Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Review of 2011

Back at the beginning of the year I set out a list of things I wanted to achieve during 2011. As the year draws to a close its time to look back and see which I managed and which I didn't.

To complete the inaugural Yeovil half marathon at the end of March
Most definitely achieved. After a really good start and being on track for a personal best things fell apart in the last 3 miles. I was running with a colleague from work and it was his first half marathon. At the 10 mile mark he began to struggle and so we switched to a run/walk strategy. We eventually crossed the line just under two and a quarter hours after starting. It was a fabulous race, much better than I was expecting and one that I want to have another go at, and see if I can break 2 hours.

To complete the Bala Middle Distance triathlon in June
One week before the race I discovered that my wave was to be the last starting and that there was a good chance that I wouldn't make the cut-off time for the bike. Although this wouldn't stop me from going out on the run there was a good chance that the marshals would have packed up by the time I was making my way around the course. On top of this I really didn't want to leave my family stood on their own on the side of Bala lake after everyone had gone home. I thought long and hard about this but in the end decided to pull out. I think it was a good decision as I've seen a race report since and the weather was abysmal with a lot of people not completing the race for various reasons.

To complete the Outlaw Triathlon at the end of July
After having to pull out of the Outlaw in 2010 I really wanted to have another stab at completing it. In the end though I decided that I wasn't sure that my leg would hold up to training. In the end I didn't apply but instead took out membership at our local gym. For most of 2011 I've worked on strengthening my legs so that I can train for the Outlaw at a later date. During 2012 I plan on following the same training schedule that I will be using in 2013 when I attempt to complete the race.

Perform my burlesque routine in front of my friends and P's
Back in June I finally performed in front of a small group. It was an amazing evening. Everything about it was so perfect.

Perform a burlesque routine in front of a full audience
In December I finally had the chance to perform the routine I've been developing, over the last year, in front of an audience of nearly 100 people at Hamilton House in Bristol as part of the Pink Kitten Christmas Cabaret. It didn't quite go to plan but it was still so much fun.

Get an appointment at the Gender Identity Clinic and start the process of going full time
In March I asked my psychiatrist in Taunton for a referral to The Laurels GIC. In July I had my first assessment appointment at the GIC. In October Dr Dean confirmed that I was transsexual. At that point I began preparing to begin my RLE and go full time. On January 9th 2012 I will begin living and working full time as a woman.

Begin voice therapy
This hasn't happened yet. I was told when I had my assessment that I would have to wait until I had gone full time before I could begin voice therapy. On the 12th January I've go my first voice therapy session. If the assessment is anything to go by then the sessions are going to be brilliant fun.

Change my hair colour
Throughout this year my hair has grown more and more blonde. I reached the point thought where I wanted to have it straightened. As a result though I've had to reduce the blonde colouring in my hair because the straightening chemicals cannot be used on hair that has too much colouring. By the end of January I'll be able to do something more with the colour before having my hair straightened in a longer lasting way.

Get out and about to various places – restaurants, shops etc
This year has seen me out and about a lot more. I've stopped off at motorway services, admittedly only sitting in the car. I've been to Exeter several times for clinic appointments and have had lunch outside the Cathedral, been into Debenhams, the Post Office (briefly), Tourist Information Centre, Hotel Chocolate, Boots, Lloyds TSB and Prezzo. I've been to The Palace Hotel (and sat outside before and after performing) and walked to Hamilton House from my car when I took part in the Christmas Cabaret (both times on my own). I've even been for a walk in the local country park with a friend.

Improve my website and keep it up to date
This is going to be an on-going challenge. In June my web hosting subscription is up for renewal and I'll be taking the opportunity to update the URL to something a bit more generic.

Keep making new friends, keep in touch with old ones and meet up with some of my online friends in the flesh.
I've met up with some wonderful people over the course of the year, several of whom are on a similar journey to myself.

2011 has been a fantastic year for me. In less than 2 weeks time I will have gone full time. 2012 is not going to be an easy year but it is certainly going to be a really good one. At some point over the next week or so I'll come up with a new list of things that I want to achieve in 2012. I really can't wait to see how things pan out.

Friday, 23 December 2011

LGBT Reading Challenge

I found out about the LGBT Reading Challenge via a convoluted route involving  a post Mrs TeePot which led to Pagan Culture's Witchy Book Challenge which had a link to LGBT Reading's blog.
I'm not sure if there is going to be challenge for 2012 but regardless of that I'm going to set myself my own challenge as I have several books that are sitting waiting to be read so this will give me the incentive I need to read them.

To this end I'm going to aim to read 6 LGBT books over the course of the year. I know this means one every two months but I've got a few other things that I want to read as well.

Thank goodness for my Kindle, its certainly going to get some use over the next 12 months.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The week so far - Saturday

This post is a bit late but I have an excuse, I didn't get to bed until 7am Sunday morning. The last time I pulled an all-nighter  I was in my late teens early 20s.

Saturday was the best day I've had for a while. It started with me getting my hair done by L. This time was a bit different to normal as although I'm used to going on Saturday mornings this was the first time that I had gone as Jenna when the salon was going to be fully open and there were going to be other clients there. It had to be done at some point though, I can't keep turning up on a Thursday night when it is just me there.

I got ready, chose a sensible outfit consisting of a pair of jeans, boots and a multi-coloured tunic style dress.

Make-up sorted, purse, diary, phone and keys in my bag. Coat on and I was out the door by 8am. My appointment wasn't for a while but I needed to fill the car up with petrol and post a couple of letters. Besides the neighbours still aren't aware of what is happening, that should change after Christmas as we plan to speak to a few of the neighbours and drop notes through the doors of the rest.

My appointment went without a hitch. I'd been planning on getting my hair styled for Saturday night but L surprised me by asking if I wanted her to straighten it. We'd been planning on doing that as my hair goes a bit frizzy and curly and needs to be controlled. I opted for this as it means that it will be easier to manage when I go back to work.

After an hour and a half in the salon, a large part being spent out back having chemicals applied to my hair and then getting it washed, I was ready to hit the streets with my new, much straighter, hairstyle. It was great to be able to go to the salon as Jenna.

Back home but this time through the back door as it was more likely there would be neighbours around by now. There was always the chance that I could have bumped in to someone while getting out of the car but that was a risk I had to take. Not that it would be an issue, it would have meant explaining things to them.

I had a few hours to spare before I had to head out again and I didn't plan on removing my make-up and reapplying it just yet so I had a bit of lunch and pottered around. This did mean that my son finally got to see me as Jenna in the flesh. He avoided looking at me as much as possible as he's still not comfortable with  the idea.

Eventually both he and his mum went out to out church's Christingle service. Just before they did I removed my make-up and after saying goodbye I went back upstairs to get ready to go out.

I kept my make-up similar to what I'd worn in the morning but went for a much brighter lipstick as it would look better when I was on stage in front of nearly one hundred people. Did I say on stage? Yes, that's right. Last Saturday evening I finally performed the burlesque routine that I've been developing in front of an audience. It was the Pink Kitten Christmas Cabaret and I was performing as my alter-ego Ms Jenna Von Risque.

With my make-up reapplied I slipped into a black and red shift dress that I had planned to wear as I was expecting to go out for a couple of drinks with the rest of the girls after the show before returning home. Ha, best laid plans and all that.

The journey to Bristol was uneventful, getting through the city was more problematic and I eventually managed to get to the venue, having parked my car a good 5 minutes in a back street and then walked on my own through an area that did make me feel a bit uncomfortable and which I'd have to walk back through at the end of the night.

I walked into the room we were using to get changed with about 10 minutes to spare to the time we were all expected to be there.

It didn't take long to touch up my make-up and getting into my drummer girl costume. I was going to be performing my routine to a combination of an instrumental version of The Little Drummer Boy and the David Bowie/Bing Crosby version. I'd practiced it and felt confident that I knew exactly what I needed to do and at what points I needed to have it done by.

Its amazing the effect that nerves can have, during my run through I found that I'd finished the first part of my routine with quite a bit of time to spare. Either there was something wrong with the music system and the track was playing too slowly, possible as there were a few hiccups with the sound system, or I was doing something wrong. I didn't get the chance to go over the routine again and had to hope that when it came to the life performance everything would work out fine.

