Haunted by a Largely Unwanted History

When I first went full time there were a few weeks of adjustment for people at work where there a few name slip ups or gender pronoun errors, but on the whole it didn’t take long for people to get used to the new, improved me… and indeed after a few months one or two even said that they couldn’t remember me being anyone other than who they now saw. There were also a few weeks of taking care of assorted company systems and admin to get the name sorted out.

So after 18 months of being full-time one kinda expected that there wouldn’t be any recurrence of either of these things. WRONG!!! Since mid-June there has been a catalogue of incidents that has frankly made me a bit fed up… because I have bee merrily enjoying life and yet these events have come back to haunt me several times of a past that I wish has largely not happened, for it was wrong. So the following things have happened:

  • Perhaps as a consequence of me working in the IT department of a big company for a very long time (over 16 years… gasp), I have had to use a variety of systems during that time. For about 14 years I worked on one system, and subsequently on a new system. Just prior to my transition I asked for my logons to be changed or removed. In June I was asked to help with an issue on the old system due to my extensive knowledge, and I was happy to help… and after doing so I just thought I would check that my own specific logins had been removed… AND THEY HAD NOT! I was furious… and so I sent an email to the managers concerned, copied to HR, with technical instructions on how to resolve the issue and asked for someone who knew my history to do the work.
  • At a similar time the provider of catering for my company changed to a new company and so our records were transferred over to the new provider and we had to re-register our security cards. So I went up to a representative and told them my name and he said that he couldn’t find any record at all with ‘Andrea’. I said that was rather odd, as I had been a regular user of the canteen, and so he searched again under the surname… and, surprise surprise, there was my record, against my old identity. So I had the embarrassing time of having to take him and his laptop aside to a quiet area and explain the situation… at which point he said it was no bother (to him, anyway) and he rectified it; it put me right off my lunch though.
  • In mid July a guy in the security admin area was doing a tidy up of old directories on different serves for the department and he sent out a spreadsheet to a group of us with name of directory and owner. In my case the directory was new full name (i.e. andrea.<surname>) and along side it in the spreadsheet was the owner which was my old network logon, (old forename)_m – so not a total link, but suggestive… and if one happened to click on the directory concerned then the owner email came up as (old forename).(surname)@(company).com! So I immediately marched over to a manager again and told him of this issue and how upset I was… so he did that afternoon go over to the individual concerned, get the directory ownership corrected, and told the individual concerned to be more careful.
  • About two weeks later I requested some software to be put on my PC called Lync, it allows one to chat with fellow colleagues for simple queries rather than having to keep getting up from one’s desk or send emails. The set up didn’t go smoothly… at all! A guy did the install but when I logged on I couldn’t see the software… which he said was because my PC was so old. So he did another kind of set up, I logged on, and started up the software… but it wouldn’t connect with my network login – they guy was stumped after trying number of things, and went off to someone else to try and find the problem… and eventually they did, the new software was linked (no pun intended) to my old email address L So they rectified the problem… but I don’t know whether either of those individuals knew my history or not… but now they do.
  • After the above incident I thought I would just check that the first incident had been rectified as it has been about six weeks since I reported it. NO IT HADN’T! What a bad day! So I blew a gasket, sent an email expressing my sincere disappointment at the delay in resolving this issue, copying HR. During that week the issue got sorted… and the bottom-ladder person doing it, a nice Spanish girl, was very thoughtful in carrying it out.
  • The same day as above I had an email reply from head of HR saying sorry that I am getting upset… though nobody would want to upset me. Next day I ended up having a chat with an HR person under her who ‘looks after’ my department… and ended up feeling worse than when I started talking to her, as though I wasn’t the victim at all.
  • Maybe a couple of weeks after all that I ended up in a conversation with two women and a male manager about a software release I was trying to get in place; one woman knows my history, the other who is new does not, while the male does too… and is behind the delay in the first issue being resolved. During the discussion he referred to me with the wrong pronoun… and although he immediately corrected himself, I wonder whether that is further damage done… even if the new girl on a subsequent release call referred to me and another woman as ‘girls’ on the call.

I have recently had one or two bits of mail with my old name on as well, one of which I am surprised about as the bank concerned (First Direct of HSBC) rectified my old name ages ago… and yet the direct debit mandate for my travel insurance that I received a renewal for today is still as ‘Mr’.

So the moral of this story is that although the longer time goes on the happier one may be in this new life, more comfortable in it, and more successful at it (can’t remember the last time, when not with other trans* people, I got any kind of reaction to suggest they either wondered whether I was trans* and/or had an issue with it), none of that means that history won’t come back to haunt you… potentially for years and years to come… sigh.

A Dozy-Saturday & A Piercingly-Elating Sunday

As some of my geographically-local friends already know, I can be a bit of a dozy mare. I probably shouldn’t even write about my Saturday morning as you’ll all think I’m totally brainless, maybe I’m just too honest. Anyway, as I have detailed in many previous posts, I joined a walking group last May and they meet up every two weeks… and so as it had been two weeks since the last walk I was looking forward to my next walk with the group. I got up at 7.55, got ready, and drove to where I thought the walk was departing from… except that when I got there, five minutes early, there was nobody there that I recognised, particularly no cream mini which is driven by the walking group leader. How odd! But I assumed I was parked in the wrong place, as there weren’t loads of parking spaces, so I drove up the next road, where there was a large car park, but still nobody. I phoned walking-group-leader a couple of times, but no response, so I had a bright idea and phoned Margaret who I remembered was on the walk – she answered, and sounded quite pleased to hear me, and I asked her if she had after-all gone on the Stormont-Estate walk… and she said “Andrea, I don’t think that walk is for another two weeks”. Oh good grief, what an imbecile I felt… and unfortunately this can be fairly typical behaviour for me, when I am tired I can get very absent-minded and/or clumsy. Then Margaret admitted that she was miserable because it was the weekend anniversary of her husband dying… and I felt really bad.

Well, I was not intending to go all the way back home again, so I decided I would treat myself to a nice lunch. I was quite near Holywood where I remembered there was a lovely café that I had been to after a previous walk. I went to a nearby Tesco, changed into one of my favourite day-dresses from Next, then did a grocMy first flowersery shop; I wasn’t in a good mood, so did not chat much to the friendly checkout girl; as it was Mother’s Day I decided to buy myself some flowers (for the first time ever), maybe most people wouldn’t call me a mother, seeing as I did not give birth to my daughter, but I am her parent and I am a female. Then onto Holywood where I queued up at the Coffee Yard to order a roast chicken ciabata, which I enjoyed while listening to a couple of guitarists playing for customers. In the afternoon I went clothes shopping for several hours before heading home with only a few items after much time spent in changing rooms.

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Sunday was an altogether better day for several reasons, particularly as I would spend several hours of it with my BFF… but also because by the end of the day I felt even more of a girl… and in fact truly magical. I don’t know whether it was because I had a reasonable night of sleep, and also got a lie-in Sunday morning, or just because I have been full-time now for over six weeks, but I felt supremely confident everywhere I went and every time I spoke to anyone.

I don’t know why, but when I woke up a thought popped into my head – should I get my ears pierced today? After all, I have now lost two earrings from pairs that I like, and the last one I lost I was really annoyed about as I really liked it. But then I thought that maybe I should wait until my parents have visited, as maybe the shock of seeing me as a woman would be enough without that. Undecided, after putting on my face and clothes, I headed out. First stop was Argos, to get a clothes airer to hang my girlie washing on, as the tumble dryer is a no-go area for many of my girlie clothes – I paid with vouchers, and when the box arrived and the girl asked if I was okay carrying it I thought to myself “Girl carrying large box, not a good look… and NOT good for my bad back” so I asked if someone could carry it to the car and so the checkout girl said to a young guy “Could you carry something out for that lady?” (moi). He came out and carried it as far as the door and then an older guy took over, I chatted about training for lifting heavy things, and he was really nice. Onto Bowstreet Mall where I hoped I would have time to get eyebrows threaded, but alas no so I just went to Primark where I bought quite a number of lovely summery tops and a couple of dresses before meeting up with Kirsty outside support group HQ.

