I Am Female

If you have been reading some or all of my blog, the title of this post will seem a bit odd. From previous posts it should pretty obvious that I’m a woman. In fact, since I sent off my Deed Poll at the start of December 2014 and it was executed soon after in that month, it has been official that I had a female name and title since then. I have also had my passport for over four years stating that I am female. Also since early 2015, the vast majority of people in my life (daughter excepting) have accepted me as female too, as has the world as a whole. The medical profession has accepted me as female too. However, in spite of this, things have officially moved up a level since then.

If you will, so far I have achieved the bronze medal in the ‘race’ for my female status, with some of the things that I have obtained or achieved as mentioned above… though the race is not against anyone else but is just a progression against my life’s timeline. And this week I achieved the silver medal!

emoji-gingerOn Tuesday I received my Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) from the UK Gender Recognition Panel (GRP), and when I opened the envelope and pulled out the small wad of material with the certificate at the top I was overwhelmed at this recognition of my true gender… and, for a change, I had quite a lot of tears that were joyful! (Oh no, she’s crying again). The certificate states that, as of 2nd August, the above person named (Andrea Denise ____) is of the gender shown, which is of course ‘Female’! ūüôā

Now that I have this certificate, I can (with certified copies) get the gender corrected to female on all of my pensions, as most companies in this respect have refused to update this (despite changing my name) without a GRC. It also means that I am now able to get a birth certificate with all of the details correct. I had thought that I would have to organise all of this myself, but thankfully (considering my current, and continued, poor physical health) all of this is set in motion by the GRP.

(edit) – In the medal table, I see the gold medal as obtaining my birth certificate – this will mean that (a) every piece of documentation that I have in my life is right and (b) I can marry a guy (should I ever find one that will want me for all that I am) without my marriage being considered a ‘gay marriage’, and it will be considered no different than any other marriage between a man and woman… and should I want a marriage in Northern Ireland it will mean I actually can get married here (present legislation standing).

One piece of advice that I will give to you in respect of applying for a GRC in the UK – if you are having difficulty obtaining two medical reports, then apply to your Gender Clinic asking them to execute a Data Subject Access Request, and the resultant report should satisfy the GRP, as it did for me. I would have otherwise had to fly over to the UK for a half hour interview with the doctor who signed off my second opinion, and paid around ¬£300 for the privilege… plus travel expenses – in my poor state of health post-surgery, that is something that would have been a very painful experience.

So, for a change, some good news, and a happier tone!! However, as eluded to in the above paragraph, my state of health since my gender reassignment surgery (18 months ago) remains lousy, extremely painful, and prohibits me from having a ‘normal’, and enjoyable, lifestyle. Next time I write, I will give an update on this, as some of the detail may be useful for anyone else out there who is either having post-op problems as well or contemplating surgery; I might even ask for some help too…

(Thanks for reading… if you’re still there)

x

2nd February ‚Äď A busy Monday for a day off‚Ķ

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 ‚Äď this lady loves to travel, so I need a passport with my new photo on‚Ķ 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‚Ķ and, as it turned out, the photos weren‚Äôt right as he couldn‚Äôt get them sharp enough. His assistant recommended a nearby chemist ‚Äď the lady there was really nice, I got my photo taken and, after a short wait, left happy‚Ķ and the photo is not that bad either.

At that point it was time to empty my car ‚Äď 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 ‚Äėmale‚Äô. 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 ‚Äėhim‚Äô and one for me‚Ķ 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 ‚Äėfab‚Äô! 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 ‚Äď 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‚Ķ 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!

