Monthly Archives: March 2013
The Spring equinox was the 20th March this year and the signs of new life were emerging in the garden. The first daffodils showed their heads and I did the first cut on the 18th March. The start of the week was sunny but a little chilly which was bearable. Then it came, Friday 22nd, the white stuff returned after a month or so away to wreak havoc across North Wales and various parts of northern England and Scotland.
On the Thursday, I had gone to Ellesmere Port to visit Aga, a friend whom I use to work with up until November 2012 when we were made redundant. neither of us have found a new job yet after four months. Aga had phoned Anna, who lodged with me for a short while back in 2005/06, and we went over to hers 40 minutes later and stayed until 9.30pm. A friend of Anna’s called over and we had a good nit-natter. Kerry asked me numerous questions about my transition; which I was happy to answer for her as she was genuinely interested. She asked questions like – when did I first know I wanted to become a woman? Can you have penetrative sex afterwards? Do you have breasts? I do not shy away from people’s questions about me. I know I will never look like a genetic female unless I have FFS (Feminizing Facial Surgery) but I do get by fine and I think it is because I am a short arse at only 5ft 3.
Anyhoo, by 10pm, I had left Aga’s and headed back home to Flintshire in North Wales. By the time I had reached the Flintshire Bridge; about half way home, it had began to sleet heavily. I didn’t think much of it when i went to bed; thinking it would not stick. How wrong was I? I awoke at 8am and l looked out of the window; the scenery was white as white and snow coming down heavily and non stop all through the day and the night and into Saturday too! I have not known it to snow like this in yoncs. Last time it had snowed in March; at easter time too, was about 11 years and that was on the 13th March which is mum’s birthday and mothering Sunday at that time. This time around, it is my birthday on th 25th and no sign of it thawing either! So much for spring. I do think Oakenholt, Flint, Bagillt and other areas on the coast road got off lightly compared to more inland areas like Coedpoeth, Wrecsam.
((( Cwtch )))
So, mum told and that went easier than I thought especially as I hadn’t, in fact, told her. Mum came out with it out of frustration at me not being able to tell her what was wrong with me. Who next? I’ve put every other family member in this one because they were very easier to tell and no awkward stuff rallly to divulge.
2007, taking my 12 year old niece Rachael to her guitar lesson in Connah’s Quay. She has always known me with an electric guitar or bass guitar in my hand and she wanted to learn, and i took her to the guy who taught me. On this particular day in February, Rachael had noticed the wooden bracelet I was wearing on my left wrist and that it looked ‘girlie’ as she liked it. I offered it her but she rather I kept it. So, I got her a similar one later that week. I asked her if she had noticed anything ‘different’ about me of late? Rachael said that she had noticed that my hair was longer; my clothes are more feminine and then progressed to ask if I was gay? I said no. She persisted in asking me questions to know what was going on with me. I told her I can’t, not yet. ‘Please, just tell me’. In the end, keeping it simple for a 12-year-old, I did. ‘I’m transitioning to female’. ‘Cool’, she said, ‘We can go shopping together?’ ‘Because I have always felt feminine and wanted to become a woman back in school’. Rachael then asked,’Is that why you divorced?’ Being honest, ‘Yes. Don’t tell your dad because that is down to me to do’. I found out the next day that she did tell her dad; and he went ballistic and calling me all sorts of names. He even rang our mum to see if it was true. So, thanks to Rachael (who said sorry for telling him), my brother Michael I did not have to tell.6 years later, he still will not speak to me nor be in the same room if it can be helped. The only time that we were, was for David and Sarah’s wedding in August 2011 and our paternal nain’s funeral in December 2011. Mum wouldn’t even invite him to her 65th birthday meal out in the Raj Indian restaurant.
I told dad on easter Sunday back in April 2009, a matter of weeks before going full-time in my private and work life. Mum went out to Broughton Retail Park so that I could tell him. There was my dad; in his dressing gown and laid on the 3 seater sofa and me; sat on the other sofa. The TV was on and showing the movie – ‘Lost In Space’ on Channel Four. As each break came; I found it hard to tell him. Just over an hour in; the fifth advert break I told dad – ‘I’ve been diagnosed with GID: Gender Identity Disorder’. Dad:’What’s that then?’ Me:’It means that I am transitioning to female; to become a woman’. Dad:’Are they sure?’. Me:’Yes and it is what I want’. Dad looked at me and then back at the TV and that was it. He did mentioned it to mum that night but no rejection from him either. 3 out of 4 so far and looking good.
