Its been a while

15 Feb

As the title says, its been a while since i last put a post together.  The point of this whole blog was just to get my thoughts down when i needed to, sometimes to think things out by putting them down in written form.  Y’know what?  Ive been so busy with stuff i havent had time or the inclination to.

This is probably a really positive thing as it feels like im managing to deal with things and get on with my life the way i want.

A heck of a lot has happened since my last post.  Im out to everyone that needs to know, im working and living full time as my true self now.  The initial drama and stress of transitioning seems to be subsiding a bit now, im ‘bedding in’ to being myself now, no more pretence. I’m starting to feel a bit calmer and less impatient.

Recently i had been getting quite angry and impatient about the fact that im on a 22 month waiting list just to see someone in psychological services, I even went looking elsewhere to get on another shorter waiting list that would of meant a longer journey travel wise.  But then a few things happened that let me take a breath.

Firstly i got my deed poll done, a huge step to me, then there was all the thing of taking it to all the banks to change the name on the accounts and all the other associated stuff.  Having my bank cards, and post all in what is now my legal name is a huge deal, its really helped make a shift of energies, it feels like a huge part of me has dropped into line with my true self.

Secondly i have started laser hair removal on my facial hair.  I have had serious anxiety up till recently regarding this, no matter what makeup tips and tricks i used, personally i could always see a trace of shadow and that would put a huge hole in my confidence before i stepped out the door.  Now laser isnt perfect but when you had facial hair growth like mine, it makes a massive difference.  I have had two treatments and all hair on the cheeks is pretty much gone and now the upper lip and chin and neck area are disappearing.

This has lead to a huge confidence increase that has meant ive reduced the amount of makeup i wear in general to just get out of the door.  It does get to be a real pain in the bum and anxiety city when you have to put on heavy full makeup on just to go to the shop for a pint of milk.  I still have shadow, but its not as much of a problem for me now.

Finally. Last week i had to work away from home for a weekend to take my stall to a Mind, body, spirit show that i was working at.  it was a biggie as it was the first time ive worked away from home alone since starting my transition.  There was no anxiety about the actual show as i have already worked with the organiser and stall holders at these wonderful events before.  The only anxiety i had was thinking about the whole hotel checking in thing, and going to find a meal somewhere on my own in an unfamiliar area.

Its funny how transitioning makes you notice certain things.  Packing to go away for the weekend i realised how much extra stuff i needed to pack as a woman, makeup, skin products, more clothes.  While living as a guy i would of probably packed in about 10 minutes, but then again i wasnt comfortable like that so i would always throw in the first thing i found. i never had any pride in my appearance.

So saturday rolled around.  I get to stockport unload, setup, say hi to friends and the show gets underway.  Its a good day, ive had a good week business wise, so the pressures off and im enjoying the day and having a great laugh with the girl on the stall next to me.  Halfway through the day, a friend from another stall comes over and asks if i want to join her and a few others for a meal tonight.  Fantastic!  Not only does this solve a problem but it makes the acceptance start to sink in, its fine for people to say they accept you but little actions like that speak so loudly.

Anyway day one ends, we go for a lovely carvery meal in a pub near macclesfield and i tootle back off to my travelodge feeling happy and confident.  But then getting to and booking in at the hotel riding on a wave of confidence i notice it has a bar and decide that im due a well earned glass of wine and decide to push my limits a bit further by going and having a drink on my own in a crowded bar.  Not a problem, order a glass of rose, find myself a seat and catch up with facebook on my phone, not a flicker of anxiety, not even looking round to see if people are gawping.  don’t feel the need to.

Then i decide to get another drink, different bar staff… “What can i get you MATE?’ i order without correcting him, he gives me my change and says ‘thanks Buddy’  this pisses me off…… for about a second when i realize that’s the only instance in the whole of the day that someone has reminded me that im trans, and to be honest thats good, i cant be bothered with the drama of it so i dont say anything, after all its his problem.  It then sinks in that for the entire day i didnt have to get into a conversation about or didnt get asked or reminded about my trans status.  I felt like i was being treated like and spoken to as the Woman i am.  The next day went just like the previous, fantastic!! I pack up and drive home.

