Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bunch of bankers

    "I suggest you talk to your diversity department before you say something you may later regret."
    I was standing in my bank on a hot August lunchtime, a young couple with a very cute but very bored little girl seated in the waiting area to my right and a couple of bank employees in front of me. The obviously rather inexperienced woman on desk duty and a young man with spiky hair and an earpiece, dressed in a shiny suit.
    I'd gone in to process my name change. On paper an easy process, British law being what it is and names having no legal status here. Just tell them what your new name is and that's it!
    Of course, it's not that easy. Aparatchiks like paper, so I'd come armed with my stat dec. "No problem", said inexperienced woman, "I'll get right to it". On to the second screen in the bank name-change system: "Have you got any ID?" I proffered my employer's photo ID with my bloke picture, like a Gold Card in this town. She had the decency to look embarrassed. "I mean, have you got any ID with your new name?"
    I pointed out that since I had just changed my name I was hardly likely to have any such ID, and suggested she look again at the very obvious likeness on the photo ID I'd just shown her. She looked confused, and scuttled off.
    The cute little girl had started playing a game, improbably with a five pound note from her mother's handbag. How the other half live, I thought.
    Inexperienced woman reappeared, with spiky haired man in tow. He peered suspiciously at my stat dec. "Have you changed your name by deed poll?" he asked. I pointed at the stat dec and as politely as I could informed him that a stat dec is functionally equivalent to a deed poll. He looked perplexed and started to say that a deed poll was necessary. At this point I sensed this needed a little focus, and made the suggestion at the start of this piece. At which point I was told to wait while they returned to their lair with an admonition from me that they couldn't take the original stat dec as it had cost me a fiver, a copy would have to do.
    Ten minutes later, inexperienced woman returned. We filled in a form, and I'll have to go back next week to order my cheque book and card. The Action Bank, cajoled into action.
    I don't expect a small branch of a big bank to know everything about gender changes. They probably see us pretty rarely after all. But I did get the sense that they started from a position of "You can't do this!" when they should have been thinking "How can we do this?".
    In a couple of weeks, new regulations will make changing your bank in the UK as easy as changing your cellphone provider or your washing powder brand. Depending on how this lot perform over the next week, I may just take up that offer.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

'er in waiting

    It's something of a limbo, the period immediately before going full-time. A lot of doubt alternating with desperate need to move forward. One minute I'm making a big mistake, ruining everything et cetera, et cetera, the next I'm ready to go. I have seen many others run headlong into this without any such concerns. The pink fog is strong in some people, but such as it was it left me a very long time ago.
    Such doubts are inevitable. Healthy even. But far more stress than I need at the moment.
    Last night I left the scruffy bloke behind and went out with my wife. She's not entirely at ease walking with me as the oversized girl, for which I don't blame her. However as the evening progressed and I attracted no adverse attention I sensed she relaxed. We go out together surprisingly rarely as our different jobs restrict our time together, so fortunately she has plenty of time during which she will not have any such worries.
    I was pleased, looking at myself in the mirror. A very narcissistic thing to say, but also a moment of necessary appraisal. My hair has settled nicely into an unambiguously female cut which frames my face well and helps lose its male shape, and I was dressed as any other 40-something woman might be. In short, I was not someone who would attract attention other than through my height, which I can't do anything about.
    I spent decades thinking I would never be able to look like that.
    At work, another meeting with HR. All the policies, steps and hoops to jump through. Very positive, nothing unexpected or unpleasant. Then the point later in the day when I fill in a stat. dec. form with my new name, and there it is in black and white. All the doubts return, and I don't take it to the solicitor's office.
    In an odd juxtaposition, I've been shopping. On one hand a few female clothing essentials, on the other a box of parts for the Wreck. This weekend I'll be getting my eyebrows done before going to my parents place and tackling a rusted-in stud. I won't be doing anything to my nails until after that's finished, you can be sure of that.
    In a few months time, this'll be ancient history. I'll have settled into the regime of my life as a woman, and I'll know the answer to all my worries about my wife. I'm sure it'll have been easier than I expect, but meanwhile I wish my current angst would go away.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Transition is an exercise in selfishness.

    Today I had a meeting at work. My boss and I took a walk through the labyrinth of offices and staircases to the HR department, and sat down with our department's HR representative. I announced my intention to transition full-time to the female role, and set in motion the necessary steps for that to happen smoothly at work.

    Truth be told, this is the last thing I want to happen.

    You aren't supposed to say something like that just before transition, are you. It's a trope, that you should only transition if you have no alternative, you are supposed to want it more than anything in the world. God knows, I've had that one quoted at me enough times over the past few years. Usually from trans women desperate to assert themselves as more trans than me. They just went for it and I struggled against it, therefore I can't really be trans. Cheers ladies. A friend of mine puts it very well: transition is an exercise in selfishness.

    No, I don't want it. What I really want is for it all to go away. A magic bloke pill. I can do bloke very well. Ain't gonna happen, sadly.

    I'm transitioning because I have run out of alternatives. Having just said I don't want it, of course I want to live as a woman in the desperate way only one stuck in the existence of a bloke can. But I'd have to be crazy to also want its effects. Effects on those around me, effects on me.
    I can't speak for my wife, but I sense she is relieved. The past few years have not been easy for her, and we had settled into a stable but stressful existence from which the only exit could have been our relationship slowly withering on the vine. Living with a bloke with clinical depression can not be easy, she has always said it is my depression she has had the problem with more than my being trans.
    So we'd be still here in a tiny flat in ten years time, neither happy, no children, no future. If I transition our relationship may or may not survive but at least it won't wither and my wife has the potential to be happier through living with someone who is not depressed. Only time will tell if it works for us.

    My friend got it right: Transition is an exercise in selfishness.