This is part two of my last decade’s reflections on self and society, mainly the former, but ‘who I am’ resides in a gender constructed society too, and that has been my journey working out how to be me, whoever that is, in a world that gives me just two boxes, neither of which fit. I’ve written nearly half-a-million words in my diary the last ten years, it’s been a rough but rewarding ride and I’m re-reading them all, selecting what stands out, to see how I feel now. Part One can be read here. This was meant to be the next five years but instead, it’s just 2015, the year of shock Tory election win, the year before Brexit, the year before my op. Terrorism, gender dysphoria, mental health, PIP, CBT, squirrels, dreams, death (not my own), language, poetry, orchids and Doctor Who.
Diary entries – 2015
New Year is marred by the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices massacre. Whatever one’s beliefs about their satirical output, freedom of speech is vital. #JeSuisCharlie rises in response and millions gather in Paris and across France in mourning and protest. Even in Norwich, French nationals and locals numbering some 200 gathered at a vigil.
Had a fabulous time, apart from the early start, scriptwriting from scratch under pressure and filming with BBC Voices in the TARDIS and green screen, playing Doctor Who, with Esther as my assistant, encountering a future version of Earth without stigma or discrimination for Time to Change. I took Jelly babies on set as a homage to Tom Baker. My regeneration was more of a transformation!
At One Billion Rising event, chatted to a friend who said “I don’t think I have ever covered so many topics of conversation in the space of about 10 mins in my life before” – try being inside my head!
Great fun being an atypical speaker at a school sixth form during LGBT History Month and doing an alphabet soup sex and gender ed talk. Perhaps my own current label bio might read along these lines: Greysexual, Pomomental, Metasexual, Sapiosexual, Emosexual (I get aroused when people cry!), Agnostigender, Polysensual, Gynephile, Androappreciative, Biflirty! I love how young MOGAI folk are moving beyond LGBT to hundreds of ever-evolving identity reflections.
Our regular Gender and Sexuality (GAS) group met to discuss Feminist no-platforming, SWERFS, TERFS & biological sex essentialism – a topic that was only going to get more toxic in coming months. So-called ‘TERF’ wars kicking off online – a turf war between sex and gender and their intersection.
We launched non-binary east anglia online as a support and information group. Did not anticipate its growth and how many younger trans people are more inclined to non-binary identities and semi-transitions. I’m certainly drawn to the human (h)interland.
Sleep all over the place and having bonkers dreams that I can’t decipher the origins of. For instance, this one, an odd dream, seemingly in Colchester in a conference centre needing to find a loo, there was a queue and then a girl in front says come in with me and it’s a double loo with heated seats so we co-share. Ending up, in the dream, going back in to get a coat I’d left there, after it was shut, and girl accompanies me, opens up, cries, I get aroused, console, then out of nowhere her kid appears and they both notice my arousal which I apologetically say that never happens on HRT (except when girls cry – now what’s the Greek for tears?) next her estranged boyfriend/child’s father shows up to get kid. I explain to her my current asexuality and sort of fudge description of my existing relationship. Meantime I start tidying stuff, that wasn’t there – tools, clothes, boxes and emerge from loo with not just my left behind coat but boxes of tidied stuff. Come out to my partner in the car park and try to explain I only went in for my coat and why it’s several hours later and I’ve loads more stuff with me! I tell Esther the dream and she says I should have gone for it with her, I said not with the kid and the father in the toilet too! My mind would have a field day with Freud and Jung.
Next day, on the loo, I come up with a dystopian novel plot set in futuristic post-austerity Greece with an opening chapter set at a modern bisexual Socratic dinner party akin to Plato’s Symposium and the ascending ladder of sex, love and beauty. I’ve always been drawn to the aesthetic and sapiosexual side of love rather than the act of sex which I’ve mostly found painful and an anticlimax even with the best partners, contexts and deepest longing and loving. I’m increasingly comfortable with being asexual and suspect it will continue post-op, if I go through with it.