The show got started and I was privileged to watch a lot of my fellow students performing their routines. All of them had performed in public before, I think there was only one other person who was performing a sole routine for the first time.

Every single one of the performers was fabulous. The audience whooped, whistled and clapped enthusiastically. None more so than the bunch of rowdy Pink Kitten performers that were stood at the back of the venue.

Eventually though it came time for my routine. I grabbed my drum and drumstick and after the best introduction I'm likely to get I strode out in front of nearly 100 people.

To do what I did took a lot of courage, by nature I am very shy and being in front of that many people, performing, while they all watch me is something I never would have dreamed of, but I did it. I actually strode around the stage, bumped and grinded, did some salsa moves, peeled off gloves

and stockings

and finished with a showgirl pose.

I walked off that stage and felt amazing. The girls whooped and clapped and hollered at the back. I'm sure i heard someone shout "Get them off" but that might have been the audience.

Did the routine go to plan? Not at all. Nerves got the better of me and I found myself with large gaps at the end of sections where I had to improvise, once by doing a number of additional bumps and grinds. The second time by going into a prayer like pose for a lot longer than I expected. One of the girls thought that I was doing that because I'd forgotten what I was going to do next. Nope, I was just waiting for the music to catch up so that I could hit the last part of the routine.

Every single act was fabulous. Each had moments that were so memorable. Eventually the show drew to a close and it was time to pack up and leave.

I'd been planning on driving home but at the last minute was persuaded to go to an after show party at one of the other girl's homes. She had a spare room so I could crash there.

Her home is totally amazing, its so beautiful and has everything you could possibly want. That includes a room that is fitted out for karaoke. I have only ever done karaoke once. I managed to hold out for a number of hours but eventually succumbed and did my rendition of Laurel and Hardy's Trail of the Lonesome Pine.

After that I managed at least one more song which was selected for me. Maybe at some point in the future once I've had a bit of speech therapy I might be tempted to get up and do a bit more karaoke.

Eventually it was 7am and with the party over those of us who were staying made our way to our rooms and a few hours of sleep.

My journey home was a bit more eventful than the journey there as the outfit I'd chosen to wear back was lacking a certain something. I'd chosen a tunic top and cardigan, however the top was rather too short and I only had stockings to wear. I end up wearing my coat all the way home in the car. It wouldn't have been too much of an issue if I'd not had to stop off and fill up with petrol, fortunately I could pay at the pump. I also had to get into the house in the middle of the afternoon and so once again used the back entrance while praying that I didn't bump into any neighbours. I certainly learned that particular outfit requires trousers, leggings or very thick tights when I wear it next time. Probably trousers.

Saturday was a brilliant day. I managed my first public performance, now I just need to work on another routine to perform. I've got an idea for my next one and it will be a fan dance of some kind. I also know what the venue is like now and so can work my routine to fit in with that. If I'm really lucky I'll have it developed (maybe even with a new costume) for February when the next show is planned. We'll see. I've already started thinking about a couple of other costume and routine ideas, one might even be for next year's Christmas show.

I've no idea what next year will bring but I do know that now I've performed once I certainly intend to do it again. I doubt the rest of the girls would let me get away without performing again anyway.

Stay tuned for more performances by probably the only Transgender Burlesque performer in South West England.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The week so far - Thursday

Finally my big day arrived. No, not that big day. I walked down the aisle far too long ago. This big day was the one when everyone at work found out about Jenna.

I was in work by 6am as things have been a bit hectic recently and most of the team I'm part of have been working a shift pattern. This week it was my turn to get into work for the time I'd normally be getting out of bed!

On Wednesday I'd sat down with L from personnel and we'd gone over the final details. Everything that we'd thought of had been dealt with. On January 1st all of my personnel records, pension and payroll will get switched to Jenna.

Everything started well on Thursday but within an hour of arriving at work I could feel the nerves starting to build. Did I really want to be in the meeting where everyone was going to be told that in the New Year I would be coming to work as Jenna? I was beginning to wonder but I'd said I wanted to be there and I'd stick to that.

Well, that was my intention until just before 9 when V,one of my managers and a long time friend, came to talk to me. She said that the Project Manager had asked if I wanted to be at the meeting. I was surprised but told her that I was feeling nervous and wasn't sure, I'd discuss it with personnel.

It was a brief chat but it was decided that in fact my presence at the meeting wasn't required and that it might make it easier for people to ask questions and give honest reactions. If there were questions that personnel couldn't answer they could be directed to me.

The morning went by quickly and before I knew it there was only half an hour until the meeting. The plan now was for everyone to go to the meeting and once they'd all gone then I could finish up and leave for home.

Before that could happen though my Project Manager took me to one side to have a brief chat and then one of my managers came and sat down at my desk to have a quiet word. We agreed that we would speak later in the afternoon so that I could get her opinion of how the meeting went, I was already going to be finding out from personnel but it helps to have the view of someone more familiar with the team too.

With 5 minutes to go I received an email from one of my colleagues asking about the chats that he'd seen me having with management. I told him that it wasn't anything to do with what he thought it was, as he headed off to the meeting I fired one last email to him with the words "Now you know what it was about".

One of my colleagues was still sitting at her desk next to mine and I had to prompt her to go off to the meeting, she'd forgotten about it. Fortunately she didn't ask me why I was still at my desk as she raced off.

Within the next half an hour everybody would know, shortly after that the whole company would be aware.

I logged out of my PC, picked up my rucsack (when I return in the New Year it will be with a shoulder bag to carry my things and the rucsack will be consigned to be used just when I need it). I wished the only person that was around a merry Christmas and without looking back made my way from the building. The thought that crossed my mind as I walked across the car park was that the next time I set foot in the building it would be as Jenna and would be on the 9th January.

During the afternoon I spoke with personnel and V.

The meeting had gone well. There had been a couple of questions which were of a personal nature rather than work specific. People were being supportive. They'd been stunned as nobody had seen it coming. V had been watching people's reactions as L as the letter I'd written was being read out. Faces had dropped as they thought that they were being told that I had some serious illness. There was a sense of relief when they found out. I've always known that I work with an amazing team and their reactions proved that. All of this is going to take some getting used to.

As for the rest of work, the email went out and there hadn't been any reaction to it by the time I rang in. I've been told by one person that I spoke to that she's going to give me a hug when she sees me next. I'll look forward to that.

A bit of a nerve wracking time but the news seems to have gone down well. Returning to work will be nerve wracking but there is so much going on that I'm hoping that things will be a five minute wonder and then everything will settle down.

Only time will tell.

Friday, 16 December 2011

The week so far - Tuesday

This was an awesome day and made up for Monday.

This week I've been working early shifts and as a result on Tuesday when I took a half day holiday was leaving work at 10am. My son had been off school having spent a bit of time throwing up at 1am. As he's not seen Jenna in the flesh yet it was going to be a bit awkward as my plan for the day was to get ready to go to Bristol and do a few things including my burlesque class, costume fitting and visit my oldest friend.

Sick child or not Jenna was going out.

I managed to get showered, put my make-up on and get dressed without him seeing me. With a little bit of time to spare I was out of the house before the school finished for the day and hundreds of youngsters started making their way home.

Bristol was fun. I was able to work on my routine for Saturday's Christmas Cabaret.

A brief stop to see Mags and check the fit on the skirt for the costume that she is making for me followed. Having seen the mock-ups for it I really can't wait to see the finished costume. It should be absolutely awesome. Just need to work out the routine to go with it!

After that it was time to go and see my oldest friend. Two weeks ago I spoke with his wife on the phone and told her what was happening, she had told him when he got home but because it was so late I decided not to pop in. This time I rang and arranged to stop by on my way home.

I should have warned him that I was going to be turning up as Jenna but it slipped my mind. I don't know what was going through his mind when he opened the door to find me stood there. Whatever it was we sat down and talked over coffee. When I say talk, I really do mean talk. We chatted about how I'd got to where I was, he was very supportive, he told me that I should have said something a long time ago. Before I knew it 2 hours had gone by. Its probably the longest and deepest conversation that the two of us have ever had. We're going to meet up again early in the New Year when I'm in Bristol.

Nearly 40 years of friendship were riding on his reaction to me becoming Jenna. Although our friendship will undergo change it looks like there's still a lot of mileage in our friendship still.

The week so far - Monday

This week has been an interesting one so far.

Monday evening was the low point.

