Take a good look at yourself

I have been struggling to sleep, my mind keeps me up late and then my parental duties get me up early. It means I am just getting more and more tired, this morning I even curled up on the sofa after my son had gone to school and napped for an hour, but then I decided to be constructive and am waiting for the coffee to finish while I type this.

This weekend I have finally been able to start catching up with my Canadian friend – time difference means that I log on to the computer late evening and he logs on early afternoon, we started to play a game called Everybody’s golf which allows us to chat while we do something simple and relaxing, this game is a great time killer, in almost every game I play I have an online male character and then a female character that I play in solo mode, I started the same way in this game but since Christmas I started using the female skin all the time.   It is a very visible sign of my current conflict, the male avatar looks fairly close to me, to me this is how the world sees me day to day, the female avatar is just cute and looks nothing like me, but definitely represents more about how I would most often like to be perceived, one of the things in the game is unlocking different costumes as you progress and beat computer players and this lolita goth outfit was the one I most recently unlocked until recently she was wearing an oriental style silk dress and heels.

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I can use the female avatar with my friend because he knows about my current struggle, but what I wasn’t expecting was that another friend who does not know came online and because UK-Canada live chats are rare (and because we are all friends) we invited him to join the game and the party, after a quick check to ensure that any trans topic was now off the table we invited him in, but I consciously chose to keep my female skin as we played. After passing a comment about my friends skin looking just like him, we joked that my female skin looks totally like me too and then just played the game and messed about. No drama, the other friend is one of my closest friends and would accept Dee without skipping a beat, his wife however is a kind hearted gossip and I am not ready for her/everyone I know to know. Even though she will be amazing for makeup tips.

Last night I was able to start catching up properly with my Canadian friend and told him that I am waiting for my appointment at the gender clinic but that it will be October before my first appointment, I spoke to him about how I had stopped the counselling I had been paying privately for because I had realised I was just going around in circles.  The counsellor was very affirming and normalised my dressing and wish to present female, which is great – I still have a lot of guilt and shame around dressing, some of it is cultural indoctrination and some of it is personal disgust at not knowing myself better and just being too horny,  but what I want at the moment is not so much a person centered approach to this – which is what I would normally seek as a better way to come to grips with myself, but a solution focused approach that shows me my options and allows me to choose the right/best path.

I told him I had started facial hair removal and that it was REALLY sore, but I know it will be worth it no matter what happens and pointed out that one of the big issues I have is that I confuse people because I am very self aware, one of my sticking points with embracing being trans is the question, why has it taken 40 years to surface? I know my motivation for just about every behaviour and yet never considered why I cross dressed until my marriage fell apart. The two big events are still too close for me to write it off as a coincidence.

My friend is amazing.  He talks openly and frankly and never beats around the bush on a topic – if you ask for his opinion he will give it.  He started by discussing my impending divorce and my exes engagement, checking how I was before voicing his disgust at how she has behaved (last time we split I got very defensive of her) and how he thought I was doing the right thing maintaining the relationship for the kids.

My friend said that he was not worried about me because I was fucking titanium, I can handle anything and just keep going. Which made me laugh, he asked what I was most worried about and I talked about having to fight to keep my son, I said I am worried he would freak out but think if I took my time then he would be okay with it and transitioning takes years to do anyway. .

I talked about the fear of how my mum would handle the news because we have had more than enough drama in our lives thanks to her and I discussed the idea that this totally changes the relationship with the remaining family, they pretty much have to mourn the fact that their brother/son is not there any more, even though I would still be me.

He told me that for him he did not see it as losing me, he said I was still in his top 3 list of people to go to when he needs someone to listen or to vent to, the things he likes about me are not external and still there. For him, from what I have talked about, this just lets him get to know more of me, the parts that have stayed hidden from everyone – becoming female just makes me more of who I am and not less.  Female or male we will still do the same things like we have done this weekend, we will still get the banter, you will just be more open and less sealed off.

He said he has seen me face a few big issues in my life but only a couple have been genuinely life changing, if he could he would make it so that I did not have to face all of the pain and suffering that he sees me going through, but not because he would not want me to be Dee, but because he does not want to see me struggling. We discussed my employer and what my plans are for telling them, and while I am leaving it in the category of crossing that bridge when we come to it, I am more worried that they would use me as a poster child to show how inclusive they are than cause me grief, but co-workers can and will be a constant issue afterwards, I will never be just another woman in the workplace – always that trans person. I am thick skinned enough to know that I can cope with that, and that in a worst case scenario I can always do the same job elsewhere, but in order to do so I need to be so sure that Dee should be the one to face it.

Again he said that he will call me Dee at any point if I ask him to and we would have kept going but his wife arrived home and so he had to log off and go and adult, but I am glad we spoke.  I feel a lot calmer today.

He has a way of considering what I am saying and then asking a question to clarify his understanding that allows me to be concise.

Did I mention that my friend is amazing?

