I had my first confirmed read in a while a few days ago. I know I always regurgitate the old chestnut “Never assume that you know what someone else is thinking”, but on this occasion, the person in question kindly let me know what he was thinking by giving voice to this thoughts. However, I don’t feel bad about being read. In fact, it was quite a positive experience because although I had a confirmed read, I also had a confirmed pass at exactly the same time. Let me elaborate.
On the last Wednesday night before the clocks went back, I managed to get away from home relatively early, allowing me to use the last 45 minutes of daylight to complete what will probably be my last “roadside shuffle” (as Michelle calls it) of 2015. I was fully transformed by around 6.30pm so now that I have broken the taboo of going to my nearest shopping mall, Abbeycentre, I decided to go there again before heading across to Lisburn to meet my friends Andrea and Michelle. So far so good.
I had been round a few shops having a bit of a general browse, when I made my way to Primark. Aside from having very low prices, which is always welcome, they also have a good selection of ladies’ shoes in sizes 8 and 9, and in wide fittings too. So never one to pass up the opportunity to expand my footwear collection, I made my way over to the shoe section. I had been browsing for no more than five minutes when I noticed that across the display block from me, two young men had arrived. They were browsing women’s shoes, same as I was, picking up pairs of shoes, discussing the styles with each other, and generally looking like they were in the market for a nice pair of heels. Just as I noticed these two guys looking at the women’s shoes, I heard a male voice drift over from behind me. I only heard a single word above the general murmur in the shop, but it was enough:
“Mumble mumble mumble transgender mumble”
OK then, I thought, that’s me read. Or perhaps not. Perhaps he was wondering why two men were browsing women’s shoes unaccompanied by a woman. It wouldn’t be an unreasonable explanation to think that one or both of them might be trans*, but appearing as Bob. But then that particular bubble was burst. The owner of that voice had moved round to a position where I could just about see him out of the corner of my eye, possibly by coincidence, or possibly so he could get a better look at me. It was now evident that he was one half of a rather chavvy looking couple, who seemed to be engaged in a debate;
HIM: It is
HER: It isn’t
HIM: It is, I’m telling you.
Now at this point, in a parallel universe, a much more confident Kirsty would have walked up to them and said “I do have ears you know and yes I am”, but in this particular universe I just calmly walked out of the store.
Now, while it did make me feel rather conspicuous at the time, on reflection I don’t think this was as bad as all that. On the positive side we have the following points:
- It was just curiosity. There was no laughter or attempt to actually call me out or embarrass me. I’m sure they didn’t think I could hear.
- He used the word “transgender” to describe me. I would use the same word. There were any number of inaccurate or derogatory terms that could have been used, but they weren’t used. That has to be a good thing. I am transgender, who can I possibly be offended to be described as such?
- The biggest plus of all, she was adamant that I was not trans. Woo-hoo!
On the negative side, people may describe me as “he”, they may describe me as “she”, but I have never been and never will be an “it”. But even that, I’m putting down to not knowing any better, rather than to prejudice. In fact, overall them more I think about that little encounter, the more positive I feel about it. I have said before that the best I can realistically hope for is to reside in the “is she or isn’t she” zone, but it hadn’t occurred to me that being there might provoke a debate among passers-by. So be it.
In the end it was only Michelle that I met with on Wednesday night, Andrea’s face wasn’t up to it after 45 minutes at gas mark 7, or “laser” as she calls it. But we had a nice enough chat over our usual toastie. As usual, if Andrea isn’t with us we use it as an opportunity to talk about music and bikes. As well as the read that I had just experienced, about which Michelle seemed to have a similar opinion to me.
On to other matters. Last week I wrote a post in which I shared my plan to inform my elder daughter of my trans* status at some point in the next month. Well regrettably I need to make a Mrs K-driven U-turn on that plan. I raised the subject with her again to make sure she meant it when we had had the same discussion a week earlier, and as I had feared she was completely, adamantly, immovably against telling our daughter. Over her dead body indeed. She claims that when she indicated that she thought that Little Kirsty Senior would be ok with being told, she was talking in very much hypothetical terms about if she had to be told in advance of my transition proceeding imminently. If there’s no transition, she completely refuses to even consider the possibility of outing myself to my daughter. And of course, she completely refuses to play any part in me transitioning. If I take that path, I’ll not just be telling our daughters that I’m a woman, I’ll be telling them that their parents are separating. It’s that black and white. Back to square one.
