Category Archives: Family

Gamer Girl

Rebecca and I have a couple of days together and for once we’re not running around doing tons of stuff. In fact yesterday, aside from a quick trip to the local shops or essentials (fuel, HRT and food),we stayed in and relaxed. So what did we do? I spent most of it playing Diablo 3 and Rebecca wrote at length about her history of gaming as it’s something she had planned on doing for a while now.

https://rebeccawhite2016.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/the-history-of-my-gaming/

https://rebeccawhite2016.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/after-rpgs-and-consoles-there-came/

For those of you interested there’s her thoughts on things, a good and fun read too. Of course we got chatting, sharing memories and so on about gaming and how it’s run through our lives in one manner or other. It’s also something I’ve been getting back to in the past year after not really doing all that much for some time now and realising how much I’ve missed it.

When I think about it, gaming for me anyway invokes a lot of happy memories involving family and people I hold near and dear to me who are no longer here, and that will become clear as I go on with this. I may as well begin from my earliest memories and go from there really.

The first memories I have are at school actually. I was five years old and the school I went to had a computer room. I can’t remember ery much though, other than the fact whatever education game we were using ran off of those huge old floppy discs and was made by the BBC.

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(Ah, old tech, got to love it)

I wasn’t at that school for every long in the end as my parents were in the middle of moving back to mum’s home town where she lives now, though my next school also had PC’s and games. Anyone remember Granny’s Garden? I loved that game but the wicked witch terrified me.

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Yeah, that’s the one, with the creepy as fuck 8-bit music that went with it. The game itself was a RPG of sorts and you had to solve puzzles to progress and find the missing children of the king and queen, while keeping out of the way of the wicked witch. It’s very basic by today’s standards but as a wide eyes five year old? It was something else.

It was around then (and looking back probably on the back of dad’s nostalgia for games) I was given a C64 for Christmas. Not the full blown rig, but the main bits, keyboard/processor, tape deck and joystick and was able to be plugged into the TV. Games back them mostly came on cassettes which took a good ten minutes to load, depending on game size, though there were a few cartridge games too, which started up almost instantaneously. Of course, being a five year old with attention span issues, these were a boon. In amongst the various tapes we got, dad found a set which had the old arcade games, such as Space Invaders, Galaxians and Pac Man , which he and mum played extensively when they were arcade games in the 70’s, and got me and later on my sisters into as well.

Other games I remember was Dambusters (you could pilot an Avro Lancaster Bomber, be pilot and bomber while evading flak and fire over occupied Europe and try and relive the famous raids of WWII. (Spoiler alert: I sucked at this).

The Captive was played a lot because it was a tape that only took five minutes to load up. It was also pretty weird as a game. You’d escaped from somewhere or other and went through an abandoned and haunted town where ghosts would kill you, finding various items for quest progression, though I never found out what the actual quest was. You could gain abilities such as swimming and flying a helicopter. I also remember a time limit factor where after spending so long, arrows would fall from the sky and try and kill you. There were other items you could pick up, some useful, some not so. There was also a booby trap. You could pick up a magic mushroom but for frak sake don’t use it because this happens.

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Your character would flip sideways, float up and off the screen and it would be game over. A novel approach to teaching the perils of drug use, eh?

Bullseye (remember that darts game show?) got in on the act and released a game. Bully’s Sporting Darts. You used a joystick and controlled a disembodied hand to throw darts. You played the classic darts games, as opposed to the game show format, so you’d have 501 and Round the Clock. Some clever person figured out how to play a dartboard based version of cricket, tennis and snooker, mad as that sounds. This was one all the family played, even my grandparents, albeit it not so well. Words don’t do the game justice so here’s a video.

High tech stuff there, from the age when internet was the preserve of a lucky few and most of us made do with Teletext (I loved the artwork people came up with on that thing)
Dad tried to encourage me to get into coding when I was 8 years old or so on the C64. He got hold of a couple of books where you basically typed in a load of stuff, record it onto a blank tape and in theory you’d have a game at the end of it. Little miss ADHD here tried a couple of the shorter ones, which required a mere three or four pages of input to do this and grew frustrated as it failed each time. Dad got involved, first watching and proof reading my attempts and then had two goes himself, but nothing. The books were forgotten about and a possible future as a programmer died there and then.

The future beckoned and it came in Megadrive format. Yup, dad brought two in the end, one for the family to share and when he realised he couldn’t get a look in got one for himself. Sonic the Hedgehog were the games of choice for us then, all of which were great fun, aside from Sonic 3D, which I never got the hang of because I could never judge where to aim for in a 3D layout. Dad had his golfing games and we also had the Lion King, which we used cheat for to go through in the end. Dad got cheats off of a friend of his and introduced me to that side of easy, risk free gaming.

I  also bought a game or two. I remember a friend flogging Sonic 1 at school for a fiver. No box or manual, just the game, which I promptly raided my piggy bank for. I really went for the Sonic series as a kid and poured an awful lot of time into the games trying to get all the Chaos Emeralds and so on. I remember playing in the mornings before school, sneakily leaving the console on and paused and hoping mum wouldn’t see the little red light that indicated the thing was on and turn it off during the day as you couldn’t save your game until Sonic 3 rolled around. Fun fact, mum still has the Megadrive and games. The grand kids play it occasionally and my dad’s duplicate purchase means we still have a couple of working controllers and working TV lead after all these years.

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(Those bright colours and crisp graphics that look pretty good even today if I do say so myself.)

By now I was in secondary school and being taught how to use a computer properly as this was now a thing. A room full of 486’s that ran Windows 3.1 was what the future looked like, and those who were more tech savvy than I was had great fun trying to worry around the filtering system put in place to access restricted and probably pornographic content during lunchtimes.We had a pretty good teacher too, Dr Wilcox, though we all called him Moses because of his wild and grey bushy beard he’d grown over the years.

