Tax credits

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…..


New beginnings

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.

Time to go

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.

Happy birthday (round 2)

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.

2nd Injection

I got my 2nd injection today (6 weeks – part of the loading phase) and boy did it hurt!  Frustratingly not while he was doing it otherwise I’d have said something but within 5 minutes the pain was quite incredible.  I genuinely thought I was going to be sick and it was awful driving home.  I think next time I’m going to ask him to do it more slowly to see if that helps any.

Dear Dad

It was my birthday yesterday – the first one as Jonathan.  I was quite looking forward to it but then I woke up to this on the mat.  It spoiled the whole day and I couldn’t get it out of my head so I decided to return it with a letter.

20th May 2018

Dear Dad

I’m returning the card because I’m not sure what you were thinking about when you picked it, wrote it and sent it to me.  I’m going to explain why I was so hurt by it. This letter is me giving you the benefit of the doubt. I’m making a couple of assumptions here 1) you don’t understand why I’d be upset and 2) you actually care about my feelings.  If neither of these two assumptions are true then you can stop reading here and forget I even exist because we will no longer have a place in one another’s lives.

I have gender dysphoria (and have had for probably the most part of 40 years) – this has been diagnosed by two medical experts and I am receiving treatment for it.  This treatment is lifelong and involves permanent, irreversible changes to my body – there is no going back from it and nor do I want to. I’ve tried to explain to you how I feel but I’m not sure you’ve grasped it so this will be my final attempt – I’m writing it down so you can keep referring to it if you forget.

Ever since I began to realise what it was to be a girl or a boy I knew something wasn’t right.  I understood that body seemed to be a girl but in my mind that didn’t make any sense at all because I was a boy.  Before puberty it didn’t really matter that much because Mum let me wear what I wanted and I could play ‘boys’ games with Stephen and Richard – everybody assumed I was just a tomboy.  At junior school I even did PE with the boys (did you know that?) playing football in winter and cricket in summer (Cricket was always my favourite sport – I even got selected for the school team in high school but couldn’t play because the inter-school rules didn’t allow it so had to content myself with practice and only scoring the actual games).  The only times it really caused me any trouble was when I had to dress up girly – Auntie Marion’s wedding I cried for over an hour because I didn’t want to wear the bridesmaid dress (and then played football in it after the wedding!). My first holy communion – another traumatic hour of carrying on at the bottom of the stairs refusing to put the dress on – screaming blue murder that if Jesus really loved me he’d let me wear my red tracksuit with the white stripes, only being pacified by Mum letting me wear my boys’ chunky stainless steel bracelet watch which I stared at and played with all throughout the mass.

When I went to high school things carried on much as they had done – playing football with the boys at break times, etc. But then something devastating happened – my body betrayed me and puberty happened – I grew breasts and became a ‘woman’.  I became a loner – I didn’t really socialise with anyone, go to or have parties because I didn’t have any friends. The boys didn’t want to know because who wants to hang around with a girl? I didn’t have anything in common with the girls – fancying boys, make up, hairstyles – all a mystery to me.  There is truly nothing worse than not fitting in – everyone knew I was different (although not why), so I was bullied and tormented at school for being different. My only solace was that Stephen and Richard would let me hang about with them during the holidays, etc. I started shaving my face at 12 years old but was gutted that no matter how often I did it I still couldn’t grow the beard I so desperately wanted.

My mental health declined, I became depressed, my school work suffered – I was a straight A student but I couldn’t be bothered making the effort so both my GCSEs and A-levels were very lacklustre.  I was seeing a community psychiatric nurse regularly by the age of 14. Puberty was like flicking a switch and pressing the self destruct button – for the next 10 years or so I spent most of my time trying to hurt myself.  Ironically I saw my first consultant psychiatrist at 15 years old and he asked me did I think I was a boy – I thought it was a trick question and replied “of course I wasn’t”. He asked me did I want to be a boy and I told him that I didn’t want to have to go around the cross country track twice.  Maybe life would have been different if I wasn’t such a lazy bastard, eh? But I didn’t know it was a thing that could be fixed. It’s not like Catholic school in the 1980’s was going to be a place to learn about alternate lifestyles. I just assumed that something was wrong with me and I had to get over it.

