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Category Archives: Transgender

Two people, or two facets?

As a genderfluid / two-spirit / 3rd gender person, I sometimes present as female and sometimes present as male. I’ve covered this several times in the past.

Often I see fellow t-girls referring to their girl side in the third person, even going as far as to say things like “Susan wants to come out today, and I can’t stop her”. Frankly talk like this scares me – it is surely inviting split personality. Or perhaps they feel guilt or shame about their transgenderism and it is a way for them to externalise it and compartmentalise it? I don’t know, but I’m certainly not comfortable with the idea.

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Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Opinion, Transgender

 

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Diary update – Lady driver

Recently I popped over to Thruxton Race Circuit for a track day organised by Gold Track. It’s a circuit I have driven several times before, but on this occasion I was not driving as my sports car is too noisy for Thruxton and my current road car is too boring.

The reason for my visit is that Melindi Scott, who runs Gold Track, has become a good friend over the years and I was visiting to see her as it’s been a while since we last got together.

It was a lovely sunny day, so I drove over in my noisy sports car and arrived late morning. I figured there was no point arriving too early as I knew Melindi would be busy with driver check in, briefings, etc.

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Posted by on April 23, 2017 in Diary, Out & About, Social, Transgender

 

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Dear diary

Somewhat surprisingly, people actually read my blog (I know – it came as a surprise to me too) and people have been asking me what I’ve been up to, and how the job is going.

Business Casual

Business Casual

As I mentioned in my previous post, the job is predominantly based at my own home office, with most client interaction being via Skype (either voice-only conference call, or IM) and email. Up until last Friday, I hadn’t actually had any further in-person meetings, but on Friday we had a catch-up and progress meeting which I attended.

Based on previous meetings, I knew people dressed pretty casually so I chose a casual t-shirt dress by Atmosphere which had cost me the princely sum of £5 in Primark, plus the shoes and tights I mentioned buying from M&S in my previous post.

The meeting went very well, and people seemed happy with the progress I have made, my estimates for how much is to do on what I am doing, some design ideas I have, and also a roadmap for what I will work on next. It was all very encouraging.

As before, everyone was very accepting of my presented gender.

However, at one point I had the most bizarre thing happen – I’d just taken a sip of orange squash, put it down, and then a few moments later without any warning or feeling that it was about to happen, a really loud burp escaped from me. I could have died of embarrassment! I was absolutely mortified. I got teased a little bit in a good-natured (but not blokey banter) way, but was still so embarrassed. That really has never happened to me before – normally I can feel a burp coming and suppress it. What surprised me the most, though, was just how much more embarrassed I felt in girl mode about it than I might have in guy mode.

When I got home I did a small photo shoot for a schoolgirl outfit I have been working on for Flickr, but I’m not happy with any of the shots.

Butterflies and flowers

Butterflies and flowers

The next day – Saturday – it was the Monthly Market at Farnham Maltings, which I like to go to. I’ve mentioned it a few times in previous posts, and it’s an Antiques, Crafts and Collectables Fair. It’s a reasonable £1 to get in but the car park is not free and costs £1.20 for 1 hour and £1.40 for 2 hours (and more for longer obviously). I usually go for 2 hours as although I could whistle round in an hour, it’s not worth feeling rushed just for a saving of 20p.

I dressed casually in a nice butterfly top I recently got from eBay (in fact I like this one so much I now have 3 of them in different colours) and a skirt by Hollister. I wore flats in the end, rather than the wedges in the photo, as I knew my feet would get sore quickly in the wedges.

It was clear that a lot of sellers were on holiday, as the place felt very sparse compared with normal. I didn’t find much apart from a very cute silver pinky finger ring of two entwined open hearts, marked 925 silver, which the seller said was 1970’s. It wasn’t in the best of condition, but it fit me just right, and the seller wanted £10 for it. I decided that I already wear rings on both pinky fingers, so told him I’d leave it whereupon he said he’d take £8. I decided to walk away though.
I really regret doing that now. It occurs to me that I already have two rings that fit only my right ring finger, which I choose from as the mood takes me, and my pinky fingers should be no different. A missed opportunity there, because it was very cute. Never mind, maybe the seller will be there next month and still have it.

When I got home, I tried again on the schoolgirl outfit shoot, but still wasn’t happy with it.

The following Tuesday I got up super-early and made it over to the Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park Racecourse, which you can read about on my public Facebook page.

Shabbytique

Shabbytique

The rest of the week was spent working from home, then on Sunday I went up to Maidenhead for the Shabbytique and eatonthehighstreet fair. I wore a pretty top by Per Una, which was one of my many eBay / Charity Shop bargains, some jeans by Autograph (also a M&S brand), and a pair of boots by DUO.

Bonus Selfie #1

Bonus Selfie #1

Bonus Selfie #2

Bonus Selfie #2

Steve Conway was singing, so it was really nice to catch up with him and his wife and was worth going just for that.

The fair itself was a little disappointing, with a mix of stalls selling crafts and the like, and an equal number of food stalls, all spread out over the length of the pedestrianised part of the High Street. It felt like slim pickings though.

