Friday, December 08, 2017

Being out. Being me.

Hi,

There are times when Life seems to have you on an assault course. Barriers, tunnels, and cold, wet mud to slog through. We push on doing what we can, sometimes stopping for breath, sometimes to help someone along, or even to get help ourselves. It's not so much aiming for the finish line, but clambering through until you reach easier ground. Mind you, any time you're not crawling through the proverbial mud is a win in my book. :-)

When my boss - who, BTW, is a thoroughly nice chap, BTW - showed me my remaining holiday leave, I dared to dream I may get a day out. Not that he knows... or so I hope. I did suspect a colleague knew a few years back. But that may have been the paranoia talking when I first started out. Trans people, we're a funny lot ;-)

So, a day out? Much careful planning was done to ensure everyone would be at school or work. I ran through a mental checklist of what I could wear and reduced it down to what I like to wear, and what won't kill my feet after two hours. Ladies, I know your pain when it comes to a day in heels. The unholy battle of style, comfort, and practicality :-)

Then, along comes a dose of the lurgi. The Ever Lovely Mrs J was the first to be set to bed by its evil germs. Wee Man followed, the Little Miss, and so the weekend passed by. So far, so good! They started to get better, and as my day off approached, I did wonder if I would - ACHOO. Shiver. Shiver.

Bugger. :-)

Still, with plenty of Lemsip, fruit, and the bloody-mindedness of a T person wanting a day out, Wednesday rolled around and I was not sneezing or shivering, so off I went.

Step by Step

With Wee Man and the Ever Lovely Mrs J off on School Run Part One, it was up to me to take Little Miss off to primary school. We have a chat in the car (mostly about books) and it's great daughter/father time, IMHO. I kissed her goodbye and set off back to the car.

It was at this point that the nerves start to kick in. I don't know if you have this crisis of confidence - if that's the right term - or worry bomb, but I do when it comes to going out. There's the will something bad happen?; will I be spotted?; to The Agreement. The latter, I don't truly hold up to, and this makes me feel guilty. In my defence, I do go far away on the rare times I go out as Lynn, so I'm hoping this would be okay. But, hey, we all lie to ourselves right?

One of the ways through the fear is to break things into steps. So, once everyone is off to work or school, I get ready. I usually know what I'm going to wear, so today there was only a few choices to be made around shoes and skirt. The top was a red jumper or a fall back to a red cotton cropped sleeve should things warm up. I ditched last time's heels (much as I love them) and plumbed for my ankle boots instead. That style seems very popular at the mo, so when trying to blend in following fashion a little seems to help.

With my outfit on, we're on to make-up. Best keep it simple and nothing too 'nighttime'. We don't want to scare people do we? :-) I chanced using two mascaras, as I'd read this helped with definition and I can say that a coat with Brand X, and a second coat later with Brand Y, does indeed give a better curl and more definition.

All that was left was to double check my bug-out bag. Time time, a small travel suitcase with Richard clothes, work shoes, and the all-important make-up remover. After letting the dogs and out checking the outside tempreative (brrr!!), I popped a pretty scarf on. All I had to do now was make it out of the front door and into the car.

Deep breath, Lynn. Ooh, maybe not that deep, given the corset's well fastened. :-)

Into the porch, pop the lock on the car, bung the suitcase in the boot, close it, get in, seatbelt on, and off up the drive into the traffic.

After that, it's a stop at a nearby-but-not-too-nearby layby to check I do have everything I need. Oh, and to sort my nail varnish out, of course.

Being Out

Oddly, once I was parked and on the move, my nerves settled. Parking was tricky as I guess lots of folk had come in for Christmas shopping. Whoever designed Leicester's main shopping centre had put in some wall length mirrors just inside. Not only do they bring the natural light in, they're also great for a quick selfie ;-)

I'd brought along my birthday money, which may go to show that I've not been buying much of late. Well, apart from a new red lippy for today. :-) My main aim was just to enjoy the day out, and maybe spot some Christmas presents for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Leicester has some cute little shops away from the high street, so it's those I head for after checking out the usual chain stores :-)

My luck was out on the shoe front - not that I needed any - as all the 9s seemed to have gone. New Look didn't provide. Perhaps it being that awkward period of mid Xmas Party season, so they don't want to fill the shelves with goods that aren't going to move. Fast fashion, eh? If you've not bought it before you need it, you've had it. Ah well. I was trying on, more than buying, so it's all good.

-

I think I must have been in town between 11am until 3pm, which was long enough to get around the city centre. I had a lovely chat with a young lady in Body Shop. I'd popped in for a replacement blusher, and we started chatting. Turns out her partner is (was?) trans, and I found what she had to say about sexuality and growing up very interesting. She was not yet 20, so I think very much in the next generation. She was saying how she fell in love with the person, rather than the labels. The conversation moved on and I felt that if I wasn't going to buy anything, I ought to move on. So I did :-)

I had a couple of what I'd call just regular chats with people in shops. I say regular because they felt no different to how I'd talk to them in Richard mode. I think you can gauge when people want to talk, and when you're just intruding on their day or time. I had a long-ish talk about make-up routines with a specialist in a department store. Much as she's paid for her patter, she seemed genuinely complimentary about my make-up. Good to know I don't look a complete mess then! :-D

I didn't get any stares or rudeness really. It seems we trans folk are becoming part of the background more and more. I did spot maybe a handful of passersby taking a too long a look, but I wasn't really paying attention for the most part, and maybe they were curious, rather than judging. Hell, I can dream. :-)

Come the end of the day, I took a skirt I had no plans on buying into the changing room. This was solely so I could take some snaps in case the walkway one hadn't worked. By this time I'd swapped my jumper for the red mid-sleeved top. It seemed that walking about certainly warmed me up, despite the arctic chill on the wind.



The only snag to the day was when I set off to my usual 'getting changed spot' deep in the countryside. Eeek! I don't know what had gone on, but someone had blocked the short lane with a large tree stump. It took me another 30 minutes to find another place quiet enough. Maybe next time I'll think about getting changed at a service station. That or setting off earlier and using the facilities at Chameleons HQ.

All in all, a great day out and one that's left me with a lovely happy glow to my mood. Hello Christmas Spirit.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, December 01, 2017

Staying healthy

Hi,

This week has shot by and it's December already. There's no noise from the kids about putting the Xmas tree up, but I'm sure that will come. Every year there's that frisson of danger: has some fiendish fieldmouse crept into the loft and nibbled the decorations? Not that we have a mouse problem - next door's cat is very attentive - but living out the sticks, we see quite a bit of wildlife. Still, at least it's just foxes, crows, and squirrels. I saw a rat down by the canal last week at work. Feel free to make your own gag about a despised politician or celebrity of your choosing. :-)

Yesterday I happened to attend one of those working lunch gigs. It was about mindfulness and stress in the modern workplace. What stress is like in the less than modern workplace I've no idea, but if you know, do tell. :-) Mindfulness seems to have been doing the rounds over the past few years, but I've found it helpful. It's not always easy to tune out the noise of your own mind, so the breathing techniques have been useful. I also tried attending a workmate's meditation class which sort of takes things a little further. If you've not tried either, I would say it's worth a spin. If nothing else, it's something new and possibly a new crowd of people to talk to.

Talking of the latter, the modern workplace presentation included some tips on reducing your own stress. The top five, as it were, are: giving, relating, exercise, appreciating and trying out. The presenter did go on to explain them a little, but I'm going to have a go at them. They may have a slight trans bias ;-)

Giving: Or more accurately, giving help or time to people. I think there's definitely something in helping others, be it the simple acts of day to day kindness, to stopping and going out of your way to help someone. I don't help out at Chameleons for the props, I do have a vested interest. That said, seeing at evening go well, or reading about a person's first-time visit is very rewarding emotionally.

Relating: Being involved with people and actively listening to them. I've been doing some training in coaching of late and that's been really helpful. Certainly, the active listening and knowing your own biases has helped. Relating isn't just me talking about me - which this blog sort of provides - but that vital two-way conversation we have. That whole line about a problem shared and all that.

Exercise: I know I don't do enough of this for the amount of food that I eat. That said, a walk with the dogs in the morning, and a cycle ride between offices at work gets me outside. It may not be much, but that 15 - 30 minute break from not looking at the screen, and just enjoying the world really helps me recharge.

Appreciating: I once read "it's what we don't have that makes is miserable" and it took me a while to get my head around that. Rather than chasing stuff, I don't have, or even won't have, taking the time to enjoy what I do is a trick I'm still working towards. Take this month for example, in previous years I'd have been flapping about finding the right Christmas dress. This time, meh. I've got plenty I could wear and while there's some pretty outfits in the shops, I'm quite looking forward to putting something together with what I already have. Likewise, it's another week or so until Chams, so no cross-dressing for a bit. But, if I play the mindfulness card and think on the thermal leggings I'm wearing, I can appreciate the fit and the feel. Not in a pervy way, but they don't feel like my bloke jeans either.

