Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Answered Prayers

Tonight, after eating well. Sans glasses.

And with FaceApp, I mean.
#goals
Last week I began to wobble. I should know better by now, and I did spot the signs, but I still struggle to right things once I start - there is over-correction, leaning into the imbalance and then the careening wildly. Meeting my father was... apparently more emotionally difficult than I gave it credit at the time. Some work came in to mark and that too was strangely difficult - it's the first major marking of the year, this always happens. Going to Pokemon was lovely, I really enjoyed it, I'm planning to attend again without my disguise in November. But it was busy and I was worried about the Boy and I lost all my games and that hurt because ultimately I'm a bad loser. I struggled with the good things.

And, last night, I cleared the front room ready for building work. I walked out into town with a stuffed bra on and it felt natural and normal and lovely. My hair is getting longer, and I'm feeling more and more like... me. I was shaking though, ostensibly because I'd had a coffee that morning but also because I was hungry and... The joy of ASD, in my very specific case, is that I don't always notice when I am emotionally tired. I got a gin and tonic in a can, I returned home and ate a bought in meal whilst watching Katy Montgomerie taking down transphobic nonsense online.

What would I look like with a bob in
black hair?

Yes, this is a reference to Trinity hair
as discussed previously.
I had been dimly aware of the Duffield comment and the furore surrounding it - catching sight of headlines on newspapers when I was charging the car and hearing it on the radio. When I learned the whole story I was able to knit together some of the things I'd read in comments BTL in the Grauniad whilst on the bog over the last few days. And I was going to post about class and attitudes and about how stats don't always match to anecdotes and the danger in placing too much weight on one's own experience of others rather than on statistical knowledge.

But I was emotionally tired. And what spilled out was something from a treacherous part of myself that I know lies and likes to make things hard.

This morning, waiting for the builders to come and sort the front room, I agonised over whether to delete the post. I elected not to, this is my place for truth after all, and that includes the times I make a hash of everything. I read Clare Flourish and caught up on September's posts and was reminded of reality. I saw comment threads that spoke of reality, of community, of being stronger and better together - that hinted at an end to socially imposed hierarchies through, well, love. You know, the sort of revolutionary thought I say I'm keen to espouse myself. And I felt very silly and not a little guilty about last night's post.

Someone at work invited me out for a drink unexpectedly - they were also taken by surprise - and we met up and did that. It was nice. They asked my advice about getting an ASD diagnosis. Funnily enough, I'd just heard from Tilly that the smallest has joined the club too. The colleague was genuinely interested in my advice, I was able to be compassionate and they said I had been helpful, more than they expected. Rising tides, boats and fishing.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

That Unwanted Animal


The Past is Prologue

At University I was given a cassette by a girl I really liked and who remains a friend even today. She never liked me the same way in return, but dated many of my friends. On one side was the album Ok Computer by Radiohead but it cut off at No Surprises and the other side was Without You I'm Nothing by Placebo but cut off at Burger Queen. A perfect combination for my mood at the time. She once told me that she never knew which me was going to be there when I turned up places, that there were many versions of me. I suspect that this is why she didn't like me the same way I her and may explain the otherwise inexplicable gift of the cassette.


The Future

My favourite from the Saturday.

Now with added 'bob-cut'.
At the park on Saturday there were a group of youths of various ages interacting. It was on the edge of an area of extreme social deprivation, the worst in the county, and there were a few obvious mini-groups that had come together to a place with play equipment - they were there with no supervision (as one would expect) but exhibiting the kinds of behaviours that I recognise from where I used to the live, the sorts of interaction and language that one associates with mild neglect and poor role modelling. That is, fake bravado and insults as endearments with an edge of not understanding social interactions. One of the young girls there had communicated to me and the boys about our curious discussion about a path running off to the side of the field, she was younger than the Boy, older than the smallest, and keen to be nice. "Oh, there's a field there," she began over-hearing us, "and then there's a path out to the pub. I mean, out to the Rose and Crown. You can drink there. I've drunk there."

I ignored the drink part, "Oh, thank you, we'll have to go and look at the field."

"It's a nice field. But I know people go there to have sex. And someone buried a cat there because I saw them doing it. Well, my friend saw them. And they buried a cat. It's in the field."

"Certainly sounds interesting, we'll go and investigate, thank you, that was really helpful of you" and we started to walk away.

"And I've been smoking in that field."

And we left. You get the get the idea. I doubt very much the girl had been drinking or smoking, or that a cat was buried there. Her face was earnest, she wanted to be friendly and helpful but was trying so desperately hard to shock and disgust. And she had no volume control, this was all yelled, in the hopes of perhaps attracting the attention of others.

The actual park, but in March rather than this last
weekend, so very much in winter here.

That's the slide though. Oh, also, I guess still in
Lockdown.
It was later that day, we were back at the park. The girl had gone, but many of the same group remained. They were bullying one boy on the slide, they had stolen his shoe and were kicking it round. Another group of boys, seemingly with the bullied boy, were clustered round the slide calling him a "gay-boy" and using this with one another because "boys ain't friends wiv boys". One of the boys retrieved the shoe, returned it to the original boy, who punched him and then they sat down together, called one another gay-boys and started a conversation about a Tik-Tok video they'd both watched. One of the erstwhile bullies joined in and was invited to sit with them. He shouted that a girl he'd just been talking with was a "tranny and gay-boy" for ill-defined reasons and then conversation turned to music. Another, older, boy and girl turned up their music but then joined the conversation and...

Get to the point, Joanna.

Okay, so, these were 'youth'. And they were clearly aware of terms like 'gay-boy' and 'tranny'. They were confused about them but they knew them. They ranged in age from Primary School (around ten or so) to GCSE (around sixteen I'd guess). Given the issues they were all clearly facing, from neglect (albeit benign) to possible signifiers of emotional abuse at the hands of trusted adults; from low-level poverty to being below the bread-line, I should not have been surprised at their use of slurs and their behaviour.

And that treacherous part of me inside said: "these people have no need for something as esoteric and alien as trans-rights: surely you ought to realise that the working-class don't care about that extremely first-world issue. Why do you care so much about something that would affect around 0.5% of the population?" It said: "You've lived 40 years already, what difference does another 40, 50, 60 make? And at what point does it become anywhere near as important to deal with as the issues facing these children?" And it added: "these are the future, these youngsters are the real Britain, UK, of the future. And look what they think about trannies and perverts. Homophobia, yes, and that is the future. Oh, and by the way, what an arsehole you are to 'other' them as working class and pass judgement on them at all, get over yourself you cosseted middle-class bougeois oppressive twat."



Politics

Ah, here it is. Not the one I know from beer - they retweeted this.

I'm not usually on Twitter, honest, but this one was sent to my
e-mail as a 'highlight' that Twitter thought I might want to see.

