All posts by Chrissy_bea

About Chrissy_bea

Hi, I'm Chrissy. I'm 32 years old, transitioning for the last 18 months or so. I'm a transgender woman who's steadily working things out and rebuilding my life, now with my beautiful girlfriend Rebecca, who's sharing my journey and life with me as we become the women we are.

A Change Of Pace

*Looks around suspiciously and leans in* I’m going to whisper this, but I might have found a job I feel comfortable doing this past week. Basically I’ve taken on a job at a warehouse for an international company, picking items for customer orders. I won’t say who for because I’m wary of doing such things online but after my first week I’m feeling pretty good, especially after the disaster that my last job turned out to be.

Seems a bit daft on the surface anyway. I’d spent the past four years in care roles and spent two of them gaining two NVQ’s and was lined up to start working towards a Care Certificate. Sounds a bit like a career really. The thing is I enjoy helping people, but I’m really not coping with a few things that came with the work.

Since transitioning I’ve gotten better at finding out what my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m also more aware of how things can stress me out, cause anxiety and so on. Basically I’ve figured out I need things to be predictable and fairly structured work wise to cut put a lot of stress and anxiety. This is something that has been in short supply at my various care roles, spanning from things like shifts being varied, the expectation that we can drop everything and have practically no life because of work demands and the work itself can be unpredictable because of client needs. The biggest thing of all is I’ve realised I really can’t deal too well with challenging behaviour, especially when things become violent. Even before transitioning I struggled with this aspect but nowadays, I can’t handle it. I get so stressed and anxious about this it was damaging my mental health.

My last job was all of the worst things in microcosm. My last job I was lied to at interview, in regards to hours per week and shifts, which has really pissed me off because I had three different jobs to choose from and I made a choice based on what was said at interview.I wouldn’t have picked a job that had 42 hours and 12 hours shifts if they said that at the time.

On my third shift I was physically attacked by one of the residents. I nearly walked that day and it was only because of my team leader trying to convince me to stick around for training that I didn’t. The following week I did training, including two days of learning how to deal with physical incidents and restraint techniques and really didn’t feel good about it. The following shift I saw some of the damage the resident who had attacked me had done while I was off and that finished things. If they could do what I had seen them do then I knew there was zero chance I was going to get close enough to them to try and do what I had been taught. I don’t have the physical capability to do so and frankly I don’t want to be put in such a position. I phoned in sick for my next two shifts because I was non functional because of my anxiety and the following day I quit. My then manager trying to guilt trip me on the phone with “But we said at interview you’d be dealing with people with challenging  behaviour” was ironic really. As Rebecca will tell you, I got so anxious about that job and having to make that phone call I almost snapped my glasses as I had them in my hands at the time.

My new job I have fixed shifts, predictable hours and a predictable job. I also get home early enough to have a couple of hours of evening to play with instead of coming home and needing to go right to bed, and can get up at a reasonable hour too. It’s also close enough for me to not need to worry about public transport. It’s 40 minutes on foot or 15 now I have a fold up bike, which I got because it’s a near flat road there and back. I’m pleasantly surprised how well my legs have held up considering it’s a more physical job and I’m on my feet most of the day.

I seem to have picked things up pretty quick too. I can find my way around with ease and work out where I need to get to next efficiently. I’m also pretty quick at finding what I need to get as well. Basically it’s all recognising patterns and memorising inane things, linked to navigation, things I’ve always had a knack for. My instructor was impressed enough with how quickly I’d picked up the store layout to call me a genius, which made me blush. It’s also nice I’m mainly left alone to quietly get on with things. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m doing something that is a millionth of the stress I had doing care work and I’m getting similar money for it. oh, and I’m going to improve upon my fairly lacklustre level of fitness, which will be good for other things.

It’s a nice work atmosphere as well, quite a strong team culture, we’re encouraged to contribute to the safety meetings we have each day, any ideas we have and the people there seem to be fairly happy and relaxed from what I’ve seen. It’s a nice change of pace.

Looking forward it looks like there’s plenty of opportunities to make this thing permanent as I’m presently working through an agency, so long as I’m hitting targets, my attendance and attitude are good and there’s several other roles to learn too, in time. Here’s hoping it’s not another false dawn.

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Yep, I’m back on two wheels again 🙂

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Trans Pride 2017

Well Trans Pride is over and done for another year and I’m at home and in bed writing this even though it’s only 8pm. I’m that tired, so tired I can’t concentrate and then spent most of the next day feeling rather ill.

The past few days have taken a lot out of me, more than I thought for a number of reasons. On the physical side of things my phone recorded 30k of walking spread over four days. Factor in the fact I went to Brighton a week after smashing my toe at home and then picking up a massive blister on the first night I’m quite surprised I managed to hobble and curse my way along such a distance.

Mentally I’m feeling very frazzled. Social events have that effect on me anyway but this year it’s been pretty brutal at times. I overdid things on Friday, had a meltdown on Saturday and spent a fair bit of Sunday in an unfocused haze. I’m starting to realise how neurodivergent I am and becoming more aware of how it impacts on a lot of things. As a kid I was diagnosed with ADHD and I know I have a number of sensory issues, such as being very sensitive to loud noises and bright light. I really need to sort out my glasses instead of having to choose being able to see clearly or being blinded by strong sunlight.

For instance Friday night we went to the Trans Pride Film Event. A series of short films by a number of different independent groups revolving around different aspects of gender identity and how they play out. The films themselves were interesting, but for accessibility all of the films had closed captions. This was brilliant as I was able to read what was being said instead of listening, or tying to listen to the films while trying to tune out about a million different and distracting noises. It also meant if there was a particular noise that was bothering me, I could block it out. Case in point, a droning sound in the first film resulted in me covering my ears until it had gone away. With the closed captions I could still follow the narrative while this was going on. I’m also realising if I am having to block sounds out by covering my ears when out and about no-one pays any heed, which is nice.

