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

14 comments:

  1. Ahh... Lindy bop! I have their Audrey, Davina and Music Christie dress hanging in the closet. The Music Christie is one of my all time favourites!

    I desperately wanted their Cocktail Audrey - but by the time I decided to order it, it went out of stock and has never been back in my size. Hohum...

    As for the research. At least it sounds like Nottingham has it right!

    I've never understood the whole I'm more trans than you contest. Supporting each other should be more important than ensuring you are to of the suffering pile!

    Good luck with the returns :)

    Groetjes,
    Stace

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    1. I've just had a look at those designs and they are fab. BTW, your Facebook photo at the wedding - that was beautiful, if I may say.

      As to Cocktail Audrey (what a name! :-) ) a similar wiggle dress on Lady V London sold out and a lady on the school run had shared snaps of her new Lindy Bop purchases on 'straightBook' ;-)

      On the few times I've been to Leicester, people have always been pleasant and polite. I can't comment about Nottingham, trans-wise, so I bow to other's experiences.

      L x

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    2. I just realised that the Audrey isn't LindyBop! I have British Retro Audreys in tartans and hearts and a Lady V in red... (OK, Mrs Stace has a point, maybe I do have enough dresses... Not that it means I can't get a couple more before Christmas :p ) The other LindyBop is their Harlow in red. I got it to wear on Christmas day last year. Whilst I love it to bits, the lace catches on everything (and people in Holland love structured walls) so it's not something I can wear often...

      Thanks! It was a great day,and I felt great in the outfit. Another that will not get worn to often though, whilst it doesn't need to be dry cleaned it's flock and I can't see it lasting too long if I wear it weekly!

      I think that the vintage look is starting to come into fashion. When out at parties I am not always the only person in swing these days - and you see it more and more on TV and hear about it in conversation. I just hope that doesn't mean that when the hype goes to something new that the companies go out of business...

      I was actually considering dropping into Chams to say hello in person when on holiday as we were staying just 30 minutes away in Sherwood Forest, but the dates didn't fall (either it would have meant coming after a very long day out getting the little guy outfitted for the wedding, or the day before getting up at stupid o'clock to drive back to Holland). My biggest regret of the vacation!

      Groetjes,
      Stace

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    3. But dresses save on outfit selection time and (IMHO) the 50s style is so damned fab! :-) I've just had a look at the dresses you've listed and they are gorgeous. Must not reach for the credit card.... ;-)

      I've spotted a few friends in swing dresses too. Perhaps they [the dresses] have come it from the underground (so to speak), so while the trend may sneak in, I too am hoping it doesn't go too mainstream and then fall flat. Maybe it's like some 60s numbers: there are some classic designs which just keep on giving their style mojo. Add some modern accessories and away you go. Well, except for the school run perhaps ;-)

      If you'd have popped into Chams, that would have been truly grand and I get why you didn't. The good thing about Chameleons is that meetings are regular and there's always another chance.

      [ Note to self: must remember the latter when chewing on the table ;-) ]

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  2. The makeup thing amuses me. I've had female customers ask me for nail varnish advice while in bloke mode XD

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    1. Quality. What do they ask about and what do you say in return?

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  3. Hello

    ‘That joke’ with the associated paranoia?? Tick… I think with my general fluid / andro appearance, people make that comment often when I collect items or book services in my other name :-)

    I find the ‘Human Interest’ phrase very confusing. It seems to be used as a help to the person being highlighted and yet gets used as a display to other unaffected audiences. It reminds me of the JW Pepper quota in ‘Live and Let Die’. “Secret Agent??? On whose side???” :-)

    I do have a very sceptical view about some of the ‘support’ services that offer a lifeline yet seem to focus on the trans aspect, not so much for the client, but to gather information for their own interest. Yet, don’t seem to offer a distinct direction of how the support can help the individual. I know they need information to develop their systems but maybe they should take a more holistic approach and not just focus on a single aspect.

    We do need to develop views that there is not a single trans path too. I am aware that outside the trans sphere, people can have the view that if you outwardly present in the opposite gender often, then you are on the road to transition. OK, that’s fine by me. They are just uneducated about the trans spectrum and as long as they are prepared to listen, I’m quite happy to educate and discuss the subject. However, what I have found recently from a couple of FB groups is that there are trans people out there who are also subscribing to this limited spectrum view and seem to ‘pressure’ unaware (confused?) trans people that certain paths are greener than others. It’s not a consensus, I am just surprised that some trans people have a very ‘binary’ view of gender too.

    Anyway, I think I’m nearly matching the length of your post, so I’ll better sign off here…. :-)

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    1. I would have thought that being more andro/femme, people would shy away from such a joke, just in case. Then again, maybe they feel that it's safe territory and you'll be fine with it. People, eh? Bastards ;-)

      Yeah, human interest is tricky stuff as you say (oh, and top quote!). I can think to *ahem* back in the day, that I'd read interviews with trans folk - or "TVs" as we were back then ;-) - and sometimes it would help. Help, in that it would make me feel a little less different or alone. Thing was, rarely was any of them a good fit for how I felt. Close sometimes, but mostly not.

      Maybe the support thing needs to be more holistic. I know people aren't cars, but imagine going in to have the brakes sorted, while the engine's not quite right. That or someone saying their computer's OS is playing up, while the CPU is starting to emit the magic blue smoke. I think you have to look at all of the problem: not just one aspect. We - people - are complex systems and looking at just one facet isn't, I think, the right solution. Question is: do we have an approach or the experts willing to do it?

      The binary gender view is something I get and struggle with at the same time, as per your comment. If I look at Mrs J and I; outwardly, that's a lady and a chap. For American readers a chap is a bit like a bloke, only less working class ;-)

      So I think that's an old world view of gender. Yes, Mrs J is happy with who she is both from a gender and sex sense. Me? Well, I look like a bloke 99% of the time, but occasionally I don't. Regardless of appearance, how I feel about being 'a bit of both and/or neither' does not go away. I think lots of other folk are also walking that line and that's helping. Yes, I may be a bit of both / neither, but I do present as either extreme. Is that because I'm too scared to be a mix (andro? vague?) or that I need to be either end of the binary? There's a question and one too long for this comment box. :-)

      I'm with you on folk coaxing others down paths, on occasion. I think, ultimately, you have to do what's right for you and you go as far as you are comfortable. Don't want full surgery or are happy as Brian / Betty in a 60 / 40 split? Cool, do what you need. Happy as Betty but in bloke presentation, enjoy! Just, don't wear socks & sandals: that's all I ask. ;-)

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  4. "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."

    Speaking for myself here, no, some of them really don't ;)

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    1. :-D I am very aware of that too. Those early episodes... yikes :-) Hmm.... maybe I should start a meme of bad cross dressing snaps. :-)

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  5. Yes I am reading this, always love it to see, how we cope with day to day life. Anyway loved the dress and the heart to heart very helpful.

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    1. The fun of coping with the ups and downs eh? :-)

      Thanks re: the dress and also for the chat upstairs. It helped.

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  6. is this a case of Wanted "Dead or Alive" Lynn alias YT ???

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    1. I don't think so, no. Maybe it's a subconscious nod to Snowcrash.

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