We had an appointment with our Vicar, his wife and a friend. We've met with them a few times throughout this journey. The last time we met we discussed my changing which services I went to, I'd offered to go to the evening service but was told that I should carry on going to the morning service.

In between that meeting and last Monday's the church council and a lot of our cell groups have been told about my transitioning from January.

On Monday evening we discussed my involvement in the church in all its forms. I was left a bit disappointed and was ready to have nothing more to do with the church.

We have a system where people pair up with someone else in order to provide support, friendship and to pray together. One of the conditions of that is that you can't have a man and a woman as a pair. Two males, two females, a male and a couple or a female and a couple is all acceptable. I currently have a male prayer partner and so will have to change. However, rather than simply finding another female that I can talk to and pray with its been suggested that I pair up with a couple. I can see that it would make it easier for a couple to be able to provide support and prayer both to me and also each other along my journey but it does make life really difficult for me as there aren't going to be any suitable couples that I can turn to. So I'm not going to be finding myself a prayer partner.
In addition to that I was also informed that because my other half goes to the cell group as me that the group had decided that they couldn't support both of us and that they were going to support my other half. For that reason I'd have to find another cell group.

Now I know that it was going to be difficult for them to support both of us but there are a lot of other groups that my other half could have fitted into a lot more easily than myself. Especially as I've been with that group since we started using cell groups nearly 10 years ago. To suddenly be told to find another group and not even given a suggestion as to which ones might be suitable was as big a kick in the teeth as they could have given me.

I have to admit that I was all set to walk away from the church at that point. If I wanted to go to church then

I could find one that was more accepting. Wouldn't be simple but not impossible.
Then last night, Thursday, I bumped into a friend from church. She knows what is happening and we've spoken briefly before the summer at a church weekend. We talked about her, me and a few other things. While we were chatting though I found myself deciding that I'd stick with most of decisions, I'd not get a prayer partner or join another cell group but I wouldn't walk away from the church. Instead I'd go to the evening service so that they have to deal with the fact that as Christians they should be learning to show love and compassion to everyone, not just those that fit within their experiences and understanding.

Also last night my other half and son went to a social organized by the cell group. I decided that after Monday I wasn't going to go. Besides I had some practice I needed to do for my burlesque routine and with the family out that seemed a great time to do it.

This morning I asked my other half if anything had been said about me not being there. She told me that our friend, who was at Monday's meeting, chatted to her during the evening and said that she realized that I wasn't going to be happy about being told the group couldn't support me.

I couldn't help thinking how funny that was. If they'd realized it was going to upset me then surely the decent thing to do would be to talk to me about it and explain why they felt that way and then get me to accept the decision, not to tell me that they'd decided and that I was being kicked out. That is so wrong on all levels and if I was an outsider looking at what happened I would immediately be thinking "do I really want to associate with a bunch of people that can turn their back on someone without providing them with any alternate support?" I already know that some people are looking at the way our church is behaving and wondering why anyone would want to be a Christian.

Come January we have another meeting scheduled with our Vicar, his wife and our friend. It unlikely that I'm going to go. My other half can go but I no longer feel the need to discuss things with them. If I do go then it will be to see just our Vicar and his wife.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A busy week ahead

This week is going to be both busy and memorable. Probably the most memorable week I've ever had.

As of Monday I'm back working shifts, early shifts in particular which means that I have to be at work for 6am. In fact if I can get there just before that then it helps as I have to open up the building which is not a simple matter. I'm doing that until Thursday and then I'm on holiday until the 9th January.

On Tuesday I've got my fortnightly trip to Bristol. It will be a busy evening because I'll be having a one-to-one dance lesson in order to go over my burlesque routine. After that I've got my burlesque class which I'm really looking forward to as its expanding my abilities into other areas such as improvisation and storytelling. The last class I was at was hilarious as we ended up coming up with a story that involved The Chippendales and a homicidal dolphin that got sucked down into a whirlpool.

I've also got the next fitting for the costume that I'm having made. This time it will be to check the fit of the skirt.

Finally, I have to try and visit my oldest friend. I informed him about my plans for gender reassignment 2 weeks ago. This week will be the first time he gets to meet Jenna in the flesh and also to talk about what I'm doing.

Friday looks like being a busy day as I need to take a friend to a hospital appointment in Bristol. After I get back from that I've got an appointment at the salon for a full body wax, eyelash tint and an eyebrow wax. Finally I can get my eyebrows done in a really feminine shape.

Thursday and Saturday are the big days this week.

On Thursday my immediate work colleagues will be informed about my plans for gender reassignment. Shortly after that everyone else at work will be told. I expect I'll be the topic of conversation at work for about 10 minutes and then that will be it until January.

Saturday will be the day I enjoy the most. In the morning I'm going to go and get my hair done. However, it will be Jenna that goes, not my male self. There will be lots of curls and it will be set so that I don't have to worry about it for a good few days.

In the afternoon after redoing my make-up I will be picking up S, one of my neighbors and we will be driving up to Bristol where I will be performing in a Christmas burlesque show. My first real public performance. I'm going to be performing a variant of the routine I did earlier this year but this time rather than to Clare Teal's Stone Soul Picnic I'll be performing to an instrumental version of The Little Drummer Boy which has the David Bowie/Bing Crosby version in the middle of it. Hopefully S will be able to video the show, in particular my part of it. If so I'll have to upload it.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Not long now

Only four weeks to go now, 31 days as I write this post until I start living and working full time as Jenna.

Next Thursday all of my immediate work colleagues will know about my plans for gender reassignment. From what I've been hearing there are quite a few people that know already. The other day I was told that my project managers boss has known for something like 2 months.

As soon as my colleagues have been told I'll be off on leave until the 9th January when Jenna will return to work.

Notifying people that I've changed my name has been an interesting experience.

A number of places its simply been a case of changing details online and I've not needed a Deed Poll or other form of notification that I've changed my name.

A couple of times its meant that the easiest way to deal with the change is to delete an account or remove myself from a register and then create a new account or add myself to a register again under my new name. The latter is what I did with the Organ Donor Register.

So far the only people that I've had to supply my Deed Poll to have been the bank (all I need to do is to tell them when I want my account details changed and it will all happen automatically), DVLA (for my driving license), store card, a health insurance policy and the Land Registry because I own my house.

There are bound to be people that I've not informed of the change of name and so I expect I'll be getting post in my old name for quite some time to come, although I'm sure scrawling "Not known at this address" on most of it and posting it back will deal with most of that.

Its been interesting going through this process as its given me a good idea of just how many people know of our existence, even if it is just being registered on a computer system somewhere. Next time I read a story or see a film where someone erases a person's identity then I'm just going to laugh out loud because its not an simple as its made out to be.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Flying Solo

Long day last Tuesday.
Got up at 5am and wandered downstairs, flicked on the kettle and then went into the living room to select the make-up I was going to use for my trip to The Laurels.
A mug of coffee later and I started working on my hair with straighteners. I so hope that I get better at doing my hair with straighteners, although I'm quite happy to not get good at using them at 6am.
With my hair in a reasonable state I started on my make-up. It only took me about 20 minutes to get my make-up done. I finished up, then got dressed in the trousers and blouse I was going to wear.
Everyone else was in bed so I made a cup of tea and took it up to my other half to make sure that she was awake and getting ready as she also had an appointment at the clinic.
With her awake I went back downstairs, put on my coat, picked up my bag and let myself out of the house. By now it was 6:45, most of the neighbours would still be in bed or getting ready to leave for work but I had enough time before anyone else was moving around outside the houses.

Tuesday was a cold and frosty morning and I had to sit in the car for 5 minutes waiting for the windscreen to clear. A few people passed by on their way to work but none of them were people I knew. Eventually I headed off the to the nearby supermarket to fill the car with petrol. Its a long drive to Exeter and back.
With that little task done I pulled the car into a space in the supermarket car park and sent a text message to a friend to let her know that I was out of the house and sitting in a car park waiting for my other half to finish getting ready so that she didn't have deal with the possibility of us bumping into someone when we left the house. Also so that our son didn't have to meet Jenna face-to-face.

After 20 minutes my other half contacted me to let me know that our son was feeling dizzy. On top of the cough and cold he's had she needed to stay home and make sure that he was OK. I agreed with her and so began what was to be a solo trip to Exeter.