Back at home and relaxing in the bath i reflect on the weekend and my life and how its moving now.  I realised that my life is starting to feel calm and normal…. and HAPPY!!  Iam finally able to live my life as i want and im feeling that the need to push things forward is not as urgent now, i feel that right now im finding myself and loving what im finding.  Im just learning to let go and let my true self shine.  Right now i know i will get that psych appointment at some point, but im not going to obsess about it and im just going to get on with living my life in the moment, and at this exact moment i am Happy!!

Kate xx

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Aside

Off to Work We Go

8 Dec

I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a bit of a long post!

In my last post i was talking about being nervous about my first full day working as a female, so i’ll begin by saying how that went.

So on last Saturday morning i loaded up the car and made my way to Whitchurch for a mind body spirit fair where i was running my retail stall.  I have to say that despite being up and down all week leading up to this and being nervous about reactions from people i knew there i was amazingly calm about it.

There was no hissy fit in front of the mirror not liking what i see, i just got up and got on with it, the only stress i had was getting there on time.  When i got to the venue and parked up the nerves level rose a bit, but nothing more than normal.  So i went into the venue and found the organiser and gave her the business name. ‘Oh hi you must be Kate,’ came the reply along with a nice smile ‘ she then lead me to my pitch. Nerves gone!

So myself and my partner are setting up the stall getting along with it, then i notice the stall opposite being set up by a trader i had worked with before, the nerves are back and very intense.  Now a part of me wants to go over and introduce myself and explain the situation but i cant. Instead at first i avoid looking over at them and try to avoid any contact at all which if anything probably makes me look nervous and stand out!  But then along comes showtime, the doors open and in drift the public.

So there i am sitting at my stall dealing with customers slightly edgy at first and then it clicks! A lightbulb moment.  No one was treating me any different than when i was working as a male, plus i am who i am and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, that’s their issue. Now this is something that wasnt a new thought to me, its just that i forget it sometimes, but when i remember this my confidence skyrockets!

Not one trader i know recognises me, this starts to bug me, not because im after the attention but just the fact that i feel nervous about approaching them and i feel like im being dishonest in some way by not telling them.

The day moves on fine, i do good business and i relax,  The funniest part of the day being when some of my partners clients came up to the stall and asked her where i was today (referring to the male), this then led to her explaining that the woman sat next to her was in fact me. job done no reaction.  I had a good chat with the organiser at the end of the day, and she invited me to come and see the show she has running the next day as a guest.

Amazing successful day!!  I feel truly at ease and that im am being so true to myself 🙂 ! time to pack up and off to the mother in laws for dinner!

The next day i decide to take up the offer of seeing the show with the aim in mind of coming 0ut to the fellow traders i felt dishonest in front of the previous day.  I get a nice warm greeting from the organiser followed by a brief tour of the floor, i tell her what im planning on doing and she encourages me, she doesnt think i’ll get any hostile reactions.

I have a walk around and soon im approached by a stall holder i know to try her product.  I realise she still doesnt recognise me and we’re in a face to face conversation.  ‘You dont recognise me do you?’ i say.  ‘I recognise the voice’ she replies, So she can see that im trans but still cant associate me with the male she has done shows alongside.  I come clean at this point, she gives me a huge hug and we have a good conversation.  Phew.. thats one down and the confidence has gone up again.

I make my way around the hall and introduce myself to the small handfull of traders ive worked with before, this feels so liberating, a huge pile off my mind, no bad reactions just a lot of supportive comments.

So that was the weekend!

On into the week and i get a big shock in a nice way!

Now my mum has known i’m trans for at least 12 yrs, but as far as i knew no one else in my family did.  I had spoken to my mum about it again recently since all the feelings had resurfaced and i decided to transition.  I was getting really worried about how to approach telling my sister and dad.

So imagine my astonishment when my sister rings me to tell me that she has know for 12yrs along with my dad since when i first tried to transition, and that the whole family are behind me! WOW!!!!!!!! instant relief, my god this removes so many big barriers i had instantly.