Thursday night was pretty good, Rebecca and I had made plans to meet up with our friend the lovely Kate and go for dinner out somewhere, which we did after we checked into the hotel and chilled out for a couple of hours. We were later joined by Lisa and had a good catch up over a couple of drinks. I think Rebecca actually got a bit drunk that night. The only downside was my feet acting up. My shoes weren’t comfortable and I later found I had a huge blister on my right foot on top of the bad toe that had been playing up. I walked back in my socks, which was another poor idea as walking for half an hour with no support on my arches meant I was almost in tears by the time we got back. It also resulted in me buying an emergency set of trainers while out and about on Friday.

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A lovely evening out with Kate (Far left) and Lisa (Far right)

Friday was a long old day, a bit too long looking back on it. We had a wander round the shops, lunch out and a trip to the Brighton and Hove art gallery afterwards. The gallery was interesting on a couple of fronts. For one they had a big Constable exhibition on display, secondly they had the museum of Transology, which had an effect on me. Basically it was a museum of curios donated by various trans people that symbolised their journeys and I can see myself writing a blog about something based on this in the near future. I do hope the exhibition finds a permanent home because it deserves one. Transgender history is rather fragmented thanks to a lot of stuff being destroyed and also serves to shoe people that we are not a recent trend but an integral part of society for as long as there has been a society to speak of. For anyone interested, go look at http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton/exhibitions-displays/the-museum-of-transology/

The aforementioned cinema event followed in the evening and by then to be honest I was struggling, having been out all day and not really had a break or somewhere especially quiet to unwind. The films were fantastic, two in particular stuck with me though. One called Skeleton in a Beret was about a couple of people who used gaming to explore their gender identity, an avenue I’m familiar with in my own way. The other (Mum) was about a family, the mother was suffering from a long term illness, one of her adult children was trans and had transitioned and family relations were somewhat strained. It brought back memories, lets just say that. Again, link below for anyone wanting more information on things http://www.eyeswideopencinema.co.uk/blog/2017/7/11/trans-pride-2017-programme

Saturday was the protest march through Brighton, though not before Rebecca and I raided a couple of comic shops we saw the previous evening and got some goodies. The march itself was as expected, a lot of noise and visibility along with a lot of walking before getting to Brunswick park and having a wee chat with various people we know on Twitter. Then the rain came, then my mood crashed. It was cold, wet, my foot was in a lot of pain by then and we retreated to a pub where some friends were staying for a while before we got a bus back to the hotel. Next year I need to actually plan stuff rather than try and drift along and see what happens. I just feel very unfocused and isolated that way. Tears were shed and pizza was consumed.

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Getting ready for the Protest March, before the weather closed in

Sunday was another day out and about with Kate, coffee, lunch and shopping as well as a good chat about a couple of serious things going on. I hope she’s ok now. Again, after a couple of hours out and about I was flagging and needing peace and quiet and looking a bit ill too (which fits given how bad I’ve felt today, Tuesday). Eventually we picked up a small wardrobe of spare clothes Kate was giving away and returned to then hotel. That just left Monday and a quiet trip back home after having spent Sunday evening mostly talking to Rebecca through Twitter as I was trying to get my head and some thoughts in order while having a non verbal spell.

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More fun and adventures with my Rebecca and the lovely Kate

The main theme behind this long Twitter chain I was typing out was a theme of feeling a bit adrift and lost, which seems ironic being in Brighton of all places. It was here two years ago a lot of things transition wise swam into focus and I got into gear. I went full time soon after and haven’t looked back. I made some great friends who I was happy to see even if it was all too briefly at times for various reasons this time. Two years down the line I’m at a stage of transition where I’m ready to move forward and sort surgery out, but still waiting for the system. I’m also still waiting to get up and going with my new job, which as it turns out I shall be starting next week, but that’s not all.

Putting things into an understandable concept is hard for me at times. With what’s going on in my head I likened to seeing a load of threads on the ground. Are they mine? Do I pick them up? Throw them away? Leave them alone? Some things I’m sure of, like my gender identity, being madly in love with Rebecca and my gothy/witchy leanings. A lot of other things I’m less sure of and there’s a couple of things I am frankly terrified of picking up and looking at because of past experiences. I suppose I’ll figure it all out in time but right now it’s only adding to this sense of feeling adrift right now.

In the end we came home Monday and to be honest, I was looking forward to going home. I’ve not felt like that when away somewhere for a long while. A few times Rebecca and I have asked if we would go back to Brighton next year. To that I will say yes, but next year I’ll have to do a few things different. First off, next year I need to stay somewhere in town, nearer to events. Being half hour walk away from the hotel messed me up. I needed the room to be close by so I could easily duck in for an hour or so and reset up head when being out and about got a bit much. I stupidly chose our hotel based on the fact parking wouldn’t be a financially crippling issue that it was last year. The logical thing would have been to book in town and taken the train down, like a lot of people do. It would have made it easier to plan things with friends, being nearby. Next year I need to plan going out better. The days where we had planned to meet someone and do stuff worked a lot better than just winging it and hoping.

I also need to do other, smaller things as well. For one, remembering to pack a couple of extension leads in case the power points are miles away from the bed. Packing more shoes better suited for walking around and finally, if I get new clothes, try them before packing them and taking them with me. I had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction in Brighton. Namely I put on a new top and realised it was pretty well see through.

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Emergency trainers

On the plus side, I spent a whole day out in leggings and another day out in shorts and at no point worried about or thought about my tucking arrangements. This is nice and is one of several reasons why surgery can’t come soon enough for me. I also paid very little heed to my make-up during the day because the hair removal’s gotten to a point where I can go out for the day and not worry about covering stuff up. On that front at least things are slowly moving to a point of comfort. If nothing else I could go back next year just to add to my t-shirt collection.

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I have a collection happening now

Oh well, I’m going to finish up with some other pics from the weekend below. Enjoy 🙂

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Yup, travelled to Brighton in last year’s t-shirt 🙂

Perks of our hotel on the outskirts of town. Views, namely of the park. Also, a rainbow while in Brighton, how apt 🙂

Yes, we lost ourselves in the comic shops. Castle in the Sky is mine, a film that left a long lasting impression on me when I was growing up.

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Rebecca’s pet bee. It just randomly landed on her hand while we were forming up for the march.

