Friday, December 30, 2016

Looking back and forward

Hi,

First off, I hope you had a good Christmas. At Jones Towers things were very family orientated which is just how we like it! Both Wee Man and Little Miss thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the Ever Lovely Mrs J enjoyed her surprises. For me, and apologies if this is a bit cliche, it was all about seeing the joy on peoples' faces, good laughter and plenty of welcoming hugs as family arrived.

I appreciate that for some, Christmas can be more a time to count ones losses or avoid conflict. The festive season isn't always a time of cheer. If this was you, I hope 2017 is kinder to you, whatever your situation is.

Talking of the future, what will 2017 have in store for us? I'm curious as to how the big political changes will play out. Both the cynic and the romantic in me - odd how those two bedfellows get on - would like to see those who lied (or post-truth, if you want a modern term) get called to task. I can only hope that we'll see an end to the populist and a-little-too-frequently-dangerous BS that's been doing the rounds this year.

What of this year? Well, ignoring the big stories, for little ol' me, there's been some highlights.

  • My family are doing well and that's something to be thankful for. 
  • Likewise, Chams keeps on trucking and the new website and forum, where somewhat of a challenge, they are bedding in nicely. Folk are posting regularly and speaking personally, I'm finding the out-of-meeting chat really helpful and supportive. Top job everyone!
  • I think we're on the cusp of sorting the funding out, which will help us. 
  • I've managed a few trips out and about.
  • I've met up with old (trans) friends.
  • I've come out to a dear friend and this went well. 
  • I've gave a talk about what it is to be trans and - dare I say - entertained and educated.
  • After the Xmas party, Laura was kind enough to say this: "Boy, can Lynn dance - she certainly got her 'groove' on with the scissor sisters track!". That very much put the icing on the cake.♥
  • I've changed my hairstyle and had a lot of fun trying on new ones when TrendCo visited.
  • I've been to the biscuit tin one too many times, my weight could be worse! :-)
  • I blagged an interview with a trans author for T-Central.
  • I've been happy with big event outfits (here , here and here) and felt happy in my own skin. I don't think you can put a price on the latter.
  • I've not seen much of the Black Dog, just a few early starts with our own pets.
  • I've been lucky enough to have this blog featured a few times on T Central (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).  
  • Val kindly wrote the first guest piece for this blog. Thank you!
  • I've been fortunate enough to have you lot read and offer thoughtful advice and/or witty comments on many an occasion.
All in all, numerous reasons to look back and think of the good times, and less of the occasional bad vibes. As to next year? I'm hoping it treats me, you and yours well. That's all I can hope for really. Anything else is a bonus.


Stay safe, happy new year and thanks for reading.
Lynn

Friday, December 23, 2016

Feeling festive

Hi,

How are you? All sorted out for the big day? I hope so. I think I'm just about there with the wrapping and other preparation. Fingers crossed eh?

Earlier

As I write, I'm sat in a shopping centre café watching the world go buy. The Ever Lovely Mrs J's car is having a service, so I've a hour or two to wander about, somewhere out of town. There's a gentle drift off shoppers through the store. They're browsing rather than buying.

I had a brief look at the sale rail on the way in, but nothing caught my eye. As I've sat here and enjoyed my little pot of tea, I realised there was nothing I really wanted. How nice a feeling that is! To feel content with my lot and not too feel the need or rush to get something. Be that a new top, or shoes to go with an outfit, etc.

I finished the Ever Lovely Mrs J's shopping a few weeks ago and.... umm... I may have got a little carried away. Ah well, I think it's great to make an effort and get things people actually want. I know it's a bit cheesy, but seeing the delight on your loved ones' faces is truly awesome. Perhaps that explains my relaxed mood? Well, it's either being happy in one's own skin, having had time to relax, or the universal cure-all for Brits: a sit down and a good cup of tea. ;-)

I guess I must be blessed and/or lucky given many in the world don't have the luxuries that I do. My health, a family, my family, a steady job, food, a wife who loves me and there's no violence. Not like others less fortunate.

So, if you will, please take a moment to think of the good in your life. Maybe that's your friends, a pet, an event, or maybe the perfect pair of heels ;-) Whatever you pick, there's something good going on.

After Christmas, I've got my Happiness Jar to open. I saw the idea from Pandora, a former blogger now on Facebook, and started to keep a note of Good Stuff ™ that happened to me, my family or friends. It seems the news pretty much reports the bad, which I sort of get, but at the same time, there's still beauty and wonder in the world. The good thing about having an iffy memory is that a lot of the folded up Post Its, will be quite a surprise. :-D

Later

Thursday was the last Chameleons meetings of the year. It's not often we have a chance to meet up so close to Christmas, so it was a welcome occasion. Sure, quieter than usual, but quiet isn't always a bad thing. It certainly gave me a chance to catch up with what people have been up to, even if I was late setting off.

Given it was Christmas, I decided to give my fitted red dress a spin. It's a bit much for any other time of the year, but the festive period is usually quite glam, so hey ho, let's go. That and my lace cardigan which seems to drift back into fashion with alarming recurrence. Not bad for two items that are on the cusp of being vintage. They've certainly weathered the years better than the owner :-D

I wasn't late back, and I was back out 10 minutes later with a shopping list and Wee Man in tow. Mrs J likes to do a midnight run to get the Christmas dinner essentials, but as she was rather tired, we went instead. It was quite a hoot and we had a bit of a laugh. Clearly, we shouldn't be let out without adult supervision. Ah, father and son time, eh? Quality.

BTW, it did make me smile thinking I wasn't looking quiet so fatherly about half an hour earlier.

Wishes

Whatever you're up to this holiday season, I'd like to wish you a merry Christmas and that you have a good holiday with nothing but happy memories and good cheer.

Take care,
Lynn
x

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ladies who lunch

Hi,

Wow, am I glad this week is done. I don't know if it's the prospect of a long Christmas break, one too many middle of the night wake-up calls from one of our dogs (3am should only be seen after a very good party, otherwise, it's just plain rude), or the seemingly long period between our last holiday (October) and today.... Ah, but it is, at least, the weekend and it's not far until work closes down for a stint.

Oh, and I used the remainder of my holiday up. A half day to pop into town and collect the last few items for the Ever Lovely Mrs J's Xmas present pile. We, *ahem* had a monetary agreement of no more than X this year.... which I've ignored. I consider many rules to be more, well, guidelines. For example: always eat your greens (unless they are tasteless or you've had one Brussels sprout already), never wear something you were young enough to remember wearing the first time around (provided it suits you, do it) and women's clothing (f*** that. I'll wear it even if I'm a guy).

