Friday, September 13, 2019

Akin

Hi,

Ah, hello Friday, you end of the week minx, you. The call of a distant bell reminding you that the weekend approaches and it'll be down tools o'clock for the much-awaited weekend. I hope the week has been kind to you and yours.

It would have been a week ago when I went to the conference to give a little talk (blog post here, if you're curious). A few things lingered about the event long after everyone drifted away. They were the good feelings that I felt that I'd done something to try and help. Not just from answering questions, but also from the kind feedback from both the organisers and some of you out there in blog-land. So, thanks. It's appreciated. ♥

The other thing was the question of  How does it feel when you're able to be your other look?

I mentioned last time that it's like the stress metre slowly turning down from 11, or perhaps finding that the heat's gone from the boiling pan and the water turns from boiling, to steaming, to finally, still.

At work the other week, a group of us were sat post-event enjoying a much-needed recharge. Using, of course, the British Standard Unit of Power: a cup of tea. The conversation drifted and colleagues spoke about how they unwound. One said playing their guitar worked for them, one said it was baking, another loved dancing and another going for a long run.

As someone who loves to cut some rug, I could identify with the dancing. While said colleague's was more organised - stylistically speaking - the movement, the option to improvise within the tune, and perhaps to give yourself into the moment; well, all of those I could agree with. Indeed, the Jogger asked if Dancing Person got, well, a little antsy if they didn't get to go out and get this type of exercise? Both agreed that for them, this was the case. Symptoms of restlessness, a tension within they couldn't push away, or indeed, feeling a little out of sorts. Hmm: sound familiar?

In my 20s when I'd regularly be out at music clubs dancing the night away, I would indeed feel the pull to be on the dancefloor and in that moment shake free the tension. Again, I wonder if we trans folk are not as unique in our needs as we think? Perhaps with more understanding around cis folk's loves, we find that we're more alike than not. Okay, other than the ability to rock to wardrobes, but I think you get my point ;-)

An eyeopener for me was a social event where a number of the Ever Lovely Mrs J's Internet friends had come together in a hotel, and social media was alive with questions of is this too short? Do these heels work with these tights? Trying a new lippy, but not sure. Not fishing for compliments, but seeking reassurance that they didn't look a sight. If I'd swapped the names out of trans people I know, the story would be very similar. Again, similarities.

So it is then that as I got changed on Thursday evening, I could feel the tension slipping away as if the music moved me, or, in the case of the Running (Wo)man, the pound of the pavement under her feet as she pushed herself to clear the housing estate and run into the nearby park.

Laying out my clothes and picking out my makeup is perhaps part of the ritual. Which eye palette to use? The Ever Lovely Mrs J had gifted me with swapsies on an eyeshadow palette that wasn't really her, bless. Which lippy? Choices, choices, choices. So too is the earlier Very Close Shave (™) and the slow application of shapewear and padding to give you a figure that's definitely not him.

I didn't feel elated or excited, but content: happy in my own skin as I stepped into my shoes and brushed my wig into shape. All that was left was to shoulder my bag, ask Tanya to lock upstairs as she left, and I head down to catch up with friends - new and old - at Chams.

All in all, it was a good night. A long and heartfelt conversation with a couple visiting for the first time. IMHO, it's always lovely to see someone trying to support their partner, so props to them for that. I tried on some new shoes - a further chapter in the quest for some nude heels :-) - and these felt so comfy after kicking off my heels. It seems the 8s are a little too small and the 9s a little too big. Oh the humanity! ;-)

Val's kindly taken away the signing in sheets to see if we can find a pattern about attendance, and how that might influence the funds for the group. Evidence-based decision making? Whatever next ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 06, 2019

Mojo recovered

Hi,

When I started this post, I'd just finished running a session at a small conference for a leading counselling organisation. You might say this is the best place for me given last week's crash, but I'm assuming you'll be kind enough not to ;-)

Stock images FTW
Given the event, I did give it some thought about appearing in Lynn mode, but logistically, that wasn't to be. Getting ready might have been possible but the just after 10 o'clock start put the pressure on, and I was worried that if the traffic was bad, I'd be late, and I felt that wouldn't be acceptable. Given that I stayed behind - having been offered lunch - I did have to leave to get back to work, so much as it felt like I'd missed an opportunity, it was simply more practical and - I can't believe I'm saying this - I think it was the more sensible choice. Plus, it was rather warm in the room, so wig + shapewear + nerves would not necessarily have helped me keep cool. :-)

The organisation in question got in touch with Chameleons a few months ago. Today was the day to take a deep breath and go and present to about 40-odd professionals. My brief was to give an hour or so plus Q&A. I put in some warm-up information around trans history in the UK and the old school language of TV or TS (transvestite or transexual) not being applicable to many of us... hence, quite possibly, the seachange in language to address the different ways there are to be trans.

There was also a bit of personal history because they wanted to hear about the issues I'd faced and therefore what other trans folk (at least like me) might also encounter. I spoke about coping mechanisms and what they - as counsellors - might encounter and, with careful listening and coaching, help a T person and/or their family with. We talked briefly about terms, longer on experiences, and they asked some great questions. How does it feel when you're able to be your other look? or Do you think your struggle in the early years was more internal or external issues?

The first question really made me think and there was a follow-up after I'd said dressing in my other appearance means I feel okay about myself. It somehow resets something within me and I'm okay to go back to Richard mode for a bit. I think it was Nicole (at Chams) who said for her, the stress - if you will - felt like a dial turning slowly ticking up to eleven and by expressing who she is, that returns to regular levels. There was a further question asking if - hypothetically - if I had to present as Lynn for a long period, would the same stress ratcheting occur? I think for me, the answer is no, in that I wouldn't feel stress at wanting to back to my Richard appearance, but the shaving, clothing, make-up etc, would get tiresome. Not the same, but perhaps close. For me, it's a lot easier to get out of the house in bloke mode, than it is to 'convert' myself and get

The question around internal/external; as ever, extra ideas came to me after the session ended. At the time I said it was a combination of internalised transphobia (not passing, not being trans enough, not being 'normal', etc) that was a particularly toxic mindset that did me no favours. Society plays into things a little, but really the answer is it's both. You need to be okay with who you are and I think you need to be safe where you are. You can feel okay but if you're getting the side-eye from colleagues/family, that's not going to help. Equally, having accepting family/colleagues helps, but if you keep telling yourself you're not okay, well, you know the rest :-)

There were some dark moments when we talked about eating disorders, body hatred, and depression. But despite those low moments, I've met some great people through Chameleons and this blog. I've had some adventures and seen things from another point of view that not many do. I may not pass, but I can say I have - and will - continue to walk in the shoes of both men and women. ;-) I'll not be a woman (not that trans women are not women, let's be clear) and while I'm 'assigned male at birth', in my head and in my heart, I feel I'm somewhere between both. Sometimes I appear as Richard, sometimes as Lynn: but they are just names. I'm always me.

In other news, I took to plunge and epilated my legs. I feel, well, normal again. Not up or down, but that a weight had been lifted and I am not troubled by how I look. This has helped me feel okay and last week's low mood seems to be rolling back. Fingers crossed this helps keep the dysphoric demon at bay. It's now the weekend, I had some great feedback from the conference, Chams are now slightly more well off than they were before I started, and it's nearly time for a Thursday night out.

I'm feeling pretty good.... and compared to this time last week: good is very good ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Body Politics

Hi,

It's been said that no good blog post starts by talking about the weather. I wonder if this makes Climate Change difficult to promote? :-)

Given the Summer temperatures, travel into Europe, and a flexible dress policy at work, I've been in shorts for more of my time than usual. I'll skip on the pun how a dress might be flexible. The shorts situation is both a good and a bad thing. The positives are that I can cool off quicker and therefore I'm able to concentrate at work. Given previous jobs where certain employers were, shall we say, less enlightened around office attire, I try to count my blessings. If I'm too hot, I get that heat funk where I struggle to focus and I don't get much done. We may come back to this later.

The not so positive is when I see my legs, they don't look like they should do. It's - obviously - the hair situation. Hence the pun for today's post. The thing is, do I risk alienating the Ever Lovely Mrs J, possibly weirding the kids out, adding more evidence around my appearance? Or, alternatively, having my body look as I feel it should. being more okay/content, and therefore less angry at things that shouldn't make me cross? Less anger would be good I think. It flares quickly and I don't like it. I'm pretty sure my family are tired of Mr Grumpy too. It feels like a rock and a hard place on bad days. I remember an addendum to the phrase: the truth will set you free. It was "but first it will p*ss you off.".  So it seems that when you've seen how things can be, that this is who you are, that to return to the old, well, it can be a struggle.

