Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's been almost Ten Years

This is me now. Ten years ago I could not foresee this image or what would lead to it. Let me deconstruct it for you:

I'm posing in a romantic location I'd been visiting since I was seven. The photo is being taken by my boyfriend who loves me very much. This was our first proper holiday together. I'm wearing hotpants and a cami with confidence. I've got my legs on show. My hair looks lovely. I'm wearing next to no makeup. I feel pretty. More important I feel confident and happy....How on earth did I get there?.....

.......with great difficulty!

As an educator I'm always trying to teach students the importance of planning before you act. For years I've been endeavouring to show why it is best to think clearly and research before completing that assignment. 'How are you going to approach the task?'. 'How will you make your meaning clear, back up what you say and justify your position?....' It is ironic that while I was dishing up this advice (over many years) I failed to communicate to others who I was. I felt unable to plan the moment when I would reveal who I actually was or felt I was inside.

Almost ten years ago, on my birthday, I came out to my best friend. It was a momentous decision, one that completely changed my life. It was a decision that had been so long coming. When you have hurt inside for so many years you get used to the pain, it's your constant companion: You learn to endure and suffer in silence because you think that is all you deserve. How do you research and plan to emerge from all that? From the dawn of the World Wide Web I read blogs, consulted Trans awareness sites and the few support networks. While I waited, in fear for the moment when someone would discover I was Trans I read wistfully about the journeys of others, their path to Transition and beyond. Like Sam watching Frodo and the Elves sail away to the West, it seemed like transition would never happen for me. I would always be left behind.

Coming out to my friend was the first step. It happened in a rush with NO preparation save for years of fear and indecision. Maybe coming out is so personal that it can never be properly planned for. In the final event, not all the planning in the world could help. It was just something that had to be said and like an explosion, or a plate glass window smashing, there was a moment of absolute quiet afterwards. It was one filled with all manner of thoughts, fear of rejection, condemnation and losing it all. I needn't have worried: She was in fact incredibly accepting. It turned out that she had suspected as much for years. It was one of the greatest moments of relief in my whole life.

My friend had the privilege(?) of listening to a history of all that had gone before; the sorrows and hurts from years of being bullied, upset, depressed and forced to keep silent. I had the privelege of a bottle of wine, chocolate and (fortunately) a box of tissues. Telling the story of how you hid and ran away from your problems means you end up reliving them in your head. You end up a tear stained and sorry mess but at least you have told someone.

Since that day I've had to come out over and over again. Many of those times were a good deal more difficult. Some ended with a total parting of the ways. There is no ONE definitive coming out. Even so, for me, each disclosure to a new person got easier and I never found any as traumatic as the first. You find ways of answering the inevitable questions and in telling your story more coherently. By the time seven years had elapsed I was out proud and happy to talk to anyone about who I am.

I'm a songwriter and it seemed fitting then at that point, to put it all down and condense. Here are the lyrics from my iPad:

Okay, 'Daring to be a completely new person?' I'm not sure. Let's face it. I am who I've always been; a girl. However the person people thought I was is no longer me. Indeed it never was. I simply tried to fulfil other's expectations. Maybe coming out is so hard because it involves shattering illusions. Illusions are just that; constructs that have no real substance. Life is too short to live hidden behind one.

This has been a really personal account of my coming out. It was prompted by the occasion of International Coming Out Day. I'm aware that others experiences might be very different to mine. I'd love to hear them.

Hugs,

Jane xx

Note: A demo recording of the song above is here on my Reverbnation page: http://www.reverbnation.com/robynjane/song/11079212-journey

also on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/retrobassgirl/journey

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

To those of you about to SPARKLE.....


'She had everything; the looks, the clothes, the job, the apartment, the wonderful daughter and now the tall handsome boyfriend......but Jane Ward still wasn't satisfied.....'

Oops, yes, you've seen right, Jane is breaking her promise she wouldn't post to THIS blog again and saying 'hello'. I'm writing this to send greetings to all you girls and guys heading for Sparkle in Manchester this weekend. I've met so many of you over the years and have some truly happy and amazing memories of times spent with you. It seems strange therefore that I felt ambivalent about heading off to Sparkle again this year. Maybe it's because over one year post op, a happy woman with everything I ever wanted (well maybe just a few more shoes then) that I wasn't sure it was even for me any more. There is a huge amount of truth in the quote at the top of this post.

Over the years I've talked to so many Trans women and a few Trans guys. Of those fellow travellers; most have now fully transitioned; some have gone stealth and dropped off the radar. I never really wanted to do that myself yet it has begun to happen. Over the past 12 months I have been so overwhelmingly accepted by those around me; clocked as just another female friend, date, mother or co-worker. Acceptance has been so complete that I've started to feel I've always been this way. When I occasionally talk about the past and let slip the words 'when I was a little girl...' I know that they're essentially true. I grew up that way in spite of a few embarrassing bits that didn't belong to me...I feel whole now and it doesn't seem as though it was ever any other way.

I've also met many lovely and wonderful cross dressers, especially through the Unique network. As a Trans woman though I never really understood them. I grew up from a very young age feeling always a girl. The clothes I wear are just clothes, I'm a woman simply because I am one. I deliberately cross socialised myself as a teen, refusing to interact or integrate with guys on their level (I secretly fancied many of them anyway). The idea of someone 'dressing' and behaving as a woman for only part of the time was totally beyond my comprehension. I guess it still is in spite of the great respect I have for anyone that is CD and the wonderful times I've had with them.

Here however is the real reason my my returning to Sparkle.


Those of you who know me well will be aware that when I fell in love it was with a guy who I'd first met when he dressed as a woman. I'll be attending as just another supportive girlfriend and Trans Ally this year. A proud SOFFA (significant others, friends, family and allies). Come up and say 'Hello'. I'll be with my best friend Tina (pictured with me above). Tina is the alter ego of my gorgeous handsome boyfriend Mart. She is a Sparkle Virgin (oops, I shouldn't have said that!) so be really kind to her.

Here's raising a bottle of WKD (Vodka Red please) to that wonderful, colourful, crazy and fabulous weekend that is Sparkle. Let the fun begin :)

Hugs, Jane xx

 

 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fancy a Romp?

I said that after 'Moving On' I wouldn't post to the blog any more. I have moved on and now blog at 'Jane's Essential Addictions' In case you haven't checked it out yet, here's the second post: Enjoy :)

OMG it's warm again, the Summer is finally here and you might get to leave those tights off for once! A girl gets kinda restless this time of year and longs for something different. I’ve been spending the Winter rocking black tights, shorts & block heeled ankle boots. It’s a look I love but the rising mercury makes me want to leave that behind and reach for something sassy and cool.

Enter the Romper (or Playsuit as we prefer to call it over here in the UK). Dare you wear one? Not sure? For some of us, the last time we wore Rompers was when we were little girls. They had handy poppers underneath for when Mummy needed to change you LOL.

For those of you old enough to remember you might also clock that like most things fashion wise they’re a vintage idea recycled. Do you remember these?