Back at home and seeing the future, dad, who was now self employed and now needing a PC to do his admin work and quotes for his interior design work, and changing with the times did two things: Bought our first home PC and our first internet connection. The amusingly named Mitsubishi Apricot came into our lives, complete with Windows 95.

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https://www.inversenet.co.jp/pclist/product/MITSUBISHI/N2A1.html

Specs are in the link for the curious, though most of the page is on Japanese. A 166mhz processor, 16mb RAM, 1.7 gb hard drive were the main specs, a pretty good machine for it’s time and within no time it became the latest family gaming hub. For me I was often playing the early Worms games on there, Rollercoaster Tychoon too, as well as the Shareware version of Doom. Shareware back then was you got part of the game for free, on a floppy disc. If you liked it, there were details on how to purchase the full game. With Doom I ended up doing so, albeit with parental help as it had a 15 rating at the time. Demonic carnage ensued when I should have probably been tying up some homework. It was much more fun with cheats and going around with infinite BFG 9000 ammo. There’s a group that’s modded the classic Doom and done all sorts of amazing things to update the game. Brutal Doom if you’re curious enough to look it up. You can even flip off demons in that and watch then take offence now.

A Playstation 1 also came into the house in the late 1990’s, another dad purchase. I remember playing Bust a Move with him, trying to beat him at the game and more than once staying up till midnight trying to beat him in a Best of 20 match. Crash Team Racing with my youngest sister got played a lot too because it was fun and quirky and we had great fun setting up booby traps that became impossible to pass without driving through and so on. Truth be told, I didn’t get too much into the Playstation as I was more of a PC gamer and this happened a couple of years before I moved out anyway.

I also got a Game Boy Colour for my 15th birthday and spent a fair chunk of time playing Mario 1 and 2, Warioland 2, Bomberman, as well as the early Pokemon games. Revise for GCSE’s? Nah, too busy trying to level my sixth Mewtwo to level 100 without using Rare Candies so I could unleash a devastating team upon anyone daft enough to link up and battle me. Pokemon Red/Blue were seriously broken, game mechanics wise. A level 100 Mewtwo with Psychic Attack, Amnesia to boost it’s power, recover to heal and Substitute to hide behind while setting up was unstoppable. Having a team of six was just obscene.

A couple of years after our first PC, dad bought a more powerful machine for his work, with the side effect that it could run newer games and in among various things, I got a little game called Birth of the Federation.

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I had other Star Trek games, most notably A Final Unity, but this one really grabbed me. I don’t play too many games, they either grab me or they don’t. But if they do grab me I really throw myself into them, reading up all sorts, trying new things and develop a minor obsession, as Rebecca has seen with me and Diablo 3. Anyway, this game, you can be the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians or Ferengi. You start with your home star system and a couple of ships and you go forth, terraforming or conquering other star systems and build up an empire. There’s micromanagement involved so you can set up star systems to focus on research or intelligence, or ship building and you can go to war with the other A.I controlled empires. Or you can just sit back and let your intel agency sabotage and gut them that way, if you’re so inclined and you have built up right. Beware the Random Events though. The Borg are one of them and they can decimate a game quickly. Oh, multiplayer was an option too so if you were bored creaming the A.I you could go try and cream some player sitting in a faraway land thanks to the magic of the internet.

This is one of those games that has followed me from system to system and I still play occasionally now. There’s a community out there with it’s own forum and more game mods than I can count. http://www.armadafleetcommand.com/onscreen/botf/
This game is 20 years old and people still play, do multiplayer, mod and chat.
Even I had a go at modding the game a few years ago. There’s a lot of resources and tools to help on the site so even an idiot like me can get her head around basic hex editing and so on to create something. I even released a mod there, called All the Ages, thanks to a lot of help from a guy called Thunderchero who pretty well runs the forum.

http://www.armadafleetcommand.com/onscreen/botf/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=760

It took several months to do and it helped me focus on something during some dark mental health times. It also drove my ex nuts as I was putting so much time into doing this.

After leaving home and moving in with Richard, the gaming quietened down. I carried on with Birth of the Federation, as I’ve already mentioned, but aside from the odd game, such as the later Worms games where I played to the point I could launch grenades as well as the hardest A.I could so so that was it. He couldn’t stand games, and like so many things, if I don’t have someone to share an interest in things that I like, I kind of lose heart and drift away. All he was interested in was re-enacting, which I suppose is an RPG of sorts, albeit with real guns and uniforms and whatnot, but a decade of that left me so physically and mentally broken I never want to do that ever again.

The last couple of years I did have something of a resurgence.I got a few of my old games back from mum and dad’s while they were preparing to move house and I had a big fit of nostalgia. I looked into emulators and found a Megadrive one for my PC and then laptop and played some of my old favourites. I also found a Game Boy emulator for the Pokemon games and a community which dabbed in modding. This time I was content to just play mods rather than get my head around doing it myself. I had other things on my mind, namely coming to terms with being transgender and gaming was a support. Being able to choose the female character, to escape, to dream was a release at the time. I ended up at a place called the Nuzlocke Forum.

http://s7.zetaboards.com/Nuzlocke_Forum/index/

Basically  place where people who wanted to make the Pokemon games more of a challenge congregated, but discussed other things as well. Modding and game mods, and there was a community spirit there too. People could also post their game runs, turn them into stories and all sorts as the games are essentially RPG’s to begin with. It was something I did myself at one point, partly as a release while struggling with my own identity before coming out and getting on with things, and also when I was dealing with my dad’s illness and eventual passing from this world.

