My first holiday as 100% me! (Part 4) – Snow Queen… and my best princess and lady in waiting

As eluded to in my last update, as day moved into evening on Saturday 18th October a gala dinner beckoned.

As also indicated in a previous post, this weekend away was anchored around a stay at a hotel event organised by online support group Transliving exclusively for Transgender guests. The reason why I originally booked this event, way back in March, was partly to meet friends I had made online and partly the thought of an Andrea-adventure away from home… although as my confidence has subsequently shot sky-high and I have done so much then this weekend really rather mushroomed compared to my original expectations. Another thing that attracted me was the main and, as advertised in March, the only fancy-dress evening, where the theme was Snow Queen – I am really not normally one for fancy dress (and in fact, as an adult, I have only ever done it one other time, where I dressed in a tiger suit… but that is another, irrelevant story consigned to my past) but this rather girlie theme really rather grabbed me, the thought of being able to dress up like a princess truly had me instantly excited!!

(As time went on, other fancy dress themes came up for different nights but they really did nothing for me whatsoever, and I started to think their purpose was to cater more for the TV/CD element of the gathering… and although that is fine for them, it is SO not me – the first theme was Bond Girls, which does not appeal at all if only because of the sex-object nature that it conjures up, while the theme on the last night was “Military”… oh please).

So, back to the Snow Queen theme. Well, as some of you who know me are aware, I generally tend to try my hardest to do everything as perfectly as I can… which is a typical Virgo trait for any of you who believe in astrology… and this approach really had to apply to this Snow Queen theme too – I had no desire or view that I could possibly win such a competition, but I was going to have a good go to come up with an outfit that made me look the part… at least that is what I hoped! I certainly did not want to make a fool of myself. I did not want to spend a fortune on such a costume because I knew I would hardly get much wear out of it… and so, within a day of booking my Eastbourne break, I was already on good old eBay searching for a dress as the base component for my costume. I had an idea what to search under, and it was not long before I saw the exact style that I wanted, in pure white – it was available at the time from two sellers, and so I watched them both, one had a few bids on it and soon enough was out of my grasp, but the next I won! It didn’t take long to ship over, and once I tried it on I j??????????ust KNEW it was right, it felt so special… and my mind was soon spinning with all sorts of ideas as to how to accessorise it – I Googled Snow Queen, which came up with a bewildering assortment of looks, but I zeroed in on the image I wanted, and spent the next few weeks searching for all kinds of things, a jacket, shoes, princess-type gloves, make up, a new bra that wouldn’t peak above the line of my dress, jewellery, snowflake stickers for my nails… and of COURSE a tiara, in my mind every princess must have one of those. I’ll just put a photo here of my shoes, as to paste all the other items will just spoil in-advance the finished look… although if you have been reading Kirsty’s blog then you’ll already know what it is like. So on the whole I managed to get everything well before we went away… although when I started to Google snow queen make up I realised that there were a couple of things I needed… and another idea sprung to mind.

Kirsty and I decided that we would get dressed for dinner as snow queens, because we knew that it would take a while for our transformation into princesses to be completed. And we were SO right. I suppose I should have had a complete practise run with the make up, but I just did not organise myself well enough… so that took an age to do, especially as I decided I would try and glitter-paint a snowflake on my cheek! Once that was done I started getting dressed and once the dress straps were on my shoulders I really started to get excited. That is when I summoned my good lady in waiting, Ruth, as I knew that the zip on my dress was very stiff and I might need help… and it was a good job she came to assist, because even with both of her hands and one of mine it took a wee effort to sort me out. Ruth was prettily attired in a blue dress with a nice subtle pattern and, once I was sorted out, I showed her one or two more components of my costume… and as she left, after gushing comments, that is when the emotions really started to kick in big time! As I donned the final items of my costume – gloves, shoes, finely adjusted my make up and applied lip gloss – I started to get ever so teary-eyed, because there in the mirror staring back at me was a princess! One that I didn’t think looked half-bad at that. And as I slipped into the piece-de-resistance, a lovely fur jacket tied with pompoms, and I looked at myself again I started to cry. I have NEVER dressed, or even LOOKED at myself, and felt so special, and as pretty, as that moment. I was SO overwhelmed with a tidal wave of wonderful emotion… and of course, emotional wreck that I am, I am getting teary-eyed even thinking/writing about it now.

I packed my creamy-white clutch bag with essential items, exited my room, and down the hall at the far end was my lovely BF, looking very elegant in her own dress. As I walked towards her, Ruth exiting her room, a few tears dribbled down my cheek, I was all choked up with emotion and my voice was trembly. Kirsty, with her ever-incredible sense of humour, said “Surely I don’t look that bad?” I assured her that she looked lovely, that it was the special feelings that I had inside, like I was going to my first prom. I only wish that I had a photo of that moment… though it will always remain in my mind, a treasured memory.

(Must pause here to mop cheeks)

Of course, we were late for dinner… again… but why break the habit of a life time, especially as we were snow princesses for the evening. We all daintily entered the dining room, and were slightly alarmed to note that, as far as we could see, there were no other snow queens to be seen. SURELY there must be others competing, as it was the main theme… and as it turned out there were, but they just got changed after dinner, so I think we deserved to get a prize just for the amount of effort we took getting ready! As soon as I sat down I took my fur jacket off, in order for this snow princess to avoid melting in the heat of the hotel dining room, and we commenceEastbourne006edd eating the courses of our gala dinner. I think the word “gala” translated as “having one more course than normal” which was a starter of scampi (which I expect was cooked from frozen), a rather bizarre dish for a gala dinner. Anyway, the food was nice enough, especially my salmon… and luckily I took up Kirsty’s suggestion of using my napkin only minutes before I clumsily dropped some of my dinner on my lap! Here is a photo of the snow princesses at the dining table. As dinner ended I inspected myself in a compact-mirror like all girls do to make sure they still look reasonable… and noticed a minor disaster to my look! My blue glitter eye make up in the heat of the hotel had decided to shift up my eyelids, and I had mascara type flecks above that too!! Quel horreur! So I hurriedly returned to my room to make urgent repairs.