Around the same time, 2009, I told my younger brother David and his then wife-to-be Sarah at their home. To be true here; I did not really need to tell them because they had already worked it out; by the simple fact that I had been wearing women’s jeans; trainers and tee-shirts. Sarah had mentioned the cut of my jeans being a women’s cut. They had discussed me between themselves and David wondered whether I would chooe a name beginning with the same initial as M or different altogether; and the latter I had chosen. They were more than fine about it and even said, ‘Your life. We want you to be happy and we have noticed how much happier you are now’. Sarah 2 late teenage children were fine too. 7 out of 8 – brilliant!
My mum’s sister and husband and their 2 daughters – the eldest being 13 and youngest was 9. Mum actually told them but I went to see them a week after going full-time. I went to visit them on a beautiful sunny Sunday in May. We were in the back garden where I explained why i had chosen to transition to female. Before I had arrived, my auntie and uncle sat my cousins down to tell them them I was changing and they were quite simply not bothered as long as I was happy. My uncle came out with, ‘women don’t have biceps’. They have gone thankfully in the 4 years on female hormones (yay). My auntie simply asked, amonst others, ‘Are you 100% sure you are doing the right thing? Definately what you want?’ To which I replied a resounding, ‘Yes’. That was easy to be fair. 11 out of 12 – getting more better.
As for my other relatives – my dad’s sister’s family (4) and his brother’s family (4), all fine with me. So that is 19 out of 20. I do have other family members but we do not talk to them due to a feud caused by them over an old piece of family history going back to when my mum was barely a year old! Bloody ridiculous too. 6 years later, and apart from my elder brother; everyone is treating me no different really. The only issue I have, is that they still can not call me Cerys apart from my auntie’s family, my nephew really. I try to ignore my old name being used but not easy and I do correct. What I get is, known you as M for 40 years and it is difficult to change. Bollocks – basically! It is lack of respect but in time, they will adjust.
Starting with the most recent history being two days ago – Wednesday, 13th March was my mum’s 65th birthday and no one can believe she is her age. Good genes run in our family and an ex colleague f mine last year thought I was 25! Sure as hell made my day that did I can tell you. Anyway, days before, mum said she had booked a table at the Raj Indian restaurant in Flint for 10. I asked who was going and Michael, my elder brother, was not mentioned. This was because he has not accepted my decision to transition from male to female. Even now, 5 years later, he still can not come to terms with my life change. Mum said she was not going to invite him because she did not want to feel on edge all evening, and I truly understood that. However, I did plead with her to invite him and if he opted not to come, then, at least the choice was his not to come. So, Wednesday afternoon, I asked mum whether she had asked Michael. She told me Rachael (niece), has asked him. Apparently, he asked if I as going and Rachael said yes. So, he said he would not come if I was going. At least I tried to get him to come.
I can not hold a grudge or resentment for long, no matter how much I have been aggrieved. It pains me that there is this issue between myself and my elder brother. Why he can not be accepting of me? He does not have to understand why, but accept his now sister’s decision. Truth be told, we were never close growing up. I believe that he had sibling as he had mum and dad all to himself for 4 years and 8 months and then I came long in the March of 1972 and took the shine off his world. Our younger brother David, arrived in 1974 and even with 6 years and 8 months difference in age, they have always got on like a house on fire. I have always felt like the black sheep even though David and I are close in age as well as siblings and shared a bedroom in our childhood.
To go back to how I came out to family members, my mum was the first I told or should that be tried to tell. Mum and I were always close and I think that was because I had almost died at birth having the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and I had actually gone blue as blue and my dad had to name me rather quickly because the doctors thought I would not make the night. I am still here.