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

Some of the things I like about being a woman… being Andrea

I have had another perfect weekend! 100% Andrea, 100% happiness and contentment, with no attention or reaction from anyone the whole time as far as I am aware. And rather than just give a catalogue of what I have done, events of the weekend have made me realise some of the things that make me feel really special about being a woman, and particularly the unique one that is Andrea:

  • Yesterday I went for a walk with my group, and had the most lovely time out. As usual, I was a really chatterbox… and I just LOVE being a chatterbox, and a people person, because I never used to be either of these things. The first person I talked to (after the group leader, who I gave an update to about my news at work) was a nice guy called David, and we soon seemed to chat like old friends. Then a lady (Kathleen) who I had last seen on a walk in July recognised me and said a big “HI”, and we had a good long chat with another girl who was new to the group; later I chatted to Margaret, who I have talked to for ages and it really feels like friendship, and then I chatted to a girl I have seen before but never chatted to… who turned out to be another Margaret. During the two hour walk I chatted to another couple of women and a guy, and everyone was SO nice, the guy (who is maybe 50) said that he gets teased by his younger colleagues about being in a walking group but he says he loves it.
  • I just LOVE being referred to as a lady, not just a woman, but a LADY… and this is because, although I know I am a woman inside I do try and be as ladylike as I can, because it is just me. After the walk had ended, most of us drove a short distance to the Hillside garden centre where there is a big and rather busy cafe. After I had gone to the loo, I queued up for ages to get some refreshment – in front of me were a couple of young boys with their mother and someone I think was an aunty. I chatted with the aunt a bit, and then the mother said to the boys “will you calm down, you’re going to bump into that lady”! (i,e. me). And later in the cafe I got ladied again. I sat next to David, Kathleen, and a new girl who had just joined called Jackie, and we had a good chat over coffees and cakes – David was talking to Jackie about the group and how many people one can meet and chat to, and he said “It’s like Andrea and I, we can have a conversation but it can end up being spread over two or three walks”, just as if we have been doing it for ages. Once most of the walkers departed I sat next to a couple of girls who had come in late, and we must have chatted for a good half hour before leaving.
  • I LOVE that I have made so many lovely friends this year – I have actually made quite a lot more new friends this year than I actually had at the start of it! So after cafe time, I had a good look around the garden centre for Christmas presents for some of them… because the garden centre was MUCH more than a garden centre! There were household gifts, loads of pet stuff, a Santa’s grotto, and so on. Once I had shopped there, I paid at the checkout where I had nice chat with the girl who served me
  • Then I changed out of my walking gear in the loo and went off shopping at the Abbey Centre, mostly for Christmas presents again, although I did look at clothes too, though resisted a purchase. I just LOVE shopping… now.
  • It has been great to make friends with other TS girls who really know what this journey is all about, and who one can have such heart-to-heart conversations with and have totally empathy. Of course, my best friend Kirsty is one of them, and my friend Andrea D in Whiteabbey is another – I had arranged to stay with her for the night once shopping was over.
  • It is SUCH fun being asked by a woman for opinions on clothes – especially a biological woman, it is as though one has made the grade!!! When I arrived at Andrea D’s flat she had just been up with her friend Natasha so, after dropping my bags, she took me¬†up for more chat with her. Natasha was going our clubbing later on and did not know what to wear… and so she tried on a number of outfits in front of the two of us, and we gave out opinions, all of which seemed to go down well. Of course, the outfit she wore (white crop top, blue patterned knee-length skirt) was the first one she showed us! After the fashion parade, she put the chosen outfit back on along with a pair of black heels, and I asked her whether she had any other colour heels because I didn’t really think that the black looked quite right – she said she has loads and loads of black heels and that’s it… but something must of twigged because she went off and came back with a pair of high-heeled navy sandals, and it was such an improvement.
  • It is SO nice to have a guy hold the door open for me, when a lot of effort is made to do so. We went out to an Indian take-away to get our dinner – as we entered, a well-built guy in front of us held the door open for us, and when we left, before we even got to the door a youngish lad who was waiting for his own take-away reached out and pulled the door open for me (Andrea D was behind me); I thanked him in my best girly voice, and he said “No problem”.
  • I have become SO much more emotional and I have tears (frequently of joy) ALL the time. During some of the evening chat with my friend I got somewhat teary-eyed, and then this morning when I had a Facebook message from my lovely hairdresser Paul I cried too – he has been in India, on an amazing “mission” to teach young people there his trade, he was talking about how people there have touched his heart and both reading his message and sending my reply to this wonderful man gave me a rather tear-laden face.
  • Once I had left my friend I spent some time nearby grocery shopping at a Tesco supermarket, where a guy made a particular effort to hold open the barrier coming out of the alcohol isle for me, and I had a lovely long Opera1chat to the check out girl who was at uni – I wished her best of luck with her studies as I left). Then I went to an exhibition of Bolshoi opera and ballet costumes at a former prison. I think¬†I have become more open-minded about so many¬†things, and this seems to include¬†finding so much more in life of great interest. As Andrea I do like to do as many different things as possible, and some of it is to challenge myself to pass and succeed in as many situations as I can… and so this exhibition was something a bit different, I enjoyed it and found it very interesting, and the guys who escorted me to and from the exhibition were really nice; one of the costumes is on the right.
  • I drove to Hillsborough where I had a nice but rather chilly walk around the lake, then went to Marks & Spencers where I bought a bra at one till, and then some biscuits for Christmas at another till – the guy at the latter was really nice and I asked him about how busy it had been while he had been working, and then I asked him how long he had been at the till… which turned out to be FOUR hours without a break! I really DO like to talk to people about their own lives, it can be so interesting and enlightening. It is also great if I can improve anyone’s day by engaging with them.
  • At that point it was time for coffee, with my BF at Costa – she was about to embark on her own latest challenge (of which I will say nothing, that is her privilege) and was rather nervous, so it was rewarding for me to have a good chat with her and try and boost her confidence.
  • I got home about 7.10pm and, once the contents of the car were inside, put my girly slippers on and unpacked my shopping and then my overnight bag, feeling so good about my weekend out and about – prior to this year I cannot recall feeling SO positive about my life.
  • This may seem obvious, but I LOVE feeling feminine – but this is not just what I wear (which is pretty much all it used to be while I was, I suppose, categorised as a cross dresser), it is what I smell like, having a feminine hair style that feels natural, appropriate jewellery and make up, but also it is how I move, how my voice sounds (which, finally, I am happy to hear the sound of), and how I approach everything in life. This weekend I have not worn a skirt or a dress or any hosiery, although I have worn a couple of different pairs of boots the heels have been of medium height and not at all pointy… but despite all of this, apart from the unavoidable facial shave before make-up application, I have felt totally feminine.