At around 9.00pm there was some vague announcement made that the Snow Queen competition was commencing and so we all headed downstairs to the dance floor where it was to be held. We sat for some time, waiting for things to get organised, and thankfully noticed several other snow queens already on the dance floor, boogeying away… so at least we would not be the only two competitors… and then I started to look at the other costumes and wondered how well we would be judged. Some did look reasonable… and some not, in fact one which I will not describe looked truly dreadful and not remotely queen/princess-like at all. And I suppose it was at that moment that I started to realise that the people in this room were really rather a mixture, not just snow queens but everyone there. I knew that there were some full-time TSs there, and some (such as I) intending to become full-time… and some who were at the very opposite of the spectrum, someone wearing a blue-tinsel wig, another wearing bizarre lamp-shade shaped skirts, others wearing skirts that were far too short, and so on.

The competition was started and the girls on the floor lined up, and so Kirsty and I hesitantly yet hurriedly joined them – I am really not an in-the-limelight kind of girl, and so I suddenly felt dreadfully nervous and somewhat out of place, I had loved getting ready and seeing my finished look… but now I was actually being judged! Kirsty in her blog said that she hated this part… but I soon realised that this would probably be my only opportunity to be involved in a cat-walk type scenario so I gave myself one of those “YOU CAN DO THIS” mental-kicks and I got into the swing of things… but in my own way – some competitors I felt looked rathersnow_queen_crowned odd, with very unladylike walks and brash interaction with the crowd, but my modus operandi is always to be as ladylike as possible and so I walked as slowly and elegantly as I could, with no interaction to the crowd but focussing on the judges and trying to exude confidence and yet at the same time the softness that is simply me. After a few circuits of the dance floor we were all lined up, pictures were taken, and then after quite an amount of judging results announced, in reverse order as is usual. Third was announced, and then second, and I thought those runners up looked reasonable… and then it was ME that was announced as the winner!!! ME!!!

I have NEVER won anything at all in my whole life! To have put so much effort into something, been SO pleased with my resulting look and having felt so special, to actually win this was just unbelievably amazing!!! I walked to the lead-judge, and was handed my prizes, sat on the stage, and had my rather beautiful sparkly tiara replaced by some ridiculous feathery affair not befitting of a queen at all. Chop off their heads, I cry! Not really, of course, but to then hear my name again as the winner just seemed utterly bizarre. There were quite a lot of people taking pictures (annoyingly, NOT the person who had been entrusted with my camera – hmmph) and then the first thing I had to do was rush to my BF and have a big hug… and of course tears were forming again, I was still in utter disbelief. Here are photos, one of me having just been crowned and one of my BF hugging me as I hold one of my prizes, some bubbly, trying to hold the tears back.


Kirsty and I sat down to catch our breath… and were soon on the dance floor again, for a photo shoot was to be taken… which I initially found rather exciting… until the variety of competitors and poses were truly encountered in all their horror! The first shots were on the fire escape, we were lined up on the stairs leading up to pavement level with me at the bottom. Then we were led to the steps in front of the main hotel entrance – the first couple of shots there were okay… and then we all had to line up showing “a bit of leg”! Uh, excuse me, but we were supposed to be princesses! DEFINITELY not the right type of behaviour, even for ladylike me never mind a queen. There were a few cars driving by, one or two tooted horns or made more than one pass… and that is when things really started going downhill, when one or two of the “girls” shouted back in such ugly, deep, bellowing tones with such brash responses that I suddenly felt totally out of place and wanted to run off to forever-after-land with Kirsty. Then we were dragged off to Eastbourne bandstand, above the pebbly beach, to get more pictures taken… with yet more loud, manly exchanges between some competitors that just irked me something awful. On the way back we passed a fellow, who I will hopefully not too unkindly describe as simple-but-nice, who said “Hey, you’re all princesses” and kept asking what it was all about; I just couldn’t engage with him.

Near the hotel Alison (photographer) had an idea to take an Abbey Road-style photo of us walking a zebra crossing. As we were standing before the crossing a woman called Sarah approached, walking her Black Labrador Pilot. She entered into some light-hearted conversation and seemed very pleasant, soon asking questions about who we were, what the event was, etc. Once most of us had crossed the road (I was the last) Alison asked Sarah if she wanted her photo taken – she didIMG_2086-2n’t seem sure, so I trotted back to her and, with a friendly word and arm around her shoulder, she seemed more comfortable. Once we were back with the others, some of the guys/girls started going on about how their dressing was a relief, a “chill-pill” (ugh), making it sound like a hobby… OH NO, and as soon as they started to lose interest in the lovely Sarah I HAD to just latch onto her and stress that, unlike those who expressed these trivialised CD/TV-type views, for the likes of me (and Kirsty and Ruth) dressing is such a minute part of the equation, that it is a way of life, that we can only be happy if we are presenting as our true selves because otherwise there is a conflict with our inner gender – we ARE women, and have a desperate need to be so. I ambled slowly back to the hotel steps… and must have stood there with her for nigh on 45 minutes chatting to her – I rushed into the hotel for a minute to get a cigarette for her, but otherwise we talked the whole time, some of it was about my gender-journey towards full transition and happiness, and my worries along the way, but there was also chat about her, she had lost a good friend recently and had just had an argument with her partner who generally seemed rather insensitive – in other words, an archytypal man! Sadly we eventually parted, but the conversation had touched me and I felt we both got something valuable out of it.

