Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Let us pray

I know that I seem to be churning out post after post at the moment but there's been so much going on recently. Today I received a letter from my GIC notifying my GP that I was to up the dosage on my Sandrena gel to 3 sachets a day from two because my estrogen levels were outside the range that the clinic would like to see. I was surprised as I thought it would be my testosterone levels that would be more worrying but they weren't. I have to have my bloods taken again next month. I'm also supposed to have my blood pressure and BMI monitored every 6 months.

That's not the reason for this post though. Its to share something that happened yesterday at church.

We've not managed to get to church at all this year so far. Yesterday I decided that we really needed to make the effort and so I made sure that we were all up with plenty of time to spare. Of course nothing goes to plan in our house and so at quarter past ten I was ready to head off to church but the rest of the family were still cleaning teeth, and putting on shoes and coats. Eventually with about 5 minutes to spare we headed off on the short trip to church.

When we arrived there was one single space outside the front of the church where we could park. We left the car and made it into the church. I was expecting us to be late but we actually had a few minutes to spare.

As it was a communion service the church was full and so there was an overspill service happening in the church room. We found some seats and settled down.

Our associate vicar appeared and asked the lady behind me if she'd be willing to read the prayers. She declined. He then turned to me and asked if I'd read them out. I was a bit taken aback as its the first time that I've been asked since I transitioned to do anything like that. I was tempted to decline also but found myself saying yes.

I was handed the sheet of paper with the prayers printed on them and told what to do. As a certain meercat in TV adverts for a UK price comparison website says "Simples".

As the service got underway the enormity of what I'd just agreed to do began to sink in. I was going to have to stand up in front of 30 or 40 people, some who knew me, others who didn't and lead them in prayers.

Eventually the part of the service where we say prayers arrived and after a brief introduction of "and now Jenna will lead us in prayers" I was up in front of everyone.

I managed to read each prayer and left a small pause before everyone joined in with some set responses. Eventually I'd finished reading the prayers and was able to sit back down.

It was nice to be involved in a service once again. I quite enjoyed it.

The talk in the middle of the service was also quite good. It was based on two readings from Genesis and was about how men and women are made in God's image and were made equal. I found myself wondering about where transgender people fit into this idea that we are all made in God's image. If that is the case then God must be at the very least intersex in order that men and women are made in his image (I'm not going to get into the pronoun argument right not, I'll refer to God as a He/Him for simplicity sake).

When the current series of talks have finished there will be a Q&A session that we can submit questions for. I'm tempted to ask where transgender and intersex people fit into this binary view of gender.

I'm also tempted to ask the question "Why is it if you have questions of a highly personal nature, like do I fancy men or women now" that you wont ask me directly but feel quite happy to ask my partner. A highly personal question that is none of anyone's business but my partner and mine. A highly personal question that could cause real problems for my partner and I if she decides to query whether I like women, and especially her.

In fact the answer to the question is ...

Nobody's business but my partner and I.

The temptation to ask awkward and personal questions is there, especially if asking the partner of a transgender individual is fair game but asking them directly doesn't happen.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey

OK, now I've got your attention, this isn't about the book (which I've not read although there is a copy of it sitting across the room from me that I bought as a present for my other half and she's not got around to reading). I'm also not going to share any strange, kinky interests I might have. Although I did get some grossed out looks when I was talking with two people in work and shared with them one of my little secrets, yes, they looked at me strange when I said I'd quite happily sit and eat a whole plate of mushrooms as I like them so much. Takes all sorts.

The other day I was reading Julie's post  Fifty Shades of Grey and found myself thinking about a phone conversation I had with my Dad recently where I was talking about my son and his up and coming school exams. Yes, frighteningly, he has reached that point in his school education where he sits his GCSEs and as of next September goes onto college to study childcare.

One of the things that I've struggled with for quite some time is how he is progressing at school. I've always hoped he'd do really well at school but as he enters the last few months at school and I look at his projected grades on his reports I know that he's not going to do as well as I'd have hoped.

When he was born we found that he has a condition called neurofibromatosis. It has a number of effects, one of which is that it can cause some level of difficulty with learning. Also with the years of treatment for his leukaemia and also the bone marrow transplant he missed a lot of schooling and has been playing catch-up all through secondary school. The school could have done a lot more to help him than they have, but then so could we.

Looking at his projected grades I've always felt a bit disappointed in how he's been doing. He's never going to be an A* student but his grades are going to be on the low side. I know its not his fault, he's just not academic like that. He's good with computers as he's been using them since he was about  3 or 4 when he had his first laptop, a gift from a charity in response to a Make A Wish request.

He's also amazing with children. I think he'd be an amazing Dad but all the treatment that he's had makes him having his own children unlikely, still there is always adoption.

So back to the conversation with my Dad.

