Category Archives: Mental Health

Trans Pride 2017

Well Trans Pride is over and done for another year and I’m at home and in bed writing this even though it’s only 8pm. I’m that tired, so tired I can’t concentrate and then spent most of the next day feeling rather ill.

The past few days have taken a lot out of me, more than I thought for a number of reasons. On the physical side of things my phone recorded 30k of walking spread over four days. Factor in the fact I went to Brighton a week after smashing my toe at home and then picking up a massive blister on the first night I’m quite surprised I managed to hobble and curse my way along such a distance.

Mentally I’m feeling very frazzled. Social events have that effect on me anyway but this year it’s been pretty brutal at times. I overdid things on Friday, had a meltdown on Saturday and spent a fair bit of Sunday in an unfocused haze. I’m starting to realise how neurodivergent I am and becoming more aware of how it impacts on a lot of things. As a kid I was diagnosed with ADHD and I know I have a number of sensory issues, such as being very sensitive to loud noises and bright light. I really need to sort out my glasses instead of having to choose being able to see clearly or being blinded by strong sunlight.

For instance Friday night we went to the Trans Pride Film Event. A series of short films by a number of different independent groups revolving around different aspects of gender identity and how they play out. The films themselves were interesting, but for accessibility all of the films had closed captions. This was brilliant as I was able to read what was being said instead of listening, or tying to listen to the films while trying to tune out about a million different and distracting noises. It also meant if there was a particular noise that was bothering me, I could block it out. Case in point, a droning sound in the first film resulted in me covering my ears until it had gone away. With the closed captions I could still follow the narrative while this was going on. I’m also realising if I am having to block sounds out by covering my ears when out and about no-one pays any heed, which is nice.

Thursday night was pretty good, Rebecca and I had made plans to meet up with our friend the lovely Kate and go for dinner out somewhere, which we did after we checked into the hotel and chilled out for a couple of hours. We were later joined by Lisa and had a good catch up over a couple of drinks. I think Rebecca actually got a bit drunk that night. The only downside was my feet acting up. My shoes weren’t comfortable and I later found I had a huge blister on my right foot on top of the bad toe that had been playing up. I walked back in my socks, which was another poor idea as walking for half an hour with no support on my arches meant I was almost in tears by the time we got back. It also resulted in me buying an emergency set of trainers while out and about on Friday.

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A lovely evening out with Kate (Far left) and Lisa (Far right)

Friday was a long old day, a bit too long looking back on it. We had a wander round the shops, lunch out and a trip to the Brighton and Hove art gallery afterwards. The gallery was interesting on a couple of fronts. For one they had a big Constable exhibition on display, secondly they had the museum of Transology, which had an effect on me. Basically it was a museum of curios donated by various trans people that symbolised their journeys and I can see myself writing a blog about something based on this in the near future. I do hope the exhibition finds a permanent home because it deserves one. Transgender history is rather fragmented thanks to a lot of stuff being destroyed and also serves to shoe people that we are not a recent trend but an integral part of society for as long as there has been a society to speak of. For anyone interested, go look at http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton/exhibitions-displays/the-museum-of-transology/

The aforementioned cinema event followed in the evening and by then to be honest I was struggling, having been out all day and not really had a break or somewhere especially quiet to unwind. The films were fantastic, two in particular stuck with me though. One called Skeleton in a Beret was about a couple of people who used gaming to explore their gender identity, an avenue I’m familiar with in my own way. The other (Mum) was about a family, the mother was suffering from a long term illness, one of her adult children was trans and had transitioned and family relations were somewhat strained. It brought back memories, lets just say that. Again, link below for anyone wanting more information on things http://www.eyeswideopencinema.co.uk/blog/2017/7/11/trans-pride-2017-programme

Saturday was the protest march through Brighton, though not before Rebecca and I raided a couple of comic shops we saw the previous evening and got some goodies. The march itself was as expected, a lot of noise and visibility along with a lot of walking before getting to Brunswick park and having a wee chat with various people we know on Twitter. Then the rain came, then my mood crashed. It was cold, wet, my foot was in a lot of pain by then and we retreated to a pub where some friends were staying for a while before we got a bus back to the hotel. Next year I need to actually plan stuff rather than try and drift along and see what happens. I just feel very unfocused and isolated that way. Tears were shed and pizza was consumed.

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Getting ready for the Protest March, before the weather closed in

Sunday was another day out and about with Kate, coffee, lunch and shopping as well as a good chat about a couple of serious things going on. I hope she’s ok now. Again, after a couple of hours out and about I was flagging and needing peace and quiet and looking a bit ill too (which fits given how bad I’ve felt today, Tuesday). Eventually we picked up a small wardrobe of spare clothes Kate was giving away and returned to then hotel. That just left Monday and a quiet trip back home after having spent Sunday evening mostly talking to Rebecca through Twitter as I was trying to get my head and some thoughts in order while having a non verbal spell.

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More fun and adventures with my Rebecca and the lovely Kate

The main theme behind this long Twitter chain I was typing out was a theme of feeling a bit adrift and lost, which seems ironic being in Brighton of all places. It was here two years ago a lot of things transition wise swam into focus and I got into gear. I went full time soon after and haven’t looked back. I made some great friends who I was happy to see even if it was all too briefly at times for various reasons this time. Two years down the line I’m at a stage of transition where I’m ready to move forward and sort surgery out, but still waiting for the system. I’m also still waiting to get up and going with my new job, which as it turns out I shall be starting next week, but that’s not all.

Putting things into an understandable concept is hard for me at times. With what’s going on in my head I likened to seeing a load of threads on the ground. Are they mine? Do I pick them up? Throw them away? Leave them alone? Some things I’m sure of, like my gender identity, being madly in love with Rebecca and my gothy/witchy leanings. A lot of other things I’m less sure of and there’s a couple of things I am frankly terrified of picking up and looking at because of past experiences. I suppose I’ll figure it all out in time but right now it’s only adding to this sense of feeling adrift right now.

In the end we came home Monday and to be honest, I was looking forward to going home. I’ve not felt like that when away somewhere for a long while. A few times Rebecca and I have asked if we would go back to Brighton next year. To that I will say yes, but next year I’ll have to do a few things different. First off, next year I need to stay somewhere in town, nearer to events. Being half hour walk away from the hotel messed me up. I needed the room to be close by so I could easily duck in for an hour or so and reset up head when being out and about got a bit much. I stupidly chose our hotel based on the fact parking wouldn’t be a financially crippling issue that it was last year. The logical thing would have been to book in town and taken the train down, like a lot of people do. It would have made it easier to plan things with friends, being nearby. Next year I need to plan going out better. The days where we had planned to meet someone and do stuff worked a lot better than just winging it and hoping.

I also need to do other, smaller things as well. For one, remembering to pack a couple of extension leads in case the power points are miles away from the bed. Packing more shoes better suited for walking around and finally, if I get new clothes, try them before packing them and taking them with me. I had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction in Brighton. Namely I put on a new top and realised it was pretty well see through.

