Sunday, 31 January 2010

Apples and lemons

Another contrasting boy/girl weekend, in long and rambling post form.

Today I've been helping prune an apple orchard. Rows of dormant trees whose fruit will produce some of the finest organic apple juice you'll ever taste some time next October, pruning them involves thinning and controlling the unruly growth from last summer such that the tree produces a few fewer apples than it might but those that it produces are of better size and flavour than they might otherwise have been.

Standing in a frosty orchard with a set of lopping shears is a very peaceful activity and though it's damn cold at this time of year it's very satisfying to leave a line of carefully shaped trees behind you.

Occasionally though there's a tree requiring greater surgery than the lopping shears or pruning saw can provide. For these I have to metamorphose from scruffy Jethro Larkin into the protagonist from the DOOM series of games as I reach for the chainsaw.

I'm not a fan of petrol chainsaws, I prefer electric ones. 2 stroke chainsaw carburetteurs are the work of the Devil and I like my power tools to stop abruptly when I ask them to. Reaching above your head with a tool that can quite happily sever your neck is no fun when that tool has a mind of its own. Fortunately in this case there wasn't much needing cutting with the chainsaw and its use passed without incident.

As always doing blokey things in the company of people who know me only as such I have this small voice inside me that wonders just how on earth I get away with it.

By contrast yesterday was much more of a girl day. I spent most of it in bed sleeping off the cumulative tiredness of a month with little sleep, broken by a long phone call in which I came out to my other female ex-colleague I talked about in a previous post. She also was immediately perfectly OK with it. I'd forgotten her degree was in psychology so she asked some pretty searching questions. She'd been worried I was wanting to talk to her to announce some terrible news so I think it was something of a relief to her. We ended up having a fantastic chat about all sorts of things, ending up with a discussion of the portrayal of transgendered people in literature and the media, her field. So now the Ladies Who Know are two in number. I'm really fortunate to have people in my circle who I can talk to like this. Why on earth didn't I do it ages ago?

Yesterday evening was spent at an Italian restaurant in the company of the other Lady Who Knows and her SO, up in town for a weekend. Really nice food and wine, but what possessed us to have limoncello at the end of it all? This mornings was the first hangover I've had in quite a while. Lemons should stay in non-alcoholic form.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Here's to St. Valentine!

Enough heavy stuff. On to important matters. Clothes.

It's that magic time of year again. Blokes, even oversized undercover transgendered blokes, can go into lingerie stores and buy stuff and nobody bats an eyelid. Here's to St. Valentine!

I can't miss this opportunity so I shall certainly find my way to my local well-known quality specialist lingerie chain store over the next week or two. Trouble is, I can't just buy for myself, my wife will slaughter me is she finds I've been there and not bought her anything. So I'll have to buy different stuff in two distinct sizes.

Logic dictates that I should buy each from two separate stores. But the mischief-maker in me can't help thinking it would be fun to buy both at once. Now, do I go with the truth, or "That one's for my wife and that one's for my mistress"?

Good luck shopping, and remember: thinking about a joke helps a lot when you are nervous.

A trip to the doctor

Sleeping pills taken, full uninterrupted sleep last night. Bliss.

My wife and I went to the doc together last night, she for a bit of moral support. He really needed to know what was causing the insomnia, so after a nod from my wife and an assurance that if I told him he wouldn't put it on my medical record, I did.

After a quick run through of why I wasn't seeking the treatment he might be able to offer me he was very happy to write me a prescription for sleeping pills. Hopefully after a very few days I'll have broken the insomnia cycle. Talking to him was very useful, I must remember to drop him an email because he was going to ask a colleague for an answer to one of my questions.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

So that's what sleep feels like

This morning's wake-up time was 1:30AM. After a day yesterday spent in that beyond tiredness state of dysfunctional stumbling followed by a drive home from work spent in terror of drifting away on a crowded dual carriageway, 1:30AM this morning was crunch time. No way we could let that happen again.  So on my wife's advice, off to the hifi for the guided body scan meditation CD from my depressive days. Half an hour lying in the dark concentrating on breathing into your left calf muscles and big toe is wonderfully calming, but as the CD ended I still wasn't asleep. Looking forward to yet another night counting the chimes from the church clock up the road, I found myself rudely awoken by my wife's alarm clock. I don't know exactly how much sleep I got in last night, but it must have been somewhere around seven hours. Have I cracked it? Hope so.

I'm off to see the doc this afternoon. Hope I don't have to explain exactly why I'm a bit insomniac at the moment, I'm not quite ready for that.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Transgender and depression

In other posts, I've alluded to the low point in my transgendered path, well here's a post about it. One of the most laborious posts I've written, it's sat in "draft" mode for a long while and received countless edits as I've found this to be a rather difficult story to tell.

