It's hard to believe that it was over four years ago that I first came out to my partner Mandy. It was a tough decision but very important in trying to deal with my gender issues. If I'd been told then that I would be here in four or so years time preparing for gender reassignment surgery (GRS) I would never have believed it.
But here I am, living full time as a woman and getting ready for just that procedure. It's been an interesting journey and full of ups and downs although on reflection it has been mainly positive. It is also interesting how I now realise how I was meant to tackle my gender issues and come to terms with the woman I should have always been.
Some find this statement very hard to understand, but I was born female. Some of my earliest memories are of my confusion with being male. I struggled with this a great deal during my school years and bullying meant I had to drive it deep inside myself. The woman was there, but I had to conform to societal demands and live as a man.
This is where it all went wrong for me because I didn't understand what being a man was all about. During my late teens and early twenties, I lived a solitary life although I had contact with many other men with my working life. It was a very masculine environment and because of this the man I was becoming was based largely on this type of reinforcement. He was not a nice person, full of arrogance, coldness and many other not so pleasant things. He was a conscious creation of mine and I hated him. This was not any type of personality disorder because I was fully aware of what I was doing. However, I could not even acknowledge the woman in me and continued with this lie as a means of preservation. I had to get as far away from female as I could and being this blokey bloke was the best protection I could have.
I have mentioned that I hated myself, and this is very common with many trans people. We are so far removed from the real us that we are almost the opposite of what we want to be. I hate to admit this but I was trans and homophobic and I hated being that as well because inwardly I was not. However, to try to get further from who I was, I had to act like I hated those that I was soon to become. I still feel very ashamed of this attitude.
It couldn't go on for ever, the cracks were starting to appear. You build this persona up on a lie and even the best liars slip up in the end. I didn't actually make any such mistakes but I was starting to become fascinated by a woman's world I was not a part of. It was almost an obsession, I would trawl the Internet for hours looking at site that catered for women. This was not just fashion and makeup, it was also forums where women would chatter away about women's things. It was a world that I desperate to be a part of but I didn't know where to begin about dealing with my gender issues.
I started looking at trans support forums and something that fascinated me the most were stories of trans women who had taken their first steps in public. Reading these inspiring tales was probably what I needed. I was rapt with attention when hearing how fantastic it was to walk down a high street with the breeze blowing skirts around legs and how being able to browse clothes and makeup as woman without guilt was so liberating. I really wanted to experience this for myself and started thinking about how to go about it all.
Telling my partner Mandy seemed like the best way. I heard many stories of those whose significant others did not know any of their other life. This I could not do, my relationship with Mandy was one of solid trust and I could not bear the thought of her finding out from someone else. I had to weigh up everything which included the risk of her leaving me and decided I had to tell her what was going on in my head.
This went very positively and although there were tears and confusion, we talked and talked. And talked even more. Over the course of the next six months we explored Lucy to great depth. This included going to support groups which were a mixed experience. One such group was quite horrific and included one trans woman intent on scaring Mandy as to what was going to happen to me. Once I had started, I would not want to stop, she warned. Well she was right, but we needed to find that out for ourselves.
In July of 2010, I stepped out in the city of Bristol for the first as Lucy. This was so scary to begin with but the nerves settled and it turned out to be the most incredible experience so far. We quickly followed this by another outing a fortnight later in Taunton. Every fortnight, when Mandy didn't work, we found ourselves filling our lives with adventure. Mandy probably gained as much from this journey as I did.
It didn't take me long to realise that there was much more to this than a bit of fun. I started struggling to return to being a man. I think I was starting to shed the character that I had created over all those years. Much reflection caused me to realise that I was never meant to be him. I was writing a lot on my website at that time and by delving into my past, I found that I had always had thoughts that I should always have been a female and that being a man was a mistake. The more I wrote about this, the more I discovered that I had suppressed these desires to a massive degree. The final straw for him was a holiday we had in the Lake district. Mandy and I talked to great length and we decided that I would take no male clothes on holiday apart from the ones on my back. I changed in the car on the way and spent the most incredible fortnight as my true self. Everyone was so kind and accepting, it truly paved the way for me to get the courage to go full time.
It didn't happen quite as quick as that. We needed to tell friends and then deal with the work issue. Work was the boldest step of all and took me another ten months to deal with. But I made it and went full time in July 2012, two years after I went out in public the first time. There is an old joke about what is the difference between a transvestite and a transsexual? About two years! How true this was in my case!
So I was full time, and my future as a woman lay ahead of me. This was to be the true discovery of who I was and you can read about that in part two.