Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Jewellery for the New Year


Continuing the blue topaz and diamond and with a ring in the same gems arriving in the next few weeks I feel like I have something precious to wear.

It probably isn't important in the grand scheme me things but it does matter to me aswell as having some meaning in the choice of gems.

I start the New Year with something even more precious and that is a fabulous and amazing son and the most wonderful and supportive friends. Happy New Year to you all xxx

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Premier Inn

Thought it might be worth a mini review given that I just had a quick stop-over in the Trafford Centre West Premier Inn and thought it was actually pretty nice. I should say that I've also stayed at a nice Ibis hotel recently, the Docklands Ibis, which I would also highly recommend!

Anyway, the Trafford Centre West (there are two others in the vicinity as well) Premier Inn is basically a budget hotel but does look quite impressive from the outside and I actually didn't realise what brand it was until I looked more closely at the weekend (now I write this I wonder if it didn't use to be a Thistle hotel or something like that). Since it's not been around *that* many years it is very new, clean, tidy, and all the decore is pretty much modern and up-to-date albeit rather character-less I guess (not that that bothers me per se).

The room (double) was surprisingly big and the bed seemed huge, comfy and most importantly rather high! Plenty of plugs, deskspace and other bits and pieces around the room, though don't remember seeing a wardrobe now I come to think about it. The TV has Freeview! Now why can't all hotels do that? Just makes so much more sense!

Overall I was VERY impressed, the only slight criticism I have is that the water pressure and temperature in the, very spacious shower, is quite low which slowed down the rather long process of washing my hair. I did even tut a little at the "Danger Hot Water" sticker next to the shower as I had it turned up full!

Given that this hotel is, quite literally, within staggering distance of the Trafford Centre I think it's a really excellent place to stay if you fancy a weekend away shopping :)

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Better Christmas

I will start by saying a GINORMOUS THANK YOU to Lucy, Heidi, and their families and friends for their kindness, support, and generosity in sharing their Christmas with me and for helping me deal with the recent upheaval in my life. I really am never going to have the words to say how much this means to me and the help that it has been in getting me through this (or at least to start that process).

I did have a very good Christmas considering the circumstances and spending time with the Brummies has been VERY entertaining (c.f. the previous post showing Heidi in her new) and really did take my mind of things (there were times when my mind was completely distracted but the comments/stories that caused that are definitely not suitable for the blog! lol).

All my friends have also been fantastic, I have been inundated with texts and calls and offers of help and support and, again, I just can't find the words to express how grateful I am.

I'm currently being a little indulgent and staying near Manchester so that I can do more shopping at the Trafford Centre again, only managed a brief (no pun intented) foray into M&S lingerie sale today so want to hit other shops tomorrow and take in more of the atmosphere around the place (which was rather cramped and intense today with the place being absolutely packed to the rafters).

What happens after that? Well, I guess we have to be practical and just get on with things as best we can. Given that we are still in the same house that of course could be challenging for both of us. I think the one thing that really comes out of this is that things do happen, feelings can change, but that doesn't mean there is a right and wrong or any sides involved. It really is just that there are differences or opinion, feeling, and behaviour.

It is going to be hard for both of us, and I am truly sorry for that.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Fab jumper!


This is Heidi looking very festive! Just had to share this with everyone :-) Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Not a happy Christmas

I'm not sure what to say and I am just too upset for words really and on the edge of crying constantly but I guess if I at least try and write down what has happened it will explain, maybe make things worse, maybe make me feel bad as I think of the consequences. Sometimes things just hurt those involved so badly but there isn't anything you can do, it is just that way, no matter how much you wish it wasn't.

I have split up with Rachel.

The timing couldn't have been worse. As I write this I can see the mess I have made of Christmas and New Year for both of us. This season is just wrecked, completely and totally. It's a hideous, horrible, time now, all plans are out of the window, everything we might have done to have fun will not happen - the people we were going to see, the things we were going to do.

All ruined because of me, I was the one who ended the relationship.

I really don't have words to describe how I feel, sad, lonely, alone, isolated probably don't even come close. Confused as well, not sure what to do, and where to turn.

The finality and impact of the decision really hit home when I saw how fast the news appeared on the various social networking sites ... not only have we split up we have now had that made 'official' by Tweets, change in FaceBook status, and now this blog entry.

I really don't know what else to say. I need to try and get some sleep I guess before I can face the reality of this tomorrow. I'm not sure I want to face it, not sure I can deal with this Christmas anymore.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christmas Party


It was the works Christmas party last night, held in the York Railway Museum! It was fantastic, really amazing setting, great food, drink (though didn't have much of this as I was driving), good fun and most importantly wonderful people. As I said to Rachel last night, this is the best place I have ever worked, I love it!

Rachel an I took quite a few pictures, I'm being shamelessly vain in just showing (mainly) the ones of her and me (mainly me) here on my website. Rachel did get some pictures of other people which look fab but I'll leave them in her more capable hands for processing.

We had a fantastic time, sadly all too brief as we needed to get home and to bed, which first required us to walk through the freezing night to the snow covered car and then for me to negotiate roads already starting to slush/ice/freeze over. This morning arrived rather too quickly (must catch up sleep over the weekend) but with fantastic wintery scenes for a trip to work.

Snow!


Lots and lots and lots ... And plenty traffic and queues to get stuck in. Least York looks so nice and seasonal :-D

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Christmas Tree


Finally got the tree and decorations up. Not gone too over the top, though got lots of shiney lights (LEDs)! Feeling more festive now :-D

Silver (black actually) lining

My posts have been a bit doom-and-gloom of late so I thought I'd try and even things up a bit with a little positive news.

Wandering around Canary Wharf on Sunday and we came to the shops under 1 Canada Square and happened to look in the Window of Hobbs, there I saw the most fabulous black, velvet, full-length coat (ably modeled by the headless plastic mannequin to the left).

Didn't think it would fit, it did (beautifully), didn't think I could afford it, I can't ... but got it anyway!

Not wearing it until the Christmas party and treating it with a certain degree of reverence because it was expensive, and I do think it is something special and I want to be VERY careful about looking after it properly so I can have the same fabulous and perfect feeling I had, when I tried it on in the shop, time and time again. I'll try and get some pictures of myself modeling the coat a the rest of my Christmas outfit after the party tomorrow.

The Marrog

I was thinking about a few things this morning and a line or two from a poem I remembered from childhood came to mind. The particular line was "and nobody, nobody knows" which is really where my thoughts had led me after a conversation with my Mum where it was stated that not a single person in my extended family knows about my transition.

Before I explain about the situation and eleborate on reality, here is the poem that I was thinking off, found after much searching of the internet and copied from here and available in The Random House Book of Poetry for Children:

My desk's at the back of the class
And nobody, nobody knows
I'm a Marrog from Mars
With a body of brass
And seventeen fingers and toes.

Wouldn't they shriek if they knew
I've three eyes at the back of my head
And my hair is bright purple
My nose is deep blue
And my teeth are half-yellow, half-red?

My five arms are silver and spiked
With knives on them sharper than spears.
I could go back right now, if I liked-
And return in a million light years.
I could gobble them all

For I am seven foot tall
And I'm breathing green flames from my ears.
Wouldn't they yell if they knew,
If they guessed a Marrog was here?
Ha ha they haven't a clue-
Or wouldn't they tremble with fear!

'Look, look, A Marrog'
They'd all scream - and SMACK
The blackboard would fall and the ceiling would crack
And the teacher would faint, I suppose.
But I grin to myself, sitting right at the back
And nobody, nobody knows

I think it sums up my feelings pretty accurately and I wonder if looking like the Marrog I'd actually be happier with my appearance! But the main thing is the line "And nobody, nobody knows"; the only family that do are my parents and my sister and of those only my Mum talks to me and tacitly acknowledges my transition.