Kinda cute and carefree or at least that’s what the fashion plate wanted you to think. I have to confess, my last foray into playsuits was in a period of my life obsessed with vintage clothing. I bought a retro inspired one from VOH. Somewhat like the one below. (Vivien of Holloway online http://www.vivienofholloway.com/women-c70/trousers-c14/playsuits-c44 or from their store in Holloway (£59.00))



These days however when you think of playsuits, something more like Rita Ora’s gorgeous red snakeskin number springs to mind. Doesn’t she just totally rock on the cover of ‘I will never let you down'?
 

But what about the rest of us? Take a look out there and Playsuits are everywhere. From pretty florals to bright summer neon prints and denim, Playsuits are everywhere, with a variety of necklines and fits from boho to chic. As for me I fell for this totes adorbs AX Paris one in the label lounge section of Liverpool ONE's New Look store.

Okay I know that there's a price to pay and I don't mean the tag lol. Going to the loo means getting undressed...err....totally: Once my boyfriend closes the back zipper on this one and fastens the hook and eye at the top I'm utterly captive and can't even go to the loo without his help! If you're going to a Festival and have to face portaloos or worse you might want to choose a front zipper or something else. Even so I still love the playsuit.

So what is so special? I totally adore them when summer comes because you can get away with a hemline way shorter than any dress or skirt in your closet. You can bend over or sit down without showing all you've got and there's nothing that says summer street style more than a playsuit.

If you want to buy it AX Paris number also comes in a gorgeous neon pink print as well....should I have bought two?

http://www.axparis.com/categories/Jumpsuits-and-Playsuits/

Currently a steal at £25 online or 10% off with an introductory first offer discount, what are you waiting for?

Jane xx

Friday, April 11, 2014

Moving On



When I was a child I routinely had to walk up the slatted staircase of the church where my family worshipped.  It was a modern design and you could see the floor beneath as you climbed ever higher.  I used to shake with fear.  I hated it.  On a bad day my father would have to carry me.  Yes, I’m scared of heights, I hate looking down and seeing what’s below me.  For someone who’s felt female for the whole of her life but has the wrong body parts, looking down is something you hate doing. That’s been my experience since I was three years old: Before that I can’t remember. When you look down you see that you’re different to every other female you know.  Why was I different to my Mommy? Why was I different to my friend Julie across the road? Why was different to every other girl in the street? It made me feel like a freak.

I came to realise 10 years ago as I came out that I also hate looking back.  Looking back reminded me of having to act a part that was never me, of having to battle through life as a woman with facial hair and the wrong genitalia; filled like poison with the wrong hormones and desperately unhappy.  Looking back was just as painful as looking down and I had an extreme aversion to doing it.  My therapist sought to change all that. He guided me through the process of confronting my past and facing it.  He also encouraged me to write this blog; almost one hundred posts filled with a chronicle of my experiences: Experiences and feelings that I had locked away and needed to face before moving on. Writing the Blog and looking back gave me perspective.

How would you define perspective? A mental attitude or viewpoint? one allowing you to see things in their true proportions and accurately?  That’s how it has been for me anyway and the sense of perspective I shied away from so long has finally lead to a resolution:  12 months on from surgery I’m feeling very different. So much has changed and I’m now in a very different place.  A year ago, everything was quite literally raw and sore; an open wound that had been painful throughout my whole life. If I take the long view and look back I see the same thing over and over, dwindling down until it becomes a distant pinpoint: I see nothing but a girl who was forced to act a part. So where does that leave me?

It leaves me where I am now with a (belated) realisation that I’ve never been anything else; a girl with a difficult beginning in life; an unhappy young woman who did her best to fit in at college and failed; a woman who found solace and fulfilment in motherhood but never fell in love; a woman who found herself in the end and came to realise her dreams; all of these, always female.  If I you want to consider me a T-Girl I’m a natal one.  An NTG if you will.  However, I hate categories and sub-categories.  I’ll just go with what’s on my birth certificate and that’s ‘Girl’. 12 months after GRS I know longer feel Trans.  Gender Dysphoria has long since gone to be replaced by Euphoria.  I’m happy with my female gender as it is. My history may be a little different to most girls but I grew up one and I am one all the same, period.

So that’s it.  This is the point where this particular blog comes to an end and this is the final posting.  I will keep the “Retrobassgirl” Blog up online.  Please feel free to continue to comment and I will respond. In the meantime I’m starting a new one: “Jane’s Essential Addictions” I want to write about where I am now as a woman, as a girlfriend and about the things a girl can’t do without; everything from sex and love to food and fashion.

So here goes :)

Hugs,

Jane xx

Friday, April 4, 2014

Celebrating TRANS*Parentcy

When I was a student I remember buying a glass tea set.  It was useful because it was so cheap but I was also captivated by the way it presented things.  Making and consuming hot drinks became a delight. Fruit infusions could be appreciated for their delicate rose colours.; fresh mint tea showed off it’s beautiful leaves; freshly black coffee looked rich and an opaque deep brown.  Transparent crockery lets you see what you are drinking. Whilst I had the set I stopped taking milk in tea so that I could marvel at the diversity of colour it gave, from Pale Jasmine Blossom to dark Assam. Diversity, difference and authenticity all came with transparency. In a way it’s a metaphor for being who you truly are; for being clear and open about your self. So what about parenting? Does transparency have any relevance apart from he title of my blog? I happen to think it does.  Transparency in a person is about being honest and true, about NOT hiding who you really are.

Trans* parents have long since had a rough ride when it comes to child rearing. Heavily criticised in the past for breaking up families, harming their children and damaging relationships; Trans* parents have got a bad press.  I have lost count of the number of comments containing expletives which condemned my decision to come out ten years ago.  Those comments have focussed on blaming me for imagined damage caused to my family.  One relative used the occasion of my father’s funeral to tell me that he could never forgive me for the harm I had ‘done’ to my ex and children. Psychologists too were quick to blame my Trans status for my offspring’s difficulties; ones later ascribed by their colleagues to external causes. More recently, an individual who scarcely knows me referred to myself and my partner as ‘fucked up parents’. Because of such attitudes, many Trans* men and women lose their spouses and also their children: They witness the disintegration of close and much loved relationships. On coming out, Trans* individuals may also lose close friends and members of their extended family.  In written correspondence with one Trans woman I was told: “I quite literally gave up absolutely everything: I have nowhere to live, no wife, no kids, no mates….”. 

Are scenarios like the one above extreme and uncommon? I really don’t know.  I’d like to think not.  I know relatively few other Trans* Parents and seem myself to have had something of an easy ride.  I realise that I’m fortunate. I’m a highly educated white professional woman who has seldom been out of work.  I have a close and friendly relationship with my ex partner and we enjoyed an easy, mutually agreed and relatively seamless annulment of our 27 year marriage.  We have continued to enjoy each other’s company, taken joint holidays and carried on a sisterly relationship. We have supported our family co-operatively, with love and understanding: We just don’t live in the same place any more.  This isn’t to say that there have not been difficult times; there are in every marriage.  As joint parents of our two girls we have had to cope with the distress and joys of supporting one child with disabilities and another who felt alienated at school.  We put one of our children through independent school and the other has just graduated College.  We are proud of what they have achieved in the face of their own set of challenges as adults. One is now a dance teacher and one works in retail.  We love them both dearly.