There’s even a section where various members who were LGBTQIA hung out and discussed their various identities and supported one another. Needless to say this was a very useful place for me and helped me with coming to terms, figuring myself out and then getting up and going with this transition business I’m doing right now.
With my relationship with my ex coming an end and having moved in with Rebecca my gaming interests have been rekindled, thanks to the fact she’s a gamer herself and we can play things together, have discussions and she’s noted how I light up with I’ve got an interest in something and chatting about it. She’s show me all sorts of games and got me into the Final Fantasy series, something I’d seen but was never properly introduced to. Thanks to her getting me up and going on Steam, I went through FF7 and cried my eyes out several times over and tried a few other games as she’s got a dozen different consoles and games spanning a couple of decades floating about the flat.

Right now my present gaming obsession is the Diablo series, again something I’d seen in passing years ago but wasn’t really introduced to. Diablo 3 is often on the go here, we can play together or on your own, though I do prefer playing together, it’s just more fun that way and I’m doing my usual thing of reading up on different ways to play, trying different things and really throwing myself into the series.

Going forward from here, who knows what’s next? I am interested in the FF7 remake, though slightly wary in case they make a mess of it. For that I may well need a more powerful machine than my present laptop. I can just see me and Rebecca someday building our own gaming PC’s for future games. As for right now I’m off to go try and drive demon forces back into the Burning Hells, allied with my usual witty commentary as I try not to suck at the game and die repeatedly.

Have a good day everyone 😀

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(Diablo 3: Where while battling the hoardes of Hell you can pick up a wand that trolls you when you die)

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D-Day?

Or should that be E-Day? Yes, I think it should. Well after several months of ticking down months, then weeks, then days and dealing with the associated anxiety that came with it today was the day. The day I go find out if I can get myself onto hormones. I’ve been self medicating for six months now, using the pill they give women to stop them falling pregnant as this could be obtained from a pharmacist rather than take my chances on the internet. It isn’t perfect and does nothing to block testosterone, but it was a start. I was slowly developing a feminine figure and happy with what I was seeing, but it was a stop-gap measure. I am fully aware it’s not good in the long run, hence booking an appointment to see an endocrinologist privately and get things organised instead of waiting who knows how long for the NHS.

Before I go any futher, I’m going to point out I’m not going to sugar coat or hold back here. There’s plenty of talk about sexual function and nudity, stuff that can be dysphoria triggering and talk of depression and self harming. Don’t say i didn’t warn you, and as a friend of mine says; “Transition isn’t all tits and rainbows”.
I’ve been worrying like hell about today, going through so many what-ifs and reasons why things might not go to plan and having to deal with bouts of anxiety that at times threatened to cripple and overwhelm me these past couple of weeks. Anyway, 9.30am rolled around and so hubbie and I got into the car, complete with my folder containing all the information, consultations and test results from my transition and headed on up to Enfield to the King’s Oak hospital and my appointment with Dr Seal at 11.45, with the usual battle between my music (which I use to relax in the car as long distance travel and travelling at speed can both set my anxiety off) and Richard trying to listen to the brand new sat-nav he bought the day before to make sure we got there OK and in time.

A couple of bouts of road rage on his part and me trying to be irreverent and funny on Twitter later we get there a full hour early. That’s part down to me despising being late for anything and getting highly wound up if I am late and partly because I know the M25  and Dartford too well to not factor in long and ludicrous delays. Still, that gave us time to have a drink and time enough for my anxiety to continue to play merry hell. If that weren’t enough, Richard had one of his chest seizures in the waiting room and I spent 10 minutes supporting him and reassuring everyone that everything will be OK in a minute. Horrible timing, but not his fault and not much he can do about them and all I can really do is stop him smashing his head up.

Anyway, that extra and unwanted drama sorted out I get called and we go in to see Dr Seal, where he explains what’s going to happen, that he’s going to ask questions and a bit later on he’s going to take some measurements,  examine my breasts and my genitalia. Eep! I had an idea that might be happening today and I thank my lucky stars I had a good trim down there and that I hadn’t overdone the Christmas eating this year.

But first the questions, oh so many questions. I was asked about my birth and early life, if there were any complications at birth and my development. I was born just fine, if rather late and as for my development, that was fraught at times, between having ADHD and being pretty slow learning to talk.

Once again I was asked about my earliest memories of gender dysphoria and I recalled how I wanted to be called Chrissy when I was 8 among other things that pointed towards things not being quite right. I got asked about when I started wearing women’s clothing, which started with me borrowing sisters stuff, getting girly stuff from charity shops as a late teen and then introducing dressing up a couple of years into my relationship with Richard and how I felt good wearing what I wore and felt awful havijg to take everything off and soon learning it wasn’t a sexual thing going on there. Family history was next and I was asked if any one else in the family who were homosexual/ bisexual or had a history of being transgender/sexual.

Next came questions about puberty, how it went, how I felt and so on, so I went into some depth about feeling very awkward about my body, hating my body image and things I did to lessen those feelings, such as getting rid of my body hair as well as being asked how my body developed, including asking if  had any breast development then. Sadly no, all that happened was a lot of hair appeared and I went from a short and stubby fatso with a 30″ waist to being 5’10” and having the same waistline.

My mental health was discussed and if I had any depression or history of mental illness, always a fun topic, especially being asked to recount if I self harmed, how I did it, if I tried to take my own life and how I went about that. I won’t go into too much detail here, I’ll just say I’m lucky that I’m still here, didn’t do more damage than I have done when I used to self harm, though I also recalled how the black cloud that’s sat at the back of my mind most of my life disappeared once I came out.