I got a Christmas present from my sister yesterday, which was nice, addressed using my 'old' name, which wasn't so nice. It almost made me feel like the last couple of years haven't happened, as if they can somehow not have my transition be a reality by using my old name. My sister has seen me as me and should be well aware of my name change - if I hadn't told her directly my Mum certainly does know and would have passed that information on.

I can't see my last remaining grandparent, in fact haven't for probably over two years now. She is getting old and will likely go to her grave blissfully unaware of my transition and likely wondering why I haven't visited and whether I really care about her anymore, I do obviously. It seems now like my Dad has absolutely no intention of ever seeing me or even talking to me now.

Really, I might as well be the Marrog from Mars

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Abused, Angry and Upset

Have you ever been so angry or upset that you really wanted to hurt someone, wanting to make see them experience as much pain as they have made you feel? I have had only very few comments from idiotic and stupid people concerning my being trans and certainly never come across any such vile, base, and chauvinistic men as I encountered last night. I was left so upset and angry that I stated that such men should be dead.

We had decided to go for one last drink after a really fabulous afternoon and evening out to celebrate a friends birthday. We went to a fairly trendy-looking bar in London's China Town and managed to get a seat right at the back of the place, there were a group of guys there who seemed to be rather loud and probably drunk but I didn't think much of it and went to the toilet.

When I returned, Rachel had got the drinks and was carrying them back to the table and the the gang or guys seemed to be rather excitable and were making quite alot of comments along the lines of "get 'em out!" and other puerile chants. I should probably say that Rachel was wearing a very clingy dress, and a fedora hat and looked very glam, stylish, and frankly quite sexy. I'd gone for a shortish silver dress (more like a tunic), black tights and red shoes. Yes, we were quite 'over-dressed' but that was the theme of the day out.

Anyway, I guess, looking back on this, that the guys must have been chanting/whooping and maybe passing comments about Rachel while I was away so when she turned to me and said "Kiss me" I assumed it was to point out, in no uncertain terms, that we were a couple and not interested in the guys. Looking back that doesn't seem like it was such a good idea now as that just made them more excitable while we had a rather passionate kiss. It really didn't register as a problem at the time and we just smiled and sat down to have our drinks.

At this point one of the group sat down right next to me, uncomfortably close. I could see him in the mirror opposite and he was looking away from us but something in his body language told me that he'd sat there purposefully, it wasn't just because of lack of seating. I think a few of my friends noticed this and moved round so I could shift along. The guy then shifted along even closer.

I felt very uncomfortable, and was worried what he was going to do or say. I tightened the grip on my purse and pulled by coat closer on my lap, I felt like I was being bullied and harassed and it made me really angry to be made to feel like that. I'm not sure I can describe how horrible that is, though I'm pretty sure most women have experienced that at some point in their lives; a man who thinks he has the right to invade personal space, to show no respect, and to assume that what they intend to do, whether it's to talk, touch, or kiss (or worse) it is something they are entitled to do.

I really should have felt scared I guess but I was just really angry at being bullied and harassed in this way and it got to the point pretty quickly where I just felt so annoyed that I turned round to this guy and basically threatened to "knee him so hard, that he wouldn't be able to have children, if he didn't go away". The term "rash" doesn't really cover it in hindsight, I really should have either being more polite or just moved away.

Worse was to come, the guy just turned back to me and said "You're a guy!", to which I obviously responded that I was a woman and might have even mumbled "trans" in there somewhere but the damage was already done and he seemed to take great delight in going round his mates and telling them this. There were shouts of "hit him" and I'm not sure whether they were directed at me or him but at that point we decided to move so as not to find out. I was still really angry, in fact maybe more so and I tried to tell one of the bar staff who was just collecting glasses that the guys were harassing us and he said he'd sort out out but we just moved away instead.

We sat nearer the door where it was quite light and spacious and at one point Rachel got up to dance and I really would have loved to have got up with her; I did try but I had just had such a huge hole blown in my confidence that I had to sit down again. I felt horrible; angry at the way I was treated, wanting to inflict the same hurt or worse on the guy concerned, and upset at myself for how badly I'd handled things and for the comments I'd made. I'm sure any woman in the same position would have felt bad at resorting to saying such things, it's not how you want to behave, but it made me feel doubly worse I guess as I'd almost descended to a 'male' level.

I managed to hold the tears back until we got into our room at the hotel but eventually ended up crying my eyes out as Rachel hugged and tried to console me. Went to bed after that and thankfully fell asleep pretty quickly even with all of this going through my head. Having updated twitter last night I wanted to get everything written in the blog this morning so it was out of my head. I think the strangeness of how social-networking helps I deal with my problems is worthy of it's own post later on!

How do I feel now? Well, better for writing it all down, it does seem like I can forget about it now, secure in the knowledge that the experience is captured here. It's a nice day outside and hopefully we're all going to have a nice time exploring parts of London and I can push all of this to the back of my mind and not think about it.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Out on the town


Out in London for Sue's birthday, if i knew how to send pics to twitter i would be updating that instead of the blog, as i could end up with a proliferation of lots of entries here!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

GIC

As well as seeing a private specialist I also got a referral from my G.P. in Chorley to the NHS Gender Identity Clinic in Leeds. Contrary to alot of the reports I read on various forums, it is quite possible and acceptable to go for the shared-care approach rather than having to be limited to only private or only NHS treatment.

So I had my first appointment on Thursday, not actually too far from where I live and not in the middle of Leeds or anything (as I feared) so easy to get to as well. Of course it was a nightmare to park as seems to be the case with all hospitals I've been to (Gordon Brown, here's an idea for all those Banker's bonuses, pay for more parking and let the Nurses and staff park for free).

The appointment was very informal, just the start of the process and really a chance to talk about my history which I did at great speed with many tangents and diversions - I really must learn to slow down and stick to a point! Anyway all seemed to go well and I have another appointment in January to look forward to.

It may not seem like a particularly fast process but I guess the point about alot of the treatment is that there has to be checks to make sure it really is the right thing and also you have to allow time to adjust both physically and mentally to the various changes you go through. Of course it never does seem fast enough, but as long as you get there in the end.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

OMG, why?!

It's terrible, almost too horrible to describe, totally inexplicable, a shock, words really do fail me. I wish I had been more prepared for this, if I could have got some help, maybe even professional advice or a support group or something. I really just don't know where to start or what to do, I'm completely at a loss.

Why, oh, why, oh, why ... have I got a Twitter account!!

Yes, I have finally succumbed to the latest in social-networking time-sinks for the very flimsiest of reasons:
  1. There is a work-related Twitter account I wanted to follow#
  2. I didn't want anyone else to get the "fionasboots" ID!
  3. Erm, no, that's it, no other reason at all!
So, you will notice that I now have short, bite-sized, drivel fed from Twitter on the front page of the blog (look to your left), which I might even manage to keep up to date! Since my account is rather devoid of followers at the moment, please head over to http://twitter.com/fionasboots (or is that @fionasboots in Twitter speak?) and add/follow/whatever me.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hurt, Acceptance and Hurt

I've said this before but it is worth repeating: being transsexual really messes up your life. It hurts those around you, your family, friends and ultimately you. Really and seriously, this is not something to do unless you are really, really, really sure it is the only way. One of the things that causes hurt all round is lack of acceptance.

In some ways the word "acceptance" in the context of transsexuality seems to imply quite alot, usually everything to one person and too much to everyone else. What a trans person ultimately wants is to be accepted totally and completely for who, and what, they are. But there is a more subtle and possibly more important part of acceptance and that is simply about dealing with reality. And maybe, to go one step further, to be objective about this rather than being swayed by prejudice, rumour, hearsay and downright myth.

