Haven't we all been bombarded with questions, over and over again?
# Why have you made this choice to transition? (It's not a choice: I'm driven)
# Why can't you wait a bit longer, and see whether you'll feel different? (I've waited all my life, and time's now running out)
# Have you considered that other things could be making you take this course, like a search for novelty, or wanting to escape a dull life, or wanting to make a big gesture? (I know how I feel, and I'm quite sure that my feelings are genuine and true)
# Why don't you think hard about the awful effect on other people? (I have thought about them, and it's killing me with guilt; but I'll go mad if I don't do something about this)
# Where's the evidence for what you say about yourself? For instance, why didn't you cross-dress more in the past? (I was too embarrassed to acquire the clothes, and besides, I was afraid of discovery and ridicule)
# Don't you realise that you'll never look like a woman, and will never be accepted? (I can't help that; whatever the outcome, I can't help doing this)
And so it goes on. Sometimes relentlessly. It's understandable that those close to you want to know what's going on, and the why of it. But it's so hard to provide a coherent explanation when you can't find the right words, or don't even fully understand it yourself. How do you put across what you feel so deeply about yourself? How do you avoid being on the defensive, backed into a corner?
For me, those days of interrogation are largely over. The sceptics have vanished from my life - or they can see from events that I had total conviction, whatever the precise trigger that set things in motion during 2008. I still get asked questions, but now they come from people empathetic to me, who simply want to relate my story to theirs. And we often discover points of great similarity.
I'm not really a word person. I prefer pictures of the before-and-after sort. They can explain how I feel at a moment in time, and reveal a difference. There are plenty of smiling portraits of myself from every era of my life - who keeps unsmiling pictures? - and they give a false impression. Like going on holiday, and taking no photos on cold rainy days, only on the warm sunny days, so that the holiday looks fabulous when it wasn't. But occasionally there is the odd shot that shows a sterner face. Compare these shots of me in 2005 shortly before retiring, and in 2007, with the bottom one, taken only yesterday:
It hardly needs comment. I know the bottom shot is frivolous, and I'm pulling a face for the camera, but it shouts vitality, and a zest for living. That's what transition has achieved. Surely it answers every possible question as to why I did it.