Where was I? Oh yes, a half day. I had, unusually, arranged to meet an old (trans) friend for coffee. Sadly in bloke mode, but you can't have it all. Anyhoo, it's been a while since Rachel and I met, quite possibly an Invasion about two years ago, so as she was in town, and so was I, it seemed rude not to . As I said, I was in bloke mode having come from work, however Rachel was not. She was, if I may say, rocking the office look. As we walked into the cafe, no-one batted an eye, 'cos it's 2016 and I don't live in a world populated by Daily Heil readers :-P

For a brief moment, as I sat down, I did wonder, what if someone from work sees us? But then, I thought, no, I'm just meeting an old friend for lunch and a chat. Perhaps, by doing the regular things of meeting up and just being out and about, we trans folk are pushing into the real world and showing that we're just like regular cis-people.

We had a good long chat about family, life, what it is to be trans and other things. We spoke about Chameleons, getting out and the pros & cons of coming out and not coming out. To say the latter is complicated for us trans folk, would be an understatement. One of the things we spoke about was how we arrived. Not the male guff about which road to take, but our trans journey. It seems Rachel - and hopefully I'm not sharing out of turn here - had given the idea of any "transiness" virtual no thought, up until five years ago. Then, after a chance conversation with a friend, she found herself exploring her gender, so to speak, and very much in at the deep end. Not in a bad way, just different.

Perhaps I found it different because my arrival here has been quite a slow burn. I've said before that I never quite felt like a regular boy ("I got no strings to hold me up" etc :-) ), and these feelings have been with me since the early years of primary school. Again, this doesn't make either of our journeys better or worse; just different starting positions. This isn't a race. For me, hearing people's origin stories, if that's the right term, is very interesting. Not only from a personal point of view, but also to hear the diversity within our community. Perhaps, if I ever got my act together, there's a book in there. :-)

Time drew on and it was time to say goodbye. Rachel headed off down the hill and I across into town. I popped into Boots and collected something for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. While I was there, the sales lady asked if there was anything else she could help with. Well, funny you should say that... :-) I explained that I helped run a transgender support group and that Boots had been kind enough to visit us a few years back. We would be very grateful if some good folk from Boots would come again, bringing stock with them and maybe run a demo or two. Said lady seemed very keen and I'm hopeful the manager (Pam, I think) will be in touch in due course.

On my way out of Boots, I spotted Alison, and we had a bit of chat, gabbing away in the cold about Xmas and family life. There was a quick hug goodbye, and then we too parted ways. With me heading off to lighten my wallet in the name of Christmas commerce. ;-)

Funny, you go to town and you don't see anyone you know, then, like buses, two friends come along at once ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, December 09, 2016

A series of excellent events

Hi,

The office is quiet at the mo, and I'm sat listening to birdsong with forest sounds on my headphones (Noisili). I'm feeling rather relaxed, although the large cup of tea probably helps along with the stillness. This week, it's mostly a good news situation.

Midweek

Midweek I met with Joanna, a representative from the Womens' Centre, to find out more about the funding we've been working on. That's gone well and I've a bit of paperwork to fill out, to get things going. I think we may be in the final furlong, to coin a phrase. Oh, that reminds me, to help find evidence of making a difference, if you're a Chameleons visitor - in the real, or virtual, world, I'd be really grateful if you could put a paragraph together saying how the group's helped you. I'll tweak your name, by adding the first two digits of your birthday, if you like. That'll make it fairly anonymous, and yet, you'll know your comments. . The contact form is here.

Joanna said the comments will go to the City Council, so please note you may see your occluded name in lights. I promise I'll do my best not to put anything to link your words back to your email or otherwise.

The group's bank account is now '...fully operational', or fully opewational, if you're impersonating Darth Elmer Fudd :-) I took the subs to be paid in, and thanks to e-banking, I can see what the group has in funds. We should also be able to pay for our room hire via the same route, which will hopefully make things easier, as there'll be less messing about with cheques and whatnot. An IT solution making things easier? Heh, I can dream right? :-)

Party

Last night was the Xmas Party and wow, it was a truly cracking night. Everyone had pulled together to bring food, drink, mince-pies and music. We had a proper disco set up thanks to Laura (thanks, Mrs!). Fancy lights, big speakers, a wide range of pop and retro. Certainly a change from me using an old laptop and some desktop speakers. I just need to use my T-Jedi powers to influence the play list. ;-)

Feeling fancy
I was lucky to get in on time and thanks to a midweek delivery, I had a new party top to go with last year's sequined skirt (itself another bargain). Throw in some killer heels and I was very happy with my outfit. As I said to Fy as I got ready, it's so good to feel pretty every now and again. Just to break the run of jeans and shirts.

The Changing Room was pretty busy, with Sarah, Alison and Val visiting (loving the new do, Val). Fyona, Diane and Amanda did our best to transform ourselves. With it being a party night, I dialled up the glamour with some false lashes, some Urban Decay shades and some golden glitter eyeliner. Much wow, such amaze, so not bloke mode ;-)

Downstairs, the tables were out, people were mingling and the music in full swing in the bar area. We had some visitors from far away too. Rhiannon from Oop North, and then three trans men, down from Yorkshire, via America and Saudi Arabia. Wow, it there's ever a country not to be straight and male, Saudi must be it. Geez, what a mess. :-\ Interesting to hear how they're finding things, and would've loved to have talked to them for longer. Seeing more trans guys turn up makes me feel happy, happy in that Chams isn't just for us MTF part timers. While that;s our core, having folk from across the trans community is, I think, a really good thing.

I managed to grab a few words with various people and 'cut some rug' to the tunes being played out. I've still got Don't Feel Like Dancing by The Scissor Sisters looping around my head. So good to lose yourself in the music and just dance. Just thinking about this, makes me smile. Again, thanks to Laura for working her sorcery and Diane for sorting out the lights.

Back again with the ill behaviour
I had a good chat with Rhiannon, who I'd not seen in ages. We had a chat about her work speciality, which i may allude to, but not share. I certainly learned a few things, and I was surprised to now get the difference between extroverts and introverts. Seems I'm much more of the latter, despite my love of the dance floor and other behaviours. Every day's a school day.

By the end of the night, there was much tidying up to be done and uneaten food to be packed and taken away. I think my stash of paper plates will last a few months yet ;-)

We had time for some snaps, because mais oui :-) That and I can look back in later months and jog some memories. Val was kind enough to do the honours of taking one of me and Rhi. Maybe next time, I'll get everyone together for a group shot....and not on the stairs. :-)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays
L x


Friday, December 02, 2016

Shared journeys

Hi,

A bit of a personal post today. I met someone for lunch. I'll can call her* W, (* as in a non-trans lady ) and while I think it's unlikely she'll ever read this, I'll extend the same courtesy of anonymity to W, as I do to the Ever Lovely Mrs J, Wee Man and Little Miss. For any of you wondering if this may take a salacious turn, may I be the first to disappoint and say neither of us are from The Fens, so it's not like that ;-P

W had made no secret of her struggle against the Black Dog. While we'd had a few shortish chats over t'interwebs, I don't know about you, but I find face to face much easier and well, more human. Sure, Facebook chats and forum posts keep you connected and Skype or video calls are pretty good too, but it's not really the same.

