Friday, January 25, 2019

Back in the zone


It is with appropriate cheerfulness that I can report I had a thoroughly good night out at Chams. I think it's important for the mood to be just so, because otherwise, I feel there's a risk of a visit to SmugTown, and no-one likes those folk ;-)

If I compare last night out to the first meeting of the year, things were all very different. To start with, I made the effort to pack in advance, set off home so I could get a good shave, and we had lots of interest from new visitors.

Indeed I think there were about four people who said they'd pop along, although one sadly couldn't make it. So it goes! You do what you can to support people, however sometimes other stuff gets in the way, and they have to duck out. So it goes! Still, at least with regular meetings, there is always another opportunity.

After making a bit of a mess with the payments last time - the first meeting was supposed to be free. Oops! - this time I kept hold of the payment sheet Val kindly runs off, so folk knew if they got a freebie or not. Frankly, I really needed that as January has been quite the expensive month, what with insurance payments and upcoming birthdays for the extended family. Yes, too much month at the end of the money. :-)

Outfit-wise, I had a few items in the bag: butterfly top, a new dress, a new red skirt, and a backup - because you never know! Well, the dress wasn't really me, so that needs to go back. The sleeves were a bit too boxy for my liking, and it's not like I need any help in the shoulder department. The red skirt was lovely, but I now need to buy an underskirt (slip?) as it's not lined and I don't like the semi-opaque look in that area ;-)

So, it was over to the backup! Now, I'm a little conscious of my knees, so I felt a bit nervous at said skirt length. I did toy with the idea of switching to boots - less leg - although Diane, Nicola, Steph, and Val were kind enough to allay my fears. Thanks, ladies ♥

Once downstairs I met a few of the new folk - including some irregular regulars, who'd come back after a long time away. Always good to see old and new faces! I had a good long chat with a new lady, Joanne, and she seemed really happy with how her first time had gone. I asked her about how she'd found the group, and she said that the Our Stories section of the website had helped her see that she'd fit in okay. "Five points to Chameleon House!" ;-)

Everyone seemed in good cheer and the place was pretty busy for us. Andrea ran her discussion group, although I think the lack of warmth in the other room made it somewhat quicker than usual.

The next meeting isn't for a good few weeks, so I was really glad I made the effort. I certainly feel a lot better for having had a night out as all of me.

Take care,

Friday, January 18, 2019

Razor burn


I was going to write about the Gilette video campaign, but I've still got mixed feelings about the whole thing. Actually, it seems like I am going to write about it. I'll save the other idea for another day.

So, for those of who you missed it, Gilette released a video - see their YouTube channel - in which they call out the behaviour of certain men and talk about how we could be better.

I am behind this. I do think some of us can do better. Hell, I will go as far to say that I know I can. There are times when I've said a rude joke and made a female friend uncomfortable. I apologised to someone who's boobs I looked at. Yes, I am guilty as charged and I knew it was wrong as I did it. Occasionally, the Middle-Class Guilt Fairy knocks on the door and leaves a note to remind me of my failings. :-)

So why am I torn on this? Well, much as the ad pushed my emotional buttons making me feel both sad and empowered to want to change, there's something else at play. I have this uneasy feeling when companies get involved in social change.

Sure, there are some who do things like support protecting the environment or who are helping make everyone body positive (I'm looking at you Dove). Yet, for each of those, there are others that have an ad that seems to link to a cause, and, well, something feels a little off.

Don't get me wrong. I think the shaving ad is really well put together and I am behind the message that we men - even part-timers or mixed up folk like me - can and should do better. I think I would need to look at the behaviour of Wee Man and Little Miss to see if I'm walking the talk.

I can only hope that I'm helping the Ever Lovely Mrs J raise two well balanced, caring, and supportive children. I do what I can to believe and support Mrs J too. She is, of course, awesome, and I hope that by being in her corner, that Little Miss will pick up that she can be who she wants, love who she wants, and do what she needs to do to be her.

Yes, Wee Man's journey through life will be different to that of Little Miss. He's tall, white, and male. That carries a bonus and I hear that loud and clear from the trans men in Chameleons. Their stories of being treated more seriously, and, of course, trans women friends who've given up on that privilege because of their transition.

So, what is my gripe? It's this: it feels that it's ad. The purpose of an ad is, of course, and to mansplain it, an ad sells things. Even if it's a supportive message, appending your brand, well, that feels like it's still an ad.

If the ad had closed with something about the need to change and it hadn't been quite so Gilette, well, maybe I would have reacted better to it, but hey, the company are in the business to make money and to do that, they need to push product.

Will I be stopping buying their razors? No, because they do a good job IMHO, but I know plenty of men who prefer different brands and report just a good a shave.

