Friday, April 28, 2017

Accepting your weirdness

Hi,

Some weeks are just the passing of time, whereas some, are more a series of small, but happy events. This time around was one of those. Firstly, I was on Single Dad Duty for the early part, as the Ever Lovely Mrs J was away on a course. This meant early starts (I really don't do mornings) and being organised, rather than loafing about until nearly school time, with a coffee and my smartphone. How single parents manage it all, I really don't know and hats off to those that do. But, the Every Lovely Mrs J has returned and not too tired either, so it's all good. It's a week's respite and then I think she's got another week away.

Work has been going well, which always worries me, in that does Fate's evil vindictive relation have something up their sleeve? It's a worry, but perhaps it's best to enjoy the good while you can. Wow, that's cheerful, isn't it! :-) So, good stuff: I had my performance/development review, which while I won't be getting anything extra in the pay packet (again), I did get some kind feedback from colleagues. It seems I'm helping them, making them laugh and in some cases, inspiring them too. So while there won't be extra pennies in the pocket, there are good thoughts to be had, knowing I'm valued. That did put a spring in my step.

Talking of work, at least two female work colleagues - and then a lady on a podcast - expressed their love for RuPaul's Drag Race. Now, maybe you'd think that comedy, mad cross-dressing and some song & dance would draw me to the show, faster than you can say Size 9 Shoe Sale. Trust me, it's not easy after a G&T, and certainly not with these teeth. :-)

Both H & S extolled the fun of the show and also Ru's occasional wise interjections. Particularly - and please don't quote me on this - "if you can't love  yourself, how can you expect anyone else to." Well, in my head they have Donny Parton's accent around them, but I guess both icons will just have to have a sing off, to see who gets to own that phrase ;-)

I've seen a few T folk who seem to tip towards the showier, flashier end of the spectrum. Perhaps, almost drag. I'm not judging, merely pointing out. But.... it's not really me. I guess I'm just too square to be that fabulous. More High Street than High Drama. But, hey, again, not judging.

But differences aside, I can agree with RuPaul's words about loving yourself. Yes, stop sniggering at the back. I can see you :-P Learning to accept who you are is damned hard. Perhaps slightly more so when you feel somewhat less than standard issue. I've said it a few times, but that doesn't make it any less or more true.

Thanks to Valtography
Talking to a new girl and a regular (Jenny?) last night, we did all hit on the phrase of "just what the hell am I doing?". That moment when you take a look at yourself and your confidence - or perhaps, whatever it is that drives being trans - creaks or even crashes. So it came to me last night: I was tired and when I looked in the wardrobe, while I could see many pretty tops, trousers, leggings, and dresses... none of them spoke to me of an outfit. Maybe there was an element of that tricky Spring/Winter weather, where it's not yet warm enough for fancy fabrics, but the sunshine means you don't want to be still sporting opaques and boots.

Thing is, I could have shrugged and turned in, but I knew that if I didn't try and pick something, I'd be kicking myself come Thursday night. So, you pick two, hope and turn in for the night. Perhaps, when your confidence takes a knock, you just have to take a moment and do it anyway. Plus, as Jack Burton says: "Tall guy, weird clothes. First you see him, then you don't." :-)

Still, all ends well, I think and Thursday night was a good one. I didn't go with my much loved Desigualnumber, but a pink dress I've had many years.  Plus, I managed to get to the Centre quite early - at least for me - so I wasn't too long getting changed upstairs. I had a good chat with some new and old folk alike. We were quite busy, which is excellent news for the group's funding and it's great to catch up with old friends too. That, also, puts a spring in my step. Reasons to be cheerful, eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 21, 2017

Heroes

Hi,

As a kid of the 70s, I read my fair share of comic books. Yeah, in a world with three TV channels and no YouTube, there was a lot more reading going on. :-) As to comics I wouldn't say I read loads, but a fair few and mostly UK ones. For some reason, I never quite got into the American ones. Possibly because they always felt midstory, and quite possibly because our local newsagent's range was fairly thin. Hey, welcome to living in the sticks in the pre-Internet, pre-eCommerce world. :-)

Ignoring the WWII and sports strips, the more fantastic stories were the ones that caught my eye. Superheroes: present and past. Not everyone gets the Marvel or DC treatment, so some I guess are much forgotten.

But if there's a point to this nostalgia, other than I don't remember any trans* specific characters, but this was the late 70s; hardly a time of political correctness, let alone equality. But certainly, the idea of someone with a secret identity struck a chord. Chuck into the mix the idea of said hero (or heroine) having to rush getting changed or be found out, well, I don't even need to say any more on that do I? :-)

The thing is, as someone who does hide who they are, it can be quite tiring. I'm so glad I don't have to pretend when I'm around the Ever Lovely Mrs J. The fact that I can be just me, rather than putting on the mask of male behaviour, is incredibly liberating.

So, if there are any would-be superheroes, if I had one bit of advice - other than when you do meet your nemesis, don't pull your punches and do fight dirty :-) - it would be this: don't spend your regular life pretending. It's really hard, watching what you have to say, and keeping what who you are a secret. Instead, try being all of you, but, do leave the cape and the power gauntlets out of the office. You know how these things escalate ;-)

Everyday Heroes

On a related note, I heard from Sandi that one of our oldest members at Chameleons passed away at the weekend. The lady in question was Jane. She, along with a friend Rhona helped keep the group going through the 80s. I really don't know when she handed the torch on to Tracey & Sandi, but I'd guess it was a fair few years. Still, making a trans group a success, especially in less open-minded times is, at least in my book, quite an impressive feat. Hats off to you, Mrs.