We spent the afternoon in Belfast centre, shopping for the most part. As usual, we parked in Castle Court and, after going in a couple of clothing stores, went to the far end, down the escalators, and towards the exit… past Claire’s which, for those of you who don’t know, is a shop selling earrings, jewellery, and other accessories. And I HAD to go in! Near the entrance was the chair where people’s ears are pierced and, as I um-ed and ah-ed, a family went in front of me with their little daughter to get her ears done; I was quite glad to watch her first, so I knew the process by the time it was my turn. The only problem was that when the girl’s ears got their rings in place her face collapsed into tears, and my legs went a bit jelly-ish; I said to Kirsty “Can I change my mind?” and she went “Uh, no!”. And then it was my turn!! I was presented with a picture-frame-type affair full of starter-earrings to choose from, and I immediately narrowed it down to two – I see myself as very feminine, and somewhat dainty, and so I went for a pair of 9-carat earrings with sparkly crystal inserts.

Ouch!

                          Ouch!

I filled out a long form with all types of questions and health clauses, I felt like I was buying life insurance! then the shop assistant drew little dots on my ears, one of which she corrected, then asked if I wanted them both done at the same time, and I figured that would be best, to get it out of the way all in one go. So another assistant came along, the first one counted to three with ear piercers (or whatever they are called) over my ears… and then it was done! For those contemplating it, there was literally a few seconds of stinging, a few minutes of my ears feeling slightly swollen, but otherwise fine. I paid, asked about follow-on earrings which I was showed on a stand, and then I headed out of the shop with Kirsty… and tears began to dribble down my eyes as emotions went out of control! I felt SO girlie with my newly-pierced ears, and I suppose that feeling rushed back agmy first earringain – only 14 months ago I was only venturing outdoors with any purpose… and NOW my ears were pierced, and I was into my seventh week of RLE. Kirsty and I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping – well, I spent a third of the time looking in pretty much any mirror I could find at my lovely ears, another third stemming the flow of tears from my elated feelings with Kirsty on-hand for support and make-up-ruining tear-spotting, and the other third focussed on shopping. Before returning to Lisburn and parting company, Kirsty and I finally had coffee and cake at a Café Nero, where I can now tell you all my latest news – I have my new passport, that I showed Kirsty as we ate… AND as well as having my girlie picture and name, IT SAYS I AM FEMALE!!! I was SOOO pleased when I got that in the post! So anyone who dares to question my gender I can now potentially show them my passport, should I have it with me, and say “so what does this say, huh?” FEMALE! ME!

x

Predictive Parenting…? My daughter may be on the way back to me…

In previous posts I have detailed how various people that I have known have reacted to the news that I am a woman, and how they have come to terms with it… or not as the case is, at least for now, for both my brother and my daughter. For both of them it is because they have not been encouraged to talk about it with anyone and, for my daughter, at the same time as trying to come to terms with me being a woman she is also dealing with her own hormones. As with everyone, I need to give them all the time they need, help them if I can, and hope they will eventually come back to me.

As for my brother, I don’t have any idea how he might come back to me. Now, he hasn’t rejected me as such, and emails me about once a week, but he is having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that he has lost a brother and gained a sister. Perhaps I am hoping that when my parents come over and stay with me in April, they will report back to him after their stay in a very positive fashion and it will bring him to his senses.

My daughter’s relationship with my ex- is very up and down. On the one hand their relationship is as close as one would expect between a mother and child where they spend much time together. On the other hand I consider that my ex- treats her like a slave with little reward and is very strict with her – she has to do a lot of chores (including vacuuming the whole house weekly and ironing their clothes, for example) and she is only allowed to do one outing with a friend per month, either going to a disco or going shopping down town.

In October 2013 while I was working late at night in Dublin I had a call from my daughter begging for me to come and get her because she “couldn’t live there any more” with my ex- and that she hated her; this was after they had a big argument after daughter was late coming home from being out playing/chilling, and my ex- had left her at their house and stormed off in the car after an argument that included physical contact with my daughter. From Dublin I was on the phone while I was trying to work for about an hour, listening to my daughter pleading with me as I tried to calm her down, sending texts to my ex- to try and diffuse the situation, and phoning the mother of my daughter’s BFF to arrange for my daughter to come over for the night if my ex- did not return home; I could not leave as I had missed the last train. Anyway, after all that phoning, my ex- eventually returned home and things calmed down.

So when I told my daughter about my feminine self at the very start of 2015, my pre-amble for this news served to remind her that I am not so strict, I don’t get her to do loads of chores, I let her do things with more frequency than my ex- does, and that I love her loads. When it shortly subsequently became clear that she would have difficulty coping with me being a woman (hardly a surprise), I clearly remember voicing the opinion to friends that I would give her all the time and support that she needed, but that I half-expected that the turning point could well be the next time my ex- and my daughter had a big bust-up…

…and last night that is exactly what happened! As is usually the case, these bust ups are partly my daughter’s fault, and frequently because she withholds the truth from my ex- because she knows the response will be in the negative. Yesterday evening my daughter wanted to go to a St Patrick’s Day disco, especially because it was the birthday of one of her friends, but because of a previous argument where my ex-who  said she would not be allowed to go to such a disco for a whole year (which seems extreme punishment to me) then she did not tell my ex- and was at her BFFs house ready to go… except that BFF’s mother rang my ex- about the disco, at which point my ex- hurtled over to collect my daughter and a big argument ensued…

…after which I got a load of phonecalls from my daughter!! I missed three of them as the phone was at the other end of the house, and then I heard the next one, ran over to get the phone, and when I saw it was her phoning I answered, took a deep breath, and spoke in my best girlie voice… and there was my daughter, sobbing at the other end of the phone, saying “I can’t live here any more… I hate her… I’ve had enough”, and so on. I talked to her softly, got her to explain to me what had happened, explained that I have told her before that she has to be honest and not lie, because it only makes matters worse between her and my ex-. Then I said to her that I hoped she didn’t mind my new voice, and she said that she didn’t. I said I understand that she finds our situation difficult to understand, and that I hope that she will go to counselling and she said that she will. I asked her if she ever talks about the situation, and she doesn’t… which is where the counselling must surely help, because at the moment her head is glued up with it. But I asked if she is sleeping better, and she is. I mentioned that my ex- said to me that my daughter sees no point in seeing me… but my daughter said that she never said that. I then said that in January my ex- said that daughter didn’t want to see me again, but my daughter said that she didn’t mean forever, only that weekend. After some time she calmed down a bit… and I eventually got cut off, due to poor signal…

…at which point I noticed a text had arrived from my ex- saying “If you want her, come and pick her up”, and of course I would have loved too… except it is not quite as simple as that. For a start, I had had a drink, and so could not drive to pick her up; not an insurmountable problem. But my ex- had previously told me that I could not see daughter until she had started counselling, which is sensible, and it would also not be wise for daughter to immediately meet the new-me without even knowing what I look like, and preferably until my ex- has met the new-me first, as suggested by my clinic; it could just make matters worse. The situation concluded itself by my ex- obviously having some word with my daughter after all those calls and texts from me, and daughter reluctantly agreed with my ex-‘s plan to go away to some family cottage for the weekend, and I gave her some suggestions on how to have a good time… because daughter said that she would be totally bored as my ex- just “spends the whole time in bed”.

Anyway, to me it seems quite a good step up has happened here in bringing my daughter and myself back a bit closer together – there’s still much to do I am sure, but my hopes are higher.

X

Week 3 at work as Andrea, my true self… alas a 7-day working-week

This last week I have been at work for the whole seven days, including 13 hours working on Saturday and 11 hours yesterday (Sunday)… although I am not that weary that I can’t update my dear blog!

