ENT, RUA, SAD – Normal Life In Acronym World

Since I returned from my great holiday in Tenerife the weather at home has been pretty appalling – I know, Ireland and the UK are hardly renowned for loads of sunshine and warmth in autumn, but this year it has been reported that November has been the dullest on record, and strong winds, persistent rain, and blankets of grey skies have been generally relentless… and so someone like me (or a valued friend of mine, as I found out recently) who suffers from self-diagnosed SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can, and has, got pretty fed up with getting out of bed one day after the next to miserable weather. Luckily life has been pretty good otherwise, though as I write this now, with Christmas just around the corner which I am really not looking forward to, I am feeling a bit down. I wonder if my lack of enthusiasm will show in this blog, as I catch-up from early-November to mid-December…

In mid-November I had an appointment in ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) in a Belfast hospital to have an examination of my nasal passages and throat owing to my long-running throat problems with post-nasal drip, a condition which means either a runny nose with no warning or too much phlegm. Anyway, the rather uncomfortable examination revealed nothing that looked damaged or untoward, which I left feeling quite relieved about. In the lift on the way down to ground floor the door opened on the floor below the one I had entered and a girl from one of my Meetup Groups got in, which was a nice surprise; we chatted all the way to the car park, and swapped phone numbers for a potential future cinema meetup.

In the last few weeks I have become more efficient at getting ready, and it normally takes me barely more than an hour now to get ready from out of my bed to out of the door; one day I even did it in 57 minutes!

In late November there was quite a chilly period and it snowed on the hills above Belfast… but, despite being a fair-weather person, I went for a walk with my group to the top of Cave Hill and I did enjoy the company… even if it took my face about an hour to defrost over some nice chat and a scone and tea.

The next day was a very interesting and activity-packed one. The morning was to another meetup group event, this time to Ulster Museum to visit the annual RUA (Royal Ulster Academy) art exhibition, where RUA members and other artists submit their work and the subjectively-best work is chosen for their annual display; this event was one of many that a nice guy called Jim has posted up this year since I joined this group. There was actually some very good art work there, both paintings and also sculptures, including a knitted crane! After that many of us went to Café Renoir for a really good lunch with much chat; I had quite a tasty burger. Next on the agenda was a lone-trip to the cinema to see Matt Damon’s latest film, Martian, about how a guy tries to survive on his own on Mars – I thought it was very well done… and near the end I cried… which I never thought I would do at a film set in space! Then I headed over to the Lisburn Road for supper with my BFF Kirsty at a coffee shop we like.

DSCN1149

At the end of November my car was at the repairers for a couple of days to have a minor bump sorted out – the guys there were really nice, the older one kept addressing me as “love” and desperately tried to give me a lift into the centre of town… though I had over an hour to kill before a dentist appointment and so I walked as it was, for once, dry… although on the Saturday I did accept a lift as it was rather wet. Having got the bus into Newry, I popped to the ladies, and there was a woman at the sink in only her bra changing her clothes!! In the evening I enjoyed another fabulous meal at Blu in Belfast with my two friends Kirsty and Michelle.

Work is pretty much the same as ever, not terribly interesting, but at the same time no bother in terms of my new life, apart from occasions when stress makes my throat feel tight and keeping my new voice going becomes somewhat exhausting; many guys are very well mannered, holding doors open and so on. A girl on my team is getting married at the end of this month, and I enjoyed organising a collection for her; she seemed to enjoy being spoilt with the resulting presents which it took me a VERY long lunch to decide upon, as well as flowers… I just hope she likes them. I have had several lunches out with colleagues past and present at Dublin, a favourite venue being the Art Of Coffee which serves lovely sandwiches on Italian bread.

I had an uneventful gender clinic appointment… although once again, when we covered my throat issues, she stated that many transsexuals carry on life with their “normal” (???) voice… although how they do this satisfactorily I can’t imagine because to me living life as a woman but making no effort to sound like one makes no sense at all… and to me only now do I have a voice which, at least in my head, finally DOES sound normal.

I have run out of things to say, not many of which I am sure are that interesting; next time I’ll write about a measure to at least temporarily halt my SAD.

x

Month NINE As a Full-time Woman – WWF, My Neighbour… and An Eight Month Challenge Over

As per my previous blog post, it is over a month since I posted. Part of that is due to ongoing apathy over posting – as written in my replies on other blogs, I have considered stopping these posts, wondering what the point in me continuing them really is, for my life is pretty damn normal and perhaps not that exciting to many. But then again, maybe that is a reason to post, at least for those who are following a similar path to me but are further behind and perhaps apprehensive, to illustrate just how normal this new life can potentially be, and if you work hard to put the building blocks in place then it really can be very rewarding. As usual, there’ll be a bit of diary stuff here, but I’ll get a couple of things out of the way first in respect of the title.

