A bit of chatty shopping, another successful dinner, coffee… and leg heaven!

Well, it has been a month¬†since I last had dinner out with Kirsty, so it was a about time we did it again! I spent most of the Saturday in bed actually, was so tired after my commuting/working week, so slobbed around until after 3.00…. and then spent an age transforming from what is becoming an increasingly fake Bob back to Andrea. Usual wardrobe indecision (but, lets face it, any girl is like this) and hair issues – my new wig, while cut well, has a mind of its own and half the time even the slightest movement makes the hair fly all over the place… half of it not returning to its original position, so I eventually resorted to hairspray.

I felt the need to do a bit of shopping before dinner, though left it extremely late, so went into my local outlet and ended up in only one shop, Peacocks. Had a good browse around, picked up a summery camisole top and a thin jumper, more for autumn I’d say. I queued up at the checkout (which took an age) and soon this woman came up behind me with a mountain of clothes – she started putting them on the counter, telling me to relieve herself of the weight… and once she opened her mouth I was off! I said I wouldn’t want to see her next credit card bill, we talked about the good prices, I commented on a nice top she had, she told me about her boys that she was buying items for, then I saw another camisole top that I loved so I asked where she picked it up from – she directed me, after saying that she thought there were some smaller ones that would fit me. ūüôā So off I went, and although there were not any small enough I found another design which was very nice and then went back and queued up behind her. She was very apologetic that her stuff had started going through, but I said not to worry. At that point her daughter had joined her, and she gave me one or two glances – of course she could have just liked me lovely camisole top… or maybe not. Anyway, never mind, they left and the woman bid me a very nice farewell.

Once home I changed out of my smart/casual into dinner attire – a summery dress, black dressy heels, black cardy… and some glossy 15D nude tights on my well-shaved legs – wow, have mDSCN0164ed2y legs ever felt so good! Not in any turned-on kind of way (that’s not me now), I just felt, well, like my silky legs made me look and feel special. See (late-evening) selfie – I know I am hardly the prettiest girl around… but I don’t think I am a complete dog / disaster either. Anyway, off I went, and met Kirsty at our usual city-centre car park in Belfast – she looked really nice in her flowery black/pink dress and pink cardy. And she gave me a wee present, a bottle of diet coke with my name on it! It was a small gesture, but I was so moved by it, I ended up wiping a tear from my eye… but such as I am now, I can be so emotional.

We had dinner at Coppi, an upmarket Italian restaurant. It was really dark inside… although our eyes adjusted eventually, but I ended up looking at the menu on Kirsty’s iPhone, while another group at a table next to us used a light from their phone to look at the menu! The food was very good on the whole (tapas starters between us, I had a seafood gnocchi, and we both had peach tart/cake), though not cheap, and we had a lovely time… albeit that it was really rather noisy there such that with our new girly voices it was often difficult¬†to hear each other, so I suggested going somewhere else for coffee.

We wandered along a few streets to an outlet in Belfast, but it was closed, so I suggested a couple further away so we returned to our cars. Kirsty followed me to Lisburn Road where we went into big-bad-we-pay-low-tax-Starbucks, after going into another place which was full with¬†no sign of a table becoming vacant. We had great chat, but eventually got turfed out at 10.00 and returned to our cars parked on a side street…. and I was really desperately sad that the evening was ending. Kirsty took a few selfies of us (some of which I insisted she delete, and when she saw one of them I think she knew why… and unrestrained laughter ensued).

Anyway, that was my latest evening out with Kirsty – we got a couple of curious looks, but on a busy Saturday night I think that’s pretty good.

June 21st – My Magical Walking Day At Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island is a small isle off the coast of Northern Island, very unspoiled, with protected areas for bird life. I have never been before… and am subsequently likely to go many times in the future. This place was the venue for my latest walking group outing… and I had such an amazing time, full of lovely chat with many nice people.

I was in a bit of a panic getting there by 11.00, as I am not a morning person and it is quite a distance from where I live… and I had a wardrobe malfunction, made worse by doing things in the wrong order. Got my face on, pinned my hair up (to prevent dishevelled hair on a blowy day), then put my white T-shirt on… only to find that there were stains on it, and I have never even worn it!!! So T-shirt off… and then wrecked hair! Aggghhhh!!! Eventually got out of the door at 9.15, two whole hours getting ready (not good).

Took less time to get to ¬†Ballycastle (where the ferry departs) than I thought, was bursting for the loo and so popped into a local supermarket (with attached petrol station). Bought a banana there (for lunch), am not sure if an old guy in front of me was suspicious of me, as he gave me a couple of once-overs… or whether I just looked a bit odd to him in my walking boots. Anyway, otherwise fine, voice okay, everyone else fine including the guy who apologised when I nearly bumped into him coming out of the shop.