It’s been a very long week, broken up only by one single day where I came home early, but every day I have felt happy, every day has had really good, happy moments:

  • Monday 16th Feb – I had good chats with Fiona, Carol, and especially Natalie at work about our respective weekends; they all liked my lovely new dark blue suede boots from Next that I bought while with Kirsty at Belfast. Natalie gave me more advice on shoes (she says New Look ones will kill me),and also on tennis gear – like her, I also love playing tennis, and hope to find a meetup group that will facilitate this. My Project Manager is struggling to pronounce my name the way I want, though he is not alone, people in Southern Ireland pronoun Andrea in a different way from UK. Could be worse of course…
  • Tuesday 17th Feb – had another fab chat with Natalie, told her about my totally disastrous morning getting ready, including wardrobe indecision – she loved my shoes (black patent heels, not new), she also said I have great legs “unlike her tree trunks”!! In the canteen at lunchtime I got a wrap made up from one guy, then got a pancake with berry compote from another on the hot plate, and I am totally sure they don’t recognise me! The sandwich guy cut my wrap into two, whereas before I began living my lovely new life he knew to always not cut it; I daren’t tell him now! After about an hour, I left HQ and returned to me temporary office, and before I left I made a cup of tea and another of coffee to take with me in case I came across the homeless people that I know… and indeed they were there, so I gave them their drinks along with loads of sugar and a plastic spoon, and they were really pleased; the girl got up, said “thanks honey”, and then gave me a hug. By late afternoon my back was killing me, I am wondering if carrying my breasts around every day is affecting it… or whether the constant wearing of heels is also an issue. As I left the office the ageing security guard on duty bid me a cheerful goodbye – pre-RLE, he was as miserable as sin, and even though I always said ‘Hello’ to him I got barely more than a grunt… but NOW he is SO much more cheerful. Alas this week was half term and the evening trains were really busy, and so I had to stand for 35 minutes on the train; I took my heels off, and for once was quite glad that my toe nails were painted.
  • Wednesday 18th Feb – within 10 minutes of arriving in the office I received a lovely email from Natalie saying “Lovely dress!!”; how nice, huh!! So, I rushed over with my handbag, wearing my knee-length boots (which she said were lovely) that I wore as it was chilly, then removed said-boots and showed her my recently purchased New Look shoes (which she also liked) – she commented with some amazement that I even painted my toe nails, and also said my finger nails were great. Breda said I looked really girlie in my dress, a black knee-length with beige spots. In my new building there is a window at the end of the corridor, with a meeting room beyond, where I can see my reflection as I walk towards the kitchen, and it is a joy to see my dress gently sway with every step I took. For lunch I had sushi, which I really like, I find it really cleanses the palette, anyway, it is perfect girlie food as it can be eaten without any danger of smearing ones lipstick! In the afternoon I was on a conference call (where several colleagues in different offices do a meeting over the phone), I joined early with my PM Pat, then John joined… and the conversation went something like this:

John: Who’s on the line?

Pat: Hi, Pat here.

Me: Hi John

John: Oh, hi Andrea (pronounced more or less correctly)

Me: See Pat, John can pronounce my name correctly! It’s not that difficult!

John: Pat, just think of Andrea (‘An-dray-a’) Corr… and it’s not that!

Me: John, that won’t work, he’ll think of Andrea Corr, and then just think of her and nothing else as she’s much prettier than this Andrea.

John: Oh, I don’t know about that…

Me: Oh John, you flatterer!!

(laughter)

That was rather a fun conversation!

I left work early, to post my passport application, and then for a meal out (see previous post).

  • Thursday 19th Feb – on the way to work I sat next to a lady on the train, when I got on board I said ‘do you mind if I sit here?’ (i.e. next to her) and she said ‘of course not’. As the train neared Dublin I heard a Beethoven symphony on her headphones (not really loud, but the melancholic finale was audible), and so as I put my coat on I said “Was that Beethoven’s 7th Symphony?” and she said “Yes! Oh, I’m sorry if it was disturbing you” but I said not at all, that it made a nice change to hear something I really like rather than the normal loud tinny crashing and banging that I usually hear on the train from headphones that really are too loud, and then we had some good chat about different composers that we like. Once again Natalie and I had some lovely chat – again she liked my dress, and warned me that she is going to come around my house to raid my wardrobe!! Ha ha!! Alas I noticed a ladder in my tights as I was sitting with her my first since going 24-7), Natalie advised that one can use nail polish to stop the ladder spreading if one notices it early on. That day my feet were totally wrecked with whatever footwear I had on, I had a blister on my big toe, and my little toes were swollen too. In the afternoon I phoned up More-Than and changed my house insurance to my lovely girlie name; the lady on the phone was really friendly.
  • Friday 20th Feb – today it was my daughter’s birthday, I sent her a ‘happy birthday’ email; she’s now a teenager. AGGGHHHH!! A less eventful day to write about at work, it was really busy as we were getting ready for a long weekend of work for a system go-live. My colleague said that he thought my coat was really very nice – it was my navy military coat, that I got on ebay for an absolute bargain. I was wearing my beige M&S jeggings and a really pretty navy lace top from Tesco, and Breda said something like ‘Oh, fashion parade again”! The security guard and I had more cheery greetings! On the train I was sitting next to a guy on the train, at one point he dropped his mobile phone and got into a total panic trying to find it, so I stood up so he could hunt around on the floor (in vain) and then he asked me to ring his phone… which he eventually found had dropped into his sports bag. My daughter sent me an email thanking me for my email, and thanking me for the clothes I had ordered online for her birthday; it is nice she has some manners still.
  • Saturday 21st Feb – 13 hours of work!! Ugh! But it was a good test for my face, which lasted very well… especially considering that as I got off the train that morning I started with a cold, with much sneezing and blowing of my nose which turned into a tap… and subsequent face-patching-up above my lips with my foundation sponge. In the afternoon I went out to a pharmacy, the security guard was really helpful and told me where it was; the tablets I got did a FAB job of banishing my cold. I had a great long chat with a South African girl at work called Liesa all about her travels, later while I was waiting for something to run during the system implementation I did my nails, removing the original colour as much as possible and then applying a new light pink colour – Liesa said it was lovely, and we had lots of laughter as I suggested painting her nails and setting up a nail-bar at my desk! That’s something I never thought I would be doing during a system implementation, painting my nails!!! I left work at 11.25pm, and a male colleague nicely offered to drive me to my guesthouse – even though it was only 10 minutes walk, I totally appreciated it, for safety reasons.
  • Sunday 22nd Feb – I arrived at work at about 9.20am, and immediately had a really long chat with a Belgian guy called Eugene about each others historic travelling adventures – he has a stutter, but generally I am convinced he is more confident talking with me than with some after several observations, because I listen to what he says and when he does occasionally stutter I don’t offer to finish the words off for him like some, which is really not the right thing to do. An hour or so later I had a beautiful conversation with a Sri Lankan colleague called Nava, he is a lovely guy, he said how much him and his colleagues admired my courage and that they now just think of me as Andrea; I nearly cried. I left work 11 hours after my arrival, my PM walked with me part-way to my guesthouse, where after checking in I had to complain about my room which was boiling hot and I could not adjust the heating. Once it was sorted out, I went back out and got myself a Chinese takeaway at a noodle bar, and popped into Supervalu for yoghurt, fruit, and juice, where the checkout girl (who once before served me) initiated chat about the weather, and told me she was glad her football match was cancelled in the morning.

