Friday, June 24, 2016

Lessons from the past. Lessons for the future.


A long time ago, in a city centre, far, far away, was a young lad from the sticks. I say, lad, but outward appearances can be deceiving and the lies we tell ourselves, doubly so. Said young chap was visiting a polytechnic to see what their software engineer course was all about. He was handy with computers, you see. A bit pants at everything else, but if you can turn your hand to something and escape the sticks, he thought, why not give it a spin?

A lecturer turned up and took him and about two dozen other folk around the faculty. Lathes, CADCAM, routers; all that kind of stuff. As the young lad paused by a robotic arm, he noticed the rest of his possible classmates. All of them were Asian. Here he was, mixed in with more Indian and Pakistani folks that he'd ever seen. Some of them spoke English, some of them joked in and laughed in languages he didn't know. The only two white guys were him and the lecturer.

Is this, he thought, what it feels like to be an immigrant?

He knew he was trans-something-or-other. Not exactly the same as his the boys back home, so the idea of being an outside wasn't new to him. This, however, was. For a moment, he waited and explored the idea. Memories of drink fuelled pub rants from older men, about 'them taking over' came forth. But, that sentiment was as alien to him as the love of football and fighting.

His mind raced on: I don't understand what they're saying.

Then, he smiled and looked away. I'm the minority. The outsider. *I* don't fit in. Is this what it's like for them?

He didn't opt for hate, or despair for a white-bread time that never existed. No, what stayed with him, was that feeling of isolation and that, sadly, perhaps others would feel that too.... and that was wrong.


I didn't take the course. There was too much engineering for me and if I had, I very much doubt I've had met the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Nor, would have had these two lovely children, or found Chameleons. Such, I guess, is the hand of Fate.

For those of you either not from these shores, or without a social media / news feed; the British have voted to leave the European Union. I think I know why some may have taken the path they did, but it fills me with worry. Not just for....

...the economy, which has already dipped.

...the risk our research grants are now under.

...the persecution of immigrants

...the lies told to people (350 million? Oh, a 'mistake' apparently :-/ )

....that many of our employee rights come from the EU

All of that, and the insidious creep of the ultra-right wing, adding a legitimacy to fascism. This last one, is the one that worries me. If I look back - further back than my 90s trip to Birmingham- into the 80s, there was an undercurrent of violence. In some places, it wasn't safe to be anything but white, straight and male. That's not to say that all white males were the problem, that would clearly be wrong. No, it was the local skinheads or visiting thugs, looking for 'p**fs un p*kis'.

As I said to Andrea, as we wandered off after a coffee, the rise of the right - if it continues - does not bode well for our society. I really don't want my kids to live in that world. Do we, and I'll address the trans folk reading this, really want to live in a society where we live in fear of being attacked by thugs, because we have the nerve to show our faces in public?

Some of you may be reading this and saying, Oh, but you're wrong, Lynn. We're in control of our future. To that, I would ask you to look at history. When did a right wing swell serve a minority or even a country well? Who will defend our rights against the vested interests of big business or bigoted politicians?

Good luck everyone. It's going to be a quite a ride.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Please. Just stop.


Maybe it's my age, or maybe it's just the news, but I'm beginning to wonder: is everything political?

This week has seen the brutal murder of LGBT people in America, and the killing of a Member of Parliament, in the UK.

I know there are people who really don't like gay or trans people. I get that, you don't and much as I don't understand you; I don't wish you hurt or suffering. Maybe I wish you'd think again and understand that we're people, before any other label, but if I could wish for something, it would be a hard call between world peace, or early retirement on full pay. :-)

There are some T folk I know who are engaged politically, in trying to change things. Then, there's the rest of us, who don't really get involved, but go about our business, just getting on with stuff. When I hear about the hatred some folk have for us - and it seems a minority (I'll include alcohol induced twattery in this) - just being out and about trans, keeps us in the public eye. Sure, there's not a lot of us, but each time one of us is out - either high street, a night out or even Out at work - that's another regular person, who just happens to be trans, getting on with their life. There's no riot in the street or drive bys, just... another person. Happy and living their life. Is that really worth killing to stop?

I wonder, and on the radio, they mentioned the danger of speculation. Don't worry, kids, I'm an untrained professional giving an opinion. Do try this at home, but don't expect it to be truth, or evidence; it's just my thoughts. Sadly, the same warning doesn't seem to apply to talking heads (not the band) on the news, but I digress....
Obligatory meme post

Yes, speculation: I wonder if extreme politics or religion - yes, there's the two things you're not supposed to talk about (Ed: sssh! Don't tell any one!) - help drive the legitimisation of extremism? We've got people calling (baying, some might say) to reduce immigration and this week I read about a UK group concerned about the 'trans toilet menace'....

