Friday, July 28, 2017

Pack up your troubles


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,

Friday, July 21, 2017

Future Retro


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,

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?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summertime and the living is easy...


It had been one of those long gaps between meetings, and with the hot weather, I'd sort have warmed myself up to the idea of going in bloke mode. Yet, as the night out drew closer, temperatures dropped, and as I was working at home, I packed a bag during my lunchtime. There may also have been an opportunity to paint my toes, but there's no gap in the company timesheet for that. Shame really, as it does wonders for my mood :-)

Perhaps as I had no expectations of Chams, that it explains why I had such a good time. I'd made fair time through the traffic. Just in time to help Pat and M & Co set up. After wheeling in two rails worth of clothing in, it was time to shuffle off the blokey coil and glam up. Even falling back to my emergency outfit didn't harsh my mellow, man :-) Makeup all worked, outfit felt right and I had a good chat with Diane & Pat as we got changed. I even remembered to hand over a spare bottle of Clinique make-up remover. The fun of passing on freebies!

Thanks to Pat's organisation, M & Co had set up shop downstairs, so there was some traffic as people bought, or tried things on.  We had a chuckle with Paula and Lesley. Back in the main room, it was great to see some of our irregular regulars turn up: Alison and Jake. Cue much discussion about Jake's transition and his fully carpeted legs. Curses! I'd been out Wookied! :-)

There was also a visit from a carer, and, bless she was dropped in the deep end, being involved in a conversation about transition 'surprises' that you don't usually get to hear. She took it all in her stride though. Tell you what, I certainly learned a few things and the was much good natured laughter.

The evening rolled on and it was good to see Dani, last time's new comer back, as well as another new member, Maya. We had a chat about this and that, before helping M & Co pack everything away. What's great to see is a growing number of FTM and younger folk choosing to visit. I'm hoping this continues because it's good for the group's diversity and good for the community. Win win, really.

As the clock struck 11, and it was time to pack up. Cue the usual photos with Val (thanks Mrs), and then a return to Bloke Mode. Still, enjoy things when you can!

All in all, a great night out. I feel rather chipper. Result!


Friday, July 07, 2017



A couple of weeks ago, I popped round to see my folks. They'd been away and while on holiday, it had been my mum's birthday. Now, with the kids being older and all of us being busy at the weekend, I went round on my own. Hello dutiful son points. ;-)

There was the usual chit-chat, cake, and tea business. This is Britain after all. :-) An hour in and my sister and boyfriend - neither of who I'd seen in a while - turned up to much delight. It's fine; I live away and I'm used to being in the background :-)

As she and my mum started talking about who'd said what to who, and how certain - and frankly, unimportant - news had developed, I was reminded how much I just don't give a stuff about any of that.

Now, I find people interesting. I care about what happens to friends, and through some of the stuff I do at work, and at Chams, about the feelings of those, I know only lightly. But.... as the conversation went on, I felt more out of it and frankly, alien. Is this how I was supposed to behave? The grandstanding, the gossip, the bluster, the talk about perceived snubs, etc. Not that my dad does either, bless him. Maybe I'm reading more into it than I should, and I'm more like my dad. He's a lovely fellow.

With the night drawing in and work the next day, I made my excuses, hugged and left. The drive home, as now, had me thinking on what had played out. I'd not felt like a stranger for some time, and yet, older memories resurfaced: false or true, I couldn't say. I wondered, does this make me a snob? Hint: don't answer that ;-) I'll say no, because it's not a case of looking down on them, not thinking I'm better. Judging? The content and their occasional hissing, maybe, yes.

I'm certainly not better, not by a country mile.... just, well, different. The proverbial oddball: a metalhead at the proms, or a suit at an eco-warrior meeting. Being one doesn't stop you being okay with the other. You just, well, don't always quite click.

Families eh? Who'd have 'em? :-)

Take care,