Sunday, 29 January 2012

Children of God

I came across this video after reading a post by SpunkyBookworm over at Trans-Parent. I've never come across Third Day before but this song put a huge smile on my face as I watched it. Have a great Sunday.

Children of God

Friday, 27 January 2012

Life Circle - Looking to the Future (Recap)

Life Circle

This weeks task is to develop a life plan. The idea is to look ahead over the next five years and to see where you think you'll be.
I put together a life plan last year when we completed this task so rather than completing a new one I'm going to review the previous one and see how things have gone over the last couple of months and any changes that I see the future bringing.

You can read the original life plan here.

6 months from now
I'm now into my third week of RLE. So far my prediction that several people would turn their back on me has not come true. People at work have adapted to the change and we're all back into the thick of things with lots of work to do and not enough time to do it. Of course I've not worn a skirt to work yet so with my killer legs I might have a few of the other women moaning :-)

The Pink Kitten show was indeed fabulous. I'm three quarters of the way through a fan dance course with the intermediate class and we're going to be performing in the Valentine's show on the 11th February. Next week we'll be having a dress rehearsal of the full routine and will be performing to the beginners class that runs at the same time and place as ours.

My costume is coming along. I've got to pay for the materials today and the Mags who is making it can get started. I can't wait to see the finished article and will be starting to work on the routine I'm going to perform the first time I wear it for a show.

I've not had time to do the training so that I can teach a burlesque class but I have found that most of the women that I've told that I do burlesque have said that they would love to do something like that. I've also come across someone in another part of the UK who has advertised that they are going to run classes for transgendered people. Its an interesting idea and one that I might keep in the back of my mind for the future.

1 year from now
I'm still planning on entering the Outlaw Triathlon in 2013. My training at the moment is a bit hit and miss but I've started back at the gym as I seriously need to work on strengthening my core muscles and intend to get back into running and cycling this week.
The Pink Kitten Halloween showcase is still on the cards and I've got plenty of time to come up with a routine, my new costume should even be ready by then.
In addition to what I originally saw happening I'll also have been on hormones for about 6 to 9 months by this point.

2 years from now
I still see myself having completed the Outlaw Triathlon. I'll also be close to having completed

5 years from now
Life is going to be so different in 5 years time. I'm going to be so different. I should be at least two years post-op. My son will have left school and be training to be a doctor or a nurse.
Performing and teaching burlesque on a regular basis is definitely a possibility as I'm already doing my second show in February and have a few ideas for other routines that I'll be working on.
I might not be doing sport to the same level that I have in the passed but I'll certainly be keeping myself fit. I'll need to because I realised the other day while practising the latest routine just how much strength is required to do some moves, especially when you are repeating them over and over in order to get them right.

The next 5 years are certainly not going to be boring and it will be interesting to see just how much of this I achieve.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Life Circle 2012 - Taking Action

Life Circle

This took me a bit longer than it should have but its done now, have to move onto the next task now :-)

This weeks task was to identify areas of our lives that need attention as a result of the Wheel of Life exercise, to analyse them and then come up with actions to commit to doing. Here's my four and what I plan to do over the next few weeks with regard to them.

Developing C# Programming ability
I'm a software developer in my day job and I did a C# programming course back before Christmas. Despite my best intentions and starting to work through exercises from the course and a book on C# programming I got a bit too busy and ended up not carrying on with either. Improving my skills in this programming language is important to me as it means that I have additional skills which would be useful for other jobs within my current company and if I decided to venture to pastures new.

This is something that I know that I need to do in order to make my skills more marketable.
Its not a crucial goal as I do have a decent skill-set, I've spent the last 13 years of my career testing computer systems and between my day-to-day experience and picking up the odd qualification along the way I'm pretty decent at it. At work I've always known that I'm appreciated as I've never had a problem finding a new project to work for when an old one has come to an end. I'm easy to get on with and I will put in the effort needed to get a job done.
Having a good understanding of an up-to-date computer programming language would be a bonus.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to set aside half an hour a day to work on the course material and the book that I bought. Once I've worked through them then I'll find myself some small project to work on at home to further develop my skills.

Get fit
I've currently got a gym membership and had set myself the challenge of working through the training required to complete an Ironman triathlon. I haven't been to the gym since before Christmas and my running and cycling has ground to a halt ever since I began to transition.

This week I've got to work from lunchtime through until 10pm which means that I can get to the gym early mornings and have plenty of time to get ready for work. 

