Monday, 24 July 2017

I’ve been sent to Coventry…..

I have literally been sent to Coventry. I am sitting in the village hotel, Canley in Coventry. I am here to complete a course in learning needs analysis with the TAP academy (Training Accreditation Programme). So why do a blog post here? Well most of my readers are also friends on Facebook and will have noticed that lately I’ve been really struggling with everyday life. I thought while being away from the environment that seems to bring out the worst of my demons it would be a good time to reflect on why I have been feeling so low and how I can help others to avoid these pitfalls or at least be prepared for them.

My last post talked about misgendering and dead naming. This post is a follow on from that really based upon some very recent experiences. So as a quick recap misgendering is when a trans person is referred to in the gender to which they do not identify, in other words, the gender to which they were born and have been struggling with all their lives. I am 14 months into my transition now and you would expect that by now I may have become hardened to some of the things I experience on a daily basis. I know also that my friends will try to rationalise the actions of a few inconsiderate or uneducated people to help me to cope. I truly appreciate each and every one of you that send me messages of support and encouragement. So what’s the problem? Well it all boils down to perception.

 The very thing that keeps me going is that one day I will walk into a room full of strangers and no one will notice that I’m transgender. As things are it is all too obvious. Only this evening I was shopping in Sainsburys here near the hotel and as I walked past a young couple I instinctively knew what was about to happen, I turned round to see the boyfriend literally pointing at me while not very discreetly asking his girlfriend to turn and look at me. What gives people the right to do that? Who has the right to publicly ridicule someone because they are different from them? I could have pointed at him and shouted “fat guy in grey sweats hide the doughnuts” but that’s not how I behave. This kind of thing happens pretty much everywhere I go so if you are beginning your transition and like me you are unfortunate enough not to pass as female then please be prepared. 

How do you prepare for this kind of life? That’s a good point. I have been in the motor trade since I left school so believe me I have thick skin and can give and take a joke but there is a line where the joke is not a joke. Between friends a little banter is a good thing, it’s healthy to laugh with each other. To laugh at someone or to point them out to others is not a joke and causes damage to that person which is impossible to imagine. Put it this way, I have only once in my life been in a position to want to take my own life and I vowed never to go to that place again, but when I have to constantly endure the daily bullshit from people like Mr grey sweats it just gets to be too much to bear. I often go to sleep wishing I would not wake up, not because I want to kill myself, as I’ve said I’d never do that but just not wake up, so that I don’t have to live this life anymore.

So what’s the alternative? Well I have two choices really as we have already ruled out the third. The first is to find a way to pass better by learning better make-up techniques and dressing well etc. Coco Chanel once famously said “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” There lies part of the problem, for most of us trans women the art of dressing is not second nature as we did not go through our formative years with a mum or sister to point us in the right direction. The same goes for makeup. Many women say they have no real skills in makeup and many women are incredible at it. Trans women are often absolutely atrocious at applying makeup (I know I am) because again they did not have mums and sisters to teach them even the basics. So with hard work and true grit I like other trans women will get through this but not without many more tears and many more nights wishing I would never wake up.

My second choice is to de-transition, which as the name suggests means reversing all that I have done to live in the gender to which I identify. This means going against every principle I stand for and would be like putting a sticking plaster over a broken arm. Sooner rather than later I would be back where I started, staring at that oncoming truck and looking for a way out. My plea to those who are not transgender but come into contact with people from that community is this, please try to use the correct pronouns, we all make mistakes, even trans people can misgender at times we are all human, but try to understand the impact that that little pronoun has on someone who has hated their identity for a lifetime. In many cases from my experience I am often misgendered at work by people who knew my former self for five years and are still adjusting to the new me. I can completely understand those people getting it wrong from time to time due to familiarity. The people who never knew me as my former male self I have a much harder time with. As far as I’m aware no one I know would call me ‘he’ or ‘him’ on purpose but the fact that they get it wrong sometimes hurts more than any other situation because they instinctively called me by a male pronoun meaning this is how the perceive me subconsciously.