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Emergency trainers

On the plus side, I spent a whole day out in leggings and another day out in shorts and at no point worried about or thought about my tucking arrangements. This is nice and is one of several reasons why surgery can’t come soon enough for me. I also paid very little heed to my make-up during the day because the hair removal’s gotten to a point where I can go out for the day and not worry about covering stuff up. On that front at least things are slowly moving to a point of comfort. If nothing else I could go back next year just to add to my t-shirt collection.

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I have a collection happening now

Oh well, I’m going to finish up with some other pics from the weekend below. Enjoy 🙂

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Yup, travelled to Brighton in last year’s t-shirt 🙂

Perks of our hotel on the outskirts of town. Views, namely of the park. Also, a rainbow while in Brighton, how apt 🙂

Yes, we lost ourselves in the comic shops. Castle in the Sky is mine, a film that left a long lasting impression on me when I was growing up.

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Rebecca’s pet bee. It just randomly landed on her hand while we were forming up for the march.

Where Does The Time Go?

Serious question, where has it gone? I’m asking because in a couple of days (Thursday 27th April) marks two years since I came out as trans and set things in motion. Anyone expecting then and now pics you’ll be disappointed, because I’m not doing that. I can’t look at my old pics, it’s just a reminder of so many painful events that happened in the past. I haven’t got many anyway.

I was pretty lackadaisical about printing pics in the past and thanks to a brace of hard drive wipes over the years I lost most of them. The ones I had printed out I last saw in my old house somewhere, left behind along with most of my stuff when I moved out. The few I do still possess tell the same story: A husk of a person, drifting through life, half not there and half dead. Someone and something a world away from where I am now, trying to figure out what was wrong.

Suffice to say I got there in the end, then spent weeks agonising on how to come out and how everyone would react. I remember coming home from a late shift, going to the bedroom and sitting rigid, choking back tears and trying to find the words to tell my now ex partner. I took the plunge and blurted out that I was trans and felt ready to start doing something about it, whatever the cost. A this point I felt all but dead anyway and probably not long for the world, I was that depressed, anything from that frame of mind was an improvement.

Over the coming weeks and months I told everyone else, saw my GP, had two attempts at getting referred to Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic (My first referral got lost) and went about into the world, feeling I had finally awakened. I started finding what I liked, my own style and so on and began to grow.

I won’t lie and say it’s all been plain sailing. Transition costs a lot in terms of outlay. A new wardrobe of nice clothes for a start. I’ve spent a good couple of thousand pounds on laser hair removal and a fair few quid on a couple of private appointments to get myself up and running and onto HRT as I’d probably still be waiting to get onto that now if I sat back and waited for the GIC.

Transition also finished off my relationship with my ex, partly because he’s not into women, but transitioning and seeing what there was out there in the world opened my eyes to a lot of things that were not right and I wanted out before any more damage was done.

I saw a counsellor a little over a year ago, initially to help deal with the grief of losing my dad to cancer. A lot of stuff came out and she basically said I hadn’t been able to celebrate and embrace my transition up until then. With a relationship that was falling apart and dad suddenly becoming ill and leaving us it’s not hard to see why my early months that should have been happy ones were overshadowed.

Thankfully things have changed for the better. I’ve been with Rebecca for just over a year now. She has been amazing and supportive throughout, my rock and my world, my everything. Mum’s commented numerous times I’m the happiest she’s ever seen me now we’re together and yes, transition has become more of a celebration, for both of us. We’re both free to be ourselves, pursue our interests, have a lot of good times and get up to all sorts. We both had our first proper holiday in a long while last year and we’re quietly getting on with our lives and building a future together. In a lot of ways we’re both on a similar journey and helping each other heal from a pretty crappy past in a lot of ways.

Going forward, by the end of the year I’ll hopefully have a second surgical opinion out of the way and I’ve finally settled on what option I’d like to pursue on that matter. I’ll also hopefully have this hair removal business taken care of to a point where I’m reasonably happy. It’s funny how the goal posts change over time.

For instance there was a time where I wanted to get to a point where I’d never have to shave again. Now I’ll quite happy deal with shaving if it’s just to get rid of the blonde hairs I now mostly have now most of the dark hair has gone. I’ll be quite happy the day I don’t need to go back and get my face blasted by the laser.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this is yes, transition is a daunting idea to go through with. How anyone thinks we’d do such a thing on a whim, or for some sort of kick I don’t know. You’re gambling at the highest stakes possible with all this. Some people get lucky and keep their partners, family and so on. Others aren’t so lucky, they lose can lose some of this, or all of it. Some people don’t make it at all. The rewards are worth the risks though. You get to be you, you get to live and that’s why we do this.

One of the best things about this journey is seeing my friends progress through their own transitions, overcoming obstacles and growing into the people they’ve always wanted to be. Here’s to the journey.

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Hey, Teacher! Leave Those Kids Alone!

Well if anyone mentions anything about school that song comes to mind, rapidly followed by any number of unpleasant memories and various pointless run ins with other kids and teachers alike. truth be told, this morning got off to a rough start anyway as I had some disturbing dreams from the past during the night anyway so my head was somewhere in the past when I caught sight of a tweet threat by OhMiaGod berating her own experiences with school.

It’s also coming up on 15 years since I last walked out of the dump of a school I had been toiling at, never to return. Truth be told, they were probably just as glad to see the last of me really. junior school was one thing, senior school, and a school where it was an all boys’ grammar school was seven years of hell, arguments, blood, tears, pain and frankly bugger all to show for it. Looking back now and knowing who I am now, it’s no surprise really.

Before going further, I need to warn you. I’m not holding back here, so warnings for mental health, and suicide. Yes, school fucked me up that badly.

I was at a grammar school but I didn’t really have the smarts for it, having scraped in simply to get away from the hooligans at my junior school who bullied me and means mum was making frequent trips across the road to give the headmistress a piece of her mind on the matter. Off to a winning start already really there. Being a socially awkward loner type who didn’t fit in and really doesn’t function at all well in a group put another bullseye on my back on top of not being bright in a conventional sense. Oh I was smart, but I have a short attention span and only really able to put my full mind to tasks that I find interesting, none of which were on the curriculum.

Being pretty naff at physical games? Yup, that’ll get you bullied too, especially while going through a puberty which you later look back on and see most of what you were feeling towards yourself was gender dysphoria, which thanks to the total lack of education regarding gender and sexuality that isn’t of the cis/hetero variety, this would go undiagnosed until years later.

Having a teacher who insisted you all showered after P.E, naked and he’d hover nearby to make sure you all went through meant  I got so wound up about things I went into a state of permanently forgetting  to bring my kit to school on those days and earning myself detentions every couple of weeks for non compliance. Hell, an hour after school failing at homework was childs play compared to confronting *those* confusing feelings each week. Of course, making my hatred of P.E so public meant other kids began questioning my sexuality, because of course, not liking football, hockey etc means you’re gay.

