“Why are you sounding like a girl”? Uh, um, uh…. and a great walk.

This was the statement that my daughter made shortly after I picked her up today from her BFF. I had no response, if I had been quick thinking enough I should have carried on the “that’s my female side” theme, but I was not quick… because I was feeling down and weary.

Today I have been lucky, and it is thanks to my daughter. She is nearly 13, growing up too fast, and at this stage spends most of her time on child-social-media sites on her I-phone. Last night I would have picked her up… but she went to a disco, and asked me a few days ago if she could sleepover at a friend’s house – I said that she could on the understanding that she would not want to be picked up until at least 4.00 so that I could go on a walk with my group… and that is what happened!

Last night I painted my finger nails, and this morning I got out of bed at just after 8.00 and transformed back into Andrea. Took a terribly long time, it has been a long week at work, and it took a strong cup of tea to really get me going. I went through the usual make up routine, and after my foundation, bronzer, and eyes were done I put my hair on… and it was SO good to see me back, SO happy with that look, it is the hair that really makes my image, to have anything less on my head looks just SO wrong to me now (see later too). Eventually at 10.00 I was ready and was out the door like a shot….. only to come to a grinding halt on the motorway 20 minutes from home. Aggghhh!!! There were roadworks and all the traffic was bunched onto a single carriageway… but I did a slightly illegal (if “slightly” is possible) manoeuvre, took a diversion, got ahead of the traffic, then sped onwards and arrived at the venue (Crawdordsburn Park, on the coast near Belfast) just after 11.00 to see my group waiting. Whew!

I got my stuff out the car and ran over to them, said “Hi” to the group leader… and begged her to wait a minute as I was bursting to go to the toilet! TMI, I know! I trotted off, and then back, and then we headed off, and after warmly greeting one of my (former?) admirers (Alan) immediately started talking to Karen, who is from London (studying in Belfast) and she told me that this was her last walk as she was heading back home next week; I was rather sad, we always have lots of lovely converCrawfordsburnsation when we meet. We walked in the woods for a while, and after a group photo (see right, with me at the front) I then started chatting to a nice lady called Ann who I have met before, had LOADS of lovely chat with her and the group eventually reached the coastline, and the weather really started to improve. Then I started chatting to a younger girl called Helene who I had never met before, and she was really nice. After a while of walking along the coast we U-turned, and a guy called Michael joined in the conversation and us three had a great conversation all the way back to the car park.

At that point a few people left, but the rest of us went to the park’s cafe for a snack, generally the theme was scones (of a monstrous size and density) and jam, and a drink… though Karen and I also shared some rhubarb pie; before I sat down, who should I bump into but Michael from my support group! What a nice surprise! He was at a table with another person, and his cute puppy attached to one of the chair legs. I sat on a table with three others from the walking group and we chatted away for at least an hour, and were the last ones to leave.

I phoned my daughter to see what time she wanted to be picked up and when I suggested 6.00 she haggled with me and said 6.30; oh, well, uh, ALL RIGHT! So I stopped off along the way at a large Tesco supermarket where I did a good shop and bought more clothes, including a plain pair of black trousers for work (for when I come out) and also yet another pair of black heels and another pair of black ankle boots. A girl can never have too many shoes, and they are SO different from the ones I have already. Probably. Paid for my stuff at a till, as usual, could not really have a conversation with the girl as her supervisor was chatting to her annoyingly… until till-girl came to swipe my boots under the reader and found there was no tag. So, while supervisor went off to find another pair, till-girl apologised for the wait and I said no bother… and started to have a really good chat with her – she is part-time, doing nursing… ah, another launch into the conversation about my daughter wanting to be a nurse but hating the sight of blood! So a pretty successful Tesco shop, no stares at all (must be the new hair), but time to go home alas.

As usual, when I got to my back door I saw my girly reflection and was so happy to see it, but soon had to start wiping that image away… but not before I tried on some of my new clothes. The work trousers someone suggested I buy as a kind of gradual introduction of Andrea into the work place, well, I’m afraid I doubt that’ll work, girly trousers are SO much different (even down to there being no belt loops) and fit so much nicer

I have a particular order that I wipe my female self away now, in order of increasing impact – so nails first, then jewellery (low impact items), then outer clothes, then wipe off make up, then remove bra and breasts (at which point my chest feels just empty) and last of all goes the hair… and this is the real biggy, while the hair is there I can imagine I am just a girl with a bad case of hirsuteness, but once that goes it is such a shock to the system to see this strange Bob looking creature, my heart just falls off a cliff.