There's a concept called The Stress Bucket where things that stress you fill it like water, and at the bottom, there's the Coping Mechanism Tap. Ideally, you want to be using healthy coping strategies - hobbies, mindfulness, exercise, regular breaks, etc - to help you lower the bucket's level. The bucket certainly doesn't want to be full - that's a lot of water to be lugging around. :-) Bad coping could be drink, drugs, or other less than healthy mechanisms.

This week there's been no sudden deluge, but a steady flow from tiny sources that all add up. My usual routes of exercise, enough sleep, or playing a computer game (ideally as a female protagonist) haven't worked. Chams isn't for another couple of weeks and with the school holidays, it's not like I can blag some home working to create the opportunity. So yeah, the bucket is way too full at the moment.

I'm noticing my emotions triggering when seeing women in summery outfits. I need to stress that people are free to wear what they want and I'm not ogling them: it's more the proverbial dysphoric demon on my shoulder helpfully (!) reminding me that I'm stuck in bloke mode. Usually, I see a workmate dressed just so, I think "they look good in that" and I'm happy for them. But when dysphoria is kicking off, it's difficult not to feel.... well, that I'm not my authentic self and off we go on that downward spiral. So, grit your teeth, Lynn, and stiff upper lip, old girl.

On Thursday got my epilator out of the cupboard and I was thinking of heading somewhere - anywhere! - where I could return my pins to how I prefer them. I ended up calling a support line. Don't worry, I'm not a risk to myself or others :-) But, I was really struggling with keeping it all together. Oddly, I'd tried my coaching skills on myself (did I mention I got my qualification through the post this week? Yay!) but I couldn't get out of the loop. The volunteer who answered listened patiently, asked helpful questions, and while he didn't tell me what to do (a golden rule it seems), we did discuss the options and some of the background. I was - and still am - very grateful for that.

Remember I said we'd come back to being able to focus? Much as I can remove myself from a hot room, where do you go to cool down emotionally? I have not found it easy to distract myself and keep the negative thoughts at bay this week. That I've struggled with, but the telephone call helped. I may not know the answer yet, but I feel better having talked about it. There's a positive and it may be that I need to do something to help drain the bucket. Some self care that will help me and bring calm to help stop the anger from coming out. What that is yet, I'm not sure. Writing certainly helps.

Other than me getting this off my chest, what is the point behind this post? A few months ago a T friend said that on reading this blog, it felt like I had it all together and I was making this whole T gig work. I guess we read into things the things we want, so I'm not judging them. That would be rude. What I'm saying here is - like a lot of things - when they're far off to you, they look okay. When you get to know a bit more - or peek behind the curtain - you see what's really going on. In this case, occasional ups & downs and certainly a fair bit of mental juggling to keep things on the level.

Life can be tough, I think we can agree on that. The volunteer spoke to said that everyday ups and downs reach us all. He added that some of us - and not just LGBTQ+ folk - have extra things that add to our situation. Plus, it's not all negative: I don't mind being T something or other. It's just the distress when everything kicks off that I don't like.

When there's a next time, maybe I'll try to talk about my feelings earlier. That and try to tell myself I do have a choice about the leg hair situation. I choose not to do it because I want an easy life for my family, but there are times when you must put your oxygen mask on before you can be fit to help others.

Fingers crossed eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 23, 2019

Comfortable

Hi,

Last night at just after 11pm I was upstairs at Chams about to get changed. The heels I'd borrowed from the Ever Lovely Mrs J were beginning to make themselves known, I was heading into A Bit Too Warm due to the industrial-strength shapewear, and yet, I was comfortable. Not physically, but emotionally.
Thanks to Val Photographics

Maybe it was due to a long spell between me dressing, that I was happy with my look, that I'd had a good talk with friends, met some new members, or maybe none or all of those things. Whatever caused it, I'm not sure it matters. What does, is that feeling of being comfortable with who you are.

I think it's important to keep such moments. Not to hoard them like gold, but to remember and know that when things aren't 100%, that they can be and you will feel good about things once again. Perhaps like finding a small bag of sweets in your pocket on a rainy day, or a fiver in the back of your wallet.

Talking of feeling good, towards the end of the night, we had a quick chat about the occasional ride on the dysphoria rollercoaster. It seems some of us - this time it was Katie - who said she felt that somehow she was on this up and down journey, and she wanted to know if it got easier. The quick answer is yes, it does, but it takes time. The whole thing settles down and the ups are less, and therefore so are the downs. Time and some self-forgiveness can help. Perhaps, even, looking back at what's gone well, may help too.

The conversation moved on - this time about earrings - and I passed on a pair of my old clip-on hoops that I'd clung on to. That made someone happy, and if you can help someone, I think that's a good thing.

Now the temperature is starting to rise and it's the start of a long weekend. A rather nice way to be eased back into it all, after the big holiday. Now, just a question of paying off the credit card, sorting out the washing, and attempting to clear the meadow that was the back lawn. ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 16, 2019

Dark future retro

Hi,

I was a teen in the 80s and as any Stranger Things viewer will know, roleplaying games were a thing. For a few hours, you could be in another world as someone else and it was all good fun. I never played D&D, but we did give 'Advanced Dungeons & Dragons' a go for a while.

The game that really had my attention was Cyberpunk. A schoolmate tipped me off to it and if I'm honest, I've always been more of a sci-fi geek than a fan of fantasy. Mind you, I absolutely loved playing the Skyrim computer game: that was just amazing.

So Cyberpunk - aka CP - fitted my late teen misanthropy. Good & evil weren't a thing: everyone had an angle they were playing and there were times when the (so-called) heroes of the hour were, well, doing some decidedly questionable moral activities. Nothing out of the ordinary compared to your typical Bond film - in terms of violence or cons - but not the noble quests of Tolkien's works or TSR's Forgotten Realms.

Gaming was a chance for friends to get together and explore ideas that wouldn't be possible until computer games caught up some 15+ years later (IMHO). To play, you needed a rule book, some funny-shaped dice, time, and your imagination. All things considered, it was a pretty inexpensive hobby and lots of groups would make up their own rules or settings to keep things fresh. Want to do an A Team style game or play as perps in a Judge Dredd world? Fill your boots. :-)

Hauling this all back to T stuff, the game let me play a female character. I wasn't out back then and scared of the idea that others would find out. I would play one game as a male character, then the next game as a female one. It probably goes without saying which characters and games I remember more than others ;-) Just like today where having a female character in a computer game somehow helps keep the Trans Clock from ticking towards midnight, so did the same in RPG terms.

Next year there will see the release of Cyberpunk 2077. I guess it's all the stuff from the old game plus whatever the original creator and new team have thought of. One thing that's missing from the old game - and oddly, predicting the future is rather tricky - was the lack of smartphones.... and no Transgender Tipping Point.

The old game was very gender binary - give or take a few minor mentions - and certainly, the language used in the books ('sex change' or 'swap op') mirrors the time when they were written (the early 90s).

Thing is, when I stumbled upon such characters, they were not - unlike many portrayals in films - victims or murderers*. They had a backstory and they were part of the world. Sure, the language feels kinda off compared to today, but there is a positive trans character. They're in charge of what they do, loved by their partner, and - crazytalk I know! :-)  - they are more than just trans.

[ * Earlier this year, BBC crime drama. Ooo, with a trans character! Ah, they're the murderer. Again. ]

In more recent news, the computer game company put out a demo featuring an advert of a trans person. I think those of us on that continuum can say "that's not a great tuck" and I won't be linking directly to the image as it feels quite graphic. But, I'm not offended by that ad. I know I'm very late to the party, but I'm here to clear up and take out the trash. :-)

The world setting is one of corporate greed turned up to eleven. So, yeah, some of us with our real-world eyes looking in may judge that as inappropriate... but, as a former gamer and trans person, I look at that for what the advert is. It's making the point that the companies are not your friend. They want to exploit and they'll ride any bandwagon that pimps their stuff. A quick look at the headlines this year will display a few companies caught stiffing the consumer.

