Saturday, December 31, 2011

Second Look

The second look is something I've slowly grown addicted to.  It's almost New Year's Eve. We're at the height of the party season and nights out abound.  I love girl's nights out.  Being single now and able to go out with everyone else on a Friday night is something that was out of the question when my family were younger and I was in a relationship. Much as part of me craves to be back in a relationship, I love nights out when it's just the five of us, a bottle of wine each and the chance to talk about whatever we want, without boyfriends or partners. It's good to be able to talk about who we like, fancy, bitch about others and have an unashamedly good time.  As a trans woman, I missed out on this earlier in my life and it's great to have the chance to catch up with it now and enjoy it, even if the enthusiasm with which I do it means I may well regret it a little the morning after.

I grew up incurably shy, partly because I hated being me so much.  Much more recently I used to hate or dread 'second looks', it paralysed me when I went out early in my transition.  A second look which was almost a stare meant that I was being read or seen as a guy in a dress.  It wasn't nice, something to take away your confidence and crush you, often for weeks afterwards, playing that look back in your head.  Looking back, I realise that I probably read more in to such things than was actually there.  Such is the trauma of learning to go out and be natural when you're transitioning.  

These days I realise that second looks aren't always like that and I've grown to love and appreciate them.  Second looks aren't always hostile or voyeuristic.  Second looks with a smile are nice, especially from a cute guy talking to his friend somewhere at the other end of the bar.  Shy second looks from a guy on his own feel reassuring too.  Let's face it, we all want to feel pretty and attractive, whatever our age and second looks give you the assurance that mabe you are.  Second looks give you confidence that you can be liked and loved.

My friends have the confidence to go up to them and flirt, but there's no way that I'm going there just yet.  Flirting is a girly skill that I envy and practice but it's hard to do really well when you're new to it, especially with a total stranger. I know I have to learn if I want to be out there.  It's addictive and girl's nights out are a great place to do it.



Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Holiday Wish

We all have Christmas Wishes, some of them personal, some of them collective.  I suppose that all of us at some time, seeing at least some degree of happiness, love and understanding over the holidays, want that to carry on throughout the year.

Whether we celebrate Hannukah, Christmas, Diwali, the Solstice or whatever, for so many of us with secrets or anxieties, the holidays aren't exactly the easiest time of the year.  That's certainly so true if you're trans or TV or TG or maybe Gay or Lesbian as well.  The Holidays are supposedly a time for family and celebrating togetherness but for so many of us, families mean lack of understanding or keeping things hidden.  They involve being put in close proximity with our parents or other people who have known us more or less from birth, or who think they know us but probably don't.

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, It is a time when we remember a teen Mum with nowhere better to go, giving birth in a cowshed, with her anxious husband standing by; a few farm lads being totally phased by seeing bright lights in the skies and popping in to give a friendly welcome; a group of three academics or posh dudes on camels turning up with some rather strange presents...Okay, we can argue about the details but if it's about anything, it's seems to be about a very ordinary looking baby in humble surroundings who will turn out to be, someone very different, not an ordinary guy, but a saviour of the world.

Whatever your religious beliefs or even if you don't have them, it's a huge leap of imagination to jump from the baby in the humble cowshed to the person we still remember 2,000 years later, yet we do it.  Vast numbers of the world population subscribe to the idea that rather than being an ordinary baby as he appeared to be, this child was actually something else, the son of God.

I'm not here to put forward any religious beliefs of my own.  They are immaterial here. My agenda is a non-religious transgender one. My Christmas Wish is that if we can make that leap of faith about a humble baby, then, maybe, just maybe, we can move forward in a New Year some time, to a place where we can believe that a baby who appears to be a boy or a girl may perhaps grow up to be something else, in reality the opposite gender to what he or she appeared to be.  It would save an awful lot of problems.

Happy Holidays



Friday, December 23, 2011

Just Another Year

It's dark.  The street lights are on early, the shops are all lit up for Christmas. Everyone seems to be out madly shopping. I've been so focused on preparing (or maybe bracing) myself for Christmas that as usual I seem to have missed the sign which says 'The end of the year is just down the road'.  At this time last year I had just moved in to the disorganised chaos of a new apartment. The West Coast here was in the grip of an icy winter that actually never happens normally or when it does happen we find it hard to believe.  It was savage, hard to cope with and brought everything to a halt, putting normal life on hold for a while.  It was a theme that seemed to get played out over and over again this year.

