Hello Facebook, some of you already know, some will have guessed and some of you will have absolutely no idea (or even care). I have changed my name because I am undergoing gender reassignment.
I understand that some of you will think this totally ridiculous or find it in some way offensive. To those people I say “Find the unfriend button, push it and have a great life” . I’m hoping everyone else will be cool with it and to those people I say “Hello, I’m Jonathan pleased to meet you.. “
I changed my name on Facebook and nobody seemed to notice. I was cool with that but then I received a couple of private messages asking me if I was who they thought I was. I gave it a lot of thought before posting on social media. I’m not ashamed of who I am or want to keep it a secret but I didn’t want a drama fuelled, ‘tormented soul’, coming out declaration either. I was pleased with what I wrote – a factual, no-nonsense, this is how it is post (composed while having a cooked breakfast in Morrison’s cafe – my best work often inspired by bacon!).
I’ve got 1,400 friends on Facebook, most of them acquired through online gaming and as such are total strangers to me. It was important to me to acknowledge that some people would be appalled by the notion of transitioning and find it abhorrent or ridiculous. I’m an ordinary bloke, not a trans activist – I’m not interested in changing the hearts and minds of all the bigots on the planet (don’t get me wrong it’s a worthy goal but I’m not the man for the job). Anyone who couldn’t deal with the truth about me was invited to remove themselves from my circle – I think about ten have left in total over the last couple of days.
I’m overwhelmed by the support and how positively the post was received – nearly 100 likes/loves and over 80 comments. Virtual strangers congratulating me, saying how proud they were of me and how they wish me luck. The messages from people who actually know me were equally encouraging. I hadn’t really considered that some of my family are Facebook friends and so I was quite surprised when one of my cousins commented that real friends and family will love you no matter what.
Father rang while we were on the way back from the christening on Sunday and he came round after we got home. I told him and he was like “yeah, whatever you want sweetheart, you’ll always be my daugh… offspring”. I tried to explain that I was actually his son – at that point he left hastily like he’d been shot out of a cannon. Still I guess it went better than I could have hoped for although our relationship is so relatively poor that it wouldn’t have been a great loss if he’d rejected me.
Less than 18 hours later I’m fuming. Voicemail and a note through the door in my deadname – seriously you weren’t listening at all? I ignored it and he was pretty pissy when he turned up at the door this morning. “Did you get my note?”, “Yeah but I didn’t read it because it wasn’t addressed to me.”
We went to the solicitors today to have my change of name deed notarised. He said he would have preferred a statutory declaration or a deed poll but was happy to sign it and provide certified copies. I know that this document works as Chris used it to change her name.
First job was to go the bank and get the accounts updated. TSB and Santander were great – very respectful and no problems whatsoever. The Royal Bank of Scotland was something else. The guy was obviously uncomfortable and disappeared for ages. He came back and told me that the bank might not change my name because the deed wasn’t an official government document with a serial number. Not sure how I kept my temper but I suggested that if the bank didn’t change my name then I would close the account. Apparently this resolves any issues with missing serial numbers……
Coming out in the real world was quite daunting and will probably be a long term process. I’m constantly amazed how many people who know me despite living a relatively quiet, almost reclusive life and as a consequence how many people will eventually need to be told.
The first people to be told were close friends. Everyone was accepting, most of them positively thrilled by the news and genuinely happy for me! A recurrent theme was anxiety about getting my name wrong but like I explained it’s the intent not the content that matters – mistakes are fine, not trying or being deliberate is not ok. Mrs G was especially nervous but then I guess I was too when we went round to see her. It was awkward for the first thirty minutes or so but then I think she realised that I was the same person inside that I’ve always been and began to relax – just like old times. She seemed particularly upset about my Christmas present – a beautiful handmade cushion with a squirrel on it. Her main concern was that “you don’t normally give a man a cushion”, I replied, “men don’t normally have vaginas either so let’s not get too hung up about normal right now!” She asked questions and I was happy to answer them. I showed her pictures of me in a skirt versus the picture above. It was at that point she truly ‘got it’ and I was really touched when she said she thought I looked handsome.
Only one person was lukewarm which was both disappointing and a bit weird. The lady in question has always been super supportive of both of us for nearly twenty years but was questioning whether transitioning was really what I wanted. She thought Chris was very brave and was worried about the whole thing. I don’t think it’s a prejudice thing but more like concern that we’re making life harder than it needs to be but I’ve never been happier. Just making the decision to embark on the process and being open about it has been like a great weight being lifted off my shoulders.
I’m packing for the first time today. It’s liberating and feels so natural. It may be a little bigger than I’d imagined but it was all they had at Liverpool and I was determined not to come home empty handed.
However, packing made me realise something quite important – I’ve got NO FUCKING TROUSERS! I’ve tried on every pair of trousers that I’ve got and, except for the suit pants, all of them are inappropriate, bordering on obscene. The cut is all wrong and rather than a pleasantly modest manly bulge it looks like I’ve got a hernia.
Went to Matalan to get something more suitable. All was going well until it came to trying stuff on in the changing rooms. I went in confident but apparently it all kicked off outside with someone complaining. The female attendant was concerned there was a woman in the male changing room but Chris shut that shit down right away with “I don’t think so love, that’s my husband”. I was so proud of her but I felt incredibly guilty about putting her in the position of having to engage with strangers.
Early December 2017, my wife and I went to the GP surgery, she wanted to come with me to demonstrate that she was 100% behind my decision. We spoke to the nurse practitioner Kim. She asked how she could help and I told her that I wanted treatment for gender reassignment. She was surprised but I felt only because she’d never come across a transgender person before. She asked how long I’d felt that way and I replied over 30 years. I know some people have to justify themselves and answer questions like “How do you know?” and “Are you sure?” but she seemed completely accepting of it without further probing. Maybe that’s the benefit of being an older person – I’ve had half a lifetime to be sure! I explained that I hadn’t done anything about it before because I married a woman who married a woman and I wasn’t prepared to throw that away if Chris had been anything less than completely onboard.
She admitted she didn’t know what to do next and I briefly explained what was required (referrals to the Gender Identity Clinic and a referral to an endocrinologist for a bridging prescription of testosterone) and where to find the necessary information (the NHS website and the WPATH treatment guidelines). At this moment in time the waiting lists for my local gender clinic are in excess of a year and I was keen to stress the importance of a bridging prescription to get treatment underway.
She assured us she couldn’t see any reason why the practice wouldn’t support me through the transition and said she was going to set the medical receptionist the task of researching the processes involved. Wow, that’s a massive relief and I guess one of the first hurdles towards treatment because there’s no way I’d be able to afford the entire process privately.
It’s November 2017, I’ve spent the last 43 years in a female body, and finally I’ve had the courage to open up a dialogue with my wife of 24 years about how maybe in a different life I would have undergone gender reassignment. Scary and exhilarating at the same time, she suggests that I go to the GP to get a referral to the gender identity clinic to discuss it.