I drove to pick my daughter up, feeling tearful as I drove. I started asking her about her about the disco and stuff and she soon complained, in a tone of abject annoyance “Why are you sounding like a girl?” Well, my dear, it is because I have become one… though of course I have not said that… yet. Oh crumbs, it is going to be so hard coming out to her… but some time in the next few months it is going to have to happen.

I made a post to my online support group about having to pack Andrea away to avoid daughter discovering her before I am ready to divulge, and that this means not just having to pack and hide away clothes and hair and make up (that I am so fed up of doing) as if it is some shameful secret, but also having to suppress all the things that is Andrea the person that people see – the hand gestures, tactility, being so much more chatty and friendly, and so on… and before I could finish tears were running down my face… sigh.

P.S. (couple of things I thought of after writing all of the above):

Had a couple of good girl-affirmation moments coming up to the cafe. There were stalls set up outside, include one with rows of handbags on it. Was with Michael and a girl, he said to us “I’m surprised you girls aren’t rushing over to the handbag stall” and then when I passed it and showed a small amount of interest the guy on the stall did his best to flog me one, and kept calling me “love”.

Wednesday evening was a great improvement on the daytime. Was home early, changed back to Andrea, and went for coffee with my BF Kirsty, going there I was so confident and FULL of determination despite what that counselor had said to me, I was in such a happy place out, and had a lovely long chat over coffee with Kirsty. Then onto support group where we had a visitor from Germany, who was very interesting to talk with… though I fear I may have hogged the conversation for more than my fair share with my news.

If I come out soon I will “emotionally abuse my daughter”! Uh, what?!?

I’m afraid I am rather upset today. I had my latest EAP counselling session in Dublin and left it very upset, and partly stunned. Perhaps it is just a reaction over hearing advice that I don’t like.

Anyway, it concerns my daughter, who is nearly 13. Since I last saw the counsellor she has talked to a child psychologist (without me knowing) because she was “disturbed” by one or two things I have said. The comments that the two of them have concluded are that with daughter going through puberty that she is at her most vulnerable, and that I would be much better waiting until she is 16 (ie over THREE years from now) before I come out; this left me both upset and gobsmacked. Also, what upset me most was a comment that I would be “committing emotional abuse” by telling her so soon, and that “I need to remain a father figure for her as I have a legal right as a parent”.

Although daughter will almost certainly be shocked when I come out, who says I can’t be just as good a parent? Personally, I think I have become a better person as Andrea, and surely it is just as important for her as for me that I become emotionally much happier and more stable?

I KNOW I am on a selfish journey, but the thought of having to keep Andrea on a temporary basis for so much longer is not a thought I feel I can entertain.

Relief…. and loss?

Alas my European holiday is at an end; here’s a final photo from this morning:


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Since I came out to my brother about Andrea, as the hours and then days have passed I have felt a deep sense of relief. Finally what I have hidden for so long from a close family member is now not a secret to him, and I don’t feel ashamed of anything I have told him. I have generally enjoyed the remainder of this holiday – I have hardly been able to present as Andrea (that would have been a big ask of brother) but my girly walk had been unrestrained, my voice while not full-on Andrea has been somewhat feminine, and I have generally felt at peace now that I have been honest and open with my brother.

I dropped him at the airport 3 hours ago as his flight was much earlier than mine. The weather deteriorated as we neared the airport and so I drove a few miles North and parked beside a quiet river to get away ftom people, seeking peace and solitude. I did not have the enthusiasm to do anything else. Why?

Now that brother is gone I feel a sense of loss… and perhaps he does too now. My loss? Well, it is wondering if I will ever see him again. I know I must give him time before he may even have questions for me, I can only hope my feeling of loss is only temporary and that in time he can accept me…..

 

Today I came out to my brother!