I should add, that if you're pushing the gender envelope. Either by being out, helping others, running a website or keeping a group going; keep on doing that. Please keep on being you and doing that awesomeness that helps makes it easier for this and the next generation of trans people.

Words on an image

Over on social media, Tania made a comment about the complications around running two wardrobes. Sometimes, a line just comes to you and I did say I'd stick the quote as a meme. Well, all the cool kids are doing it. ;-)


Take care,
Lynn



Friday, April 14, 2017

Time: it makes fools of us all.

Hi,

As I write this, it's the wee hours, although the schedule option will pop it back to Friday night. I wasn't home late from Chams, although the Ever Lovely Mrs J, who was up reading, wanted to be fast asleep before I turned in.

I could have given the time, rather than 'the wee hours', but there's those odd English phrases. The small hours, still of the night, witching hour, etc. All very colourful and, like much about being British, suitably vague and nonspecific! :-)

So, not late back and not early there either. Hmm..... As I got changed back into my bloke clothes back at Chams, I thought back to the night that had been. Much laughter, stories shared, chocolates snaffled, new people greeted and personal journeys shared.

Cheer up, you old mare
Yet, as I stood half dressed, in full makeup and sans wig, I couldn't help feel a sense of loss. Not sadness, as that's too strong a word, and not quite regret. After all, the night had been a good, if quiet one, numbers wise. Tania popped in too, and despite Facebook exchanges, we'd not spoken in a while. Val was kind enough to take my photo (see right) and later, Nicole did a group shot. I won't be sharing that, as not everyone wants their face on-line.

So why the sense of loss? Honestly, I don't know. I have a long weekend to look forward to and I felt fine as I got ready. Despite much fine food on the recent Jones Family holiday, I've gained 5lbs but lost two of those this week. This meant I could still get into an old red skirt and my pink top was the right side of fitted. All of which is a step in the right direction and again, reasons to be cheerful.

Perhaps there's a feeling that it was all too brief? Piling on the slap and tightening the corsetry around 8ish, and 'turning back' around 11.15.

Yeah, it's weird being trans. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's all fine.... except when it isn't. :-)

Maybe Val was on the money with her comment about for me, it's a short span of time when I'm in Lynn attire. Thinking on that, 8 to 11ish, that's what? Three hours? I'm not always ready by 8 either, due to traffic and leaving home. Still, better than snatching an hour every other month, like I did back in the 2000s.

Still. Chin up. Face the sun and enjoy the fresh air of springtime in the woods. Onwards.... Oh, happy Easter BTW.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 07, 2017

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...


Hi,

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with Andrea, a friend from Chams. We were both in bloke mode, and had met up for a coffee and a chat.

We were discussing - amongst? other things - the concept of confidence. That strength of character, that both helps and drives you, to be, well, you. I think confidence, like cool or self-acceptance is that elusive something that's easy to chase, but not so easy to find.

That intertwined with being out & about makes for an interesting ride. There's the whole trans journey: dressing at home, getting online, making friends, wanting to get out, to be out. Out, with others, or going solo.

Whichever it is, there's the nerves. That on edge feeling as you push yourself and go further. Either the controlled risk of being on social media, to being in public. I've heard people talk of a rush: is it the act of being brave, or the survival of the trip?

Ready? Let's go.
We spoke about a long-ago meal in Leicester, where I had to walk back to the car park. Alone. Alone and at just before closing time. Funny thing was, all was fine when I was out with (trans) friends, but as it was time to go... Well, I've blogged about it before and ask you can do, is take a deep breath and step forward. Luckily, nighttime and distance helps a 6' bloke when in a nice pink dress and heeled boots.

Andrea was kind enough to say I was okay at distance. We did share a chuckle about that. The trip back was thankfully uneventful, despite my nerves. Thing is, I'm only a part-timer: there's those of our number who have to do this all the time.

But, like a ride down the BMX track, a jump from the diving board to the water; you survive. Plus, it feels good... At least, once the nerves have settled. Perhaps that's the rush that pushes us on. Wanting to capture that feeling of being alive. That, or alive or all of yourself.

But, hey, maybe I'm just odd ;-) What about you dear reader, what drives you on? Fun? Adventure? Self-acceptance? Too much caffeine? :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 31, 2017

Rocks and stones

Hi,

A couple of weeks ago at Chameleons, we had a researcher pop round. Yvonne was asking for volunteers to help, and yes, I did sign up.

So, this week I cycled into to town and we ran through the questions. I won't list then fully, nor my answers. Mainly because I feel they are now part of the research, and also, you probably know most of them. Come on, I've been blogging for a decade or so, so most of these are out there :-)

The thing is, after our chat, and as I cycled back, my mind turned over some of the memories. Sometimes I wonder if the mind is like a river. The fast flow of the everyday. The swirls and currents within. Lastly, there's the riverbed. Deeper things are buried; the rocks and stones of history and self. To turn them over will muddy the water.

Earlier, I'd read an article about grief and, as often happens, two themes can bump against each other. Sometimes, like then, they fuse. As I drew to a halt by some traffic lights, this thought came to me: Do trans people grieve for their body?

