In my previous post, “To my very special friends, I love you“, I wrote about my amazing friends and why I love them. The post told of me confiding in student pals when I was still figuring out what was going on with my gender over two decades ago – and telling more and more friends over the past year or so – even a couple of blokes!
I wanted to write that post to thank my friends – I sent them a link to the blog – and to underline the fact that trans people shouldn’t have to carry this amazing aspect of them around alone.
Part of me wanted to write it after I met someone a few weeks ago, someone who confided in me a massive secret.
I’m not going to say who he is or how I know him – but he’s a lovely chap who I’ve known for about 30 years. I’ve always liked him – and he’s helped me a lot in the past, with various things. I’m keeping this deliberately vague.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, we’d gone down the pub for a few beers and this chap – let’s call him Bob – was talking about how he was going to a Christmas party in fancy dress.
Now, I love fancy dress, and anyone who knows me really well will tell you that I’m at my happiest at such parties – I always go as a woman. Always, always, always.
So Bob was telling me about his fancy dress costume – he was also going as a woman to this particular party – and he was telling me how much he was looking forward to it.
They say gay people have a “gaydar” – an ability to spot who is (and who isn’t) gay. Maybe I have something similar when it comes to being trans, although transdar hasn’t got quite the same ring to it.
Bob showed me pictures of two or three frocks on his phone, explaining the good and bad points of each one – and why he’d chosen to buy the one he wanted. It was a nice frock, too. Only an eBay job – but really elegant.
By the time we left the pub, we’d had quite a few beers. Bob doesn’t drink too much and was only on halves of lager, but he’d had a fair few of them.
He was still talking about the dress, and my transdar was detecting definite activity, so I just asked him there and then: “Bob, are you trans?”
He didn’t need to say anything – his face said it all. Yep! I then reassured him by saying: “It’s OK, don’t worry, so am I!”
I had absolutely no idea until this day that Bob was trans. Instead of heading home, we went to another pub and nattered about being transgender – about how it affects his life – and mine.
I say we went to the pub. Bob wanted to sit outside (it was pretty cold!) to reduce the risk of someone overhearing us. I wasn’t bothered but, in retrospect, I can be quite loud after a few beers, so it may have been a good idea!
Bob clearly loves his trans side as much as I love mine. I won’t go into detail about what he told me – that’s his business – but one thing stuck in my mind and made me incredibly sad.
And that’s that he’s hardly told anyone. His wife knows, but not his teenage daughter – and I’m sure she would be completely supportive if she did know. His best friend knows (a chap) and one relative (another chap).
And that’s it. While his wife is wonderfully supportive, he hasn’t got that amazing support network of ladies in his life that I have.
Who can he speak to when he’s bought new togs? Who can he ask for makeup tips? Who can he talk to about how he’s feeling?
I can’t imagine my life without my girls, and that’s why I wrote that first post, to thank them from the bottom of my heart for being the best friends I could ever wish for.
And this post is for you, Bob! And yes, Bob knows about the blog – I told him that day as we sat outside the second pub.
I wanted to prove to him (and I hope I’m using the right personal pronouns here) that, although it can be a bit scary at first when you come out to someone, it’s worth it in the end.
I’ve never felt judged by anyone I’ve ever told. OK, if you’re thinking of telling your pro-Trump, BNP supporting pal your secret, it might be a little trickier. But I’ve met some of Bob’s friends and they all seem fabulous – especially the ladies!
So, Bob, I didn’t tell my friends about you, but I thought I’d ask them if they could share a few words, generally, about me being trans, what they thought when I first told them and whether they had any advice for the road ahead – Estrogen Highway.
In order of reply, here’s what they said:
“Awwwwww bless you. You are lovely. My overwhelming reaction was sadness more than anything, hon. So sad that you feel you can’t tell the entire world. I really wish you could, and be accepted by everyone. You are no different to any of my other friends to me (apart from maybe a little bit more fabulous than some!!) You are lucky to have accepting and understanding friends, but we are more than lucky to have you too, my lovely – I’m so glad you have a network of people you can rely on and trust and although it’s a privilege to be included in that select little group I really wish it didn’t have to be that way, and you felt confident enough to just be yourself in front of anyone and everyone in the world we all live in, without feeling judged. Keep on keeping on, my lovely, I wouldn’t have you any other way. xxxxx”
“I’m extremely proud to be your friend and will always stand by you. x”
She was going to write more, but must have nodded off. ;o)
“Wow. Wow, wow, wow. That actually made me a bit tearful. It’s so hard to understand why anyone would have a problem with the way someone else lives their life, but I know there are some incredibly dull bigots out there. To be honest, chuck, you’re just YOU to me. If that makes sense. You’re not my transgender friend, or my friend who likes to wear women’s clothes, you’re just my friend and I love you whatever you do or however you look. When you first told me, well, of course I had questions but that’s because I am genuinely an inquisitive person (nosey too!!) and having spent ten years in countries where people interrogate you endlessly the first time you meet them, I do tend to forget social norms here mean you shouldn’t fire off personal question after personal question. But did it make me feel any different towards you? Nah, course not. You’re just Andie who likes beer and ballet. Great mix xx”
“Bloody ‘el Andie…you had me in tears when I read your blog…and I was at work… and I couldn’t say that I had just read a blog post in works time!!! It was a good and emotive read for me. It transported me back to my student days…quite an era! And when we first met and got to know each other…we became firm friends! I feel very privileged to have you in my life. You know…our friendship is 2-ways… [edited out detail here!] I just want to say that you have been there for me too! And what about all of the fun times? Theatre, parties, picnics, chillin’ and strip card games! [guess who won!] Is there anything I’d like to say about you being trans? Do I have any advice? Goodness…all I can think is that it really doesn’t bother or matter to me at all whatsoever…all that matters is that you are happy, healthy and that you continue to be the good and loyal friend that you always have been. And as for advice…just be your gorgeous self! Love you Sister! Natasha x”
There are a few more to come, too, but this is already the sequel to War and Peace, so I might pop those into another post. To my girl friends, thank you! Fivers are in the post!
So, to Bob and any other trans person who’s reading this from a firmly sealed closet, I was once scared stiff of telling people, too. But I did it – and look what happened, look what people think. I know I’m not fully out – but it’s a decent start.
I’m sure my friends exaggerate – I’m not THAT fabulous! But I do love the fact that I have such amazing, non-judgmental friends in my life, and I shall strive to be there for them as they have been and continue to be for me.
Think of being trans as like wine. All girls like wine, right?! Many people think that wine gets better with age. In some cases, it does – but these old, dusty bottles of wine are specially designed to last for decades – and not many of them are produced.
With most wines, you need to drink them within a few years. The amount of time depends on the type of wine. Eg, a decent sauvignon blanc would need to be drunk in one to two years.
If you leave that beautiful bottle, with its slender neck and pretty label, hidden away in some damp, dark cellar for years on end, the wine is going to go bad.
Be careful who you confide in – only you will know who you can and can’t tell, and when it’s the right time. But the feeling of relief and joy when you pop the cork and share the contents of the bottle with your best friends is beyond words.