Seems like only yesterday when I took the plunge, heart in my mouth and made the decision to come out to mum. It was the summer of 2007 and I had been seeing Dr Martin Riley for a number of months. I went with mum to Chester morning as I figured I could tell her over a cappuccino as I thought she couldn’t make a scene if it went bad (I knew this would not happen but even still). So, we ended up in The Gallery Cafe, Foregate Street (now Caffe Atina), a small intimate cafe with art for sale. We sat down and ordered – 2 cappuccino’s and shared a cheese and tomato Panini. Mum could see there was something weighing on my mind and asked me what it was. Deep breaths, deep breaths I said to myself ….
“Mum, I don’t know how to say this”, more deep breaths. “What is it?”, mum asked. I was beginning to get hot and shaky, “You know that I haven’t been myself lately”, deep breaths more of and my eyes began to well up, “I’ve been going to Wrecsam for a while now to see a counsellor”. Bit of time out followed by mum, “Why have been seeing a counsellor?” Before I could reply, my eyes not only welled up more, they became waterfalls and I left the table and headed straight for the toilet to calm down and freshen myself up. Why is this so hard?, I asked myself, this is my mum for gawd sake, just tell her. I returned to the table and tried again but couldn’t get out what I wanted to tell her. We finished up, paid and left without telling her. I was so disappointed in myself.
We came out of The Gallery Cafe and headed back up Foregate Street to Marks & Spencer. Mum was asking questions as we walked up the street and in to the store. Up the escalator because mum was taking an item of clothing back. whilst we wandered around looking at the clothes, mum kept asking “Have you lost your Job? , “have you been suspended?” , “Have you hit someone?” , “Are you in trouble with the Police?” “Are you gay?” i answered a resounding “No” to each and all questions. Mum was beginning to get a tad frustrated with me by now and we finally left the store and headed towards the park & Ride at the bus stop behind the indoor market and next to the old Odeon cinema with mum still enquiring as to what it was i was trying to tell her. Finally, as we headed towards the entrance to Foregate Indoor Market, mum asked THE question, “Do you want a sex change?” Within what felt like a split second, I replied, “YES”. She looked at me and I at her and she replied, “Is that it?” “Yes, I said. “You don’t want to go the whole way and have your penis cut off?” “Yes, that is the whole point, mum” “Oh, M”, she said,”You’re not doing that! Have you seen what they do?” “Yes, and it is what I want”. That was it, no issue, no rejection, I knew mum would be OK but there is always that ‘fear’ in the back of your mind that tells you that you will be rejected from the family.
I mentioned earlier that mum and I were close, well, since my ‘coming out’ to her and with her seeing me living my life happily, we are even closer than ever. I do look like mum and with the hormone regimen that I am on, I am looking even more like her. One day not so long back, I was walking down my parents front path towards the side porch extension and I thought I saw mum w=looking towards me on my approach but no, as I got closer, i realised it was in fact my own reflection! I just laughed at myself and still do to this day. I have even had commetns by friends and family on how much i am like my mum. All I can say to that is; FANTASTIC!
(( Cwtch ))
“Don’t expect anyone to understand your journey, especially if they’ve never walked your path”
I, like many others in this life, tread a solitary path of acceptance, which begins early in life during our primary school years. Making friends is a natural progression for all of us once we are out of our mother’s arms. I say mother’s, because mine and l assume most father’s; are out working during the day, from before we rise to the time we went to bed as wee nippers. We all have a need to belong; to connect with another soul who we see a similarity within. I never really found that albeit from time to time.
My first friend I made on my own was with a girl opposite called Charlottte. She had blonde and slightly curled hair. We were together pretty much every day playing in her Wendy house, sand pit with spades which had water and little figures inside their handles. I remember being upset when her family sold up and moved away. To where, I do not know, after all, I was pre-school age. I do not know why I remember Charlotte but the memory of her has never left me and I get a wave of happiness filling me. Seems odd that someone whom I spent a blink of an eye with, should mean so much to me compared to someone who I have known since the age of 6 or 7.
