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.
Just booked on a residential weekend specifically for Trans people in September. It’s a free workshop based programme run by Lancashire LGBT. No idea what it’s going to be like so I’m a little nervous but it’s relatively local and I’m taking the car so I’ve always got options to go home if I really don’t like it.
Finally finished renewing my tax credits – what a chore. To legally change gender in the United Kingdom requires a Gender Recognition Certificate for which there are a number of prerequisites in order to apply including proof of formal diagnosis, permission from your spouse and evidence of living in the acquired gender for a minimum of two years. In the interim period it is possible to change your name with HM Revenue and Customs but legally you’re still the gender assigned at birth. To protect your identity and safeguard against randomers from accessing your previous name and history they have a system which locks your national insurance number. On the face of it this seems like a good idea to protect your privacy and avoid awkward/intrusive questioning. However the consequence of blocking access is no access at all including random stuff such as not being able to check your driving record which some places require to hire a car.
Everything to do with official stuff becomes that much harder. To renew my tax credits requires finding out from Carer’s Allowance how much I received last year so it can be declared as a taxable benefit. I rang them up and I know that they can’t access my claim because it requires special permission (a one off, time limited code that allows staff of a certain grade to access the records) – they promise a manager will ring me back. Two weeks later I ring back because I still haven’t received the call. Of course they still can’t talk to me but I do get an assurance that someone will call me back within 48 hours. They do call back the next day and I get the figure – yay!
On to the main task itself – tax credits. I need to report changes because I’ve changed jobs so I can’t renew via the paper pack so instead I attempt to do it online. After answering twenty bazillion questions the process fails because my identity can’t be verified. Okay so I’ll ring the tax credits helpline. After waiting quite sometime in a queue I eventually get through to someone but of course as soon as they enter my national insurance number they can’t help me. They put me through to another department and after another call queue and twenty questions I’m given another phone number to ring.
Of course, this department is only open during office hours so I’ve had to wait until today to ring them. Good news they can access my account and I can confirm my income totals for last year. Reporting the changes seems a bit more tricky though – my new job pays more so it takes me over the threshold for Carer’s Allowance but since I’ve only just started it I have received some benefit since April. I could have screamed when asked “How much have you received from Carer’s Allowance since April 2018?” Fuck my life I can’t bear the performance of having to ring them back up for that info but fortunately an estimate will do so I have a quick guess.
Finally job done – until next year…..
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.
I’ve got to lose some more weight. Last year I had great success with the 8 week blood sugar diet managing to lose over ten percent of my body weight. This diet (originally designed to reverse Type 2 diabetes) is a VLCD (very low calorie diet) involving restricting your intake to 800 calories a day and removing all simple carbohydrates such as sugar, pasta, bread, rice and potatoes. Despite wanting to do another round of eight weeks I’ve found it very difficult to commit to starting again. At my heaviest I’ve been 18 stone and did manage to get down to just over 14 stone.
Since starting hormone treatment I’ve noticed a significant increase in my appetite and I’ve given in to it. Combined with a period of intense misery at work I’ve consumed a ridiculous amount of crap food and put on a stone. Also due to the injections this has gone straight to my middle giving me an even more pronounced beer gut which I hate. My starting weight is over 15 stone.
If I’m to have any chance of being able to have surgery I need to reduce my BMI. Most surgeons insist on below 30 but I want the best results from my chest surgery and minimise the need for later revisions. To do this I’m going to try to get a normal BMI then I can work on improving my chest definition before going under the knife. To make this happen I need to lose at least 4 stone.
Chris and I have watched a programme about a VLCD that used meal replacement products instead of food. We decided to try that approach as a springboard to getting back on plan and starting to lose weight again. We opted to use the products in the programme from Exante.
I’ve left my accounts job after nearly five years. I’ve been miserable for sometime and even though it will mean a reduction in money, I’ve got to leave. I submitted my resignation at the end of April and was persuaded to withdraw it and go back but that was a mistake. It became increasingly clear that my colleagues had no respect for me or my transition constantly deadnaming me and slagging me off behind my back. I can no longer cope with the dysphoria this triggers and I need to move on to somewhere I can be me. It hurts that things have come to this. I really thought that I had a future there and I’m hugely disappointed that the people I thought were my friends turned out to be nothing of the sort.
I’ve contacted the place that offered me a job at the beginning of May, they are still looking for people and seem genuinely pleased that I will be accepting a job with them. I start on June 26th which seems a long way off but it will give me chance to get my head straight.
A week has gone by and I was starting to wonder whether my father had decided not to pursue a relationship with me after all. However, when I woke up this morning I found this through the door.
I rang up to thank him for the card and present and he apologised for the last attempt. I’m hoping that his contrition will be turned into actual effort to address me properly. I understand the difficulty of turning back 40+ years but all I need him to do is to try.