It’s quite a grandiose title for what has been a rather muted week following last Tuesday’s revelation to Mrs K. But I’ll deal with that in a while. What I would like to say is thank you to those of you who have both commented on the blog and contacted me privately to wish me well with my transition. I am very grateful for all support. In fact, I feel a bit of a fraud because apart from confessing to Mrs K of what my intentions are, I haven’t actually done anything. Perhaps the confession is in itself doing something rather significant. Well of course it is. But it’s still just between the two of us.
One recurring theme in things that people have said or written to me is that I am being very courageous, it’s such a brave thing to do. Several people have said this. And I’m going to say now what my reaction to that is. Yes, it was difficult to tell my wife of my plans. Yes, it was a real “heart in mouth” moment. But brave? Only if you don’t consider the alternative. In fact, I would argue that what I am choosing is in fact the path that feels like it requires less bravery in the long run. Choosing the other path, of remaining part-time, of being male to the vast majority of my acquaintances, in the end I just can’t face it. Living the rest of my life in the wrong gender, looking wrong, acting wrong, sounding wrong, being wrong. Reaching my death bed if I am afforded an opportunity to look back over my life before the end, and sitting there regretting that I never took this step to be true to myself. All that terrifies me. I am nowhere near brave enough to choose that course, to suppress my true self for the sake of my family. Of course there’s a bit of inertia in actually getting off my arse and going to the doctor to start the medical and legal transition process, but that’s no great hardship. I am certainly apprehensive about coming out to my children, my colleagues and my clients, but once it’s done it’s done. I have no doubt that from time to time I will experience negative reactions, discrimination even, and while I will not blithely accept that, I do expect it. I am prepared for it, as much as I can be. I’m not prepared to live out my days as a man. In the end it was just too horrible to contemplate. So if you take the opposing view, that it’s somehow easier to remain in your gender assigned at birth, well transitioning probably isn’t for you. But that’s only my opinion, and what would I know? As I said, I haven’t actually done anything yet.
So what has actually happened at home since my big confession? Nothing. Nada. Rien. Nowt. Eff all. We have avoided the subject. After a tense and silent drive to work the next morning, I still received my usual morning kiss as Mrs K got out of the car. So she’s not obviously ignoring me. Later that day, when we met up again after work for the drive home, as Mrs K got into the car I asked her what I ask every day when she gets into the car;
“No, not really”
OK then, it’s like that. I probably should have known better than to say anything. But after getting home, having dinner, watching a bit of television and so on, we seemed to drift back into the usual routine. She even chuckled along with a few things. That was Wednesday, when for a change I wasn’t at the Belfast Butterfly Club due to a prior engagement of Kirsty’s Cabs in running daughter no1 to and from her school where she was helping out at an open night. As for Thursday, it actually felt like some semblance of normality had returned to the house. She can hardly have forgotten what I told her, and I’m glad she seems capable of just getting on with things in a reasonably unfussy manner, but at the same time I fear she’s pretending this isn’t happening. But I don’t want to just bring up the subject again and make her (and me) feel miserable all over again. I can’t imagine I’m going to say “Hey remember I’m going to be transitioning next year?” and she’ll just reply “Oh darling, that’s fantastic news!” So we’re avoiding the subject again for the quiet life.