Adaptation has been the key to coping with challenges and change.  As a family we have had to adapt to living apart: My eldest lives in the South, my ex in an adjacent county.  We have had to adapt to a family in which both parents are women with their own distinct personalties; where we have new and distinct sets of friends and where one of us has a new partner. We have adjusted by making sure that there is always a welcome in both our homes and that our two daughters have the chance to stay in touch. True, along the way there have been casualties.  Intolerance within my ex partner’s extended family has meant some strained relationships and being exposed to bigotry (my blog has been witness to that). Though warm hearted and close tin the initial years of my transition, my eldest daughter is now more distant. 

Since I found a new partner there have been other changes too.  We now have a man in a household which was once all female.  The dynamics of our family have shifted. It has meant sharing love and ensuring that there is enough to go round. I have coped with seeing my daughter very much in love and in a relationship.  She in turn has adapted to seeing me give my love to a wonderful guy, Martin, who returns that precious gift a thousand times over. Our apartment is now tidier and more ordered with three people in it; broken things have been fixed. There is now a Dad as well as a Mum in my daughter’s life.  My partner is also Trans*.  Sometimes he presents as female.  My daughter relates well to that and sometimes I wonder why. Why is she so accepting of diversity and so welcoming? It can’t have been easy for see a new man in my life. More recently my youngest came out as Lesbian and she too has encountered new challenges.  It isn’t my place to chronicle them here.  She has her own blog and I have seen her use it continually to grow and make sense of her world.  What has struck me throughout is the extent to which she has drawn on new skills and strengths to move forward.  It made me think. ‘How has having Trans* parents helped my daughters?’. ‘What strengths can a family with Trans* parents give to their children?’ It has prompted me to examine what both I and my new partner have given to our family besides a good home and love.

First and foremost I believe that we have presented a true, positive role model. As Trans* Parents we have had to struggle with our own definition of who we are and how society chooses to define us.  We have explored, embraced and finally come to celebrate and be proud of OUR diversity. So many parents live a lie, failing to be authentic and true to themselves. They hide from problems and issues. They struggle to keep up appearances by appearing ‘normal’ and ‘fitting in’.  When children of families such as these encounter diversity they may see it as deviance from the ‘norm’ (whatever that is) and respond to it with hatred and intolerance.  As an educator, it is a trend I see repeated so often in the classroom. I see none of that in my own family. I have been proud to see how well my daughter has coped with embracing and rejoicing in her own sexual orientation. I believe that in learning how to cope with our own gender identities we have also helped her define her sexual orientation.

I believe that as Trans* parents we have also successfully promoted self advocacy; the ability to speak out, stand up for your rights and validate your value within the community.  Self advocating individuals are generally strong people; capable of coping intelligently with challenges and setbacks. People who are an inspiration to others. I have seen my daughter empowered to cope with homophobia as well as being willing and ready to advocate the rights of her friends.

As a Trans* parent I have become a better listener and a more understanding person.  Having had to encounter bigotry and counter it, I am more open to listening to the opinions and viewpoints of others.  I have become acutely aware of my own stereotypes and prejudices, particularly towards those outside the LGBT community.  It has made me work harder to see others more clearly, to appreciate their diversity and to encourage my daughters to do the same.

Finally, for those who claim that having a Trans* parent makes a child more vulnerable and open to hatred, I have this to say: Hate is everywhere, if you don’t fit in or are in anyway different you will encounter it.  Having a Trans* parent is no different in that respect to having a Hispanic one, or one who is Disabled.  Seeing their parents struggle against prejudice and overcome it has made my children stronger, not weaker. It has equipped them well, not only to combat hatred but to strive to change it.  I see them prepared not only to cope better with Society as it is but to be the forerunners of bringing forward the diverse and caring Society that should be.

Trans* parents ARE transparent.  They are authentic individuals, ones who know themselves well through their struggle to be who they truly are.  Rather than frowning on Trans* and Gay parenthood we should celebrate it for the force it gives to moulding a better and more equal world.


Hugs,

Jane xx

Monday, March 31, 2014

Trans Visibility: Choice or Necessity?



Cloaks of Invisibility aside, being invisible isn’t an option most of us have. We are out there whether we like it or not, for everyone else to see.  Some times we’d rather sink into a hole in the ground.  We do something wrong or idiotic and it feels like everyone is laughing or staring at us.

Being transgender can feel very much like that.  You can feel both ‘wrong’ and ‘idiotic’; sometimes it seems as though the whole world is focussed on you and on how you present yourself to the world. That is the most uncomfortable feeling ever; one I always hated.  Consequently many of us work hard at being a the gender we feel we truly are.  For me the option of invisibility was to pass unobtrusively as a girl and not attract any attention.

But today is International Transgender Day of Visibility.  Just exactly how visible are Trans men and women in society and why bother to be visible at all? Surely the ambition of every Trans individual is to try and blend in and be as unnoticeable as possible? When I was a child and a teen I so wanted to be just like every other girl in class, be accepted as one and to melt totally into the background; trans camouflage; hiding in plain sight. I didn’t want to be glamorous, incredibly beautiful, pretty or attract undue attention.  Sticking out as a child and teen who didn’t fit in was difficult to tolerate.  It was hard to deal with the bullying and the misunderstandings.  For a young person growing up in an era when being gay was criminalised, being out as trans seemed like a really bad idea. It smacked very much of putting your head above the parapet and I hated seeing how others were treated. It engendered fear and hiding.  Something I expect that the bullies were very pleased about.

Let’s fast forward the years.  My children have both graduated High School now and these days I think differently. Faced with the option of going stealth or being out after GRS, I decided that ‘OUT’ was better.  Yes, I was right, it does make you incredibly vulnerable.  It hurts and robs you of self confidence when transphobic people are unkind.  It’s not an easy choice.  I chose to be visible because I want to inspire and support others.  But being transitioned AND out means that you can be an inspiration and support others.  It means being YOU and not being afraid to be an actual person like anyone else.  For a girl who was a total fake for so many years that is actually a huge relief too.

So here is me being visible for TDOV.  Have a great day everyone!

Hugs,


Jane xx 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My First (Re-) Birthday

image courtesy of: http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk 


In some popular teen movies like ‘Thirteen Going on Thirty’, ’Sixteen Wishes’, ‘Christmas Every Day’ and ‘The Last Day of Summer’, characters who make a mess of their lives get the chance to wind it all back; to start over.  It doesn’t happen in real life but it’s an attractive concept: You mess up first time and then ‘hey presto’ you are magically transported back to before it all went wrong. You get the chance for one more go; another bite at the cherry. As a teen I often dreamed of that possibility. By the time I became old enough to think it through I had a feeling that it would require some ultra high frequency magic: Things pretty much seemed to have gone wrong from the day I was born.  

Bizarrely, on April 10 this year I’ll be ‘one year old’:  I’m in the strange position of having that ‘Do Over’ wish come true. Last year on April 9 I travelled down to Charing Cross Hospital, London and the following morning had Gender Reassignment Surgery. Now, twelve months later, after innumerable packs of sanitary towels, my first period, my first orgasm, gynae exams, losing my cherry, cystitis, thrush, falling in love with a guy, having my boobs hurt (though not in that order), I have to come to the conclusion that I’m a woman. I have a vagina and a clitoris, I get very emotional and cry for no reason.  I’m contrary, impulsive and love shopping for clothes. I love girly chats and strangely, I’m beginning to forget or maybe blank out much of my past history. More important than any of this I’m one of those people who is happy the way she is, comfortable with her gender identity and…….

