Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sheeps cheese and the paperless office

If you read a business publication from ten to fifteen years ago the chances are you'd have encountered the phrase "paperless office". The idea was that with the internet and electronic documents, the Office of the Future would be a sterile environment free of the clutter of documents. Imaging companies like Canon and HP produced document management peripherals which ate incoming paper from big sheetfeeders and squirted their electronic images across a network connection for storage. The more out-there companies would attach them to shredders so a document scanned would disappear and exist only in electronic form.
     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

Inadvertent tinkering

    A chance observation on Cynthia Lee's blog recently gave me cause for concern. Spearmint tea, it seems, has anti-androgenic properties. It's taken by women with polycystic ovaries to counteract the hirsuitism caused by that condition, and by all accounts it's pretty successful.
     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

Is being a bloke who's openly transgendered practical?

    Secrets can be a pain in the arse. Particularly if they're secrets you've shared with someone else. The minute you share a secret with one or two people you face two problems, that secret is now dependent on their ability to keep it so, and the more people you share it with the greater your management problem becomes, do I tell this person, does that person already know, that kind of thing.
    Big Secrets don't come much bigger than being transgendered without realistic hope of transitioning. And that in itself is a cause of worry, particularly to my wife who now I've started edging slightly out of the closet finds the idea of hiding a big secret for the forseeable future to be particularly stressful.
    So what if the Big Secret, suddenly wasn't? What if I stole a leaf from the gay book and became openly transgendered in the same way that an ex-colleague of mine is a bloke who's openly gay? Looking at him he's just like I am on the outside, a bloke like any other. Sure if you catch him in the right environments he'll be looking a bit camp, but day to day he's just like me. Yeah, he's gay, what of it? Big Secret, gone! Extremely surprisingly this idea found favour with my wife, too.
    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

I have just made a t-girl friend laugh out loud in her office

Two gender-fogged closet t-girls walk into a bar.
Damn. Can't remember the punchline. Blimey that's a nice scarf she's wearing!

Normal service will be resumed...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Lesson learned

"Do not drink alcohol when using this medication"

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

Productivity boost

    Sitting in Cat's front room the other day we were discussing going to work en femme. As one does. It's not going to happen for me in a hurry. Too many logistical issues. But it did raise the point, right now I'm not convinced I'm working at my full capacity because the girl fog swirling round my brain doesn't like losing much of my attention for very long. On the days I've worked en femme from home I'm conscious I've been more focused because my inner girl is happily expressing herself, I'm happier with the way I look and feel. This isn't the magic bullet but it sure as hell frees up some of the processing power to do stuff and I get more done.
   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

A weekend in the snow

   On Saturday evening after the events of my previous post I went to a mate's fortieth in a well appointed social club in a small Yorkshire town. Decent band, good beer, a load of me mates from way back, a cracking good bloke's night out, you'd think.

   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

On the road again

   This morning I headed up north to see my friend from university days. Three hours hammering up the motorway through the snow-dusted rolling countryside of English Midlands, like being a student again twenty years later. The same roadside landmarks, a little greyer and seen from within a much nicer car. Waylon Jennings cranked up on the stereo: "She's a good hearted woman in love with a good timin' man/ She loves him in spite of his wicked ways she can't understand". Sigh.
   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.

Swindon TG group

   Just a quick post, last weekend my wife and I attended the Swindon TG group for the first time. And I have to say I'm glad we did. A very friendly bunch of both trans ladies and  their partners, mostly a little bit older than me. I was there in bloke form because I was too wuss-ass to dress first time but hey! you have to take things at your own pace.
   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

What's not to love?

