A thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

We have been looking forward to this weekend for some time and it didn’t disappoint in any way. Even the ordinary weather didn’t go anywhere near spoiling it and there were a couple of really unexpected high points for me thrown in for good measure.

Almost seven months ago Denise received a lovely Christmas present from one of her employers, Empire Spa Retreat at Yallingup. It has taken us quite a while to get round to using it but it was for a two night stay in one of their top rooms and it didn’t disappoint in any way. We arrived late afternoon on Friday and were shown to our room. I am fairly familiar with the rooms as I have done work of some sort in most of them and this was one of my favourites, split level with wood fire, huge comfy four poster bed and everything you could wish for. We had also ordered the gourmet platter and some bubbles which were ready waiting for us. We got settled in, selected some movies to watch and made a start on the platter, it was huge, there was everything you could wish for and more, beautifully presented and great quality. We opened a bottle of the bubbles and were set for the night. We had the company of the retreat manager Kirsty for a short visit which was lovely after which we selected a movie to watch and settled in for the night.

I was especially looking forward to the following day as we had some treatments booked in the spa. Now I have never had a full massage before. Shannon, the Spa manager, the lady tasked with doing it said I looked nervous (and I was a little).  She said she would be gentle with me and it was perfect.  I was lost in a wonderful world of relaxation which I didn’t want to end but it was followed by a petit facial which was also lovely. We both felt thoroughly relaxed when we walked out of the spa to head back to our room. On the way back we bumped into another employee of the retreat whom Denise introduced me to, we stood and talked for a while and somehow it came out that I was transgender, she looked really surprised and said she wouldn’t have known, I can’t tell you how much that means to me, we spoke for a while longer and I gave her my card which has my blog details on it and said if she was interested in my story it’s a good place to start.

We returned to our room to freshen up for our afternoon trip to a winery. I chose the venue, Knotting Hill,  it’s one I have visited lots of times before but haven’t been since I transitioned, in fact I got married there in 2008 to a Julia Roberts which was very fitting. We walked over the foot bridge to the cellar door and went inside. Due to the Julia Roberts/Knotting hill thing our wedding photos are still in the display cabinet, it felt really weird looking at them after all this time and now that I am a completely different person. We made our way to the bar and I spoke to a lady who I knew but she didn’t recognise me at first so I gave her a clue and said my photo is in the display cabinet to which she said “I know who you are now but don’t know your new name” I told her and she said I looked really well. She said that her father in law had told her about my journey but she didn’t know any details so I gave her a very very short version.  She said she was happy for me and I asked if her husband was around (they are the owners of the winery) and she went off to find him while we were sampling some of their wines. She returned accompanied by her husband and he said he knew who I was because his father who we bumped into in the Chinese restaurant a couple of months ago had shown him a photo of me.  They were really pleased to see me and genuinely happy for me which is all I ask for and this was a perfect reunion for me. I’m sure we will be visiting again soon.

We returned to the Retreat and got stuck into the rest of the platter, watched a couple of movies and settled in for the night. Now I am not a good sleeper by any standard and didn’t have a great night the first night, I think a combination of strange place, different surroundings, no evening walk and not my usual pillow.   However the second night, after a visit home for my regular pillow  on the way back from the winery, was much more successful and we didn’t wake till about 8.30 so it was a case of quick coffee, quick shower and to the main building for breakfast. As was the first morning, breakfast was excellent, perfect scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with some fruit toast. We thought we might go back to our room for our coats and go for a walk round the grounds but it was spitting with rain so just headed back to the room. On our way back we bumped into Erin whom I had met the day before and given my card to, to my surprise she said she had read some of the posts on my blog.  What she said then blew me away, she said that what she had seen the day before was a beautiful woman leaving the spa and I should be proud of what I’ve achieved! I just can’t tell you how much that meant to me, thank you so much Erin xx

The Joy of being Stephanie

We have spent a good deal time over the last week or so talking to people about kitchens and associated appliances for our house in Nannup both in Perth and Busselton. Not once have I felt uncomfortable or not at ease with myself,  how I present and come over to people. It’s hard for me to believe that less than two years ago it was all a dream, a dream that I was resigned to taking to my grave. The pure joy that I get from being the person I know I should always have been must be difficult for anyone to understand but I look at myself in the mirror every morning and am blown away by the transformation that has taken place over the last fifteen months from when I first transitioned to Stephanie full time.

