I’ve made it. Thrown off the shackles of my old male life. I’m a woman now, all day, every day for the rest of my life. The overwhelming emotion that I’m feeling isn’t the elation and joy that I had expected. It is relief. Just relief. No more hiding. No more juggling two identities. No more worry about being found out. Relief.
For all that, reaching this point has come by a rather more circuitous route than I had originally intented. Today, Saturday 8th of July 2017, is my first day of living full time as a woman. The mathematically minded among you may well spot that this is considerably more than the 10 days that I spoke about in my previous post, coincidentally entitled “T Minus 10”. More like 18. And things have been silent on the blogging front since that last post, mainly because I finished it off by saying that by the time I blogged again I would be full time, so I didn’t feel inclined to make a liar of myself. And it’s a long story. A very long story. So strap in, we might be here for some time…
First things first. The reason for the delay. I’m still not in my new house. I was originally hoping to be in for Friday 30th June. Then a week in advance of that I heard that there was going to be a short delay as there was a snag with the house being bought by the people I was buying from. Something about a minor dispute over the location of the dividing line on a shared driveway. But that was cleared up by the 30th, so my solicitor was hopeful that we would be good to go on Friday 7th July. I even delayed my leave from work by a week, and put the communication plan on hold. Then on Tuesday morning (4th July) I got a call from my solicitor to tell me the bad news that the solicitor doing the conveyancing on the house purchase three steps up the line from me, at the top of the chain, wasn’t remotely ready to complete. Just hadn’t done what needs done, and it was impossible for it to be done this week. Then, to add insult to injury, all solicitors in Northern Ireland will be closed all of next week, in order to commemorate the forces of William of Orange defeating those of James II in a battle fought in what is now the Republic of Ireland 317 years ago. No, I don’t understand it either.
The upshot of all this is that the legal profession is only going to be returning to work on Monday 17th July, and best case scenario is that my house purchase will complete at the end of that week, by Friday 21st. However my solicitor warns me that while my own paperwork and that of my vendors is complete, the solicitor at the top of the chain is so far behind that she thinks week commencing Monday 24th July is most likely. I am due back at work on Thursday 27th. I can’t put my leave back any longer because I need to return to work to allow my friend and colleague Graham to take his leave (and he has a holiday booked). So I was left with a choice. Tell my solicitor the move was off until mid-August when I could get some more leave and delay my transition accordingly, or just say “sod it” and go full-time while still in the old house, and just enjoy a couple of weeks off with the kids. I plumped for the latter option, really because the thought of potentially six more weeks of Bob was just unbearable. And here I am.
There was, as usual, a fair amount of me being out and about since the last post, but it’s pretty much more of the same so I’ll not document it here. I’ll just cut straight to the chase and write about significant events over the last two weeks leading up to this point. The first of those is the woman formerly known as Mrs K (whom I will henceforth refer to as simply “my ex”) finally getting round to telling her parents about our divorce and my transition. It was Wednesday last week, the 28th of June. My ex had an afternoon off work as she was meeting her solicitor to finalise the marital agreement and divorce petition, which she signed with the amendments suggested by my solicitor, so all seems to be progressing as well as can be hoped on that front. But by the time she finished with her solicitor, it was still barely 3pm so she phoned her parents and told them she was on her way over as she had something to tell them. I was rather apprehensive about this. Not that I was too bothered about what they thought, but for better or worse they are still my kids’ grandparents so it would be close to impossible for me to avoid any contact with them in the future. But as seems to have been the case so many times, the reception was so much better than I had feared. They were suprised, obviously, about my transition, but they were both very practical in their approach. Their main concerns were both our finances having to pay two mortages rather than one, and how our daughters were dealing with both the divorce and my transition. My ex was at least able to allay their fears about the girls, although finances will undoubtedly be tight. But we will manage. My father-in-law, who was in the Royal Air Force in the early 60’s before he was married and was present at atomic bomb tests on Christmas Island, made the immortal pronouncement “I’m not shocked. I have seen two nuclear explosions in my time, it takes a lot to shock me”. Well, yes.
