Little Red Riding Hood

I have spent a week pretty much ignoring myself and just working. I have had no interest in dressing or makeup or nails or any of the other things I normally find myself thinking about – even my interaction with the Tg community sites that I belong to has been reduced to just quick checks every now and then.

Yesterday though was like I had been struck with nervous energy, as soon as I got in my house I changed into some comfy leggings and a jumper and did some basic eye makeup and lipstick and put on my hair. (vanity, vanity, all is vanity)  What I saw when I looked in the mirror was a woman who just looked liked she was relaxing and enjoying her weekend.

That was when I had the thought that perhaps I should. As anyone who has read my posts will know I have been aiming, trying, and failing at going somewhere neutral but safe to go and have a cup of coffee as myself, but what if I did not have to go that far?

Someone had put up photos of a walk she had been on recently in the countryside and with the sun shining I thought a Sunday afternoon walk would be absolutely perfect.

I was still likely to meet people as it is a common enough activity, but for the most part it will be quiet and I can bolt back if it all goes horribly wrong.

So I quickly started plotting and planning. Then put the plan into action before I could talk myself out of it.

I put my hair and my new red coat in a bag, pulled on some baggy man clothes over my female clothes and went out to the car looking for a forestry walk.

About 20-30 minutes away from my house I decided I was at a safe enough distance and pulled over to the side of the road and peeled off the man layers – literally. All the way there every time I passed another car I half grimaced half smiled to hide my lips – just in case it was someone I know! Once my hair was on though I did not need to hide. It was very liberating just being in the car driving and smiling and singing away.

Once I found a spot far enough away to be really unlucky if I met someone I knew I parked up, put on my nice new coat – the one I bought after my last failed attempt had included the excuse that not having a jacket would make me stand out.  I love this coat! – but it is red, bright red, little red riding hood red, and contrasted with the green of the trees it stands out a mile!  But you know I did not care. I desperately wanted to wear my new coat out and so I did. I was out walking an easy casual route for about 30 minutes or so. Half a mile down the track I had a moment of panic as I spotted a pink jacket heading through the trees towards me.

It is funny how quickly the train of thoughts rattled through – quick turn back before she sees you! you will never pass! why did you come out! your voice will give you away! Oh Sod it!  So without missing a step I continued forwards – each of us looking at the path ahead of us until we got to within 5 ft of each other, we made eye contact, we both smiled and I said hello and then like that we were past each other.  I have no clue if I “passed”, or if I gave this walker the fright of her life, but she did not increase her speed and neither did I, later on as I arrived back at my car I caught a glimpse of pink much further up the hill – she was taking this walk much more seriously than I was.

What I did do was relax – I enjoyed my afternoon walk, I took in the view and the smell of all those Christmas trees growing and I marvelled at how completely mundane it all felt. I was simply a woman out on her own for a walk and enjoying some winter sunshine. There was no thrill or excitement of being outside, simply just a lovely moment of peace, and a couple of moments laughing at myself as I tried to take photos using a 3 second timer and a glare that meant I could not see my screen.

On the way home I stopped at one other site of interest, and then hid in my man clothes to go back into the house – I could not help but think that it felt more like I was dressing up to go home than the hour and a half I had been out as Dee.

Literally just as I got in the door the heavens opened and the rain rattled off the windows, my timing had been impeccable.

I know for many this will not sound like a big deal, but for me, going out anywhere however remote as my female self is a very big moment.  It makes the other things I want to do possible, and silences some of those recurring pesky doubts about whether it was just fantasy wish fulfilment.

I was so happy when I got in I painted my nails pink and immediately started sharing my triumph with my online friends.

During my session I was asked, if someone asked me what would I say my gender was – I said my honest answer would be to fudge it depending on who was asking, I cannot claim to be a cis-male anymore – that would be a lie, and I feel like I am heading towards transwoman – but while I can easily write “I am Trans” online it is harder to say out loud to someone else and actually accept emotionally – I have to work out what parts of being a male I enjoyed because for me the last 40 years have not been totally terrible, so I do not want to assume a binary position – If I am not one thing then I must be the other. I will not just jump from one side of the spectrum to the other but tiptoe across until I get to a point that feels like me. I just happen to think that the chances are high that the final destination is firmly in the female and not male camp.