I then got a load of questions on how I eventually came to the decision I made and came out as being transgender, so I described how I felt when I used to dress up for fun and felt awful when I had to take the ladies clothes of afterwards, how I eventually got clued up on things and spent a couple of years wondering if I was genderfluid before sinking into a real hole this time last year because I finally worked out I was trans and didn’t know how the hell to tell Richard. We discussed if Richard had been supportive, leaving aside the fact he’s just driven me to my appointment and helped me get through some of what I’ve been asked,  described how he’d wait for me by the door with my clothes when I wasn’t out at work and he’d shoo me upstairs to get changed and feel happy, among other things he’s done, as well as discussing how I came out to him. Family support was discussed, how I came out to them. Richard had to tell them because I’d worked myself up into an anxious and non-verbal mess that day, and we described how dad and his mum had both said it was about time I did this and how awesome mum’s been throughout. I described how much of a help being on Twitter has been, how we all chat to one another, giving advice and being supportive to one another and generally how awesome you all are 🙂

I also described the time after I came out to family but before I got work sored out, how I was living a double life, how Richard supported me with dealing with that and discussed how I eventually came out and how the work transition was handled.
I was then asked about relationships, how many partners I’ve had and my own sexuality and sexual function. That’s pretty simple. I’ve only had three or four serious relationships with guys and a couple of platonic ones with women. As for sexual function, Richard was very helpful with helping describe how I’ve found intimacy awkward for a long while, years before I came out and how he thought something had been up but wasn’t sure but now he looks back everything made sense now, as well me basically saying I don’t want any sexual function down there, I just want the damn thing gone.

So that’s the psychoanalysis pretty much done and over, now for the physical part of the exam. I was asked what procedures I was looking at having, the only one being getting my bits turned inside out and then my weight, height and blood pressure were taken, all normal. Then I was asked to go behind a screen and get into a surgical robe while a female chaperone was called in. That was new and weird. I did ask if it was OK to just have Richard there but for legal reasons a chaperone had to be present. With that done I lay down on the bed and had my breasts checked over, including being shown how to check them for breast cancer. Again something new and something I wasn’t expecting today but nice to know how now. Then the other bits got looked at. Needless to say I felt terrible when this was being done given I hate touching those parts myself, never mind anyone else doing it. I just closed my eyes and tried to take my mind elsewhere. A couple of minutes later I was told I could get changed and oh by the way you won’t need electrolysis down there, which I found surprising and we’ll see if that still holds up in the future.

After all that excitement and being dressed and sat down again, then came the question. “Would you like some oestrogen?” Best question I’ve had asked in a very long time. We discussed ostrogen and was prescribed Progynova, which I can get myself with a prescription, and Decapeptyl, which is the testosterone blocker and is a 12 weekly injection, and which I can sort out once my GP gets the confirmation letter from Dr Seal. Aside from that I was advised to get a blood test done in 8 weeks time and make a follow up appointment in three months time to review things and possibly increase my dosage if things go well.

In short, today went as well as it could have done, though I couldn’t have done it without Richard at my side and helping me along when I needed it. I know this is tough as hell for him and I hate putting him through all this, but he really is my rock and I am so glad he’s sticking around for this journey. We drove back home, dodging a series of suicidal drivers on the now wet M25 and celebrated in style: A trip to the chippy and a pint of Hobgoblin apiece.

 

 

Highs and Lows

Well we’ve come to the end of another year. Can someone tell me where it ran off to? Seriously, where has 2015 gone? It’s like someone’s held down the fast forward button down or something. I’ve never known a year to zip by so fast. Anyway I’m going to be real original here tonight as it’s new year’s even tomorrow and take a look back at the year, do resolutions etc.

So anyway, the highlights. The biggest (and probably most obvious one) has to be coming out, transitioning and becoming who I’ve felt I’ve always should have been. I’ve a long way to go but physically and mentally I’m in a far better place because of this. I’m also blown away by the amount of love, support and encouragement I’ve had from family, friends and work regarding my transition. I’ve also made a great many new friends along the way too who have been so helpful and supportive for me and Richard as we work things out and go forward together. I have another sister too as a result of all this. 🙂

Transition has brought me and Richard closer together, something I didn’t imagine happen when I was contemplating coming out. Now I’m not hiding myself I’ve not got a load of barriers up and I’m not keeping him at arm’s length any more, well apart from when he wants to get intimate, but that’s one of the things we’re still working on right now and hopefully making steps forward in the department as I become used to the various new sensations I feel as a result of being myself and being on hrt.

Work has been another highlight. Last year I landed a job at a company who offer various care services for adults with autism and learning disabilities and quickly found it was the right job for me. This year having settled in at the home I’m at now and having built up a great working relationship with the residents there I was put forward for a promotion to a senior role in recognition for my hard work and for really getting stuck in and helping with the everyday running of the establishment.The fact they have been brilliant at supporting me with my transition is only a bonus.

Meeting a lot of new friends who have been wonderful and really helpful with transition and helping with getting to grips with things. Some of you I’ve met, some of you I haven’t but plan on doing so next year. I loved Brighton Trans Pride (We’ve been wanting to go back to Brighton for ages) and the girls night out in Manchester in October and I hope to do a few more of these events next year. I’ve also recently learned about a transgender peer group in Medway. It’s a pretty small group but they’re very friendly and this is now becoming a regular fixture for me and Richard.

This year has seen me get back into do some of my creative pursuits. I’ve gotten back into writing this year after several years of not bothering for one reason or another. Obviously this blog is one result in this creative renaissance. Another is my transition diary/scrapbook I’m keeping and I’m also keeping a visual diary too.

Richard is teaching me to sew and with his help I put together one of many new outfits for our re-enactment hobby and hoping next year we’ll expand on this further so long as he doesn’t try to get me onto his sewing machine again. I know I’m not brilliant at sewing by hand but at least I feel in control and able to do what I want to do. It’s one of those funny quirks of mine.

I’d love to get into drawing or something along those lines, but it’s something I’ve never felt happy with on the rare occasions I’ve tried. I just can’t get what’s in my head onto paper and feel happy with how it looks. One day perhaps.

