Last time round I finished up with the tale of how my line manager Beth and HR person Kelly had informed my “big boss” Fred of my imminent transition, and how a few hours later we had had a very quick chat when he reassured me that all was good. Well true to his word he did take me out for a coffee and a chat (and a cinnamon swirl – mmm) the following week. We met at a coffee shop near our office, surreptitiously leaving a couple of minutes apart so nobody would say to me afterwards “What were you doing with Fred?” He’s really getting the hang of this closet thing.
It was a very nice chat, and he really was falling over himself to be supportive and to try to do the right thing. For all that, I was still able to give him a bit of stick about his “Alright, boy” comments. But overall and like Beth and Kelly before him, he was super keen to stress that there was no question that I would be continuing in the same role, and that he foresaw very few problems. He said I had been there a long time, I was well known, well-liked and very good at my job (he never said that before!) and that people would support me. I also know that Beth and Kelly had only given him a very basic outline of our plan for my transition, that conversation has been more “this is happening, don’t worry about the detail, it’s all in hand”. So I expanded upon that a little with Fred, and he came up with a few suggestions of his own, which by and large were sensible ones.
What with all the recent outings of myself that I have been doing, I now have a small album on my phone containing 6 photos of an acceptable standard with which to illustrate the conversation, usually very near the end. I asked Fred if he wanted to see a photo of his new employee and he said that yes, he would like that, adding that Beth had told him she found it very useful to have seen a photo as “Kirsty” became a person rather than an abstract concept. This in turn then helped her to know roughly what to expect when she met me in my female persona. So I showed Fred a photo and he said
“Yes, that does help. I think when you don’t have an image in your mind then you start imagining…er…”
“Well, no, I was thinking more of the one that won Eurovision a few years ago, with the beard”
I’m not sure if that’s better or worse. I mean, I might not approve of the beard, but damn can Conchita Wurst rock a sequinned ballgown.
Still on the subject of work, I had another outing, this time done by me myself. I have written a few times about the team I work with; Beth, our senior manager, who knows; Angela, our legal assistant, who knows; and then the two guys, Graham and Arthur, who don’t know. Although Graham has made a few comments – noticing my hairless legs and arms while out cycling, the occasional bit of nail varnish residue and so on. I think I always thought Graham would be fine, but I worried about Arthur who is, not to put to fine a point on it, a shocking homophobe. As for transphobe, I don’t think he really believes that trans people exist, I genuinely heard him say once that it was only celebrities doing it for publicity. Anyway, I had been nervous about his reaction and so I was somewhat relieved to hear that he was going to retire. And this happened last Friday. I hadn’t wanted to say anything to Graham while Arthur was still there because I didn’t want it to be a case of everyone having to keep just him out of the loop. But now that Arthur has left, it’s time to bring Graham into the fold.
On Monday afternoon, I casually asked Graham if he could spare me 10 minutes, and we went into an empty side office. As soon as we walked through the door, he said “What have I done?” Of course he hadn’t done anything. I explained that it was all about me and some big changes that were coming, and that I knew that he had noticed that I wasn’t wearing my wedding ring any more. His face just screwed up into an expression of dread, as if I had dragged him into there to tell him that Mrs K and I are divorcing. I explained that yes, we were divorcing, but in pretty unusual circumstances that are to do with something that I have carried with my all my life and tried to overcome. That I am transgender.
For the first time in one of these conversations, he wasn’t that surprised. It took a while for the penny to drop with him that I was actually transitioning and that there’d be no more Bob. I think he initially thought Mrs K was divorcing me because I was a cross-dresser. But no, Mrs K is divorcing me because I’m a woman. Which is probably fair enough. At this point another penny dropped with him and he asked
“You were waiting for Arthur to go before you told me weren’t you?”
“Yep. I wasn’t looking forward to him finding out”
“I don’t blame you. You made the right decision there.”
So everything is fine with Graham. We spoke for nearly an hour. It still took a while for him to realise that come the end of June (approx) there would be no more Bob. And that in a further 3 years or so there would be no more Bob’s bits either. But he’s there now. He understands. And he’s very happy for me that I’m taking this step, he’s pleased that my daughters have reacted so well, and sorry that Mrs K and I couldn’t stay together. He even told me he was aware of couples who had stayed together through transition, but it’s not going to happen for me and Mrs K. Which is fine by me.
As with Fred, I produced the “coming out conversation” phone photo album. At first he said that he could see it was someone who looked like Bob, but he didn’t think he would have known it was Bob. Maybe Bob’s sister. But then as he flicked through a few other photos with a smile on his face, he suddenly burst out laughing. I was rather crestfallen, to say the least. I asked what was the matter, did I look that funny? He replied in what can only be described a mixture of joy and incredulity
“No, it’s not that at all. I just can’t get over how amazing you look in that dress.”
Oh that’s all right then. It was the photo on the right, taken in the loft bedroom of the famously sainted Kate, where I slept while over visiting her and Ruth back in 2015 with Andrea, after we had all shared a less-than-fantastic meal in wonderful company.