The drive to Exeter is easy and pleasant enough. Just over an hour after setting off I was pulling into a space in the car park next to the clinic. I'd intended to take advantage of the an early arrival to get some photos taken for my driving license and passport. Wandering through the city centre at 9 in the morning had to be easier than going later because there was likely to be less people. In the end I only had 15 minutes until my appointment and no time to do anything.

My counseling session went well, so much has happened recently, that I was fully conscious of the time slipping away while I tried to go over everything.

During the session I mentioned that I wanted to get the photo for my driving license done. S, my counselor, suggested that I might want to use the Post Office and gave me directions on how to get there.

The session drew to a close and I headed off. I had two things that I wanted to do while in Exeter at that point. One was to get some pictures taken and the other was to visit Clinique at Debenhams and pick up some anti-redness cream to use underneath my foundation.

As I walked towards Debenhams I was conscious of people around me and felt a little bit nervous. I wasn't worried about the way I was dressed as my outfit was similar to that worn by any woman who might be out shopping or even on their way to work. I was more worried about drawing attention to myself in other ways.

In the end the walk to Debenhams was uneventful. If anyone gave me any more than a casual glance I didn't notice it.

The Clinique counter wasn't busy but the assistant was serving another customer so I wandered around, passed the Clarins counter and came back to Clinique, the lady at the Clarins stand gave me a friendly smile. Back at Clinique the assistant was free and we discussed what I wanted. She was really helpful and friendly, to the point of telling me that she was going to the cinema that evening to see a film. We chatted briefly as I completed my purchase.

That done I made my way in the direction of the Post Office, the only problem was I couldn't find it. After 10 minutes of wandering around the streets of Exeter I decided to head back to my car.

By the car park is a Tourist Information office. As I'd already dealt with one person in Debenhams I decided to go in and ask if they could point me to the Post Office. The lady in there was very helpful, gave me clear directions and after thanking her I headed back in the direction I'd just come.

I need new glasses, even though I've just bought some, because there was the Post Office clear as anything. I'd walked straight passed without seeing it.

The photo booth was right by the entrance and so I was able to nip in, have my picture taken and then head off back to my car. My confidence level had gone up by now and I was tempted to pop in somewhere and get a coffee but I knew I had to get back in order to go to work in the afternoon. The nearest coffee shop looked busy so I decided to say the coffee for another visit. I might even make it lunch somewhere as when I go for my next appointment I'll be a week into my RLE.

Tuesday was a bit step for me in a way. Even though I've been into the shops in Exeter twice before now during my trips there, it has always been in company. This time I had to do it on my own. Like most things I've done over the last year this ticked off yet another thing I am going to have to get used to doing every day. At least now I've done it, so come January it wont be as big a thing. OK, doing it in the town I live in for the first time might be but its not as scary.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Still here

Its been a month since I last posted. Part of that is because my laptop died on me and had to go over for repair.

A few things have happened since then.

I did meet up with personnel to start firming up the plans for dealing with things at work. Things are nicely on track.
Met up with friends at my vicar's house and discussed the way ahead for us as a family. Things are a bit clearer now. As a result we're doing a bit of redecorating which has included knowing down a cupboard in one of the bedrooms to give a bit more space. The place looks like a bomb has exploded in it. I'd planned to get that room redecorated by the end of month. In reality it will most likely take into December now.

My attempt to see my oldest friend and tell him what is happening went out the window when I fell ill the day I'd been planning on going up to see him. I've not managed to rearrange the visit yet.

I have managed to get up to Bristol for burlesque classes several times though. On both occasions I also went to discuss a burlesque costume I want made and to have a fitting. If the mock-ups for it are anything to go by then it will look awesome. I'm so excited by it.

I've signed up to do a burlesque solo at our Christmas Cabaret. I'm going to do my routine to The Little Drummer Boy which will include the David Bowie/Bing Crosby version in the middle of it. My costume looks fabulous. I hope that it fits!

Earlier this month we met with the SENCO and Nurse at my son's school and discussed what is happening and what support that everyone can provide him. .

I've completed a Deed Poll and so my name change is all ready for January. I just need to inform everyone that needs to know.

Last weekend my son and I visited my sister, her husband and the twins. My brother-in-law hadn't been told what was happening and so on the Saturday night I informed him of my plans. He took it really well. Surprised us in fact.

Also on Saturday my wife told her family. Their reaction was pretty much what I'd expected.

This last week has been a bit of a rough one. People's reactions last weekend, being extremely busy at work, doctors and dentist appointments, and a few other things have left me in a bit of an emotional state. There's been some really positive things happen, a visit to a friend's, a visit to the salon for a body waxing, getting my hair done and having a better idea of what I'm going to do with my solo routine. All of these have helped to lift my mood. Still far too many things are getting me down.

I have my next visit to The Laurels Clinic soon. Hopefully my counsellor will be able to help me get myself out of this mood, or if not can point me to the person who can.

Time is ticking onwards and the day I transition and go full time as Jenna is drawing ever nearer. Its very exciting but also really nerve-wracking. I think I've now got my work wardrobe sorted. I've certainly go enough clothes now to make sure that I have something to wear to work and also out and about. Well as many as any woman has, which is not necessarily enough.

I'll try and post a bit more frequently from now on as things start to happen more.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The way ahead

I'm planning on starting my Real Life Experience on the 9th January.

Here's the rough plan timetable for my transition. I know its going to sound really clinical but its the easiest way for me to work out everything I need to be doing.

24th October
Meet with personnel to start firming up the plans for dealing with things at work.
Meet with some friends at my vicar's house in order to talk about the way ahead for us as a family.

25th October
Going to Bristol, going to see friends at burlesque class and then going to see my oldest friend and his wife  before coming home. Time to explain to them what is happening. Dreading this conversation.

Early November
Meet with the SENCO and Nurse at my son's school to let them know what is happening so that they can make arrangements to provide my son with any support that he needs.

15th November
Complete Deed Poll changing name in preparation for going full time.

21st November
Next appointment at The Laurels with the counselor. Go over what I've done to date, what I think I've still got to do and when I'm planning on doing them.

End November, beginning December
Start informing everyone who needs to know of the change of name. For instance change driving license, bank, doctors etc.

December 16th
Project Christmas meal and last day at work as Bill.

December 20th
Go back into work for an hour in order to announce what is happening to my immediate colleagues. Email will then go out to the rest of the company informing them of my change.

January 9th
Return to work as Jenna.

Diagnosis Transsexual

Tuesday 11th October, 11am. One of the most important dates and times in my entire life.

This was the date and time of my appointment with the doctor at The Laurels where he would confirm the diagnosis that the counsellor had put on the report she'd written after my three assessment sessions with her.

The report had said that I was male to female transsexual. There was a slim chance that the doctor could disagree with that.

After seeing my son off on his French trip, I went home, finished getting ready and then at 8 o'clock left the house, filled the car up with petrol and the popped around to my friend's house where I was going to finish getting ready to go to Exeter.

By get ready I mean put on my make-up and get changed into the outfit I was going to wear for my appointment.

I'd thought long and hard about what I was going to wear and had picked out a top and corduroy slacks, a smart, professional looking dress and a top and skirt. We reviewed my choices and I went with the dress. I really should have gone with the top and slacks instead but I wasn't to know at the time.

Commandeering the bathroom I got ready and a little while later emerged. By just after 9:15 we were in the car and heading to Exeter.

The drive itself was pleasant, a splattering of rain but nothing too heavy. Unlike my last trip to Exeter this time the roads on the outskirts were very quiet with no long traffic jam.

We parked the car in the nearby car park just before 10:30. With time to spare before my appointment we headed towards Exeter High Street and a quick visit to Boots and Lloyds bank.
On the way there I caught people glancing at me out of the corners of their eyes and also openly looking. This was totally unlike the last time I'd gone into Exeter with my friend. Admittedly last time I was wearing jeans and a top, this time I was wearing a dress with a hem that ended well above the knee. I was beginning to regret the choice of outfit. As Homer Simpson would says “Doh!”
My friend tried to get me to relax, including at one point giving a push that caused me to stagger. I laughed at that point and began to relax, not caring what anyone thought.