I am still torn internally, but I think I am recognising that actually a part of it is me clinging to the old me, a part of me does not want to stand and say I am a woman for fear of being mocked and ridiculed, the small child that was bullied and learned not to take self worth from the words of others still desperately wants approval.

I guess I don’t want to be transgender, I am not as open and accepting of myself as I am with others – I accept anyone as I find them and yet it appears that what is good enough for others is different for me. I hate that I feel that. I hate that a part of me is jealous of all these people that can shout “I am trans” and be excited for their journey. It gladdens me when they share success stories but I envy their certainty about it being the right thing.

I will need to decide if I can cope with being a bald woman or if I will face a few weeks of good intentioned mockery as I suddenly start having hair all the time – this piece of vanity causes me more issues than the thought of being a bearded lady, which I can do something about.

I still do not want to be seen as a man in drag, but if I am out as Dee I want the world to see her and not him.

I still have such a long way to go.

x

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Pressure to Purge

I have spent the last week in total guy mode. No amount of makeup would hide the redness of my face and when I attempted to shave after 4 days my chin and face still looked really blotchy and rough.  1 week on from laser and my face has cleared up except for 3 scabs which formed on the left side of my face, a small one on my top lip, and two on my neck under my chin, all very noticeable and I have been asked with concern a few times now by well meaning people including my ex and my daughter, “what happened to your face?”

Today I was finally able to shave, but all of this week Dee has stayed silent.  I have ghosted on the forums I have become a part of, logging in and out briefly and barely staying like I did when I first joined.

There is nothing feminine about my reflection, nothing feminine about my body, it has taken a considerable amount of will power these last couple of days just to NOT to throw all of my clothes and makeup out.

I must add that I do not feel any more manly either – I don’t look in the mirror and see some butch chiseled Adonis staring back – even if I squint, even with my eyes closed… all I see when I look is just plain, chubby, hairy old me.

I cried a tear because I got emotional at my son looking so grown up (he is still in primary school) and being upset because he was (accidentally) stood up on his first ever date with a girl to watch the lego movie. He is so sweet and I know he will get his heart broken for the first time soon. Yet for all of the “feels” just one measly tear. Nowhere near enough.

I have had a busy work week and have actually had a very positive week, connecting with many different people and actually being told they appreciate me, which almost never happens. Someone likened my speaking to a magician pulling the never ending scarf out of a hat this week – It was meant as a compliment but perhaps in her heart she just wishes I’d shut up and stop talking.

I have worked my days off and been incredibly busy and tired and in all of that I have not once found myself wanting to come home and dress as Dee, or wear makeup or perfume or anything else that I have come to associate with allowing my female side to show through.

Yesterday and today all I have done is think about whether I NEED to transition, I see others starting Testosterone blockers and estrogen whether chemical or herbal and they all seem both relieved and delighted, I have to wait until October for my appointment and I find myself wondering if I should cancel it so I do not waste someone’s time that could be better spent with someone who really needs it.

My life is actually pretty good, my work while not perfect is going well, I will need to move at some point to do the things I would like to progress to but I am building myself a positive reputation and there actually seems to be some appreciation for me and what I do.

My kids love me, although when I brought up Halloween with them the other day they said I looked “weird” and I do not want to look weird for my kids, they have enough struggles without me adding to them.

My divorce is happening and should be finalised fairly soon. My ex is already engaged to another man and claims to be incredibly happy about it, but our relationship so far is still very amicable.

I have found myself wondering why I am considering transition, I know I keep coming back to it, but literally everyone I know online says they reached a moment when they could no longer continue on their current path – they absolutely HAD to transition. Mostly at a low ebb involving attempts on their life or substance misuse.

I have been very fortunate, I may have an unhealthy relationship to food and caffeine, but overall my addictions are socially acceptable and managed – the odd time I choose to binge drink, which isn’t very often since the kids were born is not considered to be a big deal.

I do not feel that I HAVE to do anything – unless I am talking about passing because then all I really, really want to do is hide in plain sight. Honestly though that will be whether I want to walk down the street as a female or as a male. I just want to be invisible – often I feel I am.

I am exhausted with the constant worrying and the fear of rejection by family and to a point friends, and those I work with.  I am exhausted with the constant barrage of questions going around and around and around in my head about how to define myself, and how I am defined by society and at the moment I just want to stick my fingers up to the world and crawl under a blanket to hibernate until this all sorts itself out and goes away. I cant do that though – apart from the fact that it would take less than 5 seconds for me to start worrying that I had offended somebody, the world just will not let me hibernate.

I want to be authentic, I want to be true to my nature and I want to do that without feeling like I have to prove it to myself and everybody else – but I kind of do need to prove it, otherwise I do not need to transition, but just want to. I could carry on just being squidgy little effeminate hairy me and no one would ever know that I have spent 6 months dancing around my gender identity, I could probably do that indefinitely – but would I be saving myself from grief or just doing myself harm by inaction and avoidance.

Who am I? which part of me do I need to purge?

Oh my sweet chestnuts that was sore!

While the beginning of this week was a bit of an emotional minefield to get through the weekend has been quite pleasant.