Digging and Dying – A Dig or Die Game Review

Hello everyone, those of you who know me over on Twitter may well have noticed I’ve been fairly quiet in the evenings just lately. That’s because of a game I started playing recently: Dig or Die. It’s a game on Steam made by a chap who goes by the name of Gaddy Games over there who has done most of the work himself, with some help with art and music. Rebecca came across the game first and within half an hour of watching her get to grips with it I jumped onto Steam and bought myself a copy. In some ways a pretty simple game in some ways, the basic premise can be summed up thusly;

 

Basically, you’re a travelling salesman for Craft & Co, you sell Auto Builder machines across the galaxy, but you derp up and crash your ship on a hostile planet. The ship’s AI survives and is less than thrilled with your muck up, before dispensing handy hint throughout the early game. Now you have to use your company’s products to craft items from various ground based minerals, the local flora and fauna in order to survive and eventually build a rocket to get off again. So it’s a bit like Minecraft with a tower defence element to it.

There’s a twist though; the local wildlife is hostile, very hostile. In fact if you kill one of a species, the rest of the species will go mad and will try to kill you at night. Therefore you need to build a decent, sturdy and well defended base. Think you can go pacifist and just avoid killing stuff? Forget it. Just about everything you will need to craft involves body parts from the various wildlife you’ll encounter. It’s kill or be killed.

 

                   (Evolution of your base; from hole in the dirt to a well defended complex)

So at the start you really don’t want to go around aggravating too much. In time you’ll craft better weapons, turrets, healing turrets and other defences and build a sturdy base. You’ll also craft better crafting machines to collect and make improved items and things that help you get around this strange world easier. You’re often caught weighing up weather or not to go after certain creatures based on weather you can fend them off at night or not.

It’s also a complete world, with different biomes and challenges each one brings. There’s the surface world, with floating sky islands, a volcanic area, an underground sea, caverns beneath that and other caves. It’s also a very wet world. It’s raining a lot. In fact the developer based the weather on his native Northern France. The water physics are amazing though. It rains, water runs and flows, it will seep and soak through porous lands and slowly evaporate out of areas that aren’t so. Water is fairly integral to the game given you can control it and use it to generate electricity and manage your environment for defence and safety (you don’t take fall damage if you fall into water).

The building physics are spot on too. Gravity is a harsh mistress and takes no prisoners. Don’t expect to be able to take a half-assed ‘pile it as high as you can’ approach to building towers and bridges. You need to plan and structure things properly or you’ll be literally falling on your ass.

There’s also four bosses to deal with (five if you include an optional extra), all of which need defeating in order to obtain key items for survival and getting off this hostile world. I’m not going into too many details as I don’t want to spoil the fun.

There’s a lovely musical soundtrack too, fairly calming by day and dynamic and a tad frantic at night when you’re under siege from all the creatures you’ve angered.

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(Base under siege: holding out till dawn)

You’ll be doing a lot of digging, and you’ll quite often be dying too, but with the game’s default setting meaning the game auto-saves each morning (you can do your own saves too) and each day cycle taking around 15 minutes or so, deaths aren’t catastrophic and you’ll often learn from your mistakes.

Technically speaking, this is an early access game, it’s still in development and there’s plans well afoot for a multiplayer element, which is in beta, but the main game is fully playable and I haven’t come across any bugs so far, and I’ve stuck 60 hours into this.

If you’ve read this and like the idea, look it up on Steam. It’s £5.59 and worth every penny IMO. The link to the store page is below.

http://steamcommunity.com/app/315460/

 

Gender Is A Spectrum

I am only going to say this once: No-one is trying to take gender out of society. What is happening is a steady realisation there’s is far more than the classic ‘two genders’ we’ve been saddled with and had hammered into our heads until recently. Gender, like many other things is more of a spectrum than a series of absolutes.

People are born, some identify as the sex they were assigned as at birth, others don’t. Those who don’t take various steps so they can present as the gender they feel they are. For some people like myself that means transitioning from male to female, or vice-versa. For some, they feel neither one suits them. Some days they feel more masculine or feminine and present as such, or a mix. I know, I used to do this too. Before I worked things out I thought I was non-binary or agender and dressed and presented according to how I felt.

So why am I writing a crash course in gender identity? Well once again I and a swathe of people are yet again having to defend ourselves from bigoted idiots and people who are sycophants to said bigots who should know better than most that toadying up to them is a bad idea. Piers Morgan and India Willoughby for those who aren’t in the know.

The fact the latter is a trans woman of considerable fame, and I presume knows what it’s like to have their gender identity questioned, poked, prodded and outright denied, derided and ridiculed by some is galling indeed, especially given their extremely poor choice of language while trying to defend her attitudes which are coming across more and more as transphobic, sexist and out of touch with what most of us have to deal on a day to day basis.

Siding with a well known transphobic, bigoted idiot like Morgan after his puerile attempts to invalidate Fox Fisher and Owl’s gender identity on national television is a slap in the face to transgender people. Once again we have a celebrity who thinks they’re the big ‘I am’ and profiting off of their transition screwing the rest of us over, either because they are not realising how much damage they are causing through their actions or just showing their true colours, then playing victim when the inevitable backlash hits.

Sorry, but you can’t have your cake and eat it. You want to tell your story and make some money off of it, fine, but don’t you dare shit on the rest of us doing so. You wanted to show the world your transition and show people you can transition and your life can be a success. That is inevitably going to make you a role model to many people who are going through similar struggles. If you want to be a shitty role model, like Caitlyn Jenner, we’ll call you out for it, like we do with her.

You don’t get anything for free. You have fame and money, but the price you pay is you become a role model, like it or not and role models need to be very aware of what they say and do or be held accountable. If you want to continue being a shitty person over all of this, and let’s face it, you are developing a track record for shitting on people who don’t conform to your perceptions (the incident where she invalidated every trans/non-binary person who don’t/can’t medically transition a while back), you are going to fall from grace very quick. The wheel of time will turn and you will become an irrelevance, much like the dross you’re appeasing through your actions. That is a promise and a forecast.

You’re not the only one who’s fought decades to become the person they felt they should be. Some of us are quite capable of doing this without invalidating those who’s journey don’t mirror our own.

 

 

 

Stuff Your Jobs

So our supposedly esteemed leader (that no-one actually voted for) this week claimed there are ‘boy jobs and girl jobs’ at home earlier on this week. Yup, 2017 has reached peak table flipping madness with the prime minister coming out with this guff that belongs in the 1950’s. Excuse me while I call this out for the bullshit that it is.