Spend the week draining most of emo-psych energy worrying about forthcoming car MOT and how I’ll afford it, expending huge effort not to spend, to save enough for any car bills. In the end, my reliable 8yo Zafira passes with no costs – the two broken tail-lights held together with sellotape passed. The whole process and worry exhausted me, so I spent the afternoon and early evening sleeping to recover! People without mood disorders don’t realise the energy required sometimes just to hold it together – like my sellotaped lights, exercise self-restraint and save for bills like this. And by people I mean my psychiatrist!
Next, it was my turn for an MOT, with my lovely GP surgery which feels more like an audience for my bipolar comedy routines. Apparently, I do entertain them, brighten up their day, especially after other patients show up late, or complain a lot. So lovely phlebo-nurse says I’ve shrunk, put on weight, and my bad cholesterol has been very naughty, but my daily drinking habits are fine – something with which my psychiatrist would strongly disagree, and did! 20 units of rioja and 10 of whisky on bad sleep weeks. So I am now 12 stone 1, but 11 stone 11 with my boots off, less once I’d stripped more layers off, anyway we compromised and agreed to put 11 stone 7 in the notes, after all, breasts must weigh something!
Getting busy on the talks front speaking at UEA for Amnesty on human rights and torture and at Aviva on gender and mental health this week. Who would have thought that this scared of public speaking kid would ever be talking or teaching in front of others.
Bipolar moods mean that when I’m up I’m on top of the world and also in a world of my own where little affects me. When I’m down, I’m like a flat balloon where every comment punctures and deflates me further, I feel everything, with the world that I’m usually on top of, instead, weighing me down, sitting on my shoulders, like a weary muscle-worn Atlas.
Had tea with my ex-vicar of 5 years ago, and we discussed how I felt about trans op possibility (he was also a psych nurse). He ended up saying I should write a book.
Financial stress, internal politics at a work project making me feel like no longer being involved – wrote an angry email but did not send. I’m anxious about my op too and appropriately taking cats in for neutering, stressful in itself. Not feeling like waking up tomorrow. Outside vicious 50mph winds ripped the felt off the shed roof.
Did 4 hours DIY and clearing today. It has taken me 5 years to get round to rebuilding some shelves, only this time with estrogen I swear they took twice as long, I screwed in all the wrong places, assembled them upside down, and ended up one leg short!
To op or not to op? Part of me wants to just get it out the way, I’m 48 and still have persistent dysphoria, so not a passing fad, Over 40 years of feeling this way, nearly 10 years of living as Katy but avoiding the more drastic physical options. I’m quite happy some of the time as genderqueer non-binary and am quite realistic that an operation won’t make me fully female, yet society makes being in between even harder than being traditionally binary transgender, so it feels like having to opt for one or the other and meantime juggling the endocrinology-bipolar-energy issues.
It’s 70 years today since the liberation of Bergen Belsen, another example of man’s inhumanity to man and what happens when you scapegoat an entire – or rather several – people groups, dehumanise, persecute, incarcerate and attempt to wipe them out. It is 33 years since I visited Belsen as a 15-year-old, the same age as Anne Frank who died there just months before its liberation. It left indelible memories on me and a life-long belief in human rights for all people.
Reflecting that it’s 1095 days since my last suicide attempt, feels like Suicides Anonymous Recognising that one is only a dashed moment away from mental health relapse gives my wellbeing a dose of respect and regular reality check.
In May, Esther finds a new place to live and moves out. Initially, a shock and many including my mum think that we’ve broken up. Instead, it actually feels fine and liberating to have my space back and to still be in a relationship yet each of us able to express ourselves and our environment the way we like.
Election day and apparently, you can vote in your pyjamas, whilst drunk, or high – mental incapacity of any kind does not lose you your right to vote, being in prison does.
As usual, I stay up all night to follow the results.
Tory majority of 10. How? All three other male leaders resign. Women leaders of minority parties all stay – after all they improved their vote share. LibDems lost 15% and Scottish Labour was reduced to a single seat, losing 40 of its 41 seats to the SNP, Labour gained in London but not enough to balance losses elsewhere. I suspect we will have a Tory government for some time to come and the LibDems will be tarnished by being in coalition, also for years to come.