Do I now? No. I am mostly okay about it. After all, if I was different to what I am - a 40 something bloke - I'd not have my wonderful family. Mostly? Yes, there are times when being 6', wide-jawed and, well, blokey, do not gel with how I feel. I remember being a teenager, possibly not a dissimilar age to Wee Man, and measuring my height. How I wanted to be as tall as my mates. Yet... Yet, I also didn't want to be hairy; certainly not on my face, chest or legs.

Do I regret not doing something about it? No, and if I had, again, I wouldn't be where I am now. Plus, would I be any happier? Really, much as there's a slight frisson about baldness and Wookie pins, it could be worse. I get out. The Ever Lovely Mrs J accepts me for who I am, and ironically, not having smooth legs, means summer is easier. There's no lies or truth dodging when it comes to going swimming either. :-)

So, maybe, back in the day, my body isn't what I'd have picked. But, that's probably true for people who are ill. Incidentally, Yvonne asked if there was no comeback and, hypothetically, I could live and work as I wanted, what would I be?

That's easy. I'd be me. Just a bit more fancy on some days. Some days him, some days, her.... But always me.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 24, 2017

Temptation

Hi,

The Night Before a Night Out

It's Wednesday night and I've just about packed a bag. I say just about, as I'm not quite sure what I'll be wearing on Thursday. Why do I get this? Why is deciding what to wear so tricky?

I opened my wardrobe and ignoring the bloke work shirts that are on the right, there's tops, pretty skirts, leggings, jeans and the odd bit of sparkle. To my left, there's the tall cupboard, which, if I'm honest, is 60% mine; filled with dresses and my only coat. Well, my only 'Lynn' coat, because I'm not really an outdoors trans person. Okay, mostly. :-)

Instead, I've hedged my bets with an old favourite, a wrap dress that may now be over a decade old. I've also packed some jeans, as I'm sort of in a jeans & top kinda mood. The Ever Lovely Mrs J was kind enough to let me borrow some fancy heels. Again, I've a backup pair of black heels for the wrap dress & opaques outfit.

Is it Spring? It is that temperatures are not quite settled, and that we're in that not-quite-winter-not-quite-spring-colours mood? Or is it that last week, when I'd had a quick post-outing try-on, that I got a glimpse of what could be.

The camera never lies, except when it's in poor light and too far to see Wookie pins. The image to your right is something that's unlikely. Looking beyond the peep of footballer's knee, that's me sporting nearly nude tights and a skirt I've slimmed down to fit into. Yay for weight loss eh?

But... I know I must be practical and bare pins just ain't going to happen. There is, after all, The Agreement, and while it may not always be comfortable; it, like all good peace deals, keeps things settled. Settled, isn't IMHO always bad, even if you occasionally peek over the fence, to look at the slightly greener grass.

Thursday

Oddly, Chams was somewhat quiet this time around. So it goes sometimes.

Thanks to long walks between offices and watching what I eat, the weight loss has continued. Okay, I've not yet hit my target weight (172), but I'm around 176 at the mo, which is helping me avoid crisps, chocolate and booze. Although the jeans were skinny and the top fitted, I didn't feel to odd, if that makes sense. Using the corset helped add shape, if that makes sense.

Anyhoo, back to Chams: Nicola and Steph from TrendCo came to visit and were kind enough to bring a number of wigs with them. If you're around Nottingham, do give them a call: they are really helpful and completely genuine. Unlike some wig vendors, they 'get' the part time trans market, so while they do stock human hair wigs, and top of the line items; they have some very affordable ones of very good quality.

Much fun was had trying on various styles, including one that made me look like an old school friend. I should add of the female persuasion, I don't need any help looking blokey. :-) Jo invested in a new 'do', which really suited her.

Steph was kind enough to try styling my red haired wig again, and I'm much happier with it now. It needs a wash and conditioning, before being reshaped, or teased even, into the new shape. Something for next week, if I can get some time 'working from home'.

Considering it's been many years since I've been able to have a haircut, rather than just using the clippers, sitting down to have your 'hair' done, is somewhat strange. Not in an unpleasant way, but a connection to the past. Not that my hair was ever styled in a feminine way. I wasn't confident enough for that, and now, it's not like I have a choice. Well, other than grade 3 or 6 ;-)

While I was tempted to buy said 'school mate' cut, I've got three wigs at the mo. The dark long bob with the highlights (my goto number), a trimmed red number and Old Ginger from yesteryear. I pretty much wear the dark one, even though it's not my natural hair colour. Well, what's left of it ;-) It's funny, I was talking to Steph how the brunette number feels right for me. It's something about the cut and the colours, that make it part of how I see myself. Well, when I'm in Lynn mode. My first wig was dark brown, as was the second one; albeit with highlights. Shame they don't last, but at the same time, that forces you to update your look.

Given all the comings & goings, we were late packing up, but luckily not too late for the all important 'quick photo' (thanks Val). Something to help remember the evening by.

Double trouble
Next week I'm meeting with a researcher to talk about what it is to be trans. Hopefully that'll go smoothly. Fingers crossed eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Training day

Hi,

At the last Chams meeting, I was trying out an office outfit. Not because I'm changing jobs, or 'changing' at work, if you pardon the clumsy pun. No, I was seeing if I could manage a day time / office worker look. This is all because a few weeks ago, a local youth charity got in touch, asking if they could have some trans* awareness training. Well, having done some for a legal group not so long ago, why not? And if so, why not in Lynn mode?

