I wasn’t feeling too well this week and after putting up with it for a day I decided to pop to the doctors before work. Getting to the surgery before opening time I was once again not the first but one in a line of three. Today I would be asking for an emergency appointment. If there is pain then I think that’s good enough to ask for one. “There is an appointment at ten past nine.” she said.
“That’ll do, thanks.”
“Would you like to wait?”
It was still forty minutes to go but I didn’t want to go back home again and then rush back just to avoid sitting in the waiting room listening to Radio Two over the surgery speakers.
Forty minutes turned into fifty. An elderly man sat next to me and like the others in the waiting room we mostly faced forwards glancing up at the red lettered scrolly board beaming out messages about ensuring we ‘only talk about ONE issue per appointment’. That’s right, capital letters just incase we didn’t understand. On the odd occasion looking around the room at the room numbers in preparation should I get called or glancing at the next person that came into the waiting room making them feel just as uncomfortable as I did when I came in.
Every now and then the elderly man would turn to me and say something about the wait, “They went straight in. Didn’t even get to sit down.” he said as a couple came in and cloth barely touched the surface of those waiting-room-plastic-chairs before, ‘Beeeep’ and scrolly board called ‘Natalie Thomas – Room 5’. A little later a few more Doctors slipped practically on tiptoes through the waiting room to their offices. “Here they come.” said the elderly man, “Late as usual.” The rather busy waiting room eventually drained people away as the doctors got up to speed; all but me and my new friend.
“Looks like we’re going to be last.”, he said.
“Better late than never.” I chuckled.
“I hope you brought sandwiches.” he said.
After my appointment and unsurprisingly being prescribed some wide spectrum antibiotics I rushed down to the pharmacy. I like our pharmacy. I say pharmacy but it would be better to say Chemist. It’s the sort of place that is victorian in countenance. Thickly painted black window frames with large windows into an old fashioned chemist shopfront with apothecary jars on high shelves above the privacy counter and old cameras with concertina mechanisms over the shelves of the non prescription boxes of Asprin, Paracetamol, Canesten and all those other things we’ll all probably have the pleasure in using at some point in our lives.
Despite the usual very friendly service at the Chemist I couldn’t really hang around too long. Within five minutes my prescription was prepared and one of the staff was back, “Mr –”, lets for anonymity’s sake say my name is Darren Smith, “Mr Smith?”. She held out my little paper bag with the green cross branding and the box of magic tricks that would hopefully make me feel better. Soon I would be slicing my way back down motorway so not to disappoint my employers with lack of something productive which they are so keen on.
I sat at my desk and chucked my scarf over the back of my chair, powered up the computer and dropped the pharmacy bag on the desk. From inside I pulled a small box, pulled out the instruction flyer and did the usual scare routine of reading the side-effects section. After sorting out a dose I was about to put it away when I happen to scan the label with the prescription details and at the bottom my name; “Mrs Darren Smith”. May be things are progressing faster than I thought or that’s one hell of a prescription.
Over the months I have thought about my favourite little chemist where the staff are nice and chatty and seem to know everyone. What happens if I’m prescribed hormones before going full time? It’s rare but it does happen. I go to the chemist, they take my next prescription sheet and see an addition. I’m not worried about the addition itself, it’s progress after all but the social interaction with these lovely people who have known me for a while and know me by the name on the label. It’s pretty obvious this isn’t about the prescription or even the unlikely event of pre-full time medication but actually about the first transition from me to me-plus.
I was in a text conversation with James this week. If you remember – James, is my best friend from uni ‘who knows’ and is a bit of a cross dresser with the ‘if things were different..’ proviso but marriage has given him a stable middle ground and so it’s clothes during the quiet times for him.
A text message arrived in my phone, “I’ve found some boots for twenty pounds.” he said, “I might go and get today, right size too!” James has been talking about these boots he wanted to get for a few months but there are always things getting in the way like cost or available sizes or even storage. When the only time he’s gets to wear his pretty-things are during the times when he has the house to himself then cost is everything. It gets incredibly difficult to justify high prices when even the soles of shoes will remain unmarked for their life or clothes spend twenty-six-thirty in a box in the loft.
