Friday, August 25, 2017

Other people


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,

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mind the gap


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,

Friday, August 11, 2017



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,

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



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,