I can't imagine what it is like for those close to me to have seen how I have changed from what they were use to into what appears to be a different person. I obviously feel I desperately need and want this transformation but they must feel equally strongly that they want me to be as I was. Not being able to at least acknowledge that this is what has and is happening just leads to hurt for everyone; for them because they will always be feeling the sense of loss and frustration and never moving on, and for me I just get treated like an outcast, and blamed for everything no matter what.

Being treated as if you are evil, wrong, purely selfish, inconsiderate, thoughtless, uncaring and unfeeling is horrible. Being ignored and your transition/gender disregarded with no hint that the issues you have are real is equally frustrating and upsetting. Being treated as if you are not a responsible, caring, and loving parent is also cruel and unwarranted.

All of the above sounds extreme and almost like life is a constant battle ground and that these issues are constantly apparent but that isn't the case, the problems are more subtle and insidious. All sorts of justifications can be used by those who don't accept what is happening and this can spiral out of control to the point that everyone involved is hurt, worst of all those who are vulnerable and ultimately will be upset and scarred the most.

I don't know how else to explain any of this without just ranting and getting more upset and frustrated. I know my transition has not been a pleasant thing for some but I never, ever, ever meant any of this to hurt anyone nor have I done this out of malice or even from some secret and devious plan. It has just happened, it's just how I am, it really and truly can't be helped and I am utterly sorry that people have been hurt because of it.

Acceptance, just a small amount of acceptance of what this is and what I am going through. Please.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Snow!





This was the sight that met us early on Saturday morning travelling from York to Manchester. This is around the highest point of the M62 and the snow was settling quite alot though it's rather difficult to see from the blurred pictures (I should point out that Rachel took these, I was the one doing the cautious driving).

It was really quite fabulous to see the snow. I just love snow (mainly when I'm viewing it from somewhere warm!) and think it makes everything look so beautiful and magical. I did start enthusing about this and I suspect Rachel thought I was a mad woman or something.

The snow line did finish abruptly as we left the peak and there was none left in the evening for our return journey. Still thought it was a nice way to approach Christmas with a touch of snow, hope we get some more on lower ground!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Holding it together

I'm very tired at the moment. No reason in particular apart from just having lots to do and not getting to bed on time and waking up early (the latter will be compounded by the fact that I'm going to start cycling in to work on Monday as well so expect more fatigue.

Because I feel so tired I'm not sure I can put this across as eloquently as I'd like since everything seems to be buzzing around in the back of my head and I'm not really thinking about it. It's weird that I can poke at these ideas in a dispassionate and almost objective way but as soon as I really get some time to think about them properly I get upset.

A few things are upsetting me. Often I dismiss a minor problem or complexity in my life as "just one of those things" because really and truly there is often nothing I can do, nor anyone else can, and no point in getting upset about them. If there are lots of minor things like that they can start to get too much and it's much harder to brush them off.

As I've mentioned before, one of the things that has and still is bothering me is that I will not get to see any of my family at all for Christmas. No visits from my Mum or sister and certainly not my Dad. I've not been invited over there and in fact I get the distinct impression that presents and cards are not wanted this year for other reasons other than just the general sincere wish not to be a burden in terms of spending money no things that aren't really necessary.

Really it feels like I'm being excluded more and more from my family and it appears that pushing me away is how I am best dealt with. I haven't been back to my home town in nearly two years now and I haven't seen my Dad in about the same amount of time.

I really don't know what to do about this. I thought the other day of writing a letter to him trying to just get across what I am doing and why. I get glimpses of my reasons behind all this when I either see something about me that either pleases or upsets me; a kind of little pointer to indicate that I am on the right track. As ever I really do feel my lack of clinical depression, suicidal tendencies, or any obvious sign that I have serious mental issues does work against me in terms of credibility. I guess if I had tried to remove my self from this mortal coil at some point they might have at least taken that as a wake-up call or something.

I don't know what I'd say to my Dad, I don't know how I can explain without him just ignoring me. I don't know what he thinks or feels about this (nothing apparently, he won't acknowledge it apparently). Is he angry, sad, disappointed, confused, or what, I don't really know. I guess I don't think about this myself or just accept the way things are. I should get annoyed that he is thinking my motivations are other than they are, if I'm going to be disowned/ignored I want it to be for justified reasons, not for something he may imagine of me.

Really it's just very sad that, at Christmas of all times, I can't be with my family at all.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Trans Pennine

I think I'm trying to be a little too clever and convoluted with the title but I hope that doesn't detract too much from the content. It's been nearly and month and a half since I moved to "the other side", switching my location from Lancashire to Yorkshire, and it occurred to me today that I should maybe document the reception I've experienced from the local populace, have they proved friendly or hostile, has there been any overt reaction.

No. Hardly a blip on the uncomfortably-long-stare-ometer. Really, if anyone notices, and there are plenty that will have done, they don't say anything about it or act in any way that would give me cause for concern. I've been addressed as "love" numerous times by bus drivers for example, the other passengers are generally fine; there have been the odd one of two (and I mean those numbers literally) who have whispered amongst themselves but these have generally been school kids and given that I've not had any comments directed at me I'm not too worried about this.

I know there are quite horrific cases of prejudice and persecution involving trans people but I think, thankfully, these are relatively rare (though nonetheless too many and too vicious) and, on the whole it is my experience that most of the time people don't really care or mind if they even notice at all.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Random Task

I must say that the "Random Task" character from Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, always makes me smile: "Odd Job ... Random Task!" it's just so funny! This post isn't about that, as you can probably tell from the picture, rather it is about Rachel and the fact that she has decided to leave work with a view to setting up Random Acts as a business and her full-time, self-employed job!

Kind of a bit out of the blue but then again, looking at the sheer number of photo-shoots and pictures she has taken (you can see the recent ones on Deviant ART) it probably is about time that she got paid for her 'hobby'. So today we are busy sorting out pictures, website, online resources and applications, and generally just trying to get things up and running ASAP.

So, if you want any photography or similarly arty things doing, then drop Rachel an e-mail (info at random acts - all one word - dot biz), or check out the website: http://www.randomacts.biz (this is being updated over the weekend so may be in a state of flux, please bear with us).

So, what do I think about this sudden development? Well, I would be lying if I said I wasn't concerned or worried by the suddenness and it's just another thing to add to the list of pretty radical and rapid changes in my life. All that said, I really do think Rachel is good at what she does, her photos are amazing, stunning, bright, striking, and interesting.

I've also been with her on quite a few shoots now and I've seen how she works and interacts with the models/subjects and she really puts her whole heart and soul into it and she becomes very focused (no pun intended) and passionate particularly when she can see the potential for an image, look, or angle that is just right. I've also seen her be incredibly self-critical and reject everything but the absolute best pictures.

I think she can do it, and I'm proud of her for trying.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Flood!


It's not the best picture nor does it really show the full reach of the river, but this is an indication of the extent of the flooding in York.

I'm planning on going for a ride on the bike at the weekend so I'll try and get some more shots to show just how far the waters have reached, it is quite frightening and I've no idea how people who live so close to the river cope.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Plastic Fantastic?

I read an article earlier this week regarding some research that showed that "Plastic Chemicals 'feminise' boys". This idea has been mentioned before and, according to the article, certain plasticisers are already banned or controlled in some cases because of some proven link to harmful affects. What concerns me about this research is the assumptions and methodology and even worse the stereotypes involved.

'Boys exposed to high levels of these in the womb were less likely than other boys to play with cars, trains and guns or engage in "rougher" games like playfighting.'

