And so 2017 is upon us. It feels like an eternity that I have been saying and writing that I will begin to live full time as a woman in 2017. And now it’s here. I am, not to put too fine a point on it, terrified. I’m going to begin living full time as a woman this year. Probably the first half of the year. I’m scared that there are so many unknowns. For most of my life I have had a relatively comfortable existence. And I’m about to rip that all apart and who knows how everything will be looking at the start of 2018? Not me, that’s for certain. But I’m getting ahead of myself, time to backtrack a little.
It has been a few weeks since I last wrote a blog post, which was an immediate reaction to me spontaneously outing myself to my oldest friend Pete, and then via him to his wife Nicky (with my permission), and then to another friend Caroline, who it turned out had been under the impression that Bob had been having an affair with Kirsty (as opposed to Bob actually being Kirsty). It has subsequently occurred to me that she might not be the only person under this impression. She gained that impression as a result of drunken ramblings of another friend who already knew the truth about me, and I don’t know if that was a private conversation between the two of them or if there are several further people thinking I am being unfaithful to Mrs K, which I have never been, nor would I ever as long as the marriage continues. Hardly matters now I suppose.
I had a very enjoyable stay with Andrea in the weekend before Christmas. I cooked for her, just burger and chips, nothing too fancy, and she provided a lovely fruit crumble. We had a great chat over a bottle of wine, and put up her Christmas tree too. On the Sunday we she had reserved us a spot for a very nice Christmas afternoon tea. I’m sure we did something else too but it escapes me just now. Then a few days later on the Wednesday we both met up with Michelle for a proper Christmas dinner at our frequent haunt The Plough Inn in Hillsborough.
Christmas at home was perfectly fine. I think that once Mrs K and I got over the awkwardness of deciding that yes, we will be separating, we have found a new calm. We know where we stand. And it’s ok for now. Quite a bit more detail to come later in the blog. But for now, it has been pretty decent, kids had a good Christmas and Santa came. In fact, at this point I want to take a little digression into one of the most genuinely beautiful gifts either of our kids has ever received. My brother and his girlfriend (partner of 20+years really, they just never married) gave my 7 y/o a fairy door. Yes, that’s right, a fairy door. It a beautifully crafted little wooden door made by The Irish Fairy Door Company. You locate it somewhere suitable in your home (ours is on the mantelpiece) and register your fairy’s name on the website. You then have a fairy living in your home. She comes and goes via the door, but can only do it when you’re all asleep because fairies lose part of their magic every time a human sees them. But Little Kirsty Jr communicates with her fairy (named
Alicia) by leaving notes at her door when she goes to bed, and then in the morning Alicia has replied (i.e. I have replied). LK Jr is completely bought into this, so much so that a couple of nights ago one of her friends also left a note asking can Alicia be her fairy too, and even though she didn’t have a door she would leave an envelope for her.
I replied that Alicia replied that unfortunately King Oberon the Fairy King doesn’t allow any fairy to visit more than one human house, and so she has to stay in our house. Honestly, it’s all in the imagination but it is completely magical. I love it, and I love the joy it has given my wee princess.
I treated myself to a little gift on Christmas Day. Back in 2015 I downloaded an iOS app called “EVA F” after reading an interview with its creator on The Guardian website. The interview is still there so click here if you want to read it. EVA stands for Exceptional Voice App, and there is an “EVA M” for trans men too. There’s a free initial lesson with it, which was fine as far as it went, and the main attraction is that it contains a pitch tuner for practice exercises. It’s a lot more deep than that though, although each subsequent lesson costs £3.99 / $4.99, which adds up when you consider there are 14 lessons so far. However there is a lot of content and it’s not just about getting the pitch right, it covers voice quality, word choice, fluency, the whole gamut of vocal issues that trans women might face. I had always intended to buy one or two of the other lessons when I get my own place, so I can practice without the rest of the family thinking I’m going mad. However on Christmas morning I got a notification on my phone that for Christmas Day only all lessons were reduced to 79p each. So I bought the lot! Just over a tenner, so if it’s no use at least I haven’t wasted too much money. Anyway, I’ll post a review on the blog once I’ve got into it a bit more. It’s not available on Android I’m afraid – there’s a whole explanation of why not on their website but the short version is that Android brings too many variations in hardware (particularly in microphones) for the voice analysis tools to be calibrated and reliable.