It also came out that the biggest reason I have not done anything or told more people is simply fear of rejection. It may sound trite and some may think that anyone who is a real friends would stand by me, but why should they? They made friends with a man, now I am telling them that the person they became friends with was just an act put on for their benefit.  I like having friends and I like being liked – as the previous sentence shows there is a part of me that feels like I have kept this secret – lied through omission – even though I had no clue it was such a big thing for me for most of my adult life.

I thought I was comfortable with the person I was, the person that everyone knew and liked and being Dee requires me to leave that comfort zone knowing that I will lose people along the way, and I just don’t want to.

Fear is not always something that can just be swallowed down and ignored, sometimes it is a big bad wolf that has to be brought out and examined and then edged past slowly while it growls at you and bares its oh so big teeth!

xx

 

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You’ve got a friend in me

I asked my counsellor to call me Dee for the first time last session, I think I want to see how it feels to be called it in real life. Turns out it feels completely natural, it made me smile the first few times and I have to say that if anything I found it easier to talk about myself as Dee and what I do operating as a male in the 3rd person when it has usually been the other way around.

I may not have been going out but I had been determined that Dee would be the one going to the session so I put on one of my new favourite mustard yellow dresses, hurriedly applied some green eye shadow which matches my eyes and wee bit of mascara and lip gloss and with five minutes to spare stood in front of the mirror trying to decide whether or not to wear my wig. I put it on adjusted it and then changed my mind several times as I stood there thinking that if I was going out to a counsellor in person I would wear the wig, but just as the session started I ripped the wig off. I was unsure but I do know that I was not trying to impress anyone but see if it felt like me, and I know that I do not have hair, if I can I would either rock the shaved head look or wear headscarves more often than not. It shows how even the smallest decision has me immobilised though, yes, no,yes, no – it takes a lot of energy to care that much.

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It is obvious in this picture but online it simply looked like I was wearing a jumper and I doubt the make up was visible as I had tried to be subtle. No comment was sought after and none was made, during the session I admitted that I had been beating myself up recently idling in an emotional slump, that despite myself and knowing that I shouldn’t I was comparing myself to all the girls I had met online who had progressed with their transitions so much farther than I, and they all seemed to be so much surer of themselves than I – many having been on HRT for a while or living full time and dealing with other issues that I am yet to encounter. That coupled with not going through with going out in public had brought back all of the – am I trans? am I really a woman on the inside ? is this just me being an unwell idiot? will I come to my senses and stop feeling like this soon? type questions. Indecision is not nice, once the voice starts it refuses to quieten down, each choice examined and re-examined, each feeling dissected – but it felt great being at that appointment, we talked about the fact that some of the things I had listed as things that I daydream about I am making concrete steps to make a reality.

I have had two sets of friends visit me too, one of the two couples that I told at Christmas came up for a visit, they admitted that they didn’t quite understand and found it all a bit weird but as far as they were concerned I am their friend, I have supported them and they want to support me.

They have no personal frame of reference to understand what I am going through, and I said that saying that is one thing but me turning up in female clothes and makeup would be different, they just shrugged and said that may be the case but they do know that it is something I am dealing with seriously and wanted to help me out as I explored my gender feelings.

They asked how I was getting on with it all and I said that my thoughts and feelings haven’t changed at all, but while I haven’t really done much what I have been doing is just stopping the wee things I have done for years – hiding my body language when I talk, responding more to messages rather than giving one word answers, watching romcoms without guilt or pretending not to like certain genres of music, and just generally trying to give my self space to simply be myself without controlling my mannerisms and emotions quite so tightly, me but less BS.

I used the example that while my male friend had offered me a night out with his cousins doing whisky tasting or going to a cigar place, I would much rather be out with his wife dancing to music in a club; that honestly the thought of going out with a group of men, especially ones I don’t know genuinely scares me because I have to pretend so much. I enjoy my friends company and do enjoy a wee dram of single malt now and again, but I am not an afficionado by any stretch of the imagination. Literally the only reason I drink it was because I taught myself to drink it so I could find common ground with the man who would be my father in law. My friend is great, he took no offence to that, he just said he will scratch the lads night out and will go out with me another time to the whisky bar – better still but his wife and he immediately began planning a night out to a cheesy club. Tunes galore – fantastic!