I would question the assumptions behind this statement and in particular the idea that 'boys' should be engaging in "playfighting" or even that girls do not, or maybe if you want to be completely P.C., should not but doing the same. This aspect in particular seems like something that could well be down to culture and society rather than any chemical feminisation. I would expect that alot of parents now, while happy to accept that boys might behave in a rougher manner, would be likely to want to dissuade the notion of fighting. Certainly media coverage of bullying and thugish behaviour would seem to make such things less acceptable.

There has been debate about whether toys are also biases towards certain genders as well, the whole nurture and nature argument that seems to flare up every now and then. What often gets missed from this is that both boys and girls can show interest in toys that don't fit the usual pattern at various points in their development and I would guess that the ages at which this occurs might be dependant on the child itself.

In short, while I don't really argue that these chemicals may pose a threat I don't think that relying on research that I believe to be using unscientific measure is a good idea. It also only serves to re-enforce stereotypes which may well be outdated, prejudicial, and ultimately that can be detrimental when they are applied in other circumstances in an overly rigid way: don't try and fit children into the conceptual boxes you have, treat them as the individuals they are.



Need to Cry

It would be wrong to say that being cheerful, happy, content, is something that requires effort, it doesn't really, given that I generally feel I am very lucky it only makes sense that I view life in a positive way. What does take at least a force of will is not to think about all the things that can upset me. The problem is that sooner or later they do build up and it all just gets a bit too much.

I've hopefully conveyed sufficient warning to anyone considering a similar path to me and what you should expect to lose. There's been mention of the regret about that loss and of the hurt that's caused on all sides (just a phrase, there really shouldn't be such a concept of a 'side' to be on as that only leads to trying to put things in boxes marked "right" or "wrong" and that doesn't help, things just are for such complicated reasons that labels don't apply). What I struggle to do is describe how much it really hurts and maybe why I *try* and be cheerful and happy.

There have been a few phone conversations this week that have been upsetting and brought me to tears, the one I will mention was with my Mum. Nothing really bad or upsetting was said it was just the tone of her voice, maybe the note of concern in it or that she sounds a little older and more strained talking to me, as if she is trying not be be upset.

I was thinking about it this morning on the bus in to work and I suspect that my move to York and the fact that I now live with my girlfriend in a relationship and situation that is likely so far from 'normal' for my parents, means that it just makes things even harder for my Dad to accept and for my Mum to deal with. Of course this must weigh doubly on my Mum as she is in the middle of this and tries to chat to me and keep in touch and at the same time filter everything to my Dad. This kind of 'lying' (even just by omission) must really be taking a toll on her.

I wanted to write a letter to them this morning to try and explain what and why my life has taken the route that it has. To plead with them to at least *try* and move towards making more contact and ultimately actually meeting. It's just feeling like we're slipping further and further apart and this is making the strain and hurt even worse.

I've also been feeling a little lacking in confidence this week as well, in terms of everything about my appearance and self; imagine a bad hair day that affects your whole body (no, I don't mean like cousin Itt from the Addams Family). Being critical of my appearance is almost a habit now but it takes on a more upsetting tone when I really start to doubt myself and my eyes are drawn to everything that is 'wrong', it makes me doubt everything about the 'choice' I have made.

So I found myself this morning looking intently in the mirror and contemplating what it would be like to go back to how I was many years ago. The sad thing is that I can still see traces (understatement) in my face and that is upsetting, what is slightly comforting is that I don't think I could bear it to, for example, cut my hair short, it really do want to be like this. There is alot that is "wrong" about me but at least I really am more comfortable like this. That is something that is difficult to explain and I'm not entirely sure I fully understand it myself.

With all of this going on and other chores and minor bits of life piling up on-top of me it is only a matter of time before I crack completely and just break down and cry. For convenience sake I hope to pre-empt this just happening at a rather embarassing point in the day and, instead, watch some chick flicks or listen to emotion-ladden music tonight and get this all out of the way.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Getting Better


I should emphasise that I'm referring to either my tolerance to pictures of me or how good (or more accurately "less bad") I look in them, NOT how well Rachel takes photos - she's amazing at that already. Here are a few from before today's photoshoot.





Obviously I took the picture of Rachel but with her camera and guidance from her too - I think I can recall what I asked her to think about when I took the picture (no nothing like *that* just something nice to make her smile).

Random Acts

I am obviously biased in my opinion of Rachel and her photography but the picture above hopefully captures the 'real' and dedicated person that she is when engrossed in what she does. The main reason for mentioning this is essentially a shameless plug for Rachel's website, Random Acts, and photography services she provides.

Alot of the photoshoots (I've mentioned some here before) are done essentially for free or mutual benefit, however it would of course be good to have this generate some money for Random Acts so that things can develop ("Develop Nurture and Inspire" being the motto) and progress, as well of course so that the tedious things like bills for hosting, equipment etc get paid.

So, if you are interested in having any photographs taken for whatever reason, do drop Rachel and e-mail (rachel at random acts dot biz) to discuss what services she provides. I'd also recommend you look at the pictures on her site as well as the multitude of images on her Deviant Art account also.

[ Oh, and it all also helps me too as I get to come along to the photo-shoots as Rachel's assistant which I thoroughly enjoy doing as I find the whole thing so fascinating and exciting ]

Christmas is Coming


I was down in London last week with work and, following a nice meal out with the team and rather too much alcohol I decided to have a try and taking some pictures of the lights on Oxford Street, not entirely successfully I might add!

I think this is probably the best shot I got but I could blame the lack of sobriety, preparation, and organisation. Next time we are likely to be staying a little closer to Oxford Street so, hopefully, I'll have a better opportunity to take some good pictures and will also prepare a little more in terms of equipment etc.

It's also worth noting that the trip down to London marked four weeks with the company and, writing this now I've just past the one month mark. I have to say that the time has flown by and it's been really enjoyable! Certainly it's challenging but I seem to be having fun, long may this continue!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Holly and Frank (again)


Another, slightly clearer, picture of the cute and friendly pachederms.

Holly and Frank


These are the two elephants I bought from IKEA, the big one is Holly (I think that was Rachel's suggestion) and the little one is Frank (no real definitive reason but just seems right).

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Frizzy Hair


My hair is causing some minor difficulties at the moment as it is, obviously, growing and getting quite long, though nowhere near the length that I want it to reach.

I wash it every day and I'm going through experiments with various products to see what will tame it to the point that it can at least be considered manageable and not just look like a rather over-grown birds nest.

This picture was taken at Yo Sushi in Manchester (more on that in another post) and it did actually feel like the hair was being relatively well-behaved and didn't look too mad. I quite like what I'm wearing so this post is essentially pure vanity!

I LOVE the Trafford Centre

I wish I could get commission or advertising revenue for this in some way though I suspect the constant references to the Trafford Centre either have no affect or are likely to turn some people off it!

With all the new job, moving, and of course not being as close as before I've not been to the Trafford Centre for a while and I guess seeing it with all the Christmas decorations also helped to give it a 'magical' air when I stepped into it yesterday.

I know that it may seem obvious that someone who declares herself to be a shopaholic would like somewhere that provided so many shops but that's not entirely it. It's how the place feels as well; exciting, happy and full of life. Again, some of this is down to the shopping experience itself but simply having a number of shops in one place doesn't a magical consumer paradise make. You need atmosphere, a clean, open, modern, and yet classic environment and decor. There are lots of shopping centres (and malls) that manage it but there are many I've been too that don't.