Along with one from Mae Dean about getting an appointment to
update her driving licence in her name and with her gender.
Opinion pieces are always of interest. And there is a Party Conference going on, a Labour one. Supposedly a progressive party, an MP from it tweeted that she was being attacked for knowing that only women had a cervix. Her Party leader was asked if it was transphobic to say that only women had a cervix and mealy mouthed some politeness that "it should not have been said" and some people I actually know from beer reviews have quote-tweeted this with the commentary "Dear God". An opinion piece about the leader of this supposedly progressive party suggested that they ought to state some policies. In the comments several people claimed to be working class and suggested that what thius progressive party needed to do was "row back on this trans-rights nonsense, talk more about taxation and cut benefits that fund people choosing poverty over work" to much agreement. Even those arguing against welfare cuts simply ignored, or outright agreed, that the "trans-nonsense has to stop as it detracts from the very real problems and issues facing the UK."

The Health Secretary used the question and answer to suggest that the leader of the opposition was ignorant of basic science: only women could even have a cervix and to say otherwise was patently absurd. Much of the progressive media was awash with people being very upset that a female MP had been attacked on Twitter for stating the blindingly obvious and suggesting that the trans-issue had become a little too much of a big thing.

And that treacherous part of me inside said: "they're right, you know. This is how it all begins." And it smiled and said: "you think this is a good time to identify with the losing side? How many good people hid their sexuality, identity and religion - everything that modern culture says ought to be expressed - when they saw what was coming in the 1930s in Fascist Germany? They were later hailed as heroes for that, you know, not those that went and got killed for 'staying true to themselves' - and anyway, there's no genocide being suggested. You've lived for 40 years without making too many waves - it's destroyed your marriage already, is that not enough?" That part of me looked at me as I walked into town this evening to get some things to hang in the loo to clean it and some veg for a meal tomorrow dressed in my butterfly t-shirt and stuffed bra and asked: "is this worth the price you've paid already? No, it isn't. And this is without making any moves."



Vegan Games

Everywhere is sold out of these.

Not that the Japanese version would be
all that helpful.
Last night the Boy and I attended Pokemon at my favourite local vegan gaming cafe and I got talking to Veronica again, the trans-woman there, and she went out of her way to make it clear that I could ask her anything and she would do her best to answer. She pointed out that the Boy was perfectly comfortable around her, that he knew she was trans, and so I shouldn't feel bad about coming out to him. She knows my eldest and pointed out that she was likely to be supportive - after all, she was bi and therefore already in the right camp - and she wondered aloud why I might delay at all. She assured me that waiting lists weren't that long, she had got on hormones within seven months of coming out to her GP when she was 18, her breasts were thus all natural, and she had regular meetings and check-ups with the gender clinic. Indeed, she got extra support through therapy because of the ASD diagnosis along with the gender issues so I could likely look forward to the same.

I shared about coming out at work and she asked how long it would be until I socially transitioned at work, that it was a good idea to do so quickly rather than wait. I pointed out that the advice from my Union was to wait until a holidays to give the school chance to change documents and prepare for the potential of a media onslaught. She nodded, this was good advice, so after Christmas then? Luckily, the Pokemon games interrupted. Veronica was nothing but positive and kind, well-meaning, but by the end of the evening I was struggling a bit - information overload? I actually couldn't make out what she, or anyone else, was saying for one extended part of the night - not something with which I usually struggle, and all the noises were melding into one big roar. Not a loud one, but enough to obscure words and meaning. It's been like that on and off at work too.

The other issue to relate here is that I didn't actually have any questions. I mean, I did about getting on hormones but... I didn't know how to ask that question in the way that I would get the answer I needed - that is, how to ask so that people would be able to offer the information I was looking for. The same issue I have noted at the in-person support group - the last meeting was a fun one, to be sure, but apart from memes and sci-fi and novels I'm not certain that I learned anything that I found useful. No, let me rephrase, anything that I want to find out right now.

And that treacherous part of me inside grinned ear to ear: "who do you think you are, anyway? Do you honestly believe that you'll go on hormones? You, who can't contemplate taking a paracetamol for a splitting headache and baulks at the concept, the concept, of taking vitamins to supplement a diet?" I didn't have an evening meal yesterday, and my lunches are back to being rushed and not well-balanced to try and save my tooth - whose temporary filling failed completely on Monday night and whose new temporary filling, though holding, is much less expertly applied. "It's been 40 years, you've been teaching long enough that your career can vote and go to University, is losing the beard not enough? How do you think you'll manage if you try play-acting as a woman? Do you really expect that students will call you 'Miss', do you think you can call yourself 'Miss'? You still add 'Mister' rather than 'Mx' when monologuing for goodness' sake. the word you're looking for is 'delusional'. You're welcome."



The Experience

Here's a photo I have on file that rather
proves the point I'm trying to make regarding
fetish and dressing.

"Easily the sort of image that supports the
concept of AGP, isn't it?"
In the end my understanding of myself is grounded in the sexual. I have related here extensively over the years that, yes, much of the dressing that I have done throughout my life has ended, or included, masturbation and bondage. Just imagining having longer hair, or hair like Trinity in the Matrix is enough to get me hot'n'bothered enough to get physical and reach the end; using the standard tissue to deal with the result and bin it. Just like it always has been. Maybe it always will be. "Don't you like that though," says that treacherous part of me inside with a soft voice, "you can admit that you bloody love having a good wank, can't you? That moment of climax. Not going to have that if you go on hormones, not going to be able to do that if you want to truly live as a trans-woman. And that, the wanking, is what this is really all about, isn't it?"

My only interaction with a sex-therapist was way back in late 2011 or early 2012. I wrote about it on this very blog. He asked me to explain what happened and what I thought about when I masturbated. It was a particularly unsubtle reference to AGP, something I was only dimly aware of myself at the time but keen to distance myself from. That is likely to come up again. And, honestly, I don't know how I don't fit that diagnosis - even if it is arrant nonsense, people believe it. And those people are gatekeepers to NHS and medical support. What if it is just a form of fetish - or, at least, enough of a fetish that it doesn't matter what else there is.

"You've lived the way you have for 40 years, struggled, but not moved. Would any change be worth the price paid?"

On Sunday my father's talk as we went for a walk revealed a man who had done much of what he wanted to do, and whose biggest regrets were in his own mind and not related to actual reality. He felt he had amends to make with me, and I never found out for what, because the concept is absurd. He kept a letter I wrote at the height of my teenage angst and impotent anger that insulted him and his wife for nearly twenty years before I managed to convince him to get rid of it. He read it every year on the anniversary of me sending it, torturing himself with the half-formed stress of a teenager who fancied himself good with words. A man who went to Oxford, found women to love him around every corner so that he could choose his partner; who out-performed his own father on every measurable metric.

By contrast... by contrast I was that teenage boy with the angst and self-important belief that I could wield words. I went to University, where two of my lecturers questioned whether or not I was degree material. At my Masters one of my two lecturers took me to task and pointed out that I was studying for an MA and would I not be better doing something, anything, else as I clearly wasn't cut out for this level of study and, frankly, he questioned how I managed to achieve a 2:1 in a BA (he suspected I didn't deserve the Hons addition). In teacher training one of the two course leads questioned whether I had what it took to be a teacher and the other said I could go through the motions but she felt I lacked the passion - like I was going through the motions without really knowing why. Imposter Syndrome but through inertia. "Why is your assertion that you're a trans-woman any different to your assertion that you wanted to go to University or be a teacher? Your body is male in every defineable way, your DNA screams male in every way science can judge and you code masculine so effectively that you avoid getting attacked and mugged by eyebrow alone. Even if you're not going through the motions, do you really think you would cope being seen socially as female?"