So, having written that lot, there are a fair number of things about being my female self that I really do like and embrace SO much. And I have likely not covered everything. But most of all, what I like most of all about being a woman is that it feels right, it feels natural, and it is ME.

Thank you for reading.

X

My parents surprise me, forthcoming Xmas Events… and November 20th

Considering that my parents are quite old (a fact) and my mother is anti-LGBT they have turned out to surprise me!

On October 25th, out of the blue, my beloved parents received news from me that I am a TS woman and their initial reaction was, unsurprisingly, one of total shock. On 6th November they sent me a huge email with lots of comments, queries, and concerns, in which a few extreme and negative views were also expressed.

On Saturday I replied with an even longer email¬†to them, answering all the queries and points that they raised…. and yesterday¬†morning I received a short initial reply to my response saying that “now the shock has worn off, we found your email informative and reassuring… and can say, now with more confidence, that we would want to continue a relationship with you both during and after the change”! They also say that they “appreciate the intensity of my feelings”. They didn’t go into any depth, and will reply more fully in a few days, but I feel a lot more positive… and maybe they really will accept me!

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Usually the lead up to Christmas is of no interest to me – I am not much of a drinker, and usually all I get invited to is a single work do which involves everyone getting exceedingly drunk and embarrassingly silly… and thus I always avoid them. But this year, things are a little different… because I have been invited to two non-work Xmas dinners already! As Andrea.

