Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Transgender Day of Remembrance - Q&A

The other article I wrote for work is being published on our news hub as part of something being put together for November's Transgender Day of Remembrance. It took the form of some questions. Here's my responses. Feel free to add you're own in the comments or even use them for a post of your own.

What does TDOR mean to you?
To me Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time when I can remember all of those who aren’t as lucky as me. Those people that live in parts of the world where being transgendered means the possibility of being taunted, abused, raped, beaten and even killed.
It means being able to think about those people that live in the UK that suffer abuse or violence for simply trying to be themselves. It’s also a time for remembering those who have finally reached the point where they can’t go on any more, whether that be due to the pressure of trying to live as the person that they should have been from birth while struggling to make ends meet or having to deal with other forms of pressure. A time to reflect on the struggles we are all going through to finally be ourselves and to think about how we can help and support each other.

What being Transgendered / Trans, means to you?
Being transgendered is a bit like a journey. Mine began when I first realised that I was different to the boys I grew up with and felt more of an affinity with the girls I knew in school.
As my journey progressed and I began to understand more about both myself and my trans state I moved through different ways of seeing myself until I reached the point where I accepted that I was transsexual and decided to do something about it.

I’ll continue to see myself as transgendered until physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually I’m finally the female I’ve always been deep down. On that day I feel I will be complete and I’ll no longer be transgendered but simply the woman I always have been deep down inside.
Being transgendered has opened up my world and inadvertently introduced me to others that are going through similar to me, which has in turn enabled me to share my experiences and offer support. Through blogs I follow I’ve become acquainted with others not only in this country but in the USA and Canada.

What experience with Trans / Transgender issues you have had?
My transition has been fairly uneventful. I’ve had a few issues with family but nothing serious.
I’m aware of the issues that transgender people face in society. Loss of friends, loss of income, having people see you as the gender you were born and not the one that you are, loss of home, feeling suicidal and acting on it.
Being transgender and doing something about it is, despite what a lot of uninformed people think, not something that we do lightly or on a whim. It’s something we do in order to be at peace with ourselves and in some cases the only way that we can go on living.
I have friends who are transgender that I’ve made through online forums, the GIC I attend, through other friends and blogs I follow. Each of us have our own issues that we are dealing with, each of us is at different places in our journey but we can draw on our experiences to help each other to get through the tough times and celebrate the good times.

What does it feels like to be Transgendered / Trans in the work place?
I work in a great office and I know a lot of brilliant people. When I returned to work after beginning my transition I was a bit nervous but within hours it was like nothing had changed.
I’ve experienced a couple of occasions when I’ve been mis-gendered and for the most part people have corrected themselves when they realise. On several occasions it’s occurred and the person involved had not realised. Such occasions are not done in an offensive way nor are they to frequent so I tend to ignore them.

Day to day, work is fine and I’ve not had any troubles. I’m more confident about myself than I was when I started my transition and I would happily act as front runner on a project or activity now. Admittedly I would probably feel a bit self-conscious about my voice but I’d manage. My voice is something I still have to work on, especially when I’m using the phone. I’ve had one occasion so far when someone rung me up about something non-work related and wanted to speak to the old me because that’s how I was down on their system. When they asked to speak to me I said “yes” at which point the phone went quiet and after a few seconds I realised that they were waiting to speak to someone that sounded a lot more masculine. Having someone hear you speak on the phone and not take you for a male, which is what they must have done, was a really good moment.
At the end of the day being transgendered in the workplace means that I don’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t any more and can be more honest and less distracted than I used to be.

Diversity and Inclusiveness

As promised this is the article that I put together for the diversity and inclusiveness website on our company intranet. I've changed it slightly to avoid using the company name, although if you dig back through enough posts I'm sure that you can figure out who I work for.