Still, much as some blokes are rejecting the stance the company is taking, if even a small percentage of customers make a positive change to their behaviour, I think that can be a good thing.

You may, of course, feel differently. :-)

Take care,

Friday, January 11, 2019

Maybe I'm vintage


A handful of metres behind me, just behind the unlocked white gloss door of a built-in cupboard, is a large grey bag. It's packed, not quite to bursting, and it rests out of everyone's sight, except in my imagination. They are, of course, my other clothes. The items I wear when I need to express another side of me, or, perhaps more accurately, all of me.

It contains what I was going to wear last night, except I was just too tired. Too tired to go through the routine of a close shave, a trim of my eyebrows, and removing what little chest hair I have. I appreciate that with two nights out a month, this routine is considerably lighter compared to the summer-time faff of many a full-time woman.

So, no. I wasn't quite in the zone, but I was certainly in the mood for company and to hear how friends at Chameleons had been of Christmas. Like much in life, the truth is both varied and ordinary at the same time.... and that's not to judge anyone, just to say that life can be dramatic for some, and mundane for others.

I had hoped to wear my new skirt and team that with some old knee boots. By the way, when you have long boots just a little younger than your teenage son, when do said boots become vintage? :-)

Still, having decided that I wasn't going to rush through a shave, and not having to get changed - him to her and her back to him again - at Chams, it did make the evening somewhat easier. The main thing was seeing everyone again, and I while a bit of me thinks it was an opportunity missed, I know there will be other times, and, if I'm completely honest, I was glad to get to bed early.

See you after a long nap,

Friday, January 04, 2019

Luck and help


My two week holiday is almost at an end, but it's been great. A mix of late mornings, walks out with the Jones Posse, a spot of lunch, some gaming, a few films, and so on. But, more than anything, I think it's been the lack of a need to rush anywhere. Okay, we do need to be up before noon and yes, mealtimes have some semblance of accuracy, but I'm not finding us - or me - sprinting between Task 1 to X and rarely taking the time to enjoy things.

Take today, for example, Little Miss was invited to a birthday party for a school friend, while the Ever Lovely Mrs J and Wee Man nipped out to go bowling. That left Muggins here to walk the dogs. Now, sometimes, this can feel like a chore, but today, with no need to be anywhere in particular, I could enjoy a long leisurely stroll over the fields and back again. Sure, it was cold out, and despite some good thermals, I did find myself wanting for a hot cup of tea half way around. There's a business opportunity for any drone experts: hot tea on demand. :-)

Talking of opportunities, with Little Miss now with her friends, I wandered back to the car via New Look. You know, there's been much talk about sales and the Christmas takings not being what they could be. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I've looked at my usual Go To sites for reductions - Joe Brows, Dorothy Perkins, M&S, New Look (shoes) - I've got to be honest and say while there are some lovely fashion pieces out there, there's nothing I actually want. So, no, I didn't buy anything online... well, apart from some new bloke boots for work, but that's not what this blog is about ;-) But, I did fall upon two pairs of strappy sandals in the New Look sale today. That was some good luck. Both only a fiver and not in black: a red pair and a nude pair. I shall look forward to the right weather to wear those. :-)

In more T related news - although the next meeting isn't until next week for Chameleons - I happened to find an article on The Good Men Project. Yeah, it's mostly written by blokes, but it is more enlightened and accepting that other man orientated sites. Lots of things about culture and 'doing the right thing' - and discussing what The Right Thing might be.

Anyway, the piece that jumped out at me was about Why I Joined a Men's Group. The article is well worth a read, IMHO, and has - other than the intro/outro - a couple of key areas:
You realise you’re not alone.
You learn from other men just like yourself.
You realise it’s not all about you.
You become part of something bigger than you.
As I reached the last section, I wondered if these can be applied to a trans social/support group? I mean, sure, the not being alone is truly excellent. Just knowing that it's not you with these feelings can be very liberating. Certainly, learning from others can help costly mistakes or getting stuck on false summits. 

The last two also: truly listening to other trans folk isn't just a learning opportunity, but a chance at witnessing the variety within our community. I know that the latter phrase isn't crafted ideally, but it's as close as I can get it. Really you'd think I'd think a bit more before writing, but I'm an improv kinda gal at heart ;-) 

As the above all sink in and with time, I found that I felt really part of the group. Not just from their advice, and support, but from friends I made there. I found out about other groups and other organisations, so yeah, it really did blossom into something that wasn't about me, but a much bigger, richer, and more fabulous tapestry.

So, is there - to use a modern phrase - a take away from all of this? If you get chance to join a group of like-minded trans folk, it might just be the best thing you did. It isn't the only way out of the closet, but it can certainly help make a smoother journey. No one is there to tell you what to do, just be there when you need to ask.

Take care,