Something astonishing happened last week. Well, astonishing to me anyway. This blog clocked up its 100,000th view. That is absolutely remarkable. How on earth did that happen? I suppose when you break it down over the 3½ years that I have been writing the blog it works out as less than 80 views per day, but that is still pretty incredible. I’m astounded and I don’t mind admitting suffering from a touch of imposter syndrome – why me, surely people must be confusing me with someone else. Anyhow, I was so astonished that I put a short post on Facebook stating that my blog had just passed this particular landmark. That’s when things took an unexpected, if in retrospect predictable, turn.
The thing is, having been in the closet in work, to family and a number of older friends whom I don’t see so often until earlier this year, this blog had been known to just my closest real-life friends. This is obviously in addition to those of you whom I know primarily from interacting online. But family, work colleagues and those other friends had never seen it. I do know that my siblings were aware that I had been writing a blog, and similarly I had mentioned in work that it existed, but these verbal disclosures seemed to have bypassed people. When I came out to everyone in early July, I did get one message from a more geographically distant friend that she had discovered the blog, and complimenting me on it. But that was it. Those other groups of people had been generally unaware of its existence. With that one Facebook post, it changed and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it.
Within a few hours of that Facebook post I had received messages from around 10 people asking if they could have the link to the blog. In fact, I was comfortable enough with sharing it with those people and so passed on the details. But then one night last week I was on the phone to my sister Hilary and she mentioned that her daughter (my niece) had found it, and they were both reading it. This instantly made me feel very uncomfortable. I’m not exactly sure why, although I think it’s a combination of me feeling that they are too close to me to look at the blog objectively, plus it felt a bit odd to know they were reading a blog where I had written about them albeit in pretty glowing terms. So I told Hilary that I would prefer if she didn’t read it, which took the wind out of her sails quite a bit. This in turn made me feel bad because I now fear she thinks that I’m hiding something from her, or there’s some further dark secret that I don’t want her to know about. However I didn’t actually share the link publically on Facebook for a reason.
Then on Friday in work my friend and colleague Graham casually mentioned to me that he had seen what I wrote on Facebook, and he didn’t realise I had been writing a blog and how long had I been writing it for?
“About three and a half years”
“Wow, I had no idea. And do you mind if…”
“No, you can’t. I’m not sharing it with work and family. Too much personal stuff on it.”
And he was duly crestfallen. I did let him see this post because he features prominently in it, which I hope sated his curiosity, although the script-like format of that post is a bit of a stylistic outlier compared to my usual rambling prose. I had previously let Beth see the same post, and indeed I had also told her and Kelly that I had blogged about our planning for my workplace transition. They had both seemed quite excited to be featured, but again at the time I told them that I wouldn’t be sharing the details other than to let them know that I wasn’t using their real names (shocker!)
Finally last night I received a text from my other sister Patsy stating;
“I’ve just read your blog and I’m so proud of you xx”
To which I replied that I wasn’t sure how to feel about that, and that I was rather embarrassed because I write about her on it from time to time, and I had already told our other sister that I’d prefer she didn’t read it. I was as apologetic as I could, saying she couldn’t have known how I felt about this etc. She replied back quickly;
“You have nothing to be embarrassed about. It is so good and should be a great benefit and comfort to anyone who is transgender or their family. The more I know and understand the better I can support you.”
So what on earth could I say to that other than “OK”. I still feel distinctly unnerved by the whole thing but of course what Patsy said was correct. Maybe I will let the rest of the family read it if they like. Although I’ll be sending them the link with a grimace on my face. However work remains strictly out of bounds. Unless of course they find it for themselves, which I don’t imagine would be too difficult. Google “Kirsty transgender blog” and I’m probably the top hit. And if that happens, then what? I know that one friend has already taken down most of the posts from her blog because too many of the wrong people were starting to find it, but I really don’t want to go down that road. I would miss the ability to talk out into the ether like I do on here. I just hope that the knowledge that this whole new group of people are reading doesn’t blunt my blogging pencil too much. I have never written with any audience in mind other than myself, and I really want to keep it that way.
Since I mentioned Kelly and Beth in passing, I’ll also mention something else. From February through until the start of July, the three of us had very frequent planning meetings in work in advance of my transition becoming public knowledge, and we all gelled very well. So much so that with the planning over I kind of miss that interaction. It would appear that Kelly did too, because she arranged for the three of us to go out for coffee last Friday morning. It was a really nice catch-up, just the three girls out for a natter. Very little of it was to do with my transition (it can’t be all about me all the time!) but Kelly did mention that she was still working hand in hand with the people in head office on finalising the company HR policy on trans staff, a process that was begun by my disclosure of my intention to transition. Our head office is in Dublin, and Kelly mentioned that she had a meeting with the Head of Diversity (yes, we have a Head of Diversity) coming up in Dublin. She then asked if I would like to go along in order to give input from the point of view of someone who is actually doing what they are writing about. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. So some time in the not too distant future, yours truly will be off to meet the bigwigs in head office to help formulate company policy. I’m really looking forward to it.
And now, more frivolous matters about a nice bit of good luck that I had recently. Those of you who are active on Facebook will no doubt have seen those “Like and Share to win” posts that businesses put up from time to time. You know the sort of thing, hotels putting up a free night for one lucky winner, like and share to enter. You get the idea.
