Friday, April 20, 2018

Trouser trouble

Hi,

The quest for a good pair of trousers continues. Buying clothes when you've two wardrobes is an odd experience.

What I mean is, when it comes to bloke's troos, there's a few basic rules: long enough, wide enough, and do they suit? If you're young and hip you don't want dad jeans, and if you're a dad, you don't want dad trousers either. ;-) Well, at least not obviously.

With women's trousers, there's a myriad of styles, sizes, and lengths, that seem to come and go so quickly. The size thing is particularly troublesome. From Shop A, the 16s were the right length, but just the wrong side of tight on my waist. The size 18 pair from Shop B was too long (despite being cropped) and even with a belt, too wide. Sigh.... :-)

As a simple brained trans-something-or-other, I think I get why women take so much time shopping. Sure, some may like it, some may hate it, but whichever it is, it ain't easy!

So no, I don't complain when the Ever Lovely Mrs J takes umpteen minutes in the charging room and comes out empty handed.

Oh, and I think I get why leggings are so popular :-D

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 13, 2018

Helping in little ways

Hi,

After a week or two of zero trans related activity, two things come along at once. If it helps, feel free to imagine a pair of Clapham omnibus rolling in. Tickets ready? Ding ding! :-)

Bus 1

Earlier in the week, it was time for a training event in Nottingham. I'd arranged it some time ago and managed to squeeze it in my lunch hour. I try not to swing the lead too much when I'm at work. I may not have the best record for timekeeping, but I like to think I put my all in when I'm in. Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! ;-)

I called just before setting off to make sure everything was still on. The lady who'd requested the training - we'll call her 'B' - was a little surprised when I introduced myself as Richard. "We were expecting, Lynn. Is she not coming?" Cue a quick apology around names, given that mostly I'm Richard, except when I'm not. That seemed to do the trick and it was all systems go.

I've ditched the PowerPoint slides after the last event seemed to go very well just using a whiteboard and we talked through a few key ideas. This worked for this team too and they asked some great questions. Given the coaching training at work, I'm trying to make this much more reflective and get the teams' view on things, rather than me stand there and talk. I think it's the answers they give and the conclusions they arrive at that add the value. At least, I hope so.

For a brief moment, my guard was completely down and I forgot I was in Richard mode if that makes sense. Less of the feeling slightly not quite dressed appropriately. Maybe it was because the group (all women) were so welcoming, that it happened. I sort of snapped back (mentally) and my brain played through the idea of me sat there as Lynn. Perhaps going back to B's original comment on the phone. Not that that was on the cards, not on a workday and not with the kids off for school.

They seemed satisfied with the group discussion and as I left, I remembered a few things I didn't cover. Still, you can't cover everything, and maybe these items were relevant. I might not have made the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), but in my own little way, I'm trying. Wittier people may say 'very' before that, but they'll not be on my Xmas card list. ;-)

Bus 2

After that just-a-bit-too-long-between-meetings gap was over, it was time for Chameleons. I was torn between jeans and a pretty top, or dress and heels. Given the weather, I opted for the dress and a cardie (see right).

Now, I've been using a pop-sock as a wig cap for a while, so I thought it was best to buy the proper thing and try that. I keep my natural hair pretty short, so come the end of the evening, I tend to have the telltale lines on my scalp due to the wig.

I unwrapped and carefully pulled on said wig cap. So far, so good. Hair combed, wig on, and downstairs I went. I forget who I was talking to, but I could feel the cap begin to slide off my head and retreat under my wig! Luckily, the conversation came to a natural close as the other party popped out for a brew. As I stood up, I felt the cap scurry over my scalp and ball up under my wig at the top of my head. Whoops! I headed off to the bathroom to adjust. Luckily I did not look like I was sporting a 60s do / Mars Attacks stylee. :-)

I had a good chat with the regulars, although poor Val was ill, so she had to duck out early (get well soon, Mrs!). I did have a long-ish talk with a new member and she was kind enough to say some very nice things about the group. I hope the others have read that too, because I think that really shows we can make a difference.

Reasons to be cheerful, eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 06, 2018

Freedom in movement

Hi,

I was in a cafe the other day and one of my favourite pop songs came on. For a moment I was - as the lyric goes - lost in music. While I don't listen to as much new stuff as I used to, music is still something that moves me.

The right tune summons memories long thought lost and there are times when I've found myself deeply moved by certain lyrics. Yeah, this jaded heart of mine still beats ;-) But, for me at least, the dance floor is where I find freedom. I do know I need to 'dial it down' a bit when in Richard mode, but on a trans night out, there's no such bar.

On those rare nights out - either at Chams, or rarely still, in the real world - I'm free to move as I want. The music takes me away and if only for a night, nothing else matters except the moment to express myself in the joy of being able to dance freely.