.....oh my God I’ve just realised…..I don’t feel transgender any more…..

The reality is that having lived breathed and worked as a female for almost ten years it has proved all too easy to forget that I was ever anything else. For a quarter of my adult life I’ve been acknowledged as a woman and the mother of my daughter.  Time they say is a great healer and the pain of the past now seems a long way off. So where does this leave me?  I no longer feel transgendered, I don’t feel like I have Gender Dysphoria.  I’m straight.  I feel attracted to men (the opposite sex since I’m female). I feel like I was always meant to be this way. Things have changed for me big time!

In my last post I talked about my boyfriend. I discussed his cross dressing and how I feel about it.  I promised to revisit it further and explore how I feel.  I realise now that when I meet his cross dressing  friends I always wonder about their girlfriends, fiancées or wives.  These days I’m eager to chat with them about how they cope with gender fluidity and with relating to a much loved man who is also a woman.

Let’s be really clear.  I have the time of my life with Tina; my boyfriend’s female alter ego.  She’s a girl who dresses fashionably.  She has a contemporary sense of style and she really knows how to dance.  She is a great mate to go out clubbing with.  She dances burlesque with sassy style and she has better legs than me.  She is in short a great bestie and girl friend (two words). Isn’t it strange how ONE space on the printed page can separate TWO entities?  Tina is not my girlfriend, I’m not lesbian and I don’t want to have her kiss me on the mouth or be intimate with me.  It isn’t an aversion. I just simply don’t want to do anything with her that I wouldn’t do with my other girl mates. This still doesn’t make ANY sense to me: Logic would dictate that Tina and my boyfriend are one and the same person.

But now to the controversial stuff. Latterly I’ve come to wonder whether my boyfriend and girl friend can ever be truly considered ‘the same person’.  That concept assumes ‘cross dressing’; something I realise that I barely understand. I have a Transsexual past, I’ve never really ‘cross dressed’.  Cross dressing to me seems like guys who dress in women’s clothes. That fits in with the impression given to me by many in the cross dressing community. They are people who talk from a guy’s viewpoint and behave like one while dressed as a woman. They can be such fun to be with:  I enjoy their company but I still feel as though I’m chatting to a guy. Occasionally I feel uncomfortable because of their intrusive questions but I remind myself that this is just curiosity. I don’t see any of those things with my girl friend Tina.  She describes herself using the term ‘Femulator’.  It could equally be applied to some others.  With her, I feel I’m talking to another girl. When she dresses from her girl closet she becomes a woman.  Her manner, her topics of conversation, the way she acts, all change drastically from when she’s in ‘guy mode’.  Being very much at the girly end of the female spectrum I find myself bemused.  How can anyone have such a dual mode of being and be comfortable in it? Answers on a postcard please…..

Meanwhile, let me get to that cake....but just a tiny slice please...no that's too big!

Hugs,

Jane xx


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Working Mum, Wife, Fiancée, Girlfriend….Changing Roles & Challenges


Roles; we play so many in life. In my day job for example I’m a Support Worker; I support students at all levels in a College.  Millions of other women (and some guys) do the same job year in year out.  The learners might change from one year to the next but the issues remain the same: You’re faced with building confidence, nurturing skills, increasing knowledge and ensuring success.  It’s a delicate balancing act. Do the work for them and they learn nothing: Face them with too much and they despair: Get it right and they move forward.  There are qualifications for the job but way more important is a common sense attitude, a sense of humour and a willingness to inspire and motivate.  It’s a tough (and badly paid) job but some one has to do it.  It pays my bills (well almost) and allows me to bring up a family.  That brings me on to being a parent.

Like so many Mums I spent the time while my kids were in school supporting my daughters; homework, school assignments, friendship problems, bullying and guiding their growing up: You never switch off do you? For so long it seemed like it would never end:  In many ways it doesn’t, you just carry on being a parent even when they’re grown.  Though my youngest is now over 19 I still need to build in that special Mum & Daughter time. There are crises, there are rough times, there are moments of desperation. You never stop being a parent. For all that, that relationship is a truly special one and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Sadly my own Mum died a number of years ago.  She was MY support: I miss her still.  Where is that help when I most need it? in the song ‘Mama’ says; ‘You can’t hurry love; you just have to wait….’ Well, I guess I had to wait longer than most.  Growing up and puberty have come late for me: Sore boobs, growing pains, learning about how my amazing body works, kissing and dating boys: I could have done with Mom’s reassurance and comfort.  I’ve had to do with advice from friends.  Like so many of us do in the absence of ones we love,  I’ve muddled through.

All this also means I’ve come to true love late in life too.  Belatedly, I’ve realised I know next to nothing about relationships from a girl’s viewpoint; I understand little of how to be in love, how to have sex, how to be responsive, intimate and close to a man.  Like so many of us, love came completely unawares and though I went looking for it I didn’t expect to find it where I did.  I guess that if they gave out the manual I wasn’t in school that day or something.  Like it or not I’ve had to found out as I’ve gone along and the process of discovering what I do and don’t know has been an challenging one.

The most devastating gap in my knowledge was the least expected of all:  I found that I knew almost nothing about men and what makes them tick. Yes, I know how bizarre that sounds to people who’ve known me for ages, or who thought they did.  You would have thought that being nominally born in that gender and having the bits that go with it, I might at least have picked up some helpful hints along the way.  Sadly or maybe self-protectively I lived most the time in my head; a parallel universe in which I was the girl I should have been. In my mind I had girl friends not boy mates and went to an all girl school.  In real life I was shy and hid in corners, I didn’t do sports (save from loner stuff like orienteering). In my parallel universe I played team games like netball. I hung out with friends and had a great time going to parties. The trouble was that none of the stuff in my head was real life and in real life I dodged the problems and became disengaged.

So here I am with a boyfriend; a wonderful guy who loves me and who makes me incredibly happy.  I had no idea how deeply reassuring and satisfying it is to experience intimacy with a man; how protected you feel when in his arms; how right and natural it all seems.  What seemed like a chance meeting became a date and then a promising friendship. What appeared to be a lovely summer fling deepened into a longer term relationship.  Hoping that he loved me became a longing to be his fiancée and ultimately his wife.  I never expected any of this and as I write, I still feel amazed at how wonderful it all is.

A friend talked recently to me about her experience of marriage. She observed how the intensity of first love settles into the comfort of longer term togetherness. This I’ve yet to experience. The intensity and fire is so strong; it’s hard to imagine anything different.  Even so, as I get used to love and living with my boyfriend I’ve been fascinated by the new twists and turns in my role.  No longer just a Support Worker and a mother, I’m now a girlfriend and a fiancée in waiting. I have a life partner and husband to be. One who cross dresses too.  So the amazing guy whose kisses and caresses I love is also my bestie who I go clothes shopping with and share girly gossips over coffee.