So that was my long, working week, week 3 of my RLE as the person I was born to really be. It was a long, tiring week. However, it was full of happy moments, even if my boss was a bit of a nightmare half the time (unnecessary panic, lack of trust, dreaming up non-urgent work to get people to stay very late, etc – general alpha-male type), but the weekend of hectic work proved to me how I am totally the absolute opposite to him in every imaginable way… including of course gender.

x

Now EVERYONE knows about the real me, about Andrea… and an amazing meal at The Plough

In recent weeks on a Friday I have commented on how my working week has gone… as a woman… but alas my working week has not finished yet as I am working the whole weekend, probably ridiculous hours… and without being paid for any of them. So, instead, a few odds and ends…

In the last couple of weeks I have come out to all of the rest of the people that I know… and ALL have been positive to some extent. Firstly an old uni-friend Ruth who I have remained in touch with, albeit only at birthday and Christmas times; she sent me an email within a day of receiving my letter, reassuring me that she wished to remain friends. Secondly another friend, Shirley, who I have known for over 20 years and almost had a relationship with – she also wrote soon after receiving my coming-out letter, saying that she was shocked, cried a lot, but “loves me and reassures me our friendship is intact”. Somewhat oddly and uniquely, she said she felt cheated and angry that I had not told her much earlier, that I had not said ‘goodbye’ as old-me before being introduced to new-me, and that she had not been able to control the situation – I had to remind her that this is MY situation, that I HAD to remain in control of such that it remained on the rails as much as possible (and it has), and that even my parents did not get what she asked for… and I am their offspring! Also I had dropped hints to her… which were not picked up on. This week I came out to two guys I knew at work, I say ‘knew’ because they have now left my company, but one I am in regular email contact, and the other not so much but he was looking for a reference from me; they both recognise that I will be much happier, and in fact the ‘regular’ contactee said that his accountant transitioned to womanhood a couple of years ago too!! So, that’s EVERYONE done!! And only my daughter and brother are at odds with the situation. My daughter, due to her age, was obviously going to be a problem… but my brother I remain somewhat puzzled about, he was the very first one who I came out to, in an earlier discussion he dismissed people who are bigoted at being “old school”, and yet he still has a problem getting used to the new-me, even if we email every week or so. Maybe if he talked about it to someone…

I read my BFF’s blog about shoes and, of course, I feel for her in that her desire to have her pick of ladies shoes is restricted by her foot-size. My feet are generally a UK size 7, and they are not that wide… and yet finding a pair of truly comfortable shoes (boots are not quite such an issue) that my feet will be happy in for a whole day now that I am 24-7 is becoming a really difficult challenge. And it seems as though any store that sells ladies shoes that are designated as comfortable generally charges a lot for the privilege of having that comfort, and lumbers one with a very frumpy shoe; M&S’s current Footglove selection are a sheer disaster to any gal like me looking for something with even a moderate amount of chic pizazz to them.

On Wednesday I left work early and finally was able to post my passport application, in my new name with new, transformed photo… which really is not too bad, compared to the heart-numbing image in the last one. Later, after an uneventful and unmemorable Tesco shop, I went for dinner with my two best girlie friends Kirsty and Michelle somewhere I have not been too for many years (and thus never as Andrea) because whenever that last time was the lunchtime fair appeared uninspiring; however, this recent evening at The Plough was a resounding success with astonishingly good food! There was a curry night on, which initially was not of great interest to me as I don’t like spicy food, but this newly adventurous girl threw her caution to the wind and ordered a seafood tikka marsala for a main course, with a duck spring roll for starters – the spring roll was substantial, tasty, and well-presented, while the main course was extraordinarily good, probably the best Indian course I have had with amazing seafood flavours shining through a delicious sauce that complimented well. We weren’t going to have a dessert, but the very bubbly and friendly waitress (who addressed as ‘ladies’ several times) easily persuaded us to share a selection of mini-deserts; after coffees/teas, we left the restaurant over two hours after our arrival with every intention of going back.

That above paragraph, with the mention of photos, reminds me of an incident while Kirsty was staying over. Maybe I have mentioned it before, I can’t remember. Anyway, I wanted to show Kirsty some pictures of my daughter as she was growing up… but alas inevitably came across some pictures with ‘him’ (i.e. old-me) in them – well, frankly they made me feel sick, and I have ripped all-but-one of them up, even if they were a reminder of times with Tara, I just HAD to get rid of them… the same as I have just come across a ludicrously large mug in my kitchen with the words ‘Dad, my hero’ written on it, and I just had to get rid of it – I am NOT a ‘Dad’, I am a parent who was stuck in the wrong body for too long who still has a tonne of love for my daughter.

And I will sign off by wishing my lovely daughter a Happy 13th Birthday. Yep, she’s a teenager now… and much as I would have liked to do so, our present circumstances meant that I have not seen my daughter on her birthday, and so could only give her presents by shopping online from the likes of River Island and Superdry; hopefully next year will be different…

x

A lovely long walk, successful shoe shopping… and a trip to a jail!!

As I have to work for the majority of next weekend (which I won’t even be paid for… sob) I was determined to make the best of the weekend just gone.

After a long week at work I used to typically have a lie in on a Saturday morning… but life is different in so many ways these days, and I was up at just after 7.30am to get ready for my next walking group event, a six mile trek in the mountains above Belfast. As usual, I couldn’t make it to the start of the walk without a stop at the ladies (this time in McDonalds), but for once I amazed myself by getting to the walk early for the first time ever – to-date I have always been un-early, either arriving on-time or a minute or two late. At the car park I donned my woolly hat-avec-pompoms and joined the group; after a little chat with a couple of the members, we all set off for Divis mountain. Alas it was rather cloudy, but thankfully dry compared to my walk in early December (described in a previous post), and I was soon chatting to a lady who was new to the group called Eleanor; several of us women soon stopped at a National Trust building for the toilet, which itself provided the opportunity to chat to new group members, all lovely women, and as we set off on one of the mountain trails I chatted at length to one of the new girls called Jennifer who is taking ‘lessons’ in becoming a tourist guide. As we headed uphill I met a couple of Anns – one was the girl who had held onto me for dear life on the previous walk, the other Ann a semi-retired nurse who I had not seen since July but remembered me (for some reason), and we all had some lovely chat as we carried on, up a path I have never done before. As we reached the highest point of the walk, and headed downwards with fabulous views over Belfast city I was talking to Jennifer again… and it turned out that she was joining a German-speaking Meetup group that my BFF’s wife was also joining! We paused at a viewpoint over the city and I was soon chatting to a girl I had never met before with a very boisterous dog who, as we headed off, was soon telling me some quite personal detail all about parents she didn’t get on at all well with, her lovely children, her drunken ex-, and so on; I don’t remember anyone ever opening up so quickly to me before. About a mile from the end of the walk we came across a stile – I waited behind the group leader and another girl and, as it became my turn to go over the stile an old guy pushed past me and climbed over; after I, and a few others, had climbed over I saw a lady who I had met once before who said to me “That guy was really rude who pushed in front of you – any guy should know that he should wait for a lady” (i.e. me)! At the end of the walk we stopped at a café for tea, coffee, and scones, and further opportunity to chat… where I sat with Kathleen, who asked me about my car as she was thinking of buying one and, once at the car park, I let her have a look at mine. Eventually we all parted, another walk successfully under my belt.

I went back into McDonalds to change out of my walking gear. I initially wished I hadn’t, as there were a throng of young girls milling in and around the toilets, but as far as I could tell they didn’t have an issue with me; some of the tedious chat I heard does not bode well for my daughter though… sigh. I drove to Lisburn, hoping to post off my passport application for me to have one as Andrea, but alas although the Post Office was open the main section that dealt with passport applications was not. So, to cheer myself up, retail therapy beckoned, and after an hour I had bought a lovely pair of shoes, a handbag (which once home turned out to be even heavier than my current one), and chocolates. I finally did a grocery shop at Tesco, and had a lovely long chat with a really pleasant woman at the checkout that I have met before.

Sunday I treated myself to a lie-in…. relatively speaking. I was up at about 10.00, put my face on and dressed, and then made my second phone call post-revelation to my parents – I have to admit that I was a bit nervous as the connection was made, but in a few minutes of talking to them I was settled, and as the call went on all was well; my mum alas used my old name again, and I corrected her, though she said that she looks at my new photo every day which is nice. At the end of the call my Dad was repeating something to my mum, and referred to me both by my new name and also as ‘her’ which was good. At around 1.30 I left home to meet up with my BFF Kirsty, but stopped en-route at Sprucefield to pop into Boots for emergency makeup accessories… and I am so glad I did, for a No.7 assistant called Mandy was present, who was the kind lady who helped me with my foundation when I went in late-2013 in male-guise. I picked up make-up sponges and went to her to pay… and, recognising me, she exclaimed “Hi!” and we had a nice little chat, and I said that I just wanted to tell her that I was full-time-me now and to thank her for all her help; she said “no fizz!” (which I have to presume is a local expression for no-problem) and then bid me farewell, using my name which she had remembered.