Having a personality clash with your English teacher, who only made things worse by singling you out and aggravating things further, because this is an all male environment and we love nothing more than pointless one-upmanship to assert our dominance? Guess I’m failing English that year then because the chances of me staying remotely engaged are now zero. That said I did really piss him off at the end of the year because there was one project I actually liked (devising your own directions for directing a scene in a play) which I actually put my full energy into and got one of the highest marks in my year group for it.

As I grew up I became steadily more angry, depressed, morose and introverted. punching things became all too routine, not good having already fractured both wrists in silly accidents, but testosterone poisoning does jerk things like this. GCSE choices came about, which was a laugh, because when it came down to it and  after you take away all the mandatory subjects I only had two free slots, though picking French and doing a full course in I.T weren’t choices I’d have picked if anything better was available. Seriously, they were the best of a bunch of stuff I couldn’t stand. history? Nope, three years with a teacher who could put the dead to sleep with his droning killed that. P.E? Lol nope after two years of racking up non compliance detentions. Religious education? Well as by then I was perma-banned from that class , that wasn’t on. Seems turning up to that class repeatedly five minutes late, opening the door as moodily as possible and hurling your bag across the room to where you usually sat was enough to get me kicked out. Doing this five times in a row and after three detentions and my teacher had enough.

Yeah, I wanted nothing to do with Religion, even back then I could see what  mess it was. I’d also recently lost my granddad and churches hold bitter memories as a result. School had this dopey prize giving service every year and marched us all off to church as a result. Mum had half heartedly said I should go into lessons that morning, feign illness and come home got get out of it. I took her at her word, did so and then forged a sick note. My year head saw through it called me to his office so he could call my parents and let them know what I’d done. Dad answered and cut him down, basically saying if I didn’t want to go to church, them I wasn’t going, and if the matter wasn’t dropped he’d come in and have words on the matter. Dad didn’t even care I’d forged a sick note, he told me he wanted us to grow up, make our own choice on religion and he’d back whatever we chose. I had chosen that day, he backed me up. Parental win.

Actually, I wanted to do art,. That got killed by my art teacher, based on the fact he made us spend the best part of two years drawing still life crap and not interesting things like comics and fantasy stuff. Funnily enough I put very little effort into the former and so my grades were deemed too crap to go into that class.

GCSE’s came and I somehow got a C grade or above in everything I sat, yes including maths, which I’m awful at and design technology, when my project didn’t even work. I even got an A for Spanish, not that I’ve ever had to use that in real life. Evidently I had the grades to go on and do A levels. What I should have done is saw ‘Fuck that’ and gone and got a job. I’m surprised school didn’t tell me to get lost by then really. I was still a socially awkward misfit who didn’t fit in anywhere and wasn’t really applying myself to my subjects. I picked A levels. FML.

Now, returning to do A levels, we got this big speech on how it was our own choice to be at school, as A levels weren’t mandatory and some guff bout being treated more like young adults. Riiiight. My first day back, my Spanish teacher spend the first lesson teaching us how to swear in Spanish out of the way, reasoning we’d figure it out sooner of later. Incidentally, knowing how to blaspheme in Spanish isn’t terribly useful for everyday life, but oh well. I also had an argument with my biology teacher, who by now had been my teacher for four years and I had spent all too many a lesson doodling and not paying attention only to leave him dumbfounded every time he tried to catch me out with a snap question to make me look silly in front of class and I answered correctly. He reasoned we should be putting in the best part of 30 hours a week outside school time across our subjects. I snidely made a comment about some of us liking a social life outside school. Ironic coming from me of all people and even more ironic as I was one of the chief offenders when it came to not doing homework in his previous classes. You can see this is going to end well.

Six weeks in or so and struggling with the workload, as well as the fact my English literature course was hamstrung by it being spread across three teachers who didn’t coordinate the workloads they were assigning upon us, one teacher who was even more monotonous than my former history teacher, allied to some of the worst books I’ve ever had to read did me in. Seriously, try reading Hard Times and *not* throw the book across the room after reading a couple of pages for being so tedious.

I had four other subjects (Spanish, Business Studies, Biology and General Studies) going. This was they year the AS level and League Tables for schools were introduced, so there was a lot of pressure put upon us to do well. I went to my hear heads (yes, both of them) and said I wanted to drop English and take a short course in another subject, thinking that as a young adult and my education being my choice now I could do this. I got told no and sod off in no uncertain terms, but I persisted. Eventually they said they needed my parents to come in and discus the issue. I went home and mum and dad agreed to come in one afternoon and discuss this with my year head. As soon as they came in, my year head dropped the matter and I was free to do something else, rather than waste any more time on a subject I was clearly not getting on with. That right, my SELF EMPLOYED parents both took an afternoon off from work for a meeting that was done in five minutes and was totally uncalled for. To say the three of us were annoyed was an understatement.

I spent the remainder of that year struggling along, falling further behind and with increasing mental health issues. I somehow scraped through the end of year exams, including Biology, somehow. My final year at school beckoned and knowing I was going to fail Biology if I continued as it was branching into areas I was weak at anyway I decided to swap it out for another AS level. once again, I got the ‘No, sod off’ treatment from my year heads and I snapped. This time I wasn’t going to drag my parents in and waste their time, I took things into my own hands. I decided I would fail in the most spectacular way I could think of, as this would hurt the school’s score on this precious league table they kept bleating on about.

Most of my biology lessons were spent either in a local cafe or weather permitting out in the countryside somewhere. I cycled to school so it didn’t take me long to take myself a couple of miles away somewhere, with books, doodle pad and walkman to while away my time.Most of the teachers weren’t local to my town, so I knew endless places to go where they wouldn’t come looking for me, as they frequently trawled the high street, the local supermarket and so on for other pupils who’d gone A.W.O.L during the day. it worked, I was never caught in the act, though I got the frequent “I know you weren’t in lessons but I can’t do anything as I don’t know where you were instead” from my year heads.

Of course, this eventually spiralled out into my other classes too. School reports that were filled with ever more exasperated lamentations never got to my parents as by then I had gotten good at forging mum’s signature (sorry mum), my attendance got ever more sketchy and my mental health was being steadily worn down by having keep going to a place I now detested, as well as the growing revulsion as to what my body was becoming as puberty wore on.

Throw in a pretty disastrous relationship with a guy I’d been introduced to by a friend and a pretty gnarly Christmas where at one point I got so irritated I barricaded myself in my room I had enough. I tried to take my own life after being diagnosed with depression, put on medication which seemed to only aggravate this and having also been warned that if I lost any more weight I’d be looking at being hospitalised. By then I had fallen to 8 and a half stone, which is not good when you’re near six feet tall, but I had zero appetite and couldn’t bring myself for force myself to eat. I won’t go into how I tried to end things, only that it didn’t work.

The school year wore on and on one of the increasingly rare days I turned up I got called into my year heads office. Cue a lecture on how I was throwing my education away, how I’d end up like some homeless person in the local park  and so on. He also brought up my attention span issues. It was well known I had ADHD as a kid and to this day I still have issues with my attention span. Mum and dad mitigated things as much as they could by changing my diet as a kid as E numbers in food were a big trigger. My year head, knowing all this made some crass and needless remark about how I was of the ‘Ritalin generation’. How I didn’t thump him one for saying that I still don’t know. Needless to say this meeting was pretty well finished by then, by me shrugging and walking away, much to my year head’s annoyance.