From my mid teens until my early thirties, I suffered a cycle of depression as I tried to suppress my transgendered side. 

Depression, clinical depression that is, not "I'm feeling a little sad" depression, is one of those things that defies description unless you've experienced it. If you have, you'll know, if you haven't maybe this post will help explain.

Do you suffer jet-lag? Most people do. Have you ever been shot to hell from a 5 hour time difference, only to meet some bright spark who claims never to have suffered it and insists that if only you either pull yourself together or follow some old-wives-tale remedy then you'll be right as rain? Have you ever wished you could administer a resounding slap to people like that? I have. And believe me, I can deliver one hell of a slap.

And so it is with depression. It's not simply “being a little down, perk up!”, the bright sparks will as little get it as they will shut up and leave you alone. There was a point when I seriously and rationally expected not to live to see my next birthday and started to think about my affairs in that light. I sought some medical help, but did not find it to be as useful as I'd hoped. As I met others with the same condition I found I had covered up my depression rather well and ended up feeling rather embarrassed when I realised in how much more dire straits some of them were. Like the time a few years before when I had found myself in the eye hospital receiving treatment for an injury I felt as though I was a healthy person who'd somehow ended up in a group of far more deserving genuinely sick people.

In the end I found some relief in meditation techniques I learned outside of NHS treatment. They did not cure the problem, but they brought some calm to its symptoms and allowed me to regain a bit of control in my darker moments. For the cloud to truly lift I had to do two things: understand exactly what I was gender-wise and cease to bottle it up, tell my wife about it. The effect of that was, my wife tells me, remarkable. I can still have stress periods, but touch wood I've not slipped over the edge again.

My experience with depression has so far had a happy ending, but I know not everyone manages it. The turmoil of understanding your transgender is enough to push anyone over the edge and not everyone is in such a fortunate position as I am to have such an understanding partner. All I can say is, if at all possible don't bottle it up as I did. I wasted an entire decade of quality girl time that way.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Two Amazons collide

What a day yesterday was. I came out to a lovely lady from Wales, and my burgeoning quest for elegant footwear for the larger girl caused me to meet another Amazon online.

You can read Renee's comment beneath "Large blooming flower indeed". There before me, a real live Amazon like me, only fully transitioned and if you'll excuse my testosterone-fueled bloke side for a minute, doesn't she look lovely!

My carefully crafted defence against the world lies in tatters at my feet for a moment.

If I'd met Renee a coupe of decades ago and I'd managed to pull myself out of the pit of self-denial that was fast becoming depression, a rash and impulsive younger version of me might have run off to the doctor and begun the rocky road to transition, Who knows, I might have made as good a job of it as she has. Or I might have diverged from luscious Amazon into twisted giantess and fallen hard.

But the me who is your scribe is different from the feckless young oik who partied away to Carter USM, PWEI and Nirvana at a Northern university. I've been through some exceedingly rough times, met the most amazing genetic woman, picked up a shiny wedding ring from her in the shadow of the Rockies and found myself as Jenny with the advantage of plenty of time in which to do it and a post-depressive's determination to have fun.

No, life's too good to rock the boat. I'm fortunate that my dysphoria is a lot more mental than physical so if I can handle the inconvenience of occasional bouts of sleeplesness (case in point: today. 2AM? That's a record even for me!) I can still resist the temptation to transition with its attendant risk of birthing a twisted giantess.

So do I tramp off dejected into the wilderness to live my life as a hermit? Hell no! I've just learned that a non-genetic girl my size can pass in spades, and if that doesn't make me one of her disciples, nothing will.

I hope one day I'll find myself on the other side of the world and this rather lumpen Bridget Jones can go out with Renee as can this slightly suspect facsimile of her Mark Darcy (Close your eyes dear, and concentrate on the accent!) . Then I think she and I will both see at first hand why "Best of both worlds" is still my preferred path through this mire.

Monday, 25 January 2010


Blimey, that was easy.

Someone pointed out that I don't necessarily have to be face-to-face with a friend to talk to them, a phone will do. Armed with that blindingly obvious insight that had somehow eluded me my list of friends I'd be prepared to come out to reordered itself neatly, so this morning I emailed my friend and ex work colleague.

I've known her since the late 1990s. I said she's one of my most cherished friends, and I mean it. Like me she's worked across a wide variety of media-related industries, though in a completely different field. She's incredibly clever, very practical and most importantly, very open-minded. If she reads this, she'll now be wanting to hit me with her keyboard.