There are alot of arguments against consumerism and being materialistic but I think you'd have to unravel an awful lot of modern, western society to remove it completely and the success of shopping centres such as the Trafford Centre are a clear indication of this. Would I like the place if I had no money and nothing to buy there, well yes, I probably would. How it feels is enough to cheer me up, even without buying anything there myself.

Horrible Histories - The Woeful Second World War

This was a production that I saw at the Manchester Opera House this weekend and I thought it would be worth a quick review to give some idea of what it was like. For some background you probably need to be familiar with the Horrible Histories books and TV series on CBBC.

The theatre version was produced by the Birmingham Stage Company and includes some 3D affects in the second half (glasses provided) as well as the usual elements you would expect from such a show, e.g. songs, dialogue, a few jokes, and a little bit of audience participation.

Overall the show was quite good but it does take a while to get going and it's only when they get to the point where the audience is encouraged to sing along and do some actions that you really start to feel entertained. This occurs just before the interval so you might have younger kids getting a little restless before then.

The second half of the show is a little more lively and the 3D affects weren't over the top and added to the entertainment (I won't spoil things by explaining why but the kids seemed to appreciate it anyway). The ending is poignant but not overly sentimental such that the kids might switch off.

So, would I recommend it? Well yes, I guess I would, it seemed to entertain and did get across a few useful facts. That said it's quite alot of money for such a small slice of history and I'm sure you could get more out of the TV series and books. However, if you're wanting to take the theatre route and get out and about for a few hours it's a nice entertaining show.

Rushing

One of the things that makes transition so much of a shock for a trans-persons friends and family is the speed at which things can happen. While the transformation is never fast, nor complete, enough for the one going through it the change can be striking and dramatic for outside observers.

There are some very obvious reasons for this. For a start there are the practical aspects; starting RLE (Real Life Experience) means that you can get the treatment you require (hormones not being allowed until you have lived full-time for 3 months in your 'new' gender). Legal requirements also go hand-in-hand with RLE, it's horrible to have to have ID and bank cards in the wrong name and to get those changed means you need a deed poll and appropriate letters from specialists.

Obviously there is also the affects of the floodgates being opened in terms of realising your true self/gender. Having spent so long in denial it is to be expected that there is a degree of catching-up-for-lost-time and moving as fast as is possible to change your image to match as closely as possible to the identity that you are beginning to realise.

All of these reasons are pretty easy to understand and appreciate, but there is something else that occurred to me yesterday as another day with my son came to an end and I had to say goodbye and watch him walk off with his mum. It's simply that you have to do things in a rush so that you don't stop and think about what you have lost or realise how much it hurts.

I think this must be how alot of parents, separated from their family, must feel and I suspect they deal with it in the same way; just try and get on with life. It may seem from the outside that it is a little uncaring to be trying to fill your life with so much else but it really is the only way to deal with things.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

If you can't stand the heat ...

... get out of the bus! It is really quite bizarre, we reach the point in the year when everyone is bundled up in warm clothes and is choosing to squash themselves into any available public transport to avoid the elements and they crank up the heating!

Really, just think about it, it doesn't make sense: everyone is already dressed for being outside, they have already walked to and stood at the bus stop, they could quite comfortably manage exactly the same temperature inside the bus without feeling cold.

On top of that lots of bodies crammed together in a small space, all of which are, essentially at 37 degrees C means that there is a pretty large temperature differential between out and in anyway!

While I'm sure those in control of public transport think that it is logical to put heating on in winter it doesn't actually make and sense and just leads to a rather uncomfortable environment.

Sorry, rather petty rant there

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Sky's the Limit

While alot of the house is still no longer visible I do remember that there are quite a few phone and television points so of course I wanted to get the PVR and TV plugged in and running so as not to miss all that wonderful winter programming (or probably more entertaining would be the Christmas adverts).

But something was wrong. Couldn't seem to get a signal at all from the main connection. Hmmm, I thought about this for a while and then happened to be in the back garden where I could see wires tacked to the wall - I assumed these were for the satellite dish ... and some were, but others were for the TV sockets ... and they were just connected together, no aerial in sight! It seems this house is limited to receiving programming from Sky!

So I need to look into the options: there is obviously Sky which is ridiculously over-priced, there is now FreeSat which seems better in that you simply need a receiver (though I's need to replace my PVR and some channels aren't available), I could also get an aerial fitted and stick to FreeView. All of these require money and complexity that probably aren't justified given the amount of TV I watch.

There is one other possibility on the horizon and that is SeeSaw. From the news report in the Guardian it seems that project Kangaroo has been resurrected and this could, if it aims to have the same content, offer an alternative to watching programmes over-the-air. It may also have the knock-on affect of increasing competition and driving down the costs of the likes of Sky and could maybe even lead to interesting home entertainment systems in the future.

For now, I think I'll just have to stick to iPlayer or my collection of DVDs for viewing entertainment, until I can save up to implement an alternative plan after some extensive research into the available gadgetry.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Opinion or Ignorance

This has been covered by several blogs already but it was something I felt was pertinent to me and worth comment. There is on a post on Misha Safranski's blog concerning this topic: Should Transsexual People Teach in Public Schools? The poster is very much against this but does not seem to have documented any specific reasons except that she feels that exposing children to these issues isn't a good idea.

There is plenty of comments against this post (including one from me) and alot of to-ing and fro-ing of opinion as well as name-calling and general questioning of research, basis, reasons, etc. In short it has all the makings of a raging debate which achieves very little. I suspect that this is the blogger's aim on the whole.

What is concerning is that there are many people who would hold such discriminatory views. The reasons for such views essentially boil down to prejudice (either for some personal reason or because of upbringing, political or, most likely, religious beliefs*) or pure ignorance, though the latter usually has to be coupled with a degree of the former.

The term 'ignorant' is usually seen as a derogatory term and I believe in the comments the blogger's response was that she had read more about it and still held her view. I would maintain that reading about something can often still leave you as ignorant as you were before, even if you are reading unbiased literature.

In some ways I wish there was a magical way to make people like this experience what it is like to be trans, even if it is just for one day, so they can realise what it is like to be so unhappy with your own gender and everything that entails such as outward appearance, body, feelings, emotions, and your whole identity. I think only then would you have the right to give an opinion.

One very common misconception, which is mentioned or implied repeatedly on the comments on this post, is that transsexual people have a choice, that it's a lifestyle thing (the same opinion is applied to anyone who is homosexual). There is no choice. You are who and what you are are, no matter how much you try to fight it or attempt to conform to some ideal set by culture, or church or ignorant people. Trans people can spend a long time in denial before realising their true self and some may even die (either naturally or much worse, by suicide) without being able to transition.

A related misconception is that transness can be 'cured'. If you take hormones to become the gender you feel you are, the opposite hormones will make you 'normal' again. It simply doesn't work like that. Taking hormones will, hopefully, help your body change such that you feel happier with it, but no pill will make you a man or a woman, that is something that is built into your idea of self. And no, that doesn't make it a mental illness either with some possible treatment. Many trans people have gone through all sorts of things in search of a 'cure' and there simply isn't one, apart from being who and what you feel in you heart/soul/mind you are. That's the only way to be truly comfortable and happy.

A Place In My Heart

The title refers to a song by T'Pau which is pertinent to how I've been feeling recently given the move so far away from the place and people that I called home.

I heard something on Radio 4, can't remember the programme, but they were discussing break-ups and in particular adultery I think. They read out a letter from a man who had had an affair with his wife's friend with whom he is still in a relationship with. Obviously this resulted in his wife divorcing him and, I suspect, a rather hellish time for all concerned.

One thing this person wanted to point out though was that, while he is happy with his new partner, he still does feel the loss of his wife, home, family, and life. It's obviously very easy to see any situation as black and white, good and bad, but the reality is that things are rarely that clear-cut. You can't help feeling some emotion over any split and I don't think it really is just a simple matter of stopping caring about an ex-partner.