This year has been one in which (again) I came to stop believing that anything would ever get any better, a year in which I pretty well gave up hope.  It happened not once, but on several occasions, times when I began to wonder where on earth I was going, with two possible answers to that question; 'backwards' and 'nowhere'.  It has been 12 months more of waiting in transition, of being a woman who is still waiting for normal body parts to arrive whilst having hot flashes, sore boobs and eczema from too many HRT patches.  Of yet another year (there have been at least 50) showering in my undies because I hate seeing bits of myself, of having needles stuck in my face to have hair removed and UTI's because I tuck all the time (yes, I did say Tuck not...)

 There has been a Spring and Summer of trying to be a good Mom, of guiding and supporting my daughter through school exams and the social anxieties that beset teenagers, a year of still learning how best to walk the thorny path of doing that job in co-operation with my daughter's other Mom without any good or reliable handbook.  It has been a year of tenderly caring for a family member through a long and uncomfortable illness and witnessing it's inevitable end.

Like many others, this has been 365 pure days of keeping some things secret.  There have always been secrets.  They've transformed from being a boy who knew she was a girl and self harmed parts of herself because she hated them, to a woman who stealthily keeps her male past and it's remaining bits secret and locked away.  There have been times in the past 52 weeks when I felt that with help, I had probably climbed up onto a ledge from which I could neither climb further or go back down.  The help seemed to disappear and I was convinced that I would be stuck there forever and maybe perish in that position.

Through it all, I've kept on muddling through somehow. I've been doing all the things that I have to, that everyone else has to; clipping coupons and spending less, mending clothes, caring for my family, keeping house, earning a 9-5 living, getting in groceries and cooking them, finding time for friends and children and a little for myself.  You know because whoever you are, you too do it all the time too.

Finally and perhaps most importantly it's been a year of starting blogging and reading what others have to go through.  I have been humbled to read about others losing their families, children, homes and jobs, being excluded and insulted, hated and misunderstood.  I've come to realise with some humility that what I had come to think of as an awful ordeal has actually been a relatively easy ride.  Nobody challenges the fact that I'm a woman. I'm respected and valued at work, allowed time off without inquisitions, accepted as a mother and valued as a female friend.  I can shop for normal everyday clothes and use changing facilities like everyone else. I don't lead a secret life of hidden stashes of clothing and shoes, in fact I have too many and give them away to goodwill and charity shops.  I get compliments, second looks and even the luxury of having a crush on a guy who is perpetually nice to me but frustratingly nothing more.  I have a therapist who instead of just theraping me, bangs on the doors of hospitals to get me treatment I desperately need and like a terrier, he never lets go, bless him. I'm hair free, having finished electrolysis.  I have a really talented hair stylist and these days I do my hair and makeup without much of a thought. 

Amazingly, I've come to the odd conclusion that I'm a very lucky girl.  I cannot believe this, but I'm beginning to realise that I've got off lightly.  That can't be right can it?  In a recent conversation with a really intimate friend, one who does know all the secrets, I was told that I'd really been through it.  So who is right?  Like me I guess you probably know the answer to this one and maybe it's this: At the end of the day, in spite of changing attitudes, helpful television programmes, government involvement and everything else, few people have any REAL idea of what it actually involves to be Trans, TG, TV or whatever.  Some people think it's a 'choice', a lifestyle decision, others see it as a perversion or worse.  In reality none of this is 'seeing' or 'thinking' because that would involve suspending prejudices and developing understanding.  If even I didn't realise what some people in our community go through and how some don't make it, then there's little chance of others outside our community genuinely understanding how being this way affects people's daily lives.

My therapist says: 'I hope you keep a good diary, because one day you'll need to write and tell others what it's really like'. That's a scary thought, because writing for the general public means revealing secrets about ourselves that we need to keep hidden.  Looks like we're stuck with misunderstanding.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What are friends for?

Stealth can have it's drawbacks.  Hardly anybody in my life now has ever known me as anything but the everyday woman I essentially am.  There is a downside.  Whilst I can agonise and share and listen to others where girl things are concerned I can't talk about where I am now. It's particularly true at work. Not being able to talk about the nasties of the recent months where distant family members seem to have gone out of their way to exclude me isn't good.  Where the reason for heartache is my trans-ness and it's effect on my life, I'm pretty well on my own.  I know from bitter experience that loneliness and secrecy is a downhill rocky road to depression and anxiety.  Anyone who has had to live with a secret for a really long time must experience that at some point.