As someone said about dystopia novels: they're a warning, not a handbook. ;-)

Stay frosty,
Lynn


Friday, August 09, 2019

Don't make eye contact

Hi,

With a bit of luck, the Jones Crew will be working our way around Europe on our summer holiday. The thing is, I find that as I'm getting a little older, I worry a little more about the What If. of it all.

What if we miss our flight? What if the hotel we've booked is closed? Just, well, silly worries really.

As the Ever Lovely Mrs J would say, you only have to do one step. All we need to do is get to the hotel down south. Then, just be up on time to get to the airport, and so on and so on.

I do my best to listen, but it's not always easy. Perhaps it's because there's four of us and if I'm going somewhere new to me - like another country - my worries play up a little more than they should.

But, the crazy thing is I'm happy to drive most places and compared to flying, cars are statistically less safe. Plus, I sometimes go our in 'Lynn Mode' and we know that being openly LGBTQ+ can leave you to being attacked. Again, risk.

Perhaps I need to think of the travel along the same lines as T stuff. What I mean is, feel the fear and do it anyway. What if someone sees me out? What if I bump the car while out? What if I can't get home to get changed in time?

All those worries could become barriers if I let them. Maybe, it's about nodding politely, not quite making eye contact, and doing what I was going to do anyway.

After all, if I'd listened to The Fear all those years ago, I'd not be married, not have a lovely family, not have T friends, not have a good job, and not have this blog: so the list goes on.

I shall just have to put my metaphorical big girl pants on, take a deep breath, and try to enjoy the ride.

See you in a few,
Lynn
x

Friday, August 02, 2019

Small moments and self-care

Hi,

With both kids off from school and the Ever Lovely Mrs J having a few days here and there, Chez Jones seems to be getting into holiday mode. Lazy mornings, a later than usual bedtime, and occasional trips out for lunch or to stretch the legs.

This is all very nice.... unless you're the one at work ;-)

Tongue-in-cheek grumpiness aside, they all seem to be doing well, which is good.

The trouble with a quiet house on a morning, is I don't have the same get up and go that I would usually. Indeed, one might say that my get-up-and-go is touch and go at the best of times. It doesn't take me much to slip into a more - shall we say - relaxed mood around getting up, taking the dog out, and heading into work.

With that in mind, a later start means skipping breakfast so I can get in for 9AM. The thing is, by 11ish, my brain seems to slip into neutral. It's too early for lunch and I don't think that eating a chocolate bar will help my waistline. Plus, a sugar rush is only temporary and really, I should just get up a little earlier.

When I found myself hitting the wall last time, I locked my computer and got up to wander around the building (it's a big site) until my head was clear. I did feel a little guilty at doing this, but at the same time, I wasn't getting any work done.

With the presenteeism goblin told to jog on, I did my best to enjoy the blue sky, stay out of the direct sun, and enjoy the feel of the breeze. As I did so, I wondered if this is another aspect of self-care, and, if so, if you are not with it, is removing yourself and giving yourself some time to decompress and get yourself together a positive thing? How could it not be?

Perhaps, so it is with being T as well. There are times when the green-eyed dysphoric monster vies for our attention and instead of letting it tell us how bad we look, perhaps a better route would be to do something to distract. A long walk, a hobby, a computer game, or visiting a friend for a chat. Anything to keep the mind busy and not giving the demon 'brain time' to torment.

Of course, this isn't guaranteed to work, but is it not worth a shot? The metaphorical sitting on a quiet bench away from the mind clutter and doing something to help. Maybe even a spot of gratitude daydreaming, perhaps.

For example, the Ever Lovely Mrs J showed me an advert for a make-up club. She said: if we signed up for this, I could have the skincare products and you could get some slap at a knockdown price. Then there was the happy news in that a local business has settled their training bill with Chameleons: that's certainly propped up the funds.

To me, those little moments are to be kept close and dwelled upon when you need them.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, July 26, 2019

When your label drops off

Hi,

Earlier this month I posted about having a spot of bother in getting off to sleep.... and that was before this week's heatwave. Still, having the air-con on a comfortable 19 made last night's trip (in bloke mode) to Chameleons much more tolerable. Anywho, one of the things my mind was doing, was going over what I might write for a presentation in a few months. No, not work-related, but transgender outreach kinda thing.

It's not so much that I don't know how to start it and I've got a brief from the organisation on what they want. It's more... it's more that I'm struggling a bit with the identity of saying I'm trans*. BTW, there's a rather good post by Jonathan that talks about a non-binary umbrella. This may help if you're new to some of the language.

You see, if we take the word transgender to be an umbrella term, which I do (rightly or wrongly), then I know I sit somewhere under that rainbow shelter.

But, here's the thing, I don't feel trans as in wanting to transition and I don't feel I can stand by the term cross-dressing. There's nothing wrong with either of those and I've no time for T related spitting contests. Really, it's not you, it's me, kinda thing. :-) So if I don't feel I can stand with those terms: what else is left?

Genderqueer? Well, not really. I mean, my presentation is bloke 99% of the time and 1%... umm... not looking like a bloke :-) I'm not mixing things up, so I don't feel I fit in here.

Does that make me bigender then? I mean, from a simple appearance point of view, I can see that possibility. Oh, and be careful you don't search for "big ender". That's a whole other thing. Who knew! :-D Jokes aside, I don't feel I have two genders going on, it's just me. Sure, a bit non-standard or even atypical (emphasis on not better or worse - just different, again), so it's close, but not together a perfect fit.

But, here's Rub 01: my appearance doesn't really change my personality or view of the world. I don't 'butch' up to be more manly. While I might watch my profanity a bit more in Lynn mode, I'm pretty much the same in interests, thoughts, and language. Indeed, given my mannerisms in bloke mode, I'm surprised no one has commented on how I sit. I know, this sounds a bit nuts when you read it back. What else did you expect from this blog? :-)

I feel that leaves genderfluid and I've been thinking about what that might mean to me. On the one hand, it seems to encapsulate the continuum that I seem to be on. Okay, I might physically appear as binary A or B, but what's going on in my head and my heart are not quite so singular. I mean, I think as the old social mask I wore has faded and possibly disappeared, I'm now just me regardless of how I dress. Sure, I don't share everything, but I don't hide my feelings, body language, and my male dress sense has shifted to colours and patterns I like on a Thursday. Still, male, but not that blokey.

So, Rub 02: I wouldn't say I'm distressed by all of this, but I would say that I'm a little perplexed and uneasy about what this might mean. I thought I knew who - or even, what I was - but the uncertainty isn't something I really like. Maybe it's like that gag by the late Mr Cooper: "I used to be indecisive but now I am not quite sure." :-)

Hopefully, with a bit of time, the idea of a new ID will be okay. Maybe I'll try it on for a bit and see where it takes me. Hell, I might even learn something new. That would be good.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, July 19, 2019

"Boy or girl?"
Are they the only choices?

Hi,

It's been said about buses that you wait for ages and then two come along at once. So it seems with training requests at Chameleons. Nothing for a few months and now, there's three on the go.

Not that I am complaining, I must add. It's a chance to get out, try and help out would-be allies, and - if we're lucky - top up the group's funds a little. Balancing it all with privacy and work is the tricky part. Luckily, Val has offered to help with one of the events, bless her.

I think that education is key when it comes to talking about transgender matters. It's not just the stuff about terminology - which frankly, confuses me a lot of the time too - but about how to treat a trans person and how you might be able to help them.

With the above in mind, this week there's been a few articles in the news about LGTBQ+ education in schools. Now, there are some who argue that children should be children and that stories about how people have different relationships can be confusing.

Here's the thing: you can cure confusion. Spend a bit of time studying the subject, maybe ask a few questions, and what you thought was complex can be unpicked. Plus, there's no shame in getting things wrong - it's just an opportunity to learn.

If I look back to my own childhood, I knew I was different from the other kids. Not better or special, just different. Boy or girl? Are they the only choices? :-) Perhaps it was (or is) true for some of the other children in my class all those years ago, but if it was, I don't know.

I do look back - but not with regret - and I wonder, how life might have been different if we'd not had Clause 28, but that we'd listened, discussed, and tried to understood that there a lot of people in the world and not everyone is the same.

When I listen to Wee Man talk about his classmates, the fact that some are in straight or gay relationships is neither here nor there. It's just an everyday thing for Wee Man's generation and I think that's fantastic.