So, parked at the ferry terminal, queued for tickets where I met a couple of the walkers, then waDSCN0141ed1lked down to the ferry with the group leader (another Andrea) and another walker Kathleen who I¬†ended up sitting on an outside seat next to. Had great chat with her – she is really friendly – also talked to another walker John who is keen on photos (who I let tell me all about filters and zoom lenses and played dumb, even though I¬†know much about this), and to yet another Andrea; never met any of them before.¬†Getting ready to start the walk, Kathleen met two other walkers, Ann and Susan, and the four of us spent much of the four hour¬†walk talking to each other about all sorts of things, and I had just the most wonderful time with them, even saying things to them that made them laugh – it sounds such a simple thing, but to do that as Andrea and get such a natural and pleasing response is such an amazing feeling. Had a bit of chat with a few other people now and again as I walked around, including John (a different one, who I met at the dinner) who was very nice, and a girl who I gave up with as she was rather grumpy and whatever I said did not induce much of a positive response; she asked me if other walks were more moderate, and in her squeaky trainers I think she was struggling. We all had a picnic and Ann, with her Tardis-like coolder bag, shared an amount of food with Kathleen and I. The picture of me is one that Ann took of me, she just asked me if I wanted her to take a picture of me, so why not! Not the best I suppose, it’ll do.

Once the walk was over we met at a place near the harbour for the loveliest, light scones and tea with cream and jam. Yum! And I ended up chatting to another newbie – Ivan. He has travelled much of the world, and gave us an instant common area of interest. Once outside we all lounged around in the sun, and I had good chat with a married couple, Kathy and Michael, who I met at the meal, and several others, including a guy Mark who I did not recognise with his sunglasses on. (By the way, photo below right is taken on the walk). Queueing up at the ferry I ended up DSCN0137ed1talking to Ivan again, as he has a camera very similar to my Bob one (which I did not take). On the ferry itself I talked to him for the whole 25 minute journey, much of it about travel, also about jobs… and as his wife hates travelling and he often goes on his own, he half jokingly (or was it??) said to me that if I was ever stuck for a travelling companion then to ask him!! And then as we got towards port he said that it would be nice if we could meet up for lunch in Belfast (where he works) if I was ever there!! That is after chatting with me for only 30 minutes in his life!!! Surely, I cannot be making too much of a mess out of being Andrea if that has happened. can I? I also told him about my wardrobe malfunction, and he said that being a guy he can just throw anything on but it is different for me! Oh, you better believe it! And he made a comment indicating I was still well turned out. I wonder if I am doing so well with this group purely because I am in an arena where I can really be my true self… and the real me is really shining? Or maybe they are all just nice people, can see through me, and are able to accept me. But I really think that at least some of them don’t know! Perhaps I am kidding myself. So, goodbyes were said to various people, and after changing into ballet pumps and sorting my hair out I left.

As it was such a beautifully sunny day, I took a leisurely journey home along the north eDSCN0156ed1astern coast, and saw some stunning scenery; see right for an example, this is overlooking Cushendell. At my first picture stop a guy walked past me and said hi, at another stop another guy in a peaked cap with a cup of tea also said hello in a very friendly voice and asked how I was. After a while I had to stop at a petrol station for another banana as I was starving… and, just as I parked, a van pulled up and three young guys (late teenage/very early 20s) got out. I was momentarily disheartened, I thought, “oh no, here comes trouble”… but went in anyway… and NO trouble at all, the lad behind the checkout was really nice too, even if I should have queried the outrageous price of my 44p banana!

And then I drove home… half the time feeling a lovely glow inside at such a wonderful day, full of people that either had no idea about my gender-nature or alternatively fully accepted it. And by the time I got home I had already received a greeting from Ivan, saying the following:

Andrea, It was lovely to meet you today. What a wonderful, awesome place Rathlin is, I am definately planning a weekend there sometime. I hope you enjoyed the run home along the coast, I am sure it was so beautiful. You are a really interesting person to chat with, at least I thought so! It would be nice to have lunch maybe some time if you were free or even a walk should we get some good weather at weekends or some evening. I wish you well with the interview, fingers crossed. Again thanks for being part of my day. Ivan

“Thanks for being a part of his day”! And the possibility of a walk with him! Crumbs! I am half-tempted to do the walking idea, as I want to do stuff other than just shopping, and it is much nice to do things with other people. But I wonder how safe I would be (though he seems a gentle sort)…. and where this could go…

WOW! What a journey this is!

Sunday 15th (shopping) & Monday 16th (FAB walk… and surely proof it’s not a fluke!)

