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Time to break out the lasers again

shark_with_laserIt’s now been over 3 years since I last had laser hair removal treatment.

Mostly, things have stayed pretty much static on my body. As I mentioned in my last post on the subject, regrowth on my arms and legs has been minimal – I still have individual hairs here and there; nothing that a couple of minutes with a razor can’t sort out. My underarms have developed a soft downy hair, but it’s very easy to take off with a razor. The regrowth on my tummy hasn’t got a whole lot worse, but is still very evident. Likewise my bikini line. The sparse regrowth on my chest and bewbs has come back a little but not unacceptably so – a few moments with a razor sorts it out.

However, the regrowth on my face has been extensive, to the point at which I am struggling to hide beard shadow even with high coverage foundation.

As I result, I have decided it’s time to recommence laser hair removal.

The ProSkin clinic that I used previously is no more. The company behind ProSkin went into administration in 2016, and then were bought out. Looking at their website, it seems that the only clinics now operating are in London.

Googling for other clinics in my area who also use Cynosure lasers threw up Destination Skin in Festival Place in Basingstoke, which is convenient for me.

I contacted them, and got a phone call response, where I talked with AnneMarie who is keen to see me for an initial consultation next week where she can do a quick patch test (largely unnecessary considering how much laser I have already had, but necessary for them as they don’t have access to my ProSkin records of course) and also discuss with me what my requirements are.

The plan is to do some maintenance on my body regrowth and to attack my face in earnest with a view to completely eradicating my facial hair. I would imagine that is going to involve another whole course of laser for my face, and also a fair bit of electrolysis too. Due to my age, my facial hair is rather “salt and pepper” these days, and laser will only address the pepper. For the salt, we’ll have to use other methods like electrolysis.

I’m quite excited by this, as I have never been happy with having to trowel on foundation and would like a more natural look, but that is currently impossible with my beard shadow. Also, every time I blow my nose I have to touch up my upper lip to replace the foundation wiped away, and this is a constant source of annoyance and worry for me. As is getting foundation on people when I hug or kiss them. It would be nice to never have to worry about that again.

More news as it happens.

 

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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Diary, Hair Removal, 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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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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In the News: British Army’s first transgender officer

As I mentioned a few days ago, transgender issues do seem to be appearing in the mainstream news a lot more than they used to.

Is it actually (gasp!) becoming socially acceptable to acknowledge that we exist and that it’s a real and legitimate issue?

Today story was about Hannah Winterbourne, the UK’s first transgender officer in the British Army.

 

Credit: Daily Telegraph

Credit: Daily Telegraph

It’s being reported by both the Daily Telegraph and also The Sun. The latter has it on their front page!

Credit: The Sun

Credit: The Sun

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in In the News, Opinion, Transgender

 

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In the News

I don’t know if it’s just because I am more aware of it, but there does seem to be a lot more media coverage about transgender issues and Gender Identity in the mainstream media at the moment.

Tonight at 9pm on BBC Radio1, Stephanie Hirst is a guest on Aled’s Surgery and will be discussing Gender Identity issues.

Meanwhile, there are several articles published today on Conversion Therapy – the idea that you can “cure” people of homosexuality or transgenderism.
BBC Newsbeat reports that “NHS staff [have been] told to stop helping patients get gay conversion therapy” (for non-UK readers, the NHS is the National Health Service), whilst the Huffington Post has an article today entitled “It’s Time to Ban ‘Reparative Therapy’

Last week the Daily Telegraph published an article about Voice Therapy entitled “Transgender women often want to sound like Fiona Bruce“, which is about the work of Christella Antoni. Christella is the Voice Coach that I have been using – in fact I’m seeing her this Saturday.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in In the News, Transgender

 

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Transgender in the driving seat

You’re probably aware that Russia recently passed a law that effectively bans all transgender and transsexual people from driving, on the grounds that it is a ‘mental disorder’. Also affected, amongst many others, are amputees – even those with “prophetic limbs” (sic), according to the Daily Telegraph (one would assume that a limb that can predict the future would make you a safer driver? 🙂 )

However, not all is doom and gloom as this article, also from the Daily Telegraph and written by Paris Lees, points out.

Things are changing for the better for genderqueer people – albeit not in Russia – with society generally becoming more tolerant towards people (and less tolerant of prejudice against them). It happened with racism, it happened with homophobia, and it’s happening with transphobia too. Slowly, anyway.