So things tootled along fine over Christmas week. I was up at Alice’s house on the 30th for a film night and then out with Andrea again on New Year’s Eve. The intention was to have a quick bit to eat and then hit the shops, which for me was with the intention of further expanding my work-suitable wardrobe. We had hoped to go to one of our favourites the Mourne Seafood Bar, but upon arrival there was a sign on the door stating that the restaurant was closed due to “mechanical problems” until further notice. Not to be deterred, we ended up at Deane’s
Love Fish. This is part of the Deane’s restaurant complex which includes the Michelin-starred Eipic. We had been to Deane’s Meat Locker – another one of their restaurants in the same complex – with Michelle quite a while ago, but since we had anticipated fish elsewhere we decided to stick with that. Andrea committed fully and had the full three courses, but as I was going to be pigging out with the family that night I restricted myself to one mouthful of her chowder starter and another of her sticky toffee pudding dessert, and apart from that, just had a magnificent main course of mussels in cider with a side order of chunky chips. Oh that cider broth was excellent – so tasty. And a good lunch-sized portion. The down side of all this fine dining was that we didn’t leave the restaurant until 3.30 pm.
We made our way to M&S, mainly because I think they have a good range of office wear. And also because Andrea had given me an M&S voucher for Christmas and I was itching to spend it. We did have a bit of a browse round their general sale items, but it was a frustrating experience because all sizes were mixed in together and the sizes on the hangers didn’t always match the sizes of the garments. Grrr! The office wear section was much better. Initially what I was after was a knee length pencil skirt and maybe a matching top, with a hope for maybe a work-suitable dress too. I managed all three! I found a nice checked pencil skirt and a fairly plain black top with a little bit of frill and lace around the shoulders. Andrea also came up with a couple of other skirts and a blouse, plus a nice
black dress. Last of all, I found a navy dress too, so headed into the changing rooms with a whopping seven items to try on! That’s a record for me. The problem was that just as I started removing my own clothing I heard someone ask the attendant what time they were closing today – the answer was 5pm! I had half an hour to try on 7 different items, make a decision and pay for anything I wanted to buy.
First of all I went for the dress Andrea picked, which was a bit of a struggle to get on but looked really good on me, and actually managed to make me look quite curvy. However, I thought it felt a little bit too dressy for work, more a sort of LBD that one might wear to a party. And if it was difficult to get on, it was worse to get off. I got a bad cramp in my neck going through the contortions required to remove it without smearing my foundation all over the neck. I then tried the navy dress I had picked, which was a lot easier to get on as the zip goes all the way down the back so I could step into it. It’s a shift dress with a nice swooping pattern from breast to waist which again emphasised the small amount of curviness I possess. It also felt more appropriate for work – I think the higher neckline might also have helped with this. Plus, it was less than half the price of Andrea’s choice, which wasn’t in the sale.
I also ended up buying the check pencil skirt and black top that I had chosen, so in the end I bought the three items that I picked, and didn’t bother with the four that Andrea had picked for me. Hope she wasn’t offended. And as an extra bonus, when I took them up to the till (just as the lights in the store dimmed for closing time) I discovered that the price wasn’t the original £39.50, or even the reduced £26 on the label, but only £20. Result! Most of the rest of Belfast’s shops were also closing at 5 so after a brief and fruitless stop off in Primark, it was back home again.