Happy memories eh? So is this true for you? Is there a special number that you can't keep your feet still to?

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, March 30, 2018

Greener grass

Hi,

Ah, the long Easter weekend is upon us. Let's hear it for bank holiday breaks and two weeks off with the kids. Well, not that I'm off for two weeks; chance would be a fine thing ;-)

Antisocial Media

It's been an odd week in that last Friday I took the decision to remove Facebook from my smartphone. The allegations around data use by various third parties have been rumbling for a while, but I think it was that Friday when something finally clicked in my head. Wittier folk may like to think that someone clicked the 'dislike' button, but I'm not sure I've the energy for that gag. ;-)

So, why the change? Now, I'm a social creature at heart and I do like to share stuff. While that may be true, I'm picky on who I'll 'friend' in social media terms. My rule of thumb is actually knowing you from home, work, social, online, or suchlike. Perhaps understandably, I took to social media like the proverbial. No, the other proverbial; not the one about something flying from a greased shovel. :-D

That Friday gone, I asked myself: what am I getting out of this? Sure, I get to see who is up to what, maybe post some funny pictures, or share a headline...

But, why? To think I have a voice? Well, I get 'likes' for photos/memes that amuse. Do I need validation around my photos through a cloud of hearts, likes, and/or wows? I have found myself looking for them, and now I wonder if that's healthy. Also, I may draw comments from things that have happened. Yet many of the folk who do comment, I see day to day. Why put a screen between us? Why not share the face to face conversation instead?

Those who have moved on, do I need to maintain that relationship? *Is* there a relationship of sorts? For some, the answer is no, there are a handful who are - to paraphrase Red Dwarf's Arnold J Rimmer  - people I met along the way. BTW, none of you reading this who are also Facebook folk are on that list oddly (Ed: backtrack, warp factor nine!) But, for whatever reason, I've 'friended' people there and much as I enjoy their virtual company, there are people close to me that I'm not so engaged with. There is, after all, only so much time in the day.

So, while I've not left Facebook yet, I'm certainly not checking it. Indeed, as time as gone on, I'm wondering if I can bring myself to walk away and delete it all. I've still got this blog, there's the Chameleons forum, and email of course.

More questions

Maybe I'm in a questioning mood because I both bought and took back some new trousers within about 24 hours. Said items are some ankle grazer slim leg style ones. Thing is, the size I picked was a little snug. I guess I ain't as slim as I think when all the curves go on. :-)

As I wondered about risking another size up and then hoping that they'd not be too big, I stopped to think. Why am I buying these? I was reminded - this happens a lot :-) - of the words from a radio journalist (I think Lauren Laverne), who shared a story about her wanting some yoga trousers... or maybe some shoes. Her learning point, if you will, was finding that it wasn't the look she wanted, but the lifestyle. The time to be able to go to that yoga class and to have space between, before going to the next thing. As a busy working mum, I'm guessing she didn't have that luxury.

So it was with the trousers. The idea of dressing for work in such garb is somewhat of a dream. The right troos, cute pumps, and a pretty shirt, plus a bounce in my step. I hesitate to use the word fantasy, because that has iffier connotations, and it's not about that. No, it's the idea of being on the school run or coming to work as me; or, more accurately, having the choice to be all of me at home/work. But, life's not a dream.

Thing is, that choice is there. I can push for it. The real question, perhaps, is what am I am okay to give up in order to get it? Right now, I'm not willing to risk family, my kid's social life, or my career to live that dream. Maybe, just maybe, the Force isn't strong enough in this one. :-)

Or, going back to the yoga lady from Lauren's story, was yoga lady looking to Lauren and wondering if the grass is greener being a busy working mum? Ah, it's all about perspective.

Happy Easter.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hair raising

Hi,

I was out at Chams last night and we had a visit from the fab Trendco team: Nicola and Steph. TrendCo, in case you don't know, are our friendly neighbourhood wig experts. Chams was fairly busy, so there was a fair bit of interest in the wigs brought in.

For me, a good wig is more than something that works for your face, or your outfit. It becomes, at least for me, a part of my identity. My current do is darker than my natural hair colour. While I've tried lighter colours, I find myself coming back to chestnut colours time and again. I've done long and medium hair, but collar length seems to be working for me. At least, working for me in that I'm comfortable with it and it seems me, if that makes sense.

I did try a few on, but - and as I said - it's as much the cut as it is the colour. While there were some very pretty wigs, they weren't quite me. That or I'm just very fussy. ;-) I did try one lighter number, and I have a habit of closing my eyes as it goes on. Partly to keep the hair out of them and also so once it's fully settled, you get to see it as it could be.