In some ways I do think that how things seem to have to be is not how anyone would really want them. I don't think losing someone from your life almost completely is what they would choose even if it is the only way to avoid being hurt. In the long-run I'm not sure that the practical option really feels like the right choice in the end. It is frankly horrible to have to lose a relationship and friendship so utterly, I wish things didn't have to be this way.

"I wish you all you could want for yourself,
May the road rise up to meet you as you go your way,
If you ever need a friend,
You just call me up and then, I will run to help you, come what may"

"... You see the love I had, it never went away.
It's such a shame when people change,
Someone has to pay"

Moving on up ...

Well, it's been a very hectic time recently, hence the lack of posts, and this weekend in particular has been so busy and frenetic that, while it would have been good to get my thoughts down, I simply haven't had a spare second.

It's meant to be a commonly accepted fact that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do but I think I have either been lucky or oblivious with the previous experiences so I suspect things caught up with me this time.

There was so much stuff to move and I think the trip I did this weekend was really just the bits and pieces that are possibly only a few steps away from junk. I don't know what it is, but I'm feeling the need to rid myself of all but things I consider essential. I got rid of a whole load of old computers and parts that I was simply never going to use. I'm seriously considering dumping all of my old university notes as well; yes there is some nostalgia there but I'm never going to refer to them every again so why keep them.

In fact keeping all this junk and having to move it was really getting to me. I think there are a few reasons for this, like the one above, but also I suspect that it reminds me too much of how I was; I use to hide behind all the gadgetry and fake nostalgia and geekiness and I don't want to be like that anymore. Yes, I am a geek/nerd, but I'm not that sad that I need to horde junk.

I also think the whole moving away and lack of familiar surroundings, proximity to family, and just general huge change in my life was also building up inside me. It really has been a massive impact and the emotion and confusion was totally unexpected. I was in tears twice over the weekend, snapped at Rachel, and was generally unhappy, unstable, and not myself at all. It was horrible really.

Having a house that is still full of unpacked boxes piled in the sitting room hasn't helped but this morning I've started to see some light at the end of the tunnel and I think we're both less stressed and feeling happier.

I guess this is a very rambling post but what I'm trying to convey is the fact that such a large upheaval in my life is something that, given who and what I am now, is something that was hard to cope with and it will take me a while to get back to feeling 'normal' and 100% happy.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Caramac!


Yum, Yum! ( Will write more later )

Thursday, 22 October 2009

First Week at Work


Well, things have been a bit hectic to put it mildly, hence the lack of blog posts. Also not had the chance yet to get any decent pictures in and around York, so apologies for the pretty bad one above.

That shot was actually taken while Rachel and I were out last Friday celebrating my first Week at work. And it was a very busy week aswell; down to London a few hours after starting at the new place in York, attended meetings (tried to keep up with everything that was being said) out in the evening for drinks and food with everyone, then more meetings before finally travelling back.

This week has been equally manic learning everything I can and trying to get up to speed. I am actually really enjoying myself, everyone is so nice, fun, clever and just fantastic to work with and the job I'm doing is fascinating and I am, hopefully, managing to learn lots of new things.

Still got lots to sort out in my life this and next week including hopefully moving house at the end of the month aswell as other personal stuff. So going to be mad busy for some time to come!

Friday, 9 October 2009

RAW processing on Linux

A technical post for a change (and the last entry for today as I've other things to be getting on with) and one that I hope will help others that may be struggling with the very same problem I faced.

I'd been using RawStudio on Ubuntu Linux for processing the RAW images from my Canon 350D camera. The results were fine and I didn't have any real problems, although I seemed to have to adjust the settings on almost every picture to get them to look right. I assumed that this was just down to what the camera captured and that having to tweak everything was just a natural thing to do.

I tried to use the same programme to handle images from Rachel's 500D camera and it got totally and utterly confused. The colours were completely off and while installing the latest daily snapshot did fix some of the issues it wasn't ideal. That said RawStudio is still a fantastic programme and it's very simple and easy to use.

Instead I found an application called RawTherapee which has proven to be much more successful and handles all the images flawlessly and, be default, appears to 'guess' the correct settings for all the images I've tried so far, both from the 350D and 500D cameras. The only criticism I have is that it's not as intuitive to use and is also complex in to deal with all of the available settings. However, all the available features means that it's incredibly powerful and I've already managed to 'rescue' some images because of it. For example there is a rotate feature which had meant some pictures that looked slightly wonky could be straightened very accurately and now look great.

To be completely fair, after a few sessions of use, I'm now getting use to the interface and I intend to use this for all the image processing from now on. I think I need to get my monitor calibrated at some point as well but that will have to wait until I can borrow something to achieve that (the tools are very expensive to buy apparently and the monitor I have - a Dell 2209WA (bought from Scan) - is meant to be fairly close to the right settings by default anyway.

Here's a screenshot of RawTherapee in action (in-expertly I should add, this is me using it here).

York

I've obviously been visiting York since that is where Rachel lives and is also the location of the new job. However, I've yet to actually get some pictures of the city, which is rather frustrating since my visits have seemed to coincide with fantastic weather. I should say though that I think the place is absolutely beautiful!

I was sat by the river yesterday, reading my book, and it was just so picturesque and magical that I was really tempted to rush back to the car to grab my camera. Once I move I'm determined to capture pictures of the city and surrounding areas of interest at every opportunity. For the time-being, here is a shot from Fountains Abbey which is a National Trust site not far from York itself.

Get over it

A friend of mine posted on her blog about been dazed and confused following the fact that her wife of many years has moved out of the family home. This was the arrangement they agreed on because of the tension caused by my friend's trans issues and was meant to be an occasion for relief, maybe even joy, at the freedom it bestowed. Instead my friend feels sad and lonely and the impact seems to have been nothing like she expected.

There is a very valuable lesson here: while logic and pragmatism may dictate changes in your life it is impossible to use any reasoning to prevent what you may feel. You can't walk away from a long term relationship without being upset about it, nor can you just turn off caring about someone who you loved and have many happy memories with.

I guess this is something that everyone learns in life sooner or later but it is worth bearing in mind in the case of those thinking of transitioning and the people around them. Someone's need to transition is compelling and may seem to exclude all other thoughts and feelings but that is not the case. Everyone concerned will go through so many emotions and, while there is nothing you can do to prepare for that, you can't dismiss it and claim that "it won't happen to me", it will.

Happy Girl

While I was driving back from York yesterday I was listening to one of the three 'happy songs' CDs that I have in the car - these are mixes of cheerful music that I made to keep me up-beat while on journeys that are long because of distance or delay (I have an equivalent play-list I use on my phone's mp3 player for cycling up big hills).

One of the tracks is Happy Girl by Martina McBride which is fantastic to sing along to and just make yourself feel happier and cheerier. The lyrics do actually apply well to me and it got me thinking that, with everything I have been through over the past few years, I am still very much a happy girl and in fact always have been. I think I've mentioned this on the blog before but it's worth pointing out again.

There are times when I do feel low and there are certainly posts on the blog which sound like I may be upset, angry, bitter, and depressed. My inarticulate writings may not be able to convey my feelings properly and it's quite possible that I come across as more negative, insecure or down-right insane than I actually am. The reality is that I am a positive person. I'm also approachable, open, friendly, and not in the least bit scary or indimidating. In short, I'm just a nice, happy, normal person.