It did get me thinking though, particularly after Mia Violet highlighted on Twitter in her usual fun and satirical way what would happen in a household where men aren’t present. At home there’s me and Rebecca, we’ve both come from a background where we’ve had to learn all sorts of life skills and interests that probably aren’t considered all that girly. Rebecca’s got extensive knowledge in DIY through work and has practical hobbies such as getting her 3D printer up and going, as she was doing so yesterday.

I too am no stranger to DIY, and know a bit about cars and bikes, enough to do things like change spark plugs and oil. admittedly it’s not stuff I really want to do but it’s simple enough to do and a money saver too. As for the domestic stuff? Well we both do all that too though opening jars is a task that’s becoming increasingly difficult for us both.

The thing is, this has also got me thinking back to my upbringing. I’ve come from a family where this idea of there being boy jobs and girl jobs never really existed. Mum and dad both worked from home and both fitted work around stuff like getting us to and from school, clubs and so on.

I remember moving into the old family home almost 30 years ago and helping mum and dad with chiselling room after room of fuck-awful woodchip wall paper off of the walls. Sure, dad was better at the decoration side of things, he was better than most professionals at that, but mum was no slouch. She can paint and pout things on walls. The other week she used a power drill and put up two hanging basket brackets and a garden hose reel.

Yes, mum did most of the cooking, but cooking is a passion of hers. As it turns out dad was a pretty good cook himself. He did a full Sunday roast the day mum came home with my youngest sister for instance, he’d cook when mum was ill and both mum and dad knew their way around a barbecue. Dad would help with serving up Sunday dinner and tidying up afterwards and he’d do his fair share of the cleaning around the house, especially as mum’s back got worse. He always could get more stuff to fit in the dishwasher than any of us.

I remember long car rides to various places we went on holiday. Mum would have the map out and navigating for dad in between plying us with sweets to prevent WWIII breaking out between me and my sisters so he could focus on driving. I earlier mentioned being somewhat handy with cars and bikes. Bet you’re wondering who taught me what I knew? Must be dad? You’d be wrong. Dad hated doing that kind of thing, which I found slightly odd given he was a practical and hands on person between his DIY skills and his work as a draughtsman. No, the car stuff was self taught at a time when I didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it for me.

All in all, having this kind of upbringing has served me well as I ended up learning all sorts of life skills without this toxic thinking that a particular job was for men to do or for women. I’m also pleased my sister is imparting this upon her kids as they grow up. People really need to start thinking about what they say before they say it, especially those who are in a position that holds a lot of sway and influence.

The Great Scrapyard In The Sky

Yup, that’s where my bike’s headed, I’ve officially had enough of trying to keep the thing going. A week ago and fifteen miles away from home I turned the key in the ignition to be greeted by a whole load of nothing. the battery and fuse check out as being ok but something in the electrical system’s given out, so that’s that.

In theory I could pull the bike to bits, track down the issue and fix it, but I can’t be bothered, and the way it’s been the past couple of months even if I did get it going again it’d only be a matter of time before something else went wrong and screwed me over. It’s been sitting  where it got dropped off a week ago and though I’ve had more than enough time to investigate things I’ve had zero inclination to do so. I’ve got the tools and possibly the know how to fix this. Even if I did fix it I now have zero confidence in going anywhere and getting back again.

I’ve not long replaced the spark plug, done an oil change and swap over a few hoses that were on the way out. I can strip the back end down to get the wheel off as well, useful when the rear tyre gave up the ghost a while back. However it’s so tiresome to do. I’m not all that keen on spending ages scrubbing my skin raw to get all the muck off after messing around with something mechanical and I sure as hell haven’t got the strength I used to have. HRT and arthritis have seen to that, probably for the best given I used to be able to tighten stuff until I cracked the socket and ratchet, or put enough stress on my joints to really set them off.

More than the less being able to physically do stuff is the fact I’m through sinking time and money into the thing so I’m making arrangements to get rid of it. When it’s gone, that’s me done with bikes, I’m not getting another. I’ve had five years of hooning around on the damn things and lately I’ve been getting fed up with doing this. I’m fed up with wearing enough layers to go on a polar expedition to keep warm and allegedly dry, and wearing a helmet that wrecks my hair. I’m fed up of being jolted about on poor roads and I am especially fed up of being almost taken out while on the damn thing because I apparently ride wearing an invisibility cloak. Even with high visibility clothes and a colourful bike I’ve lost count how many near misses I’ve had with myopic drivers who have pulled out, pulled across or are just being an intimidating dickweed in their vehicles.

The last three months where I’ve had to do a lot of driving for work purposes have driven this home. Funnily enough I only started driving because at the time I was working three separate part time cleaning jobs and was struggling to get about on my pushbike. Being told by my then GP I was tearing my knees to bits cycling was the main reason why I got up and on the road. My ex hated the idea, which probably made me want to do it more. It was also a lot cheaper to go see my family than by train. Faster too as I could get to theirs in 20 minutes or so. Can’t do that now though. These days to get to theirs would be a good couple of hours, impossible with my back. I found that out going to see my nan and granddad one time any more than about half an hour’s my limit on a bike. Any more and my lower back flares up thanks to me jarring it so badly falling while rollerblading when I was 15 or so. I slammed down on the base of my spine hard and it’s never been right since. I hit the same spot again some years later and had trouble with the nerves in my legs for a year or so. I really don’t need anything else to add to that.

Where I live now has a great bus service (provided I don’t get drivers coming onto me, but that’s another story in itself) so I don’t need to drive places very often away from work and whatever my next job will be I’ll be using public transport and walking so all in all the bike is pretty redundant now.

In the not too distant future I shall be learning to drive a car so with that in mind, I’m going to hang up my riding gear and moving on with things.

Where Does The Time Go?

Serious question, where has it gone? I’m asking because in a couple of days (Thursday 27th April) marks two years since I came out as trans and set things in motion. Anyone expecting then and now pics you’ll be disappointed, because I’m not doing that. I can’t look at my old pics, it’s just a reminder of so many painful events that happened in the past. I haven’t got many anyway.