Monday, 27 September 2021

Take Me Back

On Saturday I took the boys for a walk
in the heat and the woods. I snuck in a
selfie and then FaceApp'd it.

Where I see butterflies to-ing fro-ing

And the river flows, I am never gonna take it back again. And the river flows, I am never gonna get it back again.

Bad habit: I berate myself for being slow in a morning, and for any 'forgetfulness' during a day. Since April it was confined to my disguise name and, when dressed, I wasn't doing it. However, slowly, over the last week, it crept back in. Interestingly, when I swore at myself I tended to use my given name rather than calling myself 'Jo' or 'Joanna' - but in the last week, I started doing it with those names too.

On Sunday I took the eldest two to see my Dad. It was nice. Beautiful weather. Dad took me for that walk. He stated that he wished to make amends, that he had made many mistakes - he was referring to the time surrounding his divorce with my mother (I checked), for which no amends need to be made (I said as such). Then he spelled out his plans for the next five years, should he have them, which sounded sensible and positive; along with how he and his wife have fallen back in love with one another over lockdowns - not that they were out of love, but they remembered why they loved one another in the first place - and how that has been painful given recent events. [redacted stuff about my father]. My father then asked after my plans for the next five years. I managed to deflect to house stuff and job. But he remarked that I seemed less haunted and harried these days. I almost told him, but it was his show, not mine. He shared that he was proud of me, which I know, and that he felt I had done a good job with the children and navigating through my own divorce. He felt he was going to fail to live as long as his father, and that galled him as he had done better in every other way - I didn't know what to say to that (he's not wrong, mind, in virtually every metric you can measure: wealth, standing, job, relationships, education, travel...) so I said nothing.


Later on, we picked up the Girlie from
Dance and I had this effort. It's a bob-cut
according to FaceApp. Huh.
[Redacted stuff about my father]. Then they took us all to the tree that they planted to commemorate a miscarriage 14 years ago. Again, the children do not know the significance. Would have been weird having a half-sibling about the same age as my eldest. It was a nice walk, but very hot: the Boy ended up shorting out and went mute and tired; the Girlie had had ice-cream so went strangely rude and loud. We walked back and I drove them home before charging the car - there's a fuel shortage in the UK, I laugh in electric car.

I thought I had forgotten to book time off for Thursday, when my damp issue in the dining room is going to be sorted, so I was angry at myself most of the weekend about that. But it turns out that I did tell people at work and book the time off. So... that was nice. So I berated myself for not remembering and making me feel all wobbly all weekend. My mother had a coffee morning today for charity, I should probably check in and ask how that went.




I like this one the best. I don't know
why really.
At work I had a dispiriting lesson, suffice to say I questioned myself a bit and got all flustered and frustrated. Which isn't right. Once home I changed into jeggings and butterfly top with stuffed bra, made and ate tea - the lady from down the road called with some free food (she does this a lot) and I threw on a dressing gown. Why? I'm certain she suspects - why not just answer the door as me? She's friendly enough, it wouldn't cause any problems. And we're back at my bad habit.

My father went through what he has achieved and the things he wished still to do - his regrets weren't that terrible, it seemed to me, not having enough holidays and not doing the decorating or moving house sooner. That was it. There's a damp patch on the repaired wall, several, and I worry that the issue has not been solved. My father and his wife already made up the lost time in the lockdowns, they kissed at one point and it was a joyous thing to see as they were both clearly happy and in love. Today Tilly took the Boy and the smallest to a birthday party at a trampoline place where they both had loads of fun; the Girlie went round to see a friend. And I missed that. We don't know anything trapped in a world full of strangers. Please don't tell me anything...




Friday, 24 September 2021

Sun-had-set Boulevard

And here I am. I am rubbish at asking
others to take my photo, I wanted to, but
I did not. So here I am at the end of the
evening instead in an appalling selfie.
Oh, and old not smartwatch ahoy!
Last night I went to the in-person support group because my children were away with Tilly to surprise her Dad for a milestone birthday. It has allowed me to (digression klaxon) be me a bit more this week, and I have embraced that and enjoyed it. Even though I didn't go to the vegan favourite my local vegan cafe gaming on Tuesday I did wear mascara that evening and dress as myself. On Wednesday I wore my pencil skirt and new blouse and enjoyed being professional whilst watching crap on youtube. It's the small things. But, last night, I once again put on the mascara, after a bath to shave my legs and chest and pits, and then the white long sleeved t-shirt, the pink t-shirt that I love, my flares and some of my new socks. Glasses on and I walked down the street(!) to the car, went and... enjoyed it.

Basically I am a walking meme machine - in that I can relate virtually anything back to a meme or video or book - and it was actually quite nice. I was everso slightly jealous of the amazing fashion choices on display there, the amazing uses of make-up (some incredible nail work and jealousy inducing use of eye-make-up from a new person attending for the first time) and the community feel. You know me by now, I am good at grand gestures and attending for a little while - it is in the long term that I become hard to stomach and deal with.

I really like this look. I did at
the time too. But now? Now I know
why I never fancied Carrie-Anne Moss,
I just thought her style might look good
on me.
Work today was a little more difficult than normal, the crunch is coming and I am struggling as ever to keep pace, but I know that the storm is coming and that I shall weather (ha) it as best as I can. I always do. I was also reminded about the feeling of those first days back at work and that put me in a happier mood as I charged the car ready for the weekend's shenanigans. Then I came home and indulged by watching Matrix Reloaded and really enjoyed it. I have played very much into the meme that the sequels were rubbish but I did recall enjoying the films in the cinema when I watched them (2003 apparently!). And, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and remembering the incredible soundtrack again.

Oh, tonight I'm in my blue jeggings, butterfly t-shirt and I feel amazing. When I got back from the support group last night I very nearly went for a walk because the temperature was forgiving and I felt so at home dressed as I was. I had some of my students say that I was wearing more colourful clothing this year (I am not) and it really buoyed me up because it just proves that observation that I appear happier and more comfortable with myself. Next, honestly, is deciding whether or not I want to try for Carrie-Anne Moss's hairstyle from the Matrix films when I get my hair trimmed in half term (end of October). I mentioned this last night and one of the kind souls there present looked at me, considered, and then said they could totally see it on me. I won't lie and say I wasn't flattered. I still think it was a well-meaning lie, but now that seed has been planted and we'll just have to see what happens now.

Luckily, FaceApp is on hand to deal
with the close-up, Mister Demille.