I also ditched my old motorbike at the start of the year, though my plans for this was brought forward somewhat. It was due it’s first MOT in March but there was so many things wrong with the thing it would have been more economical to scrap it and buy a new one. I had planned on putting in overtime at work to save up for it. I ended up taking delivery of my new bike two days after new year. This was down to me coming back from the GP of all places on the old bike, skidding on some ice and crashing the bike into a salt bin. Funnily enough that was a year ago today. Luckily I wasn’t going fast and the only injury I picked up was a cut to my leg, but it was enough to bend the steering column so badly that I had to use full right lock to wheel the thing in a straight line home. Out with the old and in with the new, and the new has been a hell of a lot more reliable so far.

Health wise I’m by and large in a better place now. My arthritis hasn’t bothered me so much since I started taking linseed capsules daily (an apparent side effect is they lower testosterone) and it’s been a long while since my knees have been bad enough to warrant needing a stick. I know my joints are slowly going to get worse over the years but with some care I seem to have slowed down the worst of things for now. I’ve even become bold enough to order an exercise bike for the new year, though I’ll be going easy on this. Mentally I’ve finally shrugged off the cloud that has been bothering me for so many years now and no longer feel depressed as I’m out and no longer hiding myself away.

One last and little thing, a perennial resolution that has always ended in failure was promising to stop biting my nails. Years spent trying various yukky solutions to stop an annoying habit had failed. I’m very happy to report this year I’ve finally did it, as various pictures I’ve posted have shown. I’m also quite surprised how staff at work have commented on my nails. Apparently I do a pretty good job painting them, which they seem to find surprising until I mention it’s something I’ve done for half my life.

So that was the good, and now onto the bad and sad.

The start of the year was pretty hard. I’d been struggling with myself for a long while, feeling rather trapped. Trapped inside myself, trapped because of worrying about Richard and family and trapped because of work. I had everything in life sorted except myself but I was terrified that in getting myself sorted out I’d lose everything else. Eventually I put that right and you know the rest, but the first part of the year was pretty miserable because of this, and it came to a point where if I did nothing I was going to slip back to the dark old days where I took things out on myself.

Richard and I have lost people who were very close to us. We lost my dad, which has been a hell of a shock given he was still fairly young and had been in good health until this year when all hell broke loose and in the space of three months we went from a scenario where everything was going to be ok to having to say our goodbyes.

We also lost Richard’s granddad, who we’ve lived with for all these years. If I’m honest he hadn’t been the same after a lengthy stay in hospital for pneumonia last year but June was when he really started going downhill. We almost didn’t go to the Waterloo Bicentenary, which was something Richard had been looking forward to for so many years and only went because we had a kindly neighbour who would keep an eye on his granddad. Alas the day we travelled back he took a turn for the worse and spent another couple of weeks in hospital and then a couple of weeks after returning home was admitted again, all COPD complications. He was only allowed home because we ended up moving his bed downstairs as he was unable to get up to his room and efforts to get a stair-lift for him had been unsuccessful. Once he learned he wasn’t getting a stair-lift he gave up and withered away over the next few weeks. Richard by then had given up work and become a full time carer for him, wasn’t sleeping because he was often called down at night and was trying to make things so that I wasn’t disturbed too much as I was working.

Needless to say this put a hell of a strain on our relationship at a time we were still uncertain we would stay together anyway because of my transition and various issues this has caused and I was in a position where being at work was preferable to being at home, especially when his granddad was taking about ending things, which I found hard to deal with at a time when dad was fighting for every day he could get. I remember one day where he snapped at me at a particularly bad time and I spent the next three days avoiding him because I was so pissed off and angry with everything going on at the time. Eventually Richard’s granddad got his wish and passed away the day after my dad’s funeral. I’ll add learning what you need to do in regards to funeral planning to stuff I really wish I didn’t have to educate myself on this year.

Seeing my sister go through the troubles she has when finally splitting up with her controlling and overbearing ex has been a mixed bag of feels. I’m glad she’s away from him and has her own place, which is much nicer and the kids love it but I’ve hated seeing her having to put up with the abuse he’s sent her way since the split and I’m hoping in the new year something more permanent can be done to stop him for good. What I’ve really wanted to do is stand up to him and slap him so hard I knock him on his arse but the kids have seen enough distressing fights and goings on and I have no desire to lose my job over him.

So, going forward into next year, 2016 will be the first full year I’ll be living as myself and all the fun that entails. I’ll start the year with an appointment with an endocrinologist and get my hormones sorted out once and for all, then later on it’ll be appointments at Charing X CIG and maybe get referred for surgery by the end of the year (I can dream, right?). I’ll also be continuing my appointments with laser hair removal and probably switching over to electrolysis later on in the year.

Richard will hopefully be going back to work part time in the new year too and he’s busy with re-enactment project which is taking up a fair bit of time and helping him out of his malaise and we’ll be both looking into getting back into re-enactments next year as this season was cut short. This I’m looking forward to as I am enjoying playing an officer’s wife so much more than portraying an artillery gunner.

We’ll hopefully finish getting the house decorated too. The living room has been in need of redecoration for years, not least because the century old lathan plaster ceiling has seen better days and the carpet is knackered so we’re in for a full tear down and start over in the room. While this is something I’ve done elsewhere in the house, this time I’m getting the professionals in. I just don’t have the time to do it all myself I’m really not in a position to do heavy duty stuff like putting a new ceiling up, partly because of not having the strength and partly because of my joints not being up to it. That said I’ll add a few creative touches once the main work is done and I’ll likely take that chance to finally get the last of my old pictures down and away so they’re not bothering me any more, (they’re slowly going).

We’re also both looking forward to going to a few events and meet ups we hope to have planned in the new year with various people. I’m already looking into going to Sparkle next year and have the time booked off of work as well as some other events and generally meet up with more of the amazing people I’m in contact with in the new year.

As for resolutions, I have a few now, some that have been ongoing for a while. I’m continuing to work on my voice and fine tune things, along with my speech and use of language. I’m also doing something about my handwriting, namely get away from the kind of scrawl that GP’s tend to use when I write and some of you have seen.