One other thing happened on Monday. I went to view a house. Amy came with me. We both loved it. I have put in an offer. The vendors are still considering it. I shall say no more now. Watch this space.
And now on to the main event. My second appointment at GIC. It was just this afternoon and it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was also a whole lot shorter than my first appoinment, maybe just 45 minutes long. At my first appointment I had gone away with the impression that this time I was going to be meeting the entire clinical staff in some kind of a “getting to know you” exercise. I don’t know if I was misinformed or if I misheard, but it was definitely not that. The therapist who took my first appointment, named Jenny, greeting me in the waiting room and lead me through to another consulting room where Dr Ingram was waiting.
Dr Ingram introduced himself as the lead therapist at the clinic, and explained that he would be my therapist from now on. OK then. Jenny remained in the room with us throughout, although she spoke very little. But Dr Ingram (no first name) was perfectly nice and friendly. He started by asking me how I was doing and how I had felt about my first appointment, if I had any worries and so on. I went through that same old story that I keep writing on here and I keep getting berated for, namely that I was concerned I was going to be dismissed for being not trans enough, not deserving enough of treatment. He did everything bar roll his eyes at this. He said this is the single most common fear that people have coming to the clinic, and despite everything they put on their website, on their literature, how they think they deal with people, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. So to put my mind at ease, he said not to worry on that score, that I was definitely in the system and I was in no danger of being discharged any time soon. I was of course keen to stress that the appointment with Jenny had been nothing like what I had feared, and I was feeling very positive indeed about my transition now.
Dr Ingram then asked me if I had any questions, and yet again I asked the one that everyone asks. Timescales. He said that as far as he was concerned and based on the feedback he had received from Jenny on my first appointment, he would be looking to get me pushed through the system as quickly as he possibly could, because I’m ready now. It’s not uncommon for people to turn up at the clinic with all sorts of other mental and physical health issues that might not be gender dysphoria per se, but which have been either caused or exacerbated by the dysphoria. I had worried that because I’m not (to the best of my knowledge) exhibiting any of these problems, that I might be perceived as being “not trans enough”. In reality, the lack of these other things is part of why Dr Ingram is wanting to get me straight on the conveyor belt. He said that so many people come to the clinic with no concrete plans for transition, unsure how to tell friends and family, unsure how to tell their employers and how transition will affect their work, unsure just what it is that they want from the clinic. So much time apparently is taken up early on with helping patients through these steps, but I just turned up with all that more or less done. I might not have done my deed poll yet, but I have a good reason not to (don’t want to complicate the house buying and mortgage application process) so they’re fine with that. Even, he added, the way I was presenting let him know that I was ready – I was just dressed very casually in jeans, jumper, scarf & boots and a small brown shoulder bag. Maybe that’s the point, that I wasn’t glamming it up (my sister Patsy remarked the other day “you’re actually just like the rest of us aren’t you”). So after all this Dr Ingram said
“You are one of the best prepared patients I have ever seen coming to the clinic.”
Wow. Really? Me? Well that made me feel good. I do like to try to do things right but this was a huge vote of confidence.
So timescales then. I am being referred today for speech and voice therapy, and also today for laser hair removal. The speech and voice should begin in 2-3 months, which is fine. With laser however, the wait is slightly longer, at least 6 months now. However Dr Ingram thought that this was not necessarily a bad thing as it would give me a chance to complete all my electrolysis with Lynda first, as he wouldn’t recommend electrolysis and laser at the same time. Too much for my skin to cope with.
The next thing was the referral to endocrinology for HRT. He wasn’t able to refer me to that yet. He says he will need a further three sessions with me before he feels he knows me well enough to make that referral, which is a more serious intervention than the other two referrals. After he makes the referral, the waiting list to see the endocrinologist is at least 6 months, so again it could be early 2018 before that happens. However he also pointed out that once he makes the referral it is possible to see the endocrinologist privately, and that appointment would be almost immediate. The price is nowhere near as high as I would have feared, and would allow me to jump the queue by six months and hopefully get on hormones by around August this year. I must admit I’m tempted.
Finally the big one. GRS. “Lower surgery”, as the doctor put it. Well first of all my RLE will commence on the day I begin living full time in the role, which hopefully will be the end of June at the latest. He doesn’t see any need to wait for HRT or other checks. And once the year is up, and subject to his recommendation, I’ll be able to be independently assessed for a second opinion. Then there’s funding to apply for, and the scheduling of the surgery itself not to mention the joy of pre-op laser and/or electrolysis on my bits, which I must say I’m dreading. So all in all, Dr Ingram says he would be surprised and disappointed if I’m not post-op in three years, and maybe more like two and a half. Sounds good to me. Sounds great in fact. Apart from the downstairs electrolysis. That sounds pretty far from great.
So there you go. There was a load more about Mrs K and the kids, but I’m not going to write about that. Outside the scope of this blog. Back again at GIC in less than three weeks, on April 26th. Back again on the blog before then I hope.