One thing was very clear today, though, as I drove home and ruminated on the events of the week past: I really would like to not have my beard or facial hair. Like, ever again, I cannot imagine a situation where I would willingly and without qualm go back to having my beard. Having had one for the best part of 21 years this was something of a surprise but not entirely unexpected. When I am inevitably asked what I hope to gain from any potential transition, I guess this is the first honest-to-god physical change and source of dysphoria. Just spotting on the full photo above that I have such dark stubble made me pause. And I wasn't expecting that. In the end, I just want to feel like I did on Thursday night, when I got home, more often. I want to be able to actually go for that bloody walk, but in the daylight and with no stubble and a feminine haircut so that I can code 'woman' enough not to instantly get beaten up on the way out. And, for the first time, I'm wondering if I might be looking at a potential future rather than a ridiculous and fantastical vivid dream just before I awaken.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Welly Boots

Sunday - in flares I go for a random walk
and buy a blouse for future use at work.
I get FaceApp to do the dirty.
Since earlier this year, since I realised that not only could I be trans but that I would allow myself to be trans - and thus, well, recognising the fact that, yes, I was trans and always had been... since then, I have found myself doing the kinds of things that I have spent literal years avoiding. Because, well, I had sort of given myself permission. Then summer arrived: I went to an in-person support group, I screwed up my courage and went dressed. Then I pushed through and went to my favourite vegan board-gaming local cafe dressed as myself and weathered it - no, I didn't just weather it, I went and really enjoyed being me. I was me, for possibly the first time, out there in the world. Much of the summer was spent being me thereafter, like a damn had broken and the me in me was rushing out into the world. I was looking in mirrors, I wasn't swearing at myself in a morning, I wasn't stressed, I had my ups and downs but, ultimately, I was able to be a bit kinder to myself because I was, well, I was me.

So it was that I went back to work and rapidly built up new practices: I no longer have a beard; I wear an alice band; I wear glasses; I underdress; I have new socks. True, work made things hard - it always does - and the cyber-attack and subsequent shenanigans making me feel more precarious; but mostly I weathered it (felt very down when my tooth exploded) and now my children are away for the week.

I really like the train-wreck hair here,
even if the app really struggled with the
dimensions of my face.
Tonight, I faced my first failure to launch. I had the option, and the time, to go to my local favourite gaming local vegan local cafe and... I didn't. I came home, started the tea, and applied mascara - dressing in my flared jeans, new white long-sleeve t-shirt and my favourite pink one over the top. I put on my stuffed bra (an old lacy one this time, not one of the recent t-shirt bra purchases) and my glasses and... I'm sat here. Last night I went out (jeans and white top; but a coat over the top and with the same stuffed bra) and bought my tea from the chippy. No make-up... but I did it. And, trust me, I feel so comfortable in mascara right now. Like, I am genuinely shaken by just how much of a difference it's made to put it on and how much more like me I feel. But I haven't gone out, as I had planned, to my favourite local favourite gaming favourite vegan cafe.

Why?

Partly due to the fact that KT is likely there and I'm not ready for her to know about me just yet - she is in contact with Tilly and is likely to 'let slip' what she knows and I'm not ready to have Tilly find out via someone else. And I didn't want to go in disguise enough to do that either.

This one is just... nice.
Over the weekend my Union Rep sent me an e-mail about the NEU advice for transitioning staff. My place of work does not have a policy for transitioning staff. But it does have a policy for transitioning students. This policy states that a student will be supported in terms of clothing choices if the student is over 18 but that the school will not accept name changes or pronoun changes unless and until a Gender Recognition Certificate is provided and, regardless of age, will not change unless parents support the change as well. Parents supporting the change is not enough to allow staff to use new pronouns or names. Staff may, but this will not be supported by the register or by communications from the school. This is all perfectly legal and very conservative. The Union advice is for a much more supportive policy but...

Here I sit, dressed as me, glass or Rose wine on hand, and I think: how long? Next academic year perhaps? Sooner?

I really enjoyed the summer. I really enjoyed the chance to be me, the realisation that I could be me and still function. I found myself exactly where I feared I would be, but, in the end, there was no real fear. Not really. There was just me. And that was wonderful. I caught glimpses of me in the mirror and what I saw there was joy, happiness, contentment. I saw myself as if for the first time. I have slept better these last six months than I remember sleeping for a long long time. And, tonight, as I applied mascara in the mirror, I realised just how much I actually like myself. Sorry, typing that has brought tears to my eyes that I simply wasn't expecting. I'm going to stop typing now.



Saturday, 18 September 2021

Wear Sun-screen

If I could offer you one tip for the future, sun-screen would be it. The long term benefits of sun-screen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my [writing] has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. Slowly but surely the edifice is semi-rebuilt and I end up feeling not a little sheepish.


I think it's viable to argue that, one day maybe,
perhaps, with a following wind and a lot of squinting,
assuming a distance, myopia in the viewer and bad
lighting: I could probably aim for something that
approximates enough the look on the right to bring an
image like this to mind.

In my dreams, maybe.
There have been ructions: [Redacted stuff about my father].






The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

The HDD came back unmolested, no problems, they scanned for the malware and found nothing and so looked no further. My laptop has the malware and, though I told them I needed no data from it, they've sent it away to save the data. This data is mainly student work downloaded from online storage so I absolutely don't need any of it. Oh well, they were trying to do right by me, I just wish they hadn't! I'm on a loaner laptop, about twenty years old but at least it works.


Oh, yeah, bought some new trousers that
might not match the jacket, but may match
the idea being shot for...
The tooth has been seen. Temporary filling applied, I'm suspicious of it and eating on the other side of my mouth, but at least it no longer aches. I have an appointment to get a proper filling in November. Apparently it was the filling that failed, not the tooth, and it took the side of the tooth with it when it went. It was a decade old I guess. And, at the same time, the blister is slowly healing. I've been able to walk rather than hobble for a couple of days: hurrah!

On Thursday I had a chat with Miss Warrington. I have been getting steadily more excited about the new Matrix film now that I have had explained to me precisely how the first film (and, indeed, the sequels) are, in fact, a trans allegory. It's... well, it's kind of obvious now I look at it (surface level: living in a world where things seem off but not knowing why; the red pill is oestrogen; Trinity is filmed to be attractive to lesbians. Going deeper: the relationship twixt Neo and Trinity is not a hetero one at all; the posters merge Trinity and Neo's face a lot; Cypher was supposed to be a woman outside the Matrix and a man in it - hence the conversation with the Agent, it's transition regret - there's more, but that'll do for now). But, that aside, I really enjoyed the first film (and then buried how much I liked the follow ups in the welter of bad press) and the trailer reminded me about how much I enjoyed it. I mean, I was friends with a bunch of sci-fi geeks when the first one came out and went to see it with them at a Film Society showing for the first time. We discussed it a bit, you might say, and of course I played with the idea of being in the Matrix but being a woman in a pod with a male avatar - because of course I did and I read the fanfic that did that different ways. Been using scenes for my whole career (the fight and jump program scenes) with Sixth Formers after their first essay: "everybody falls the first time".


