My First Flight
By Nigella Rolfe
Like many trans women I’ve had decades of wondering and waiting for the spark to hit and spur me on to my life as a woman. Well it sure has now! This article is about my first flight and holiday 100% as Nigella. Just over a year ago I told my family I had to transition and Now! It had been thought about for years but when the moment hit me I couldn’t wait, I am after all the wrong side of 50! I was aware of the potential cost domestically but that was secondary to knowing I had to be true to myself or I would be miserable for the rest of my life.
Last year I skied with my daughter, part time as Nigella and travelling in male mode. Try packing a case for skiing with male and female attire, makeup, accessories etc and a small luggage allowance, a nightmare! But this year was different, very different, I was going alone, I’d had a year of angst, grief, trauma, huge changes and was now separated and living my new life full time. Plus transitioning and everything that goes with that. I needed a holiday! Skiing it was, to France, to La Plagne, I’d never been there before but have skied about 20 times.
Booking was exciting, finding a catered chalet where I’d live cheek by jowl with a dozen other people, all strangers but hopefully snow lovers. Then I had to choose ski clothes, some nice pink ski pants and a jacket with a lovely fur hood were the order of the day. Because my passport was still in my birth name I had to book that way…not a good start, but so be it. The company said they’d inform the chalet hosts of my ‘transiness’ to avoid surprises.
The day came and off I went to Gatwick airport, armed with a letter from my Doctor, explaining I was now female, in case of trouble. It went really well, straight through all the checks, onto the plane, a few looks but mostly smiles. I sat with two lovely funny ladies, who had been celebrating with an early bottle of champagne, it was 07.30!
I arrived in Geneva and was welcomed by a lovely travel rep, “oh hi, you must be Nigella” a big smile. I arrived at my chalet and met the other guests, a mixture of very “happy” Scotsmen, they’d been celebrating since the morning, and couples. Once we’d established that sexist comments were not appropriate we got on like a house on fire. But it had meant me and another woman standing up and telling the group they were out of order and rude, especially to one of the young female chalet hosts. Women rule!
Skiing was great. Despite getting up early to get made up, dressed and looking the best I could, I soon got into a routine. My ski instructor was charming, as were the others in the group. I’d chosen ski school to mix with other skiers as well as to be shown the mountains by a guide. Lunch was lovely, every day I’d stop at a mountain restaurant, always greeted with huge smiles, it was so good. The only difficulty was taking my helmet off and making sure my wig stayed in place! None of the French, or tourists, ever blinked, they just accepted me as I was. The weather was great which makes skiing easier so I could concentrate on learning to ski with grace and feminine poise!
Dinners back in the chalet were wonderful, all sitting at one big table, good food, unlimited wine, the hosts do all the work! Afterwards sitting on a huge sofa waiting for one of the Scots to produce yet another bottle of malt whisky! However, of course it came to an end. The journey back was uneventful. I had a great time, I’m certainly reassured that travelling as Nigella is plain sailing and I’d recommend it to anyone.
I’ve since changed my name by Deed Poll, applied for a new passport and driving licence plus all the other ‘admin’ one has to do. The passport was due to be delivered today but the postmen don’t seem to like the snow here. Oh well, I’m going nowhere fast, the UK is in the grip of the so called “beast from the east” snow storm, my boiler is broken and I’m sitting here typing wearing my ski gear keeping warm. But I’m going skiing next year for sure.