   Like most people, I have strongly held political views. I generally keep them to myself though because they're something on which I can become large-and-loud, and that's never a good thing.
   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:

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Cryin' an' cussin'

   The other evening my wife said something that made me cry. What she said is not important, she didn't mean to upset me with it and she later apologised. It was one of those in-depth emotionally charged conversations with your spouse that should be familiar to anyone else who's transgendered and married, so it was very fertile ground for lachrymation.
   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

I just can't help laughing

Normally I'm very sensitive to adverse comments about my size, and particularly to those which pertain to my feet. There is nothing quite as deliciously frosty as the atmosphere of sudden quiet in the saloon bar of the Dog and Duck just after the diminutive wisecracker has made some unfunny comment about the giant sized bloke's feet. I have a great line in instant-sobering mirthless smiles for just these occasions.
   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

Welcome to the beautiful people

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..

  1. 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.
  2. The only remotely sporting activity at which I excel is spectacularly useless: punting.
  3. I have been paid to play computer games, also to surf dodgy web sites. Both of which got very old very quickly.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

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

How to hold a handbag

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

Beautiful things: trash of the titans

Spread around the periphery of my city there are several unexpected areas of rough scrubland amid the urban sprawl. Lost between waterways and housing estates next to dual carriageways and car parks, their wilderness excused by council signs proclaiming them to be nature reserves, they are ignored by all but the occasional runner, dog walker or homeless person. It might seem unexpected at the close of a property boom that there should still be unused land in a crowded city like mine, however once you know their past the reason for their status becomes clear. These are the municipal waste tips of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, vast open middens of trash that time has merely clothed with a layer of dirt and an unruly tangle of undergrowth.

Step through the gate, leave the path and step under the screen of branches and you're alone in the shade. The ground here has little vegetation and as you walk over it you can feel a crunching under your feet. You are standing on that which remains of a city's rubbish after a hundred years of weather and rot. All around you in the leaf litter are broken bottles, china, animal bones, old shoes and miscellaneous other unidentifiable objects. Picking items up and taking them away is against the law and bottle diggers are strictly forbidden but there's nothing against taking a camera and the law can do nothing about the local wildlife, the spoil from whose whose burrows provides a rich vein of new objects to photograph every year.

Trash of the titans? I'm certainly not referring to the Simpsons episode of that name. This city has at times played host to nearly all of this country's famous or powerful people. That mug might have been dropped by C.S. Lewis, that toothpaste tube could have been J.R.R. Tolkien's and that sheep's femur might have provided a meal for Oscar Wilde.  Or they might all just be the trash from the Morris Cars social club. That's part of the fun of rooting through this particular piece of undergrowth.

This post is off-topic from the rest of this blog. Every now and then if I see something I like I'll post it here, filed under beautiful things. Because some things, even trash, are worth sharing.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Lost in the fog

My poor doctor. He just can't get rid of me.

Sleeping pills are great. They stop you waking up at one in the morning. If you take two of them you wake up at about seven but spend the rest of the morning spaced out like Dylan the rabbit. If you take only one of them you're not spaced out but you are awarded an extra couple of hours in the day as your wake-up time shifts to five o'clock. If you forget to take any pills, you go back to waking at one in the morning.

After a couple of weeks of this sleep-but-not-sleep the complete exhaustion has gone but with it has gone my brain. This is not good, people pay me money so I can use my brain for them. I need to lose the pills, the insomnia and the gender fog that's rushed into the vacuum where my brain used to be. Then I can return to the exciting job of making data dance for people rather than confusedly sitting here making it twitch uncontrollably before the people who pay for my brain notice anything.

So I've booked another gap in my unfortunate doctor's busy life towards the end of the week. Having had a Long Chat in abstract terms with a motorcyclist friend who's also a hospital consultant about How To Approach Things With Your Doctor(though I think she may have guessed my problem but was far too nice to pry) , I am going to have another go at asking him for help that doesn't involve a path to transition. Back when I was talking to the same practice about depression I had counsellors and therapists being waved at me from all directions, albeit with waiting lists attached, so this time I think they can do better.

Stop-n-grow rocks!

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

There passes an amazing woman

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

Femulate Rosie

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

Coming out in the country

It's my little embarrassing secret.

I kept it in the closet for years, just doing it when I thought nobody was listening, tapping my feet when I should have been working, finding it on the Internet, sneaking into shops to buy it when I thought I could get away unseen.