We were chatting about a few things and I happened to mention that my son had been to the college on their second open evening to talk about the course he wanted. We'd wanted to check that the application form had been filled in correctly with the name of the course. By the time he came home he'd hand in the application form and had a date for his college interview.

As I was speaking with Dad I mentioned is grades and that he should get on the course because the requirements aren't very high (its a level 1 course which doesn't require high grades). The course is such that he will also have a day a week to retake his maths and English GCSEs as he's not going to get the grades that the government have decided are the minimum level that youngsters should have.

Having spoken with one of the course lecturers, and from what they were told at the college, I know that he will have all the support he needs to get through his course and also retaking his GCSEs.

As I was talking to Dad I found myself having a lightbulb moment. I found myself saying that my son could always do evening classes in things like first aid and sign language as they would be more beneficial to him in his chosen career than some of the things that he's done at school. As I thought about it more I realised that of all the courses that I did at school and even at University now that I'm well into my career I appreciate the knowledge but the things that I've really learned have been since I left formal education. Their the things I've learned through work and through my own interests.

My son will probably do the same. He'll learn the skills that he needs to do the job that he decides on when he feels that he needs them. His career will probably be of more benefit and helpful to people than mine has been. He's going to be helping children as they grow and explore the world around them. With his experiences through leukaemia and his transplant he will have more empathy for children and families that find themselves going through similar experiences.

Yes, it would be wonderful if he'd been really academic and got good grades in his exams but he's got so much more going for him and its that I have to really work on remembering.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Lunchtime drinks

Last Wednesday I was the recipient of a text message, one I wasn't expecting, but a pleasant one all the same.
My oldest and best friend sent me a message to say that he was in town working for two days. It was the perfect opportunity to catch up with each other.
The last time I saw him was sometime early last year when I popped in to see him at his business while on my way home from Malvern.
Meeting on Wednesday was out of the question as he had one of his staff with him and so couldn't pop in on his way home, Thursday was a different matter and so we arranged to meet up at the pub next to where I work.
Thursday morning I was up early because I wanted to make an extra special effort to look my best. I wore a black and white, sleeveless dress and a long black cardigan with a pair of black heels.
Work went by slowly but eventually it was lunchtime and time to walk over to the pub. As I was making my way across the office car park I saw a car turn off the main road and head towards the entrance to the pub. I recognised the driver and waved.
Crossing the car park as quickly as I could we said hello and then strolled into the pub and ordered drinks at the bar, a coffee for my friend and a dry white wine for me.
Finding a table we perched ourselves on the stools and chatted for the next hour.
It really was great catching up but I found one thing really interesting about how the conversation.
In the past when we've chatted our conversations have been pretty equal. On Thursday my friend did most of the talking. My contributions were mostly questions that allowed him to keep talking. It was surprising and not something that I was expecting. We did talk about my job, family and transition but it was more in passing than anything.
I know that men and women communicate differently depending on whether they are in mixed groups of men and women or just groups of men or women. It was fascinating to see that demonstrated, especially as it means that he's made the mental shift to seeing me as a woman.

Pumping iron - again

Last November I suspended my membership at our local leisure centre. I'd been using the pool there for swimming while training for triathlons and the gym to add some strength training and different cardio exercises to my keep fit routine. I'd also been going to the gym with my son in order to encourage him to do some strength training.

In the run up to cancelling my membership we slowly stopped going to the gym as my son had lost interest. He also had some examination coming up at school and wanted to have the extra time available should he need it which was understandable.

So I decided that I'd suspend my membership until the New Year and he would have to decide whether or not he wanted to go the the gym himself at that point otherwise I'd cancel my membership altogether.

In January my membership resumed, it took a couple of weeks before I realised it had. Once I did I bought some new gym clothes, women's gym clothes, because at some point I knew I would need to start going to the gym as Jenna because I'd simply not be able to hide my breast development.

So today was the day. Today I went back to the gym, with my son, but not looking as a man but as a woman. Of course a padded sports bra helped give me a bit of extra shape up top but the biggest thing I did was to wear make-up. I know that my foundation can survive going out for a run, even the eye shadow, lipstick and blusher (yes it was full make-up) can survive doing some exercise.

I wasn't sure how people would react, so I was a bit nervous. As we were going in I bumped into someone from work as they were leaving and said hello to them. After showing my membership card the rest of the session was fairly normal. I got a couple of glances of people in passing but nothing more than I'd expect if I'd gone without make-up and wearing male sport clothing.

I went easy on the cardio exercises in order to allow me to get back into things. I even reduced the weights on some of the exercises but I was soon putting some of them back up on the second reps as they were too light, which was a surprise.

Hopefully this will now turn into a regular Sunday afternoon session. I've gotten over one of the biggest hurdles I think I still had to face which was going to the gym as Jenna. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Even my son has admitted that, after all the world didn't end or anything.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The clock struck one

This afternoon I had to finish work early, a bit unplanned due to a problem with our car. I'd arranged with my other half that she would bring the car to work at lunchtime so I could have it this evening to do a bit of shopping. Unfortunately when I went to start it, nothing. A few clicking noises but it wouldn't start.