Apparently 12 yrs ago when i was going through a really tough time and i came out to my mum she had told my sister and dad.  I did give her permission to do this at the time, but i didnt think she had.  When i asked her recently she said she couldnt remember if she had LOL go figure.

Anyway the end result is the same, i have even more support and my family are with me.  At the moment lots of barriers seem to be just falling away allowing me to be myself.  Im actually loving my life a lot right now.  I know there will be a lot of good and bad to come, thats life.  But right now im happy and making steps forward to where i want to be!

Kate xx

Aside

Im going to Work as myself tomorrow eeek

30 Nov

Really dont know where my head is at at the moment.

I had a nice day a couple of days back, my mother in law came round for dinner  and brought me flowers, I just about managed not to start blubbering on the spot.  Im really touched by her acceptance of me as myself.  My partner took a picture of me with the flowers standing in the living room.

I looked at the picture and straight away im analyzing how masculine i look in it and it starts to bring me down.  Why couldn’t i take the picture for what it was.. a nice picture of me with some lovely roses that someone close had bought me as a sign of love and support.  This constant insecurity is really getting to me.  I think this one little thing has brought me down for the rest of the week pretty much, theres been a couple of days where ive really struggled to get out of bed in the morning.

weds night i decide i need to get out of bed and out of the house no matter what just for my own sanity.  Im a musician and i play in a gigging band so i make a trip out as a male with band mates who dont know im trans yet to a local jam night.  This probably wasnt a great idea as i just feel really uncomfortable presenting as a male all night, my social interaction feels forced and it makes me realize that im going to have to leave the band soon as then combination of my transition and this particular band will really not work.  I love music its one of my lifes biggest passions and it just hurts to think that im going to have to stop playing in a live band until i can get where i need to be right now. Its  Another temporary sacrifice i think im going to have to make to enable me to get through this section of my life.

I think a big part of my low mood this week is probably down to the fact that tomorrow i am going to do a full days work on my retail stall as my true self.  Am I scared?? ABSOLUTELY!!!

My partner is coming with me for support and ive got a load of leaflets printed up on trans issues so that if regular customers and other traders have any questions i can answer them and possibly spread a bit of education at the same time.  Now i just need to do a Wurzel

Gummidge trick (google it if youre too young) and go and find my prettiest Confident head to put on my shoulders.  Wish me luck!

Kate xx

Support is a Wonderful Thing

25 Nov

Yesterday i went to my first meeting of a North Wales based LGBT group with my partner.  Now im a pretty social person, but meeting new people is always quite nervy for me.  Going out the door presenting as female is getting easier all the time so no problems there today, into the car we get and off we go.

We get to the venue which is a tea shop in a garden centre/gift shop and the place is packed solid.  

This suddenly made my anxiety level shoot up which is strange as generally im out and about busy city and town centres all the time as myself and dont get really nervous once ive set out of the door.  Im guessing it was the nervousness from meeting new folks that probably set off this other anxiety.

Now this isnt crippling, cant get out of the car anxiety, but the self conscious type, i dont know if anyone else gets this thing where you feel when your confidence is slipping and you start to feel awkward and i think people almost sense that in you and you get the odd stare more than when the confident head is on which can then feed the confidence slip.

Anyway i manage to hold it together, off into the shop for a look around, my wonderfull partner is with me, she knows im feeling nervous but ignores it and get on with a look around (this always helps with me as it stops any internal drama from escalating and brings the normality back in).

So after a couple of minutes of nervous shopping i see a Rainbow flag on a table through the masses and head for it. As i reach it a face looks up with a welcoming smile and says Hi.  Instantly the nerves vanish!! isnt it great what a smile can do!!!

So a couple of hours of tea, coffee and some amazing cake follow, new friends, calm relaxed enjoyable conversation in the middle of a crowded tea room  with people who treat me as the person i am and nothing else, a wonderfull afternoon.  By the time it came to leave, i was completely relaxed and walked out of there with my confidence restored to its good level 🙂

Support is a wonderful thing!  If there’s anything i would say to anyone going through or thinking of going through transition it would be to seek out all the support groups you can find, online or real life.  I myself attend three different ones. It makes so much difference being able to talk to people who are going through the same or just people who accept who you are.  It really helps me release some pressure when it starts to get to me.  You dont need to do this alone!!!