A couple of weeks later and in a rare moment where I was actually trying to do some work I get a message from a runner to go see the same year head. I shrugged and said he can come find me as I was busy. I had zero desire to speak to him again. Ten minutes later he arrived, asked me to confirm what I had said and informed me my study leave for exams was cancelled. Comical really. How was he going to enforce that when he’d spectacularly failed to enforce my attendance the rest of that year?

Breaking up time came and I went on study leave, along with everyone else. Well I say study leave. I either sat at home, listening to music, playing guitar, computer games or working for mum and earning a lot more than a paper round would have got me. The exams came round and I ensured failure in Biology by not turning up for the exam. It sounds petty but after the past year at school, failure felt good. Mum and dad finally found out the extent of how badly I was doing at school at that point and I explained how I decided to handle things on my terms rather than drag them in again, because being annoyingly stubbornly independent is what I do well.

Results came a couple of months later. C For Spanish, D for Business Studies and the same for General Studies. To this day I have not used any of them for any practical purpose, likewise with most of my GCSE’s. I got into care work at the age of 29 and over the next two years I completed an NVQ 2 and 3 in health and Social Care, among other short courses. Not bad for an errant misfit who spent seven years being psychologically and physically traumatised by her school who was destined to become a park bum.

Funnily enough, a year after left school for good, they contacted dad as they were snooping around, wanting to know what their former pupils were up to for their records. Dad bluntly told them to go jump and that if I wanted then to know what I was doing, I would contact them. To this day this hasn’t happened and probably never will. Ought to be a riot if I did show up one day, right? I can only hope school has changed for the better since I left really.

Happy New Year

Well 2016 has been and gone now, and taken a load of celebs with it and I’m presuming everyone’s just about recovered from their ‘seeing in the new year’ hangovers. No hangover for me to deal with, partly because I had work the next day, and partly because I no longer have any need to get drunk to blot things out.

No, new year’s eve for us was spent staying indoors and having a mammoth Diablo III gaming session, complete with mine and Rebecca’s oft inappropriate sense of humour and commentary.
“Oh look, that fucking monster’s here and didn’t drop that fucking gem”
“My logic hurts just thinking about that”
“Ahhhh! Shit!!! Nooo!! I’ve just aggro’d every mob in the Desolate Sands trying to run away from this monster”
“I’m going to die!!”

And so on. Of course, me playing Hardcore, meaning if I died my character’s gone forever only added to the madness, but it was funny, so funny I had a minor asthma attack because of laughing so much. That’s not the first time that’s happened lately and won’t be the last.

It’s far more fun than going to some overcrowded, overpriced pub/club and then promptly leaving because of having a sensory meltdown. It’s also something I wouldn’t have expected to have been doing at the start of the year. 2016 has been a huge year for me, a year where a lot of big things have changed and I am in a far better place for it.

I got my hormones sorted out out and been on them for coming up to a year now and on that front at least things have been pretty stable. Getting them was a challenge but there’s been no incidents, no changes and my body has responded well as a result. It’s been great taking pics throughout the year and occasionally looking back to remind me of the progress and reassure myself at times. That aside, transition has been pretty quiet for me, aside from putting a lot of thought into what surgical option I want to pursue when the time comes, but I’ve already gone into some depth about that elsewhere.

Mentally I’ve noticed a change in myself. I feel like I’m a lot more self aware or mindful in myself. I’m far more aware of things that can unsettle me, make me anxious and so on so I can do something about what’s causing the issue before I slip into a hole and struggle to get out again. There’s probably a better way of describing that, but I can’t think of how. I’m also aware I don’t need to tough things out all the time, or ‘just deal with it’ all the time now. I can pick my battles now instead of fighting all the time, so to speak. If I’m not feeling right and it’s not important that I don’t do something, I don’t have to do it. It can wait.

It’s because of all this I’ve just left a job I’ve only been in for seven months. I was aware that it was hurting me mentally and I was aware I could do something about this before it got too bad, so I have, and all being well I shall start my new job quite soon.

Of course, all of this has come about from the biggest change of the year and of my life. I ended my relationship with my ex husband in the early part of the year as it had become clear that things were going nowhere and it had been hurting me in a lot of ways for several years. Thanks to a few friends as well as a counsellor I had initially gone to see for grief counselling I had my eyes opened for the first time in a long time and saw what had really been going on. I also met Rebecca face to face at around this time after spending many months chatting away on Twitter and then over the phone.

Well you know the story by now. I ended things with my ex and spent some time at hers to figure out what my next move would be … and fell madly in love with one another. With my ex now seeing other people and bringing them home I got out of there ASAP as this was really messing with my mind. I ended up moving three counties and a hundred miles away to live with Rebecca and haven’t looked back since.

I am in such a better place mentally, she is ever so loving and supportive and understanding,  and has done so much to encourage me to open up and talk when I’m struggling instead of hiding away as well as encouraging me to pursue my own interests and try new things. I like to think I’ve done a fair bit in helping her through her own issues and we’ve done so much to help one another transition wise as well as supporting one another with various trauma’s suffered from past relationships.

It’s been great getting out, doing girly things together and going out to all sorts of places instead of being dragged along to re-enactment events and wrecking myself. We’ve been to Brighton for Trans pride together, met a lot of great people we both chat to and in October we went on holiday together. Rebecca showed me the sights of Hunstanton and the surrounding area and we had a lovely quiet time together. It was also my first proper holiday in a decade. Well I could go on for the next week about all Rebecca has done for me and I for her, but I think all the pics we’ve put up throughout the year tells the story.

The smiles says it all really and my family have noticed too. Mum’s said to Rebecca that I’m the happiest she’s ever seen me and all of my family have really taken to her, which is always a plus. Well when mum tells you Rebecca is your soul mate what can you say? Anyway, as they say, mother knows best. 🙂

Going forward into this year, I’ve not really got any resolutions as such. I hope my new job works out well and I feel a lot more stable than I did with my old job and I also hope we both continue to progress smoothly with our transitions. As it is Rebecca and I are looking ahead to the future and we’ve both agreed that once we’ve both sorted ourselves out transition wise, had our surgery and so forth, we’re going to tie the knot. She proposed a little while ago and I instantly said yes. Well how could I not? She’s amazing and she’s my angel and I have never been so sure about anything in my life as I have with being with her and spending the rest of our days together.

And on that note, happy new year everyone.

A Grand Old Mess.

Well today is going quite grand as I now have a crying and upset Rebecca to try and settle.

Why is this?

Her GP. The thing is they’ve been wanting to see her about some issue or other, which we think is in relation to a letter both she and they have received from Charing X GIC regarding her self medicating on hormones.

The GP phoned yesterday and wanted to do a telephone consultation with her next week. Knowing this wouldn’t work I made arrangements to see the GP today so I could be there with Rebecca and give her some moral support while we sort out this mystery issue (as we’ve received no actual confirmation from the GP what this is all about). Doctors stress Rebecca out at the best of times given she’s had a slew of rough experiences in the past with them over a number of issues, so she’s been pretty on edge since yesterday.

