Friday, December 29, 2017

Looking back. Looking forward.


Well, that's Christmas pretty much over with! :-) A few of your poor souls have had to go to work, and for that, you have my sympathy. For those of us who haven't (Ed: don't rub salt in the wound!), there's been a flurry of visitors and visits. There have been times when I've wondered if being back in the office may have been a little quieter, but it never got that bad. :-)

With various visitors conversation has drifted across the news and what's going on in the world. Oddly, there's been two conversations about trans people, and no, other than the Ever Lovely Mrs J, they don't know. Well, as much as my well-groomed eyebrows and earrings don't out me, but if they do, no-one has said anything to me or Mrs J's face.

It seems that outside of my little trans-friendly bubble, the middle classes haven't quite made up their mind about us. On the one hand, there's kids starting to come out with gender requirements, and from what I hear, their parents are doing what they can to support them. From a Chams perspective, I think we get around two to three emails a year from parents asking for help, and we do what we can/

On the other, there is, if you pardon an old phrase, Much Ado About Nothing, over the use of loos and changing rooms. Yeah, that old chestnut! There were some pretty contrived arguments at one point too.

For example, What if I say I'm a woman, but dress as a guy and keep my male name? Well, and I'm not a guru on this, I would say the key difference in that those wanting to be full time, or perhaps even a part-timer (like yours truly), will make the effort. They may well have a different name, will have taken some time to get the courage to go out, and, perhaps key, are not doing this for kicks or to cruise the opposite sex's changing rooms. The idea that someone would state they are another gender, but then not do anything to move towards that - even forgoing stating they are trans-something-or-other - seems a bit unusual. It may well have happened as it's a big ol' world, but it seems unusual.... and I say that as a bloke who feels comfortable as either gender (at least when the moon is right ;-) ).

I should also point out that it's only now, after about three days, that the penny has dropped, and that the part-timer could well be me. Duh :-) I mean, I'm Richard 99.9% of the time, I'm not changing my name, nor my gender - legally, socially, or medically - but I have used the ladies' loos / changing rooms when dressing in Lynn mode. Interesting the Ever Lovely Mrs J did try and get a word in to ask if someone is presenting as a particular gender, why not treat them as such? But it seemed everyone wanted to talk, and not necessarily listen. Visitors eh? :-)

Back & Forth

Since Pandora's excellent idea about a Happy Memory Jar a few years back, I think this will be my third year or so. If you're not *ahem* 'down with the concept', it works like this. Find an old jar or big pot. Next, each time something good, fun, cool, etc, happens, you pop it down on a note, then post that in the jar. No peeking until the end of the year, and then you can go through them and see how many nice things have happened to you. I'm certainly looking forward to that at the end of this year.

But, perhaps understandably, I don't put my trans stuff in there. Dad, what's "A fab night out with the girls?" :-) So looking back, I can think of:

  • A number of featured posted over on T-Central. In honesty, and not to humble-brag, I have lost count, simply because I don't keep them as a score. Instead, it's something to feel honoured by like a thank you from work. So, a nod of thanks to Calie & the team for keeping T-Central going, and featuring a few of my posts from time to time. Thank you! [ After searching here it seems I've been rather lucky this year, with a dozen featured posts. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 ]
  • Two talks on what it is to be trans. One of these was earlier in the year for a youth charity, and the second time was for the Legal Advice Team in Nottingham. Both were fun to do, and like any training event, it's the people who make the event, not me. To hear their questions and ideas is, well, rather brilliant. I can only hope that these things help get the message through that we trans folk aren't so scary, and we're not looking to convert your kids, or steal your toilets. Props to anyone who read the last bit in a Papa Lazarou voice ;-)
  • The Ask Me Anything post raised some fascinating questions, and if you've more you'd like to ask,. the Contact Me form is at the top of the page.
  • A make-over at Boots, where not only did I get top notch treatment, but the beauty specialist taught me how to apply my lippy properly. What's not to like? :-D
  • A day out shopping as me. Ah, this was both really special and really ordinary. The former because I felt lucky to be out and not get anything but help plus acceptance from Joe Public. Ordinary because I felt part of the everyday traffic, and I could just get on with my day. When I think back to what happened, it still makes me smile.
  • Chams. This year we finally seemed to get our trans-men together. I should add this is not their lack of organisation, but just the way things go sometimes. We've now got a core of guys who attend regularly, so it's not longer a case that new transmen will be left wondering if the group is just FTM folk. Good stuff! I should also add that the Christmas Party was quite the success, with everyone chipping in to help with catering, decoration, music, and making the effort to turn up.
Talking of Chams, at a recent meeting, a new person turned up, and to save their blushes we'll call them B. B was very much in a spin over who they were, and who they might become. By accident, B had turned up to the changing room upstairs and had somehow missed the main meeting downstairs. But, we got him sat down, listened to what he had to say, and tried our best to empathise over what they were going through. Skip on to the end of the evening, and B was mixing with the group, and from what I could tell they felt part of something.

To me, that is everything the group is about: being there for each other. We may all be walking a different path; have come from different places, times, backgrounds, etc; and where we end up, who can say? Hell, I still don't know, but I'm enjoying the journey.

