Saturday, 31 December 2016

End of Year Outtake Selfies - me unedited?

So, as a final hurrah to 2016, I was going back through my selfies taken on my computer's camera and found a few *ahem* that I thought were nice, but got missed on previous blogs - or I deselected them because I was looking daft, doing something odd or showing off far too much chinage (is that even a word?).

Having started on this weight loss journey too (they are on in chronological order) - it was fascinating to see the effect of slimming down... hey, its new year, indulge me!

And have a fantastic 2017!  Wishing, hoping and praying that it is an amazing year for all of us. :o)




Friday, 30 December 2016

Scary Experiences Part 2 - The Update

Thank you so much to you all for your encouragement earlier in the week —I really was feeling very nervous about my lunch today.  When I met with them though, as some of you said, I’m really not sure why I was nervous as they were completely lovely and awesome.

The day started this morning with the lady I was meeting sending a group text to confirm that everyone was ok and to make sure we had the right time etc.  We agreed the time and I have to confess that I sent a side message to her to a) own up to my nervousness and b) to ask her what she was planning to wear.  She is one of the people I most admire from a fashion perspective - she spends a lot of money on clothes and particularly on shoes - and everything, expensive or not, is tasteful and completely suits her.  Today’s Jimmy Choos were a complete triumph!   She looked incredible.  I didn’t want to look frumpy or overdressed, so I thought I would check in to make sure.  Between us we agreed that what I was going to wear was perfectly right for the occasion, so I went with it.

So I got ready as usual - clearly paying a good deal of attention to my make up to make sure it was as good as I could make it.  I have been experimenting with eye shadows recently as I’ve nearly run out of my now discontinued favourite colour.  Today - they got some of my final precious supply on my eyes.  Anything to try to impress!  I even spent lots of time sorting my hair out - hairdryer - special hair product etc.  I just wanted to look tip toppety.  Because - and genuinely this isn’t to provoke a response, but I look at myself and just see a fat bloke in a dress.  Its hard to see anything else I guess when its you.  I’ll look at photos and purely see the bad bits - but I guess we all do that.

When I arrived the chap was already there and we waited about 10 mins for the lady.  We were talking away - he was really lovely.  He said that he was really impressed at how well presented and appropriate I looked.  He even said (with the appropriate caveats so as not to offend me) that he thought I look much better as a girl than when I’m in boy mode.  He really meant it too - not just flattery.  Honestly, I could have cried.   The lady then turned up with flowers for me which REALLY could have set me off.  I’ve only ever been given flowers once before and her ones really were lovely.

So we passed a few very happy hours talking about everything - people we’d worked with and where they were now, each other’s lives, boob jobs (not mine), my transition plans, hair extensions, transphobia, shoes.  Just everything.   It felt so normal and so relaxed.   I even brought a new dimension to ‘getting them out for the lads’ by handing over one of my silicon inserts so the chap could see what we meant by them!!  The staff were even fantastic where we were eating.  My friends said that I seemed happier than I ever have been before with them.  Which was really true inside me.  Sometimes you just feel like you could glow from the complete happiness of acceptance and feeling like you look lovely.  They made me feel every inch like just any other girl in their social group and more than that, they made feel like I could gain acceptance from the whole world.

I need more days like today, I really do.  Would it be greedy to ask for every day to be like that?

PS Lynn J, in the comments on my last blog said that if there are no photos, it didn't happen.  Hence the photo!  I need to remember to take some more often - I quite liked the ones taken today! :o)

Monday, 26 December 2016

Scary Experiences

Help - so scared!  I have two friends (a chap and a lady) who I’ve known for around 8-9 years, they are both completely lovely.  We started out as work colleagues and over the years we grew closer.  When we all stopped working together, it started out with lunch meetings and over the years has turned mainly into an annual meet up for lunch.  This year its happening later this week.

They are familiar with the fact that I am transgender.  Since they found out, they’ve always been supportive and very kind about my gender issues.  Yesterday we were sharing a joint text conversation wishing each other a Merry Christmas and I’m not sure what grabbed me, but I finally thought that it was time to introduce them in person to the real me.  Oh my goodness.  It seemed like a very good idea at the time, but today the butterflies have already been flying around in my tummy and I’m scared.  This is the first time I’ve introduced Rhiannon to work folk in such a formal setting and am scared - they are people I really respect and I care about their views.  I don’t want them to just see a man in a dress and to pity me.  I want to hold my own as a girl with them.  Did I mention that I’m feeling a little bit of pressure.

I’m thinking that I’m going to wear my favourite dress that I’ve been talking about obsessively.  And I’m hoping that it goes ok and that its not a complete nightmare.  Oh goodness I’m so scared.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Its Official!

So apart from taking to the blog to wish you a very very Merry Christmas, I went to fat club this morning for the pre-Christmas weigh in and... a week ahead of when I thought it would happen, I managed to get my 3-stone lost award which was just a fantastic feeling.  Clearly I have a long way to go still.  2017 is going to see another 7-stone+ melting away, but its a good start and I’m feeling very happy and encouraged.

In other news, I've just had a week with lots of Rhiannon time which never fails to make me feel very happy.  Monday saw me going out with two girlfriends for Christmas lunch.  I was going to go originally in boy mode as I’m always conscious that I don’t want it to be forced on people all the time.  But I couldn’t resist and my favourite dress beckoned.  So out again in a dress it was.  My friends were lovely, the staff were friendly and kind and just accepted me as another lady out for lunch with her friends.  Complete bliss.  One of the things I'm always wondering about is my confidence when I'm out.  I asked S, who was with me,how I did and she said that she felt that I was much much more confident today than ever before.  So so happy!

Then we had our office mini-party later in the week.  Another Rhiannon day and my favourite Christmas present of the year from A who got me a Radley compact mirror.  I’ve been coveting hers all year and it made my day to get one of my own.  We drank nice wine until much too late and had lovely food from the on-site caterers.

I even had a lovely evening alone in a hotel this week which was so nice.  Don’t do that so much these days.  An evening of tea, work and slobbing in my favourite skinny jeans and a nice top.  Even got my nails painted a festive red! :o)

Rhiannon goes quiet now as I do the family thing for the next week, but I really hope that 2017 is both a year of growth as a woman and fingers crossed may include an opportunity to take things even further.  Full of hope and excitement for the year to come.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

So frustrating…and so stupid

Grrrrrrrrr.   Argggghhhhhh.   I’m at another one of those points where so much good is happening to me as Rhiannon that its causing even more frustration.  Going to the support group, Chameleons a week or so ago has unstuck some issues in my mind.  But its like one of those logical Yoda-isms (Rogue One is fantastic by the way) - “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”  OK, OK, enough fan girl stuff and to the point.  I’ve had some real successes in the last week or so and lots of me has been very happy.  But “happiness leads to needing to more happiness.  More happiness requires sacrifice which leads to frustration.  Frustration leads to stupidity.”

So, on happiness:

1. Weight loss is helping.  39.5lbs now lost since August which is great news.  This has increased my confidence.  Clothes that have been my staple for a long time now don’t fit me - I put on some jeans the other day which were just sagging around me.   Conversely clothes that were too small are now fitting again.  This is one of my favourite dresses and the fact that it fits me again is just a miracle.  Knowing that if I carry on it won’t any longer is bitter sweet.  Mainly sweet.  What other dresses await?

2. A long-standing friendship that I have which went south a few years ago, finally started to heal.  A couple whom I love a lot, but had drifted apart when I perceived their poor handling of Mrs A and my last break up, thawed.  I came out to them and they understood and were beyond accepting.  Hopefully a meeting in January will move it even closer to being resolved.

3. So much positive feedback about the picture I posted last time.  I've shown several of my friends and they have been lovely.  One friend, who I've blogged about before - L, was so amazingly fantastic.  I've re-read her comments loads of times because they were just so kind.  I wish I could publish them in full - just to be able to say, 'look someone knows I'm trans and still said these amazing words about me'.  I'm not saying this for effect, I sincerely believe the opposite from what she said and her words hit me deeply in my inner most soul.

4. The conversation that I talked about in my last blog where I was really struggling about how someone close to me was feeling got resolved.  We had a very good conversation where I was very honest about how I was feeling and my fears and she reciprocated with how it was impacting her and why.  I cried.  A lot.  Tears of relief but also of a frustration that is growing.