Kate x

Rollercoasters and tantrums

24 Nov

Had a hell of an up and down day yesterday.  It started with waking from a screwed up scary dream that felt like it was out of a sci-fi story. I was at a funeral as Kate, everyone is staring at me, giving real horrid looks, i get to the graveside and my male name is on the gravestone, i spin round to find a person nose to nose with me screaming ‘You f*****ng killed him, i fall back into the grave and wake up.   Absolutely horrible, most of my dreams are very vivid but this was so scary too.  Must of been the pint of milk before bed, dairy induced lol.  But it got me thinking about it all day.  Was it literal about the death of the old self or was it as a good friend suggested leaving behind the anxiety and negativity of my male mask.  Phew heavy stuff!

Later in the day i had to go and work my retail stall as a male at a local xmas fair.  I walked through the door to the venue and saw i had half the stall i had paid for and, turned around went out the door, got in the car and had a complete panic/anxiety episode  i just couldnt deal with having to try to sort out the problem and the amount of people there was really freaking me out.

Ive never had such an extreme reaction to stress before in this sort of situation, it was really unnerving.  Anyway my partner got the situation sorted for me (bless her) and managed to get me in the venue and setting up, after that point i settled down and ended up having a good afternoon.  Im still trying to figure out what triggered the anxiety tho.  The more and more time i spend as Kate the harder i find it to go back to a male role without feeling even more uncomfortable than i did before!

Which brings me onto the most positive thing of the day.

Last week i decided to let the organisers of a show im running a retail stall at that i was trans and planning on attending the show as my true self.

Here is a cut down version of the letter

“Hi. I just wanted to let you know something in relation to my stall at your event. Iam Transgendered . I am in the early stages of a transition from living in a male role to a female role. This is a very nervous and embarrassing time for me at the moment. I am hoping to do my stall at your event as a female if I can build my confidence, as working as a female is a crucial  part of being able to integrate into society as the person i feel myself to be. I am telling you this to try and avoid any embarrassment or awkwardness on the day. I know a lot of traders and customers who will be there and this increases my nerves. I hope you can show me some understanding in this matter and I am extremely grateful if so. I may just turn up as a male if nerves get to me. Thank you for your time,please let me know if you have any questions via email or phone. I would be grateful for some discretion in this matter If poss.
Many thanks”

Now i know its not a perfect letter but it was really hard to write to be honest.  The above is a slightly cut down and edited version.

So a few days went on and no reply, my anxiety level was getting higher and then last night i get this through:

“Got it so is your female name Kate , thats absolutely fine by me go for it , you can do it !!! otherwise (male name here) thanks rosie!”

That simple one line email has lifted me so much from what started as a crappy day.

Where I am and How I Got Here

23 Nov

Where I am and how I got here

I am Kate

I’m 42 years old and was born physically male.

The first time I can ever recall feeling I was different from the other boys was when I was in infant’s school, probably around the age of 5 or 6.  It’s a scene I can still picture vividly in my head as if it was 5 minutes ago.

I was in the playground and decided I wanted to go and play skipping with the girls rather than football with the boys, so I did and was promptly grabbed by a teacher and told to go and play with the boys because that’s what I was. I burst into tears at this point.

I was painfully shy as a child, I could hardly talk to a lot of people just close family and a very few friends, my parents always used to explain to anyone oh don’t mind him he’s just a bit over sensitive. No I was uncomfortable and scared and I didn’t know why! I always felt disjointed, out of place but I didn’t know why!

Another memory pops into my head. Being in the centre of my hometown with my Nan and mum out shopping I was 6.  My Nan was talking to some man who had some kids toys. I remember him saying I might have something here for your little girl and went to give me a doll, then my mum pointed out I was a boy so I ended up with a football.  I wanted that doll.  I  started crying yet again (oh he’s just sensitive). Did somebody pick up on my inner self at that age or was it just the platinum blonde bowl head 70s haircut and the fact my male name was also a female name.