I wonder what you are thinking my “Eight Month Challenge” is? Is it anything to do with my transition perhaps? Have I given the transition idea up for any reason? Hell no, I can’t imagine me living life any other way… and it’s so difficult to imagine how I ever did, especially for so long. No, the eight month challenge (which started out as six months) was to not wear the exact same outfit to work on any day – well, I did it! When I first went full-time I wondered whether I had a sufficiently-sized wardrobe of clothing – well, it would seem as though I have… although, as I write, I am still in the process of enlarging my miniscule autumn collection!

WWF? No, this is not, as my BFF joked, the ‘World Wrestling Federation’, but the online game ‘Words With Friends’. For any of you who don’t know it, it’s very much like Scrabble… except with a few tiny variations so that Scrabble makers can’t sue them! Anyway, I’ve been playing this for months and months, with an assortment of people, some friends and the remainder random players from around the world, primarily in UK, Ireland, and USA. For all those months I have not as yet mentioned it in my blog… and so what has changed? Well, there is a chat facility on the game, for those that wish to communicate with other players… and I have had some guys chatting to me! And it’s been rather fun!! Mainly, it’s been a bit of an education as to the different types of guys that are out there (not just in WWF-land, but the world in general) for a potential single lady like me to be matched against… and some of them are rather unpleasant to me, such as the lager-swilling guy whose fourth question to me was “yer married then?” and subsequently went on to describe his interests as “football, going out with mates, and sex” – uh, goodbye, low-life!! But I have also met on there quite a nice softie of a guy too!! Now I don’t think he is relationship material for me, but we get on really well with our chatting and we have lots of laughs, every night he wishes me sweet dreams followed by the emoji blowing a kiss, and probably the best thing is that when I am down he is really good at cheering me up and putting a smile on my face. He doesn’t know about my gender history, as yet, and that is because he doesn’t need to – he recently described me as “an intelligent posh lass way out of his league”, well, he perhaps does himself a disservice, but I quite liked that. Last month in one of his messages he termed me “super minx” (I’m not sure whether that’s good or not) and that he “takes my excessive chatting for granted as I’m a woman”… which I suppose is a compliment to the fact that, not only do I try my best to look the part, but also I come across as the woman that I am just from my written chat. I have more recently started chatting to another guy, so far things are going nicely enough, though I wonder if WWF is more a weekday pastime while he is working away from home; anyway, have had some interesting chat.

Throughout the month my voice has been a problem to some disagree, due to what I consider is an ongoing medical issue for which I am soon going to ENT to be checked.

Onto a few diary highlights… or lowlights in some cases:

October 2nd

A lowlight, a farewell lunch for my PM – he took his team, of which I am the technical delivery manager, out to a great Japanese restaurant… and he got a wee bit tipsy! This wasn’t his last day, but the farewell aspect was a bit sad, he’s been a really great PM and a very supportive person to me on my journey… and, as I write, I miss him.

October 3rd

A Saturday, meeting my hairdresser and one of his friends. Firstly I went to his salon and he took a look at my hair, not my wig but my real hair growing underneath it… and, wow, he is impressed and says in 2-3 months he should be able to do something with it! Yippee!! He trimmed the ends at the back, and also the fringe, and had a go with his hot irons… and it looked very promising. We then met up with his friend at a café near the Ulster Museum and had a lovely lunch with lots of fun chat; a couple of hours later I went into the museum with his friend to view an exhibition of paintings of victims of the troubles in Northern Ireland – the accompanying stories were, to say the least, harrowing.

October ??th

At some point during this week I wrote a reference for my PM who is leaving… and nearly cried as I thought about him going!

October 10th

Had a fun meetup walk with my group, after which we went to the Hillside Garden Centre for lunch (with ridiculously slow service but good food) followed by shopping for some of us – I said goodbye to some of the group who left after lunch, and entered the plant area, presently a couple of ladies from the group came up to me and asked if I would like to walk around with them? Of course I would!! The browsing probably took twice as long, but it was enjoyable, and one of the ladies kept referring to the other one and me as “ladies”… which is how I like to think I am. Later I met Kirsty at Costa… though it took an amount of convincing her to have another coffee, this time with her supposed best friend!! Grr…

October 11th

The event on this day is another reason I finally got around to writing this post…. because it fills in a hint in a reply to a comment on the previous one… as my neighbour had a long chat with me again, and THIS time I did get around to telling him that I used to live life as the guy that he used to know, even though that wasn’t really me at all – to cut a long story short, he said “as long as you’re happy”, and he wouldn’t spread gossip; we probably had the longest, and most rewarding chat, in our acquaintance. He thought he was a sister… which is an implicit compliment.

October 12th

Today I bumped into two women who met the new-look, improved, happier me for the first time. One was a girl who used to work for me several years ago who has returned to the company, the other is a lady who went on maternity before the news of me came out; she said “you look super!” J

October 16th

My latest laser hair removal session. Ouch!

