Most of the posts that I have written this year have been of the “I went there and I did that” variety. Normally I’m not really a fan of that type of post, but this year so far has been rather eventful. Coming out to my kids, siblings, line manager, formulating a transition plan in work, getting my first appointment at GIC, moving the domestic situation towards divorce and a new, female life for me. It’s a bit more eventful than a list of restaurants and cinemas I suppose. But I haven’t really stopped to take stock of how I’m feeling about everything.
The first thing I feel is excitement. After a year of knowing all this is coming, it’s finally happening. My initial plan was to go full-time at Easter, but obviously this has been pushed back by a couple of months with Mrs K’s rather late revelation that she wanted a divorce. After some serious wobbles when she first told me about this I am now very positive about the change. In fact I feel like it’s a better move for me than it is for her. When I told my sister Patsy about the divorce, her first question was “How will [Mrs K] manage without you?” I will be ok. I really hope she will be too. Even though I’m going to end up in a smaller house (or apartment) with a bit less money, I will be ok. In a home which is mine, without the baggage that would always be there in a family home in which I have lived as a man for 13 years. I just want to get on with it.
In work too, things are progressing so much better than I ever dared hope. I did have another transition planning meeting yesterday with Beth and Kelly, and as usual they are fantastically supportive. Things are about to kick into another gear next week. At the minute it’s still a fairly select circle who know, really just the three of us and a few other HR people. Next week Beth and Kelly are going to inform my head of department, the “Big Boss” (i.e. Beth’s line manager), who is called Fred. This will be a step change in widening the circle. Fred operates in much more senior circles in the organisation, and he will have significant involvement in the communication, and in particular he will have the final say on how my clients are informed, and who does the informing. He will also be involved in delivering the message further up the chain, perhaps all the way to the company’s Northern Ireland chief executive. In fact when we were discussing yesterday just who should be the person issuing the communications about my transition, there was initially some discussion about whether it should be from Fred or the chief exec. Then Kelly came up with the idea of the communication coming from the entire Senior Management Team en masse, to drive home just how strongly my transition is being supported at a senior level. I’m not sure if that’s better than the chief exec by himself or not, but Fred will have a lot of input in this.
I have also identified one other person to be brought into the loop. In my team in work there are four of us. Beth, who is the senior manager, and then myself, Arthur and Graham. I had been concerned about how Arthur would react as he is in his early sixties and prone to shocking bouts of homophobia – as I have noted before I think he is literally homophobic, he is terrified of gay people. Well as things would go, Arthur is retiring at the end of March. So I’m not going to have to come out to him. He’ll find out obviously, but he’ll not be my colleague by then. That leaves Graham. I’m going to come out to him more or less as soon as Arthur goes. I think he’ll be ok. In fact, I think he suspects something anyway. Not only has he been one of the chief contributors to the ongoing “Bob is a woman at the weekend” running joke, but my work friend Lauren told me last week that Graham mentioned to her that there’s definitely something up with me, as he noticed that I’m not wearing my wedding ring any more. I removed it around a month ago, really because Mrs K had removed hers and I wasn’t going to be a sad sap still wearing mine while hers was off. But he has noticed it, and so I might as well tell him the full story.
There are obviously a lot of practical things that need done, like changing my email and logon for various systems, getting me a new staff ID pass, new business cards, new company credit card and so on, but these are fairly mundane. But the one thing that came through very strongly for all three of us yesterday was that when you list every item that needs done, or considered, or discussed, three months isn’t that long to get everything sorted out. So we have agreed to fortnightly update meetings to monitor progress on so many fronts, with the frequency increasing further as my full time date draws nearer. After I return and commence work as Kirsty, we are going to have daily short reviews, gradually becoming less frequent as my new gender becomes the new normal. The great unknown at this point is just what my full time date will be, as it is still dependent upon a few factors. Although there is a development on this front too.
