Friday, December 09, 2016

A series of excellent events

Hi,

The office is quiet at the mo, and I'm sat listening to birdsong with forest sounds on my headphones (Noisili). I'm feeling rather relaxed, although the large cup of tea probably helps along with the stillness. This week, it's mostly a good news situation.

Midweek

Midweek I met with Joanna, a representative from the Womens' Centre, to find out more about the funding we've been working on. That's gone well and I've a bit of paperwork to fill out, to get things going. I think we may be in the final furlong, to coin a phrase. Oh, that reminds me, to help find evidence of making a difference, if you're a Chameleons visitor - in the real, or virtual, world, I'd be really grateful if you could put a paragraph together saying how the group's helped you. I'll tweak your name, by adding the first two digits of your birthday, if you like. That'll make it fairly anonymous, and yet, you'll know your comments. . The contact form is here.

Joanna said the comments will go to the City Council, so please note you may see your occluded name in lights. I promise I'll do my best not to put anything to link your words back to your email or otherwise.

The group's bank account is now '...fully operational', or fully opewational, if you're impersonating Darth Elmer Fudd :-) I took the subs to be paid in, and thanks to e-banking, I can see what the group has in funds. We should also be able to pay for our room hire via the same route, which will hopefully make things easier, as there'll be less messing about with cheques and whatnot. An IT solution making things easier? Heh, I can dream right? :-)

Party

Last night was the Xmas Party and wow, it was a truly cracking night. Everyone had pulled together to bring food, drink, mince-pies and music. We had a proper disco set up thanks to Laura (thanks, Mrs!). Fancy lights, big speakers, a wide range of pop and retro. Certainly a change from me using an old laptop and some desktop speakers. I just need to use my T-Jedi powers to influence the play list. ;-)

Feeling fancy
I was lucky to get in on time and thanks to a midweek delivery, I had a new party top to go with last year's sequined skirt (itself another bargain). Throw in some killer heels and I was very happy with my outfit. As I said to Fy as I got ready, it's so good to feel pretty every now and again. Just to break the run of jeans and shirts.

The Changing Room was pretty busy, with Sarah, Alison and Val visiting (loving the new do, Val). Fyona, Diane and Amanda did our best to transform ourselves. With it being a party night, I dialled up the glamour with some false lashes, some Urban Decay shades and some golden glitter eyeliner. Much wow, such amaze, so not bloke mode ;-)

Downstairs, the tables were out, people were mingling and the music in full swing in the bar area. We had some visitors from far away too. Rhiannon from Oop North, and then three trans men, down from Yorkshire, via America and Saudi Arabia. Wow, it there's ever a country not to be straight and male, Saudi must be it. Geez, what a mess. :-\ Interesting to hear how they're finding things, and would've loved to have talked to them for longer. Seeing more trans guys turn up makes me feel happy, happy in that Chams isn't just for us MTF part timers. While that;s our core, having folk from across the trans community is, I think, a really good thing.

I managed to grab a few words with various people and 'cut some rug' to the tunes being played out. I've still got Don't Feel Like Dancing by The Scissor Sisters looping around my head. So good to lose yourself in the music and just dance. Just thinking about this, makes me smile. Again, thanks to Laura for working her sorcery and Diane for sorting out the lights.

Back again with the ill behaviour
I had a good chat with Rhiannon, who I'd not seen in ages. We had a chat about her work speciality, which i may allude to, but not share. I certainly learned a few things, and I was surprised to now get the difference between extroverts and introverts. Seems I'm much more of the latter, despite my love of the dance floor and other behaviours. Every day's a school day.

By the end of the night, there was much tidying up to be done and uneaten food to be packed and taken away. I think my stash of paper plates will last a few months yet ;-)

We had time for some snaps, because mais oui :-) That and I can look back in later months and jog some memories. Val was kind enough to do the honours of taking one of me and Rhi. Maybe next time, I'll get everyone together for a group shot....and not on the stairs. :-)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays
L x


Friday, December 02, 2016

Shared journeys

Hi,

A bit of a personal post today. I met someone for lunch. I'll can call her* W, (* as in a non-trans lady ) and while I think it's unlikely she'll ever read this, I'll extend the same courtesy of anonymity to W, as I do to the Ever Lovely Mrs J, Wee Man and Little Miss. For any of you wondering if this may take a salacious turn, may I be the first to disappoint and say neither of us are from The Fens, so it's not like that ;-P

W had made no secret of her struggle against the Black Dog. While we'd had a few shortish chats over t'interwebs, I don't know about you, but I find face to face much easier and well, more human. Sure, Facebook chats and forum posts keep you connected and Skype or video calls are pretty good too, but it's not really the same.