They have said that if I want them to call me Dee they will, if I want to use their place as a safe space to go out and experiment being out in public I can, if I panic or change my mind they will come and pick me up, no judgement, no pressure.

I am lucky to know that my friends will back up their words with genuine actions, I was almost tearing up with gratefulness when they left. I will definitely see them again soon. Perhaps as Dee as well.

Conversely a couple that do not know came to visit today, the time spent in their company was pleasant, and while we talked a bit about celebrating diversity in life I know that their personal views would not be positive – I have been invited to a murder mystery party that is aimed at 4 men and 4 women and I will be one of the men – as excited as I am at getting to dress up, a part of me would have loved to be one of the girls. It feels like I am being the diet/low calorie version of myself with them. All the sweet things removed and replaced with artificial ingredients. All the time today was spent wondering if they will still want me around if I brought up being trans with them.

Two very different examples of folks who are trying to be there for me in their own ways, the distances they both travelled to see me were substantial – it is not like they could pop in for a quick cuppa. Yet I am still stressed out because I have no way of knowing how people will react, I mean I am still struggling with myself, accepting who I really am and how I want the world to see me. Some days those feelings are stronger than others, but it always feels more like the real me when I am not trying so hard to be the “guy” that my friends came to see. I like having friends, I like being liked – is that really such a bad thing to admit?

Regardless of the people that may or may not remain friends if they saw me in a dress or jeans and a pretty top, what now?

xx

Calm your jets

I failed in my self set mission to go out as Dee in public.  The snow travel warnings combined with tiredness and my lack of enthusiasm for trying to find somewhere quiet to change in my car during rush hour traffic meant I just made a bee line for home.

I felt really bad about it, it takes a lot of time and fuel for me to be in a place where I could risk doing anything as a woman safely.

To soothe myself I went shopping online and bought some perfume testers by Ck and a couple of dresses that were reduced.  I also bought myself a winter coat as one of the things that I realised would make me stand out was not so much my wig but the fact that I would be wandering around in winter, in the snow, without a jacket on!

My online friends have been very supportive and have said that I will get there when I am ready, but I have been in such turmoil, they all seem so sure of themselves, their battles are all to do with taking their families on their journey with them or the day to day skirmishes that are fought by trans people everywhere as they seek to be accepted in a western society which prides itself on being enlightened but seems to be anything but.

Yet this week has not been all bad. I have made some new friends online, and have been reassured that I do not have to compare myself to others, that it is okay to be where I am on my journey, I have even been given a few suggestions of books to read around the subject of gender identity and transitioning, which is good. After all I should play to my strengths and reading is definitely one of them!

Incidentally “calm your jets” is a phrase used often in Scotland to tell someone to calm down when they are getting over excited about something – its the equivalent of telling someone to stop, calm down, and take a breath.  I feel like I have been given permission to stop and take a breath.

My son bless him created his first female avatar for a game he plays called Roblox this week, and he was super excited to show me the character he told me was based on Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and how he was “sisters” with someone in the game. He switched back to a male one today when he went on but it has been sweet to see him copy the fact that I tend to use female avatars in the games that I play.

I am feeling a bit less tense now too, I don’t know if it is because I have stopped beating myself up or because I am starting to accept that there is no going back to just being man-me. I don’t want to.

The clothes I am buying now are practical clothes not based on fantasies and day dreams, I don’t want to get rid of them, I had almost two whole days to spend as Dee this weekend and took full advantage, I spent most of in a casual dress and tights, curled up in a chair watching movies, and when I had to go out I took off my makeup and clothes but left my nail polish on – I was only getting a few groceries, but it was still quite liberating –  I had done gold to match my toes and it really sparkles in the light, and I was sure someone would notice when I was using the touchscreens at the checkout but of course no one did. As soon as I got home I changed back into my proper clothes and I have to say I feel much calmer after all of the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks.

I feel it is because I know I am at another stepping off point that I am dragging my heels, I don’t really want to go back to being man-me, I am pretty sure that woman-me needs to be a bit more confident in herself and stop worrying about what others will think.

I think that perhaps my calmness is because I can feel a little ball of defiance building inside me so that I do not have to worry about if I can build up the courage to go out somewhere because it seems to me that it feels more like it is a matter of when.