I am currently on holiday with my brother, mostly in Austria but tip-toeing into other countries en-route. For a nice change, he has done the planning for this break (usually I do it) and so far it is excellent with some beautiful scenery – below is an example:

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I decided that if my Andrea-holiday went well then I would tell him all about Andrea… and as that break was a stupendous success then today that intention has become a realisation – just over five hours ago I came out to my brother! I gave him about 10 minutes of pre-amble, trying to explain how unhappy I had been, whether he had noticed a change in me, my counselling (generally speaking), and that I would always love him no matter what he thought. Then I gave him my 3-page come-out letter (2 general pages for all, giving the same message, and one specific to him) and I cried while he read it all. Once he had finished he said he was shocked but remained calm and unmoved, had thought something was up, then said it would take a lot of getting used to. We were at a lake, I asked him if he wanted time on his own, but he said he was fine, so we walked together and I told him all that I have been up to – appointments, walking group, man-attention, support group and friends, how I started going out and worked up, how I feel, etc. Carried on chatting on our 40 minute journey to the hotel, then I said I will leave him to talk about it more on this holiday if he wants and to ask me anything at all, but I finally feel I have been honest. He said he is trying to digest it all but appreciates the honesty and why I have not said anything before now. This is the lake where I told him (the sun had disappeared by then):

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We have since had a nice dinner, wee stroll afterwards, and then watched the last half of a film together. I have wished him good night now, and said I am sorry if he sleeps poorly and it is down to me.

Will be interesting what tomorrow brings….

All good things come to an end…

September 15th was the last day of Andrea’s first holiday.

I began the day with a substantial (but delicately-eaten) breakfast, and while I waited for it to arrive had another good chat with the guests from New Zealand. While I ate I had a good chat with the B&B owners, and when I left one gave me a hug ‘goodbye hun’ while the other one helped me with my bags to the car and then also hugged me and told me to stay in touch.

I drove up the Cornish coast and stopped at a car park near Tintagel above the sea in order to visit the island and ruins there. I walked along the cliff path, took a few photos, and said hello to a few passers by who smiled with their own greeting. I bought my ticket from a guy with some nice chat, then headed down increasingly steep steps to the small bridge that crosses the island; at times I had to hold my skirt down as the wind threatened to blow it to indecency, but I was glad I wore it after the two previous legging-days. As I climbed the steps towards the ruins a guy light-heartedly joked with me that there were oxygen masks at the top; I merrily agreed that the steps were getting very steep. I had a good walk around the top, took a few photos of the stunning views, and picked up a plastic bottle that someone had carelessly dropped and, with no bins, handed it over to the guy in the ticket booth and had a litter-chat with him before returning to my yellow car. As I changed my shoes a little dog wandered over and its owner came over and smiled, then told the dog to not be a bother. See below for photo of Tintagel island.20140915_132845

I drove onwards just a few miles to Boscastle, a village previously wrecked by flood water. I parked, wandered through the village, and went into the National Trust place to the cafe where I ordered a Cornish cream tea – the girl serving me was really nice, and I joked that I was desperate to have my first cream tea as my holiday was nearly over. After a loo stop, I wandered down the river a bit, over a bridge, then up the other side. I passed three people on a seat and the two women found me rather curious – perhaps they’ve never seen a girl in a skirt carrying a big camera before….? Oh well, bought a small cake from a bakery, then went into a Spar to buy water – a woman said “excuse me love” to pass by, and the lady who served me was very nice and we had a bit of weather-chat.

I then drove for over 90 minutes east and eventually stopped for petrol a few miles from the M5 motorway. I wasn’t sure of the best route to the motorway so I told the petrol-guy where I was going, and he said which would be the best route by far, though indicated it was rather a twisty road – I joked that as I was alone so that was okay as I was the only one I had to worry about getting car sick.

Near Bristol airport I stopped at a pub for dinner. I asked for a table and the guy behind the bar advised that there was a 30 minute wait as it was busy. I said no problem, and placed an order for food and got a drink. I asked if there was free wifi and he said it was broken so I said I wished I had brought a book or something to kill the time, so he offered a local paper. My table was right by the bar, with people coming and going, but nobody seemed to notice anything different about me, and the waitresses who looked after me were all fine too.