I entered the hotel and sat with my friends, with a few blessed moments out of those sky-high heels. After a wee drink Ruth offered to take some photos… and that was the kind of photographer that I wanted, someone friendly who didn’t want racy poses but just nice memory-shots, with gentle encouragement when she felt she was getting a better shot. The one above right is me in my full outfit, feeling relaxed well after the competition was over, and below is one of my BF Kirsty and I, not a full-length shot as Kirsty has that on her blog so I thought I would add some variety here. But all of the photos of us together just flood me with amazingly happy memories… because, Snow Queen Andrea and my princess Kirsty, our friendship and the special times we have are what dreams are made of… and sometimes dreams really can come true!

Fingers crossed that my ultimate dream does too!

Snow queen and princess on steps

My first holiday as 100% me! (Part 3) – Tourist Girls: Kirsty, Andrea, and our physically-new old-friend Ruth

I awoke on Saturday (18th October) morning feeling a bit bleary eyed after a late night and little sleep the night before… but at the same time full of excitement for the next day of my Andrea-holiday. As usual, I took an age to get ready, with several changes of mind about clothing, and a crick in my side after having leant sideways to do my make up over the bathroom sink as the  mirror was bizarrely not over the sink but to the side. So I was the last to join my table of four for breakfast… and I soon started annoying the waiters with the peculiar ways that I like things… even the simplest thing like juice, most people would be happy with a glass of orange juice but I had to ask for a glass of half orange and half grapefruit mixed together. We had a good chat over cooked breakfast and once eating was over started to plan our day ahead. Claire was due a makeover, but more than ever Kirsty, Ruth (our physically-new friend… who at that stage already felt like an old friend), and I yearned to get out and about and lost all interest over anything that was going on in the hotel. At around 10.45 I think we were ready, and we set off in the Kirstymobile.

We headed west out of Eastbourne and soon reached out first stop, Beachy Head car park which offered, just a short walk away, splendid views of the Beachy Head lighthouse below steep chalk cliffs (see picture below-right)??????????. It was a lovely warm, sunny day, just perfect for our day out… except that it was rather windy and I soon had to put my hair up into a little pony tail so that I didn’t spend the whole day eating it or un-gluing it from my lip glossed-mouth. After a bit of walking and picture taking we returned to the car park and into the visitor centre, where there was quite an interesting exhibition which we had a look around, with a few giggles, before being enticed into the gift shop – I noticed a stand with some tea towels with some alarmingly poignant phrases on them and, after some debate, I bought one with the moto “If you really want to be happy, nobody can stop you” – for me, the most important thing in life is to attain true happiness within and the only way I can do that is by becoming ME full-time and not have to pretend to be that wretched bloke! This journey has already touched and crossed many people’s lives, and those that I have been fortunate enough to make friends with are the kind of people who will stick with one through thick-and-thin… and those who know me but have a problem with me, who cannot see that I am the same (but, I feel, finally a BETTER) person, I can only assume do not want me to be happy. Ruth bought me 20141018_122842eda lovely bookmark too.

We drove on just a little way and, after parking, ascended a fairly steep hill up to another lighthouse, and then walked beyond for a way, with much ongoing chat though we were slightly wary of the time our car parking ticket had on it. This second photo (left) is of Kirsty and Ruth, squinting and smiling in the sun, with the impressive chalk cliff coastline beyond… which, after driving a little further, we reached, parking at a very busy car park with a viewpoint looking across the beach:


After another walk along the coastline we decided it was time for lunch. At the car park we went into the National Trust centre where I first repaired my hair (a fairly pointless exercise because as soon as I went outside again it blew all over the place), but the restaurant was packed and so we drove on. On the road map I spotted another National Trust property at a village called Alfriston, so we headed towards that… and as we entered the place it soon became apparent what a beautifully quaint village it was, with Tudor-style houses, numerous tearooms, and many other old buildings. Leaving a car park at the far edge of the village we headed back into town, and soon passed a Dad with a toddler holding his hand who said to his child “Let the ladies past” with a pleasant smile for us! After a wander around the village to check out the plethora of tea rooms and the village green we returned along the main street and settled for the very firstIMG_1951ed one that we had passed. We took a table in the garden and after waiting almost long enough for the ingredients of our lunch to actually grow we ate, I had a lovely toasted brie and bacon sandwich with salad (on the side, of course); here is a photo of Ruth and I patiently waiting for our lunch to arrive.

After our late lunch we returned to Eastbourne and went for a girlie shopping trip into one of the Eastbourne shopping centres. Sadly, or should I say from the point-of-view of my purse thankfully, all I bought were a pair of cheap gold earrings, though Kirsty splashed out on a jumper in a lovely berry colour and one or two other items. But time was marching on, and a gala dinner evening of, as it turned out, overwhelming emotion beckoned, so we headed back to base…

The whole day was just absolute bliss, three friends doing the tourist sites of the South Downs coast, blending in and having fun, chatting away like we had known each other for years and years… and I can only hope that we WILL be friends for years and years because my two girl friends that I spent so much time with while away are truly special!


INTERMISSION! I came out to my parents that I am Transsexual.

I have been posting about my latest holiday, and there is more to come, but I have to interrupt that flow to report another milestone – as per the title, last night my parents were given the news that I am transsexual.

Thursday morning I put a letter in the post to my parents, very similar to the one I gave to my brother in September but their own version, I sent it to brother to give to them when the time was right. So last night I just rang my parents for the usual fortnightly chat, and at the start I told them I was very tired and my mood is up and down like a yoyo. So much of that chat was about work, but I said very vaguely that there was other stuff, and I was worried about the future. At the end of the conversation I then said that brother knows the full reasons for why I am unhappy, that he has a letter that is for them, and that they should go get it. An hour later I texted my brother to see how things were going – they were not dead, but “very surprised to say the least” my Dad apparently said.