So these and other things are making me very happy at the moment (I am SO up and down aren’t I?).  Despite the fair warnings from some wise contributors, this happiness and acceptance can be very addictive.  Pretty much all the people who I want to know and like me as Rhiannon know, so to move further is to push the envelope into the world beyond that, which is scary.  I know that I’ll have to go further to transition which I think increasingly in my mind is the pathway I want.  But I try to balance that with doing it by my rules, in my timeframes.

So anyway, I went to a Christmas meal and had one too many wines.  Before you worry, I’ve been keeping my alcohol consumption under control of late happily.  But I was out with a group I do some work with and drunkness, frustration and need to be accepted combined in a sudden decision for me to out myself to a couple of the people there.  They are probably amongst the few people I have told who are a) out of my normal circle and b) could impact back on my life in an uncontrolled way.  To be fair, they were lovely, but I have no idea if they will report back on our conversation.  Normally when I tell people, I know that there is discretion and in this case I don’t know that at all.  I’m bracing myself for a circle of about 500 people who know me to potentially find out about Rhiannon.  Its either going to be ok or the most stupid thing I’ve ever done because I also have no idea how the broader group would respond.  Given that many of them are ruffty tufty men, I’m not sure if it’ll be positive.  Today is the first day I go back into that world and I’m actually a little scared.

I really do need to get my frustration under check.  My fat club Facebook group was posting before and after weight loss photos yesterday.  I was so near to posting a very different type of before and after photo that also included a dimension of weight loss.  I didn’t.   But I am a little worried that my usual patient and careful side is a bit raggedy at the moment and I need to get it under control before I do something that I need to do, but in a stupid timescale before I’m really ready.  Like now.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Tough times…off track…head back in the game

You’d think that an alien had taken me over and that a different girl was writing blogs if I didn’t throw you the odd rollercoaster.  Things have been very happier and steadier for a while, but the last two weeks have been very VERY up and down.  Its amazing what unexpected things affect me.  My gender issues always leave me in a volatile place I guess anyway.  I’m prone to undulating bouts of dysphoric misery.  But when negative stuff happens around me, I guess it triggers unhappiness too.  No-one’s fault - its my issue to deal with, but certain things have made me sad.  Sad and me (and diets in particular, I’m finding) don’t mix well.

Someone who I’ve felt very close to of late has been having a hard time, also through no fault of their own, although I think they feel like it is.  Horrible position for them to be in and its caused me to feel down on their behalf.  Combine this with an odd conversation where I, probably wrongly, got the impression that people in my life feel that hiding my thoughts on transition from Mrs A is a really awful thing to do and I got in a funk about it.  I think I’m open to feedback, but that hit me absolutely for six (or out of the park in a bad way?).   There was almost the sense that others are getting uncomfortable about being a party to my hiding of Rhiannon away from my family and being careful about who knows what about me.  I can understand that, I’ve been living by lying and hiding for 42 years, so I’m used to it.  It makes me feel awful that I put anyone under any strain by telling them my secret.  I felt that maybe my reaching out for support among my friends isn’t the best idea in the world for some people.  Add on top that its been a very busy and challenging time at work with lots going on and major travelling and…so on...

Last week in a desperate moment of indescribable sadness, looked around my world for someone to talk to and in a stupid moment of panic, I didn’t know where to go.  So I reverted to type.  My go-to people for help are Mrs Wine and Mr High Fat Food.  I’m ashamed to say that for part of the last fortnight, I got into a very unhelpful spiral including the appalling night I consumed two bottles of wine and a 14-inch pizza by myself. As well as my dinner.  Eating to the point where I almost felt sick.

I know its not good and probably points to underlying issues and all that jazz, but remember the title of the blog.  Its a story of redemption.  I realised just how badly I was doing and I found someone in my world who I could reach out to and I did.  As usual A2’s advice was amazing in response to my very long and traumatised email and she really helped me get out of the bad place.  She also realised that I completely overthink everything and when in a bad place can be a complete worrier.  I normally try to hide those two things too.

Today (I write this before I've left) is my weigh-in at fat club and I’m going to see the damage for the week.  Given that this was about a week ago and that I’ve got my head back in the game, I think I’m going to be ok, but its been hard.   Despite 'recovering', there will, I'm sure, be consequences.

This week though, I have to give a shout out, I was considerably helped by visiting Chameleons (trans support group) in Nottingham, UK.  How anyone can go to that group and fail to be cheered up is beyond me?  Not only was there dancing, food and the opportunity to put on a great dress, there was fantastic company, not least from the very lovely Lynn Jones of YATGB fame.  If you are ever down, you need her to help!  Thank you Lynn, you probably didn’t know how down I was feeling because I hide it well, but you really did make me feel so much better. :o)  I took this selfie before I left (forgive the bathroom behind it) and felt great.  Lynn shared the other picture, below, on her blog, so I’m hoping a reciprocation is ok, but whether I’ve changed or not, I’m not sure, but is that really what I look like?

Postscript:  I’m now back from fat club and…well, amazingly 2lbs off.  Its horrible when that happens in some ways.  I know people in the room who have worked hard and sacrificed - and I’ve done the diet for 5 out of 7 days and then had two days off the rails and still lost weight.  I’m sure I’ll reach the point where I can’t.  I hope I reach the point where I don’t go off the rails at all.  Of the rails normally means something has happened that I can’t deal with.

Anyway.  I know I’m going to regret posting this because I’m embarrassed by my human failings and weaknesses, I find this post mortifying, but I know that I try to be honest here - there has to be one place where you are I guess.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Short and very very self-indulgent…

So, I know that this blog is one of the shortest I’ve ever written (yay you say!).  I feel like I should find some cute cat pictures to pad it out a little :o).  I have been writing blogs, but just haven’t been finishing them.  Note to self - stop being too busy.

Regular readers know that I really struggle with my weight - I’m a bit large really.  I’ve joined a great group (and awesome leader) who are really helping me get the bulk off.  Part of my success with this is that I’m forced to hold myself to account to other people.  If I didn’t and it was just down to me, I’d just gorge myself on pizza instead: the scales themselves aren't enough to motivate me.

So in the spirit of holding myself to account - and honestly, in the hope of some sisterly encouragement, I determined also to log my weight loss journey on my blog.  I’ve promised it before and failed, so this time I will stick to my plan which includes reporting my weight loss once every month.  And I haven’t so far and Wednesday is the last opportunity for November.

So *drumroll please* - I’ve been on my weight loss programme for 11 weeks and I have now lost 35lbs (2.5 stones / 16kgs).  Still a very long way to go - my aim is at least 10 stone and to reach a UK14 size, but its a good start.  

Anyway, there you go, the shortest blog ever!  I thank you... :o)

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Out in a dress...

Its been a really busy week with little opportunity, other than last Monday, to have Rhiannon time.   Last week we were away on holiday.  On the way back, a mad thought entered my head: I wanted to go out, in normal day time, wearing a dress.   Given that I regularly present female, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a regular occurrence, but it isn’t really.

Last Monday's attempt...
I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’m always very self conscious about wearing a dress when I go out.  Many women in the UK don’t wear dresses very often, or skirts for that matter.  There is much more of a likelihood that you will see them wearing either jeans, trousers or leggings.  Wearing a dress immediately attracts attention because it is relatively rare.  There are definitely times of the year where it is more common, or if someone is doing it for work, but even so, its still infrequent.  My aim in dressing is always to blend in and to be noticed as little as possible, so I tend to wear what I see most other women in their early 40s wearing too.  So going out actually in a dress would represent a really big push out of my comfort zone.

Despite this mad thought being unusual for me, it grew and grew and I knew that by the time I reached Monday, knowing I’d have Rhiannon time, that only a dress would do when I went out.  So when I got dressed that morning, on went my black skater dress, heeled knee length boots and patterned tights.  Accessorised with some purple jewellery and my dark blue cardigan and blue scarf, I was feeling very happy.

Different outfit, same dress (2011)
I had some errands to run while I was out: the first one being that I needed to pick up my wig which had gone back to be washed and blow dried by the lovely Andrea.  It was, as usual, so fantastic to see her - she is just full of energy and literally makes me feel happier every moment I spend there.  We discussed the dress I was wearing and she said that she thought it was very appropriate and that because I was wearing opaque tights, it worked very well.  Very appropriate for the season.  Confidence built up a little bit, I headed on.