I think she was a bit surprised that I wanted to talk to her without involving either my wife or her SO. I assured her that I wasn't about to declare my undying secret love for her, and arranged to call her at lunchtime.

Lunchtime came, and I set out on a long walk through the damp January countryside surrounding the industrial park containing my workplace. Call my friend, pleasantries aside, deep breath. Look around, nothing but a field of winter wheat, green shoots competing with a few straggling rapeseed(canola to non-Brits) plants seeded from last year's harvest, no eavesdroppers. "I'm transgendered".

I can't remember her exact response. Probably because of the blood rush, and because it was completely natural. After a few questions about what exactly I meant by that, was I transitioning, was she looking at a marriage breakup situation, we settled down to my first ever true girly chat with another woman who instantly accepted what I was saying and was quite happy to talk to me as female. Wow.

I am incredibly lucky to have one of the most amazing friends anyone can have.

It turned out that I'm not the first transgendered friend she's had. Before I knew her she had a good friend who'd transitioned, but who she'd now lost touch with to her sorrow. She hadn't delved into all the intricacies of transition because she's polite and well, do many transitioned girls want to forever have to talk about it? So I gave her the run-down on what dysphoria means, how it manifests itself for me, the transitioning process, and why I'm not taking that path. Then we had a damn good chat about girl stuff, shoes, clothes, attitudes of boys and girls to each other, yes even cosmetics.

Interestingly, she said it wasn't exactly a surprise to her. Busted? Maybe. Not many blokes she's known have quite the same people watching and clothing interest, and I'm the only bloke she's ever known who knows one end of a sewing machine from the other.

And I spent four decades crafting that bloke facade!

After an hour and a half tramping the bridlepaths of my home county we had to part our ways and I hung up having arranged to chat again soon. To say I was content as I made my way back to my office is an understatement.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The magic millimetre

A very short post. 

Stop-n-grow rocks! I have just under a millimetre's unbitten nail growth in the few days since I started applying it. Last night's celebration was lilac nail polish which looked so much better than on bitten nails. 

It'll be a week or so before they're fully fixed, at that point I'll have to follow Stace's example and reach for the nail file. I must resist the temptation to let them grow to vamp proportions.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Tired and emotional

Every machine I own has recently been blessed with a bounty of unreliability. Or so it seems.

My car has a failed injector. Not a problem, I'm a bloke, right, at least on the outside. I do cars and bikes, I'll just pick another from the range of machinery I either own or have access to. Unfortunately there's a snag. My spare car (doesn't everyone have a spare car?) is not wearing its many decades on the planet very well and is currently unroadworthy. For the first time in two decades I'm without four wheeled transport. OK then, plan B. Parents. What do you mean, my mother's car's got a noisy wheel bearing?

So I'm left with plan M. Motorcycle. In January. Fear nothing indeed. Wheel it out, damn it needs an MOT safety test. Book the test. Then try to start the thing. Nothing. It was fine just after Christmas, what's up? Battery flat. Uh-oh! At this point it all started to go wrong. An allen bolt for those fortunate enough not to have encountered one, is a bolt with a recessed hexagonal hole in the top. On my bike, an allen bolt holds down the battery cover. Over the winter a nice Japanese mechanic has substituted the steel one that used to be there with one made from chocolate. So when you insert the hexagonal allen key and turn, the hexagonal hole becomes a circular hole. Half an hour of swearing and messing about ensues before I have the battery in front of me. I have fifteen minutes before I have to be on my way to the MOT station. With the aid of a booster battery I start the bike and ride away. After half a mile it stalls. OK, been here before, bump start it. Run down the road with the bike, dump the clutch and hope the accumulated energy is enough to turn the engine and start it. Nothing, except a rather exhausted me. I ring the MOT people to cancel the test and dejectedly wheel the bike back home. I feel like I need to cry, but can't.

"Tired and emotional" is a euphamism used in British political journalism for "drunk". As in "The minister appeared before the select committee in a tired and emotional state". Right now I am genuinely tired and emotional, and rather wish I could become tired and emotional, but can't.

Not a good morning. If you see an elderly tractor on your morning commute on Monday that will be me, because right now it's the only roadworthy vehicle I have left to borrow.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The whole coming out thing

I said I'd be selecting friends to come out to as part of my action plan, so I'd better start thinking which of the poor fools who'll admit to knowing me to select as my victim.