When I started this blog around a year ago someone told me it would be cathartic. They were right, it helps me to get through the everyday grind by sharing my experiences with my friends and colleagues. Please believe me if I’m ranting or whining on Facebook it is not because I seek sympathy. If I was looking for sympathy I’d look in the dictionary somewhere between shit and syphilis. I do not seek attention either, if I wanted that I’d walk down the street wearing a chicken suit. It is to raise awareness of what it is like to live a life as a trans person. I seek only to help others to understand by seeing it through my eyes. On that note, I will end this post. To my readers, friends and colleagues, take care of each other, we are all in this life together…

Thanks for reading.
Amy Kate xx.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Pronouns, dead-naming and a time and a place...

This post was not next on my list of posts but due to some events which have occurred recently it felt like the right time to tackle this issue. Before I start a quick lesson on terminology, if you’ve read my previous posts you may be familiar with the term transgender. Someone who is transgender does not identify with the gender in which they were born. In basic terms I was assigned male at birth but this never felt right and after years of suffering a condition called gender dysphoria I began transitioning from male to female. So a trans woman is a person who was born male but is transitioning to become female, often referred to as MtF (male to female). Of course it follows that a trans man would have been born female and transitioned to male or FtM (female to male). So that’s the trans people sorted out, but what about the rest of you. Well if you were born male or female and you are comfortable with that i.e. you have never felt the need to question your gender then you are cisgender or cis for short. Almost there, the gender spectrum is incredibly diverse. Some people do not identify with either gender and prefer to live androgynously (neither one sex nor the other). These people are often referred to as non-binary. Lastly there are people who switch between genders when they feel the need to. They may experience dysphoria in both genders and as such live in a constant state of flux. These people are called gender fluid. 

Pronouns are important in our language. Using the wrong pronoun can be offensive, hurtful and intimidating for the recipient. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are buying a newspaper and the person behind the counter uses a pronoun of the opposite sex. How would that make you feel to be called Sir if you are female or Madam if you are male? Uncomfortable? Well now imagine you are transgender and trying to fit into society in the gender to which you correctly align. Your body was born in the opposite gender and some of us pass or don’t get ‘read’ as their birth gender better than others. I do not pass and due to this I have experienced some discrimination and uncomfortable situations. So what pronouns should we use? Well it’s not as complicated as you might think. A trans woman would usually use female pronouns such as she, her and hers. A trans man would usually use he, him and his. Gender fluid and non-binary people often use neutral pronouns such as they, them and their. If you are in a position to address a trans person and you are unsure of which pronouns to use there are two simple options. The safe one (and easiest) is to use a neutral pronoun. Referring to someone as they or them is very unlikely to offend. The other option is simply to ask what pronouns a person would prefer you to use

Some time ago I was in need of a new DVD player, so off I popped to Currys like you do. I approached one of the sales assistants, a gentleman in his late 40’s at a guess. I asked to be directed to the DVD players and here is where it turned ugly. His response was, “show the gentleman where the DVD players are”. Really? At this point I stared straight at him and said, it’s lady, not gentleman. His reply, “oh yeah sorry”. Not acceptable I’m afraid. I am standing in front of him in female office work wear with full make up and nice hair. I am also wearing my security badge which says in bold letters AMY CARTER. I decided not to take it any further because I really couldn’t be bothered at the time and I hoped it would be a one off, I was wrong. Just a few weeks later almost exactly the same thing happened in Argos, this time two female co-workers discussing openly in front of me where ‘the GENTLEMAN’S order is as HE is waiting’. I was wearing a pretty similar outfit to the previous occasion and full make up and still with the name badge. This happens from time to time and I could recall many similar stories but by now I think you probably get the point. It doesn’t take much effort to use the correct pronouns and the difference is literally to make a trans person’s day or ruin it and make them feel vulnerable, outcast and alone. Yes that one little word can do all that. Powerful isn’t it, he, she, they, one syllable can change so much. 

