Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mama Mia & the Promise of a Second 'Date'

Prince of Wales Theatre (Photo: Beth Ward)
Mama Mia! I spent the Thursday evening of August 2nd in the Prince of Wales Theatre London, enjoying this musical with my teenage daughter. Mama Mia is the perfect Mother/Daughter evening out; great sing-along songs, funny romantic plot line and the dream combo of 3 teenage girlfriends and their hen night drama as well as 3 older women linked by their membership of a former girl-power band. Magic! 

A night out in London's West End on a balmy late summer evening was just what I needed, a great way to relax and take my mind of that 'All Important Date', my GIC appointment the following morning.

After we left the theatre, we wandered around the West End, Leicester & Trafalgar Square, it was so lovely not to have to think. I wanted to be really tired before I went to bed. I had spent far too many sleepless nights worrying about the following day: September 2nd.  
'Mama Mia, here I go again'.

By the time I was on the tube (London's Subway) the following day, deep breathing and relaxation just weren't working. I felt so sick. In spite of my best efforts to relax there were words and phrases from last night's show that kept sparking off thoughts about what was to come.  This would be the fifth time I had had to sit down in front of a medical practitioner and explain why on earth I should want to change gender when I was born male.
‘I apologise if it makes you feel bad, seeing me so tense, no self confidence...’
In spite of all the agonizing about what to wear I had just gone as myself, wearing the same sort of dress and makeup I normally wear for work, adding a pair of heels because I feel more confident when I'm 'taller'. I'd taken along an album of photos taken during the 7 years since I began my transition as well as my Gender Recognition Certificate and a number of academic certificates I'd got in my own name. I even had my ID badge from work. I suppose that what I fear always more than anything else is being 'invalidated', being told that although I consider myself to be a woman that I somehow don't quite make the grade. It made me wonder whether most trans men and women are stuck with always feeling less adequate and less 'valid' than their natal counterparts or whether we should ever allow ourselves to be invalidated by how others perceive us.

'Standing calmly at the crossroads, no desire to run...'

'Is there a man out there? Someone to heed my prayer?'

The hardest part was the waiting. Isn't it always? Do you remember your first date and how you felt waiting if you were there first? Even if you had the confidence that he or she would meet you, you still didn't know what to expect.

It was as well that I took my photographs and documents, he did want to see them, though it felt so strange having to provide evidence that I actually do live and work day in day out as a woman. Normally I just do, I just 'am'. I'm not used to being asked to justify who I know I know myself to be, it felt odd. There were the inevitable questions about my childhood, 'Have you always felt this way?', 'How long for?', 'How did you cope at school'. It's painful to talk about these things at the best of times. It's not easy to talk about puberty as being that hateful time when you felt you were being dragged against your will into being someone you were not and began to hate.
What I wasn't prepared for were the questions about sex. They were sensitively put but so difficult to answer. I'm not embarrassed about discussing sex but I find it hard to describe how it made me feel and would find it even harder to write about. I also felt guilty and ashamed admitting that I had to fake orgasm for so many years and put my ex through the heartache of thinking she couldn't conceive. It took a long time to get over the feeling that I was cheating on her because I had to imagine that I was a woman being made love to by a man while we had sex.

I felt like a limp rag by the time it was all over, but I did feel that I had done justice to who I am and how I felt. I was so relieved to be told there would be a second 'DATE', even if it is with another guy and I have to wait 6 months to get it!

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