I started working for my current employer back in 1998 while it was part of a joint venture between two other defence companies.
Throughout my time with the company I’ve found it to be a friendly and supportive place. The work has always been interesting and even challenging at times. I’ve been lucky with the projects that I’ve worked on and have even got to travel a bit, spending time in Vermont, Orlando (only 24 hours but it counts), Madrid, Glasgow, Portsmouth and London. In the 10 years before I joined the company the furthest I’d been for work was Plymouth and Faslane.
Everyone that knows me is aware that running and more recently triathlons are something that I’m seriously into, having completed numerous running events from 5K up to marathon and sprint and middle distance triathlons, I’ve still to complete an Ironman distance triathlon but it’s on my list of things to do.
In 2000 my son was diagnosed with Leukaemia and I realised that life is so short that I couldn’t waste any more of it and needed to do something about issues I’d been dealing with since I was young.
From 2000 to 2008 we dealt with my son’s illness, two relapses and finally a bone marrow transplant followed the initial diagnosis. The support from both the company and colleagues when we had to attend appointments and had extended stays in hospital made a difficult time a lot easier.
With my son’s illness behind us, at the end of 2011 I finally dropped the bombshell on my colleagues that I was a male to female transsexual and that in January 2012 I would be returning to work as Jenna. Nobody saw this coming and I would have been surprised if they had. It was enough of a surprise to my family who hadn’t seen it coming.
After a break of several weeks over the festive period I was faced with doing something I had never thought would happen, I was going to walk back through the doors to the office, not as a male but as a female.
That day was nerve wracking. I had been informed how the people I worked with had reacted to the news but the reality of it could still be totally different. After an early start and carefully getting ready I drove into work. At reception I was met by one of my managers and we made our way up to my desk. I wasn’t sure how people would react, would there be stares, would there be comments, and would people have questions. I’d made it clear to the people that I worked with that if there was anything that they wanted to know they could ask me directly or talk to personnel.
Logging on and checking my emails I found a few from people offering support. A couple of people spoke to me to say hello. Other than that it was business as usual, in fact within an hour even I thought that it was like nothing had changed.
I know several people that have transitioned elsewhere and the reactions of the companies, staff and even customers have varied. Some have had good experiences, others the opposite. In the worst cases some people have even left their jobs as a result. I’ve never felt anything like that and honestly can’t think of any other company that I’d have wanted to work for while going through such a life-changing experience.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Mish Mash

I've recently written two short pieces that will, hopefully, be going up on our intranet at work.
The first is for a piece that is being put together for the Transgender Day Of Remembrance in November.
The second is for our Diversity and Inclusion pages and is about my experiences at the company I work for.
As much as it would be nice to simply disappear into the work force and just be another female too many people know me and so I'm always going to be known as a transsexual. Since that's the case I might as well make the use of that fact and try and do what I can to help promote a better attitude to transgender people within our company and maybe through that and other avenues outside the company.

I'm currently doing an Alpha course at church. I'd decided it was a good way to get to meet people that didn't know me or my past and who I could learn to trust and join a cell group with. Its going well at the moment but I am conscious that I keep wording things in such a way as to avoid giving away anything about my past.
This week I managed to pick up a leaflet called What is the Christian attitude towards homosexuality. I've read through it once and really need to read it again to fully understand what is being said. However, I'm tempted to contact the person that wrote it to ask them what their attitude to transgender people is. I'm sure that if I then threw sexual orientation into the mix I'd mess with their head big time.
:-) I'm a bad girl I am.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Ghost the Musical

Last Saturday we went up to Bristol to see Ghost the Musical at the Hippodrome. My other half had wanted to go and see it as part of her birthday present.
We set off at lunchtime and had a bit of a delay filling the car with petrol. The garage at the supermarket nearest to us, and on our way out of town, had closed down all but 3 pumps and the one we then had to go to had a big queue due to all the cars trying to get back out and having to contend with the traffic light system as well as McDonalds and supermarket traffic. Eventually though we were on our way.

The journey to Bristol was reasonably quiet and we reached my other half's Aunt and Uncle's house so that she could pop in and see them.

Having made a fair attempt to slice a large part of my face while shaving, well more of a decent nick on my lip but there was lots and lots of blood, I'd gone with boy mode for the day so that there I'd be able to pop in and see my in-laws (which is something that wouldn't have happened if I'd gone as me).

