It seems to me that the several-years-post-op situation is full of opportunity. For some time I've felt integrated into society at large, legally able to do anything I want, and for every practical purpose without limitations on where I can go and what I can do - 'practical' referring to the things that genuinely appeal to me, and which are indeed perfectly within my compass.
Nor have I put barriers in the way. I haven't labelled myself to death, for instance. I see no point in branding myself with one of those gender definitions that confuse and alienate ordinary people. Why wear a badge? I prize individuality, but I don't want to look odd or in any way out of the ordinary. I certainly don't want to seem part of an awkward, rather touchy, easily-offended, easily-slighted, victimised vocal minority who stand on their rights, wave flags, shout slogans, twitter viciousness, whinge, whine, competitively expose their wounds, and arrogantly demand special concessions and privileges.
I'm just a single woman like other single women. Respect, fairness and equality of treatment are quite enough. Kindness, and a genuine welcome, are bonuses to be valued greatly. In return, I show self-confidence, empathy, an open heart and a smile - my passports to the world at large, the world I'd like to see more of. I want to travel.
The only big curbs on what I can plan for myself are lack of enough money; the likelihood of being affected by the troubles any traveller might encounter around the world, such as terrorist attacks; and the general risks run by single women travellers, which can't be ignored. It would obviously be unwise to secure a cheap passage on the proverbial tramp steamer manned by unscrupulous sex-starved gun-runners! It would be equally unwise to become 'befriended' by some urbane local who wanted to 'take care of me', 'show me around', and 'make sure I wasn't cheated'. As if anybody ever falls for that...
It helps so much that I have no ties, no responsibilities to anyone, nobody who must be consulted; all choices and decisions are my own. That's liberating: it opens up horizons.
I could literally, if so minded, sell my house, buy a boat, and set off around the world by sea, to be absent indefinitely. Perhaps fortunately, I have no sailing experience whatever, and therefore will be doing no such thing! But much else is completely feasible. The only thing I fear about long-haul air travel is the risk of a deep-vein thrombosis if the flight is too long, and I am too inactive while on it. This can of course be mitigated with shorter flight stages, drugs, and onboard exercises. Really, it's no problemo.
If I were rich, and if there were only natural dangers to contend with - like hurricanes and volcanic eruptions - I'd be off travelling everywhere. I've always wanted to see so much of the world, ever since I first pored over my very own world atlases from age ten onwards. I still haven't achieved very much in the travelling game. What's the bag so far? Los Angeles, New Zealand and Hong Kong. And closer to home, glimpses of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. I may have been to Rome, but I've never been to Paris - really!
The money problem won't ever be fully solved, but it will get better. Already I am starting modestly with the remoter places of the British Isles. But ultimately I shall venture further afield - I will most certainly be renewing my passport in 2020! As for where to go, It would be so nice to globetrot at will, unhindered by violent and stupid human beings engaged in war and strife. But there will always be parts of the world that are out of bounds, if one values personal safety.
Much however remains accessible. Close to home, if I want a particularly appealing experience, then Iceland in the North Atlantic beckons. Far from home, in the South Atlantic, the Falkland Islands call - a yearning freshly stimulated a few days ago by the BBC2's Friday-night TV programme Falkland: An Island Parish. When I last looked, admittedly a while ago, the solo traveller had to apply to the RAF to be flown down there in one of their planes, getting there in a series of hops that would include Ascension Island. You can imagine the red tape and the palaver that might entail! But at the same time, an experience in a quite different class from tamely joining a scheduled flight, if there is one, from South America, or by travelling on some cruise ship. I haven't checked to see how the trip by air is done nowadays, because it would clearly cost me thousands of pounds to go there and back, and stay in Falkland for a bit. I don't want to taunt myself with a dream that might be financially impossible to fulfil. But the windy Falkland Islands are most certainly on my list. Ah! Stanley, Land Rovers, soldiers, sheep farms, fish and chips, and penguins! I can hardly wait.
All this talk of world travel must seem hubristic and over-ambitious, and a curious priority for a sixty-something single woman who - surely - might be winding down a bit now, concentrating on home and family, perhaps getting interested in local causes, and generally preparing herself for a conventional later-life role. As opposed to dreaming about far-flung destinations as yet unvisited. Especially considering her personal history...
Unless rich and famous (and there are very, very few of them who are) do trans people really launch themselves into such adventures in older life? I don't know anybody else who is actually doing what I'm contemplating. The trans people I know all seem to have other priorities. Such as keeping their heads down, earning a living, seeing what they can of their nearest and dearest, getting recognition for their creativity, or simply being glad to have found a modus vivendi that suits them. They recommend all of that to me. It's fine, but I want to do my own thing.
You know, I don't even care much about what I'm supposed to be doing as an ordinary senior citizen! What, rambling, volunteering, bridge and ballroom dancing?
Fate has decreed that I should be as free as a bird in later life. Well then, it would be a criminal waste to spurn the travel opportunities open to me. Let others seek love with a soulmate, or create a niche for themselves in the political or campaigning wings of the trans world. I want experiences and sights, amazing photos to bring back, and the material for a lot of travel writing.
Which means saving rigorously, and to a definite plan, to put the money for it all in place - fares, visas, accommodation, equipment. But at the same time, I need to still maintain a balance between the Travel Life and Everyday Life. I reckon it can all be done, but I'll have to be very focussed on my priorities. Bad news then for anyone who fancies their chances of winning my heart, and tying me down to our alleged mutual advantage. I'm really sorry, and it's not a personal thing. It's just not on my agenda.