The next topic is dead-naming. If you’ve never heard this term before don’t worry neither had I until I began my transition. Dead-naming is when someone uses a trans persons former name belonging to their birth gender purposely to cause offence. This is actually quite common in the workplace and is a form of ‘banter’ to the person or persons instigating it but to the recipient it is offensive, hurtful and is plain old fashioned discrimination. Never use a trans persons former name unless you are referring to an event in the past before they transitioned and even then it is best to steer clear of using it unless necessary. I got dead named quite a bit during my early transition but not purposely and this is where you have to observe a line in the sand. Many of the people in a trans person’s life will have met them before they came out and began their transition. As such they are used to using the person’s former name. In my case people at work had known Ian for 6 years but now they had to remember a new name and there would be slip ups. To any trans person reading this, understand that friends, family and co-workers will make mistakes, they have to adjust. Don’t make a huge deal out of it but just acknowledge it with something like “it’s ok, it will take some time to get used to my name”. However if you feel that it is being done deliberately then speak to someone at work such as HR or your line manager. Either way, don’t just let it ride, it’s not ok

My final point in this post is a difficult one. The title of this post is pronouns, dead-naming and a time and a place. Like most things in life there is a time and a place when it is acceptable to say or do something and there will be times when the same thing is wholly unacceptable. The story I’m about to tell happened just last Friday evening as I sat in a pub with co-workers celebrating with a colleague who is moving to a new position next week. We had been there around an hour maybe and the food and the company were great. I was genuinely having a lovely time. From the other side of the pub another co-worker who I had not seen in a while spotted me and came over with her friend who I had not met. To be fair it appeared that alcohol was involved in the build up to this event but I was not prepared for what came next. In a fairly loud announcing type way she preceded to explain to her friend that I used to be called Ian and I am going through transition. This was so loud that all my co-workers around the table heard every word as did half of the pub. I was of course very embarrassed and in an attempt to save face I changed the subject asking how a mutual friend was. For the rest of the evening after she had gone I felt embarrassed and aware of people staring at me who until that outburst hadn’t even noticed me. So to all those cisgender folk who know a trans person or are a trans ally, please think about where you are and what the person might be feeling before announcing to the world that they are trans and revealing their former name. 

That’s it for this post, I hope you have found it educational, whether you are trans or cis. The bottom line is this, if we all make an effort to think about how our words and actions affect others whether they are trans or not, then we might just save a lot of sadness, upset and embarrassment. Together we are stronger. Divided we are weak.

Thanks for reading.
Amy Kate xx.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

My Transition Journal Part 2

Monday January 18th 2016
It has been quite a while since I last wrote. Christmas was fairly uneventful and I guess I would say I survived it. I have felt under a lot of pressure since before Christmas and my health is suffering because of it. I am not sleeping and am having trouble with my abdomen. I suppose these are all signs of stress. The positives are that after trying several wig designs and colours I have finally decided on a Noriko ‘Hailey’ wig in two colours. The colours are Java frost and Honey wheat R. I also have my breast forms and bra fitting sorted so all in all I am ready to go in terms of clothing, hair and accessories. I also got some make up and perfume for Christmas which will help but I need time to practice. My voice is getting there. I am nowhere near where I would like it to be but at least I can drop in and out of it with relative ease now which makes me think that with more practice it will sound more and more feminine. I need to buy a couple of pairs of leggings from Sainsbury’s and a white shirt from M&S and my wardrobe is complete (for now, no girl’s wardrobe is ever complete). Laser is also going well, and I have now had 5 sessions on my face and my 6th is booked for this week on Wednesday. I have had one session on my upper chest (breast area) and it has been amazing, clearing pretty much all the dark hairs in one go. There aren’t many greys either so electrolysis shouldn’t be a long process for this area.

So although there are lots of positives, these are all relatively trivial. The negatives are many and are much bigger issues which is where the stress comes in. Before Christmas it seemed as if my partner and I were turning a corner and our relationship was improving. This is no longer the case and if anything it is the worst it has ever been. I am now at the point where I can’t take any more and am ready to leave. It also seems that someone has told my ex-partner (Jodie’s mum) about me being transgender. She hasn’t taken it badly but the situation between us regarding my daughter is fragile to say the least and she is now saying we can only communicate through a solicitor. I have just backed away from that for now as there is nothing I can do to fix it for the time being. 

Looking forwards, the next big milestone is my clinic appointment on the 27th where I will have the physical tests and checks to see if I am suitable for HRT. Maybe starting afresh in a new town is the right thing to do as Amy starts her journey in life. I will write after the clinic appointment as I want to record how I felt about it and also I will know more about what is going on with my abdomen after some tests etc. that are coming up with the GP. 