On my way home Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams played out, Billie Joe singing: "Where the city sleeps, And I'm the only one, and I walk alone...".

Except, when I look to the past and the future, I'm not alone. There's the Ever Lovely Mrs J, there's Chameleon Group, and online friends too. To go back to an earlier post featuring Mr Hanks' words around the difference between solitude and loneliness, many times I'm just me, pottering about, but I'm not without people who care. I'm not alone, and for me, that's probably the best thing in the world, to belong.

I hope 2018 is kind to you.

Take care,

Friday, December 22, 2017

Not quite the last post of the year


Given this is the last post I'll make until after Christmas, I'd like to wish you all a fabulous festive break. Whatever you are up to, I hope it goes well.

While I'm here, I'm going to say thanks for your comments and emails throughout the year. The insight, wit, and things you've shared have all been appreciated. It means that I get to read what you're up to, and that means a lot to me. It seems a lot of us are all going forward in our own journeys, and I think that can only be a good thing.

Indeed, for those of you who are blogging, please keep at it. Reading your thoughts and adventures are both inspiring and interesting! Hopefully when others read about the various aspects of being trans, maybe it'll win over a few hearts and minds. It's a time for Xmas Wishes. :-)

A big thanks to the Chameleons folk for all you do. Not only those who help organise but those who make the effort to keep the group's spirit going all through the year. Lastly, but by no means least, a cheers to Calie over at T-Central for kindly featuring my posts over the year.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Wishes


Well, what a great night last night was. Somehow, it all came together, and we had a grand old time. There was much laughter, plenty of smiles, sharing food & drink, plus dancing, and, well, being there for each other.

I had, perhaps somewhat pointlessly, been worrying about making the Chams Christmas Party just so. I don't know if it was because it was our last meeting of the year, or if I just wanted our lovely lot to get a good night as all of themselves.

A little more fancy than plain tables
With a few internet orders and a dash into the local pound shop in town. I was fixed for tablecloths, e-candles, and plastic cutlery. After a Laura's kind offer to do the disco, things started to be sorted. At that point, I felt that I was mostly on top of it, and all that remained was for the guests - and food - to arrive. Trust me, the Chams folk know how to cater! We're never short of nibbles when it comes to a Christmas Do. :-) Indeed, I think we'll need to check our cupboard as Val reports we've quite a few paper plates and whatnot stashed away. :-)

I managed to arrive at the Centre early for me. After some shuffling of tables & chairs, I think the layout was about there. It's not exactly The Ritz, but every little helps!

Did you forget your
skirt, Miss Jones?
I'd packed three outfits, but I was hoping my sequin number of yesteryear would still work. It's funny that that combination had made me feel very special, so I was hoping to re-run the joy of that outfit. As last time, I forgot how short the skirt is compared to what I usually wear, but people were kind enough to only say nice things. Clearly hanging on the blackmail negatives is the right way to ensure compliments. :-)

While getting changed a new trans-guy turned up, so we had a chat while the upstairs club piled on the slap. I'll keep his anonymity and I hope he makes it to another meeting. So much of what he had to say paralleled what 'FTM' people say; just the other way around, if that makes sense. More on that another time perhaps.

The evening itself.... Well, we had a full house with about 36 of us with new folk, regulars, and some old friends. Lovely to see Sandi & Tracey back (previous organisers) and the naughty so-and-so's gifted me with a lovely card and a bottle of wine. Not having expected them, I did not have anything to reciprocate. Still, I think I have their address about.

Talking of surprise gifts, those lovely ladies over at TrendCo had planned to pop by to see us. However, I got an email that due to other commitments, they couldn't but they had something for the group. This time I was prepared with a card and chocolates..... Only to find they'd gifted us a bottle of fizz for each of the organisers, some cards, and a cute Christmas card. Still, it's not a competition, and I hope they got the message that we're incredibly grateful for their support and help they offer the group. If you're not far from Nottingham. TrendCo offer the most fantastic customer service when it comes to wigs.

On another note, I had a number of very lovely chats with a few people, but as per, time ran away with me, and I didn't get to sit down and chat to everyone I'd hoped to. Apologies to all those involved!

With so many people 'in da house', my Christmas Wish to have a photo of the group came true. For privacy reasons, I won't be publishing it on-line. Instead, I'll keep a copy backed up somewhere safe, so we can look back in years to come. It lets us see how we've changed as a group: who's new, who's been here a while, and sometimes, by the absences, who no longer visits. With the latter, much as it's bittersweet to see people go, if they're going on to be themselves and happy, really, that's the purpose of the group.

With the disco pumping in the bar area, I did manage a few dances towards the end of the night. I love to dance. There's something about the freedom of movement, being lost in the music, and simply just enjoying the moment for what it is. I'm like this in Richard or Lynn mode; the only difference with the latter is I don't have to 'dial it down' when I start to move. Embarrassing parents eh? :-)

I'm certainly feeling the odd twinge in my feet today. Still, a fine time with great people sometimes comes at a slight cost. :-)

Take care,

Friday, December 08, 2017

Being out. Being me.


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.

Today's daytime outfit sans coat & scarf

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,

Friday, December 01, 2017

Staying healthy


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,