I’d not been looking forward to this Christmas – my first since coming out as Andie. I should have been looking fabulous in a new party frock. Instead, I tried to tone things down in front of my family – and was suitably rewarded with being called Andrew all day.
I knew it was going to be “one of those” Christmases when I awoke on the morning of December 25 at 3am. My body had decided it was the perfect time to strike me down with a stinking cold – headache, snotty nose, furnace-like temperature – for the big day.
Thanks for that, body. Still-so-male body.
I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I tossed and turned for an hour or two and then checked my mobile phone, and my messages on Tinder.
On Christmas Eve night, I’d had a really lovely message from a girl called Shannon:
So that made me smile. Then, on Christmas Day morning, I got a few messages from a different girl, calling me “dude” and “man”. When I asked her not to use those words, she said “Well, that’s what you are”, wished me luck with “living out a fantasy of being female” and that she wanted no part of it.
Thanks for that. A nice bit of transphobia to start Christmas Day. I blocked her, shrugged my shoulders and decided to open some gifts – only three as the rest were at my sister’s house.
My friend Elizabeth had bought me a fab Big Country Live CD. I’ve seen the band live 15 times, so this was a very welcome gift.
Another friend, Natalia, had bought me the most beautiful palette of eye makeup – in exactly the colours that I wear. Perfect!
And my sister had bought me a gorgeous box of Ted Baker makeup, complete with brushes, lipsticks, nail varnishes and everything else you’d need for a sort of “starter kit” of cosmetics.
So my first girly present I’ve ever had from my sister, and it’s awesome. The only thing that took the edge off a tiny bit was that I was told I had to unwrap it at home – rather than at her house in front of the family. Hmmm, we wouldn’t want any awkward moments in front of my nieces (aged five and eight), would we? They’ve not been told yet that I’m trans.
I spent the latter half of the morning trying to make myself presentable, having a bath and shaving face and body. But I looked awful. I’d had about two hours’ sleep, the Christmas excesses have done nothing for my once-svelte figure and my cold had turned my nose and the rest of my face a very unflattering shade of puce.
In one way, I was glad I wasn’t going out in my gladrags, as no wig, clothes or makeup in the world would have been able to save me. I opted to wear my boyfriend jeans, a glittery jumper with stars on and some lacy trouser socks. So a little girly while, at the same time, “toned down” (though younger niece did ask me at one point if I was wearing tights).
As well as my cold, my anxiety had kicked in big time. So along with the feelings of panic, I was really bloated, which made it even harder to breathe. And I knew that I was about to spend all afternoon and all evening being “Andrewed” by everyone. I felt very “bah, humbug” and not at all festive.
Nevertheless, I drove to my sister’s house and headed inside. It’s a massive new-build, three storeys high and full of marble. I took off my flowery Rocket Dog trainers and placed them on the doormat, right next to a massive wooden carving of an elephant – quite literally the elephant in the room.
Topical, as I knew no-one would dare ask about my transition. Instead, I was asked about my car, my job, my social life. But how shit-scared I am about completely changing my gender when I start HRT in a few weeks’ time? Don’t be silly. We don’t want to talk about that.
Although I felt like death warmed up, everyone else was having a gay old time, and it was lovely to see them – my sister and my brother-in-law, my nieces, my parents, and my brother-in-law’s parents.
Everyone tried to help me feel better by making me Lemsip and finding me boxes of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen – and the prosecco didn’t touch the sides. I was going to need alcohol.
But the deadnaming started as soon as I got there.
“Merry Christmas, Andrew!”
“Happy Christmas, Andrew!”
“Ooooh, Andrew, I hope you feel better soon.”
I’d been deadnamed about a dozen times in the first half-hour and only got a single “Andie” (and I bet that was an Andy really) in that time. After that, I lost count. But I must have been called Andrew many dozens of times.
It wasn’t an issue with my sister (she always calls me Plute!) or my nieces (they call me Doo-doo – long story).
But everyone else was Andrewing for England and didn’t seem to care. Each time, I corrected them, most times they’d apologise, but then they didn’t make any effort to call me Andie the next time.
After a while, it was time for the turkey and trimmings. Christmas dinner is always my favourite meal of the year – and my sister and her hubby nail it every year.
