So it’s time for a bit of review! Yes, I know! Everyone gets sick and tired of reading year-end reviews of the past year, but in the first place, I like writing them as a form of reflection and record, and in the second place, this one is original, since I’m doing two years in one go!
So, slightly over two years ago, I came out. As a trans woman. After not serving as a subdeacon in Church (lockdown), not seeing my daughters (lockdown) or my dad (lockdown), I had simply lost any reason to pose as a man. So, after a bit of a depression in summer, I came out. First to Irina, then in the KDE community. In retrospect, that was easy… Irina walked to her desk, took out the she/her pronouns pin she used at Worldcon in Helsinki and pinned it on my dressing gown. The next day, she gave me one of her medieval-style dresses that was too long for her.
The first time I wore it, I kept the curtains of the living room closed for fear people might see me. It was a Sunday morning, and I got a big hug when Irina came up from church (it was still pandemic lockdown, with limited church services, but she’s choir, and I could only attend when invited, which was not that Sunday.) She gave me a big hug.
Of course, I hadn’t given much thought to my name…. But I ended up taking an easy-to-pronounce name from the conworld Irina has been working on since before she met me, as suggested by Irina. These days, we mainly play TTRPG in that world. It was a perfect fit, since I had never played a PC with that name, even though I have played a lot of girls and women in that world. It also is very suited to me calling myself out in exasperation when I do something dumb: “Hallaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… Jij doos!”
For KDE, it was a bit harder, but not worth all the emotional explosions I underwent at the time. I say it was a bit harder, but that’s because while I started accepting I needed to come out, I also had started noticing someone else close up was going through something similar, and I didn’t know who to prioritize… But in the end, our sysadmin, Ben Cooksley, simply replaced my old name everywhere with my new name, and a KDE contributor who is also a libera.chat admin helped me fix it on IRC.
After that, it was simply a matter of telling all sponsored Krita developers and volunteers about my v2.0 release, and people started getting used to it.
In december, I started going out, after dark, in one of the dresses I had ordered by then. Like most trans women, I became a bit of a shopaholic, and while at first I only got black (like most trans women), I got into colour preeeeetty quickly.
By March 2021, I was ready to be out in public, and my first stop was the dentist, for the first time since the pandemic started. That caused remarkably little commotion, only the assistant had to run to the dentist after she had done the preliminary work to warn him.
After that, the GP. My doctor admitted complete ignorance about transitioning, even though she had a transmasc boy as one of her patients already. Still, she got me a referral to a brand-new gender clinic quite close by, Nijmegen. Dear reader, I now have my appointment for the intake: February next year. The Quality Standard Somatic Transgender Care specifies a maximum wait time between referral and intake of SIX WEEKS. This was over NINETY WEEKS, or 23 months to the day.
(The other GP, I have two who take turns in their practice, told me that waiting times of two years were just peachy because it would give me time to reflect before I started undergoing medically unnecessary interventions.)
I did the things I could do on my own: get laser to stop that stupid denial beard I had just shaved off from coming back, get voice therapy, nag the insurance company to do something for me to get my intake earlier.
Voice therapy was great fun: Suhail from Voice in Progress turned out to be an excellent teacher, and Irina and I went there together so she would know about the exercises I’d have to do at home. That amused and pleased Suhail, and it was really useful. Of course, when I went into my first puberty, my mom was all like “stop with that burr, it’s not cute. Keep a clear, high voice!” So I had a tendency to speak in a higher voice anyway. (Which caused much bullying, of course. Everyone assumed I was gay because my voice was a bit high.) In about a year, I was done there already.
Duygu Demir from Huid en Laser Kliniek Deventer turned out to be in the same building as my GP, and she, also, did and is doing an excellent job. It’s expensive, and the insurance still wasn’t doing anything for me. The last time I had a call with them they were telling me they really needed the psychological diagnosis, because otherwise something else might be up, without specifying what.
Weirdly enough, voice therapy is covered, except that the insurance company creatively keeps invoices back over year breaks so I never go over my deductible, so I have to pay everything myself anyway. With physiotherapy, they went the other way, collecting several years worth of invoice and processing them at once, so I had to pay for the sessions after the ninth anyway.
May arrived. I was happy: my hair was getting long enough that the wind would blow it into my face when walking down the street. I was pissed: a shopkeeper thought it absolutely necessary and a total hoot to misgender me. I started exploring DIY hormone replacement therapy.
Lockdowns happened again, though not as severe, but I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, and not going anywhere didn’t bother me much. I worked hard on Krita… But then my eldest daughter announced she was going to have a wedding. She was already living together with her boyfriend on a farm house somewhere in the North. And by now, I only boymoded when doing something I needed to show my passport for, like getting vaccinated against covid19.
I also had lost quite a lot of weight, and my boy clothes simply didn’t fit anymore.