Well, given the state of my nerves at 9 AM, the answer would be fear ;-)

But, much as fear occasionally serves as a not-so-gentle warning - you know, second thoughts about cliff diving, or wrestling a hungry tiger - sometimes, I think it's more fear of the unknown. That or it's close cousin, worry. Yeah, fear and worry have a place and they're useful survival lessons. They can, however, also hold you back. To that end, it was time to *ahem* 'man up' by putting on my make-up, and getting dressed for the office. Oh, and the trifling task of making it into town and being out in the daytime.

The Event

I'd been given a short brief around their training requirements and so I put together 10 slides. With the exception of one slide, they were all photos and then I'd talk about the topic each one suggested.

Slide deck
The clever cloggs amongst you will have noticed there's only nine. Well done, have a gold star and a moment to feel all smug. Are you done? No? Okay, a bit longer, then we'll move on. :-)

So, how did it go? Well, it was somewhat of a rush to get from the school run, home, changed, and off to the venue. It didn't help that a little way down the road, I'd realised I'd left my presentation on the printer. B****cks! :-D After a quick turnaround, duck inside and back out, I did reach town and get parked up. It was then a slightly brisk walk (in heels) to the venue. I was a little late given my detour and - duh! - I don't walk as quickly in fancy shoes, as I do in walking boots. Well, give this lady a science award eh? :-)

But, after catching my breath, it was on to plugging the laptop in and getting stuck in. I talked about what it was to be trans, what problems trans youth may face, what employed trans folk may experience, what is it to be in or out, names, how to be an ally, how to seek feedback and then a wrap up with 'Ask me anything'.

I thought it went okay, and it was a different crowd to the legal crew. I found a few one liners fell flat, but I moved on and just kept going. I had a few questions that had been sent in advance, so we covered those and there was a flutter of applause as we closed the meeting. I'm hoping that was more in appreciation, than "thank f*** she's shut up". You never can tell ;-)

Working the office look
Afterwards I headed back, pausing at Dorothy Perkins to see if they had some fancy shoes in my size. Sadly, they didn't, but it did make a good stop off for the obligatory shop mirror selfie. After all, photo-or-it-didn't-happen and all that. :-) I wasn't really paying any attention to the now lunch-time crowd, and like other times, I got home without incident. As it was still technically my lunch-hour, I tried on a few outfits and tested some of my older wigs. But more on that another time.

A few hours later, I received an email with some feedback. The positives were that they enjoyed it, felt empowered to ask their customers more (what do you need? how can I help? etc) and the Gingerbread Person walk through really helped them 'get it'. As to room for improvement, they'd have liked more on the support of trans people, so, with luck, something for another day. As I've permission to use some of the feedback online, it is:

I suppose until you started talking, we didn’t really realise what our needs were; other than just to start a positive conversation amongst staff and have a whole team approach to supporting our young trans group, really be aware of how their mental health might be impacted differently or not, and to just be more aware – and knowing we can ask questions.  So as far as I am concerned, you met our needs. 
The additional information you have added to signpost people too is the cherry on the cake, so when needs go beyond what we are able to work with in house, we can direct people to others who can support in that area.
You have been fantastic, your openness and humour were just what we needed...
...so you offered perfect balance.  We shall be in touch if that’s ok for refreshers and support for new staff in the future...
All in all, there are worse ways to spend the mid-week.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cutting down

Hi,

How's things? Hopefully ticking along nicely.

I have, at least for me, some minor good news. Over the last few weeks, a few friends have been saying how they've lost weight. I would usually reply that I'd found it.

Well, it seems I had the tipping point about two weeks ago. I was after some smart trousers (see later) and while trying on my go to size, 16, I realised that unless I started to cut down, it would be sayonara 16, as much as it was farewell 14.

What raised a wry smile was the recollection that as I got dressed (in bloke clothes) each morning, I was snubbing jeans or t-shirts that no longer fit. Instead, plumping - stop pointing at the back! :-) - shall we say, more generously proportioned troos. :-) I guess, faced with having to replace my female wardrobe with new larger sizes, when I've still got a skirt and dress I'd like to wear again, pushed a button in my head. Hence, I started a diet. Nothing too drastic, just no more booze (not that I'm a big drinker), fruit for lunch, lots of tea and avoiding snacks.

The good news is that over the last fortnight I'm down from 185lbs to 180lbs. Yes, this isn't a big number, but for me, there's a few things about it. Firstly, I'm finding it taxing, but not impossible. Previously, I'd be ravenous by the end of the day, and more than a little grumpy at being hungry. Secondly, it's progress in the right direction - not getting bigger! No doubt our Easter holiday will be a bit of a set back, but if I can be good at work, that's more days that are easier to cut down on, than weekends.

So, yeah, while I'll never be a Perfect 10 - if there is such a thing - so long as I can make the best of what I've got, I'll take that. I may have a bloke's build - after all, I'm a man - and all that goes with that. But I think I can, or maybe even have, learned to accept it. Listening to non-trans friends when they talk about their bodies, so much of it is similar. Yeah, maybe we trans folk have extra worries, but I think with work, time and help, we can get by those.