That's enough joking. I'm serious, and apprehensive. Not that they'll disown me and denounce me as an aberration from Hell, because I'm pretty sure my friends aren't that kind of people and I have the advantage of being able to pick who I talk to about it. No, this is for real. It's not in the privacy of my own home and it's not in front of other TG people who'll understand, it's out in the real world and in front of someone to whom it'll be one hell of a shock. After all, it's not as though I'm someone who's always looked a bit femme, nor someone who's spent a year or two getting progressively more femme in front of them, I present as the same full-on huge bloke they've always known.

Of course, my appearance is my advantage. If I misjudge the person and they turn aggressive, I'm a hell of a lot less easy to get all transphobic at than the stereotypical vulnerable slight-of-stature femme guy of the public imagination. Bullies don't tend to pick on big blokes.

So who do I start with? I don't know why, but I can't imagine anyone but a woman. It's not that I don't have male friends who'd be nice about it, it's just that I'd find it a hell of a lot more embarrassing saying "I'm transgendered" to someone I've helped build a gearbox with than I would to someone I've done the feeding comfort chocolate to when she's split up with her no-good boyfriend.

Off the top of my head I can think of five women I'd feel comfortable coming out to. They've all known me at least ten years, some of them much longer. They're all more successful, cleverer and a lot nicer to look at than I am.

Two of them are university friends of mine, married and settled with growing children. I know I can pour out my heart to them and they'll cheer me up with hot tea, but the trouble is I know both of their husbands very well too. Would you say "I'm transgendered" to the wife of someone you've helped build a gearbox with?

A couple of former work colleagues of mine however are better prospects. From different employers, they don't know each other but I count them both as among my most cherished friends. Unfortunately they both now live at opposite ends of the country. Americans may laugh at our puny little land mass, but trust me, somewhere that's a couple hours drive on the prairies would be several times that on our clogged roads.

My favourite candidate is someone I could easily pop over and see taking time out from another trip in the none-too-distant future. I know her because of a shared interest in a club as a student, but while I was a geeky tech kid she was a right-on politico who ran for every trendy cause under the sun and was student womens officer amongst so many other politically correct positions. That's not to say she's a nutty feminist in the Millie Tant from VIZ mould, she may well have worn metaphorical dungarees at times in her youth but knowing her well for years I have complete confidence that she wouldn't hit some kind of feminist ideological meltdown when faced with a transgendered person. She's far too nice and clever for that.

Shame I've not seen her in five years. "Hello, how's life been treating you, how are the kids, by the way I'm transgendered". It would be better without the impediment of slight unfamiliarity. If I'd had half a brain, I should have come out to her twenty years ago. (incidentally, on a tangent the Lesbian & Gay office in my student union as was became L,G and Bi about a year after I graduated and a quick web check shows me it's now L,G,B and T. How times change!)

I need someone I've known for years to confide in. Am I being hopelessly naive in thinking this'll work?

Insomnia, dysphoria and a touch of bridesmaid guilt

Insomnia strikes again. Boots pills that are supposed to help you sleep, haven't. This is a particularly bad spell of it. I think I'll have to see the doctor, can't exist on 3 hours sleep a night. Trouble is, I don't want to say why, I don't want dysphoria to be at the forefront of every future doctor's mind when I see them about an ingrowing toenail, chronic flatulence or whatever the infirmity du jour is. Can I say "If I tell you I want you to promise not to put it on my record"? Can't say I trust them enough for that. A non transgendered friend who lives somewhere else in the UK has a doctor who's transitioned, wish I lived in her surgery's catchment area.

Véronique has posted at last, she's safe and recovering, which is good news. Her blog was one of several that has been an inspiration to me as a silent observer over the past couple of years, I'm happy for her. I can't help feeling a bit guilty though for a touch of the bridesmaid feeling. A rugby line-out winning physique won't help catching that bouquet.

Never mind, you'll be able to wear the dress again, isn't that what they always say? :)

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Painting my nails at work

Yesterday morning before work, I painted my nails. Some time about elevenish, sitting at my desk at work in full view of my colleagues, I painted them again. And again before going home.

Going full time? Sadly not.

All my life, I've bitten my fingernails. It's a nervous compulsion so I've found it very difficult to stop. I've now decided it's time to get serious and stop it to grow some nicer nails, so I've bought a little bottle of Stop-n-Grow "willpower in a bottle", clear nail paint with an awful taste. It's water soluble and it needs reapplying after hand washing, so the best bit is that even presenting as a full-on bloke I can perfectly legitimately be seen regularly doing my nails.

I succumbed to the temptation to shamelessly femme up the process in the finest tradition of bored receptionists everywhere to see just how much I could get away with. 