By the time the wedding ceremony was planned, I wouldn’t be able to boymode anymore, at all. No fitting clothes, and panicky fits when trying to wear them.
So I decided to tell her. But it wouldn’t be fair to tell my children one by one, so I used the family whatsapp chat group for that. That was a big mistake! Eldest immediately sneered at me, though the middle one complimented me on my new name, and the youngest one reacted a bit cooler.
Long story short: Irina and I were disinvited from the wedding, and I was told that by coming out as trans I had once again destroyed the “normal” life she had built up. I guess growing up in a house where gay, lesbian and trans people are guests all the time was a problem for her. That, or she had read too much Harry Potter.
I also told our priest, and he said he’d accept me completely, but since Halla wasn’t a saint’s name, I needed to have a proper name for church purposes. I chose Antonia, my third name, and my mother’s name. He has been exceedingly good using that ever since when I had the chance to take communion!
Summer came and went. Lockdown ended again. By now, I really wanted to get onto HRT, so I prepared a statement for my GP: either she would prescribe, she would refer me to a local endocrinologist, she would assist me getting HRT from GenderGP and help out with blood tests, or I would do everything on my own.
We were on our way to Egmond aan Zee for our first vacation in years when I got her call: she would cooperate with the GenderGP route. Yay! The place we stayed was a privete holiday home where we’d been before, and the owner knew us, but she was completely fine with me. As soon as she was done telling us about her gay uncle and had left, I completed the application with GenderGP. That needed a selfie…
The vacation was fun! I walked in the dunes, and noticed for the first time the advantage of hiking in a skirt: women were a lot less cagey when noticing me coming in their direction on the dune paths. In church, the pastor opened with the usual “bro” — and then corrected herself to “Sisters — it seems the brothers are rather absent today!” And pretty soon, after we had returned, my HRT meds had arrived!
After a month of taking those, I started feeling really good. I got more supple, tits started to bud, skin started to clear, body hair started to disappear. We celebrated Christmas in beautiful evening gowns, together. That’s exactly one year ago today!
Then in January, I got my booster shot. Ten days later, I got sick, and took to bed for a week or two. Ever since I’ve been sick on and off. Good days are great, bad weeks mean puking my guts out, spending all day lying down on bed and being unable to think because my brain just feel like it’s being steamed. Was it covid? I don’t know. I wasn’t able to do a test because the instructions were too complicated. While I had been teaching myself new cuisines, new painting techniques and reading lots of history earlier in the pandemic, by now I was reduced to reading the simplest and most repetitive of Japanese manga. Ah… A festival. Ah, they drew a yukata. I recognize that. Zzz…
We still managed to keep Krita development up, but I would lie if I said that I was pulling my weight. And of course, in February dictator Putin started out on what would become his greatest war crime to date, the invasion of another sovereign country. His actions in Syria and elsewhere were, of course, already war crimes, but this was on another level. And also another level of sheer stupidity. You can have a working army, or a lucrative kleptocracy, but not both at the same time. Even Mencius already warned about that!
Then, back to the personal, my dad came to visit for the first time since February 2020. I had kept onto one of my pairs of jeans, but I was all like, should I boymode, or not. When I put on the jeans and white dress shirt — my uniform for many years, I had twelve long-sleeved, twelve-short-sleeved white dress shirts and three pairs of identical blue jeans — I started shaking, and I also noticed that I had gone from size 52 to size 42. My prediction about my old clothes stopping fitting me was spot-on.
So I met him in a purple dress with flowers and beads embroidered, and all he said was “Can’t say it’s unexpected. Also, that dress suits you.”
From then until now, life has been boring: I work on Krita, recently on adding a simple little feature, undo/redo for color sets, which blossomed out into a many-month refactoring that I’m still working on. I try to paint now and then, which is hard, because one of the problems I keep having is that brain fog, but also seeing double and having the weirdest tingling, shaking sensation in my left arm.
Oh, and apart from the usual amount of street harassment, I got targeted a couple of times in the street for being trans. Last time, it was September, my ring finger got hurt, and it’s still too thick to make it possible for me to wear my wedding ring.
Irina now wears it on her necklace that also has her little cross.
We bought a new kitchen, and it was a pain to get the fitters to finish fitting it. They started in October, and it’s still not completely complete, though usable.
Dutch Parliament debated the new trans self-id law, and after all the usual fascists spewed their misinformation, a decision was postponed again. So I went and got my “expert declaration” and Irina and I went to Alkmaar, my place of birth, to get my birth certificate fixed.
The person handling this was SO friendly and congratulated us. And that was a bit of a pattern, because after that I needed a new passport, in the name of Halla Simone Antonia Rempt, and get the change carried through with banks, mortgage bank, pharmacy and lots of other places. And everywhere people were genuinely happy for me!
And, apart from getting sick all the time, I’m really happy, too. Life is so much easier compared to before!