I had another good day out yesterday. A quick browse round Belfast City Centre, where I had yet another Primark-based potential read. However this was only a potential one, it might not have been. I was standing in the queue for the checkout (more shoes!) and immediately in front of me was a little girl aged around 6 or 7 with an adult woman, who could have been either an older mother or a young grandmother. But while the adult was stooped over rooting around in her handbag for something, the little girl turned round, shot a quick glance at me, did a double take, then slowly looked me right up and down twice. She then turned back to mum/granny and whispered something in her ear. Mum/granny then did the most hopeless attempt at stealing a furtive glance behind her aaaaand… that was the end of that. You see? Potential read, no more. The little girl could have just been saying “look how tall that lady is” or something like that. Probably not worth speculating.
After a quick coffee with Michelle in Lisburn Costa we headed back to the Butterfly Club HQ to get into our glad rags for yet another restaurant trip. Andrea joined us at around 6.45, which should have given us plenty of time to get into Belfast, get parked and have a leisurely walk to our venue. Should have. There was some sort of event going on in the grounds of Belfast City Hall which had caused the closure of several roads, the result of which was that those roads that were still open were close to gridlocked. It took us over an hour for a journey that should have taken around 20 minutes, and we ended up parking in a multi-storey car park much further from our restaurant than we would have liked. It was a good 10-15 minute walk in heels, but I managed ok and all three of us seemed to pass completely unregarded by any of the revellers spilling out of the pubs on the way. Although we did have a bit of a giggle at the couple standing outside one bar in matching trousers and skirt. Very odd looking. It could have been some sort of work uniform I suppose, but it still looks a bit odd.
Our restaurant venue was the Meat Locker at Deane’s. Deane’s has been one of Belfast’s most prominent restaurants for many years and while I had been there for a couple of business lunches over the years, this was my first time going there in the evening. Meat Locker is downstairs in the two-floor establishment, the other restaurant is called Eipic and is one of two Michelin-starred restaurants in Belfast. Meat Locker might not have the Michelin star, but it had a pricey enough menu. We were half an hour late for our 7.30 booking, but it didn’t seem to be a problem and we were shown straight to our table. The restaurant was brightly lit, and very noisy. Not background music noisy, just a lot of people all talking loudly, and having to talk even more loudly because everyone else was talking so loudly. At one point I had to ask Michelle to repeat herself five times before I understood her. There was one man in particular sitting at a nearby table who seemed to be the bastard offspring of Brian Blessed and Gerard Butler as he felt the need to shout every word he said.
For all that, I do have to say that the food was very good if somewhat overpriced. My starter of salmon and smoked haddock fishcake was suitably fishy, with definite discernible flakes of fish in there as opposed to the more usual fishy-potatoey mush that inhabits the centre of your average fishcake. For my main I had the sirloin steak – as the name of the restaurant suggests, it specialises in steaks although Michelle and Andrea had chicken and salmon respectively. The steak was of very good quality, with a lovely charcoal-y outer shell encompassing a slightly bloody inside. Exactly as medium rare should be in fact. It was served with a pepper sauce that was no better or worse than most other pepper sauces (sorry, sauce au poivre, use of French adds £5 to the bill) and also quite possibly the nicest chips I have ever had. It’s just as well they were very nice, because they were few in number. It is the first time I have ever been served a portion of chips and been able to count them. Seven. Seven chips. Big chunky chips granted, but still. Seven chips.
Annoyingly, coffee arrived well in advance of dessert even though our waitress asked “do you want coffee with dessert?” The coffee was pretty decent, with a little macaron on the side, and dessert was adequate. Caramel and popcorn sundae, a long glass containing rich vanilla ice cream, some sort of cake, caramel sauce and about 5 pieces of what tasted like Butterkist toffee popcorn. It was OK.
Overall, the savoury part of the meal was excellent, the sweet part not so amazing, but none of the three of us were particularly keen on the ambience of the place. It was too bright, too noisy. Such a contrast with our last Saturday night out at Blu where to be honest, the food wasn’t as good but I would go back there like a shot. By contrast, I’ll not be in any hurry to rush back to Meat Locker.
Well that’s about all I have to say for now. It was a bit of a digression after digression type of post, but that’s ok. That’s the type of week it’s been.