I rang the breakdown people who sent someone out to have a look. It turned out that the car battery was kaput. The chap managed to jump start the car and suggested I take it to get a new battery, which is exactly what I did.

Unfortunately the shop that I got the replacement battery from didn't fit them so I found myself with an impromptu afternoon off in order to change the battery. Luckily the rain that had started just as we'd got the car going, stopped so I was able to do this little task while it was dry.

But I didn't mind. It could have been pouring down with rain and I'd have been happy.


When I got home I found a letter for me on the couch. One look at the envelope and I knew who it was from and what was inside it. On the envelope was the word Southmead. The place in Bristol where the Laurels sends us for our second opinions.

Carefully opening the I found a letter inviting me to an appointment with Dr Dan for my second opinion. Its still a while away, Ash Wednesday in fact. Not only will Lent be starting but I will be starting the next part of my journey to finally being physically myself.

Just waiting to go further around the clock.

Friday, 17 January 2014

New look

Short post, well short for me anyway.
Yesterday evening I paid my hairdresser a visit. Two and a half hours later and I came out with a new look.

All I can say is be careful that you don't drop off to sleep while having your hair done, you never know what you'll wake up to.

In actual fact I've been thinking about doing something different with my hair for a little while. I wanted something that I wouldn't end up wearing pulled back in a ponytail or a bun all the time. At my last hair appointment I mentioned I wanted to do something different and the suggestion was to have a perm so the other week I rang up and said I wanted to have my hair permed. Lou was so pleased that I almost didn't need to phone to hear her cry of joy.
So last night I put myself in her and Louise her assistant's hands and came away with a new hairstyle. I'm still getting used to it and will probably have to update my make-up too as I'm finding that it highlights some of the masculine features in my face a bit too much. Hopefully after the 48 hours no washing restriction is out of the way it may be a bit better. Still my other half has a makeover planned for tomorrow morning so I might just book myself one while she's there. Get some advice on contouring and highlighting.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Clock is Ticking

Before I get into this post if you are squeamish then you might want to look away in a bit. Don't worry I'll tell you when.

When I started this blog it was somewhere that I could use to work through what was happening in my life as I dealt with the issues around my gender and then in due course my transition. Recently things have reached a sort of normality about my posts. My day to day life is not the most interesting. However, the next year is going to change that. As a result there will be more posts that cover the medical aspects of transition. Eventually I hope that I'll be able to blog about my actual operation.
So with that in mind let's make a start.

When I last saw my doctor at the Laurels I asked to be referred for my second opinion. This week I received a copy of the letter that was sent to the apparently gorgeous Doctor Dan in Bristol.

There was quite a bit in the two pages of A4 but the gist of it was that I present as a female, I work and socialise as a female, have been living as a female for two years, have been on hormones over a year and basically meet the criteria required for surgery. I just needed it to be confirmed by a second doctor.

My breast development is at Tanner stage 4, basically I have the breasts of a 13 to 15 year old girl. Whoever she is, when she finds out I'm sure she'll be pretty mad. With like they might reach stage 5 which is effectively that of an adult woman. If that happens well and good but I suspect it will be a moot point if the plans to get chest reconstruction come off.

So as you can imagine I'm now waiting anxiously to receive the letter or phone call telling me when my appointment will be. Things are definitely moving and the clock is ticking down towards my surgery.

Now would be a good time to look away if you are squeamish as we are going to talk about pussy.


The letter also covered all of the surgical procedures that I will need. There are 5 of them, and as Wikipedia is a good source of information I've added links to the relevant pages on there.

This is the most obvious surgical procedure and involves using the penis to form a vagina and clitoris. There are various techniques. I'm certainly not going to be having the technique developed by Dr Suporn as I'll be having the operation done in the UK by Dr Thomas.  From what I've heard from a number of people Dr Thomas' work is very good and they've had no complaints.

Bilateral orchidectomy:
This is the removal of both testes.

I actually couldn't find any real information on this. Labiaplasty came up when I searched online. I'm assuming that this procedure will give me the appearance of a female vulva and that labiaplasty and clitoridoplasty are all part and parcel of the procedure.

This is the surgical creation of a clitoris in transsexual and transgender women.

This is the procedure that give transsexual and transgender women the vaginal canal. Its this that we have the pleasure of having to dilate for the rest of our lives. From friends experiences initially 3 times daily for the first two months then reducing to twice daily for a period of time, which is where you start to get your life back, then once a day and then less frequently.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Two Years

When I walk through the doors into work today it will have been 2 years since I transitioned. 2 years since I nervously walked through the doors to our office building after my Christmas and New Year vacation and started my new life as Jenna full time.

Hopefully this time next year I'll be walking through that same door but this time I'll be a complete woman.