The second and final errand was that I wanted to pop out shopping.  I’d seen several tops that I liked online and I wanted to go to the shop to take another look.  It was weird really, I went through with it and was comfortable, but not perfectly comfortable.  Most women were dressed as I described before: jeans and a jumper and I felt a little too overdressed, despite being happy with my choice.  But because I stood out, I guess my default concern of dress=noticeable=obvious trans-person kicked in and I found it very hard to relax.  I walked around the store, but for some reason felt like an alien who had landed in planet ladies clothes shop and that I shouldn’t be there.  I know that its only by doing this and continuing to challenge myself that I’ll grow and my confidence will improve, but it was more difficult that day than I expected, I guess is what I am saying.  The good thing which shows there has been movement forward is that I wished I’d been there in my top and jeans because I’d have been more comfortable.  I didn’t for a moment, as I have in the past, felt like I shouldn’t be there at all.  I suppose its just another step out, you get used to it, you grow, and its another thing within your repertoire.   Wearing a dress and feeling comfortable is something that I really do want to become happy with doing.

Since that day, I have seen a number of women out and about in similar outfits - and I’ve been kicking myself for not believing Andrea - that it really was appropriate and that I looked fine.  I’m breaking this down quickly and getting more used to it, but still a way to go.   I'm definitely out and about in Rhiannon mode in a week or so, if not before, so I will be wearing a dress again.  I really want to conquer this.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

I hate my name

I’m probably just being weird now, but I find that the things gender dysphoria chooses to settle on to be very odd.   I’m used to frequent lows and constant desperation due to the massive incongruence.  But of late something new has started that is very weird.  Really weird.  And a little upsetting I guess.

I write a LOT of email.  I don’t get 100s a day like I know some people get, but given the type of work I do, I generate a lot of email traffic as I’m regularly badgering people for work / to meet deadlines etc.  When I have been writing emails recently, I have been getting a palpable sense of dread as I near the end of the email, knowing that I am going to have to, yet again, type my boy name.  Its almost like it is quickly becoming an obvious and painful reinforcement of who I am not.  Each time I send one, I contemplate whether I can reduce the formality of the email by leaving my name off altogether and bypassing the problem.  It can last at least a few minutes debating with myself over a 3 sentence email.

Sometimes it goes further and I feel a desperate compulsion to change my official email signature to Rhiannon [insert real surname].  On days when I’m feeling that way out and am sending an email to someone I know well and who knows I’m trans, I gleefully make the change.  They probably think I’m just being a bit mad.  I, however, am feeling relief like you can’t imagine…

I’m starting to think that I have this thing quite badly.  That its getting worse.  And that I’m sliding inextricably towards a need for radical change.  If an email signature is now causing me pain an extra 50 times a day, I think I might have a real problem.   It seems so small and stupid now that I write it down, but I guess I can't really help it, I lay bare my madness.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Praise for another ally

I know that there are some people in the world - many people in fact, who just hate the trans community.  I get that, but today, I think we should celebrate once more, our friends and allies who, frankly, are just so awesome, kind and who take acceptance to a whole new level.  I have many of those people in my life and I am so thankful for it.  This week, I added another.  As I have mentioned in recent posts, I have just joined a diet-group-slash-slimming-class-slash-fat-club (delete as applicable).  It is going well so far - 22.5lbs lost - clothes that were tight are miraculously fitting again.  My favourite dress still eludes me, but I’m nearly there with it.

Anyway.  I have an issue with slimming club leaders and Doctors for that matter.  When I say I have an issue with them, let me rephrase that, I have an issue with them not knowing something I never told them.  After all, surely they should be mind readers?  I don’t tell them I’m trans.  I know that you might roll your eyes at this, so I apologise, but part of the reason I’m large of body is that my trans-ness makes me desperately sad sometimes and I comfort eat (and drink) to overcome it.   Its a bad coping mechanism, I know.  The best one (full time as Rhiannon) is a work in progress.   So I am choosing to go somewhere to get help.  The issue I have is that when I go, I’m presenting male and so that’s how I’m treated - I’m a man losing weight to become all buff and handsome.  Having my motives for losing weight misunderstood, is a really painful thing for me that makes me very unhappy.  I want to be understood as Rhiannon and for the people who support me to know why they are doing that and what I’m really trying to get from their help.

Recently the diet-group-slash-slimming-class-slash-fat-club have run this thing where you set your short-term goal of what you want to try to achieve by Christmas.  I’m still in the ‘lots to lose’ category, so I realise that I’m not so much interested in my promise to myself for this Christmas, but that my goal is for the next one - 2017.  By then, I want to be comfortably fitting into a size UK14 dress.  Its a big ask as i’d need to lose about 5 dress sizes, but I’ve already lost 1 and I think it is do-able.

The leader of our group is such a supportive lady and we recently connected on Facebook.  Our group members regularly and spontaneously stand up to sing her praises as to how she has helped them and made a difference to their lives and I’m really not surprised.  She is total bundle of positive energy.   So I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, I’ll tell her.  So tentatively, with a terrible opening message along the lines of, “Hello. Ok. So. Support. I'm nervous. Scared more like. I've sought help on my slimming before, but to my regret, I've never told any of my previous people why I'm slimming which is actually the most important bit really.  Not sure how you'd take it and whether I'm about to make a mistake that will alienate you forever...this is really not something I'm sure about.  Can I confess the secret only selected friends and family know...? If this is already TMI, honestly, I won't say, but clearly, it already sounds too interesting I suspect…”

She gave me to ok to go ahead, and so I did: “The target by this Christmas is interesting, but my target by the following Christmas is more revealing.  I want to be a size 14.  I’m transgender.”  Way to blurt it out.

Following my shaky start what unfolded was probably one of the most instantly supportive, accepting and enthused conversations I’ve ever had.   One of the opening lines from her was that she had suspected something.  Clearly this just confirms that they are mind readers after all - I’ll never have to out myself again! :o)  It continued through her saying it is awesome and exciting.  I showed her my Flickr page and this blog. She responded that I look beautiful.  I told her about the medical reasons for losing weight to help get prescribed with hormones etc and she offered her absolute support with helping me to achieve my goal and my dreams.  Her recognition, from her own past, that people can be judgemental and ignorant really helped.  Her perceptive responses really amazed me, the genuine depth of understanding is really unusual.  It left me happy, elated and reassured and was really lovely.

All of this happened on FB messanger and I’m not at group this week as I’m away on holiday, but I am nervous about the next group session.  I’m always a little more shy in person about this stuff.  My work persona, for example, is different - I have to present confident and accomplished - but secretly I’m shy and a little bit (or a lot) insecure and lacking in self esteem.  But I’ve been bowled over so far by her response and, who knows, one day, I might be able to go to the group as Rhiannon and be welcomed by the other slimmers.  Certainly that dream feels a step closer and I know that I have another amazing fierce strong woman helping me in my corner.  I’m very grateful.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Desperation is growing

Sometimes you realise that some old sayings are indeed, true.  In this case, ’you can have too much of a good thing’ is something that I’m suffering from at the moment.  This week has been very very Rhiannon.  Sunday afternoon and evening, Tuesday afternoon and evening, all day Wednesday and all day Thursday, I’ve been in girl mode and have been very very happy.  Weight is going down and confidence is growing.  But honestly, its causing me to really struggle.  Every time I have to return to my male disguise, my heart breaks and I want to cry.  Desperation is growing.  I just want to be full time right now.

This week has seen me driving to Birmingham, UK, in Rhiannon-mode, checking into a hotel.  When I was in my room, I fancied a night in one of my favourite normal girl dresses.  Upon realising that I’d left my mobile phone in my car, I thought sod it and I popped out in my dress.  Exhilarating and felt great, even with a group of loud men looking on!  On top of that I had a lovely evening in with A2, diet food and wine.  Then time out watching the new Bridget Jones movie at the local cinema and today, lunch at Nandos.  Add in that I went shopping in Boots and I think I’ve been really brave this week.

I got noticed very little and anyone who did, just didn’t say anything.  The weight loss means that clothes are fitting me again.  A lot more to go, but I suspect that by Saturday, the total dropped will be 21lbs which is a fantastic achievement so far - given that I’m enjoying eating still!!  All of this means that I’m not just content, but desperate to get out more and more in Rhiannon mode.  I’m not being stupid and risk taking, but I am focussed on getting on with life.

