Just come back from Scarborough after a fabulous week away to celebrate our 25th anniversary. It was difficult returning to the same hotel – walking in I felt awkward, self-conscious and embarrassed. Chris dealt with the check in and the discomfort only lasted a few minutes. Most of the problems stem not from transphobia or nastiness but from the exact opposite – people not wanting to say or do the wrong thing, walking on eggshells, desperate not to cause any offence. I feel awful that people are uncomfortable around me and that makes me uncomfortable. Louisa said she’d seen the change on Facebook and didn’t have an issue with it. As the week progressed things got easier as everyone got used to the idea that I’m the same person just hairier.
These last few weeks in my new job have been wonderful – being stealth, being Jonathan without any questions, hesitations or doubts has been so affirming, helping to dampen down the dysphoria and sense of being an impostor. In contrast, there’s so much of my past life which is inevitably carried over into my new identity. Friends and family can be ‘dealt with’ in quite a short space of time with a coming out announcement and official organisations such as HMRC, DVLA, banks, etc. are an administrative process which can be churned through. However, I feel I’m now at the point where incidental things are tripping me up.
We’re going on holiday next week to Scarborough – returning to a hotel we booked while we were there last September. The owner was pretty chilled about us returning to celebrate our 25th anniversary as a lesbian couple but now I’m facing going back there with a beard and a new name. I’m almost sure that she’ll be pretty chilled about it all (and to be fair I don’t really give a flying fuck if she’s not) but it’s the awkwardness, the explaining and feeling like I have to justify myself which I’m dreading. When we get back from holiday I’m going to need to call a plumber – I think the shower pump may need replacing but again the last time I saw him was Autumn 2017. I’d prefer to use him because I trust him and we’re comfortable with him in the house but again I’m really not looking forward to that awkwardness. And let’s not talk about the fact that I’ve been avoiding the window cleaner for the last nine months, paying him by BACS transfer and moving from room to room as he does.
It’s incredibly tempting to jettison everything non-essential from the past and create a brand new reality from scratch but that’s not really the answer is it? I’m socially awkward at the best of times, this is just another layer of discomfort to tackle and work through.
It’s the end of my first week at my new job. It’s more physically demanding than my previous work – being on my feet for eight hours, constantly on the go – but I love it.
Everyone is really friendly and I’m really enjoying being ‘stealth’ – my beard is still patchy but all that does is make me look younger than I am – I am Jonathan and no one thinks any differently.
I dropped a bit of a clanger while chatting to someone during lunch. We were talking about school days and I mentioned something about when I was a little girl (duh, knobhead), one person definitely noticed but no one batted an eyelid or said anything. I need to be more careful in future – I’m not ashamed about being trans but I don’t want it to be the thing that defines me in people’s mind, I would much prefer to generally remain stealth.
Every since we stayed in Morecambe last month, I’ve been thinking about getting a bike. I can’t believe it really because I’ve not ridden a bike for 30 years but now I’m obsessed with the idea of it and I’ve been doing the usual intensive online research.
We decided to avoid Halfords because although they’d be cheaper I really wanted to get some expert advice on how to pick the best bike for us. We went for a drive out to Charnock Richard Cycles aka Buy A Bike (presumably after the incredible success of the rather annoying but catchy jingle that has haunted north west radio listeners for years!). Supposedly the UK’s largest independent outlet, we were initially underwhelmed by the selection until we realised that it wasn’t just one showroom but a random collection of outbuildings across the site each offering a different selection of bikes.
Being able to try the bikes before selecting one was a big plus. This is the one I bought
Of course, I ordered it there and then despite specifically ‘only going for a look, I’m not buying anything today’. Chris was no help she was supposed to save me from myself but ended up just egging me on!
We went back the day after to look at getting something for Chris. Originally, she was going to have a go on mine first but then decided that it was just wasting time as the bikes would take a week to build before being ready to collect (not a problem because I then needed to get the boot lock repaired on the car which of course gave up the minute I wanted to get into it).
She was a bit nervous about trying the bikes in front of the guy there but he was really nice, taking the time to explain what features to look for and the differences between models.
One of the main differences is the saddle, women’s saddles are shorter and wider to support child-bearing anatomy. It was at this point things got a bit weird. Despite having chosen my bike the day before and being perfectly comfortable on it I decided I needed to try the ladies saddle ‘just in case’. I asked the bloke if I could try it, he agreed but looked at me as if I was losing the plot. It suddenly dawned on me that I was passing – he had no idea at all that I was assigned female at birth and therefore had no idea why on earth I’d be interested in trying a ladies saddle. An awkward couple of minutes followed as I hastily mumbled/explained that I had child bearing anatomy down below and just wanted to make sure I had made the best choice between the two options. I think we were both relieved when I determined that I had so we didn’t ever need speak of it again.
A little bit embarrassed but massively elated I went to the counter and finalised the order for Chris’ bike – she opted for the women’s version of my bike
Although we’ve only gone for entry level hybrids, I’ve never had a new bike before and I was super excited when we went to collect them earlier today. I can’t wait to get out and about on them and of course it’s the perfect excuse to go shopping for cycling gear!
December 16th 2017 3pm
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.