I am rooted in the me.... and thinking of fab shoes.
Trying Out: This was doing new things. The job I've been doing has been good in this regard. Less staring at screens, but working with people and so much learning to do! How people work, how systems hang together, and new techniques from old workmates on organising activities. Plus, with a bit less presenteeism, the occasion course out of the office means I'm meeting new people and picking up new skills.

All reasons to be cheerful!

So, next time someone asks you about a mindfulness practice, think on about your favourite shoes. How do they feel on your feet? How do you walk when you wear them? My name's Lynn Jones and I'm guilty of owning perhaps one too many pairs of beautiful, beautiful heels. :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 24, 2017

Decisions, decisions....

Hi,

You know those days, or even weeks, where nothing seems to go right? Well, I've had the good fortune that it's been quite the opposite.

Is this vintage yet?
After decades on the information not-so-super B road, fast broadband is finally coming to our neck of the woods! At Chez Jones, we're rather excited about this, so fingers crossed it all goes well on installation day next month. The kids pretty much stream everything they watch these days, and on to tablets, rather than the telly. We shop on-line; I work from home when I can, and Wee Man writes and completes his homework online.

Work has been challenging but my coworkers have really pulled the stops out to get stuff done. Yes, it took a while to get started, but we got a lot done once we could access the systems. Amazing what you can do when you just ignore the red tape. :-)

From a Chams angle, it was great to be out and catch up with the usual suspects. Pat was kind enough to arrange for M & Co to visit, so we had sales event at Chameleons. Also, although not specifically happy news, we did commemorate the International Day of Transgender Remembrance. It's the first time (at least in my memory) that we've done so, and we held a minute's silence to think about those that we'd lost, or who aren't so fortunate as we lucky T-folk.

For those of you with a good memory may remember that Little Miss was born nearly 10 years ago. She's growing up to be quite the character, and her sense of humour is really quite sharp. I know parents are supposed to be proud of their kids, but I think she's an awesome young lady: book-loving, caring, sharp, creative and fun.

-

Talking of distant memories, X emailed me the question following last week's Ask Me Anything post. They said: Not wishing to appear to be rude or trying to ask one of those questions that you can not answer; how did you decide that you were Trans in the first place?

Well, there is a question! I don't consider it rude. BTW, given the email address you put in, I'm guessing you've a Unix background? :-)

Anyhoo, I do remember being curious about clothes when I was young, maybe the third year of school. I may have been younger than Little Miss at this point. Eight, maybe? Curious as to why boys and girls could only wear certain things. That and it seemed expected that as a boy, it wasn't acceptable to show your emotions. Certainly not to cry, or show weakness. Emotions provided it was anger, were okay in certain boys' circle. But this *ahem* education was some of my primary school peers, and not the message my parents gave.

Before I was a teen, I'd borrowed skirts or tights from the laundry basket, heels from the shoe cupboard and tried them on in my room after bedtime. I had little clue what I was doing (so not much changes eh? :-) ), so I must have looked a sight. Still, we all have to start somewhere.

I did get caught by my Mum, much to my embarrassment, but we put this down to "just dressing up". It may have looked like that, but thinking back, it seems more about dressing to look how I felt. Then again, memory is a funny thing, and it was a very long time ago. The girls at school could wear pretty things and behave in certain ways, so why couldn't I? Given I didn't read anything about such behaviour, Mum's approach (I'm not blaming her, BTW), and what I heard from other kids; I soon learned to keep such feelings to myself. Ah, but they do things differently in the past, and the early 80s were not a time when the terms transgender, gender queer, or bi-gendered existed.

Skip into my teenage years -spots, hair, smelling, becoming more blokey - were tricky. It was around this time I think I can actually answer the question. :-) That's when I heard the word transvestite. A quick look in the dictionary and, well, it wasn't a perfect fit, but of you took 'pleasure' as feeling okay about yourself, it would do, and I tried not to think about it too much. For the most part, I muddled through those early years occasionally finding time when left home alone. In honesty, it wasn't great, but it could have be a lot worse. No-one knew, and we're talking pre-Internet, so while others must do this, I didn't know of anyone. It may have been that lonliness and struggling to understand why I felt so, well, 'in between', that lead to a spell of depression in around the end of my school years. But, hey, I survived, so it can't have been all that bad. :-)

Skip on many a decade, and as language has changed. Plus, I've learned more about myself, as well as being trans-something-or-other. If I had to pick a label, I'd pick just 'trans'. It's not a sexual thing cross-dressing and I'm not planning on transitioning. Instead, I'm in that in-between part-timer bracket. Yet, however I dress, I'm airways me. That doesn't change.

Thanks for the question. Oh, and if anyone else has anything to ask, there's a contact form here.

Take care,
Lynn




Friday, November 17, 2017

Asking for it

Hi,

It's a late post from me this week. I've no excuses, dramatic tales of daring do, nor special reasons why. Well, none apart from there's not much I have to say. Perhaps an odd thing to say given how many weekly episodes I've bashed out at this, and other, keyboards over the years. That and all the nonsense that's going on in the news.....

Actually, a brief interruption: a message to certain people. Those who think it's okay to touch people up, or say lewd things to strangers, friends, or colleagues. It's not okay. It really isn't. Just stop. Don't abuse your trust.

I may be a bit late to the party with MeToo, and the event was minor, but I it left a memory. Years back when I'd gone to a trans group - not Chameleons - I was chatting to another visitor. She said something about me having slim ankles (this was: 1. some time ago, and/or 2. their eyesight was poor :-) ). Before I could say anything, they reached down, ran their hand down my shin and grasped my foot.

I was - as I started this post - lost for words initially. I was frozen not quite knowing what to do or say, when I heard my Angry Bloke Voice kick in: "Stop that," it growled. What happened next, I'm not sure. Either they went away, or I did. It's not a something that has been repeated (thankfully). Maybe I'm wary of folk like that (hello, danger sense), or perhaps I'm lucky that folk like that don't come to our group.

Thing is, a touch on the arm from a friend or colleague; that's okay. I've hugged and been hugged at Chams, and that's cool. But the other thing... No. That was very much not alright, and I wonder, what did go through that man's head (warning: deliberate misgendering! :-P ) when he thought that grasp was okay? Maybe he didn't think. Maybe that's the problem. :-\

But on to other things. As a change, I'm going to ask you something, dear reader. There's form to get in touch and if there's a question you'd like to ask; please do and I'll do my best to answer it.

BTW, questions that are not overly personal and/or filthy will stand a better chance of being answered. :-D

No, you don't need to put your real name and no, you don't have to put an email address in. It's as anonymous as you want to make it.

I'll update this post if and when any questions come in.

Take care,
Lynn


Jen: How did you first sit down and have a serious conversation with your wife about your dressing?

Thanks for the question Jen. Hmm. Probably at least three times, and at various points in our relationship. The first time was when we'd been together a few weeks (early 90s), and I said dressing up is something I used to do. This was true at the time. I'd chucked everything in my one and only purge, and stopped shaving my legs too. Clearly, I thought it was just a phase and with enough willpower, I could go straight. You can see how well this has worked out for me ;-)

The next time was in the late 90s, as I'd been dressing up on and off. I'd kept it secret because I felt I could keep it from the Every Lovely Mrs J, and therefore not upset here. However, the secrecy and the lying - because I was hiding what I was doing - ate at me. I could either bottle it all up and live with the guilt, or I could be open and honest, but also risk what we had, and upset her. Not exactly the easiest choice. In the end, I sort of came out a second time, and understandably, the Ever Lovely Mrs J was very upset. Not because of what I was doing, but because I'd hidden it from her. I get that, I think, and I think that while it's better to be as honest as you can with your partner, I understand why some of our number don't come out. Again, it's complicated.

The third and last time was a year or so after Wee Man was born in the early 2000s. I'd been grabbing time here and there to be all of me, so to speak. I don't know if was a case of little time, or wanting to belong that made me want to go to Chameleons. We had a chat about it and while Mrs J wasn't 100% about it, she said yes. The reason for her hesitation was a worry about my safety. Was I putting myself at risk by being outside? We had a long chat about who ran Chameleons (hello Sandy & Tracey!), what went on, where the venue was, and how I'd get there.

I very much doubt that I'd be in the position I am now without the help and love of Mrs J. Much as I sometimes bump against our agreement (furry legs, keep it out of sight, no daytime outings, etc), the fact that she loves all of who I am, and that we can laugh and share things about me being trans; well, there isn't a figure you can put on that.


Pandora: How long did it take you to find and/or settle into your style?

And did you go through the awkward "dressing much to young for your age" phase?

Ooo, two good questions. Gah, I'm really having to think now! :-D

I think I found the office look easy to settle into. Perhaps because some of it is quite tame in terms of colours and patterns, so - dare I say? - not too easy to get wrong. That's not to say I didn't make plenty of mistakes along the way. I think I have an idea of what works for me in terms of cut when it comes to dresses, tops, skirts, trousers, etc. Likewise, with hair, that took me a while to get the hang of, and I'm still learning now. It's taken me a while to get the confidence to wear a pattern, or mix/match colours. Plus the jeans and pretty top thing took some experimentation/research too. All that said, I think I'm happy with my choices, and have been for the last four, maybe five, years.