Who knows, maybe in a few generations we will finally reach enlightenment? Although whilst religious intolerance and the hate, war and terrorism associated with it continue, I very much doubt it.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in In the News, Opinion, Transgender

 

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It’s a man’s world

As many of you will know, I’m the kind of transgendered person who is equally happy (or unhappy) in either gender binary, being fortunate not to suffer from gender dysphoria, so I tend to present in whichever gender will make my life the easiest whilst still making me feel personally comfortable, although my preference is female; if I absolutely had to “make my mind up” and choose just one then I would choose to be female. However, I’m not blind to the fact that this would bring its own collection of downsides – I’m under no illusions whatsoever about the greenness, or otherwise, of the grass on the other side of the fence.

Some might say that this is sitting on the fence, and indeed the same people might also say that a bisexual person should “make their mind up” about whether they are gay or straight too. Quite how they feel about people who own both a car and a motorbike, I do not know; presumably they should “make their mind up” whether they want to drive a car or ride a motorbike since clearly they must make an exclusive choice.

In general, how the duality of my gender works out on a day-to-day basis is that I present as male professionally, and mostly present as female socially with the exception of situations where doing so would be very inconvenient. A good example is when I attend Track Days, where wearing a wig and a crash helmet would not only damage my expensive wig but be a real problem in taking the helmet off whilst leaving the wig on. It’s easier just to attend in guy mode (often with painted nails just to mix it up a bit). But I digress.

Why do I present as male professionally? Well, one reason is that all my professional qualifications, client references, professional reputation, and the like, are all in my birth name. Yes, I could change them all but I would have to undergo full transition in order to do this and live full time as a woman and, as I mentioned above, I’d probably be no happier than I am.

But there is another reason why I wouldn’t want to and that’s because I work in a male-dominated industry: Information Technology.

How it works

How it works

I should note that although it has a reputation for sexism, misogyny and ageism, I’ve been lucky enough never to have personally experienced or observed it; I have cis-female colleagues who are treated completely equally by my peers. In fact my current place of work has far more than I have experienced before, so perhaps this company are particularly enlightened. Also, I think my area of IT is perhaps atypical – developers / programmers tend to get judged by what we produce, and we are always producing. So although I have been quite lucky not to have experienced it, that does by no means disprove it exists – there is abundant circumstantial evidence to say that it’s very real in this industry.

This was brought home rather starkly by an article in The Register today, and which links to an amusing blog post by Pamela Ribon, about the Barbie book by Mattel called “I Can Be A Computer Engineer“.
In this embarrassingly sexist book, Barbie has an idea for a computer game but plans to get two male friends to actually write it for her. But whilst working on her design, her computer contracts a virus so she uses her sister’s laptop instead, which also contracts the virus. So she then gets the aforementioned male friends to fix it all for her, and then takes credit for everything.

That’s the executive summary anyway – I’d encourage you to read Pamela’s article for the full blow-by-blow deconstruct of it. It’s really worth reading and is quite funny too (although if you are the kind of person who is offended by profanity, or whose web filter may be, then be advised it uses the ‘F-word’ a few times, not least in the title).

Suffice to say, it does rather perpetuate the myth that only men can do science, maths and technology. A myth that we all know to be false, but persists nonetheless. It also promotes the rather reprehensible practise of glory-grabbing and claiming credit for the work of others.

Earlier I mentioned that I present as female socially unless it is more convenient not to. Well, I have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I know that a situation will place me in high probability of sexism or misogyny, or would prove to be particularly awkward, I take the easy option and present as male. None more so than when cars are concerned. Lately I have realised that this is rather cowardly of me and that if I am serious about expressing the female facet of myself then really I should do it when the going may be a little tougher as a result, rather than being a fair-weather woman. Otherwise it begs the uncomfortable question as to whether I am just playing at this.

Time will tell how far I will decide to push this – there are certain areas in my life where this would prove to be particularly uncomfortable. It’s probably not appropriate to go into further details on that on a public blog though.