I was pretty lackadaisical about printing pics in the past and thanks to a brace of hard drive wipes over the years I lost most of them. The ones I had printed out I last saw in my old house somewhere, left behind along with most of my stuff when I moved out. The few I do still possess tell the same story: A husk of a person, drifting through life, half not there and half dead. Someone and something a world away from where I am now, trying to figure out what was wrong.

Suffice to say I got there in the end, then spent weeks agonising on how to come out and how everyone would react. I remember coming home from a late shift, going to the bedroom and sitting rigid, choking back tears and trying to find the words to tell my now ex partner. I took the plunge and blurted out that I was trans and felt ready to start doing something about it, whatever the cost. A this point I felt all but dead anyway and probably not long for the world, I was that depressed, anything from that frame of mind was an improvement.

Over the coming weeks and months I told everyone else, saw my GP, had two attempts at getting referred to Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic (My first referral got lost) and went about into the world, feeling I had finally awakened. I started finding what I liked, my own style and so on and began to grow.

I won’t lie and say it’s all been plain sailing. Transition costs a lot in terms of outlay. A new wardrobe of nice clothes for a start. I’ve spent a good couple of thousand pounds on laser hair removal and a fair few quid on a couple of private appointments to get myself up and running and onto HRT as I’d probably still be waiting to get onto that now if I sat back and waited for the GIC.

Transition also finished off my relationship with my ex, partly because he’s not into women, but transitioning and seeing what there was out there in the world opened my eyes to a lot of things that were not right and I wanted out before any more damage was done.

I saw a counsellor a little over a year ago, initially to help deal with the grief of losing my dad to cancer. A lot of stuff came out and she basically said I hadn’t been able to celebrate and embrace my transition up until then. With a relationship that was falling apart and dad suddenly becoming ill and leaving us it’s not hard to see why my early months that should have been happy ones were overshadowed.

Thankfully things have changed for the better. I’ve been with Rebecca for just over a year now. She has been amazing and supportive throughout, my rock and my world, my everything. Mum’s commented numerous times I’m the happiest she’s ever seen me now we’re together and yes, transition has become more of a celebration, for both of us. We’re both free to be ourselves, pursue our interests, have a lot of good times and get up to all sorts. We both had our first proper holiday in a long while last year and we’re quietly getting on with our lives and building a future together. In a lot of ways we’re both on a similar journey and helping each other heal from a pretty crappy past in a lot of ways.

Going forward, by the end of the year I’ll hopefully have a second surgical opinion out of the way and I’ve finally settled on what option I’d like to pursue on that matter. I’ll also hopefully have this hair removal business taken care of to a point where I’m reasonably happy. It’s funny how the goal posts change over time.

For instance there was a time where I wanted to get to a point where I’d never have to shave again. Now I’ll quite happy deal with shaving if it’s just to get rid of the blonde hairs I now mostly have now most of the dark hair has gone. I’ll be quite happy the day I don’t need to go back and get my face blasted by the laser.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this is yes, transition is a daunting idea to go through with. How anyone thinks we’d do such a thing on a whim, or for some sort of kick I don’t know. You’re gambling at the highest stakes possible with all this. Some people get lucky and keep their partners, family and so on. Others aren’t so lucky, they lose can lose some of this, or all of it. Some people don’t make it at all. The rewards are worth the risks though. You get to be you, you get to live and that’s why we do this.

One of the best things about this journey is seeing my friends progress through their own transitions, overcoming obstacles and growing into the people they’ve always wanted to be. Here’s to the journey.

11

Hey, Teacher! Leave Those Kids Alone!

Well if anyone mentions anything about school that song comes to mind, rapidly followed by any number of unpleasant memories and various pointless run ins with other kids and teachers alike. truth be told, this morning got off to a rough start anyway as I had some disturbing dreams from the past during the night anyway so my head was somewhere in the past when I caught sight of a tweet threat by OhMiaGod berating her own experiences with school.

It’s also coming up on 15 years since I last walked out of the dump of a school I had been toiling at, never to return. Truth be told, they were probably just as glad to see the last of me really. junior school was one thing, senior school, and a school where it was an all boys’ grammar school was seven years of hell, arguments, blood, tears, pain and frankly bugger all to show for it. Looking back now and knowing who I am now, it’s no surprise really.

Before going further, I need to warn you. I’m not holding back here, so warnings for mental health, and suicide. Yes, school fucked me up that badly.

I was at a grammar school but I didn’t really have the smarts for it, having scraped in simply to get away from the hooligans at my junior school who bullied me and means mum was making frequent trips across the road to give the headmistress a piece of her mind on the matter. Off to a winning start already really there. Being a socially awkward loner type who didn’t fit in and really doesn’t function at all well in a group put another bullseye on my back on top of not being bright in a conventional sense. Oh I was smart, but I have a short attention span and only really able to put my full mind to tasks that I find interesting, none of which were on the curriculum.

Being pretty naff at physical games? Yup, that’ll get you bullied too, especially while going through a puberty which you later look back on and see most of what you were feeling towards yourself was gender dysphoria, which thanks to the total lack of education regarding gender and sexuality that isn’t of the cis/hetero variety, this would go undiagnosed until years later.

Having a teacher who insisted you all showered after P.E, naked and he’d hover nearby to make sure you all went through meant  I got so wound up about things I went into a state of permanently forgetting  to bring my kit to school on those days and earning myself detentions every couple of weeks for non compliance. Hell, an hour after school failing at homework was childs play compared to confronting *those* confusing feelings each week. Of course, making my hatred of P.E so public meant other kids began questioning my sexuality, because of course, not liking football, hockey etc means you’re gay.

Having a personality clash with your English teacher, who only made things worse by singling you out and aggravating things further, because this is an all male environment and we love nothing more than pointless one-upmanship to assert our dominance? Guess I’m failing English that year then because the chances of me staying remotely engaged are now zero. That said I did really piss him off at the end of the year because there was one project I actually liked (devising your own directions for directing a scene in a play) which I actually put my full energy into and got one of the highest marks in my year group for it.

