The process of transition, once under way, leads to many upsets. We all know the kind of thing I'm talking about.
Different agegroups have their own problems to face. Teenagers and those of student age may well have to battle with parents who see them as sadly misguided children who have lost their way. But some face destructive and violent opposition. That kids can be hit or thrown out of their homes for 'coming out' and left to rot is astonishing in the twenty-first century, when we are all meant to be enlightened and well-informed, and free of the ignorant and old-fashioned dogmas and prejuduces of the past.
But that is just not the general reality. We are lucky to find acceptance, whatever our agegroup. As a late transitioner in my fifties - not a child - I faced horrendous opposition from my parents, who at first attempted to control me. But of course it was a knee-jerk reaction with no real clout to it, apart from the possibility of disinheritance, which did not actually occur. To their credit, Mum and Dad did not cut me out of their Wills. But I think I was lucky.
The expectation is still that the announcement of gender dysphoria will send everyone else into a spin, with entirely unpredictable individual reactions. A few will immediately cluster round. Thank God for them: they can never, never be repaid fully for their goodwill - that strong comforting arm around one's shoulders when it is needed most. Many will sit on the fence, attempting to be neutral but not in fact helping at all. And some - from desperation or shock or outrage - will become enemies, whether they mean to be or not.
I'm naming no names. But I'm looking back; and I'm looking at what is; and I'm thinking of the future. I want to figure it out. Why did so many of those who populated my former life seem to abandon me? And why do they stay away? Especially when we got on so well once.
I can of course think of some possible reasons - instant judgements of me based on nothing - that could persist in people's minds. Reasons to distance themselves from me, and then stay well away:
# This is too hard to understand. It's embarrassing. Keep it all at arm's length.
# I've been having a 'mid-life crisis'.
# I must be seriously mad, or suffering from some awful mental delusion, disease or condition. Like Borderline Personality Disorder or some kind of Autism. I'm behaving as if possessed.
# I've been somehow 'radicalised': I've read something and I've seized on a dangerous idea that is completely wrong. Evidence of imbalance and a weak mind.
# I've fallen under the influence of medical people with an interest in exploiting me - I am therefore revealed as an easily-led victim of cynical professionals and quacks.
# I must have a fetish about all things female. I must be steeped in sexual perversion. Morbidly interested in genitalia. A disgusting weirdo then.
# I'm out of control, liable to self-harm, and mutilate myself with unnatural surgery. Even more weird.
# I must in fact be an all-round pervert.
# I simply want attention. I'm utterly selfish and cruel. I care only for myself. I'm horrible.
# I must have deceived everyone all my life. What a devious, dishonest, two-faced person I must have been all along.
# I've betrayed my parents and my partner. Unforgiveable.
None of the above was ever true, and nobody who abandoned me ever got in touch to ask what on earth was going on, and could I give my side of it so that they could understand better? And maybe help in some way?
There was one person who wrote in late 2009, not knowing what had happened. He'd been a schoolfriend. I replied with a letter in which I said baldly that I was transsexual. The Iron Curtain came down. I have not heard from him since. He was incidentally a Christian. So much for the brotherhood of man.
I do want to know what really made them all leap backwards away from me and shun me henceforth. But I suspect that I will never know, and must leave things as they are. They have gone from my life, even though I was very fond of many of them. And perhaps they can never return. Too much time has gone by. The moment back in the autumn or winter of 2008/2009 when they could have picked up the phone, written a letter, sent an email, has long passed. They were not there when I needed them. It's much too late to help now. There's a gulf that nothing can bridge.
I was made to feel an outcast. I was made to feel that I owed an apology. That I had to make the first move towards any reconciliation, risking rejection, or a snub that might have destroyed my remaining self-esteem. I was criminalised. It was 'my fault'. Not a consequence of the way I was made. I had a conscious will to disrupt and destroy, not caring what happened, and that was my crime.
Well, I protest.
I've nothing more to lose now. And I protest. I don't need to elaborate on what might be said to those who chose to leave me and stay away. All transsexual people can fill in the words. We know. And we know that there is no going back. All you can do is remember the best moments from the past, the best achievements, the things that can still be cherished, and then take your life forward on an entirely new footing that necessarily excludes most of what came before.
What do I say to anyone who once knew me, realises that all was not black-and-white, realises that they could have asked for my version and seen something different, and now contacts me to build a bridge? Well, I'd be delighted, if they had the guts to try. I wouldn't put them off at all. But they'd have to face reality. It wouldn't be possible to carry on as if nothing had happened. The rules of engagment have changed. I will be insisting on certain things. And they'll have to adapt to the new me, and accept me for what I am. So no rebuilding what was: instead, an entirely new construction from the ground up. From Ground Zero you might say.