Going through school I found hard. For some reason, I was seen as an easy target by the other kids. I started Ysgol Croes Atti in Flint at the age of 4, in 1976. Back then, one half of the pupils were taught through the medium of english and the other half through the medium of Welsh. Being so young at the time, we did not understand and so we would ‘fight the Welshies’, not realising we too are Welsh (Cymry). There used to be a separation net in the yard. Now, the school is a Welsh medium taught school which is just fantastic. A kid by the name of Mark yanked a chunk of hair out of the back of my head and I, in turn, thumped him until he bled. We were hauled in front of the head mistress and given a right talking to. We ended up progressing through the same schools up to the age of 16.
1979/1983 – Ysgol Gwynedd (Flint). My first assembly and my first nose bleed. I remember that day like it was this morning. The newbies were sat crossed legged at the front and Mr Hughes – the Headmaster, was up on the stage with the other teachers, welcoming us newbies on our first day to the Gwynedd Junior School. He was an amazing head teacher and he always knew every pupil’s name and their parent’s! In fact, he sees my mum in town from time to time and knows her by name and asks her how my elder brother is doing and he went there 40 years ago! So there I am, sat crossed legged in the front row looking up and not really paying much attention to Mr Hughes’ assembly address and I have an itchy nose and so I scratch away. Before I know it, my nose is bleeding a flood. Next to me is a kid called Dale; and he brings my nose bleed to the attention of Mr Hughes and tells Dale to take me out to the wash room and we go. From that day, we were close friends. At least that is what I thought. In 1982, school trip down to Black Rock sands not too far from Porthmadog in Gwyned,d and he locked me out of the tent we shared with 2 others on the first night. Great start to a week away. From then on, we were never friends and he acted as if he had done nothing wrong. Mind you, I did catch our supper that week – a rainbow trout. First and only time I have eaten one, can’t remember the taste.
I spent the majority of my years here on my own walking around the E-shaped building, talking to my imaginary friend who eventually I could visualise as if she was real. Many a time I would sit crouched up behind third wing looking out beyond the school fencing and over to the play area and the Gorsedd stones (Flint hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1969 and, as a result, has its own ring of Gorsedd stones). I would just talk away and ask questions to understand why I was on my own, had no friends to play with and Why I felt different? Why the girls wouldn’t I play with me either? No answers came that made sense. I couldn’t tell anyone because it was bad enough being bullied for being the shortest kid, let alone had I told someone that I wanted to be a girl. I could not handle being bullied for that, were it to get out and I knew that it would eventually. No, keep it between myself and Bronwen (who existed for me only). So, that is what I did throughout my school years. She did come back for a fleeting visit a few times in my adult life but, I have not spoken with Bronwen for a number of years now. Maybe one day again….
Ysgol Uwchradd Y Fflint (Flint High School) 1983/1988. I opted to go here because I thought I could my elder brother’s hand me down uniform to save expense for my parents. Turns out, I could have gone to the Welsh medium school in Mold – Ysgol Maes Garmon. But, I have always been aware of cost of living. First day of school, I am dressed in full uniform – black trousers, shoes, white shirt, school tie and red jumper and black blazer with school motif on breast pocket. I open back door to have a look see out and I see a friend’s sister doing the same and dressed exactly the same ba a skirt instead of trousers. I look at her and I am envious because she gets to dress in a skirt and I am stuck with boring old trousers – not fair. I am not a happy bunny walking to school. I had never really thought of the differences of uniform up until then, I do not know why. I guess just a coming of age thing I suppose. However, I do remember when that all changed for me. It was 3rd yearP.E and I noticed for the first time how different boys and girls were. Their were identical twin sisters in my class and on this particular day, one of them was wearing the short shorts which were very typical of the era – brown with a white trim. Looking at one of the sisters,I knew how much I wanted to look the same in the groin area. Trying not to make this seems pervy but it never was. I just felt so envious. Girls I had grown up with were developing in women – what I could not. After this time, I decided to block all thoughts on my longing to be female and be a MAN.
As much as I tried not to, I could not stop myself from cross-dressing. I would make up any old excuse not to go out with the family just so I could dress. When I did, everyday stresses, tensions angst would simply fade away in to nothingness. I was FREE I felt like ME and at ease with myself. I had to gauge the time careful so as not to get caught by any member of my family. On many an ocassion, it was extremely close. In fact, my mum came home early whilst I was still dressed a few times, never before had I ever undressed as fast as I did. Heart racing. I always thought my mum knew I was cross-dressing but she has told me since that she never did. Hard to believe that I got away with it.