The challenge is twofold with going full time.  Work won’t be an easy one to resolve - lots of thinking and work to do to decide how to move things forward.  Financially, full time leads to splitting with my wife and funding two households for a time.  Neither easy, but I’m giving a lot of time to working out how I can overcome both challenges.  The problem is that in the mean time, I’m struggling.  I need more of my good thing.  I daydream about being full time and long for when I can be myself all of the time.  And right now this is making me desperate.  I’m not going to do anything stupid and rash - its a time for careful thinking and planning, but I wish it wasn’t.  I wish it was already happening.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

It’s good to talk…

On a roll?  Let’s not get too excited, its only the second one recently.  But I am in a happy place today which is both a minor miracle and a great relief.   I know that I have outlined my dysphoric episodes in the past, so I don’t need to go there again.   But the other day it struck like thunder.  Typically, it was on a day when I had so much work to do which was really frustrating.  I couldn’t focus or concentrate.  Luckily my friend who I think I have previously referred to as A2 on here was at the end of an email and really helped.  She helped calm me and to put things in perspective.  It was good to talk.

But today I went further with a confluence of three good things happening in one day.  The first is that I got a lot of work done.  I’m really worried at the moment as my list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter - it’s constant growth is getting tiresome.  So whilst it only got a little shorter today, it did get shorter.  Second, I got a day in Rhiannon mode which was fantastic.  As I said last time, I’ve been attempting to lose weight.  That, together with the removal of my hernia meant that I put on my skinny jeans and they fit perfectly and beautifully.  I felt a million dollars.  I put it together with a nice flowery blue top, blue cardigan and my blue kitten heel shoes.  I was saying to A1, the other A, that even my confidence was higher today because I felt better in myself.  What more incentive could you possibly want for losing a bit of weight?

All of that was working toward the fact that it was my counselling session today.  I’d decided to go in Rhiannon mode and so getting ready (and even my make up was good today) was a joy.  My counselling was recommended by my gender Doctor and it is with a recommended gender counsellor who is very good.  I suffer with verbal diarrhoea most of the time.  He, I think, has realised that, so asks me really good questions and lets me start talking.  It is so cathartic to get this time just to talk about what is in my head.  I’m grateful for the opportunity.  The gender Doctor indicated that in order to start my course of hormones, I need to lose a bit of weight and that the counselling would be useful to help me think about getting the rest of my life in order so that I can continue on the route of travel towards going full time.  Weight loss is in progress and counselling has started.

The counselling sessions so far have been very focussed on unpacking the issues and the problems I face with transition.  I think that as we move into future sessions, they will get harder because they will start to deal with the actions I need to take to make that happen.  I don’t really like that because whilst I desperately want it, I pathologically avoid upsetting people.  I can’t bear knowing I’m the cause of someone’s upset.  It might sound like I’m a saccharine goody two shoes, but I find it really hard to be selfish.  But I know that I have to do it.  I’ve realised over time, that it really isn’t a choice.   I need to take it very seriously as I start to plan to impact many of the lives around me.  Some of the questions today caught me short and I was hit by how tough this process is going to be to go through.

So today had real highs and I’m really grateful for them.  But it also was very challenging and went to the core of who I am.  I don’t mean to be flippant, but there is power in being able to communicate and to start to process all of this: it is really good to talk.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Less of me has returned than I left with...

The first question, when you have been away from your own blog for an impolite amount of time, I suppose, is where to start?  Looking at my most recent entry, you could be forgiven for wondering if I’d vanished in a blaze of self-recrimination after feeling like I had let my self down.  Actually, it was worse than that, but in a very different way…

Shortly after the last blog, I started to feel unwell.  Really unwell.  Unwell to the point that I could barely eat without feeling lots of pain.  Long story short, it resulted in me ending up in hospital and very quickly needing to adjust to a longish period of recovery following a fairly big operation.  Not a serious, needing organs to be fixed or replaced type of operation, but certainly an open up your abdomen, poke around and repair one!  Everything is all well and good now and I feel better than before, but it made for a mostly difficult Summer.  

This may sound a little macabre, but one of the upsides of being so unwell was that I lost a whole load of weight.  It was great, but when I then started eating again, disappointingly, it all began to pile back on to me.  As you will know from previous blogs, I really struggle with my weight, so that was very disappointing.  But it did inspire me to think about losing it properly.  I know I’ve promised this before, but this time, rather than acting in the rash heat of the moment and failing, I have actually started already.  Joining a local well-known brand of slimming groups, I have begun the process of reducing my size down…again. (Perpetual yo-yo dieter here I’m afraid!)

As you would expect, the group I joined, which is a large one, is primarily populated by female members.  There are a few chaps, but not many.  I find fitting in quite hard: as usual, I don’t feel part of either gender’s group.  I’m not (outwardly) a girl and I certainly find it hard to connect to the men.  

I had a major overwhelm of dysphoria at one point in my first meeting.  As is customary, you are asked to identify a target to aim for and instead of what I was expected to say (i.e. losing a million pounds), I nearly said I wanted to be a size 14.  Good sense kicked in and I realised that I’m not supposed to say that, so a target weight came out of my mouth instead.  But inwardly I felt so frustrated.  Why, for once, can’t I just live how I want to live and say it how it is and how I want it to be - I really really need to get this sorted out.

Anyway, to the group - I’m finding the purpose of the group meeting difficult: it is driven by almost a name and shame approach — or name and praise if weight has been lost.  But most people there seem to be comfortable.  As someone of my rotund proportions would expect, the weight is coming off well to start with — it’ll be interesting in a few months when it completely slows down to see how motivated I am at that point.  But for now, at 1 stone (14lbs, 6.35kg) lighter than I was, I’m feeling more comfortable already and more importantly am gearing up to sign up to some gym membership.  Fitness is as important to me as weight loss.

Other things are going on which I will report on later, but that will do for now except to say that during my period of unwellness, time as Rhiannon was rendered virtually impossible due to incapacitation and pain.  But things have resumed and now, for the first time in many months, my heart is singing again.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The cock crowed three times…

Have you had had the experience where you were put on the spot, backed into a corner almost, where the only two options were to either tell someone that you are trans or lie and deny it?

The first time it happened to me was several years ago when I started to come out.  I was building up to tell one of my friends, and did the whole, “I’ve got something to tell you…” bit.  They just looked at me and said, “you are trans aren’t you?”  Filled with surprise, I caved at that point and just agreed.  It was ahead of when I wanted to say it, but I did want to say it, so I did.  I was ready.

Last night a similar opportunity arose and god, did I crash and burn.  I was invited - and went - to the birthday party of a full time transwoman friend called J.  She is completely lovely and kind and it was so nice of her to include me in her celebration.  I drove over in male mode, for a range of reasons, and when I arrived, the party was in full swing.  A number of her friends were there, none of whom I’d met before and none, I assume, knew about my trans status.  Clearly some people there were from the LGBT community, together with others who either weren’t LGBT, or were very stealthy.   

My pain commenced almost immediately.  I started talking to a nice chap who was very much larger than life and almost his opening line was, “how do you know J?”  Gulp.  I know, in hindsight, that I should have considered how I wanted to respond to that question, but honestly, I hadn’t.  I went red and a million thoughts went through my head, each one of them screaming, “don’t say it,” “what will they think,” “you never tell people about this in an unplanned way,” “he’s a complete stranger, what are you thinking”, “give the safe answer”.  

So instead of thinking clearly, opening up, telling the truth and just being very cool and relaxed about it.  I crashed and burned.  I said, “Oh, we haven’t known each other long, we met on line. She’s just fab isn’t she,” and indicated that I was ready to move on.  As the cock crowed for the first time, fortunately the guy loved the sound of his own voice and he moved on.  And an inward part of me hated myself for denying who I am. 

Later on I was talking to another chap who was also lovely - we’d been having a really interesting conversation on a very blokey topic (house building) and we were regaling each other with mutual experiences.  I’d (not deliberately, I think) been talking about my kids and wife and sounding like a very normal, sane, family man respectable type.  As you do with strangers at parties.  As you might expect, in a lull in the conversation, my heart sank as he asked the same question, “how do know J?”  I tried the same line again.  He looked confused, but was about to accept the answer, I could hear the cock crowing again in the background, when things turned for the worse.  J joined the conversation and he asked her the question instead.  She looked at me in a “how do you want to answer this” kind of way.  So I quickly repeated my previous line, brightly and with enthusiasm, “I was just telling him, we haven’t known each other long have we J?  We met on line. You are just fab aren’t you?  So many varied interests, we just hit it off.”