As to your second question, I am really conscious of the too young for your age thing. Equally, does anyone want to look frumpy? It's a tricky line to walk, I think. I clearly remember that line of If you are old enough to remember it the first time, don't wear it now it's back in. :-) That said, I've worn biker boots, leggings, and denim shorts. Being tall, I'm conscious that tights + dress don't always work, if the hem is too high. I guess with my height, some dresses are more tunic style, and I dress with that in mind. Lessons learned eh?

I still have a red body-con velvet dress that I sometimes wear near Xmas. There's that and a sequin miniskirt - again, Xmas wear - that makes me think about my age, and can I still work it? So far, I've not run from them, so either I'm in denial (ain't just a river in Egypt :-) ), or there's life in the old gal yet :-D I might shop in Dorothy Perkins and Joe Browns, but I steer clear of TopShop or New Look (except for shoes).

Friday, November 10, 2017

The other T word: Transgression

Hi,

I've deliberated about posting this today, but I think I'm just going to have to dive in, and give it a spin. Without any fanfare or fuss, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I had a bit of an argument last night. Now, I'm not going to go into the who's right and who's wrong. Firstly, as I'm writing this, it's going to be biased. Secondly, it would be somewhat tedious.... Possibly more so than a regular post :-) But hey, moving on.

So, yes, I made a mess of things before I went out, and yes, I did upset the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Yes, I did feel bloody awful about it, and yes, I did apologise profusely. Not because it's the British thing to do, but because I was wrong. Maybe if I'd listened or asked before popping upstairs for a shave, things wouldn't have headed south. But, hey, 20/20 hindsight eh? It's a wonderful thing.

Now, I don't like quarrelling with Mrs J because it points out something's gone wrong. Usually, by me I should add, but let's not go too far into my blunders and transgressions (hint: that's not a trans word :-) ). But, they, arguments, are, as we said to the children, necessary. If you don't clear the air when needs be, well, then things can either build up or drive a person to seething resentment. The classic joke that we see in ourselves: 'No, it's fine. Really." Obviously, it's about as far from Fine as someone on a rocket headed out as they're late for their tea. :-)

There's a phrase I've used on YATGB a few times: It's all fine, until it isn't. It seems that life has pointed out that this isn't just true of being trans, it's also true for our partners, and/or family.

So, without a blow by blow he said/she said script, the crux of it is this. I get caught up in my Leave Early routine on two days of the month: second and fourth Thursday. I do want to be out by 630 so I can swing by a collect Wee Man from his weekly visit to a mate's house. I'm usually dropping Wee Man by 645 to 7 subject to traffic.

I appreciate I'm probably talking to a trans audience, so you may already get the requirement to be out. Not a case of popping to the pub, visiting a mate, or off to some hobby. No, it's out, so I can be dressed. This is the catch: for two days a month, there are rare times when the Ever Lovely Mrs J turns down a social invitation because it clashes with one of my Thursday nights out. I get that that can be annoying.

Then, looking at it from the other side; there are only two nights out to Chameleons a month. Two times in which I can be all of me. There are times when it's not enough, but I bottle it up, and engage in some coping mechanism (YouTube make-over videos, gaming, baking, etc) until there's time when I can. I know that when I miss a meeting, it upsets me and I get cranky. I try to not let it get to me when we're on holiday, because holidays are fun right? But switching off the trans-ness? Well, there isn't an off button, and I've yet to find a blue pill that hauls me up and out of the rabbit hole. :-)

So, what's to do? Not much but put it behind me and not mess things up. I think I am over the guilt of being what I am, but I don't dismiss the guilt I have over sometimes having to put myself first. Yes, I know I've written about 'put your own oxygen mask on first', but that doesn't make it any easier. Perhaps I'd do well to listen to the advice I sometimes give others when asked, but clearly, I ain't that clever. :-)

Chams itself was reasonably busy, and we had some great discussions about labels or the differences Jacob has spotted in changing into a man. Yeah, sexism is alive and well, just in case you've not seen any of the headlines for the last ten years. :-) I did talk about how the argument had made me feel bad, and some of the others were kind enough to share their experiences. That helped. Not from a vindication point of view, but more to know that it's something others have experienced and that sometimes, the juggling act between family life / trans expression is really tough on both parties.

Ann, one of our new members asked why the group wasn't better advertised. We - Val, Diane, Jacob, me, and Diane, all chipped into this. The quick answer is that it's tricky. Tricky in that while we want trans folk to know about Chameleons, we don't want any trouble from yobs or protestors. For that reason, Chameleons is in the self-help guides, registered with a few charities, support organisations, or what-have-you. We've had two invitations to talk about our good work (their words, not mine) from the local paper and radio station. But... each time we've kindly refused. It's down to risk and privacy. The risk from dodgy folk turning up (no, the wrong type of dodgy, not us trans types :-) ). That or the danger of being too high profile and members being accidentally outed. So yeah, we're a relatively well-kept secret.

Ann asked how can we expect to become more accepted if we stay hidden. A fair question, and again, there's that double-edged sword. On the one hand, by staying hidden, we don't risk being outed, or trouble (verbal, social, violence, etc), but by being hidden, we don't exactly advance the cause - if you can call it that - in helping (non-trans) people understand that we're not weird. Well, okay, a bit weird, but the right type of weird. Maybe if we were minted we could be classed as eccentric. But, for a lot of us, it's not just us who's deciding. If we decide to be out, we're out and our family and friends are drawn into it. Like I said, it's tricky. :-)

Ah, deep sigh and let it go. :-) From a positive point of view, T-Central were kind enough to feature another post of mine (thanks Calie!). That put a spring in my step.

Nails on. Nails off.
Thinking about Chams, I was happy with my outfit choice, and doubly so with my eye make-up too. I tried using an eyeshadow kit I'd not used for a while, so it was a look I'd not seen for a while. Perhaps it's better to mix things up a little more? 

I also tried some pre-glued nails, and they were both easy on/easy off. Certainly a lot less of a faff on keeping my own nails long (I broke one picking up the shopping), and there was no tell-tale residue that needed to be cleaned off. Maybe it's time to invest :-)

At the end of the night, there was time for a few snaps to capture the moment. The trans-guys asked again about sorting out photos for the group, so that's something on my do list for later in the year. Talking about the year, I've now sorted out next year's meeting dates, so the action log shrinks a bit each time.

As I got changed and said to Val, "I just feel so comfortable like this.". I've worn this outfit out & about, and it just feels, well, very me, I guess. Maybe it's those moments where it is okay, and you feel alright about yourself that make it worthwhile.

It may be tough every now and again, but I can't think of any other way I'd rather be.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, November 03, 2017

The Why Factor

Hi,

A couple of weeks ago when TrendCo came to see us, Steph asked me what do I get out of coming to the Chameleons and dressing as Lynn? That's quite a question, and one I'm not sure I fully answered back then.

To Steph and Nicola, I said being in bloke mode most of the time was akin to being at work, and getting to be Lynn, or cross dress if you will, was like a holiday. It's not that you don't like work, but a holiday is more chance to switch off. I'm not 100% happy with that, so I guess here's a chance to try again.

The easy part to answer is why come to Chameleons. At it's most basic level, it's a regular event where I get to dress. It is, however, more than that. It's the other people who come along, and after a while, become friends. We chat on social media, the forum, and sometimes IRL (in real life). That to me is a supportive network of friends. I may be in 'Richard' appearance 99% of the time, but I'm always me. The trans stuff never really switches off. To that end, being able to talk with trans friends who get who I am, that's priceless.

In the above, I've said 'Richard mode', which may be a funny phrase. I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's no Richard or Lynn, just me. They're just names against how I present from time to time. What goes on in my head regardless of name or appearance doesn't change. Okay, that's not completely true: if I'm dressed, I don't tend to worry about when the next time will be. :-) Instead, I just make the most of it.

-

As to the why do I dress.... That's a big question, and I think the answer has changed over the years.

I guess the closest I can come to explaining it, is for you to imagine a favourite pass time. Maybe that's listening to music, watching your favourite TV show, reading, a sport, crafting, etc; it doesn't matter.

Now consider this: when you're not on your own, or if you're only with a select bunch of friends, you cannot talk about your pass time. If you did, people may judge you, your kids may get picked on, "there goes one of them", etc.

But, and here's the rub, 50% of the population can - and do - enjoy that activity and no one says a thing! In fact, it's encouraged through behaviour, advertising, and other social factors for them to behave that way. When you walk down the street, surf the web, or switch on the TV, there goes that 50% just being themselves without - seemingly - a care in the world. Yeah, I'm not a woman and won't ever be one, so apologies for the naive male view I'm putting forward.

So, you're in a bit of a bind. Reveal all (so to speak) and live your life, or stay the *ahem* hobby cupboard and stay safe, but frustrated. Ah, therein lies the dilemma. :-)

-

That is as close as I can get it. I'm "me" all of the time; it's just that for a lot of the time, I get to dress (and pass) as a guy. Hello, white male privilege! :-) I'm listened to, I get better pay, I'm not at risk when on my own, I'm not sexually harassed, no-one calls me on what I wear, etc.