Surprisingly enough, Real Life Comics sort
of sums up my thoughts (emphasis on sort of).
It's been doing that... a lot?
Anyway, Miss Warrington was also talking about the trailer and on Thursday we were able to have an actual chat at the end of the day. Her day off is Friday this year. She took the first half hour to talk about Her week and the students She was teaching, how Her lessons were going, Her recent switch to more colourful and playful clothing. And then we talked about the film a bit (Her dress had white rabbits on it, as did Her earrings). Then She asked after me. I didn't mean to, but I shared the reason for the blister - She laughed, called me a glutton for punishment, but then made some recommendations for shoes. Alas, we got no further as we were interrupted by Alice and thus segued back into the Matrix until Alice started talking shop and I took my leave. Daughter to Dance, then shopping, missing my usual Thursday night gaming session (I only got home at 2145).

Wore the pink accented glasses to work every day but Thursday (went with blue to match the tie, but it didn't feel right, so went back to pink), and my bralette on Thursday and Friday. Got changed into my flares most nights, been in my nightie and stuffed bra every night apart from Tuesday and last night (goodness, I wasn't prepared for how much of a part of my routine that has become) and... Yeah. Leaned into the whole Mx thing and I do feel soooo much better than I usually do at work. My hair is now long enough that I can do a high ponytail to keep it dry when not washing it. I... I like that. And even when it's unbrushed and messy I feel like I'm looking at myself in the mirror of a morning. With everything, that has been a real tonic. I even had a chat with a female colleague who doesn't know about how to straighten hair (or at least avoid the strange kick-back I'm developing) that went... well, rather well actually.

Not gonna lie, would love to dress
like this for work.
All this time wasted - since at least the early 1990s - knowing that something was just... off. And, also, kind of knowing what it was that was off too, but not wanting to know because of the feeling that it was somehow wrong. But, I know now. As in, I know in a way that doesn't allow for plausible deniability. And the clock is ticking. Or not. Not sure my father would be supportive were I to tell him what I now know. A conversation back in London where he and my brother agreed that trans people were "looking for attention" and that "God doesn't make mistakes" so therefore "trans people don't really exist" because they're just obnoxious potential perverts desperately seeking attention. My father has regularly suggested that I just "give up" cross-dressing and still believes that this makes me to blame for my divorce as it puts him "in danger of supporting" Tilly over me. Maybe a different clock is ticking. Certainly next Sunday isn't the time to tell him. If there will ever be a time.

In all of this, I have never thought of myself as being in the wrong body. It's mine. Baz Luhrmann told me how it was the most perfect instrument I would ever know. It's hairier than I wanted in places that I didn't want hair but that sort of thing can be solved without changing my body or even who I am. And it didn't do some of the things that... well, I knew it wouldn't do (I'd read the Body Book) but still kinda hoped that maybe it would - like a mistake had been made in the admin when I was born or something, you know? Like, maybe I'd be lucky enough to have gynecomastia? I wasn't. And, I'm off on a tangent.

But trust me on the sun-screen.

Monday, 13 September 2021

Go ask Alice: when she's ten feet tall

A new Matrix film out? A trailer that references the bits in the first (and only) film of the trilogy, the bits that reference Lewis Carroll and a prominent trans director? Is it my birthday? Oh baby do you remember; he's been through all this before, spent the summer getting nowhere.


No. It is not.

A targeted malware attack on my place of work on Friday, meaning I had to hand in my personal portable HDD this morning. Cue feeling a little sick with worry - I have downloaded more than a few captions over the years, sometimes one has something to hide (should have hidden it, shouldn't you?). And musing on Section 28 and it's place as the Death Star hiding a moon, protected by that shield projector based on the self-same moon and run by the Empire. Not a cannibalistic teddy bear in sight - all the better to eat you with. From pain comes pity.

Pain on the feet, constant and irritating, coming and going; a day spent stressed at pushing a little bit further: brown alice-band, pink accented anti-glare glasses, baby-blue socks with white heart details (women's ankle socks). And, tonight, my back molar crumbled while eating tea. No, again, the whole nightmare scenario of the shattering of a bit of tooth. Of course, because I had been so blithe and, well, happy. It's how it always goes. I shouldn't be surprised. I'm the paper cut that kills you, I'm the priest that you ignore.

What will get me first this time, I wonder, what will bring the cascade down?

Already I have been moved sideways because I fell apart and confessed to my ultimate boss that I couldn't do what was requested of me, stating baldly that he needed to get someone else in my position as I was unable to do what he wanted. Dark calculus. An e-mail seeks clarification on pronouns because I have been using Mx, but on the work system. Am I tragic or a joke wrapped in my invisibility cloak? Well, quite. How long do I have?


Tomorrow I must phone my dentist, book the time off work when I get an appointment. I must await the return of my HDD with bated breath, be ready for the questions and potential recriminations. No one escapes judgement forever. I must actually phone my GP, seek an appointment for a referral to a gender clinic. My vector isn't so far removed from the locus of that potential co-ordinate. Indeed, it lies on the path I seem to have begun. Better all at once than never. Maybe revisit my visit to the psychotherapist and try again. Wary of AGP and misinterpretation, the sum of all my fears.

Because I've waited long enough.


One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all. "Well, hello, my hollow Holofernes" I wink, but you don't get the joke.



Sunday, 12 September 2021

Mistakes were made...

Walking in heels is fun. Going Out pt 3
was a serious contender for a post title.
Today was the day I decided to finally go for a walk in my boots with the 3" heels.

Why?

I had dug out an old pair of jeans that I noted had wide legs - 34" waist, 32" leg - from a long time ago when I really was getting fat and wore them on Friday night and Saturday when the children were over. Why had I ditched them? A belt dealt with the waist size issue (I'm still higher than 32" but not the 34" I was when I bought these jeans) so... Oh, right, a massive hole in the pocket big enough to drop my credit cards and phone. Right. Anyway, I switched to my new flared jeans (female tailoring) today to take the eldest home and thence on to charge the car (I am so interesting, I know). And, on return, I thought: I wonder what these jeans look like with my boots?

Fair reader, they looked good.

The length of the leg and the size of the flare was such that you could not tell I was wearing heels (and the legs still grazed the ground) so I decided to go for a walk - no one could see the heels and no one could stop me.

About the point I realised I had a blister.
The App struggles mightily with this
t-shirt. It is 15 years old though.
Initially the main issue was that the area in which I live suddenly seemed very busy compared to previous walks. I usually see one or two people on a Sunday, sure, but today I saw so many more - there was a gentleman going very slowly in a mobility scooter on the pavement (surely he heard the clip-clop of the heels and noticed my much reduced stride?); there were three families with young children on the way to the canal (they all looked at my feet, did they know?); a horse-rider (never seen a horse on the path before) who stopped for a chat (did she see my gait as well and wonder?); people on the benches (usually they're fishing, not today, they eyed me curiously as I went over the bridge over the canal) and at least six cyclists (I'm lucky to see one usually), one of whom stopped as their dog went swimming and definitely spotted I was wearing heeled boots.

In all, I walked for an hour and ten minutes out on my usual route. With significantly smaller strides and a realisation that my size 9 boots allowed for a lot of slip-sliding around by my feet - particularly on my left. The clip-clop was replaced by scraping and a bit of a hobbling gait as my feet slipping gradually took on a painful aspect - the soles were thin, and on my left in particular I could feel the sharp stones on the path on my foot.