October 24th

I had probably the most challenging walk ever with my group, to a mountain called Slieve Gullion near Newry. The trek up to the top was fine, I even joined a splinter group that took a more difficult route up which was fine… but at the top it was blowing a gale and I was absolutely freezing, then we descended the far side and passed through much water-logged bog land and ended up with water sloshing around in my hiking boots! Ugh!! The group split up again owing to a disagreement over us being lost, my splinter group made it back to the starting point first (yay), but it was hard work, wading through acres of heather and uneven ground. Later the remaining walkers arrived, one lady who I chat to quite regularly looked exhausted and came up to me and said “Thank goodness, a friendly face – I need a hug”! Ahh! Later I went out for dinner with Kirsty and Michelle… and for the life of me, I can’t even remember where we went, such is my commuting-weary head. Oh yeah, Deanes in Belfast – nice enough, but overpriced.

DSCN0967e

October 26th

My latest gender clinic appointment… which I suppose was okay on the whole, except for insensitive comments about the approach to voice after I told my therapist about my throat issues, she said something along the lines of “why don’t you go back to using your normal voice, most transsexuals do once they are accepted”! To me she is just totally missing the point, perhaps several – to ME, the voice that I have now sounds normal to me and for who I am, I absolutely loathed the sound that used to come out of my mouth that I heard in my head and in any case it would be totally wrong for me and would inhibit passing.

October 31st

A day of shopping, and packing for my latest holiday… which I will write about in my next post. I am just mentioning the shopping, for walking accessories, because I enjoyed the “Do you need any help madam? Would you serve this lady? Would you like some socks on special offer madam?”

So that’s the latest month of my full-time life and RLE, all pretty normal despite being plagued with voice and throat problems. For someone who is considering curtailing her blog posting, I have written quite a lot! Thanks to anyone still reading!

Full-time living as a woman – Week 14… including some positive health appointments

Tuesday 5th – a fairly ordinary working day… though I had a really nice chat with Audrey, who complimented my dress, as well as a chat with Gerry, the leader of the work’s walking club, who said he will get me out walking one of these days… and indeed he will if it EVER stops raining for more than five minutes!

Wednesday 6th – before I got to work I popped into a nearby Spar to get a scone for breakfast. As I was about to exit a retired guy and his wife were entering – the woman walked on in, but the guy stepped aside at the entrance and let me out with a nice smile; what a gentleman! At work I caught up with Liesa and had a nice chat about our weekends… including an alternative wedding show that she had gone to… some of which sounded a bit extreme. At lunchtime I ended up walking to a nearby M&S Food with Fiona, and had a nice chat with her… though alas we spent so long choosing lunch and then something for her dinner that it was pouring with rain on the walk back to the office. Two guys from a software company were on-site to provide assistance, one of who had not met the new-me… but I had some chat with them and all was just as normal as ever. Alas I had to work late, and so no outing for supper with either of my friends was possible.

Thursday 7th – a day off work for medical appointments, the first of the day to one of the hospitals in Belfast I have not been to before, for facial hair removal tests. My mood was all over the place as I got ready to go, because I had had to leave my facial hair since Tuesday and not wear any makeup apart from on my eyes; I also wore my backup hair rather than that which I normally wear, in case the hair-removal equipment fried my hair. I wrapped a floaty scarf around my head to hide as much of the facial hair and then headed off, feeling very tense… but the appointment went well, the two nurses were very nice, and the hair removal equipment very high-tech – a space-age looking IPL device compared to the one I had been treated by before, and a laser device with a vacuum cleaner-type affair surrounding it. One nurse went through an assortment of information with me, and then asked if I was on hormones – when I said ‘not yet’ she said that the hair removal would be much more effective if I was on hormones… which got me rather annoyed with my therapist who seems to have been dragging her heels with my hormones. The treatment was efficient, and not any more painful than the IPL I have previously experienced; I left with two red patches of skin, and charred raised hairs on the laser patch. I returned home, exhausted, and had lunch, made up the rest of my face part from the treated patches, and went to bed for an hour… and then off again to my next Gender Clinic appointment. My therapist was prompt, and after complimenting me on my appearance we had a long update chat, the highlight of which of course (as per previous posts) I was able to tell her how well the visit of my parents went… and, as usual, I got all teary-eyed as I imparted the detail. We then talked about treatments and appointments, she went through questionnaires I had filled in which she said I had obviously thought a lot about, where I said that one advantage of going on hormones was that it would finally be recognised that I was on Real Life Experience, as two years of RLE are required before I can be considered for Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS)… except that she corrected me and said that this can be considered after only one year!! That made me really excited because even quite recently I have known people who have had to wait the two years. So I left feeling quite happy, with the expectation that I may be on hormones in three months… though, as with everything, there are waiting lists for appointments required before that can start.