The last thing I did as Andrea was fill the car with petrol and pay… because then I had the demoralising task of removing all trace of Andrea so that I could return the car as male. It felt so awful changing clothes and removing makeup in a layby… but my BGF Kirsty has to do it a lot, so I can truly empathise with her now.

So, that was my three and a bit days totally Andrea. LOADS of positive experiences, LOADS of voice use and enjoyable chat… and only a couple of people obviously giving me a stare of curiosity, which I think is pretty good. Mega amounts of bliss and contentment!

I ate a real Cornish pastie… and my makeup lived to tell the tale

September 14th – day two of Andrea’s little vacation, a day with Cornish Claire.

I have known Claire on a TG online support group since late last December and she kindly offered to drive me round the sights of Cornwall. I was rather more nervous than normal getting my face on, anxious I suppose on what Claire (who came out over two years ago) would think of me. Then I got nervous about going down to breakfast at my B&B… but only for a second coz I told myself to just get on with it, so down I went. The two guests at the table were quite old, the lady probably 70 and her husband at least 75… so I thought, oh dear, what will they think. But no! All was great, the hosts greeted me and asked what I wanted for breakfast, and I told them not much as I had to soon meet someone, then I sat down and just tried to be friendly…. and we had a lovely chat, they were from New Zealand and were doing a long trip taking in several countries. Eventually I had to dash, so wished them a good day, grabbed bags and headed to the harbour to meet Claire.

At the corner as I walked towards the harbour was a female foot sticking out from someone sitting just beyond, and it was Claire. We greeted with a hug, then headed towards her car… which could do with just a wee bit of a clean! But I am not royalty, it didn’t matter, we got in, and headed off, immediately chatting away just fine. After a while we got on a car ferry and I nipped to the ladies while Claire paid, then went to the upper level as it set off for a better view, then down again, excusing myself past a cyclist to take a photo. Then on we went, past lovely countryside, some local haunts of hers, and at lunchtime arrived at Marazion in order to visit St Michael’s Mount. The tide was in so we walked along the beach then went into the village for lunch, eventually settling on Cornish pasties – Claire told the girl at the counter what she wanted them I ordered the same, then asked what one of the cakes was on the counter, asked for one of those, then paid for it all; the till girl was pleasant. We sat in a nearby little park area overlooking the Mount and ate lunch; Cornish pasties are not the easiest thing to eat in a ladylike fashion, but I tried my best…. though the flaky pastry went all over the place! But my face survived, and after a bit of lip gloss we headed off and walked along the causeway. It had become a bit windy and my hair was all over the place, mostly stuck to my lip gloss! So I decided to tie it into a little pony tail.

St Michael’s Mount is a National Trust property, so I approached the till myself, eagerly used my new card for me and paid for Claire, with a bit of chat to the staff who were all nice. After a loo stop, to also further rescue my hair, we started to head up the hill and showed our tickets to a lovely girl who said my ring was very pretty! A compliment!! I told her where I got it from, in a sale, and she said it was a bargain, and I headed off with a smile. We climbed up the Mount, talking photos as we went and, after Claire kindly took a couple of me with my big camera, we went in the castle and church – a nice man greeted us and told us we could take photos without flash, which Claire was especially pleased about as she had been several times before and could not do so. A bit later on we were in a room and a cute toddler came towards me and I said hello to him sweetly (?), then he started climbing on something he shouldn’t and the mum rushed towards him – I joked that they (toddlers) are very good at doing that, and she laughed. We walked around all the rooms and church, I said ‘excuse me’ / ‘thank you’ / ‘you’re welcome’ several times when navigating around people, partly to be polite, partly to just keep using my girly voice. Then back down to the harbour and, after another stop at the ladies, returned along the causeway and beach to the car.

Claire then drove us to the North coast and near St Just we stopped at an area with some ruined mines, including a magnificent one perched halfway up cliffs. Then onto Lands End, where we arrived at around 6.00, a great time… as all the awful tourist paraphernalia had closed. So we absorbed the views and, after a few photos, walked to the ‘End’ itself where there are amazing views looking up the coast. We decided to have a take away and had just turned to go…. when we were greeted by a large-framed, big-hearted Italian guy who struck up an animated conversation with (mostly) me, and we had LOADS of really friendly chat, I just couldn’t help myself; I wonder what his wife next to him thought. Eventually we parted though, went to a nearby village, and bought supper at a fish and chip shop where the staff were nice enough, then returned to Lands End again to eat, then watched the sun set, a beautiful site.