However, I did manage to get the most adorable necklace from a lady who is retiring and selling her remaining stock off at half price. The necklace I bought was £10, reduced from £20, and features a Murano glass pendant with flecks of gold in it, and a Sterling silver chain. I thought it was beautiful.

After that I headed home. I didn’t feel like doing any further photo shoots and had a pretty quiet remainder to the day.

Murano glass necklace

Murano glass necklace

 

 

 

 

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A new chapter

As you may or may not know, I work on a freelance basis rather than being a permanent employee of a company, although often it is on a contract basis with just one client.

For the past 2+ years I have been having a fairly long distance daily commute to just such a client. Although it was good work, and I enjoyed working with a great team there, the commute did leave me fairly tired a lot of the time and also ate into my leisure time enormously.

Just over a month ago, they gave me a month’s notice that they wished to discontinue the arrangement, which is fine as it’s the nature of freelance work, and a flexible, dynamic working arrangement is all part of the service. More on that later.

It had been my intention to take a sabbatical after I finished there, but a week or so before my last day some new work pretty much fell on my lap. I was sought out by the owner of a small company to whom I had been recommended by two people independently – both former colleagues – and the owner of the company was keen to discuss how I could help them.

A meeting was arranged, discussions were had, and we established that I had exactly the skills and experience that they needed, including some business knowledge in their area, and was ideally placed to be able to help them. Furthermore, I pointed out that as a freelancer I represented a much lower financial risk and commitment compared to taking on an employee, especially as their requirements were for short-term assistance. Also discussed was the fact that their company does not have offices as such, and operates on a distributed basis, so I would be working from home with occasional meetings. And, even better, they are based quite near to me geographically so even the meetings would not be a huge problem for me.

The owner of the company is a trans woman and is also a campaigner for transgender issues, and since one of the people who recommended me had mentioned that I am genderfluid, I raised the subject of perhaps presenting as female for future meetings. She said she was more than happy for me to do this and that I could present however I felt comfortable, even if that might change from day-to-day. As you may recall from a previous post, this is a big departure for me as I have up until now presented exclusively as male professionally (although I confess that towards the end of my time with my previous client, I was mixing it up and wearing nail varnish to work every day).

We had a Perfect Storm, as far as I was concerned. Or, given that ‘Perfect Storm’ usually has negative connotations, I suppose I should say “a synergy of forces leading to a release of energy much greater than any of its individual contributors”, but that sounds incredibly wanky, so I will stick to ‘Perfect Storm’. But I digress. My point is that the timing was right, the location was right, my skills and experience couldn’t really have been a better match, and after some negotiation an agreement was reached for me to work with them for 4.5 days a week at a fee that was acceptable to both.

They were keen for me to commence sooner rather than later, so it ended up that I only had a week off between finishing with my previous client and starting with them.

Butterfly cowl dress by Purplish

Butterfly cowl dress by Purplish Fashion

So on Monday this week, I turned up for our 10am kick-off meeting in girl mode. I chose a nice Butterfly cowl dress by Purplish Fashion and my favourite black DUO boots, and wore my short wig as I thought that I might get less ‘hot & bothered’ with it. The owner and I signed the contracts, and then we were joined by two other members of staff and we got down to business, thrashing out technical details and talking about where I could contribute. Later, we all went out for lunch at a nearby pub, which was a good opportunity to get to know each other a little more, and then resumed before finishing mid-afternoon to go back to our respective home offices, having first spent time making sure my laptop was all set up to access their systems and that it all worked.

The next day was an all-hands meeting in the afternoon starting at 2pm, which gave me a great opportunity to meet everyone. It was also good to learn more about what the company did, and to see their roadmap for the immediate future as this gave me an idea of how what I would be working on fit into the bigger picture. Everyone accepted my chosen gender, and used feminine pronouns throughout, and never once got it wrong. Then from 5.30pm onwards it became a social. I felt so natural in girl mode, and much more at ease socially, and found it easy to chat to everyone which is not something I find so easy in guy mode. I also found I ended up talking to the other ladies rather than hovering on the edges of a group of guys, and felt a lot more comfortable with that and also very accepted.

'Marie' dress by Crew Clothing

‘Marie’ dress by Crew Clothing

For this meeting I wore a favourite dress by Crew Clothing which you will have read about before in a previous post.

I left around 7pm, then popped in to Maplin on the way home to pick up a “Collect In Store” purchase I had made a few days previously.

I’d ordered the item in a gender-neutral name, but unfortunately the billing details were in my guy name, and the assistant asked me if I could sign for it and what my relationship was to the purchaser. So I simply said “Actually, I am that person; I’m just presenting as female today” and he apologised and said that he would absolutely never have known and it never even occurred to him. Awesome – I’ll take that as a compliment thanks. 🙂

On the way home from there, I decided that I needed some more tights, some new undies, and some shoes. So I called into a big out-of-town Marks & Spencer’s near me. I was delighted to find that M&S now go up to a size 8 – in the past they only went up to 7½ – and this gave me a lot more choice.

Shoes by M&S

Shoes by M&S

Eventually I settled on some cute sling back shoes with a snake-skin effect block heel. And as a nice bonus, I qualified for a free pair of flip-flops too. Yay!