Well, pleasant is not quite the word.  On Friday I could not take it any more and spent almost two hours shaving my arms, legs and chest. I knew my weekend did not involve any time to openly be Dee but I had just had enough, I think when I am feeling down or going through periods of high emotional turmoil I shut down any non essential tasks and then slowly shovel food I know I will regret into my mouth until I feel bad about that too – emotional eating has become a modern form of self flagellation.

On Friday evening I travelled down to my sisters – I actually packed a suitcase in the boot of the car just in case the opportunity to be Dee presented itself (it totally didn’t but one can live in hope, when did I become the person that packs two bags for an overnight trip?) and spent another night chatting to my sister, this time chatting about her future plans rather than her just listening to my nonsense, it is nice to physically catch up – and then when I did go to bed I got to wear my pink pj’s as no one else was going to see them. I slept like a baby for the first time in many days.

I travelled in and arrived about half an hour early for my appointment, it was cold outside so I simply went in and sat in the warm catching up on other bloggers posts,  but I read too fast, I should have taken a book. This time I had drank my morning coffee and when I was offered a cuppa by the receptionist I asked for tea and got decaff – now I own both decaff and regular tea and for anyone who claims they taste the same – they really don’t, coffee is harder to identify but the decaff tea has an almost metallic tang to it that made me wish I had asked for sugar.

This time as soon as I went in I was darling, and I love it.  I may not fully understand the whole pronoun thing – I like people to address me by my name (even if it is not the name I would like them to use) calling someone he/she in front of them is just bad manners regardless of their gender or presentation.

I had worn pastel colours as they are just a little closer to what I would choose to wear if I could. We pretty much got straight down to – an application of something to my face followed by the first click and pinch of the laser. Then the second, then the third, by the fourth time my body knew what to expect and I started flinching.  Over the course of the next 30-40 minutes I flinched many times, and almost cried once – though the tears also came at a point of conversation where I was being asked about how I felt about the news that my ex was re-marrying so soon.

If someone asks how I am doing  usually try and give an honest answer – that way if they are not really interested they soon learn to not ask, I had been asked how my week had been and “bizarre” was the first word to come into my head. My consultant gave her opinion on the marriage and my ex and also informed me that if/when my ex discovers that I am trans that she will instantly absolve herself of any and all blame for the marriage failing, claiming it was my secret keeping/lying to her for all these years that made it not work. That was something that I have already established as being extremely likely anyway.

The constant flick from the laser took its toll, for me the line along my jaw on my neck was excruciating, the front of the neck and the top lip were unpleasant but under my jawbone by my ears was just agony and under my bottom lip was nasty too. It is not just that the constant flicking gets to you, but as your skin warms up it is like touching a scalding hot teaspoon to your face at the same time as being flicked by an elastic band.

I got through it with a LOT of flinching, only a little bit of whimpering, and an awful lot of clenching. When she applied cooling gel and asked how it felt all I could do was sigh in relief.  I lay for about 10 minutes just letting the gel soak in. I have always thought myself fairly tolerant of pain, but this was equivalent to self torture, knowing that I had chosen this and was paying for the privilege. As my consultant also said though we are destroying the hair violently so it will be a violent experience.

Oddly though once I had gotten through my hour I was very pleased with myself, I paid for the session including an extra almost £40 for the gel – I know it is a giant tube but I could pick up aloe after sun soothing gel for much cheaper in the chemist and would be willing to bet it does the same job.

I had originally envisioned going and trying to visit a couple of friends in the area after my appointment but because I looked like I had a nasty skin condition I instead drove back to my sisters for lunch – she told me that it looked like I had nappy rash on my face and took a photo to send to the other sister in the know.  Thanks sis!

I used gel before bed that evening and had to try and shave a little with the electric shaver just to tidy it up but today it looks like I tried to shave with a blunt blade and gave up, the bottom of my neck is still a little red but hopefully I can shave again properly soon – in three weeks time I go back so we can see where to start – this was just weed clearing with the IPL laser at its strongest setting. The thought that I still have many more sessions to go fills me with dread, the thought that it will not be too long before I never have to shave again fills me with joy.

Overall, this week I think that I am still very much afraid of being trans – it is not self loathing or shame so much as self fear.

What happens if I go through all this laser for the next 7 months and then when I finally see a gender therapist they just tell me that I have depression and am projecting my own feelings of being emasculated in my marriage (no idea where that nonsense penny psychology comes from but in some ways it was true – I was the one that gave up friends, family, hobbies and my own sense of worth to try to be what was wanted or needed in the relationship, everything literally revolved around her until the children came, then the kids came first and she came second, which is possibly why I was no longer good enough.)

I have still only been out once as Dee and am less than two months away from going out as Dee for a full weekend to an actual pride event – how can I claim to be proud when I am too scared to leave my own home or even really admit to myself that I am definitely trans instead of pussyfooting around with can I can’t I questions?

