Hot on the heels of yesterday's magic moment in Specsavers has come another development of immense significance.
My sister-in-law phoned me, and in the course of that conversation gave me her unqualified support in my trans endeavours. I don't think there was any misunderstanding: she realises that this is something I've got to do, that it looks completely selfish but is necessary for my personal wellbeing and development, that stopping the show and trying to live as I used to will just drive me mad, that it will all take a long time, and that when I have gone as far as I want to down the trans route, I need to have people there to welcome me back.
What a weight off my mind. I have an ally who is not judging me. I'm not facing all this completely isolated from anyone who sympathises. I'm so grateful to her. I hadn't thought that my sister-in-law would have understood, but after all, we have known each other for thirty-four years and she coped with my late brother's problems. He wasn't trans, but he still presented her with huge difficulties. I was wrong not to approach her. And perhaps I'm wrong about other people that I've been slow to contact. I've assumed they would be cold. I haven't given them a chance. I've been rather a coward, haven't I?
Being trans isn't a crime. Yes, it devastates your partner, and may challenge everyone close to you, but it isn't a crime. It's not something to be ashamed about, or to be punished for.
It's not a lifestyle choice either. Who would risk losing absolutely everything dear to them, just for the sake of wearing some nice things? In any case you don't choose this. You discover it. And then you know instantly and irrevocably that you are not what you thought, and can never now be what you thought. Even if you do nothing, you can never be the same as you were. It's not unlike realising for the first time that you have some extraordinary talent or ability. What do you do about it? Sit on it? Deny it expression? Wouldn't that eat away at your heart, and destroy you, little by little? But we are not talking about a genius for playing the violin to concert standard, or having the voice of an angel.
Being trans is not a philosophy, nor a doctrine. There's no creed, no theory, nothing to argue about. You can't be talked into it, or out of it. It's a mental state, entirely about how you feel, what you are really comfortable with, what the essential 'you' is.
I am so glad that someone recognises that this condition is important and must be addressed properly. Being trans is basically a misfortune, but there is a remedy, albeit one that involves changes that most would not contemplate. I also like to think that those changes may, if managed well, lead to life-enhancing opportunities. I don't want to do it all in a hole-in-the-wall way, at odds with everyone, or at haphazard. I want steady development, with a sensible programme of treatment overseen by my doctor and other professionals. I want to be monitored. I want to feel there are friends and family around me, who may be concerned about me, but who are nevertheless on my side and will be there for me if I need help. I will constantly question my own motivation. But I do claim the right to determine my own course, and I want everyone to realise that I am doing this because I actually prefer to be trans, and not because someone has told me to be.
I am amazed how few people will accept that a person in their late fifties - myself - who has had a reasonably good career and several successes in their life, cannot know their own mind. Sure, I am going through a rather hedonistic, self-indulgent, immature regression while I explore those aspects of myself which have never before had enough expression. That will pass. And when I am tired of merely having a good time I will address more substantial matters. Meanwhile I haven't lost sight of my responsibilities: Dad, for instance.
This is beginning to read like a manifesto. It's not meant to be. But my sister-in-law has raised me out of lake of gloom, and I don't feel afraid any more.