So I walked up to the table to sit down, and…
Yeah, thanks for that. I turned it over and pretended nothing was wrong. Then my sister noticed and said they were the same place names that we’d had for last Christmas, written by one of my nieces.
I’m sure I didn’t mind at all last year, but come on, folks. I’ve come out as transgender and changed my name by Deed Poll since then. “I’m not Lula Mae anymore.”
So I sulked to myself and posted a meme on Facebook of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly saying those words. And another one of The Ting Tings singing “That’s Not My Name”.
After the main course, I contemplated going home as I was feeling really ill and my temperature was off the scale. But everyone convinced me to stay, so I kept taking the pills and drinking the wine, trying to drown the cold germs and my anxiety in a sea of alcohol.
At one stage, I went off on my own into another room, and my sister and mum came to see if I was OK. I explained about the Andrewing and said that I wondered if some of it was because my brother-in-law’s parents didn’t know about me being trans.
But then they said they did know. So everyone there, apart from my nieces, knew. Soooo, why not try to make an effort with my ruddy name then, folks?
“Well, we’ve known you as Andrew for 44 years, so it’s hard for us,” was what I kept getting when I corrected people. It’s not that hard, though, is it? Really? Andie is transitioning from male to female, so it kinda makes sense that she wouldn’t want to be called by her old, male, dead name.
I wouldn’t have minded had it been the odd slip of the tongue, but it wasn’t that. It was just everybody not being arsed enough to make the effort. All pronouns were male, and I even got called “top man” and “chap” (the latter several times). FFS!
I suppose deadnaming is quite a big deal for trans people – but I also believe it just doesn’t exist in Cis World, especially for older people.
I opened my pressies and a few cards from my family this morning – I just didn’t have the energy yesterday. There were several from my mum and dad, all addressed to Andie.
My mum joked that she seemed to find it easier to use my actual name when writing as opposed to speaking. I suppose as time goes on, and I become more feminine, it will become easier for her. I hope so.
Out of all my Christmas cards – and there were quite a few this year – they were all written to Andie, apart from two. One was addressed to Andy, and another (with “special Nephew” on the front) to Andrew. That was from my uncle, who I’ve not seen for years.
I didn’t mind that, though. He’s not on any social media and I just suppose that nobody told him about me coming out. I only hear from him once a year – his annual Christmas card – so I never thought to tell him.
I sent this reply to him, with a photo:
I’ve not heard anything back from him and don’t suppose I will do now. Shall be interesting to see if I get a “niece” card next year, though.
All the cards from my immediate family were pretty “safe” and gender neutral, as they were for my birthday in October. So no daughter/sister/auntie cards, but no son/brother/uncle ones either.
That’s fine – I accept that I look like a bloke now (apart from when I really make an effort). But it would be nice to think I might have sister and daughter cards on my mantelpiece this time next year.
In terms of the pressies I opened today, most were gender neutral – so bottles of booze and boxes of chocolate, that sort of thing. But the last gift I opened was from my godparents – a gorgeous ladies’ scarf and a bright pink Avon manicure set, both of which I held up proudly, for all to see.
I know this post probably reads like I had the Christmas from hell. I didn’t at all – it was nice to see everyone, the food was stunning and it was lovely to gather round in the lounge, chatting and sipping wine.
People had gone to a lot of effort, and I truly am grateful for that. Also, I hate the materialism of Christmas. I love spending time with friends and family – and having a glass of wine or two. I’m not fussed about presents.
But it felt very much like a last Christmas as male me rather than a first Christmas as female me.
One or two of my trans sisters on Twitter reckon my folks were using my deadname to piss me off. Eg:
Bless lovely Kate. I don’t think they’d do that, though, and they have been pretty supportive since I came out. I think it’s just a lack of thinking on their part – and being completely oblivious how much it hurts to get deadnamed.
I guess yesterday has just really hit it home to me how painful and difficult transitioning could be. If my own family struggle with a new name – especially when I called myself Andy (with a Y) for decades anyway – how will they cope this time next year when things are a whole lot more female?
And these are people who love me. I’m really not looking forward to the reaction I’ll undoubtedly get from bigots who don’t even know me. Thankfully, I have some incredible friends, and I’ll muddle through all this somehow, but it’s going to be far from easy.