Saturday 14th I stayed home, was rather tired after my night out… but it was great to wake up with my make up on and, look into the mirror all day and see the real me! Sunday 15th I went out just after 1.00pm… and was out over 8 hours. My voice was a bit variable, partly because I was still tired I think… but NO negative reactions or stares at all. Went to my local outlet. Firstly returned a cardy to Marks anDSCN0105ed1d got another in a different colour, got my chocolate supply from Thorntons (had good light-hearted chat with the lady there), went into Claire’s for a couple of things (where none of the teenage girls noticed anything different about me), onto Peacocks where I bought a couple of pairs of shoes, and then Trespass to buy more walking gear; the check out girl there was nice. Drove onto another centre and went into Argos where I bought a new watch, and had lots of good chat with the checkout girl… and then Trudi came over, who has served me a couple of times before, and said Hi, with a nice wee bit of chat. The girl who actually served me had more facial hair than me! But so what, she was nice to me, I was nice to her, all was fine. Alas I will have to go back to the shop to get the watch adjusted to have some links taken out… which is a good thing, more practise!!! Also went into B&Q for a bulb, and had to ask an assistant as I had no idea what fitting to get. Then drove onto Belfast Castle (see photo), had a wander around the pretty gardens and took some pictures, then onto a TS friend for a chat and dinner.

Monday 16th – walking day! Had a dreary, Bob half-day at work… and then home for a late lunch, a wee nap… and then transformation again. Took rather longer than it should have done, partly because I put my hair into a wee pony tail to try and reduce wind-disruption; see attached photo for new, more pulled-back hair look. I drove to Belfast, and then up to Cavehill Country Park for my walk. Got there slightly early, so time for final hair adjustments. Then parked, and walked up to the group. The leader, another Andrea, welcomed me, and we had a bit of chat then she introduced a new girl Fi… who I ended up chatting to for AGES when we set off, she was really nice, we haDSCN0119ed1d lovely chat, there was one point when I nearly lost my footing and she gave me a supporting hand. As we progressed, I then ended up chatting to an elderly lady Margaret who I had met before (who is very pleasant) and then Lisa who I met on my first walk – I had this worry that people I have talked to before would see through me and not want to talk again… but NO, they were both lovely, had great chat with them, and cracked jokes with the – it is wonderful to hear people laugh at things that Andrea says. We got t the highest point of the country park for great views of Belfast and the coast, then started a return leg to the cars… and I started talking to two girls, Kerry and Paula, who I have only met once before BUT as my male former-self in a different group… but they didn’t seem to notice anything (possibly helped by me having my shades on), they were lovely, had good chat with them; I mentioned to Kerry the type of work and employer for my job who I previously mentioned to Paula (as ‘Bob’), as they are friends I wonder if they will chat and the penny will drop…? Anyway, I also chatted to my admirer, had good chat with him, then all-too-soon the walk was over. Had chat back at the car park then had to go. I had to stop at a petrol station soon after setting off, and got my first ‘dozy bitch’ stare… as I drove in the wrong way (exit), made a meal steering my car to the pump, and the guy with the stare was not at all impressed. But all okay, paid, guy was fine at check out, a guy apologised at the doorway as I almost bumped into him. And then home… SO pleased with the evening, I think I am finally convinced that I am successful in my walking group now that I have had people talk to me again…. ….and, within 12 hours, I have had six people say they enjoyed meeting me…. AND my “admirer” sent me a message starting “Ah, Andrea, lines of poetry come to mind”; I am wondering if he is flirting with me…?

My lovely long (Irish) bank holiday weekend

So, I suppose this post will indicate where my journey has reached to-date.

In the early days of this year my experiences were rather mixed, sometimes I would have a shed-load of negative reaction and sometimes I would have little. This weekend, at the start of June, saw a couple of small negative reactions over an otherwise lovely three-day weekend all as Andrea… until I had to let her slip her away. Here is the detail:

A selfie while out on a country walk

  • Saturday I had just the LOVELIEST day!¬†A total-Andrea day, at around 11.15 I left home and drove 40 minutes to a place called Castlewellan, stopped at a Nisa supermarket, served by a lovely girl. I then spent about three hours walking around Tullymore forest park, which was quite busy… and felt as free as a bird! (See photo of moi). It’s a lovely¬†place. I ended up saying hello to quite a few fellow walkers, and only one woman gave a disinterested response. Then did a Tesco supermarket shop and had a good chat with the checkout girl. I don’t feel I had any negativity at all the whole time; did something just slightly different with my hair, maybe that helped…?Once home I mowed my lawns… and hurt my back. In the evening I was sitting watching TV, wearing nothing fancy…. and I just felt WONDERFUL. I don’t know how else to say it! I felt like this REALLY IS ME!!!! And the only thing remaining in life I want to achieve is to succeed in being this REAL ME…. ALL the time!!So, time to set myself another target – see my GP for gender clinic referral within four months.