I’m going to get into doing some more exercise as I really need to do something about improving my stamina, cardio and breathing. I loved cycling and had to stop because of my knees but I’m giving an exercise bike a go and see how things progress from the comfort of my own home

I’m also going to work on how I act in social situations, try and not slip in to my happy bubble where I say very little and kinda disappear.

Finally I’m going to try and slow down a little next year. I’ve gone through 2015 at breakneck speed and that’s something I don’t want to keep doing, so I’m going to try and take more time for myself to chill out, maybe take up meditation of some sort and generally try and help calm my mind.

All in all I’m looking forward to 2016 and hoping it’ll be a wonderful year all round, so whatever you’re all doing to ring in the new year, stay safe, have fun and happy new year to you all, and I really hope it brings all that you wish for.

My First Christmas

Well this year has been a year of firsts. I could do a lengthy list of all the things I’ve done for the first time as myself and now I can add Christmas to that list.

Truth be told I’ve been in two minds this year, hugely excited as it’s the first one as me and dreading it as its the first one without dad and in the build up I’ve been an emotional mess, aided and abetted by the hrt reaching the point where it had a profound effect on how I handle moods and emotions, which on the one hand is great because it’s had a positive effect on so many things I enjoy doing, while on the downside there’s been several days where I’ve had rather disturbing dreams which have set me up for some grim days.

Anyway Christmas comes and for the first time I’m not up and eager to go at 4am. I’m awake but mainly because of memories and dreams I’ve had during the night which means my first hour is spent writing things down to get them out of my head. I eventually wake Richard as I have a 12-4 shift at work (another first) and we start opening our stocking fillers.  Cue the first set of tears, though for happy reasons. Unwrapping some lovely health and beauty things hubbie has got me, reading gift tags that have ‘wife’ written on them. I felt extremely happy and overwhelmed, which usually means bursting into tears.

After regaining my composure we get ourselves ready and get Richard’s mum round and do our usual morning thing of opening our main presents together, which included a butterfly jewellery box (pictured) and some new hair straighteners. I also got a manicure set, photo album, various things to pamper and spoil myself with, oh and a wireless mouse for the laptop. So far, so good.

Work came about and due to having planned going to my mum’s as soon as I done I asked Richard to drop me off so when I was done he could pick me up and get going. Because I’m not coming in on my scooter I decide upon another first and wear a dress to work. Work is fairly quiet, save for supporting the one resident who didn’t go home for Christmas to go to the pub. This largely meant an hour being misgendered and dead named in spite of my co-worker using my chosen name and pronouns because he can’t get his head around my changes and transition. Not fun, and not much I can do about this.

4pm came and we make good time to my mum’s and get down to exchanging and opening yet more presents. More stuff to pamper myself with, lots to drink, Dr Who bits, a lovely necklace, girly mug and a professional photoshoot session for mum which I’ll do at some point next year.

 

Because of not getting down till near 5pm dinner was done long ago but mum had left a plate for us both to heat up so we got our usual scrummy Xmas meal that only mum seems to be able to do. I’m missing dad like hell, but I’m putting a brave face on and to be fair I’m really enjoying things because of everything being different. Mum and sisters loved their pressies, my oldest sister said my gifts seem to have a lot of thought behind them this year, not least because she got bits I knew full well she’d want for her new house and little sis said I was a lot easier to buy for since I came out. All this was going on but I had a keen eye on the clock because I planned to phone a special woman at six, someone who I’ve yet to meet in person but has been so helpful and supportive with my transition and other things going on, and is a wonderfully kind and caring woman.

That would be Rebecca, and at 6 I heard her voice for the first time, so soothing, gentle and relaxing. We spent about 2 hours chatting away about all sorts, dreams, experiences revolving around transition and our lives beforehand, well she did most of the chatting and I did the listening as I tend to listen and say little, unless it’s important (one of my quirks). It was a wonderful end to the evening, even if the phone decided to muck around and cut me off twice and I can’t say enough kind words about someone who I consider to be my third sister. Eventually we finish things (she had stuff to do and my family were sending out search and rescue teams for me) and I do the typical girl thing and tuck my phone in my bra, which then caused the phone to call her back. I’ve drunk dialled, butt dialled, dropped the phone on the floor dialled, but I’ve never boob dialled anyone until now haha. One more first in a long line of firsts for this year.

Boxing day has been a quiet affair, mostly relaxing, supporting mum first thing as we were both thinking about dad and getting stuff ready for dinner later, oh and a bit of online shopping. All quiet, well until 3pm when the kids came round and opened their presents we bought down. We didn’t see them this year on Christmas day as they were with their dad by the time we could get down and I have zero desire to see him after recent events.

Dinner was the usual affair, lots of fun, jokes and eating far too much, along with crackers, which were nice aside from getting a cracker which really didn’t want to do, resulting in my hand shooting back and punching my boob (Ouch!). Now we’re all doing that lazing around after eating way too much thing.

 

From a life divided to a life united, part 3

Right I’m back again and today I’m going to bring us up to where I am on this journey I’m on. I’ve looked back on a whole heap of stuff in my life and gone into some depth into how this has affected things with my husband. Today I’m going to talk about family and work and how a couple of huge events have had a bearing on things this year.

I’ll go for the family aspect first. I should mention that family were awesome with handling the news of my coming out (again) and what I wanted to do. Admittedly Richard had to help tell my mum and dad and his mum as my awkwardness I described earlier had crippled me that day. This is why I should write things down first. I’d spent two hours trying to get the words out and failing, basically sitting around and bending my fingers which is something Richard’s noticed I do when I’m highly anxious. Hubbie said I had something big to tell them to get the ball rolling and I awkwardly told them about being trans and my intention to transition.