The drive back was quite long, but full of ongoing nice chat, and eventually I was dropped at my b&b where we hugged and parted. So, I think owing to the reams of stuff I have written it is fairly obvious that I had a blissfully FAB day out, I was SO content and happy the whole time. Thank you Claire; if one is stuck for a tour guide, Claire is your woman! Her knowledge of the area and its history are amazing.

A brilliant day!

My first vacation as Andrea (part 2)

So, to continue where the previous post ended, I left my friends at 10.30 am on Saturday 13th September… and started the first full day of my vacation by going shopping. I went to a big shopping centre called Cribbs Causeway, I have SO wanted to properly shop as Andrea because I go here several times a year with daughter and brother when visiting family… but of course wirh them I am ‘him’ and not me and so cannot shop.

I started off in John Lewis, a department store with some very upmarket clothing names. I browsed around all the ladies clothes rails. I felt just a wee bit apprehensive, sometimes it takes me a few minutes to get in my strode mentally, anyway, nobody seemed to pay me any attention. At the Oasis area I found some smart black trousers and the most exquisite top in floaty material – black with a pretty floral pattern in pink/purple/white and beautiful delicate lace trim. I tried them on and just had to have them, the most expensive clothes Andrea has ever bought herself; the fields in the fitting room and check out were all lovely and I had nice bits of chat so by the time I left there I was confident. I went in several other clothes stores, some of them extremely expensive such as Karen Millen – in that one a girl asked if I needed any help, but I said I was just browsing and said I didn’t think half the shops there were even in Northern Ireland. Ended up at M&S, just bought some food there, and chatted the till girl, I mentioned to her the Bristol One Pound note – yes, Bristol had its own money.

After that I drove down the M5 motorway right to the end. I have started to notice that there are some guys that really don’t like to be passed by a girl in a car – I overtook a few and within a minute they whizzed by me. Men! At Exeter services I went to the ladies toilet and then to Costa for a mocha; the girl who served me was fine, I asked her a bout free wifi and subsequently surfed as my coffee cooled.

I drove onwards, into Devon, was dying to use my new title-less National Trust card, so I drove to a castle… which was only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays!  WHAT??? Oh knickers! So, I drove on, and eventually found somewhere else to go, a stately house (which was closed) and its gardens which I had a good wander around – even late afternoon there were quite a lot of people there. I took a selfie, see below – I thought it about time so you can see my new hair! It is MUCH more expensive than the last one, but it’s worth it – it behaves more naturally, I like the colour…. and this is where the lovely Paul Meekin gets a mention again as he styled it for me a couple of Sundays ago. Yeah, on a Sunday! Bless!

After that I drove to a small town on the south coast near Plymouth and had a wee walk, then onwards to my B&B in Mevagissey which took AGES to get to… owing to a road closure and poor diversion directions. I literally dropped my bags in the room then went to the Fountain Inn for dinner;  I had a lovely fish pie there. The tables in the front half of the Inn were full, but a male customer joked with me that the ones at the back were just as good, so that’s where I ate. Everyone was nice and friendly to me.

After my dinner I took a little walk along the quay and when the lighting ran out I started to head back. I paused as a guy took a photo of his female companion and then asked if they would like me to take a photo of them together and when he politely declined I jokingly asked if they don’t like being in pictures together and they laughed. That was a good end to the day – I am increasingly finding that I just can’t help myself interacting with people and being light-hearted, I am SO coming out of my shell… and when I tell u about Sunday it gets better! 20140913_164715

My first vacation as Andrea (part 1) – New Friends

One of my favourite pastimes is travelling and seeing new places, and so a while ago I hatched a plan to have my first little holiday as Andrea… and this post is part one of this three night break.