My consultant asked the very sensible question of would I be doing this if my marriage had not ended – and I had to say that while I do not know, the chances are probably not.  I was never able to share this side of me with my wife for fear of her rejection and disgust, if we were still together then I would still be trying to please her for even the smallest compliment.

In other news my ex has advised me that she may be moving out of the area, she is considering applying for a job that she has been strongly encouraged to apply for, as her new man lives down that way I was oddly very calm about it all, really it was only a matter of time, and my only condition is that both children get the option of going with her or staying with me – at some point in the next year or two I will probably me moving too – if I ever want to become Dee in real life I cannot do it where I am and would have to move to a new area to do so.

Life continues to be overly complicated, but never boring!

XX

Mid Week Moaning

I don’t mean to moan, but I’m  British and it seems that self pity and a bit of wallowing are apparently in our genes – possibly from being pillaged so much in our history before we got fed up and went pillaging ourselves…

That and I have been able to take comfort sharing my actual thoughts with internet strangers in a way that I cannot do in real life, where I need to be “fine”.

As I have mentioned a few times my wife and I split effectively last September – the vows I made to love her I kept as best as I could, I have only ever wanted her to be happy, we both knew our relationship was not a balanced one – she was quite controlling of my social life and tried to control how often I spoke or visited with my family, and resented me being out, often texting to see when I was getting back in etc – she did not see this as controlling, but over the years while I gave up more and more trying to make the marriage work and be the person she wanted me to be, and be the parent our children deserve, she often resented our very presence and the fact that it meant she could not always do what she wanted.

I have frequently been told by at least 4 different friends as well as my sisters that while not physical, it was an abusive relationship – so she ended 14 years of marriage (leaving me for the third time) Please do not misunderstand – I will not gossip and nor will I hear a bad word said against her, which can be frustrating for others and we are trying to remain friends. As far as I know she has no clue about my trans feelings and believes that the marriage breaking down was just a mutual acceptance because there were things I did that she could not forgive (I still have no idea what, but while I know I was not perfect and would admit to my mistakes she has always struggled with self responsibility)

Part of our drift back towards friendship has been her sharing with me about her new boyfriend – through conversation it has become apparent they got together the last time we had split up as well and then she got cold feet and came back – I thought we were trying to make the marriage work, she just hadn’t worked up the courage to make a clean break.

To make a really long story just long instead she told me two nights ago that she was engaged to him. My brain just about exploded. I had been watching the dogs for her to go away and put our divorce papers in and go to a hospital appointment so it was a bit out of left field to hear that she had gone out for a meal and he had given her a ring.  By the time she had finished telling me I had recovered enough to wish them both happiness, but my head was pounding.

She moved out in October so in my head to get the relationship from bf and gf to fiance means that they had not really stopped 4-5 yrs ago.  I have effectively been used for the last 5 years, that is a tough pill to swallow.

I struggle with self image, with emotional eating and with the fact that I really want to be pissed off at her but can’t because I am more annoyed at myself for believing that things could work out if only I could put more effort in.

Then yesterday two very large sheriffs officers came to “serve” me the papers – they were huge! Really intimidating especially as while one rang the bell and stood in the doorway the other stood off just out of sight and almost gave me a heart attack when I noticed him. The guy told me I needed to sign them and put them back in and then they both went off to their cars  – I cannot put across just how much of a stereotype these two were, all muscle and no neck. They were terrifying! – which is of course the whole point, that way if I try to refuse the papers or get angry they can “sort me out”. Intimidation as a peace keeping tactic – do not start trouble because we will end it.

Turns out he was full of nonsense, a very nice lady today at the court when I arrived with my signed papers said I only needed to hand them back if I intend to contest it – erm, nope.

Later that evening my wife told both children and received mixed responses, my daughter immediately started thinking about dresses because she likes the guy and the possibility of having step sisters from his teenage daughters. My son burst into tears and said it was illegal, but we calmed him down, reminded him that engagement s just a promise and it will be a little while away yet – his mum told him that no one would replace me as dad (kind of surreal for me to hear just now) and that if I wanted to I could find someone to marry too, and by the end of the night he was angling for a star wars theme wedding.

I told the children that I was not going to be going to it as that would be a bit odd (which meant my ex could then confirm without having to bring it up later), but did say that I would not be looking after the dogs – I wonder if I can stick to that promise.

So it is a mixed blessing – I feel drained and horrible now after having such a wonderful weekend.

I feel so alone and unloved – because she has just gone straight into another long term relationship and I am effectively lost in the wilderness with no one to hold on to as I try to decide who I am.

Even the thought of dating fills me with dread – I cannot even start looking for someone until I know who I am and who it is I am asking them to be involved with.

Some of the girls I have spoken to online talk about attracting all sorts of weirdos just because they are transitioning and while flattery is nice, that is not what I am after.

I want someone to cuddle and hold hands, to kiss and snuggle up with – I want all of the physical interaction that says to someone “you are special to me”, not just some hook up – I never wanted that – ever! basically everything I want is what I have been starved of for pretty much a decade now.

But I am not ready yet.

I am lonely and afraid.