A photo from the Gender Spectrum Collection.
Funny, after all the nonsense about trying to hush schools in the 80s on talking about being gay, here we are again in 2019, with another group of people trying to keep the kids from learning.

A hint to parents who think like this: trust me, we've already started on our journey. We already know and sometimes, that's really scary. Maybe instead of saying we're not ready to hear about gay people and trans folk, maybe we could learn together and just be there for each other? Maybe we don't have to make up our minds now. Maybe we might think we're one thing, but maybe we're not. It's okay to change, isn't it? To grow, to think, to try, and maybe, just maybe, to accept and be ourselves.

L x

Friday, July 12, 2019

A fistful of win

Hi,

Last night was a meeting at Chams and through some good luck, I was fairly early. Unusually it was quite a quiet event given the high attendance last time. So it goes sometimes!

As I got changed I had to go back to my you-need-to-cut-down corset. I think one too many ice creams haven't helped and despite trying to, well, cut down a bit, I feel I'm not losing the weight yet. Must try harder. Still, at least my bloke jeans aren't too snug, so maybe things are just going slowly.

I don't know about you, but I have some goto cosmetics that I love to use. As part of that learning process, I've bought a few things that either haven't quite worked or that I've since found something better. To that end, I chucked out a lip stain, two blushers, and a pair of eyeshadow palettes. I'm really loving an old Urban Decay set for my eyes, and I think at some point I'll have to track down those favourites and stock up. But, if they're too pricey, I might take a spin on Nyx. As I passed the waste paper basket later, I did wonder what the Centre's cleaners think when they take out the rubbish. :-)

As to the evening itself, Trend Co visited, so we had the pleasure and expertise of Nicola and Steph. There might not have been a huge number of us that night, but I saw at least six people sporting new hairstyles by the end of the night. That made me feel good about the evening: Nicola & Steph make a few sales, get to have a chat, and the Chams folk get great services and products. That's a fistful of win in my book. :-) I know online can be cheaper, but I don't think you get the same service as you do in person. If there's a wig vendor near you, trust me, they're wise to people like us and you'll not surprise them.

I saw a few wigs that tempted me but I hung back to make sure everyone else got a good look. Instead, I was Executive Beverage Delivery Agent, so I was glad of my Birkenstocks :-) On a run between kitchen and bar area, one new member popped in to say hi. S has been emailing a few times and like a lot of folks starting out, she needed a little help in being reassured about the evening and she also didn't have everything just yet. No judgement, just observation. Anyway, by the end of the night, S had new hair and tried on a number of styles until she found something that was more her. Not bad for a first night out, I'd say! :-)

Community

In other news I'm applying for funding for the group and I'm going that will help us reduce the attendance fees, maybe even buy some things like a tall mirror or something to help with photos. There are also two training events on the cards and if we can get those sorted, it will all help.

Pride is revving up in town so it'll be interesting to see where that goes. I won't be attending, but a girl can dream, right? Maybe one day.

Oh and the Co-Op has released an advert featuring a transwoman and some of the money from the strawberry sales will go to help other trans groups.

There are, of course, a few people who are less than happy about it, but I think that will always be the case. Still, props to the Co-op for taking the risk.

Femulate: So long, thanks for all the posts

Lastly, I'd just like to give a shout-out to Stan's for her hard work in keeping her Femulate blog going. Not only for such a length of time but also so frequently. To think that all those multiple updates a week were pretty much from one person. But, I guess all good things come to an end, as they say. So long, Mrs, enjoy your retirement.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, July 05, 2019

A short one

Hi,

With the summer son high in the sky and no meetings today, I went to work in shorts. Well, not *just* shorts, I did wear a shirt and trainers too. Standards, darhlink, standards. ;-) Not so much a 'dress up Thursday' but certainly a dress down Friday.

The odd thing about clothes is that there are some that feel very different and therefore make me feel different too. My skinny jeans vs bloke cut, a flowing top vs a shirt, a flowing skirt vs... well, okay, you got me. :-)

Going back to the shorts, I noticed that as I was walking at lunch that the length (just on the knee, natch) meant I had a similar feeling to that of a skirt. I found this a bit unusual given this was a workday and I'm very much in the closet when it comes to employment. Before anyone rings The Daily Heil, it was more a this feels natural because it's like a skirt rather than the concept that the mere sight of some femme clothing and I'm all of a flutter. Really? No, not really. :-)

It made me think back to my now regular choice of shirts: usually with a pattern, casual, and bright. Perhaps years of putting up with the corporate male drab* have now been cast aside in an effort to feel freer in how I look, even in bloke mode.

Indeed, I had a brief chat with a colleague from another department as her co-worker complimented her on her new skirt. I did nod and say it was very pretty. That prompted a comment on my choice of shirts and we had a brief discussion about the perils of complimenting people at work. Short version: we decided to be genuine and be kind to each other. :-)

* Oddly, I'm quite happy to sport a sharp business dress on some Thursdays, so it's not quite so cut and dry. :-)

Still, the wearing of things that make me feel okay is another item to add to the list of Things That Help me be Okay.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, June 28, 2019

Little Moments

Hi,

It's been a busy, almost frantic, last few days, but I'm feeling good about life. Friday has been a welcome and quiet cornerstone to the working week. A little too much travel and rushing between meetings meant Monday through to Thursday was a little too full on. Sure, it's good to be busy.

My Thursday night out went very well. Outfit wise I had a backup plan as well as a new full-length skirt and two not yet worn tops from last year's summer sale. The skirt was also in the sale and had the added benefit of the Ever Lovely Mrs J's blessing. Shopping can be cool, but shopping guilt free is even better in my book. :-)

Not the stairs. :-)
As I got changed, somehow my makeup came together - at least I was pleased with it :-) - and I did my best to help Michelle - someone new to the group - with their slap too. Playing it forward and all that. That's why we're here and it's good to be kind to others. Bless her, Michelle sent me a PM on our forum to say thanks. How lovely is that?

As I left the changing room upstairs, I was struck how the skirt felt as I moved. Okay, it's been many years since I started cross-dressing, but every now and then, there's something new to discover. Maybe its how your earrings move as you walk, the feel of skinny jeans when you're used to a bloke cut, how your posture changes in heels, or even the sun on properly bare legs. I guess it's not part of my every day, so when those little moments arrive, I try to take note and remember them. I don't think of them has having gone, but instead things to think back on and smile.

Back to last night, Val and I popped outside to try getting a photo that was anywhere else than the usual staircase. Katie's support worker - we'll keep her name on the QT - kindly offered to take the snap. X is very good with photos. Funny how some people just have the gift for it. Indeed, later on we had a chat about photography and X was curious if others would be interested. I'm hoping she keeps up on things as X really has the eye for it.

Later on, I had a chat with some new visitors. They were regulars at Leicester Chameleons, who meet once a month on a Saturday night. Listening to them talk about the group took me back when I used to go all those years ago.

Talking of groups from back in the day, it is Stonewall's 50th Anniversary. Despite a few bigots trying to wind back the clock, LGBTQ+ people and their allies are not going to go away. I may not be out & loud, but I am proud of our community. I do what I can either as an ally at work, helping at the group, or running training events for organisations. There are days when it feels like I'm lurking in the shadows, but maybe that's my imposter syndrome talking.

Instead, I'm going to ignore that, think about who we help at the group, who we talk to in our events, parents & carers of trans kids who email us, and when we do go out, we're just us: living our lives as best we can. So, for those who came before, thank you, and to those who come after, keep going. The road to equality is long, but we will get there.

Lynn
x

Friday, June 21, 2019

Rocks

Hi,

There are days in which I feel I'm carrying a bag of rocks. I'm not sure how they get in, but there they are. Lumpy black and brown, rough-hewn shapes that clack and grind against each other. I don't remember picking any up, but I notice the extra weight when doing any mental or emotional heavy lifting.

There are times when I forget about the bag, and it rests on the ground, sullen and silent, biding the time in which it knows what distracting activity I'm in will end at some point. Lunch in the sunshine, laughing with a friend, or being lost in the moment: in all of those things, the bag is forgotten. Not empty, just ignored.

Thursday nights or rare daytimes that pass with a swish of finery, the tap-tap-tap of heels, and dash of lipstick. When I remember to think to check the bag: it's empty, almost gossamer wisps.