Well.... I did have quite a shock. It seems Steph had (obviously) unknowingly picked out the same style and colour that my Mum wears. It was quite the 'OMG' moment. It was like seeing a younger version of my Dad, only with Mum's current hairstyle. So, no, I don't think I'll be buying that one. :-) As I thought back on it later, it did remind me of those reveal videos, where an actor is made up as a woman, and then when shown their reflection, they react in a similar way.

Still, good fun was had by all, and I did get to wear my new heels from M&S. Yes, I'm middle-class transgender. Mind you, there were both very comfy and with the ribbed sole, easier to walk in that other shoes.

In other news, BBC Radio Nottingham have been featuring some of our members in interviews this week. They've been running a series on what it is to be transgender in Nottingham. UK readers - or those handy with a VPN - can listen to the shows via iPlayer (episodes 19th through to 23rd).

[ BTW, you can hear an actor read my interview here at 1.10 in ]

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Like a lawn that's seen better days..."

Hair loss.

Now, what did Billy Connolly
say about these?
With the weather slowly turning to Spring, I'm finding I'm no longer sporting the all-important cosy hat. Okay, not a literal cosy but perhaps not far from it. :-) Much as it's nice to feel the sun on my face, I'm sometimes conscious of the feeling of the wind through my lack of hair.

You see *ahem* back in the day, I had long hair. Sure, it was a faff and meant a bit of upkeep, but it was very much part of who I was. Even when I had it cut, that felt more me than if I look at the buzzcut I have now. On bad days it seems like running the mower over a lawn that's clearly seen better days. :-)

So, yeah, there's a bit of a sting in losing my hair when trans feelings come to the fore. But, if I look back, I could never style it in a pretty way and I certainly wasn't brave enough to have some type of either/or unisex cut either. I dunno, no hair where I'd like it and hair where I don't want it. You just can't please some people eh? :-)

The good news is that with a skinhead haircut, getting a wig to fit is actually pretty easy. I wonder if that's why they do it? Oh, I've misjudged so many people ;-) Talking of wigs, that reminds me, TrendCo are coming in soon. Maybe a new do will be on the cards? Who can say!

Anyhoo, if there's a point to today's post I think it's enjoying what you have, rather than what you don't. Looking back isn't going to fix anything. Instead, embrace the future and just try your best. Oh, and don't go out in high winds unless you've good wig tape. ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

PS: I had the good fortune to arrange a training event today. I had to think on my feet as their big screen TV didn't have an old-school VGA cable. Still, a quick doodle on the whiteboard had five items to talk around. They asked questions, laughed at the right times, and were very engaged. Education, laughter, and being all of me: what's not to like?

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Power of Listening

Hi,

Earlier this week it was International Women's Day. I am not a woman and I doubt I'll ever make the journey to become one. There are some who believe that trans women can never be women. I'm not going to address this in this post. So, do I think of myself as a woman when in Lynn mode? No, I don't.

I'm a part timer. Trans, possibly, but wholy 'male' in behaviour? Not so much. I'm someone not quite wholly in one camp or the other. Sure, I easily pass as a bloke, and provided I keep my trap shut about my true self, I think I get away with it. Certainly no-one's called me on it. If they suspect, they're too polite to say anything.

So, I hide in plain sight, getting away with my middle class, white privilege. But, I listen and I see.

I hear some female colleagues interrupted. I see news stories of the gender pay gap. I've heard horrible stories of women being mistreated, groped, attacked, etc The crap around "she was asking for it, dressed like that.". The constant drip of everyday sexism and the BS around 'touching'. I've seen #MeToo rise through social media and spill out on to the news and radio.

I may not be female, but I've walked in their shoes. I may not pass, but I know when I don't look wholly male, I'm a second class citizen. Men stride in front of me, men talk over me. I have to wait. I've learned to 'know my place' if I want to blend in. In conversations in stores, if a man is talking, the rule seems to be to wait. As a man looking in on this world, I find this so odd.

I've felt the fear of violence for being out on a night going back to the car on my own. I've heard my heels announce my presence as I walk by a bar. The undercurrent of something dark within drunken cat-calls (get your eyes tested fellas :-P ).

But....

I won't stand for it. I try to listen, and never mansplain. I try to treat a women as an equal, and if she's better than me, I acknowledge that. Lots of people are better than me at many things; seriously, just let it go, guys. I call male colleagues out when they interrupt. I've called men out on their sexism. Tried to debate with them, rather than burn then; but somethings, they're beyond the pale.

I've tried to coach (but not teach) my daughter that there's more to life than being popular, pretty, thin, or cool. I do tell her I love her for who she is. That she's capable, awesome, and fantastic. I do my best to listen, even when I'd rather talk, because doesn't she need to be heard just as much?

I am not perfect, not by a country mile, but I can't turn away when I've seen the mistreatment.