Today I had an email from them, addressed to male-name (ugh), here is an excerpt:

Our overall initial reaction is that we do not envisage wanting to cease all contact with you. We hope this reassures you. It is however impossible, at this stage, to indicate what the nature, frequency or location of these contacts may be.

We are sure you realise that, if you proceed as indicated, you may satisfy what you see as your emotional needs, but that it may have a catastrophic, long-term effect on your financial position and, consequentially, standard of living.

Could be worse, I suppose. Early days…

My first holiday as 100% me! (Part 2) – Miles and Miles and Miles… of wonderful chat

As I closed on Part 1 of my holiday tale, our ship had just set sail. This was a first for me, and Kirsty too, boarding a boat (which was of significant size) and sailing as girls… and was it any bother? NOOO!!!! Three and half hours stuck on a boat, and all was completely well – very nice, courteous staff, and no negativity or curiosity that I noticed from any customers. As the boat docked at around 11.30 we joined a long queue of people and slowly made our way back to the car for the start of a long, 360 mile drive.

I booked the first element of this trip back in March (before I had even met my now-BF Kirsty) which was a three night stay at a hotel in Eastbourne, for a long weekend organised by Transliving exclusively for the Transgender spectrum. However, since making this booking my life-journey has picked up significant speed and I have gained much confidence during my progress, and thus this stay-away evolved a lot. I had always said that I wanted to be out and about a lot while there rather than being imprisoned in the safe haven of the hotel, however there was originally not going to be a drive at all and I was going to fly over as Bob… but once I got to know Kirsty and she booked too then I soon figured that doing this journey in any way other than TOTALLY Andrea was just not right so, despite having booked flights, wanting to continually push my boundaries I suggested a ferry crossing to Kirsty along with an overnight stay on the way back, and I was so pleased that she soon agreed. Another significant part of the weekend became Ruth – I virtually got to know Ruth initially on Angels, which I joined after meeting Kirsty, and subsequently by email, and have read her WordPress blog too… and as the months before Eastbourne turned into weeks I found myself REALLY looking forward to meeting her.

As some of you, including my friends will know, I am a bit of a worrier… and I do worry about the silliest of things…. as well as not-so-silly and very significant things which are the nature of my journey. Although Kirsty and I have enjoyed a mushrooming friendship for months I had been worrying whether after a six-and-a-half-hour drive Kirsty would be getting bored with me (that’s low self esteem for you, I suppose)… but the whole journey (which turned into nearly nine hours due to numerous instances of heavy queuing traffic) we chatted animatedly more or less the whole time. We stopped many times for the ladies loo (not enough times as far as my poor bladder was concerned, but the route had other ideas) and refreshments… and by the time we got to the M25 motorway around London it became clear that we would miss dinner and so, having already texted Ruth to warn her of our delay, she rang to check what we would like to eat for a late-arrival cold-plate. This was the first time I had spoken to Ruth – before our journey commenced I was convinced that Kirsty and I would get on with Ruth based on our emails… and as the conversation progressed it was obvious that we would get along just fine, she was really easy to talk to and sounded delightfully down-to-earth and light-hearted – we were soon joking and laughing away… and Ruth probably also got her first introduction as to just how particular I am about food!

We finally arrived at Eastbourne at 8.30pm and, once parked on the street, wheeled bags to the hotel, checked in, and, after a rapid change into smart black trousers and a pretty black top with a grey/purple flower pattern, I met Kirsty and we headed downstairs and met Ruth. After all this time it was really good to meet her; she had been very kind arranging things for us and, after some confusion around our food with the staff, Ruth showed us to a table (along with Claire, who she had met earlier) and we began to chat. After a very bad night of sleep on the Thursday night I considered an early night was in order… but once we had finished eating and adjourned to the bar we chatted, and chatted, and chatted, almost like old friends even though it was the first time we had ‘physically’ met. It really was a shame that the evening had to end at all, but in a way I didn’t mind, because I was SO looking forward to the next day with Kirsty and our newly-met friend Ruth…

…and, dear readers, my next instalment, coming soon, will cover some of the things we got up to the following day.


My first holiday as 100% me! (Part 1)

I am on my travels again… and this time it is ALL being done presenting in the way I always should have been able to do – as Andrea! This means I am restricted to the UK and Ireland as I have no Andrea passport yet, but never mind, I am SO looking forward to this whole break, especially after my September Andrea-holiday. Another difference is that I am doing this holiday with my BF Kirsty. So this wee post is the start of the journey

Yesterday I left work earlier than usual, as I had woken up with an uncomfortable feeling in my throat that didn’t feel right, so made an emergency appointment with my doctor. Her diagnosis thankfully was that there was nothing majorly wrong that a throat spray wouldn’t sort out. While I was there she addressed me as Andrea, despite being in male-mode rather than me, which was nice, and she even gave me advice about wearing different heel heights when I complained about foot ache. Then I drove home and a leisurely transformation back to the equilibrium of inner- and outer- Andrea began…

…and by the time the main components of my face were on, once the hair was in place ONCE AGAIN that IMMENSELY joyful feeling that all is right came back, and I had a big smile on my face as I carried on, feeling that everything I did was now being done completely right. At 9.15pm Kirsry arrived, it was so good to see her. After am excited hug, the car was packed and off we went,

Before getting to Dublin Kirsty had to fill the car with diesel so I went into the services to the toilet, then to the shop where I paid for the fuel, and asked for a loyalty card. The guy serving me treated me like any other woman…. and as I got into the car I realised that that was the first time Andrea has presented to the world in a non-UK country… and all was well! We drove into Dublin, checked into our hotel, and said goodnight.