Anyhoo, W and I sat in an out of town café chatting over tea and cake. We talked about W's relocation to Nottingham and how the new job was going. Conversation drifted, as it does and we talked about coping mechanisms, Jedi mind tricks and whatnot. Things you try and do to avoid going into the shadows, and how difficult it can to remember to do the right thing when you find yourself in the gloom. Not that I've been that way proper for many a moon, thankfully and I'm no expert by a long stretch, but you what you can to help don't you?

W asked about how did I slip into depression and I gave her the short and sanitised history. Chuck in a few wry comments to keep it light and give her time for questions, and also try to draw her in and keep the conversation two sided. I used phrases such as 'people like me', rather than saying trans, or euphemisms like that because I didn't want to burden W with knowing about my secrets.

We spoke about her parents and she said how much we were alike in many ways. A key difference is she's very religious and I'm, well, completely not religious at all. But despite that seemingly stark contrast, we're very similar: we try to help, we struggle a bit here and there, we love to teach and we sort of do our own thing gender-wise (W is very tomboyish and it suits her). W said that Little Miss is like her, in that Little Miss isn't pink and skirts; instead she's kick ass boots, skinny jeans and surfer shirts. Little Miss is an awesome little girl and like Wee Man, I'm proud of her standing up for what she believes in, but that may be a story for another time.

We skirted around why my depression may have started and how I sort help and where that took me. Some steps forward, some back, but ultimately, in the right direction. If W got the whiff that there was some underlying secret, or something I wasn't saying, she was polite enough not to say. I don't know what made me say it, but as we spoke about gender roles; W's non-nonsense style and how sometimes people misinterpret it as it defines her sexuality. It, of course doesn't, but you know how it is. Short hair, jeans and DMs on a lady? You must be a lesbian. Nope, no more than a gent sporting two earrings, nice nails and fancy eyebrows makes him gay. Now, if said lady or gent was spotted holding hands, and/or kissing their partner of the same sex; then you can make that call :-P

We spoke further around appearances and how they define us. I spoke about feeling like a minority: that story about visiting a poly and being the only other white guy there. I said, as with W's experiences, how experiences can help us empathise with others not always like us. I then heard myself say "but partly, because I don't always look like this." I wonder if my subconscious was ahead of me. That happens. W's interest was piqued and I realised I had to complete the sentence. "I am... trans, if that makes sense. Mostly I look like this, but you can't turn off who you are."

W nodded sagely and she asked a few questions such as how long?, did my folks know? (sort of), did Mrs J know? (yes), had she always known? (sort of) Little Miss / Wee Man? (no and no plans to say) and was I out at work? (no)

Conversation moved around as a good one does and we drifted in and out of various topics. W spoke about some of the people she knew who'd 'bottled things up', or who had tried to be someone different, a sort of grown up let's pretend. Do we pretend? I asked. Perhaps to try things on: ideas, approaches or - again, the old chestbut - of masks. It all goes into the mix to make us who we are.

I showed her a picture of me in Lynn mode - the daytime one (see right) - and she smiled. It's you, and also not you, W said. I wasn't seeking validation, but more to point out that many of us trans folk are decidedly Marks & Spencer, not Ann Summers. For some, that's fine, and if that's you, enjoy, but that's just not my handbag, baby. :-)

We wandered off through the rest of the building and out into the afternoon sun. W thanked me for coming and I her, for her kind treat of tea, cake and good company. We hugged again and she said she'd like to see more of the Jones Massive, and then she said thanks for sharing who you are, for trusting me and being honest. I handed over an early Xmas present, just in case and waved goodbye.

I felt that W seemed brighter and that knowing someone else has gone through similar things, and yet, survived, may giver her hope. Much as I'd like to know the magic words to stop anyone's depression, it doesn't work like that. It's a work in progress, and you need to be kind to yourself. A phrase that's easy to say, and yet so hard to do, when you're not yourself.

So, I'm out to another and it's been a very long time. Possibly 17 years since I told anyone. That last person not being just anyone, but the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Not sure if going to Chams counts as coming out, I think they've got a pretty good idea why you're visiting and it ain't to fix the heating ;-)

Thanks for reading.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 25, 2016

Company

Hi,

Ah, the first visit to Chameleons in many a moon. If last time's post was all about going solo, then last night's visit was all about community and belonging.

It had been, what?, a month plus since I'd last seen friends at the group, so it was great to catch up and find out what they'd been up to. It was good to see people who'd not been for a while, and in some ways, Chams is somewhere you can come back to, seemingly after any time.

Jacob, one of our transmen, had popped in and it seems his luck is finally turning. It was very interesting to hear him talk about him starting to transition. Particularly his comments about looking forward to growing a beard. It is completely the opposite of what most our number want, in that we aim to eliminate any signs of facial hair.

Valtography strikes again.
In other news, Val found our new key upstairs, so that's two of us with alarm fobs who could lock up, if need me. That'll certainly help avoid shuttling the single key between us, when it comes to holidays or being away.

Sandi squared the costs over the web hosting and as November's been unusually expensive (car tyres, kids' clothing, bills, etc), the money back was very welcome. The good news is that I can stop the monthly charges for the old Chameleons website , and we can concentrate on using the new one. I've noticed our forum is picking up, with people chatting. Good to see folk making the most of it.

The Christmas party will be our next meeting - that seems to have come around quickly. So it's a case of organising food, drinks, music and trying to dodge work dos. Now, give my lack of being able to pack appropriately, perhaps now would be a good time to start thinking about what to wear. :-)

For a spot of fun I did one of those What Type of Trans Person tests. If anyone says unconvincing or procrastinating, you'd be harsh, but fair. :-) Hey, it's ten questions, so I think it's unlikely to give any deep soul analysis. But to quote a very funny executive transvestite, there's the famous Cake or Death question, and that's just two words. ;-)

According to the test, I'm gender fluid, being comfy as either. I can't say I'd considered that label. I still just think of myself as trans and as Demi may have quipped from Peanuts, "try not to think about it." :-)

So, gender fluid despite presenting as a bloke 99% of the time. But then, maybe the inside - who you are - doesn't change.

Still, it could have said bi-gendered. Not that there's anything wrong with that, apart from the need of a dash. Otherwise, it looks like big ender. Oo-er, missus ;-)

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting out. Being me.

Hiya,

You may want to get comfy. This may be a long post ;-)

T - 24 hours

With luck tomorrow, I'll get a day out. Not just away from home or work, but also not in Richard mode. Not that I begrudge my identity. Far from it, I doubt I'd be where i am if I'd ploughed a 'bi-gender' furrow of my own. They do things differently in the past. :-)

So, I'm somewhat nervous, as I don't fully know if tomorrow's trip will play out. I've had one failure before and although it's only a week until Chams, I can feel the rumblings of distant storm clouds. That or the chilli beef wrap hasn't agreed with me ;-)

Other than nerves, and perhaps here's the nub of it: I'm about to break my promise about not going out. This isn't the first time and I don't it'll be the last.