Before the discovery of my beginnings on December 21st 2015 and during the very difficult time between then and making the decision to transition in September 2016 Denise had asked me numerous times why I hadn’t looked into the process of transitioning when in her mind it was always an option which I should have considered. I always had the same reply “I don’t have the courage to do it” but when you are faced with the choice of doing something about it or an option which doesn’t bear thinking about now, it was an easy choice. I had always thought there was no way I could ever “pass” as a female, every thing about me externally was male apart from the fact that I had very female breasts which of course I had been forced to hide for the majority of my life. Now, it’s the most natural thing for me, it has become so easy for me to present as the female which was always there in my head and I’m not really concerned wether people pick that I am trans or not, in the scheme of things it just doesn’t matter. The very first time I went out in public was in Esperance on December 30th 2016, yes I was nervous but they very soon settled and I’ve not looked back. That raises the question as to wether I should have done it earlier in my life but the fact remains that transitioning when I did has worked for me. I am with the right person, Denise has been unbelievably supportive in every aspect of my journey and without her I don’t think I would ever have had the courage to do it. The technology and techniques are changing all the time and although I have had some very dark times since my surgery and the end result is not fully what I had hoped for, I am in very little discomfort and have had no serious problems considering how major the surgery is and the risks involved so from that point of view the timing was perfect. Also, I think the whole world is so much more transgender friendly than it was even ten years ago which is no small thing, indeed even Australia has same sex marriage now! So, yes I would love to have spent an extra ten years of my life being Stephanie rather than Robin but believe me it has been so worth the wait!

365 days old!

Today marks the first anniversary of me officially being called Stephanie Rachael Vaughan. What a year it has been, what a journey! One I didn’t have a map for that’s for sure but one I could not have managed without my partner, soulmate and best friend Denise. She has been my rock and has guided me through some very rough patches with her usual practical way of looking at things. I have also had wonderful support from the medical professionals who have looked after me for the last two and a half years, the two GPs, my amazing psychologist, my gender specialist in Perth, my endocrinologist and all of my friends both here and in the UK, you have all been incredible in the love and support you have shown me.

One of the things which has really made a difference is a very small thing but it means so much to me and it’s something I try to do as often as possible even to the stage of making it a challenge to get it to happen as I have with several people. That little thing is hugging! We should all do it more, the effect is amazing and it’s contagious. It started when I first began telling people my plans to transition and it’s just grown from there. One person in particular who will remain nameless even said to me when I have an appointment she can tell if I’m up or down just by the quality of the hug! She also said that strictly it’s against the rules of her profession but as it helps her gauge what mood I’m in she is more than happy to do it and she is very good at it!

Thankfully I seem to be slowly getting back to full health, I have not needed painkillers for almost two months and am trying very hard to quit the tamazepam. The latter was probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, I didn’t realise just stopping taking them would have such a big effect on me but I think I’m over the worst of it now and seem to be sleeping reasonably well if not quite as well as before. I’m sure long term it will be good for me so will persevere and hope to keep improving. The comfort of knowing I have some in my drawer for the odd occasion when I just can’t get to sleep is good but I haven’t been tempted yet and it’s been ten days so am hopeful of a good outcome. The look on the face of my psychologist when I told her I had been on them for almost six years was the thing which prompted me to give it a try and I’m hopeful that the next time I see her I will be completely off them.

The house at Nannup is coming on slowly but surely, all of the gyprock has been done, the verandas are in the process of being done and the cornice should be up this week. We have been looking at kitchens and interior doors etc which are the next things on the list. We are hoping to have it all finished by sometime in October so it is ready for the summer, there is a considerable amount of work needed outside as well but it will happen fairly quickly once the top coat of gravel is on and it will be a work in progress for the first few years before we get it how we want it. Hopefully it will be live on Airbnb by the summer. Every time I go there I get such a sense of satisfaction having been involved throughout the build, it seems a very long time since the truck arrived with all the hundreds of parts on it and seven thousand screws to put it together!