The other time when the subject kind of reared its head was while listening to the Kermode and Mayo Film Review podcast (aka Wittertainment) in the car on Monday morning. Mrs K and I are both big fans of this show, as much if not more for the stupid comedy, in-jokes and good-natured bickering between the two men in question (Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo) than for the reviews themselves. At this point I should say a big hello to Jason Isaacs if he’s reading, and a big “wassup” to everyone else. Anyway, this week’s guest was Eddie Redmayne, star of trans drama The Danish Girl, in which he plays Lili Elbe, recipient of one of the world’s first gender reassignment surgeries. Now I should say that I have my problems with men playing trans women as I think it perpetuates the old unenlightened view that trans women are just men in dresses. Women should be played by women, be that trans or cis. But mini-rant over, I do have to say that Eddie Redmayne spoke very well, said all the right things and was very respectful of trans people he had met in the course of his research. But one of the points that he and the reviewer Mark Kermode made was that the film is as much the story of the journey of Lili’s wife Gerda moving from horrified to reluctantly accepting to supportive following her husband Einar’s realisation as a married man that he should have been she. Her whole story just felt so aligned to what Mrs K must be going through, and the actor portraying her, Alicia Vikander, was singled out for praise by both the reviewer and numerous correspondents with the show. So I tentatively said to Mrs K “Is that something you’d be interested in seeing, or is it a bit too… close to home?” She replied that in fact yes, she would definitely be interested in seeing it. So against my initial thoughts, it looked like we were going to see this which may give her some inspiration.
Of course I’ll be going as Bob. There’s no way I’d be going to see that movie as Kirsty. Just too much of a cliche, trans woman going to see film about trans woman. Also, imagine me in the cinema concourse. Someone looks at me, semi-reads me, thinks “Is she or isn’t she?” then sees me walking into the screen showing The Danish Girl. “Definitely is”.
As it happens, I’m probably not going to be going now after all. After we had initially thought that we would go this weekend, on Saturday night, I thought about this and said to her “Good luck telling your mum and dad what film we’re going to see”. And that’s the problem. Mrs K’s parents are our regular babysitters. At 13, daughter no1 could probably look after herself for a couple of hours while we went to the cinema, but there’s no way I’d leave her in charge of a 6-year-old. Probably illegal, if nothing else. So off to the in-laws they go if Mrs K and I go out. However my in-laws are not the most progressive thinkers. I may have previously mentioned that a few months back my mother-in-law gave daughter no1 one of her old umbrellas, one with a rainbow pattern on it. Mum-in-law found it in the cupboard and said “I’m not using that, it’s a rainbow. That’s what the gays use these days”. So my daughter took the umbrella herself, happy to be seen as a gay ally. My father-in-law has been known to voice fears that Mrs K’s as-yet-unmarried younger brother might be “one of them”, as if that would be a terrible thing. (He’s not “one of them” by the way, at least Mrs K asked him, he said no, and she believes him). These are just a couple of incidents to illustrate that the in-laws think that the world is going to hell in a handcart and all this tolerance of depravity is not appropriate. They’re not even particularly religious, although dad-in-law will occasionally quote the Bible to support his daft arguments (or at least he thinks he’s quoting the Bible. On one famous occasion he provided a “biblical quotation” as the apparent coup de grace in some daft and probably surreal discussion, only for Mrs K to point out that he was in fact quoting Shakespeare!)
So one of the scariest things for Mrs K about my transition will be having to inform her parents, and how they will react. I think they are likely to refuse to have anything to do with me ever again, which to be honest will not bother me in the slightest. However I would hate for it to negatively affect their relationship with our children, their grandchildren. For all our diverging views, they are the only grandparents my children have, my own parents both having passed away back in the mid-1990s. So that will be a tough one to deal with when the time comes. However, I have no real inclination to precipitate a discussion on trans issues by telling them we’re going to see this film. I will be astonished if they view trans people in anything like a sympathetic manner, and if they pass comment I doubt I will be able to bite my lip and stay silent. I may even end up inadvertently outing myself. So perhaps we’ll just wait until the film comes on Netflix.As I said, I missed out on the usual Wednesday evening activities last week due to my obligations as a chauffeuse, so instead I arranged to meet up with Andrea for a light lunch on Saturday afternoon. It was the first time I had seen her since announcing my intention to transition. It was also the first opportunity I had had to get out as my real and future self since coming to this decision, so it was great to get out for that reason too. It was just lovely to meet up, and I know it’s going to be so useful as I progress along this journey to have a close friend who will have been through many of the same stages a year or two before me. I have to say that I also felt a little different about myself when I went out this time. One might almost say legitimised. This is me. This is really me. Not messing about, not playing at it. This. Is. Me.
I really am going to do this.