Damn that stuff tastes gross!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Angry (TG) kid

A week or so ago, Emma-Claire posted a piece about her schooldays. She described her experience of being picked upon once because one of her schoolmates in her words "decided i needed Toughening up". Well done to her for later punching the kid's lights out!
I've found myself brooding somewhat on her piece in the darkness of a snow-bound commute. I hope she won't mind me using the word she mentioned in her piece, "soft", her path was different from mine at school in that she was the soft kid at her school while I was the aggressive kid at mine. The aggressive unpopular kid, I should add, there were plenty of other aggressive kids at my school but kids hunt in packs and are ruthless when they spot anyone who's a bit different so I was never part of any crowd.
I am pretty sure now that I was responding to my gender by being aggressive. It's the easy way out, especially when you're larger-than-average. The school I went to was very traditional in its outlook for the 1980s so there would not have been any support from that quarter.
Did I take a wrong turn by not being a soft kid at school? I'll never know. I played the angry kid, and I did it well. Rather too well, as it happens. I have no sympathy for the other aggressive kids I went up against, to a man they were racist, homophobic little turds and no doubt transphobic too, had they known.
At least I don't have picking on the soft kids on my conscience.

Monday, 18 January 2010

A weekend of outrageous gender stereotypes

On Saturday I looked at cars with my bloke friends, while on Sunday after a leisurely breakfast in bed and half hour spent browsing the Orla Kiely website with my wife I spent the day at the sewing machine doing a bit of dressmaking. Not for me this time, I was trying to finish a project for her that was meant to be ready for the end of summer but looks likely to be ready only just in time for the start of the next.

It sometimes pains me slightly that as a transgendered girl one of the things that gives me release is dressmaking. I come from a family of powerful women, all four generations that I have known as adults have forged successful careers in their own times which was no mean feat for my grandmother and her daughters generation. So that I've enthusiastically taken up one of the domestic crafts they strove to escape feels almost like letting the side down, as though I might be seeking to play at being female by drawing an outdated caricature.

In truth though both my weekend days were different sides of the same coin. I enjoy making stuff. It's therefore only natural that when given the opportunity to make stuff with a sewing machine instead of with a welder, I'd also enjoy making that too. I consider it a privilege that I've had the opportunity to do both.

Perhaps the world would be a better place if more genetic males who make stuff for cars and bikes followed my example.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Girl day, boy day

Today is a girl day, as was yesterday. Tomorrow may be a boy day, or all of next week may be boy days. Or I may get lucky and have another run of girl days.

Do other transgendered people at the mercy of an unregulated testosterone habit get this variable aggression? Never knowing whether you'll be driving a metaphorical Nissan Micra city car or a BMW M3? Genetic girls of the Cosmopolitan feminist variety are fond of wheeling out the "We get periods and you don't" speech, well at least they know almost exactly when it's going to happen.

There. I have ALWAYS wanted to deliver this rant to a Cosmo feminist aggrieved at imagined injustice that was old hat even for her grandmother. That, and respond, "Well since you ask..." to the "I bet you wouldn't want to have to have babies!" speech. For now you, dear reader, will have to do.

Feels better to have got that off my chest, anyway. 

Friday, 15 January 2010

Insomnia sucks

Insomnia sucks.

I'm having a phase of waking up at crazy hours in the morning and having too much going on in my brain to get to sleep again. I'm banished to the sofa to save my wife from sharing my bounty of wakefulness so I'm alone under a mountain of my own making.

Tomorrow I and a couple of bloke friends will be gazing lovingly at lots of very shiny and expensive fast things in a very big exhibition hall. Truth be told, it's often not the finished product that does it for me with cars but fettling the components that make them up, but it's a day out with lots of toys and we'll talk bollocks as we always do. What they don't know is that my Christmas sale parcel from John Lewis arrived yesterday and I've saved its contents for a Sunday treat.

Yes mate, I'm grinning because that track tool develops 250bhp at the rear wheel and does 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds. I'm such a fraud, sometimes. :)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Gender neutral hair

