Saturday, February 22, 2014



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 cafĂ©-chicorĂ©e (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; cafĂ©-chicorĂ©e 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 -

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 rosĂ©, 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