I remember a birthday party for my sister and being envious that she got a new dress for the occasion, I wanted a dress not a stupid jumper and jeans.

Jump forward to the next memory flash.

A couple of weeks before starting comprehensive school my mum had my new school uniform all ready and wanted me to try it all on. Trousers shirt blazer tie, I walked into my mums room to show her, she stood me in front of the full length mirror and said something along the lines of ‘look at you so grown up’ I looked into the mirror and hated what I saw, that wasn’t me, I don’t want to be that person, I flew off in a temper back into my room getting off the uniform and tearing the buttons off the shirt in the process.

School was a nightmare, constantly trying to fit in, and unable to. Trying to be just one of the boys and not doing a great job of it, always feeling like I stick out, a bit of a loner misfit type, feeling so self conscious when i realise I’ve said something that makes me look soft or weak in the other boys eyes.

Getting a bottle of perfume poured over my head during a lesson by another pupil and taunted for the remainder of the day, so scared that somehow they all knew my secret that I would have loved to have been a girl wearing that perfume and not a humiliated boy.  Years later I find out that the boy that did it and taunted me with homophobic language later came out as a gay man. He obviously had his own issues too, doesn’t everyone; it all comes down to how we confront them, if at all!

in my early teens I started trying on my mums clothes while she was at work, locking all the doors petrified of being caught.  I loved how nice I felt in them, but I was also so scared that I felt so right in them, I was so confused.  I started to take the odd item and hide them in my room.  Every so often the stash of clothes would disappear; she had found them but never said a word.

Later in my teens I discovered rock music and playing guitar, this was a great and valid excuse for me to grow my hair long and wear makeup In public.

In my early 20s I had a long string of short relationships with women that always just fizzled out and turned into good friendships. All my closest friends in my life have been female; I’ve never had any close male friends.

When I was 28 I came out to people for the first time about the way I felt.  I was sharing a house with 2 female friends on the Wirral. I was sat in the living room one night getting drunk watching TV with my housemates.  We were watching a TV programme called Paddington green which featured a male to female transsexual by the name of Jackie McAuliffe.  My friends were making favourable comments about her and in my drunken state I told them that I felt the same way as she did. They were shocked but not negative, a long conversation followed.

They both turned out to be very supportive and encouraging. I started to venture out shopping with one of them, building my wardrobe up and confidence. Occasionally i would manage a night out as my true self in Liverpool, i was feeling so happy.  Soon I was never out of female clothes when I was at home and Venturing out on A regular basis.  More friends got to know and all were accepting bar one, the girlfriend of one of my housemates, the last place I was expecting rejection from!

People who didn’t know we’re starting to figure it out. At a Halloween party I used the excuse to dress as a female, another female friend said I looked ‘too much’ like a woman and that my shaved legs suggested that this was more than just a Halloween outfit for me, I just laughed it off.

My feelings that I wanted to change my body to match my mind were unbearable by this point, yet I was too scared to go to see my GP, afraid of what he would say. My job was the only place I was presenting as a male by this point, but it was a highly macho judgemental environment and I couldn’t even contemplate coming out there.  Or was part of myself just trying to convince me not to go down this route.  I started to self harm.

The pressure kept on building. A few days before Christmas 2000 a good friend of mine who gave me loads of encouragement, love and support, took her own life.  She was there for me but couldn’t come to her friends for help.  This sent me into a deep depression, on New Years Eve I snapped.  My paranoia and self pity exploded, I verbally attacked most of my friends, screaming at them that I was hurting and that they were all laughing at me behind my back, I had completely lost it. I went into the kitchen got a knife, took it to the bathroom and started cutting myself. A friend’s boyfriend kicked the door in and proceeded to beat the living crap out of me, telling me I was a freak and I needed to grow up, I was out of control but he showed his true colours.  The police were called about me they found me asleep in my room by this point, they looked at the cuts and bruises and decided they were going to arrest me, this is when a true friend showed his face, he calmed the situation down and explained to the officers the full situation. They agreed to leave me there if he kept an eye on me and made sure nothing else kicked off.  They told me to go see my doctor.