Sensing a healthy dose of BS, he got more specific: “where abouts on-line?" he asked, "what?  A mutual interest site?”  I knew the game was up.  I looked pleadingly at J, not knowing how to handle this at all.  She said, “Its an LGBT support forum.  Isn’t it great at the party tonight, we definitely have some L’s, a few G’s, at least one B and some Ts.”  He nodded, we moved on and the cock crowed for the third time.  

My sage and wise adviser and gay friend has been a fantastic help today and has just messaged to instruct me not to beat myself up over it, because honestly, I am.  He rightly says that it comes from the 'fight or flight' instinct and that even he has denied being gay at times.  I just need to get better at knowing how to answer that question.  It's going to happen a lot more.  If I’d been in my armour of my dress, make up and wig, I think it would have been easier.  Partly because they wouldn’t have needed to ask, but also because I am ready to answer in that mode.  The thing that's sad is that I am not ashamed of being trans, but I made myself feel like I am, whereas I was actually just frightened.  But the horrible thing was that I felt like I put J in an uncomfortable position and it was almost like I was denying her at the same time and I don’t like that about myself. 

Its amazing how much time you spend with yourself and yet, you still learn more that you didn’t know. 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

There and Back Again…

Sorry, another 2 month pause.  I really must stop doing that.  I have been so busy and together with having to create a lot of content for my blog at work (I know, such a blog harlot), I’ve been creatively exhausted.  Sounds a bit too grand really.  But I’ve been hanging around and reading lots of other blogs and commenting.  Lynn over at YATGB is just producing some amazing content at the moment which I’ve been really enjoying.

In general, I’ve continued to spend time presenting as me.  I’ve been out a few times - one included going for a meal in a local restaurant with a friend who is completely lovely and encouraging.  I wore one of my new tops from this blog - the lacy armed one.  Many days as Rhiannon at work, including one little afternoon soiree (can a soiree be any other time than the evening?) which was very pleasant.  Continuing my regime of waxing and attempting to start to diet and failing.  Generally happy in a devastated-and-traumatised-to-spend-a-moment-longer-presenting-male kind of way.

So not much new to tell really from the last couple of months, just two little stories to whet the appetite:

I said in my last blog that I was going to visit Dr Curtis to start the medical process towards transition.  It was an interesting meeting, I’m not sure I enjoyed it as I felt very nervous. Dates and the order of my journey so far just flew out of my head and I felt that I gave a very muddled account of myself.  In fact, when I got the report I didn’t open it for several weeks as I was sure it would be a label of ‘deluded bloke’ rather than ‘gender dysphoric transwoman’.  But eventually I womaned up and opened it.  The first thing that struck me: I’d forgotten that a copy was being sent to my GP!  Ohmygoodness.  Well, if they were ignoring it before, they can’t now.

But the verdict? Several things: first, it was a gender dysphoric diagnosis (phew), second, it was a view that I can’t move forward medically without major weight-loss (which I suspected), third, I need to stop my habit of using alcohol to cope with my feelings of gender dysphoria and fourth and final, I need to get some counselling.  Fortunately, the counselling can happen locally to where I live, so I’ve started that process off and hopefully the actual meetings will start soon.  The weight loss is more challenging.  Great gusto for several weeks and then falling off a cliff.  Very little exercise too.  I’m a very busy and active woman with lots going on in her life, I just prefer to do it all sat down.

I had a wobble.  Cheeky, that doesn’t relate to my weight loss problem.  But I did.  I was booked to go out for dinner with a friend to a small town in the South of England.  I’m getting used to going out in cities, but there is something slightly more exposing about going out in a small town. The thought of it made me feel very vulnerable and honestly, a little frightened.  I know that if I’m to go full time, these are challenges that I need to overcome.  Fortunately on that night, I ran a little late in getting to the town and so I didn’t have enough time to get changed etc.  I wonder whether I would have taken the plunge if I did have the time.  I’m going back there sometime, so I guess we’ll find out one day… anyway, my friend was brilliant, I had a great night and the food was fab.  So all good.

I do have some more ideas for some blogs, so I won't leave it long before the next one.  Thank you for reading :o) xxx

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Start, stop, start…

Two weeks ago, I had a blissful 24 hours in Rhiannon mode.  I really should do that more often.  How about all the time? :o)  As I said in my last blog, I had, the night before this 24 hours started, spent a fantastic evening with one of my very good friends, A2.  She really is a clever, amazing, accepting, beautiful and awesome lady.  Our conversations went late into the night and were wide ranging, honest, open and very frank.  I feel very lucky to have friends I can talk in that way when needed.  Given that this was all accompanied by some nice wine and Thai food to die for, it was a great evening.  Just a shame it was in boy mode.  Presenting as me would have been a very nice cherry on the cake.

After a good sleep in my favourite pyjamas, I woke up at A2’s house and set about getting made up and dressed.  A2 has seen lots of photos, but never met me as Rhiannon, despite our 15 year friendship, so this was an amazing moment for me, but also a little scary.  As expected, she was lovely and it was very easy.  After some very nice compliments, we both had work to do, so we got on with it.  Settling down at our respective laptops, we bashed out the rest of the morning.  At one point, I asked, “Does this feel weird for you?”  Her response was that it felt more normal than if I’d been presenting male because its actually me.  I need more time with her for sure!  In fact, she has agreed to cook me her signature dish in April, so another Rhiannon evening to be had with her which I am looking forward to a lot.

But all things must come to a end and I needed to leave around lunch time.  I had plans in the afternoon for coffee which came to naught, so I just drove down South ready for dinner with B and K.  Half way down, I realised that I was going to turn up empty handed.  I wanted to buy some Prosecco to take with me, so I stopped off for a quick shop in M&S.  Apart from a few stares, it was very uneventful.  I’m starting to think the stares are just because I’m beautiful rather than for any other reason.  :o)

Then I headed off.  Quick change of top, perfume spritz, new shoes on and I was ready to go to see B and K.  This time, we were at B’s house.  I have mentioned BK before here.  You couldn’t meet two more lovely, kind friends.  B had arranged with her husband for him to be out for the night, but I arrived before he left.  She had brought him up to speed on my situation a couple of weeks ago and I just found him to be amazing.  He was respectful, kind, interesting and accepting.  In fact, I said to B later about how lucky she was - men like that are definite keepers.  I’ve met him once or twice before, but if all men were like him, being trans would be a complete breeze.

B then proceeded to spend the evening completely excelling herself, cordon-bleu style.  After the opening nibbles of designer bread, oil, artichoke hearts, olives and sun-dried tomatoes, she had cooked butternut squash soup.  Both delicious but topped off by home-made meatballs in tomato sauce with tagliatelle.  And if that wasn’t enough, dessert was panna cotta with a summer berry jus and home made bailey’s ice-cream.  I’m surprised that my new top still fitted me afterwards.  Accompany that with just normal, nice conversations about holidays, work, boyfriends, new pets (for K) etc and it was just the kind of night I’ve always dreamt of enjoying.  Feeling very normal and just chatting with the girls.  It felt like that night was a precious gift from B and K.  They don't think they have done anything special, but they have done more than they can imagine.

The title of this blog began ‘start, stop’ because since then, I’ve gone from spending 2-3 days per week in Rhiannon mode and going out at least once a week since New Year, to nothing.  Things have been so busy and I’ve been away a lot, so I’ve not been able to do anything at all.  Its interesting because as a result, all of the sadness, feeling down, lethargy etc has all returned and I’ve been feeling very sad inside again.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some highs, including going to Kinky Boots The Musical in London this week.  Now that deserves its own blog!  But I've not felt right again.

