I decided to transition in November 2000. I went to my GP and got a referral to the psychiatrist, and started arranging things like speech therapy and electrolysis. I decided to take nearly two years to sort out transition at work, but my plan was clear. I would dress female not only in accepting spaces like Manchester’s Gay Village, but in ordinary spaces, like the street or supermarket. I put the plan into practice. After a year full time, I started work on arranging the operation.
My friend is moving forward now. She has been working on her voice, and got it to a pleasant pitch above the break. A mixture of laser, electrolysis and epilation has greatly reduced facial and body hair. She goes out neatly tucked and does not particularly like the protruberance, but tolerates it. She is putting into place the career changes she feels she needs to transition. She brings aspects of her feminine presentation into her manly work environment- from baritone her normal speaking voice has moved up to tenor, her body language is different, and she notices that the way people respond to her changes. She likes those changes.
She feels that seeing the GP is the moment crossing the threshold, the moment of commitment. It was for me, but she is feminising before committing to transition, and I never did: almost to the end, I kept my male presentation in my manly pretence, out of fear. I have been wondering if hers was the way to find something better than transition, to ease into a more comfortable, feminine existence without all the faff of clothes, wigs, makeup. We arranged to meet, and I was going to tell her not to transition.
It seemed to me transition is a cul-de-sac. It is so tempting because you know what you have to do, and you feel you are moving forward until you hit the wall- for me an operation with results I did not like was the wall. Dressing works like addiction, I said. At first it is really nice, but eventually you have to do it to make life tolerable.
There is social pressure. I would say “Hello” to my neighbour, no long conversations, but after he noticed me going out for the evening dressed female he started blanking me. I asked his wife, pretending innocence, and she lowered her voice and said “I think it’s because of the way you dress“. But, when I transitioned, he would say hello, again, and he came round to say goodbye when they moved. Transition is grudgingly accepted in a way effeminacy is not.
What about relationship? Women “wearing the trousers”, virago + beta-male, can be made to work. It worked really well for my parents, though that screwed me. It is very tricky for the male, perhaps similarly tricky for the woman in a male-controlled relationship: great if the partner self-asserts to benefit the couple as a team, not so much if s/he simply gets her own way.
I realised that I could not tell her not to, that she was aware and still moving forward. Why would I want to, anyway, it is her life, warning her off might not be right for her and would not mitigate my own loss. Possibly, there would always be one brick wall or another to hit; possibly this is the best it can get. Possibly any path ahead, either it is signposted, and does not satisfy; or overgrown, and hard to find.