Monday 1st February 2016
I went to the clinic last Wednesday dressed as a female and my partner came with me. Dr Timmins was his usual eccentric self but the tests went well and he approved me for hormone therapy pending some blood tests. I have to arrange them at my GP surgery but I haven’t had time to do this yet. There is no rush as I also have to wait four weeks before I can begin treatment due to protocols. This is a cooling off period where I may change my mind. There is no chance of that. The issues in my abdomen seem to be getting better by themselves but are not yet back to normal. I have had a blood test to check liver function etc. and this came back normal so I need to revisit the GP to find out if it is just stress related problems. Dr Timmins suggested that this may be the case as the brain and the gut use the same hormones to operate and therefore problems in this area are often linked to stress or depression etc. He has suggested that I go back on the sertraline medication for a while as the next 6 months or so will be a bumpy ride and this will help me get through it.

I felt really good being dressed as my true self and when we got home I didn’t want to take it off as it felt so natural to be dressed this way. This helps to confirm that I’m doing the right thing, not that I need to confirm my feelings in any way. I am feeling very dysphoric lately and long for a time when I can dress as a female full time. Looking at the way things are, I will be going full time around April as planned so not much longer now. I will write again when I have had the blood tests done and I have confirmation that I have been fully approved for HRT. 

Thursday 24th March 2016
I hadn’t planned to write again until after my appointment but it’s such a long way off I felt the need to do a quick update. Things have moved forwards very quickly in the last few weeks. I have set a date for full time at work and with my partner at home. At work this has been well received and everyone seems excited to meet Amy. At home it could not be more opposite. Things have gone from bad to worse and there are yet more nails in the coffin of our relationship.

I have started to prepare by wearing nail polish most days at work now and have started to spread the word to the delegates. I delivered my first course this week to a group having told them I am transgender during the introductions and they could not have been better about it. They were a really genuine and lovely bunch of guys. This gives me hope for the future and makes me think that I can do this no matter how hard it seems.

My blood test is done and the GP surgery has said that there does not seem anything out of the ordinary about the results but they aren’t looking for the same things as the gender clinic so we will see. I have decided to make my deed poll change on May 4th as I’m a huge Star Wars fan (may the fourth be with you)and  it’s Audrey Hepburn’s birthday who I adore. It also fits in with my timescales for going full time by the end of April / start of May.

I have also arranged to volunteer to work on the Audi stand at Goodwood this year as my true self which again has been welcomed by the event management staff. All in all it seems that my transition is going forwards very well in all cases except my home life. This can and will only get worse as time goes on and things are more out in the open. I suspect that the next time I write I will be talking about the demise of my relationship amongst other things.

Monday 18th April 2016
So this is the last time I will write in this journal as Ian. In a week’s time I will be presenting to the world as Amy, my true self on a daily basis. In short, I will be living full time as a female. This doesn’t come without its challenges though. I have completed my deed poll but now have the task of writing to companies, the tax office, the DVLA, the NHS and so on so this will be a big job in itself. I’ve also got to master daytime make up and dressing female correctly including accessories, bags etc. The girls at work have been so helpful and have arranged their timetable to be there to support me which means the world to me. 

These are the positive things about my transition as it stands. There is still the outcome of my gender clinic appointment which could go either way but I have done all I can to convince them by going full time and doing my deed poll. Lately I have been in a bit of a mess and have had serious doubts about transition. I know it is the right thing to do but it is such a huge undertaking that sometimes I feel I can’t cope. I’m sure once I’ve been living full time for a few weeks it will settle down and I will start getting used to life as a female full time. I will write again after my first day at work and the clinic appointment which is May 3rd in both cases.

Tuesday 3rd May 2016
Today is my first day of being full time as a woman. I got up around 5.30am and had a shower, dressed and put on my make-up. It went fairly well with no real dramas on the makeup front. Driving to work my head was full of anticipation and worry. Most of my colleagues have been welcoming especially the girls who have taken me under their wing and look after me but some of my colleagues have not spoken to me yet which is fine as we all need to adjust to this. The rest of the day has been uneventful really, just getting used to wearing heels, makeup and above all else the hair. This wig is beautiful but it keeps sticking to my lipstick which I know is normal but for someone not used to having any hair it is a nightmare.