I also picked up a pack of tights and two 5-packs of the cutest cotton bikini briefs, but I draw the line at posting pictures of those. 🙂

Today (Wednesday) I was working from my home office and put in a really solid day’s work, took a little break every hour as prompted to by my Fitbit Alta, and walked the suggested 250+ steps each hour by using my treadmill in the next room. If anything, I think my life may actually become less sedentary due to the treadmill.

Right now I am feeling really happy and content. It’s a real change for me, especially presenting as female professionally, but I really couldn’t have asked for a safer and more accepting environment in which to do it.

 

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Transgender – Richard O’Brien and Germaine Greer

The Rocky Horror Show Opens In Sydney - Arrivals

(Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)

 

Well… wow. What do you make of this? Richard O’Brien responding to Germaine Greer’s comments on transgenderism.

I agree with Germaine Greer and Barry Humphries. You can’t be a woman. You can be an idea of a woman. You’re in the middle and there’s nothing wrong with that. I certainly wouldn’t have the wedding tackle taken off. That is a huge jump and I have all the sympathy in the world for anyone who does it but you aren’t a woman.”

~~ Richard O’Brien

My opinion on this is that I think Germaine Greer is a fairly abhorrent person with regards to her views on transgenderism, but I think Richard O’Brien is kind of making a fair point, although it comes across rather badly.

As a “third gender” person myself I can see what he is saying – if I had surgery then it wouldn’t alter the person I am inside, it would only affect my outward appearance.

Your gender identiy is a state of being – an internal state of mind – and physical genitalia have little bearing on that. The difference between him and Greer is that he appears to suggest that he thinks it is possible to be a woman even if you weren’t born one genetically, and she emphatically does not.

I don’t understand how she can campaign for equality, acceptance and inclusion, and then say that transwomen are not women but are men trying to usurp and subvert feminism. What an abhorrent thing to say!

By contrast, Richard seems to be saying that you can be a woman inside and no matter what you do (or don’t) to your genitals, who you are remains. As in, still a woman. And I can totally accept that.

If that’s not what he meant, and instead he really is in agreement with Germaine Greer’s bigotry, then obviously I don’t endorse that. However, what *I* am saying is that who you are inside is what is important and your physical attributes less so.

That isn’t to say that gender reassignment surgery is wrong, or unnecessary; it’s perfectly natural to want your physical appearance to match your gender identity should you genuinely need to transition. But by the same token, no matter how much surgery you have you will never reach the nirvana of being exactly the same as if you had been born differently. And, further, there is immense pressure on transgender people to transition from one society-endorsed gender binary to the other, and as I’ve observed many times in this blog, there are more options and states of being than that.

So, in conclusion, my interpretation of what Richard O’Brien is saying is that he is advocating finding contentment in being yourself rather than feeling pressured into transitioning. And that is a world away from agreeing with Germaine Greer.

 

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in In the News, Opinion, Transgender

 

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Ted Cruz, Toilets and Transgenders

A month ago, I posted a reaction on my public Facebook page to Ted Cruz’s comments on North Carolina’s decision to pass a law which makes transpeople use the public toilets (restrooms) of their birth gender rather than their identified gender, particularly his rather horrific comment that ‘Men should not be going to the bathroom with little girls’

A friend recently told me that my posted reaction was very good, but that since she isn’t on Facebook she would have never have seen it if I hadn’t mentioned it to her and linked her, and suggested that I repost it here.

So, here it is:

America’s intolerance really saddens me. But this is a country that only relatively recently moved away from institutionalised state-sanctioned racial segregation, and where interracial sex is still seen as a “kink”, and where racism and homophobia are still a real issue. As is gun crime, of course. So it’s hardly surprising that transphobia is also a real issue in the USA.

For me, as a transperson, the biggest insult is the insinuation that I would be a danger to women when in girl mode. I mean, seriously WTF? I would be at far more danger from looking like an attractive woman and being forced to go into the men’s loos and having some bloke assault me.

Also, is Ted Cruz really saying that if they let him into a female toilet he would be unable to stop himself from assaulting women and young girls? Or is he saying that it’s just all transpeople that are rapists?

I’m genuinely terrified for America’s future.

Since I posted that, the U.S. Department of Justice and North Carolina are now involved in a lawsuit over this (not my Facebook post! I mean the law that NC passed), with the DOJ taking a very robust and heartening stance, and not only condemning it utterly but making reference to the Civil Rights Movement.

An article by Mark Joseph Stern on Slate calls this the “‘I Have a Dream’ moment of the Trans movement”, and goes into it in far more detail than I will here.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is quoted as saying:

This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation. We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. We saw it in fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education. And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry. That right, of course, is now recognized as a guarantee embedded in our Constitution, and in the wake of that historic triumph, we have seen bill after bill in state after state taking aim at the LGBT community. Some of these responses reflect a recognizably human fear of the unknown, and a discomfort with the uncertainty of change.

And, further, she says:

But this is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness. What we must not do—what we must never do—is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human. This is why none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment.

This restores my hope in America somewhat. I’m gladdened that people in power and authority are prepared to stand up for what is decent and fair.

I fervently hope that this will continue, and that decent open-minded people will continue to remain in power and authority. Right now, this is by no means certain with the current Presidential Election circus but as an outsider looking in, all I can do is hope that decency and common sense will prevail.