(Rebecca: I’ve had so many care failures and obstacles before that I am disheartened and now even afraid to go to the GP. It took so much and the help of my Chrissy to just simply go and say “Hello I have a problem”. I am so distraught with it all.)

Just as we were about to head off out the door we get a call from the surgery. They’ve cancelled the appointment as the GP isn’t sure if he can sort out this issue in a 10 minute slot. I explain to them how stressed out Rebecca is over all this and why I need to be there with her. They insist they can’t sort things out today and insist on an evening appointment a little over a week away as this will be the first chance me and Rebecca will both be off work together. With all this going on I now have Rebecca in one arm sobbing her heart out and the phone in the other.

This illustrates a larger problem though, namely the detrimental effect on the mental health of so many transgender people who have to wait a ridiculous amount of time to get any support with transitioning due to the increasingly ass backwards setup we have in this country.

Most trans people have spent years dealing with their inner demons and finally deciding to speak up and ask for medical help with transitioning. To be told it’ll be at least a year for any initial consultation, several months to a year for a second opinion before they’ll think of dispensing hormones puts an incalculable amount of stress upon individuals. Add in the fact the total crap-shoot that is the process of obtaining a bridging prescription, dependant on weather your GP feels competent enough to monitor your levels or not and it’s no wonder so many trans people take matters into their own hands, as my partner has.

(Rebecca: It is not fun for your partner, who can’t stand needles anyway, to watch you on a Sunday night sticking a needle in your backside as you perform your own intramuscular injections or taking medication that’s actually for people who have heart disease in quantities that should kill you. And this isn’t just about getting a girly look. This is to improve my mental health and stability so I can function as a normal person. Or as normal as it gets when you’re transgender in a society that shuns and ridicules you for trying to live.)

If that’s not enough, when you finally see a GP, they pass on the info surrounding your self medication record to the GIC. They then send out a shitty and condescending letter on how dangerous it is taking matters into your own hands, as Rebecca has had recently instead of offering any meaningful advice or solutions. This is not on.

We KNOW the risks. We also know what hormone levels are ideal for the results we want to achieve with this and know it’s a simple case of frequent blood monitoring and either upping or lowering dosages until they sit right, and then routine monitoring to ensure they stay that way. It’s not hard. Most of us trans people feel capable of doing this, so why not your average GP, who has to do the EXACT SAME procedure with most other long term medication? Do you really think we WANT to go it alone on this? Do you think we do this for a laugh? No!

(Rebecca: All I need is my blood tests so I can manage my medication. Ideally I would be on “official” HRT as well and doing the same thing anyway. How will I know that I have to much potassium or to much oestrogen, if I can’t have bi weekly or monthly blood tests so I can regulate what amounts to quite deadly substances entering my body? I have already had an incident where my oestrogen was 4600 and I had to stop for 7 weeks to let it all drain out and start again. And even now I am cautious and deliberately missed this weeks dose because I don’t know what’s in my system and the doctor wouldn’t give me a batch of blood tests to find out. We need to be able to have small gender clinics in every town so we can just go and at least start and have the facilities to just have tests ordered or done. A blood test will not kill anyone.)
If we had a modern system where we can gain access to care in a reasonable time we wouldn’t be having such issues on  routine basis and my girl wouldn’t be in the sobbing mess she is right now. Needless to say I am very angry with the whole thing right now. All we want is to be able to feel comfortable in our own bodies. That’s all it is. It’s not a mystery. We’re fully informed and aware of the consequences of pursuing this course of treatment and we go into this with our eyes wide open and until the powers that be get their heads out of their asses and stop all this gate-keeping nonsense, what played out today and even worse scenarios are going to keep on happening.

Anxiety and dysphoria – Just an average day.

So I’m going to write down what a typical day is for me and probably a lot of other trans women. I don’t dare assume it’s the same for all of us as we all feel things differently, but anyway, for anyone who wants a deeper glimpse into my head, here goes. This may go some way to show people why I act as I do when I’m having a rough day, how I cope with things and how present circumstances have a bearing on everyday life. As usual I’m not leaving details out so expect talk about my body and various functions.

I usually start off waking up and disappointed that a certain thing hasn’t dropped off in the night and a foof has magically appeared. This is doubly disappointing as I usually get woken in the night because the thing is still somewhat active as I’m presently going through the process of getting onto testosterone blockers which will more or less kill any remaining functionality it has. Basically I don’t use it for intimacy and because it doesn’t get used it’s shrunk a great deal and any time it does move and grow it’s horribly sensitive and instantly wakes me up. Even though I’m wearing knickers and a panty liner for comfort and to keep it tucked and out of the way I still feel it and it bothers the hell out of me. Basically I wake up set to a default state of moderate dysphoria. Getting up and getting ready for work only notches the background dysphoria up further as shaving is still a thing. I’ve lost some 60% of my facial hair now, there’s a hell of a lot less to shave and I’m typically done in 30 seconds instead of taking 10 minutes and looking like I’d fit in as a victim from a slasher fic or having tried DIY follicle removal but it still feels wrong in my mind.

Getting dressed is next, great because I can see how the hormones are taking effect and how my body in general is being reshaped into something I’m finally comfortable with. This time is also bad because that means changing knickers and liner and seeing and touching the thing and resisting the urge to take something sharp to it. Reminding myself I need to reluctantly look after it until I can have surgery I pack the thing away so it doesn’t move and cause distress during the day and try and forget about it at least until I need the loo, which is usually ten seconds after sorting myself out because I’m amazingly organised like that. Hair gets done and make-up goes on, which I keep simple but pay a lot of attention on covering up the give-away shadow caused by my facial hair (snow white skin and jet black body hair, awesome combination for laser removal, terrible for concealing) and I’m more or less set for work.

I inevitably spend some time on Twitter and Facebook while doing breakfast and wishing I had a magic wand to sort out the troubles various friends and family are having with their own lives, being the empathic person I am and wishing there was more I could do from the end of an internet cable half a country away than offer reassurance and advice where I can. Plodding along on the new exercise bike before work most days is also a thing, because keeping the BMI somewhere sensible is required for the future as well as the fact I need to do something about my general fitness which has gone to hell since I quit cycling four years ago.

In short, most mornings I’m dysphoric, anxious about my friends and family, anxious about myself and how I appear before going out and anxious about work as there’s stress from transition related issues and because we’re due an inspection any time now and people are panicking about stuff.

Some days I cope better than others and some days my anxiety is heightened for a combination of reasons, be it knowing work will be particularly trying, my dysphoria’s being particularly bad, if I’ve had dreams which have upset me in one way or another or I’m having a particular bad day emotionally, either because of mood swings or because of grief surrounding losing dad and Richard’s granddad. Richard’s health is another concern of mine, especially when his chest is playing up like it seems to be doing so often these days. If I’ve got an appointment coming up is yet another thing that can set my anxiety off.