Given where I am now, I thanked my lucky stars when J came up to me on the last day at work and asked how I was. I seldom see her these days because we work in different parts of the same large college.  J is lesbian, she has kids a similar age to mine.  I didn't really say anything in reply, I think my face said it all.  She gave me such warm hug, she drew me away from everyone else and we chatted.  It was such a relief.  Being able to talk about rejection, unkind family members, our separate gender orientations and much more left me feeling supported and smiling. I couldn't thank her enough.

I have my own hang ups and personal challenges.  Before I began my transition I had this prejudice against the lesbian community.   I'm ashamed of ever being that way now.  I can pretty well peg it to an unkind remark made to me but not about me concerning MtF transsexuals and TV's.  The woman in question has long since disappeared out of my life but she was very much a lesbian feminist. I know with hindsight that looking back many people thought I was closet gay, probably this woman as well.  She probably had no idea that I would find the remark hurtful. What she said was unkind all the same because it discounted trans women and made me feel distinctly uncomfortable because I had a secret I couldn't share.

I realise that I too have been guilty of prejudice and failure to understand.  I'm a woman who likes guys, J is a woman who likes women, she doesn't peddle an agenda, she's just a lovely person.  It's not the first time J has been so supportive.  By being herself, open and honest with me, J has completely changed my perception of the lesbian community in a good way.  It always leaves me thinking about whether I should be more open about my identity if it would help others understand what trans people are really like.  I don't know.  What holds me back is the public ridicule being trans can attract and the awful idea of having to reveal to others that the woman they know was at one time perceived as male.

I suspect that until the way outed trans people are treated changes I will never have the courage to be open but I'm sure that until people like me do there will always be prejudice and mis-understanding.



Friday, December 16, 2011

Party Party

Okay, it's an hour and a half to the Christmas Ball.  I'm getting ready to go out.  For a T-Girl or for any woman for that matter, getting ready is half the fun and also fraught with indecisions.  What do I wear, what style of makeup, what perfume, which nail polish, which shoes?  I've been going to the faculty Christmas Ball for 6 years a woman.  You'd think I'd be getting things right by now.  Then there's all the chat on FB about what we're all wearing.  Plans change, I can never make up my mind.  Starting out my transition it was trousers and a glittery top, I felt underdressed.  These days it's a dress, usually a new one each year (any excuse). But I still wonder as I always will from time to time, do others see me as a guy in a dress.  If I thought that seriously or too deeply for too long, I would probably never have the courage to go.
So here I am, sparkly dress, nipped in waist, I can hardly breathe let alone eat, nervous, idiotically nervous.  I've taken my makeup off and done it over again.  I'm in heels that I'll have to dance in.  (T-Girl practising dance moves in the mirror), why am I doing this?  I suppose the answer is that like any girl I just want to look adorable.  I'm aware that from long experience that if I make mistakes with my makeup and go over the top, I could look like a drag act - so been there and done that, cringe at the memory...I've learned that if I do smoky eyes I need to keep my lips nude with just gloss.  I've learned that false lashes can just look OTT on me but I wish that my hopelessly straight lashes would curl more.  I know that red lip colour gives me the same OTT look.  You probably all go through the same agonies.  Somehow I've got to ensure that I actually have a good time too!

Whatever I've achieved I will have to stick with because it's nearly time to go? Here goes nothing..



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Will it be different this year?

I have to confess, there was a time when he filled me with wild expectations.  He really thrilled me with the promise of a seriously good time.  I looked around at other girls having all of that sparkle and romance, the gorgeous glittering gifts, the candlelit dinners and the warm firesides.  I longed to have some of that for myself and he seemed to offer just what I needed in my life; pretty dresses, exquisite jewellery, perfume, things to pamper myself and maybe even some girly toys.  I tried desperately to get to meet him on a number of occasions.  He was always so popular I could hardly ever get near him.  I wrote to him longingly and sometimes he wrote back but never quite what I expected. Was I setting myself up to be disappointed?

Yes, there were good times, and gifts but he never seemed to choose the right things.  When I saw other girls so much in love, getting pretty things, all I got was the seriously useful or things that others might have liked but I never did.  By the time I was in my teens I had pretty much fallen out of love with him.

When I decided to have children, he came right back into my life with a smile.  You know, I really thought that it could work back then.  How often do you get a guy that sensitive and kind, a big hit with the kids, gets on well with them, keeps them entertained while you cook dinner?  He really made things work and the presents he gave the children were pretty and gorgeous.  It made me kinda sad that I had never seen that side of him when I was younger.

