Hello again everyone, thanks to everyone who ready the first part of this and got took something away from what I’ve written. Today is part two (I’ve had to split it into three because of the length of the thing) and mostly focuses on my time with Richard and coming to terms with myself. Again, warnings for mature themes (Yes I talk about sex here) and mental health issues. Onwards we go … oh and before I start, today marks seven months since I came out to Richard, so yay for that 😀
So, how did we meet? We met at a train station in the town he lived and where we still live now. Him unsure if I was going to be all his ex had said about me. Me wondering how long it’ll be before something happened and everything fell apart again. I was that optimistic at the time. I do remember having purple nail varnish that day and one of the tight and feminine tops I’d not parted with and kept for days when family weren’t going to see me wearing it.
We met, clicked, fell head over heels for one another and I began spending pretty well every weekend over with him (and where we still live now) and the week days finding ever more inventive way of explaining why I was home from school early to my parents as any lingering aspirations on the part of my teachers of me passing A-levels and not drag their precious league table position through the mud died. (Yup, they brought that league tables shit in back then). League Tables were more important that student choices and I was forced to do a second year of Biology when I wanted to drop it as a result. A-level exams came and I actually skipped some of them, funnily enough the Biology ones to spend more time with him. In the long run I think I made the right decision there though my parents were somewhat bewildered as to why I essentially chucked two years of admittedly extremely half assed work out the window as I did. Between all the shit school gave me, giving them a good kick down the league table was the least I could do to pay them back.
Anyway, I was 18 now and towards the end of the year I moved in with Richard and his adopted granddad and started talking about getting engaged, married and spending the rest of our lives together. I even had a half decent job at the time. That should have been it, happily every after, right?
Er, no. True it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that’s gone on for 13 years and counting, but I’d always have this cloud sitting in my mind, a dark undercurrent that steadily nagged at me throughout, yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. Occasional bouts of mild depression followed me around for years after settling down and not knowing why bothered the hell out of me.
Throughout all this, my tastes in music expanded and in amongst all this I found certain songs left me with a curious feeling. Songs that were sung from a girl’s perspective for instance. Some songs of note that really did something to me were Shania Twain’s ‘Man, I feel like a woman’, Placebo’s ‘I Do’ and The Scorpions’ ‘He’s a Woman, She’s a Man.’ The lyrics spoke to me and tugged at parts of my soul, especially when I was singing them. Singing was a good and safe release of feelings for me and I’ve always been able to sing some fairly high notes. This as it would turn out later on would be a very useful thing.
Hubbie and I were often asked the question that a lot of gay couples get asked: ‘Who’s the woman in the relationship?’ We’d always joke it was me because of my mood swings and the fact I generally looked and acted reasonably feminine. He’s often refer to me as the missus and this always gave me this secret sense of happiness, yet I still didn’t know why. It was frustrating. I had everything I needed in life, loving hubbie, a home of our own (which is a rarity for my generation thanks to the fucked up housing market), a handy job and a wonderful family, yet I still wasn’t happy. What the fuck was wrong with me?
Nine years ago and while we were in the depths of preparing for our civil partnership something big happened. Someone I knew as a casual friend suddenly took their own life. I blamed myself for not seeing any warning signs and began blaming myself, having been in that position myself in the past. Looking back now there really wasn’t anything I could have done different but this was enough to tip those mild bouts of depression into something much more serious. It amplified all the negative feelings I’d been trying to keep on top of and launched me down a self destructive road that worried the hell out of Richard for months and left a permanent reminder that I see each day.
Having such insightful help from my then GP when I sought help for my mental issues that boiled down to ‘If you do anything stupid, go to A&E’ really didn’t help. What the actual fuck? What kind of advice is that? I was trying to be proactive for once, trying to sort issues out and this is the ‘advice’ I get? Needless to say I wasn’t on his books for long after this, which in the long run was a good thing because my present GP managed to figure out my long running knee complaint (arthritis, though I knew that anyway) and knew exactly what to do when I told him I was transgender.