It's complicated. :-/ I've had a night out in Leicester and that was fine. When the kids were tiny, I'd get changed at home and travel to Chams dressed.

So, why the guilt? Is it using holiday time? (we've nothing booked). It is deceit? (I do hold some personal things back. We all have secrets).

Another, and less introspective part of me, asks why not? I'm being careful. I'm not cheating. I'm going far from home. Plus, I've not been out for months. Perhaps, it is that old adage of taking care of your needs and feeling the rub that you're not a good partner, or parent, because you are thinking of yourself first.

Whatever this heady brew of conflict is, with luck, I'll look it in the eye, smile turn on a higher heel to face the world.

T - 67 minutes

Okay, those who should be in school are in school, and those who should be at work - bar me, dear reader - is, umm, at work. My stomach is fluttering with nerves and I'm doing my best to ignore the feelings I had yesterday. I am going to do this. I am going to get ready and I am going to go out. I have an outfit planned, a New Look voucher that needs to be spent before it expires, and some Christmas presents to get too.

Once more into the corset, dear fatty, once more!

__________________________

Aiming for a day time look
Okay, enough with the Mission Control gags. :-)

I make it out of the house with a 'bug out bag' in the boot of the car and I'm heading over to Leicester. I stop twice to do my nails: coat one, drive off and dry as I drive through the traffic. Then and other stop and coat two before moving on and finally arriving in the centre of Leicester.

I'm parked up and oddly, my nerves have settled. I don't know if I'm getting used in to what's happening, or that I know the only way is to open the car door and start walking. So, that's what I do. I don't round my shoulders or scurry between the shadows. It's face forward and meet the world. I can hear my heels sounding off against the coloured concrete. If I wanted to sneak around, I should have worn quieter shoes.

I pass a few people and no-one says anything, no-one looks. Maybe they're used to seeing 6ft blokes
Out and visible, but oddly calm
in mid-heels and a nice skirt and coat from M&S. ;-) I don't blend in, but I also.... I also, don't care.

I stop for a quick snap by the mirrored walkway; pretending to read a message on my mobile. A member of the Highcross team asks if I need any help, but I politely say I'm okay. She smiles, and moves on.

Next stop: New Look. It's just over the bridge from the car park and John Lewis, plus I've that voucher to use up. After a short wander around the store, I find some low heeled ankle boots and they are sooo comfy. No wonder so many ladies in the office wear them! I try some over the knee boots just for fun, but they're an eight and I'm only an eight, if it's wide fit. It isn't, so I can't get my foot in. Bugger. :-)

Big mirrors are
a t-girl's best
friend
With the voucher, my new boots cost me six quid (result!) and I'm a happy pixie. As I move to the stairs and lady and her daughter stop me. "Excuse me," she says, "This may be a bit personal - ". A flurry of possibly trans* questions and answers speed in my brain. She finishes: " - but could I take a picture of your hair, please? It's exactly the colour and highlights I want in mine. I won't take a photo if you don't want and it'll only be from the back."

Well, I'm a little thrown by the question, but sure, why not. We have a little chat and a laugh, then we part ways. I would have loved to have heard how events played out, when she explained to her hairdresser how she got the inspiration and the photo. :-)

I pause in one of the department stores to try on a shrug or cape. Why are changing rooms so warm? :-) Eventually, I wander slowly through the shopping centre and see if anything catches my eye for Mrs J or the kids. It doesn't and I head outside. It's p*ssing it down, and I tap may way through the puddles - gah, this is easier in flats! - to take shelter in T K Maxx. There's not much going on clothing wise, but I buy a brolly. The lady at the till (wearing a fabulously twisted and twined headscarf) quizzes me about the weather.

Suitably armoured against the inclement weather, I visit a few more high street shops. I catch a few people staring - both blokes and one lady. I smile and they look away. Holy gender disruption, Batman: a happy trans person! ;-) But the reality is, most people are too caught up in their own world, or, if they do see me, I'm just another person - trans obviously - in the world. I'm no threat to them, so they ignore me, and I'm cool with that.

I spot a plus size clothing shop - Yours - and they're advertising shoes up to a size 10. I pop in to see what they have and make a note to put something on the Chameleons forum. I try some leather look leggings on in Dorothy Perkins but they're too lose, so they go back. I try a blouse on in H&M, which looks okay, but while I should update my tops wardrobe, it doesn't quite do it for me.

Looks like a
posh blanket
I wander away from the main shopping areas and stroll through the Lanes. If you don't know Leicester, but the Lanes is a collection of small shops and not so many chain stores. Not that I have anything against the latter. In the small streets, there's food, drink, books, records, shoes, clothes, jewellery and a pub or two.

I pop into a boutique and get two things for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Both items will raise a smile this Christmas and they're unusual too. Man, am I getting in touch with my inner hipster? Sheesh. ;-) At least I didn't say artisan. :-D I had a chat with the shop owner, who was saying she had trouble getting people to her web site. She also said she'd not updated the stock on-line. We chatted about how some of the gift shops in the Lakes or in other touristy places, start to serve ice-cream to draw folk in. I know we've succumbed to that more than once! :-)

I stop off at a coffee house. Years ago, Sophie and I stopped for a drink and to rest our feet. I sit and look out of the steamed up window and just enjoy the subdued background conversation. When I've drunk up, I pop to the loo - luckily 'shared' facilities - and I swap my heels for my new boots. Perhaps an hour plus of walking in heels (thank you Google Fit) is a bit much after such a long break. :-) Honestly, how (natal) women manage in, I don't know and they have my respect.

On the way out, I visit Irregular Choices, who make the most fab shoes. Kooky stuff and so pretty! I found some black sequin ones, then some pretty silver dotty ones. Sadly, none are in my size, hohum! But they have a web site and do go up to a 10. They also had some Disney shoes - think RuPaul meets Princess Aurora - which flashed as you stomped into them. Yes, perhaps a bit too kitch, but fun none the less.

While there, I had a lovely chat with the sales lady. I make a comment about picking something suitable for the office and this leads me to say I'm only a part timer; that it's a day out and then the conversation moves on to her shopping habits. Sure, a good shop assistant will draw you in and help, but I think you can tell genuine politeness from professional banter, if that makes sense.

Pretty but pricey.
I head back through the lower floor of Highcross and pop into Cath Kitson. They have a gorgeous dress and as I'm looking for my size, a young lady asks if she can help. A moment later and I'm in the changing room trying on the rather pretty dress. It's 90 quid, which is more than I'd spend on the Ever Lovely Mrs J and certainly a lot more than I'd spend on myself. Instead, I enjoy the look and hand it back.