On to lighter news.... :-) Chams was my first night out in a while, and I had a bit of panic around if I wanted to go, or even what should I wear or bother? Ah, but I've been here before and found a well stocked bag covers many ills. :-)

I even got to wear my new top that the Ever Lovely Mrs J bought me for Christmas. Sheer sleeves and a velvet centre. I did feel rather special in it. Just team with skinny jeans and killer heels for added smiles.

Anyhoo, I'm very glad I went as it was a good night. A few of the new folk had decided to visit again, and I got to talk with the regulars too. It was a late night because towards the end of the evening, somehow he group's conversation combined into one, and we started talking about the trans-men's experiences. I guess we're coming back to them truly knowing what it was to be female, and seeing male privilege in action.

It reminded me just how easy I have it comparatively. We spoke about loving our bodies as well as not. We talked about feeling pretty, handsome, or even sexy when everything was just so. We talked about 'what is it to be a man'. We laughed about errors in body hair removal, and we listened to each other share their views.

All in all, it was a very deep conversation with many people adding to it. I know I learned a few things. As we packed up for the night, I was reminded of my coaching tutor and her words on how important it is to truly listen.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 02, 2018

Don't frighten the horses

Hi,

Being British it would be remiss of me not to mention the weather. :-) It has been unseasonably cold over the past few days, and this has resulted in Little Miss, Wee Man, and the Ever Lovely Mrs J being off for a few days at the end of the week.

I had the good fortune to be at home at the same time, as I'd arranged to work from home. This was so I could wait in for a delivery, but by dumb luck, not one but two arrived. I had also hoped to try and break in some new heels that I'd ordered before half-term. However, a house full of my lovely family put that idea to bed! :-)

Not that I'd ever wear those brown shoes. ;-)
Talking of shoes, I was listening to a colleague politely grumble about her feet hurting. C is conscious of her height, so often wears heels to give her a boost. It was a passing moment as we sat between presentations before the next crowd came through.

For a moment, I almost said "Oh, I know what you mean! That burning sensation on the pad of your feet. That doesn't go quickly." But, instead, I nodded and said something about Mrs J not doing heels for those same reasons and the moment passed.

As the day closed and I drove back, I wonder: where would the conversation have gone if I had? Would C have been shocked, weirded out, feigned not to have heard, or nodded in mutual agreement?  Who can say, eh?

At what point am I - or are we - holding back, and where is the line about over-sharing and making people feel uncomfortable, versus plain honesty and openness?

Sure, I don't have to tell people who I am, but at the same time, I wonder if by being more open, that makes it more acceptable and just, well, background noise?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, February 23, 2018

The roller coaster

Hi,

A few months ago I had the good fortune to go to a training event at work. It was about learning to accept change, and also to help others - including yourself - cope with that. We covered something called the Kubler-Ross Cycle. Sometimes it's called the Grief Cycle. Not because changes at work only gives you grief, but it's a process we can go through during grief itself.

It looks a bit like this, although a quick check via your favour search engine will find better diagrams.


I sat in the classroom, made notes, and - as ever - wondered how it affected people at work or who'd been bereaved.

It wasn't until three new people joined us at Chameleons, and I was listening to what they were saying about visiting for the first time, that two disconnected concepts linked up.

We'd be talking about one of the difficulties in coming to the group is owning up to yourself that you are trans. Not only that, but you're meeting people you don't know, and - in many instances - it's not just you on this journey: there may be a partner or children involved too.

I remember the trainer telling us how one team of people can be on different parts of the cycle. Someone who is leading the change to work has been through the proverbial ups & downs, and is heading out of Testing, and into Acceptance. But, for the rest of their team, they could be at the start, the middle, or stuck in the doldrums. It's quite possible to go back as well as forward.

So, how does this apply to being trans and coming out? Well, it's not a perfect fit, but I doubt there's a system out there that can describe anything perfectly :-) That aside, I wonder if we start at Stability, and when we start to struggle with understanding who we are - or perhaps who we think we may be becoming - we fall into Immobilisation (I can just stop, right?), or maybe hitting Denial or Anger. Denial that you need to do this, or that you have these feelings. Anger that either you can't control things, or you can't 'be who you need to be'. This ringing any bells yet? :-)

Maybe there's some Bargaining going on: only at weekends, only when I'm away with work. Maybe you slip into Depression because you can't quite make it all work as you want. Maybe you slide back to Anger or blocking it all under Immobilisation. What if you move towards Testing and Acceptance? Some limits are working for you, some you may be pushing at (pierced ears? smooth legs?). Could it be a case of too much, too soon, and you slide back down the slope?

Where is your partner in all of this? Will they go from Stability to Acceptance overnight, or will it take them longer? What stages would they have to go through to understand? Indeed, will they ever understand, or is acceptance enough?

