Friday, November 17, 2017

Asking for it


It's a late post from me this week. I've no excuses, dramatic tales of daring do, nor special reasons why. Well, none apart from there's not much I have to say. Perhaps an odd thing to say given how many weekly episodes I've bashed out at this, and other, keyboards over the years. That and all the nonsense that's going on in the news.....

Actually, a brief interruption: a message to certain people. Those who think it's okay to touch people up, or say lewd things to strangers, friends, or colleagues. It's not okay. It really isn't. Just stop. Don't abuse your trust.

I may be a bit late to the party with MeToo, and the event was minor, but I it left a memory. Years back when I'd gone to a trans group - not Chameleons - I was chatting to another visitor. She said something about me having slim ankles (this was: 1. some time ago, and/or 2. their eyesight was poor :-) ). Before I could say anything, they reached down, ran their hand down my shin and grasped my foot.

I was - as I started this post - lost for words initially. I was frozen not quite knowing what to do or say, when I heard my Angry Bloke Voice kick in: "Stop that," it growled. What happened next, I'm not sure. Either they went away, or I did. It's not a something that has been repeated (thankfully). Maybe I'm wary of folk like that (hello, danger sense), or perhaps I'm lucky that folk like that don't come to our group.

Thing is, a touch on the arm from a friend or colleague; that's okay. I've hugged and been hugged at Chams, and that's cool. But the other thing... No. That was very much not alright, and I wonder, what did go through that man's head (warning: deliberate misgendering! :-P ) when he thought that grasp was okay? Maybe he didn't think. Maybe that's the problem. :-\

But on to other things. As a change, I'm going to ask you something, dear reader. There's form to get in touch and if there's a question you'd like to ask; please do and I'll do my best to answer it.

BTW, questions that are not overly personal and/or filthy will stand a better chance of being answered. :-D

No, you don't need to put your real name and no, you don't have to put an email address in. It's as anonymous as you want to make it.

I'll update this post if and when any questions come in.

Take care,

Jen: How did you first sit down and have a serious conversation with your wife about your dressing?

Thanks for the question Jen. Hmm. Probably at least three times, and at various points in our relationship. The first time was when we'd been together a few weeks (early 90s), and I said dressing up is something I used to do. This was true at the time. I'd chucked everything in my one and only purge, and stopped shaving my legs too. Clearly, I thought it was just a phase and with enough willpower, I could go straight. You can see how well this has worked out for me ;-)

The next time was in the late 90s, as I'd been dressing up on and off. I'd kept it secret because I felt I could keep it from the Every Lovely Mrs J, and therefore not upset here. However, the secrecy and the lying - because I was hiding what I was doing - ate at me. I could either bottle it all up and live with the guilt, or I could be open and honest, but also risk what we had, and upset her. Not exactly the easiest choice. In the end, I sort of came out a second time, and understandably, the Ever Lovely Mrs J was very upset. Not because of what I was doing, but because I'd hidden it from her. I get that, I think, and I think that while it's better to be as honest as you can with your partner, I understand why some of our number don't come out. Again, it's complicated.

The third and last time was a year or so after Wee Man was born in the early 2000s. I'd been grabbing time here and there to be all of me, so to speak. I don't know if was a case of little time, or wanting to belong that made me want to go to Chameleons. We had a chat about it and while Mrs J wasn't 100% about it, she said yes. The reason for her hesitation was a worry about my safety. Was I putting myself at risk by being outside? We had a long chat about who ran Chameleons (hello Sandy & Tracey!), what went on, where the venue was, and how I'd get there.

I very much doubt that I'd be in the position I am now without the help and love of Mrs J. Much as I sometimes bump against our agreement (furry legs, keep it out of sight, no daytime outings, etc), the fact that she loves all of who I am, and that we can laugh and share things about me being trans; well, there isn't a figure you can put on that.

Pandora: How long did it take you to find and/or settle into your style?

And did you go through the awkward "dressing much to young for your age" phase?

Ooo, two good questions. Gah, I'm really having to think now! :-D

I think I found the office look easy to settle into. Perhaps because some of it is quite tame in terms of colours and patterns, so - dare I say? - not too easy to get wrong. That's not to say I didn't make plenty of mistakes along the way. I think I have an idea of what works for me in terms of cut when it comes to dresses, tops, skirts, trousers, etc. Likewise, with hair, that took me a while to get the hang of, and I'm still learning now. It's taken me a while to get the confidence to wear a pattern, or mix/match colours. Plus the jeans and pretty top thing took some experimentation/research too. All that said, I think I'm happy with my choices, and have been for the last four, maybe five, years.

As to your second question, I am really conscious of the too young for your age thing. Equally, does anyone want to look frumpy? It's a tricky line to walk, I think. I clearly remember that line of If you are old enough to remember it the first time, don't wear it now it's back in. :-) That said, I've worn biker boots, leggings, and denim shorts. Being tall, I'm conscious that tights + dress don't always work, if the hem is too high. I guess with my height, some dresses are more tunic style, and I dress with that in mind. Lessons learned eh?

I still have a red body-con velvet dress that I sometimes wear near Xmas. There's that and a sequin miniskirt - again, Xmas wear - that makes me think about my age, and can I still work it? So far, I've not run from them, so either I'm in denial (ain't just a river in Egypt :-) ), or there's life in the old gal yet :-D I might shop in Dorothy Perkins and Joe Browns, but I steer clear of TopShop or New Look (except for shoes).