I phoned Kirsty to let her know I was on my way, and then drove to support group HQ where I met her outside and got in her car. A few days earlier we had agreed to go to the Crumlin Road GaolAndrea at crumlin road gaol (which I presume is the same as ‘jail’), and two days beforehand I booked tickets online; Kirsty parked nearby and we went straight to the waiting room, reading up on a few facts about the jail… including women being jailed for protesting about unequal rights only 100 years ago, and the gaol being operational until 1996. Presently our guide arrived and took quite a large crowd of us out into the open for an introductory chat before leading us into the prisoner waiting room, a very ordinary room with numerous cubicles where detainees were placed to strip them of their clothes and belongings before being bathed… and more recently, sprayed with DDT when baths were considered too slow… before it became apparent that DDT weed killer was not ideal for cleaning persons and showers were installed! We were led onto other rooms where to-be-prisoners would have been processed, including holding cells with low doors (where Kirsty had to duck)… and I asked the guide why that was and was told that in those days (i.e. within the last 100 years) people were smaller. We then went down to a musty tunnel only 1.5 metres under a busy main road, and then into the main gaol wings themselves, which were really quite cold, but architecturally quite interestinIMG_20150215_152959731g with wrought iron railings and spiral stairwells. We walked past an assortment of rooms and cells, reading about women and also children as young as eight kept in cells for short stints of time (‘short sharp shock’ treatment)… and ended up at a dead-man-waiting cell which, owing to the large party, I was not able to get into and see what lay beyond, until the crowd moved… and there, in a tall, icy room was a noose… with a Perspex-covered trap-door opening below. Uh, gulp!! I wasn’t expecting that! Or the room beyond, where bodies were put into coffins and a flogging frame also stood. I won’t repeat all the detail, for it is rather gruesome, although the tour was indeed very interesting. Once a walk around the exterior, past where bodies were buried, was complete we decided to head into Belfast city… where much of the time I spent shoe-shopping while Kirsty patiently offered opinions, and tried on one or two things herself. I left the shops with a lovely pair of navy, Next suede boots and some nice heels from M&S.

Back at Kirsty’s car I changed into my lovely New Look slingbacks acquired the day before, and Kirsty drove us to Il Pirata, where we had dined some months ago. We passed the restaurant without Kirsty realising, and so she turned off at the next right to turn around, and we seem to be followed – Kirsty paused a couple of times, hoping the following car would turn off into a driveway, but it annoyingly did not. Kirsty said something like “it’d be funny if it was Michelle behind us”… AND IT WAS!! Once we had turned around we saw her, and gave us a wave, then we returned to the turn off near the restaurant and parked some way down… in the pouring rain! NOT good weather for slingbacks, I found out, as we made our way to the restaurant. In summary, as before, the food was excellent – I had mussels in white wine, seafood risotto with melt-in-the-mouth scallops, and a chocolate and hazelnut tart… as well as helping Michelle to finish her ice cream – but the music was too loud, as is often the case, and for much of the meal Michelle’s attention was divided between her guests with the one not being conversed to not able to hear the words of the other two; one of these days I am going to complain about this. I returned to Lisburn in Michelle’s big, comfortable Citroen estate and, after a brief hug, we said our goodbyes for another night.

All-in-all, I pretty good weekend!

X

Changing Views Of Me… and was I really ever anything other than a woman?

I suppose most of my posts that I write on my blog are along the lines of “this is what’s happened over a period of X days, and I felt emotions A, B, C…” and so on, along with the occasional selfie or two. And, for me, that has all been very well, it preserves memories of some really special times, and special people. I also up to now have written about the vast majority of activities done and time spent while presenting as the real me, because those were such high points in my otherwise dull and unhappy life. But now? Well, now, I’m me ALL the time… and SO much of my life every day is such a real joy! I can hardly write about ALL that I do now as Andrea… because that’s 24/7, and you’d all no doubt nod off if I wrote about it all.

So I thought I would pause in the diarying and reflect on a couple of things. Everyone is different… and thus the people that now know about Andrea (which is very nearly EVERYONE that knows me) have not all reacted the same. Some have taken quite a while to get used to the idea, many (especially at work) have taken to me instantly… and others not, and of course there is my daughter who is awaiting counselling and currently does not want to see me again:

  • My brother was the first person that I came out to, way back in September… and although our emails are ongoing and largely unphased it turns out that after all this time he is still trying to get used to the idea of me as a girl. One reason for this is that he does not talk to ANYONE about it, thus any thoughts he has about it are in his head and not channelled to anyone that can help.
  • My parents were the next people who I came out to. Their initial reaction was utmost shock, and it took them weeks to communicate coherently about it to me, then with a tonne of questions that I replied to as honestly and openly and helpfully as I could. Two months after I told them about me, it was Christmas Day, when I received my first email addressed “Dear Andrea”, a Dorothy Perkins e-giftcard for me to buy girlie clothes… and now they have photos of me that they have commented on very favourably and we are back to phone conversations. So, my ageing parents, having recovered from initial shock, have way-overtaken my supposedly open-minded brother in their acceptance of me.
  • Two old friends immediately accepted me… proving that they are indeed true friends.
  • My daughter is in email contact with me, largely around presents for her forthcoming birthday (typical teenager)… but other than that she cannot take this on board as yet, poor thing.
  • My ex- was initially rather positive and seemingly open-minded about my situation… but has now become less positive, blaming purely my transsexual femininity on the break up of our marriage… even though I suppressed it as much as I could at that time… and even though the legal process concluded that it was a no/equal fault break-up.
  • My boss was initially very supportive of me, although rather naive about the difference between a TS and a CD… but at this point, now that I am full-time, he seems to be becoming less supportive, or at least less sensitive, about this significant, psychological life-change that I am going through and is getting ready to pile stress and pressure back onto my work life as if nothing has changed… and I am worried I just will not be able to take this.
  • The vast majority of my work colleagues have been instantly accepting, and in only seven working days it has been really interesting watching the relationship between us evolve and, in some cases, blossom. People I have never had much dealings with up to now suddenly talk to me and we have good conversations. A girl I have never had much to do with has invited me to lunch… and her power-figure facade has fallen away, at least with me, and she has shown a sensitive side.

So all of those comparisons and observations are what I think of as changing views, generally positive, but sometimes becoming either less so or progressing slower than expected. All this does not mean I will push anyone, I am not a pushy person, I want people to come to accept me in their own time… as long as it takes for them to do so.

Today (Wednesday 11th Feb) is only Day 13 of me living full-time as a woman… and yet today I was thinking about the past… and, well, maybe I have a goldfish memory, but as the days go on it is already becoming difficult to believe firstly that I carried on so long pretending to be some ‘guy’ that people thought they knew, and secondly that I was ever really ‘male’ at all. Of course, if I think harder, then of course I realise that I did go through life life that, conforming to people’s expectations because I was afraid to do anything else. And, if I am honest with myself, I know I do have some good memories even when I was living as a ‘male’… but all the really vivid, happy memories that immediately spring to mind are of life as Andrea over the past year when I REALLY started to live life with no boundaries… and almost everything that I do now is SUCH fun, I notice so much more, so many interactions are more fulfilling, and I take less for granted.

The ONE person who I don’t feel happy dealing with at the moment is my boss – I don’t know whether that says more about me or him, I have not had a lot of time with him since I started my RLE… but the main problem I feel is that he continues to be a workaholic (who is far too dedicated to work to the detriment, at least time-wise, to his family… even if he may well be a fine parent) with the expectation that everyone else adopts a similar attitude to work; he generally treats people like commodities who fulfil an end-game for his own objectives, and I don’t think that is right. But he is possibly at least partly caught up with the general attitude going around in my company at the moment, which is the abuse of people’s personal time, leading to many poor work-life balances.