I once tried growing my hair long. Back in my generation's summer of love, listening to the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets as played by John Peel, I let it grow and grow.
In the end, it reached my shoulders. Long, straight brown hair. I ended up going to a hairdresser in the small town I grew up in and asking for the buzz-cut I've had ever since.
Why would I do such a damn stupid thing? Simple. Long hair turned out to be a pain in the arse. No matter what I tried to do to it, it wouldn't go backwards.
I looked like a very large Old English sheepdog. The folly of youth eh!
I like having a buzz-cut. It's zero maintenance. It is however, very blokey. Time for a change in a more transgendered direction? Since I present as male to the world at large, if I change my hair it has to be believable in that gender role. It also has to be presentable in a business setting, for example my work puts me from time to time in front of people with big chequebooks and a long haired style like my teenaged sheepdog look wouldn't necessarily go down well.
Searching the web, there's frustratingly little on gender-neutral TG hairstyles. Either that, or insomnia has temporarily wrecked my Google-fu. So I'm left wondering whether the first person other than my wife I come out to will be my hairdresser, who also cuts my wife's hair.
I like my hairdresser. She's about the same age as me and though we never knew each other at the time she grew up about ten miles from me. On top of that she's a lovely person and I think I would trust her in this matter. Having observed her at work, isn't turning up early for appointments at female-centric places great, she's a hairdresser of great skill so I am sure she could advise me well.
The trouble is, I don't know how to catch her alone, i.e. without her colleague, and what her reaction would be. Our relationship isn't such that I can take her out for a coffee so I'd have to walk into the salon and just ask her. I don't think she'd be transphobic, you get a vibe about people's tolerance levels, but it's still rather daunting. It would be much easier if I could walk in with a picture and just say "I want that style, how long will it take to grow and how many transitional stages will there be?", and let her figure it out for herself.
There's also my wife's comfort zone to consider. I guess all I can do there is ask her. At least I don't have to worry about coming out to her.
Why don't you just get a wig in the female style that suits!, I hear you cry? True, I could do that. I've located a TG-friendly wig fitting specialist not too far away. But it's one of those things that comes down to crossdressing vs. transgender. If I can present some part of the female me full-time, however subtly, I think it will be a lot more satisfying than being able to turn on the full-on glam look only when circumstances allow it.
It could be worse. Lots of blokes my age have started thinning, at least I don't stare down at a plugged-up shower every morning.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Happy as Lauren

I have a spring in my step at the moment, this blog and my action plan have given me a fresh purpose. I'm grinning like a nutcase and bouncing around like a spring lamb. Probably rather scary when you consider I present as a 220-pound male giant.

I just have to make sure I don't come down with a bump.

Who's Lauren? The British colloquialism "Happy as Larry" doesn't really fit this context.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Size 15 ladies shoes located!

A few posts ago I set myself an action plan. One of its points was to find a supplier of ladies shoes in a UK size 15. This post is primarily aimed at the very few ladies both transgendered and genetic whose feet are that size and above, but maybe my research will be of interest to some others.

Over the years the lot of people with larger-than-average feet has become a happier one. When my mother was young, ladies shoes were often simply not available in her high-single-digit size and her feet still bear the evidence of having to wear ill-fitting footwear decades ago. When I was a teenager the situation had improved, but my newly size 15 feet were still at the outer limits of male footwear at the time and I had to wear some pretty awful footwear as a result. The problem with large size footwear design has always been that some manufacturers simply make their size 15s by lengthening the pattern for the size 12s in the middle resulting in something like clown shoes, and lack of competition meant that was all the large size supplier needed to stock.

Now a variety of specialist suppliers cater for the large of foot, and competition in design and supply means as a size 15 man I can wear just about any style of cool shoes I choose. What a difference twenty years makes!

Unfortunately though, there must be extremely few women with size 15 feet. Regular large sized ladies suppliers like and stop somewhere about 12 and specialist trans suppliers tend to stop at 14. (It pays to be careful when looking, I've seen male shoes advertised as 15 in the past but which turned out to be US 15, more like UK 14)
So that's most transgendered people catered for, but not me!
What can I do? As I see it, there are four options:
One: go barefoot. This isn't practical for most outfits or looks. No stockings, man-legs, it's got very old. This is the reason for my size 15 quest.
Two: Wear androgynous male footwear with the right outfit. The trouble with androgyny in clothing is that it works both ways. If you're large-male-sized as let's face it, all transgendered people with size 15 feet are likely to be, and you wear an androgynous outfit, it doesn't really matter whether that outfit is one made for a woman. You'll still look like a man. I'm sure there are femme outfits with footwear wearable by both sexes, but is the world ready for a giant cowgirl?
Three: Make your own. This isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. A quick search on "Make your own shoes" reveals a whole community of home footwear manufacturers producing an amazing array of rather nice shoes. It's true some of the parts for size 15 ladies shoes will not be available off-the-shelf and would require fabricating, but one of the best things my male side has given me is the ability to make almost anything. If I can weld up a kit-car or build an embedded computer as well as sew up a ballgown, then I have complete confidence in my ability to put together a set of court shoes. I'll do so if I really have to, but it's all going to be a lot of hard work and I'd prefer an easier option.
Four: Keep searching, find someone who sells them. Over the years I don't think I've missed any suppliers as I've searched the specialised large shoe  industry. Partly for myself, and partly on behalf of my closer female relatives who as you might expect from sharing genes with me also have slightly larger-than-average feet. I also don't think I've missed the web sites of any specialist trans suppliers. So it was a bit of a surprise when a possible solution came as part of my research for this piece. Breastform Store UK do shoes, and I'd never really looked at that part of their site. What a mistake! They list size 15s! The sizing includes a handy print-and-cut-out outline, and my feet fit neatly within it. I never expected it to be this easy.
They're not cheap mind, and I'll have to wait for my Christmas sale blowout to work out of my budget, but what can I say but wow! This has almost brought on one of those girlie crying moments.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Aggression, my nemesis

