Sunday, 28 February 2010
Of course, it hasn't quite come to pass. Those imaging companies are still making a lot of cash selling printers to add to the never-ending pile and most offices are just as awash with paper as they were in the nineties. Except mine, that is. I own a very nice printer, a HP Business Inkjet, but I've barely used it for ages.
Today I had a large document to print: a couple of copies of the NHS guidance for GPs on the care of gender variant people, I am going to present my GP with a copy on Wednesday. Trouble is, my HP wasn't playing ball. All its colours came out with stripes in them, it needs new printheads because I've not used it enough. My only other option, off to my parents' house to borrow their Samsung laser. Which turns out to be full of cat hair and have a creaky sheetfeeder. So I spent my afternoon coaxing it into printing something that should have been done in twenty minutes.
Today wasn't all bad though. It's a British thing, we're very proud of the BBC. As I drove to my parents' place I was listening to the Food Programme on Radio 4, a report from the Slow Food Festival. Featured was a Polish salted and smoked sheeps cheese, Oscypek. Damn that stuff sounded good, I want some! Not available in the UK though. Shame I no longer have the British Polish ex-colleague who brought me back some cheap wodka a few years ago in my contacts book.
In a moment of role reversal tonight my wife's on the carpet in front of the TV wearing trousers and drinking beer, suddenly a hockey pundit, while I'm wearing a skirt, curled up on the sofa and only half listening to the Olympic commentary.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Tea made from spearmint, and also its hybrid with some of the same properties peppermint has been my drink of choice in the afternoons at work for many years now as an alternative to the strong coffee that's always on-tap in my industry. I have enough problems sleeping as it is, without too much caffeine. I picked up this mint habit from my grandmother, it takes me back to summer evenings in the late 1970s learning the finer points of the card games considered respectable in her youth.
So I've spent over a decade knocking back several mugs most working days of a mild anti-androgen without realising it. I've always considered myself rather fortunate not to have too much body hair, maybe now I know why. Not something I might have done, had I known.
My poor doctor. I'm sure he hates questions that start "I read on the Internet that..."
Friday, 26 February 2010
If I slowly continue coming out to friends, then family and eventually colleagues, by the time the information reaches the edge of my particular puddle it'll be such old news as to be no longer salacious. It's not like any of them outside a very select few will have the discomfort of having to deal with me en femme. Yeah, he's or she's (depending on your POV) transgendered, what of it? I am lucky in this respect, I live in a trendy liberal university town in a country that sometimes disappears up its own arse with political correctness, I work in the tech side of a very liberal industry and most of my social group are sometimes a little too right-on for their own good. I don't anticipate any bad stuff, but even in the case someone takes it wrong I don't mind losing them and if someone takes it really wrong I even have the advantage that I'm giant sized. Bloke, and then some!
The phrase "Openly transgendered" is edging into new territory for a girl who's sadly only ever going to look like a bloke to the vast majority of people. In decades to come it'll probably be more normal. If I'd met someone describing themselves thus when I was a depressive suffering in the closet maybe it would have helped, so somebody has to do it.
Is this a hopelessly naive thing to aim for and am I just going to cause grief?
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
I should have bourne the above warning on the packaging in mind before taking my sedative last night about an hour after a pint and a half of real ale. This morning's workout was truncated through dizziness, now my head is full of mashed potato.
Stupid. Lesson learned.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
In a successful business, there should be little room for anything but the bottom line. Cash is King. So the simple rule of thumb is this: if you want to persuade a businessman or woman that something is a good idea, you give them the financial justification. Do this, and you'll make more money. Anything else is irrelevant to them, or it should be if they want to stay in business for long.
So how about this for a powerful argument that strays out of the transgendered sphere and applies to anybody: Be happy for your employees of all persuasions to express themselves as they see fit, watch their productivity rise and see a lot of your staff retention issues disappear as though they had never been.
It's compelling, isn't it. So why do so many employers have hangups about dress codes? I've worked for a few and walked out of interviews for a few more in my time. Forget en femme for a moment, why on earth should a programmer have to wear a suit and tie? The customers don't any more, so forget it! Perhaps they should all learn from Sun Microsystems, whose dress code was something along the lines of "Wear something".
After all, I'm sure they'd rather see me in a blouse and skirt than without them.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Well, yes, but also no.