I’m almost done with changing my name on my documents and have just my driving license and passport left and a few minor things. Other than that I’m ready for the next steps of my transition which begin in around an hour hopefully. I have my clinic appointment at 4.30pm with Dr Timmins and if he agrees that my blood results are ok I can start HRT soon. I will write again tomorrow with the outcome of the appointment but for now all I can say is day one living full time is nearly over and I survived. It will never be scarier than today so I know now that transition is possible, it is within my reach and I can do it.

At home things aren’t any better but we have papered over the cracks for now. I will talk with my partner again tonight to see how she feels about the situation and my first day full time but until then all I can say is that there has been no real change. 

Wednesday 4th May 2016
Yesterday was a whirlwind day and there was so much to think about and worry about that I have only really processed it today after sleeping on it. My first day full time as a woman went better than expected but there were still a few people who couldn’t look me in the eye and will I guess take some time to get used to it. 

My clinic appointment with the lovely Dr Timmins went really well yesterday. After much discussion and Dr Timmins going off on his usual tangents, he approved me for HRT which is a huge relief for me. I now have to wait for a week or two for the letter to arrive and then I can make the appointment to have my anti-androgen blocker injection and start my oestrogen medication which will be in oral form.

There is nothing more to report so far so I will now take the rest of the week to tie up loose ends relating to my name change which became legal today. I will write again soon hopefully to say my driving license and passport have been successfully changed to my new name and gender marker. 

Thursday 12th May 2016
Most of the deed poll changes have been taken care of now. I’ve had some trouble with Virgin money but otherwise it went smoothly. The only things outstanding now are my driving license and passport. I’ve sent off my driving license so I’m just waiting for that to come back and once that is done I will arrange an interview with the passport office to get that final bit sorted. 

So this is my second week full time and so far things have gone well although there has been a lot of staring wherever I go which I guess is to be expected. I have made a point of doing as much normal stuff as possible including shopping at Asda, post office, coffee in Costa and a look round the shops in Market Harborough. I’ve also been into town in Milton Keynes a few times and today I had an eye makeup tutorial by Molly in Boots at the No.7 counter. I felt so good as I left and now I have the confidence to apply eye makeup whereas before I didn’t think it was possible. The tricks I learned were that my crease is higher near my socket bone and this darker colour is the one I should apply first, then lighter on the lid and blend, then lightest under the brow and blend. I also learned that no lower eye liner and lashings of mascara are the way forward for an everyday look. I bought a new palette and some liner for my top lid and got a lovely free gift which was lovely.

All in all things are going well. I’m losing some weight and weighed in at 84.5kg last night which is down from 88kg. I want to get to 80kg as my first goal but ultimately around 70kg if it is possible. Next week I plan to start exercise in the morning before breakfast as this will improve my fitness but also help with the weight loss. I’m waiting for the letter from the clinic to drop through the door so that I can go to the GP and get my HRT started. I am really starting to feel more confident as a woman now and although I know I don’t pass and get clocked everywhere, I feel like I am finally myself and I am walking with my head held high wherever I go. I find that I don’t get angry anymore and am a much calmer and more peaceful person. So there you have it, after two weeks I am gaining confidence and moving forwards learning new things every day and adjusting and adapting as I go along. 

Monday 16th May 2016
On Friday after work I picked up some wigs to try from Netty at Continental wigs. She hugged me and told me that she was so glad she could be part of my journey which was so nice of her. I can see us becoming friends over time. After this my partner and I went to the Dovecote pub near us for a drink. I was nervous but also keen to do it as I want my life to be as normal as possible going forward. The barman made my day by asking “what can I get for you ladies?” This was so nice of him and really made me feel good. I hope one day that I will be seen by the general public as a woman and not the way I’m seen at the moment which is a guy in women’s clothes. 

Tuesday 31st May 2016
It has been one month almost since I went full time. June 3rd will be the exact date and up to now it has been mostly wonderful and I finally feel like myself. By that I mean I feel feminine and normal as I present myself to the world as a female. Sadly it seems that the world isn’t quite so accepting of transgender people especially ones that don’t pass like me. To hell with them and their ridiculous comments, I am stronger than them and braver than most so I must hold my head high and walk proudly. I can’t pretend it is easy to do that and I’m sure there are harder times ahead but this month has been a good start I feel and I have been well received at work and have started to make lots of female friends there. 