So, *drum roll*, all of that has brought me to a fairly dramatic conclusion.  It has made me realise that I need to present as me more and more and that putting it off, resisting and hiding it, just isn’t going to work at all.  It just leads me to a very unhappy place.  My conclusion is that I need to transition if I possibly can.  This won’t be an overnight thing, there is a lot to do, but I need to start getting ready so that over the next year or two, I’m ready to go.   I mentioned a year ago, in this blog, that I went to the Doctors to tell them I was trans and that it wasn’t the best experience ever.  So this time, at least to start with, I’m going to go private.  I’ve got an appointment booked with Dr Curtis' practice in London and I’m nervously awaiting trying to move my life forward.  I know this sounds like a big step, but honestly, its been building for a long time and I just have to take action before I lose myself.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Problematic Wardrobe Gaps

The other day, I had the chance to go out for evening dinner with a male friend.  Given my current resolve to go out as often as possible as Rhiannon, I jumped at the chance.  As you do, I spent quite a lot of time considering what I should wear.  But what I discovered was - and apologies because it also could sound incredibly stereotypical - I really didn’t have anything to wear.

I realised that I have been presenting as Rhiannon in certain situations at certain times of the day and that my wardrobe has grown up around those requirements.  I go out a lot during the day for lunch to restaurants and for shopping trips, so I had lots of day clothes that I could wear, but they aren’t really evening-smart.  Also that there are some types of clothes that I particularly like, so have lots of those.  These are namely, nice evening dresses, but most of them are not appropriate for a night out with someone in jeans and I didn’t want to mismatch.

My friends A1 and S were very helpful in helping me to think it through.  Together, we decided on my purple chiffon-y dress with tights, some less smart heels and muted accessories.  One of my favourite pieces of advice from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (I know!) is that, "no plan stands contact with the enemy."  That night it proved to be true.  When my friend arrived, he was in jeans and a jacket and I felt incredibly overdressed and thought that we were wearing considerably different levels of formality.  I would have struggled to relax and enjoy myself.  Out came my nice day top, jeans and flats and I felt a little underdressed compared to the other girls who were out, but it worked a little better.

My realisation was that most women would probably not have this challenge because going out for early evening dinner is something that they would do regularly and  so would have appropriate clothes.  Often when, “I’ve got nothing to wear,” is heard, it is because it is a new and/or important situation rather than being something they regularly do.  I looked desperately on-line in the couple of days leading up to dinner because I suspected that this might be a problem, but to no avail.  So, I decided that I need to be ready for the future.  So since the meal, I have been hunting for dressy evening tops and a nice, but less formal dress for the next time that happens :o)  The results are here:


Last Friday, I got the chance to try out one of the tops when I spent the evening with B and K from my previous blog.  In fact I spent the whole day as Rhiannon (not in a dressy top!) and introduced myself as myself for the first time to my friend A2.  It was a great day, but needs another blog post to do it justice, so I’ll work on that one as soon as I have a moment.  My friends are being fantastic and really are helping my to get out more. :o)

Finally, I have also realised that v-neck tops are very flattering to me and work for my shape.  Rounded neck tops are lovely, but they do make me feel a little wider.  So (too much shopping), I bought two new ones of those too.  They look great on - in fact, this is one of them.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Shopping for 'Curves' (Part 1)

For a while now, I have wanted to write a blog on plus sized clothing for transgender ladies.  Clearly, there a lot of transwomen who are very slim and fit into the normal sized clothes range.  Over the last few years I have continuously grown and so that is not an option for now, so I had to learn how to buy and put together nice outfits despite only being able to buy larger items.  At the moment, I’m a size 26 on top, 22 on bottom and I have size 10EEE feet and am 5'11.

Whilst that may seem large - and I am dieting (she guiltily quickly says), I am learning to try to be proud of just being me.  I have to say that I’ve been absolutely inspired by the growth in the number of blogs by natal women on body confidence for larger ladies.  Women who are leading the way in saying that they are proud of their bodies and are no longer succumbing to societal peer pressure to conform.  It is about them loving who they are, irrespective of size and shape.  My two favourites are Callie’s From the Corner of the Curve and Georgina’s Fuller Figure Fuller Bust.  They are both amazing women and I have taken their advice on a number of occasions.

Though I am writing this post, I’m don't think of myself as an expert, more a curious student.  Despite my size, many of my female acquaintances compliment me on how I dress.  I know women do that anyway, often they pick out a particular item that another women is wearing and highlight how much they like it.   The two comments I most commonly get are focused on my jewellery and the overall co-ordination of what I am wearing and how well it is put together.   Given my low self-esteem, in my head, I always add, ‘for a man in dress’, but it really is kind of them all the same.

This subject will, out of necessity, run into a few posts, but I wanted to start with the principles that I apply when I am deciding what to buy in particular, but also what to wear.  I wanted to share these with you in the hope that they help.  My aim for my 'look' is to stand out with some individuality, but to blend into what 'normal' clothes most of the women I’m trying to mingle with are wearing.  I don’t pass (not to say I won’t at some point) but I want to try to look nice, smell nice and to not give any obvious reasons for incongruence.  So I:

Dress for my age 
I’m 41.  There I said it.  Dressing like a teenage is no longer an option!  When I first started properly dressing, clearly my denim miniskirt and low cut pink gypsy top were ideal, but I would have been spotted (putting it politely) a mile off.  Particularly with my first ever shoe purchase: patent leather baby pink platforms with a 7-inch heel!  What was I thinking!?  These days, I spend a lot of time looking for other women in the their early 40s to try to see what they are wearing and to wear similar.   One of my favourite outfits, you have seen before is my butterfly top - it is a see through chiffon gauzy material that I wear with a cream cami-top and often a blue cardigan.  I get really nice feedback on it.  The point is that when I go out for dinner, I see a lot of women wearing similar tops - especially a couple of years ago when it was all the rage!

Consider proportions
One of the things that most hit me when talking to one of my loveliest friends who knows a huge amount about personal image was proportions.  When you are larger, you need to adjust the proportions of your clothes and accessories accordingly.   If you think about it, handbags and accessories are designed for women who are often smaller and slimmer.  If you carry a little bag around, it is very noticeable.  When I buy bags for everyday use, I tend now to buy from the tote or shopper range because they are larger. When people see me with my bag, it doesn’t look out of place at all because it is proportionate to me.  For nights out, I bought an oversized clutch - fortunately there was a trend of them a couple of years ago.  The bag looks normal in proportion to me.  I do the same for my jewellery - if I can, I buy big necklaces and bracelets which lessen the effect of my chunky hands, arms and neck.

Co-ordinate colours and jewellery
One of the reasons, I think they say that I am ‘well put together’ is because I am very careful to co-ordinate the colours and styles in my outfits.  Given I’m colour-blind, I’m surprised that I get away with it. :o)   I can never tell if its something I do naturally, but I try to keep colours together - so blue and black, green and brown, pink and red etc.  I also live for my dark jeans as they help co-ordinate colours and lots of black shoes and boots.  I try not to have too many clashing colours although I noticed that this will be one of the Summer trends this year.   Early on, I decided not to buy expensive jewellery and instead to buy lots of it in many different colours so that I have a match for virtually every outfit.  Some would consider my dress sense very safe, but the jewellery is often my statement.  One of my friends bought me an amazing necklace that has become one of my go to items.   I also try to match as much as possible.  Typically I wear black shoes (loving my flat ballet pumps at the moment) but I try to match the colour of my shoes to my bag or top if I possibly can.  I know that is also standard advice given to women!

Find the colours that are my friend
They say blue for a boy and pink for a girl.  I do wear pink sometimes, but actually blue is much more friendly to my skin tone and my blue eyes.   So I try to wear some blue in a lot of my outfits.  It helps my face and make up to look nice and not too washed out.  My recent outfit purchase in blue is much better for me than the one in pink that I got.  Pink works for me if I can find exactly the right shade.  I’m no expert, but I really think it is worth getting someone to advise on what colours suit you, it makes a huge difference to your confidence. :o)

Play to your assets 
I’m definitely not one of the strikingly beautiful ladies who were born that way.  So I try to play to my three best assets.  1. I’m fortunate to have soft features on my face and my wig was chosen specifically to soften and frame my face even further.  2. My legs from just above the knee downwards are quite feminine. The photo to the side gets me lots of compliments accordingly. I choose dresses that fall to just the right place if possible.  3.  Due to my weight, I have a natural b-cup breast/moob which really helps me to pull off some great cleavage.  Recently, I’ve discovered the advantages of v-necked tops and how much they help me!  Its really helpful to work out what are your best bits and how can you co-ordinate your clothes around it.   Seems to help me anyway!

