to patronise another customer.
I emerged from a quick loo stop at Sprucefield to see Andrea emerging from the same Boots that I had vacated five minutes earlier, all smiles. She had been to the same person at the No7 counter who told her “Your friend has just been in”. Well ok. It seemed to make her happy, so that’s fine. What’s may be true for me doesn’t necessarily hold for anyone else. Maybe I’m just an old misanthrope.
Michelle was there waiting for the two of us, so we sat in the café for an hour having a nice chat, the highlight of which was undoubtedly Andrea’s news that she was approved for HRT. More of that on her blog, no point me regurgitating her story. There’s not much more to tell on the evening really, just that it was great to be myself again after eight days of Bob.
Wednesday 3rd June
Another Kirsty-free weekend due to Bob being away on a golf weekend with extended family. It’s the only time I play the sport all year and it’s really a chance to catch up with brothers, sisters and in-laws. It’d also be a good opportunity if I ever had to make a particularly momentous announcement to everyone at the same time. But that was not this year.
Wednesday night at the BBC was quite a quiet affair. I just managed a quick trip to Tesco for a bit of emergency shopping, and a toastie and a chat with Michelle at M&S before retiring to the club. I had a perfectly pleasant evening, but there really wasn’t much to write about. So I won’t.
Sunday 7th June
Today was the monthly meeting of my book group. I wasn’t available for any pre-book group activities as Mrs K was busy living her own social life that afternoon. In fact, she was at another event organised through Meetup, so we were having a bit of a family meetup day all round really. As coincidence would have it, one of the members of Mrs K’s meetup group is Linda, the president of the butterfly club. Although (s)he attends that group in male form and isn’t known as Linda there. But still, Linda knows who Mrs K is, and Mrs K knows who Linda is. A bit of a strange little situation.
I arrived up at the club premises shortly before 5.30pm to see Linda’s car outside, obviously fresh from having been socialising with my wife. That’s all well and good, but I was still the full Bob. I couldn’t wait until she had gone as I needed to get ready right away in order not to be late for the book group, so I just had to go in. And there I was, fully Bob in front of someone who knows me as Kirsty. I felt exposed, naked. Linda was very gracious about the whole thing but I was glad to get into the changing room and close the door. Actually, if it had to be someone Linda was the best someone it could have been. At least she had met Bob before, that first time I ever went to the open meeting in Belfast back in March last year, when I had thought Linda was the doorman. Still felt very odd.
This month’s book was We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I must say that I thought this book was excellent, and probably the perfect book group book. So many discussion points, both about the characters in the book and the real world examples of what the book is about. The book itself is a first person narrative of a fortysomething woman looking back at events from her childhood and young adulthood when her family fell apart – early on we learn that her sister disappeared when the narrator was five, and her brother when she was twelve. But the reasons for all this are related to what can only be described as a massive reveal about 70 pages in. I can’t say what this reveal is because it would spoil it for another reader, but suffice to say it give the book a rather unique viewpoint. It scored very highly with most people in the group, although a few found it a big turn-off. There weren’t very many of us who thought it was just ok, which I suppose is a plus.
We had a first-time visitor at this meeting, a man no less. It was very gratifying to hear our only regular male attender Tony greet this new visitor by saying “It’s nice to have someone to help address the gender imbalance”, which I very clearly and gladly took as a sign that I am viewed as another one of the girls. Felt great, I can tell you. I also had quite a lengthy and detailed chat with a relatively recent addition to the group, Collette. It was all the more gratifying because the previous month I had a bit of a feeling that she was being somewhat standoffish with me, so she has either got over that or I was wrong all along. But the conversation between us flowed really well, and she had sent me a “good to meet you” before I had even got home.
One other thing – next month’s book is called “Passing”! Maybe I should just send everyone in the group a link to my last blog post.
And with nearly 1800 words done, that’s probably enough for now. You know me, verbose to a fault. I’ll catch up with reality next time!