When my anxiety is high my tolerance for various social situations drops even lower than usual. On these kind of days getting out of bed and doing anything is a struggle, never mind going out, doing stuff and being a halfway functioning adult.

Case in point this morning, I got so worked up over a number of things I got stuck mentally and my sister ended up organising my mess of a mind for me so I could figure out what really needed doing and what could get lumped onto another day. A few days before I got so anxious about something I had a panic attack and Richard had to physically drag me out of the house to go do something else I had planned to try and snap me out of the stuck phase. I sometimes wonder if I have a touch of autism about me but I only get this way when there’s a lot going on so I don’t know.

Getting back to the point, because of my anxiety I ended up ditching several things I’d ordinary like doing, including going to a trans support group I enjoy going to, but I was trying to juggle that in with chasing up an appointment, supporting mum with an issue to do with dad, do a couple of important things for myself and trying to support a couple of friends with some big things going on. I also wanted to spend some time with Richard and as he said he wasn’t going to meet me at the group tonight that would have meant me working all day, going to the group and not seeing him at all. It was too much and I became an anxious tearful mess again, hence needing some help to trim things down into something manageable.

Now I do have some coping mechanisms for when my anxiety gets a bit much. My favourite is music and I often have the earplugs in when I’m going out as I find I can cope better when I’m away in my little isolated bubble. This is in part down to a decade of bullying at schools when I grew up and shrinking away into my bubble was the only way I barely able to cope with everything that was thrown my way, and then various experiences as an adult which required similar reactions. I’d retreat into myself and not come out as that was preferable to getting hassle for various things. Another thing I do is find something to keep my hands occupied. If you see me steadily shredding a tissue in my hands absently then that’s a good sign I’m struggling, flexing and bending my fingers is another giveaway and both are preferable to the self destructive and stupid ways I used to cope.

Anyway I get to work after the usual fun and exciting bike ride in where I may or may not have to rely on Jedi level reflexes to avoid being run off the road by idiotic drivers (I swear some days the bike has a cloaking device). I sort my hair out and touch the make-up up and get on with things. Transition at work has been pretty good all things considered, but there is one resident who’s struggled and as a result rotas have been changed so other staff are doing the shifts I can’t do now and I feel bad about this because it puts a strain on them and I have heard comments about this. Not about me and not aimed at me but remarks about how they’ve had stressful days with the resident and not getting too much of a break from him because of this. Needless to say I’m feeling amazing around about now.

Work goes on, I get stressed to various degrees, depending on what we’re doing and who I’m working with and I spend most of the day wearing a mask and trying to hide the chaos that’s going on upstairs. It’s something I’ve had a lot of practice doing over the years. Some days I may take to twitter and chat away with friends, either for support or just to have a laugh and joke about the maddest of things and then we’re all wondering how X led to Y and so on. It breaks the day up and makes a hell of a difference to me especially on a bad day or if someone’s said something that may seem innocuous but because of how I’m feeling it rips through me like a hot knife through butter and triggers a dysphoria attack which usually results in me finding somewhere quiet and shedding a few tears before trying to regain my composure. Because of the hormones I’m generally going through a second puberty and as such my moods and emotions fluctuate wildly and has made me very sensitive to anything that can set me off like this.

Somehow or another I get through another day at work (often reminding myself this is paying for useful stuff like hair removal and appointments and generally helping do something about the things I listed earlier that make me feel dysphoric) and I get back home to Richard. I’ve usually been messaging him during the day, especially if things have been tough and we have a good hug when I get in before I disappear behind the laptop and unwind, usually to a combination of music, video, writing and twittering away for a bit.

Showering and getting ready for bed gives the general dysphoria a good kick. Showering means seeing and touching the thing as keeping clean avoids nasties like UTI’s and taking the make-up off reveals the facial hair I’d almost forgotten about until that point. Bedtime causes anxiety of it’s own if Richard feels frisky. Intimacy is a tricky subject right now, as this just magnifies the general battle that goes through my head all day everyday. I enjoy it, but then the thing pops up, my mind goes ballistic and then the mood is killed and tears ensue. I hate keeping him at arms length but right now it’s the only way I can deal with this right now. I hate going to bed fully clothed so I can avoid being reminded about the thing as we love being skin to skin and just cuddling up, again it’s the only way I can cope right now and the knickers at least mean when the thing tries getting up at night it has nowhere to go and can’t get up.

In short a large chunk of an average day is spent dealing with the open warfare that goes on between mind and body because of my ongoing dysphoria and why I need to get things sorted out as soon as the GIC will let me.

D-Day?

Or should that be E-Day? Yes, I think it should. Well after several months of ticking down months, then weeks, then days and dealing with the associated anxiety that came with it today was the day. The day I go find out if I can get myself onto hormones. I’ve been self medicating for six months now, using the pill they give women to stop them falling pregnant as this could be obtained from a pharmacist rather than take my chances on the internet. It isn’t perfect and does nothing to block testosterone, but it was a start. I was slowly developing a feminine figure and happy with what I was seeing, but it was a stop-gap measure. I am fully aware it’s not good in the long run, hence booking an appointment to see an endocrinologist privately and get things organised instead of waiting who knows how long for the NHS.

Before I go any futher, I’m going to point out I’m not going to sugar coat or hold back here. There’s plenty of talk about sexual function and nudity, stuff that can be dysphoria triggering and talk of depression and self harming. Don’t say i didn’t warn you, and as a friend of mine says; “Transition isn’t all tits and rainbows”.
I’ve been worrying like hell about today, going through so many what-ifs and reasons why things might not go to plan and having to deal with bouts of anxiety that at times threatened to cripple and overwhelm me these past couple of weeks. Anyway, 9.30am rolled around and so hubbie and I got into the car, complete with my folder containing all the information, consultations and test results from my transition and headed on up to Enfield to the King’s Oak hospital and my appointment with Dr Seal at 11.45, with the usual battle between my music (which I use to relax in the car as long distance travel and travelling at speed can both set my anxiety off) and Richard trying to listen to the brand new sat-nav he bought the day before to make sure we got there OK and in time.

A couple of bouts of road rage on his part and me trying to be irreverent and funny on Twitter later we get there a full hour early. That’s part down to me despising being late for anything and getting highly wound up if I am late and partly because I know the M25  and Dartford too well to not factor in long and ludicrous delays. Still, that gave us time to have a drink and time enough for my anxiety to continue to play merry hell. If that weren’t enough, Richard had one of his chest seizures in the waiting room and I spent 10 minutes supporting him and reassuring everyone that everything will be OK in a minute. Horrible timing, but not his fault and not much he can do about them and all I can really do is stop him smashing his head up.

Anyway, that extra and unwanted drama sorted out I get called and we go in to see Dr Seal, where he explains what’s going to happen, that he’s going to ask questions and a bit later on he’s going to take some measurements,  examine my breasts and my genitalia. Eep! I had an idea that might be happening today and I thank my lucky stars I had a good trim down there and that I hadn’t overdone the Christmas eating this year.

But first the questions, oh so many questions. I was asked about my birth and early life, if there were any complications at birth and my development. I was born just fine, if rather late and as for my development, that was fraught at times, between having ADHD and being pretty slow learning to talk.