After another wander through John Lewis and a look at the make-up, I head off thinking how I can get changed before I can get home. Usually, I'd be home by 2pm and get changed there. I know that with the Ever Lovely Mrs J being at work, it'll be too close to call and I don't want to risk it. Instead, I head out to Thurmaston and visit the T K Maxx and Asda (we need supplies for home). I nip through the supermarket, collect a few things and pay up before heading back.

I stop off at a quiet lay-by out in the sticks and swap my clothes. After that, it's a dash back to work (we have shower facilities at the back of the building) and make sure all signs of slap have gone. No one sees me come in or leave. I open my smartphone and 'zip' up all the photos.

As I drive home, I think back to something some on Late Night Woman's Hour said about fashion: that she craved some yoga shoes. I've no idea what these are, but on listening to Lauren's comments, she said that what she actually wanted as the lifestyle that went with the clothing. To feel she had the time to go to a day session of yoga and that by buying the item, she'd move into that world.

Maybe that's true for me and the new boots. If all the office folk are wearing them, am I buying into the idea (myth?) than I'm part of that crowd too? The working women who balance family and work. Or, maybe, I'm trying to buy my way into acceptance. Whatever it is, I can't reach a conclusion, although I do think you should only buy something it you need it. And, wow, after all that time in heels, did I need them ;-)

When I get home, no one says anything about 'dark eyes'. or suchlike. My fear, so far, as been unfounded.

The next morning, I take the bug out bag out of the car and stash it back in the wardrobe. I pop my wig on its stand, hang my outfit up and think on the happy memories. Really, that what's it about: not things bought, but memories made. A day out - a whole day out - in Lynn mode. No shouting, no pointing, just me going through the world and being left alone. I can dig that.

__________________________

So, what, if anything can be learned from my trip out? Someone once said to me, that if you're struggling, think of what you'd say to a friend and then say it to yourself.

Well, I would say? Okay, feel the fear and do it anyway. Take some time to be you, if that's what you need. Don't worry so much about passing or blending in. Just be yourself (!!) and relax. People are accepting in general and as much as we've read about the rise of hate, most folk are cool about us trans folk. If you do get stared at, just make eye contact, smile politely and watch them look away.

Oh, and walk slowly. Take an umbrella and think wisely about your choice of shoe ;-)

Happy times.

Lynn
x

Friday, November 11, 2016

Being Dad

Hello dear reader,

This week has been somewhat unusual. Not just for me, but seemingly a large number of folk who've been following the American elections. What is the world coming to eh? I get that neither candidate was perfect and their faults, I guess, are very much in the eyes of the voter.

That said, some of the outrageous things Trump said, you'd have been sacked from most jobs over here. I can only hope that the piss & fire was mostly for show, and his term will be far quieter. Failing that, anyone who's had the sheer rudeness* of not being born white, straight and male, may be in for a rough ride... and frankly, that's wrong. I don't give a toss about your politics, your religion or your excuses: if you're discriminating against someone's basic human rights, you need to have a word with yourself and start treating others like people, not stereotypes.

( * warning: ironic statement )

Being Dad

Okay, politics aside, with the Ever Lovely Mrs J being away with work, it's been my task to be the working househusband. For the record, Mrs J works too, as do many families in the UK. Partly necessity (bills, mortgage, etc) but also equality. I've tried seeing if I can give work up, but apparently we need the money I earn. What a crock ;-)

Anyhoo, I don't mention the househusband thing, as poor little me, or as a brag; moreover, how do single parents manage!? I'm knackered! Plus I've had help from Granny J on two afternoons. To top it off, old Owly McNightOwl here has been going to bed early. What's a bloke to do eh? :-) Seems I'm a lightweight, as I was talking to a work colleague and her husband's often abroad (Royal Air Force), so this is very much her gig.

I had hoped to manage a spot of Lynn time midweek, but events conspired against me. Instead, I was looking after Little Miss and Wee Man, due to unexpected school closures. I was a bit miffed at my plans going south, but what can you do? It's not like I could send them packing, so I could go out, that really wouldn't be right. Instead, we took the dogs for a walk, played games and watched a film. A good time was had by all and it's quite probably saved me a bit of dosh and given me happy memories too. Good stuff.

Money

Talking of moolah, Chameleons have been looking for funding help keep the membership costs down. After withdrawing from a recent grant, due to the requirement for full personal details, we tried our hand with the Womens' Centre. They - bless them! - have been very helpful and we've been awarded our request. We've not had to hand over our *ahem* real IDs and they've been nothing but accepting about our trans nature.

Not that I expected anything less, but there's always that slight worry that you'll upset someone because of their views. Anyhoo, such whiffs of fear were totally unfounded. Now, as the new back account just about sorted, I'm visiting one of they're staff to finalise matters. Fingers crossed eh?

Boots

With autumn taking a cooler turn, fashions have understandably changed. I've managed not to buy new boots for ages, although I'm really liking some shoe boots at the mo. I'm wondering if I need them, or if shopping is just filling in the gap, of not being all of me. Tricky times.

On the one hand, I wonder if I'm filling the trans void with retail purchases, because I can imagine outfits that would go with them. That and - to echo a sentiment made on Late Night Woman's hour* - the idea of fashion helping me fit in and be part of the crowd. Sure, I'm a 6ft trans* person, but if I'm dressed well, does the former matter less?

( Late Night Woman's Hour is the occasionally more adult version of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. I don't mention this 'cos of "ooo, how femme am I?" nonsense, but I enjoy the conversation and the different subjects covered. It's available via podcast or iPlayer if you're interested. )

But, on the other hand, there are three more meetings at Chams. Two regular meetings and the Xmas do (fingers crossed!). Then, there's, what?, another two meetings a month before Spring (is that six?) and you know my love of mixing items up to make a new outfit. Realistically, how much wear am I going to get out of a pair of oh-so-cute boots? Sigh.... Perhaps, I'm buying the dream, rather than the item. The dream that with them on, I'll be like the other office ladies, and not a chap who's trying.

Decisions, decisions....

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 04, 2016

Hopeful

Hi,

The clocks have gone back, the night's have drawn in and the trees are the more gorgeous shades of red and yellow. Hello, proper autumn. A time for long walks to take in the warming rays of the sun and to enjoy the light, before Winter throws a cold, dark - and frequently wet - blanket over dear Old Blighty. At least, that's the vibe around here, out in the sticks near Jones Towers.

Not that I mind. I do love a walk in the woods. Much as I like a spot of city shopping or disco dolly moments, in bloke mode, forests, for me, is where it's at. There's something mentally refreshing about being out in nature. The sights, the lack of sound and the beautiful colours.