Not every day, but
sometimes, and it's all fine
But, I'm not really a bloke. Okay, physically I'm a man.  Between my ears, in the sloppy grey matter that controls my body, and provides a place for what makes me, me; my brain tells a different story. It's an odd mix of interests and behaviours that could both male and female.

Put simply, I can't live as just Richard. I need to express myself by dressing as a woman, so what's going on inside my head, matches what's going on for my body. Or, if the visit to Boots' make-up session was anything to go by, being treated or accepted as one works too. I never said any of this makes any sense. :-)

For years I'd stand by the label transvestite, but in later years, trans seems to fit me more. Thing is, when I heard someone on TV talk about being bi-gendered, I muttered "yeah, right", because sometimes, I'm a tw*t. :-) Said lady then said, "Some days I wake up and I don't know which gender I want to be.". Ah, that did strike a chord.

The clothes then, are the wrapping, to all of this, but it's so much more than that. The wrapping just helps my brain adjust to how I'm feeling. Too long 'en drab' in Richard mode, and the proverbial weight on my back drives me down.

The way to free myself from that burden is acceptance: either through trans friends; openness with the Ever Lovely Mrs J; or even self-acceptance by making the outside match the inside. Take for example, a chat with the Ever Lovely Mrs J who asked me about a choice of a dress from an online store. The fact that I don't have to hide who am I, means so much. It may seem like a little thing, or even trivial, but the option of being able to talk about anything is worth so much.

It's as if the time spent in 'Lynn' mode turns back a counter. A counter that ticks away like the thermostat late at night. Slowly the temperature rises to 'uncomfortable' and something needs to be done about it.

Or, if I can't get that, diversion in computer games, or reading. Hello, Escape Club :-)

-

I should add that the above is my rambling, and close to how I feel these days. I'm not speaking for the rest of 'trans-kind', as everyone's different.

Take care,
Lynn







Friday, October 27, 2017

The right type of break

Hi,

I've had a week away from work, and as the Bank of Jones is feeling a little less full that we'd like, we've had a staycation. .Cue much parenting and trips out, which have all been a jolly good hoot, with many happy memories. Now that Little Miss and Wee Man are growing up, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I give them the option around joining us on a dog walk. Given the choice between a comfy sofa, YouTube/gaming, and exercise; the kids stay at home.

Provided they get some exercise, I'm kinda cool with this. I think it lets them build up trust and responsibility in taking care of themselves, and to an extent, each other. We're not dragging them out, and this also means the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I get some time away to talk. Or, as it is when enjoying the countryside air, not talking, but just enjoying each other's company and great views.

With us being at home, I didn't miss Chameleons last night, which is always a blessing. With it being close to Halloween, I went a bit goth-glam, and dialed things up with killer heels, bling earrings, false eyelashes, and yesteryear's fancy tights. Makup-wise, the new slap from Boots worked a treat, and the advice on lipstick worked out too. The Clinique was spot on in terms of colour match and just the right level of coverage. Oh happy days! A few people were kind enough to say some nice things about my fancy tights.

Talking of heels, I read a tip over on Pinterest about making heels more comfy than killer. No, not sawing off the heel - GET OUT YOU HEATHEN! :-) That'll just give you jester feet, and that's not been a good look since the medieval period. :-P No, the tip - which I then Googled to see if any bloggers had tried it - was to tape your third and forth toes together. Hint: big toe is number one, and feel free to insert a joke about people from Innsmouth and/or The Fens at this point ;-)

So, why do it? Well, the idea is that this somehow helps the pain away by removing some of the pressure from little piggies three and four. It didn't make my toes numb, nor hinder circulation. Whatever the true science is behind this, I don't know, but it did seem to work for me. Yes, I did feel my big toe complain towards the end of the night, but that's by far and away an improvement from the level of ouch from our StartUp session back in September. Come the next day, and I've been out and about walking the dogs, I've not felt a twinge of pain at all. Interesting! If you do give this a go, please do let me know how you get on.

Towards the end of the night, our transguys approached me and asked about the photo on the Chameleons' site. They (politely) said that it made the group look very trans-female only, which I won't disagree with. I did say that the snap is at least 8 years old or so, and we've struggled to get a replacement. It's a combination of a lack of volunteers and getting a snap good enough to replace it.

But, as ever, the Chams Massive are stepping up to the challenge, and I'm hopeful that we'll manage to make some type of collage / mini portrait gallery, so we can make things more inclusive. In the interim, I've swapped the old snap for some stock art of four people - two women, two chaps - in some sort of team fist bump. It ain't perfect, but it'll do. Hmm, that reminds me of my make-up attempts :-)

Happy Halloween for next week. I'm off to clean up the mess from the kids' pumpkin carving.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, October 20, 2017

Made-up

Hi,

With summer over, I've moved away from my trusty CC cream, and switched back to foundation. The colour corrector is a little darker than my, shall we say politely, Celtic skin tone (translation: are you secretly a goth? :-) ). With my Clinique foundation almost out, and looking like it was not it's best, I needed a replacement.

The thing is, what do you do when you need a bare-ish face to try on new product, but if you want to be out & about, but your confidence is held up by not being bare-faced? Hmm.

In years gone by, Boots had visited Chameleons and they'd said they had a Beauty Room. You had to ring ahead and book an appointment with a specialist. So far, so good! This I did.... and found the room had long since gone. So much for the Room of Requirement coming to my rescue :-)

After battling with the phone system, and explaining my plight, the Beauty Manager said she'd sort something out and get back to me. A few hours later, I got a call from beauty specialist, and we'll call her M, to preserve her anonymity. M asked a few key questions about skin tone, coverage, and whatnot. Afte that, it was time to book something in. Result!

So, it was Wednesday morning and I strolled in, in Richard mode. The usual work clobber, and a small rucksack with make-up remover, plus existing slap. I was early as the Traffic Fates had been kind, so I hung about waiting for my appointment. I met with M (not the lady from 007, I should add :-) ), and off we wandered away from the shop floor, and into the backroom offices.

We set up in the Beauty Manager's office (bless her), and then M and I spent about an hour plus testing foundations to find what worked for me. We chatted a little about what had led M into this career (I'm curious), and her thoughts on what worked from a sales point of view. I found all this very interesting, not just because I'm a nosey cow, but I love to hear from interesting people. In turn she asked a little about me, and what I was after from the session.

Skip on some time, and we'd sorted out a foundation that worked with my existing primer and powder. I know the latter may be old school, but a light dusting of powder really helps set my makeup. Oh, and if you're not using a primer, you're missing out. In addition to that, I quizzed her about lip liner, and after some pro-tips, I had improved my lipstick technique too. What's not to like?

When asked what look I went for, I said that I tend to swing between daytime and a nighttime look, depending on what we get up to at Chameleons. Cue a quick look on Facebook, to show her my profile photo, and the glam shot of me from a few Christmases ago. "How'd you get that shape?" she asked, and off we went in to talk about padding and corsets.

Throughout the session I never felt odd, nor that I was making M uncomfortable. We did talk about the vibes customers give off, and when it's a good time to be a little more relaxed than too serious. M's professionalism and friendliness really added to the experience, and last night, I wrote a quick thank you to Boots praising both staff. I hope that the Store Manager sings their praises.

Back downstairs, I paid up and gave my sincere thanks. Given this was an 'off week' (i.e.: no Chams), this experience really put a bounce in my step, and when I think back on the experience, it brings a smile. Good stuff.

Next week it's Chams again, and I'm hoping M's boss gives me a call, so we can try and plan a make-over night. You can but try!

So, if there's any lesson to be learned from this little jaunt: do ask (and always politely). The better beauty staff are here to help you, and not to make a sales target. If you don't get want you want, move on to another store (Leicester Debenhams, you lost out, as you ignored me!) and ask them nicely too.

Perhaps the Ever Lovely Mrs J's words to our nippers apply to me too. No, not "have you got your socks on", but you never know until you try.

Take care,
Lynn
x

Friday, October 13, 2017

Recharging

Hi,

Earlier today I was out at lunch, walking through the leafy suburb of West Bridgford. Given that it was Chameleons last night (woo!), I make the short journey over in the car to pay the group's money into the bank. Not that the walk lets me people watch and chance to pop into my favourite fancy sandwich shop. I should add this is *after* I've paid the money in, not before. ;-)

As I walked back I stopped by a jewelry shop to pick something up for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Give it a few weeks and we'll have been married 20 years. I don't say this as a brag, but with thanks and gratitude. I'm thankful for her love, beauty, wit, and wisdom, not to mention the two kiddies we've somehow managed to raise. Over the years, I sometimes hear of couples having difficulty and it makes me glad that we're a family. Perhaps doubly so when I think that she didn't sign up for a cross-dresser as a husband. Still, in sickness, in health and en femme, eh? :-)


I had a slight wobble on Wednesday night as I packed my bag. Picking out a bright top, and my trusty knee boots, I found myself sat, well, despondent about the whole thing. Really, this is just plain daft, given that I was going to be out in about 24 hours, and - unusually - I had a good idea of what to wear. Why the wobble? I don't know, although it may be wrapped up with a slight feeling it's been a while (there's a worrying trend). Still, stiff upper lip, Jones. :-)

At Chams we had a visit from Nicola & Steph from TrendCo, and they kindly bring along plenty of 'hair' for us to try. Not only are they both lovely, and provide fantastic customer services, but they know just what most of our members like. Styles to suit the variety of ages, and excellent prices too.