The spring in my step and joyful thoughts at the time grabbed boosts my spirits. Days pass, but then, I hear the grind of stone.

So it is, and so I keep track of good things and try not to listen to the rocks. Let the twist and grunt, because moments will drive them away, and outings free me.

L x

Friday, June 14, 2019

Gratitude

Hi,

Today has been mixed and there's a point to this in a mo. I broke my new travel mug (boo) and before home time, I had a meeting with someone I can only describe as an arse of the first order. :-) The thing is, I could - and perhaps in previous years - have reflected on the bad things that happened and this would - mais oui - have coloured my view of the day.... and dare I say, not accurately.

So, many moons back, I started to keep a diary for positive stuff. A daily log of three good things that happened to me. I find this Gratitude Diary - I believe that's the term - really helps.

Rather than think back on the broken - the mug and the travel cup I bought (see what I did there? :-) ) - let's look at the better things.

I paid the money for the group into the community account. That's propped the funds up with enough moolah to cover another two meetings. We are doing okay in terms of money and this is a worry that's gone away. Okay, we're not exactly millionaires, but we are not limping from month to month, worrying that the venue would close its doors on us.

Last night two old regulars - Sarah and Alison - popped by to say hello. We had a good old natter about various things, but Alison mentioned that it's been pretty much ten years since she first came to Chameleons. She's transitioned now and you can see she's much happier in herself. Ali's a different person to who she was all those years ago, so seeing a friend grow is really cool in my book.

If I think back to today, yes, I could look at the things that had not gone as I'd liked. But, rather than that, what about looking at what was better? The rain let up for a bit, I got to the bank without any major hassle, I had a tasty lunch. I collected my new maxi skirt and its very pretty. That saved me a trip into town looking for one and the Ever Lovely Mrs J was cool about me ordering it too. All of these things are, in my book, moments of goodness to be cherished.

Going back to Thursday's, I think you could look at my outings as two nights in a month when I'm all of who I am. Or, I could look at Thursdays as a time where I have the choice to appear as Richard or Lynn. Neither is better or worse: just different. Well, okay, my Richard guide is a bit more sweary, but we'll gloss over that. :-) Sure, it's an effort to get a good shave, pack a bag, but I think the effort - although not always the result! :-) - is worth it.

I guess what I'm saying is if there's any point to this post, is enjoy the moment. Rather than rushing to the next thing or worrying about what might be: just enjoy as you can.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 07, 2019

Just for fun

Hi,

The other day the Every Lovely Mrs J sent me a link around How to be an Ally to Trans People (link here if you're curious), bless her. We had a bit of a chat - and a few laughs about the training we'd had over the years - some good, some great, some that *ahem* might need a spot of improvement.

Now, occasionally I get to do a bit of Q&A around what it can mean to be Trans*. Through Chameleons, I've had just under a dozen or so training opportunities with various organisations in and around Nottingham. Now, not only does this get me out a bit (which is cool in my book), but it brings funds into the group, and lets me fly the flag a little. Sure, I'm pushing on an open door, but people are genuinely curious and I think that's great. Much as there are occasional steps backwards - not mentioning a certain bigot coming to the UK this week -  as a rule, things are improving.

For kicks & giggles, what if we twisted the not-so-PC questions that we T folk sometimes hear? I mean, what about the idea of an event to celebrate being straight as per the news this week? What if we ran the following questions at a seminar as people walked in?


  • When did you decide you were cis & straight? Are you sure it's not just a phase?
     
  • Are they real? [points to top] I mean, they look pretty real. Can I touch one?

  • So, what's in your - you know - underwear? [waves hands around the groin area] Do you think you'll keep things as they are?
     
  • Does having your family jewels loose hurt? Wouldn't you be better tucking them away? I mean you don't want them to flop around in your trousers right?
     
  • Is this a bit like doing drag then?
     
  • Who helped you with your makeup this morning? It looks pretty good.
     
  • Is that your own hair? You didn't buy it then? It looks very real.
     
  • How long did it take you to grow a beard? Do you think it'll get fuller as you leave it?
Some of those are a bit near the knuckle, so treading carefully might be a good idea. :-) I'm not sure I'm quite brave enough to take the above approach - it is meant in jest - but it does seem like a lot of fun. But, maybe when you've been asked the Trans equivalent of those, maybe it's more tired than amusing. I hope that's not the case.

Still, I think when used appropriately, maybe a bit of humour can be used to break the ice and hopefully change some views too.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, May 31, 2019

Starting: Coming Out

Hi,

Not so long ago, someone asked about ideas or help around coming out. It's been a long time since I've had to do it, but it's something that comes up in the Chameleons email and other places too. So, here are a few thoughts on the subject.

Aims: Do you know what you want to get out of coming out? If you are coming out to a partner, how long have you kept this from them? Is all of this new to you too? Try to be realistic and think of what you'd both be happy with: after all, there are two of you in this relationship. If it's not to a partner, what does the other person get out of it? In either case, where does that person go for support? Are we off-loading on to them or sharing with them? Is there a difference?

Language: be wary of terms that might be misunderstood. Terms that the community know - MTF, AFAB, gender queer, bi-gender, trans, etc - will someone not in our circle know them? Does it matter if you don't have a label and even if you did, would it make sense to someone else? If a trans friend said to me Oh, I'm MTF, would I assume they were male and are becoming female, or does 'male to female' in their story mean they prefer to be Janice and not John some days?

Respect: Listen and respect your partner's point of view. Yes, this may sting and be frustrating, but people need time to accept things. Ask yourself how long did it take you to accept your trans* nature? Try not to react negatively to anything, but hold your tongue, listen, and consider what's being asked. If the situation was reversed, how might you react to someone sharing something like this with you?

Questions: Often when people are talking, we're not actively listening, but waiting for a chance to dive in with what we think. This ping-pong of stuff can work for some situations, but not always. What about parking your own point of view for a moment and asking some open questions: 

- When you say you need some time for this, what might that look like?
- I understand this is very new and scary. Is there anything I can do to help?
- If we agree that it's okay for blah to happen, how do we make that work?
- If we agree that blah isn't working for us, what can we do instead?

Medium: not everything needs to be face to face. Sure, you get body language, eye contact, and tone, but some people find writing a letter easier. Equally, some people prefer a letter to read than feeling they are being talked at. I guess it's down to knowing your audience. There's no right way to do it, but there are some less than useful choices (like a confession in the restaurant).

A Time & a Place: When you're thinking about talking about T* stuff, be aware of where you and the time: 11pm on a school night may not be best :-) Give your partner a place to retreat to if you can. Please don't come out with stuff in a restaurant or other public place where they can't react and be themselves. Everyone is different: there might be tears, heated words, or a need to retreat.

Balance: be prepared to compromise and also know how to explain your wishes. There's a safe space between giving in, being selfish, and knowing how to put your oxygen mask on. That might take some working out. Much as absolutes aren't great, there are sometimes you both may need to give a little ground on. If that's no to shaving arms or legs, but it's okay if you dress when your partner's out, can that work for you both? A situation where one partner is doing all the conceding, well, that's a lot of ground given up: how might that feel?

It's not all about T stuff: remember there's more to the relationship than seeking permission and so don't go in there thinking it's about winning or losing. If you can try not to bang on about nothing else but gender stuff. Remember your partner in all of this and don't forget there's two of you in this.

The Fog: know your escape routes and beware the Pink Fog. If you can't dress up, are there things you can do to turn the volume down a bit? Paint your toes, play a video game as a female character, bake/cook, paint, go cycling, take a long walk, etc. Anything to help keep you from being drawn into the Pink Fog and losing yourself in there. Maybe you get Friday Nights to be Fabulous: if so, great for you, but don't let it take over if you can. Remember to enjoy what you have, try not to go nuts with the freedom you've got.

The Long View: Things change as people change. What was a big no-no years ago, might be okay now. It's not so much keep nagging (who actually likes to be nagged?), as keeping positive and asking when the time is right. I guess I'm saying don't give up hope. Things won't be perfect overnight, but as the weeks and the months pass, things will get easier for both of you.

So, that's my list and if you've got some wisdom to share, you know where the comments box is. :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 24, 2019

Pink and blue

Hi,

It's the start of half term. The last small break before the great length that is the summer holidays. I think both Little Miss and Wee Man will be glad of the break. One is working through exams, the other has finished her SATs. Testing, testing, one two three. Around we go and testing, there's a word to conjure with.