XX

How to be an introvert pretending to be extrovert

I am away this week. I left my house first thing this morning, drove two and a half hours to then get collected by someone else to drive another two and a half hours to our destination.

I have two identical cases in the back – the one filled with clothes I will wear while I am at my conference,  and the other case – left in my car containing clothes I hope to be brave enough to wear on my way home.

Hidden like a guilty secret, in the hopes that they are not discovered, but which case contains the costumes?

I am a quiet person – I have been professionally blending in with my surroundings for as long as I can remember.

Every time we moved I would blend in so that I would not be picked on, every place I have worked I blend in so that I can be a team player. Every conversation I have I try to understand others views so that I can find middle ground. I am a consummate chameleon.

A large part of this journey for me is one of self discovery – I am trying to strip back every aspect of my life and understand who I am at my core.

My personal life exploded, the person I thought I was blown apart over years of marriage to someone who did not share my affection.

My friends – physically miles away, all with their own lives, families, and problems – we never meet and hang out like we used to do and yet they matter to me, their respect and friendships are treasured – but how can I be sociable without ever seeing my friends and stoking those friendships?

My work is frustrating – I am supposed to be going places, taking the people I work with on a journey where the sole aim is to move forwards, and yet am met with total apathy, I do not have the capacity to sit and make idle chit chat with someone who does not really want me there.

In my work I am a leader, I encourage others, I support them, I offer space for people to be themselves, and my aim is to see them grow as individuals. I manage my own time and I consider myself extremely fortunate to do what I do, but in order to do that I need to be outgoing and able to approach and enter someone else’s space.

Conferences are a mixed bag – there are always people that I know and get on well with and love to spend time catching up, the flip side to that is that there are always people there that I do not know and am obligated to talk to, to introduce myself to and am expected to open up to. As an introvert I find that exhausting – I seek relationships with people, I find fulfilment in being able to connect with the world and yet all I really want to do is what I have done tonight – run back to my room, put my headphones on and listen to some relaxing music.  I use the travelling as an excuse, normally I force myself to chat well after the session has ended but as tonight’s session was on mindfulness and self resilience I felt able to leave as soon as was physically polite to do so.

One thing that I struggled with is the idea that it is okay to be who we are.

I agree with the sentiment and would echo it to anyone, and yet tonight I sit pondering once again who I am, am I supposed to be that nice quiet guy sitting in the corner,  if I could be in this room with these people presenting female, would I? Could I still be me?

It is chatting to the women that makes me most comfortable and talking to most of the men is a struggle to find something to talk about – why is it such a difficult thing to do?

In this place my work is more important than my gender, my experiences we are told, count, for no matter who we are we have worth and we have skills and perspectives that others don’t.

I sit quietly, looking at the room, disconnected, present yet not really here.

Does any of this apply to me? I know I am resilient, my life has shown me that I can wade through just about anything – but doing that in a way which allows me to learn from it, to thrive from the experience, to grow, to appreciate it while I am going through it.

I’m not sure I can.

Being who I am, knowing who I am, accepting who I am – those are the hard parts.

XX

Setting up Road blocks

This week has been exhausting! I have been in an almost constant battle with myself.

Going around and around, almost non stop.  Work has been emotionally exhausting but rewarding and of course all of that time has been interacting as a male. I love the social relationships I build with people, I love being able to relate to others – but at the end of the day I am coming back home and closing myself from the outside world because I do not want them to see ME or talk to me or take anything else from me until I am ready and willing to give.

Some of it is just the result of being introverted, as much as I crave relationships and contact with others I get emotionally drained just by being with them.

Some of it is the fact that I feel split in half at the moment and I just want to be normal and have normal problems… The questions remain; do I NEED to transition? am I Trans enough? is this what I really want to do?

Back and forth, forth and back.

I have never been suicidal. I have had to deal with suicide far too often in my life for it to ever be something that I think about for myself and yet when I have been reading others stories and seeing their journeys I cannot help but compare – they all reached a crisis point – a definite moment where for them it was change or die.

I haven’t had that. Not once. I realised I had to start questioning myself when I went out for the first time and interacted with the world in a feminine way, it was make-believe and as a character, and in a completely false setting, but the feelings of euphoria I had that night were genuine and are still very tangible to me. I loved every minute, and it was the strength of those feelings that made me stop and actually start taking stock.