 

  • Sunday I didn’t need to go out during the day as I had a meal out to look forward to so I pottered around in the garden for hours… changing my top a number of times because the weather kept changing, first I was too cold, then too warm, etc. Also, left my make up on overnight as knew would not bother doing it all again until the afternoon before going out – it was lovely to get up, pop the rug on, and instantly see Andrea.Had a lovely meal out with Kirsty, lots of fab chat, and good food. There were little negatives at the end though – after leaving, a hard-looking yob muttered “F**k” as he passed us on the street, and at traffic lights shortly afterwards a car with music pumping out of it gave out some amusement as it sped off. Oh well, such is Belfast on a Sunday night….. but most people we passed gave no reaction.

 

  • So, not to be defeated, spent my BH Monday morning leisurely getting ready and sorting some photos out, then headed out at midday. Went to local shopping outlet, returned clothes at Next and bought one cheap top after browsing, further on looked at an exhibition of Lego (inc tower bridge, eifel tower) and gave the girl contact details for a competition, then onto M&S where I bought a red cardy in two sizes. Onto Banbridge where I parked at Tesco and walked to the library where I spent 90 minutes surfing (including creating a flickr account for my holiday photos) then onto a local cafe for a panini (spoke to two girls there), then walked back to Tesco for a small trolley shop.

So, my Monday out was a total success, no negativity or stares at all (and I wore my new daisy day-dress with black tights and ballet pumps), and the five people I conversed with all treated me like a normal person, and in the shops I initiated chat with all of them…. and in fact in Tesco I think the person behind me could have got fed up because I was still chatting away after I had finished paying and all shopping in trolley.¬†Rushed home as I had to reluctantly remove my Andrea presentation as I was picking up my daughter… and ‘reluctantly’ really isn’t a strong enough word, for the first time ever I had such DEEP sorrow at having to change back, as usual I started with removing peripheral clothing and nail polish… and by the time even that was done I was sniffling constantly, desperately trying to hold the tears back as I carried on. ūüė¶

The first five months of my life as a (part-time) lady

 

 

March 2014

So why did I say I should have started posting 5 months ago?  Well, just over five months ago I joined the online Transliving TG support group and, almost to the day, five months ago I started properly venturing away from my house as Andrea (not counting a few times prior to that when I just went out in the car, and the couple of occasions in late 2013 I stupidly wandered around late in the evening in the dark when hardly anyone was around).

My confidence and courage started at zero, and have grown quite a bit over the period. My voice is still a bit ropey, but has improved since end-March, alongside is a photo of me from March 2014.

So what kind of things have I done out as Andrea over the last five months? The following are the main things, starting at the top with baby steps, gradually increasing in size:

  • Parking at my local supermarket in the dark and getting some cash out the machine.
  • Posting a letter.
  • Walking round (but not going in to any) shops in my local outlet on a Sunday afternoon.
  • Popping into Sainsburys for a couple of things… but paying at the self-service.
  • Joining my local TG support group, called The Belfast Butterfly Club (BBC).
  • Went out for dinner at a gay bar with the first TS friend I met at BBC, and also met a number of her (non-TS) friends.

Since then my activities have mushroomed and I have now done all of the following:

  • Numerous full supermarket shops.
  • About as much clothes shopping as my credit card can stand.
  • Dropped bags of unwanted clothes (especially Bobs!) at charity shops.
  • Sat in my local library surfing the net.
  • Been out to lunch, and for coffee, on my own.
  • Gone to gender-counselling.
  • Been out for dinner twice with my lovely new local TS friend Kirsty, and also out for coffee once with her.
  • Reported a hate crime to the police… and then met them to discuss it.
  • Joined a walking club (yes, as Andrea)… and so far all the people I have met and chatted to have been lovely.
  • Also been walking at country parks on my own.

So, in five months, I think I have done quite a bit… although of course there is a lot more I can achieve, such as going travelling as Andrea, knowing that I am accepted at my walking group, going to my GP and getting referred to a gender clinic…. and going full-time. And all of this will take some time. Originally I had an ultra-conservative timeline for coming out as 10 years from now (based on financial security)… but when I mentioned that timeline to my counsellor I burst into tears, and so I have set myself the following targets:

  • Change my job ASAP, so that I don’t have to commute so far and (hopefully) will end up somewhere a bit more accepting than I know my current place will be.
  • See my GP and get her to refer me to a gender clinic by end-September 2014.
  • Come out as Andrea to all, and go full-time, by 1st September 2016

Hmm, we will see how I get on!