 

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in In the News, Opinion, Transgender

 

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Specifying your gender on Facebook

Just over two years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “Does a rose by 58 other names smell as sweet?” where I talked about Facebook’s attempt to allow users to specify more than just a gender binary of male or female. I also mentioned how I wouldn’t be using it as I had already subverted the system to force Facebook to use the singular “they”, “them” and “their” for me by recording a null value for my gender.

At that time, Facebook were proposing an enormous drop-list of every conceivable variation, seemingly having taken on board every suggestion from every focus group they had done. It sounded like an unwieldy mess to me.

Today I decided to revisit my unspecified gender on Facebook, and made rather a pleasant discovery – what is now on offer is actually pretty good!

At the simplest level, your choices for gender are initially presented as a drop-list of “Female”, “Male” and “Custom”. This doesn’t alienate all the cis-gender people who just want to choose from a simple list. This is good User Interface design.

Selecting Custom is where it gets interesting, as the options then expand to let you choose your gender and also the gender pronoun you wish to use.

Facebook's custom gender options

Facebook’s custom gender options

Choosing your gender is via a free text field that also accepts tags. In other words you can type what you want, but if what you are typing matches something that already exists then you can select it and it becomes a tagged value instead . If not, it stays as free text. Very flexible. This is very similar to when you tag someone in a post.

You can also specify who can see your gender on your profile. You can leave it as public, or limit its visibility. This uses the standard privacy menu that is used throughout Facebook, so you can choose from the standard options or go full custom. I chose to limit it so that only Friends can see it.

You can then specify your preferred pronoun. Currently this drop-list only has the options of Female, Male or Neutral, the latter being the singular “they”, “them” and “their” that I mentioned earlier. Facebook does not allow the use of the various gender-neutral pronouns that have been proposed and adopted, with varying degrees of success, by some. See the links below for more details on this, if you are interested.
This will be a huge shortcoming for some people but it’s a balancing act between complexity and usability and, although it is fairly limiting, I think it will be sufficient for many people. It is for me. Although, having said that, the singular “they” is rather clumsy for personal pronouns and for that I would have a preference for the Germanic hir for her/his, and zie for he/she.

So, in summary, Facebook seem to have found a good balance between User Interface simplicity, and the flexibility to let people express their gender identity. From a Design perspective, going down the route of “Female”, “Male” or “Custom” was absolutely the right thing to do.

I hate to say it, but it looks like Facebook got something right for once.

 


Further reading on gender pronouns

www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/…

uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_neutrality_in_English

www.citylab.com/navigator/2015/09/ze-or-they…

apps.carleton.edu/student/orgs/saga/pronouns

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in Opinion, Transgender

 

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Walking between two worlds

I was talking to one of my closest friends recently, chatting about something and she exclaimed “I’d never thought about it. I guess most people don’t really” so I thought maybe I would write about it.

As I’ve mentioned a few times over the course of this blog, I’m a genderfluid / two-spirit person and I can, and do, present as either gender. For mundane stuff like work, popping down to the shops etc., it is simply easier to present as my birth gender (‘guy mode’). For most social occasions I prefer to present as female (‘girl mode’).

This gives me an interesting opportunity to directly experience how people tend to react to each gender.

I wouldn’t flatter myself as to think I was totally passable as a cis-woman when in girl mode, but I seem to be passable enough that people have no problems with treating me, and interacting with me, as female. And something that I have noticed is that people tend to interact with me completely differently when I am in girl mode to when I am in guy mode.

I mean, people are pleasant enough to me when I’m in guy mode, but I find that when I’m in girl mode people are far more likely to smile at me, or to smile back if I smile first, or to initiate conversation. Overall, people are just generally far more open, friendly and chatty to me when I’m in girl mode.

In a similar way, I have found that women, on the whole, don’t like a guy they don’t know to speak to them. Telling a women who you don’t know that you like her top, skirt, outfit, or whatever is generally treated with suspicion and, in some cases, borderline hostility. However, in girl mode the response is overwhelmingly positive.

I think part of this is social conditioning; there are less social barriers when talking to a woman than to a man. But, also, a woman feels more vulnerable and distrustful when talking to a stranger who is a man than to one who is female so perhaps there is an element of this too. And, of course, there is the small matter that the majority of people are heterosexual – the suspicion being that a guy talking to a woman could have the ulterior motive of trying to chat her up, whilst a woman talking to a woman is taken more at face value.
Of course, this is all very contextual. Under some circumstances it is far more acceptable than others. And, as an aside, writing this blog post has made me far more aware of this and I will be much more mindful whether or not to start a conversation with a woman when in guy mode in future.

None of these observations are by any means a scientific experiment and, obviously, I don’t have a ‘scientific control‘ for each situation that I find myself in. Also, maybe I just appear nicer and more approachable when in girl mode than guy mode, which would of course skew the results. Certainly I feel more open, confident, and chatty in girl mode, so perhaps it really is as much down to me as to other people.

All of this post has been to do with interacting with people I don’t know. Obviously with friends and acquaintances it is far different and more complex, and probably not something you could make an observation on.