Friday 8th – what a miserably wet day it was today… but there were some good moments. Shortly after I arrived at the office, I was chatting about work with my PM when Breda came up, and mouthed “look at you” with a warm smile before commencing a work chat. I had lunch out with a colleague called Kenny, who I have lunched with once before (soon after I started my new life) – we went to a Japanese outlet and both got bento boxes, followed by a coffee and cake at a coffee shop; the outing was very nice, with some good chat with him, as well as actually spending a significant break away from the office just for once.

So, a fairly quiet working week… with an exhausting appointment day that was overall rather positive.

x

Life goes on, quality time with my BF Kirsty… and my favourite selfie to-date

As per my last post, my daughter allegedly doesn’t want to see me again… something which my Gender Clinic counsellor confirmed is hardly an unusual reaction. I will live in hope and with love that my daughter will one day come back to me…

…but I have to get on with my life and, perhaps I sound like a thundering steam train hurtling down the tracks, but I am going to do this with or without anyone who has been a part of my life to-date, however much it saddens me that they have rejected me, however much they mean to me…

…so after two days of a maudlin, melancholy mood following that blunt post from my ex- (see previous post) I awoke on Saturday without my daughter en-residence, adopted a positive attitude, and lived for the day. I broke no records getting ready, and this was partly because I started filling huge bags with unwanted clothes, mostly ‘male’ clothing (ugh) but also now some of my daughters clothes that she has well-outgrown. Her room is a dump, and I have emptied a couple of drawers into which I can put some of the rubble that currently lies on the bedroom floor.

I left the house in a seriously good mood… and this is because I took a quick selfie just before I departed and I am really happy with the result – see right. So, I drove to Banbridge, my nearest town, with an agenda to live life and do normal, every day things, like any other gal. Firstly I stopped at the shoe repairers (or whatever you call them) that I went to previously anAndrea Jan2015 lowresd left a pair of boots with him to be re-heeled, he was nice to me as before, and gave me a ticket to pick up the boots later. Then I went in a card shop looking for a card for my daughter, and picked a “Thinking Of You” card, although I am not sure when I will send it; I also bought a mug for my Dad (which says “greatest Dad in the world” on it – he well deserves it – and a Christmas present for one of my friends). Then off to the library… a visit which I was rather disorganised for, having left my library card at home, also my USB key… but it gave me the opportunity to interact more – I went to one of the library assistants, who verified my details before giving me my card number, and then I surfed for a while, loading a few photos onto my andrealough34 Flickr page of one of my holidays in 2011. Leaving the library I returned to pick up my boots, then browsed in a couple of clothing stores before getting in the car and driving to Sprucefield shopping centre. At about 5.30 I was quite hungry as I had only had a bowl of porridge for breakfast/lunch, and so I decided to go for another first, a very small one, to eat at the bar in M&S – for some reason I had been a bit apprehensive eating there, perhaps because it is a bar with stools all around a central preparation area, so everyone is looking at everyone else… but of course it was completely fine, nobody paid me any attention as far as I could tell, and I ate a really tasty fish pie there. The staff were very nice, I was addressed as “madam” when I arrived, and on departure I had some pleasant chat with the ‘waitress’ about opening and serving times. I had a bit of a browse, and at 6.50 rang Kirsty, eventually getting through and confirming that I could meet her at support group HQ.

Kirsty and I had agreed, at short notice, for an evening out on the possibility of me not having my daughter this weekend… which, as is apparent, materialised. We went to our local Costa, and had a good long chat and coffee, and then went to the cinema to see Boyhood. Kirsty’s other-half commented that it was quite ironic that us girls were going to see this film, but even if the main character was indeed a boy and it revolved around his progress through teenage years, the film encompassed all of this family including his older daughter, and though it was long it was enjoyable – it was just good to be out with Kirsty as two girls having fun and living life.

Sunday was pretty routine for me, though enjoyable all the same. I continued filling bags of unwanted clothes during the morning, and must have over 20kg at this stage. Sunday afternoon was pure shopping, firstly a Tesco grocery shop in Lisburn (where I encountered a friendly cleaner as I went to the ladies, and later an equally friendly woman at the till), and then I went clothes shopping (AGAIN), though only sale-rail browsing… and left with a few more tops for work, including one I had been looking for for absolutely ages, a long sleeved red top in a thin material to go underneath my black shift dress for only £9. All of the shops I went in I had a bit of chat with the assistants, all were nice, and I went home happy enough.

So, despite the fact that that weekend was supposed to be with my daughter, and despite my sadness from her reaction, I had a pretty good time. Early on in my journey once I started going out as Andrea, someone said that if one wants, neigh, NEEDS to go all the way on this kind of journey, then one has to be prepared to lose potentially everyone that means anything to one – so far, my daughter is my main and in fact only casualty, and as much as I wish she could accept me I must proceed on this journey with or without her, and live life as full as I can… because I have not been doing that for years and years, AND it was indeed HER more than anyone else who commented on my unhappy face. It is time for me to look after my own happiness now, and be there for those that I love with my own love when they are ready to receive it again.