Anyhoo, W and I sat in an out of town café chatting over tea and cake. We talked about W's relocation to Nottingham and how the new job was going. Conversation drifted, as it does and we talked about coping mechanisms, Jedi mind tricks and whatnot. Things you try and do to avoid going into the shadows, and how difficult it can to remember to do the right thing when you find yourself in the gloom. Not that I've been that way proper for many a moon, thankfully and I'm no expert by a long stretch, but you what you can to help don't you?

W asked about how did I slip into depression and I gave her the short and sanitised history. Chuck in a few wry comments to keep it light and give her time for questions, and also try to draw her in and keep the conversation two sided. I used phrases such as 'people like me', rather than saying trans, or euphemisms like that because I didn't want to burden W with knowing about my secrets.

We spoke about her parents and she said how much we were alike in many ways. A key difference is she's very religious and I'm, well, completely not religious at all. But despite that seemingly stark contrast, we're very similar: we try to help, we struggle a bit here and there, we love to teach and we sort of do our own thing gender-wise (W is very tomboyish and it suits her). W said that Little Miss is like her, in that Little Miss isn't pink and skirts; instead she's kick ass boots, skinny jeans and surfer shirts. Little Miss is an awesome little girl and like Wee Man, I'm proud of her standing up for what she believes in, but that may be a story for another time.

We skirted around why my depression may have started and how I sort help and where that took me. Some steps forward, some back, but ultimately, in the right direction. If W got the whiff that there was some underlying secret, or something I wasn't saying, she was polite enough not to say. I don't know what made me say it, but as we spoke about gender roles; W's non-nonsense style and how sometimes people misinterpret it as it defines her sexuality. It, of course doesn't, but you know how it is. Short hair, jeans and DMs on a lady? You must be a lesbian. Nope, no more than a gent sporting two earrings, nice nails and fancy eyebrows makes him gay. Now, if said lady or gent was spotted holding hands, and/or kissing their partner of the same sex; then you can make that call :-P

We spoke further around appearances and how they define us. I spoke about feeling like a minority: that story about visiting a poly and being the only other white guy there. I said, as with W's experiences, how experiences can help us empathise with others not always like us. I then heard myself say "but partly, because I don't always look like this." I wonder if my subconscious was ahead of me. That happens. W's interest was piqued and I realised I had to complete the sentence. "I am... trans, if that makes sense. Mostly I look like this, but you can't turn off who you are."

W nodded sagely and she asked a few questions such as how long?, did my folks know? (sort of), did Mrs J know? (yes), had she always known? (sort of) Little Miss / Wee Man? (no and no plans to say) and was I out at work? (no)

Conversation moved around as a good one does and we drifted in and out of various topics. W spoke about some of the people she knew who'd 'bottled things up', or who had tried to be someone different, a sort of grown up let's pretend. Do we pretend? I asked. Perhaps to try things on: ideas, approaches or - again, the old chestbut - of masks. It all goes into the mix to make us who we are.

I showed her a picture of me in Lynn mode - the daytime one (see right) - and she smiled. It's you, and also not you, W said. I wasn't seeking validation, but more to point out that many of us trans folk are decidedly Marks & Spencer, not Ann Summers. For some, that's fine, and if that's you, enjoy, but that's just not my handbag, baby. :-)

We wandered off through the rest of the building and out into the afternoon sun. W thanked me for coming and I her, for her kind treat of tea, cake and good company. We hugged again and she said she'd like to see more of the Jones Massive, and then she said thanks for sharing who you are, for trusting me and being honest. I handed over an early Xmas present, just in case and waved goodbye.

I felt that W seemed brighter and that knowing someone else has gone through similar things, and yet, survived, may giver her hope. Much as I'd like to know the magic words to stop anyone's depression, it doesn't work like that. It's a work in progress, and you need to be kind to yourself. A phrase that's easy to say, and yet so hard to do, when you're not yourself.

So, I'm out to another and it's been a very long time. Possibly 17 years since I told anyone. That last person not being just anyone, but the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Not sure if going to Chams counts as coming out, I think they've got a pretty good idea why you're visiting and it ain't to fix the heating ;-)

Thanks for reading.

Take care,
Lynn