So I sign off feeling fulfilled with every-day life… and yet a little anxious about what the future holds at work.

X

Dim Sum, Brownie Heaven… and a Treasure Hunt

The weekend of 7th/8th Feb my daughter was supposed to be over… but as she is struggling with the fact that her ‘dad’ is actually a woman (can’t imagine why) then she had other plans… and so I made my own weekend plans to live life to the full… something that is rather easy as a woman.

I had made an appointment with my hairdresser for Saturday lunchtime… though not for a hair appointment but to have lunch with him! Earlier in the week he had kindly said he would give me some shampoo samples the next time I was nearby… and when my suggestion of meeting up for lunch was taken up then of course I was available in the area! Paul suggested Dim Sum for lunch, something I had never tried but had wanted to for some time… and as I am now always keen to try new things I readily agreed. I was a bit disorganised in the morning and so only got to the car park behind the restaurant at our meet-up time of 1.00pm… but luckily Paul, who had been working at hisLee Garden salon in the morning, was a few minutes late too and caught up with me outside the restaurant, the Lee Garden in the Botanic area of Belfast, as I was texting my BF. We went in together, up to a table where Paul’s partner Qiang was already sitting; it turned out that he had already ordered the dim sum dishes while waiting for us, and as it turned out he had chosen well. I really enjoyed chatting with the two them, and the food was also superb and amazing value – I couldn’t tell you what most of the dishes were, as the menu was in Chinese, but it included prawn and pork dumplings and lovely huge juicy prawns in a kind of light batter. The main was a seafood medley noodle dish, slightly spicy but so delicious, all washed down with lashings of Chinese tea. Qiang left a bit before us to check out a charity book shop across the road… which was probably a good idea because, as usual, I spent a while in the ladies once we got up from the table. Qiang met us on the corner, looking happy with a couple of books he had picked up, and then I followed them in Paul’s car through a maze of streets to his salon so he could give me the shampoo. I waited in my car while he popped in, and he soon returned with a variety of samples, then kissed me goodbye on the cheek and I drove straight home to do a wee bit of cleaning before my guest arrived.

About 20 minutes later Kirsty knocked on the back door. She went for a quick loo stop while I put on my first ever white clothes wash with no male clothes in sight, then we headed straight out to an appointment in Newry she had made to choose a new, rather higher quality hair style. I will let Kirsty write in detail about it, but the time there was fun and the two ladies were very nice; the older one actually wore a wig herself, for health reasons, and that was quite reassuring for us when we went in to find that out. She had quite a cute wee dog called Molly, which she joked was the security guard. I was there to provide my opinion to different styles Kirsty tried on and, after about a half hour, the choice was made and paid for. The older lady commented on how lovely my lips were, and said “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but have you had botox treatment for them?” Well, uh, actually, no, they’re natural… and that is where the real compliment comes in, because they both seemed envious of my lips… which is SO nice for me considering that when I was growing up quite a few lads made fun of them and teased me about them being ‘full’. We had some nice chat as things wrapped up, and Kirsty left very happy… and looking SO much better. We crossed the road and quite soon a couple of lads who had come out of a bar passed us and said “Hi girls!”; I don’t know if we really knew what to make of the comment… but we are girls, and I will frankly take it on face value. Kirsty was due to cook dinner for us and so we went to Tesco and did a shop together, the first grocery shop in fact that I have done as Andrea but not on my own. The checkout girl had a very friendly face, although we didn’t say much with her beyond the essentials, and then drove home, where Kirsty was staying overnight.

Kirsty had said a while ago that she would cook the next time she came over, which was fine by me. After a cup of tea and a brownie, which shKirsty's Browniee had made the previous night (which was seriously good), and a bit of chat, she began cooking dinner while I looked after my washing and made a start tidying up my messy house. After around an hour dinner was ready and we settled down to eat – she had made a really lovely pork dish on a bed of cabbage with apple and balsamic vinegar (and some other ingredients I am sure)… accompanied by some mashed potato that, for some reason, had turned into gooey wallpaper paste. Our main course was good, but the best was yet to come – warm brownie with Tesco Finest vanilla ice cream, literally heaven on a plate (see left for the same dessert being consumed the day after, as I write). We listened to music during dinner preparation and eating then, after Kirsty viewed my movie collection (which I think she described as ‘mixed’), we watched Green Zone over wine and chat.

I had a great night of sleep for a change and the following morning, once awakened by an elephant stampeding anxiously to the bathroom, I got up, made myself a hot drink and, after half an hour of music and internet with cucumber slices over my lower eyelids (which alas have dark, puffy s??????????kin), I showered and got ready; alas Kirsty was ready first, primarily because I wanted to wear my back-up hair (in order to preserve my human hair for work) but had a temper tantrum with it over the fringe which refused to lie properly, and so resorted to my proper hair. Over breakfast Kirsty poured through tourist literature as we tried to decide what to do on a beautiful sunny day… and then she had the wonderful idea of going on a treasure trail; we settled on a murder-mystery type walking trail conveniently located at Hillsborough and after Little Miss Clumsy-Disorganised here had purchased and printed off the instructions we set off, parking at the side of the road beyond the top of Hillsborough main street. We headed together for the tourist office and our first clues… only to soon find that the office was actually closed! I suppose this is common sense considering the time of year, but it was a little disappointing, however we persevered and started solving subsequent clues to eliminate murder suspects and weapons by noting down details found on statues, churches, and the like. Now I have been through Hillsborough numerous times, and always fancied stopping because it really is one of the quaintest villages I recall seeing in Northern Ireland… and now was my opportunity. Our clues took us along all of the main streets of Hillsborough, and we really had immense fun. When I had got out of bed I felt like a girlie day in a dress and??????????, although in a thick skater day-dress with 80 denier tights and a short wintry coat, by the time we got to the Parish Church of St Malachy I was getting rather chilly. Our clues took us onward to Hillsborough fort and Hillsborough lake, and we ended up back on Main Street after our final clue… at which time a hot drink was overdue to try and defrost. We went into a lovely café called Humble Pie… where we both had warm apple pie and hot drinks; the lady owner was nice and friendly as she served us. After loo visits we left and popped into a clothes shop that I had seen earlier… but it was the most bizarre clothes shop I have been in, I joked it was like a village version of TK Maxx – although the shop windows had quite posh clothes on dummies, inside everything was randomly thrown onto rails totally overcrowding the shop, and we soon left and returned to our cars where, after a bit of chat, I reluctantly said goodbye to my BF.

I popped into Boots at Sprucefield to stock up on compact powder and bronzer (for some reason, my make up supplies are being exhausted rather quicker than ‘normal’), then headed onto the Bowstreet Mall where I did an amount of browsing but only bought a nice flowery overnight bag from BHS for only £15.

Once I had driven home I decided to wash my hair, which I had become totally paranoid about, but it was becoming too greasy and matted at the back for my liking. Once that was done I did a number of girlie things, including shoehorning into my new navy handbag all the things I would need for work the next day, and then painting my nails a new, very pretty deep pink.

So, another wonderful, girlie weekend… much of which in the lovely company of my BF Kirsty.

Thanks for reading, hope you have all had a lovely weekend yourselves.

X

My first week at work… as a woman!

As per previous blog posts, on the 30th January I started living the rest of my life as a woman, and on Tuesday 3rd January I went into work for the first time as my true self… as Andrea!

In summary, pretty much the whole four days have been absolutely magical, and as I sit here typing away on a Friday evening, life feels better than it ever has done! People have generally been incredible, in their supportiveness and kindness… and I’m sorry if I come across as at all big-headed when I quote some of the things that people have said, but this is the most astonishing week of my life and I’m afraid I have to preserve some of the commentary because some of it has bowled me over.