Afraid to transition and afraid not to.

What if all of this is just me distracting myself (badly) from the pain of losing my marriage? what if I never truly pass? what if I never find someone else? what if I transition and then regret it? what if I ignore my feelings and just go back to being that nice, quiet guy that everyone knows?

I’m not even sure if I want the answers to these questions, I feel so, so much already and yet I do not feel enough – it’s like my ability to cry has been neutered somewhere along the line – do I really want to ramp the intensity up? kind of… yes..

I could do with some virtual hugs. I may be cynical but I am an optimist – I never stay down for long and one of these days, perhaps I will get over my constant internal bickering and realise that I am actually worth something as a person and not just for what I can do for someone – I firmly believe everyone else has intrinsic worth, so why not me?

(If you got this far thanks for taking the time to let me rant xx)

 

Apparently I am a sweetie :)

I have spent a great deal of this last week worrying if I am doing the right thing – having made my phone calls and booked my appointments to speak to someone about my Trans feelings all I could ask myself is the question, “is all this stress worth it?”

The mirror is not the friend it pretends to be – when dressed as Dee I keep looking and taking photos because for a short while I feel uplifted – free of the weight that seems to sit on me the rest of the time, that invisible weight is sucking my natural enthusiasm or desire to do anything.

I know that it is probably depression more than dysphoria, I truly did love my ex and losing her was painful, even though I know that she did not share my feelings and that most of the time I was the doormat in the relationship fourteen years is a long time to be with someone and no matter how hard I compartmentalise everything I need to acknowledge that not being good enough for the one person I gave everything I had for really hurts.

So my mood has not been great – barely scraping by in my work duties – there if not really present and then restlessly switching between Youtube and Netflix to dull my senses and pass enough time to go to bed before starting the cycle all over again the next day.

On Friday evening I drove down to my sisters and we spent the whole night chatting – our daughters were born on the same day and are extremely close in temperament and style, I hope they continue to be close as they grow older. Having my older sisters to talk to is great but I do not want them to burn out – I deliberately do not share every time I am dressed as Dee or practising my makeup or have come out of a counselling session because I do not want them to get bored or overloaded with the dross in my life when they have enough dramas of their own to contend with – if I wanted to be insulted or complimented (it could happen) then I could use tinder or grinder or whatever those apps are – but as you can tell by my vagueness I have no real interest in that sort of thing and even the thought of trying to be romantic with someone just fills me with dread – I miss the intimacy, the cuddles, the kisses and the physical closeness all of the things that looking back I did not get for most of my marriage.

Dating just feels like being asked to step on an unexploded land mine and see what happens..

My sister has been doing a lot of reading to try and understand my current journey – one of the questions she asked was whether I had looked at those who had detransitioned – she did not ask out of malice, but because she wants me to be sure that I am doing the right thing for me – I need to come out happier than I was before I started questioning or the process is simply not worth it.

I have watched a couple of videos and tried reading a few blogs early on into my questioning but as far as I could tell the ones I saw who detransitioned did it because they had either transitioned very young and then as an adult in their late 20’s started to want to express themselves differently or because they could not take the hatred and almost daily abuse they effectively got for being their preferred gender – it wasn’t that they did not feel trans but that having been known as wee Bobby they were not accepted as wee Barbara and just got worn down, whether by fear, ignorance or intolerance both religious and cultural.  For a society that likes to tell everyone how enlightened we are, we suck at being non judgemental and accepting of anyone who is not the same for what ever arbitrary reason.

Not one of the half dozen or so that I looked at detransitioned because they stopped believing they were transgender, so I stopped looking – I may have had a bad sample, but they were not helpful when I was trying to ask the question of whether I had trans feelings at all.

Looking in the mirror the main question I have asked myself is W T F am I doing?

Asking myself if all of this stress is actually going to be worth it – asking myself if becoming female is actually going to make me feel more like the real me or less – especially if I have to teach myself to talk differently and walk differently and wear a wig to disguise my shiny testosterone created dome… am I going to be more me or less me?

One of the things about worrying if you are the wrong gender is that it is very lonely – people will either support you or they wont – but no one can tell you if you are right or wrong you have to reach those conclusions all by yourself and then live with them. Putting yourself under a microscope like this is just absolutely terrifying and exhausting.

The more I have shared the more others have said they can relate to my feelings and concerns, which has been genuinely comforting and lovely to hear, but I think part of me was hoping that no one would have had the same thoughts or experiences and because they could not relate to me I could tell myself that I was not transgender and just stay a slightly kinky or effeminate bloke forever.

It was in this frame of mind that I turned up for my consultant’s session at the beauty Spa that I had booked myself into to talk about getting my facial and body hair removed.

I had a brief medical form to fill in and sat waiting for my consultant to arrive, just me – bald guy with stubble in a jacket using his male name, the twenty something year old lassie in her ripped jeans surgically attached to her mobile phone beside me and two much older ladies across from me and nobody saying a word or looking at each other – the ladies soon went off to get their nails done and the lassie was then called leaving me on my own and very much feeling out of place.