Like I said, it's not a perfect match, but it certainly gave me some food for thought. You may, of course, feel differently, and if so, the comment box awaits ;-)

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, February 16, 2018

To purge or not to purge? That is the question.

Hi,

Over at the Chameleons web site, we have a forum so we can keep in touch, share ideas & tips, plus discuss things between meetings. Just recently Diane asked: Have you ever purged?

Now for those who don't know that bit of trans slang, a purge is - perhaps somewhat obviously - when you chuck everything. Not just a ruthless clearout, but anything and everything related to *ahem* crossing over is disposed of. While there are various reasons why someone might do this - guilt, shame, clean break, etc - I think the idea is to get rid of any temptation and make a clean start of it.

There is, IMHO, no shame in trying it, but I would recommend not throwing things, but putting them away instead. If you do find you don't need everything, it's all good, recycle later. But.... should you find that you're not ready to walk away yet; no harm, no foul.

So, did I purge? Yes, just once and you can see how it helped me stay on the 'straight & narrow' :-D

It was back in my 20s (so just after the glaciers receded from mainland Europe), and I'd left home to move to Nottingham. I thought it would be a new start, and not having much in the way of female clothes, I thought it would be easy to put it all behind me and move on.

Ah, you've got to laugh at yourself, eh? :-)

Chucking things, or rather, donating what little I had to charity was easy enough. I felt empowered by doing so, and having been outed that year back home, felt confident that I'd not get myself in that situation again. Thing was, I was enjoying have hair-free legs, so maybe one step at a time, eh? :-)

The thing is, just because I didn't have the clothes, it didn't mean the feelings of who I was went away. Sure, their was the distraction of college, social stuff, and course work. But, those trigger points remained. Those oh-so-helpful mental nudges that remind you that what's outside, doesn't always reflect what's going on inside. I was still pretty new to the whole trans shindig, and much as I'm still learning now, I think that in a time before forums, social media, and a trans support group; I was pretty much just having to wing it from day to day.

Truth is, at least for me, that the feelings of being somewhere in the middle never went away. Sure, they might draw out like the tide, slipping far into the distance, even. But, eventually, I'd find myself paddling and lying to myself, even when I had wet feet. :-)  Long hair (and well kept, so a few people would tell me), smooth legs, clean shaven (I never could grow a beard), etc. All signs, if I look back with 20/20 hindsight, that it was only the clothes I'd ditched, and I was still looking for something that made me feel okay about who I was.

I managed it for a few years, and having met the future Ever Lovely Mrs J, I doubled down on my efforts to stay in just one gender. Not that I could have known that word then. I told her dressing up was something I had done (true), and that it wasn't something I wanted to do (also true). Ah, but had I know the power of the dark side... ;-)

I fell off the wagon, as it were, when Mrs J had a chuck out of her own. There in the corner of our rented flat was a bag destined for the charity shop. A few jumpers and some jeans, but also a fitted black top, some shoes, and a cute red skirt. "I'm off to see my Mum, see you about 11." Well, I guess Darth was right. I didn't fight, and I embraced my destiny. I spent about 3 hours reading, tidying up, and then getting changed at the end.

Much as I felt the relief of being me, I was wracked with guilt and fear. I didn't want to lose Mrs J, but this wasn't how boyfriends behaved, was it? Ah, we're back on that old wheel: hiding and lying. Not exactly the best approach, but we do what we've got to do to survive, no?

Skip on 20+ years and while it's not been an easy ride, it sure as hell beats fighting against who I was. I'm certainly a lot happier. No more lying, being able to be open with Mrs J, and having the friendship from those at the group. All of that, perhaps, is well worth fighting for.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, February 09, 2018

That's a wrap

Hi,

How's things? Brr, it's been a bit nippy in Dear Old Blighty, but so it goes in February. It seems Winter has a last hurrah and just when you think you might turn down the central heating eh? Yay for extra thick tights eh? :-)

Media

So, after last week's post about the media, I visited a local journalist to help him with a piece about what it is to be trans in Nottingham. I guess I'm the token part-timer ;-) For those of you wondering if I'd taken leave of my sense, and/or usual cautionary nature; fear nor dear reader! This being the dear old Auntie Beeb, they're getting an actor in to voice my words. This'll, A) mask my voice, and B) provide someone who more suited to talking on the radio. Sheesh, it was hard to think of answers and ignore the studio. Funny how adrenaline gets you eh? :-)

I've put the word out at Chameleons last night, and two more folk have kindly agreed to get in touch. I hope this helps add some more voices to the project. Time will tell I guess. Oh, and talking of time, it's going to be a while 'in the making', but I'll let you know when it's on, when I do.