Maybe one day I'll mix a forest walk with a spot of Lynn time. A careful plan of cute wellies, leggings and a cosy knit to keep the chill away. It would make a break from the norm. :-)

Talking of a break, no Chams for me this coming week, as the Ever Lovely Mrs J is away. I'll be house-husband and collecting the nippers for most of next week. Not that I mind. I do love them both dearly. Both Wee Man and Little Miss are at the age where they're not so much trouble and are quite capable of entertaining themselves. They are both away from that age where silence suggests something scary, like the car being given a clean with the loo brush, or improvised wallpaper enhancement a la Crayola. :-) But, they're not quite of senior years that they're up after I go to bed, and I'm not sat up waiting for them to come in. [ Brief note: I had the first Trick or Treat outing with Little Miss last week and it was such fun. ]

With a lack of Chams the week before last and missing this week, I'm taking some time to have a day out. I'll be far away from home - well 'ish' - and I'll enjoy a day out in Lynn mode. I am very much looking forward to it and I've had my outfit - daytime office - planned for some time.

Thing is, I may have to amend and switch to opaques to blend in a little more. Well, as much as a six foot chap cross dressed can blend in. My only quibble at the mo is low heels or flats. I'm tempted towards heels, but that'll add some height to me.

Mind you, who am I kidding? I'm already tall and my shoulders and build are not passable. Not that I think that matters anymore. That would just be an unobtainable stick to hit myself with. Better accept and relax, I feel.

Fingers crossed it all goes to plan. It's not that I need to buy anything. I think it's more to just be out. To spend some time as me - or, more accurately, 'all of me' - once in a while. Not that I won't hit a few shoe shops. ;-)

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, October 28, 2016

Every kinda wrong. Every kinda right.

Hi,

A couple of weekends ago, I was sat reading the news when the Ever Lovely Mrs J asked: 'have you read that article by Grayson Perry?' Perhaps my TransRSS was on the blink, as I'd not, so she elaborated. "It's about What's Gone Wrong With Men?"

A word to the wise: you might want to read the above first and make your own mind up, before reading my thoughts.

_________________________________

Back? Sitting comfortably?

My initial thought to Mrs J's question around What's Gone Wrong With Men? was Why are you asking me? I'm not exactly in-tune with Joe Normal, but I've learned to keep remarks that might accidentally upset or embarrass, to myself. By the way, I mean upset or embarrass me, as much as the Ever Lovely Mrs J. ;-)

We had a chat about it and in the end, I Googled it and read it for myself. Grayson's walking his own path (there's that walking term again), and I'm fine with that. Some may not like his alter-ego and as much as I think it would be wrong for me to ask him to tone it down, it would be as wrong for him to tell me to brighten up. Yeah, I'm being reasonable again ;-)

There was much in the article that gave us a topic of conversation and later, me to ponder as I nursed a cup of tea.

One of the lines that jumped out was "I held a constant internal dialogue about how to pass as a man." Oh, how that hit a mark (Ed: Just a Mark, but not a Fred or a Bill, mind). For yes, dear reader, I don't have standard wiring when it comes to 'being a bloke'. I don't say this as a brag or a dis, just a statement. Sure, I get some of the male traits naturally, but other elements are alien to me and I just don't have the abilities, desires or interests of gents playing with a full deck. I was tempted to make a comment about Top Trumps, but a) it would make things sound overly competitive (we'll come back to that), or b) a set up a cheap gag about farting. ;-)

This passing lark is bloody tiring and I've alluded to this before about masks and not being true to yourself. Of course, being openly 'somewhere-in-the-middle' will draw you some flack with less then enlightening people or you'll be judged as being camp. Frankly, I could care.... but I don't. Life is short. :-)

Mrs J read out the line: "Though men might plead that their muscles, big cars and sharp suits are for attracting women, really they are for impressing male rivals."

I think I can see how that can work and I wonder if I'm guilty as charged too? I don't do big cars, suits aren't my bag and big muscles, I'm too lazy and worried they'd spoil the line of my dress. :-) But, do I compete in other ways? Do I compete on 'the slacker scale' by pushing disinterest and rejection of the mainstream male behaviour. Possibly, methinks the trans person doth protest too much. :-P

But I asked Mrs J about her view on a previously said media line that women dress for each other, not for men. She said she could see how that could work and beautiful as Mrs J is, she's not a girlie-girl. Yes, she'll wear make-up, but in the main, she's a boots & jeans kinda gal, not heels & hemlines (BTW, that's probably the campest Dungeons & Dragons spin off never written, but moving on. :-) ). Mr's J work-team is predominately women and not working in your regular office environment, the usual office clothing rules do not apply either. I notice when she changes her hair or wears something new, but then I'm trans* so I may be predisposed to noticing!

 Cyndi Lauper inspired
pun goes here
What about the question of people dressing for themselves? After reading Grayson's thoughts, I was reminded of a time I had upset Mrs J: the matter of the smooth armpits. It was back many a moon when the Chameleons folk had decided to have an 80s themed party and it being warm that summer, I'd been - shall we say? - attending to my underarms for a while. It wasn't until a week or so later that the heat, rather than the shaving, had given me a rash and Mrs J spotted what was going on.

As you well know, we have an agreement that I don't shave anything other than face or chest. I had either ignored this or thought I could get away with it. Whichever it was, cross words were exchanged, but the point of this anecdote was the comment: "Why did you do it? Are you trying to attract men?!"

I assured Mrs J that I wasn't and her comment has stuck with me. Mainly because it made me think why I had. The perfectionist part of me wants to say a strappy vest doesn't look right with man pits, but I could have picked something else to wear. It was, if I'm honest with myself, that I wanted to be pretty. Not for anyone else, just for me. Not for me in 'a sexual way', but that looking good makes me feel good. In the same way a fine outfit can put a smile on a lady's face and a spring in her step, so too, will that work for me.

Then again, given the 80s ensemble I'd put together (Primani ra-ra skirt), 'fine outfit' might be stretching the boundaries a touch ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 21, 2016

Charging the batteries

Hi,

These last few days have been a bit of a blur. That rushed loop of wake, eat, school run, work, sarnie, work, commute, tea, breath, Netflix and bed. In other times I'd have found that routine stifling, almost a treadmill. Yet, this month, it's been a familiar comfort. Perhaps, I am drifting, but I tell myself that the want of excitement, distraction or fun is not regular. They're the occasional peaks and without the mundane, or even the lows, there can be no peaks.

With Autumn's golden colours across the trees, I had a pleasant walk and a talk with Andrea. We don't work too far apart, so meeting up for a tea and a stroll is one of life's little pleasures. Maybe every second month or so, but with all that goes on a Chams, often I find you don't get to catch up with everyone. This time, however, its very different and that slower pace - of conversation and exercise - is something I love.

I remember Rebecca - in her own words, an irregular regular at Chams - saying that she found socialising with MTF friends in bloke mode refreshing. I was intrigued and she added that she felt there was less pretence. People aren't trying to 'femme up' - my words, not hers - but nor are they 'bloking up'. People just are. No need for the Machismo Mask or Faux Femaling, after all, you know who everyone is, so just let go. That, when possible, is I think very liberating.