I ended up sitting with my mate's wife, her sister, her mother and their friends. About six lovely ladies, stereotypical West Yorkshire, if you've ever spent any time in that part of the world you'll identify them immediately. The great thing is, as I spent a while chatting with them I slipped straight into girl mode. Sitting there as full-on bloke, in a Yorkshire social club that's as male-oriented as only Yorkshire social clubs can be, holding a pint of a very masculine Yorkshire real ale - and having a girly chat with a bunch of lovely girl friends for about half an hour. Affirmation it wasn't as though three of them have known me for a decade they have no idea I'm in any way transgendered, but by 'eck it were good! [note to self: that's enough fake dialect!] Gender fog and girl envy banished for the evening, replaced by girl glow! I was tempted by coming out to my mate and his wife afterwards, but held back because it would have been without my wife's knowledge. Better not ruin such a good feeling.
Overnight it snowed. Our transatlantic cousins will smile indulgently at our little one inch of snow, but it was enough to make me set off a bit early. Our cars don't have winter tyres and Yorkshire's full of steep hills so care was required. I had to cross to another part of the motorway network to meet up with a friend who shares my passion for tinkering with old cars.
Some of you may have encountered Cathy through her blog. Since I was going to be at her end of the country I dropped her a line a few weeks ago asking if we could meet up, it's not often I go north these days. So after a long and slow snowy drive I found myself installed in her very cozy front room making a fuss of her cat and having another good long chat about transgender as you might imagine, but also the the other important things in life. Including things with engines, and surprisingly, obscure television systems. Sometimes it's unnerving how much I find in common with some of the transgendered people I've met.
As the afternoon drew to a close I pointed the car south against the backdrop of a spectacular motorway sunset, the Be Good Tanyas easing my way through the roadworks with a sublime Prince cover. The perfect end to a weekend as far more girl than I ever expected, considering I was never once outwardly anything but bloke.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
We met in the food court of an anonymous out-of-town shopping centre. She taking the mick out of my near temptation to buy my food from McDonalds, I ended up with a greasefest fish supper.
How do you come out to someone in a crowded mall food court? Quietly. Yet again I'm really lucky in my friends, despite it being the last thing she's expecting from me we spent the next couple of hours having a really good chat about our lives over the past twenty years, the time we knew each other at university et cetera. I had forgotten that she's bi, something she was open about when a student so I should have remembered, but then why should that be the thing she's labeled with? I always think of her as my very switched-on friend, and that was whose counsel I was seeking. I think she was amused as a feminist when I pointed out that next time she sees a bloke like me eyeing up a woman she should consider the possibility that he's not a leching bloke but a t-girl in drab assessing the girl's outfit.
We parted after a wander round the shops and I set off for the mate's fortieth birthday party that brought me up north in the first place. I'm very grateful to her for letting me bend her ear as it really helps to talk to someone who's known you for years. I hope I can return the favour some time.
Definitely worth attending, if I can find my way through the impenetrable Swindon suburbia we'll be back again next month. Who knows, a giant-sized girl might even make an appearance.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
However a mail that recently landed in my inbox contained something that I think is worth passing on. I am not a member of any political party as each of the UK parties worth considering annoy me in their own way so the only political organisation that gets any of my cash is Liberty, the UK civil liberties and human rights pressure group.
Back in 1998 the British government brought UK law into line with the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights by passing the Human Rights Act. Since then the Act has been jumped upon by the more vocal and nutty side of the Press as being there only to help all sorts of ne'er-do-wells escape the justice they deserve while completely ignoring that its real purpose is to guarantee some basic human rights for all of us in a way that due to our unwritten constitution we hadn't enjoyed before. Of great benefit to groups such as transgendered people, as you might imagine.
Happily Liberty have been doing their best to redress the negative perception of the Act, to counter some of the myths and to try to educate the public on what it does for them rather than simply what it does for others. To that end they've launched their "What's not to love?" campaign. So next time you encounter some idiot ranting about how the Human Rights Act is simply a vehicle for immigrant terrorist paedophile travellers (or whatever other group the Express is having a go at today) to evade their Just Deserts, you can now refute them with some help from Liberty.
That URL in full: http://www.love.commonvalues.org.uk/
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
The thing that surprised me about it was how quickly I started crying. I didn't mean to cry, it just happened. I've probably cried more in the last five years than I did in the previous twenty, and since that period was mostly spent suffering some kind of clinical depression, that's going some!