We made our way to The Laurels arriving with 15 minutes to spare before my appointment.
Apart from the staff there was one other person there when we arrived and she offered to make us a drink. Coffee in hand I sat down and we chatted for a couple of minutes before my counselor came out of her room and saw me, she asked me in for a quick chat before my appointment.
We sat down and went over some recent events. After about 10 minutes the receptionist knocked on the door to let us know that the doctor was ready to see me.

The doctor greeted me in the reception area and we went through to the consulting room.

My report was on the desk

The doctor wanted to go over the report to clarify some things. For the next half an hour I talked about my childhood, the first few years after leaving home and moving to Portsmouth and also my journey from when I first saw a doctor to talk about being transsexual to being sat there waiting to hear his decision. We talked about my son's illness and how it had delayed things.

At one point the doctor looked at me and said that he didn't see Bill sitting in front of him.

He talked about how gender dysphoria is a continuum with really mild cases at the one end and more severe cases at the other.

Eventually he told me that he agreed with the counselor conclusion and that I was male-to-female transsexual. He thought that I sit somewhere in the middle of the dysphoria spectrum. He did say that mine wasn't a typical case because I've managed to hold out for so long. My dysphoria is getting worse though and he understood that become a woman is the only way that I can deal with it.

After going over my past and his confirm the diagnosis he explained what the way ahead is.

To start with I'll be continuing to have therapy/counselling. My next appointment is already planned for the middle of November. For the remainder of my time at the clinic I'll be meeting with the counsellor every 6 weeks to discuss how things are going and for her to help me as I develop as a woman.

Every 3 months I'll meet with doctor to go over my treatment. After 3 to 6 months of me being with The Laurels I should be able to start on hormones. I've an appointment to see doctor a week after I start my Real Life Experience. My next appointment will then be at the end of March or more likely the beginning of April. At that appointment we'll be discussing me starting on hormones.

My Real Life Experience will take 2 years, at the end of that I'll be able to look at getting the final surgeries to complete everything.
In the meantime I can get back in contact with the Speech Therapist that I saw last year to arrange sessions with her to work on my voice. I can also look at getting some more laser hair removal sessions to clear the hair on my face.

Everyone is really friendly at the clinic, both staff and other patients. The clinic was really busy as apart from other patients with appointments there were a few others there as it gets used as a drop in for patients and ex-patients when they are in the area.

After we'd finished at the clinic we wandered into the city centre in order to get something to eat. We'd planned on going to Prezzo and had an idea where it was, right at the opposite end of the high street to where the clinic was. We started walking down the high street, I noticed people glancing at me from time to time, darn short dress was drawing more attention to me than a pair of trousers would have done.

We reached where the restaurant should have been but couldn't find it so we walked all the way back up the other way in case we'd gone in the wrong direction, passing the turning for the clinic we carried on. Still no sign of Prezzo.

At this point I suggested we make our way to Hotel Chocolat which we knew how to find and ask there. The assistant was really helpful and sent us back down the high street in the direction we'd originally gone. I'd even asked her a few questions to clarify exactly where the restaurant was, my voice is nowhere feminine enough but she responded in a friendly manner and with a smile.

Running the lunchtime gauntlet I again noticed people looking at me but nobody uttered a word, certainly not that I could hear. This time we carried on a bit further and found the restaurant.

A waiter sat us at a table off the side of the main restaurant as I wanted to be away from most of the diners. The only other people eating there were a group of women and an older couple. The couple finished their meal shortly after we arrived and left.

The waitress came and took our food and drink order and kept popping back to check on us over the course of our meal. Again she behaved in a friendly manner.

Finally we finished our meal and made our way to the till to pay.

This was the first time I've been in a restaurant to eat as a female. It was a another major step for me and ticked off yet another thing that I take for granted but have to do for the first time as a female.

A quick visit to Debenhams to have a browse around the clothes, nothing really caught Kate or my I and we left empty handed. Another visit to Hotel Chocolat, again leaving empty handed, then it was back to the car and the drive back.

Even though my son was away I couldn't go back to the house without changing and removing my make-up as it was still early and there was the chance of bumping into one of the neighbors who don't know about my plans. In fact I did bump into one of them as I was making my way from the car to the house.

So I've bored you with what happened in Exeter, you'll be wanting to know what is going to be happening in the months ahead.

My other half still hasn't told her family. We're going to arrange to go up to where they live at some point after half term so that my sister-in-law can be told, as she's likely to take the news more calmly, and then with her help tell my mother-in-law. I don't know how or when she's going to tell father-in-law but he's going to take the news the worst I suspect. Do I care? Not really. We all know he's got a low opinion of me since I kicked him out of the house. My other half said that it might be easier for me to tell her family. A bit late to suggest that to me. I told her I'd have done it ages ago if it had been up to me. Not leave it until the last minute.

My other half has thought a bit about what she wants going forward from now, she's got half term week to think about things properly as we'll be talking about it when I get back. As of last Friday she wanted us to stay together as a family but I might have to move into the small bedroom when I go full time.

Looks like I'll be doing a bit of decorating over the coming weeks.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

An Incredibly Silly Girl

OK, I've been incredibly stupid.
I've not bothered talking to people, let things slide, let things get on top of me.
I have a lovely bruise on my arm as a temporary reminder of my stupidity.
Why? Well...

At about 1:30am in the early hours of Monday morning I woke up soaking wet with sweat.
I went downstairs and drank nearly two bottles of Lucozade. I then wandered back to bed, still dripping with sweat. Shortly after I was back downstairs having a drink of milk because my stomach felt a bit acidic, two bottles of fizzy blackcurrant drink will do that to you.

Of course it wasn't just that it was the painkillers I've been slowly overdosing with for the last few weeks, only slightly initially but up to nearly four times the daily recommended dose for the previous week.

As I say downstairs on the couch I realized that I'd gone too far with taking paracetamol, had let it get out of hand and didn't really want to die.
I prayed to God to let me get through the night and that if he did then I would seek help first thing in the morning. I was tempted to get up, get dressed and go to A&E there and then. The things that stopped me doing that were I wasn't sure I was in a state to go there on my own and whether or not I went on my own I'd have had to explain to my other half why I was going to the hospital. If she'd come with me then we'd have had to wake up her dad, who has been staying with us this week, and tell him.

I am so stubborn and pig-headed about things sometimes.

In the end I managed to get back to bed at 2am and get some sleep, even though I was still pouring with sweat.

6am and I was awake and out of bed as normal. I pottered around downstairs before everyone got up.

A shave, quick shower to get rid of the stale sweat and then I got dressed as if I was going to work. I sent my closest friend a text message to ask if I could come round to her place because I'd been really stupid and needed her to hold my hand. There was no way that I could face going to the hospital on my own.
At 8:30am I was ringing her doorbell.

Shortly after that we were in her car and driving into the town center.

Parking around the hospital is usually bad and Monday was no different. Rather than pay to use the hospital car park we drove to one of the town center car parks and left the car there. Its only a short walk back to the hospital from there.

I gave the receptionist at A&E my details and told her the reason I was there. She told me to take a seat.
Fortunately it wasn't busy at that time and I was seen by the triage nurse shortly after.

I went over why I was there and she filled in the paperwork and sent us back outside to wait for the doctor. Again it wasn't a long wait and we were back into the main department.

The doctor was really nice. Asked a load of questions and then took some blood so that they could check to ensure that I'd not done any damage to my liver. He also took the packets of paracetamol that I had in my bag, must have been about a dozen packs of 8 tablets in there.

With all that done he sent us back outside telling us that it would take between 20 minutes and an hour for the results to come back. In the end it took closer to 3 hours during which time we'd been for a coffee and then come back, stood outside A&E and then sat inside waiting.

When the results did come back everything was OK.

The doctor gave me a card with an appointment for the Tuesday to see the mental health team for follow-up. He'd assessed me as low risk. He was right, I'd scared myself so much that there was no way I was going to do something that stupid again.

After leaving the hospital I went back to work.

Before leaving for home I got a phone call from Alex, one of the nurses at the hospital who I'd contacted when I got into A&E first thing in the morning. We talked about what I'd done and a few other things.

Tuesday was a busy day.

I managed to get out of work and to the hospital for my 1pm appointment. The mental health nurse came to get me, explained that there would be two of them. She did most of the talking, asking me lots of questions. Her colleague took notes and asked the occasional question.

