I was fine yesterday. Nothing happened of any consequence as far as I can tell. Then I woke up this morning and all day long I have had a horrible negative feeling about everything that I can’t just shake off. Negative about my transition, negative about my relationships with others, negative about my career prospects, negative about the future of my family. I feel completely deflated and I don’t understand why. I can’t concentrate on anything, goodness knows what has possessed me to log on to WordPress to start writing a blog post. I wonder if it has anything to do with May rumbling down the track toward me bringing with it my anticipated date for going to my GP to seek that referral to the gender clinic. At this point, I don’t even know if it’s going to happen. I’m not sure I can face it. I’m so scared.
It’s like this. I have two choices. Stay as I am. That’s out. I can’t face keeping up this male facade for potentially another 30+ years. So that leaves making the change and living as a woman, with all that entails both socially and surgically. And for today anyway, the prospect of facing everyone and their preconceived notions of who I am, well I’m terrified. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m shitting myself – metaphorically speaking of course. I just want to be the woman that I should be, but the prospect of everything that I will have to go through to reach that point is the most intimidating thing I have ever felt in my life. I don’t feel strong enough to do it.
I read an Upworthy article that was widely shared on Facebook this week. It was an article by a (cis) woman about the experience of her (trans) wife (formerly her husband) having her first day in work as her true self and it is beautiful. Unfortunately, for me it served mostly to throw my own imminent transition into sharp relief. I won’t be Mrs K’s wife, thanks to Northern Ireland’s unfit-for-the-21st-century homophobic politicians repeatedly vetoing equal marriage. At best, I’ll be her civil partner. In fact, on my first day in work as Kirsty, I’ll legally still be her husband as we would only be required to divorce in order for me to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, which would be a considerable amount of time down the line from then. But I won’t be her wife. I don’t feel any emotional support from her. I am a cause of shame and embarrassment to her. The practical support she gives me is of course welcome, but it largely amounts to her desperately wanting to keep my true nature a secret and doing whatever she can to maintain the secrecy. She told me herself that she now regrets ever giving me her blessing to explore this side of me. She feels that if she had put her foot down back when I first raised the subject in January 2014, things would never have got to this stage. She may be right. But she wants nothing to do with my transition. She won’t come to the GP with me, she won’t do anything to actively assist, except to assist in the cover-up. She has said she will not come with me to be by my side when I come out to my siblings. She is not interested in giving me any emotional support because she can’t cope with the prospect of me being me and not him. And I’m not just talking about the fact of me becoming my true self, I’m talking about all that goes with it, she is convinced that people will say it’s her fault that I’m like this, if she was a better wife I would want to stay male, or if not that then they will pity her. I would hope that if she stands by me and supports me in my transition that she will gain the admiration of quite a few people, but of course she refuses to see it that way so I fear that having her active support in my transition looks to be about as likely as the abolition of income tax. If we do stay together (whatever that means in this context) then I foresee many years of looking in the other direction and barely acknowledging each other’s existence. So I’m selfish, indulging myself to the inestimable detriment of her and the kids, who will of course be scarred for life and will become drug addicts and prostitutes as a result if Mrs K is to be believed.
And that’s just at home. That Upworthy article was mainly focussed on the workplace. I can’t imagine my workplace will be putting up big “Welcome Kirsty” signs for me everywhere. Despite the firm’s equality policy, which as I have said before I really can’t fault, it can’t make up for the broken friendships, the dirty looks, judgemental attitudes, the pointing, the sniggers, the malicious gossip. And I really can’t comprehend how I end up still in my current role. I can’t foresee any way that my section head will permit me, a trans woman, to be “on the road” visiting clients as the public face of our company. I just can’t see it. And yes, there is some legislation that will help, but I don’t want to be some sort of litigious cause celebre, I just want to carry on doing my job as normal. And anyway, these people are smart enough to stay within the letter of the law and keep all asses covered. I think a quotation from that article is very relevant here:
While we have laws in place in Ontario, Canada, to protect the rights of transgender employees, it does not shield them from awkwardness, quiet judgment, or loss of workplace friendships. Your workplace may not become outright hostile, but it can sometimes become a difficult place to go to every day because people only tolerate you rather than fully accept you.
Substitute Belfast for Ontario and that is where I fear I am headed, and I can’t see any other outcome for me transitioning in work.
So now what? I haven’t a clue. I’m still intending to go to my doctor next month to set the ball rolling. To use my good friend Ruth’s analogy, I’m just stepping on to a train. I can still get off at any number of stations down the line if I decide I can’t make it all the way to the end of the line although I want to go right to the terminus so much. But even going to the doctor may cause problems at home. Following the big confession back in January, Mrs K and I had another conversation where she asked me to just give her one last good year with her husband, and not to mention “the trans thing” at all, so she can spend a year with her head buried in the sand. However according to my provisional schedule, I’m going to see my GP to request the referral to the Gender Clinic in around a month’s time. Do I tell her I’m going? Would that be breaking my promise not to talk about it? Likewise, assuming I get referred my first appointment at the clinic will be maybe September or October. Do I tell her I’m going to that? She probably won’t want to know, but if I just go and say nothing will that make it all the worse in January 2017 when everything is up for discussion again and she then finds out that I have been attending the clinic for a few months already? Really, it’s not so much that she doesn’t want to know as that she wants the silence to allow her to pretend it’s not happening.
Sticking together through transition and beyond seems like an impossible task to me, but there’s no way she’s going to go and leave the kids. Similarly, there’s no way I’m going to go and leave the kids. So what happens? Do we end up as housemates? Does that mean she can get herself a man because I won’t be her male other half any more? I don’t think I could handle her being with someone else while I’m in the house. And realistically, what man would want to come into that set-up anyway? One with very, ahem, “individual” tastes, that’s who! But I can’t leave, won’t leave. Don’t want to, can’t afford to. A lifetime of simmering unspoken resentment, whether I transition or not. So much to look forward to.
Sorry to be such a misery guts today.