So anyway, I lurched on, blundered my way through a batch of counselling that felt like I was talking to a wall throughout and has made me wary of counselling to this day and got on with trying to act vaguely happy just to stop people worrying about me.
It was around now I found another outlet for some of what I was feeling. No way of sugar coating this and I don’t plan to. I introduced cross dressing into the vast array of fun and interesting things we get up to in the privacy of our bedroom. Apparently when I was talking to my consultant when I had my dysphoria diagnosed it’s not an uncommon thing for people struggling with gender dysphoria. Hubbie and I are adventurous when it comes to our sex life but even so, this was a big jump and one that surprised him, but he was supportive and if I was happy then he was happy. Yes I enjoyed myself to start with, but after a while I found getting undressed afterwards made me feel very sad and eventually it drifted off of the things we did as a result as I couldn’t handle or reconcile the sadness I felt. I enjoyed the times I dressed as a woman and I realised it went beyond plain old sex. I just felt better about how I viewed myself for some reason, felt more free in myself and hated it when I had to step away and back into the real world.
Thanks to the wonders of social media and a gaming forum of all places I eventually found out a little about transgender and gender nonconforming/ gender-queer lifestyles a couple of years ago, what they involved and got myself educated. It helped that said forum had a mix of people who were trans or gender nonconforming and I finally had some other people who I could talk to, who had some knowledge of these things and I didn’t have to feel worried about being rejected for how I felt.
For a while I thought I was the gender-queer, some days male, some days female, though I kept my female side very much a secret. Later on I did change my facebook profile to gender nonconforming the moment they came up with the ability to self define in that way. I rarely posted any pictures of myself on there at the time, preferring female avatars or art that I liked to express myself. The gender-queer thing lasted for a little while and I even finally became confident enough to put up a couple of pictures of my female side and posts reflecting the fact how I felt and was relieved that the reaction I got was positive.
Then I did something really daft. 18 months ago I got my hair cut. Really short. I regretted it about ten minutes after I did it and it’s taken till now to get it to a half way decent length. Now the whole gender-queer thing was sliding more towards the transgender and getting rid of the hair kicked my dysphoria into high gear. I felt more and more at home as a woman and resented being perceived as male and the comments I had after I had my hair cut only re-enforced this. This was also right around the time I was getting established in the job I have now, a job I very much enjoy. Typical that something would come along and muck things up now I had a job I actually didn’t mind getting out of bed to do for the first time in my life.
I spent some time in denial, becoming more and more unhappy about myself and watching my mental health begin to slide once more. I was also terrified of how Richard would react, especially as he has made it clear he has zero interest in women in the past. At the time I thought coming out as trans = end of relationship. I know much better now of course, especially after some of the amazing people I’ve met since, but back then things were different. I was very much alone in this and feeling it. I also had mum, dad, sisters, nieces and nephew to worry about. I really didn’t want to lose my family over this but it was now these different things I have felt over all these years began to come into focus, began to make sense. I now knew this was me.
Then one night at the end of April I came back from work. I’d spent all week at work horribly distracted by all this, even more so than usual and knowing I had to do something. I had to be me, I had it worked out and to go on any further without doing so wasn’t an option. It was late evening and I knew I wouldn’t be able to initiate a conversation about this I ended up going upstairs to bed and sat there, waiting for Richard to come up and ask me what was wrong, which he did.
How the hell do you tell someone you love and hold dear that you wanted to be a woman, especially after 13 years together? I spent weeks reading a lot of information and advice about transgender issues. I did roundabout things like leaving my browser open on my PC with various information pages up. I’d bought Against Me’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, listened to it ad nauseum and left the damn case lying around, all because I struggle to deal with things directly when it comes to stuff that’s been bothering me. Seriously, writing my thoughts down seems to be much easier than saying them out loud.
So it eventually came down to me sitting on a bed at 11.30, trying not to fall asleep while waiting for hubbie to come up after finishing the sewing project he was doing, clock how upset I looked and confront me. That happened pretty much like that, as did my very awkwardly put across revelation. I can’t even remember the words I used, just that I somehow managed to get across I was trans and I was unhappy with being someone I’m not without faltering out into silence beforehand. Needless to say there was a long, stunned silence.