Charing Cross GIC appointment and endocrine with Dr Leighton Seal, breast exam, genital exam including rather oddly a testicle sizing with a cross between what looked like prayer beads or anal beads, like a ring sizer! Was told breasts were well above average development and C going on D. Not sure what letter size my soon to be ex-balls were!
Cooked a rather extravagant and fabulous 5-course Italian “Mum Dine With Me” meal for my mum’s 80th birthday. An age that I doubt I’ll ever make or want to.
Collected and kicked out over a hundred slugs during late-night slug and snail patrol around the raised veg beds. Aided and abetted by cats clambering on my back as I bent down to scoop up the slimy invaders and other kittens trying to knock over my collecting jar!
Got involved in mediating a mental health intervention and advocating for a friend in trouble at local Uni. Exhausting but a revelation to support and witness another bipolar/BPD sufferer and realise how I sometimes come across to people, ie space invading, intense, hyper, racing, loud, forceful. It’s tough being me or around me sometimes and I appreciate those that understand me.
Dreamt I woke up in bed with a topless Barack Obama! Now, what’s that about?
Get interviewed in NHS magazine about my transition.
Begin regular Wellbeing support meetings with excellent mental health staff helping to ground me. Also, start CBT sessions – shame you only get 6.
Go to the dentist for the first time in fifteen years – terrifying and lucky I didn’t leave it any longer as gums were beginning to get seriously damaged. Hadn’t been able to afford it but now I’m on part benefits I can get free NHS dentist. Fortunately, the dentist is female, friendly and foreign, my favourite trio.
Life is and has been hard for 10 years and despite the downs and dark days, I am simultaneously at my happiest…But need to end this chapter of indecision and move forward…Because I’m stuck. In no man’s land … literally… Neither one thing or the other…Can’t swim or beach as still a half-and-half entity that doesn’t feel a whole…My bits don’t function have always been anorgasmic and get aroused by touch, empathy, intelligence during dinner and not in bed, lol…So just want rid really of something that’s non-functional. Surgery probably won’t correct the feelings in my head but it will stop the debate in my head and end a chapter that I really want to be closed so that I can live my 50s rather than be on constant pause as my 40s have been.
I’ve taken up drawing again and find guitar, music, reading, gardening, cooking, photography and writing settle and calm my mood better than any pills I’ve ever been prescribed.
Hosted a party at mine but then crashed mentally, a friend took over the food, Esther introvertly hid, and my only calm point was playing the guitar on weed.
Did a Human Library for dozens of 15yo pupils at a school in Acle and it topped the day. Their questions, and reflections on us as books and how honest and open we were without taking offence, was, well, how ‘light touch’ rather than ‘over-examined’ education should be.
Few people go out to dinner and end up discussing Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Nabatean, Linear B, Dutch, Italian, Cuneiform and Hieroglyph! But thanks to Esther, Alison, Ng and his family – we did.
Pride again and thousands attend. Also, did a trans diversity and growth talk with Christian opposition in attendance and a politics panel, sharing the stage with Lady Phyll and Clive Lewis MP.
My series of CBT sessions is ending and I’m trying to work out how I will self-manage going forward. Write myself a SANITY acrostic:
S – Self-acceptance/self-love
A – Authenticity, being yourself
N – Natural/your ‘normal’ state/neurodiverse/nurturing self
I – Integrated & intact/holistic wholeness
T – Treasuring your voyage, travelling YOUR journey
Y – You-nique, enjoy being one-of-a-kind, not one-of-a-crowd
I can be MAD, BAD and SAD (a trio of affective disorders) but I can also be glad but rarely trad and who I am is no fad!
My neighbour and friend, CJ, and partner of Linda Bellos dies of cancer after years of pain and survival. For all Linda’s criticism of gender and our fiery but friendly discussions, they have both respected and supported me through my transition and I will miss CJ’s kindness, humour and big Irish heart immensely.
I’m in a good place right now but I’m continually reflective on the times when I’m not. I’m also acutely aware of how I can be overwhelming, or lack a filter, and how hard that is to self-control. Yet the same energy also makes me hyper-productive and creative, it just comes with a side effect of inappropriate! I’m not dissing the meds I could be on, I just found they numbed me, and I was more at risk on them than off them. I’ve battled 3 years off them and have been the better for it. But getting human health support has been a struggle all the psychs want to give out is pills for my ills, not talk for my walk!