I am guessing that many of the people who stumble upon this blog will due to its content be used to the idea of thinking of themselves in a different body. So here's one for you, imagine for a moment that you're huge, and a bloke. A Blokey bloke, that is, at home in the pub rather than the salon IYSWIM.  Probably not what you want, but go with the thought for a moment.

When I was much younger I had the interesting experience of going on a stag night with some colleagues from my workplace of the time. By coincidence we were all pretty large, I was the tallest at six foot eight but the shortest guy was about six foot three. There were nine of us.

In those slightly more innocent days before chav weekends 'ho-ing in the Czech Republic, a stag night simply meant a pub crawl. In this case, a Saturday night pub crawl round all the dodgy city-centre pubs of the UK city in which I lived at the time. 
Yes, all the ones where the fights happen, full of lagered-up young men in cheap tracksuits, and their white-stiletto-wearing Lambrinied up female counterparts.
The first and only time I ever went to most of the establishments.

A strange thing happened. When nine huge blokes turned up, the crowded pubs went quiet. Bouncers anxiously sought assurances of "No trouble lads?", space cleared for us as if by magic and a bar that had previously been three-deep was suddenly ours to order from.

It's intoxicating, the power of looking aggressive.

My night as a larger lager lout was an interesting experience, but I'm slightly ashamed of it. 
Letitng that go  to your head is dangerous. Aggression is the thing I like least about my male side, and it's relative absence is one of the blessings of my female side. I hate it when I get a "boy day" and my drive into work is aggressive, and cherish the "girl days" and the days I can think myself into girl mode for their relative calm. I now know why I have never been into clubbing, nightclubs just aren't my scene because they are to me the essence of male aggression set to music.

Still imagining you're a huge blokey bloke? Feels good to put it down, doesn't it.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

It aint about the clothes.

One of the milestones in my understanding of being transgendered came a few years ago when I realised that what I was wearing made no difference to who I am. That sounds really obvious with hindsight, but sometimes the bleedin' obvious passes you by.

I like wearing female clothing for the way it feels, the way it makes me feel and the way it makes me look. But I don't need to wear it to be the girl I am inside, and the point I realised that was the point I fully understood the difference between cross-dressing and being transgendered.

So I'm not going to use this medium to talk about clothes. No excited posts about fantastic sale finds, no hot style tips from a transgendered giant. 

Shame, judging by my observations from the coffee-shop window this world has a hell of a lot of people needing style tips.

Here goes...

Right here goes...

Publish all the posts I've had stored as draft for the last few days. Outside my window the UK has stopped working under a blanket of snow. I'm sitting here unable to go to work so en femme and relaxed. Our friends from colder countries will be laughing at us with our mere 8 inches of snow, but I'm not complaining.

I just hope I can keep my thoughts rolling.

Where I want to go

To my knowledge, I've never met any other transgendered people. I'd be extremely surprised if that meant I've never really met anyone transgendered, it's just that none of my male friends or acquaintences have ever admitted to transgendered tendencies and if any of the girls I know are transgendered then they're a hell of a lot better at passing than I am.

Statistically though it's not impossible that I know someone who's transgendered and don't know it because they're in the closet. After all, they know me, and as far as they're all concerned I'm nothing but a bloke.

I don't like to think of myself as in the closet because I've been out to my wife for years. But face it, nobody else knows about me so have I done any better than someone who's bottling it all up and hiding it away from everyone? So I think it's time I asserted myself more as a transgendered person. To that end, here's my current action plan.