Dad and nan both basically said it was about time I did this and mum wasn’t too far away from that sentiment either. I did wonder if it was that obvious, if I had ‘trans’ tattooed on my head or something, but looking back at all I’ve written earlier they’d seen a lot of this going on, put 2+2 and came up with 4. Again I got asked the usual questions, along with what I was going to call myself. I’d picked Chrissy as that’s what I wanted to be called all those years ago. Danielle is the female variant of my middle name and this pleased mum because my middle game was given to me  was her dad’s first name. We chatted a little and so all was well … for about five minutes as dad then told me about the cancer that would eventually take him from us a couple of months later. Awesome timing there between us.  Dad had likened it to winning the lottery at the time as at that point it was a pretty nasty cancer (merkel cell carcinoma) but it had only appeared in one place and he had an excellent chance of getting it taken out and radiotherapy meaning he’d have a good few years with us yet. This was the tail end of May and I found out that while I was meant to be running around doing a battle re-enactment for the Waterloo bicentennial that I had almost no interest in and was only going because I didn’t want to be away from hubbie for five days, dad would be having surgery.

Two months later he was told he had the damn stuff everywhere and start preparing for the worst as he’d now have weeks instead of the years he’d been told a couple of months ago. Tumours had pretty well crippled his liver and pancreas and he was being discharged from hospital as chemo wasn’t doing a thing for him because of this and a tumour on his brain was interfering with his memory.

After his discharge we had a week, just time for one last perfect day as a family three days later. We had a family barbecue, which I ended up cooking (ironic given I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years) as dad was under strict orders to rest and seemed happy sitting under a parasol and having his first beer in weeks and playing games with the grand-kids. The following day he fell into a coma and then defied nurses who had given him hours to live and put him on a morphine driver to help him have a peaceful end by somehow battling on for two full days before leaving us.

Dad and I never really had a chance to talk much about my transition because of his illness which eventually played havoc with his mind, becoming very forgetful and repetitive but I do remember one day where he sounded disappointed because I’d been staying over at theirs, I’d worn a dress one day and not the next. (Simple truth was I had very few female clothes then and only one good dress, so I was in jeans). His illness also delayed me coming out to my sister’s kids as they were already dealing with their granddad becoming ill and not being himself. When I was visiting dad at the hospital I’d been asked not to come dressed female, mostly because dad was worried others on the ward would comment, mum was worried dad would get up and thump someone for doing so and sis wasn’t ready to deal with the kids asking questions about my transition.

I remember after one such visit being in such a furious mess of dysphoria and driving home and it spurring me onto getting my name changed to make it impossible for the idea of me to hide myself from anyone. Sounds a bit spiteful given what was going on but dysphoria is a spiteful bitch to deal with and I wanted to turn the pain and anger I was feeling into something positive. I got home and started making arrangements to get my Deed Poll organised.

Dad’s last days came about and I spent four days at my parents house, seeing him through to the end and afterwards. My biggest regret with having taken this long to work things out is the fact dad never really got to see me grow and become the woman I am now and will be and not having much of chance to talk, though mum did say he was fully behind me in spite of the hospital business and being asked to hide who I was while there. He was proud and happy for me, he just didn’t have a chance to say it to my face.

The funeral came about and though my extended family had heard about my transition this was the first time most of them had seen me since then and of course I was in my finest dress for the occasion because although I felt like hell I wanted to at least look right. Being myself took the edge off of my feelings that day. I’d also agreed read out a tribute I’d penned for dad. Public speaking and me don’t get on, neither does being centre of attention. Team that up with me trying to find a feminine voice and the grief I was carrying and yeah, I was in a hell of a state that day. Somehow I dragged myself up there and did it. I could have handed it over to the celebrant to read out for me but this was dad. I had to do this somehow.

I saw my sister’ kids at the wake afterwards and they just acted as normal around me, didn’t say anything, though the oldest was full of questions for my sister after they’d gone home. My sister’s done an amazing job bringing them up. None of them had batted an eyelid to having two uncles who loved each other, now they weren’t batting an eyelid as one of them became another auntie. I sat down with the girls shortly afterwards and gave them the basic reasons why I was now auntie Chrissy and they shrugged and said, ‘Okay that’s cool’ and we went off playing games. They occasionally ask me questions and I’d said to them they didn’t need to worry about upsetting me, they can just come up and ask me whatever is on their mind. My nephew hasn’t said much, then again granddad had been his best play mate and this had probably hit him hardest of the three of them. Granddad was the only one who could get him to calm down and behave and this was more on his mind than my change. He’s eventually come round to calling me auntie Chrissy and all seems well though I suspect he’ll ask questions when he feels ready.

The day after we said goodbye to dad, Richard lost his adopted granddad who we’d lived with the whole time we’d been together and took care of as he steadily declined. Transition is hard enough without all this. I’d not spent much time with hubbie as I was dealing with dad and family while he was being a 24 hour carer for his granddad. We had precious little time for each other between all this, planning two funerals as well as getting all the house stuff changed over to us. Needless to say this had caused a lot of stress upon a relationship we still weren’t sure was going to survive my transition.

Richard’s mum has been pretty amazing as well. She’s happy that we’re ourselves and getting on with things and she’s even dug out a few items of clothing that she no longer wears, including a lovely Victorian dress that hubbie made for year years ago and I will be wearing to an event next weekend. Some of you have seen this if you’re on Twitter and know me there.

I do remember some awkward conversations with her a couple of years ago as she’d spotted someone who was transitioning in town and wondering why they’d do such a thing and how she thought it was a bit weird. I remember explaining how it’s their life and if they’re happy and not hurting anyone it’s their business while down inside Chrissy was screaming to get out into the world. All is well now though and we’ve even been clothes shopping together.

