On Monday 2nd February I was off work as the news continued to sink in at work about me being a woman. However, although I was not at work, it was a pretty busy day, spent solely at my nearest city, Newry.
First of all I went to my solicitor to change my will so that it was in my proper, new name. I was met at the front desk by two nice ladies and, after giving them my name, I had a seat… but then when I was told that my solicitor was on a call I asked if I could go to the ladies and I was told where they were. My, lady, solicitor warmly greeted me, and took me into an office, we had a little chat about my circumstances and also the cost of finalising my divorce, then updated my will with a few things and, after signing it, had a friendly chat before departing with an updated copy of my will. Objective number 1 achieved.
Next was breakfast as, by that time, I was absolutely starving. I went to a place called Grounded where I had Eggs Royal and a pot of tea; I passed the time surfing and emailing while I ate, enjoying a slow-paced day off.
Once stoked up, I went to get my passport photos taken – this lady loves to travel, so I need a passport with my new photo on… as well as a new driving license too. At the first place I went into, I sat in front of a white screen though the guy warned me that his camera was being a bit temperamental… and, as it turned out, the photos weren’t right as he couldn’t get them sharp enough. His assistant recommended a nearby chemist – the lady there was really nice, I got my photo taken and, after a short wait, left happy… and the photo is not that bad either.
At that point it was time to empty my car – over the previous few days I had filled several bags with, mostly, male clothes, and so I went to the 50p-per-kilo drop off place that I had been to before, presenting as ‘male’. The boot was completely full, I took the first bag in and deposited it on the scales, saying I had more, and this time the guy came out and took the largest two bags out of my boot while I carried a smaller one in, and then retrieved a final bag of bedding. Altogether there were 41kilos of clothes, plus a few kilos of bedding, so I left with £22, enough to buy a reasonable item of clothing!
I popped into my doctor’s surgery and made an appointment with my now-regular lady doctor to get my photos counter-signed, and then headed off shopping. I browsed a few clothing stores in the Newry Buttercrane Centre, went to the post office to post a couple of letters after buying stamps, had a coffee and cake in M&S, and then headed off to my next appointment.
There is a funded organisation in Northern Ireland called SAIL, whose primary function is to support transgender persons and also family members of such persons. I had contacted them before Christmas in respect of my daughter and support for her, and had made an arrangement to meet a member of SAIL called Simon on my day off. I parked behind the building, gave him a call, and he met me outside and greeted me warmly, taking me into their office. After making me tea, we had a good long chat, about the work of SAIL, his background, the situation with my daughter and ex- with respect to me, then onto the support they are trying to arrange for my daughter, including counselling but also family days with other children of a similar age (both transgender children, and otherwise); we parted with a big hug and I left feeling more confident about my situation with my own daughter.
Next stop was the doctor’s surgery. By the time I arrived it was very quiet, as it was the end of the day, and I did not have to wait long before the computer screen illuminated with my name, “MISS A. (Surname)” – oh yeah!!! My doctor greeted me warmly, and shook my hand, saying she was pleased to meet the new me. She filled in the sections on both forms, counter-signed my two photos, and then we had a nice little bit of chat. I noticed a sports bag behind her and asked her if she was exercising after work; she said she was off to Pilates… and then said how interesting it as that she feels that chatting with me she wants to talk more girly! We said farewell and, for the second visit in a row, she said how right this is for me.
At that point I was feeling a wee bit weary, and headed to Tesco for my final stop of the day. I started shopping, but then noticed the girl at the optician counter who served me nearly a year ago when I ordered two pairs of reading glasses, one for ‘him’ and one for me… and so I thought I would ask about changing my name details on her system. As soon as she saw me she broke into a big smile, she said she recognised my eyes (a feature that people do compliment me on), and she said a number of times I looked ‘fab’! How nice! The name-update was really straight-forward and, after some more really nice chat, I left on a high and finished my shop. At the checkout I waited patiently for a couple of girls in front of me who were chatting with Ms-Checkout, who they obviously knew – I overheard something about her going away, and so I soon opened a conversation with her about that when it was my turn to be served, she was heading off on a mystery tour where they get picked up at a ridiculous time in the morning, have paid £150, and are told at that point whereabouts in Europe they are headed off to. How exciting!!! We had a fab chat, she was really nice, and I went home really happy… but rather tired too.
After some dinner, I spent some time doing something I have never ever done before – organising a girly outfit for my first day in work as Andrea!