As I grew up I became steadily more angry, depressed, morose and introverted. punching things became all too routine, not good having already fractured both wrists in silly accidents, but testosterone poisoning does jerk things like this. GCSE choices came about, which was a laugh, because when it came down to it and  after you take away all the mandatory subjects I only had two free slots, though picking French and doing a full course in I.T weren’t choices I’d have picked if anything better was available. Seriously, they were the best of a bunch of stuff I couldn’t stand. history? Nope, three years with a teacher who could put the dead to sleep with his droning killed that. P.E? Lol nope after two years of racking up non compliance detentions. Religious education? Well as by then I was perma-banned from that class , that wasn’t on. Seems turning up to that class repeatedly five minutes late, opening the door as moodily as possible and hurling your bag across the room to where you usually sat was enough to get me kicked out. Doing this five times in a row and after three detentions and my teacher had enough.

Yeah, I wanted nothing to do with Religion, even back then I could see what  mess it was. I’d also recently lost my granddad and churches hold bitter memories as a result. School had this dopey prize giving service every year and marched us all off to church as a result. Mum had half heartedly said I should go into lessons that morning, feign illness and come home got get out of it. I took her at her word, did so and then forged a sick note. My year head saw through it called me to his office so he could call my parents and let them know what I’d done. Dad answered and cut him down, basically saying if I didn’t want to go to church, them I wasn’t going, and if the matter wasn’t dropped he’d come in and have words on the matter. Dad didn’t even care I’d forged a sick note, he told me he wanted us to grow up, make our own choice on religion and he’d back whatever we chose. I had chosen that day, he backed me up. Parental win.

Actually, I wanted to do art,. That got killed by my art teacher, based on the fact he made us spend the best part of two years drawing still life crap and not interesting things like comics and fantasy stuff. Funnily enough I put very little effort into the former and so my grades were deemed too crap to go into that class.

GCSE’s came and I somehow got a C grade or above in everything I sat, yes including maths, which I’m awful at and design technology, when my project didn’t even work. I even got an A for Spanish, not that I’ve ever had to use that in real life. Evidently I had the grades to go on and do A levels. What I should have done is saw ‘Fuck that’ and gone and got a job. I’m surprised school didn’t tell me to get lost by then really. I was still a socially awkward misfit who didn’t fit in anywhere and wasn’t really applying myself to my subjects. I picked A levels. FML.

Now, returning to do A levels, we got this big speech on how it was our own choice to be at school, as A levels weren’t mandatory and some guff bout being treated more like young adults. Riiiight. My first day back, my Spanish teacher spend the first lesson teaching us how to swear in Spanish out of the way, reasoning we’d figure it out sooner of later. Incidentally, knowing how to blaspheme in Spanish isn’t terribly useful for everyday life, but oh well. I also had an argument with my biology teacher, who by now had been my teacher for four years and I had spent all too many a lesson doodling and not paying attention only to leave him dumbfounded every time he tried to catch me out with a snap question to make me look silly in front of class and I answered correctly. He reasoned we should be putting in the best part of 30 hours a week outside school time across our subjects. I snidely made a comment about some of us liking a social life outside school. Ironic coming from me of all people and even more ironic as I was one of the chief offenders when it came to not doing homework in his previous classes. You can see this is going to end well.

Six weeks in or so and struggling with the workload, as well as the fact my English literature course was hamstrung by it being spread across three teachers who didn’t coordinate the workloads they were assigning upon us, one teacher who was even more monotonous than my former history teacher, allied to some of the worst books I’ve ever had to read did me in. Seriously, try reading Hard Times and *not* throw the book across the room after reading a couple of pages for being so tedious.

I had four other subjects (Spanish, Business Studies, Biology and General Studies) going. This was they year the AS level and League Tables for schools were introduced, so there was a lot of pressure put upon us to do well. I went to my hear heads (yes, both of them) and said I wanted to drop English and take a short course in another subject, thinking that as a young adult and my education being my choice now I could do this. I got told no and sod off in no uncertain terms, but I persisted. Eventually they said they needed my parents to come in and discus the issue. I went home and mum and dad agreed to come in one afternoon and discuss this with my year head. As soon as they came in, my year head dropped the matter and I was free to do something else, rather than waste any more time on a subject I was clearly not getting on with. That right, my SELF EMPLOYED parents both took an afternoon off from work for a meeting that was done in five minutes and was totally uncalled for. To say the three of us were annoyed was an understatement.

I spent the remainder of that year struggling along, falling further behind and with increasing mental health issues. I somehow scraped through the end of year exams, including Biology, somehow. My final year at school beckoned and knowing I was going to fail Biology if I continued as it was branching into areas I was weak at anyway I decided to swap it out for another AS level. once again, I got the ‘No, sod off’ treatment from my year heads and I snapped. This time I wasn’t going to drag my parents in and waste their time, I took things into my own hands. I decided I would fail in the most spectacular way I could think of, as this would hurt the school’s score on this precious league table they kept bleating on about.

Most of my biology lessons were spent either in a local cafe or weather permitting out in the countryside somewhere. I cycled to school so it didn’t take me long to take myself a couple of miles away somewhere, with books, doodle pad and walkman to while away my time.Most of the teachers weren’t local to my town, so I knew endless places to go where they wouldn’t come looking for me, as they frequently trawled the high street, the local supermarket and so on for other pupils who’d gone A.W.O.L during the day. it worked, I was never caught in the act, though I got the frequent “I know you weren’t in lessons but I can’t do anything as I don’t know where you were instead” from my year heads.

Of course, this eventually spiralled out into my other classes too. School reports that were filled with ever more exasperated lamentations never got to my parents as by then I had gotten good at forging mum’s signature (sorry mum), my attendance got ever more sketchy and my mental health was being steadily worn down by having keep going to a place I now detested, as well as the growing revulsion as to what my body was becoming as puberty wore on.

Throw in a pretty disastrous relationship with a guy I’d been introduced to by a friend and a pretty gnarly Christmas where at one point I got so irritated I barricaded myself in my room I had enough. I tried to take my own life after being diagnosed with depression, put on medication which seemed to only aggravate this and having also been warned that if I lost any more weight I’d be looking at being hospitalised. By then I had fallen to 8 and a half stone, which is not good when you’re near six feet tall, but I had zero appetite and couldn’t bring myself for force myself to eat. I won’t go into how I tried to end things, only that it didn’t work.