Meanwhile, my self-comforting OCDs get crazier. I now order my books by colour and size and have recently taken to only reading books that match my outfit or room colour!
Get community mental health help filling in a PIP application, an exhausting process I couldn’t do on my own.
I know I’m ever so slightly nuts but I think I am a metahuman hybrid – crossed with a red squirrel, yes red not grey – I am an endangered scarce breed, indeed I am unique – the human squirrel. I have just beaten Bonnie and Clyde, the resident garden grey squirrels, to the walnut tree harvest this year, they started on it yesterday. Today, I crawled along branches, climbed ladders, and harvested 480 walnuts (I counted them) – and there’s still the same number left in the tree. Over the next week, I collected another 1900 more, also hand-counted. Found that I can make walnut ink from the husks, garden paths from the broken shells, and could actually eat the walnuts, if only I liked them!
National Poetry Day and I attempt only my second poem in 30 years, it is pretentious and certainly doesn’t scan, called ‘First Light’ I enjoyed the creative distraction and process of writing, even if not the resulting form:
Night’s obsidian obscurity
draped in its sable cloak
As a necromancer’s nefarious
theft of yesterday’s sun
The dark Cimmerian conspiracy
Inconsistently lunar lit
Stolen illustrious illumination
Swift to flight, slow to return
Just as Stygian stealth enveloped
Sun’s setting the night before
Swirling caliginous clouds obfuscate
And bury its subdued disc
Sleep inconveniently intervenes
Sending all to slumber
Except the stars that puncture
Night’s indistinct ink
Yet dawn’s crepuscular creep
First blush of orange and pink
Painting pastel perimeters
Drawing forth pre-dawn
Light leaks, dispels darkness
Night’s mourning veil withdraws
Dawn declares its intent
A new canvas is prepared
Twilight tweets its birth
Nature’s nests peep forth
Panes of windows warm
Rivulets of moisture drip
Aurora invokes sleepy sunrise
Calls to creation’s creatures
Awake, shake off the night
Day’s divine design awaits
Speak at and attend a demo with local Muslims and Quakers among others including a veteran Labour MP opposing the bombing of Syria.
Wow, NHS Charing Cross GIC rang me offering a transfer to Mr Bellringer at Parkside for private surgery. The surgery would be in a couple of months, not a couple of years. The offer is being made to only longest-standing/waiting patients. Shocked, pleased, petrified now. What do I say/do? I asked what the difference would be, apart from the timescale, they said better food! That’s enough for me.
SHIT Trans Op date is 6 Feb 2016!!!!
Crumbs, cripes, Holy crap Batman, Parkside ring up with my health roadmap for the next few weeks and months mapped out and all on dates I can make – no excuses! No turning back.
Psych appointment with a quiet unassuming Doctor who, after 75 mins, had me down as bipolar II with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – so now I’m MAD, BAD, SAD, and GAD!
Pre-op GIC appointment with Mr Bellringer and the wonderful nurse Iffy, they totally relaxed me with their own humour and hugs. Esther offered herself as a model upon which to make my post-penectomy and orchidectomy labia, Mr Bellringer said with wicked seriousness and humour “I have to work with the available material”. Thanks mate!
Always found it odd that the most beautiful of flowers – the orchid with four times as many varieties as mammals on the earth, is so called because of its ugly testicular root tuber! Greek ὄρχις orchis means “testicle”. Happy to go ahead with a conversion from testicles to flower though! I’m always rescuing forlorn garden centre orchids and nursing them back to beauty on my bedroom windowsill.
Now onto the 6 weeks of pre-op HRT withdrawal.
Diary entries – 2009-14, 2016-19
Part I is here. Obviously, a part III is needed as 2015 was full-on and 2016 was significant. I write some 25,000-75,000 words a year in my diary and this was a thin year word-count wise but I hope the selections above offer an insight into the madness, melancholia, mayhem and musings that are me.