Anyway, I just thought this was worth sharing.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Opinion, Transgender

 

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Go East, young woman

Growing up in the digital age, it’s funny to see how relationships can form in ways that in previous generations would be considered unconventional. To my parents’ generation, getting to know people on-line is rather strange and they consider that the friends thus made are not ‘real’ friends until you have met them face-to-face. My mum has pretty much said that to me word for word in the past. I disagree; it is merely a different way of meeting and getting to know a person and the technology is there to get to know someone very well indeed even before you have met face-to-face.

I have a friend called Claire who I have known for around 8 or 9 years. We originally met via Second Life and became good friends, and then decided to connect with each other via Facebook. We often talk, and we know lots about each other, including what each other looks like, because of Facebook. It’s just that, due to a distance of around 190 miles between us, we have never actually met face-to-face. We’ve long wanted to though.

Recently I changed my car for a VW Golf Mk7 diesel, which gives me around 60mpg and a range over over 550 miles, and is also pretty comfortable, so I found myself with the right kind of car to do a journey like that. As a result, we arranged to meet over the New Year whilst we were both on holiday. Claire is in a band and they were gigging on New Year’s Eve, so she suggested that we try to incorporate that which seemed like a good idea. She was unable to accommodate as she doesn’t have a spare room, but I was happy to book myself into a local hotel via Expedia.

Since we wanted to spend a day shopping together, the plan was hatched for me to spend two nights up there. The question was whether the shopping should be on the day of the gig (New Year’s Eve) or the day after (New Year’s Day). I decided that a morning driving would be less tiring than a day’s shopping, so elected to drive over on New Year’s Eve.

Ready to depart

Day 1: Ready to depart

I set off just gone midday, and Google Navigation estimated that it would take around 3hr30 to get to the hotel – the plan being to drive straight to the hotel, check in, freshen up, and then head over to Claire’s.

The journey was fairly uneventful but congested, and I finally made it to the hotel around the 4 hour mark at around 4.15pm.

I’d talked to Claire during the journey and she said we needed to leave her house by 5.20pm in order to get to the venue by 6pm as she needed to set up with the band, but that she only lived 5 mins from my hotel. Since we would be going straight there from hers, I needed to change into what I intended to wear in the evening, and also freshen up and re-do my makeup. I knew it was going to be tight on time and let her know this, especially as we were planning to eat at hers before heading out.

Would have been useful

Would have been useful

I found the hotel easily enough, checked in, and headed up to my room. I’d given myself the luxury of paying a small premium for a ‘deluxe’ room, so was a little disappointed with what I found. The floorspace was certainly there, and there was a king size bed as advertised, but there wasn’t a lot else. Two bedside cabinets, a small desk which was almost completely taken up with tea & coffee making stuff, a single chair at the desk, a wardrobe, a flat screen telly on the wall, and a full length mirror on the wall. That was it. No other chairs, no mirror at the desk, no chest of drawers, and not even a trestle to put my suitcase on. Plenty of floorspace for a suitcase trestle and for a comfy chair or small sofa though – the room certainly looked rather bare and empty.

Anyway, there was little time to dwell on this so I cracked on with getting ready. Despite having had a lot of laser hair removal, I still needed to take off some of my foundation, shave again, and then re-apply, and then apply more eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara for a more ‘evening’ look. Given the lack of mirror at the desk, I had to do my make-up in the en-suite bathroom. Then I changed into a dress which you’ll have seen on my Flickr before, my black DUO Aralia boots which you have seen before, a crocheted bolero jacket, and a Per Una cardigan that you have seen before. I’m afraid I can’t have a new outfit every single time I post a pic to Flickr! 🙂

I then headed out and got over to Claire’s at around 5pm.

Meeting her face-to-face wasn’t in the least bit weird. Far from it; we both felt like we had known each other for years which indeed we have, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world to finally be together in person. I also met her husband, Gary, who had apparently been a little timorous about meeting me, but he very quickly found that we had a lot in common so all was well there.

My dress, the previous time I wore it

My dress, the previous time I wore it

Since Claire and Gary only have the one car at the moment, we decided that it would make best sense to load Claire’s keyboards into my car and she & I head over to the venue, so that Gary could come down later. Of course, that meant that I was then unable to drink but it couldn’t really be avoided. With hindsight, if we’d thought of it sooner, I could have paid to add Claire to my insurance. But since neither of us thought of that (in fact I only thought of it days later whilst writing this), we quickly bolted down our dinner, loaded up and headed out, arriving at the venue just after 6pm.

I won’t lie – I was really rather bored for the first few hours as there was nothing for me to do and I wasn’t drinking. The venue (a pub) did have free Wi-Fi but the battery on my phone was going down alarmingly quickly and I had very stupidly forgotten to bring my Power Bank with me which would prove to be a massive oversight as a 10,000 mAh power supply would have kept my phone running all evening and kept me occupied. Especially if I had brought some headphones as well in order to maybe watch some telly.
Instead, I found myself twiddling my thumbs rather a lot and feeling a little self-conscious. Gary wasn’t due to come over until around 9.30pm which was when the band were due to start their first set. Claire did manage a little time with me, but between the setting up and the dressing up (the band do Glam Rock), I was on my own for an awful lot of the time. Claire’s friend Lou, who I had been really looking forward to seeing as we are friends on Facebook, wasn’t well and wasn’t planning on coming.