The family New Year celebrations were by and large the same as always. Mrs K and the kids and I sat round playing silly games, eating crisps and cocktail sausages and seeing in the New Year. Then once the kids had been sent to bed Mrs K and I sat up till gone 4.30am talking about what’s coming up. Talking in a perfectly calm and rational way about all that is going to happen, when it’s going to happen, what the pitfalls might be. And it was OK. Although by around 3.30 I just wanted her to shut up so I could go to bed. So the latest update on our situation is;
- She needs to check out remortgaging the house to maximise the equity release for me, which will give me a deposit for somewhere of my own. In a positive development, we dug out mortgage statements and discovered that we owe a full £10,000 less on the mortgage than I had originally estimated in my back-of-a-fag-packet calculations.
- We will finalise the separation agreement which we have the bones of already, and will jointly approach a solicitor to formalise it. We do not want it to become adversarial.
- We have provisionally agreed to tell the kids, or at least the elder child (aged 14), about me weekend after next, so some time between 13th and 15th January.
- I may try to get an appointment with younger daughter’s headmaster on the Friday before that weekend to let him know what she’s going to be told, so the school can make allowances for her potentially being upset and/or confused. Not to mention what she might say to her classmates.
- Subject to the kids actually wanting to still be in my presence, we are aiming for 50/50 custody – e.g. something along the lines of they stay with me Sunday-Tuesday and with her Thursday-Saturday, and we alternate Wednesdays. And Mrs K is going to be a huge advocate for me with the kids, if for no other reason than to give herself some me-time.
- She is very concerned about telling her parents. They are old and quite frail and she is afraid that the shock might kill them. Although her mum in particular is incredibly pragmatic and unemotional, and is more likely to want to talk through the practical terms of what’s going to happen. I’m more concerned that her dad might physically attack me, 80 years old or not.
- Although as I had previously written we are going to inform my siblings together, we’re not quite sure of the practicalities of how we get a babysitter for that! Particularly considering two of my four siblings live in the Republic of Ireland, and even without an overnight stay if we tried to tell them both in a day then allowing for say an hour in each of their houses it’s going to be at least an eight hour round trip.
- In order for a divorce to happen quickly and with a minimum of fuss and expense, one of us has to admit (or at least not contest) unreasonable behaviour. I recoiled at this slightly, both because I am wary of future implications of admitting this, and also because on general principles I am uncomfortable in stating that being trans is unreasonable. She replied that she is perfectly willing to admit that she is being unreasonable in not allowing me to transition within the marriage, although that would require me to become the petitioner. We’ll work it out.
- She asked what objects, if anything, I would want to take from our house into my new home. Very little, truth be told. Obviously we need to make allowances for the value of the house contents in the separation agreement, but beyond things which are definitively mine rather than ours (guitars and electronic gadgets mainly) there’s not a lot. I will keep the car, but since she can’t drive that’s a bit of a no-brainer really.
There was lots more, I mean we talked for over three hours, but that’s the gist. It’s incredibly civilised so far. She finished off by asking “So, before we start all this, are you sure you’re a woman?” She really put me on the spot. Then she butted in before I could reply “Actually, don’t answer that. It’s too late. You’re doing this, don’t even think about backing out.”
It’s all so close now that all I can think of is the potential downsides. Really when I boil it all down there are two things that really concern me:
- My clients. I work in financial services as a client relationship manager. While my employer seems to be admirably strong on equality and diversity, clients are not bound by the same code of conduct. So if they react badly to this news and refuse to deal with me, I lose business. And if I lose business, I could lose my job or be demoted. Now I’m sure many clients will be fine, and indeed some will go out of their way to be accepting and supportive, but lost business is lost business.
- Neighbours. Specifically, new neighbours wherever I end up. It wouldn’t take very many at all to take against me to make my life a misery. And in particular, I’m concerned about kids and teenagers on the street. That scares me.
I think it’s probably about time to end this rather rambling post. Maybe it’s reflective of my mental state right now – all over the place. I hope I’m strong enough to see this through.