So maybe, if there's additional wisdom in Rebecca's comment - and far be it from me to disrespect another's wisdom emitting ability :-) - perhaps that there is more than one way to top the trans* batteries up. Sure, there's dressing (obviously), personal grooming, but can we add unfiltered social interaction to the list? If so, maybe less pretending to be 'him' all the time might help?

Anniversary

Not got in in Spades
Talking of walking, makes me think of first steps. See what I did there? :-) So a number of years ago, I started this blog and I remember sitting in a part of the house that's no longer here. We used to have a little dining room at the back, but that's merged into the kitchen to make a much more family friendly place. I think there's a lot to be said about a big old kitchen-diner with seats for all. A spot for family memories: not just homework, but pet projects, art, Lego, Warhammer, painting, games and of course, the all important mealtime.

But when I think of that first post, I think back to the old room. The light from the window behind me and my hand paused over the submit button.

Submit.

Submit the content or submit to my Fate?

Not that the latter has been unkind to me in the long swing of things.

Another year on and the trans* highlights have been giving a talk about being trans, replacing the group's website, another year being free of the proverbial Black Dog (I hear his howls, but he doesn't stay) and the continued awesomeness of the Ever Lovely Mrs J. So far the kids have kept their paws out of my auxiliary wardrobe, although as we give them time alone - my, they've grown up  - I do wonder if it'll happen.

But then, as I look back to that submit button, if it's going to happen, it will. I could pack everything away, hide all that I have in some secret, out-of-the-way stash. What mental or spiritual costs are their to always hiding, always watching your back? I'm no expert, I just walk this path of mine, but I'd wager that the time spent hiding and worrying, is time not spent living.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, October 14, 2016

The right type of funk

Hi folks,

After the last week posts of grumbling and negativity, it feels rather good to be able to post something altogether more joyous.

Oh, to be lost in the freedom of dance, with good* music and friends. To feel the rhythm and sway, strutt or swing as whimsy takes you. ( * A highly subjective term given the variety of peoples' music tastes.... and lack of. ;-) )

I had *such* a good night out at Chameleons. We'd thrown our Autumn party and despite a fairly quiet turnout, all went well. Sadly a few key folk were on holiday, but you can't have it all! But, there was food aplenty, dancing (well, for three of us!) and a quality array of party dresses and Halloween costumes. I think I spotted two witches and one Little Red Riding Hood. Always good to see folk make the effort.

I was slightly late getting there and due to a combination of too much talking, plus faffing about with false eyelashes, I was late getting down. Not that being late seemed to make much difference. Everyone was chatting away and mingling, which is all good.

Possibly some type of
strobe based seizure 
I did manage to find a Happy Birthday card for Fyona as it was her *cough*cough*cough*-ith. I did have a slight panic as on opening the card to write it, it was one that supposed to take a gift certificate.... which I hadn't bought. Doh! Still, it was well received. I remember getting a card from Sandi & Tracey a few years ago and I hope to pass on the good vibes.

Diane and I cut some rug - flooring, not the wearable type - to some tunes, while Val collected photographic blackmail material. Some is presented to the right for your amusement ;-) Andrea changed the tunes later on to her definition of good. Some more 80s and less 90s by sound of it. To re-use a phrase from the evening about politics and culture: not wrong or right, just different.

On a related note, Little Miss has been to a school disco tonight and enjoyed herself. Hopefully she's got my enthusiasm and the Ever Lovely Mrs J's moves. :-D Thing is, if most of your dancing is in heels and lets face it, stomping around just isn't the done thing; you've got to watch you don't go into the wrong dance mode at the next bloke social event. Still, it was National Coming Out day earlier this week. Something else I'm not ready for... :-)

Flutter, flutter or 'WAKE UP!'?
Clearly reading up on lash application paid off, as the wee buggers stayed on all night, despite... umm... 'glowing' somewhat after dancing. Seems the trick is to look down and bring the false lashes forward to your own. Here's the link if you'd like to hear it from someone who knows what they're doing and Tip 3 certainly helped Old Ham Hands. :-)

As the night wound down, it was time for a quick tidy up and luckily a few folk had remembered to bring boxes to take any unwanted items away. Mmm, iced party rings. So bad, yet so tasty!

After that it was time for some photos and I think I managed to take a few snaps of Diane and Fyona before they headed home. Val and I did our usual turn behind the camera. I had thought about getting the group's photo stand and sheet out, but with time being what it was, I didn't get around to it. I guess there's only so much you can do on a night.

With the evening at a close, Val was kind enough to take the key for next time, as while I'll be on holiday (woo!), I'll miss TrendCo's visit (boo!). Still, there will be other times and with them being in Nottingham, it's not too difficult to pop in and say hi to Nicola & Steph. If you're in the Nottingham area and in need of wig help, please do go and book an appointment with them. They're really friendly and very helpful.

Oh, that reminds me. The repair of old faithful - my brown wig - worked a treat, which is great. I also tried on my auburn wig, after Steph kindly restyled it. I'm wondering if it needs a little more off to shape the fringe, but that's something for another day. I took a snap of it (which I'm not putting on line), as my make-up was more brunette than auburn. Maybe my hair should always be dark... just like my soul ;-)

Working Hours

At Chams we spoke briefly about our French cousins suggesting a shorter working week. There was some grumbling about this and politer comments about cultural differences. It was a surprise to me, back when the Jones Massive went there on holiday, to find shop staff very strict about closing at lunch. I guess it's what you are used to and I can understand why someone would be protective of their lunch. I mean, of late, I've been skipping lunch in order to keep my work hours in line with the it's-not-a-rule-but-I'm-keeping-an-eye-on-you view of 36.5 a week.

Thing is, while working through lunch may seem the make the day go quicker and keep the time sheet in check, it's not great for the waistline, nor the brain. I'm a creative person at heart and my work now thankfully encourages this. The catch is that previously, I'd go for a walk, buy a sarnie and take in the view. This helped keep me fresh and I'm finding it ironic that by being in the office more, I'm actually achieving less. To that end, I'm trying to find gaps between meetings to stretch my legs and get outside a little.

Maybe, it's more about the quality, rather than the quantity? But then, would I feel the same way if I couldn't get through to a call centre doing the same thing? Ah, it's not always black & white is it.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 07, 2016

Don't mess with Mr Inbetween

Hello dear reader,

How's things with you? Are you, like me, glad it's Friday night? I know I am.

This week has been.... troubling. Not difficult or hard, but tricky. I have been - to use an English phrase - been occasionally swinging the lead, as my heart just wasn't in it. When I can get lost in my work, that's a good thing. Distractions melt away and I'm happily in the zone listening to people, thinking up solutions and trying to make things a little better.

But, when I can't, I'm listening to the less-than-useful circular thought patterns. They're like noisy planes stuck orbiting with no rush to land. Instead, they buzz and roar and generally get in the way. There are times, when it seems all their exhaust and dirty fumes is all I can hear.