Earlier this week I caught a video from a training event at work. The presenter - a trans person - was going through the terminology on their slide deck. We run through trans-woman, trans-man, and along the wordage. We get to the cloud of terms where I'd probably sit: gender variant, cross-dresser. I hear on the audio track "...these people aren't really trans." I hit the pause button and stop to consider things.

Funny, I have always taken the word transgender as an umbrella term. One of inclusivity and well, family. I may not be the same as full-time folk or those who 'underdress', but I think I can empathise. But the exclusion, that stuck in me and it's a splinter that's been difficult to dig out.

There's a phrase - or more accurately, a taunt - that echoes in my head some days: am I trans enough? I am, what, dressing up two nights a month give or take rare forays? I am not out at work and for the most part, the world - the real world - does not see me. Am I advancing our journey or am I riding the wave?

Perhaps - and to be my own friend as the coaching and mental health first aid training suggests - I'm doing all I can. I am balancing family and work and me. It's not always an easy act, but I get by. So, perhaps its when I feel the sting of less thoughtful words - and indeed from one of our own - that such things go deeper than they should.

It's not a behaviour we'd see at Chameleons: I'd like to think we're much more supportive. Maybe it's because we know each other and we're friends, not strangers. We understand there's a difference, but not one that makes us better (or worse), just individual.

So, no, I don't - and won't - subscribe to not being transgender. I am always me, regardless of how I look. Maybe physically male - and I always will be - but upstairs? Ah, not quite so binary. I do what I can to try and help people on similar journeys. I may not be out and loud, but when I am visible, I would like to think I'm the regular, quiet, steady every day trans presence.

-

On to happier news! :-) Last night's Chameleons was very active. We had a visit from the NHS who wanted to hear how they could make their services better for trans people. Usually, we set research folk up in the side room and others in the main hall. The main hall is generally busier and louder, and the side room gives quiet and space for discussions. Well, this time the main room emptied and the bar area was packed! I guess it goes to show you can't call these things right? :-)

I drifted by the room a few times, but I didn't go in. Partly to give members a chance to talk, and partly to hang back so anyone staying in the hall wasn't alone. Numbers did move around a little, but I was surprised to see how focused, polite, and interested everyone was. Good stuff and I hope we'll be seeing the team back again. I also bumped into an old friend - Laura - who is very much full time and it's great to see her doing well.

Oh, I also got some new shoes this week. Some wedges in the sale and they were so comfy! Don't get me wrong, I love a heel or cute flats, but in the summer, I think a different type of shoe is in order. So, pairing them up with a dressed borrowed from the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I felt a lot more me by the end of the night.... even if it was very late.

Still, I had Nicole to chat to as Val was helping out Andrea by giving her a lift back. Ah, communities eh? :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 17, 2019

No shortcuts

Hi,

A long time ago, in a bedroom somewhere far, far away, a wee boy and his dad read a story about a wizard. The books had become very popular and films followed. Rather good films, IMHO, but that's by the by.

In one of the stories, there's a mirror that - supposedly - shows the viewer what they desire most. Well, words to that effect. I wouldn't want to draw young fans in and then for their parent to explain why there's a person who looks like a bloke but says he's transgender. Mind you, some of them may find that word - and that world - all on their own. :-)

So this week it came to be that a certain well-known social media app released a gender swap filter. And, no, I'll not be providing them with free advertising. Why the book reference and the filter? Because as with all good stories, there's something you can read between the lines... if you'll forgive the cliché. The filter, like the things down in the mirror, is not real. Those with a sci-fi preference may wish to say The Matrix has you. Those of a classic bend: Narcissus and the pool ;-)

The filter if you will, is a lie. Yes, it's a bit of fun and yes, much amusement has been had by some exploring who they might have been. But, there are those who see the filter not as a trick, but as what might be. Another roll of the dice and perhaps we could have been that way: the outside matching the inside. And therein, lies the rub, for no matter how hard you stare into the glass: that's all that image will be, an image. It can't be real and the perfect software driven complexion can't be achieved. For some amusement, for others, more a taunting.

You may feel I'm being overly negative or dramatic, and I may not argue with you. But, I will advise caution. All the wishing in the world won't change who we are. Change comes from us doing the work and putting in the hours. So, try on the filter if you wish, just understand it's not you. To go a little further, be wary of its spell.

Dare I say, you're more than just a photo, 'likes', or upvotes. Keep on being awesome. Keep on being you. If you want to change, change because you want to, not because a filter tempts you. Go as far as you need to go, and if that's far enough, that's fine.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 10, 2019

A spell of calm

Hi,

Last night was Chameleons, so off I popped to see friends and be a little fancier in look than my usual bloke attire. Fancy shirts help, but there are days when only a cute dress will do.

Going back a few weeks, I had promised the group a cream tea, so I arrived with plenty of scones, jam, and - mais oui - clotted cream. We did, of course, have the two most pressing political discussions facing the UK right now:

1. Cream then jam or jam then cream?
2. Do you say scon or skown?

Polite banter ensued around this bit of silliness, which is just how we like it.

There was a slight surplus of goods due to my mistake in picking up a pack of cheese scones rather than plain, but so it goes.

As I didn't want to do opaques in May, despite the temperature, so I decided to chance wearing my 'under tights'. These are a skintone, if a little thicker than usual, and usually either semi-opaques or dark chocolate ones go over the top. That seems enough to keep El Wookio beneath. But, with it being May, I felt something more Spring-like was in order. In honesty, I felt mostly happy about the outcome, but as the evening drifted on - and doing waitress duties - I soon forgot about them.

When the evening came to a close and we were all done bar the locking up (thanks Val), it was time to head home. As I walked back to the car, I had the thought: "I feel okay about this."

It was a moment of contentment. Those, I think, are to be enjoyed when they occur. There was no worry about the future; no concern at what had happened; no remorse, guilt, or upset: just, well, being okay with who I was.

On the way home, I thought upon that good feeling and felt how lucky I was to have had it.

Maybe we should have scones more often. :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 03, 2019

It wasn't okay back then either

Hi,

It's another long weekend in the UK. Yay for another bank holiday! Things to be cheerful for eh?

The Ever Lovely Mrs J has recently sprung (Translation Spock? Exchanged currency for an item or service, Captain) for a family license for Spotify. Oh, other streaming services are also available :-) This is mainly as both Wee Man and Little Miss are of an age where music is a large part of their lives, although while young Master Jones may have pinned his colours to the tribe of metal, Miss Jones remains decidedly undecided.

As I was driving home I happened upon Gary Numan track - My Name is Ruin, if you're curious - and has the last bars of heavy synth faded away I was reminded of seeing Gary on Top of the Pops all those years ago with Cars. I guess I would have been around eight at the time.

Anyway, I remember reading a newspaper article - TBH, if history has taught us one thing, certain papers are just full of sh**e - in which they'd pegged him as being an odd duck. Even back then in the unpleasantness of the 80s I felt this was cruel and inaccurate. Odd? According to who? Odd: like queueing up to shout on a number of men kick a ball about, or go out to give a kicking to someone who has a different taste in music or skin colour to you? All of those things seemed odd, but, I was a boy who liked pretty things and dreamed of cute clothes with sharp lines and wonderful colours: so what would I know? ;-)

In a mate's role-playing book, if your character was nearly killed, you rolled dice to see want insanity your character would pick up. Phobias and aversion of what happened, well, I could understand that, but said book had listed homosexuality, transvestism, etc. I remember thinking at the time: okay, so Paul's dwarf fighter has been royally roasted (no, not like that ;-) ) by dragon fire, and what, he likes men now?!  WTF? :-)

Which, as usual, leads me to the takeaway from the post: that as we've moved on as a society, we're a little more understanding and - despite certain aspects of society and the gutter media - empathetic. What was once considered acceptable by the masses - racism, chauvinism, violence even, etc - is mostly considered odd and those that preach it, more so. We understand that people are different, that there is a spectrum of autism, and it's not that kids are thick, it's dyslexia that explains why they struggle to read.

There are a few folk in my life who would probably - and indeed, proudly - go and stand under those respective flags. One's a guy in my office, another's a close work mate, and another goes to Chams. All of them are capable of feats of spacial awareness, leaps of logic, or insight that I cannot comprehend. Equally, my use of language baffles them. We're not better or worse than each other: just different.

