Friday, September 30, 2016

I don't remember this bit when I bought a ticket!


Okay, let's bundle all of my weekly thoughts into the proverbial washing machine and give a spin. I'd make a joke about not mixing the colours, but it may sound unpleasant. You know, like a bad Trump :-P

Satire aside, it's been a bit of a mixed week. I have.... at the risk of sounding like dear old Marvin from Hitchhikers, felt a bit low and I resisted the urge to write anything about it. Mainly because I don't think it would have done me much good to have talked about the cold, dark mud, when instead, I should be working on getting out of it. Which, after some walking, a little thinking and some distraction; seemed to manage.

Bad Breaks

Shall I start at the start? Oh, and we'll skip on from first the earth cooled and then the dinosaurs came. :-) Thursday night, all fine. Feeling refreshed and okay with the world. Same again Friday: glad it was the weekend and all felt fine. Not too late to bed and then Saturday.... wack.  I almost typed Wham, but I'm sure George and Andrew don't need the exposure.

"It's just a ride..."
Yeah, Saturday just seemed to hit me flat. Looking back and there's little point, I feel, in describing the negative emotions. Instead, I'll ask: was this a come-down thing? Was it that I was super happy and when I came back to Planet Earth, it was with a crash, not a bump? Or was it that I'd gone from expressing me to putting a large aspect of me back in a box?  Perhaps there was an element of the infamous trans panic, in that as I packed my things away, there was a skrit noise and I noticed my favourite brown wig had split along the hairline. Yikes!

Whatever it was, it was not pleasant, and at the risk of trolling for comments, or cynicism aside; asking for feedback; how do you cope with a post-trans-episode crash?

Funny, a few weeks ago I was scoffing at a survey that asked about immersion into computer games. Then, a few weeks later, I was doing just that. Perhaps, I don't know as much about myself as I think I do ;-)

Good News

Despite the above 'Wobble', there were rays of sunshine in the week gone. I returned the wiggle dress without issue, so that's 25 quid to ponder spending at Amazon. Plus, the dress I bought on a whim last time, will, I think, be spot on for the Chams party this coming October.

I popped into town while on work business and visited Nicola & Steph at their TrendCo shop in Nottingham. Twas in bloke mode, but you can't have it all :-) But we had a good chat while Steph kindly fixed my wig and we confirmed the visit to Chameleons at the end of next month. I also made an appointment to for Steph to trim the long auburn wig, which I collected today. I'm happy with the cut, so I just (gah! just!!) need an hour to put some slap on and try it properly. I also learned that said wig has a mono top, which means I can alter the parting and it still look natural. Well, as natural as a 6ft bloke ever will ;-)

Nicola & Steph mentioned they have a few gents pop in to buy wigs and sometimes they're chatty, sometimes they're not. They did say they mentioned Chameleons and so word must get around about our little group.

Talking of which, I had a long chat with a lady from BBC Radio about us, although she's keen on people's stories, which means interviews and recording. How that may sit with the group, I don't know. I do know we're keen to keep the group quiet. Sure, it's one thing to be on the web and people who want to find us will. It's another, I feel, to put our name out on the airwaves and who knows who might be listening. That, is nothing something we're quite so keen on. Still, I'll ask the group and see if anyone's interested.

So, I've got the party to look forward to and then it's half-term. Hopefully we'll manage to get away, although it will mean I'm missing a meeting. Fingers crossed it doesn't go Pete Tong again, eh?

Cheery thoughts! :-)


Friday, September 23, 2016

Human Interest


Ah, must focus. I've been flitting between browser tabs, putting off just writing. Right.... deep breath, Lynn and go! :-)

That joke twice

Ring, ring, goes my office softphone.

Yours Truly > Hello, Richard speaking.

Mystery Caller > Hi, [insert salesman name] here. Is that Sarah?

YT > No, sorry. I think you've got the wrong number -

MC > Ah. [pause] Oh. I've copied the number down wrong. I thought your were Sarah, Head of Department.

YT > No, I'm afraid not, but I could pretend if it helps.

MC > [laughter] Only at the weekends, though, eh? You know, a friend of mine...

Mystery Caller then embarks on a story about his tall female friend who ran a shoe shop for ladies with a larger than average foot size. He politely put in that it wasn't just ladies who shopped there. I know, the shock right? :-P Then, he was into a story about how he had the utmost admiration for ladies who can walk in heels. He'd tried some size ten ones and fallen flat on his face. I managed not to mutter 'amateur' but laughed politely and directed him towards said departmental head.

Sometime later, I've pulled up at our local supermarket and I'm collecting the weekly supplies from a late night click & collect. The young lady comes out with a stack of boxes - hopefully the food I ordered. It is, somewhat of a gamble, it seems - and gives me a quizzical look before asking the Ever Lovely Mrs J's name. "No, but I'm her husband."

"Ah," she says with a grin. "I thought it might be your weekend name! Ha ha!"

Y'know, if I wasn't paranoid, I really would think people knew ;-) I did toy with the idea of making a return joke, but you don't want to freak people out, do you. Later on, and as I packed the car, I mentioned that a mate of mine did. "Oh, and they do their make-up so brilliantly, don't they?" the lady replied. "I wish I could get my eye make-up as good as that."