Is there some event, epiphany even, or evolutionary leap, that we're supposed to make, before we can reach the future? Perhaps the gradual reduction in whatever socio-genetic factors cause people to be complete dicks to each other.

If there is one, wow, do we need it now....

Take care,

Friday, June 10, 2016

"I have a really bad feeling about this."


This week has been somewhat of a strange journey. The Good, the Bad, the Average and Unique, as a favourite band of mine once sang. Let's start with the good stuff and end of a high, eh?

The Good...

I was so glad to see the rain today. Down it came, in sheets and torrents, spilling through flooded gutters and pooling in patterned puddles, that danced under the droplets. And yes, down came the temperature and the cloying heat that had hung about Nottingham. Hot weather, nice for lazing around in, bad news for trans folk and folk at work.

Outside for a change
Thursday night was a night out to Chameleons and it was bordering on too warm. With the windows open upstairs, it was bearable when getting changed. Luckily, the Ever Lovely Mrs J had let me borrow some chunky heels and use some of her Clinique CC cream (colour correcting, but not as heavy as foundation. I really should invest). Despite borrowing a tunic top from the Ever Lovely Mrs J, I decided to go with my summer trousers and a black top. Reverse monochrome seems to work, so why mess with a classic? :-)

I was happy with my make-up and after a chat with Diane (who's newly straightened hair looked fab, BTW), decided to go with a matte red lipstick, as a change. Given I'd kept my eyes fairly neutral with light golds for summer, I thought why not. Top off with some pretty earrings and blue gel look nail varnish and I was feeling refreshed... if a little warm ;-)

Earlier in the week, I'd parked up in a layby far out in the sticks, opened the windows to hear the birdsong and painted my toes ready for Thursday. I answered a few work emails on my phone, before sneaking back into the post-rush hour traffic and making it to work only five minutes later that I would do usually. Sometimes, it's the little things, isn't it.

Downstairs, the newly installed air-conditioning was doing its best and was making the Union Jack flags flutter. I think they were up for the celebration of the Queen's birthday. Sandi said it had been a while since we'd had a party, so that's something to plan for over the new few months.

Chams was a little quieter than usual, probably due to the light night and the weather, but we did okay. I chatted with Val and Nicole about the EU situation, and said hi to a two new visitors. Both of the new folk enjoyed themselves and hopefully, we'll see them again soon.

Come the end of the evening, it was time for some quick photos for Val and I, and then to clean up, lock up and head home.

...the Bad...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm an autumn bird. The colours on the trees, the promise of Christmas and Winter, the fall fashions and, for me, the respite from the summer heat. Much as I like a bit of Spring sunshine, I don't do hot weather... and certainly not in a stuffy office.

With the continual rising temperature I was starting to worry, that it would be too hot to face the music at Chameleons. One of the not-so-lovely things in the trans experience, in addition to The Drop, is The Panic.

The Panic starts, at least for me, with a spark of worry. You won't be able to make it out, it whispers. Another month until the next time. It'll be summer and it'll be too hot. You'll be him... for weeks. The spark, if fed, grows into a slow burn like charcoal. Steady and the consuming slow burn.

At least, that's what it would do, if I fanned the flames. To engage my CBT mind-jitsu, I have a choice when it comes to emotions. I can acknowledge and embrace them, which I do do, if they're worthwhile. The joy of a moment, the good vibes of helping a friend or a hug from the Ever Lovely Mrs J, or the nippers.

I can, also, acknowledge that The Panic is starting. I can feel it, even now, as I sit, but I'm not its slave. I don't have to listen to it. I can nod, give it an imaginary wry smile and tell myself, it might not be that bad. There will always be another time. Mostly, this works, but The Panic's a persistent wildfire that knows to bide its time.

...the Average...

A brief mention of work, as I'd been invited to a thank you event for some community work, I'd been involved in. Cue some free drinks, a chat and a slice of cake. Really, what's not to like?

...and Unique

Like many couples, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I, chat before bed. It's that quiet time, when we can talk about things that have interested us, or worries or good things. There's just us, and so conversation can be more mature topics, without the risk of the kids hearing.