The next morning I was kicked out of my home. 1st Jan 2001.  I was in hell.  I had alienated virtually my entire network of friends. I was 30yrs old completely alone and living out of bin bags in a spare room in my mum’s house.  This was the lowest point of my entire life.

It was at this point I came out to my Mum. I was drunk again, believe me it may seem an easy option but it is seriously not a good way to do it.  She didn’t quite understand what I was telling her at first, it was so hard just to get the words out, I was scared of hurting her with every word that came from my lips.  She said she remembered finding the hidden clothes in my room, but she loved me as her child, whatever gender I perceived myself as.

The next step was going to my GP, he had no clue about what to do, but to his credit he tried, he said to leave it with him while he made a few enquiries.  In the meanwhile he prescribed seroxat for depression, this started me off on another strange direction, I was on an anti depressant that made me more depressed, suicidal and scared of the world outside than I was before.

After a few months I started to try and rebuild my life, I got a new flat in Wallasey on the Wirral, close to one of my remaining friends. Apart from at work I started to live as myself again. I managed to stop the antidepressants when I figured out they were causing some of my problems.  I was still very alone and spent a lot of time online, living in my own safe little bubble.   Through this I reconnected with the first girl I ever kissed when we were in junior school together.  We met up and within a few weeks I had relocated to north Wales and we were living together, I told her immediately about how I felt, she didn’t quite understand at that point but was accepting.

It was around this point when visiting my mum’s home I found the letter for my psychological referral; it had been opened and kept from me. My mum obviously didn’t want to lose her son. Even though she said she accepted me.  This made me lose hope.  I then made the decision to try and box my feelings; I started to feel like I was an embarrassment again.  Even though my partner knew everything I was even embarrassed to dress as a woman around her. I was building a wall around my true feelings. This was 2002

So jump on through 10 years of repressing my feelings feeling, hate for my body, and hiding myself. The pressure building all the time.

Along rolled 2012. In May I became I’ll with a condition that hospitalized me.  While in hospital I’m informed by phone that I’ve been made redundant from the job I’ve had for 17 years.  That’s horrible you might think, but no, it was a blessing.  I had hated my job for many years; I was constantly ridiculed and bullied by a work mate and was beaten so low I couldn’t muster the energy to do anything about it.  I was only there still because I was waiting for my redundancy and payout.  I had my independence back.  Straight away my mind was working on my new business idea from my hospital bed.

By the middle of June my business was up and running, I was my own boss, not making loads of money, but living and happy…. And yet I could be happier, the pressure behind that wall where I hidden my true self was building, I didn’t realised she was in there with a jack hammer and some dynamite planning on bringing the wall down again.

By the end of the summer, the pressure was huge. While on holiday with my partner in Cornwall I told her how strong my feelings were again… And boom down fell the wall and there I was.  Such relief, my lovely girlfriend telling me I should do what I need to do for myself, not rejecting me which was my biggest fear.  She has told me she has a greater understanding over the years of the issues I’m dealing with, but is still learning and she is sticking by me.

Since then, I have a whole new female wardrobe, I’m living as a female the majority of the time, I’m making inroads to working as myself, I’ve been to my new GP and started the path to making my body match my mind.  I have joined local and Internet support groups which has been a great help.  More friends and family are finding out by the day.  My confidence is growing and I feel that now is  my time to live for myself and not others expectations , the right support and friends around you can make a huge difference, but to feel responsible for other peoples feelings and not doing what you feel because you’re afraid of hurting someone is not the way to go. It sounds selfish, but it’s your life and you have to Be YOURSELF to really live it!

Kate x

 

So here i am!

23 Nov

A couple of people close to me suggested i should do this as some sort of therapy and maybe because my rambling thoughts may help others going through the same stuff.

So here goes.  Im no great writer, my thoughts will probably appear on here in a similar fashion to the way they do in my head, ie. random and disjointed with loads of bad grammar and punctuation 🙂

Im going to start by reposting my piece ‘Who I am and How i got here’ that i previously posted on the MTF wales site here.