  • The first event, time-wise, is the most exciting, because it demonstrates total acceptance of me by biological women… seemingly as a friend, either as another biological woman or a TS woman – I have no idea which, but it doesn’t matter. Three weeks ago was the last walk that I went on with my group, and that evening one of the two ladies I chatted to at length sent me an email suggesting I could accompany the two of them on a Xmas meal out. I was so pleased to receive that invite… and, as of last night, the restaurant is booked and arrangements are all made – I am SO excited! One of the ladies sent an email to me and the other lady with the greeting “Hi Girls”! I was SO pleased to be included in this! Maybe one day I will take it for granted, but to be labelled a girl, especially in a non-professional context, means so much.
  • The second meal, on the Friday before Christmas, was organised by my friend (Andrea D) who has also invited my two of her female work colleagues and my BF Kirsty. I am looking forward to that too – will give me a good opportunity to really dress up in a posh frock, and boost my spirits before Xmas.

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A disappointment today was that my latest Gender Clinic appointment scheduled for tomorrow afternoon has been cancelled owing to sickness of my counsellor. This is obviously unavoidable, but when one is psyching oneself up for what is almost a test of one’s femininity then it is a trifle disappointing… and nobody likes a disappointing trifle.

**************************************************************************************************Transgender Day

Transgender remembrance day is Thursday, November 20th – please remember it, and wear something purple. The world still needs to¬†be reminded that transgender people, like everyone else, have a right to respect… and some have died trying to earn this respect.

A mammoth email from my parents to their TS offspring… as well as a grand day out with Kirsty and increased Andrea-time

On 24th October my parents received the news that their son is actually a transsexual woman; the news stunned them, and my mother in particular I hear gets tearful when she has to think about it in depth. Last Friday I received a HUGE email from them that in summary indicates that they are unlikely to totally reject me, which is good news. However, partly due to at-least my mother being anti-LGBT, I believe they are ashamed of me, and they do not want any of their family tree or their neighbours to know about me; for the moment, communication has now shifted to email, as they feel that phone calls will be too emotional. In their email they wondered whether I had considered male hormone treatment (“and if not, why not”)… even though that would only result in, at the very least, an aggressive transsexual and, more than likely, would lead to me having a total mental breakdown. But at least they are processing the situation, have asked a plethora of questions about timelines, surgery, my daughter, and so on. I have just sent them an equally huge email back to answer as many of their questions as I can.

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On Saturday 8th November I had to work over 14 hours…. which totally wiped me out, and I was somewhat upset that my boss was not happy that at 8.20pm, after all those hours, I called it a day and headed home on the last train available. I was totally wrecked the next day… but my spirits were lifted by an afternoon out with Kirsty followed by a meal out. I left the house at around 1.00pm and arrived at a huge Sainsburys supermarket half an hour later; once inside, I zeroed in on the clothing department and, in the changing rooms, tried on a handful of clothes. I kept two items and, after doing a grocery shop, paid the for the lot at a checkout with a nice chatty girl and then drove over to support-group-headquarters to meet up with my best friend Kirsty. The two of us went to a shopping centre called Yorkgate, and had some good girly moments. We first went into an Asda shop where the ground floor is all clothing, and I soon had a nice moment – an old lady was heading towards me with her trolley and her daughter said to her “watch out for that lady with your trolley mum”, which made me smile; I said thanks to her and she replied “you’re welcome, dear”. After Kirsty and I both bought something, we went into a New Look store and had a good look around, especially amongst the sale isles. I found a lovely pair of ballet pumps in black with a pink floral pattern, matching the dress that I had on that I had bought a week or two earlier at H&M – at the till the girl said “they are a perfect match for your dress”. Indeed! With the best shops exhausted Kirsty suggested heading onto Castle Court shopping centre in Belfast city; on the way to the car we got cash, and it was Kirsty’s turn for a “lady” moment… which she can tell you about. In the city we firstly went for coffee at Starbucks – we both had rather strangely flavoured hot drinks with Christmassy themes, Kirsty suggested going upstairs but I was up for more of a challenge and steered her towards the only table left on the busy ground floor; of course, we had no bother at all. After our refreshment we went to a few shops, including Next where, while browsing handbags together, a man carrying his toddler son said “excuse me ladies”. Yes! At around 6.00 we returned to the car, and back to Lisburn where it was time to get ready for our latest meal out with Michelle.