Update:

The Register have posted a follow-up article about sexism in IT, which makes for interesting reading and further illustrates why I take the coward’s way out and present as male professionally.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/27/the_gender_imbalance…


Update 2:

The geek girl backlash to the Barbie book has been swift and strong. Here’s a great article that links to various remixes and rewrites. Some of them are brilliant!
http://www.dailydot.com/geek/sexist-barbie-book-stem-remix-engineer-gaming/

This one is particularly worth reading – https://cfiesler.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/barbieremixed.pdf

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Diary, Opinion, Transgender

 

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Bras for t-girls

Due to buying larger breastforms, I needed to buy some new bras to fit the bigger cup size that they give me.
Naturally my local Marks & Spencer flagship store was my first port of call.

T811800

T811800

M&S do a vast range of bras, but the ones that caught my eye are in their Post-Surgery Bra range. This range, in association with Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity, is designed for women who have had mastectomies due to breast cancer and feature, amongst other things, a pocket for a breast prosthesis in each cup. They’re also designed to flatter and conceal the fact that you are wearing breast prostheses. And as an added bonus, some of the profits go to charity [1]

It occurred to me that, although this product line is specifically targeted at cancer survivors, they are equally applicable to any woman who uses breast prostheses and that includes us t-girls.

I bought a limited edition twin pack for £16. Both bras are very pretty, extremely comfortable (being cotton), are not underwired (I find underwiring digs into me) and are full cup. As expected, they work very well with my breastforms (well, they would really) and I’m really pleased with them.

T818686

T818686

Whilst there I also was tempted by an achingly cute black & pink Plunge Bra set. which I ended up buying. Although the bra is gorgeous, I think I will have to take the set back for a refund because my breastforms look faintly ridiculous spilling out of a plunge bra. Sometimes you just have to face reality, be realistic, and play to your strengths and not your weaknesses. 😦

So, in summary, I think Marks & Spencer may have an unexpected extra demographic in this range of bras. Certainly I shall be buying more – I could do with a simple black bra, and maybe a nude or white one too. Maybe I will look out for those when I return the plunge bra for a refund.

 

 

 


[1] 10% of the retail price is paid to Breakthrough Promotions Ltd, which donates all of its taxable profits to Breakthrough Breast Cancer. So, in other words, a completely indeterminate sum that could actually be pennies. But at least some money goes to charity. Just not the 10% headline figure.

 
 

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Transgenderism – in the news

My friend Jo T brought two articles to my attention today.

The first was a Huffington Post Blog article by called On the Other Side: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about how her husband became her wife, and the three categories that their friends and family fell into – good, bad and ugly. The ‘good’ being the people who were open-minded, accommodating, understanding, and willing to be positive. The ‘bad’ being people who were closed-minded and refused to accept, or were at best indifferent, or attempted to pretend that it doesn’t exist (giving a cloak of invisibility in the process). Sadly I would put my family into this category – it’s all very much swept under the rug and ignored, is not talked about, or is considered an irrelevance and of no consequence, depending on family member. Lastly there are the ‘ugly’ who were abusive about it. I am thankful that I have none of those in my life. The article also talks about how their children accepted it, and also the questions people asked. I found it a really good article.
You can read it at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marvi-matos/…

The second thing that Jo mentioned to me was the story of the Radio DJ Stephanie “Hirsty” Hirst, formerly Simon. She was a presenter on Capital FM Yorkshire and Vinyl Heaven on Gold when she was Simon, and who left her position in June after 11 years in the studio shortly after she decided to transition from male to female. It is looking very much like she was pushed out of the job by her employers who “did not think gender reassignment was suitable or commercially viable content” for her shows. I’m quite saddened by this. However, on the other hand, the public support for her has been very strong with an active Facebook campaign to get her back and also a lot of positive press and support from various quarters.
There are many articles about Stephanie if you google for them. However, I thought this article by the Independent was a good one: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/stephanie-hirst…

Just before Jo contacted me, I had been reading a report from the BBC of the truly bewildering situation in Iran where homosexuality is banned, but where gender transition to the opposite gender binary so that you are then effectively heterosexual is almost encouraged. This is a very odd dichotomy of conservative and liberal. However, it’s deeply flawed as it completely misses the rather fundamental fact that gender identity and sexuality are two completely (and radically) different things – it’s not an uncommon misconception. A man who is sexually attracted to men is not a woman inside – he’s a man who is attracted to men. His gender identity is male, and is separate and distinct from his sexuality.
You can read the whole article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29832690

I’m sure there are plenty of other stories too, but these are the ones that I came across today and I just thought I would share them with you.

 

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2014 in In the News, Transgender

 

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