Chams

This week's meeting was rather busy. We had at least four new people join us, and as three of them had arrived on their own, there was a bit of to-ing & fro-ing required to help settle nerves, prep tea, and listen to what they had to say. Luckily various people chipped in to help, and make our new visitors feel welcome. There was also the discussion group running that night, and then towards the end of the night, two research students from a nearby university had arrived to quiz us about fashion marketing. I'm tired from just typing that up ;-)

I've had a note from one of the ladies in question, and she said talking/meeting people like her had really helped. Pretty much what I shared in the above interview, but it's good to know we're going in the direction people need.

This time around, I wore the new dress that I bought in the sale. I do love a wrap dress! There's something about the fit that makes it fit in the right places... even if you're still hauling around the *ahem* luggage acquired at Christmas :-) Yeah, with all the cold weather and the rain, I may have been out on a few walks, but I'm just so damned peckish. Still, as the weather picks up, I'll get moving properly.

I had a long chat with two of the new ladies about where they were in terms of their journey. It's early days for a lot of us, and that starts with the scary part of walking through the front door. As I said to both, it's more than just coming to a new place where you don't know people. There's a double whammy of not really knowing what the group will be like, plus having to admit that you are trans.

Still, I think all of us remember what it was like to be in that situation, and many take the time to settle people, listen to them, and - of course - ply them with tea & biscuits. It's not that it's tears-before-bedtime, but I do think an empathetic ear helps keep people open up and relax a little. It is a hell of thing to do if you've never been out before.

I'd been lucky with an early getaway from home, and tonight I'd managed to get ready pretty quickly for me. Maybe all the practise is finally paying off! :-) Given the early start, the evening seemed to be longer than usual, but I'm not complaining in the least. There was a slight extension due to extra photo duties: this time for Nicola & Tanya, rather than just me & Val ( thanks for taking the photos, Val!).

Skip on half an hour so, and my Lynn gear was all packed away. Despite that thought and the heavy rain pouring down in cold, I drove back feeling much refreshed and grateful for all the laughter we'd all shared. Happy days!

Take care,
Lynn



Friday, February 02, 2018

Media

Hi,

How's things? All going well I hope.

It's been a busy in-between week this time around. It seemed that the spam filter on the Chameleons' mail system, had been a little too vigilant, and so messages from our contact form, were not in the inbox. Cue a rush of fiddling with software settings, and then replying to people who'd written in.

That now seems to be resolved, and it was this week that an email came in from a journalist. He's looking to put together some short segments on what it is to be trans, and got in touch with the group. We had the usual Q&A, and then we hit the crunch question: would you or any of the group be willing to appear on the show?

Ah, therein lies the rub. On the one hand, doing so may raise the profile of the group, and help others find us. On the other hand, voices can be recognised, what type of attention will publicity draw, and voices can be recognised. The smart cookies amongst you will notice that one point was said twice. I kinda felt it was important, so yeah, doubling up ;-)

Much as this blog is on the web, it is - I sincerely hope - out of the way unless someone goes looking for it. Yeah, there's some snaps of me in Lynn mode, but a voice...? No, my voice doesn't change when I'm not dressed as Richard. That, I guess, is the constant.

With that in mind, I don't fancy putting myself out there, and whenever I've asked the group, so they take the same line. The line that privacy is key, and they don't want to be on TV, radio, or in a magazine. In honesty, completely understandable.

Equally, I think I understand the difficulty legitimate media types (not hacks) must face when trying to find trans people to talk to. Sure, a few of us are out, and a few of us have transitioned. But, getting hold of us part-timers is difficult.

The thing is, by not stepping forward into the spotlight, are we holding ourselves, and indeed, our cause back? Some brave souls do, but... that ain't me. At least, not yet. I guess I'm wary that it's not about me. There's the kids, and the Ever Lovely Mrs J to think about. Sure, you could say I'm hiding behind that, but I'm online, I'm out & about when I can, and I'm trying to help where I can with the support group, or a little training here & there when people ask. Maybe I feel I should do more, but then, for who, at what cost, and what aim?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 26, 2018

Back in the zone

Hi,

It feels very much that I'm back in the swing of things. We're heading towards the end of the month, and there's a few more days until payday (eek!), so I shall have to be frugal. Perhaps buying a dress in the sale, and *ahem* taking advantage of the Boots vouchers for some press-on nails and a Nyx lippy, was a little extravagant. Still, a treat here and there's not so bad. Instead, I'm going to blame the service on the car. ;-)

So what's been going on? Well, since you asked, it was Chams last night, and yes I double checked I had packed what I needed. No missing bra & boobs this time!

