Monday, 30 November 2009


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: (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


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.


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.