Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Three days of peace and Sparkling

    Last weekend saw the annual Sparkle transgender celebration in Manchester. I was there as I was last year and met my sister, except that this time my wife came too and we stayed for the weekend. And as last year our time wasn't just spent in the relative closet of Sackville Gardens but in the wider world of Manchester City Centre. It's a city that has changed beyond recognition in the last couple of decades, now it has the feel of an international city but when I first encountered it back in the days of the music scene of the early 1990s it was something of a dump.
The Alan Turing memorial in Sackville Gardens
    Everyone comes to Sparkle for different reasons. Clubbing on Canal Street isn't my thing at all, but for others it's their only such outing of the entire year. It's a shame, some members of our broader community are repelled by the sight of some of the more outrageous among us, but the truth is Sparkle is what you make of it. I was there as a tourist with respect to the bad trannies in their painful heels, ill-fitting miniskirts and lank wigs, or the beautifully turned out French Maids and LGs. Their path is different to mine, so I have no discomfort at a fleeting association with them by attending the same Pride celebration as them.
    In the last year, I've come a long way. Beard lasering and a female-appropriate hairstyle have given me a much more natural female appearance, and my confidence in female presentation means that the blending I never imagined possible has at last come my way. Three days as full-time girl in a big city, in the motorway services, shops and restaurants of the wider world of muggles, albeit with an interlude at a transgender Pride, and I'm left feeling rather let down on my return to a more scruffy existence.
     I bumped into my friend A a few weeks ago, she about whom I've blogged before. She's now settled down, a very attractive girl, but firmly retreated into a closet of her own making. We went for a meal together, and she felt she had to inform me that she would have to drop me like a hot potato if I transitioned. As I suspected, and a shame because she rather evidently still has massive issues that she's failing to run away from. She looks very nice, but her voice isn't quite right and she has that cookie-cutter face you only get from FFS - both together a dead giveaway if you've ever met any trans people. Yet she's scared of her own shadow, and trying to erase her past hasn't made that any better. I wish I could help, but all I can do is be there for her should she need me.
    It is because I don't want to become like A that I like going to events like Sparkle. If I can face that and laugh and enjoy it then I'll have won, if I am constantly running to escape an unshakable shadow then I'll have comprehensively lost, because I will never be happy.


  1. Couple of noteworthy things here Jenny. First off the up-beat feel of this post, you sound as if you are much more 'together' now. I hope that lasts. Secondly, you enjoyed yourself and let your feminine hair down and broadened your experience by venturing further into the City. Thirdly, your wife was able to accompany you too. I trust she enjoyed herself too. Last but not least, you had a different attitude to the events around you at Sparkle, took from it what you wanted and let the rest of them get on with what they were there for. Personally, I don't do Sparkle or Pride for reasons I won't go into here but for a few years used to visit the gay district and clubs in my pre-op days. It was more to gain experience at being a woman more than anything else. Some of the things I saw were to me disgusting and inappropriate but hey, I have to live and let live! Glad that you enjoyed yourself and remember, things aren't as bad as we sometimes think they are. Make the most of your opportunities Jenny, you are doing fine. Love

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. "If I can face that and laugh and enjoy it then I'll have won, if I am constantly running to escape an unshakable shadow then I'll have comprehensively lost, because I will never be happy." ~Jenny

    I agree. If you can come to terms with being trans*, (however you choose to define it), you have an excellent chance of surviving your condition with minimal damage.

    What I do not understand is how you can accept the difference that you perceive between you and those "others" in skyhigh heels and ill-fitting mini-skirts, while not allowing for those who reject the trans* model or lifestyle, like your, friend.

  3. You do sound a lot more upbeat in this post.

    Maybe one day, if I can manage a trip to England, I could see Sparkle and the birth place of my father. He was born in Manchester, and I would dearly love to see where. I could possibly even meet a few bloggers there. that would be wonderful.

    Again, a very nice post, Jenny.



  4. I think that the key to this is to be yourself and be true to yourself. I have no intention of making it easy for new people that I meet to know of my past but equally I am happy to keep in touch with anyone from my past who wants to keep in touch with me.

  5. Yes, very much so, it's as though things have "clicked into place" with respect to presenting female. Which makes life easier, both for me and my wife, who is at ease with going out with me.

    Manchester is very much a modern and vibrant city, well worth a visit. However away from the city centre there are still pockets of depravation, it's still got a way to go. Thirty years ago it was a basket case, all the Victorian heavy industries had expired leaving it with large tracts of dereliction. Think in terms of modern Detroit. However it's become a poster child for urban regeneration, which is a very good thing.

    I think I may have been misunderstood. I care not for A because of her path as such, but because she is my friend. She was the ultimate high-speed private medicine transitioner, 18 months from closeted bloke to post-op. Very efficient, but the private fast-track practitioners are in my view lax when it comes to mental wellbeing. I do not think she is in a good place mentally, and my concern comes because by walling herself in a closet she's denying herself support.
    There are other people who melt away into the wider world without A's issues, and good luck to them. But if you knew A I think you'd agree there's something wrong there, and if you were a friend of hers like me you'd share my concern for her.

    1. If you think 18 months is fast Jenny I did it all in 11 months! You mentioned the private route (which is the way I went) and about it being lax sometimes in not the best in the area of patient well-being. Although the private route is/was quicker I think it rather depends on whom patients have as their psychologists/psychiatrists in these matters. A good psych will hold things back if they are doing their job properly no matter if the patient is NHS or private. It's just getting the right one. I think that if a patient has issues with their 'well-being' (read between the lines here) they will continue to have issues even when post-op. Your friend 'A' appears to be a case in point although when I say that I am not being disrespectful. I've no idea what her state of mind was before she transitioned. It may be that the whole process of transitioning has proved to make her feel the way she does. I can see you have grave concerns for A as she is your friend but sometimes we just have to accept things especially if we find ourselves unable to help. I can understand that you must feel very frustrated at losing her friendship and not being in a position to help because of the way she is.

      Shirley Anne x

    2. Blimey, 11 months is quick! I guess the SoC are a little tougher these days.

      I view A as a textbook case of irresponsible medical care. She ticked all the boxes and that's all that mattered to them. She by her own admission saw very little of her doctor during transition and was not encouraged to seek counseling.

      All we can do is offer support as we can.