My boyfriend bought me a lovely new makeup case at the weekend: Time to get organised!  For too long I’ve accumulated one item after another; lip glosses, moisturisers, primers and foundations; mascaras, lippy and eye liner; exfoliators and beauty serum; nail polishes and blusher.  Over the months, I’ve ended up with girly goody bags, freebies and duplicate items.  As I sorted out my beauty DIY kit I ended up showering my boyfriend with gifts; unwanted makeup pouches, duplicate sets of cosmetic brushes and duplicate mascaras of every variety. It was a little strange to realise that I was passing these on, not to my daughter, but to my boyfriend.  The reality of my new relationship is that I have a boyfriend who gazes at me as I dress and as I do my makeup; not just to appreciate and admire me but to watch and learn. The last thing I imagined when I fell in love was that I’d also become a purveyor of fashion advice and makeup tips.

My new role in life fascinates me.  It’s a challenge. I’m learning to deal with a relationship involving two other people: A regular guy who is proud to be one and loves all that guy stuff as well and stylishly dressed woman who loves to go out and party.  Dates with him are delightfully romantic and lovely; nights out with her are full of dancing and amazing fun.  It’s the perfect combination. I love both to bits, but in totally different ways. Sometimes this bugs me. With one, I’ll melt into his arms and throw myself open to kisses and caresses; with the other I’ll exchange a girly peck on the cheek, gossip and party. My boyfriend is convincing as a girl and I react instinctively to her (mixed pronouns again LOL).  Being touched in places where my boyfriend gets a seductive smile becomes a turn off and strange when it’s from my girl friend. Getting up and bouncing on that dance floor alongside HER suddenly seems a little odd when its with HIM. Why should that be? I’m being really honest here: I’m not sure.  Essentially the two are the same person yet it doesn’t feel that way. It’s puzzling.

Over the next few months I intend to blog more about this.  Feel free to contribute.  I’d love to hear from other girls who have cross dressing boyfriends or partners and cross dressing guys with supportive partners; it fascinates me. 

Hugs,

Jane xxx

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jane's Addiction



I love 'alt rock’ but even so, this post isn’t about early 90’s Alternative Rock: It’s about clothes, fashion, style and my lifelong flirtation with it. When it comes to social networks you’re more likely to find me on Pinterest or Pose than on FB or Twitter.  The reason is simple; I have an addiction…to clothes & fashion. 'Hello; my name is Jane (Hello Jane) and I’m a shopaholic!’

So how did it all start?  Well, like all addictions it started innocently enough.  Growing up transgendered you never have enough clothes, let alone the ones you really want.  At first I was content to live a fantasy life, to be the girl I was inside but only in my head: Fantasy school, imaginary friends, make believe life, dream clothes. If you’re trans you’ll know that could never be enough.  Teachers complained I ‘daydreamed’ at school.  I was living my life in private but I desperately wanted the real thing. Repeated requests to Santa Claus for at least one pretty party dress: One like everyone else, seemed to fall on deaf ears.  It was like the child equivalent of repeated job rejections. ‘Sorry Miss Ward but you failed to get the role of Party Princess as you appear to have mis-represented your gender!’ Shucks, I was never going to be like everyone else.  Life pretty much sucked.

Things began to change though when I reached my early teens.  I had an allowance and I also persuaded my mother to teach me to knit.  I learned to stitch and sew too.  It may have been a hand sewing machine but it was better than nothing.  If I couldn’t have all the clothes I wanted I’d start to make my own.  In learned how to slit the side seams of my jeans and super-flare them with triangles of floral fabric.  I taught myself how to modify my shirts to make fitted tie waist blouses; how to fray my jeans into shorts and hot pants; to embroider sweet flowers and butterflies and to convert baggy jeans into skirts. Okay, so I didn’t have a party dress but then nobody invited me to parties or at least not THAT sort.  Having girly clothes, long hair a sweet smile and ribbons to tie my hair led me to venture out into the city where I lived, pleased to pass and pleased to feel better about myself.

I was lucky not to be found out (I think).  Ridiculously over-adventurous and changing in public loos I was lucky NOT to get found out and have my secret discovered.  In a way I was disappointed.  It felt lonely being out on my own.  In a way I wanted it all out in the open.  I didn’t want to have to hide but I feared being outed too. Gradually the ravages of puberty and the wrong hormones made me feel self conscious, shy and worried for my safety.  As I reached the end of my teens I stopped being out and carefree.  It was sad to say goodbye to it all and leave my innocence behind.  I thought that was the end of it.  I would just have to conform and do what was expected of me.

Did I ever feel the urge to ‘cross dress’ during that time? That’s an interesting question. Cross dressing assumes that you acknowledge you’re one gender and choose to dress as another.  Being Trans doesn’t feel like that at all. I’d seen ‘men dressed as women’ and that certainly wasn’t me. I was a girl but nobody could see it.  I was astute enough to know that whatever I felt inside, others wouldn’t see me that way. If I dressed as I wished like every other girl they wouldn’t see me as one.  I certainly didn’t want to be seen as a cross dresser so I could no longer dress as I pleased.  Being Trans you want to be accepted for who you really are; being mis-gendered and having your gender mis-read is the last thing you want.  I ended up being imprisoned in clothes I hated; forced to dress as someone I wasn’t and fashion became a closed book.

Thirty years out in the fashion wilderness is a long time.  Fashion changes constantly; Madonna’s street urchin look gave way to New Romanticism and Punk; Power Dressing came and went; 90’s casual chic gave way to hippie style again and we were back where I had started from; frayed jeans, faded florals and denim skirts. By the mid noughties I was out and making my way as I should have been. The problem was that I had missed out on almost three decades of fashion and I was one very frustrated girl:  A girl who had yet to grow into a woman. Having been out now for almost a ten years I’ve rapidly relived the fashions of the past including ones I was never old enough to appreciate: I’ve had a preteen pink and lilac phase: I couldn’t resist the nostalgic delve into vintage and 50’s Dior New Look; I still have my collection of fabulous VOH dresses and bolero jackets. These days however I just buy High Street Fashion.

More often than not these days my friends know that I’ll be found in ‘New Look’. For those across the pond; New Look (NL) is a UK fast fashion store. My working girl’s limited salary needs to go a long way and in NL it does.  I love skater dresses, leggings,  skinny jeans, jeggings, crop tops, bodycon dresses, booties and ankle strap heels.  I like shorts with tights, fake converse sneakers and hoodies, the list goes on. I’m a happy fashion addict if truth be told and as long as I have cash in my purse to spend I’ll indulge my passion. True, I may feel slightly guilty when my friends say ‘Aha! I thought I’d find you in here!’ as they catch me browsing the racks or heading off to the dressing rooms with items to try.  I may not be willing to spend $110 on a green scarf or listen to mannequins trying to talk to me but I guess I am (as my daughter alleges) a shopaholic: After all I do have 30 years of catching up to do!