When I was in my final year at school, 1988, one of the biology teacher’s was retiring, I forget his name but I can it in my mind. Hate it when that happens. Anyways, Mrs Stephenson asked if any the lads in the form class would dress as school girl to give him a bottle of whiskey, card and that. I was nominated by a lad called Martyn. Mrs Stephenson looked over at me and asked if I would. I gave a resounding NO! Secretly inside I was saying Hell yeah! If I had, would I have had the conviction to transition earlier than I have? Maybe, in an alternate universe, perhaps. A golden opportunity to show a part of me that was really the whole of me.
I had my first proper girlfriend at 15 -18 years old and ‘persuaded’ me to don her bikini one summer’s day. It didn’t take much if any persuading ha ha. We just laid on my bed and held each other. I managed to hold back the cross-dressing in the 3 years we were together. When we broke up, the need to dress broke free to the surface and that was it, any given opportunity and I would. I felt a mixture of emotions all at once but never once was it erotic or a turn on. I did feel dirty most of the time. Why? Because it wasn’t the done thing was it. After all, in the eyes of the law, I was now a man, an 18-year-old man. I would try and knock this ‘need’ out of me by head butting doors, walls, thumping myself in the head and throwing myself as hard as I could down the stairs. I thought if I could cause myself a head injury, then this ‘need’ to be a woman would go – but no.
Looking back now, I should have spoken to my mum at least and explained what I was feeling and how long I had been wanting to be a girl. I always knew that she would understand but, there is always that nagging fear of rejection preventing one from doing so. How different times were back then compared to the present day of the 21st century. Trouble is, regret plays a big part in my life which it shouldn’t. The time wasn’t right for me to transition earlier in my life but what if it was? At least I am who I am now and that is what matters. I am happy within myself and the happiest I have ever been even though I do weep over one thing or another and I do not feel that I have to restrain the tears anymore.
I could have gone on and on here in parts but, I tried to keep it short and not go off on too many tangents. I probably will go back and revisit certain points and elaborate further in the future. Sometimes, I need to do that and I do, in my head. Now that I am transferring what is in my head down on to paper, albeit digitally. I think i will leave it here for now.
(( Cwtch ))
So, Friday, 1st March 2013, the day I had been wait ing months for, finally came. The day of my appointment with Dr Stuart Lorimer at West London Mental Health NHS Trust Gender Identity Clinic (WLMHT GIC) . The night before I struggled to sleep as I had butterflies that were of the anxious-anticipating-excited kind fluttering away there inside me. I actually went to bed with a big smile on my chops. I think I managed all of 3 1/2 hours of proper sleep. Mind you, I also suffer from that – must check my twitter account even though I am absolutely wrecked shattered and need to close my eyes and forget about the cyber world and just sleep for gawds sake sleep woman! So, eventually I did 🙂
6am and the radio alarm bursts in to life and my eyes spring open and I reach over and knock the blessed machine off. I lay there for 20 minutes before I finally raise my knackered body out of bed and in to the bathroom to wash. As what to wear to go down in was pretty simple choice really – jeans and my red and black striped tunic. I’m not a girly girl and it was going to be a cold day too. I went round to my parents as they both were coming with me. My dad looked at me in my winter coat and scarf and asked if I was going to the arctic! Turned out, I was dressed well for that there London town as there was a cold breeze brrrr.
(Picture – Entrance to the GIC)
We caught the 8.15am Virgin train in a carriage that was their old First Class so comfy seats! We get to Crewe to be informed that the train may not go any further or end at Birmingham. Why? Another earlier train had somehow brought down over head cables not so far beyond Rugby. The 3 of us head in to the ticket office to find out what to do – catch the Birmingham train and then try and get bus down, go home and rearrange appointment or get on a train that has been newly laid on because of the incident? We opt for the latter and hoped for the best. An hour-ish in to the continued journey and we are informed that the train WILL make it to Euston, London ….YAY!