One side effect of the delay in my move from the original target date of 30th June is that we needed to arrange childcare for the first week of July. This meant that on Monday and Tuesday the girls would go to their grandparents, which they have done every summer since they were toddlers. So when dropping them off and collecting them later on, I was going to have to face the in-laws. A message was conveyed to me by my ex that I was not to feel worried or apprehensive, I would always be welcome whether Bob or Kirsty, divorce or no divorce. It was lovely to hear, but I still couldn’t help being a little bit apprehensive anyway as we drove the kids over on Monday morning. I needn’t have worried.
What was exacerbating my worry was that I had an appointment at the Gender Clinic on Tuesday afternoon. I had originally expected to already be on leave at this time, and my sister Patsy was going to take the kids for a couple of hours to allow me to go, but with the delay in the house move the kids would be at their grandparents’. So on Monday evening I told my in-laws that I was going to be going to the gender clinic the next afternoon, and it would be a lot more straightforward if I could just collect the girls as Kirsty, because if I had to go home to get changed it would make me late. Unfortunately the in-laws misheard. My mother-in-law asked
“What did he say? He’s going to be late?”
My ex replied “No. He’s going to be female.”
“Oh. Well, if that’s what you want we’re going to have to get used to it sooner or later.”
I wanted to make completely sure they were ok with this. They are 78 and 80 and I don’t want to cause them undue discomfort, so I wanted to be completely certain. They said they were, although it didn’t sound like an enthusiastic invitation. More an “if you must”. However the next morning when dropping the kids off my mother-in-law told me much more sincerely that if I wanted to come there as a woman then that was fine by her. So that’s what I did.
However before I can get to that evening, it’s time to take a detour to the Gender Clinic. When I had received the call that morning telling me that the house move was off until late July, I really couldn’t make up my mind what to do. I had even left my solicitor with the message that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to complete the purchase at all. I knew that I did want to complete, but I figured I’d just let the slowcoaches further up the chain stew for a while. But as for whether to delay everything till August or press ahead with my existing transition timescale regardless of the move, I was genuinely torn. It was only when I sat down with Dr Ingram that I got to talk it through and reached my decision as I spoke. It really was obvious. I would begin my transition in the current house. An added benefit of this is that when I do move, the utilities can all be moved straight from the current owners into my new name, rather than having to go to my old name initially. Just a crumb of comfort, maybe, but still less admin to do.
Speaking of admin, I mentioned to Dr Ingram that my driving licence renewal form had arrived in the post. My current driving licence expires on 23rd August (my birthday, gifts and donations to the usual address thanks) and there seems little point in renewing as Bob. But of course I need a deed poll (which I have completed, witnessed by my line manager Beth) and a letter from the clinic. Even though Dr Ingram was 100% aware that I was not yet full time, albeit only days away, he took me straight down to the secretaries’ office and got me one printed off right away. Only problem is, I can’t use it just yet because just as there was no point renewing as Bob only to have to get another one as Kirsty, there is also no point renewing at my current address when I’m moving house before the current licence expires. So I’m holding fire on that driving licence application until I actually move.
There was also progress in another area at the clinic. I am booked in for the next HRT “Informed Consent” meeting on 26th July, which I understand is a handful of trans women getting a bit of a talk on what’s involved in HRT, followed by short one-on-one interviews, at the end of which we sign a piece of paper saying we know what we’re getting into and that’s it, we’re referred for HRT. A few months ago Dr Ingram had told me that the waiting list for HRT was around 6 months, but I could jump the queue by paying a one-off £150-£180 to see the endocrinologist privately. I was minded to pay this in order to save 6 months, however this time round he told me that the waiting list for HRT has come down and is now only 2-3 months. That money is the price of a new microwave for my new house. I might just wait. But things are moving, that is the main thing.
After finishing up at the clinic, I dropped off at Alice’s house for a cuppa and a chat, which was very nice. Not only that, I had commandeered her as my official photographer. Kelly from HR in work had asked me to provide her with a digital photo of myself that would be suitable for use on my new work pass, the idea being that she could get my new pass ready for my return. But I needed a photo, so I ended up going to the clinic in quite smart officewear, black jacket, skirt, tights and heels, with a cream blouse. The photo is only a head-and-shoulders shot, but it would have felt a bit weird wearing that on top with jeans and trainers. And I am in the priveleged position of being possibly the only person in my company who got to put filters on her official company pass. Ha ha.