Having spoken to one of the few male friends I have told (someone who has known me for years, and who while very masculine is not afraid to be open and honest) I accept that I am not a cis male – when we talked about feeling feminine, looking and interacting with others and the world emotionally instead of logically, wanting to be a woman and have others see that when they interact with you, even discussing possible medical alterations and surgery – until I brought them up he had spent literally none of his life thinking about them and the thought of “losing his manhood” genuinely gave him jitters, whereas for me I am apathetic and pragmatic about it at best, and all of the other things have been in my thoughts every so often.

But I am getting off topic again – the road block – is not one but many, that inner voice forcing me to ask “what if?”

What if – this is an avoidance tactic to stop dealing with the pain of my marriage being over?

What if – I have lost the only woman in my life whom I have loved and am now desperately trying to fill the void by any means necessary?

What if – this is escapism so that I will not just “man up” and deal with the issues I face on a daily basis at work.

What if – I cannot transition, that I make a start and then realise down the road that I should have simply continued working through my issues?

What if – I cannot be daddy anymore, but mummy already exists?

What if – I have to give up everything and be truly alone?

What if no one accepts me as Dee?

Road blocks, obstacles, painful things to ask.

I cannot go back but do not know how to move forwards.

I do not have a dead name yet, I continue to use and interact with the world on two very different levels and I struggle to perceive myself as Dee without some form of aid – be it nails, clothes, perfume or wig.

Even though I think that Dee is genuinely just a much neglected part of me, I cannot help but question the timing, did my acceptance of my marriage finally ending traumatise me enough to want to make man-me a scapegoat, or did being dropped like an egg crack my shell and allow the real me to start seeping out amongst the mess.

The last time someone made me look at myself to see if I was placing obstacles in my own path to prevent myself moving forwards she was right, I do not like putting myself in the spotlight.

I have built many wonderful relationships over the years and I thought I was being genuine – but now I wonder if I have been.

The part of me that liked to be a woman and has drifted in and out of my life since I was a little boy trying on his sisters clothes, it was my own little private kink and not anything to bring up in company, no matter how drunk I got.

But I cannot go back to ignoring it, almost every waking hour of every day since the middle of October has been spent investigating my feelings and my identity. The time before that has made me who I am, but at the moment I do not think it has made me who I want to be.. not yet.

So I keep giving myself goals, I hope to go to at least one UK pride event this coming year, and in preparation I have made a plan for a week or two’s time to go out and interact with the world as I want to do, nothing big, just going into a store for a snack or a latte – I have to put in a lot of time and effort for what will be a very small experience for everyone else, but it will be worth it for me to break this stalemate and see what is possible.

I am lost in what I ironically see as being no mans land, only where I am lying terrified I would love to see a signal flare in order to find my way.

xx

Frustration is king/queen!

I have found myself getting increasingly frustrated with myself this week.

I know what I want to do, I know what I need to do and I know what I am doing…

I’m stalling for time.

I have no doubts that I can express myself far more clearly and fully as a female than I can when I am trying to be a man for the world, and yet I cannot let anyone see that part of me.

Man-me is solid and dependable, and unflappable, able to cope with anything and known for being a mediator. Woman-me wants to be able to express herself, to stop hiding away, to walk down the street – to hug and cry and laugh and be vulnerable.

I am like a referee in a boxing ring keeping these two sides apart because they are opponents, all the while trying to find a way that lets them co-exist.

Point of proof – I dressed in ladies clothes for my counselling session, but the womens jeans, and top were hidden under a jumper that while it says it is a ladies on the label, looks almost identical to the male version I own in the same colour.  I also wore a lip gloss that would not really show up on camera (I use video chat). I never mentioned any of this, and I even took the bin out because I knew that on the screen and from more than a few feet away I looked like a guy in jeans, but inside I was crossing an invisible line in the least dramatic way possible.

All of my fears about coming out centre around losing my children, I would ideally have both of them full time, but I will accept that they will choose where they go and I want that freedom to choose protected legally.

So I cannot tell them, in case their mum finds out and decides to use that against me – it is a slim possibility but enough to make me balk.

So the two people that mean the most to me in the world are naturally excluded from being a part of this journey with me.