Tuesday morning I woke to the alarm I had set for myself at 6.45am, in order to hopefully give myself plenty of time to get ready… as well as cope with the wintry weather. Once up I jumped in the shower, feeling alive, not at all nervous, and with purpose; it took me a typical 90 minutes from out-of-bed to out-of-the-door, including a bit of handbag packing, but I left feeling happy with my work-look. The house didn’t really warm up that much the whole time I was getting ready… and I found out why when I got in the car and set off, with the temperature reading -6.5C! I drove slowly along my country roads until the dual carriageway, when a normal speed still got me to the station 5 minutes earlier than expected. I locked the car, and set off across the car park to the station… and felt absolutely bizarre and yet incredible too, heading to the station just as I have done for years… but finally presenting as the woman inside of me. With time to spare I just had to indulge in the novelty of using the ladies toilets at the station, and then showed my ticket to the station inspector… a guy who I have done the same to for years and years, and yet he did not notice any trace of the old-me in the new one. I did not have long to wait on the platform before the train arrived, and I boarded and found a two-seater row to myself, took my coat off, and sat… feeling just so natural to be living my life as me. The first half of the journey I spent catching up with emails and so on… and, refreshing one of my email addresses, I noticed an email from my daughter… the daughter that doesn’t want to see me again! The email simply said “Hi!”… but at least it is a start, and so I sent a quick email back to her, hoping for a response. I also had an email from HR telling me to delay my arrival by half an hour as she would not be out of a meeting to receive me. The latter half of my journey I closed my eyes to get a bit of rest… and soon felt a sense of total inner peace, as though I had reached some part of my soul not ever previously encountered.

At Dublin I alighted from the terminated train, for the second time as Andrea… but for the first time it was to go to work. I went to the ladies toilet, and then to an Insomnia coffee outlet to kill some time before I had to be at work. I ordered a coffee and a scone and, after paying, waited in-line for my drink; presently I was at the front of the queue and the manager of the barrista said “the mocha is for the lady”… which was me, and that was a good pre-cursor to my arrival at work.

There is a railway bridge over the street shortly before my office, it has three arches, a middle one for traffic and two small outer ones for pedestrians – as I walked through one of these outer arches I could see my office in front of me… but rather than feel nervous I felt a joyous exhilaration that I was finally there as me. I walked through the front doors, past reception, and to a break out area where I phoned the HR girl. While I waited for HR, one of the reception women came up to me and asked if she could help and I simply said that HR were on the way down; she had obviously not recognised me… which is good. HR soon arrived, with a warm smile on her face, and sat next to me and welcomed me, saying how fab I looked; I wore a silvery white satin top with a black and grey butterfly pattern, black work trousers, a smart black cardy, and black ankle boots. She talked a bit about my journey to becoming a full-time woman over the past year, a bit about the schedule to come, and at times I almost burst into tears, so amazed that for the first time in 15 years I was at my company’s office as Andrea. We went to get a photo done for my new security card, which looks reasonable, and then a couple of IT managers (one my boss) came down and explained about my new logins and so on. Eventually we went up to my floor and, after bumping into a colleague who wished me well, I walked all the way along the floor to my desk; a guy called Gerry said ‘Hello’ and indicated they wouldn’t make any fuss but just let me settle in, but I soon had a bit of chat with them because the girl who works for him was wearing the very same blouse that I had worn the Friday beforehand to lunch with my boss, and so I negotiated with her that I would wear it on Mondays and she could wear it any other day. There was an amount of laughter, and then I settled at my desk and entered into a really long chat with Kenny who sits next to me… which started with me saying “Well, you know last week when you said to me ‘I know you’re a male’, well, as it turns out, you weren’t correct!”. After him I then had an equally long chat with a young girl before being taken out to lunch by a colleague I have known for some time; we only had soup, but it was nice to be treated to lunch, and he held the door open for me everywhere we went.

In the afternoon I had a long chat with a consistently fashionable girl called Mary… who said I looked “amazing” – she said my nails were glamorous, much better than hers, and seemed astonished at the detail I went to with my jewellery too. Alas it was then time to do some work… but logging in as Andrea was really quite nice, and all I had to really do that afternoon was check what accesses I was missing and arrange it; I also had several people come over to offer support… and general amazement at “my bravery”. I was happy enough not to get an early train, and so left to get a train arriving at 8.15pm at Newry, where I got off with many others, just another girl heading home from a long day at the office. That was my first day at work as Andrea… and it was utter joy!

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On Wednesday the journey was similar to work… except that I thought I would treat myself to a cup of tea from the passing trolley, which sat and cooled while I touched up my make up at my seat… such a girlie thing to do, and rather a novelty. Walking towards the office in heels, I was amazed at how much they echoed as I walked through the office complex near the station… but it sounded great.

Outside my office was a guy I have known for years, and a colleague of his that I didn’t… and as I got close to him it dawned on him that the new-me was before him, and lovely chat ensued. Once inside at the lifts I bumped into another lady I have known for some time, who was really supportive. I walked up the stairs to my floor, feeling just a little nervous, but once at my seat I was okay. I had a nice email from a lovely lady called Audrey so, after breakfast, I popped down to see her… but she was in conversation with someone else and so I had a wee chat with Mary again, who complimented me on my top; Audrey then came over, and the three of us had some nice chat… including a bit of bitching! At lunchtime I popped to the canteen to get a wrap and, once again, the sound of my heels on the tiled floor was astonishing. The canteen manager, who had been briefed about me, was nice and said I looked good… but on the way back to the lifts I passed a guy from IT who I have known for some time and he did not look happy to say anything to me; oh well, can’t please everyone. But back at my desk I received another email from Audrey saying “I hope you won’t be offended when I say that you look AMAZING” – I wrote back, thanked her, and said “Why would I mind you saying that? I’m a girl, I love compliments”!

The train home was uneventful, but great at the same time, as usual the guard checked my ticket… and I doubt he recognised me. Later in the evening a meal had been planned, so with time to kill I went to Tesco to do a small food shop – as I queued at the till I overhead some talk with customers in front, who obviously knew checkout girl, that she was going away… which allowed me to subsequently launch into a full conversation with her about it, she was going on a mystery tour to a to-be-announced European destination, it all sounded very exciting. I could have popped home for a short while before dinner out, but I did not bother… because for the FIRST time in my life, I did not need to go home to change into my female clothes… as I was already in them! So I surfed the net for a wee while in Tesco, and then drove to Lisburn and parked at the leisure complex shortly before 8.00pm.

With a bit of texting and waiting my friends Kirsty and Michelle arrived and I exited the car to meet them and, after quick hugs, we went to Ed’s Bar & Grill for a return visit – I had suggested having a meal out to celebrate my first Wednesday living full-time as me. We had a lovely meal, though passed on dessert this time, and parted at about 9.50pm with those lovely girls treating me to my dinner – the two of them were returning to support group HQ… but, due to it being my first time being full-time with the pair, it really didn’t seem right to accompany them to the safety of HQ, and so I went home with the intention of getting to bed early.

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Arriving at the station on Thursday morning there seemed to be some issue with the trains, and confusion over platforms. I hastily showed my ticket and was about to go to my usual platform when an inspector behind me said “Where are you going to love?” Well, I told him, and he directed me to another platform where we presently boarded.

During the morning at work I bumped into Mary and, after a quick chat, another lady I have known for some time called Elaine was passing us but behind me – Mary pointed her out to me, and when I turned to her Elaine’s face looked rather aghast, and she gave me a hug! Then we had a long chat and, although she got my name wrong a couple of times (but immediately corrected herself), it was good to chat. I bumped into another couple of guys immediately afterwards, one of whom really surprised me and was really nice, and when I got back to my desk there was an email from a girl called Karen I have not really known to talk to at all asking if all was okay – during the day, a really nice email conversation ensued, with a possible lunch date on the cards.

Kenny was heading off for an early lunch… and asked me if I wanted to accompany him. Oooh, yes please! So we walked about 10 minutes to a lovely cafe, where we had lovely toasted continental sandwiches and a seriously good mocha for me; we were there nearly an hour, and had a lovely time, talking quite a bit about his musical career. Once we had returned, I had to join a conference call to discuss a certain work topic – I was slightly nervous, but got on fine, and with my best girlie voice I said a few things; a nice, big cuddly bear of a guy called John was on the call and, after I had said something, he was asked a question by someone and he had to ask them to repeat it as he said he was “away with the fairies”… which will become relevant later on.

