Well don’t I feel silly. For some reason I was certain that today marked 1 year since I first started this blog, and wrote my first blog post; it turns out that date was three days ago on the 25th June.
Putting that slight faux-pas to one side, I think it’s always nice when a year goes by to look back over the year and see what’s happened, and then perhaps to look forward and ask what might be, and – as I’ve said before – this year has truly been a hectic year with far more happening than I could possibly have imagined when I started this blog a year ago.
I could talk about going to Sparkle, or going to Reading Pride and joining the Reading Pride committee – first as their trans* community liason, then later becoming their web developer – I could talk about meeting with the Thames Valley T-Girls at the monthly meet-ups, or going to the monthly Totton disco. I could talk about speaking to my doctor and seeking a referral to a GIC. But I’ve already talked about those things and, as important as they are, they are simply events that surround and detail a bigger issue: confidence.
The Man In The Pink Shirt
On the 8th June I went up to Oxford to take part in the Oxford Pride march and to enjoy the festival. It was a lovely day but there was one event in particular that I remember most clearly: the Man In The Pink Shirt on the train. I remember The Man In the Pink Shirt quite clearly because while I was waiting for the train to Oxford to arrive, The Man In The Pink Shirt was quite openly staring at me in a kind of “am I seeing what I think I’m seeing” kind of way – not obviously hostile, just bemused. When I got on the train, I ended up in the same carriage as The Man In The Pink Shirt and he ended up staring at me in disbelief when we got off the train.
On Wednesday this week Fran, myself and our friend Susan went out together to a posh-frock dinner and dance in Lyndhurst. I was wearing a lovely red satin Jasper Conran dress and silver heels. It was a lovely sunny day so the neighbour’s kids were playing outside when we left the house. Our next door neighbour’s little girl looked up at me and smiled sweetly and said, “Hello”. I smiled back and said, “Hello”.
Yesterday the postman knocked on the door to deliver some bags we’d been waiting for for nearly three months. As I often do when I’m loafing around the house, I was wearing a summery blouse and skirt but no makeup and no wig. I bounded down the stairs, opened the door to see the postie disappearing round the corner to our next door neighbour’s house. I hollered after the postie. He came back and gave me my parcel. I signed for it.
None of these three events should be remarkable. Travelling by train should not induce a feeling of dread. Fear of a little girl saying “Hello” should not leave someone feeling trapped in their own home. A postman knocking on the door to deliver a parcel should not induce panic. The simple fact, however, is that when I started this blog a year ago I would not have been able to deal with any of those situations.
I was terrified of the children playing outside our house – would they laugh at me, or worse? If I was wearing a skirt and the postman knocked, I wouldn’t answer the door. And there was absolutely no way I would go on a train in case people stared at me. Now I wear nail varnish all the time – indeed, if I may be so modest, I’ve got a bit of a reputation for nails – and if people ask me why I wear nail varnish, I tell them. I’ll happily answer the door to the postman and if he has a problem with my appearance that’s his problem: he’s being paid to deliver a package, not offer fashion advice. If someone wants to stare at me on a train then – so long as they’re just staring – if they’ve got nothing better to look at, then let them.
This isn’t to say that I am confident going out at all times, but it does show how much has changed in the course of a year. As I go out more, I’m sure my confidence will increase. There will, of course, always be a certain degree of caution – that is only sensible – but there is a big difference between sensible caution and blind fear.
So much has happened over the last year since starting this blog, but for me the growth in my own personal confidence has been the thing that I have noticed most. Looking forward, wondering where I’ll be this time next year, seems rather futile as I simply don’t know and can’t guess. Much may well hinge upon when I get my GIC appointment, or it may not after all waits of up to two years are not uncommon. But if I had to guess, I’d guess it’s going to be one hell of a year