Nottingham Pride attendees, you may be missing out on a business opportunity to help those in need of fabulousity. ;-)


Fab 40s
Thanks to a yearly windfall I ordered a two dresses from Amazon. A 40s wiggle dress (see right) and an evening number. The T-Faeries of Commerce smiled upon me and the goods arrived at my nearly local post office for collection. Indeed, the good luck continued as Wee Man's school was closed, meaning I had to drop him off at Granny J's to stay the night. Result: an early, guilt free pass. Get in ;-)

With an early start at Chams I managed to try on both dresses. Sadly, the 40s dress - while lovely - doesn't quite work. The vendor - Lindy Bop - recommended one size up and while the dress fit (in the skirt area), the back and shoulders are a little less fitted than I'd like. Yes, I could get the dress altered, but that's going to be a right faff and.... much as I love a bit of dressing up when...umm... dressing up, it's not something I'll probably wear frequently. So, after blogging, tonight's task will be to wrap it up and get a returns label sorted out.

A magic number
But, on to happier news and I stuck with what I think I'll start to call my Compliment Dress. I guess this simple number (from must have some magic charm to it. Whenever I wear it, which isn't that often, people often say "oh, nice dress!" or "I love your dress" etc. Don't get me wrong, a love a compliment as much as the next lady. I'm just surprised this dress seems to attract such praise. Still, much better than why are you wearing that?! ;-)

I had a good heart-to-heart chat with Fyona, who was also kind enough to say some nice things about this little blog of mine. If you're reading this, Fy, thanks again, chuck. Oddly, in the Chams email t'other week, an independent journalist got in touch, asking if any of our number would like to be interviewed with their partner. Ah, that old chestnut and if I may, I'd like you to hold that thought for a moment and we'll come back to it in a mo.

Under Pressure

Sabrina, a University researcher had been working with a number of volunteers from Chameleons to look into the question around Minority Stress models. Now, much as I have an interest in trans stuff and psychology, I am very much not an expert. Apologies if I've got the technical lingo wrong.

Anyhoo, the research gave strong evidence that the model used to measure Minority Stress in Trans people isn't wholly accurate, because there's a number of different factors at play within us. So, while we share some stress characteristics - and please read 'stress' as pressure or upset, rather than "eeek, I've lost my homework - with LGB people, we have some that they don't. Likewise, I'd wager that LGB people have some we don't. I mean, ignoring the trans stuff, I'm just another 40 something middle class, tubby straight dad working in IT.

Now, I'd set up some chairs in a side room for Sabrina to give her talk. I wasn't expecting what felt like 80% of the Chams massive to join us. Still, the more the merrier. The research did cause some debate and various people offered anecdotes and questions. Val was sceptical about the outcome of the research and what it might mean for us. I get that, I think and I hope I've not got her view wrong (complaints to the usual address! :-) ). Becky mentioned the difference in the way she's treated in Nottingham, in comparison to other cities int he Midlands (hint: Nottingham: you're doing it right, bless you). Helen asked about the age of those surveyed and the mean was around 29 years.

I, like a few others, seemed to be expecting a higher number given that most of our Chams membership is 35+. Okay, there's a few younger folk,but they are the minority. This kicked off a question around younger trans folk - younger as in 20s - and someone stating: aren't they just Out and doing what they need? Well, I don't have any evidence to back this up, although I will say I get the occasional email to the group's inbox asking for advice. As to all Out, I was talking to Bryony - who's helps run a local university's LGBTQ society. It seems not everyone is out, at least from her experience with students. So, do we have a lack of young folk at Chams because:

1) Younger T folk don't need it and are out doing their own thing.
2) Younger T folk aren't feeling the need/pain to overcome their fears. That hits at 30-40 for Chams.
3) Chams isn't a target of interest. Knitting circle / we're too old, etc ;-)

So, going back to the journalist question: are we - trans folk - trapped in a Catch 22? Sure, society is getting better if you compare the 80s to the 90s to the 00s and now. But, there are many of us - and I'll include myself in this - that aren't ready to be fully out of the closet. Okay, I run a blog, but my family & friends (other than the Ever Lovely Mrs J) don't know and in the main, I am mostly okay with that.

I guess, I'm not ready to be the departmental tranny - there, I've said a naughty word - or "there goes Little Miss's Dad. He doesn't always look like that you know...". Thing is, so long as I hear that word - tranny - at work, on TV or out on the street, it doesn't make me want to be out. Not with the baggage is has linked to it. Much as I'm okay to laugh at myself, I don't mind you laughing along with me, just.... not at me. I read an email from a local radio station about 'human interest stories'. Well, with respect, we're not stories, we're human. After the readers and the hullabaloo have gone, it's us folk who have to live with what's been revealed. So yeah, always slightly worried when the spotlight falls on us.

What will this research do for us? Well, there is a question. I can only hope that maybe it will work like the NHS' Depression Test. For those of you who've not used it - and count yourself lucky :-) - it's nine questions and they can help you, or medical expert, diagnose the level of your distress. As I said to others last night, I'm hoping such a Distress Diagnostic tool doesn't become a... if you'll forgive me... a pissing contest. "Oh, I'm more trans than you, because I got 7B." etc. Sure, there will always be people like that, but I don't think we should encourage such behaviour. It's not like there's a shortage of bigots or our own demons queuing up to put the proverbial boot in. :-)

Maybe, a technique could be developed that will help demonstrate not so much the level of our transness, so to speak, but the level of distress we are under because of it. Was my depression caused solely by being trans? No, I don't think it was, but I dare say it had a role to play in there somewhere. Perhaps I wouldn't have fallen quite so far into the darkness, if it hadn't been for whatever personal demons I'd amassed. You know the usual suspects: you're too blokey, too square, too fat, too fat, too ham fisted, too ugly, too much like a joke, etc. Mind you, it's been a long time since I've bothered to listen to those naysayers and they only have power if you listen to them.

Well... I think that's quite probably a long enough post (!). That Amazon return won't sort itself and I think I've reached a natural lull on the research question.

Take care and if you made it this far, thanks :-)