Going uphill was fine and walking on moss or mud was almost comfortable - my tendons and heels were totally silent - but my sole on my left was getting hot and complaining. Going downhill made me run in comically short steps even after the slope was passed. I was also struggling to keep my legs straight like I do in much smaller sojourns with the boots, and a deeply held desire to go quickly kept getting in the way of walking properly in the heels. When I got to a road I thought would loop round and found that it didn't (to be fair, it's a route I have avoided so far as being potentially too short) I turned and headed back, picking up pace to avoid yet another female walker looming behind me. Oh, yes, there were at least four female walkers I passed and at least one of them looked at my feet inquiringly.

That's when the pain really started. By the time I got over the bridge again, closer to home, I realised that I had a blister and that it was probably unwise to have gone so far with my boots and no recourse to alternatives. In the end I walked 5.32km at an average pace of 13m per km, and a pretty high heart rate of 136bpm on average. I was sweating profusely all the way back, not like me at all (though the sudden onset of summer rain suggests to me that the humidity was higher than I'm used to). Yes, I am sad enough to check the data from my fitness app, imagine a tongue out emoji at this point.

On my way into town to get plasters.
My left foot really hurt. But, well, heels
do so... I guess I liked it?

Really liked wearing my tee and jeans
though.

I worked it out - that hair length is about
ten months away now.
Once home I had a proper look. Yes, there was a massive blister on the left foot, on the sole near the toes, big enough to take in most of the front pads to the instep. It was so big that I literally couldn't walk on it after sitting for about ten minues. I popped it (probably not the best move, ask your doctor's advice) and then applied some crappy plasters I'd bought in when making the bunk beds ended up with me stabbing myself with a screwdriver before donning trainers, my mustard t-shirt (my original t-shirt being soaked through with sweat) and new socks to head into town (and the big supermarket) for some proper ones.

This walk, stat fans, was 3.08km at 9m30s per km and an average of 80bpm. Took 46 minutes in all. I got the plasters, some oat milk for work (Miss Warrington is avoiding dairy and specifically asked me to share her almond milk last week) and a tray of sushi (because I am still a fat pig). By the time I got home the plasters I had applied were red, literally, and soaked through. No sign of bleeding as I looked, but clearly some bleeding had happened. I have applied a gel plaster and am hoping that will do the trick for tomorrow and a return to work. Oh, and I've had a home-cooked (but packet made) Thai curry and some Rose wine (this was part of a student gift and this particular bottle was left for me by Alice after I came out to him, the gender script is real and I am early enough in my journey that I actually rather liked it). Feeling pleasantly light-headed.

So, in conclusion: if you go for a long walk in heels make sure you know what you're doing and maybe don't take 3" heeled boots on a walk you usually romp in trail shoes over broken ground. Mind you, I still loved it.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Rolling Grenades

Another image from Tuesday. I like the
glasses in this one.
Busy day today, but I'm trying to keep to things that aren't just narrations of the day these days. Anyway, the first evening taking the eldest to her dance class at a later time. That meant I had to start the day preparing for the in-person support group - meaning a bath and shaved legs (only twenty minutes, much improved!). I then did shopping and a rushed extra shave (chin) this evening before taking her to dance for 1900. She finished at 2015, but wasn't out until 2020. Driving her home took until 2050. Then it was a dash to mine to get changed, and I hadn't really thought through what I was going to wear. Well, okay, I had a bit but I realised that I didn't have time to add mascara (which was a shame) and my plan wasn't going to work (mini skirt - the denim one from Toby - with pink top) because I hadn't really sorted the 'shoe problem' where I didn't have anything I could reasonably wear. I tried the pink top from Aldi with a new skirt (burgundy) but... no. Pushed for time, it was now gone 2100, I opted for the mustard t-shirt and long skirt I got from Lidl recently. All a bit of a change from my teaching outfit. And now I've written a vapid paragraph on clothes.


Me in job-mode.
I made the group at around 2130 in the end. A bit late. I'd missed introductions and discussion was underway. The older lady from last time was there, holding forth again, but we were joined by others. It was a good turn-out. But, after a day teaching, I was still in teacher-mode, I guess, and itching to have a discussion. I could feel myself trying to speak, to turn conversation onto something that would lead to 'discussion' rather than... I don't know. It's not something I like about myself. I ended up chatting to a trans-man there with his partner and so I rolled the grenade into the group and it exploded, sending everyone into shards. The conversation was a nice one, this couple was just older than my students, so it fitted neatly into the sort of conversation pattern I'm used to at work, in the classroom. Except I was in a skirt with a stuffed bra, I guess.

But I did spot some of the regulars (though they were new to me) looking very stern. At me.


App interpretation. Teeth: model's own.
I need to learn to shut up and listen more, I know, and I perhaps shall. Who knows?

Upshot? Everything today has been just a bit too rushed. I got up slightly late, I ran a bath rather than have a shower, the nature of the day at work meant that I was moving rooms a lot and having to adapt on the fly. I mean, I can do that, but it does take rather a lot out of me. Add in being unable to share lunch with Miss Warrington and other staff (long boring story, I have to sit with my Form for a few weeks) and not really having a chance to chat with colleagues generally and you have a frustrating day (no matter how much I enjoy the lessons). Then it was a rushed drive home to shop, to make and eat tea, pick up my eldest and then a strange hour with no pressure (and nothing to do) before another rushed drive and panicked getting ready. Then, for me, a rushed in-person support group meeting.

I'm not sure I'm going to able to reasonably make the group again. Which is a shame. I feel like I have much more left to learn if I could only sit and listen for longer.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Wake Up Smiling

Fully back at work, lessons have started, and we're two days in. So far, I am nowhere near as stressed as I normally am and I know that I have gaps in lessons but... it's working, sorta, so far. I'm getting up in time, getting through my morning and-

Yesterday morning, the app has removed
my blue shirt for some reason.
This isn't the point. I am going to bed and waking up with a smile. I know. I am smiling. I spent some time, half awake, thinking about trouser suits for work - you know, with wide legs and a boot-cut to allow for modest heels. I signed off a task set for some of my older students as Mx - it's not offical, but it felt like the right thing to do. I may enquire into ways to make that a proper and more 'official' thing. I... I liked using it. It's been really strange using my disguise-name as well, like... more than I have ever known before it just doesn't feel like me. Because, I guess, it never has been and the difference is that now I know that too.

As I went into work today a colleague, female, to whom I have not come out and has no way of knowing, went out of her way to walk with me a bit. She said: "You look really... relaxed, like you've had a really good summer. Fresh, yes, you look fresh. And I love your hair!" I was taken aback, I don't think I've ever had it where any colleague has, apropos of nothing, offered a physical compliment. At least, not recently enough that I remember.