By the end of the appointment they were satisfied that I wasn't at risk of attempting to take my life again. They made some suggestions as to people I could contact if I did find myself experiencing similar feelings. They also agreed to send a copy of their report to my GP and also The Laurels GIC.

My GP is currently on holiday so I can't see her for a couple of weeks to follow up on everything.

The Laurels will get the report next week and the doctor will read it before I see him. I was told that its likely that what I tried to do will effect my treatment as the Primary Care Trust will want to know that I'm going to be able to cope with transitioning.

I fully expected that there would be some consequences. I'll find out what they are soon enough.

Right now I feel fine and know that there is no way that I would ever be able to do something like this again. There are quite a few people know what I've tried. My friend who was with me, the nurse from the hospital who my son has been meeting up with to talk things through and two women from church, one I bumped into outside A&E on Monday, the other I was meeting up with on Tuesday to tell about Jen.

If things start to get on top of me again I now know that there are plenty of people to turn to.

I have no intention of ever letting myself get so bad that I do something so irrational again. I've got far too much to live for and I don't want to become just another statistic.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Notes from a young man

In the last week I've found two notes written to me by my son.
The first one I found last Sunday morning slotted in between the keyboard and screen on my laptop:

Dad do you love me and my mum as much as you want to be a woman or do you not want me to love you as much as I did before you decided to do this. Think about this again for me and my mum before your appointment.
ps. Don't show mummy or talk about it.

He wrote that note after his mum had decided to discuss things with him last Saturday when I was out for the evening. I found out that he got upset when they were talking. What I haven't found out yet from either of them is what they discussed. I have tried but strangely neither of them can remember what was said. I did find some comments that my other half posted on Facebook. Don't know whether my son saw these comments because as soon as I did I told her that she shouldn't be making the sort of comments that she put because our son could see them, later that afternoon I couldn't find the comments so she might have removed them.

The second one I found this morning as I was sorting out some stuff:

I don't want to lose my mum like you because I'm starting to.

Maybe he did see the comments, maybe not. Either way his mum is showing him more that she is showing me.

I knew that this would be hard for everyone, didn't realise that my little boy would end up unable to talk to me and would resort to leaving me notes.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


"The people I was watching on television had had their choice removed, shockingly, brutally. I, on the other hand, was lucky enough to have a choice still. And I could chose to try and stay alive, whatever happened, whatever it took.

That day, I knew I wasn't going to commit suicide."

Calie over at T-Central posted a copy of a blog post by someone from the UK where they talked about how they had avoided taking their own life the day before 9/11.
I read through the post and when I got to the end found the above. I keep forgetting that I have choices.
I can choose to transition or not.
I can choose to take control of my life or let it all run away from me.
I can choose continue to live at home or not.
I can choose to pull my life around and choose to live or I can choose to let the darkness that has been afflicting me a lot recently overwhelm me and take my own life.

Day in, day out I have choices.

A lot of people don't.

Those that died in 9/11 or in the bomb attacks in London or at other places around the world never had the choice.

All of the children that we've seen over the years in hospital sick, and in a number of cases who have passed away, didn't choose to be ill or to die of their illness.

All of those children did have a choice though, they could let their illness beat them or they could choose to beat the illness.

About 8 years ago I was at my sister-in-laws, we were having breakfast and Tracey came into the kitchen with the newspaper. She showed me an article about a young child. The young girl had spent time in hospital being treated for cancer. A short while before Christmas she'd gone into a form of coma. Just before Christmas she's come out of the coma. Now, a week later, she'd passed away.

As I finished reading the article Tracey looked at me and said, "she was at the children's hospital when we were there."

Shortly after that I went out for a run. As I raced down the country lanes tears began to run down my face as I thought about this little girl who had been taken from her family so early in life. I told myself then that I'd do what I could to help youngsters like her and their families.

Since then I've done a number of runs and swims for charity.

In recent months I've found that I've began to let things drift in some ways. I've been letting events make choices for me. In the last 12 months I've seriously considered suicide about 4 times. Not because I've chosen to transition, that is the one choice I've consciously made and which I'm completely happy with. Its everything else in life that I've simply given up control of, stopped making choices about. Those are the things that have driven me to the brink of suicide. Those are the things that I have to take back control of and start making choices with.

The first thing I'm going to do is get it firmly into my head that I have choices and that I am not going to commit suicide. I am not going to because I still have that choice to fulfill from all those years back, I am going to keep helping youngsters like that little girl and her family.

I choose to do that.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Gender Adventure: I am not transgender because

Gender Adventure: I am not transgender because:

I came across this post via T-Central.

In some ways it parallels my own story, my own feelings.

I didn't grow up in a woman only household but I did grow up knowing a lot of strong, caring women. They were the product of the society that they grew up in.

The men I grew up with were strong and supportive, very much the traditional providers as the society they were raised in expected them to be. My grandad was a miner, my dad was a stoker on a steam train, a bricklayer and a factory worker.

My relationship with my father was and still is very good, he's the strong, silent type. He is totally amazing with his grandchildren.

Just like my grandad was with me. He taught me to play chess, he took me fishing the one and only time that I've ever been. I think if he'd lived long enough he would have taught me to drive.

If I'd ever needed examples of what a man should be then both dad and grandad were those.

I can relate to the bloggers feelings as to why they are transgendered. Fate has dealt me a hand where my mind and body don't match but I'm dealing with it at last. I just wish I could have written something as good as this to describe my feelings about why I am and am not transgendered.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Despite the weather this morning I managed to drive to Exeter. The SatNav told me that I would arrive at the car park with 10 minutes to spare before my appointment. Lots of time! The car park is about a minute walk from the clinic.
I reached the outskirts of Exeter and ran into roadworks. Argh! Why today of all days did they have roadworks slowing the traffic down. Thoughts of trying to find a different route went through my head but there was no point as I was already on the most direct route into the city center.
25 minutes I was sat in traffic, nose to tail, heading into the city center. Eventually I found myself free of the traffic jam and the last two miles of the journey were done swiftly.
By this point I was so stressed out with everything that I was cursing. 20 minutes late for my appointment, I'd be lucky if I wasn't told that I had to remake the appointment for another day.
Fortunately, the counsellor dealing with me was OK and after a brief but slightly bizarre visit to the ladies, we sat down for the last of my 3 assessments.
I had to answer a few questions about my childhood and then had the chance to look over the report that had been written up for doctor to make his diagnosis.
I pointed out a couple of minor mistakes in what had been written and manage to ignore any problems with punctuation.
Everything seemed to be accurate.
Eventually I reached the summary at the end and found myself looking at those magical words "F64.0 male to female transsexual".
I had to ask what F64.0 meant and was told that it was simply medical speak to say that I was a transsexual.
The doctor still has to make the official diagnosis and could decide that I'm a F64.1 or dual role transvestite, I really hope he doesn't though.
The counselor said that is she'd not been sure of her diagnosis then she would have talked with the team to make sure. She also said in response to me asking if the doctor would make the same diagnosing that it was unlikely as the normally agree with her conclusions, however, there is that small chance.
I go back on the 17th October for the doctor to give me the good news that he agrees with the diagnosis, at which point I'll start doing everything I need to do in order to go full time next January. There's going to be a lot I need to do, not least making sure that I have enough clothes to wear to work for at least 7 days. Smart casual is the women's dress code, although I think they get away with outfits that are far from smart casual.
In the mean time I'm going to have to find an outfit to wear to the clinic when I see the doctor next month. Nothing too fancy but also nothing boring. I wore trousers to my first assessment. This time I'm going to go for a dress or a skirt. Something smart and casual that I can wear to go for a celebratory drink afterwards with my friend Kate.

When I left the clinic I did feel like a heavy weight had been lifted off me. I'd been feeling a bit down while traveling to Exeter. When I left the clinic I felt so much happier, more happy than I've felt in ages in truth.

Now I just have to explain what happened to my other half. Unsurprisingly she's not asked me what happened. She's not had a huge opportunity to ask but she has had the opportunity. I'll give her a couple of days to ask of her own volition and then raise the matter myself.

4 more months until I go full time. So exciting!

