If my next post doesn’t have an update on how this is going, please feel free to berate me in the comments.
That is what I wrote last time round. I was referring to my ongoing quest to make some headway on getting my chin hair reduced. It was two and a half weeks ago and I had got as far as walking into a city centre beauty salon to enquire about laser hair removal on my face, only to be informed that I was clearly too pale of skin and fair of hair for laser to be effective. It would, I was informed, be a complete waste of time. So when I left it last time round I had identified another salon that offered both laser and electrolysis (which I thought might be my only option), but at least if they offered both they would be able to do a “compare and contrast” between the two techniques. And I then hubristically added the line at the top. Surely, I thought, I’ll follow through with this thing, won’t I? Well, in the knowledge that I had made that comment, it is not a coincidence that well over two weeks have elapsed since I last posted. I have been waiting for something to actually happen so I can avoid the ensuing beration (is that a word?) Sadly I thought I’d better just write a post anyway. I mean, I have actually done some stuff. Just not stuff that results in hair removal.
I’m being slightly dishonest. It’s not as if I have done literally nothing about progressing the hair removal, it’s just that it hasn’t come to anything yet. Quite soon after I put up the last post I discovered that the place I had identified as my next port of call in fact offered not proper laser hair removal, but IPL alongside electrolysis. So I kind of parked that. One piece of advice that I did get from a few of you who were kind enough to leave comments (thank you as always) was that I should ask the GIC what they thought. I was a little reluctant about contacting the clinic when my first appointment with them is still at least four months away, but on the one previous email exchange I did have with one of the doctors there (confirming that I did want to be put on the waiting list), she did sign off with a “don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help”. So I took the doctor at her word and emailed her again. I got a lengthy, sympathetic and helpful reply. She did say that it sounded like laser wasn’t going to work for me, and that electrolysis would probably be that path that I would have to take. And of course electrolysis is not available on the NHS – not in Northern Ireland at least, I’m not sure of the situation in other parts of the UK. She was very apologetic about this, and added that the GIC staff had been actively campaigning for this to be included in the available treatments for some time, as an either/or with laser. I’m not holding my breath for it to be added, although since control of Northern Ireland’s Health Service has recently passed from the DUP to Sinn Fein I would be slightly more optimistic than previously.
The doctor explained that the case they were making was that not only was the lack of electrolysis causing additional dysphoria for a considerable subset of patients (the white-haired, blondes like me, and of course gingers, of whom there are quite a few on this island), but it actually had the potential to delay Gender Reassignment Surgery if the genital hair removal can’t get done. This comment was a bit of a rude awakening for me. I have been focussing on my full time date, who I tell, how I manage the news, transitioning in work etc. This comment woke me up from my stupor and made me realise that this isn’t just social, it’s physical too. But I’m not going to disappear down that particular alleyway in this post, suffice to say, bring it on!
So the doctor suggested I seek out a local electrolysis practitioner and see what I could afford. She also gave one other piece of advice, to try to find someone who was trained in performing electrolysis in the genital area because it will be needed when the time comes, and if it’s being done by someone I’m already familiar with then so much the better. She then added that she knew of one practitioner who had done the appropriate additional training, and while she didn’t specifically mention the name of the practice, she did name the area of Belfast in which it was located. So of course I googled that electrolysis hair removal and the name of that area, and lo and behold if it wasn’t the same person who did Andrea’s IPL treatment back when she was starting her journey. And not only that, we have met! At a fundraising event for their mutual hairdresser over a year ago. So last Wednesday I fired off an email introducing myself (or re-introducing myself) and asking if we could have a chat about what my options are, and likely cost. A week later, I have had no response. Now I feel awkward about going back to her. I should have just phoned in the first place. To be continued, when I get over myself.
OK, time for a momentous decision. Well, not that momentous really, but a bit of a change in attitude. Since I first started this journey in earnest around two and a half years ago, one of the constants has been my attendance at the Belfast Butterfly Club. It was a godsend for me (and that’s coming from an atheist) when I first decided to give up denying who I really am, and had all these huge emotions running round and no idea how to go about doing anything other than dressing up behind closed doors in an empty house every once in a blue moon. It really was utterly invaluable and I will be eternally grateful. Since I started attending the Wednesday “anchor” meetings weekly, I have only missed a handful and for really unavoidable reasons such as being out of the country. But I’m sure you don’t even need me to write the word “however” because you can sense its imminent arrival. Here it comes now…
However, I think the time has come for me to scale back my attendance at the weekly meetings. That is as distinct from waving goodbye to the club itself. As I said, I will always be grateful for what it has done for me. And the availability of the premises for me to get changed in, continues to be a huge benefit, at least until such time as I come out to my kids early next year and I can start to get ready at home – oh happy day that will be! At least I hope it will be happy. This all came to a head over the last month or so. Between being on holiday for a few weeks and Mrs K having to work late a couple of Wednesdays, I ended up only being present at the regular Wednesday meetings for one week out of the last five. I had dropped Michelle a text a couple of weeks ago saying that normal service would be resumed the following week. But as last Wednesday drew near I realised that I wasn’t looking forward to it, I was almost dreading it. And I wish I wasn’t writing that but, y’know, honesty. In my opinion the Wednesday night meetings were at their best for me when I was in the very early stages of discovering who I really am. When I first went there and was happy to turn up, sit in a dress for three hours and leave again. When I got a little more courage and would try to “go out” in public, be that literally five minutes in and out of Tesco, twenty minutes in M&S, or wherever, the Wednesday night meetings would be where I would go back to, where I could tell everyone how I had got on. And it would be where I would meet up with my friends Andrea and Michelle. But since shortly before Andrea went full time (now that I think about it, when she was at the stage I am at now) she doesn’t go there at all. Ever. And at least partly thanks to the shining example set out by Andrea and me, Michelle was soon to follow us out the door and into the big bad world. So I don’t really need to go to the Wednesday night meetings to see Michelle either. In the last year or so Michelle and I (and occasionally Andrea) have got into the habit of meeting up at the M&S Café before going to join the Butterfly Club meeting, but even that is necessarily tied to the same place because it’s anchored to the location of the club premises.