So after taking my leave of Alice it was time to face the in-laws. I pulled up outside their house and approached the door. The omens weren’t great, as the heel of one of my shoes disappeared into a gap between two paving stones on their driveway, leaving a bit of a scrape. Hmm. Still, my father-in-law came to the door and let me in, and then it was odd. They behaved exactly as they have always done every time I have ever entered their house. There was literally no mention of how I was presenting. It was a massive elephant in the room, but they were clearly making a determined effort to carry on regardless. They were trying so hard, bless them, that I wanted to hug them. But they really aren’t the huggy type (unlike my family !) so I left it at that. In fact, they were so accommodating that they have agreed to look after Melissa for me while I go to the aforementioned HRT informed consent session – it also means they get an afternoon with their granddaughter that they would otherwise have missed, so everyone’s happy.
I mentioned in the last post that I was unable to decide what to do with Facebook. Mia came up with a good suggestion in the comments, and so I decided to go with that subject to a few of my own modifications. On Wednesday evening I posted the following message to Bob’s Facebook account:
I am going to be doing a big Facebook cull tomorrow in advance of a major life change.
If you already know what my major life change is, you’re not going to be culled.
If you don’t know, and particularly don’t want to be culled, please say so (although God knows why you’d bother, it’s not like I post much is it?)
It did kind of set the cat amongst the pigeons. I really was doing a cull. There were peope on Bob’s friends list that I didn’t want to bring across. People who had shown themselves to be, not to put too fine a point on it, arseholes. People who I barely knew but met once at some event in 2005. And three people on the list were dead! I got lots of comments from two distinct groups; people who knew about my transition posting sagely about how I have their support, and people who didn’t know saying they hoped that I was ok and also expressing their curiosity. They only had to wait a day.
Thursday was my last day in work as male, and to be honest it was a bit of a blur. I managed about an hour’s work and then at 10am, as I usually do, I nipped to the coffee shop across the road for a couple of takeaway cappucinos for Graham and myself. However unlike what normally happens, immediately before I walked out the door, I clicked “send” on an email to the entire department entitled “CONFIDENTIAL: Big news about me”. I’m sure you can imagine the content. In fact, I had already told so many people privately that there were only five people in the office who didn’t know, plus two others who were out with clients but would see the email on their company-issue iPhones. I returned with coffee 10 minutes later to… complete silence. No gossip, no scandal, nobody gaping open-mouthed at me. Nobody said anything. Then around 10 minutes later I received an email from one woman, expressing love, support and admiration in such unequivocal terms I was quite moved. I looked across the office to her and she looked close to tears. Then another one came in, similar in content, from the woman who sits next to her. I went and thanked them both. Someone else came over and told me in person that I had her support. An email came in from one of the people out and about. Nobody said anything negative. The two people who said nothing still carried on working with me as usual, and both these people are quite quiet and reserved so I imagine they didn’t know what to say. I can’t expect effusive acceptance from everyone, I’m happy not to have disgust and approbation.
By lunchtime the guy who does our IT came over to point out that I was now listed as Kirsty on one of our client management systems. Shortly afterwards I was unable to log on to our risk management system. He told me it was because Bob’s ID had been deleted and I had to log on as Kirsty, which I did. Changes were happening all around me and Bob hadn’t even left yet.
At 2pm Beth and I met with Kelly from HR for a final run through the plan. It was a remarkably emotional meeting. The three of us have been having these fairly frequent planning meetings for nearly 5 months now, working through the fine detail of what was going to happen, and suddenly we were here. Bob’s final day. The end of an era. The end of the planning and the beginning of the delivery. I think we were all rather overwhelmed in different ways. And for what they have done for me, the support they have given me and the commitment they have shown when they have both been very busy with other things, well I will always be grateful.
And then it was back up to our own office for Beth and me. She was finishing up early, so she came over to my desk and hugged me, wishing me good luck. Then she shook her head, saying “This is the last time I’ll ever see Bob”, backing away from me, still staring at me as she reversed to the door. She said one last farewell and left. Graham looked round at me once she had departed and said “I don’t think you realise how emotional this all is for me and Beth”
Next I had to send round my “While I Am Away” email. It’s a word document with instructions for Beth and Graham for what needs done with my clients while I’m off. As I was about to send it, I realised that it was the final email that would ever be sent from Bob’s email account. And so I signed off
Good luck and I’ll see you on the other side
For the final time
I wrote this and started packing up, getting ready to go, feeling increasingly overwhelmed. The boss, Fred, emerged from his office after seeing me start to pack. He shook my hand and wished me all the luck in the world, at which point I could hold the tears back no longer. I flippantly said that I was upset because I was just about to pay my final visit to the men’s toilet, where I immediately went into a cubicle and cried my eyes out for five minutes. I came back out, barely holding it together, said one last farewell to the place as Bob and left.