To achieve this goal I'm going to aim to start going to the gym for 6:30 on a Tuesday and Thursday morning, get a run and bike ride in on a Saturday and Sunday and if I get a chance to add in extra runs or bike rides during the week then that will be a bonus.
In addition to that I've got a weekly burlesque class at the moment which will help with my fitness and need to do a bit of practice in the week as it looks like I might be taking part in a show in February.

Decorate small bedroom
The walls have been stripped, the built in cupboard knocked down. The room needs to be redecorated so that it can once again be used as a bedroom.
Having a room that has been stripped of wallpaper and is sitting waiting to be decorated is really frustrating. It means that we are restricted on who we can have come to visit at the moment as there isn't any room for visitors.

During the coming week I'm going to get the remaining boxes out of the bedroom and bring them downstairs so that they can be sorted through and anything that people don't want, and there's bound to be a lot as we've very rarely gone into those boxes, can be thrown out.
Before I go into work this week I'll do some of the preparation work like filling holes and sanding down so that the room is ready for painting and wallpapering. I'm going to aim to do at least one task each week, filling and sanding, painting, wallpapering. That should mean that the room has been decorated and is ready to use again within about a month.

Tidy garage and garden
There is a large pile of rubbish that is waiting, and has been waiting for quite some time, to be taken to the local recycling centre. In addition to that there are about 20 bags of rubble that are currently stored in our garage and need getting rid of. The pile of rubbish stacked to one side in the garden is really bothering me, its been there for ages and we never seem to find the chance to get rid of it.
The rubble in the garage bothers me because it takes up space that could be used to house the car during the really cold whether that we've had recently.

Next weekend I'm going to make sure that all of the rubbish that we have in the garden ready to go to the dump is bagged up. Either Saturday or Sunday morning I'll load the car up and get there for when it opens. Once I've got rid of all that then I'll move all of the bagged up rubble and stack the bags out of the way ready to be taken to the dump in a separate trip.

This post was written for as part of Kate's Life Circle over at her The Five Fs blog.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

LGBT Reading Challenge: Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents

This is the first book that I've managed to finish reading this year and I quite enjoyed it. I'd go so far as to say that if I'd been able to sit down with nothing else to do then I'd have read it through in one go.

This book is edited by Noelle Howey and Ellen Samuels and contains the personal stories of 21 children of parents who are gay, lesbian or transgender.

The essays document how youngsters have dealt with their parents relationships with same sex partners or changing sex and show how attitudes have changed from when people had to keep their sexual identity hidden away and pretend that they were heterosexual for fear of a backlash from people in the communities that they lived in. The stories explain how hard it is for children, whether young or older to have to keep their parents secret.

The book provides an excellent picture of American life, as all the contributors live in the United States, when being gay or transgendered was something to keep hidden away.

Being individual stories its easy to pick up and read a chapter at a time. As someone who is transgendered it gives an insight into what youngsters go through, something that you can't really imagine unless you've been there or have a child that will share their feelings with you.

For a child of someone that is gay or transgendered the book would be useful to see that you aren't alone and that there are others that have experienced what you might be feeling.

Society has moved on since the writers had their experiences and so youngsters today wont necessarily go through the same things but fear of what people will say or how they will react wont have changed that much and seeing how others dealt with similar situations and knowing that they've got through it might be of help in the long term, less so in the short term.

It would be interesting to have an up-to-date version with essays by youngsters who are growing up, or have grown up, with parents who are gay or lesbian in order to compare their feeling, fears and experiences.

The book has a list of resources at the end. As the book was written for the American market the organisations listed are based in the United States. A list of resources that support children in similar situations in other countries would be useful as from personal experience trying to find organisations that provide support to children of transgender parents has been very difficult. Especially organisations where the children can discuss things amongst themselves and provide support to each other.

As a transgender parents I found the book useful as it gave me an insight into what my son might be thinking and feeling. As a resource for youngsters I think the book is a useful starting point for teenagers as it provides lots of good points to start a conversation on.Thi

Thursday, 12 January 2012

10,000 views and a pat on the bottom

My blog has topped ten thousand page views. I know that compare to some blogs that's not a lot but I was really excited to see that happen, especially this week. I never really expected this blog to get read much, its always been something for me to use to get my thoughts and experiences down so that I can keep things straight. That people have looked at the blog that many times is a bonus.

Now that I've started my Real Life Experience I've been thinking about what direction I'm going to go with the blog. I've not got any firm ideas so we'll see where it goes over the next few weeks and months.

This morning I managed to tick off another of the imaginary list of things I have to do as part of my RLE, that list may actually turn into a real bona-fide list of things I want to do. This mornings wasn't very exciting, I went shopping to pick up the ingredients that my son needs to make a chicken curry in his cookery class at school. Nothing I've not done lots of times before but today was the first time that I've ever popped into Asda, or any supermarket, as Jenna.