My alarm was set for 5.30… and I was bleary-eyed after a VERY bad night of sleep. Despite the time, I got ready, INCLUDING shower and shave, in 75 minutes, which I think is very good – a girl should surely be congratulated on getting up at 5.30 to put her face on!

The reason for being up early was that Kirsty and I were catching a ferry from Dublin over to Wales (Holyhead). We had previously discussed the check in process. .. and Kirsty decided I would drive up and check in, so we swapped seats and that is what happened…. and there was no bother whatsoever, the guy was nice, we exchanged a few words and I asked him which queue it would be for the cars, and he said we’d be directed…. which is when I received my second dozy-woman-driver look from the guy in the queue area, I obviously want going quick enough for him, and then I overshot the lane. But all was good, we had checked in, and soon we were on the ferry, up the stairs, and in the Club Lounge. We got a table and then went to the bar for food – I ordered hot food for us, Kirsty then ordered a coffee, and the guy said ‘And for you, Ma’am?”. I ordered, and when he brought the tray he said “There you go ladies.”. I just LOVE those recognition moments. We sat down at our table, perfectly situated at the bow of the ship, and took sunrise photos as the ship set off.


I went to the ladies loo and a member of staff was nice as he directed me towards them. Our breakfast arrived and was really rather good, ah the benefits of Club Class. We have been fed well, treated just like anyone else (and maybe that’s how we are seen by some), and had no bother from anyone – admittedly, the lounge is rather quiet, but there several tables near us that are occupied. So far, a wonderful start to our holiday; picture below of me in Club lounge, taken by David Bailey’s sister Kirsty.


Gender Clinic Appointment No. 2… and retail therapy

Tuesday 14th October was the date of my second gender clinic appointment in Belfast… though that turned out not to be exactly the best part of the day.

I spent an amount of the morning getting clothes out in advance of Andrea’s next trip, and responding to numerous work emails on my iPhone too, but I was eventually out of the house at 12.40pm; it took the usual 90 minutes to get ready but I was very happy with my appearance, I wore a lovely floaty top and a trouser suit which would be perfect for work.

My first stop was Banbridge to drop off a carrier bag full of stuff to the charity shop that I normally go to; as usual it was nearly all male clothes that I wanted to get rid off, including the work shirt from Thursday just gone where I had my severe DISMAY moment. As usual, I handed the bag over and asked if they could empty if for me so that I could take it away and bring another bag-full another time – the two ladies serving were quite old and not that talkative. I said I would look at the books while I waited and when the lady came out with the bag the other one said to her “the lady’s over there”. Yes! Another ‘ladied’ moment. Then I asked them about bringing toys and they said they couldn’t take them as they weren’t insured, and then another customer who overheard me told me all about another place that took them and gave me directions… and then we all got into a right chat about how quickly children grow out of toys, my daughter wants to sell all hers on eBay and she said the same, one of the old ladies then said she gave away one thing to a neighbour and there was uproar, etc. I eventually left, I thanked the customer for her info and she said “You’re more than welcome” with a big smile… so I really enjoyed that.

Then I drove to Sprucefield, about 20 miles away, and went into a large M&S. Firstly I went into the ladies loo, then had a browse, then went into the cafe and had my lunch; an assortment of people served me, one woman on the till, a really nice girl who heated up a sandwich for me, and a young lad who made me a lovely mocha, I asked him for an extra spoon to eat my yoghurt and he said “there you go love” when he handed it over, and I thanked him. Left there feeling good.

I drove to the gender clinic and, after going to the loo, sat in the waiting room and, well, waited. And waited. And waited. People went in and out, there was a guy constantly popping his head around the door to see who was there. I read some women’s magazines, in one there was an article about a woman who fell in love with a guy who soon came out and admitted she was transsexual, and transitioned with her full support, it was so moving. Eventually I went to reception just to check was all okay, and my counsellor Jane was sent an email; eventually, over 40 minutes after my appointment time she let me in, and she caught up with me as to how things have been over the last month. I told her about my little holiday, coming out to my brother, the other counsellor, etc. and about 40 minutes later I was back into the waiting room to wait again. And wait. And nearly another 40 minutes later I was let into another room occupied by a lady doctor and Jane. They talked about a variety of things, including name change, what I wanted from the clinic, timelines, and my daughter. They don’t think I should be setting timelines,.. but I just HAVE to, I just can’t keep on de-Andrea-ing, it is just heart-breaking having to kick myself off a cliff every time I have to pack Andrea’s exterior away. So by this time next year I intend to have come out to everyone AND be full-time.

At 5.40 I was let out, and drove to see my friend Andrea D, where we had some pizza and a good catch-up chat. An hour and a half later, I drove home, stopping at Sprucefield again to go into Boots for some foundation… except that they were out of my shade. NIGHTMARE! I am running really low, not a good situation to be in as I am about to embark on a holiday. So I grumpily went into M&S and bought a dress which I had seen earlier. Then home… and still so happy to see ME in the mirror… wishing tomorrow I could STILL see her. Never mind, coming soon will be my longest time as 100% Andrea ever…

“As long as you’re happy that’s all that matters”

I was talking to my parents last night, just for a general chat which we do about every fortnight, and the phrase in the title is what my mum said to me. Unfortunately, it was not in response to learning that her offspring is now Andrea, because they don’t know about that… yet. They had tried to ring me on Wednesday, and I texted them back to say that I was out and that would ring them Friday… which I did. So my Dad said “Were you out with the walking group?” and I said, somewhat vaguely “No, something else; I’m out most Wednesdays” and so my mum, said “As long as you’re happy that’s all that matters”. I wonder if that is what she will say once they receive the letter from me telling them that I am a woman??? Anyway, I am going to use this phrase in my letter to them!