The receptionist bless her did offer me a cup of tea but I have read online and been advised by others that caffeine can somehow make you more sensitive to the pain so I was doing all this without my morning coffee… Next time I am having my coffee.

The consultant breezed in with her own steaming mug of coffee and I was shown into the room while she moaned about the lack of parking outside and being blocked from her space due to a classic car collection parked outside while their owners fawned over each others cars – I made a comment about the men showing off their new toys to one another and she made the usual must be compensating for something joke and then we got down to business.

Which areas do you want done? and then why do you want your hair removed – initially I talked about having experienced being hairless for the first time in my adult life last Halloween for fancy dress and realising I preferred being hairless and that I just really was getting fed up of shaving, but in a few more moments she asked again why I wanted all my hair removed, and so I took a deep breath and said that I had been questioning my gender.

Talk about saying the right thing.

She had been pleasant before, but the change now while quite subtle went from all business, to calling me sweetie and dear and she instantly asked a lot of questions about if I had attended the local clinic or been to my GP because she is on first name terms with the woman there and that she has lots of other girls come in and I literally got about 15 minutes of sage advice about getting all my ducks in a row before coming out – how wearing female clothing can still be done subtly without the need to wear a miniskirt and become a tart (I am paraphrasing somewhat) although my response was that with the best will in the world I would not suit a miniskirt even if I wanted to!

She acknowledged that when we are feeling bad about ourselves we can make poor choices and be quite destructive – I had shown her my chest hair, so my comfort eating was quite obvious to her.

I had to remind her that I have not even had my initial meeting yet, that I was not on hormones and was not even close to claiming sessions on the NHS – but I was there because I have never grown a beard and have always hated my facial hair and the chore of shaving so even if I never went through with transition it is a good investment to never need to shave again.

There were many other quickfire conversations mostly prefaced with a comment about how she probably shouldn’t say anything, but I told her that other than my two sisters she is the first living person i have told face to face about questioning my gender and that I will always appreciate honesty over back handed compliments.

While she still f’ed and blinded her way through our meeting it was like a breath of fresh air – she talked freely and confidently but without judgement and I visibly relaxed and showed my softer more animated side in my responses – she volunteered to put me in touch with the local support group when I was confident enough to give her my number and confirmed that in her opinion I am right not to say anything to my ex or my children until I am much further a long as women can be vicious, and that we will talk about make up and where and how to get my eyebrows done and all sorts of things that women talk about when they get together – it was amazing if I could leave hugs for people wherever I go she would have been left at least two for being so wonderful to me!

Apparently I will not be straight forward – but in my life that is a constant and so I was not expecting anything less – she went through the two types of laser she uses – IPL and NDYAG and said that IPL was like a weed clearer – it would kill of the darkest hairs but be useless against the red and white hairs that my Scottish caucasian genes have blessed me with.

The YAG laser is much more powerful and will kill off a lot more, but is far more focused and covers a smaller area, which means it takes longer and is almost twice as expensive, and then finally all that should be left would be the white hairs for electrolysis.

I talked about whether laser was a false economy as I did not want to throw good money after bad for a temporary solution and she assured me that the thermal reaction is permanent if done right, she has promised to keep me right and will let me know when the best times are to go in and for which treatment – The lasers have improved since she first started working with them, but if you use it on the wrong pigment type it will not get down far enough to excite the hair root inside the follicle to detonate and then pretty much just becomes a fancy way of waxing as the hair is not destroyed.

The good news for me is that the YAG laser seems to be pretty good, at least for my jaw line, the IPL one she knew was pointless on my face but felt that it wold work well on my chest and back hair where my Pili Multigemini is actually a blessing.

The test patches were like being flicked with an elastic band in the face repeatedly – unpleasant but not unbearable, and the smell of burning hair I already know from years of throwing my sisters hair brush contents onto open fires.. my skin just looked like I had a shaving rash which on a male is not even worth noticing.

I am going back for my first hour of treatment next Saturday – it is going to cost me an absolute fortune, but by the time I am down to electrolysis hopefully the NHS will help stump up for some of the bill. The knowledge and openness and understanding of this woman not only put me totally at ease but I was positively floating when I left.

I no longer felt out of place but totally accepted.

When I arrived at the lobby and met my other sister I was beaming with happiness and proceeded to try and recount the session for her. The only thing she had to do in town was get her shellac nail polish removed – I had thought they were false nails so was very impressed, but as we were still putting the world to rights and it wouldn’t take long I walked with her to her appointment, sat and enjoyed a cup of tea while she was being taken care of and eyed the different nail colour samples enviously out of the corner of my eye while I looked at my phone. My sister did say she had’t planned on inviting me along but it wouldn’t hurt for me to see what went on anyway.

For the second time that day even though I was presenting very much as a male I was accepted and welcomed into an all female space without so much as a murmer. Apparently the owner has a nonbinary son who is part of the LGBTQ+ community and so if I want my eyebrows done she would be a good person to speak to.