I went to college and at least I could wear what I liked but I still didn’t fit in.  By this time I was on antidepressant medication but I was pretty much fucked in the head, I was drinking heavily – turning up to lessons drunk having been drinking down by the lake during break times.  It was at college that I took my first overdose – I didn’t see any reason to carry on living, I was emotionally numb, overwhelmed by the pointlessness of my existence. Having your stomach washed out in A&E is very unpleasant but it didn’t put me off trying to kill myself several times again over the next few years.  This depressive clusterfuck continued through to university and eventually I ended up on a psychiatric ward for 4 months. As you know I met Chris there and it’s no exaggeration that she saved my life. We fell in love and she gave me a reason to hold on through the negativity and the overwhelming urge to destroy myself.

Adulthood has been slightly easier to bear.  I could wear whatever I wanted and as a butch lesbian I could adopt a more masculine identity, finding a place even on the margins of society where I could fit in.  Even though this was significantly more comfortable for me, the nagging feeling of unease never left. Although I could be ‘manly’ my body still betrayed me. Every month I was reminded that something was fundamentally wrong with me.  I still hated myself and it was still a stranger looking back at me in the mirror. I kept pushing it aside, swallowing the pain inside but eventually I had to do something to fix it. I could not live the rest of my life feeling like this.  I am incredibly fortunate that Christine is supportive, she loves me as a person whatever the physical wrapper. Since I made the decision to transition I feel like a weight has been lifted. I am Jonathan, I like me and I can look in the mirror and can recognise myself for the first time.

I understand that my transition may have come as a surprise to you but that’s mainly because you don’t really know me.  I get that you’ve only had six months with the idea but I’ve had nearly a lifetime with it. Can you imagine what it is like to feel ‘wrong’ for 40 years, 14,600 days of discomfort, 350,400 hours of distress, 21 million minutes of hating myself?

It was my first birthday as Jonathan.  Your card – I really don’t get it. Was it an insult?  Are you trying to prove a point? Are you just being a dick?  Did you honestly believe that I would like something which reinforced everything I’ve ever hated about myself?

I am not your daughter – I am your son.

I have never been your little girl.  I was always your son. My body was wrong.  When you say that I will always be your little girl – you are condemning me to a life of misery and hurt.  I refuse to accept that.

When you call me Helen/JD it’s like you’re humouring me because you thinks it’s a phase or I’m being stupid.  I have legally changed my name to Jonathan Declan Brindle – Helen no longer exists. I have told you that a number of times but you still persist in this dual name ritual.  I find it incredibly disrespectful that you cannot call me Jonathan or Jon. I thought JD might be easier for you to bear but you can’t even call me that most of the time.

I am going to let you consider this letter for a few days.  In that time I won’t be answering the phone or the door to you.  I want you to think about whether or not you’re prepared to accept me as I am.  If you don’t want to or if you can’t then I will respect that decision and will withdraw from your life.  You can let me know either way with a note through the door.

Voice coaching

Went to Lancaster today to the transmasculine voice coaching workshop organised by Lancashire LGBT.  I wasn’t really in the right head space having received father’s birthday insult before we set off.  The guy delivering the seminar had also transitioned so clearly knew his stuff but his manner just got on my nerves.  We had to go individually around the group trying various exercises and he would critique our performance.  He accused me of trying too hard and forcing my voice.  I was just trying to follow his instructions but “you must relax” wasn’t really helping.  The whole thing was rather excruciating and  I left it feeling quite wound up.

We had a banana and Nutella crepe from the food market followed by a walk by the river which cheered me up.  The Vue cinema in Lancaster is only a fiver so we treated ourselves to a movie (Life of the Party, a comedy starring one of our favourite actresses Melissa McCarthy) and popcorn – the first time we’ve been to the cinema in about 20 years!

Buy a Bike!

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!

T day +1

I was absolutely shattered yesterday after a full day in Edinburgh.  The initial euphoria has worn off somewhat and my ass definitely hurts more than it did yesterday.  I couldn’t lie on my left side without discomfort so my sleep was quite poor last night.  I feel very stiff and achey today but I don’t know whether that’s the injection or two and half hours sat on a train followed by seven miles of walking around Edinburgh topped off with another two and a half hours on the train home.

It’s probably completely psychosomatic but now begins the waiting for changes – every different physical or emotional sensation examined in minute detail to decide whether it’s as a result of the testosterone or just some random mood or itch.

I’ve definitely noticed the first change – within a couple of hours of the injection – my wee smells different!