Wednesday I went out in the evening to have coffee with my BF Kirtsy, which was fab, as usual, and then onto my support group where we had some nice chat and laughter; Linda was there for a while (until leaving at around 10.00, saying farewell for two weeks as she is going on holiday to Germany to buy us some chocolates) and our friend Michelle too until we left. It was touch-and-go as to whether I had even gone out that night as I ripped myself to pieces with a new shaver – oh how I wish this facial hair would just stop growing!

Thursday I had an emotional conversation with my boss because for the third time in about as many weeks he asked me to work next weekend which I have already told him is not possible… and I think he FINALLY gets just how significant my “issue” is, that it is emotionally difficult every day at work, it is always on my mind and I worry every day, etc.

This weekend I thought there would sadly be no opportunity for me to enjoy life by being Andrea as my daughter is round the whole time… BUT as luck would have it she had a birthday party today (Saturday)… which at her age just means grouping up with friends at the local shopping centre. Anyway, won’t complain, it gave me the opportunity I wanted and I made best use of it, shaving before I dropped her off. Once I got home, I started making up my face and was getting on so well and fast… until I put my hair on and realised that having washed it there was a really annoying curl in the fringe, so that took AGES to sort out and ruined my timing!

Anyway, I finally left the house about 3.25 and went to my local outlet shopping centre. First of all I went into Next, had a browse, and picked up the same skirt I bought last weekend but in a UK8 this time. Also saw a lovely dress, which I probably don’t need, so bought the two items and returned the bigger-size skirt; the woman behind the till was nice and we chatted a wee bit. Then I walked all the way round the centre, popped into a couple of shops, then into Thorntons for my chocolate fix – picked up a couple of small boxes and was served by a really nice girl, and I had some nice chat with her too as I commented on all the delicious looking ice creams and how does she resist them. All good there, so drove a short distance to Tesco… where I got ‘made’ as I walked away from my car by a mother and a girl in their own car driving past – oh well, I know I can’t pass all the time, and I know what it is in my face that some people spot (mainly lack of cheek bones and consequent facial muscle, and sometimes the inevitable greyness beneath my foundation depending upon the light). Had a good wander around Banbridge along the main street, in several clothes shops, but alas I couldn’t find what I really wanted in the right size. Back at Tesco I first returned a pair of boots, and I had to wait while the till-girl got another pair to scan as mine had no label; while I was waiting, when the person next to me had been served a woman behind me said “Is this girl being served?”20141011_175408ed, pointing at me, and so I said I was and smiled – nice to be acknowledged as a female, and particularly a girl considering I am 48! Then I did a grocery shop, and also finally found the jacket in the right size to match my black work trousers; paid for the lot at a checkout, the girl was nice enough (even though my cold-laden voice was a bit poor), we had a bit of chat, and she laughed when she handed me some tokens and I said I was collecting them but had no idea how many I needed and for what.

So rushed home, unlocked the door, and as usual just LOVED my reflection in its glass; I know it’s hardly a perfect face, but I SO identify it as me; took a quick selfie (see right) and then unpacked the shopping… and wiped Andrea away, in the usual order. I picked my daughter and her BF up from the shops and took the BF home; as they parted I watched them hug in the rear-view mirror and it made me really melancholy, because it reminded me how I always hug Kirsty or Michelle when I meet them. On the way home I had this sad feeling that there was a layer missing now I was back in male mode… but I will be back soon enough… once I’ve sorted out my fringe!

Sunday Shopping Success

I must have been bitten by the shopping bug when out with Kirsty on Saturday because Sunday was more of the same! Except I was out by myself.

I left the house at around 1.30 and was not back until 7.10 in the evening; as per a couple of posts ago, without a shower my get-ready routine took EXACTLY the same amount of time – 75 minutes! I took less time on my eyes, but more time on other things… and the results are shown in the quick selfie I took, below right – my hair looks a bit windblown I suppose, though it was really rather windy, but it really does behave itself MUCH better than the previous style I had. I like my top too, so fancied a selfie moment.20141005_134508ed

My first stop was the Banbridge Outlet, only a few miles from where I live, with a selection of out-of-town-lower-price stores. I started off at Next, a shop that Kirsty and I rather like; we have both bought a few clothes there in recent months. I had a good browse around, and eventually paid for a kilt-like skirt – the guy at the till was very friendly and we had rather a nice chat… and, well, he was quite, uh, attractive looks-and-voice-wise. And I will have an excuse to go back… because the skirt was the wrong size – I picked up the right hanger, but the skirt size didn’t match the hanger, oh it is so annoying when this happens. Anyway, shopping rant over, after a loo stop on to a few other shops, but nothing else caught my eye so I drove onto Lisburn… AGAIN. I walked to the same shopping centre as yesterday, through a busy mall and into BHS where I grabbed a large handful of clothes and went to try them on… except that there was a barrier in front of the changing rooms. So I went to the till and asked a girl if I could try them on, and she opened the rooms ups. I was quite a long time in there, and have bought a trouser suit perfect for my first day at work as Andrea… whenever that will be. I paid for the stuff, and then had to go to another till to return the shoes I had bought the previous day; the guy on the returns desk was very friendly, he asked if there was anything wrong with them and I said that they were alas just too small and there was not another pair in the sale.