The store was quiet but that made me stand out even more amongst the dozen or so shoppers. Nobody paid me any attention, I seem to be dressing in just the right way, and giving of the right signals, to blend in with everyone else. I did go to the till of someone who knows me as my old self. She didn't bat an eyelid, served me and we had a short chat.

Now I just need to think of what to tick off next.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Full Time

On Monday I finally began my Real Life Experience. Yes, I've finally gone full time as Jenna.
I was nervous about returning to work as Jenna after 3 weeks holiday. Everyone knew what was happening but I was still feeling nervous about how people would deal with me in person.

I got up early, checked my emails and read through a couple of blogs while drinking my coffee. Eventually at 7am I got my son out of bed and began my preparations. The usual spell in the bathroom washing, making sure my skin was hair free, shower and then into the bedroom to dry my hair and allow my skin to calm down for half an hour before applying my make-up.

I'd decided that I was going to wear my hair pulled back in a bun style. A couple of hair pins and a hair slide kept it in place. A few strands were left to hang down over my ears and the sides of my face. Until I get more practiced with my hair this is going to be my work look.

I got dressed and applied my make-up. Some final tidying of my hair and I was finally ready. In total it took me over an hour and a half to get myself ready to leave for work.

I dropped my other half off at work, where she took a few pictures of me, and then I drove to work.

J, one of the receptionists, saw me coming in and rang V, one of my bosses, who came down to meet me. We walked up together to my desk.

I managed to log onto my PC and then after settling in and chatting briefly to people around me I went to the personnel office. L took me down to our IT department where we completed setting up my new email account. That done L and I returned back upstairs and I made my way back to my desk.

It took me most of the morning to work through my email backlog and I found a few messages of support from people. I answered each email with a message of thanks.

Lunchtime came and I made my way to the cafe and had something to eat. I'd already made a trip there to get some water for my instant coffee and also a second trip for a cup of tea. Eating lunch there got that experience out of the way.

The day passed uneventfully. At one point I realised that I was actually finding things a lot less distracting and was actually able to concentrate more than I'd been able to do before Christmas. Sitting at my desk, walking around the building, chatting with people, it all felt totally natural. As the week has gone on I've found myself settling into being myself more. Things feel more and more natural and correct. If I ever had doubts that becoming Jenna 100 percent might be the wrong thing then those ideas are no more.

The rest of the week has been as equally as good.

Monday evening I went to Bristol and joined the Pink Kitten intermediate burlesque class for the first lesson in a four week fan dance course. It was great fun and as the beginners class was also running at the same time and place I got to meet about a dozen new women. Somehow I've also got roped into performing as part of a group fan dance in the Valentine's show. The next thing you know I'll be performing in the Easter show as well.

Tuesday and today have gone well at work too. Yesterday I felt confident and more natural as I walked back to the house from the car when I got home. In fact I felt totally at ease when I walked around to a neighbour's house to put a note through her door explaining what I'm doing. The rest of the neighbours that hadn't already been told were informed on Sunday evening. All had notes put through their doors but I did talk to two of the neighbours in person. Both of them were fine with the news. On Monday when I got home there was a note from another neighbour to let me know that him and his wife now understood why I'd been growing my hair longer and that they had no problems with my plans.

Tonight I saw the daughter of another neighbour as she was walking back to her car. We said hello from a distance but I'm sure that she knew it was me as I was with my son.

Tomorrow I have my first speech therapy lesson, on Saturday morning I'm getting my hair done and may be driving to Petersfield in Hampshire so that my other half and son can visit my father-in-law in hospital, something we've done a couple of times over the last few weeks. To make the most of visiting hours I'm not going to have the chance to get changed and remove my make-up so I'll probably drop them off and go and do something for a couple of hours. I might go for a wander in Queen Elizabeth Country Park, I've not done that in a long time.

So far things are going really well, I feel at ease and happy. I know things aren't going to stay this way forever but while things are going this well I'm going to enjoy it.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Foot in the door

I met up with V one of my bosses for a coffee last Friday and wore what I'm planning to wear on Monday when I return to work, blouse, trousers and a cardigan.

We went for coffee at Montacute House which is about a 5 minute drive from work. I picked V up from work and drove us there.

V thought what I was wearing was fine for work. Her only comment when I mentioned I had some roll neck tops to wear to work at some point was that she would go with V-necks but that was because she can't do roll neck. Nice idea as it gives me a few other options when I need them.