Hugs,

Jane xx

Saturday, February 22, 2014

WHILE WE WAIT FOR THAT MOMENT…

 

There was a time in my life when every other girl in my circle seemed to be getting engaged. Then one by one they paired up with guys and got married. A few years later it seemed as though each and every one of us was expecting, then sharing cups of tea and biscuits at Mother & Toddler groups. Each time the topic of conversation would change, from diamond rings through wedding plans and dresses to maternity outfits; from nappies through teething to chatting outside the school gates. Then our children grew into teens and more and more of us became divorce statistics. Recently and depressingly some have found new partners and, older and wiser, begun to remarry....I say 'depressingly' because until 9 months ago I was single and divorced too. What is that statistic about women 'our age' being more likely to be kidnapped by a terrorist than remarry? It began to feel like it was true.

Of course, it wasn't really like I describe in the paragraph above. Yes I did marry like everyone else but it wasn't the beautiful wedding I dreamed of as a teen. Disappointingly I didn't get to wear the lovely dress and those of you who know my story will realise why. I did have children but never gave birth. I didn't have a divorce; my marriage was annulled. Even so, I realise how incredibly lucky I am to be here; a woman and a Mom with two grown up children and now, at long last, a new boyfriend.

The last item on the list surprised me most of all. I never thought it would happen to me or become part of my life. Every morning when I wake and see my gorgeous boyfriend, the wonder starts anew. Every night when I turn in bed and feel his warmth next to me, his arm around me or his shoulder beneath my head, I smile and feel content. It's wonderful.

A few years since, a friend warned me about dating 'at our age': 'The nice guys have all been married', she said, 'you wouldn't want one who hadn't been hitched would you?' She didn't really go any further but she might have added; 'some of them are still in the process of getting divorced too'.

So while some of my friends are getting engaged and making wedding plans. I'm not just yet. It would be lovely to be in that position but at the moment I can't be. The 'D' word dominates everything because until that is resolved everything else seems on hold. I'm single but he isn't and in the meantime we both wait for that moment. The moment when things don't have to be 'on hold'...when we can plan and move forward.

So darling Martin, until that time comes and until we can. While we 'wait for that moment', here is my promise and my vow. Don't think I haven't thought hard about these words. They have been coming for so very long and I mean them sincerely. I just want you to know, in front of others, publicly and openly.

"You were the first person to visit me at home after surgery, the first to see me totally naked, the first to love me for who I am, the first to teach me what love is, the first to touch me sensually in my most intimate places, the first to make love to me, the first to give me a ring of commitment and mean it, the first to hold me so close that I never ever wanted to let you go and the first to love me for the woman I have always been and always will be.

My love for you is forever Martin, no ifs, no buts, no go backs, no excuses, no conditions and no get out clauses, just eternal never ending, unstinting, total devotion. I'm yours for always, yours to have and to hold, to keep and to care for and to never ever let go 😊 xxxxxxxx"

There, I've said it. I can breathe again and smile at you :D

Your Jane xx

 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Putting the T in T-GirL




Okay, so what is it you’re wondering?  Has she gone GaGa? What the *%$ is she on about and why has she posted a pic of a teapot on her blog? The cognoscenti among you perhaps are more likely trying to guess; ‘loose leaf I see but what variety or blend?  Okay, I’m finally admitting it. I can’t live a lie any more, pretending that I dunk a bag in a mug like everyone else. I’m coming out of the closet; unashamedly proud; I’m a loose leaf girl and a tea addict! Pause while I listen to gasps of horror all around.  Whispered comments from one to another…’she loves to go out clubbing; seldom seen out without a bottle of something blue in her hand, dances like a party freak and yet she drinks tea from a teapot???

So how serious is it? Well, seldom satisfied with a single mugful first thing; I’ve normally downed at least 3 mugs before breakfast! A whole teapot is way more practical than dashing back and forth to the kitchen whilst doing my makeup. I have to have my fix on a morning before I feel human.  If anything, the addiction has got way more pronounced in the last seven years or so on HRT. I could drink T for England, or maybe Wales.

Earlier in my life I spent some of my formative years living in Northern France outside Bethune. I’m a French speaker and that was a distinctly Francophile phase in my life.  Listening to Gerard Lenorman, Maxime le Forrestier and Michel Sardou and drinking….not coffee exactly but café-chicorée (one spoonful of roasted chicory to three of ground coffee - (chicory in first)) to which I became equally addicted and still am whenever I drink coffee.  I never imagined that I’d drink much tea, associating it with Great Aunts and Grandmothers; particularly tea in a pot with a sieve provided.  Now here I am stepping into their shoes, or so it seems. Well, not quite.  None of my Grannies or Aunts had a penchant for Earl Grey tea, delicate finger sandwiches or mini quiches.  I came from the West Riding of Yorkshire and the industrial rust belt of coal mining and heavy woollens at that.  Tea had to be strong enough to stand a spoon up and as a child the downside of an unsieved mug of tea was often a mouthful of stewed leaves in the bottom of the cup! Tea had no style and panache and I rapidly left it behind for the more exotic tastes of Northern France; café-chicorée au lait, une tartine de pain et confiture de fraises….with tea it would have been merely ‘milky coffee, a slice of bread & jam’. It doesn’t sound quite the same does it?

These days life is more hectic with little opportunity to speak French but lots of stress.  Breaks are brief and few. They usually come in a paper cup with an optional plastic lid and a very indifferent taste. Consequently I’ve gone back to tea, preferably loose leaf; made in a pot with boiling water, but even more important, consumed with good company, in a relaxing atmosphere,with my girl m8s, lots of laughter and gossip. Maybe there is something of the rabbit hole in that teapot spout, so much so that when you pour it you escape for a while to somewhere pleasanter and less pressurised. Good tea takes me to where the rules aren’t the same and I can chill.

So there you have it. I’m a T-drinking T-Girl on HRT. Loose leaved, loving dancing and a tease; a tease who likes tea. Food of choice with my tea? Anything from quiche and salad to cakes and afternoon tea. Favourite venue? Can you guess? It has to be The Richmond Tea Rooms.  Situated on Richmond Street in the heart of Manchester’s Gay Village, I simply HAVE to go in there at least once in a while and deffo during Pride and Sparkle.  I love that quirky, Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland atmosphere and the delightfully mismatched, genteel crockery and furniture.  The Richmond Tea rooms is a place to relax, enjoy, kick back and chill like absolutely nowhere else. Favourite blend? Make that a Lapsang Souchong please with hot water on the side. What's yours?

Cheers, Jane xx

Image courtesy of Richmond Tea Rooms -
http://www.richmondtearooms.com/About-us.aspx






Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lost Children


So many things get lost in a long life; keys, umbrellas, gloves, scarves, even money. Much of it, we never see again.  How we react to that depends on the extent of loving and how bereft we feel without them.  The more important a thing is, the closer to our hearts; the deeper it hurts.

Trans Men and Women come in for a huge amount of loss; there’s a whole chapter warning you about it in the handbook, or rather there should be. Even if the handbook did exist, would we heed the warning? Probably not. If you’re Trans you feel driven by an inexorable force: One which destines you to never be happy, not content until your body matches more closely who you are inside.  Two stark realities slowly begin to filter their way through the other horrors of being Trans; 1. If you transition you may never have children; 2. If you have children, you may lose them anyway.