Hubbie asked the obvious questions: How long had I known? Am I sure about this? How far did I want to go? Was I going to go for gender reassignment surgery? Answers in order: A long time, Yes, not sure, and still thinking on that one (mainly because of my fear of any kind of surgery. I’ve since decided I will get over this fear and have surgery). Then there was what I knew and feared, hubbie stating he wasn’t into women, he wasn’t sure how he was doing to deal with this and me now panicking about losing him.
We spent the next few days talking about things, working out where we stood with one another and deciding to take things one day at a time. Having a weekend away re-enacting where it was just us two for once and no distractions helped at this point as we really got to grips on what I wanted, figuring out how we both felt, and doing a hell of a lot more talking to one another than we had been for a while (mainly because of me being very defensive and withdrawn for a long while because of how I was feeling). I began wearing my make-up at home and got a few items of female clothing I’d put away some time ago back out and began taking steps forward as myself.
That meant telling hubbie’s granddad who we still lived with, who was becoming steadily more frail. He was in two minds about this. He knew I had to do this to be myself and be happy, as he’d picked up I’d not been happy for a while and worried me and hubbie were having relationship problems. However he was worried. Worried that I’d hurt Richard and worried I’d have trouble for being trans. He told me a story about someone he knew had transitioned many years ago and the issues they’d faced and he didn’t want me to have the same trouble. So long as we were both happy and didn’t get hurt he was okay with things.
A re-enacting friend of mine (Amber) got in touch with both of us and pointed us in the direction of Twitter and some lovely friends of hers who were in a similar position though a long way further along from the point we were at. It was now we were beginning to learn that relationships can survive transition and gave us hope that ours could too. I started feeling a little more optimistic, especially as Richard was now nudging me along, trying to do things to support me and get me going, even if he was rather firm at times and pushed me out of my comfort zone (think you can guess who the dominant one in the relationship is). He did a lot for me in those early days. He got me out of the house and appearing as the woman I wanted to be a lot sooner than I thought I’d be able to, and going out and about with me to give me some confidence that had been missing. As soon as I got home from work he’d be waiting for me, dress, bra and breast forms in hand and sent me off to get changed as he knew it would help improve my mood after spending a day out being someone I was not because I wasn’t ready to let work know yet, mainly because I was worried about their reaction, losing my job and so on.
He also helped me in another big way: Hormones. I’d by now gone to my GP and had them refer me to the GIC in Charing Cross, as well as the warning that it’ll be a year before they’ll see me. I got lucky here in having a GP who had some experience with working with transgender patients and knew exactly what to do instead of sending me round unnecessary loops beforehand. Being told I’d have a year long wait was a shock and felt like I’d just hit a brick wall at 100mph. I’d spent 31 years being something I’m not. Being told to wait for what feels like an eternity just wasn’t on and it bothers the hell out of me, especially as it boils down to people being warned years ago about the increase in demand for transgender care and those warnings going unheeded until now.
Richard knowing full well I’d get far too impatient and go off and find my own way found a way of getting me onto hormones that didn’t involve trusting to fate on the internet. Lloyds had a loophole where you could order birth control pills from them, on-line and they’d deliver to you. His mum was all too happy to have them delivered to hers for me. Lloyds have since got smart and insisted people using this service come in and get their blood pressure and BMI checked before dispensing. Not a problem second time round when I could go out and not have anyone bat an eyelid to my appearance but back in June I wouldn’t have passed in my wildest dreams.
I also began looking into going private and eventually booked an appointment with two consultants, as per present guidelines as it seems to take two strangers to officially diagnose something I’ve already worked out and taking steps to remedy. I also didn’t want to spend too much time flying alone on the hormones because I’d rather have some professional input on this for my own safety. I also went and booked in for a load of hair removal. Again, I know I can get some of this on the NHS, but it’s that waiting game again and I just want to be and look like me. I don’t want to wait until eternity fails to get this done.
On that note, I’m leaving things here. The third part is going to look more into family and work, and how my transition’s had an impact there. Until next time everyone, love and light.