At 5.30pm my project manager had scheduled a meeting at another building but, as his previous meeting was over-running, I suggested I would go on ahead of him, which I did. I was hoping that I would be able to meet a lovely lady called Breda when I got there (who I had told my news to the previous week), and indeed she was. A guy who works for me let me into the building with his pass, and was really nice to me, and then I walked tentatively up to Breda and said a soft ‘Hello’ – she turned around, said “oh my goodness”, and gave me a hug… and then sat me down opposite her and took a good look at me. Now, she is a pretty woman herself, but she was overflowing with compliments to me about so many things, she was literally astounded, and as we got into conversation she said “oh my god, even your mannerisms, and your voice…”. For some reason she thought I would be blonde… and, as it was rather hot in the room, I started taking my jacket off and she started to say “I bet you’ve got lovely arms t- oh my god, you have!” A while later she said “You really ARE beautiful!” and I had to tell her that if she said much more I would burst into tears. She then told me that once John had got off the earlier conference call that I referred to, he had rushed around to Breda and said “Gosh, she even sounds like a girl!”, which is a good compliment; Breda said he is very excited by it all. I eventually had to join the informal meeting with my colleagues… though literally a couple of minutes later, I took my girlie reading glasses out… and then rushed over to show Breda, and yet again she was almost beyond belief, she said they were lovely and that I had to stay elegant now! After about half an hour of meeting it was time to leave, and so I donned my jacket and coat, and then popped over to Breda who was at the desk of her manger called Tony – I gave a quick apology for the interruption and said goodbye to Breda; later on I got a text from her saying that once I had gone Tony had said “Who is she?”… and when Breda told him a huge jaw dropping moment ensued. So it is going to be really interesting meeting him I think!!! The text ended by saying “Lookin’ good girl!” 🙂

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Friday was smart-casual day at work so I wore berry-coloured leggings and a sheer patterned cream long-sleeved top over a camisole. I also took a more casual handbag… and was astonished by how much lighter it was.

During the morning a girl called Grace from the treasury department was at the coffee station when I got there for some tea. I have never spoken to her before… but she said hi, and offered congratulations and commented on my bravery. She said her colleagues and herself had noticed just how well I walk in heels, and how much more confident I walk now, how nice I walk without rushing around. So that was nice!

After lunch I popped to HR and saw the lady who had arranged everything for my transition over to working as Andrea. She was very nice… and she said that I actually look better than in Andrea at workmy selfie photo! Wow! She and another girl also complimented me on my top… which is from Tesco! I returned to my desk to get a lovely supportive email from a girl called Roz… and a lovely email chat ensued.

In the afternoon I emailed Karen to confirm a day for lunch and, after a couple of emails backwards and forwards, we are meeting up next Friday. Then she wrote this – “I saw you briefly early on, and you look AMAZING – I will have to step up my game”! A biological girl saying this about me!!! Alas my boss put a bit of a dampener on the day by ringing me at nearly 6.00pm asking me to start doing some work he had thought up, along with a hint about working next weekend… which he can forget.

The journey home once again was uneventful…. though once off the train I noticed a girl in front of me called Debbie who I have know to chat to at the station on and off for years, but she does not know about the real me. Along the car park I was right behind her, and I thought about saying hello… and then what? But my mouth was dry, it was late… and then the moment was gone. Maybe next time…

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So that was my first week at work, a four-day week at that… but a pretty eventful one, full of acceptance, amazing compliments and support; ya know, people can really surprise you!

2nd February – A busy Monday for a day off…

On Monday 2nd February I was off work as the news continued to sink in at work about me being a woman. However, although I was not at work, it was a pretty busy day, spent solely at my nearest city, Newry.

First of all I went to my solicitor to change my will so that it was in my proper, new name. I was met at the front desk by two nice ladies and, after giving them my name, I had a seat… but then when I was told that my solicitor was on a call I asked if I could go to the ladies and I was told where they were. My, lady, solicitor warmly greeted me, and took me into an office, we had a little chat about my circumstances and also the cost of finalising my divorce, then updated my will with a few things and, after signing it, had a friendly chat before departing with an updated copy of my will. Objective number 1 achieved.

Next was breakfast as, by that time, I was absolutely starving. I went to a place called Grounded where I had Eggs Royal and a pot of tea; I passed the time surfing and emailing while I ate, enjoying a slow-paced day off.

Once stoked up, I went to get my passport photos taken – this lady loves to travel, so I need a passport with my new photo on… as well as a new driving license too. At the first place I went into, I sat in front of a white screen though the guy warned me that his camera was being a bit temperamental… and, as it turned out, the photos weren’t right as he couldn’t get them sharp enough. His assistant recommended a nearby chemist – the lady there was really nice, I got my photo taken and, after a short wait, left happy… and the photo is not that bad either.

At that point it was time to empty my car – over the previous few days I had filled several bags with, mostly, male clothes, and so I went to the 50p-per-kilo drop off place that I had been to before, presenting as ‘male’. The boot was completely full, I took the first bag in and deposited it on the scales, saying I had more, and this time the guy came out and took the largest two bags out of my boot while I carried a smaller one in, and then retrieved a final bag of bedding. Altogether there were 41kilos of clothes, plus a few kilos of bedding, so I left with £22, enough to buy a reasonable item of clothing!

I popped into my doctor’s surgery and made an appointment with my now-regular lady doctor to get my photos counter-signed, and then headed off shopping. I browsed a few clothing stores in the Newry Buttercrane Centre, went to the post office to post a couple of letters after buying stamps, had a coffee and cake in M&S, and then headed off to my next appointment.

There is a funded organisation in Northern Ireland called SAIL, whose primary function is to support transgender persons and also family members of such persons. I had contacted them before Christmas in respect of my daughter and support for her, and had made an arrangement to meet a member of SAIL called Simon on my day off. I parked behind the building, gave him a call, and he met me outside and greeted me warmly, taking me into their office. After making me tea, we had a good long chat, about the work of SAIL, his background, the situation with my daughter and ex- with respect to me, then onto the support they are trying to arrange for my daughter, including counselling but also family days with other children of a similar age (both transgender children, and otherwise); we parted with a big hug and I left feeling more confident about my situation with my own daughter.

Next stop was the doctor’s surgery. By the time I arrived it was very quiet, as it was the end of the day, and I did not have to wait long before the computer screen illuminated with my name, “MISS A. (Surname)” – oh yeah!!! My doctor greeted me warmly, and shook my hand, saying she was pleased to meet the new me. She filled in the sections on both forms, counter-signed my two photos, and then we had a nice little bit of chat. I noticed a sports bag behind her and asked her if she was exercising after work; she said she was off to Pilates… and then said how interesting it as that she feels that chatting with me she wants to talk more girly! We said farewell and, for the second visit in a row, she said how right this is for me.

At that point I was feeling a wee bit weary, and headed to Tesco for my final stop of the day. I started shopping, but then noticed the girl at the optician counter who served me nearly a year ago when I ordered two pairs of reading glasses, one for ‘him’ and one for me… and so I thought I would ask about changing my name details on her system. As soon as she saw me she broke into a big smile, she said she recognised my eyes (a feature that people do compliment me on), and she said a number of times I looked ‘fab’! How nice! The name-update was really straight-forward and, after some more really nice chat, I left on a high and finished my shop. At the checkout I waited patiently for a couple of girls in front of me who were chatting with Ms-Checkout, who they obviously knew – I overheard something about her going away, and so I soon opened a conversation with her about that when it was my turn to be served, she was heading off on a mystery tour where they get picked up at a ridiculous time in the morning, have paid £150, and are told at that point whereabouts in Europe they are headed off to. How exciting!!! We had a fab chat, she was really nice, and I went home really happy… but rather tired too.

After some dinner, I spent some time doing something I have never ever done before – organising a girly outfit for my first day in work as Andrea!