So after my last rather momentous post, this one is a little more mundane. The calm between the storms, so to speak. Amy continues to be remarkably accepting and positive about my upcoming transition, and I got to spend a little bit more time with her as Kirsty last weekend. Again, all was good. I suppose the next step is to see if she is prepared to be seen with me in public. Maybe that will be the acid test of how she really feels, but she genuinely does seem to be completely ok with everything.I was up at the Butterfly Club last night for a committee meeting (accompanied by my old friend Vincent who has kindly agreed to become a trustee of the club), but it is perhaps momentous for another reason. For the first time ever, I left home as Kirsty and returned as Kirsty. My younger daughter was in the bath, so I nipped into the downstairs toilet for a quick change and some make-up application, and I was gone. I had briefed Amy that if her sister was out of the bath before she heard me leave, that she should try to encourage her to remain upstairs and play in her bedroom. Thankfully, her assistance wasn’t required.
My younger daughter is of course the next major worry on the horizon. We have decided that she is going to be told on the weekend of 4-5 February, as this coming weekend there is a family “do” to go to (my niece’s 40th birthday). In preparation for this, a few days in advance Mrs K and I will be going to meet the headmaster of my daughter’s primary school to let him know what is happening. I think this is important for two reasons; firstly so he can make allowances if she is upset or distracted in class, and secondly because at 7 years old she is very likely to talk about this with her friends, and teachers will need to know what to say to other kids if they ask. There is an organisation called SAIL (I think it was originally an acronym for something or other but they’re just “SAIL NI” now) which specialises in working with families with trans children, or children of trans parents. They also offer a training and advice service for schools and businesses. I am going to contact them to see if it would be ok to give their details to the headmaster, as they do sound like the kind of thing that would be useful. Anyway, I want the school to be forewarned when daughter no 2 arrives in class the following Monday after the weekend’s revelations.
I also have a couple of other appointments to make for next week, the first being with a mortgage broker. To reiterate what I think I hinted at before, Mrs K is going to remain in our current home which we currently jointly own. She needs to buy me out of that house, so I will then have a deposit for a house of my own, plus a bit extra to furnish and decorate the new place. But we need to know how much of a mortgage she can get on what she earns, how much that is likely to cost, how much would be paid across to me, which then affects the budget for my new home as well as any maintenance I would have to pay her. And it would be maintenance for her, to enable her to retain that house, because with custody split 50/50 there shouldn’t in theory be any significant child maintenance to pay. But with this as with the legal aspects of the divorce, we are determined that we will reach an agreement that we are all happy with, because we want to remain on good terms both for our own sakes as well as the kids’. The only additional thought on the subject of houses is that I actually have my eye on a place which is currently for sale – a 3-bedroom townhouse with designated on-street parking and a small fully-decked and very private back garden. It’s at the right price and it’s quite close to where we currently live, which would be perfect as it would be walking distance for the kids going either direction. The downside of course is that I’m not in a position to make an offer yet. In fact, I’m not even sure if it should be Kirsty or Bob who goes to see the house (or any other one I move into). Because as things stand it’s likely that the purchase will be in the name of Bob, with the name on the deeds changing down the line. But it will be Kirsty who moves into the house. Bob will never live there. I haven’t made up my mind yet. Mrs K thinks Bob should go in case the vendors are transphobic. Well if the vendors are transphobic then I don’t want to give them my money! Watch this space…
The other appointment that needs to be made is for a solicitor. I have in fact approached the solicitor who we have used before for conveyancing on our current house, as well as drawing up wills for Mrs K and me a few years back (and those are going to have to change too!). Unfortunately if predictably, the solicitor is unwilling to meet us both as it would constitute a conflict of interest so since it seems likely Mrs K will be the petitioner, it’s up to her to set the ball rolling on that one. The best bet seems to be to get good mortgage advice and then use that to fine-tune the financial settlement which she can then use as the basis for the petition. As long as it makes its way to my solicitor materially unchanged, I will sign on the dotted line, so long as I also get guarantees about the implications of not contesting a charge of unreasonable behaviour, i.e. that am not setting me up for future punitive settlement terms should she renege on the original deal. But to be honest the ball’s now in Mrs K’s court on that one and she can drag her feet as much as she wants. I’m not in any particular hurry to get the divorce pushed through.