Chams-wise, Pat kindly organised for M & Co to visit, and they certainly seemed both jolly and very busy. We had an academic researcher visit us and Yvonne's questions and insights provoked some interesting discussions. More on that next week.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 03, 2017

The right kind of weird

Hi,

Last month the Jones Massive were out for a meal with some old friends, who were visiting from overseas. There was much merriment, hugs, great food and talk about families, getting old, jobs and, of course, the state of the world. Don't worry, I shan't go in to the latter. I'm sure you have your own world views, just as I do.

Midway through the meal, B turned to me and said: "You the best thing about meeting up after all these years? You all get my sense of humour. I don't feel weird with you folks. We can pick up pretty much as if no time as passed."

Usually, this would cause a Brit to do one of two things: one, make a glib comment to defuse the possibility of actual emotion; or two, make their excuses and run for the hills ;-)

Luckily, neither of those things happened. Instead, and B added: "It's not like no-one understands me. It's more like I'm fine, so long as I stay on the well trodden path. If I go off on a curve, like I do with you guys. I'm left with an awkward silence.... It's like, it's like I'm wearing a mask, watching what I say to who."

I nodded, took a large swig of beer and answered: "Yeah, I know what you mean." :-)

_____


So, dear reader, maybe it's not just us weird trans* folk who have to wear masks. Maybe it's those weird nice people who we're lucky enough to have as friends. Maybe, so long as their weird is okay with your weird, it's all Cool & The Gang.



Maybe the best thing about knowing you and your friends are weird, is that none of you need the masks any more. You can drop them at the door, with a welcome sigh and a big smile. After all, we're all strange here ;-)

So, here's to good friends and the warm glow of belonging. May the weekend be kind to you.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, February 24, 2017

Seeing Things from the Other Side

Hi,

This week has, at least, as I type, a mixed bag. Nothing wrong, just a few ups and downs.

The Sting

Me: just a different style.
I'm sat in traffic just after the school run, add there's a large Range Rover wanting to turn right. Do Range Rovers come in any size other than large? They're like the opposite of the perfect shoe in that regard ;-)

As the road clears and the driver sets off, her bob cut hair swings as she double checks the road. A little voice within says "You're bald. You'll not have hair like that."

It's partly right. I'll not have long hair again. I've a buzz-cut, or skinhead, if you will. Sometimes, I miss my long hair. Not because it made me look female, and I don't miss the faffing about washing it, or brushing it. Now, I'm in the shower, a quick dry and I'm good.

But, I think, it would be nice to choose.... Not unlike being unable (or more accurately, unwilling) to pick your gender presentation.

Ah, but it's best, I think, to ignore such barbs, because they do little except rub salt in the proverbial wound. Instead, I try to think that I will not be just one presentation, all of the time. Chams, I guess, is my release to be the other side of me.

The Other Side of the Lens

When it came to packing for Thursday, I really took too many items. This is generally, a good indication that I don't know what to wear. For a day or three, I was a bit lost. Nothing I thought of seemed to work and I didn't want to repeat my lovely wrap dress from last week. Gah, what's an old trans bird supposed to do eh?

Well, to break up the outfit funk I'm having, I thought I'd try some opaque hold ups. Usually, I wear a pair of skin tone tights and an opaque set over the top. That or some thicker flesh tone ones and sheer black on top. It's not perfect, but hey, it works. Such is life in the Wookie zone ;-)

With the would-be shop visiting next month with some trousers and, well, frankly jumpsuits (I find that sometimes it's fun to just try things). I was planning with thin tights and dark hold ups for a quick change. But, having drawn a blank at two supermarkets, and the local Boots, on a whim, I tried my luck at a village lingerie store. Yeah, we're well posh down our way ;-)

I walked in and said hi to the sales lady. There was a wall of tights to my right, although they all looked sheer. I asked if the store stocked opaques, preferably hold ups, and in large. She lead me to a display at the rear of the store. "We only seen to have medium. Will these be okay?" I looked at the back and as the Ever Lovely Mrs J is only a little shorter than me, I knew medium wouldn't work.

"Sadly not. Not as [insert Mrs J' first name here] is fairly tall and size **." After a spot of rummaging, she found some ones in large, bless her.

We got chatting as I paid, and somehow the subject of gents buying lingerie for themselves came up. Now, at no point had I said the opaques were for me, nor was I asked. So, I said "If this isn't an odd question, can you tell when a chap is buying something for themselves?"

The lady thought about it and said that in her experience, gents who do are very nervous. The lurk outside a bit longer than gents buying for their partner. Also, they tend to hover about in the shop, seemingly not fully able to buy.

Fascinated, I asked if she had many and she said she had a regular number. She then went on to say she tried to help as best she could, with suggestions on sizes, fit and the returns policy.

I said that a sale is a sale, but helping people is what makes good customer service. Just like what she'd done for me. As I handed over the cash, she added, that some of those gents - "cross dressers, is that the right term?" - attended a group, and they'd sometimes go out in public.

I nodded, smiled and said "So long as people are safe as happy, eh?".

As she handed me my change, she added: "It must be awful having to lead a double life. Don't you think?"

I said, with hopefully a good Poker face, that I'd not given it a lot of thought, but I could see how that would be a worry. I added that I hoped people wouldn't mind, but I knew that some folk can be funny about being accepting.

