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Some readers have asked me to elaborate on the mention in my last post of my recent engagement. Well, firstly I must say that it feels incredibly validating to have someone fall in love with me as a transgender woman, who praises who and what I am, and is confident enough in himself to be public with his affections. The process of embracing my transgender identity has been one which started out with acute and almost crippling shame, but has over time and the practice of facing my fears blossomed in to my being immensely proud of my identity as a transgender woman. (A pioneer as my sister says!) To have someone I love romantically not consider transgender to be a taboo, and who is proud to be with me without shame or fear of retribution is something very new to me and it gives me a huge injection of confidence in times when I might be lacking.

Before he came back in to my life I was very happy to be single and independent. I have a great life here in Bangkok with plenty of wonderful close friends to socialize with. Yes I was looking for a romantic connection and was on a fair few websites to chat, flirt, hookup and hopefully in the process find someone with some substance who was looking for something ongoing, but I definitely did not need a man, especially not one to validate me. I wanted a boyfriend, but I didn’t need one. I do now though; I need my fiancé like I never thought I’d ever need anyone. Without spouting a million clichés, what we have is so completely right. The support he gives me is empowering and often times thrilling, but it’s not only the novelty of being with someone who builds me up that I’m attracted to. He’s so funny, very intelligent, damn sexy, often childish, limitlessly patient and modestly reserved, and he knows exactly how to handle my moods and impatience. While he was in Bangkok he dutifully allowed me to parade him in front of my friends for inspection, and even had a suit made for the St Patrick’s Society Emerald Ball which he left here for me to burn. (He hates formal wear but had the suit made for this one-time event that I wanted to go to with him, and he tells me I’ll never get him in formalwear again.) I love the man wholeheartedly. There is only one thing wrong with all this. We live 6,000 miles away from each other!

He came from where he lives in the UK to visit me here in Thailand hoping to reignite what we had felt between each other when we very briefly dated back in the UK. We discovered very quickly that we could, and for 2 ½ weeks I enjoyed the daily proximity of living with a partner, sharing complete intimacy and plans and hopes for our future together. When he left I felt devastated and I grieved for him! I was really weepy and I felt the loss painfully. I’d been left with formalwear, a beautiful ring on my finger and a huge hole where he had been every day. I’d also been left with immense love in my heart of the kind I’ve not felt before.

During my counseling session a week after he left, I tried to blame my heightened emotion on my hormone intake, but realized that my world had been spinning quite fast recently. In under 3 weeks I’d reunited with an ex, got engaged to that ex, completed my new passport, negotiated transfer of my visa to the new passport, changed the name on my work permit, been separated from my new love for what would be the next 3 months, my mother was at that very minute recovering from an operation the results of which were unknown, and it had overwhelmed me a little. With this motion sickness, (or emotion sickness,) my counselor suggested I do what my fiancée had suggested, and take a day out where I do nothing and don’t interact with anyone; not him, work, family…no one. I did so the following day and it was needed. (I’ll shout the benefits of meeting regularly with a counselor once again in this blog entry – I felt heaps better just from that session. Getting it out to a professional who knows what to ask and where to lead you is a vital link to sanity when you think you might be slipping. I exaggerate, but I get so much out of the sessions.)

Since making up my mind to transition, I’ve wanted everything as quickly as it can come, and living as Ms. Ashley Johnson (with the name recognized across the board) is a very important part of that transition. But changing your name (especially from abroad) is a marathon process. It simply can’t be done right away. As such, trying to get it done immediately is impossible and only causes stress. Part of the impetus for me to push push push on getting as much changed as quickly as possible came from the UK Embassy’s halting of my application process until I’d provided documentation showing that I was using my new name in every area of my life. I hadn’t realized, but since the stress of that and the delay it caused to buying my flight for England, I’d not really calmed down again. A day of nothing and no one gave me time to let my cogs grind to a halt.

I’m thankfully able to start them up again on a much slower revolution, now that so many things have been completed and I can get on with things at a much more leisurely pace. I think the only remaining thing in Thailand for me to do is change my driving license over. Other than that I can start planning my July UK trip (when I’ll see my fiancée next) and make slow, careful plans for our long term future, with my partner, over Skype.

To leave you with mention of a topic for a future blog, my mind is now engaged with thoughts of a concept very new to me. At some point in our future, my fiancée wants children.

Part 29