Things at home are continuing to deteriorate and as I have said before the writing is on the wall for our relationship as we simply want different things and my partner is so angry and bitter that I can’t ever see a way past it. I have managed to improve things with her family so we are at least talking amicably which makes life a little easier. I completely understand why my partner feels how she does. I wish I had come to this decision years ago and had worked out that I was transgender a lot sooner. This would have saved her from this grief and I’m sad and feel guilty for having put her through this.

I am so desperate to get my hormone letter from the clinic now as I feel that I can’t really move any further forward without the HRT treatment that I need. I rang the clinic last week and Jeanette told me it was being typed that day but no sign of it yet. It has been a whole year since I presented myself to the gender clinic and for me this is time being wasted. The HRT will help me to feel more feminine and hopefully reduce my dysphoria. I am trying to be realistic about the feminising effects that may occur as they may be very subtle and this would be disappointing but no matter how much or little physical change there is, at least I will feel like a woman completely and the rest I can deal with in time with surgery and beauty treatments etc.

I guess the next time I write it will be to say I have my letter and the GP appointment is booked. I hope to have my driving license back soon with my new name on it so maybe I’ll be able to talk about that too. This will leave just my passport to change into my new name and gender but I think that will be more difficult and I’ll probably need to go and have an interview with them from what I have read.

Tuesday June 7th 2016
Having done some investigation it seems that my letter for HRT will not be arriving until mid to late June. Although Jeanette Clark has typed it and it is ready to send it appears that Dr Timmins is on holiday and it cannot be sent without his signature. I have booked an appointment with Dr Alexander for June 23rd at 8.50am (my birthday) in anticipation but if it doesn’t arrive I may have to cancel it.
I have also had more setbacks in everyday life recently. My close friend Andy Ellis has now decided to tell me via text that he is not dealing with my transition and he does not want to see me for the time being. I can understand people have a hard time adjusting to someone’s transition but I saw him 4 or 5 times a year maximum. It’s not like we were always hanging out or anything. I am finding that transition is a very lonely place and I can now understand why the suicide rate is so high among transgender people. I’m not saying I feel suicidal but I am very low and feel physically run down too. I just want to get my meds and get my head down and move forward through this next two year period. 

There is nothing more to add at this point in time. I hope to start feeling better soon but I am struggling to keep sight of that light at the end of the tunnel. 

Monday 13th June 2016
I had said I wouldn’t write again until my letter came from the clinic but I had a bad experience on Friday so I want to record it here.

I had my first laser treatment at Bodilight who are also doing my electrolysis. I’ve had laser previously at Northampton laser clinic with good results and no side effects but as I’ve left it several months quite a bit of dark re-growth has occurred. The laser was set to low apparently but the pain was ridiculous compared to what I experienced previously. Driving home afterwards I had to have the air conditioning blasting in my face to ease the burning pain. My face had swollen and was deep red with scabs forming all over my beard area. In the morning the swelling had subsided a little but the scabbing was worse. My entire beard area was now covered in scabs and red marks. I drove to Milton Keynes to show them and get a second opinion. I went to Skin clinic first who are just round the corner and they said it should not have reacted like that and that the settings were too high for a first session. Bodilight of course claimed that it was normal and would not refund my £507 which I paid up front for a course of 6 treatments. I do not want any more laser with them so I will have to use the money to pay for my electrolysis.

So it was a miserable weekend spent in pain with a hideous face. Today the scabbing has lessened but not by much and I’ve had to wear thick make up to cover it. These are the times when I really feel like I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and I lose hope of ever transitioning successfully into the woman I want to be. I hope for better news this week and maybe after a few months on HRT my beard will soften and growth will slow down so the laser will work more effectively at a lower setting. Who knows?

Monday 20th June 2016
This weekend has been an emotional one, as my partner and I were finally able to admit that our relation has no future. We have agreed to live together as house mates for the next few months as neither of us can afford to move out and she will need help to recover from her upcoming surgery at the end of June.

