I started work in that office years before I came out, and grew to like and respect J, who had worked there several years before me. She was perhaps a bit depressive, committed to the clients, without illusion about their virtue or capability or what she could do for them, keen to do something useful. “Action”, she would say, kicking herself up the butt, pushing herself on. We worked together well, sharing a dry sense of humour. She would hear me if I needed to emote about a client or situation.
Then in the pub after work, A was telling of his friend. Her ex-husband was a transvestite, and they split up not because she could not stand him cross-dressing but because he could not stand her laughing at him. It was the two glasses of mead talking: I said, “I do that”.
Silence, then they tried to persuade me that I was just fooling, and then eventually B said, “You know, I think he’s telling the truth”. As if I was not there.
It got round the office. The manager, who was keen on Diversity, said that now I had come out it would be a shame if I went back in again, and next time we went out for a meal I went dressed female. I got called “sir” by the waiter, but my colleagues were fine- even J. Then she told me, quite matter of factly, that she found me dressing female revolting. She did not want to be rude, but it was just too much. When I went full time female at work, we stopped talking to each other except when absolutely necessary.
I got friendly with Colin, also known as Fiona, at Northern Concord dos. There we were in our ballgowns, having decorous fun. He invited me on to his boat on the Norfolk Broads: his wife would not go with him when he cross-dressed. We would go round pubs in Norwich, and drive the boat around, and eat in country pubs. It was great fun.
Colin went away for long weekends as Fiona, and once decided to spend a whole week. He went around various friends, staying with me last. He had had acrylic nails applied. By the end of the week, he was heartily sick of it, and relieved to dress male again. What was exciting for a weekend had palled completely.
He was unenthusiastic when I told him I would transition. He thought I was a transvestite who had lost all sense of proportion. He told me of an accountant he had known, who transitioned and went to a hairdressing college course, who reverted after nine months. He told me I would have no friends, in a long, depressing dinner on Canal St. So I made a fantasy, and told him I would find an international solo musician, and tour with him as his muse. This never happened, but shortly after another friend took me to meet a pianist in the soloist’s dressing room at the Bridgewater Hall: which I found reassuring. Not everyone would reject me.
Just after I went full time, Colin agreed to take me to the theatre in Manchester. He would dress male for the evening. He brought a suit to wear: but only a pair of old trainers, as he had driven over in jeans. When he realised he did not have appropriate shoes, he insisted on going in drag. I parked a short way from the theatre and strode off in my sensible flats, angry, not wanting to be seen with him, and he tottered behind, protesting. I put him up that night, and then never saw him again.