Finally in this short (for me) update, I have one more appointment to write about. Once daughter no2 finds out about my transition, the next things on the agenda are telling my siblings, and informing work. And particularly in relation to informing work, I felt that if I had a firmer indication of when I was likely to begin assessment and treatment at Belfast GIC, rather than simply “I’m on the waiting list” then that would give added legitimacy to my discussion with HR and my line manager. So on Tuesday evening I dropped an email off to the clinic just asking for an update on waiting times, stressing that I wasn’t demanding an immediate appointment but that an update would be good as I have made progress in some areas (coming out to family, beginning electrolysis, domestic arrangements etc) and that I will be informing my employers soon. And that seven months ago I was told it would be six months. Immediately I sent this email I got an automated response, the usual “Thank you for your email, our office hours are 9 to 5” etc. What I didn’t expect was that 20 minutes later I would get another email from the lead therapist at the clinic apologising for how long I had been waiting for an appointment, and advising that my first appointment was now booked for 9am on Tuesday 28th February! Wow, I didn’t expect that quick a response! And then today, on Thursday evening when I got home from work via electrolysis, the official appointment letter was there on the doormat waiting for me.
So there we have it, I have my first GIC appointment, albeit it’s still a little over a month away. And I’m not that apprehensive. Over the time I have been on the waiting list I have intermittently wondered, as many do, if I’m “trans enough”. But the message I seem to be getting from people who have been through this process before me is that the key thing that the Service are looking for is commitment. And I think I’m happy enough that by the time that first appointment comes round at the very least I will be at this point
– Kids know
– Siblings know
– Work knows, with hopefully a first draft Memorandum of Understanding in place which I can show them
– Divorce/separation proceeding
– Post-transition living arrangements and child custody agreed
– Over 2 months of weekly electrolysis under my belt
That’s not too bad to be going on with is it? I know that the deed poll, name change on bank statements and other legal documents and so on is generally taken to be a key indicator of commitment, and I won’t have that yet. But it’s coming. I’ll have a better chance of knowing when it’s coming after I speak to work. Because being able to show bank statements in my new name has an added complication for me, in that my bank is also my employer. So I’ll know more in a couple of weeks. But I’m happy with the progress I will be able to show to date. For all that, the description of the assessment on the appointment letter does make me somewhat apprehensive. The prospect of two hours’ worth of intense probing conversation about my life including some very personal subjects is quite intimidating. Mind you, look how scared I was about seeing my GP to ask for this referral and then look how well all that worked out when I actually had that conversation with him. Maybe all will be ok after all.
One final consideration about the GIC appointment. The clinic is on the opposite side of Belfast to where I live. I will have to get there, as Kirsty, for 9am. This will be a challenge. I was imagining that I would have to leave the house super-early, as Bob, get to the Butterfly Club HQ (which of course isn’t on the way and is more like the third point of an equilateral triangle with my house and GIC), get changed, and get to GIC in the morning rush hour, meanwhile leaving Mrs K and the kids to fend for themselves. But Mrs K had a better idea. She pointed out that by the time 28th February comes round, I will be out to both daughters, and because daughter no2’s school will know, and our next door neighbour is a teacher at that school, the neighbours will know too so it doesn’t really matter if they see me. So, Mrs K suggests, why not just get ready as Kirsty at home, leave the house at 7.30 as usual, take the kids to school, drop Mrs K off at work, and drive on up to the clinic. It’s a more direct route and it would feel so much nicer. So it looks like that’s going to happen, my first taste of a home-based female morning routine. Can’t wait!