I tried a few on while we chatted. One was a human hair wig with colour like my own had been. The cut and feel was very good, but the choppy bob made me conscious of my jaw. I tried a black curly one just for fun. It was just a bit too Bellatrix Lestrange, which may have been grand for Halloween, but a bit much for daytime. Well, unless you're knocking off Gringotts Bank, but a part-time lady never gives up her funding secrets. :-)

Nicola asked about how the group was funded and when I explained, she asked if it felt like a lot of responsibility. Well, in truth, the room booking has been handed over from Sandy, so all I need to do is handle the cash, answer emails and deal with the website. I've been doing the latter two for a number of years, so the payments aren't a hassle. Plus, it's not like I'm on my own, as Val and Diane both kindly help too. Steph asked what did I get from coming to the group. That's a question I'll pick up next time, because I need to give it some thought.

I wondered, is it a burden, doing the admin? The answer came quickly, which is no. It's more that I'm lucky there is a group. We all chip in to keep it going, what with bring & buy, discussion groups, party nights, researcher panels, and vendor visits. I know this may sound like a broken record, but I'm incredibly thankful to those at Chameleons who help keep the group going. It's not always about activities, but the simple act of making the effort to attend, and keeping the group running.

With TrendCo packing up, there was time for a few snaps (thanks Val), and then try on a blouse I'd picked up at last time's September Start-Up. Suitably officey, and I guess we all have our own favourite styles. Afterwards, it was time to head back home. I may miss the next meeting as it's half-term, but last night's outing was just what I needed.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 06, 2017

Moving on

Hi,

Am I glad it's Friday! What a week. Sheesh. I feel like a hamster that's been through an angry pinball machine. :-)

None of this is T related. Just the punch-and-you-better-duck of life in general. A parking ticket at work, meetings, botched appointments, website woes*, and other malarkey that frankly.... and as the immortal line goes, "I'm getting too old for this shit." :-)

The above is all sorted out, but I could have done without that type of stress. Other stress, like deadlines, workload, and short bursts of dysphoria, I manage to cope with. It's not so much the pressure, but the feeling of being trapped and unable to fix things that gets to me. Then, things get stuck in my head, going around and around. Yeah, like that helps. :-)

For a change, I joined a meditation class at work and we tried a walking exercise. No, let's rephrase that, we did a meditation in which you walk. Breath in on the step forward, then toe down first and breath out; repeat. Oh, and try not to fall over.

For a brief moment, I felt rather self-conscious even though the rest of the group were doing just fine. But what if  you look a bit camp? came my Inner Critic. Camp? Sweetheart, please. I gave up keeping a hard line between Lynn / Richard behavior long ago. It's just so bloomin' tiring. Watching how you sit, making sure you don't gesture too much, etc. Ah, phooey. Sure, I'm not out, but that old firewall fell some time ago. Maybe my body language gives off a certain vibe, but... I could care.

So walking somewhat inelegantly, I engaged my inner... umm... transness? :-) and just strolled on. I think I got the hang of it and much as I couldn't quite dispel the mental noise that was going on upstairs, at least by the end of it I felt more relaxed in my body. Little victories eh?

But.... (deep breath and a sip of gin & tonic) it is now Friday and all that noise is behind me. Just the weekend to look forward to!

From a good news view: the Chams website calendar is fixed once again, so it's all automatic and I don't have to update it so much. Plus, T-Central were kind enough to feature my blog the other day. All reasons to be cheerful for!

Whatever you're up to, I hope it goes well.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fun raising

Hi,

Funny how life goes sometimes. A few months ago, I was rather busy at work, rushing to various presentations and finding the day zipping by quickly. At home, things were calm and yet, a few weeks later, matters have swapped around.

Last night we ran a StartUp September event at Chams. This was part bring & buy, to advice session. Along with a few others, I think I was on my feet (in heels) for two, possibly three hours (Maths isn't my strong point. Ask me one on accessorising :-) ). Perhaps I should have gone with the slightly lower posh office style shoes, but hey ho, lessons learned :-)

I'd bought two boxes of clothes, shoes, jewelry, and wigs that I'd *ahem* 'invested in' over the years. I felt rather good at cleaning my closet out of things I liked but didn't wear. Seems that others were kind enough to do the same for themselves, so we had quite a few full tables. We did manage to jury rig a clothesline at one point. Clearly, I should keep a ball of string with me, as it's very handy! :-)

Feeling fab
Towards the end, we had 'price crash' to try and shift as much as we could. I think everyone who'd brought things along didn't want to have to take them back home! That helped a little, and two more of the dresses I'd bought went to Diane and Val for a song. I hope they feel pretty in them. That, IMHO, is the sign of a good outfit: one that makes you feel good about yourself.

All in all, about 2/5ths of the items went, which is good for us. We took in 50 quid on top on the usual subs takings. All of this helps keep the group going and should keep the meeting fees down for a little longer.

I did feel a bit bad about not having brought enough for our trans guys. I had had a good look at home, but there was nothing of mine that would've fit. Too damned tall, I guess.... and that's without heels. :-)

After all the rushing about, I was glad of a sit down and found Val had found stash of ginger biscuits. Result! Seriously, any company that has a compulsory dress code of high heels for staff who'll be on their feet all day: just stop. Or, if you can't manage a full day in fancy shoes, think again :-)

What we didn't sell was boxed up and taken to charity shops today by Muggings here. I'm hoping I'll get a letter from the shop saying how much was raised. Those always bring a smile.

On a personal note, I was very happy with my new dress and I'd managed to get my false lashes on super quick. So quick in fact that I needed a fix it later on. Oops :-\ Still, who knew that wafting a newly glued falsie under the hand dryer makes it the perfect level of stickiness! :-)

Money paid in, old goods to charity, a fine fancy night out with friends; what a great way to ease into the weekend.

Take care,
Lynn




Friday, September 22, 2017

Today, only the sky is blue

Hi,

As I drove to work the other day, the radio presenter was waxing lyrical about the new Apple smartphone and it's unlocked using a view of your face. I was perplexed in as much as my old droid phone had this a while back, how well does face recognition work when you've, ahem, two appearances? :-) Also, politicians, usually two-faced; how do they manage? :-)

Sometimes, I wonder about reverse image searching or facial recognition. How hard is it to spot the connection between Richard & Lynn? One's just a fancy outfit, slap and a wig from the other. But at the same time, I think if you worried about everything, you'd not do anything.

Anyhoo, I switched off the news and having been lucky enough to buy a new-to-me car, I can now listen to downloaded radio shows - or podcasts as the hepcats say, Daddio :-) - without A) having to faff about with wires, and B) when Google's in a good mood, it'll listen to my request.

As I drove along, I was struck by the thought that sometimes, things do get better. Sure, there's the occasional pang of trans-based regret, but pushing that aside, I don't do bad, all things considered. Sure, I've not had a raise in many a moon, but I have more choice over my work, and dare I say it, this last two years, I've enjoyed going to work. Okay, as much as having to get out of bed before 10am and put the hours in, but compared to other gigs, this one is just fine thank you.

Likewise with the car situation. My little car might not be the fastest, the most expensive, but it does what I need it to do: take me and Little Miss to school and back on a morning. Then, I pootle through the post-school run traffic down the ring road to work. I might queue a bit on the way back, but the podcasts keep me company, and the stop/start & automatic gears make for a comfy if a sometimes slow ride home. Still, it's a lot better than taking the bus. What a faff that is. :-)

Talking of good fortune, some of you over on Facebook were kind enough to wish me many happy returns. The Jones Massive celebrated with a particularly tasty curry at our local, and as the kids have got bigger (and hungrier), the bill was somewhat higher than expected. Still, it's all good in the long swing of things.

My folks had bought me some booze and a voucher for TopMan. I had a look, but nothing really grabbed me online. But wait, aren't TopMan part of the same group as Dorothy Perkins? Ten minutes later I'd found a pretty nice dress (in the sale too!) and a sheer Kimono top. I tapped the voucher code in and the Shopping Fates smiled.

Skip on a few days, and I even managed a quick try on when I was working from home on Thursday. It seems an age since I've worn such a pretty number and it did my spirits the world of good.

Clearly, I should work from home more often. :-)

Take care,
Lynn



Friday, September 15, 2017

Found my smile

Hi,

Last night's visit to Chams was just what I needed. Funny isn't it, how just a few hours as you (or more accurately, all of you) makes so much difference.

Firstly, a note of thanks to those of you who asked after me. Either via PM, email, this ol' blog, or face to face. Secondly, an apology from me over the somewhat darker tone of late.