By random happen-stance, Mrs J said she'd been reading about a guy who was gender fluid. She mentioned his name (Peter) and I wondered if it was Peter/Pippa who's flying the gender fluid flag, down in London. It wasn't, but that's by the by.

She explained that the Peter was out to everyone and his wife had said, once he was out, it made their lives a lot easier. He would dress at home, because they were both cool with that, although when Peter wasn't out, she would worry about possible visitors, who didn't know.

For them, Peter being out worked. He could attend work as 'her' or 'him' and this wasn't a problem. The No Secrets approach was working in their relationship and we chatted about what this might mean for employers.

Conversation moved on and as I drifted off, I wondered, would that be my ideal? To not have to be 'him' 99% of the time. Instead, to wake-up and not have to mask my appearance, or as some might say, authentic self. I played with the idea and it has attraction. Thing is, it's only attractive if my family would be okay with it. That's not to use them as a blocker or an excuse, but I'm not feeling the push to flip between Richard/Lynn mode so strongly, that I'd step on their feelings.

Still, it's a lovely thought. With apologies to The Bard:
To be, or not to be, gender fluid?
That is the question.
Be it braver to suffer the jacket of singular gender,
Or the arrows of being thy own true self.... :-)
Maybe one day, it won't be a brave step, just something people can do. I can dream.

Take care,

Friday, June 03, 2016

He said. She Said.

Hello dear reader,

Half-term is nearly over and the Jones Massive have, for once, not been away. Instead, we've stayed home and had days out to some local tourist attractions. Fun was had by all and we managed to dodge the iffy weather.

Just before I went away, I was listening to a co-worker... well, rant. She was, and dare I say, rightly so, rather cross. For sake of her privacy, and mine, we'll call her B.

B was attending a meeting and it was one of those rather unpleasant ones, where the folk who'd turned up, already seemed to have decided what was going to happen. You probably know the sort, where folk start to draw into a single side and you get that sinking feeling.

But, that wasn't why B was cross. No, this was the plain rudeness of a colleague who continually spoke over, or who interrupted her. Oddly, he doesn't do this to me. So, I listened to B let off steam and then she asked me: "why do men do this?"

My first reaction was to say, "you're asking the wrong person if you're asking that", but lucky, my brain was working that day. :-)

Instead I answered: "Because some people are rude and they don't respect another person's point of view."

The conversation rolled on and once B was calm, we bid our goodbyes and wished each other good luck for the upcoming half-term. B's child is younger than Little Miss, so he's at that full of beans stage young boys often can be.

Later, as I got into the car - and after my subconscious had chewed things over - a few thoughts drifted to the surface.

  • Firstly, the repeat of B's antagonist not talking over me. If this is a gender, respect or even a power thing, I wouldn't like to say.
  • Next, when a friend transitioned, she found that where her opinion would usually be listened to, now, it isn't She said, and again, no names, that in some ways it made her think that people accepted her as she was, but the fact that they didn't listen became gradually more irritating. Especially, when she was right.
  • There have been occasions were the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I have been chatting with others and some - often a guy - will dismiss what Mrs J has to say. Not in an upfront rude way, but subtly as some folk can be. After one such incident, we made a game of it, where I'd shift her words, but repeat the point, some time later. Guess what? Well, actually don't, there's no prizes here :-) The comment would be accepted as sage advice. Not that this makes me a sage, but more likely, just because a bloke has said it.
I don't want to make this a man bashing post, because I'm a guy too. Well, mostly. Some of the wiring upstairs is a bit off, but we'll gloss over that. :-) No, it's just that if someone is going to be talked over, it tends to be a guy doing it and the person on the receiving end, tends to be a woman. Perhaps, if I was female - or even passably female and in stealth - I'd have a different perspective on this, but as I'm not, I don't. 

But just because others do it, doesn't mean I have to. I remember reading many years ago about a playwright, and the actors - all women - said of him, that he was someone who actually listened to women. In my odd dislike / rejection of the super-macho, I try to listen too. Not that that doesn't stop me holding forth when I get going, but I try :-) I try, to let people have their say, regardless of who they are and I may have bruised a few egos when I've interrupted the interrupter and said "Excuse me, you where saying Sarah?"

It was a bit of a turn when in a meeting a week before, when I wanted to say something and someone gabbed over the top of me. Who should interrupt the talker? B. "Sorry, J, I think Richard was just saying something..."

Equality eh? Maybe if we all listened to each other a little more, rather than thinking of what to say next, the world may be a slightly different place.

Take care,