Tonight, we stopped at a park for a bit,
those are how my eyes looked, but the
app, as ever, struggled with the t-shirt
Later in the day I passed another colleague, female, who I know reasonably well and who, again, does not know nor has ways of finding out. She made small talk and then, as if looking at me properly, followed with "Oh, I do like your hair. You're looking so much happier and relaxed, you know, it suits you!" Again, I did my best to accept gracefully, but, again, I really wasn't expecting that. Finally, at the end of the day, I passed a colleague, female, who I had come out to last week: "Oh," she said, "You're looking really well. You do suit your hair, you know, it looks fab. And, also, you're looking so happy!" So, I guess I'm looking happier? Well, like I say, I'm going to bed and waking up with a smile so probably, yeah.

I mean, I'm wearing my hair with an alice band and my new glasses (not the cat-eye ones) and the weather is sunny and warm. The outside wall is repaired, the price is paid, and tonight I had the Boy over (we went for a walk because he hadn't been outside all day and yesterday only to get the bus to a drumming session and back). What can I say? I think I might actually be feeling mostly... content? Huh. It's pretty good.

In other, totally unconnected digression, I heard someone talking about Gender Studies and recalled at University how much I wished I had signed up for what was then called 'Women's Studies'. I saw it at Matriculation and was very, very tempted but chickened out and took German instead. I wonder what difference it would have made?

Short entry, but I feel it says everything I need it to say.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Story Time

Much too recent, but you get the gist of the uniform
from my secondary school. they'd dropped blazers
the year before I went, but that lad in the shirt in the back
wouldn't have fit in at all! We all wore the jumpers.

No flashes beneath the cross for houses though.

Still, close enough, close enough.
Some time around age eleven, after we'd moved house, I remember vividly thinking how it would be to be female. In that year I would write my short story Boy to Girl in which, well, the title kind of tells you the plot - a boy wakes up as a girl in a boarding school(?) and... not a lot happens. For me the act of waking up as a girl wasn't really something that would cause great shakes - the character was still the character, but in another body. Indeed, the central conflict was about burglars, not about wanting to go back to being a boy. Tellingly, the story began with waking up, the reader never learned the character's male name nor anything about their life beyond a love of the First World War; the character missed nothing of their old life apart from getting irritated that people interpreted them as weak and feeble-minded (what does that say about my understanding of society at that age?).

Like this but less salacious.

The model was lying down, the shot from
the side, she was wearing shorts beneath it.
There was an advert in the paper for a body stocking that I was fascinated by, so I cut it out, stuck it on cardboard and bound it in sticky-tape to preserve it before hiding it (along with the drawings of the school uniform for the school in the story above, and the tanks and helicopters used by a paramilitary police force in 3093 - so, drawn a couple of years later).

The following year, I was 12, I wrote about Quantum Leap in my diary and refused to write that I wanted to see the episodes where Sam leaped into a woman. So I wrote the plot of the episode down instead. I cursed myself, vowed to try again, and so my diary is littered with episode summaries nearly every week as I found ways not to write what I was fascinated by (and set up a situation that if I ever did see such an episode it wouldn't look out of place for me to write about it - because people were obviously reading my diary [spoiler: no, they weren't, it was very boring]).

And I dreamed about being a girl, a tom-boy, and living as a girl; dressing as a girl, well, a tom-boy. I mean, dresses were cool and all, but I liked jeans and jumpers, cardigans and caps, trainers and socks. I imagined what it would feel like to dress like that, to have my hair cut like the girls around me, and just be treated as a girl. But I did nothing, because I sort of knew it was subversive and abnormal and I was already bullied with a small social circle so I filed it away and hid it.

I had this issue.

Maybe it was this one?
I kept a diary in Sixth Form, I was 16, and I finally wrote it out in the October of my first year in Sixth Form. I explored it further. By now my artwork included BDSM scenarios (handcuffs, chains etc) but no faces or full bodies. No sex. Just restraint. I was reading FHM and I looked at the models and really wanted to wear what they were wearing. I saw an article on 'kink' that had a photo of an adult baby and another of a woman wetting herself in a carpark in a dress and I was fascinated. I wanted her hair style, I wanted her dress. I wanted her boots. I tied it all together and pushed it deep and down inside, I wanted a girlfriend and this sort of stuff... it wasn't likely to get the result of having a girlfriend. Or it would ruin it if I did. I'd seen Ace Ventura by now, I got that joke and I got that wanting to be a woman was wrong for a man. But I still dreamed about it, imagined how it would feel, sighed when I closed my eyes and just... pictured it. Felt it. But I did nothing. Well, okay, apart from the aprons I wore at home in exam leave and the time I nearly locked myself in the shed because I'd tied my wrists to a screw in the ceiling I'd taken in with me for that purpose - dangling naked but for the teeny apron and panicking because I'd dropped the key below the lawn mower... Oh, I mean, spoilers: I got out.

Oh, hey, it's this poster.

I mean, this design. Mine wasn't signed,
graded or protected. It was just on my wall.
At University I got the slave Leia poster, because of course I did, and sat opposite to experiment with bondage (it failed, paper and thumb tacks don't make good handcuffs when one has been used to string and twine) whilst imagining being Leia. Something I had done since seeing the 1997 re-make on VHS at home earlier. Oh, and the episode of Star Trek: TNG where Picard and Crusher get neural linked and can't move away from one another whilst stranded on an uninhabited planet. I digress. I had a girlfriend: she liked me; she liked me; she liked me etc etc. I saw her in her underwear (she saw me in mine too) and all I could think was that I wanted to wear it - hers, I mean, not mine. I was wearing mine. I imagined being a lesbian couple, I dreamed of it, but I did nothi- well, okay, there was the fake love letter and the thong - practical joke. I kept the thong, wore it, threw it away. Fished it out of my bin, wore it, threw it away. Repeat. Five(?) times, until I emptied a soup tin on top so I couldn't rescue it and then threw it out properly.


They weren't Gucci, of course, but they were similar
in design and the lack of 'figure-hugging'.

Of course, back then, even the crotch area was
baggy. That's what the big belts were for, right?
I'd read fictionmania on the University computers, talk online with others, set up an anonymous e-mail to ask my chaplain about cross-dressing, and imagine if I could have gone to University a woman, not a boy. There was a charity shop and I would work out if I could buy clothes before concluding that I didn't know my size, couldn't deal with the staff knowing I'd bought them if I had to return them and probably couldn't justify it anyway, I needed the money for other things. But I'd stand outside most mornings and look at the window display, maybe five minutes, and imagine wearing the flared jeans, the dress, the blouse, the shirt, the t-shirt, the crop-top etc. And, in my dreams, I was a woman. But, apart from that thing, I did nothing.

In my third year, the beginning, the whole social group of us were together in a bar to see each other again. I'd been single for over a year. I'd confessed, under cover of drunkenness the previous year, to my by then ex (Terry) that I was a cross-dresser - keep in mind apart from the thong I hadn't actually cross-dressed in anything yet. Then, of course, used that plausible deniability to, well, deny it later. We were all putting songs on the juke box, social anxiety made me go last, all my usual choices were already queued, so I put on Blur's Girls and Boys. Kirsten, a Blur fan and now a housemate, asked if I were a cross-dresser when my choice came on: it was okay, everyone would support me if I were, she said, so, if I were, why not? She could help me if I wanted. Sweating, barely able to speak, trembling as my dreams came true, I lied and said no, I wasn't. Three times. Then the cock crowed and I- no, there was no cock crowing, but you get the idea.