Alas I had to fly as him, as Andrea cannot yet have her passport, but once I had got to the departure gate I was sparkling with teary-eyed excitement. The morning started badly though, I only got to bed at 2.30am after having spent four hours packing! Well, I had to pack for two, and I have never packed a girly suitcase before! At 2.30 I set my alarm for the following morning at what I thought was a reasonable time…. except that in the shower once up I realised I should already be on the road! So I frantically dried, threw on clothes, threw bags in the car, and hurtled off without breakfast. I flew from Dublin to Bristol where I then hired a car, a bright yellow thing! So much for Andrea’s desire to blend in.

I drove about 20 miles to the house of a (cross-dresser) friend called Siobhan who I have come to know on Transliving; we have emailed fairly regularly but never met before and, bizarrely, she left a key for me to let myself in. After a moment of panic, when the house alarm went off unexpectedly, I went to my room and after a wee nap I began to transform back to Andrea. Siobhan and her wife arrived over an hour later and once they had changed, and I was ready, I let myself out and met Siobhan and her wife; it soon became obvious they were just LOVELY people! An hour later we left (in a non – yellow car), picked up one of their friends, and drove to Bath, where we met up with more TG friends for a meal at a favoured restaurant. We had a good time there with lots of nice chat and tasty food, though the music was loud and on a busy Friday evening the chat around us was too loud as well. The staff were nice, and know the group who dine there monthly, fellow customers didn’t find us a bother, and I went to the toilet a couple of times without any acrobatics this time (compared to previous post) and in fact the second time a guy stepped aside to let me pass with a nice smile. We left after two and a half hours, dropped the friend off, and back at their house chatted for a while with Siobhan and much longer with her lovely wife until 1.30, a nice, kind, down-to-earth woman. Saturday morning, after my usual lengthy make up application, we had breakfast, chatted, and eventually I had to leave at 10.30, with fond farewells to my new friends.

 

September 11th – My First Gender Clinic Appointment

Considering the immense wait that some girls have to suffer for the referral to be converted to an appointment, I was really surprised that my first appointment was a month and a half after I was referred by my GP. The appointment date was 11th September.

I was only a tiny bit bit nervous transforming back to Andrea in the morning, hindered a little by heavy mist which made my decision on what to wear a little uncertain. But once my face was on the sun shone through and my choice was made – a lovely beige summer dress with blue and red flowers, a red cardi, and nude shoes.

It was my friend’s birthday so she had the day off and we met up for lunch before my appointment;  it was nice to see her, catch up, and have a joint birthday treat out. I had a slight incident while there, I went to the ladies loo and upon return one of my heeled feet slid on the polished wooden floor! Luckily I didn’t fall, though left a skid mark on the wood. Anyway, enjoyed the lunch, and the waitress referred to us as “ladies” when gesturing us to our table, which was great.

My appointment was at 2.00. When I got to the waiting room I was suddenly extremely nervous… but was soon invited in and calmed down quick enough. The session was in some ways similar to my first counselling session, in that it was going through my whole history… but MUCH more intense, it lasted 2 hours 40 minutes! It started from birth, went through all periods of my life and covered relationships with all categories of people at each stage, including family, daughter, teachers, friends, discussed me being bullied at school, punishment at home, marriage and divorce, and current events, including walking group, and Ivan. At times I was tearful so tissues were in hand. The lady was nice… but told me not to rush things, which I suppose is good advice, but difficult to take – when pretty much every day without presenting as Andrea is a struggle, I just wonder how much longer I can stand it, especially when I am sitting here typing away a few days later after a full day as Andrea (detail in future post), at 23.40 still fully me, feeling just PERFECTLY at peace with myself, feeling just wonderful. So I left slightly dejected, not just over the challenge of my timeline but also at having to cover in detail about my pre-TS experiences – I KNOW I will have to do this over any again with them, but it just seems like muck-raking, especially the TV periods of my past. So I went over to my friend (another Andrea) who I had had lunch with for an hour of heart to heart.

Then headed home, stopped at Sprucefield shopping, first went to loo (ladies, of course), then to Boots for cosmetics where I spent quite a lot of money. The girl who put the stuff through the till was really nice, we had good chat, and she called me sweetheart.