Now, the kids have more or less grown up.  Our relationship if you can call it that anymore has gone kinda cold.  He thinks that somehow by coming around earlier and staying longer he can somehow charm me and rekindle that romance.  It doesn't work like that and sometimes I wonder if he really understands or whether it's all take and no give these days.  I work so hard to get the place beautiful and nice for him, I'm forever out shopping and getting things in and quite frankly he's just draining my finances and giving very little back.

He thinks I confuse him with that religious guy I used to think he resembled.  Now I'm not sure how I ever got them confused.  Where did it all go wrong?

Seriously girls, I am the only one like this? Did anyone else spend their transgendered childhood longing for the girly gifts they never got? The train set that my Daddy wanted to me to have would have pleased any boy except perhaps one who would have been happier in a dress.  I'm so glad that I have seen the magic of my own two girls getting the Christmas they wanted but I still long for what I missed, just as I cry over the children I never gave birth to.

Santa, honey, don't forget the transgendered girls and boys this Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Being T, ElecT, HRT & PMT

Well this is a change.  It is so good to feel that things might actually be going somewhere instead of drifting in an ocean with no real destination insight.  One of the rubbish things about being Trans is that you've probably felt this way like forever, and even if not, you've always felt uncomfortable and in the wrong place. There are times when it feels like that is just going to go on forever, that you'll die like this.  At times maybe you think that to die like this would be the only way of controlling it.  No Trans person should have to ever feel like that, but the reality is that they do I guess.  Just about the only thing that focusses your mind is feeling that maybe someone might care enough to offer some help.  Of course, screwing up the courage to ask for that is another thing entirely.  What you do want to feel when you finally pluck up the courage to ask for help is that someone does something to help. Over the last seven years there have been a lot of promises of help, funding, support, caring, but from a health care point of view very little of it has become a reality.  

Seems it was left to my friends, my hair stylist and my electrolysist to save the the day.  For women in general, we battle our whole life with hair, trying to make it do what we want it to, trying to look more desirable and also getting rid of it where we hate it to be.  I spoke in an earlier blog about the confidence having my hair styled gave me but my electrolysist has worked quietly for years, week in, week out removing hair that would hopefully never return.  For years I have had a standing appointment at 5.15 on a Tuesday evening which I never failed to attend.  She is a lovely down to earth lady with a never ending chatter to distract me while she works her magic.  A few weeks ago she spoke those longed for words.  'If you need me again, call me'.  Tuesday at 5.15 is now free for other things. Yey, I'm hair free!  That's one thing to be positive about.

Your life ends up being about transition with a small 't', the everyday transition of hair straightening, make up, and choosing clothes and accessories that make you feel good and confident. I know enough from other women around me who are close friends to realise that isn't just a trans thing.  We know that it's an illusion but who hasn't primped and tidied themselves hurriedly when going to the loo so that HE doesn't see you as you really look first thing in the morning or as you look when you've battled through windy streets to the office. All these things are everyday and in a way I actually love their part in my everyday life.  Don't ask me why.  I have feminist acquaintances who think they know.  They're entitled to their opinion but as they never really seem to me to enjoy life either, I tend to discount their arguments.

The big 'T', the hope of finally completing transition always seems very distant however and even when decisions get made or things happen they seem to happen in slow motion.  It is probably as well I suppose.  If you can manage for years as neither totally male or female at least it does help convey the truth that you haven't made an incredibly rash decision.  When things do happen faster however, it is a very welcome change.  Hot on the heels of my finishing electrolysis comes my transition (there goes that word again) to a 3 fold increase in my HRT.  I haven't even had my first Prostap injection but already I'm aware of feeling a lot better.  Okay, so I do feel as though I have PMT much of the time and as everyone knows Moms with PMT and teenage daughters with High School stress make for an explosive combination.  All the same I am so glad that I've got here.  Knowing that I have a surgical referral in 2 months time if all goes to plan, really helps as well.  It does feel as though I'm finally living.

I've had my hopes raised before, but not my oestrogen levels as well.  All this makes a pleasant change.  I'm going to discipline myself to stay confident now whatever.  My recent depression over my father's death seems a strange time to put together a new song but. I did.  If you follow me on Reverbnation you'll know I posted a new song there called 'Journey' which uses the phrase 'I'm finally Living' in the chorus.  Apologies if you've already taken a listen. I know that it's not well mixed and a fairly bare and badly sung version of what I want it to be but it IS how I feel right now, which is way better than I have for some time.


Robyn Jane