X

Jan 22nd, the day my heart broke before the morning did… and my new look

I go through phases at night time with my sleep patterns, sometimes I sleep all the way through to after 6.00, sometimes I regularly wake up at a particular time, which can often be 3.00-4.00, or even earlier. On January 22nd I woke up while it was still dark and went to the toilet and, as the little light on my mobile phone was flashing, I took the phone with me – there was a text from my ex- which had been sent at 1.00am that morning saying the following (have replaced daughter’s name with ‘Your daughter’):

Your daughter does not want to see you again, but cannot tell you to your face. Please to not call round to our house again.

I did not cry when I read that… although I feel a bit teary-eyed as I write it now, but the day of receiving that message and the following one (yesterday) I felt really sad, as though my heart has broken. And maybe that is how my daughter feels, that I have broken her heart and as a result she wants nothing more to do with me, even though when I gave her my news I tried to be as sensitive as I could, and told her how much I loved her and want to remain inn her life. It has been a severe struggle remaining in one piece at work (especially as my boss said made a couple of little insensitive comments in relation to me) and not bursting into tears and running from the office.

Anyway, life goes on, I am not going to change or slow down my journey whatsoever, everything else is going smoothly so far, I will surround myself with people who do value me as a person (whatever I look, or sound, like) and want me in their life in whatever shape or form that may be. As everyone else I have told has been great, I will have to put down my situation with daughter as being due to her age… and possible influence from my ex-.

***************************************************************************************

The previous day I was off work on sick leave, having appointments relating to my gender dysphoria.

My first appointment was with the lovely Paul Meekin, who is my hairdresser… well, not just mine, but you know what I mean; he is a very kind, sensitive guy, and seriously knows what he is doing with people’s hair. My appointment was at 11.00, to have my latestPaul M Hair 1 wig styled – I scraped into his swish salon a minute after that and in a few minutes I had had a hug from Paul and was sitting in his VIP room. As soon as Paul saw the wig his enthusiasm went through the roof, it is made of human hair and he was very impressed with the quality and set about styling it; as it’s human hair it can be styled with moderate heat and so with a pair of heat paddles Paul set about giving it some shape and then trimming the fringe. Further down here you will see the new image – personally I am still getting used to seeing a different look in the mirror, but I do like it and the movement in the hair is great and natural… as far as I know.

With plenty of time to kill before my next appointment I drove over to the Abbey Centre for shopping and lunch. One reason for going there was that there is a big M&S and so I hoped I might find a nightie that I have already purchased in UK-10 but in a 12, because although I am generally a UK-10 on top I thought something a bit looser for nightwear would be better… but to no avail, none left at all. I went upstairs for a toastie and tea for lunch and all was fine there, it was really busy, I had a guy on the table right opposite me facing me and noticing nothing; on the way out I patiently walked behind a woman and her old mother, and she thanked me once we had exited and I then passed her. I went to the ladies and, after doing my business, at the sink was fine-tuning my make-up when a woman kindly pointed out that my ‘top’ (it was a dress) was tucked in at my waist, as though I was showing a bit too much leg – I thanked her… although it may have just been the asymmetrical line of the dress. Downstairs I browsed through the sale rails and tried on a dress in a couple of sizes, but it wasn’t really me, and when I gave them to the lady I went on about it being in a couple of other colours which I had preferred (which had sold out), but it was nice to chat. Then onto the Abbey Centre itself on a mission to find a smart woolly hat for work, costing less than the ridiculous £18 that M&S were looking for… which after a few stores was successful in Dorothy Perkins – I was able to use my Xmas e-giftcard, though the till-girl had no clue how to process it and had to call her manager, so much conversation ensued with another assistant joining, and I joked that they were having a mini training course.

My next appointment was with my gender clinic. It was another one of these ongoing assessment chats to see how things are going. Of course, I had an awful lot to tell her, she gave me a bit of advice about my daughter, ex, and so on… although some of that is a bit redundant as I can now not even go to ex’s house. She was very impressed with my new hair, which was nice to hear, she said it had been cut very well. I was there for an hour and a half, and left with letters from her that I can include in passport and driving license application forms.

I drove to the nearby Forestside shopping centre where I had a mocha and cake in the M&S café, and was served by a tall, slightly rough-looking guy I thought… but he was very nice and asked ‘madam’ what she would like to drink. I browsed in a few places there, and found a really pretty top in Next with beautiful trim around the neck and sleeve linesAndrea at Ed's Diner, then drove to Sprucefield where I bought a few things from Boots, including hairspray (for the first time ever) for my own hair.