Then went to Tesco supermarket near home. First I returned a couple of tops and there was a lot of discussion with the girl at the till as someone (name of culprit not supplied, to protect against embarrassment) had got foundation on the neck line of one top and she had to ring supervisor to confirm I could return it – it was great to hear the conversation, her talking about me saying “The LADY said this and that”, “she this and that”, etc. Anyway, all good in the end, went onto do my shopping, paid at the check out where I initiated some good chat when the woman didn’t make effort herself.

Overall a good day, no negativity the whole time, and I’m in the door with the clinic now. Next appointment in a month….

Ivan The Incredible

As some of you lovely readers may recall, I have become quite friendly via email with a guy called Ivan I met once with my walking group. We have struck up quite a rapport, and have quite a lot in common and, with hints now and again of possible romance at some point in the future (that I said I could not consider at this time), I felt that it was time to be open with him about my “issue”. In emails I tried to prepare him for the discussion about “this significant issue, for which I have been attending appointments” and so on Wednesday 10th September we met at Hillsborough Lake at 7.00pm.

I was a bit nervous as I got to the car park but when he observed me parking and gave a wee wave he wandered over and he said hello. He complimented my hair, which has been, uh, restyled, and then we began our walk around the lake. After about 5 minutes he said “So, this issue…” and I asked if he would mind waiting until we had done a circuit and could sit down, and so he agreed. We carried on chatting, like old friends, and I felt SO at ease, and SO right, completely free and easy as the real me, nothing being suppressed. Once the circuit was complete we had only walked for half an hour… so we walked around again, with lovely chat, and at 8.00 we sat on a seat close to the car park… in case escape was called for.

Firstly I took out some things I had brought, mostly for him – tissues, in case I cried, and for him some paracetamol (he gets headaches with stressful conversation), a bottle of water for the pills, a sick bag (which he laughed at) in case his reaction was bad, and some cookies. Then I gave him an amount of pre-amble, about the length of time of the issue, my confusion, my shame, etc. and then I said that I had Gender Dysphoria and asked him if he knew what it meant. He said he hadn’t heard of it but he guessed and was more or less right… and he said “So, what you’re trying to tell me Andrea is that although you’re a girl there is a male inside of you”? So, HE GOT IT THE WRONG WAY ROUND! So, I corrected him, and asked him how he felt about it. He said he was fine with it, and was in fact was relieved as he thought it was going to be something much worse, like I wasn’t going to live for more than 6 months or something. So I carried on, saying that few people know about it, that work and my daughter don’t even know, and so I am only living as me part of the time and alas as male the rest. He was totally okay with it, he said it is Andrea the person he is happy knowing, and that he was privileged to have been told. I asked if he had suspected that I was not a biological girl and he said not at all… and in fact on the walk round the lake he had referred to me as a girl. Eventually we had to go as it was getting dark and we were afraid of being locked in, so he signed off by saying he very much wanted to continue with emails, walks, and meeting up from time to time… and he gave me a hug goodbye! WOW! I thanked him so much for listening, being understanding, and that I was so glad we could be friends.

So, I went onto my support group (after a pit stop at Sainsburys for the loo) and met up with Kirsty and Michelle, as well as Linda, Jane, and Michael… and my BGF Kirsty had bought a chocolate cake for Michelle and I, whose birthdays are 8th and 9th September respectively. After a while Jane and Michael left, and I was on Cloud 9 as I chatted away, with Linda still there for some time, looking rather smart… though still in guy-mode. Eventually the 10 o’clock girls were left for some girly, and occasional musical, chat… but all good things must come to and end and we had to part, with lovely warm hugs.

This morning I woke up in a pretty good mood, but wondered how long it would be before I heard from Ivan again. At 8.17 he sent a good-morning email saying the following:

Just a quick note to say that it was a real pleasure to meet you last night again and have our walk twice around the lake!  Thank you also for sharing with me on the issue! I just wanted to repeat what I said last night, that I am very happy to remain your friend, I think we have a chemistry and combination of interests which makes for intelligent conversation and I like being with you, I do feel comfortable…..

Isn’t he just, well, incredible! Of course, maybe at some point he may change his mind… but for the moment things are looking good, and I replied to him saying how overjoyed and tearful I was to read his reply.