The wind it doth blow

Its nearly 6:30am.
Outside the rain is hammering down and has been for hours. The wind is blowing a gale and I've got to drive an hour to Exeter for my third and final assessment appointment at The Laurels. By the time I finish there I should have my appointment to see the doctor in order to get the official diagnosis of whether I am gender dysphoric or not.
Today's going to be a long and tiring day I know but an exciting one. A life changing one.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

I love the smell of steam in the morning

Yesterday we paid a visit to the Great Dorset Steam Fair. We only live an hours drive away to its a great day out for us.
My in-laws introduced it to us about 6 years ago and apart from missing it back in 2008, when my son was in hospital, and last year because I wasn't well, we've managed to get there as a family every year.
The first couple of years my mother-in-law and the wife's stepdad stayed camped there, then when they stopped camping they descended on us the night before. Now they drive the 2 hours it takes to get from their home in the Cotswolds to Blandford where the fair is held.
We have a great day.
After meeting up and getting into the site we start off with breakfast at one of the most popular food stalls on the site. Yesterday there was a waiting time of 20 minutes for a full English breakfast by the time we arrived and that was just after 8:30am. Ordering the food is simple, getting a seat is the challenging part as there are so many people waiting for someone to get up so that they can grab their chair.
For the first time since we've been going there I cleared my plate of the sausage, bacon, fried egg, friend bread and baked beans that were piled on it, then because the children don't like friend egg or bacon I ended up eating theirs. Fortunately all those calories were worked off during the day.
Breakfast out of the way we headed off to look around the fair.
Everybody in the group has different things that they are interested in. The wife's stepdad likes to look at the Shire horses and disappears to their arena. My wife, sister-in-law, mother-in-law and neice like to browse the stalls in the shopping village. My son and I head off to look at all the steam and military vehicles.
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Diamond T truck and as luck would have it we happened to be walking passed the heavy haulage arena when they had 6 of the lorries pulling and pushing a trailer carrying a large cylinder around the arena. The announcer came over the tanoy system to inform everyone that they believed that we were witnessing a world record for the number of Diamond Ts connect together and moving an object.

How they managed to find enough space to turn around at the top end of the arena I don't know! There must have been some really impressive driving somewhere.
My son and I then proceeded to wander around the rest of the vehicles. As much as a day is enough for us to visit I can understand why enthusiasts can spend days at the fair, camping overnight. Listening to the owners tell the stories behind their vehicles is wonderful.

We listened to one owner tell the history of a steam driven racing car called Whistling Billy, made by the White sewing machine company. I've seen pictures and film of race cars from the early 1900s but never realised that there were steam powered ones.

Another owner explained how the makers of the car that he had brought along set a challenge for any potential buyers. The car would be set up so that it had the maximum pressure that it could take and then the buyer could take it for a drive. If they could keep the regulator fully open for a minute then they could have the car for free. As the car was steered by means of a tiller, the speed would continue to increase while the regulator was open and that it had no brakes, this was an incredible challenge. One mistake in steering and you would crash. Its unlikely that anyone ever completed the challenge.

After my son and I had finished with all the vehicles we made our way to the horse arena to catch up with the rest of the family. Unfortunately we discovered that nobody was where they were supposed to be but eventually we managed to track down people.

After a brief wander through the food hall, two pairs of tired feet needed a rest and so we sat down to watch a hilarious display by Cyril the Squirrel and his racing terriers.
The dogs were amazing, especially when they appeared carrying miniature jockeys.
The section where members of the public could race their dogs was even better. One dog got its teeth into the lure that was used to entice the dogs to race up and down and wouldn't let go. It took 5 minutes before its was encouraged to let go. Not all the dogs were interested in racing as the moment that they were let loose there were dogs all over the arena, several showing a lot of attention to each other. The crowd were loving it.
Finally the children in the crowd got their chance to race against one of the dogs. About two dozen children of all ages up to young teenagers came out to race. The youngest had the biggest head start with only two yards to run to the turning point, the older children had about 5 yards to run. There was definitely a bit of cheating on the children's part as several were heading back to the finish line before anyone knew it. The dog lost to one of the children but it was really fun to see them all enjoying it so much.
The display finished with one of the terriers racing up and down the course and jumping through hoops of fire. The speed with which the dog was up and down the course and through the fires was incredible.

With the display over we wandered through the craft hall. My son bought himself a radio controlled helicopter which he can fly inside the house and out. Should be really good fun. I bought myself a silk fan, I've been meaning to get one since I borrowed one when I went to Bristol and did my burlesque debut. Now I've just got to return the one I borrowed.

Shopping over we headed back towards the fairground. Everyone else either went to the beer tent or to the cars to offload the shopping that had been picked up. I ended up on child watching duty and took the children around the fairground. After a half a dozen rides, including one on a rather interesting steam yacht (a bit like the pirate ship ride at modern amusement parks), the three of us went to catch up with the rest of the group who were all now at the beer tent. Everyone else was enjoying a drink so feeling obliged to do the same I wandered into the beer tent, looked over the various real ales on offer and selecting a nice pint of Sharp's Doombar.
The rest of the evening passed quite pleasantly with everyone sitting down to enjoy hot dogs or burgers and chips before wandering back towards the cars with a brief stop for the children to hold some owls.

All in all a pleasant day where I got to spend some quality time with my son. Who knows next year we might get to do it again, except it will be Jenny that he wanders around with. If so I think we'll stick with looking at the vehicles and not joining the rest of the girls shopping.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Trying to 'Fix' someone

I recently read a post by someone who is dealing with being transgendered and their other half wants them to see someone who might be able to help them by 'fixing' them I found it a fascinating read, especially all the comments that people left. If your on Pink Essence then you can find the original blog there.

The person that they were being referred to is at http://www.prodigal-ministries.com/.

I have to admit if my other half suggested that I saw someone because she thought he could fix me then I'd be heading in the other direction as fast as I could. Even if he was a legitimate counselor and was bound by patient confidentiality I'd be wary of going to him if my spouse had already spoken with him. I know that mine has her head part buried in the sand and is hoping all of this will go away but who knows what she might say when talking to someone, especially if she thought that they might be of help to her in getting her own way.

Several years ago I had started the process of getting a referral to Charing Cross and told some close church friends what I was doing. They were stunned and didn't know what to do but suggested that I might like to try counseling. They knew of a couple that had moved down to our area from London and who were trained counselors as well as Christians. I agreed to see them and went to where they lived. They were a lovely couple and we chatted, we even prayed but they didn't have the experience to be able to deal with me properly. They did offer some suggestions as to places I could try. I looked up each of them and decided that I really didn't like the look of anywhere that was suggested. They were either too extreme in their outlook or took the stance that they could "fix" a person.

Since then I've come to terms with who I am and how it impacts on my Christianity. It has stopped me doing some things that I was involved in but that is mainly because it would either be confusing for the children that I was teaching at Sunday School or would be a distraction or even downright dangerous for the work I was doing as a Street Pastor. My faith is still strong and if anything I've developed more of a tolerance for people and their differences and a deeper love of my fellow men and women.

Last year I came out to the leadership at my church about the fact that I was transsexual and planned on transitioning. I'd told the same church friends I'd previously told that I had an appointment to see a psychiatrist in order to get a referral to the local gender clinic and they decided that they couldn't continue to support me on their own and that our vicar and his wife should know so that they could help provide support to my family and I. I agreed to that and also to going along to meet up and to have some prayer ministry. Before I agreed though I made it absolutely clear that if anyone tried to pray for me to be cured and to remain a man that I would walk out and have nothing more to do with it.

There are now about 22 people at our church, out of a congregation of nearly 150, who are aware of what is happening. So far nobody has rejected me and no-one has tried to quote the bible at me, not that they could apart from the obvious verse buried in Deuteronomy. A couple have spoken to me briefly about it and have said that if they can help they will but they don't see how they can. One admitted that she was trying to get her head around it and if she had questions she would ask me them if it was ok, she did then go onto say that she'd have to be a bit more careful about what she said to me in jest, I had to laugh and tell her that she should carry on as she'd always done and not worry about it.
Another one came up to me at the end of a church weekend and asked me how I'd been over the weekend. In response to my "I'm fine" she said "OK, and now how have you been really?" I somehow don't think that I'm going to be able to fob her off with the usual responses that people give to questions like that. I think she might be one of the few people I know that really is tuned into what God has to say to her.

All of these people are ordinary Christians living ordinary lives and showing me just how loving and caring people can be and I wouldn't be without anyone of them. However, if they even remotely suggested that I could be fixed so that I stayed the same person that they've known for years I'd walk away there and then, having told them what I thought of their suggestion.