When I dropped V off after lunch J, one of the receptionists was on the desk and waved to me so I decided that I'd go in and say hello. We chatted for 5 minutes at reception before I got her to ring L in personnel who has been dealing with that side of my transition. She popped down and we chatted for a few minutes. One of the guys I work closely with walked passed but don't think he realised it was me as I was talking to Julie and had my back turned.

One of the women that works in our cafe also walked passed and said hello as I was there. On my way home I passed her as she was walking so stopped and offered her a lift. We ended up chatting about families and stuff for about 15 minutes when I stopped to drop her off which is like the chats we used to have when I bumped into her while walking to work.

A couple of the women that have spoken with V have said that they didn't see this coming. It will be interesting to see how they react when I see them. One commented that I'd have to get some hair straighteners now :-D

I'm looking forward to tomorrow now, not least because after 3 weeks leave I'm itching to get back to doing some work.

I know that I'll be nervous when I get there but as I said to L it should be pretty tame after having to perform in front of all of those people before Christmas.

Round the Neighbours

Where I live there are 19 houses in a quadrangle effect. Apart from a couple of families that have moved in during the last year everyone has lived here since before we moved in back in 1996.
With my transition starting tomorrow I've reached the, rather last minute, point of informing the neighbours so it  wont be a shock when they bump into me as Jenna.

There are several families that we have been good friends with, the rest we know but aren't as close to.

Before Christmas I decided that I'd speak to the ones that we were close to, and write a note to the rest.

So far I've spoken with four of our neighbours. I'm hoping to catch another two but its unlikely that I'll manage that before tomorrow.

People's reaction have been positive. One person knows several transsexuals already and so didn't have any issues. Of the rest S, wanted to go to a burlesque show with me and finally met Jenna in the flesh the other day after I'd been out for a coffee and done some shopping with a friend in Yeovil. I gave her a life to work as she was leaving just as I was getting back home. Another neighbour, S, and I spent an hour and a half last Thursday evening talking about things over  coffee. She offered a offered a suggestion as to where I could get good false nails and also mentioned shopping. S also said that she'd speak to one of the other neighbours as they see each other regularly for coffee.

The feeling I get from Thursday's chat with S is that most people aren't going to be worried. If there is any negative reactions then it wont be from many people.

I've drafted out the note I'm going to put through people's doors. Just need to pop around when we get home this evening and do that. I'll find out how people react over the next few weeks. At least with all of this I'll find out who really are friends.

Just before 9 this evening I did my ninja postman and dropped off the notes I'd written. I bumped into one of our neighbours and told her as I'd wanted to talk to her in person. I then knocked on the door of another neighbour and  told her in person. Both of them were OK with the news. Now its just a case of waiting and seeing what other peoples reactions are.

Life Circle 2012 - Drawing a Line in the Sand

Life Circle

This weeks task for the Life Circle was to complete the Wheel of Life and rate ourselves on each of the different areas.
Since I did this last year a number of areas have improved while others have remained the same. There wheels definitely skew-whiffed and there are obvious areas I need to work on so that it is more balanced.

My son and I managed to do some of the things that I wanted to try and do, like going to the cinema and also geocaching, which we did once last year on a lovely Saturday morning wandering around parts of Ham Hill that we'd not ventured to before and also on New Year's Eve with his cousin finding all four of the caches that we set out to search for, including one that we'd failed to find twice before.
I also managed to get to Bristol every other week from the start of November through to the week before Christmas for burlesque classes and also the Christmas Cabaret where I went out and performed the routine that I've been developing in front of about 100 people. I'm going to be going to the intermediate class that the school runs through January as they are teaching fan dance which is something that I want to learn for my next routine.

This week I'm going to be returning to work as Jenna and so some of the stresses and frustrations that I've had to deal with should fade a bit. The threat of redundancy is still there but that is still a good 6 months away before that could become a reality. If that does materialise then having completed 6 months of transition then I'm confident that with my experience and redundancy package I should be able to find another position before we start to struggle.
There is also the chance that there are positions going at our companies site in Bristol which I might be qualified for and that is something that I've been looking at for a little while as it will give the family a bit of time and space to get used to my having started to transition. It also would give me the chance to develop my burlesque further as I'd be there during the week.

Health-wise I'm working on my fitness and also finally resolving my gender dysphoria.