The chances of me doing something like that again are very slim. The visit was OK but on the drive up I found myself feeling really, really sick. The sense that I was going out for the day and presenting as something that I'm not was incredible. I've had to spend time in boy mode (in fact most of the weekend has been spent that way because I have electrolysis on my face this evening and so have 2 days worth of facial fuzz) but the sense of being wrong has never been so bad. The sick feeling did pass eventually so I could enjoy the trip.

My other half's Aunt and Uncle were their usual selves and we chatted with them for a lot longer than we'd planned before heading into central Bristol for a wander around the shops.

We made a couple of stops in shops to look at clothes and for me to pick up so foundation make-up.
I use Estee Lauder foundation and the store I get it from has a branch in Bristol so we popped in there. The assistant that served me started taking my details down for a new online system they have that notes your purchases. After she'd finished entering my details the assistant told me that either I or the person that I'd given the details for (remember I was in boy mode but had given my name and address) could simply give the name and postcode at any of their stores and they'd be able to see what had been bought so that someone else could get the make-up that I use if they want. For some reason I had to put her straight and said "that is me". She wasn't bothered at all and continued with out missing a beat.

Dinner was at one of the Giraffe chain restaurants. My other half decided on a half rack of baby ribs, something that she really likes, while I had a stir fry.

After dinner we made our way to the Hippodrome to see the show.

On arrival we bought some drinks for the interval, as designated driver I was on soft drinks, my other half ordered a large white wine (well they don't come in a smaller size as far as she's concerned). We checked about buying merchandise as going home with either a mug or the CD with the soundtrack for a musical is something she always does. The chap that was serving us told us that they sold merchandise before and after the show but not during the interval. We opted to pick something up after the show rather than before.
This is the point that things went a bit wrong with the evening. During the interval we couldn't find our drinks and when one of the bar staff did find our drinks it turned out that a red wine had been ordered which would have been find for me but not my other half. Still they swapped the wine for the right one.
After the show as we were leaving we made our way to where they were selling the CDs only to find that everything had been packed away as it was the last night the show was on there. As a result they weren't selling anything and so we had to leave without the usual memento, a bit of a disappointment to her. Still its something I can remedy by getting the original cast recording as a Christmas present.

So what about the show itself. Well it was excellent. The cast were brilliant, the songs entertaining, there were some fabulous moments with the Oda Mae Brown character (very reminiscent of Whoopi Goldberg in the movie) and the nun's reaction when she gets handed a cheque by Oda Mae was priceless.
Both of the leading men managed to have scenes where they removed their shirts to reveal some nicely honed chests and muscles. I found myself studyng the muscle definition in the lead "bad guys" arms when he removed his shirt. Very impressive and must involve some serious gym work to maintain. As an athlete I can appreciate the effort that goes into developing a body like that :-)
The lead actress also managed to go topless, revealing a rather fetching black bra and a bosom that I was definitely jealous of. I do feel sorry for the men in the audience as they didn't get to appreciate that as much as us ladies got to appreciate the guys physiques.

All too soon the show came to a close and I found the geek in me raising her head.

When the cast as they came out for their final bows the audience applauded and I found myself noting the randomness of the clapping, however, after about 30 seconds something interesting had happened. As I was clapping I could hear a bit of a few other people clapping and adjusted the way I was clapping to be in time with them. Slowly everyone's clapping began to change until the entire audience was clapping in time. Quite amazing really and not something I'd noticed before at a show unless there was a definite beat to the music being played.

I'd not been sure about going to see the show to be honest but I'm glad I did as we both enjoyed it immensely. With our son away with our church for the weekend it was also the first time in ages that we've been out as a couple without having to worry about arranging for someone to look after him and keeping one eye on the time.

And just to give you an idea of what we saw here's the trailer for the show.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


Last week a post popped up on my Facebook page which linked to a new video by Goldfrapp. I have to admit that I've not listened any of their music before. I was pleasantly surprised by this song and video.
It does take a couple of minutes to get to the music but stick with it and hopefully you'll enjoy it.