The conversation drifted to Storm Dorris (English translation: the wind is a little brisk ;-) ) and she was glad the fallen tree had been removed. Luckily, I'd not come that way.

Lessons

Given the above lady's comments, what can we learn if we want to be a bit more stealth?


  • Confidence, seems key. Walk straight in, smile, be polite and don't lurk about.
     
  • Help: Don't be afraid to ask for help and do accept it if offered. No need for excuses, just say "Hi, I'm after bra/corset/tights, in size blah. Could you help please?" Don't add in it's for my girlfriend or wife, I mean; why else would you be there? ;-)
     
  • Do I tell? If the assistant asks directly, don't cook up a story. Just say yes, chances are they already know. After all, why risk upsetting a customer?
     
  • Be polite: Don't be a perv. I don't want to hear from my female friends about how their undies may them hot, and I sure as spit, don't want to hear it from you either. Does the sales person need to know? No, no they don't. 


At least, those four are my take on things. What about you dear reader? Any pearls of shopping wisdom to share?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Art of Normality

Hi,

Due to a dreaded Health & Safety audit - apologies for any shock or distress, this may have caused UK readers - at the Chameleons venue, we had to dispose of an old stereo. I say old, it had a CD and possibly a tape deck. I guess it's my age, because that feels quite fancy. :-) Hmm.... I'm now wondering how many years ago, the Jones family recycled by old stereo separates. It may well have been before Little Miss was born, and she'll be 10 this year.

So, while I was in town, I dropped said stereo system off at British Heart Foundation. They're one of the few charities I know of, which, admittedly, isn't many, that will accept and sell on old electrical goods. Hopefully someone will snap it up, and it'll be a few more quid in the charity's bank.

Talking of banks, I paid the subs in and as I did so, the cashier spotted the title on the paying in slip. To keep things safe at home for me, and our other signatories, we picked a vague name. It's not 'social group', but for t'Interwebs, that's what we'll call it. "So," she asked, "What do you get up to at your social group?"

I could have lied, I could have been economical with the truth. It wouldn't have been outrageous to have said, "chat, drink tea and look after each other." But, no, I said we were a social and support group for transgender people, hence the vague community account name. "Do you get many visiting?" and we had a short chat about it, while the cash machine argued with the new five pound note. The new fivers won, should you be curious ;-)

Out

While I was handing over the old stereo, I noticed an old CD in there. Erasure's Pop, no less. I remember them fondly from the 80s, and certainly Clarke's twinkly electropop, coupled with Bell's sometimes coded lyrics. Why coded? Well, much as Gay Rights were on the move in the 80s, our dear old Tory government oh-so-kindly responded with Clause 28.

For those of you overseas, or too young - and let's be honest, too lazy to use Google right now ;-) - this lovely bit of discrimination forbade teachers from 'promoting homosexuality'. Despite a few numpties, the UK has moved on from such, well... frankly, shite.

So Mssrs Bell & Clarke would cast their tunes and songs about love, regret and not-quite-fitting-in across the airwaves. All four channels, as that's all we had back then. Yes, kids - shock! horror! - no TV on demand, no YouTube nor Spotify. :-) Clearly, the not-quite-fitting-in struck the proverbial chord, and despite me hiding behind the front of heavy metal and rap, I always enjoyed Erasure.

So, how does this fit in with being out? Well, by happy circumstance, the BBC ran a news story about a teacher, Daniel Gray, who decided to come out to his school. Given some teenagers' (and parents') lack of empathy around the subject, I thought this was incredibly brave. The story is here, BTW and this is the bit that brought a tear to me eye:

One student came up to me after the assembly who I didn't know. I have never taught him before. He looked very nervous and a little shy. But he had something to say.
"Sir, your assembly has changed my life." 

Looking for answers
Like Mr Hanks' comments about solitude against loneliness, those simple words from that student went through my soul. What an incredible thing, as a young kid, to have a teacher like you. 

Sure, there's people in the paper, in the news, or - being modern - on the Internet. But, they are remote and don't always match the normality of your existence. Perhaps, I'm really typing about my history, rather than speculating what the student felt. Apologies.

So, yeah, the normality of existence. Normal, much as it's another word for average. To me, normality is something else. It's the day-to-day, it's the regular and routine. No drama. No excitement. No, you can just be you and dare I say, people accept you without any fuss or bother.

That, for me, is what I hope being out is. To just be part of the every day. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if just one person reads these prattlings of mine and thinks that there is hope, that things will get better, I'm good.

Do I think of the false platitude around "hang on in there?" No, because I do believe that things get better, if you do hang on. If I look back at the fear - yes, fear - that I had at school about what it meant to be trans, I can say, that I couldn't wish for more. I have a dear wife, the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones, who loves me, two incredible kids and I have the good fortune to be part of Nottingham Chameleons. A group of people who 'get' who am I and as there for me, as much as I'm there for them. 

So, yeah, things did get better.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, February 10, 2017

Lessons through life

Hi,

Ah, Winter's treating us to a last hurrah, with a flutter of snow. I'm surprised the UK hasn't shut down. We don't do well with anything other than mild rain and slight wind. Stop that giggling at the back. :-)

I've had the pleasure to be mostly working from home today and Little Miss was stopping over at Granny's. Yeah, an early half-term for some lucky folk eh? :-) With all that in mind, that meant less rushing and waiting on the school run, a chance for a brief lie-in, making coffee for the Ever Lovely Mrs J and, in the gaps between work emails, carrying out a few admin duties.