Once again I was asked about my earliest memories of gender dysphoria and I recalled how I wanted to be called Chrissy when I was 8 among other things that pointed towards things not being quite right. I got asked about when I started wearing women’s clothing, which started with me borrowing sisters stuff, getting girly stuff from charity shops as a late teen and then introducing dressing up a couple of years into my relationship with Richard and how I felt good wearing what I wore and felt awful havijg to take everything off and soon learning it wasn’t a sexual thing going on there. Family history was next and I was asked if any one else in the family who were homosexual/ bisexual or had a history of being transgender/sexual.

Next came questions about puberty, how it went, how I felt and so on, so I went into some depth about feeling very awkward about my body, hating my body image and things I did to lessen those feelings, such as getting rid of my body hair as well as being asked how my body developed, including asking if  had any breast development then. Sadly no, all that happened was a lot of hair appeared and I went from a short and stubby fatso with a 30″ waist to being 5’10” and having the same waistline.

My mental health was discussed and if I had any depression or history of mental illness, always a fun topic, especially being asked to recount if I self harmed, how I did it, if I tried to take my own life and how I went about that. I won’t go into too much detail here, I’ll just say I’m lucky that I’m still here, didn’t do more damage than I have done when I used to self harm, though I also recalled how the black cloud that’s sat at the back of my mind most of my life disappeared once I came out.

I then got a load of questions on how I eventually came to the decision I made and came out as being transgender, so I described how I felt when I used to dress up for fun and felt awful when I had to take the ladies clothes of afterwards, how I eventually got clued up on things and spent a couple of years wondering if I was genderfluid before sinking into a real hole this time last year because I finally worked out I was trans and didn’t know how the hell to tell Richard. We discussed if Richard had been supportive, leaving aside the fact he’s just driven me to my appointment and helped me get through some of what I’ve been asked,  described how he’d wait for me by the door with my clothes when I wasn’t out at work and he’d shoo me upstairs to get changed and feel happy, among other things he’s done, as well as discussing how I came out to him. Family support was discussed, how I came out to them. Richard had to tell them because I’d worked myself up into an anxious and non-verbal mess that day, and we described how dad and his mum had both said it was about time I did this and how awesome mum’s been throughout. I described how much of a help being on Twitter has been, how we all chat to one another, giving advice and being supportive to one another and generally how awesome you all are 🙂

I also described the time after I came out to family but before I got work sored out, how I was living a double life, how Richard supported me with dealing with that and discussed how I eventually came out and how the work transition was handled.
I was then asked about relationships, how many partners I’ve had and my own sexuality and sexual function. That’s pretty simple. I’ve only had three or four serious relationships with guys and a couple of platonic ones with women. As for sexual function, Richard was very helpful with helping describe how I’ve found intimacy awkward for a long while, years before I came out and how he thought something had been up but wasn’t sure but now he looks back everything made sense now, as well me basically saying I don’t want any sexual function down there, I just want the damn thing gone.

So that’s the psychoanalysis pretty much done and over, now for the physical part of the exam. I was asked what procedures I was looking at having, the only one being getting my bits turned inside out and then my weight, height and blood pressure were taken, all normal. Then I was asked to go behind a screen and get into a surgical robe while a female chaperone was called in. That was new and weird. I did ask if it was OK to just have Richard there but for legal reasons a chaperone had to be present. With that done I lay down on the bed and had my breasts checked over, including being shown how to check them for breast cancer. Again something new and something I wasn’t expecting today but nice to know how now. Then the other bits got looked at. Needless to say I felt terrible when this was being done given I hate touching those parts myself, never mind anyone else doing it. I just closed my eyes and tried to take my mind elsewhere. A couple of minutes later I was told I could get changed and oh by the way you won’t need electrolysis down there, which I found surprising and we’ll see if that still holds up in the future.

After all that excitement and being dressed and sat down again, then came the question. “Would you like some oestrogen?” Best question I’ve had asked in a very long time. We discussed ostrogen and was prescribed Progynova, which I can get myself with a prescription, and Decapeptyl, which is the testosterone blocker and is a 12 weekly injection, and which I can sort out once my GP gets the confirmation letter from Dr Seal. Aside from that I was advised to get a blood test done in 8 weeks time and make a follow up appointment in three months time to review things and possibly increase my dosage if things go well.

In short, today went as well as it could have done, though I couldn’t have done it without Richard at my side and helping me along when I needed it. I know this is tough as hell for him and I hate putting him through all this, but he really is my rock and I am so glad he’s sticking around for this journey. We drove back home, dodging a series of suicidal drivers on the now wet M25 and celebrated in style: A trip to the chippy and a pint of Hobgoblin apiece.

 

 

Enquiring Minds

Remember the phrase ‘There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers’? I beg to differ on that one, especially since coming out as trans. Of course all of us trans people get the seemingly obligatory questions that are frankly invasive and none of other people’s business and which will probably continue until people are better educated and know better than to do so. Enquiring minds need to know and sensitivity be damned, right?

Luckily I’ve mostly escaped  two of the most invasive ones of all so far; ‘What’s in your pants’? And ‘What toilet do you use’? In fact both have been asked once. The former wasn’t asked directly at me but to a co-worker by one of the residents I care for and my co-worker had the sense to tactfully tell them that it’s my own business and a rather personal question to ask should they feel the need to ask me directly. The latter was asked by my mum so a blunt ‘none of your business’ type reply wasn’t really on, so I ended up briefly telling her that I’d been using the ladies for some time and she was happy that I was comfortable to do so and that I’ve not had any trouble for doing this.

Anyway, the two big ones out of the way I’ll move onto the ones that others may or may not have been asked as well. Some are actually good questions, some rather annoying, some upsetting and some are downright bizarre. So here goes, and before we start, yes there is talk about sex and there’s mentions of self harm if you’re sensitive to reading these things.

First up, the thing I’m most asked about is my voice. Now this one I’ve already blogged about ( see Voice Feminisation ) so I’m not going to go in depth here, but it’s curious how so many people think that’s down to taking medication. Doesn’t work for us trans women I’m afraid, that’s all down to hard work, time and effort.

You still listen to heavy metal and play your bass?

Er yes, and why not? Do women not do these things? Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Halestorm, Against Me! and Evanescence. Just a few on my playlist, all of them fronted by female vocalists with Against Me! Being of particular interest as they are fronted by Laura Jane Grace, a trans woman and an inspiration of mine. Why the hell would I ditch a form of music I’ve enjoyed most of my life and has been a source of support throughout my life now? As for the bass, the only thing that’s changed on that front is I’m relearning how to play as I’m now using a pick to prevent my nails being smashed up.

I’m guessing this all stems from the good old gender stereotypes and people assuming that because I’m transitioning I’m going to dump anything that’s either male oriented or from my past life. Not going to happen. I largely enjoy what I used to do though there have been changes in the way I engage in some activities, such as now playing female roles when re-enacting for instance. I will admit I did giggle when at one event six guys couldn’t figure out how the traversing mechanism for one of the gun worked, which I then sorted out in about six seconds.