Back home again it was time to follow through on the previous evening’s Facebook activity. I posted my big reveal, which I will reproduce here in its entirety.
Well this is it. The announcement of that major life change that is taking place from Saturday. If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through my cull. Congratulations. This is going to be a fairly long post, but it will also be one of the last posts I ever make on this Facebook profile, so please read on.
For many years I have lived with a condition that I have tried to deal with in secret. Since childhood, in fact. However the time has now come where I can suppress it no more. And so I am finally ready to tell you all that I am transgender. For any of you unfamiliar with the terminology, this means that I have always felt deep down like I should have been female. Because I don’t look like a woman, this has periodically caused me great distress or discomfort which I have tried to overcome, ignore or suppress. This distress is called gender dysphoria.
Effective from Saturday, I will be living permanently as a woman. My new name is Kirsty. This is already my “real” name, as I completed a deed poll a couple of weeks ago. Today was my last day in work as Bob. When I return to work on 27th July, it will be as Kirsty, although I will continue to do the same job.
During the next few weeks I will be doing a lot of administrative tasks to change my name on various official documents and records, but I will also be moving house before the end of July. This does mean that [my ex] and I will no longer be married, however we remain very close friends and on the very best of terms. Both Amy and Melissa are now comfortable with the new me, and are aware that I will be female from now on, and more than anything they seem to be happy for me, not to mention excited at the prospect of having two bedrooms in two houses.
My wonderful extended family – brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, in-laws (including [my ex]’s parents) – have all been amazingly supportive at this difficult time. Likewise, the support that I have received in work has been remarkable. And friends that I have told already have so far been without exception amazing. I feel very fortunate to have such great people around me. I know several other trans people from attending the Gender Clinic and various support groups, and I seem to be almost unique in that I haven’t lost a single close friend or family member as I commence my transition from male to female.
So for now, what am I asking you to do? Well, the truth is that for the last few years I have had two distinct Facebook profiles; one for Bob, one for Kirsty, each with completely separate groups of friends. The time has come to merge them and deactivate Bob’s account.
A number of you are already aware of my transition. You will all be receiving friend requests from my other Facebook account and I hope you will accept. For the rest of you, those of you with whom I haven’t been able to speak or message individually, I’m just going to hope that you will send a friend request to the new me. I’m not going to just send out friend requests to everybody, not because I don’t want you on my friends list, but because I don’t want to put anyone in an awkward position where they feel they have to snub me. If the thought of my transition does make you feel uncomfortable, or you don’t want any part of it, well I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. Just do nothing. Don’t comment, don’t send a friend request, and you won’t need to worry about me any longer. I will leave this Facebook profile up until the end of July, then I’m going to unfriend everybody and make this account private.
If you would like to move over to my new Facebook account (where things might be a little bit “interesting” in the coming months to say the least) then I’d love to accept your friend request. You can access my new profile by clicking on my new name [I tagged Kirsty here]
This is the new me. I hope to see you on the other side.
And with that, the big secret was out. Sending that post was a feeling of pure relief. Of not having to pretend any more. It was utterly liberating. And the supportive comments and messages that I have received since have been overwhelming. People that I really thought would struggle to come to terms with this have followed me across. Out of 42 friend requests that I issued on Thursday night, 41 have accepted, the 42nd being someone who I think looks at Facebook about once every three months. About 2/3 of the remaining 45 people have sent their own friend requests to Kirsty’s Facebook account, leaving something like 15 people who haven’t, and none of them really matter. I do note however that one of the 15 is my old colleague Arthur, who I always feared would struggle to accept my transition.
Friday was an odd day. I was on leave from work, but still Bob. I had emailed Melissa’s headmaster the previous week to let him know that my transition would be commencing shortly. Melissa was at the school’s afterschool club, which runs all summer, from Wednesday to Friday this week. I had informed the headmaster that I would be collecting Melissa as male all that week, but when she returns for a couple of days at the end of July I would be female, so that he could advise the staff accordingly. I therefore felt duty bound to turn up as Bob on Friday. Still, I had plenty to keep me busy.