I am hopeful that despite the current blip caused by populism that ultimately, we'll keep progressing and keep understanding that we're all just people on one planet. I am hoping that those reading this blog will make their way in the world - be they trans, or a partner thereof - and will gracefully and slowly push against the barriers that say being trans is odd: it isn't.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 26, 2019

Day & Night

Hi,

A day out

It's been a short week for Yours Truly, What with the Easter Bank Holidays and an extra day off on Tuesday. The Ever Lovely Mrs J and I looked down to Leicester. Mainly as a break from the norm and to grab a spot of lunch together. We looked at a few hidden bits of urban history, people watched a bit, enjoyed the spring sunshine, and took our time.

Mrs J said she had an HR course coming up on trans awareness which made us both chuckle given our circumstances. The conversation drifted around Grayson Perry (and his/her eloquence), how some men dress up (I don't mean crossdress. Think MAMILs, bikers, hipsters, sportsmen, etc), and she said how understanding the motivation behind it [being a part-timer like me] is a struggle. I can totally understand that, and there may well be as many drives for trans folk as there are people. For me, and I did share this with Mrs J, is that it's about wanting to feel pretty. I don't mind being in Richard garb for most of the time, and regular readers will know that I don't like that to be all of the time. See also: it's okay until it isn't ;-) Still, a spell here and there in Lynn attire and somehow I feel okay about who I am. Things like pierced ears, smooth pins, fancy shirts, and painted toenails all help too; but that's not always practical. Well, apart from fancy shirts: that's me hiding in plain sight. ;-)

I didn't want to spoil our day by talking about bare legs. Coming clean about something in a place where your partner can't express their feelings safely seems a bit mean to me. I've heard former work colleagues - usually men - use that tactic and it's never sat well with me. Anyway, returning to the unspoken leg situation, I have felt less cross and more relaxed about life. Indeed Mrs J commented that I am more laid back. The conversation changed as these things do and that was that.

It did feel slightly odd walking about in Richard mode, but with such good company, the time went quickly. I think my feet were glad of bloke rather than lady boots, that's for sure. :-) We did spot one lady sporting heels as carrying various shopping bags. I'm not sure how she managed. Maybe she got her friend to wheel get around on a parcel trolley. :-)

A night out

Chams was this week and things were a little more complicated than usual. It seems a horse fair was being organised by a traveller community. This was because they'd lost the location of their regular venue, so for whatever reason, Nottingham - perhaps with it being just off the M1 became the choice spot. It seems that there's quite a he-said/she-said situation over the permission to do so on the land that's been picked. Apparently, there's an estimate is about 10,000 folk turning up over the weekend and due to the big crowds and police concerns around safety, businesses have been advised to close by the police.

I had a few phone calls with our friendly neighbourhood Centre admin who kindly explained the situation. There was a chance that the police may use parts of the building as a base of operations. Plus, with the Centre having a large sports field and carpark, there were concerns that being used illegally. Much as most folk are okay at festivals, events, or footy matches, there's always a minority who don't behave and they're the ones who make the headlines.

But, I decided to chance it and on arrival, I found a police van parked across the gates meaning no vehicles could get in. After a quick call to make sure we were still okay to use the hall and a chat with a local off duty bobby, all was fine. We had a bit of a faff finding parking, but it all worked out in the end.

Numbers were a little subdued, but equally, my slight concern of any roaming revellers wandering in didn't happen. Indeed, the surrounding roads were pretty quiet. Mind you, the new security door is a lot better than the old one, so I think that helps to settle nerves for newcomers (and nervous organisers). You need a code to get in, which we'll need to share with the members.

With numbers being lower than usual the night was a bit more intimate. We had a visit from a dressmaking expert, who's trying to start an alterations business for trans folk: Chrysalides. I wish Michelle lots of luck with that. Not just because putting yourself into a group of strangers is a bit intimidating, but because I got the feeling that she - like the good folk at TrendCo - was very much about great customer service. Fingers crossed for her, eh?

Although I'd had that cheeky day out a few weeks back, being me again was a very welcome feeling. The holiday heat had dulled, so I went with an old top, black skinny jeans, and my new heels I got in the sale in February. Being in a separate room to Mrs J - due to health issues - I painted my toenails and I'm still enjoying the idea of a prettier look. Funny, even though I can't see or feel them, the idea that they are like that helps me be more okay with who am I.

In other good news, I took Sue's and Diane's advice about blusher and having asked for some help while out last time, I was much happier with the result. I don't think you'll see what on the feature photo, so there's another here. I did feel a bit 80s old school sucking in my cheeks (don't be rude ;-) ) and blending along, but hey, if the look works, don't knock it. I guess we come back to staying curious; being willing to ask; and listening to those who've been there, got the t-shirt- and worked out blending ;-).

For those of you curious about the Wookie situation, the leg hair is coming back, but I'm not confident about wearing shorts yet. Oddly, it's too long for nude tights, so I'm in that funny in-between place. That, dear reader, may sound very me. ;-) I shall miss the look when it's gone, but I guess you have to compromise as best you can.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, April 19, 2019

Don't be a three card trick

Hi,

For the sake of since decency, today's title has a bit of rhyming slang in it (hint: the last word). There's a risk of going down the rabbit hole about my love of wordplay, but let's skip that and stay on target, red leader ;-)

Not so long ago ShyBiker made a comment about good service and it made me wonder what it might be like on the other side of the counter. I've never worked in retail, well, unless you count operating the village tombola a few summer's ago, but I'm not sure that really counts ;-)

So, if I'm shopping - be that in Lynn or Richard guise - I guess I have pretty much the same MO. Be nice, treat the seller as a person, and see where the conversation goes. If they want a chat, that's cool, and if not, that's okay too. We're all different, right?

On that note, I was buying some clothes and a young lady was talking to her mum about a guy who'd walked up to her makeup counter. Said bloke had asked - in a not so pleasant tone - if they had a product in with "colour 32N" and, quite understandably, that wasn't much to go on. Umm, brand? A photo of the goods if you're not sure, or - shock news! - asking *nicely*.

For a mo, I wondered if this was one of our number, so I slowed as I perused the rail to hear the rest of the story. The bloke then gave the assistant a load of lip on how she didn't know her stuff. But said assistant kept her cool and did her best to calm him down.

I remember going to buy some more Clinique foundation a few years ago and it turned out they'd stopped doing that product. So, I knew what I wanted, only that they didn't sell it anymore. Oh. :-\ So, no photo or the very bottle itself is going to cut this mustard.

Okay, deep breath: "Righto. Given this colour and cover - is that the right term? - is there anything you'd recommend?" That seemed to do the trick and when I was asked if it was for me, I said yes - while inside my heart was thumping - and the assistant just nodded and carried on explaining the choices without issue.

So, how did Mr 32N do? He wasn't very pleasant, didn't prepare, and it took a few tries for the assistant to get him to listen about getting a photo of the old product. I guess, some folk just want the impossible, but, don't be that cretin eh? ;-)

How did Yours Truly manage? Well, I might not have got the exact same product, but I did get what I needed - new slap - and I learned a few things on the way.

Maybe that's the thing: be kind, listen, and be prepared to do your homework. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 12, 2019

Background checks

Hi,

Occasionally I find myself looking through the T community's photos. Part of it is a level of curiosity to see how others do it. Plus, perhaps vague elements of feeling included by passing through and not feeling out on a limb, as it where.

Those who post, well, their ages seem to vary by the platform. So blogs, Reddit, Flickr, Tumblr, etc; they seem to attract certain folk. No judgement, just observation. Likewise, there's the variety of peoples' journies: some are starting out and are often shy about their new looks, others are more confident and are seemingly happy with the route they're taking. Personally, I think it's great to see people's progress as they learn to accept who they are and feel they are making the best of themselves. That's awesome in my book.

I will confess to a slight quirk...and no, it's not a pervy thing. YATGB is way more M&S than S&M. ;-) When people post a photo, some of the image's background of where they live is in shot. Being a nosey mare, I do look into what's been caught by the camera: furniture, pictures, ornaments, etc. Even the tell-tale electric plug sockets: UK, American, or mainland Europe? Then, if the person is outside, what about buildings, vehicles, or shops?