How can I put this? I had the most excellent holiday with my family. Some travel, a variety of hotels, great food, beautiful scenery, and many days together, rather than at the colouring in department. What's not to like? :-)

/sighs

I can't put my finger on things exactly, but my guess would be the lack of retreat and being Dad 24/7 had quite an effect on me. I suppose the ability to go away and/or a mental space where I could express all of me - there's that phrase again - was something that a) I'd not considered before, and b) couldn't really do while we were away. Ho hum.

So yeah, things got a bit heavy for a while..... But, that's what happens I guess, and you have to pull the Stiff Upper Lip routine until you can come home and let it go.

But, on to brighter news!

Found my smile
I got to Chams early and despite my inability to tie my own corset, was ready pretty quickly. Well, for me :-) I had, somewhat naughtily, been a little more daring in shaving. I get by, by not clearing my legs, just ankles. This lets me wear leggings, footless tights, or skinny jeans.

Perhaps as a push against those feelings from earlier in the month, I'd gone further. Hence, a slightly more 50s jeans rolled up look which I really liked. Plus, teamed with my new ballet pumps. Yeah, after pretty much stopping looking, I found some in my size and the material I wanted in a local supermarket. Result!

The night itself was busy, with a full contingent of our trans guys. Often it's one chap mucking in with the rest of us, but what felt like the first time, everyone was in. Great to see our community moving forward.

Oh, taking of that, while at the Doctor's earlier in the week, I spotted the Nottingham Self Help guide. Ah, I felt a flutter of pride when I spotted Chameleons in there!

Andrea ran another of her structured talks in the second room, and I hung back to let others attend. Plus, I wanted to catch up with the unusual suspects :-)

Come the end of the night, it was time to remind people of our Start Up event at the next meeting. A sort of bring and buy + advice session. I'm hoping people bring what they can and that they get something out of it. I know I've got two boxes of 14/16 clothes, some wigs, and shoes that'll be up for grabs. I'm seeing if I've anything from my bloke wardrobe to help our trans guys out.

Val was kind enough to be on camera duty, although I broke one of the Ever Lovely Mrs J's fab purple heels. They're now on the side waiting for me to get the sewing kit to them. Luckily, I think it's just a popped stitch on the fake button, but without that, the strap comes off. Not exactly the easiest way to walk in heels :-D

I had a chat with two good people about their fundraising efforts for the group. It's great that folk make this extra effort and want to keep things going. It was really touching and when I drove home later in drab, I thought how lucky I was to have a great group and supportive friends.

Good times.
Lynn
x


Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Other people

Hi,

As I walk along the corridors and see others, sometimes the Green Eyed Monster draws her claws. But outside of my head, what's going on in the minds of others? There's that phrase "Be kind: You never know what others are going through."

Back when I was young, when someone asked me that "what superpower would you want?" I'd often say I'd like to be able to read minds. To truly know what someone was thinking. Trust issues anyone? :-) Jokes aside, I think it might have been to try and understand if everyone was a messed up as me. I think as I've got older, the quick answer is there's no one normal. We're still kooky in our own special way.

Jumping back, do the people I pass on the street look on and value my male attributes? There's FTM guys at Chams, so there must be closet transguys too. If when I go out, do some look on and think I'm brave? For the record, I don't. It's the perception of others. Like me, they are looking at another and, frankly, guessing.

So while the misgender menace whispers oh so kindly to point out my perceived shortcoming, what are the negatives others here? Feel free to share yours if you're comfortable doing so.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mind the gap

Hi,

Last time I mentioned the phrase "a sting of dysphoria". Sometimes the feeling of not being right with how you look can pounce on you. It's not like such feelings sneak up, and if you look carefully, they're lurking in the bushes or pretending to suddenly examine the contents of a shop window. No, these, for me at least, lurk unseen, biding their time for some type of trigger event. A gap between support meetings, or being stuck in a suit for work. I once had a trigger event while a lady waited to set off from the junction in her car. Her hair flicked as she looked both ways, and my negative inner voice said: "You'll never do that." Thanks, that's really helping :-D

No, this is, at least for me, a sting or stab, and off we go. Off we go around the familiar ghost-train moans of Why Not; She Looks Great, I don't; and F*** This For A Lark. I push against these inner demons with thoughts of You're Doing Your Best, This Won't Get Anywhere, and Stay Cool, It's Only a Few More Days, etc. Magic mantras and techniques to try and keep out of the distant Dark Woods, the Black Dog that howls from within. Thing is, I know I have to stay away from that area, by not giving such negative thoughts air time. The knack is walking the talk. :-)

But, this is not an easy battle. Once the miserable metronome starts a ticking, I'm into coping strategies: searching for the right shoes/lippy/top/etc, which can distract; or avoiding anything too transition positive. Those articles, a bit like the reality TV transformations, I need to keep at arm's length. I'm happy for the person living their life and I try not to be jealous or compare myself to them. After all, I'm not them, that's not my life, and I've a family I love dearly. Comparing yourself to others, ah, there's a good beat yourself up exercise :-)

No, it's the fantasy that I could be like that, that I have to slay. That's my Dream Demon: not one that thrives on my fear, but one that lives for the lies it tells and my inner want for it to be oh so easy. But then, who wouldn't want the dream? There's no piper to pay in the dream world, no responsibility....

I know as a adult that that's not how things work. Plus, if I ignore those lies and expose them to the proverbial light of day, they fall apart like so much smoke and mist.

So, if there's a point to this ramble, beware of false fantasys, What Ifs or If Onlys. Instead, and I may well have yet to learn this myself, think on what you do have, be thankful for that, and don't stop striving to make the best of the situation you're in.

 Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 11, 2017

Funshine

Hi,

Despite somehow catching a cold in summer and the lengthy downpours, the British Weather is having a final throw of the dice for sun, wispy white clouds, and pale blue skies. Put away your opaques and boots, break out the sandals and fancy tops one more time :-)

For whatever reason I had a sting of dysphoria at the start of the week, resulting in a shoe purchase as medication. Like many material purchases, it's the search that distracts, not the purchased goods. I think I know that you should aim for experiences, not possessions. Still, when you're on the work-home-work-home treadmill, sneaking in some T time isn't always easy.

It seems that in times of dysphoric dissonance, I fall back to shopping for shoes. Particularly, a perceived weakness or lacking in my wardrobe. Despite having three pairs of ballet pumps - two of which I've gifted to the Ever Lovely Mrs J - I'm still looking for the right pair. Sadly, the leather look size 9s from the local supermarket didn't fit: too large, yet the 8s are too small. It seems my feet are as awkward as the rest of me ;-)

But, looking on the bright side, I did manage to get my toes painted ready for a Thursday night out, and I sorted out a box for our September Startup event at Chameleons next month. That box has shirts, jeans, skirts, shoes, wigs, and dresses that either don't work for me or no longer fit (Mmm.... Pies ;-) ). The plan behind September Startup is to help out those who are just setting off on their trans journey. I hope we manage to draw a few folk in and make a go of the night! If you've any suggestions on what would've helped you back in the day, please do let me know. Sharing is caring ;-)

Anyhoo, I was caught up at home, what with fetching Wee Man from his mate's house, and other stuff. This resulted in a call from Pat, who couldn't get in the Centre, bless her. Usually, the front door is open, as the early shift is taken up by a martial arts group. We've never had any trouble with them, and while we don't socialise per se, we say hi and they're fine with us. Yay for acceptance eh?

With the cold making a good attempt to raise my body temperature, I was suitably dosed up. Said infection had also gone to my throat, so I was channeling my not-so-inner death metal vocalist. Hell, it's not like I pass at the best of things, so having the death-growl for conversational tone made me smile at the silliness of the situation. Still, if you can't laugh at yourself, eh? :-)

Andrea ran her first Talking Workshop, which I didn't go to. I was busy talking to a newcomer, Reuben (another transguy - keep coming along please chaps!) and I also wanted to give Andrea & co some space to test things out. It all seemed to go okay, and hopefully, their will be another one soon enough.

With time ticking on, I asked Val if she'd mind doing an earlier than usual photo shoot (see above and left), and I got changed earlier. I had a quick change of top and shoes to road test another outfit, and then it was time to de-fab, and go back to Richard mode.

Oh, I would like to recommend an idea from the Ever Lovely Mrs J. On hearing about me running out of Quickies nail polish remover pads, she suggested this.

  1. Take an old glass jar with a good watertight lid, 
  2. Pop into two sponges so they're packed in tightly. Make sure there's a finger sized gap between them. That or use one larger sponge and snip it with scissors.
  3. Now fill about 3/4 to 2/3 full with nail polish remover. 
  4. When it comes to removing your polish, flip back the lid and swish your finger around between the pads. Et volia! :-)

I'll be honest and say I was a little skeptical, but on the night it was dip-twist-and-clean. Certainly quicker than having to rub a pad across each fingertip. Result! Mind you, not sure I'll be using Mrs J's idea to sort my toes out. :-)

Take care,
Lynn

PS: A few trans bloggers have been listed in the Top 100 Trans Blogs by Feedspot. I got an email from a chap called Anuj, which was a nice touch. Congratulations to Gabrielle, Hannah, Jonathan, Nadine, Stana, and - last but not least! - Sue. Keep up the blogging excellence folks!