Aged 9, I still cherished the thought of growing up a woman like every other girl and giving birth to children.  Being a Mum/Mom was a huge life goal for me; a fulfilment I very much wanted as part of my life. Aged 9 I had only vague ideas about where babies came from; High School and puberty changed all that. As an older teen I wept for the babies I would never bear even though I hoped that one day I might have a family. Growing up a girl, even if only on the inside, you still have maternal feelings and longing to give birth.  You can’t help that and it hurts so very much.  You still think of baby names, a home and a husband even if you know they can’t be yours.  Those never born children are lost to you, for ever and for always though you cradle them in your mind and in your heart.

When I did enter marriage, dysfunctional as it was, it also brought me a huge joy and relief.  I now have two children born to me; both girls, both women now; both resemble me in some ways. They are individuals with lives and loves of their own;  their names Beth and Meriel.  One of them I lost along the way and I still cry for her as she’s no longer in my life.  Not long after I began my transition, my eldest daughter then aged 16, walked out my door and then out of my life, slamming both behind her.  From that point on; her Dance Recitals; her successes and failures; her milestones, birthdays; ups and downs; lows and highs were taken away from me.  I no longer know her address or where she live. I know she lives in Surrey.  When Meriel graduated College, she didn’t want me there and when she settles down with a family I will probably be closed off from that too. I lost her good and proper. Though I hope and cry sometimes, I wonder if she will ever return to me or acknowledge me as her parent.

I almost lost my youngest daughter too; repeatedly. It happened through recurrent bouts of depression.  Beth suffers from Cyclothymia and with it comes periods of feeling like she can’t carry on.  She is so precious, my one remaining daughter. Maybe sometimes I cling to her and fret more than a mother should but I love her so:  Lesbian, Dyslexic, Dyspraxic, beautiful and incredibly caring; the one daughter I have left has looked out for me too when things have been tough.  I owe so much to her.  She acknowledges me as her Mum and fiercely defends my right to be me.  She is a Trans ally like no other; a young woman with amazing depth and insight whose blogs you may have read.  She is the child I am so glad to have when so much else was lost.



I realise when talking to other Trans women, how incredibly lucky I am.  So many of them have lost more than their children and their marriage.  By some good fortune I kept my ex partner as a sister, one daughter and so many of my friends. Reading this you will probably have your own story, your own losses, possibly way worse than mine. I’m sorry.  That must hurt so much. It always does doesn’t it?

On St. Valentines Day last, I had the most wonderful evening with my boyfriend.  It was perfect.  It felt even more wonderful for being the first time and I am so in love with him.  Deeply in love in a way that I suspect neither of us have ever been before.  I love resting my head on his shoulder.  That feels divine as well.  Another woman sat at an adjacent table said ‘I’m sure I can hear Wedding Bells’. It made us both smile.  And now I’m wondering, wishing and waiting….When I do get married, as I know I will, will both my daughters come to my wedding or even be my bridesmaids?  I know that one will.  I wish the other could be there too.


Hugs, Jane xx

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Real First



February 14th hasn’t usually been a day I’ve looked forward to. Like some set meals, special offers and double beds, Valentine’s Day is designed for two and made for sharing.  Romantic hotel break for one? I’ll give that one a miss I think!. Once mid January arrives shops are sure to have a huge selection of cards and gifts for your valentine but what if you don’t stand a chance? Given that the idea is to send an anonymous card to your crush and maybe a hint to your identity, you already have a totally raw deal.  Being a straight trans girl, you become an expert in unrequited love.  Girls who don’t know you or even realise you’re a girl get crushes on you.  Guys you fancy don’t even know you’re interested in boys. It’s easy to get close to them but they just want to be mates. Gays with faulty gaydar think you’re interesting but it’s a total turn off for you….what a mess! For years, Valentine’s Day has been, at best, a non event and at worst, a painful reminder that love was not for me.

Yes I know, this all sounds rather pathetic.  So many of us end up out of a relationship on Valentine’s Day, that you’re never really alone.  The difference I guess comes down to hope.  If you have been loved once then maybe there is a chance you will be loved back again:  You’re stuck in the bleachers for now but one day you’ll be out there again; a cheerleader or a player. If you’re Trans you wouldn’t even be allowed in the stadium. To a depressed teenager at least, that’s how it seemed.

So this year, for the first time, things are the other way round entirely.  For once I’m not a singleton or in a dysfunctional relationship. For once things are different on the Eve of Valentines Day…..



I wrote that yesterday. Now it’s today and Friday.  Friday mornings are hectic; that 6.30 am alarm, the scramble to shower, straighten hair and put on makeup. The dash to the kitchen; hurrying a sparse breakfast and then off to work. Moments for interaction between me and an equally rushed boyfriend are as limited as our breakfasts! This morning has been so different; chocolates; the biggest card you ever saw, sparkling rosé, earrings and best of all, my truly gorgeous darling boyfriend; my dear Martin. Anyone who knows me is probably aware that I can talk for England.  For once I barely knew what to say. I was overcome with tears: I was so incredibly happy. Over the years, you hope and hope and hope that one day maybe, just maybe, it might be you instead of the ten gazillion other people you see wandering about holding flowers and totally lost in each other’s eyes. This year it was ME and I’m oh so grateful. I still can’t believe this is happening to me :D

Hugs, Jane xx






Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Small Matter of Cherries


I spent all my first day as a transitioned woman smiling.  Some friends think it must have been the patient controlled analgesia. Coming round after surgery I was offered morphine self dosing PCA. I remember looking across at the wall clock and noticing that it was 10.45 am; I’d been in surgery for only two and a half hours. Somehow it seemed like a lifetime: An eternity since I’d walked; wearing a hospital gown, up to the ninth floor.  I felt detached even from recent memories, from lying flat on my back in theatre, listening to the anaesthetist explaining everything that could go wrong; asking me to sign my life away. As it happens the PCA self dosing made me feel incredibly sick.  The pain wasn’t really that bad so I left off the morphine. Over the next 48 hours I only used it 4 times. Even so, that first day, my mind experienced an incredible release.  It’s the only way I can describe it. It felt wonderful to have finally escaped the bonds tying me to a life I’d hated and which never felt like mine anyway.  I’d done it, or rather Mr Bellringer and his team had. The best part about it was, there was no going back!

I had expected incredible discomfort and a truly horrendous time.  Aged 7 I had a burst appendix and peritonitis.  I went through the most immense pain and stayed in hospital for over 3 weeks. I couldn’t walk properly for ever so long. Gender Reassignment Surgery surprised me.  I was amazed at how soon I was walking and climbing stairs again.  Dilation was only really painful for about two weeks; after that it began to seem comfortable and on occasions even pleasurable. Having 3 times daily dilations and wearing sanitary pads though tends to leave you in no doubt that you have a vagina. The conviction comes, in spite of the novel feeling you get when medical staff refer to ‘your vagina’ or examine you ‘down there’. Learning how to look after a new part of your body and even learning to pee again are all daily reminders that you have changed in a new and very welcome way. Intense clitoral soreness slowly subsides leaving pleasant feelings: Playing on a swing in the Park (yes I’m just a big kid really) felt WA-A-AY different.