Dinner at 8.00 had been planned with Kirsty and Michelle, with much to-ing and fro-ing about a venue. Eventually we had decided on Ed’s Diner in Lisburn, near the cinema, and that is where we met up. It is nice enough on the interior, with quite a few of the tables in booths which is good for a bit of privacy. It was nice to see my friends, and we had a good old chat and catch-up, and both seemed to sincerely like my new hairstyle… which is illustrated to the right. The food was pretty good value, and Little Miss Weightwatcher here had a carb-free chicken ‘burger’ with a lot of lovely salad… before consuming a huge chocolate brownie sundae. We eventually retired to Support Group headquarters for a cup of tea and more good chat before returning home… far too late again.

***************************************************************************************

Yesterday I ‘came out’ to the Project Manager that I work for about my Gender Dysphoria, and that I will be coming to work in just over a week as a woman. He was a bit shocked, but he was good about it all, and we had a nice chat. He asked me one question which stumped me a bit, which was ‘How do I actually know I am a woman inside?’, and my answer was more like how everything is wrong and out of balance when I have to lead my life as a man, with so much of the real me suppressed, and how when I look in the mirror what I see I either don’t recognise or fills me with horror. But then he went onto say that he does consider me very soft, and quite effeminate too, especially my run, and he pointed out even the way I was sitting in front of him, with my legs crossed and my head tilted. Around lunchtime I had a talk with the HR lady, who has put an action plan together for who does what and when around the communication about me and arrangements therein, such as pass cards, logins, and toilets – it all looks good. I had a good chat with Joan (recruitment girl) over mocha at a nearby coffee shop.

Later, because my boss kept piling on the pressure with me at work, I had to tell him the news about my daughter… and once that was out he looked like one of his own relatives had died, as though it was his own sadness instead of mine. He offered to put me up in a hotel if that suited… but it only suited HIM, because he wanted much more work doing in advance of the weekend (when some people are in work), and I almost packed my bag and left there and then. But I tried to stay calm, I said that although emotionally I would prefer to leave right then but I would stay until 6.30 and that is what I did. But although my boss is quite supportive, he always has his own agenda… and my team colleague is really fed up with him and as his contract is up in two weeks time I fear that I will not see him much more.

That Friday is the last Friday I will ever have to present as a ‘male’… for next Friday will be the first day of being full-time and the rest-of-my-life as Andrea.

Thanks for reading.

X

GIC Group Therapy, How to Tell my Daughter about me (?)… and another Xmas meal

In the period since my last post a number of things have happened, progress continues to be made, and life feels pretty good.

First of all, chronologically, I had two and a half hours out as me on Saturday 13th December while my daughter was doing her usual shopping centre meet with her BF. I went to my local town of Banbridge where after popping into a couple of shops on the high street I went to the library and spent 45 minutes contentedly surfing away, mostly loading my favourite photos from past holidays onto my flickr account; I was sitting opposite a lady on another computer with several guys also tapping away next to me and nearby, but nobody gave me any attention at all. Then I went to my local big Tesco and did a good grocery shop… and then all too soon my precious Andrea-time was over. If you are interested, here is the link for my flickr photos; https://www.flickr.com/photos/124325987@N04/sets

On Monday I went to my Gender Clinic once again, this time for a group session; on the way I had to stop to go to the loo and get some cash… and just as I was leaving that pit-stop someone had a car accident on the roundabout, and so I only just got there in time. A TS woman who has completed her journey, operation and all, had come in, and several of us part-way along our own journey were invited to listen to her tales of her experiences, and ask questions. It was very interesting, especially hearing about the operation and pre/post treatments, and also her frustrations along the way. While there I also had a short chat with my nurse/counsellor and, once again, I was told that it would be better for me to wait over three years until my daughter is 16 before I tell her about me… and YET my friend who was also there admitted that her son can’t accept her and yet he is 23!!!! So how will me waiting to tell my daughter potentially be beneficial? Anyway, I told her that I simply can’t do that, I have suppressed my feminine self for FAR too long, and that I have to do it… because Andrea is ME and the idea of living the rest of my life any other way is intolerable.

I left the GIC and returned halfway home to Sprucefield where I met up with Kirsty for supper and a chat. It was lovely as usual to meet her – I recounted my latest GIC counsellor chat about daughter… and she admitted that she, and Mrs K, thought that the method that I was planning to tell her was a bit too childish considering that she is nearly 13. My trouble is that I only see my daughter every other weekend and so I always feel like I am in catch up mode as I miss out on so much of her day-to-day living, so I have no idea how much she knows about LGBT. So I left a bit disgruntled with much food for thought, and spent half the night thinking about it… but I know now that Kirsty (and Mrs K) were right and so I have a revised plan more or less ready.