My favourite shoes that I own are my Ruby Shoos. I love them. In fact, their entire range is so far up my street that they are practically parked in my driveway. I love the style, and I love that just about their entire range is available in a size 9 that is a very good fit for my feet. I “like” the official Ruby Shoo Facebook page, and I duly swoon over every picture of their shoes. Around 3 weeks ago Ruby Shoo did one of those Facebook competitions, “To celebrate the launch of our autumn 2017 collection, we have 3 pairs of Ruby Shoos to give away. Comment on this post with hashtag #rubyshoo then like and share to be in with a chance of winning.” Oh well, why not, I thought. So I said something about loving the one pair that I already own, and I’d love a new pair to keep them company #rubyshoo. A couple of friends liked the post that I shared and that was about the end of that. I didn’t give it much more thought.
Around a week later I was at my desk in work when my phone made the Facebook Messenger noise. I looked at the notification. “You have a connect request from Ruby Shoo. Do you want to accept?” Well yes, obviously.
“Hi Kirsty, I’m pleased to tell you that you have won a pair of Ruby Shoo’s (sic) in our recent Facebook competition! Please let me know which pair you would like as your prize (you can check online at www.rubyshoo.com) along with your shoe size and address for delivery. Congratulations! Regards – Carla from the Ruby Shoo Team x”
Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod I’ve wooonnnnn!!!! I was ecstatic. I just couldn’t believe I had actually won something. In fact, I couldn’t believe that anyone had won something in one of those Facebook competitions, let alone me being that person! I had a huge grin on my face as I sat in the office. Then the big brain weasel kicked in. You know that saying “If something looks too good to be true then it probably isn’t true”? Well I thought of it very clearly as I noticed that the profile picture on the “Ruby Shoo” that had messaged me was not the same as the profile picture on the “Ruby Shoo” Facebook page on which I had initially liked and shared the post in question. So I clicked on the name in Messenger. It took me through to an options page, from where I clicked on “View Facebook profile”. When I did this I felt rather crestfallen. It was a personal Facebook page, first name Ruby, surname Shoo, which had last posted anything in 2012. It was undoubtedly not the “real” Ruby Shoo. Joy to despair in around 30 seconds.
90% convinced I was being scammed (let’s face it, it wouldn’t be too hard to message anyone who had commented on that post) I was tempted to just ignore the message. However, that 10% of doubt remained so I replied in a very cautious manner;
“Hi Carla, that’s great news however I am concerned that this message has not come from the same Ruby Shoo Facebook account that I liked the post on originally. This FB profile hasn’t posted anything since 2012. I really hope I have won but I would like a message from the official Ruby Shoo Facebook account before I give out my address.”
Of course as soon as I sent this a different brain weasel began running rampant around my head. One that kept telling me that I really had won a pair of my favourite shoes but thanks to me being such a suspicious bitch I had lost them again, and they would just go to someone more trusting than me. I had, not to put too fine a point on it, looked this particular gift horse much too closely in the mouth. However when I didn’t see a response for the next couple of hours I became more confident that my assessment of the whole thing as a scam was in fact the correct one. I then had to go out to visit a client about an hour away, so between the drive and the meeting itself, it was well over two hours before I got to check my messages again. This time there was a reply;
“Hi Kirsty, this Facebook accout was originally set up under my colleague under this account and then the Ruby Shoo business page was added afterwards – happy to contact you on email if you prefer? My name is Carla ******** and I’m the Marketing Manager for Ruby Shoo. Thanks Carla.”
Here we go again! Is this legit or just a very sophisticated scam? I had a secret weapon – LinkedIn! Now that I had a name, I looked her up on LinkedIn and there she was, Carla, UK Marketing Manager for GH Warner Footwear plc, the parent company of Ruby Shoo. So it’s real!!! Oh hang on, if I can look her up on LinkedIn, then a scammer could look her up too. So am I really any the wiser? It did seem like an unusual level of detail for an internet scam though so I messaged back again;
“Hi Carla, thank you so much for your understanding – I’m thrilled to bits to actually win! If you could give me your email address I’ll send you through my details. Thanks, Kirsty.”
That was at around 4.20pm. When it got to 5pm and I hadn’t had a reply I thought “Oh no, I’ve blown it again and this time it’s probably real” so I messaged one more time that alternatively she could email me and I gave her my email address. I was taking a bit of a chance giving out the email address but less so than giving out my home address. Then I spent the night panicking that either I had opened myself up to some horrible identity theft scam or else I had wantonly thrown away the chance of a free pair of my favourite shoes.
Shortly after 9am the next morning I got her email, and it was definitely legit. It was @ghwarner.co.uk so I finally believed. I really had won something! And I got to go to their website and pick literally any pair of shoes that I liked and they would be mine for free. I really was the proverbial kid in a sweet shop. Since the pair of Ruby Shoos that I already owned are probably not work appropriate (although they do look great with my dusky pink jeggings on casual days) I decided to pick something that were work-appropriate while still lovely and stylish. I picked a pair of “Charlottes” in great big size 9 and gave Carla my address. Within two hours I had a DHL tracking number, they were coming for delivery the following Monday when by good luck I was off work. And by bad luck I was off work because it was the day before my laser assessment appointment and I hadn’t shaved for three days so I ended up answering the door to the DHL man displaying a fine bit of designer stubble. But my shoes arrived. And here they are. I love them.