Why is this? Being bodily a bloke and thus awash with testosterone, I should be all shouty and sweary or something in highly charged moments. I've always been annoyed by phrases like "Boys don't cry" because they imply that girls do at the drop of a hat, and my experience tells me that most of them don't. Yet as I've allowed my mind to admit that it's got something of the girl about it I find that it's letting the side down a little with its haste to become emotional. If I was trying to be girly, this isn't one of the ways I'd prefer to express myself.
Reading around on the subject things become a little clearer. It seems crying is a natural mechanism the body uses to rid itself of excess stress hormones when their levels in the blood reach potentially damaging proportions. One particularly interesting insight was that the crying mechanism can be suppressed by clinical depression which then causes the stress hormones to build up and make the situation worse. As someone who's been there, that explains so much! Kinda makes me feel like an idiot for suppressing my transgendered side in the first place. Different time, different place I guess, Maggie's Britain probably wouldn't have been forgiving to a teenaged t-girl.
All this talk of crying is starting to make this post sound like a particularly sentimental offering from Nashville. For which I am truly sorry.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
But I'm afraid even I couldn't help laughing as I opened the parcel that arrived yesterday from BreastformStore UK and took out my first ever pair of size UK15 ladies shoes. Don't get me wrong, this is an extremely special moment for me as crossdressing milestones go, it's just you can't escape the fact that they're rather huge next to anything of a more familiar scale. My wife had a "Look, I'm a five year old walking around in adult shoes!" moment which only increased the level of hilarity.
They're not quite the style I'd have wanted as the available range in size UK15 is extremely small, but they are a comfortable fit and once you get over their size they don't look too bad on my feet. Happy? I'd say so!
In case you're curious, here they are. Like normal shoes, only a lot longer. Now I've got the shoe bug, I think I'm going to have to find more wardrobe space.
Monday, 15 February 2010
A few days ago I was surprised to find this blog listed by Calie in her nominations for a Beautiful Blogger award.
The award is all a bit of fun, however it is always very satisfying when others appreciate something you do and I am excedingly flattered. Thank you Calie!
I have one slight issue though, this is a beautiful blogger award right, not a beautiful blog award? She's never met me in person so the exact meaning of the phrase "Badgers arse" must have passed her by.
The award comes with a few responsibilities. Two of them I have already fulfilled, I have thanked Calie above and provided a link to her blog. The logo should be at the bottom of this post.
Now I have to enumerate seven interesting things about myself. That's a tall order.
So here goes. Some frivolous, some serious. All 100% true..
- I have appeared as part of a team that competed in more than one series of a mainstream high-rating British TV show. We didn't win any prizes. But we did have fans, and I was once approached by a groupie who recognised my t-shirt at a motorway service station.
- The only remotely sporting activity at which I excel is spectacularly useless: punting.
- I have been paid to play computer games, also to surf dodgy web sites. Both of which got very old very quickly.
- I was once nearly deported from Guernsey. The reason? Getting off the plane, I "didn't look right" in the words of the low-forehead security officer.
- On-topic at last, my earliest specific memory of a cross-dressing incident is of trying on one of my sisters dresses when I must have been about three years old, definitely pre-school age.
- I have never purged. Mostly because while repressing my transgendered side from young adulthood onwards I never gave myself the opportunity to build up a wardrobe to purge in the first place.
- I have only one super-power, and it enables me to see something of what goes on behind me.
Now it's my turn to make my own nominations. That's really difficult. There are so many blogs out there that have either inspired me, touched me, entertained me or even annoyed me and which I consider to be fantastic works. Some of them have already been nominated for this award, others disqualify themselves by virtue of knowing me only as a bloke. I'd love to share with you the friends who do *really* cool stuff with cars, bikes and other toys, however I think the chance they might meet Jenny could scar them for life. Picking only seven is going to be hard work. So, in no particular order:
- Post-Apocalyptic Publishing.1
- Tiger's Eye.
- Breaking Free of the Bud.
- IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME.
- Helen Chapel.
- The Girl Who Should Know Better
1The observant among you will notice that the owner of this blog is not remotely L, G, B or T. She's a good friend of mine whose blog I follow, if I could write an n'th as well as her I'd be very happy indeed.
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Today we bought a new exercise bike, the bearing on our old one is finally wearing out. Standing in the showroom my wife wanted to try the new bike for size, so she handed me her handbag before taking to the saddle.