That was the second comment about my eyebrows in less than 2 hours – I have fairly faint and not very wild or fuzzy brows, they are neat for a man but they have never been sculpted and when I am feeling braver I will want to keep them cleaned up but keep them looking fairly natural – I do not like the ultra thin pencil line, or the more recent thick sharpie look, but if I am going to spend money anywhere it would be getting decent lashes – I love long eyelashes… with the right eyes you just feel like falling into them forever.

I may have been feeling rotten and tired and confused, but it was an incredibly affirming day for me as Dee – the happiness and contentment of being able to just not try to be male regardless of how I looked was exactly the same as those moments I try to capture in my camera.

Today I am typing this as Dee – wearing my real clothes (some plain cream jeans and a teal butterfly t-shirt) but with my man costume ready beside me in case the doorbell rings, knowing that my lipstick will have already smudged off on my coffee mug from earlier but content to risk that if I need to but not worried about my reflection at the moment.

Certain that if I feel as good as I did at the weekend whenever I take steps forwards, then I am definitely on the right path.

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Sunshine and showers!

Depending on your point of view – this week has been equally constructive and de-constructive. I phoned my local Gender Identity clinic outreach centre and made an initial appointment. After all of the nerves and the fear and the worries when I attempted to do this and failed in October last year, this time it was simple. I had to give my male name and date of birth but made pleasant conversation while waiting for the computers to catch up with the conversation – I was told that I may have to wait a couple of months and replied that was not a problem – turns “out a couple of months” in NHS terms is actually 8 months. For an initial appointment. Not for any kind of treatment, or counselling or actually accessing a service but just to go back to that initial conversation about not knowing who I am.

My mouth did an “Oh.” And the kind lady seemed slightly apologetic, but I know that there are much bigger waiting times elsewhere and kind of see it as my fault for hesitating anyway – if I had made the phone call back when I first wanted to I would only be 2 months away from my meeting now.

Logically the point is this – I am 40 – for most of that time I have gone through my life thinking that I knew who I was and although there have been bumps and diversions along the way, for the most part I was quite satisfied with the person I grew in to.

Until last year – then everything started to go a bit wonky, as I started digging into who I was and what made me happy and I realised that the part of me that I considered to be and dismissed as being a bit of a shameful kink was actually far more than just a simple bit of fun.

Now? I am very much still digging and life if anything is even more wonky now, but my thought is that if I could get to 40 before doing anything then another 8 months isn’t really going to make much of a difference in the big scheme of things.

However no one said I had to spin my wheels, so I have an initial consultation on Saturday to talk to someone about starting permanent hair removal – I know the NHS pays for a few sessions but ultimately from the people I have spoken to this is not nearly enough – it is (apparently) a long, painful and drawn out process. One which even if I decide I cannot go further is one that will save me many hours of grief shaving over the rest of my life time… a task which I loathe and which irritates my skin.

I also decided that while I had a chance for some quality me time that I would get to practising my makeup, my father would have been horrified full stop at me “acting like a jessie” but would also have used the phrase “you look like a panda” if he had seen it – it was less smoky effect, which I love the look of as it just seems to draw people in to your eyes, and more you haven’t slept in 2 days – which was at least closer to accurate – I also dipped into my sisters hand me down pile and tried (and failed) to wear shorts over tights – a look I have seen other women do and pull off quite successfully and yet at best I looked like a sack of tatties. No disrespect to potato sacks.

As soon as I looked at myself I went and changed and felt better – I like skirts, I like tights and the look and feel of them on my legs and I like the way that they make me look and feel more feminine, I shared the photo with some friends and bless them, they complimented me by saying that I passed quite well. Not my intention for the evening because I was really just relaxing how I wanted to and practising a skill I sorely lack, but the compliment was very sweet anyway.

After all that buzz and happiness though I came crashing down yesterday when I saw myself getting dressed and having to put on my male clothes. I felt ugly compared with the night before when I actually thought I looked halfway decent – now all i could see was a tired hairy lump in the mirror.

Some of my new online friends admit that their mood yoyo’s as their hormone levels rise and fall and yet I am not even close to being on hormones – although I think I really want to be.

I wonder if a part of it is wanting those who I know will gossip about me – those friend/work colleagues who may or may not agree with or understand me – to have to admit that actually I do look like a woman even if they have to grit and grind their teeth while doing it.

I was advised that my fretting over my physical attractiveness or lack of it is actually a fairly common cis-female trait, but that doesn’t make it go away.

Like the Scottish weather I seem to be all over the place at the moment. Running hot then cold, sunshine and showers. I am a couple of concrete steps closer to being my authentic self, I know because I am happy I made the appointments – and yet as a goal “being authentic” has no definition, and no boundaries – so how will I know when I’ve achieved it?

How will I know when I am being the real me?

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Peeking round the Corner

This morning I said goodbye to my online counsellor.

The door is very much still open and I thought that she had been tremendously helpful but as the purpose of connecting with her was to try and figure out if I was actually transgender or simply suffering from mental health issues as I sat at the meeting this morning, 100% comfortable being Dee actually talking about things that were nothing to do with my gender but had influenced my life, I realised I am at the point now where I have started to accept who I am.