This line of thinking brought me to the idea of stereotypes: I'm constantly surprised and intrigued recently by people who don't conform to my built-in set of expected behaviours from certain groups. I started to come to the conclusion that I shouldn't be basing my amazement at contradications to stereotypes but instead should approach everyone who is interesting from an individual perspective. This seemed akin to the view of "Wen the Eternally Surprised" who is a character in the Terry Pratchett book Thief of Time.

For example, I passed a large, elegant car (something from maybe the 70s that gently suggested 'classic automobile' and hinted that the owner had this from new and had looked after it well) on the motorway driven by an aged, white-haired Indian gentleman, wearing I suit or similar smart attire, and also occupied by several elderly ladies who appeared to be knitting and gossiping. Obviously the contrasts in terms of culture and skin colour, all based on stereotypes, were striking but I think just as individuals all the occupants of that car, and the vehicle itself would be amazingly interesting in their own right.

It also made me consider that the stereotypes concerning transgendered people may also be the background against which those who have not personally encountered anyone of this nature before view my comments. I'm not sure what the general view may be, I'm obviously biased, but certainly for the available documentaries and news stories of 'ordinary' transexuals we could certainly be perceived as complex, pushy, emotional, sensitive, obsessive, glamourous (I wish!), unstable even. I think almost any group portrayed on TV actually comes across like this, which says more about that medium than about the people being viewed through it!

Being trans myself I take a different perspective which I think is the one that, after the initial coverage of the gender stuff, is more amazing: it's everything else about someone that makes them truly interesting. I certainly use to enjoy the friendly curiosity of others concerning my trans nature, it made me feel special in some way, but now I realise that that attention is fleeting and also there are things about me just as there are about others that are much more worthy of discussion.

There are many examples of the other interesting aspects in peoples lives I have friends who, as well as being trans also; have a model railway shop, can sing and play guitar (and publish videos of themselves doing this - they would say they aren't that good, I just think they are brave and that alone is amazing), work as escorts (this may tend to a bad stereotype of trans people but it's nevertheless interesting), have a job as a welder, are financial experts, run restaurants, work in IT ... actually that last one is generally accepted as quite common lol!

The point is, we are all normal human beings, not extreme in any real sense, friendly, approachable, and fascinating ... just like almost everyone else you are likely to meet in the world. So, lets all try and throw away our stereotypes and see that we are all individuals ("Yes, we are all individuals!" ... "I'm not"), and all amazing, intriguing, and fascinating in our own right. There is so much to learn and experience out there, lets concentrate on that.

Botany Bay

With all the excitement about the new job and general manic week of packing and sorting things out, I've not got round to posting pictures from the weekend. There was a night out on Canal St to meet up with friends I've not seen in a long time (including Lucy and her girlfriend H) followed by a trip to Botany Bay to take photographs - it was the closest place that I could think of that had the kind of backgrounds that we wanted.

While writing this I was hoping to find some explanation of why this visitor attraction attraction near Chorley is named after a a bay in New South Wales but there doesn't appear to be anything in the 'about us' section. Oh well, more research.

Anyway, here are just a few of the shots that we got:

Rachel looking very fab and sexy here! I'm taking credit for the boots and skirt though as they are mine - rather annoyingly she looks MUCH better in them than I do!

One problem with dating someone who is good at photography is that the images are very clear, focused, sharp and show every imperfection and blemish! Expect there to be less photos of me in future lol! However, I need to take more photos like this one (on Rachel's 500D camera):


And one final one against a huge pile of rubble. It is quite strange that, while hunting for locations for photographs that it's possible to get excited about such bizarre things: "Wow, a huge pile of rubble ... lets take a picture!". I think I'm picking that up from Rachel and trying to think of my own ideas for what would make an interesting scene. I suspect that the only way to really get good is to learn from all the fantastic photographers out there and practice, practice, practice.

Monday, 5 October 2009

I spoke too soon ....

I HAVE A JOB!

OMG!

I can't believe it, I am so unbelievably happy, emotional, .... just crying with joy and emotion (damn hormones!).

WOW!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Beginning to wonder ...

... whether my naive view that people would consider me on my skills and experience rather than the fact that I'm transgendered and look like some weird, ugly, freak, was just too optimistic.

I've had several rejections after face-to-face interviews now and, while there was only one incident where someone clearly could not hide their shock at seeing me, the lack of any feedback at all, or fairly lack-lustre reasoning, is making me think that I'm at a disadvantage because of my appearance and gender (well the trans nature of it).

While I can understand that companies are sifting through lots of CVs and conducting many interviews, I do think it is extremely rude and unhelpful to not provide any feedback at all, particularly as, in my case, I have travelled a great distance to get to some of the locations (and done it several times). I personally would obviously benefit a great deal from feedback as it has been a long time since I interviewed and my situation then was alot different.

As I said, I do recognise that the bad manners approach of not providing feedback, or even giving someone a definitive "no" and simple reason why they haven't been successful, is something that seems to apply in alot of cases, but I really can't help thinking that there may be that extra reason for me; "Frankly we think you're a weirdo and you'd upset/confuse/frighten too many people here so we don't want to hire you". Sounds extreme but given the number of looks I get from the general populace it's hardly an unsurprising view to suspect.

I'm not asking for special treatment or any amount of positive discrimination here, I'm very much against that as it's simply patronising and self-defeating. But some consideration for what I've gone through over the past few years would be appreciated, as well as allowances made for that fact that my self-confidence has taken a hammering would also be most helpful.

Being trans does not affect my ability to do my job, in some ways quite the contrary. However, I'm beginning to suspect that it does quite significantly affect my ability to get a job in the first place.

[ Update: Two points to make here. The comments above in no way apply to my current employer, and I should also state that one of the companies that I was indirectly criticising were not being rude but simply slow, they have actually returned with feedback. One final point as well; I don't name companies I've had dealings with here, that would be unfair, and I certainly don't publish who I work for! Also see the disclaimer at the top - my opinions here remember ]

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Inspiration

Well I guess the thing that inspires me most at the moment is Rachel!

That was a rather obvious statement and a rather cheesy prelude to what is a shameful plug; Rachel and the rest of the team, notably Jo and many contributors, have put together the alpha version of the webzine that will form part of Random Acts family of sites.

So, please do have a look at http://www.i-zine.biz to see the start of something fab!

Also Rachel did another photoshoot on Sunday and the pictures from that are available from the DeviantART site under the Tigg-Stock user. The new photos are the ones labelled "Urban Mystique" and "Court Mystique". Here are two of my favorite ones:


Urban mystique 8 by *Tigg-stock on deviantART


Court mystique stock 16 by *Tigg-stock on deviantART

Friday, 25 September 2009

The Elephant in the room

I'm not entirely sure where I heard this phrase first or who it was that mentioned it but I know it was in the context of a transgender discussion and I suspect it is something that is referred to quite alot.

Over the past few weeks I've had cause to contemplate this phrase numerous times when I consider the number of interactions I've had with people where there could indeed be alot of things that go unsaid or unasked. In some ways it's good that these things have remained that way, there should be no need to refer to me being trans since it has no real affect on my skills, intelligence, abilities, etc. Then again there is the nagging feeling that by trying to ignore such a big issue only makes others more uncomfortable.

My approach before has generally to try and be open and honest and maybe even go completely over-the-top by enthusiastically pointing out the elephant and describing it in, sometimes excrutiating, detail. Now I don't feel that need to do that nor do I want to be that explicit about intimate information about myself with people on a face-to-face basis (this blog is fine, I'm sure most people have got bored of reading it now lol).

So I guess that I'm going to have to learn to live with this large elephant in the room for a while because I think that is the best approach now, I know if I do point it out both of us are going to feel embarassed and in some ways just knowing that I have my large, grey, friend with me gives me some comfort and strength. I think I do still need to put people at their ease as well so I propose to get a little friend for my elephant:

which will hopefully make everyone smile at the three of us.