Left BHS, and walked along the mall to an M&S food, where I went into the cafe and had a piece of cake and a mocha; more chat than expected, as the price charged for the cake was wrong, and then I paid for it with my card contact-less, and was not sure how it worked. Then I returned to the car, and as I left the mall a security guard held a door open for me and said “no bother” when I thanked him in a pretty good girlie voice.. even though I say so myself. I then drove to a different Tesco than normal, a larger one with a much bigger clothes section where I hoped I would be able to find a black jacket to match work trousers I had bought at another branch… but NO, they didn’t have one either – as usual, they had things I wanted in sizes larger than I am… though that’s quite a nice complaint to have, especially considering how ugly and fat I was a couple of years ago. But I found a very pretty top… and YET MORE patent black heels that just had to be bought and, after a fairly big shop, I went to a check out with a late-50s lady behind it. It was nearly closing time. I was queued behind the person she was serving and put my shopping on the conveyor, then another person came up behind me and till-lady said to them “I’m afraid I’m closing after this lady”, pointing at me. YES! Another guy then appeared behind me and I said to him that the lady was closing, so he said to till-lady “Are you closing after her?” and she agreed. YES again! I offered to close the till-gate behind me, and she smiled, then started putting my stuff through and we had a nice little bit of chat, and as I left said to enjoy the rest of my day, and I said likewise. When I got to the bottom of the conveyor I could feel nature calling, so after putting my shopping in the car I returned back to the entrance and asked the security guard if I could go to the loo as they were closed, and he didn’t mind. But after that all I could do was drive home, I thought of going for a little walk, but the weather looked rather grey… and within 15 minutes it was raining.

So, a 100% success rate – nobody that I noticed batted an eyelid that I was anything other than a biological girl doing her shopping – SO pleased! Almost perfect in fact… and if my BF Kirsty had been with me, it would have been.

Saturday Bliss – Shopping, Dinner… and Friendship

My previous post ended where I was just about to leave for what I hoped would be a lovely day out… and I was certainly not disappointed! My BF Kirsty has her own blog, where she has beaten me to it to describe the activities we did together, so I will perhaps abbreviate some of that (especially as my dinner is nearly ready)… especially the bits about cyclist history!

So off I went, driving to Lisburn to visit the Bow Street Mall until it would be time to meet Kirsty. Firstly I went to get my eyebrows threaded by a very pleasant Indian lady; I had been there a couple of times, and even have a loyalty card. As usual, she light-heartedly told me off for leaving it too long since the last time, and as usual it also took a few sets of instructions for me to hold my eye shut properly with the skin properly tight. Other than that it was fine, I sat there reclined with my eyes closed, feeling pampered… and the end result was FAB. Much better… although her efforts rather dislodged some of my make-up and I retreated to the ladies toilet in M&S to repair it… as well as go to the toilet. Then onto BHS where my friend Michelle had recommended ladies skirt suits… except that they had pretty much EVERY size except for mine. I found a couple of tops in the sale though, one of which I had seen in another shop and LOVED. So, I went into the changing rooms, where a very pleasant lady showed me to a cubicle… and alas the top that I really liked was massive; the other one was a good fit though, and I found a lovely pair of shoes too. At the till the girl was really nice, there was a problem with the shoes though as there was no bar-code, so I went and got another pair and eventually it was sorted. Kirsty texted me to say she was running late, so I went onto New Look where I have bought a few things in the past, though there was nothing that excited me this time. Eventually it was time to go, so back to the car, and onto the support group building…

…where Kirsty looked rather different with a new hairstyle which, as usual, my face transparently showed my displeasure at – it just wasn’t right, the colour was just too dark, with stand-out blonde streaks in it. She reverted to the usual hair, much better, and we headed off to Belfast for our second shopping expedition. We started off shopping in the mall where we parked, firstly in Superdrug where we spent ages make-up shopping, I bought a general mixture of items (including my favourite nail polish colour) while my BF Kirsty bought some secret make up items for a forthcoming event we are going to. Then we popped into New Look, where I tried on a pair of trousers which I liked, with a nice girl looking after me in the changing rooms… except the legs were so skinny I think I ripped the seam at the ankles! Oops – hasty exit! Then downstairs to Blue Inc for some lovely flowery trousers that I had seen in Newry… except that it was a guys Blue Inc. What!?! What a disappointment. Then we wandered outside into Belfast’s busy streets, thronged with Saturday afternoon shoppers, into BHS (where I bought a lovely top), then onto Victoria Square Mall with a serious amount of designer shops. We went into one, and I saw a top very similar to one I saw in BHS – in BHS it was about £18, in this IMG_1879_ed1shop it was REDUCED to £69!!! Gulp. After a bit of giggling, it was time for us to make a swift exit! And into Ted Baker, where we had a browse, soon approached by a nice petite girl who said “Can I help you ladies?” (Always love that acknowledgement). We carried on looking, and I saw this GORGEOUS pink winter coat… for ONLY £299! Uh, gulp again, I really don’t earn enough to afford that… but that didn’t stop me trying it on, at which point the sizing really stumped me, and so I did ask for assistance from the sales girl. I tried it on and I REALLY liked it… but I really can’t justify spending that amount of money… especially as I am not even full-time Andrea yet. So I reluctantly put it back and we exited the shop… and then I saw the coat in the window! So Kirsty, with her super-spec new phone took a picture of me (see right) and I took one of her.

Time was marching on, alas… oh I so wish it was possible for Kirsty to spend more time doing this kind of thing with me, I so enjoy shopping with her, but such is life. We went into House Of Fraser and up to the ladies floor for a look around; I was especially interested in Mango, and there was some quite nice stuff there, but nothing that shouted “BUY ME”. I wandered into other sections, and a girl said “If you need any help just ask”… which I didn’t, as we were seriously running out of time, and at close to 6.00 we returned to the car park, the streets still very busy with shoppers, some queueing for buses to go home.