It was also Helen's 70th, so in between meetings I nipped out at work to grab a cake. I'm glad I bought the larger size, as it was rather popular with the Chamemelons folk. We had a quick chorus of Happy Birthday, so there's probably some royalties owed to someone if we'd filmed it. :-)

The new matt red Nyx lippy went on well and stayed put without any LipCote. Plus, having picked up some pro-tips from the make-up lady at Boots, I think I've sorted out the right way to line and fill. Sadly, I've yet to master the application of false eyelashes so some practice may be required ;-) Still, every day's a school day, right?

Taking of school, I had an email to the Chameleons inbox from some theatre students. They're planning on putting on a play, and one of the characters will be a transman. They wanted to ask a few questions and make sure that they weren't going to get it horribly wrong.

Now, I might be a man and trans, but I'm not a transman. I also didn't want to throw any of our transguy blokes in at the deep end, so I met with them to check things out. From the small number of trans blokes at the group, and having listened to their stories, there are many similarities to what I've heard from male-to-female folk. Yeah, every person is different, and yet we do share some things.

There was the talk about the mask and having to pretend to be someone. Gah is that draining! Then there's body issues (natch), plus the proverbial earthquake around Just Who Am I? The challenging of how you've grown up, with who you want to be. Lastly, there's triggers; moments where sights or sounds will sucker punch right in the heart. Remember that anecdote I told you about seeing a lady driver at the junction? Her hair swished as she checked the road was clear, and I heard the thought: You'll never look like that. Yeah, thanks Brain, just what I needed, a timely reminder of being a tubby dad with thinning hair. :-D

We talked a bit more about terms, and how mental health issues - particularly depression and anxiety - are higher in the trans community. Now, if that's the stress of pretending to be 'normal' (whatever that is!) or conflict around who you are; well, I'm not qualified to say.

Still, an hour passed and by the end of it, they had a few more questions, and I've asked Ruben from the group if it would be okay if he got in touch. Best to hear things first hand, I think.

A good end to the month all in all!

Oh, last thing: I've been using Elegant Touch 3 Minute Manicure (see here for image) for the last few meetings. They're about 8 quid a box, and while the sizes aren't very big, there's a selection in each pack so you may be okay. Certainly, a lot quicker to apply and remove than my trusty nail varnish! If you're careful when you remove them, they're sticky enough to get a number of wears.

Take care & stay fab!
Lynn



Friday, January 19, 2018

Helping

Hi,

Over a handful of months, I've had the good fortune to attend some workshops on coaching people. It's something that I've somehow found myself doing through work, and to small extent, at Chameleons too.

One of the things we spoke about the in class was, what do we mean by coaching? Well, if you imagine a line with counselling on the left, and on the right, telling people what to do; coaching - at least as the tutor pitched it - would be sort of left of the centre.

It's been a fascinating few months, and I'd like to think I've picked up some quality advice and ideas over the sessions. Certainly, the listening skills, and how different people react to things, has been both useful and challenging. I do love to talk - as those who've met me may attest to - so knowing when to shut it has been a learning curve.

What I've really enjoyed is mapping some of those ideas to things a work-mate has taught me. I guess it's a bit like only knowing about plumbing, and then someone tells you how electricity works, pumps, and design. Slowly a whole new picture starts to form, and its by joining those elements up, you can see something new.

I think that at Chams, and also at work, if someone does come along and wants some encouragement, my role in it is to help them on their way. Not by telling them what to do, but by asking them what they'd like to do, how they might do it, and how - if at all - I can help them get there. With the latter, it's certainly not doing anything for them, but helping them make up their mind on how they might do it, and supporting them in doing so.

I've said this to colleagues and to folk at Chams too; my role in all of this is just to help you move on. A certain point, you will know more than me - if indeed you don't already - and it's fine to be passing through. I know I wouldn't be who I am, nor enjoying being what I am, if it wasn't from the help of those who helped me at Chams, and the Ever Lovely Mrs J.

If you can, play it forward.
Much as seeing someone gain confidence at Chams and go on to live their life as they want, is somewhat bittersweet. At least when I think of them, I know they've gone on to do what they want. Hell, even if it's just a chat here and there, and people get their head around the idea that it's okay to be trans, that's all good.

If there's a point to this week's post - and apparently Rhi says I do seem to try and make one :-) - it's making yourself available to help. Not stepping in and doing, but making people know through conversation that you're there for them. Maybe if enough of us look out for each other, we'll all get on in the direction we need, whatever they may be.

Lastly, my questions to you would be what would have helped you get out and be you, and what answers (if any) were you looking for?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 12, 2018

Forgetful

Hi,

Gah, it's nearly 9 o'clock and I'm struggling to get started blogging. Funny how life gets you like that. I think, for me at least, it's a lot to do with being in the right mood to write something. Okay, I could go with 'when the Muse takes me', but... well, it seems more to do with not being out-and-out knackered after a number of long days at work. Oh, and by long, I mean working to about 5pm. Frankly, it's touch and go between 10am and 4pm, but it may be best not to say too much in the office, eh? :-)

First Meeting

So it was the first meeting of the new year for Chameleons. I was sort of in two minds about the whole faff about getting ready. But, and as events unfolded previously, I thought about outfit would put a spring in my step, and brighten my day? Well, dear reader, I thought back to my lovely rose print dress, and in between the DIY projects - mostly drilling holes in things at home to run wires about the place - managed to pack a bag.