Partway through all this I realised that it would be a good idea to grab a table, and by then the pub was pretty full and I only managed to get one down the end far away from the band, and pretty much the last one available. Again, with hindsight, I should have grabbed one much, much sooner. Lesson learned there.

Finally Gary arrived, and then the band started. They were absolutely brilliant, but we couldn’t really hear them that well down our end and couldn’t see them. After a while Lou sent a message to say she was feeling quite a bit better and was coming down, so that was good and she arrived a little later and we managed to have a good chat whilst Gary went to watch the band and we held the table.

Claire. me and Lou

Claire. me and Lou

Claire joined us in the intermission between sets, but it was only a short break and then the band were playing again. Gary then held the table whilst Lou and I went up to watch the band for a while, and then we returned for a sit down. Then, a little later, we trusted our luck with the table by leaving our coats on the chairs, so we could all go up. Each time Lou and I went up, she quickly gathered an entourage of guys hanging on her every word and buying her drinks, as she’s very pretty and vivacious, and I kind of got pulled in too. I have to admit that I was somewhat out of my comfort zone here, but I did my best. Everyone treated me as female and nobody so much as used the wrong gender pronoun for me, which was really nice – it could have ruined the evening if someone had decided to be an arse (always the risk you take, sadly). I think the only comment that was even vaguely letting on was someone saying “Isn’t Joe a bloke’s name?” when I was introduced to them, and I replied that it was short for Joanne. To be honest, I prefer Joanne to Jo anyway so will probably introduce myself as such in future.

People were getting really drunk by now, and it was really crowded near the band. I was getting jostled quite badly. Normally this would have really annoyed me and I would have wanted to remove myself from the situation, but I seemed to cope pretty well plus I was enjoying the band too much. It was really weird being stone cold sober amongst so many drunk people though; quite an eye opener. Usually I would be just as drunk and therefore not notice!

The band were really, really good and although the 70’s isn’t my favourite musical era, I really enjoyed their set and they had a really great stage presence. We saw the New Year in, and they played for maybe 45 mins more, once the encores were done. Then we had the reverse of the earlier part of the evening – the band now had to get off all their Glam Rock makeup (or face paint as one male member insists on calling it), change, and then pack away all their instruments, lighting, sound equipment and the like. This was probably the most awkward part of the evening for me as Lou’s little group of men were now extremely drunk, everyone was able to hear each other speak, and I was being dragged into conversation. I’m a little socially awkward and uncomfortable in group conversation situations, so this was a little difficult for me especially as I was sober – I get much more chatty when drunk. It did make me laugh that everyone thought I was from London though, since anywhere over my neck of the woods is apparently London and they had never heard of where I was from even when I said “near Basingstoke” or even “near Reading”. When one guy who had a slightly better grasp of geography asked me where I was really from and I told him, he said “But that’s nowhere near London!” and I just laughed, rolled my eyes, and said “I know!!! That’s what I keep telling everyone!”. 😀

Aftershow pic

Aftershow pic

It seemed to take forever for the band to pack up, and in the end I helped Claire pack away – not only so we could leave a little quicker, but also to get out of the awkward conversations. We did have a bit of a laugh with the rest of the band members as we did though, and we also managed to grab some fun pics for the band’s Facebook page. Lou needed a lift home, so I split the 60:30 rear seats of my Golf and we easily got both of Claire’s keyboards into the car on their sides, plus all her stands and stuff, poured Lou into the single rear seat, and then we were on our way.

It was way past 2am by now. We dropped Lou off, then I dropped Claire off and helped unload her stuff, and then it was a short 5 min drive back to my hotel. I got in just after 3am which made for a very long evening!

When I got into my room it was absolutely freezing. It turned out that none of the hotel staff had thought to turn the thermostat on the radiator up from zero, likewise for the heated towel rail in the en-suite bathroom, and I had been in so much of a rush to get changed and ready in the brief time I’d been in my room earlier that I hadn’t noticed. So I was shivering somewhat as I changed into pyjamas and got my makeup off, but did remember to turn up the thermostats so it would be warm the next day. Or, rather, later that day.

Claire and I had arranged to meet up mid-morning and breakfast didn’t finish at my hotel until 11am, so I had planned to sleep in. Sadly a combination of body clock and hotel noise conspired against me, and I woke at 8:40am and dozed until just after 9am at which point I decided to get up. The room was nice and warm by now, so I had a long hot shower and then got dressed and got my makeup on, and headed down to breakfast.

Breakfast was a disappointment to say the least. It was buffet-style, with everything pre-cooked and sat under heat lamps. This included the toast, which had taken on the consistency of cardboard. The sausages were the cheapest type imaginable – the ones whose main ingredient appears to be high density foam. The scrambled egg was bland and tasteless, and the beans were very cheap too. At least the bacon was ok, and the mushrooms were actually very nice. I didn’t go up for seconds.

Day 2

Day 2

I got over to Claire’s just before 11am and we spent the rest of the morning just chatting, as she had nobody to look after the kids until 2pm and Gary was at work that day as he’s in retail and his shop was open on New Year’s Day. As it would turn out, it was possibly the only one that was. But more on that in a moment.

