This post was prompted from a very simple question posed by my sister Patsy. We were talking through all the things that are going on, from the plans for transition in work, to the ongoing sessions at GIC, to the electrolysis that I’m undergoing, to the divorce, to the imminent house move and the wholesale upheaval in my life that is going to take place in a matter of weeks. She just asked me
“But are you happy?”
I was tempted to just reply “Yes” and leave it at that, but really that would be such a ridiculous oversimplification that it’s barely worth saying. On the other hand I certainly wasn’t going to say “No” because that would be clearly untrue. And the middle ground, a bit of a “Meh”, well that’s a bit of a wishy-washy emotional outcome for such a major undertaking as transition. I’m such a melange of emotions at the moment there’s no answer that I can satisfactorily give other than “It’s a lot more complicated than that”.
This lead me on to the conclusion that language (or English at least) was invented by cis people and doesn’t actually contain the words to succintly describe the trans experience. Well not my trans experience anyway, other experiences are available. How on earth can you explain to someone who is resolutely cisgender what it feels like to have this ceaseless drive inside you to be a different gender. To express a different gender. To be seen to be a different gender. All the time fighting a battle against the societal need to conform and not stand out. And that’s just the residual unexpressed, repressed feelings from the decades before I truly accepted myself for who I am.
Looking at where I am now, my emotional state is hard to explain. In many ways I am surprising myself with my calmness. I think this is because I feel that, for transition at least, I am as well prepared as I think I can possibly be. I suppose I could delay transition a little longer to get the facial hair removal completed, but really I can’t face the prospect of not living full time as a woman very soon indeed. Why is that? Why could I put up with living as a man for so many years but now I can’t? What changed? I have a theory…
I like to think that I have a decent sense of realism. I understand what is and isn’t achievable. So when thinking about my life over many years, achievable things were getting a reasonable job, getting married, having children, owning my own house, going on holiday somewhere nice, things like that. Unachievable things were being an internationally celebrated rock star, being a bestselling novelist, becoming an astronaut, and yes, living as and indeed being a woman. None of these things were literally impossible, and I would have liked to achieve each and every one of them in their own way, but they were so diminishingly unlikely that I was able to shove them all into a little locked box at the back of my mind with a label on it that read “Do not open under any circumstances. Love, Pandora.”
This is how I coped. I believed completely that the idea of me even setting foot outside the house wearing female clothing, never mind transitioning, was so inherently ridiculous and impossible that for long periods of time I was able to bury it in that box, alongside the childhood desire to be an astronaut and the adolescent desire to be a rock star. It was just “Oh, that? No, we don’t think about that sort of thing any more”. Except I did think about it just a little. Just enough for that box to start slowly opening just enough, just a little at a time. Buying female clothing for myself. Next step, buying makeup. Then wearing it at home. Then fully transforming myself, contacting a support group, meeting other trans people and finding them to be surprisingly similar to me in many ways, my first very short trip out in public presenting female, the first time I spoke to a cis person while presenting female, undergoing counselling and recognising that I was a transsexual woman but I wouldn’t be able to transition, taking ferries and staying in hotels and guesthouses as a woman, joining a social group as a woman, everything slowly coalesced layer by layer building up into this undeniable proof that my lifelong belief in the impossibility of transition was fatally, hopelessly flawed. It was possible. And once that was established, trying to stop myself from pushing forward wth this very-much-possible transition became the thing that was impossible.
And here I am now, on the cusp of a new life as a woman. About to leave the home I have lived in for the last 13 years to go to a smaller house by myself. About to go from seeing my kids every day to seeing them only half as much. About to be divorced from the woman I would have told you five years ago that I could never ever imagine splitting up with (although admittedly that was more to do with us both being too lazy to actually get off our arses and do something marriage-ending). I was as settled as can be, and now, it’s all change. They say that divorce is one of the most stressful things that can happen to you. They also say that moving house is one of the most stressful things that can happen to you. I’m doing both at the same time as starting my transition. How on earth am I supposed to feel about that?
It’s quite a combination. I’m genuinely not sure how I’m going to feel when I make the move. There will undoubtedly be some sadness at leaving behind Mrs K. She has been a huge part of my life for better or worse (mostly for better) for the last 20 years, and she will continue to be part of it albeit in a different way. But that partnership, that indivisible unit, that has gone. She has also expressed to me some doubt about how she is going to react the last time she sees Bob. Because there will be a final time that I present male, and it’s coming within the next four weeks, maybe even within three weeks. I’m that close to being full-time now. I can understand that for her it will feel like bereavement. For me I think it will feel like liberation.
That list of emotions really only covers my thoughts on the divorce, moving into my new home and the general thought of not having to pretend to be male again. Then there’s the whole work scenario to consider. Everything so far could scarcely have gone better in work, but I’m very conscious that the true litmus test will be in around the third week of July when I walk back into my office as Kirsty, and beyond that, when I begin meeting clients in my new gender and persona. Although when I get to that stage I must admit I’m struggling to even imagine it, at least up until today. Then just this afternoon I was in a meeting with a client whom I have known for about four years, discussing an application that he was making and realising that the end point of this application we were discussing was going to come after I return to work as Kirsty. And I knew that this man will be one of my first client meetings as a woman. And you know what? I’m fine with that. It feels a bit odd to say, but my focus has changed from worrying how I will be in such meetings to hoping that my clients don’t feel too awkward in my presence. I’m sure my natural feminine charm will win them over!
Looking back at that list of emotions that I wrote a few paragraphs back, there are a few words that are conspicuous by their absence. Doubtful. Regretful. Uncertain. I am none of those things. I am completely, totally certain that transition is the right thing for me. I’m a little apprehensive because I want everything to go as well as possible, but not for one second have I thought if I’m doing the right thing. Not once have I looked back and wished that I had done things differently. I know this is the right thing for me, and indeed for my family. The kids will have two loving homes and two loving parents, and even Mrs K will I think be better off in the long term as she is now free to find herself a new man. A real one.
As for me, and to go back to Patsy’s original question that set off this whole rambling post, am I happy? No bleeding idea.