Follow Aoife’s Transition Diary from the start here.
You wake up minutes before the alarm goes off. You’ve had a restless night, tossing and turning. Your anxiety about today had, as it always does, spilled over to your sleep. You get up and begin your daily ablutions: shower, shave, makeup, get dressed. This is your life now. You miss the days where you could shower, throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and be considered presentable to the world. Those days are gone.
It takes two hours to get to the hospital, a combination of bad weather, rush-hour traffic and the joy that is the M50. Inside, you ask the receptionist to change your name to Aoife Martin. You tell her you have a Deed Poll. It’s now official. She does this willingly. You’re not the first person to ask her.
After a few minutes of waiting you’re called in to be weighed and tested. They weigh you sitting in a chair and then take your blood pressure. This makes you anxious. You’re very self-conscious about your weight, even though they never call it out. Your blood pressure is high. It could be white coat syndrome. Still high. They try a third time. It’s higher still. Fuck. That’s the last thing you need. You’re sent back out to the waiting area.
The waiting area is a corridor consisting of two lines of chairs along opposite walls. Some of the chairs are occupied. You sit down and wait to be called. You don’t know anyone. Most of the people are trans like you. There’s a couple of trans women but the rest seem to be trans men of various ages. Some of the younger ones have family members or friends with them. Everyone’s sitting around staring at their phones waiting to be called. No-one speaks.
You all know why you’re here. It’s obvious and yet so very very personal. You all have similar stories. You try to read but you keep re-reading the same paragraph over and over again. Nothing is sinking in. You can’t concentrate. Eventually, after waiting for an hour and a half you’re called in.
Your BP is “sky high” but when you did 24 hour monitoring a couple of months earlier it was fine. “You’ve put on weight since your last visit. Any reason why that is?” You shrug non-committedly, trying not to remember all the bad food choices you’ve made since your last visit. You feel like a child having to explain yourself. He asks you if you’re contemplating surgery. You tell him the truth. You’re contemplating it but you’re in no rush. You’re still processing it in your brain.
Eventually you hear what you’ve been waiting to hear. They’re going to start you on oestrogen. Over two years after you started this process you’ve finally reached this step. This is your Rocky on the steps moment. Yet you feel more deflation then elation. Maybe you’re tired. Reaching this point has been hard and exhausting work.
You stop off on the way home to meet a close friend for coffee. She asks how you are feeling. You tell her you don’t know. It probably hasn’t sunk in yet. You feel tired.
The following day you get up before the alarm goes off. Shower, shave, makeup. You have to go to Dublin again – this time to pick up your Deed Poll documents. This is what you need to change your name on your birth cert, your bank account, your passport, driving license etc. You imagine all those future phone calls, explaining to anonymous people at the other end of a phone line that you are transgender. You imagine the pause as they try to work out what you’ve just said, the surprise in their voices. Yes, I’m transgender. Get over it.
You hate using the phone because you are constantly misgendered. It fills you with dread. While your voice is perfectly fine day to day and face to face, because people can’t see you on the phone they assume that you’re male.
In Dublin you go to the Central Office in the High Court. The nice man who took your documents first time around is there. He hands you your Deed Poll and smiles. You thank him and head home. You call into the pharmacy to pick up your oestrogen prescription. At home you open the little box and read the instructions. There’s a list of possible side effects as long as your arm. You glance at them but you know that nothing can change your mind. This is it. The one you’ve been waiting for. The millstone has become a milestone.
Oestrogen will make you put on weight – anything from 1-3 stone apparently. No one ever said it was easy being a woman, right? This means you have to start losing weight as the last thing you need is to put on extra weight. Oh joy.
The patch is small, tiny in fact, about the size of your thumbnail. Following the instructions you put it on your stomach. You will need to change the patch twice a week. This is your life now.
There is no butterfly moment. You weren’t expecting one. Changes will be gradual and will take place over the course of 1-2 years. You try to imagine what you will look like in 2 years’ time. You can’t. You also can’t afford to look too far ahead. This is a long game and you’ve been patient so far. One step at a time. You need to focus on your health. You have a follow up appointment in 6 months’ time. All going well they will increase your oestrogen dose.
This is your life now.
Feature Image via author.