Today's was updating the forum for Chameleons. That took longer than I imagined, but it's done now. Phew! Funny, even with back-ups and off-line copies, there's that little frisson of fear that you may suddenly get a visit from Mr Cock-up. Older readers may wish to ask if the spare room has been prepared. ;-)

Faulty Goods

Talking of cock-ups, my phone decided to start to play silly buggers last weekend. So, I took it in for repair, I got the usual "nothing we can do here, guv" - which is odd, considering this is Nottingham, and not a place you usually encounter Dickensian wheeler-dealer ne'er-do-wells. ;-)

Deep, calm breath.... :-) A week later and after four lengthy telephone calls, I now have a replacement phone and I'm not going to be charged nearly 70 quid for a new switch. Like much in life, a right foul-up usually starts with poor communication and that's when the problem starts. But, it's all sorted now (I hope), and I'm back in the on-line world. Odd, while I know I do spend a bit of time using my phone, this week has really driven it home, how much I rely on it. Not just texting the Ever Lovely Mrs J, but taking photos of every day life, finding out when my next appointment is, to checking anti-social media.

Chams

Last night was Chameleons and it was great to catch up with people I'd not seen in a while. Val was back from her travels and Sandi had recovered from a bad dose of flu. We're making headway with the funding. That's working its way through the banking system and it looks like we're on track for Muggins here, to start dealing with a more of the organisation. I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to Sandi and Tracey for the work and love they've put into keeping group going. So, no pressure eh? :-D

After last year's 'big want', I finally found something - well, two dresses - that went with the little boots I bought. Do you get this? A want for a particular look, some shoes or make-up? Actually, why am I even asking this? If you're reading this, you're trans, so probably yes! :-)

I should say a quick thanks to Val for her handy camera work. Oh, and Nicole for explaining the basics . Funny the things you learn eh? :-)

     
The outfit for
the evening
Road testing for
another day

So, it seems that little boots need a higher hemline to work. Again, another school day.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, February 03, 2017

The journey of stuff

Hi,

The other week I was dropping off a box of toys and games the kids no longer wanted. Also, two coats that they'd grown out of. Again, nothing wrong with either and quite the case of carefully pre-loved. To that end, a visit to the local charity shop seems the done thing.

I like no doubt a lot of folk have a small stack of charity donation cards, Mainly because a) the charity gets to claim Gift Aid, and, b) I get an email saying how much the items have sold for. Oddly a few charities ask you if you want to claim that money back, and to me, the answer is always no. If I've given it away, that's it. Enjoy, sell it on, play it forward, etc.

As I handed over the items, I wondered who might have them. Which little boy or girl would enjoy playing with the Lego, or who might wear Little Miss's old coat to school. That got me thinking: what was the history of items I'd bought all those years ago?

With work being what it is, I'm no longer able to peruse second hand stores like I used to. Now, I tend to order on-line because time is short. I guess I'm moving into the cash rich, time poor category of the modern middle class. Not that I feel minted, but I have more than I did when the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones and I were in our early 20s.

So, things have changed round a little. Now, I'm giving dresses, skirts or tops up to local charities. Now many, as I try to buy sensibly and nothing too high fashion. Plus, I'm mid 40s, so fast fashion ain't my think and with pretty much only 25ish nights out a year, it seems a little nuts to keep buying.

Anyhoo, I saw an old dress of mine in the window and it made me chuckle. I wondered who might buy it. When would their wear it? Would it be a one off party outfit, or would it make it's way into the world of work? Would they care if they'd known a trans* person had owned it, or does that mean said item has low mileage, given my infrequent trips out? Who it is and however they wear it, I hope they're enjoying it.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 27, 2017

To be of good cheer

Hi,

There are some weeks where I have a queue of things I'd like to talk about. This is not one of them ;-)

I had started a post about presenteeism, but.... No, there's no clever gag lined up I'm afraid. It didn't quite work and I'm replacing it with this. A simple note to point out that it can be the little things.

Take for example:

  • Coffee with a (trans) friend and a chat, as we stroll around a nearby park.
  • A chance meet-up with a blog friend at last night's Chams meeting.
  • A guilt-free night out.
  • Being happy with my outfit.
  • The jump between deep, meaningful conversations and outright silliness.
  • An empty work calendar, so I've been working on things that interest me.
  • Not falling down the stairs after a heel malfunction. :-)
  • Finding a fix to the image positioning error on the Chams web site.


Really, things to be cheerful about!



Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fire-heart

Hi,

I wondered what to write about today. The week, has... been less than ideal. The feelings - nay, personal feelings, of powerlessness. Trump in the White House and May at the helm. Both seemingly decided on their own personal vision, come hell of high water. Oo, time for a dark joke: they may well get high-water if they ignore the climate science. So long, Florida! ;-)

This week gone I've been ignored the news. Just listening to music or comedy podcasts. I did not want to hear yet more blow-hard, empty rhetoric from our Great Leaders.

I had toyed with the idea of not posting anything. Some might say, "so what's new?" :-) Then, posting a picture of a black flag, or even the rainbow flag. But, no. I'm.... I'm too f**king angry. Angry at the leaders who don't listen, who deride evidence. Angry at our excuse for an opposition party and angry at those dumb enough - yes, I'm calling those who fell for populist drivel dumb - to fall for the lies. Evidence, MF! Evidence!!