We arrived at Euston at 11.30 /11.40am and make our way to the taxi rank as thought it would be quicker than the tube at the time. We get in to a cab with the Union Flag design on it (argh! I despise this flag of colonial oppression) and the driver gets us to the clinic for 12.25pm – good timing as my appointment was for 1.15pm and I had to be there half an hour before hand to fill in some paper work and for them yo update my details if need to see. When I walked in to the reception area, I was the only one there for about 10 minutes before another hopeful soul arrived. Now, I had been here back in 2009 but that was with a friend from Blackpool who had to travel all the way down to London just for her 1-2-1 appointments never mind to get a first and second opinions! Thankfully, I go to Wrecsam for mine to see a lovely chap called Martin Riley (NorthWalesGIDreferralandmanagementpathways).
Whilst I was waiting for Dr Lorimer to call me in, I passed he time quickly reading the 201st edition of ‘Diva’ magaine (Sue Perkins on the cover), and before i know it, Dr Lorimer comes for me and in I go. He introduces himself and explains that he will ask me questions pretty much what Martin Riley and Martin Jones (head of my care and I’ve only had to see him once). The questions commenced -1. When did you first realise you wanted to be a girl? 2.When did you first start to dress in the opposite gender? 3.Are your parents supporting you? 4. Brother and sisters – are they OK with your transition? 5. Work? 6.Friends? 7. Social life? 8. Anyone else in family have gender issues? Where do you see your transition going? The usual questions plus a few others which escape me at the moment. As for my answers: 1. Around 6/7 when watching the Panorama programme From George To Julia’ in 1978. 2. Around age of 8/9 years of age. 3. Parents are across the road in The Southern Belle pub waiting for me. 4. Younger brother is great with me and accepting but my elder brother despises what i am doing and we do not talk. In fact, when my nieces are with him and are coming to visit mum and dad, eldest niece rings mum to say how far away they are, and if I am there, i have to leave so that there is no drama. 5. Work were fantastic even though I had to initially have to use the disables toilet even though I am not disabled, I am a trans-female. 6. Friends have been supportive including their families. 7. I am seeking work, play guitar and bass, socialize with friends. 8. My nieces’ auntie (their mother’s sister) has already undergone GRS.
Questions come to an end and he asks about medications – I tell him what I am on including the GID ones. He seems to think that the estrogen of 2mg is rather low and sends me for bloods at Charing Cross Hospital which is a few minutes walk up the road. Lorimer tells me that he can see no reason why I can not be referred for surgery and he gives me a slip for bloods and an appointment card to give at reception to arrange my next appointment which is Thursday, 18th July at 1.15pm with Dr Penny Lenihen. I can not wait! I leave the clinic and as I exit and step out on to the pavement, I look to my left and my mum and dad are there. They have been in and out of the pub a few times and had a few coffees and a number of walks round waiting for me to come out, not thinking I would be so long. We head up the road to CHX so I can get my train fare reimbursed and then up to the first floor to phlebotomy for my bloods to be taken – a total of 4.
To get back to Euston station, we take the train and is a quick journey to be fair and we go to Nando’s for something to eat as none of us had eaten anything substantial since the morning. We shared a whole lemon and lime chicken and chips. I was not particularly impressed – not a big fan of Nando’s. Mum asks what he said and I tell her. They are like OK – well, not much else they could say to be all honest. 15 minutes later and we’re at Hammersmith station to get to Euston. Due to the earlier incident near Rugby, a tad delay but only marginally and we would be in Flint for 19.50 – later than expected as we would be behind Arriva trains stopping at every station en-route to Holyhead/Caergybi. I nodded off several times on the route home as was just so tired – long day.
19.50 – HOME! Warmer than London but with a chill in the air still. I get in, I change in to my pj’s and do me beans and sausage on toast and a lovely paned (cuppa tea). Sit down to an evening of St David’s day entertainment on BBC One – my hero Michael Barrat aka Shakin’ Stevens is on the Owen Money & Friends show along with the lovely Sophie Evans (Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in London’s West End and Welsh to boot). I’m in bed by 11pm.
A very long and tiring day rewarded by the light at the end of my journey is ebbing ever nearer in to view ….
(( Cwtchis ))