I wonder, what is the person's life like? Is it just them? Are they living at home or living with someone? Are they snatching time to be all of them, or is this more typical than not? Do their friends know? How many snaps did they delete to get the ones that they are happy with? Did someone help or was it all solo work? I suppose it's about either humanising them or exercising an overactive imagination.

Oddly, the majority of my shots are on the stairs at Chameleons HQ, so there's not much in the way of background to zoom in on. There are a few outside shots but not many, and of those that are, I think it's a case of finding a spot that works and not really prepping the area because time seems to be against me. Could it be that picking a location to not show things almost says as much?

Ah, a thought for another day, perhaps.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 05, 2019

The Balancing Act

Hi,

Hi, Someone once said - or more accurately, sang - it's not easy being green. I make this point only as a pop culture reference and a warm up to the idea of the obvious metaphor at play. So, by a series of fortunate events, it came to pass that I had a day out. With messing things up last week and knowing that I'll miss next week's meeting, I was beginning to feel the pinch of being in just one gender.

I feel guilty at what I think of as sneaking out, yet at the same time - either through self-kindness or self-delusion, the jury's still out - that ol' inner stress ratchet was clicking slowly but ever upwards. Due to meetings and family commitments, the emergency parachute of grabbing some dressing time by working at home wasn't available either. So, it was time to put on my big girl pants and get my act together to get out.

A few months back the manager of our community centre had said that if I ever got stuck during the day, I could get changed there. Given that kind offer, I checked that was still the case (it was) and on hearing that the upstairs room - which we use as our changing room - was free, thought nothing of it.

I've never seen the centre car park so full! You have to smile really. :-) So, I told myself not to worry about things and get on. It was glitz or bust! :-) I just about managed to find a parking spot and headed upstairs. Whatever was going off downstairs had brought a lot of folk in, but I didn't want to stick my head in and find out.

Despite the temperatures heading back towards single digits, I was determined not to wear opaques. I guess I'm still making the most of the leg situation and trying to enjoy a more Spring-like wardrobe before it's Return of the Wookie. Yeah, laugh it up fuzzball. :-) Earlier in the week I managed to find some Vinchy Dermablend in Boots, so after reading up on how to hide a tattoo with makeup, I was feeling more confident about blending in. Yes, I do have ink on my leg, but it's rarely a problem under leggings or opaques. The coverage - or rather my application - wasn't perfect, but it made me feel it was less on show.

Suitably changed and with the noise downstairs dimmed somewhat, I headed back to the car, popped the bag in the boot, and headed off down the M1 to Leicester. Given my our house is in the very south of Nottinghamshire, getting to the other city doesn't take more than 30 minutes or so. Via the M1 and across country, it was a good 50 mins, but on the plus side, that did give my nail varnish plenty of time to set. Some times I think you have to celebrate the little things.

A quick selfie on
the way in
So it wasn't far from lunchtime when I got parked up, slipped my coat on, and tap-tap-tapped my way through the car park into Highcross, Leicester's main shopping centre. Some kind soul fitted mirrors along one of the walkways, so it's a good spot to grab a quick selfie before being exposed to whatever the wind is doing outside.

In honesty, I hadn't really any plans beyond getting out and being myself (or 'all of myself' as I seem to say these days), but as New Look was close - and they do fab shoes - it seemed rude not to pop in. Still no joy on the nude heel front, perhaps that fashion moment has passed. With bloke's fashion - as trans + male readers will know - our fashion moves so slowly you can pretty much buy the same thing across a period of years. Clearly, not so with female-centric clothing.

Still, I did fall on a pair of red heels and reduced more than once. I wandered over to the nearby till and asked the salesperson for a price check. "I remember you from last time," she said. "You come here quite a bit for your shoes." I thought was nice and yes, I did thank her. We struck up a quick conversation about this and that. I was there sometime before Christmas with Val, so we're going a few months. Hopefully, we're being remembered for a good reason eh? :-) The shoes came in at just four quid, so that was quite a find. I asked the lady her name and made a mental note to send some nice feedback to the shop. (Update: which I did and I'm hoping H got to hear about her good deed. After all, I think good service should be praised).

I wandered through the rest of the centre and spotted a watch repair stall. I remembered the ladies' watch the Ever Lovely Mrs J had bought me all those years ago - I can still connect so easily with those happy memories - and knew it needed a battery. Rather than do it there, I wondered if there was an independent trader who might do it, rather than a chain. So, off I went outside.

The funny thing about heels - other than they change your pace and gait - is that they can be loud and given the market was fairly crowded, I did feel a little on guard. Still, nothing was said - or yelled - and a few minutes later the watch was ticking again, and I headed out of the wind and into the safety of a nearby charity shop. Oddly, the same one Val and I had visited last year, but this time nothing caught my eye, so I wandered into M&S.

Now, I do enjoy a YouTube video of other trans people just getting out and being themselves. I'm a complete noob when it comes to this, so this very short video was me trying the same:


Yes, I'm regretting not doing all up the buttons on my coat, but hey, this was a try out really. Dorothy Perkins had some nice things in, but the dress was off-the-shoulder and with my frame, that's a no-no. After that I tried a few more shops, got blown about a bit by the wind, and by something passed two, I was done really. I could have stopped out longer given I didn't have to dash home nor find a quiet lane to get changed in (I hate that). But, I was conscious of the traffic to get back to Nottingham, and then get from the north end of the city back out to the country at the other.

I did pause to grab another selfie in New Look and then I wandered in to John Lewis to see if they had a half-slip available (they didn't). I also popped by the Clinique stall to ask about blusher and get some tips from an expert. The sales lady didn't disappoint and as with New Look, I sent a quick email to pass on my thanks for great service. Regarding blusher, seems I need to go back to the 80s: suck my cheeks in and blend down from where my wisdom teeth (I'll get some put in) and down my cheeks. I guess a spot of testing is required.

I used the mirrors on the way back to try a quick video selfie, but maybe that's for another time. As I walked by, I was struck by how much people just didn't seem to care. I could go about my business and no one pointed, yelled, or caused trouble. I don't say that as a passing thing, I say that as a society thing. Sure, there are a few nutters - and there probably always will be - but modern folk seem used to us now and I'm cool with that. Indeed, that feeling of coolness was quite pervasive and made me feel like this was just another day. Perhaps that the seductive part of this: it starts to feel very normal. Mind you, I'm not sure I could do a close shave and heels every day. :-)

The ride home was uneventful and the Centre was very quiet when I got in. That was a welcome relief after the business of the morning and that I had to faff about in the back of the car to get my things ready to get changed into. Upstairs and out of the rain, I tried on a lovely daisy print top that I'd ordered last week from Dotty P's, but while it was very pretty, it didn't quite hang right and made me feel a bit booby. Not in an attractive way either ;-) So, after a bit of umming-and-ahhing, I decided to drop that off. I also tried on my new shoes with an old skirt and tried to get a shot of them. I'm not sure what effect the camera has switched on, but so be it! :-)

Given it was midafternoon the traffic was mad. I'm so glad I don't have to brave that every day. It took an age to get from one side of the city to the other. The rain had kicked in now, so I dashed into Outfit and returned my top. For some reason when the sales assistant asked why I was returning it, I said: well, it doesn't quite fit and was a bit low at the front. She took all this in her stride and for a reason I still don't know, I showed her a quick photo. We had a quick chat about what other styles were available in store and it wasn't any different to me returning a bloke's shirt and her telling me about them. I think that is awesome, but maybe I'm biased.

I got home a bit before 5pm and cooked tea. The Ever Lovely Mrs J had been hard a work writing reports on the computer in the kitchen. I sent her off to the sofa with a cup of tea and a promise I'd make the tea. If this was guilt or me just trying to be a good husband, well, I'm going to aim for the latter and not look to the former.

All in all, it was a grand day out if seemingly brief in terms of time spent outside. But, I think I've managed the balancing act of my needs with that of Mrs J and the kids, so for that, I'm grateful. Maybe next time I'll have more warning so I can meet up with others. That certainly adds to things. Oh, as I sat down after tea and felt my calves protest slightly, I checked Google Fit: 3.5 miles. Ah, knock off a half for taking the dog out, and that's quite a distance in heels. I felt quite chuffed at that for some reason. At this point (natal) women may wish to utter amateur ;-)

Take care,
Lynn