I also somehow fitted becoming a Godmother into the middle of this upheaval and uncertainty  for a couple of lovely friends of ours. They had initially asked me to be a Godfather, back when their son was born, before I came out, but it got called off because of a family crisis of their own. I then came out, began transitioning and they had no hesitation when they reorganised the Christening to ask me to be a Godmother.

Work slotted into this mess somewhere too. When I came out to hubbie I’d just accepted a promotion to a senior role at work and I was reasonably settled there, well before my mind exploded and then started to come to terms with everything. I was terrified of my transition affecting my job, especially given I’m working with vulnerable adults with autism and learning disabilities. Oh I knew I had the Equality Act to fall back on but that probably didn’t mean much if the residents I cared for couldn’t handle such a change and wouldn’t work with me, and so I was left in a kind of limbo. Female and reasonably happy at home and appearing male and miserable at work.

Having gotten chatting to a few people on Twitter and learning that Brighton had a transgender pride event coming up I booked a weekend down there on a whim with Richard and took off down there. It was wonderful, I wasn’t alone, I was surrounded by other people who knew exactly how I felt, what was going on and I met up with some of the lovely people I had been chatting to. It did Richard some good too, he felt more reassured after having a chance to chat to people and we both knew this was the way forward for me now. I felt a lot more confident in myself, and felt this really was the way I wanted to go now. I also knew I’d have to sort work out, sooner rather than later. I couldn’t live a double life, not any more. It was killing me and I remember both nights in Brighton getting very little sleep as a result.

I got back and the following day I organised a meeting with HR and prepared for all hell to break loose. It sounds selfish but my happiness was the priority now and to not address this was risking another mental health episode. On the day I get to head office, into my meeting and find my former manager was sitting in (she’s been promoted a while back but she had given me a lot of help bedding in at work and the sort of manager who always made time for you, had a friendly ear and someone you could talk to about things). She made the difference between coming out or falling back into myself. Though she knew very little about transgender issues she made it clear she was behind me all the way, whatever I decided next and hoped I’d stay on with the company.

Another meeting soon followed and I was able to get a plan together, a timetable for transition and organise a meeting with the behavioural specialist so the three of us could come up with a set of guidelines that would support those I care for and myself. It was also guidelines my co-workers could follow to help us all. That meeting got put on hold for a while as dad’s passing took me out of work for a while, but we sat down, had the meeting and quickly got the guidelines in place. I spaced things out rather than go all in at once as it would be easier for the residents to accept and so I started dressing and appearing more feminine until I was basically going into work as I would go to see family or go out so by September I was female full time. The only thing I haven’t done yet is wear a dress to work, but dresses and motorbikes don’t mix and as I’m often out and about and doing physical activities with the people I care for a dress isn’t going to be that practical. That said I know I’m doing a couple of hours on Christmas day before seeing family so I’m going to get Richard to drive me in and I’m going to wear a dress to work. Consider it a Christmas present for myself.

I am so much happier and relaxed at work, even if it is taking a while for some of the residents to get used to things. It’s brought me closer to most of them, though there’s one where I’ve had to take a step back for a while as he was getting anxious that things would be said when we were out together and he didn’t want to be involved or attacked though to be honest I’ve not had any issues thus far going out as myself. One day he’ll feel comfortable and we’ll be back to normal, it’ll just take a little time and he’s fine working with me in the evenings when he’s staying in and all is going as normal there. I can’t thank work enough for being so supportive with this, as well as the double bereavement we suffered.

Between all this if we’ve survived all this and our relationship has survived then nothing is going to break us apart now and in October I had this moment where I realised that yes, our relationship isn’t going to just survive my transition, but it might even thrive because of it. Hubbie and I are a lot more communicative now, I’m a hell of a lot happier and that dark cloud I spoke about earlier had gone and he was happy because he was seeing me grow, gain a confidence I’ve never had and finally be me. I know he’s still struggling with some aspects,  mostly the physical ones and I’m really struggling with intimacy because things happen and dysphoria comes along to give me a good kick, but it’s an ongoing thing and we’re getting there, one day at a time, baby steps if needs be. I just wish he didn’t describe my transition as a kind of bereavement, especially at a time when we’ve both had to say good bye to close family.

As for my transition n general, things are ongoing. Though I’m waiting to be seen at the GIC in Charing X I did get a good taste of what’s to come back in September as they did an induction course, where we learned about the various aspects of transition, (hormones, voice coaching, etc) some lovely graphic videos of surgery (I didn’t faint or hurl, which is pretty good going for squeamish me) and a booklet on things we can be doing for ourselves while we’re waiting.

Because I wasn’t happy to wait a year for the NHS I had two appointments booked privately to get my hormones properly sorted out rather than flying alone like I am at the moment I realised that I’d be in a pretty good position by the time they caught up with me if I carried on doing what I had been doing. I’d have a year’s life experience in the social role, I will have been on hormones for a year by then, my deed poll had already been done and all of my documents updated to my chosen name and I’m reasonably happy with where I’ve gotten my voice to. I knew all those years singing to Bruce Dickinson and keeping a good high register would have a practical use, but I’ll go into depth about that another day. I’m steadily working on getting a nice, soft and stable voice and I’ve got the resonance up in my head rather than my chest, which helps with things.

The further down the line I go the happier I’m becoming. I’ve got confidence, self esteem and a positive body image for the first time in my life. Now someone try reason with me why transitioning is a bad thing? I can’t think of anything better than being able to be your true self. To be anything else is an act of self harm.

Finally I want to thank everyone who’s helped me along the way so far. Richard, family, my friends, you’ve all been there, encouraging me and giving me a lift when I’ve had a bad day. You’re all amazing people.

One last thing before I go. When I was coming to terms with my transition one particular booklet helped immensely, I’ll leave the link below as it’s great for people coming to terms or working out their gender identity as well as family and friends.

http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/transhealth/documents/livingmylife.pdf