You’re highly unlikely to remember reading about this, since the post in question was from July 2014, but there is one person in particular to whom I wanted to come out but had failed to find the opportunity. Just about my oldest friend, my childhood best friend, best man at each others weddings. He’s called Pete. He was supposed to be the first friend to whom I came out but it didn’t quite work out like that. I suppose the fact that I still live quite near to where I grew up just outside Belfast, whereas he now lives in Essex, doesn’t really make for frequent get-togethers. So on the few occasions that we have met up over the last few years, there have always been other people present and I can’t really have that sort of conversation. It just hasn’t been appropriate. So I was very much aware that the time when all this was going to become common knowledge was rapidly approaching and he was still unaware, and this was still a niggle that Pete didn’t know. We go back such a long way that I felt I owed it to him to tell him separately. It’s funny how things work out though.
Mrs K and I were out doing our big Christmas shopping blitz today. All day. My legs are reeaally sore. (Incidentally, isn’t it good that we can still do this together despite what we’ve got coming up over the next few months?) One of the items that our elder daughter had put on her Christmas list was a bit of a tongue-twister: a long sleeve twist front crop top from Top Shop. Try saying that after a few Christmas drinks! She showed me a picture of it, so I was just about able to identify it. Of course, I knew my way around the womenswear stores of Belfast better than Mrs K, and I was quite impressed with myself that I managed to pick out the item in question. Not quite my style, but then again I’m not 14. But we were both so taken with the tongue-twisty nature of what we had bought that Mrs K put a post on Facebook to that effect. And then Pete commented from over in Essex
Ah Bob, finally revealing your true self, eh? About time…
I was out collecting our younger daughter from school when I saw that comment, but when I arrived back home Mrs K immediately rushed down the stairs and said “Did you see what Pete said? What can you say to that?”
My immediate thought was that either one of us should just reply “Yes” and leave it at that. But I decided to give a little more and replied “Well I wasn’t planning on coming out just yet but your predictive powers are remarkable.” And left it at that. Except I didn’t leave it. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to tell him the truth, but I couldn’t exactly do it in a Facebook comment as that would be a bit too public. So I decided to send him a private message, which I then spent over an hour thinking about.
An hour of writing and rewriting, of finger hovering over send then deleting the whole thing, of rewriting again and then thinking better of the whole thing before I finally hit send on the post. The exact content is private between us, but the gist was that I had something to tell him which would be a big shock, but he needs to know now before it becomes common knowledge. That his comment on Mrs K’s Facebook post was right on the money, and that I’m trans and will be transitioning in 2017. That Mrs K and I are almost certainly going to separate albeit on very good terms. That the kids don’t know and will be told in January. And that this is definitely not a joke. And then I waited for a response. It didn’t take long.
His reaction was so positive, so good, I’m very thankful. I knew he was a very passionate believer and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, so I was hopeful of a good reaction, but the theory of these things is one thing, the fact of one of your oldest friends coming out as trans is a whole different matter. But he was incredibly supportive. And quite taken with my bravery doing this in Northern Ireland of all places. Well it might be a dump but it’s where my family and my job are, so I’m not going anywhere. And there’s an open invite for me, really me, to go over to visit him and his family.
I told him about this blog, and he has promised to read it from start to finish even though I did say if you began from the first post there’s about 4 Lord of the Rings’ worth in here. So Pete, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You poor poor bastard. It was bad enough writing it, never mind reading it. I did warn him that there were plenty of pictures on the blog, and since he said that was fine I asked if he wanted to see one now. I sent him the one on the right. He said he liked my hair.
I also told him my new name, and this is where things get a bit odd. We have a mutual friend called Caroline. He asked me if Caroline knew about this. I said no, not as far as I was aware, or at least I didn’t tell her. But it seems that Pete and Caroline (who is another Northern Ireland escapee who now lives in London) had met up for a drink a while back, and Caroline had made some slightly inscrutable reference to me/Bob spending quite a bit of time with someone called Kirsty. At least that was his memory, there had been a fair amount of alcohol taken on board. But anyway, Pete had left this evening under the impression that I was having an affair with a woman called Kirsty. But he thought I should know that Caroline knew. I racked my brain.
There were two possibilities here. The only person who definitely knows about me and would have seen Caroline recently is Vin, to whom I came out over two years ago and who has met me/Kirsty several times. But the alternative was that she has discovered this blog. Caroline is also a blogger, writing about sci-fi/fantasy/general geekery and knitting. Her blog is on WordPress, as is this one. And there has been a wee bit of crossover with a trans blogger I follow who was at a sci-fi conference that Caroline also attended, and I had commented on her blog and mentioned the name of Caroline’s blog. Anyway, I wondered if that comment had attracted Caroline’s attention and she had worked out that Bob and Kirsty are one and the same. But I know Caroline to be a very progressive, pro-trans feminist, somebody for whom I have a great deal of respect, and I approached her.
“Hi Caroline. Please excuse the obliqueness of this question, but do you know about me? (It’s OK if you do btw)”
“Well Vin did mention something the last time we met. Is that a suitably oblique response?”
So it wasn’t the convoluted WordPress reciprocity that I had worked out in my head. It was good old-fashioned blabbermouthery. So I replied.
“That’s OK. I just outed myself to Pete and based on what he picked up from you he thought I was having an affair. If only it were that simple.”
“Well that’s what I took from the conversation with Vin. Is that not the case?
Sorry for any misunderstanding.
And now I just thought “What have I let myself in for here?” So I told Caroline that I was going to tell her the truth anyway, and that she wasn’t sworn to secrecy although I would ask her to exercise some discretion.
“I’m not having an affair with a woman called Kirsty. I am Kirsty. I’m transgender and I will be transitioning in 2017”
Well that took her by surprise! But yet again, as with Pete an hour earlier, she was brilliantly, wonderfully supportive, yet realistic too. She said it would be “a life-changing experience in a positive way, but a hard road too”. Which probably sums up what everyone says.
So all that remains is that I’m really pleased with both reactions I got, even if the second outing wasn’t supposed to happen at all. Although I’m quite annoyed with Vin. Now don’t get me wrong, once you out yourself to someone it’s not fair to expect them to never say anything to anyone ever. So the blabbing after probably multiple gins is kind of understandable and forgivable. No, what I’m annoyed about is the ineptitude of the blabbery. Thanks to his useless drunken blabbing, two people that I know of and potentially several more were under the impression that Bob was having an affair with Kirsty. Then again, maybe it wasn’t that far from the truth.