Around 2pm Gary’s dad came over to look after the kids, and Claire and I headed over to Norwich in her car – the plan being to shop for a few hours, grab a bite to eat, and then watch the new Star Wars film. We parked up in the car park near the Odeon, popped in to buy tickets for a later showing, and then realised that the shops were a good 10 mins walk away as the site just has the cinema and a load of restaurants. That walk turned into a hard uphill slog of more than 10 mins and I was pretty knackered by the time we got up there. Then we found that pretty much all the shops were closed – the large Next was open but that was about the only shop that was. After a while we decided to give up and walk back and, since we had come out of a different entrance and weren’t sure of the route back, we relied on Google Navigation to guide us. This was a big mistake as we were taken on a magical mystery tour of the residential parts of Norwich, separated from where we wanted to be by a river that we had to parallel for ages until we came to a footbridge. It was very hilly, and some of the hills were very steep, and my feet were really starting to hurt. I think we must have walked for around 20-25mins and were both thinking that if we’d been in a city where you were able to hail cabs, we’d have hailed one. I guess we could have used Uber but neither of us had the app and neither of us thought of it at the time either. You can see a bit of a pattern emerging here, I think. 🙂

Finally we made it back to the Odeon and it was clear that we didn’t have time to eat before the showing we had booked, and we both needed the loo. Now, at a risk of going into too much information here, I had to pretty much undress to go to the loo. First my jacket came off, then my skirt came down, then tights, then the padded shorts that I wear to hold my tummy in and to give my hips and bum some shape, then knickers. I was tired, cold, and clammy, and everything seemed to take forever to come off; especially the padded shorts as they are fairly tight. After I’d had a wee, I then needed to get it all back on again and I was starting to worry that Claire would be wondering what had happened to me, as indeed she was. As it turned out, she’d been in and out looking for me, not knowing if I was still in or had gone out, had sent a text, and was starting to wonder where on earth I was. She eventually found me brushing my hair, having just washed my hands, trying to look less windswept, and wondering how I was going to find her. So all was well that ended well.

The Star Wars film was really good. As a big Star Wars fan I thought that, like Tron: Legacy, it was cleverly both a remake of the original for those who had not seen it and a sequel for those that had. I enjoyed it. I also really liked that it had such a strong female lead in Rey, and that she was a girl who could really look after herself and didn’t need a man to hold her hand. Literally.
The big shock moment (no spoilers, but if you have seen the film you will know what I mean) was somewhat well telegraphed though – there was no real suspense for me as it was set up in dialogue just beforehand and I thought to myself “this is going to go one of two ways… oh, right. It went that way. Fair enough”. 🙂
Anyway, an all round enjoyable film and it’s great that we finally have a 4th Star Wars film – it’s been such a long wait since Return of the Jedi in 1983. 😉

After the film, we went to an American Bar & Grill next door and had a small steak and chips each – neither of us were that hungry and it was a nice light meal that was also not too bad for the waistline. Mind you, it was just as well we weren’t that hungry as the meal was a small steak (admittedly very nice and cooked to perfection), a small portion of chips, and a tiny little saucer of coleslaw – no vegetables, salad, or anything.

When we got home, Gary was home, his father had gone, and then shortly after that Lou popped round, so we had a nice evening just chatting, watching YouTube videos on the smart TV as conversation threw up things that we wanted to show each other – an eclectic mix of music, martial arts fights, car videos, and all sorts. It was a really nice evening. All too soon, though, it started to get late, and both Lou and I were tired, so we both left and I went back to the hotel to go to bed.

The jumper Claire & I both bought

The jumper Claire & I both bought

Next morning, breakfast was no better than the previous day so the less said about that the better. Then I packed up, checked out, and headed over to Claire’s.

We spent a while chatting then dropped her kids off at her mum’s and popped over to Lowestoft for some shopping (with actual open shops!) and also to meet up with another friend called Rebecca who I wanted to meet – a friend of Lou’s I’d friended on Facebook a while back.

Claire and I had a good bit of shopping, and I bought a nice dress in the sale at New Look and also a top, then eventually we ended up in Quiz, which is in Palmers Department Store. I immediately spotted a jumper I liked and which Claire decided she did too. We both ended up buying one. We also spotted a gorgeous jumper with a fur collar and a brown leather buckle detail which was so her. When she tried it on I only had two words to say – “Buy. It.” 🙂
I’d have loved one too but they didn’t have it in my size and also I wasn’t sure if it would work on my body shape, so the fact that it looked fab on Claire and that she bought it was very much the next best thing for me.

Claire, me, and Rebecca

Claire, me, and Rebecca

Rebecca then joined us and we headed upstairs to Palmers’ restaurant / coffee shop and had a light lunch and chatted. It was nice to meet her at last. Afterwards we grabbed an obligatory group selfie, and then Claire and I headed back to hers and spent some more time nattering. My voice was pretty hoarse by now, I can tell you.

All too soon, the light was going and the kids were dropped back, and I had the 190 mile journey to do, so very reluctantly I said I should be going and hit the road.

The journey back was rainy but uneventful – I just set the Cruise Control and pretty much went at my own pace the whole way back and I had no delays, hold-ups, or diversions. I did the journey without stopping once (my dad would be so proud of me – in that one respect anyway) in a little over 3 hours.