Remember when your parents said, If something's too good to be true, it probably isn't true? Well, I guess a few folk are about to learn a very harsh lesson. Sad thing is, they may well drag a number of people down with them.

But...

I'm not going to sit here and let them. For what good it will do, I don't know. I will argue. I will debate. I will write. I will deny those who seek to push us back. I will not let bigots and fools take away the rights that we fought for. I will keep my quiet rage and I will not forget nor forgive.  I will accept those who want help or who want to change. I will keep our community alive. I will educate my children that they can be who they want, love who they want and do what they want. Your lies will not shackle. We are one people. One race. One planet. We will not go quietly into the night, nor can we be 'cured' with your quack therapies... Hint: there's nothing wrong with us. Hate is what's wrong, not us.


Good luck everyone.*
Lynn
x

[ * UK readers of a certain age may wish to think of Blackadder saying that, after blowing a whistle '-) ]

Friday, January 13, 2017

Little victories

Hi,

Moods eh? They're funny things. They come and go like the weather. Mostly pleasant, with the occasional shower and rare storm. Well, unless you've been knocking back the caffeine or South American Marching Powder... but then, you've only yourself to blame :-)

So the week swung around to Thursday and it was the first Chameleons' night of the year. Oddly, as I drove home on the Wednesday, I wondered: did I really want to go?

How odd. In other time, the idea of a long gap between meetings has had me using distraction techniques (long walks, watching films with Wee Man, playing computer games or a spot of writing). Yet, perhaps due to the particularly good Christmas break, I was very much in a take it or leave mood. Still, I find it helps to put the best foot forward and give it a spin. After all, you don't always know when your next foray into being fabulous will fall.

George, our latest trans-man visitor joined us for the first time and it was good to see Tanya pop back for her second visit. Sadly, Sandi wasn't well (get well soon, Mrs!) and Val was elsewhere due to work. See, real life gets in the way doesn't it? :-)

Thanks to Diane
for the snap.
With the winter chill very much in effect, I'd decided to go for biker boots and a dress. Question is: which one? Trusty New Look wrap dress or cosy knitted dress? Well, after risking a new make of razor blade this morning, my chest look liked I'd be massaged by Wolverine. :-\ So, something higher necked was in order! :-) Well, I guess I'll be sticking with my usual brand from now on. Lessons learned eh? When testing a new blade, don't do it on the day.

Mind you, I did manage to get my make-up to a state which I was happy with. Plus, I think I may be getting the hang of false eyelashes. I did forget to pack my earrings, which felt a bit odd, as having had the acceptance from the Ever Lovely Mrs J, it's nice to wear something pretty rather than bloke standard studs. Still, better than not having the choice eh?

I caught up with a few folk and Pat's been kind enough to organise a visit from a local clothes shop. Hopefully that'll go down well. Given that I'm working from home today, I've managed to back-up & upgrade the group's website, ring Boots, finish off some of the funding correspondence and updated the LiON (another community registration site).

Well, I'm feeling like I've been quite productive.... although not necessarily for who pays my wages. Still, I'd only be sat in meetings absorbing oxygen and biscuits. Maybe this is better ;-) Must put some more 'good news' notes in the memory jar for next year.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, January 06, 2017

Being kind

Hi,

Well, that's the first week of work in the bag. Well, I say work, it was mostly as case of turning up, replying to a few emails and going to one meeting per day. Still, provided you can find creative ways to pass the time, there are worse ways to make a living. ;-) Plus, in the sales I found a new groovy shirt and a rather pretty spring/summer dress. Yay!

With Christmas now over and the long haul through the winter to the spring, I was reminded of something a friend, W, said to me. She said she found it fairly easy to be there for others, but when it came to her own well-being, she found it very hard to be kind to herself.

Although very much less these days, I'm familiar with that. The usual voice of negativity: you're not good enough, you can't do it, etc; and then the chaser of you're fat, you look like a bloke, proper men don't do thisthat's not for your age, etc. Yeah, that spin of negativity that can, if you let it, plague your thoughts.

A few weeks early, I happened to have the good luck to attend a Mindfulness course. I keep bumping into these and this one was about compassion. Not just for other people, but, perhaps oddly, for ourselves. Given the prevalence of everyone's pet b*stard to put the psychological abusive boot in, it seems worth repeating. Now, I'll say I'm not an expert in any of this by a long way and if you're interested in mindfulness, there are plenty of instructors, exercises and books out there on the subject.

With that brief disclaimer out of the way, here's one for us T folk who may be struggling. 

Close your eyes and think of a friend.
Imagine their feelings and what they mean to them.
What would you say to this dear friend?
Would you hold them?
What comforting words would you use?
Where would you go? A quiet or a busy place? Indoors or outside?
Think on this for a few minutes.
Now, imagine the situation as you comforting another copy of you.
Can you be as kind to this copy as you can your friend?
Imagine telling yourself things will be better.
Know that pain is a feeling and feelings are of the moment:  they are not forever.
Worries are just that, worries, not truths or facts.
There's no fixed story or rules.
Remember: you're doing the best you can.
Take a moment to advise yourself that you're okay.
Don't worry about the future. It's unwritten and unknowable.
Just, keep on trying and be kind. To others and, certainly, to yourself.

Take care,
Lynn