Cue Thursday night and I'm a bit late back from picking up Wee Man from his visit to a mate. I wasn't too fussed, because unlike other times, I was quite relaxed about the whole thing. All in all, this worked out rather well. Traffic was okay, the changing room wasn't too busy, and despite a *cough* few Xmas pounds on the old frame, all the usual corset went on.

Where's my bra? Oh, bugger.

Yes, after doing some laundry, I'd not put my bra nor boobs in my bag. I did try my dress on, but without the right curves in the right places, it didn't quite work. If you imagine a bloke wearing a somewhat flowery bedspread cover while balancing two fried eggs on his chest, you get the picture. :-)

[ Update: The bra has now been found. Praise her Lady Eddie of Izzard! Mind you, I'm not sure if I should rename this entry to Dude, Where's My Bra? ;-) ]

Back when I were young, like...

The odd thing is, thinking back to when I bought some bra fillers (aka chicken fillets) and a bra that worked for me; it took some time to get used to. Sure, it's not like I was dressing very frequently back around the 2000s, but sometimes enough to ease the necessity, so to speak.

But, the odd thing was as I worked at home, or whipped round the house with the Hoover, I still hadn't worked out that there were two somewhat larger bumps that aren't there usually. I'd find myself bumping them, or failing to reach certain things as they got in the way.

That was back then, and now? Now I seem to cope with switching easily between being flat chested and, if you will, with suitable curves. Maybe I've just got used to that size? I did wonder about trying the pair left behind on one of our Pink Thursday Sales, but those are much larger. Would a bigger set balance out my shoulders and Xtra Xmas weight, or would they just not be me? After all, I seem to have arrived at a shape that feels right, and one I can identify as me.

Meanwhile, back at the farm...

So, off it all came, and I joined the group en homme, as they say. Not that it mattered to me. I had a lovely evening talking to new and regular folk alike. I think one or two were a bit weirded out seeing me in Richard mode. Hopefully not because I'm too freakish, but more - and this may be true for me socialising with Chams regulars - that we're used to seeing each other in particular garb. When that's not the case, confusion may arise. Still, all good fun.

Tea and a chat

Talking of being seen in bloke mode, I did have the good fortune to catch up with another trans friend for a tea and a chat. 'S' had some business appointments near my work, so with a gap in both our calendars, it seemed too good a chance not to catch up.

We talked about her transition, me not transitioning (I've thought about it, but I think I prefer the choice of being either), how things have and haven't changed for her. Good to see someone flourish really.

We also spoke about some of the support/coach training I've been doing, and how that spills into helping at Chams, as well as at work. Funny, when I'm doing this, I do wonder why if this is something I enjoy, how did I end up working in IT? Well, there's a post for another day. :-)

So highs and lows in terms of meetings this year, but things will change. If nothing else, something funny and something cool for the Memory Jar.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 05, 2018

Turning a page

Hi,

Sometimes, a new year can feel like a newly opened exercise book. An empty and pristine medium full of promise. There's that beautiful first page which is both yielding and opening to writing on.

Conversely, the second page is thin, provides little comfort between you and the desk. In some ways, page two is like the first week back at work ;-) But, hey, I turned up, and therefore get paid.

Whatever you got up to over the festive break, I hope you enjoyed it. From a T point of view, I find that after the Chams Xmas party, it all kinda tired quiet until the first meeting of the year. Not that the trans stuff switches off, although there is more distraction with visitors and family time.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J bought me a very pretty black top. I've yet to try it on, mainly through laziness, but also because I've eaten rather well over the last two weeks. Still, making busy at work means less temptation, and, if this week's errand-running continues, a better chance of exercise. Not that I've managed a spin on the old bike I left at work. It's been too wet & windy. But enough of my dietary issues ;-)

Have any of you faced the sales? I had a look online, but there wasn't anything I needed, nor that caught my eye. I wonder if a shufti in Boots may find some reduced Xmas glamour? Something to look forward to.

I did take great pleasure in going through my Happy Memory Jar at New Years. Just over 100 scraps of paper, with scrawled jolly thoughts, cool coincidences, and good times. Nothing T related mind, given that we often have a look as a family :-) But, IMHO, a great way to look back and see what's been great, so you can step into the new year with a smile.

Take care,
Lynn

PS: Props to Pandora for the idea about the jar!