Day 3

Day 3

Once home, I took some photos of that day’s outfit, then gratefully stripped everything off. I say gratefully because, although it was wonderful being full-time for 3 days, my wig was starting to really irritate me and it was nice to just take it all off and chill out.

And that was my long weekend. It was absolutely brilliant to finally meet up with Claire, with Lou, and with Rebecca, and also to meet Claire’s husband Gary for the first time. I had such a great time, despite the little hiccups like Norwich being closed and the aching feet. It’s such a shame that Claire and I live so far apart because we both feel we would love to meet up regularly and I know it would also be good for me to get out more in girl mode and have regular girl interaction – many weekends I simply don’t bother because I have no reason to. Simply getting “dressed” for the sake of it is not sufficient reason for me, even though I know it is for some t-girls. However, meeting up for a coffee would be more than sufficient reason. Plus I love Claire’s company.

We’re already planning our next meeting – perhaps Claire, Lou and I will convene in London.

After all, I am from there apparently.

 

Trip data

415 mile round trip, and still 170 miles left in the tank!

 
 

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She’s the man – getting ‘read’ in public.

It’s been said[1] that trying to ‘pass’ as other than your birth gender is like playing a game where the moment someone becomes aware that you are succeeding, then you have just failed.

On Saturday I played just such a game, as I do every time I go out in public in girl mode.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel like there is a fine line to be walked when going out shopping in girl mode. If you dress up too much then you will stick out like a sore thumb as many women don’t bother when just going shopping. Some appear to make no effort whatsoever, in fact. But at the other end of the extreme, if you emulate them and also dress down then you won’t have a hope of passing. You often have to over-feminise to compensate, which means paying particular attention to your makeup and wardrobe.

On Saturday, I didn’t heed my own advice and went out in jeans, unisex Merrell sandals, and a top. On reflection, although very comfortable, the sandals were a bad idea. I find that wearing a heel encourages me, and constantly reminds me, to walk in a feminine way. Flat shoes do not and you often forget. I also have bad posture in guy mode, and again heels encourage me into better posture as they affect the way you stand as well as the way you walk – in short, it’s much harder to slouch when you’re in heels.

Saturday's outfit

Saturday’s outfit

Anyway, that all said, into Camberley I went like this.

I parked up in the multi-storey car park and even in my little super-mini class car, I found the parking bay very tight indeed. I had to reposition several times so as to leave enough space for the driver of the car next to me to get in, whilst leaving enough space on my side to get out. It was very tight indeed. (There is a reason for me telling you this and I will come back to it later).

I was primarily shopping for a short sleeve office or school uniform type white blouse for an upcoming photo shoot. After trying BHS, Primark, several charity shops, and (earlier in the week) M&S, I found what I wanted in New Look. And best of all it was in the sale, reduced from £12.99 to £7. Bargain.

Obligatory selfie

Obligatory selfie

Things had been going well, and nobody had given me so much as a second glance (which is what usually happens) apart from one point where an older man accidentally bumped into me and said “oh, I’m so sorry my dear”. However, all that was about to change as I headed back to the car to leave.

I joined the queue to pay for my parking at the pay station. In front of me was a lady and her friend, and the lady was having trouble with the machine. On these ones there is no ticket – you have to type your car registration number in, and the lady had several failed attempts and her friend explained to everyone that it was a new car and her friend couldn’t remember the number. Or, rather, she thought she could but evidently couldn’t.

The lady started rummaged in her handbag saying she had it written down, but then half turned and said “Oh, I’ll let this gentleman… lady… go first”.

Oh dear.

I had hoped that I was doing an ok job of passing but clearly not. But it was said without rancour or making a big deal about it. It was all very matter-of-fact, and that’s probably the best way to handle a situation like this, I think. I know some people might have apologised or something, which would have ironically drawn far more attention to it and made things worse. So credit to her for this.

After I had paid and returned to the car, I was faced with the owner of the car parked next to mine, on the driver’s side. He had a small boy who was trying to let himself into the passenger side, and I just stood and watched, sure that I was about to witness a massive car park ding happen to my car. The father must have had the same idea and said to the boy “Wait. Let the man into… um… their car first”. The little boy, in keeping with a lot of kids that age adopted an “I can do it” stubborn determination and, to his credit, did get in without dinging my car. Amazingly.

So, again, it was just a little slip up and no big deal was made of it. Although it was also clear that I had failed to pass again. In fairness, the car park was dimly lit so it’s possible that the bloke didn’t notice my female top, makeup and, indeed, tits. After all, some blokes do wear their hair long. And he did have other things to think about – like the owner of a car his son showed every likelihood of damaging standing right there watching.

It has, however, made me ponder as to what are the key indicators to gender that these people were picking up on? In neither case was it my voice as I hadn’t spoken. It wasn’t necessarily height as although 5’8″ is reasonably tall for a woman, it’s not excessively so. It might be build. Or could have been the way I was standing – as I mentioned previously, flat shoes don’t encourage me to pay attention to my posture.

In both cases, the person didn’t make a big deal of it and for that I should be grateful. Although it would have been even nicer if they hadn’t noticed at all.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Diary, Out & About, Transgender

 

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