Sorry, that ended up being quite long, but I hope was helpful.  I’m much better at drivelling on about how sad or happy I am than writing useful blogs, but its a start I guess… next time, I'm planning to write a little about where I go to buy my clothes as there are definitely some great places out there.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Selfie February

Morning.  Please forgive the quality of my selfies - first two on computer and third on my phone. Clearly I need some work on both my selfie technique (the lighting in particular) - and on me!  (And that isn't fishing for compliments - its selfie self feedback!).  But just felt pretty in pink this morning, so thought I'd post.  Please be gentle!  :o) xxx

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Is it possible to be so happy?

In the midst of lots of difficulty, how is it that sometimes, you want to jump up and down with joy?  I have some really difficult things going on at the moment that are going to take all of my resilience, strength, determination and diplomacy to get through.  Even the best I can be might not get me through it.  Add into the mix that more Rhiannon time = potential marital breakdown.  Also consider that any transition will not happen in the immediately foreseeable future and I should be so sad and down.  But its amazing because I have never felt so alive and happy as I’m feeling right now.

You will recall that I said my New Year resolutions included a target to go out as Rhiannon at least once per month.  So far this year, I am smashing the target into the back of the net, and I think that it is this fact that has led to this unusual height of happiness.  Clearly the cynical Brit in me is waiting for it all to come crashing down around me, but for now I’ll enjoy.

This week I have managed to spend 2 full days as Rhiannon and been out on both occasions and have enjoyed them immensely.  The first was earlier in the week and involved travelling over to Manchester to enjoy lunch with a friend.  Admittedly, it was easy enough, it was at Velvet on Canal Street, so you’d expect a high degree of trans-friendliness, but it was still so awesome.  I know that this is sad and probably objectionable in some way, but every time I get called Madam, something inside me breaks and I just want to cry with happiness.  Throughout lunch, the staff made every effort to make me feel like I was another female customer and they looked after me accordingly.  After, I went back to my hotel and aside from dinner, had a lovely afternoon working and getting lots done.

Interestingly two things happened on my way to lunch that I’d never had before.  The first was that I came out of the nearby multi-storey car park and had the shock of my life.  I entered a wind trap.  Have you ever had the experience where everything slows down into slow motion and you worry that something terrible is about to happen?  I felt the wind tug at my (not real) hair and I froze ready to either catch it or to make an embarrassed dash after it!  But, thank goodness, my new wig has clips that held it firmly in place and I just looked instead like any other windswept lady!  Secondly my lunch friend was late and I’d agreed to wait just outside the restaurant for them.  Despite other people being around and there being CCTV, I was amazed at just how exposed I felt.  Just a taste, I suspect, of the insecurity that women feel when out and about.  Or I’m just paranoid. :o)

The second day was fantastic too.  Mainly the day was in the office, but I had a hair appointment in the morning.  As I have said before, I buy, wash and accessorise my wig at a fantastic place in Leeds: Andrea’s Hairoom - her website is  I know that I’ve recommended her before, but honestly, it can’t be possible that there is a lovelier, more trans-friendly person around.  Her shop is very private and comfortable and what she doesn’t know on the subject is not worth knowing.  Her supplies are drawn from some of the best suppliers around the world.  This visit was because my current wig got a kink in it because it is real hair and I wanted to know how to control it. Andrea offered to help me learn how to style my hair using hair straighteners.  She recommended straighteners from Cloud Nine and very quickly I started to get the idea.  Practice practice practice is going to be the order of the day, but it was so fantastic to be able to do other things with my wig or at the very least to be able to tidy it up.  Helping me in this way requires complete patience and Andrea was just great at teaching the dark art of wigdressing.  She also sells other accessories.  I have been looking for some nice scarves for a long time and she had two for sale that I completely fell in love with.  A fantastic visit all round.  I genuinely can’t wait for my next visit, every time I leave her shop, I feel 100 foot high and brim with confidence.  I love the energy and support she gives as well as being a great resource to the trans community.

I have a feeling that over the next week there are somethings that will dampen my spirit.  But as you can see from my latest photo, taken yesterday morning that I have more happy Rhiannon memories.  The one downside?  I want even more time as Rhiannon now.

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Anatomy of Greed? Or slippery slopes?

The thing is, that owing to work schedules and travel, there is no time this week to change into the real me.  Bummer.   What’s really weird is that sometimes I can go for a very long time where I don’t bother at all when I do have time.  But now I have started again in earnest to spend time as the real me, I’m desperately unhappy in every moment when I am not.  And I mean seriously antsy.  Right now, consumed with disappointment.  To the point where I have a window of 3.30 hours where I could be Rhi and I’m seriously considering it.  Even though it would really interfere with a mountain of work to get done.

Sometimes I wonder if I am just being greedy?  Greed = “An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves” or “intense and selfish desire for something”.  Apparently. Two questions:  1. Do I deserve to be Rhiannon? (I know I NEED to)  2.  Is it selfish to be Rhiannon?  Flipping heck.  I’m not sure I’m actually equipped to answer either of those questions without sounding like a narcissistic bitch.  I have talked with a lot of trans friends who agree that transitioning (in particular) could be seen as the ultimate in selfish acts, putting yourself above what others may want.  But what choice do you have?  To turn the question on its head, is it selfish NOT to be Rhiannon.  If I am not her / me, I am unhappy to the point where I could easily do something stupid - generally involving inconsolable sadness, stopping generally short of ending it all.   And if I was stupid would that be selfish to the people around me and they would have a much more damaged version of me.  And am I holding back a happier life for them resulting from me being less grumpy?

Its interesting actually, the need has heightened today due to the fact that I had promised myself Rhiannon time because I knew I couldn’t later in the week.  I feel like I’m betraying myself because a previous meeting overran, stopping me.  I should have protected ‘me’ time.  I also have yet another black tie event coming up this week - and we know how I feel about those.  The thought of no-Rhi time to bookend that is horrible!  I hate being in an ill-fitting suit knowing that I have a lovely dress that I feel nice in sat in the cupboard doing nothing.  Not fair at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still feeling on the happy side of positive, but knowing its a week until I can be me is getting harder and harder.  Can you have a slippery slope that takes you upward?  This isn’t greed, its necessity and I’m not slipping down, I’m going up!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

2016: Rhiannon in Overdrive?

Following my New Year Resolution that I was going to try to more regularly get out in Rhiannon-mode, I have made a good start to the year.  The modest, but oh-so-measurable target is once a month at least.   In January, I have been out once so far and spent an evening dressed -- clearly smashing the target already! :o)  Today, I have spent a day in the office with some new skinny jeans and a nice new top (see picture below).  My fantastic work colleague and I, even popped out to the Post Office.  And do you know what?  I’m so much happier and more relaxed for it.  Being able to be Rhiannon keeps the dysphoria from the door.

The evening out was a brave one - for both the people I was with and for me, but also nearly didn’t happen.  A couple of weeks ago, I’d set up dinner with two of my very lovely real girl pals, B and K [hereafter BK :o)].  They have known about Rhiannon for a long time and were just so accepting. Just before the meal, I decided to ask them if they would mind me coming as Rhiannon.  Happily they said yes and the date was set.  On the day, I had a real wobble.  My super duper amazing hair had gone off to the wig-seller shop to be washed and reset, so I had to put on my secondary wig.  When I got it out, it was in a bit of a tangle.  I unpicked it and put it on, but I really didn’t feel at all comfortable.  Now that I am used to my new hair, it just doesn’t suit me as well and doesn’t feel real.  But I was determined to have my night out, so I just put up with it and went.  I put on some cute jeans, my butterfly top with the camisole t-shirt underneath and a blue cardigan.  On my feet, I wore my black block heeled boots.

After getting ready in Leeds, I set off and drove down South for dinner.  When I arrived BK were wonderful.  They just didn’t even bat an eyelid.  I’m hugely conscious of the fact that I’m 5’11 and large (although I’ve lost a stone since Christmas!), so I stand out.  But they were completely amazing and totally accepting.  I noticed I got many stares during the course of the evening, but to be honest, I’m starting to be less bothered about that.  I’m proud to be trans and others just need to get over it.  I do my best to look presentable, appropriately dressed and to smell nice.  If they can’t deal with anything beyond that, so be it.  I’m not hurting or harming them in anyway at all.  My only concern was always for my friends and after the evening, on Facebook, I asked whether they were uncomfortable at all and they really weren’t.  In fact the lovely B said, “Not at was just the 3 of us for dinner as usual.”  More than I could have hoped.  We had a lovely meal, chatted, admired B’s amazing new shoes and had fun.