Plane One is mostly filled with a cargo of worry. Worry around when will be the Next Time. It's a mere two weeks between Chams meetings and yet, I feel a frisson of fear. Perhaps, due to a packed work diary, there's no chance to work from home and express oneself, as it where, and bridge the gap. Plus, I know I'll be missing two more meetings: one in late October and a second in November. This stack of petty worry seems, on the face of it, rather silly. Yet, I can feel myself straining at my male boundaries. The odd joke here and there, or stronger thoughts that I should Do Something to keep my trans side balanced.

Do Something seems a good name for Plane Two and if this was a sci-fi book by the late Mr Banks, it probably would be. (Ed: If you've not been reading the works of the late Ian M Banks, do give his works a spin. They are very good. There's some minor references to gender shift within the Culture too). I find myself thinking about waxing my legs or other such 'grand gestures'.... I should know now that this does not help. Why not? Because on one hand, I realise this would greatly upset the Ever Lovely Mrs J and then with the other hand, I feel the rue of knowing I'm stuck as I am. Hard place. Rock. Etc.

It feels - to plumb for another analogy - that my heart, head or soul, if you will, is a bucket. I can fill this bucket with rocks. Dull, heavy lumps of worry, like the ones above. Or, I can try and think positive: be happy that I'm not completely closeted, that there will be time again and - as I read in the news today - my life isn't under threat because of who I am. Well, at least not yet. Not unless someone turns up the Nasty Party's hate-machine up to dystopian levels that Mssrs Moore, Orwell and Huxley warned us of. But, that's another rock in the bucket, if I give that too much thought....

So.... perhaps I need to - as the song said - Accentuate the Positive - and know that my (Lynn) time will come again. This is all temporary and that it'll be better soon.

Cheery thoughts eh?

Lynn
x

Friday, September 30, 2016

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

Hi,

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! :-)

Lynn
x

Friday, September 23, 2016

Human Interest

Hi,

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. ;-)

Chams

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 Very.co.uk) 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 :-)
Lynn
x

Friday, September 16, 2016

Building sites

Hi,

I am thankful that it's the weekend. Not that this week has been stressful or hard. I think, it overdid it a little last weekend concentrating on building the new Nottingham Chameleons web site. Yes, two late nights (nearly 2am. Tsk. When will I learn!) on Friday and Saturday, meant I wasn't fully recharged for the week ahead. Still, my own fault, but I'm done now.

"If you build it, they will come..."

Chameleons had been using a free forum hosting company for just over a decade and the service had been great. Then one day, pop, it vanished. Not a peep from the hosting company. The whole lot just vanished in an instant. Quickly, we set up a new home and carried on our merry way. Skip on a few months and Moonfruit changed from free hosting (with ads) to paid for.

I took a look at the prices for both and while it would be easier to pay and stay, it would also eat into the group's funds a little. Okay, we're not skint, but I find it's best not to chuck money about if you can help it. :-)

So, after some questions at work for those who host sites or build systems, I had an idea of what I might need and where to get it from. A few emails here and there and we had our hosting platform sorted. The only thing left - other than building it - was to square the funding via the Ever Lovely Mrs J. It's not that it was expensive, it was more than my bloke details would be used and in theory, if something went very wrong, or I was sent a physical bill, there might be some explaining to do. Instead, my dear wifey said: "Oh, we'll just say you're paying for hosting as you're an ally." What a top lady.

It came to pass that I nervously tapped my credit card and personal information into the web application before tapping Accept. I don't know about you, but I sort of like to test the water before I climb in. For this, while I could get the money back on the hosting, I couldn't claim back the dedicated domain name (www.nottinghamchameleons.co.uk). Gulp! Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. :-D

After a couple of nights of testing templates and fiddling CSS (not my strong point), I had something that seemed to work. I asked a few friends over on Facebook to have a look and see if they had any suggestions. Lovely lot that they are [/waves!] I received some polite suggestions and I think they've made the site better for it.

Once that was done, it was a case of looking at forum software. I thought about the built-in Wordpress system, but it didn't quite feel right. The other choice was to use one very similar to the free one we moved to. Pros: looks like the current one; people are familiar with it; it's fairly easy to administer and it had an 'install now' button as part of the hosting.

With that no brainer in mind it was next, next, finish and some minor tweaks to get it shipshape. I did add a new icon because I was struggling with the older Chameleons eye, that we've had for a few years. Okay, this new one isn't exactly cliche free, but I think it does the job: we're mostly MTF with a few FTM folk popping in. That reminds me: talking of snaps. The photo on the front page was done by Debbie and it's many years old. It does, however, show the variety of ages of people who attend Chams. Something to add to the list.

As to the web site, I can now look back and think: that'll do, pig. :-) Site is done, forum is up and I've fired off a few emails to organisations asking them to update their records. The old Moonfruit address will hang around for a few months yet, so with luck people will get the message we're moving.

Of course the thing is, with more pages and more plug-ins to look at, it's tempting to think about some help articles for the site. Coping with being trans, where to buy clothes, etc. However, I'm not going to rush into this. I'll see what folk would like - and that could include you, dear reader - and play it by ear.

Gossip, girls!

Oh, I did read a comment about us being a bit of a 'knitting circle', which made me chuckle. Not that I disagree, although we are really, really behind on knitting. Perhaps a lack of wool is to blame and we're not allow sharp sticks after that Game of Thrones party no-one is allowed to talk about. ;-)

Where was I? Oh aye, knitting circle. Yeah, yet on the other hand, I'd heard we we're "party girls", whatever that means. Better than calendar girls, possibly. Not sure I'd want folk to see my jelly belly and custard tarts. No, best clothed, shaped and padded I think. :-)

Jokes aside, I find it interesting to hear what others think of us and none of it offended or upset me. Maybe I'm odd like that. So, party animals or knitting circle? Well, we did mix the two up, but again, but it's murder knit one, pearl one, big fish, little fish, cardboard box.

The truth, as per, is somewhat in between. Yeah, we have a 'bit of a do' once in a while. I helps break up the usual routine of tea & a chat, or tea & vendor / researcher visit. I think parties are generally every four to six months. I think we've got the formula sorted, in that we have the music in one room and keep the food and the chairs in the other. That way, folk can drift between rooms as the mood takes them.

As to the chatting, I like to think of Chams as a pub with no beer. Oh, and a better jukebox (i.e.: none :-P ). We meet up and talk to each other about what's going on in our lives, our worries and our joys. I think the best thing about Chameleons is that you can truly be yourself. You don't have to watch what you say: if you want to talk about football, trains, cars or movies, you can. Equally, if you want to ask about coping, eyeliner or a fun day out; you can do that too. We don't judge. Well, unless you think socks & sandals are okay.... ;-)

Take care and rest easy,
Lynn