I spent a while on Friday morning sorting out the name change on my bank accounts. The person helping me with this is someone whom I worked with about 20 years ago, so we do know each other, and at least she knew the situation before I came into the branch so I didn’t have to explain my transition from scratch. She took a copy of my deed poll and now my bank accounts and credit card account are all in my new name, with the new cards and cheque book on their way to me. She did also comment that she was truly surprised when she had heard of my transition the previous day. I had emailed the branch manager, who had been informed a few weeks earlier, asking if he could point me in the right direction to sort out the bank accounts. He set up this appointment but she said that “When he told me ‘Bob’s changing his…’ I expected him to say ‘car’ or ‘house’, maybe even ‘job’. I did NOT expect him to say ‘gender’!” At least we were able to laugh about it. And she called me “Kirsty” throughout the appointment, despite me still looking defiantly Bob-ish.
My other tasks for the day were mainly sorting out online things – accounts with Apple, Amazon, Tesco clubcard etc were all very easily changed. However Sony’s Playstation Network is a disaster. My user ID contains my old name. It can’t be changed. It is unchangeable. So I have the choice of either continuing with my existing account and retaining Bob’s name online, or else starting a new account and losing eight years’ worth of digital purchases. In the end I discovered that by linking my Playstation account to my Facebook account, I could make the Playstation display my Facebook name rather than my network ID, so I did in the end find a workaround although not before by good friend Pete, who is a law graduate, offered to compose what he calls a “nastygram” to send to Sony. I still might take him up on that.
One last task was left for last night. Telling the neighbours. One set of neighbours have known of my transition for several months, although they didn’t know exactly when I would be going full time. However the other set didn’t know at all. Having said that, I was certain that they had seen me coming and going in female form. I visited the neighbours who knew first, and at least with them it was a simple message that I was just letting them know it was my final day as Bob, and that I would be moving out of the house in another couple of weeks. They were just lovely, both of them.
The other neighbours felt a little more intimidating. I knocked their door and she immediately went to fetch Melissa, who was playing in their back garden with their son who is the same age. I had to send Melissa back round and tell the neighbour that it was her and her husband I wanted to speak to. Unfortunately he was ill in bed, so I just got to speak to her. And she couldn’t have been nicer. Very supportive, sorry to that my ex and I are divorcing, sorry to lose me as a neighbour, but offering to help either of us in any way she could. Later on, when I did have to collect Melissa for real, he had arisen from his sick bed and came to speak to me himself. I told him I was sure he had seen me, but he denied this. He was every bit as positive as his wife, adding that when I had gone if my ex ever needed any little odd jobs done that the man of a house would normally do, she only had to ask him and he would oblige. Isn’t that nice?
I had one last moment on Friday night. As I was putting Melissa to bed I was hit with a realisation that this was the last time she would ever see her father as a man. I found this quite upsetting, and hugged her tightly, telling her to remember me both ways but know that I was much happier as a woman. Of course it was all water off a duck’s back for her. She’s 7 – what do you expect?
One final achievement today. Amy and I did the thing that we had promised each other we would to together ever since she found out I was a woman. That once I went full-time we would go to get our ears pierced together. And that’s just what we did. Melissa came too, although it’ll be another year or two before she gets hers done. It was actually a really nice experience. I was quite nervous about how much it would hurt, but Amy reassured me that it was fine – she had her ears pierced when she was 9 but they closed over again when she was about 12 due to lack of use. The job was done by a nice eastern European lady (I think she said she was Romanian) who referred to me as “Mum” the entire time. As I was sitting in the chair waiting to be done, another woman approached with a nervous-looking little girl, and she asked if her daugher could watch me getting my ears pierced, as she was worried it would be sore so if she saw me having a good experience that would help her feel better about the whole thing. No pressure then! In fact it was perfectly bearable, much less painful than one single hair extraction by electrolysis. Amy went after me, and hers seemed to go well too.
So now I’ve got actual proper earrings in my earlobes. My real name is Kirsty. My bank accounts are changed. I’m about to start HRT. My work knows. My family knows. My neighbours know. I have the letter enabling me to get a new driving licence. I’m living as a woman, for the rest of my life. And it’s only day 1. Pretty good really.