As far as friends and family are concerned a lot of things have happened since I did the Wheel of Life last time. My in-laws are aware of my plans and I know where I stand with them. Everyone at work and the majority of people at church also know. The reactions of people at work, if they've said anything, have been of surprise (nobody saw this coming), concern for my family and that I'm going to need to get a good pair of hair straighteners.
I turned up as Jenna at my best male friends home just before Christmas and we talked for about 2 hours about things. I received a message from him the other day wishing me good luck for when I return to work. My neighbours are aware of what is happening, the ones that I've told face to face have been shocked but their reactions have been positive

So that's my line drawn in the sand. Life is certainly not balanced at the moment and so other than all the other challenges I know that I'm going to face this year, making progress on getting life more balanced is something that I plan to do through the Life Circle.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

LGBT Reading Challenge update

It looks like the LGBT Reading's blog isn't going to happen in 2012 due to lack of interest.
I've decided that I'm still going to go with the idea of the challenge and write up some reviews of the books that I'm reading, or at least planning to read during the coming year.
To that end I thought I'd list the books that I'm hoping to get through.

A Transgender Diary - Complete Collection of All Six Books : Melanie Anne Philips

Transitions - A Guide To Transitioning for Transsexuals and Their Families : Mara Drummond

Out of the Ordinary - Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Parents : Noelle Howey and Ellen Samuels (Editors)

Transgender Explained - For Those Who Are Not : Joanne Herman

So You Want To Be A Woman - A Transsexual's Guide : RitaLynn Sly

True Selves - Understanding Transsexualism for Families, Friends, Coworkers and Helping Professionals ; Mildred L. Brown and Chloe Anne Rounsley

Alice in Genderland : Richard J Novic

She's Not the Man I Married - My Life with a Transgender Husband : Helen Boyd

A Girl's Life : David Michaels

So that gives me 9 books (ignoring the fact that Transgender Diary is several books in the collection) to finish by the end of the year while also allowing me time to read Mr Pratchett (Discworld) and Mr Feist's (Midkemia) work.

Monday, 2 January 2012

LifeCircle 2012

Life Circle

The LifeCircle is restarting for 2012 and rather than posting in the blog I started specifically to post to last year I'm going to add my posts to this blog.

Kate has set the first task to be to introduce ourselves to those who are taking part in LifeCircle. So here goes.

Well I'm Jenna, as evidenced from the blog name. Honestly that really is my name and not a pseudonym for use online. I've been Jenna all my life but legally only since November.

I was born and raised in the South Wales valleys. My father throughout his working life was a fireman on steam engines, a builder and a factory worker. My mother was a sewing machinist, a full time mother and a home help.

I have one sister 2 years younger than me.

I've had a strong feminine streak ever since I was in my mid teens, although one of my earliest memories was of the first time I ever wore a dress. I was 6 and my nan and mum put me in a black satin evening dress for some reason that I cannot remember other than we were playing dressing up.
Over the last 10 years I’ve been in the process over trying to transition from male to female.  This last year has seen me finally taking the steps necessary in order that I can finally live my life as the woman I should have been from birth. On the 9th January I return to work after 3 weeks holiday as Jenna rather than my old male self.

I was OK at school academically, never excelled at sports. I'm still not good at sports but I run, swim and cycle and race in triathlons, 5K, 10K, half and full marathons.

I spent 3 years at the local Polytechnic and left with a degree level qualification in Computing.

In my early 20's I finally left home and started my first full time job working for a defence company.
I worked and lived in Portsmouth for 5 years, where I met my wife, before moving to Dorset and then Somerset and continuing to develop and for the last 15 years test computer systems.

As far as interests, I love Science Fiction and Fantasy, especially Dr Who, A Town Called Eureka, Warehouse 13, Start Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merlin, Torchwood

I love to read, especially anything by Terry Pratchett, Katherine Kerr, Simon Hawkes, Anne McCaffrey, Raymond Feist, Janny Wurts, David Eddings. I also enjoy reading anything with a Religious, Transgender or Science theme.

The other thing that I love is burlesque. I've spent the last year learning and have performed twice, once to a small private group and the other as part of the Pink Kitten Christmas Cabaret. I intend to develop my burlesque and perform lots more.
I said to a friend recently, when discussing the church I attend, that I'm probably the only transsexual burlesque performer in Somerset and I'm sure that the church will love it when they find out.

What do I want to achieve out of joining LifeCircle?
For a long time now I've been focused on dealing with my family, my son has had a serious illness for most of his life, although that seems to have finally been dealt with. I've also been focusing on reaching the point where I begin my Real Life Experience as part of my gender reassignment treatment.
By joining the LifeCircle I want to work on a set of goals that aren't completely related to my family or to me gender reassignment. I have ideas from the work that I did in 2011 as part of the LifeCircle. I plan on reevaluating those and once I've firmed up those goals then using the LifeCircle as a means of accountability.

Well that's all about me and why I'm joining the LifeCircle. If you want to know more about me then please read back through the blog.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone.
Hope that 2012 brings you everything you hope for and more.