I got similar looks of surprise when I replaced the passenger side door of the car recently. What, girls can’t do mechanic stuff? I can’t say I particularly enjoy playing amateur mechanic but it’s a simple job and saves a lot of money getting someone else to do it, money I can use on other things such as hair removal and appointments.

Are those your real nails?

Last time I checked yes. True I bit my nails for the best part of 30 years but that stopped after I came out (weird eh?)  and I’ve been able to grow a lovely set of nails that I take great care of. Why would being trans have any bearing on my ability to own a set of real nails anyway? I will admit there is a part of me that smiles inside when people ask me this one because it means I’m doing a good job with taking care of my nails. As for the painting? Well being a make-up toting goth all these years taught me useful things like keeping a steady hand to paint them and being able to do a reasonable job with my make-up each day, which is something else I’ve been asked about.

Are you sure you’re trans? It must be a phase.

Let’s see, before coming out I was miserable, depressed, had several mental health crises which have left a permanent reminder on my body as a result, had zero self esteem, self worth and confidence and hated my body and image. Trans me is happy because I can finally be myself, my depression has disappeared, I have self worth and esteem and Richard has commended on how I appear more confident now, namely that I have some confidence. As for my body image, there’s things I hate still but at least I’m in a position to put things right and move forward. If finally being happy with myself is a phase then I’m going to do my damnedest to make it a lifelong one.

When did you know?

This is actually a good question and I’ve taken some time thinking about this. Some people know from an early age and others it takes a while for all the pieces to slide into place. I’m the latter but looking back if I had some education on the matter when I was younger I might well have come out at a younger age. I’ve lost track of how many different events and thoughts I’ve had throughout the years that all make sense now I am out and on my journey and I’m glad I’ve made sense of everything and able to get on living now.

You’re trans, so you and Richard are breaking up then?

To be fair, I thought trans = end of relationship for a long while. With a lack of visible role models and soap like horror break up stories in the back of my mind it’s the biggest reason why I stayed in the closet as long as I have. Now I know better having met several couples who are negotiating their own transition journeys together and given us hope. Thankfully Richard has stuck by me and we’re well past the point of wondering if our relationship can survive. Admittedly we’re still working out some of the finer points such as intimacy, what to do with old pictures we have hanging around the house, and Richard getting used to the changes to my body but eight months on and we’re still together and I think closer than beforehand now there isn’t a huge barrier I’d been hiding behind.

Does this mean you’re both straight now?

If I’m honest I really don’t think much about sexuality these days. If I find you attractive then that’s that. Man, woman, trans, non-binary, doesn’t matter. Recently it struck me that aside from Richard there hasn’t been a man I’ve seen and though was worth a second glance, much less think about jumping into bed with, though with my libido being rather absent for the most part who knows in the long term? I’ve long since become comfortable with the fact that sexuality is more fluid than we may think it is.

But what about other people, how do you think they feel about this?

No disrespect, but this is about me and my happiness. I can’t hide who I am any more and I won’t. Without sounding melodramatic I’d pick death over being forced back into the closet and if I hadn’t come out I was coming up to a point where visiting those dark days again was becoming a certainty, and I’ve got enough reminders of the last time which I shall carry on me fore the rest of my days. The thought of having to present as a man ever again fills me with dread and if I did this again I’d break down and cry.

Having a hubbie, family and friends all being on board with things and amazingly supportive as they have is a bonus and has made this whole transition a hell of a lot smoother than it could have been, but if I had to go it alone, I would have done.

How do you and hubbie do ‘it’?

Er excuse me? This should be your business why? Yes I have been asked this one. Well frankly not too much has changed. I lay down and Richard does his thing. Richard has always been on top and in charge in the bedroom and it’s an arrangement I’ve always been happy and comfortable with, but we have come to an understanding that there’s certain things I can’t/won’t do because of it triggering my dysphoria. Truth be told we’re still figuring this one out as I’ve got the added complication of my libido having gone off for a long holiday due to my dysphoria and the hormones I’m taking. With various hrt related changes I am learning to enjoy intimacy again as a woman and all the wonderful sensations I now feel and try and ignore the dysphoria and if I can do that I’ve found intimacy to be more enjoyable than ever.

What’s you old name and can I see your old pictures?

No. Don’t ask it, don’t expect me to answer it and don’t be surprised if I rip your head off for doing so. To be honest though, most people who know me know my dead name anyway and anyone who didn’t know me could probably work it out without asking if they’re that way inclined given there’s only two letters different between the old and new.

Same answer goes too for asking if you can see old pics of me. There’s only two of those I’m comfortable with keeping on view at home, both of which I’ve decided to put up after I begun my transition and those are of dad holding me as a newborn and a cute pic when I was 4 years old, wearing my mum’s apron, pretending to cook, rocking a girly bob cut and a massive smile on my face.

Why do you not like me using ‘tranny’?

Same reason why it’s totally inappropriate to call a gay man a faggot or a black person the ‘N’ word. It’s derogatory so stop it or we’re going to have a serious problem here. We have trans, transgender, trans woman/man to use instead.

Questions involving my daily routine.

Do I still shave? What make up do I use? What underwear you you wear? Are those real breasts? Those are some of the questions I’ve been asked and there’s likely others which escape me right now. Again, it’s stuff that’s mostly none of anyone’s business unless I decide to talk about it.

I recently learned at work I’m not the only woman who has to deal with the issue of facial hair and we’re able to have a laugh about this and it’s great that I’m in a work environment where I feel relaxed enough to do this.

Make-up? I’m more than happy to discuss this and trade tips and insight with anyone who’s interested, same with the nails. Asking what I wear underneath my clothes? Really?

As for asking about my breasts, asking about them is bad enough, but copping a feel? I don’t need to spell out why this is wildly inappropriate and yes this has happened, at work no less. The only reason I didn’t slap them to the ground on the spot is because it was one of the residents who did this and I let them know in no uncertain terms that this is not something they should do again. Thankfully they haven’t but it was a surreal and scary moment when they did this.

Does this mean your husband will transition too?

I am not making that one up. Someone actually asked me this. Where do I start with this? Let’s just say that this was someone who had known us to have been in a long term gay relationship and thought that because of this we’d both transition. In a nutshell I think they got the ideas of gender and sexuality rather tangled up. It doesn’t work like that, though stranger things have happened in the world and if Richard told me one day he was intending to transition so then I would be very happy and I would do everything in my power to help.

In fact it is something hubbie and I have joked about because of things he’s done, such as inadvertently picking up and wearing my jeans and sending love emoji’s of two women in love when messaging me. We’ve got to that stage in this journey where we feel comfortable to joke like this and I’m so relieved and lucky that we can do this, likewise I know just how damn lucky I am that the worst I’ve had to put up with so far are occasionally annoying and invasive questions when I know other trans people have had things much worse.

Anyway, as it’s that time of year, have a happy Christmas, holiday, Hogswatch or whatever you do with family and loved ones. Stay safe and love and light to you all.