The next day, following a suggestion at the GIC, I rang SAIL for advice; they are an organisation there to help and support Transgender persons and their families. The half hour call was very useful, the guy will email me some more info, but he said that my plan to tell my daughter about me just before my ex- is the right one (as daughter must hear it from me, in my own words), and I was relieved to hear that; he also may be able to put me in touch with other TS women with children of a similar age, and he re-iterated advice that I have read which is that the most important thing for a child is to have a happy parent, TS or otherwise.

Over the next few days I made enquiries with a few organisations about changing my name and how to do it with them; the process would seem to differ from one organisation to the next, so anyone in my situation I would advise to phone around rather than blindly sending out letters and legal cert copies because in some cases that will not do. Santander, for example, seem to insist that I have to go into the branch with my new ID… and I really didn’t like the somewhat arrogant tone of the guy I spoke to on the phone; maybe I will take my accounts elsewhere! When I got home I found that an envelope had arrived containing the certified, legal copies of my Deed Poll name-change form… and so I can now start writing to organisations to tell them to change my name!!! That brought a real smile to my face when I found that that had arrived.

Friday was time for my second Xmas meal, this time with my BF Kirsty, another friend and two of her work colleAndrea at Benedicts Xmas mealagues. My train was late at my station, also I had to pack for staying the night, so I got to friend’s apartment a bit late. We took a taxi into Belfast to the venue of our meal, which turned out to be a rather rowdy hotel called Benedicts with a really noisy bar on the ground floor and a restaurant above, which we were admitted to after a few minutes. To summarise, the night was only OK; I of course enjoyed the company of my BF who I was sitting next to, but as time went on the music got louder and louder and it was almost impossible to hear what anyone was saying without them shouting (and the problem is that being a TS girl, the louder one’s voice the more unfeminine it is); my voice especially is a problem in these situations, it has ever been loud even while living as male, and so in a loud venue like this I just gave up talking, I am not going to ruin my voice by shouting unnecessarily… and so I wish a quieter venue had been chosen. Apart from the bland starter and over-cooked vegetables the food was reasonable, my salmon was very nice and chocolate torte dessert gorgeous. As the night continued, people got up to dance… and after a while I achieved enough confidence to want to do the same, but it seemed impossible to generate any interest from anyone else around the table – at one point I stood up when Kirsty seemed to agree, and as I was about to head off to the dance floor she sat down again! The other three girls got up to dance… and within 10 seconds seemed to change their mind and sit down. And as our departure time neared I was about to get up again, but was told that the lyrics to the song were a rape-anthem, which was not acceptable… but I liked the beat of the song and just wanted to dance!!! But it was not to be, and I was VERY disappointed. The restaurant was really busy, but we didn’t seem to attract any attention, and a guy made a particular effort to hold a door open for me which was nice too. And I was very happy with the latest dual-selfie of my BF and me… even if the resolution is poor:

kirsty and andrea at Benedicts

Gender Clinic Appointment No. 3, name change witness… and a chatty shopping experience

My third Gender Clinic appointment had been postponed from November due to my nurse being sick, and it finally happened on 10th December. I arrived at 2.00 and did not have long to wait this time. We chatted for about an hour and a half about all that I had done (as per what I have documented on previous posts), and she said “Wow, you’ve been busy” – I told her about my Eastbourne trip (and she was impressed with my winning costume), coming out to my parents, my walking group (I showed her a picture of the group, which she said would be useful for my transition assessment) and Xmas meal, coming out at work, and so on. At the end I handed her a photocopy of my Deed Poll form!

The only thing we continue to disagree on is coming out to my daughter (which I am scheduled to do on 2nd January) – she said it would be better leaving it until she was aged 16 (four years away!!!)… but considering the place I am at, all I have done, and where I am going, and how increasingly intolerable life is while forced to cross dress as a man and just how CERTAIN I am that this path is right, that suggestion seems rather pointless and indeed ludicrous. She also thinks I should tell me ex- before my daughter, as she thinks the court could take a dim view if a child access issue arises… even though I have explained how deceitful and manipulative my ex- is, how I need my daughter to hear this news from me and in my own words, and how I will tell my ex- almost the same time as my daughter, literally an hour or two after. I have left it that she will talk to another counsellor about it, and potentially arrange a social services session for me to tell my ex- in advance.

Sometimes she asks questions that she has already asked me before, or others I think to test me. Firstly she said “on the days when you are working, when you have to present as male, presumably when you get home you just stay dressed as a man” and I said “No, as soon as I get home I have to stop cross dressing and shed those dreadful male clothes, so I usually put on whatever I am going to bed in, either a nightie or girlie pyjamas”. As I was leaving she said “Are you going home now?” and I said “Oh no, I am off shopping, will go and get some lunch, do a grocery shop…. (deliberate omission here, see below)… and then meet up with my best friend Kirsty for tea and chat at M&S”. So hopefully I passed that test!