On my first day after surgery, the one thing I couldn’t imagine was getting my little head around sex; intercourse to be precise.  The idea of becoming aroused and being penetrated by a guy seemed like an utter turn off. I felt like a girl being told what big boys and girls do in bed: I couldn’t comprehend that ever happening to me.  Silly I know but in the early days I took a dressmaker’s tape and measured 6” up my tummy from my vulva.  I’m only a small girl and OMG if I had sex with a guy I was going to be well and truly impaled! Ouch!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly attracted to guys.  I always have been.  The thought of being romanced, warmly entwined in some man’s arms, being kissed, caressed and fondled was really really enticing. Sadly, the encounters I had with men, pre-op weren’t like that at all. I don’t want to revisit those memories but I do know they weren’t filled with warmth, love and pleasure. I had lost any confidence in ever finding true love in a relationship and probably, if I dare to admit it, confidence in myself. Yet I knew I had to get out there and try.  As I recovered I had a growing feeling that if I didn’t venture anything now I would never have the confidence to love again.

Dating sites; especially those aimed at MtF girls yielded LOTS of interest (at least for guys wanting to date me). It was very much a ‘bees around a honeypot’ situation. Flirting online felt safe but almost certainly wasn’t. I did it anyway: It seemed safer than dating guys physically. After weeks of ‘camming’, sexting, ‘skyping’ and eventually dating I was still no nearer real intimacy.  I had phone sex and orgasms, indecent suggestions and bizarre requests.  This was going nowhere.  A really gentle guy from down South wanted to meet me half way geographically then didn’t want to meet me half way.  ‘I’m not sure I’m up for sex with a virgin’ he said rather unromantically…….Then I met Martin.

I had already known him, at least as Tina but meeting the guy I now share my life with was so different. I fell in love with those entrancing brown eyes, his dark hair, that tall, sporty handsome physique and was totally hooked.  I couldn’t resist his adventurous spirit, his ‘why not?’ ‘let’s do it!’ personality and his sense of humour. From our first kiss I was amazed at how gentle he was with me, how protective and how caring.  I’d never had anyone treat me that way before; valuing me as a person, a woman and not as a prize or an object.  I’ve always felt vulnerable and exposed in love and nobody has ever reassured me like that before or made me feel safe like he does.

So, as it happens, last summer was my very first time. Losing my virginity: Cherries and green trees. It was in woodland not far away from the sea. The rain was coming down and it gave me the most romantic feeling ever. There was something utterly sensual, abandoned and gorgeous about making love amongst those trees; summer rain cascading down and my clothes scattered on the ground around me. Totally bound up in him and he in me; his coat around me and his lips on mine: I will always remember that moment.  Just as precious was his kindness, gentleness, consideration and sensitivity.  If ever I had any doubts about loving him, they were gone in that moment. 

There have been so many times since last summer. With each and every occasion, it has been just as beautiful, caring and erotic. I’m still young and naive when it comes to intimacy so I’m deeply grateful to have found such a wonderful partner; someone to learn and to grow with. I can’t think of anybody more lovely than Martin to have guided me from being a girl into womanhood.

Hugs, Jane xx

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tranniversaries, the Fabulous Fifties and the Swinging Sixties.


I’m always so glad when January finally comes to an end.  I hate Northern Winters with a vengeance:  Cold stinging rain and cutting north easterly winds. The very far distant Summer currently looks like a damp mirage in a desert of of grey melancholy.  Come February 1st it was time to celebrate and have an outing. ‘Outing’ is an interesting word considering where we went: ‘it is a term and concept that still sends a chill through me especially when coupled with words like ‘Gay’, ‘Trans’, ‘newspaper’, ‘social network’, ‘magazine’ and ‘so called friends’.

Our destination on Feb 1st was he banks of the cold grey Mersey; that windswept seaport, maritime city and hub of music culture; Liverpool. Liverpool is home, until September this year, of the April Ashley Exhibition (Museum of Liverpool). The occasion was my boyfriend’s ‘Tranniversary’. It was three years since he began to be out and proud as a CD/Crossdresser; a good reason then to celebrate. We looked back through photographs at three amazing years in the life of Tina Marina; my boyfriend’s alter ego.  I marvelled at the distance travelled from unpractised hesitant dressing to the polished, convincing and lovely Tina who is my best friend these days. Even in the time I have known (and shopped with) her (a little over 13 months), she has changed and ‘grown up’ into such a confident, relaxed woman. I find myself reacting to her in a way very different to the one I have with my boyfriend.  Indeed, I find myself behaving much as I would when out with my other girl friends.  It seems strange that well chosen clothes, expertly applied makeup and a wig can change my instinctive reactions towards him so significantly.  It is an amazing testimony to how far she has come in 3 years.

There I go interchanging pronouns again. I never before realised the extent to which male AND female pronouns could apply so comfortably to the same person, especially given the hatred I used to reserve for those who mis-gendered me years ago. The reality of the transformation is watching chick flicks with Tina, sharing girlie gossip & lunches, going shopping and out on GNO’s. She is the perfect best friend. However when she is back as my beloved Martin he’s such a guy and I can’t keep myself from kissing him and cuddling up in his arms. Am I the only girl to be enjoying these amazing experiences or do any of my readers out there have them too?

I digress. Back to April Ashley (pictured above).  I’m not going to provide a biography of that wonderful lady here; you can fill that information in by searching online.  Suffice it to say that those of us of a certain age, born in the fifties or early sixties, could hardly escape being aware of this iconic lady and the way she was treated by society and the press. The exhibition currently on show in the Museum of Liverpool chronicles her life from humble beginnings in Liverpool in 1935 to her MBE and official recognition of her womanhood in much more recent times.There are so many striking things that emerge from revisiting April Ashley’s personal history.  Everybody viewing the exhibition will take away something new and personal. For me, one thing in particular stood out. It humbled me greatly; a total admiration for someone who had come through so much and done it with great dignity and fortitude.

Now the Fifties might have been fabulous, I don’t know. My Mum certainly looked fabulous in her Horrocks Summer Dresses. Even so I barely remember the decade, being a little over two years old when it ended. The Swinging Sixties was my childhood. Far from being permissive I found those 10 years to be one of  increasing intolerance towards kids like me. ’69 when I started High School was the start  of the worst bit of all.  For me, growing up Transgender in the 60’s and 70’s was no picnic. Running the gauntlet of intolerance and hatred at school as well as daily beatings and bullying taught me to hide. I learned not only to tuck myself physically but to to tuck myself away as much as I could.  Once I had taken an interest in newspapers, the things I read about women like Ms Ashley (and others) only served to alarm me. The way in which society took an unhealthy, over curious and intrusive interest into these women’s lives frightened me more than anything.  I could never imagine putting myself in that position and inviting such devastating public exposure.

Having worked so hard at concealment it would be a long time before I dared to come out. Indeed it was changing public awareness and the passing of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act that convinced me attitudes were changing. By the time April Ashley had officially become a woman I had been living full time for almost 2 years.  I received my own Gender Recognition Certificate a couple of years later. April had however really been a woman since her transition in 1960. She was WAY ahead of her time; a trailblazer and someone truly great to look up to. The rest of us owe so much to her.


Hugs, Jane x