Friday, February 24, 2017

Seeing Things from the Other Side


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

The Sting

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

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

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

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

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

The Other Side of the Lens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Take care,

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Art of Normality


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, yeah, things did get better.

Take care,

Friday, February 10, 2017

Lessons through life


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

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

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

Faulty Goods

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

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


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

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

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

The outfit for
the evening
Road testing for
another day

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

Take care,

Friday, February 03, 2017

The journey of stuff


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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care,