We dined at a restaurant called Made In Belfast, though not only were the three of us there but also two of Kirsty’s friends, Vin and his wife Deirdre – it was the first time either had met Kirsty as, well, Kirsty, and so for her it was a significant night… and all seemed to go successfully with the couple suggesting we can all go out again. I will not say much more about the evening because I feel that it really is Kirsty’s event to write in detail about. Alas I was so tired from the previous day that I did not enjoy it as much as I would have liked – most of all, the noise, both from the music system and also the bar next to our table, really annoyed me, and I was not very lively for taking a significant role in conversation, also my voice naturally (even as male) is not strong, and so in a noisy atmosphere it is not well suited. The company was good though, and the food was simply delicious with courses getting better and better – my chicken in a rich mushroom and wine sauce was stunning, and my chocolate and praline tart was a significant dessert moment.

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My daughter at her tender age of almost-thirteen is growing up far too quickly… but such is the nature of an increasingly media-fuelled childhood where parents are often all-to-reliant on gadgets for providing “entertainment” rather than a more stimulating environment to grow up in. Anyway, such as she is, my daughter is showing an increasing desire to spend every Saturday afternoon in the shopping centres and Subway outlets of Newry with her friends… and I cannot really complain too much because, firstly, they all seem to want to do it but, more importantly for me, it provides a much needed spell of several hours for me to present as my true self for a precious few hours at times in the week I have not previously been able to do so. So, both today (15th Nov) and two weeks previously, the same pattern has been followed – I closely shave in the morning, drop daughter between 1.15 and 1.45 in Newry, then hurtle home to change back to my beloved female self, and then spend around three hours shopping at my local town of Banbridge. Today, in summary, I did the following:

  • Went to the post office where I gave the girl behind the counter a clothing envelope containing a top to return to Wallis who Andrea now has an account with. I also asked her for literature for parcel weights and prices.
  • Dropped a pair of boots off to have the heels re-done at a small outlet; I was prepared for a subdued reception, as the owner and a male customer, who obviously knew each other quite well, were having an animated conversation with an amount of colourful language… but NO, all was well, he took the boots off me, I asked how long they would take and the price, and he answered just like I was any other customer.
  • Spent a while browsing clothing stores (AGAIN), though partly for Xmas gift ideas. Bought a dressy scarf for someone (no, not you Kirsty), tried on a lovely coat too… though at a reduced price of ¬£64 I could still not really justify it, after recent clothing purchases.
  • Retrieved my boots, queuing for a while behind a family group who had locked themselves out of their car and were hoping for assistance; the owner paused his conversation to give me my boots, which he has done a good job on.
  • Drove over to Banbridge outlet, where I had a mocha and a yummy muffin; I had a lovely conversation with the guy serving me, mainly about the diminishing daylight hours compared to summer… and I have to say, I did fancy him a bit.
  • Finally a whizz round Tesco for a trolley of groceries, before rushing home to wipe off my face and pick my daughter up.

As is generally the case these days, my whole time out as Andrea was devoid of any attention that might suggest I am anything other than an average woman. As I write, my daughter is about to go to bed… and, presumably unbeknown to her, I have been wearing nail polish the whole time since my afternoon trip. I suppose I am being exceptionally reckless, though the nail polish is in a very subtle, pale shade of pink, slightly paler than one’s natural nail colour with a slight sheen to it, and pale enough for the greyish end of the nail to show through too. Hmm, do I wipe if off tonight or not… yes, no, yes, no…. uhhh….

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.

Eastbourne007ed

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 ‚Äúgirls‚ÄĚ 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) ‚Äď 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!

XXX

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.

XO