A week ago Mrs K went to a solicitor to begin divorce proceedings. In advance of this we had already drafted an agreement between us that we were both happy with, dealing with the payment from her to me to buy me out of the house, my monthly maintenance payments, custody arrangement for the children, and what is happening to the other assets, physical and financial. So the solicitor’s job is really just to make that legal. In advance of the formal divorce petition, the solicitor has written to me asking me to sign a form of consent confirming the monthly payment as agreed subject to the full settlement agreement being formalised. It is to be hoped that Mrs K will be able to use this as proof of my maintenence payment for mortgage lenders, enabling her to get the remortgage, buy me out of the house, and pay me what I’m owed, which will give me a deposit for a new place. In theory Mrs K could be applying for this remortgage by the end of next week, and according to the mortgage broker approval can come through in 3 or 4 days, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that by the time I’m next at GIC on 6th April I will already be in a position to put an offer on a new home. I know all this is a fair amount of what I have been doing, but it’s all so positive that I hope you’ll understand better why I’m feeling so excited about these next few months.
There is another feeling I have, and that’s inadequacy. I think it’s yet another manifestation of that old chestnut, “not trans enough”. Having met people with serious mental health issues, drug problems and all sorts of personal issues, well without wishing to sound big-headed, I feel remarkably “normal” and well-adjusted. I haven’t lived for the last 40+ years in a state of constant torment, more grim acceptance, but I have got on with things and lived my life within the male parameters that for most of that time I believed were the only option I had. And I still worry that someone at GIC might eventually say “You managed ok for the last 40 odd years, you can just carry on managing. Here are some people who aren’t managing at all, we need to concentrate on them”. I know intellectually that that won’t happen, but emotionally I can’t shake it. I am utterly dreading having someone come along and just say no, you can’t get what you want from the NHS so you either give up or pay for it all yourself. GIC have asked my to write a potted history of my life for my next appointment, which I have done already. You know me, not exactly a woman of few words when I write, so I very much enjoyed the writing process. I’m hoping they’ll give me at least an A- for the quality of my prose. But more than that, I did spend a few paragraphs expanding upon these feelings of being “not trans enough”, which could well be a subconscious plea not to refuse me treatment.
The final feeling that I’m going to write about is gratitude. I look at other trans persons and I feel so incredibly fortunate at my amazing family and friends and (so far) work. Everyone has been so supportive and understanding, I am genuinely humbled. And I really do mean “humbled”. I just wonder what I have done to deserve such remarkable support. I’m just an ordinary person with a relatively unusual condition. I called my brother John during the week just for a chat and because I hadn’t spoken to him since my first GIC appointment. During that conversation I told him just how thankful I am for his support and that of our other siblings, because it feels like I am very unusual in not having lost anyone after outing myself. He could barely speak in reply, I could hear the emotion in his voice. He said that the only thing about my transition that he finds hard to deal with is the fact that I have lived with this condition for my entire life and just had to shoulder that burden on my own for all that time, unable to confide in anyone and afraid of what everyone would say. I feel unworthy of such outpourings. I’m just ordinary. Everyone’s got problems.
What’s next for me? Well tomorrow for the first time I’m taking both my daughters out for lunch as the real me! Then off to the cinema afterwards to see Beauty And The Beast for which Andrea will be joining us. We were planning this trip out during the week and Melissa (the little one) asked
“Daddy? What am I going to call you when we’re out?”
“Well Amy thought that you and her could call me Mum, and Mummy will still be Mummy”
“OK. Mummy says I can call you Daddy at home and Mum when we’re out, but I don’t think that would work. I’d get confused.”
“No, I wouldn’t want you calling out “Daddy” to me in a shop”
“I’m going to just call you Mum all the time”
“Yes my angel?”
“Do I need to give you a Mother’s Day card?”
“Maybe next year. I don’t think Mummy would like it this year”
Until next time
Kirsty (aka Melissa’s Mum)