I did not want to connect with the NHS and have notes on my medical record if all I needed was to work through some issues, so I found someone who would work long distance, had experience working with the trans community and would be able to help me to help myself, and she has done just that. The last few meetings I have felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

I do not think that I am ill, I do not think that I am in the middle of a breakdown, I do think that I am suffering mild depression but have dealt with that on and off for years and what was really scary is that while I have had to be 100% man-me this last week while I have had the kids and they have been off school I have really struggled to find the motivation to do anything outside parenting. This has been the first time that I very nearly struggled to keep to my work commitments.

But that isn’t the scary part, this morning when I woke up I had 4 days of hair growth on my face and the same for my body, and while the sight of that might be terrifying enough, it was actually just how much better I felt after shaving my facial hair and dressing for my appointment that scared me – I instantly felt at least 50% happier than I have been for days! I just dressed exactly as I wanted to and felt so much better for it!

It now feels like Dee is me dressing normally and that I “dress up” to be man-me. There was no pressure, no weirdness and no inner voice asking questions, I was able to just be who I am and it felt wonderful. So for me it makes sense to stop there until I get to the next hurdle, as she is only an email away. The money I have been spending on our weekly sessions will now be re-invested into doing something about my facial and body hair because I do not want to have to shave every day for the rest of my life!

Something else I have found incredibly useful this week was writing a list. A friend I met through this blog had written a list of clues that had pointed to her gender identity throughout the different stages of her life.  I did not know if I could compile a list, but I thought it might be a good idea to try as a thought exercise – especially if it shut that part of me up that keeps asking why I only started questioning after my wife left me.

Turns out it did quite a good job – I filled two A4 pages double sided with my list (writing in arial 12) and went back as far as I could go. It was amazing how many little things there were, and while I was deeply embarrassed by the connection to pornography that sneaked in with a vengeance once I was a teenager I also had to admit to myself that really it is just a quick and easy way to get a hit of endorphins without going to the gym, and my tastes also pointed very much to wanting to be perceived as a female. There are better ways to get endorphins and I have to say that I am slowly weaning myself off it because I needed to know if I still wanted to dress and be seen as feminine without that element (the answer is most definitely yes) what is interesting is that my urges are subsiding – still there every so often, because hormones, but because of my gender confusion I do not know what “categories” I should be watching – changing how I see myself is having some interesting side effects!

Anyway – I could not have compiled this list last year, I would have been doubting myself and accusing myself of looking for connections that simply weren’t there, but because of where I am now I found it much easier – I enjoyed all of the traditional games and activities that I played with my sisters and their friends when I was too young to know that skipping and hand stands “were for girls”, and I genuinely remember being bullied because I did not swear. I effectively had blending in beaten into me by other children somewhere between the ages of 10-16.  I don’t say this to garner pity because I know that I was raised in a loving home (every child my age was smacked growing up – even by strangers, it was just a social norm), but it goes a long way to explaining my fear of sticking my head above the parapet – every time I stood out as a child I was made fun of, pointed at, laughed at, spat on, peed on or just generally beaten up.  I cried a lot as a child and yet once I moved into my teens and my father died those tears dried up and I struggle to express myself clearly as an adult.

Without all of that I would not be as mellow and calm about so many things because when I compare each struggle to what I have faced before usually it falls short of reaching genuine “catastrophic” status, but when something does reach that level it knocks me flat.

Learning that I was not a cis-male came as a shock to me, accepting that actually I am trans while being intellectually a conclusion I reached a while ago has had my small inner male self digging his heels in because he doesn’t want to go anywhere. The question of if I could be a female without any negative consequences and be totally happy with my gender gets an instant yes.  The same question if I could go do the same as a male is a lot harder to answer.  I have two wonderful children and am in a career that lets me care and build relationships with others and have done a lot of work with people that society has pretty much written off, yet all of that compassion and caring and nurturing stems from my feminine nature.

I like to think that I will fight to the death to protect my friends and family, but I cannot get angry and physically face off against someone because of some real or imagined slight like I have witnessed some of my male friends do. My own well being has always been at the bottom of my people to take care of list, so I show my protectiveness by trying to shield them from the various things that I know will hurt them or make them suffer.

You start to learn a lot about your real self when you stop and take the time to see who you are and why you do the things that you do. It is exhausting and all consuming but also very enlightening if you let it be. This last week is possibly the first time since October that gender has not been in my every waking thought, and that has to be because I am starting to discover a few of my answers – peeking around that corner to see what is lying in wait. My next step is to make a few phone calls and find out where I go from here, no doubt back to a counsellor of some kind – but at least I have a starting point now.

  • As a quick addendum to finishing this – I had to dress up in my guy clothes to go to a meeting with a room full of women (small room – 4 women) and spent the whole time feeling like a fish out of water because of what I was wearing and not because of interacting socially. Life is strange.

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