This is the 'look' referenced to the
left.

The lady in question had a baggier t-shirt,
bigger satchel, baggier jeans and an open
jacket, but you get the gist. Oh, and no
cap or glasses.
There was a potential point of divergence. And, at that point, I knew it was more than dressing. If I dressed (I hadn't yet) I kind of knew there was more to it than that. I knew the word 'transsexual', assumed it was solely descriptive of people who'd had 'the Operation', and that was it. It didn't describe me. I knew about the two year wait for aid (Lord knows where I'd picked it up, but I knew it) and felt it was there "to see if you can hack it as a woman" - and I was terrified of most things. I had a degree to get, a Master's to prepare for (or a Doctorate, I wasn't picky) with the option of taking Maths at degree level in the future. I hadn't got the two years to spare.

So, when I went to get my MA I stuffed everything down as far as it would go. With Tim and his social group I met a girl from where I grew up on a Fresher's barcrawl and I was confused. I didn't want to go out with her but I wanted to follow her around like a puppy. She had two pony-tails at the back of her head, wore a baggy low-cut top, flared baggy jeans, trainers, a satchel that went across her body and a coat. You know, like that 'look' I had at the last in-person support group meeting. I was obsessed with her eye make-up - even though I only saw her for a couple of hours that one night, for the rest of the year I would draw close-ups of eyes with variations of her eye make-up on them, spent hours on the shading. I read fictionmania. I dreamed about being a woman, dressing as a woman, but I did nothing. No reaching out. I took solace in Real Life comics making jokes about masculinity being a curse - there was a bloke whom I could look up to, a man like me! I didn't masturbate for eight months, just to prove I wasn't addicted and I could. I told no one, it was a personal thing.

Yeah, close enough.
Teacher training followed. As the housemate I desperately fancied pointed out later, most of that year I spent crying to loud music like a complete wuss in my room. Terrified of the classroom, and failure, but unable to change course. I wrote shitty little poems, mooned after two girls, and dreamed of dressing whilst reading fictionmania. But I did nothing. I acted on nothing, I pretended it didn't exist. I knew of hormones now, and was able to search for TG captions and stories. Jerry would phone me from his ship in the Arabian Gulf at peculiar times of the night for a chat, I would be in the University College computer rooms reading TG fiction so I was usually available. When I wasn't in my room crying to loud music due to fear of failure. I dreamed of teaching as a woman, in a skirt-suit and glasses. Imagined how it would feel. But did nothing.

Somewhere round here, actually.

No, I can't remember the exact location, but these
houses look similar enough.
A job followed, somehow, and I met Toby and was instantly fascinated. And Robyn, the woman who used to be a man. Wait, you could do that outside of fiction and snippets in the news? Robyn insisted that what she was doing was entirely a choice - she wasn't born like that, it was something she wanted to do. A choice she'd made. I unexpectedly got a little tipsy at Tim's shared house one night and Toby loaned me a t-shirt/nightie to sleep in. I couldn't sleep. My heart was pounding all night, my dreams vivid and aflame. In the morning Toby showed me her Sims household, she'd added a character for me and I watched as she made the Robyn-character and mine a couple, laughing. I never saw Robyn again. But I did see Toby. By the summer she had asked me to wear a dress, I had suggested I would like to try. I bought my first pack of knickers and tried them on one night, ringing Toby and pretending to be drunk. She wasn't there. I carried on reading fictionmania and dreaming. I started a LiveJournal, anonymously, and made it pink. I typed out, for the first time, that I was a cross-dresser.

November - Toby and I were at a party. I was bemoaning my single fate, it had been five years since I split with Terry: "no one loves me" I said. "I love you," Toby countered. She asked me back to hers (she shared with Tim) to try on a dress. I agreed. It happened. Five minutes. I was unable to speak. I was going to ask for some way of creating false breasts to improve the way the dress fit. Toby misunderstood and I was taken out. We spoke, flirted, she shared the reason I'd missed her that summer, she was off getting married. Well, pagan joining, and she had a sort of husband. Oh. I closed everything down, denied it had happened when asked by Tim, who believed me over Toby. I lied. I hid the knickers, stopped reading fictionmania.

It's almost strange how often this image
turns up now.

But maybe not.
Until the New Year. Toby and I started dating, she'd left her 'husband' and unjoined (or something?) in another pagan ceremony. I dressed. I realised anew that it was not just the clothes. Toby knew too. Tried to push me in that direction, I resisted, I'd not spent years denying things whilst dreaming about it and imagining it every chance I got to simply let myself do it now. I was a teacher. I had a job! We split up. I shaved my legs for the first time that summer, plenty of time to grow the hair back before going back to work. I confessed to Catherine and Terry that I was a cross-dresser (again, but no way of wriggling out of it). Catherine arranged a chance for me to wear a dress at her house that October half term. In the company of friends. It was an electrifying experience. Catherine genuinely said that I looked better in her dress than she did and offered it to me on permanent loan. I turned her down.

In the new year, I was 25 now, I started looking for a house. I would dress in a nightie for bed, I would wear a bra, but it was all part of restraint fantasies. Dressing was for getting my rocks off. But, online, I had a discussion where I realised, again, that my dressing wasn't just about fetish. I mean, it was a fetish too, but there was more to it than that. I wanted to be seen as a woman. I wanted society to treat me the way it treated women - good and bad. And I knew enough to know that it was no fantasy or cake-walk. But I had a job, I was buying a house, I still didn't like being single and, well, I still didn't really understand transgender stuff, like, at all. I knew it could be done, but those two years loomed large - it was fantasy fodder, not real life, right? Right?

RIGHT!?

If you haven't yet, go read. It is relevant to our interests.
I got a house. I moved. I went on holiday to the States. I met Tilly. I met her in person. Catherine showed her the photos, I told her multiple times about my cross-dressing. Tilly moved in. We had a child. We got married. I still dreamed about being a woman, or, rather, being seen as one by others. But the opportunity had passed again. I tried to go cold turkey, and I sort of did for two years from 28 to 30 years old. But the stresses surrounding 2010 meant I started again, maybe three times that year, rising in 2011 to the point I would wear a pair of knickers to my grandmother's birthday, and I would confess that to Tilly a month or so later. The rest is this blog.

And so, in April 2021, Mae Dean destroyed the last part of my masculine lie, the disguise I thought I was wearing, when I read the arc where she came out in Real Life comics. Not long after that I would watch Abigail Thorn's coming out story. And so I shouldn't be surprised by my first two days at work, by my coming out to so many people so quickly. Because this might actually be it: I may actually, finally, honestly, really, truly, maybe, be embarking on a chance to live as... me.

It's only been thirty years (almost to the day) in the making - in the sense that before then I can't reliably tell you much about my life beyond what's already been shared in this blog in the past. Goodness, thirty years. Maybe it is 'my time' now.

If you have been, thank you for reading, that must have been a bit punishing!