Friday, August 04, 2017

History

Hi,

Each week Auntie Beeb* runs a radio show called Book of the Week over on Radio Four. Oddly, and speaking personally, for someone who was very into music in my 20s, I pretty much only listen to talk radio. Perhaps, looking at it a bit more, I never listened to music radio, because they very rarely played stuff I liked. Not much has changed :-)

[ * For you overseas readers, that's a nickname for the BBC, our state broadcaster. ]

So, Book of the Week; and back in July, it was the turn of self-described "executive transvestite", Eddie Izzard. In order to keep my Trans License current, you have to listen to at least one of his performances a year. Gah, always read the small print! :-) With five episodes of about 20 minutes, there's a lot to cram in. I guess the idea is to give you both a performance and a flavour of the book. If you've yet to have the pleasure, I would try to have a listen (iPlayer), as while every trans person's journey is different, I think many of them have some wisdom to share.

One bit that jumped out was Eddie's visit to a trans support group: TV/TS. There's a name from the past. Oh, how I wanted to go back when I was a confused teen! Back when I was a teenager, my family had gone off on a long weekend, and, well, trans people do what trans people do when left alone... No, the other thing, you dirty minded so-and-so. :-) By sheer dumb luck, I caught a late night talk show, Hodson Confidential, which just happened to be about trans people. Or, back in the early 90s, we were called "transvestites". They do things differently back in the past :-D It may well have been the first time I'd heard from other trans people, so it was both an eye opener, and made me feel less.... well, freakish and alone. Who says good telly can't help people? :-)

Cue a few short interviews of trans* people - we didn't have the term transgender or gender fluid back then! Regular, everyday folk, who just happened to be that way. I remember my heart rushing, as I felt there were others like me! When you come from a small market town, trans stuff didn't happen. Well, not unless it was coke, sex games, and a Tory MP. Yeah, those stories really help your self-esteem, don't they? :-/

I remember a short video piece talking about TV/TS. They were a group in London who met fairly regularly, and not had a place to be themselves but were okay about it too. Perhaps understandably, and given my loneliness, I too wanted to go. Thing is, when you're not quite 18 without a job, you don't just hop on the train and pop down to the Big Smoke. So, no, I didn't get to go. Perhaps, this is a good thing. After all, moving to Nottingham meant I met the Ever Lovely Mrs J, and I'd not have my family, friends, or trans* friends that I do now. Funny how life works out.

So, back to Mr Izzard. Part of his talk, if you can call it that, covered his first time out, and a number of visits to TV/TS. For me, I found it fascinating to hear a first-hand account of what went on (not too dissimilar to Chams). The whole making friends, getting more confidence, etc. It seems a now familiar pattern. I remembered the Hodson Confidential talk about TV/TS running a helpline, and my hands shaking as I called them from the village telephone box. They were, bless them, as helpful as they could be to a late teen hundreds of miles away.

When one of our original founders - Jayne - wasn't well, she brought in a briefcase full of documents. Some were about the group, some were newspaper cuttings, and some were leaflets from support groups of yesteryear. There was a TV/TS leaflet, in all it's 90s desktop-publishing glory. The Internet boom hadn't really happened, so printing and post ruled the day. It was very much a world apart from where we are now. No instant messaging, or email; it was post and wait.

As I listened to Eddie's words, much of the above came back to me, and also the teenage want to belong. Just now, I've had a look to see what happened to TV/TS. I know from 'coming out' in the 2000s, that the group didn't have a web site, and that it may have folded. So it often goes if there's not a core group to keep things going. I've seen one or two trans support groups fold due to a lack of push. Understandably, I was very keen not to let Chameleons go the same way; hence the volunteering.

But, after a bit of using dear old Google, I found some web pages by a lady called Yvonne Sinclair. I've no idea who she is, other than she had something to do with TV/TS, and she's written down some history of the group and what happened.

I can only hope that with care and help, that Chameleons keeps on going. Not just for purely selfish reasons, but that it really is a community. A place for many trans people who aren't yet out, to be themselves and, ultimately, to learn that it's okay to be who they are. That does, to me at least, seem like something worth fighting for.

Take care,
Lynn



Friday, July 28, 2017

Pack up your troubles

Hi,

How's things with you? Hopefully all good. After last week's drift into and back out of the past, I guess we're back again to the present. Blogging, IMHO, is somewhat of an odd thing. It's got that kinda weird public/private thing going on. There are things on here that I write about that I don't talk to many of my friends about. Well, certainly not workmates or friends who aren't trans.

Take for example Tuesday evening; the kids have broken up, the Jones Massive have had tea, and everyone is doing their own thing. I decided to pack a bag for Chams, hoping that taking a little more time would mean that I wasn't in quite a rush Wednesday, or even Thursday itself. Much as I leave my holiday packing until the 11th hour, with Chams, I don't. I'm sure a wiser person than I could make some value judgment about my emotional investment in one versus the other :-)

Anyhoo, I'd hung up all the items I'd rather lazily left folded in my cupboard, and took to the task of sorting out what to wear. Nothing. Zip. Nada. I was knelt looking at an empty sports bag, and no outfit came to mind. From the bed, the Ever Lovely Mrs J was reading, and she piped up: "You okay, Hubby?" Not her exact words, but not everything is shared here :-)

I answered honestly and truthfully, that no, not completely. I did not know what to take. Now, considering I'd just taken twenty minutes packing dresses, tops, jeans, and a tunic away; the words "I don't have anything to wear" would not be accurate. It's times like that when I'm reminded of Ms Moran's comment (below), which seems as true for part timers like me....
When a woman says, 'I have nothing to wear!', what she really means is, 'There's nothing here for who I'm supposed to be today.'
The Ever Lovely Mrs J put down her Kindle, and looked at me. "Is there anything you'd like to borrow?"

Again, in truth; no, I have a sort of unwritten rule that if I've bought her something, it's for her, not me by proxy. If she offers, that's okay, but to put another unwritten rule into text, I like her to have had the pleasure of wearing an item (not literally) first-time around.

I laid out what I'd thought about on the bed. It was the vest, lace top, footless opaques, and denim skirt. A sort of go-to I-don't-know-what-to-wear-in-the-summer outfit. Mrs J's expert eye was cast and found, like me, the outfit choice lacking. Cue a series of suggestions, including white skinny jeans, sandals and a red tunic. Hers, incidentally.

With a bag now packed, and an emergency outfit sorted (black jeans + top), I was much happier than before. Not just because of the help - but for the acceptance. It was a joy to have the openness and not the corrosion of secrecy between us. Yes, it's taken a while to get here, but that's okay. Good things don't happen overnight, and a relationship needs care, attention, and, above all, love, to keep it going as things change.
Skip forward to Thursday night, and as Val readied the chairs & tables, I gave the outfit choice a spin. Well, it didn't work with leggings, and the white jeans weren't quite fitted enough. So, fall back to my black skinny jeans, and wedge sandals. Cue one happy, if not-so-typically-dressed, husband. :-)

Chams itself was fairly busy given the cooler weather, and we had a very interesting conversation about the group towards the end of the night. All in a positive way, I should add. There's some notes over in our forum, and two of them are around doing more for our transmen. Let's hope with some team effort, we can make Chams a go-to place for them.

For a change, I've made the staircase snap into one. Left is the outfit the Ever Lovely Mrs J suggested and loaned; centre is a new Joe Browns dress; while right is the vest from left. I wasn't sure about the Joe Browns' number, but it's too late to send it back now!

Take care,
Lynn




Friday, July 21, 2017

Future Retro

Hi,

Back in '05
Calie, over at T-Central, has been running a retro week, and these have been posts pulled from some of the featured blogs. Anyhoo, Calie was kind enough to ask if I was okay with having a post from 2005 being featured.

Wow, 2005: how much has changed since then? That's before the whole smartphone/tablet arrival, while we still had a Labour government, and before Little Miss was born. Quite a different time!

From a personal/trans point of view, I thought I'd have a look at what I wrote and comment on my original thoughts. People change, after all.

The question will be in bold and my original answer will be in italics. If you fancy a go at answering the questions, I'll provide a summary at the end. If you do, I wouldn't mind a courtesy link back, but hey, if you don't want to, that's cool too.
_____________________________

How long have you been dressing up as a girl?

On and off - for quite a long time. My earliest recollection would be when I was at primary school. What's that? About 8 or 10 or so? I don't know why but I remember getting ready for bed and seeing a pair of mum's tights fresh out of the laundry. I can remember wondering what the felt like and reaching for them... Ahhh, so began a drift to the Dark Side. :-)

After that, wanting to dress up or being interested in girls' - and later womens' - clothes never went away. Sure, you can try and *ignore* your interest, but if you're honest, the want to dress up never goes away.

Not much has changed from this statement. Well, other than adding another 10 years to the clock. I would like to think I've got a slightly better idea of what works for me, and what doesn't. I certainly don't know it all, and through a series of mistakes and some wonderful finds, style-wise, I'm mostly happy with how I look when dressed.