But now there's no longer anything shameful left in the world I can stand up, be proud, and admit it.

I am a fan of country and western music. Possibly the least cool thing a UK resident can be.

There. I've said it. No going back now. Welcome to a life of being different.

That I should be into one of the most unreconstructed and illiberal forms of North American popular music might come as a complete mystery to readers of blogs like this one. In my defence I should say that I have extremely wide musical tastes spanning five decades and multiple genres and nationalities on both digital and analogue media. Yet for all that there's something about a slide guitar that sets my feet tapping and I'm well away. It shouldn't be so much of a surprise though, it's an art form known for its powerful female performers and once you've stripped away the redneck trash, the dead dawgs and broken pickuptrucks its lyrics are not afraid of dealing head on with almost anything. Almost anything I should say. OK, yet to hear a serious transgender themed country and western record. (I am not considering Weird Al Yankovic's offering as eligible, it's a novelty record.)

So, to the search engine! Blimey, some results! Something tells me I won't be seeing any of them playing the Calgary Stampede any time soon though. Buck Shot & Bebe Gunn, an FtM trans male and genetic female duo are described in Wikipedia as "the Sonny and Cher of Americana country music". Poor sods, what did they do to deserve that? Or how about Dallas/Marie, "a D.I.Y. country-punk folk singer". Whatever that is. Heavy metal infects country with its confusing array of a million subgenres.

Cutting edge alternative country might be a little inaccessible if you're not a hardcore fan (though if you're curious, I'm listening to Corb Lund as I write this, to name but one current favourite artist) so I'll leave you with something much older from Nashville's campest era that might be this blog's theme song were it to have one. Tell me this doesn't reach you in some way!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Non transitioning

Two words, sometimes my defence against the world, at other times my jail.

My visit to the doctor for a particularly viscious bout of insomnia crystallised the problem facing all MtF transgendered people who seek help even if they don't see it as a problem, all he had to offer me was a path to transition. For a brief moment I stood transfixed like a five-year-old, eyes fixed on the sweeties being dangled above me, beginning to salivate. Then the mental slap, "You're a damn giant ferchrissakes, you look like a badgers arse even with makeup on, you can't even find decent girl shoes in your size and you're married to a total babe! You'd throw all that away for what infinitesimally small hope you've got of making it a success? Don't be a [village on Orkney]!".

On the web I sometimes feel as if we see only the success stories of transition. A lovely group of beautiful girls skipping together hand in hand through the sunlit pastures into their new lives. And the best of luck to them for being able to do it, they damn well deserve it! Envious I may be but it's not a poisoned envy.

No, we never see the failures. I know from a lifetime of reading and digesting all the info that has come my way on the subject that there are people who've fallen hard in the transition process and I'm smart enough to know the chances of my becoming one of them are extremely high. I've referred in the past to begeting a twisted giantess, well I think I'd do well to hold onto her bogwood club just to remind me of her before I do anything stupid. I've beaten clinical depression once before and I'm not going back.

So here I am in my groundhog day moment of perpetual girl envy, occasional transition temptation, periodic insomnia and casual cross-dressing. It chose me, nobody would be crazy enough to pick this condition for themselves. At least I have fun at it, who knows by the time I perfect my cross-dressing skills to the extent that I look like women my age, I might not yet be at the age at which the wrinkles lessen the differences. Maybe I should spend time in chav (Translation for non-Brits: trailer trash) country, a few shell-suited blobs hoving into view might cure the girl envy pretty quickly. Shame my town's full of stylish and beautiful twenty-something students.<sigh/>

If I have learned one thing though it is that I am not alone. There are others like me who for whatever reason acknowledge themselves as transgendered yet choose not to take the path towards transition. None of us wish to force our path on others and we're all envious of the girls who make a success of transitioning, we just realise it's not our chosen way forward. Some of us may in the future even change our minds and go for it anyway, but that's our decision alone. If we can do anything for our transgendered sisters meanwhile though it is to make the world aware of ourselves, in case there's a bogwood club waiting to be avoided in someone else's path.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Spam filter rant

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!