The school year wore on and on one of the increasingly rare days I turned up I got called into my year heads office. Cue a lecture on how I was throwing my education away, how I’d end up like some homeless person in the local park  and so on. He also brought up my attention span issues. It was well known I had ADHD as a kid and to this day I still have issues with my attention span. Mum and dad mitigated things as much as they could by changing my diet as a kid as E numbers in food were a big trigger. My year head, knowing all this made some crass and needless remark about how I was of the ‘Ritalin generation’. How I didn’t thump him one for saying that I still don’t know. Needless to say this meeting was pretty well finished by then, by me shrugging and walking away, much to my year head’s annoyance.

A couple of weeks later and in a rare moment where I was actually trying to do some work I get a message from a runner to go see the same year head. I shrugged and said he can come find me as I was busy. I had zero desire to speak to him again. Ten minutes later he arrived, asked me to confirm what I had said and informed me my study leave for exams was cancelled. Comical really. How was he going to enforce that when he’d spectacularly failed to enforce my attendance the rest of that year?

Breaking up time came and I went on study leave, along with everyone else. Well I say study leave. I either sat at home, listening to music, playing guitar, computer games or working for mum and earning a lot more than a paper round would have got me. The exams came round and I ensured failure in Biology by not turning up for the exam. It sounds petty but after the past year at school, failure felt good. Mum and dad finally found out the extent of how badly I was doing at school at that point and I explained how I decided to handle things on my terms rather than drag them in again, because being annoyingly stubbornly independent is what I do well.

Results came a couple of months later. C For Spanish, D for Business Studies and the same for General Studies. To this day I have not used any of them for any practical purpose, likewise with most of my GCSE’s. I got into care work at the age of 29 and over the next two years I completed an NVQ 2 and 3 in health and Social Care, among other short courses. Not bad for an errant misfit who spent seven years being psychologically and physically traumatised by her school who was destined to become a park bum.

Funnily enough, a year after left school for good, they contacted dad as they were snooping around, wanting to know what their former pupils were up to for their records. Dad bluntly told them to go jump and that if I wanted then to know what I was doing, I would contact them. To this day this hasn’t happened and probably never will. Ought to be a riot if I did show up one day, right? I can only hope school has changed for the better since I left really.

Here We Go Again …

Yup, it’s another day and another trip to London, the use of several trains and doing battle with the dreaded, overcrowded and stuffy underground system. This can only mean one thing: Visiting a certain medical centre tucked above a local supermarket in Fulham, otherwise known as Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic. (CHX from here on in)

Yes, I’m back here again, though for myself this time, having been this way recently with Rebecca and Sylvie to get Nadine to her workshop date and later for Rebecca’s consultation. My appointment wasn’t until 2 but I was out the door by 7.30 to meet Rebecca as she’d been dragged into work early and had an appointment of her own earlier in the day. One trip to Watford later and we’re eventually on the way to London After lunch at a cafe I visited the first time I went to CHX, we’re in the waiting room an hour early, because Rebecca and I both like to make sure we get to places early.

2pm rolls around and shortly after we’re sitting in the consultant’s room, and not quite sure what to expect from the day and instantly had a talk about how at future appointments me and Rebecca might not be able to be in the room together as we’re both on the books at CHX and being seen by the same people can potentially cause a conflict of interest. Not how I wanted to start things but anyway.

Today, well yesterday now because I was too wiped out to write last night, was my first opinion for surgery, so this time the questions were a bit different. Less of the history and what not (how did you figure out you’re trans, etc which I’ve written about in past blogs) and more on my frame of mind and weather or not I’m stable, for want of a better word. In a way this was a relief as I’ve been through my history three times now, in other ways not so.

She did ask when I came out, when I transitioned at work and what I do. I was asked to bring some occupational evidence to my next consultation (payslips, etc) as they need evidence on record that you’ve fully transitioned and not just saying you have and are hiding under a rock when you’re at home. Well I’ve kept all my bank, pension and tax stuff for the past 15 years in amongst other things, (much as I’d like to burn all the dead name stuff, I haven’t as it’s too important to destroy), so rounding that up is no issue.

I was asked about my past mental health, bouts of depression and if I self harmed and when. That was fun, given that meant talking about what I did, as well as my suicide attempt when I was 17. I I was asked if I’d had counselling at any point and I did say that I had for when I lost dad and that I do have the odd day when grief hits hard. I was advised that if this got to the point where I was struggling to function that I should seek more counselling for this as I’m at the point where if I was struggling that badly it wasn’t good for my mental health. If I’m honest though, things are getting more manageable on that front with time.

I was asked about my physical health and any medical conditions. Aside from arthritis and my usual issues with my joints and back there’s not too much else to talk about there so I went over what medication I’m on.

I was asked about my hormone medication and how I’ve felt while I’ve been on this, if I’ve had any dips in mood and so on. I was also asked when I last had a blood test (top tip, get a blood test done just before you go to one of these) and my elevated oestrogen level was noticed, as my result from the other week came back as 702, when the top of the healthy range is 600. I’ve got a telephone consultation with my GP this week regarding this, so my consultant was not overly concerned about this, but advised me that this should be back into range before I come back to CHX as being on HRT comes with an elevated risk of blood clotting, thrombosis and so on. I was asked if I smoked as this is a big no-no when on HRT as this raises the risk further. I don’t smoke and hate smoking so that’s not an issue.

Then we started talking about surgery, what I wanted and why. Now I’m still on the fence in regards to what I want surgery wise, but at the moment I said I wanted to go for the full vaginoplasty, because I wanted to have some degree of intimacy that wasn’t instantly destroyed when present arrangements down below got rowdy. I want surgery for peace of mind, to know I’m complete, can get dressed and go out and not worry about tucking and so on.

With that we talked a bit more about what surgery entailed, the need to dilate and so on. All stuff I knew already having seen so many trans friends go through this and talk about the aftercare and whatnot. I was also asked about what support I’d have post surgery, who would look after me while I recovered, which would be mainly Rebecca, though I did joke that fair’s fair and I’ll be doing the same for her one day when it’s her turn to go through all this. We did also discuss about the physical prerequisites for surgery, namely having a BMI under 28/ waistline that’s less than 100cm. To he honest, unless something drastic happens, this won’t be an issue for me and she agreed.