Friday, November 10, 2017

The other T word: Transgression


I've deliberated about posting this today, but I think I'm just going to have to dive in, and give it a spin. Without any fanfare or fuss, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I had a bit of an argument last night. Now, I'm not going to go into the who's right and who's wrong. Firstly, as I'm writing this, it's going to be biased. Secondly, it would be somewhat tedious.... Possibly more so than a regular post :-) But hey, moving on.

So, yes, I made a mess of things before I went out, and yes, I did upset the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Yes, I did feel bloody awful about it, and yes, I did apologise profusely. Not because it's the British thing to do, but because I was wrong. Maybe if I'd listened or asked before popping upstairs for a shave, things wouldn't have headed south. But, hey, 20/20 hindsight eh? It's a wonderful thing.

Now, I don't like quarrelling with Mrs J because it points out something's gone wrong. Usually, by me I should add, but let's not go too far into my blunders and transgressions (hint: that's not a trans word :-) ). But, they, arguments, are, as we said to the children, necessary. If you don't clear the air when needs be, well, then things can either build up or drive a person to seething resentment. The classic joke that we see in ourselves: 'No, it's fine. Really." Obviously, it's about as far from Fine as someone on a rocket headed out as they're late for their tea. :-)

There's a phrase I've used on YATGB a few times: It's all fine, until it isn't. It seems that life has pointed out that this isn't just true of being trans, it's also true for our partners, and/or family.

So, without a blow by blow he said/she said script, the crux of it is this. I get caught up in my Leave Early routine on two days of the month: second and fourth Thursday. I do want to be out by 630 so I can swing by a collect Wee Man from his weekly visit to a mate's house. I'm usually dropping Wee Man by 645 to 7 subject to traffic.

I appreciate I'm probably talking to a trans audience, so you may already get the requirement to be out. Not a case of popping to the pub, visiting a mate, or off to some hobby. No, it's out, so I can be dressed. This is the catch: for two days a month, there are rare times when the Ever Lovely Mrs J turns down a social invitation because it clashes with one of my Thursday nights out. I get that that can be annoying.

Then, looking at it from the other side; there are only two nights out to Chameleons a month. Two times in which I can be all of me. There are times when it's not enough, but I bottle it up, and engage in some coping mechanism (YouTube make-over videos, gaming, baking, etc) until there's time when I can. I know that when I miss a meeting, it upsets me and I get cranky. I try to not let it get to me when we're on holiday, because holidays are fun right? But switching off the trans-ness? Well, there isn't an off button, and I've yet to find a blue pill that hauls me up and out of the rabbit hole. :-)

So, what's to do? Not much but put it behind me and not mess things up. I think I am over the guilt of being what I am, but I don't dismiss the guilt I have over sometimes having to put myself first. Yes, I know I've written about 'put your own oxygen mask on first', but that doesn't make it any easier. Perhaps I'd do well to listen to the advice I sometimes give others when asked, but clearly, I ain't that clever. :-)

Chams itself was reasonably busy, and we had some great discussions about labels or the differences Jacob has spotted in changing into a man. Yeah, sexism is alive and well, just in case you've not seen any of the headlines for the last ten years. :-) I did talk about how the argument had made me feel bad, and some of the others were kind enough to share their experiences. That helped. Not from a vindication point of view, but more to know that it's something others have experienced and that sometimes, the juggling act between family life / trans expression is really tough on both parties.

Ann, one of our new members asked why the group wasn't better advertised. We - Val, Diane, Jacob, me, and Diane, all chipped into this. The quick answer is that it's tricky. Tricky in that while we want trans folk to know about Chameleons, we don't want any trouble from yobs or protestors. For that reason, Chameleons is in the self-help guides, registered with a few charities, support organisations, or what-have-you. We've had two invitations to talk about our good work (their words, not mine) from the local paper and radio station. But... each time we've kindly refused. It's down to risk and privacy. The risk from dodgy folk turning up (no, the wrong type of dodgy, not us trans types :-) ). That or the danger of being too high profile and members being accidentally outed. So yeah, we're a relatively well-kept secret.

Ann asked how can we expect to become more accepted if we stay hidden. A fair question, and again, there's that double-edged sword. On the one hand, by staying hidden, we don't risk being outed, or trouble (verbal, social, violence, etc), but by being hidden, we don't exactly advance the cause - if you can call it that - in helping (non-trans) people understand that we're not weird. Well, okay, a bit weird, but the right type of weird. Maybe if we were minted we could be classed as eccentric. But, for a lot of us, it's not just us who's deciding. If we decide to be out, we're out and our family and friends are drawn into it. Like I said, it's tricky. :-)

Ah, deep sigh and let it go. :-) From a positive point of view, T-Central were kind enough to feature another post of mine (thanks Calie!). That put a spring in my step.

Nails on. Nails off.
Thinking about Chams, I was happy with my outfit choice, and doubly so with my eye make-up too. I tried using an eyeshadow kit I'd not used for a while, so it was a look I'd not seen for a while. Perhaps it's better to mix things up a little more? 

I also tried some pre-glued nails, and they were both easy on/easy off. Certainly a lot less of a faff on keeping my own nails long (I broke one picking up the shopping), and there was no tell-tale residue that needed to be cleaned off. Maybe it's time to invest :-)

At the end of the night, there was time for a few snaps to capture the moment. The trans-guys asked again about sorting out photos for the group, so that's something on my do list for later in the year. Talking about the year, I've now sorted out next year's meeting dates, so the action log shrinks a bit each time.

As I got changed and said to Val, "I just feel so comfortable like this.". I've worn this outfit out & about, and it just feels, well, very me, I guess. Maybe it's those moments where it is okay, and you feel alright about yourself that make it worthwhile.

It may be tough every now and again, but I can't think of any other way I'd rather be.

Take care,