The thing that I do find really interesting is that the one group of people that I would have thought would have been more supportive are the pastors organization I as part of. The coordinator was really helpful and listened when I told her about what was happening and as I updated her through the initial months of seeking help. At the end of last year I thought that I might be able to go back with them but they needed to discuss things. Early this year I got a letter from the chairman of the management team telling me that they had regretfully decided that I couldn't go back, I understand their reasons. In March I had an email from the coordinator asking how my appointment had gone with the psychiatrist. I told her what was happening and have not heard anything since.
Now that has been a real disappointment as I expected more from them than to simply ignore me for the last 5 months.
Just to be clear though I'm not knocking them for what they do because they do incredible work at times when most people are out having fun and the only other people that are around are bar staff and the emergency services. They are all volunteers and do what they do out of love for their fellow man.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The eyes have it

Last time I went to see Zee at the salon she wouldn't tint my eyelashes because she thought I had developed a stye. That was 6 weeks ago.
The other day one of my colleagues pointed out to me that I'd developed a lump on my eyelid and that it was quite noticeable.
I popped along to the doctors last week and saw one of the nurses. She examined both lumps and decided that they are probably cysts, a stye would normally have burst and gone by now. So apparently I have a Chalazion or Meibomian Cyst which she's prescribed antibiotics to try and help get rid of as there was some inflammation.
At the moment it doesn't look like the one on my eyelid is going away, it looked worst last night if anything, so I'll be back at the doctors on Monday morning and looking at getting an appointment to have a minor operation where they make a cut on the inside of the eyelid to allow the cyst to drain. It can be done under local anaesthetic so I should be in and out quite quickly.

The Wanderer Returns

Its been a week since I dropped my son off for his trip to Barretstown in Ireland. Today I've got to drive back up to Heathrow to collect him, a nice 5 hour round trip.
I'm fully expecting him to forget all the details of what he's been doing the moment he walks through the door at arrivals, he usually does!
He'll have been eating like a horse for the last week, a very healthy horse, but still a horse. From past experience they have three substantial meals a day. Today will be nicely different. There is steak and new potatoes in the fridge so he'll be having that for dinner, he likes his meat and especially steak. One time when we were out at a restaurant he was served his grampa's meal by mistake and proceeded to eat it.
So my little angel comes home today and I'll be so glad to have him back.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

First Anniversary

In ten days time, 21st August, it will be one year exactly since I sat down with my other half and told her that I was transsexual and planned on seeking GRS. One year since I was so low that I seriously considered ending my life rather than speak with her.

Like last year, earlier this week we drove to London Heathrow and dropped our son off with the two chaperones who were escorting him and 7 other boys to southern Ireland for a weeks activities with several hundred other youngsters who have, or still are, dealing with major, life-threatening illnesses.

So far this week has been quiet. On Wednesday night as we sat down to dinner my other half asked me why I'd not dressed. Why wasn't Jenny sitting at the dinner table. I might spend some time as Jenny over the weekend but I'm certainly not going to let things end up like they did last year.

A, who is the nurse that has been meeting up with my son to discuss things ever since we told him about my plans to transition, came round on Wednesday. The two of them have been discussing all sorts of things during their little outings. As far as me, they've critiqued my hair style in the pictures that they've seen, they prefer it when I had it pulled back for my burlesque debut rather than the wind blown look  I had when I went for my first appointment at The Laurels. He's still confused about what to call me when I transition, so am I to be honest. When he comes back from Ireland I think I'll have to sit down with him and discuss it with him, work out something that we both feel comfortable with. He's also worried that he might say something to my other half or I that will upset one of us or cause one of us to shout at the other one, again that is something that can be resolved by sitting down and talking it through. There's nothing that he can say that will upset me and I'm not going to go and shout at my other half because of something that my son says to me.

I've also been persuaded to take part in a charity concert and to perform my burlesque routine solo at the beginning of October. I'm nervous about it but thinks its about time I did like the other women in my class and got out there and performed in front of a proper audience.

Some of the girls from my class are going to be coming to my home town in the near future as they have a booking for a performance/lesson. Its going to be a bit too soon for Ms Jenna Von Risque to perform on home turf so I'm going to go along and help out by being their roadie for the evening and escorting them around some of the nightspots our town has to offer. I've got a couple of places in mind. Should be interesting, especially as I'll have on my dance school tee-shirt. Might have to make sure that I have plenty of caffeine and don't drink masses of alcohol though as I realised today that I actually have a sprint triathlon the following day. I'm pretty sure that a lack of sleep wont effect my performance. Pretty sure.

I've got a couple of other things planned for the near future but I'll tell about them when they happen.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Assessment Number 2

Today was the second of my three assessments with a counsellor at The Laurels. It was quite a pleasant experience as the counsellor is really friendly and she's easy to talk to.

We went over some of what we'd discussed at the last appointment then carried on as I filled in more of my background and feelings.
Next session we were going to go over my educational background but with 10 minutes to spare we were able to go over that there and then. I expect we might dig into that a bit more.

Before next session all of the notes that have been taken will be typed up and I'll get to read them to and we can make any tweaks that are necessary where things are missing or need expanding upon.

After the next session  I'll get an appointment to see one of the doctors who will then make an official diagnosis as to whether I have gender dysphoria or not. If the doctor does make that diagnosis then he'll write to my GP to let her know and I officially move into phase 2 of treatment which will be where I change my name and begin my Real Life Experience. Throughout my RLE I'll see the counsellor every six weeks and the doctor every three months.

One step further on, one step closer to where I want to be. Roll on September 6th when I have my next appointment and get the date to see the doctor.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

There goes the weekend.

At 12:30am this morning my other half rolls home from a night out with the girls.

I'm tired and want to get to sleep but she natters on.

After having told her what time I need to be in Bristol, which I've told her several times over the last few days, she announces that she needs the car to go and get some shopping, ice cream for the group of youngsters descending on our house tonight, that she'd forgotten before I set off.

The chance of her getting up in time, getting to the shops and then being back in order for me to leave by 9am are very slim.

She then starts making other comments which I'm not going to repeat but which indicate that she does not trust me to stay away for a night.

Lets be honest all she really wants me to do is to go to work, earn my wage, come back home at night and not have a life. She certainly doesn't want me to go out and actually enjoy myself with other people unless its sanctioned by her. At least that's the impression I get.

So its now crawling towards 2am in the morning and I can't sleep, I'm wide awake.

I'm going to have to contact people and tell them that I can't make it. The hassle that I'll get from the other half is just not worth it.

So my weekend is completely ruined now.

I hope she enjoys her weekend.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Club O

Tomorrow night is Fiendish at Club O in Bristol.

I've been meaning to go there for a while and now I have the perfect excuse as a couple of the girls from Pink Kitten are performing.

It should be an absolutely fabulous night, I just hope that I can stay the pace. Who knows, I might even meet someone interesting!

Going to be Proud tomorrow

Tomorrow is Bristol Gay Pride.

I wasn't able to make Sparkle in Manchester this year and so this being practically on the doorstep will be just as much fun. Plus its a chance for me to spend a day as Jenny in public without having to worry too much about how people react.

Of course I could have gone the easy route and bought a ticket and simply turned up but no, never one for doing the easy thing me.

I'm going to be taking part in the march, probably tripping over my own feet in the process.

Why tripping over? Well the dance school where I have my burlesque class have a presence on the march and also at the events afterwards. I've volunteered to join the group that will be on the march as part of a small cheer-leading team that has been put together especially. I've been trying to commit the routine to memory. On Wednesday I had an hour practice with the rest of the team learning the routine and have been going over it in my head and practicing it whenever I've had the opportunity. I'm nearly there with most of the moves but there's one that really could see me tripping over my own two feet. After an hour of repeating the routine on the move I'm sure that I'll have it cracked! Shame the march is only an hour long.

After the march I'm going to be glamming up as Pink Kitten are going to be doing some workshops at the main event area, I might just be handing out leaflets but who knows I might also need to do some burlesque.

So if your out and about in Bristol tomorrow and see the march watch out for the Pink Kitten cheer-leading squad and give us a shout. We should be easy to spot as we'll be the ones in the pink tee-shirts, black skirts or trousers and waving some really snazzy pom-poms.