I did have a moment...when I needed to use the toilet - which do I go into?  BK said definitely the Ladies, so off I set.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I went in and it was only me in there.  But as I was leaving, a little girl (around 8) walked through the door and went wide eyed!  I smiled at her and went on my way.  I’m really not sure what she thought!

Two days later, I got the chance to spend Rhiannon time again.  This time with my mum!  Occasionally we get to do mother and daughter nights.  It is just the best thing in the whole wide world when my mum calls me her daughter - it just feels so special.  We had a lovely evening at her house - Chinese, wine and chat.  I put on jeans and a t-shirt top and was very relaxed.  We had such a nice time.  I didn’t want to take it all off, but needs must.  I also put on some nice pyjamas and my mum asked where I got them from as she wanted to buy some too.  Result!!

So, as I said - a cracking start to the year.  My wig arrived back yesterday too, so I’m now even more comfy.  I’ve booked in time to go for a lesson in how to style it too, so it can only get better.  I really am a very happy girl right now.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Danish Girl (Spoiler Fest)

***Please don’t read if you don’t want spoilers***

Finally, after having waited for a very long time to watch it, I managed to get time to see the much hyped portrayal of the very brave Lili Elbe by Eddie Redmayne.  I managed to sneak off for a night last week, while working away, to get a few hours in the cinema.  I went on my own, which I regularly do, I have no issue with doing that.  Well I thought I didn’t, until I realised that I was the only ‘man’ there on 'his' own.  Lots of groups of women came in together with the odd forlorn looking guy who clearly had been dragged along by his wife and/or daughter!  Disappointingly (or encouragingly) depending on how you look at it, there were no obviously trans people there.  Once it started though, it was all good and I settled down.

As you can imagine, I was paying attention to their reactions to the film.  The first time Lili ‘dressed’, my heart was in my throat.  If I’m honest, I didn’t want her to do it.  My reaction surprised me.  People really liked ‘him’ by this point and I was worried it would mean they would go off him.  There was a little bit of embarrassed laughter when he emerged but they quickly recovered.  The other point that caused consternation was the first time Lili kissed a man.  At that point, an almost outraged gasp was audible.  I suspect it was because he was being unfaithful to his wife.  After that, there was nothing by almost reverential silence, they were transfixed and you could almost feel a palpable togetherness in the room which was really encouraging.

I really like Eddie Redmayne.  On the Sunday before I watched TDG, oddly, I’d watched ‘The Theory of Everything’ for the first time too. He really does have a very enigmatic personality and a screen presence and a dazzling smile that you just can’t help loving.  Overall, as you are about to see, I have very mixed views of the film.  But the thing that has to be acknowledged is that he is one gutsy guy and that he took some very brave steps as an actor to play the part.  There were some scenes that really pushed him a long way and I think he did it well.  Trans people know how hard it is to step outside your door - our own judgements of ourselves are bad enough, let alone others.

So in watching it, several things struck me that I thought were interesting:

The first thing that interested me, really surprised me.  There is a debate that rages on about the film industry trying harder to hire trans actors for trans roles.  Before watching the film, I didn’t really feel that strongly about it.  I now do.  He is a genuinely fantastic actor, but it really felt like he was battling his heterosexual, cis-normative natural reactions to play this role.  Someone who is trans, spends years observing women and trying to emulate their mannerisms and behaviours.  This is often to the point where you hear people saying that they have forgotten how to be a man.  It becomes so ingrained in you that you know how to improvise in every situation and circumstance so that the presentation is almost perfect.  Eddie doesn’t have that advantage and so his look was practically perfect, but at times, his mannerism and behaviour weren’t quite there and seemed very mannish.  I guess, you could argue that the story is an evolving journey and that Lili would have been developing this, but the issue is that it just jarred.  When I watched ‘Boy Meets Girl’ (the TV programme) with Rebecca Root, that didn’t happen.  She reacted in the way a woman does, she didn’t feel like a man playing a woman.  The same was true of the very fantastic Michelle Hendley in ‘Boy Meets Girl’ (the film).  Every reaction felt authentic.  There is something about them genuinely being women that they didn’t know how to play men. When Eddie reached a point where he didn’t know how to react or play it, he reverted to playing it as a man would think a woman would behave.  So there was lots of eye lash batting, primping and preening that just seemed forced. I’ve listened to an interview with Eddie where he discussed this and he was so lovely and said that he was trying to show Lili’s 'adolescence' by being over the top and demonstrating uberfeminisation, but I’m not sure it worked really.

Hats off to the script writer, some of Lili’s experiences definitely mirrored my own.  The idea of trying to break her wife into the idea of her ‘husband’ being a woman gently was something that definitely chimed with me.  I hate to admit it, but I put on underwear under my clothes hoping my wife (then girlfriend) would discover it and find out.  Lili also pretended that it was a game she played.  When I told another girlfriend, I told her it was just something we should do for fun sometimes.  Even though inside I knew its something I needed to do all the time.  They also, later on in the film, captured the torment and desperation of feeling like this very well.  They also had me desperate to stand up in the cinema and shout at the various Doctors who diagnosed her transgendered nature and forced her into dangerous quack solutions.  There was definitely a lot that was good about it.

As we have already established on this blog, I am a complete cry baby, I ball my eyes out at pretty much everything.  But I walked away from the cinema numb rather than having sobbed because of my empathy with Lili.  The film worked much harder (maybe because she was the stand out star of the show) to push our sympathy towards Gerta, Lili’s hard-done-by-but-ever-so-faithful wife.  Gerta was the strong one who fought and Lili was a little pathetic, self-centred, flouncy one who seemed like she had a split personality.  I think that ultimately it was my inability to connect to Lili that really made me struggle with the film.  I wanted it to be good so much and in many ways it was, but just not from a trans perspective.  Where I suspect it will earn plaudits is in being a cog in the wheel of helping non-trans people to understand our experience a little bit more.

Friday, 1 January 2016

2016: A Fresh Start?

Down in the mouth doesn’t begin to describe where I’ve been for a long time now.  I offer up a succession of painfully sad blogs in evidence to you.  I’m not a believer in artificial New Year dates as a prospect for renewal, but I have to say that yesterday, as I reflected on the previous year, I found something very encouraging.  I always make a list of goals for the year ahead.  Amorphous, badly thought through resolutions clearly don’t work.  So, instead, underneath a series of headings that I have used for a while, I create a total of 20-30 goals for the year — a ‘bucket list’ if you like.  My headings are:

Personal Finances
Personal Development
Weight and health

Generally I use them to beat myself up and it becomes a toxic document by which I realise just how far I am away from where I would like to be as a person.  Yesterday was different.  In searching for last year’s document, I actually found instead, the one I wrote in 2012.  Sad probably that I keep them, but as I went down the list, I realised that about 75-80% of them had been achieved.  They weren’t all done in 2012, but clearly they bubbled away at my consciousness and many of them - including some challenging and exciting ones got done.  My spirits lifted and I realised that maybe if I focus, I could get more of this year’s actually done and perhaps, while 2016 is still around!  So I created my list yesterday with a good deal of hope in my heart.

I’ve been sadder of late than I have let on in this blog.  I guess here there is a self editing filter that I use to not be seen as a bleak, flaky weirdo.  But I have had some very tough decisions to make and I have faced (and continue to face) some intractable challenges that gnaw away at me.  Some that I doubt my ability to resolve, but I have to anyway.  I have found myself in some very dark places which for an overly enthusiastic extroverted optimist has been very scary and has rocked my self-confidence.

Its amazing the bizarre places where wisdom comes to meet you, especially when you are not searching for it.  The other day, I was watching ‘Kinky Boots’ on TV.  There is a line at the end of the film that hit me between the eyes - Lauren (one of the factory workers) says to her boss (the instigator of shoe creation), “So here we are again. Charlie Price, standing in front of me, saying, ‘It's not my fault. What can I do?’”  I face a similar cross-roads.  I wondered whether I would take responsibility for all of these challenges or whether I just need to give up and say, ‘It's not my fault. What can I do?’  A lot of the time, the ‘what can I do’ eludes me. But hopefully this blog explains the determination left in my heart to try.  There are so many things I want to experience and do as the real me and maybe…hopefully…2016 is the year to take of the stabilisers and to try again.