I have just deleted most of a 2000+ word post around my thoughts on transition, and my slowly-forming plan for how I would go about it were it ever to happen. There were a few reasons for this deletion. Too rambling. Too personal. Too likely to be interpreted by a curious wife as being proof positive that going full time is imminent. And I have spooked her enough this weekend. But those same thoughts may be revisited in weeks to come.
Mrs Kirsty and I had our first trans-related conversation in many months on Friday night. It didn’t go well. I didn’t even really mean to bring the subject up. All I was looking to do was to broach the possibility of me having a bit of Kirsty time on Saturday afternoon. I had mentioned to my BFF Andrea that I wasn’t looking forward to the weekend which was shaping up to be 100% Bob. She replied innocently enough to ask what it was that I had planned for the weekend, which made me think, nothing actually. So why not take a bit of time on Saturday to get myself some relief from the relentless Bobness. It was quite late on Friday evening, the kids were in bed and I looked across to Mrs K to say that I would like to take some time to myself the next day. I do need her permission, or at least complicity in this, as I’m leaving her with the kids all afternoon. But there must have been something in my facial expression that frightened her, and she lifted the back of her dressing gown over her head and hid within the makeshift tent that she had created.
“I don’t want to see that expression.”
“That one. The one that means you’re about to destroy my life.”
I was in a position where I felt I had to explain myself, why I needed this time to myself when I didn’t actually have anything specific to do. I just needed to “be” me. So I told her all about how I have been feeling, how difficult I’m finding it to keep up the facade of being an ordinary man to the world at large, how excruciating it is to have to cast aside my female identity. She talked about how afraid she is that I’m going to destroy everything. Our home, our family, my career, our finances. She talked about how we couldn’t afford to run two homes (this is true) but I said what I had said before, that I don’t see that we need to have two homes. Then she said it again
“I can’t become a lesbian. I can’t be in a relationship with another woman. If you transitioned we would split up. And I would be a laughing stock.”
I should add that at no point in this discussion did she remove the dressing gown from her head, which was obviously very off-putting for me. She just wants to stick her fingers in her ears and go “laa laa laa” when I try to bring up the subject in a serious, practical way. But at the same time, I can’t belittle her concerns because they are very real ones.
In a manner veering between condescension and incredulity she asked me what I thought would happen if I actually did go full time, did I seriously think everything was going to just be fine. I tried to think about work and family in as rational a way as possible, and she just said “It sounds like you’re trying to convince me to give you my permission to transition. It’s never going to happen”.
The discussion lasted quite a while longer, most of which will remain private, but when it finally petered out, rather than reaching a resolution, I didn’t feel better for having had that discussion. In fact I felt more certain than ever before that if the time comes when I sit down with her and say that yes, I have decided that I need to transition, then I will have launched an enormous grenade that will explode right in the middle of our family, and everyone will be hit with the shrapnel. So why can I not stop thinking about it then?
After having a genuinely lovely evening out with my old friends Vin and Jonathan on Wednesday, I spent most of Thursday still feeling pretty good with fresh memories, but by the time Friday rolled around that good feeling had worn off and the suffocation was setting in again. That is just what it feels like, an oppressive heaviness faced with a wall of maleness stretching ahead of me. It’s so hard to cope with, but I have to be the same Bob as ever on the surface. Anyway, it was this feeling coupled with Andrea inadvertently drawing my attention to the fact that I had nothing planned for Saturday, that lead to me leaving the house with a holdall full of Kirstywear on my way up to the BBC premises at 1pm on Saturday afternoon. I did a quick-ish change (into exactly the outfit I was wearing in this picture) and by just before 3pm I had arrived in the centre of Belfast and parked up in Castle Court shopping centre.
I have written before about how sometimes being out in the real world by myself, just feeling the freedom of the oppression being lifted, can be the most rewarding times of all. Saturday afternoon was one such time. I walked all round Belfast, went into many different shops, made a few purchases, and all the time I didn’t spot any negativity whatsoever. Just a tall woman out for a day’s window shopping. Which is what, in fact, I was.
Although I was by myself, I still ended up getting a bit of shopping advice from a stranger. I had gone into Primark, ostensibly looking for tights, but right beside the tights was the footwear, so considering the magnificent £6 nude Mary Janes I got in Primark a month ago, I just thought I’d have a bit of a browse. It was very busy in the shop, and sometimes it was quite difficult to even reach the shoes that caught your eye. My eye was caught by a pair of light brown suede block heeled ankle boots. Very nice indeed, but my path to them was blocked by other shoppers and the usual Primark obstacles of items of clothing and footwear strewn across the floor. I ended up walking in a complex figure-8 around a couple of blocks of shelves in order to reach the boots I had spotted. I found a pair in my size (hurrah!) and took them off the shelf to try them on. Then I realised that the bank of stools for sitting on to try on shoes was fully occupied. Not a problem, I crouched down with one knee on the ground and slipped them on that way. Then I walked across to that bank of stools so that I could assess how the boots looked with my legs in those angled mirrors that shoe shops have attached to their stools. As I was admiring the boots on my legs (I can confirm that the boots did indeed look good) an older woman sitting beside the mirror asked me “Sorry love, am I in your way?” I replied that no, I could see fine, no need to move. Okay then.
I took off the suede boots, considering a purchase, but I had also identified a pair of slightly longer boots of mid-calf length, still light brown but leather rather than suede. By this time a space had opened up on the bank of stools, so I sat down with both pairs of boots and put on the second pair. I stood up and walked round the corner to the angled mirror to assess these ones. As I was looking at them and thinking they weren’t quite as good, that same old woman piped up again;
“The first pair were nicer on you, love. Definitely”
“Yes” I replied “I thought so too”
So with a little help from my makeshift shopping adviser, a decision was made. I bought those ankle boots in lovely soft slightly stretchy suede for £15 – not too bad at all. I actually didn’t end up buying tights in Primark at all. I got those in M&S later on. And while in M&S I was using the facilities and as I sat in the cubicle I looked into my shopping bag and thought “Why not” and changed my shoes there and then. Not only do they look good, the heels have a very satisfyingly solid “clunk” to them too.
I spent a good two and a half hours walking round the City Centre but was under orders to return home by 7.30 bearing pizza, so by 5.30 I was back in Castle Court car park having first picked up a takeaway coffee. Just as I was about to drive off I felt my wrist vibrate with a text from Andrea. She had just picked up a message I sent her earlier saying I’d be in Belfast after all if she wanted to meet up, but too late. She asked if I wanted to go for a coffee. Well I had just bought a coffee. To cut a long series of texts short, Kirsty was being a bit of a dumb blonde and missing the point. So yes, I arranged to meet Andrea for yet another coffee up in Lisburn for a very nice unexpected catch-up, and a great way to round off my day out.
In contrast to recent experiences, I didn’t really find it too hard to get changed into Bobswear this time. I think that having met up with Andrea, I was significantly later than I had planned to be, and so I was in a bit of a rush to get home and get that pizza. Plus because I was going home while the kids were still up and awake, I had to take special care to leave no trace of make-up, wash away residual perfume smells and wash my hair so it didn’t look like it had spend the previous four hours under a wig. So I ended up becoming so focused on the mechanics and time constraints of getting home and getting properly cleaned up that I didn’t have time to actually think about things.
Of course today, the day after, normality has resumed. Mrs K has seen me writing this post, wondered what it is, is sitting with her hand over her mouth imagining that the day is coming when I turn to her and say “I can’t do this any more”. The way I have been feeling these last weeks and months, I can no longer rule it out.