Back at our support group we met up with Michelle, and Kirsty and I took turns to get ready. It’s great to have friends to give honest opinions, and I wasn’t sure whether my chosen dress (which I had bought ages ago and LOVE the flowery design) was age-correct… but positive affirmations from the two of them were enough to confirm all was okay. This time the Lisburn Fining Dining Club had chosen Il Pirata for their meal out, sister restaurant to Coppi that Kirsty and I had dined out at previously. For some reason Michelle was not at all happy with the area, and as I am not from NI originally I had no idea what the issue was – admittedly I could see why the start of the road from the city centre might be slightly unnerving to some, with elaborate murals depicting pictures relating to the troubles of the 1970-80s, although I have driven along this road before to get to my hairdresser. Once away from the centre the area looked fine to me, a bit like a London suburb full of restaurants and takeaways as our venue appears on the right. We parked, walked in, and sat at our table, discretely positioned in the corner.

The meal was just WONDERFUL. True bliss. I really gave it no thought that I was there as a girl… because the girl really is me and I have done this a number of times before, it’s just SO right for me… though as I write I then have to tell myself that I have been out doing real-time activities as a girl less than a year and this time last year if someone had suggested I might be doing anything that I have written on my blog then I would have wondered if they were out of their head. Our waitress was really nice and friendly, and as usual I was a chatty-mIMG_1883_ed1e (so NOT previous-me) and questioned her on what courses consisted of for both starters and, later, dessert. My meal was absolutely delicious – starter was a seafood arancini, main course a stunning pork dish in a beautiful sauce with lovely potatoes and vegetables, followed by a refreshing strawberry sorbet served with whipped cream. While waiting for desert I went off to the ladies, in rather high heels, careful not to slip on the wooden floors. In addition to the food, the company was wonderful too, good to see Michelle a bit more relaxed, SO enjoyable… so much so that I laughed and laughed (hopefully girly-enough), so much at times that tears were in my eyes. There were a number of drug-related comments floating around too, as I was dosed yet again with a cold and a Vics inhaler (which makes a guest appearance in the bottom of the photo to the right, taken by Kirsty in the restaurant) was the only thing to save me as I was getting rather blocked up. After tea and coffee, to prolong the outing as much as we could, we returned once again to support group… where another hour passed by with lovely chat before it was alas time to go.

The whole day was just bliss! SO natural and right to just spend all that time as it now seems as though it always should have been, as the girl I feel I should have been all along… and not one bit of negativity from anyone the whole time on such a busy afternoon and evening. FAB!

I am writing this the day after, as is often the case… and after another wonderful day (which I will detail soon) I am still in such a wonderful mood; I wonder how my next post will sound… because alas it will not be written during an Andrea-presentation day.

Why does it take me SOOOOO long to get ready??? Alas, it’s not JUST coz I’m a woman…

Somewhat unusually for me, I’m posting quite early in the day. Firstly, I am in SUCH a good mood, this weekend is a total-100% Andrea one… though that’s not the sole reasons for the good mood. As some TS girls will have realised, it is very depressing to see one’s male reflection when one is not able to present as one wishes… even if I tend to try and avoid this as much as possible. Anyway, this morning I transformed back into me and, with most of my make up done, I donned underwear, put on my lovely new hair… and I literally chuckled with pure glee and joy that I could finally see my reflection again. SO happy! I will never be a particularly pretty girl I am sure, even after HRT and any facial surgery, but it is difficult to express just how much joy I feel at being able to see my true reflection, one that matches my inside. I EVEN love seeing Andrea’s shadow with her longer hair… and last night I caught my shadow as male and I just HATED it. To some I know it will sound extreme, but anything to do with my enforced male appearance is just so wrong for me.

I am also posting early as I have to wait for another foundation layer to dry on part of my face – I think that after my latest laser session, the first shave since then has been a bit hit and miss and so my face and its dreaded hair are still recovering… and this is the reasoning behind some of the title of this thread. Years ago I WAS married, to a woman, and so I know just how long it can take a woman to get ready… but of course I have the added problem of trying to deal with covering up a face scarred by deeply-unwanted facial hair.

The other reason behind making this post is because over the last few months I have got to know a really lovely girl called Ruth via an online support group site. She also writes a blog (Ruth’s Odyssey), which is always an interesting read… but it causes me much consternation to read about the minuscule amount of time it takes her to get ready – her latest get-ready took her 38 minutes!! Mine typically takes around an hour and a half!!! Why the huge difference?

So I thought I would analyse this morning’s make up / get ready routine… which took an hour and 32 minutes… SIGH – now I could make excuses such as I have ANOTHER head cold (second in five weeks), I had not decided what to wear, etc. but any manner of excuses wouldn’t bring it down all that much. So here was my routine from this morning:

  • Shower, including arm/leg shaving            14 minutes
  • Shaving face (blade, electric, moisturise)  16 minutes (of course, most biological women wouldn’t have to do this – grr)
  • Apply first layer of foundation                       9 minutes
  • Pencil eyebrows                                           3 minutes
  • Eye make up (shadow, liner, mascara)      15 minutes (this stands out as taking a long time)
  • Second foundation (upper/lower lips)           2 minutes
  • Bronzer and blusher                                     4 minutes
  • Lip liner                                                         1 minute
  • Put on underwear, and hair, pin and brush  4 minutes (that’s SO worth it, I just LOVE my hair)
  • Decide on, and dress in, clothes/jewellery 16 minutes (must be less indecisive)
  • Pack hand bag                                             3 minutes
  • Apply powder and lip gloss                          4 minutes

There are a lot of small-time items but it all adds up. I wouldn’t have to shave arms/legs every shower, but that wouldn’t cut down too many minutes. Maybe after a few more laser sessions the shaving time will reduce a lot more. But it is rather an annoyance that I take so long to do all of this. And does it make me wish that I shouldn’t bother? HELL NO, I just LOVE that contented (no, NOT thrill, but joyous contented) feeling of seeing me again in the mirror and, for the first year of my life, being happy enough with the way I look… even if I wish I could magic the facial hair away.

That’s it for now, thanks for reading (and for any comments you add – I always love these), am off out shopping… and to meet my BF Kirsty!