Friday, March 31, 2017

Rocks and stones


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care,

Friday, March 24, 2017



The Night Before a Night Out

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care,

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Training day


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

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

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

The Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care,

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cutting down


How's things? Hopefully ticking along nicely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care,

Friday, March 03, 2017

The right kind of weird


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Take care,