The years from 2008 onwards have turned out to be the most eventful of my life, in good ways and bad. Mostly good, I'd say, at least from my personal standpoint. Others might disagree, and shake their heads in sorrow or disbelief. Let 'em. I've got plenty to celebrate.
Events throw up anniversaries, and I've got quite a collection of these, important and not-so-important. I think that from now on I'll quietly drop some of them as subjects to write about - I mean, where do you stop? If you celebrated or commemorated everything, then nearly every day would eventually send you down Memory Lane, and it's surely better to keep most of one's attention on What Comes Next, rather than dwell on What Happened Years Ago.
Today sees two anniversaries. It's exactly four years from the date I spent a ridiculous amount of cash on a fantastic luxury item: a Prada handbag, bought from their London shop in Sloane Street. And it's exactly one year from the date my Gender Recognition Certificate was granted by the Panel at HM Courts and Tribunal Service.
The Prada bag was significant because it was the first expensive accessory I bought for myself as Lucy Melford. I was still at the very start of a wider public life in my female role. I'd scuttled furtively around 'safe' Brighton, but now it was time to brave London, and do it boldly. I needed a Statement Bag, the kind that said 'I know I look a bit odd, but no matter what you may think, I have this expensive bag. I therefore have resources and the pizzazz to spend real money on something like this. I am not ashamed of myself. I am worth it.'
The well-known outrageousness of the prices asked for glamorous Big Name bags like this was an essential element in its psychological message. I calculated that my Prada bag would make people look more carefully at me, and see me as an individual person of means and consumer power, someone who didn't fit the standard conception of a sad tranny decked out in charity shop oddments.
It wasn't an edifying thing, being taken for a fashionhead with a bulging purse, but it's the way of the world to respect money and display; and so I reckoned that an image like this, however crass in its way, would be a vital suit of armour. Thus my female look might be less than optimal; but my bag said that I believed in myself, had supreme self-confidence, and what's more the money to back it up. And it worked. Apart from that, it was an immediate passport into the world of natal women, who noticed it and wanted to discuss it. It generated many a pleasant conversation.
Four years onward, and the Prada bag is still my Best Bag, the one I take to Posh or Important Occasions. It still looks fabulous. I don't need its psychological support any more, but I love carrying it and being seen with it. But would I buy another like it now? Certainly not. Will I celebrate its purchase in the future? Might do.
The GRC is quite another thing. This is the document that has given me legality as the female person called Lucy Melford, that has given me a new Birth Certificate showing 'girl'. And it's forever. There are plenty of people who object to what they see as a 'rewriting of history'. They don't recognise it as the correction of a mistake. In any case, their objections are futile. The Government has spoken. The objectors will have to man-up (it's most often men who object) and accept it. Although if they won't, it's not going to spoil my life!
This said, and despite originally believing that the GRC would rank with my surgery as the Most Lifechanging Event of my transition, I think this will turn out to be the only anniversary I shall celebrate. Because the GRC is not something I can show. It's only a piece of paper. Yes, it's a fundamental part of my citizenship and legal standing - and I'm so pleased to have it! - but it's a background item, without even the clout of my passport or driving licence as ID, and important only if I need to get married, or get involved in a law suit. So it's carefully filed away, and must stay hidden in my archives with other things of the same kind.
My GRC means nothing to the general public. If I'm ever challenged in the street, I will get nowhere by saying 'Oh, I've got a Gender Recognition Certificate, don't you know. So let me pass, please.' That won't cut any ice. No, in the street you stand and fall on your presentation, whether or not you possess a GRC.
Unlike a Prada bag, it's not a suit of armour. Nor a weapon. Can you swing your GRC into a threatening man's groin? No, you can't. But you can with a handbag full of heavy odds and ends! (Then run like hell)