Part of me is sad because the relationship was the last link to Ian my former self but on the whole I’m massively relieved because I feel I’d rather transition as a single woman and I don’t really know where my sexual radar will end up. In addition to that she can now find a man who will make her happy as clearly I will never be able to do that. I am very sorry she had to go through this and I wish I knew a way to make it better.

My letter for the GP should arrive today or tomorrow so I’m really excited about that. I can’t wait to get the HRT under way but I have decided that I will start oestrogen after Goodwood as I would like to have a drink and let my hair down one last time before I have to pretty much give up drinking for the next two years or so. I will write again after Goodwood as I should have news about HRT and also how Goodwood went.

Thursday 23rd June 2016
It has been quite a birthday! First thing this morning I had my appointment with Dr Alexander who arranged my HRT blocker injection and gave me a prescription for Estradiol 2mg. Then I went to vote and then to Fosse park for a wander around the shops. I bought myself a mascara and new lippy for my birthday and went to town to change my details with the letting agent that we rent the house from. After this I went to see my mum and then finally it was home to pack for Goodwood. I’m here in the hotel in Portsmouth writing this after coming back from a night at Pizza hut with my friends from work. 

All in all a great birthday but around 10pm I got a text from my daughter Jodie who I haven’t spoken to since last July. It didn’t say much just happy birthday really but it has really shaken me. I miss her so much and I hope that one day we can restore our relationship although of course it will never be a father – daughter relationship as it was. On the whole I’m really happy and finally having my HRT arranged is such a relief. I am booked in at 5.10 on Monday to have the testosterone blocker injection and then I start taking estradiol 2mg the following day. I have already collected the prescription and it is waiting at home for Monday.

Tomorrow I am working on the Audi stand at the Goodwood festival of speed. I will write again tomorrow or maybe after the event when there is more to say.

Monday 27th June 2016
I’m really tired after working three days at the festival of speed. I really enjoyed it and it went without hitch other than a couple of minor comments from some lads who had been drinking. I think I handled myself as well as possible and it gave me confidence for the future. 

Following the text from my daughter Jodie we have been texting each other all weekend and it has been lovely. We have a long way to go to repair our relationship but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Her mum Louise has also texted to say she would like to try and restore our working relationship as co-parents which is what I want too.

Things at home continue to be a little bit strained but calmer and with far fewer arguments so I guess we will see if this continues. I get my testosterone blocker injection tonight and start oestrogen (Estrodiol 2mg) tomorrow morning. I’m nervous about taking it but of course very excited too. I will write again maybe tomorrow or in the next few days to record the experience. I also have a voice appointment with Penny on Wednesday which I’m looking forward to as I haven’t seen her since January.

Tuesday 28th June – HRT Begins.
Yesterday evening I had my first testosterone blocker injection. It hurt as it was in my shoulder muscle on the advice of Dr Timmins but it is a small price to pay for my transition. Today I took my first oestrogen pill which is called Estradiol Valerate 2mg. Obviously there are no signs of anything happening yet and at this early stage I would only expect to see side effects like bloating or nausea for example. When I went to the surgery last night to have the injection I have to admit I was really nervous and a part of me considered not having it. I think there would always be a little devil on the shoulder to remind you that this is permanent and to make sure you really want it. I do want this more than anything despite how hard it has been and how hard it will get in the coming months. Anyway, nothing more to report, I just wanted to mark this day officially so that I can track my progress and relate it back to my journal. 

Thursday 30th June 2016
Since I came back from the Goodwood festival of speed I have been aware that there are some rumours being circulated about me at work. This is following a conversation with my team leader. He told me that people are saying I have applied for a job on the commercial team which I haven’t and that I made a formal complaint against a member of the restaurant staff which I didn’t. It also appears that most of the Audi team and others from other departments are unsure how to talk to me and feel uncomfortable. This is disappointing to hear as I already feel alienated in a team I used to feel part of and had a close bond with. I refuse to behave differently just to appease others so if they want to get used to me then they will need to spend some time with me. 