P.S. Suggestions of *original* names for this, and his larger friend would be very much appreciated. Obvious aliterations are to be avoided!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Think of the Children

The recent stories of the young transgendered children have received a fair amount of coverage in the press and in the blogsphere so I won't go into a huge amount of depth on the details as they are so widely available (though I guess of dubious accuracy). There are a few points I would like to make from my own perspective.

First of all, while it's possible the schools concerned had little notice about these pupils, if the reports are true regarding how they handled things then they really do need to have a rapid re-think of their approach. You can't simply ban the other kids from being mean and nasty and hope that works, it simply won't - I was bullied at school (not directly trans-related in my case) and I doubt such directions would have stopped the imbeciles involved from picking on me.

Even worse such an approach sends the wrong message to those slightly more thoughtful and compassionate children (and parents) who would benefit from having a little more explanation and information so they can begin to understand and maybe even support what these kids are going through. The 'newspaper' (I use the term loosely) articles did nothing to redress the balance either, taking the sensationalist angle rather than doing some decent research and attempting to educate the masses in the ways of understanding and tolerance.

Which brings me to the supposed reactions from the parents of other children at the schools concerned. These seem to have been largely expressed as shock and the underlying concern that their own kids may make similar choices. As we all know transgenderism is extremely contagious and can be passed on to others so make sure you keep well away from these children in case you catch anything! Sound silly? I would bet the idea has crossed the minds of some of the parents.

If you can't consider the trauma that these children have gone through, and are going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives, and you can't appreciate their suffering and feelings as human beings then you're a pretty pathetic individual yourself. Just because you may think of someone as 'weird' or 'not normal' does not mean that aren't human and are devoid of feelings, quite the contrary, they probably have an over-abundance of the latter.

If derogatory labels are the best you can come up with then it's maybe you that has the problem not them. For once I would agree with the mantra "think of the children"; don't persecute people so young and certainly don't teach your own offspring such intolerance and bigotry.

Deviant

Thankfully this is Deviant as in the site DeviantART which I've wandered across before but really got to use a bit more since going out with Rachel as it's where a vast number of the photographs by and of her are.

For those that don't know, the site is for sharing art works and is, for basic service, entirely free and you can upload an unlimited number of items at the present time though of course it's only one at a time and no bulk submit unless you pay which seems fair enough. However, even the basic service seems much better than that provided by Flickr or Picassa.

So far I've only got a few of the shots from London, and these are available at: http://fionasboots.deviantart.com/

It has occurred to me that I have a rather public online presence, what with this blog, pictures on sites like DeviantART, LinkedIN, FaceBook (though that is partially restrited in what can be seen/read). I'm not entirely sure whether this is good or bad or if it really matters much at all. I do feel that be being open and honest seems a better approach than trying to hide away or be secretive about my life. I think this is something to mention further with the recent spate of stories in the news about transsexualism and children, worth covering in a seperate post.

Friday, 18 September 2009

... And they sit outside at ...


Greenwich tearoom actually! Just had a lovely meal of warm goat's cheese salad, glass of white wine and chocolate fudge cake ( have picture, will try and upload later).

Greenwich is lovely and glowing in this gorgeous sunny weather. I've been doing the whole tourist thing today and have taken lots of pictures.

Apart from the amazing locations the trip here was fab, took the clipper and giggled with glee when it accelerated away. I wish I could capture the sense of speed and power either with a photo or a suitable description. All I can say is that I loved it!

More exploring follows this afternoon and I have to say I am really falling for this city, contrary to my previous opinions years ago, it would be a dream come true to work, live, and explore here.

Magical place


Now, if I had been more organised there would be a fantastic picture of Canary Wharf at night to illustrate this blog post (update: I've added it now!). I did take some pictures and I might be lucky and have got some good ones (Rachel would definitely have done a good job and I wish she had have been here) but what I don't have is the cable to transfer them from camera to computer! D'OH! Will update this when I do!

As you may have guessed, I was down in London (again), for another interview and this time I decided to make the most of the trip and stay the night so as not to have to rush back and also to enjoy a day out afterwards.

The interviewing started at around 5:30pm and I didn't get out until going on 8pm, by which time it was already dark and everything was lit up and looked just amazing (I was searching for a suitable simile but none came to me). I stood in one of the squares and just looked around at all the lights and really was quite taken with it. I know by day is maybe doesn't look as attractive (particularly when working away busily in one of the offices), but really, at night you should stop and just look at how magical it looks.

I actually ended up standing there for about an hour talking on the phone to friends about how the interview had gone and telling them all how wonderful it looked here and what a dream come true it would be to actually manage to get a job here (in case you are curious, the interview seemed to go okay and I certainly tried my best so can only wait and see now).

I finally got back to the hotel, did a quick change out of the interview suit and into comfy trainers and set off armed with camera and tripod for a walk. I hope the pictures I took do look good when finally processed, they seem okay from the viewing of them on the tiny screen on the camera but I know that can be misleading. There are one or two that will, if processed correctly look fantastic I think (hope).

I actually lost track of time and spent about 2hrs wandering around and snapping and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I did get stopped twice, first but a guy in a suit who warned me that I might need permission to take pictures and the second time by a policeman who said that using a tripod required a permit "because they think you are a professional". I explained that I was far from professional and he, very kindly, said "I haven't seen you".

[ I'm going to look into this issue, I've read and been told before that standing on public highways/paths means you can take any pictures you like and no-one can stop you. The permit for a tripod thing kind of makes sense but really seems unenforceable, particularly with the number of tourists from far flung countries, laden with high tech camera equipment. ]

I finally started to head back around 11:30pm and felt a bit hungry and in need of, I'm ashamed to admit, a McDonalds. This was probably helped by the large subliminal message on the place stating that it was open until 2am. However, what I hadn't absorbed from this subtle signage was that it was the drive through open until that point. I kind of wondered what to do when I saw a guy walk up to the drive-through and place his order. So I did the same. It was a very surreal experience queuing with a few cars to collect our food!

Overall a very fun, and hopefully productive day. Looking outside now the weather seems fantastic so I'm hoping to have a nice day exploring bits of London and maybe getting some nice pictures. Again, would be better if Rachel was here for many reasons.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Minor operation

My son had to go into hospital today for a relatively minor operation on his thumb and wrist, nothing serious (was under general anaesthetic though) but obviously still something I wanted to be present for and thankfully B agreed to that.

I should first say that my son was, from my point of view, extremely brave. I personally have a terrible fear of hospitals and the thought of needles, being put under anaesthetic and even the procedures themselves really fill me with dread. But I don't have any frame of reference on which to base this fear, I've only ever had one operation and that was to remove a mole, which was probably on the same scale as having a tooth out but much less painful and uncomfortable!

My son does have some memories of the last time he was in hospital when he was 4 years old and had scalded skin syndrome which was, in itself, very uncomfortable and painful for him and wasn't helped by the difficulty that they had in getting a cannula in him to administer the antibiotics. I was in hospital for several days and it was pretty traumatic for B and myself and I guess left a lasting impression on him too.

Anyway, he was amazingly brave in the face of all of this and the operation went well and he was in recovery in less than an hour. He was a little tearful and B lay with him on the trolley, but at one point he did reach out to me and gave me a big hug and that was one of the most moving things ever - just to feel that he really wanted me there for that moment brought tears to my eyes.

This is the longest time that B and I have spent together since splitting up last year, and I know that seeing me and having me around wasn't easy. I did thank her for allowing me to be there, though I'm not sure I can put into words how grateful I am.