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