I also went to the GP today as I’ve been having some abdomen pain and frequently needing the toilet to urinate. After a test it seems I have blood and white cells in my urine which could be just an infection or possibly something more sinister. I could really do without this right now but I have been given antibiotics for seven days so we will see what the outcome is. The GP has also sent off the sample to the lab for further tests,

Overall I’m feeling pretty low at the moment. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with HRT as I have not seen any effects or even side effects so far. 

My ex-partner has had her operation today, a full hysterectomy to help her endometriosis. I will be helping her get back on her feet and to make it easier for her and her son I agreed to spend the next few days in guy mode which I am hating but it can’t be helped. Things are generally a bit fucked up right now but I hope to be able to report that they are settling down soon.

Sunday 7th August 2016
I haven’t written for a while as I have been concentrating on recording my real life experience stuff. I’ve been on HRT since June 28th but so far I’ve seen no tangible physical results. Emotionally I am struggling with mood swings and feelings of despair and depression. It has reached a point where I have had to do something I swore to myself that I would never do again, take anti-depressants. I feel sad that I feel this way and also guilty, especially after reading a Facebook post from a transgender woman who has had to wait 25 months to be seen by a gender clinic. I have been assessed and am on HRT within 16 months which is very quick. I don’t know exactly what is making me feel so down but there are some things I know I wish I could change. The thing that is bothering me the most right now is my hair, and having to wear wigs. I hate it. I hate it so much that I often take it off in the car and drive with my bald head showing. I wish I could grow my hair back and maybe in time I will but if not I’m stuck with a life of wearing expensive uncomfortable and unrealistic looking wigs. I am seriously considering going bald as I feel so much more comfortable that way. Unfortunately I don’t think the world is ready for a bald transgender woman and certainly not one who doesn’t pass. I don’t know what the solution to my sadness is right now, and all I can do is keep pushing forward and hope that things improve. I will write again soon and hopefully I will have something more positive to say.

Sunday 21st August 2016
I have been taking sertraline for two weeks now and I think I am starting to turn a corner with my depression. I have been struggling with a urinary tract infection and am still taking antibiotics to get rid of it. All in all I am not feeling in good health right now. I have little wins every now and then and that helps to motivate me to go forwards. I have received my passport back now with the gender marker ‘F’ which made me so happy. I joined the Transliving Facebook group and have now become a moderator for them which is great and makes me feel like I’m getting involved. I am making new female friends and seeing less of my old male friends. My life is evolving as I transition. My sister and I have a great relationship now and socially at least I am in a good place. I have still not seen any results from HRT but maybe they are so subtle that I haven’t noticed yet. I have a clinic appointment next Friday so I’m hoping that Dr Timmins will either increase my dose of Estradiol or tell me that I am on track and my blood results are fine. I’ve moved into the spare room at home as my ex-partner and I are still not finding it easy to be civil. I will write again next weekend after my clinic appointment. I’m hoping to have a nice week and more positive things to report.

Friday 21st October 2016
It has been several weeks since I last wrote anything here. I have been feeling pretty down and at the same time very busy with work. I have quite a lot to record here so I guess I’ll start with the appointment with Dr Timmins. I had been looking forward to it for some time and had hoped to ask several questions such as when we discuss surgeries etc. I didn’t get a word in edgeways as he spent most of the 40 minutes telling me how to adjust the handbrake on his wife’s Volvo C90. He read my blood results, told me he wouldn’t need to change my dosages at this time and sent me on my way. It was an anti-climax to say the least. 

At home things have improved dramatically as my ex-partner is now dating a guy called Steve. This has shifted her focus from being angry with me to more positive things and she is also starting to talk about the future and us moving on.

Work has not been quite so harmonious. It seems someone is hell bent on discrediting me and trying to undermine my position in the team. Comments have been made behind my back to my boss who has challenged me on them and I have been able to explain that they are simply not true. If they are true or not I would expect the individual to come to me and discuss their grievance in person, not do it behind my back. Aside from this all seems as well as can be expected. Anyway that is about it for now the next milestone is another clinic appointment in December. I will wrap up the journal with this final entry because I have started a blog called Afternoon ‘T’ with Amy Kate. Any future rants or musings will be posted there for all to see. It has been a hell of a time so far, I just hope I have the strength and the courage to see this through.

Thanks for reading.
Amy Kate xx.