I encourage them to accept others for who they are, to recognise that we are all different and yet the one thing that connects us is that we are all special.  This is not some meme based feel good philosophy but the natural state of humanity. Good until we choose not to be.

The same thing is happening with showing Dee to the world, I literally cannot do it without military style planning and yet I so desperately want it to just not be a big deal.

I want to pass and blend and be pretty simply so I can walk down the street without everyone staring at me – I literally get enough of that in my day job.

The cosmetics are just a way to be expressive in a different way to the slogan tee shirts that I used to wear.  A way to say how I am feeling, because it is so very hard to say that the rest of the time.

I am being torn up by my inability to bring these two opposing parts of my life together.

There must be a way.

I am takings steps though.   I have taken a small step forwards, because my niece has booked us tickets to a Pride event happening in the city she goes to University in this coming year so I have a few months to get comfortable with the idea of going out into the world as Dee.  It is a big step because I have never left the house and do not want to be female for an entire weekend without having ever gone out one or twice first. There is a small chance of being recognised or recorded and broadcast by some person with a camera, but I think that if my position with my children is protected all that would ultimately do is bring forward my plans to include my workplace in the journey.

I’m also struggling to face up to my own greed and sugar addiction – if I want to look and feel good I am going to have to lose all the weight I have piled on over Christmas and New Year.

I also question my ability to be a woman in day to day life. I have not felt any kind of “I must do this or die” moment, which seems to be prevalent when looking at others who transition.  For me it is more akin to an awakening of consciousness, the more I question myself and my identity, the more I feel that the feminine part of me is actually a deeper rooted, bigger and more important part than the male part that I have been showing all these years, so I wish to reflect that and give it the space it needs to grow and flourish, and transitions seems to be the best way to do that for me.

Sometimes it is not enough to simply know who we are, but the real struggle lies in being who we are.

My brain hurts and my heart hurts but this can’t last forever – can it?

Take care

XXX

Who’s in the mirror?

I have been on a roller coaster of ups and downs over Christmas and New Year. The ups have all been great, I have a wider support network now, and having one of my male friends tell me that he is incredibly proud of me asking these questions about myself because in his opinion the world would be a better place if we all did it was very affirming.

Equally I have been away from home for long enough that I have been struggling with seeing arm and leg hair growing in again for the first time since October, it is hard to be happy with my reflection in the mirror when I see so much wrong with it.

I also had an interesting counselling session recently where for all my talk of being unsure I was told that the language I use is far more certain.

I do not want Dee to be yet another mask I put on for the world.

She is not some online persona – it is not something I pretend to do – I have been many things to many people and one of the reasons I am happy being anonymous at the moment is because no one else has any expectations of me.  Dee is who I am when no one is watching, no one would miss this blog if I stopped, I write because it is an easier way to actually sort through the Rubiks cube that makes up my brain and I write to remember. I also know that while I am starting to make some nice friends online,  equally that community is used to people coming and going and would soon forget me.

No, if Dee was simply a character I could delete her and pick up another game to play, but I can’t. More and more I want to experience life without all the bull shit. I simply want to be free to express myself by wearing whatever I want, by looking however I choose and by being recognised for who I am instead of the small parts that I allow myself to let others see.

Where I live restricts pretty much all of that – it is not simply a matter of self confidence although that’s in there, I am not a celebrity but I live in an area where I have no anonymity, and literally everyone knows who I am and where I work, I cannot be Dee even to do a small task like put the bins out, and while saying that it is killing me feels like I am being overly dramatic- it is eating me up on the inside.

Why won’t I contact a GIC? Why won’t I take a weekend to find a Travelodge or an Airbnb (or wherever I can afford) and then just go out as Dee? I dream of dancing but I would settle for a coffee or a cinema trip. Heck even being brave enough to go and get my eyebrows or nails done would be such a big deal to me right now.

I am trapped in this cage of my own making and am too scared to leave it in case it turns out to all be a mistake, and then I will have put myself, my kids, my family and my work through a whole pile of drama for nothing.

I think I still worry that I am too old to be questioning my gender – why was this not something that bothered me until now?

How do I get past my fears and embrace the unknown?

How can I be all me?

So many questions. So little coffee

XX

PS – This is my first ever handbag, as requested in a previous comment and obviously bought on sale! I truly hope that one day soon I will be brave enough to use it.

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