In my last post I wrote about a conversation that Mrs Kirsty and I had on Friday night last week. It was difficult for us both, exacerbated for me by the fact that I was having to converse with a clearly distressed voice hidden underneath an inside-out dressing gown. In the end that particular conversation petered out of its own accord without really reaching any conclusion other than she now knows how much more I’m feeling the need to be Kirsty all the time, and how difficult I’m finding it to have to change into Bob when my Kirsty-time is up. For my part, I appreciate the difficulties that she has with my apparently sudden change from a seemingly happy-go-lucky thirtysomething bloke to a constantly anguished fortysomething trans woman. She fears for her home, her family, my career and by extension our financial security, our safety, her sanity, the children’s welfare. All of this.
She raised a question with me which from her point of view I can appreciate. What changed? That “switch” that happened a couple of years ago. What caused it? I know I have always had this inside me and managed to keep a lid on it, so why has it now bubbled up to the surface? In fact, she more or less accused me of one of two things. Either;
- I felt like this all along and until very recently just hid it from her, in which case she feels that the relationship that she thought we had, never really existed in the terms that she understood it. In effect, I lied to her at the outset and tricked her into marrying me by giving her the deliberately false impression that I was a straight cis man.
- Something changed in me recently, possible physical in origin like something misfiring in my brain or a lowering in testosterone levels as I enter middle age, which has made me feel like this now, and I have used that to post-rationalise 40 years’ worth of general ennui as a retrofitted history of manifestations of my previously latent trans nature. In which case, I’m not really trans at all, I’m just having a mid-life crisis.
Or, to put it in less flowery language, I’m either a scheming manipulative bastard or I’m bonkers. I pick neither option, but she’s not really believing me.
I was reluctant to raise the subject with Mrs K again, but ended up doing just that three nights later, on Monday. I didn’t really overtly re-open the same unresolved discussion, I took an approach much favoured by our politicians here in Northern Ireland. Quite often in days gone by, politicians of various hues would take a big sulk and refuse to enter talks with the opposing parties. However, when relations between them thawed ever so slightly, they would at first entertain the possibility of discussion about when such talks might begin and what topics they would cover. They would enter into, as we say here, “talks about talks”. Well I tried some talks about talks. I asked Mrs K how she was feeling now after Friday night’s discussion. So we ended up speaking about how we felt about the discussion rather than about the discussion itself.
I’m not going to go into the verbatim detail of what we spoke about, because there was quite a lot of raw stuff from earlier times, things brought out into the open, and a few tears shed on both sides. But most importantly, the tone of the discussion was worlds apart from what it had been last time round. And for that I am thankful.
We did discuss quite a few of the same issues all over again, but one thing that came up which I will elaborate on here was what to do about our children. We actually agreed that ultimately neither of them would have much of a problem with Kirsty, but the phrase I have used a few times “managing the grapevine” would be the problem. Little Kirsty Junior just turned six years old at the end of August and is completely adorable (even though I do say so myself). At her age, I feel that she would accept it quite readily because she is still young enough not to realise how unusual changing social gender is. “Daddy is going to be a girl from now on” “Oh right. Can I watch TV?”. Well maybe not quite that straightforward, but you get the idea.
Our older daughter is 13. While girls (and boys) of that age have their own ever-developing issues as puberty really hits its stride, our daughter and her circle of friends all seem to be very “right on”, and she has spoken quite passionately about LGBT rights, for example regarding the recent overwhelming “Yes” vote in the Republic of Ireland’s equal marriage referendum earlier this year. And as I have written about on this blog before, she has spoken positively of Caitlyn Jenner quite recently. While I find that celebrity culture of which Jenner is a part just depressingly vacuous, her very public transition has still meant that Little Kirsty Senior has made a positive comment about a prominent trans woman (I don’t think she knows who Paris Lees, Rebecca Root and Laverne Cox are, so Caitlyn Jenner will have to do for now). So both Mrs K and I are as confident as we can reasonably be that she will be reasonably accepting of her dad in reality being a woman – famous last words I know, but we’re hopeful.
The problem in both cases is whether or not they can keep it to themselves. The younger daughter, not a chance. She is bound to say something, even if it’s to a teacher rather than to another child, but if she says it to her teacher, then that teacher will soon be in the staff room saying “You’ll never guess what Little Kirsty Junior told me”. And one of the other teachers in that school is my next door neighbour and mother of one of Little Kirsty Junior’s friends. I actually think the neighbour in question is likely to be quite discreet, but it’s widening the sphere of knowledge to the street which brings its own worries.
Our older daughter (Little Kirsty Senior) doesn’t have the problem of teachers knowing us personally. We have a different problem with her. If Little Kirsty Senior tells any friend at school, well let’s face it it’s quite a juicy piece of gossip so it would be sure to spread like wildfire. And even in the unlikely event of my daughter not suffering some sort of teasing (at best) or bullying (at worst) there is the additional consideration that not only are there at least three other children from our street at the same school, but my niece’s daughter is also a pupil at that school. And if she finds out (which seems likely, it is generally known that the two of them are cousins-ish) and tells her mum (my niece), then her gran (my sister) is also likely to find out, and then I’m outed to my extended family. And that is even more of a big deal to me that being outed in the neighbourhood, although possibly less so for Mrs K.
To cut an already overlong story short, the final position we reached was that telling our younger daughter was a non-starter unless I was actually going to be going full time and appearing as Kirsty in front of her. In which case, it doesn’t matter who Little Kirsty Junior tells because everyone who matters will have heard it from me anyway. However, there was definitely movement from Mrs K regards telling our older daughter. Mrs K agreed that Little Kirsty Senior would be responsible enough to understand the potential consequences of telling anyone and so could be told the truth about me with a reasonable level of confidence. And so at the appropriate time, and in an appropriate way, that’s what I plan to do. This isn’t just an urge to tell her with no real purpose, it’s really an attempt to spare her feelings. She’s thirteen years old, she’s smart, and sooner or later she’s going to find a pair of size 9 heels that clearly don’t belong to her size 3 footed mother, or a size 16 dress that obviously isn’t her size 8 mother’s. It will be blindingly obvious who owns those things. So I would rather she heard it from me first rather than discovered it despite me.
This isn’t going to be something I’ll be disclosing in the next day or two, but I think it could well happen within the next four weeks. Realistically I think the danger time for her stumbling upon Kirsty’s clothing will be in the weeks leading up to Christmas as she decides to have a look round mum and dad’s wardrobe in search of hidden presents. She might find more than she bargained for. So I think I need to head off that possibility by telling her the truth. It also means I don’t have to lie to her any more about where I’m going, and if she smells perfume on my she’ll know it’s my own and that I haven’t been canoodling with another woman. It will be a great relief for me to be able to tell her the truth. At the minute, she thinks I’m the fittest man on the planet as I keep going for six-hour sessions “at the gym”. Yeah right.
There we go, I’ve written it down now, I’ll have to do it. Alternatively, Mrs K will renege and we’ll be back where we were a little over a year ago where she said she would physically fight me to keep Kirsty away from the kids. It’s now not beyond the realms of possibility that not only will Little Kirsty Senior find out who I am, she might actually meet me. It’s quite a thought. And quite a scary one.
Right, I think that’s enough serious stuff for a while, next blog post will be about shopping and dining out. Bet you can’t wait. Happy happy joy joy.