Wednesday, 1 January 2020

2019, what a year!

Wow, what a year! Yes I know it’s a cliché and we say it every year but it really has been a whirlwind year for me. Casting my mind back to January nothing special was happening, I had a target hanging over my head, lose the weight! I had my surgery consultation back in August 2018, where I was given a very clear goal, “for gender reassignment surgery, you must achieve a target BMI of 28”. This meant losing 15 kilos before I was even eligible for surgery. For my height this meant achieving a weight of 80 kilos, I had been hovering around 95 kilos for the last couple of years so this was quite a big task for me.

You might be thinking I jumped straight in to this task and hit the gym hard, nope. What I actually did is dig my heels firmly in and rejected everything to do with surgery because I was scared and I wasn’t ready. I ate a lot of pizza, I ate a lot of ice cream, I didn’t lose any weight. This trend continued through February, March, April, you get the idea. In July I met Hannah, my girlfriend, we found each other through OK Cupid, a popular UK dating site. Hannah has given me the kick up the arse I have needed for a long time, helping me to move forward with my life. Since meeting her I have achieved a great deal and we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.

So what goals did I set myself to achieve in 2019…

Lose weight for surgery

I hadn’t made any progress with this until July. I’m not really sure where the exact turning point came but I suddenly found myself really committed to my target. I started to increase my exercise by doing lots of power walking. I’d do 2 to 3 kilometres during lunchtime at work then 5 kilometres on weekends. I was on the exercise bike for 20 minutes most mornings and I revived my love of Muay Thai boxing training to further increase my workout effectiveness. Diet is where I made the most progress though, cutting out junk food, sugary drinks and alcohol. I didn’t completely give up anything I just made sure if I had a treat it was just that, a one off and I didn’t make a habit of it.

Since then I’ve started the couch to 5k challenge and the plank challenge and I’m doing an hour of Yoga three times a week as well. I’ve also switched to a plant-based diet cutting out meat completely and eating minimal dairy. I no longer eat eggs or drink cow’s milk. I’ve discovered oat milk and vegan ice cream and I’m sure as time goes on I’ll find non dairy substitutes for more of the things I love. My reasons for switching to plant based are partly for my health and the target for surgery and partly because I know how much the meat and dairy industry impact environmental issues. I also discovered a YouTuber called Earthling Ed, his video on the cruelty in the dairy industry (dismantle dairy) changed my perspective entirely and I just no longer feel good about eating meat and dairy.

Gender reassignment surgery

Well I didn’t quite fit this into 2019 but now that I’ve finally got my head round this and I’m over the sheer terror I was feeling whenever I thought about surgery, I’m calm and relaxed and ready to get the job done. I’ve lost all the weight, sorted out my time off work so that I can recover and I’ve prepared everything for my arrival and
departure from the hospital. The date for the surgery is January 17th 2020. My friends have really helped me with this, my friend Vicki is taking me and my friend Gwen is collecting me. I’ve ordered the obligatory inflatable doughnut cushion to sit on for the car journey home. When I get home another friend Kelly is coming to stay with me for a few days to give me company and just make sure I’m ok. I’m not allowed out for 2 weeks to prevent infection so my friends have said they’ll come visit me at home. Hannah is working away in Europe at the moment so she can’t be with me but she will be home in March and I hope to be taking a trip with her as I get towards the end of my time off from work.

I will of course be documenting the surgery and recovery in the blog because others who read this may either be curious or even preparing for their own surgery and may need some advice.

Gender recognition certificate

A GRC or gender recognition certificate is an official document which gives certain protections and rights to transgender people. For example, even though I’ve changed my name by deed poll, and I have lived as a woman for three and a half years, I was still technically male in the eyes of the law. I could have been sent to a male prison if I was remanded in custody or sentenced, I could have been placed on a male ward in hospital if the administrators saw fit to put me there. If I got married the marriage certificate would have stated my sex as male. Not all trans people want a GRC and many dispute the cost (£140) which is required to get one. I’m not going to get into any arguments about whether we should or shouldn’t need one or how much it should cost but I am going to dispel some myths. The fee of £140 is only payable in some cases. If you are out of work or claim benefits you don’t have to pay. The process has been described as overly complex and difficult to achieve, I found it very simple, as long as you can prove you’ve been living as your true gender for at least the last two years then you’re fine. Household bills, medical letters, payslips, passports licenses and birth certificate are all that’s needed plus a declaration in front of a solicitor which costs around £10. You send all that off, they copy it and send it back special delivery then you wait. After a few days I was told I had a hearing date, I didn’t have to do anything as the hearing is done by a panel in your absence. After the hearing a few days passed and I got a lovely email telling me my application was successful and my GRC was on its way.

Once I received the GRC I was able to order a new birth certificate which I now have. This cost £10 and I am now the proud owner of a shiny new birth certificate with me new name and more importantly the line which states sex of child says female. This process, the GRC and the birth certificate took less than 6 weeks and apart from me going through all my paperwork to build the evidence to send to them, it was easy. They even produce a document to help you fill in the application. This for me is a major hurdle that signified the end of my transition from a legal and social perspective.

DAF accredited trainer certificate

As the name suggests this is essentially factory approval of my trainer credentials. I have been a technical trainer for various manufacturers for nearly twenty years so I’m pretty confident and capable. The accreditation process consists of some factory training courses in Eindhoven in the Netherlands followed by a teaching observation at DAF academy here in the UK by one of the Dutch factory trainers. I was hoping to complete this this year but scheduling issues and staff changes at work meant it was impossible to achieve. I could have completed the last module in January but unfortunately it is scheduled for two days after my surgery so of course I can’t make it. I’m scheduled to complete my last block of training in September and my observation sometime in the summer so by the end of 2020 it should all be done.

So there you have it it’s been quite a year and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved. I need to thank Hannah, my mum, sister and all my friends for their support and encouragement, without it I wouldn’t have got the job done. I hope 2020 will be another year of growth and happiness and let’s see what can be achieved.

So what are my goals for 2020?

1.  Finish my DAF accreditation
2.  Complete a park run
3.  Get my HGV class 1 license
4.  Continue with my facial electrolysis
5. Enjoy my new life

Happy new year everyone. Let’s make it a good one!

Thanks for reading.
Amy Kate xxx.

2019, what a year!

Wow, what a year! Yes I know it’s a cliché and we say it every year but it really has been a whirlwind year for me. Casting my mind back t...