I think fundamentally I’m not great with repetition. And the Wednesday nights were doing the same thing in the same place at the same time on the same day every single week. And let’s not forget, regardless of the whole trans thing, I am going out all night and leaving Mrs K with both our daughters to look after all night. She has her own social life and leaves me with them too (which is fine) but in order to have my regular Wednesdays, I have been passing up opportunities to do other things on other days because it wouldn’t be fair to leave Mrs K yet again. So instead of going to Wednesdays at the Butterfly Club, I will maybe do a Tuesday at the cinema, or a Thursday late night shopping in Belfast, or a few more weekend things. So not more time away from home, but a greater variety in the time I spend away from home. Not only that, I am in a position now where I am out to a few of my old male friends, and I also have cis friends who only know me as Kirsty. I happily socialise with them as the real me and it feels real, whereas sitting at the club premises with other trans* people in a secret location behind closed doors, well it doesn’t feel like what I should be doing . And scaling back at the club will give me more opportunity to do other, different things. That’s got to be a good thing, right? It’s not like I’m cutting ties with the club. As I said, I will always be grateful to the club, and I am still a member. Most members don’t go on Wednesdays, I’ll just be more like them. There is another issue that I have with the club though, but since I have no wish to air dirty laundry in public, I’ll say no more other than I sincerely hope it comes to a resolution soon. But that won’t affect this decision I have made about Wednesdays. I’ll still maybe turn up every couple of months, just to say hello, and just in case the next Kirsty has arrived.
And finally (dontcha love my Trevor McDonald impression?) a quick catch-up on the socialising front. I had a very enjoyable late breakfast get-together with Alice a couple of Saturdays ago. She gave me a dress! A nice yellow floaty chiffon full length summer dress, although with spaghetti straps it will require a cardie. But that’s ok. We met in a place I had never been before, Patisserie Valerie. I had a very nice smoked salmon & scrambled egg, while as a veggie Alice had a fry-up with no meat – each to her own! We had a quick walk round a few shops before she had to head home. A very enjoyable couple of hours with a new-ish friend.
It was my birthday in late August. Mrs K asked what I wanted, and when I was stumped she suggested a voucher. I decided to go with New Look this year, I seem to like a lot of their stuff. So after parting with Alice I had some of Mrs K’s present to spend. She told me that when she was buying the gift card, the sales assistant asked her if it was for a woman or a man. Apparently they have gift cards that specifically state “New Look Men” on them, so knowing how I would look when I turned up to spend the gift, Mrs K had to state, truthfully, “It’s for a woman”. Yes. Yes it is.
I spent ages browsing round the large, three-storey New Look store in Belfast city centre. Eventually I found a casual sleeveless rib-knitted mini-dress in pink, white & candy stripes on the sale rail. £17.99 reduced to £8. I took it to the till after trying it on. £6. I love it when that happens. It happened again. Up to “Shoe Heaven” on the top floor, a pair of fur-topped chunky light brown suede boots with a block heel. £29.99 reduced to £16. Took them to the till. £14. Yay!
The next day was the monthly book group meeting, and after I had chaired the meeting last month, it was my choice of book this month. My choice was novel that’s nearly as old as me, The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Yes, that Princess Bride, the source material for the film. Except the conceit of the novel is that the source material is in fact a much older text from the obscure European kingdom of Florin, by the legendary Florinese author S Morgenstern. A fair chunk of the novel is taken up in first-person reminscences by Goldman about his own father reading him this book when he was a child, and how it was years later when he tried to find a copy for himself that he realised that his dad had left out all the boring parts, and so he set about securing the rights to “abridge” the original Morgenstern text, convincing his wife that this is a good idea, convincing his teenage son to read the book, dealing with agents and so on. Plus lots of interjections into the Morgenstern text about his excisions (which were never there in the first place). I love this book, and have done for at least the last 25 years. I read it before I ever saw the film, and they are as good as each other. And now, another “however”. However, it was probably the most divisive book that we have read in the book group. It would be fair to say that my suggestion last month was greeted with some scepticism, but they went with it. As it turned out, some of the people who were most sceptical said they absolutely adored the book. Others said they absolutely hated it. Very few if any said it was just ok. So the average score was a fairly modest 6 point something out of 10, but that consisted of a bunch of 8s and 9s against a bunch of 3s and 4s. Certainly made for a lively and interesting chat. And by the way, if you have seen the film but never read the original
Morgenstern Goldman novel, you really do owe it to yourself to remedy that as soon as possible.
If I could just do something about this stubbly chin…