Friday, 25 November 2011

Costs, costs, costs

2011 is drawing to a close, and about this time each year I consider setting up speadsheets and databases for the following year. I have quite a number of financial ones going, some documenting my plans and the outcomes, some merely recording expenditure under various heads as it accumulates.

One set of spreadsheets records my transition costs as they occur. I've maintained them - using a consistent format - for each of the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Some months ago (see Counting the transition costs on 17 June 2011) I disclosed what I'd spent on my transition up to that point. It was probably typical for a transitioner with a bit of cash, and the will to record everything relevant. I thought then that the spending would tail off, and it has. And until very recently I wasn't going to bother with a spreadsheet for 2012. But I've changed my mind.

There's more than one motive. First, I actually like recording things. Somehow all the records, all the photos, all the letters written and copies kept, fix me in time and space and show that I have a history, and that real development is going on. It's not just an impression, or in my imagination. This is psychologically reassuring.

Second, I like to fulfill plans, record progress, reach targets, finish the job properly and measurably. That's the kind of person I am.

Third, I want to prove to myself, and if necessary to others, that although mistakes were made aplenty, I did not indulge in heedless and gratuitous waste. Money is a finite resource, like a tank of fuel; you have to eke it out, and use it well. Just how you do that is your own business, but once it's gone, it's gone, and the show stops until you can refill that tank.

All along I've been acutely conscious of dwindling resources. Transition is an expensive business, and I've done it all out of my own pocket. I'm not claiming kudos for that, at least not within the trans community: I simply have a personal principle that if you can pay, you should, so that money is freed up for those who can't afford the expense themselves. It does place me on high ground, with those inclined to take a certain holier-than-thou moral attitude. If I'm ever challenged by an indignant non-trans person who feels strongly about 'wasting NHS resources', or taxpayers' money generally, and accuses me of being a leech on society, then I will absolutely flame them. Because by their standards, I'll have a clean pair of financial hands - and I'll insist that they acknowledge that. But otherwise my sheer ability to pay should not get me through the Pearly Gates. It's the least I could have done.

And, let it be said, I got what I paid for. I got hair removal, voice tuition, genital surgery. I got clothes, shoes, bags, accessories and everything required to boost my confidence and self-worth when these things were vital to have. I avoided hassle. And I shortened 'the process' into a timescale that made sense for a late transitioner with no time to waste.

And bear in mind that once I've got my Gender Recognition Certificate, I'll eventually recover some of those costs, by having my State Pension paid a little bit earlier. I have no shame about that. And once the pension is being paid - it'll start three years from now - I can save up for anything else that I may need to complete the process: a nose or boob job, say. Unless I decide that at 62 it no longer matters.

There is also another, fourth motive: I really don't think that my transition is over. I still need to record at least its fourth year. It'll be a year that will contrast strangely with the three that came before. A year in which my spending changes character, becomes more like that of any woman, and drops to a level that I can sustain without raiding my savings account. A year in which I stabilise; a year of carefully managed thrift. I want to see my savings account balance actually start rising again, as much as I want my waist measurement to shrink.

Well, there's two New Year resolutions!


  1. Hey Lucy you aren't at work now love! I understand though. I too paid my own way but I have a concession in that my meds are paid through the NHS. I must have been one of the lucky ones getting my pension at 60 (I was 66 last Monday). I would have thought someone your age might not have to wait until their 65th birthday though. Tell me, why haven't you received your gender recognition certificate yet?

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. I'm 59 now, Shirley Anne, and adding three years makes me 62, when I will get my State Pension. I'm sorry that wasn't clear in the post!

    As for the GRC, I 'officially' reckon my full-time living as a woman from 1 November 2009, the date of my Deed Poll. I was in fact 95% full-time from the date of my father's death in late May 2009, but the Deed Poll is an unarguable event from which to run the GRC two-year clock. Those two years are now up, and I can apply for my GRC at any time now. But I'll wait till early December 2011 so that I have a really good selection of documentary evidence to show the GRC Panel.


  3. Thank you for putting me straight on the pension rules. Now then I wasn't aware that there was a two year period before you could apply for the GRC. I would have thought a medical certificate of proof was enough, indeed that's what I had to obtain from my GP and did so in 2005 when it became law to be able to apply for such a certificate of recognition. In my case I had three years under my belt as it were but I don't think that made any difference. All the census office require is proof of an actual change. Incidentally, just for information, that office is approximately 250 yards from my house! They delivered my certificate by hand!

    Shirley Anne xxx

  4. I believe that first-comers had a simpler procedure to follow. Nowadays the procedure seems more demanding!

    I get my State Pension at 62 only if I am by then irrevocably a woman under the GRA 2004. Otherwise it would be the date appropriate for a man: 65 (or even older!)

    You know, there must be a lot of married trans women over 60 who can't get a GRC, and must therefore wait for their Pension as if men. Unmarried or divorced people fare so much better, which seems quite unjust.



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