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!


Jane xx 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My First (Re-) Birthday

image courtesy of: 

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 that's too big!


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. 


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!


Jane xx