  • I would like to cease to be a silent spectator and interact with other transgendered people. This blog is only part of it, over time if I gain the courage I'll be making forays into the real world as well.
  • I'm going to come out to someone else but my wife. This will be difficult, I have to choose who from my friends with care and I'll pick my moment, but I see that as an important step. I don't have to prance around like the hermit in Monty Python's Life of Brian, shrieking "I'm a girl!, I'm a girl!", I just have to see whether I have it within me to tell someone who knows me only as male.
  • I am going to find a supplier of ladies shoes who can fit a UK size 15 foot. The barefoot beach look's getting old.
  • Above all, I'm going to have fun.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Boy vs. Girl

"There's no way you're all girl!" my wife once said to me after watching me enjoying the innocent pleasure of powersliding a lawn tractor on wet grass. And she's right. Within me I've got as much of an intact slice of my built-in maleness as I have the transgendered female that's been there ever since I can remember.Both sides of me together have allowed me to do some really cool things I might never have experienced had I not been born transgendered. Spending a day rebuilding an oily and worn engine is just as enjoyable to me as people-watching from a coffeeshop window and analysing the fashion choices of the passers-by, and I feel fortunate that I can appreciate them and other things normally reserved for one side or the other.The trick is not to suppress either, not to let them go to war. Suppressing my inner girl brought me nothing but pain, setting her free has allowed me to achieve things I never thought possible. I just have to be careful of the protective instinct of my male side. If I'm not careful, he'll have me opening doors for myself.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Large blooming flower indeed

It's been nearly ten years since I came out to my then-girlfriend, now she's my wife so I must be doing something right. We've taken it slowly and had a lot of fun, but I(girl) am still out of sight. Why is this?  Surely in this time and place that should be achievable!

(later edit for clarity's sake, when I originally came out to my girlfriend it was as the cross dresser I thought I was, the realisation that I was transgendered came later. This seems to be a well worn path.)

Here, I come to a shuddering halt. I am a almost a giant. I wouldn't have a hope in hell of passing.

Let me explain. I am 6 foot 8 inches tall. As a girl I wear a UK size 18 dress, but my feet are UK size 15. It's an over-used cliché about transgendered people that they are born in the wrong body, well in my case in a very cruel joke from the creator that's more literally true than for others. A long dress is mid-calf on me, a knee length dress is mid-thigh and a short dress is positively indecent. As it happens I'm in proportion. I may wear a size 18 but my height means I look a lot more slender than most size 18 women and years of walking and cycling mean that my very long legs have a shape most women would kill for. If I could easily buy a set of size 15 heels and I topped off my ensemble with a suitably bouffant wig, I'd be comfortably over 7 feet tall. Cool in a dominatrix-trashy-drag-queen kind of way, but hardly unobtrusive.

If you are of average height, you are fortunate in that you are merely a face in a crowd. You are unlikely to have experienced being significantly different from the rest of that crowd so you will never have been really noticed by that crowd. Try dyeing your hair pink for a week, and see what a difference it makes. The average man in the UK is about five feet 9 inches tall while the average woman is about five feet four inches. I'm a foot taller than most men and sixteen inches taller than most women. As a man in the street, I've had people openly staring at me, I've been the butt of more unfunny height jokes than I'd care to mention and from time to time I attract unwarranted open hostility from people who feel threatened by me. Being tall is not without its advantages, for example violent behaviour rarely comes my way, but a tall transgendered woman of my height would be nothing but a freak in the eyes of the general public and would not be able to pass unseen. It takes a lot of courage for any transgender girl who can pass in a crowd to take her first steps in the open and I admire those who do, I simply do not have what it takes to go out as a girl with very little chance of passing unseen.

I've had a lot of time to think on this subject, and I've concluded that there can be some surprising upsides to this. It is not without regret that I recognise being unable to pass as a woman means I can never consider transitioning, however having that decision made for me by my physical size means that I will never have to face making it myself. 

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Where I've come from

I can not recall a time when I did not know that I was a girl as well as a boy. As a youngster it was confusing, as a young adult I tried to repress it, as a twenty-something it contributed to my sliding into a cycle of depression. As an outsider through school I was never very good at making friends and though I fit in at university I never did very well in the dating stakes. When as an adult I met the girl who is now my wife, I knew she was special. Early in our relationship I knew my mood stood a good chance of ending it and so I took one of the biggest chances of my life.

I told her.

And she went out and bought me a nightdress and robe. I am lucky enough to share my life with the most amazing woman.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Hello. My name's Jenny

New year, new blog, new start.

Hello, my name's Jenny and I'm a transgendered woman as well as a 30-something male software developer from the UK Home Counties. Nothing new there, I've had over three decades to get used to myself so it's not as though I've just found out. What's new is that this year I've decided it's time I made more of my life. This isn't a coming out speech, I did that to the person that matters the most to me years ago, instead it's a statement of intent to spend more quality time as girl rather than boy, have some fun and do some of the things I should have done a long time ago had I had the courage.