After I left the GIC my first port of call was Forestside shopping centre, I had an amount of time to kill before my next “appointment” and I was in need of refreshment and so a mocha and cappuccino cake filled the gap. Then I headed off shopping. My first port of call was a powder brush, as I had left mine at home, then I went into Oasis and had a browse, eventually buying a selection of girlie socks, including a pair for my daughter – the lady at the checkout was nice, and she complimented me on my jumper-top! That initiated a nice bit of chat, and I left there happy. I had a browse around New Look, and then in the middle of the shopping centre a chocolate stand caught my eye – I had a casualHoldens chocs 2 wander around and then moved closer to the selection of hand-made chocs on display (see right for a selection of their goodies) and the friendly guy offered help and he started telling me the different flavours. I asked him to pause, checked my purse to see how much cash I had, so as to not waste his time, and then he went through them and put 12 chocs in a little box; I said it was nice to find something a bit more up-market for a special treat, and then we got in a lengthy discussion about where he gets his ingredients from, the pricing pressures, all kinds of things, and that started me off about how my company is going the Indian-outsourcing route for some of its IT… and eventually I had to tail off because a couple of new prospective customers arrived. I went in a couple more stores, including Molton Brown with its ridiculously priced bathing/soap products and a snotty-nosed assistant to match, then drove a short distance to a Tesco supermarket for a grocery shop – that was all fine and normal, and at the check out was a lady who has served me before and she was really nice, she said “how are you today?” and a lovely conversation ensued.

My next “appointment” was with laser-lady Lynda, not to get my face blasted for once but for her to witness my deed poll form signing. I arrived about 10 minutes early, and so went to a nearby shopping centre to go to the loo – of course, I could have just gone to the loo at Lynda’s office, but where is the challenge in that? The shopping centre was quite busy… but no bother. It was lovely to see Lynda and, once the signing was done, we chatted for the best part of an hour, and she said that with me there properly made up and fully-presenting as Andrea I looked so happy… and she complimented me on my make-up again. I waited while she packed her things away, as I know she does not really like to leave the office on her own in the dark, also she has a dog that cannot walk down stairs, and so as usual I helped her carry her things out to her car. After a bit more chat we hugged goodbye, with best wishes.

Then it was on to meet my BF Kirsty at 9.00 for supper – we went to M&S Sprucefield cafe and, as usual, the time out with her was great. We had some nice toasted sandwiches and chat, and then did a few minutes of independent (i.e. separate) browsing and a loo stop before meeting at the entrance to see rain heavily pouring from the sky… so it was time to test the hood of my new coat and do some girlie trotting to the car before I got totally drenched.

The final venue of the day was my local support group and, as it was a Christmassy-type evening with cake (and also dinners for those who do not venture out, which I had to skip for that very nature… because I DO venture out, as much as possible) there was a good turn out. There was someone there who presents as ‘Sue’ I think it was (have never met her before), and a guy called James (I think I have got this right, have met so many people this year and am terrible with names), the discussion eventually came round to me and my journey, and my imminent coming out to my daughter, and as I brought them up to speed they both provided good advice and James in particular asked some very pertinent questions.

So, a pretty full day… and a successful one too in every respect.

Thank you for reading.

X

P.S. Have eaten a couple of those chocs while writing this – oh, yummeeeeeeee!

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…

Gender Clinic Contact! (My first phone call asking for Andrea)

I was on Cloud 9 yesterday! And still smiling today. Yesterday I had a phone call at 10.30am asking for “Andrea [surname]”, and I rushed away from my desk at work quite excited, wondering who it could be… and the lady introduced herself as being from the Belfast gender clinic! Contact already, less than 3 weeks from my GP referring me!

The lady was really nice, she asked me how I wanted letters to be addressed (as family/daughter do not know), then she talked a bit about the clinic, then said the waiting list is not long and I could have my first couple of appointments (sometimes on same day, an assessment and a counselling session) in October! Wow!

So I returned to my desk elated, someone commented how happy I looked…. and the rest of the day I struggled to keep Andrea inside – every time I got into a friendly conversation I got all animated (I talk a lot with my hands as a girl) and my voice softened! 

1st August… 1st day of the rest of my life – Andrea is official

Have just come out of my GP appointment for referral to a gender clinic… and it went SO well! Once again, I seem to have picked the right person to progress my journey. I am full of tears of joy, even if I didn’t cry during the appointment itself, though my voice was full of emotion until it was all out. The female doctor I chose was just lovely, listened well, asked a few good questions, then typed up my referral. She actually knows the gender clinic doctor and said he is really nice. At the end, she wished me well and shook my hand, said it will be difficult, and then said “this decision is right for you”.

Must go, tears running down my face (which is embarrassing in a supermarket cafe), but am SO happy. So, Andrea is now official… and in the ‘known as’ field on my medical record it says ‘Andrea’!