Do you want to be a girl?

In my teenage years I was very, very confused and wondered just where this cross dressing would take me. Would I want to become a woman? After a lot of soul searching, I realised that I didn't. I'm quite happy being a bloke. The wages are better, you get to play with lots of toys and clothing/grooming is soooo much easier. :-)

Wow, that was flippant huh? :-) No, I like being a sort of sort of in-betweeny bloke, and I guess that's around mannerisms and wearing brighter clothes. I am oddly, slightly bolder in my choices, and I don't hide behind the corporate shirt and tie so much: earrings, groomed brows, bright/highly patterned tops, etc.

During the brief visit from the Black Dog, I did think long and hard about transitioning. I wondered if being Richard was the cause of my woes, and yet I thought "what if I'm wrong?". With that in mind, I parked those feelings and told myself that despite the upset and - frankly - the emotional pain, I would wait until I was free of the Dark Woods, and being able to think a little more easily. BTW, I should stress this is only about me, how people who do decide to transition: well, you'd have to ask them.

So, no, I don't think I do want to be a woman. On a good day, I'm okay with who I am, and much as I'd like a little more freedom around appearance (smooth legs, stronger will to shift some weight, etc), I am okay with being a part timer.

Why ‘Lynn’?

I just liked the name. It's as simple as that.

There's a bit more to it than that. :-) Back in the 90s when I first got online, a work mate and I would join a student chat room and mess around using various false names. His did make me laugh, and he got booted once for one a little too close to the bone. Anyhoo, I picked "Linn" as it felt a bit here-nor-there in terms of him or her, and I became comfortable with it. I put the 'Y' in later, but never adopted the E. 90s kids may wish to make their own drug references at this point :-)

Are you gay?

I always find this a bit of an odd question. Why would a guy, who likes to wear dresses and make-up be gay? Isn't the stereotype that gay men are attracted to macho types? If that were the case, I'd not be showing myself in my best light would I?

Am I skirting the question? No, and I will say this: to deny being gay so ardently (as some men - and trans folk - are prone to do) - to me at least, implies that there's something wrong with being gay. This is going to sound awfully PC, but quite frankly, I don't give a sh** if you're straight, bi or gay. Who am I to judge your life? Love is love.

I'll still stand by this. As I told both of our lovely children, it's okay to be gay. It's completely natural, and if you find that you fall in love with someone the same sex as you, all I ask is you make sure they feel the same way about you too.

Does anyone else know?

Yes. My wife, my Mum, two t-girls I've met online & IRL plus an old friend from University.

As I already mentioned, during my teenage years there was much confusion. I came out - so to speak - to my Mum when I was 18. It was horrible. I felt so very ashamed and guilty. The guilt was that I'd worn her and my sister's clothes on occasion without permission. That's kinda creepy, but what's a young trans person to do? We had a lot of tears although she thinks "I quit" when I had a chuck out at University.

After throwing what few clothes I had away, I met a very nice young lady at University - now the Ever Lovely Mrs J - who, obviously, I married. She knew that I had dressed up, but at the time I'd purged everything and was on the *ahem* straight and narrow. That phase lasted about two years. She would go out once a week to visit her folks. That would leave me with run of the house and access to a bag of clothes destined to go to charity.....

I managed to keep the lid on things until I started a new job in the late 90s. That job was awful and I'm afraid to say that I used my cross dressing as a stress valve. I started to collect my own clothes and went out to a support group. I came out to Mrs J. a week later. Initially, she took it well, but it remains an occasional shadow on our relationship.

Not much has changed from that opening. Mum doesn't suspect or mention it. Why would she, I said I'd "gone straight" in '92. As you can see, I'm very much managing to maintain a complete disinterest in being trans :-D

No one at work knows, although sometimes I wonder if a few close workmates should. I also know that the genie can't be put back in the bottle, so I don't say anything. I am always concerned that if where I lived knew, that my kids might suffer for it (bullying). It's a fine line between staying in the closet and living. So far, the balance is working for me.

Perhaps it's an obvious thing to say, but having friends at Chameleons who 'get me', is, well, incredible. I can turn up in Richard or Lynn mode, and it's fine; they really do accept me for who I am. Well, that or they are very good at bluffing. :-D

What do you get from the experience?

Sometimes joy, excitement, or even disappointment, but mainly: peace. I feel happy and relaxed when I get to dress up.

Release, contentment, etc. I no longer feel pent up, but I get to express all of who I am. I'm not passing, but I'm okay with that.

Do you get aroused by it?

I find this question very hard to answer. If I'm honest, I have to say that sometimes, yes I do find it a turn on. It's not the cross-dressing that makes me excited, and this'll sound nuts - it's the actually feeling pretty that makes me feel good. Does that make sense? In my youth, just thinking about stockings was enough to - as Peter Cook would say - "give me the 'orn". In later years I find this much less so, although dressing up - while not sexually exciting - is still fun.

Y'know I still find this a really difficult question to answer. I still get feelings of "this is not normal" or "why aren't I like regular blokes?". These thoughts are thankfully rare, and the mix of transgender and sexuality is complicated.

There are rare times when I see my made-up reflection, and I look at the hair, the slap, and the clothes; and I feel more than pretty. Looking good makes me feel good, and in those rare times, the feeling of looking good makes me feel foxy. Ironic as dressed as a woman means the Ever Lovely Mrs J is not going to be attracted to me. Never let it be said Life doesn't have a sense of humour! But, jokes aside, it's complicated and I may not be explaining this very well, so my apologies.

How do you find out how to dress, how to do your make up etc?

Studying other women; trial and error; watching YouTube, reading women's mags; researching make-up and clothes on the Internet.

Lots of practice, and returned items from mail order. Make-up has taken me a long time to understand. You really have to put the hours in. Yes, there are some shortcuts, namely YouTube or Pinterest, that can help you avoid some basic mistakes. For example, I now know I've hooded eyes, so I understand why the regular smokey eye routine doesn't work for me.

Clothing: well, I follow fashion blogs and keep my eye on what women my age wear at work, or on the school run.

Have you ever been out dressed?

Yes, on a few occasions, but they are few and far between. There's no score card for this and it's not a p***ing contest by any means.

I think Matalan should have a trans discount card, it seems to be a Mecca for t-girls throughout the UK. :-)

Other than twice a month to Chameleons, perhaps once or twice a year. Usually, that's a shopping trip somewhere far away from home. I've been lucky enough to have a night out back in the day. I loved the Leicester meal out, and some of the Invasions have been good too. But, they do make an impact on family life, so I'm careful to try and keep a balance.

Could you stop?

I doubt it. I've tried and for me at least, it just doesn't work. Why lie to yourself and upset others with your grumpy moods because you're in denial. In business jargon: JFDI - just f***ing do it.

Within the TG community, there is a feeling that cross-dressing is incurable. It *may* be possible for *you* to give up. If you wish to do so, good luck. It won't be easy, but it may be possible. Personally, for all the flack and the fall outs, I enjoy it too much. Selfish b*tch eh? :-)

No. I've tried and the feelings do not go away. I need to be all of me, and by that, I need to express all aspects of who I am. Some of that would be traditionally described as male, some female. I do swing between the genders, although the pendulum doesn't quite swing that hard into the male aspect.

What’s the cause?

The jury is still out. I don't think I've read or heard anything from the psychologists that ring true for all of us. Each of us has a reason that makes sense to them.

For me, I do not think it's genetic, but maybe hormone/birth related. Sure, you can have girly men and macho women, but I don't think being trans fits into that model so easily. I don't blame my parents; it's just a cast of the dice really. I wonder if the strong female role models at home and at school shaped my personality, or was I already leaning a certain way? But all that aside, why can't I stop? Are we truly slaves to our childhood or biological programming? People far more educated than I have researched and written papers on this subject. There's some here and here. If you've got any more, I'd love to read them.

I hope that by being a hands-on Dad, that I'll be a good role model for my son. You want to protect your children and while life isn't easy for straight folk, I'd like to help him avoid some of what I went through. But if he did find he was trans, at least his wife would get nice clothes for Xmas. :-)

There's been quite a lot of research done since 2005, and I think we're on the other side of The Transgender Tipping Point. Programmes like My Transexual Summer have given people the language they needed to express themselves. Sure, there's discrimination, but trans people are so much more out there.

To answer the question, I *think* we have a genetic disposition towards it. Now, that may either be a quirk of sperm meets egg, or variation of hormones in the womb. I'm not qualified to provide evidence, and clearly, I have my own biases. That said, I try not to worry how am I this way, and am trying instead to live, have fun, and help a few people along the way.

Thanks for reading,
Lynn
x

PS: here's the questions if you want to have a go yourself:

How long have you been dressing up as a girl?
Do you want to be a girl/woman?
Why the name?
Are you gay?
Does anyone else know?
What do you get from the experience?
Do you get aroused by it?
How do you find out how to dress, how to do your make up etc?
Have you ever been out dressed?
Could you stop?
What’s the cause?