I was quite excited for James because I remember how these things felt when the female side was locked away for most of the month. The next day while sat at my desk in work the phone buzzed. A text message. I picked up the mobile.
“Got them! Tested in the car, fine! Now I just need to get them home!”, the quantity of the exclamation marks said it all.
“Excellent, I’m actually a excited for you.” I text back, “Which shop? How long, knee?”
“Yes, good ol Primark.” came the reply. “Black knee. Bargain for twenty pounds.”
It got me thinking about my old leather knee high boots that I used to love wearing on a night out in Bristol. They were so comfortable and stylish and around that time when Bridget Jones had them on the cover of the sound track it was the perfect time to be wearing them on a night in Old Market. I sold them many years ago to a very happy buyer on ebay. The problem was they had a three and a half inch heel sending me towards six foot but that aside I think this was around the time I probably started to feel the reality of where I was heading with my future. About getting things real. Sure I should be able to have a night out on the town just as anyone would in any clothes I wanted but at the time calming things down was the way I was heading.
It’s a strange feeling looking back at the way things were. Exciting at times but a quiet background feeling of being trapped subtly growing without warning. I know where I am now though and while I wouldn’t give up the past of those nights out I wouldn’t return from where I am this minute, somewhere between. Even with James, I’ve been calling him ‘him’ here. Really it’s just down to pairing with his male name because saying her and James in the same line just seems to grate. The last name I remember James mentioning many years ago was Kelly and so I’ll use this so I can at least say I hope she is happy.
I needed to clear my head a bit. Being stuck in most of Saturday just cleaning the house while the television was on and after a long tiring and stressful week at work, lots of dull but important issues flying around I needed to get away even if just for an hour; a bit of me time, something for Hannah. I stood in the window of the patio doors hugging my cappuccino with the aroma of bleach and cleaning liquids floating around from the kitchen.
The sky was watery with a winter sun delicately infusing it’s way through the light pale clouds. I took another sip of my coffee and opened the laptop and typed in ‘sunset times’. Only just over an hour to go. I quickly changed into my three quarter trousers, a vest top and a warm hugging hoody, grabbed my camera and headed to the beach in a moment spontaneity.
The beach in the winter is an amazing place. Devoid of tourists a few sporadic people with surf boards or walking the dog. A long beach where people are as few and far between as a rock in the desert. The tide was low and the sand still wet where the sea water drained from the rock pools to the waves. I took a long walk to the waters edge along the beach. It was a bit cold but it was barely noticeable above the feelings of freedom and even more importantly the lesser caring about what other people might think should they notice more about me than they may about any other woman at the beach just breathing in that salty air.
These are the moment I realise who I am. It’s beyond cross-dressing. There is nothing ‘cross’ about it. They’re just my clothes that I like to wear. Practical for a winters days at the waters edge. It’s a feeling from the core. The feeling of well, I am just who I am and that’s it. It may seem like such a small insignificant hour or so of a day of some random person but to me it’s confirming about what I feel and these are where the answers come. When someone visits a psychologist I think most of us know, by now, that they don’t provide the answers. Sure, they can tell us a diagnosis of gender dysphoria but, like I’ve said in the past, it’s just a state of being unsure. With the breeze coming across the sea around my arms and tussling my hair I just feel the answer has again arrived. No longer something to be afraid of. No longer needing to be under pressure for an answer but accepting that the answer is the one that I have been telling myself since the age of three.
Damp feet around the bottom of my pale grey and pink topped socks and my soaked through trainers. My three quarter length jogging bottoms making me feel comfortable and healthy. My vest top with it’s pretty shoulder straps and the sun setting over the flat horizon of the sea. Just a few years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would have been here. For me progress isn’t particularly an appointment at a Gender Clinic, progress is right here. On the sand. Serenity. Contentment.
The camera shutter clicked.
Until next time.