Without thinking I was about to slip it onto my shoulder girl-style when I suddenly realised I was the tallest and most noticeable bloke in a room full of bodybuilders and fitness fanatics.
Whoops! Sudden shift into the approved bloke method of carrying a handbag, forearm at right angles to body, grip the bag strap as though it was a power tool, let it hang as though I really had no clue why this feminine thing happens to be in my hand. Phew! Nobody noticed!
I'm reminded of the "I'm-definitely-not-gay" school of motorcycle pillion who sits so far back on the bike that a fast getaway leaves them on the tarmac. What's so scary about a damn handbag!
The new bike is bigger and more robust than its predecessor for a reason. I'm taking Calie's advice and cutting down on the porklife.
Friday, 12 February 2010
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
The web's an awesome place, isn't it. If you're not content with following the bedtime activities of a newlywed couple via Twitter, you can now come here to follow the fingernail growth rate of a transgendered British blogger. Does it get any better than this?
A while back I decided to get on top of my lifelong nail biting habit by applying a product called Stop-n-grow to my fingernails. This is a clear nail paint with an awful taste that reminds you to stop if the fingers end up in your mouth. Most importantly though it gives me a perfectly valid excuse as someone presenting as a bloke to practice an extravagantly femmed-up nail painting routine at work.
What can I say? It works! Every time my fingers have come anywhere near my mouth, the great taste of Bitrex has made sure they come away sharpish. I've now grown them out to the point at which they were slightly annoying before cutting and filing them back to a maintainable shape. And they're staying that way. If you've not spent decades biting your nails, you won't understand the feeling bestowed upon me by this simple achievement.
There is one unexpected downside. In the past my nail-polishing has been fairly infrequent but as a little celebration of my newly tidy nails I've done it once or twice in the last week. For now semi-decent nails are a novelty, forgive me a moment's fun. Unfortunately though I'm not used to having a fingernail under which things can get caught, so I am having to be very careful to make sure I don't have a rim of rather colourful pigment left under my nails after cleaning away the paint. I can claim to my colleagues that it's paint from my car, but a simple glance out of the window would reveal it not to be the same colour. What do I do? Only buy nail paint the same colour as my car, or simply pick up an old car of the same colour every time I buy a new shade? What a tough decision!
Monday, 8 February 2010
A distant relative of mine died last month. She was in her mid nineties, and as far as I am aware had led a happy and healthy life before the relatively short illness that took her from us. I never met her because she lived in one of those remote parts of Scotland where sea-lochs mean what might be an easy drive becomes a two-day slog, but she corresponded with my mother.
I'm telling you about her because of what she did for a living. She was a shipwright, and also a noted sailor and sage on sailing the Western Isles. Considering her age, she was one of the first female apprentices in the Scottish wooden shipbuilding industry back in the 1930s. So she not only made her living making some rather cool stuff but was a trailblazer for women in a completely male industry back when ladies like her were expected to get married as soon as possible and become homemakers. I'm kicking myself for never having taken the time to seek her out.
RIP Liz, your distant cousin is very proud of you.
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Casting around for inspiration when thinking that maybe it's time I had a profile picture I did a bit of searching on iconic images of women through the ages. One of the images I turned up will not be the inspiration for my picture for all its power, Rosie the riveter was the publicity character representing the thousands of American women who participated in the US war effort during World War II.
Aside from having the right arms and someone I could probably borrow a pneumatic drill from I don't think I have what it takes to make a success of it but it raised an interesting benchmark: if you can do a good Rosie then I think you've arrived, in passing terms. Being a girl in satin and heels is easy, being a girl in oily overalls is hardcore.
Friday, 5 February 2010
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
I've recently had an entertainingly obfuscated email conversation with my doctor about sleeping pills.
Obfuscated? The NHS has a spam filter designed to remove emails containing references to pharmaceuticals of the erectile dysfunction variety. Unfortunately the side effect of this is to block legitimate emails about sleeping pills.
So I had to mail him a quick explanation and then things like "The pills you prescribed me..." had to become "The small round things whose name you wrote on a green bit of paper for me...".
If there is ONE PROFESSION in the ENTIRE COUNTRY who might be reasonably expected to have to talk about medication by email and thus have spam filters that let this stuff through, you'd expect it to be doctors, wouldn't you!