After that, I was given some leaflets and information, a couple of people to contact regarding surgery questions and electrolysis, not that I know if I need hair removal down below yet, and then given the all clear. She was happy I was stable and suitable for surgery and all I need now is a second opinion to back this up.

Relieved, Rebecca and I went back to the waiting room and tried not to melt while waiting for my letter for my next appointment to be prepared. We joked with the receptionist there must be an NHS directive that all their buildings must be heated up to 50C or so. A few minutes later, I had my letter, which I promptly scribbled a note to future me regarding the payslips and stuff I’d need to bring with me.

With that, I wait till October the 31st, appropriate for me as that’s the end of the Pagan year and both me and Rebecca noticed that. All I need to do is keep doing what I’m doing, do regular blood tests and get my oestrogen level back into range. Aside from that I can do some reading and research, make use of the contacts I was given and get on with life until then.

Oh well, what’s a blog without some pics of the day? Enjoy 🙂

(Yeah, I went for a gothic witch look, it’s been a while and it was a nice day for a skirt)

(And a huge thanks to my beautiful Rebecca, who’s always at my side. I swear next time we’re here it’ll be for you darling.)

If the Devil Kept Pets …

11

(Max, enjoying a stroll in the garden)

Max would have been a contender. Hang on, I’m going somewhere here so bear with me. You leave someone, you go your separate ways and over time the communication diminishes and then there’s silence. The past recedes and you look forward to the future. however sometimes the past comes back. Hard, and in unexpected ways. This was very much what happened the other day when I got a text out of the blue from Richard’s mum to let me know Max had died the day before. Cue a half hour chat on the phone to Richard to see what has happened.

Max, as it turned out had a really bad turn a few weeks back and had a lung infection of some sort. He’d seemingly recovered to a point though he has topped talking afterwards. Then a couple of days ago he started going downhill again fast. Richard and a neighbour got Max into the car and off to the vet. By then though Max was slipping away. The vet got his heart restarted but he wasn’t breathing on his own and the decision was taken to let him go rather than have him suffer further.

Apparently Max was quite old, something I had suspected, but Blue and Gold Macaws, like most other parrots are good at hiding their age so I couldn’t know for sure.They’re also good at hiding any illnesses until they get so severe it’s too late to do much to help them. Max at least had a good twenty years in a good home before he left this world.

In fact how Max came to be with us was a bit of a strange story. Max wasn’t even ours, but Richard’s granddad, who got hold of Max 20 years ago. At the time he was still working as an electrician and was doing jobs for an obnoxious millionaire who had Max as a status piece. Needless to say the poor bird was not treated all too well and fearing the worst, the millionaire’s wife somehow got Richard’s granddad to get Max out of there before something bad happened. From what I’ve been told Max was kept caged up all day and often threatened with a stick when t came to changing feed or sorting the cage out as he would bite otherwise (and no wonder if he was being treated so). This had a knock on effect in that he really didn’t trust many people. He got on well with Richard and drove pretty well anyone else away by attacking them so he soon became Richard’s responsibility.

Things went well for a couple of years and then Richard was hospitalised for a good few months. Max became depressed and ripped all his feathers out as is so often the case with these birds if they become stressed or depressed. They frequently bond with one person and see them as a mate of sorts. Hence I didn’t get along too well with Max. Oh we had fun and played games and whatnot, but if I tried to handle him it would come to grief. I have two scars on my arm where he once bit me down to the bone.

Max was a bit of an unusual parrot in may ways. Most people think of parrots and think of various toys and tricks they’ve seen them do. Not Max. Toys went unplayed and unchewed, instead preferring to trash anything within reach of his cage. Max had a cage but it had no doors. He would climb all over the outside see what was going on in the garden or the kitchen. Of course we promptly lost all the wallpaper round the cage, as well as the door surround and coving, but Max was happy and a lot freer than he was at his old place, and he liked being part of what was going on in the house.

He was a very social creature. Talkative too, though he rarely swore, and if he did he’d tell himself off. I kid you not. We’d hear “Oh fuck”, quickly followed by ” Bad! Bad boy. Baaaad parrot!”, and he was most definitely a parrot. You try call him anything else and he’d quickly correct you. “Er, parrot!” was the usual response. He’d say thank you at times when he had a treat  and the few words he did know he’d always knew how to use them in context. He was not merely mimicking. He also had airs and graces. If the phone went off he’d reply with a very posh “Hello”, and he loved sitting on his perch by the table when we had dinner and say “Ooh, that nice. Nice” until we gave him a piece of whatever we were eating.

He used to try and boss the dogs around too, when he was on the ground and roaming around the house. one dog would run away, the other would hold her ground and cuff him round the head as she was an old madam. Max would quickly run off and take over one of the dog beds and then say “Goodnight Max” and nestle down for a sleep.

Max also loved the garden, the pond in particular. He’d watch the fish and try and stroke any that would come to the surface with his beak. Pretty brave considering he liked water about as much as Taz. Richard would have to take Max into the shower with him to get him clean. Ironic given parrots come from rainforests.

Max had one more surprise for us. Ten years ago, Max had a bit of a funny turn when Richard and I were on holiday. Fearing the worst when we got back, Max was on the cage floor and very red in the face. We were about to call the vet out when I discovered what Max was doing. Max was laying an egg! Yup, Max was a hen, though any attempt at calling max ‘she’ was quickly rebuked with ” I’m a parrot” or “Good/Bad boy”. Seems I wasn’t the only gender non conforming creature in that house!

Max was a sod a times and a mischievous imp at others and I have to say I’m still getting used to having meals and not having a voice hint and hint until I gave him something of what I was eating. Richard and I often joked that we didn’t want kids because we had Max, for Max had the intelligence, vocabulary skills and general demeanour of a three year old child, one that would never grow up and that rang true, right until the end as Richard told he he’d get home and he’d have Max on his shoulder, being cheeky and headbanging away until he fell ill.

Rest well Max, wherever you are now you’re back with Rosie and Candy, and probably trying to chase them about again.

max

(One cheeky bird, having escaped from the shower)