Sunday, 21 December 2014

Being Myself..

Being Myself..

The title probably sums up just what we are all trying to do when we go through transition. It is the title of the two BBC radio 4 programmes broadcast at 11am on the past two fridays, how things have changed...

The depths of wilful human ignorance is almost beyond measure. Within the last decade a survey amongst the medical profession showed that 80% of doctors still thought that resources should not be wasted on transexuals even though it had been proved to be a curable medical condition for half a century. The prurient media treated us as an easy target to be beaten at will by them even if the report was of one of us already beaten to death by one of their readers!

Change in attitudes during my lifetime had been almost imperceptible  and I never expected to see much change yet attitudes are changing almost monthly now. Some news reports are almost positive and the negative ones are getting more infrequent as if those running the media have finally go it.

The two radio programmes were not sensationalist in the least, treating those interviewed like any patient with a tricky to treat condition. The first programme was even about the less frequently mentioned F2M condition and went into detail about the dramatic effects testosterone has on a body which came out of the female mould. This friday's programme, again from the London Charring Cross hospital was about F2M with a good cross section of people interviewed. One was the surgeon who operated on me all those years ago, he mentioned having now performed over a thousand such operations! Perhaps as our numbers grow it becomes more difficult to see us as "other". One of those interviewed had been on a national TV quiz programme during the past year or so and was subjected to much online vitriol so we do still have some way to go.

It was encouraging to hear that new surgeons are being trained since the demand grows as the stigma reduces. We who for a long time have just been the tip of an iceberg if we ever came out being transsexual will soon be joined by legions unfettered by public scorn.

On a slightly negative note, in the not so distant past there were surgeons in many parts of the country performing gender reassignment surgery but recently London and Brighton seem to be taking the whole load of demand.

On a different note there was a book of the week, five 15 minute episodes at 10.45 am about a family dealing with a pre puberty child trying to get access to puberty blockers and the family dynamics surrounding that. Superficially it seemed to tackling the subject well but sadly the writer lost the plot. The subject of blockers and how they could be obtained on the NHS system or having to fly to the USA to obtain them was left in the air while the focus shifted to the family trying to come to terms with the loss of a precious "boy" and getting  just a girl in exchange... An important subject was given air only to be heft hanging and unresolved.

Listeners were left non the wiser as to how such parents could deal with a child about to enter their secondary education with future gender role unresolved while parents and medical service dithered. A great opportunity wasted...

Not ideal but our condition is no longer taboo and can be aired in a non sensational way at last. Perhaps there is a bright future ahead.

These programmes can be accessed for at least a month on the BBC website, worth a listen.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Not one for Christmas cheer.

There was a time when winter had some attraction for me. The summer distraction of seeing girls enjoying their colourful clothes and exposing parts of a body that I had been denied by my accident of birth was long passed and they were safely covered up once again. The cold weather cleared the streets and parks so that I could enjoy them in peace and alone. There was the occasional magical fall of snow transforming the everyday cityscape into something wonderful that I would explore late into the nights. Now with the wisdom of age snow is a hazard and broken bones just one step away.

The part of winter that I always disliked was this time of year. With a december birthday and christmas there was the trepidation of presents and the inevitable disappointment once received.

My parents were less than generous and any birthday present could be accompanied with a warning that there would be little to follow later in the month! It hardly mattered, apart from any edible sweet presents they would all be unwanted anyway. I must have not hidden my feelings too well because relatives gave up trying when I was still quite young and I might get a small monetary contribution "to put towards something else". Hardly much use to a child who is unable to ever express their desires! One day perhaps luck could come my way and the money "saved" in the form of Premium Bonds", a government savings lottery for more distant readers, still sit in that system, a small reminder of that poor sad child.

I am quite happy giving presents, I take great care to choose something to suit each recipient and think little of paying for them out of my limited resources. I have still not really got over the bad feelings associated with receiving presents, christmas for me will always be something to be got over rather than enjoyed.

Roll on spring, I want to see my legs again!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Another one bites the dust...

After being out and about all day I came home this evening only to find a message to say that someone I know had just died. Great post hey? Sadly this is becoming a rather too frequent an occurrence amongst that wonderful circle of people who have fully and openly embraced me after my change. Studies have shown that humans are happy with a circle of about a hundred and fifty friends who they know quite well, this is about the same size that the average village was for countless centuries. Every loss from that group is a small tragedy even if like Tom you were never going to live to a ripe old age because you were certainly a jolly but over weight guy.

Another funeral to add to the calendar. At least we all knew who Tom was and the role he played, his sharp mind and memory full of entertaining stories and the great contribution he made through his social work career. We shall attend his funeral and hear the eulogies and everyone will get a true picture of our jolly friend.

It seems almost stupid to type that amongst the cocktail of things which pushed me to transition, as late in life as I did, was the growing realisation that I was fast closing in on my own funeral judging by the ages of those around my dying off. Nobody at that funeral would have known a single fact about the real me apart from the painful daily performance I had played out for decades to avoid hurting other people's feelings.

Some years ago when I attended the first funeral as my true self I never felt so vulnerable and defenceless. Wearing a dress felt like I was going to challenge other mourners and draw attention away from the lost friend and towards myself, I felt quite naked and fearful.

From that feeling of fear came the exultation of relief and fully belonging and acceptance when nobody treated me any differently from anybody else. With it came the relief that when my day finally comes I have a wide circle of friends who have come to know and I hope love the real me.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

My remembrance day.

One thing has never changed in T blogging over the years and that is the quiet weekends...

I can only hope that everyone is out trying to get as much out of life as they can. This weekend is Remembrance day here in the UK, modern life does not think the sacrifices worthy of an actual remembrance at the time on the actual day any more, Quite telling really...

I know that there is now a special Trans remembrance day but I , in my quiet corner of the universe, cannot help being stirred to remember "our" losses and the battles we have fought with ourselves, our families, the aggressive, hostile, bigoted media and especially the medical services which have dragged their feet for three generations in their willingness to help those with our condition.

I have been reading online for some years now and shocked myself first by how much has started to drift from my memory now that I have settled so comfortably on this side of transition and secondly by the litany of suffering and horror which started to come back. The countless reports of murders even murders of friends of those who are trans! Deliberate stark suicides, often by those who had seemed to be doing well, sometimes by simple neglect in treating an illness to take the quick and easy way out.

The deaths sound bad enough and I hope the future will see fewer as the media seems to be slowly stopping harassment of us but there is another group of sufferers who need remembering.

Those of us who accept who we are and decide to do something about it are in a minority, like an iceberg the great mass is hidden but they have chosen to accept the suffering that living in an alien body brings. Many thought that finding a partner and creating a family would squeeze out those dark thoughts and they could live comfortably and undiscovered, countless thousands must have done this down the ages and passed unnoticed.

I am especially thinking of those who have recognised their condition and shown themselves here online only to find themselves unable to bring themselves to stretch the bonds which bind them to effect an escape. Of the countless blogs I have found over the years what I have left to haunt me are those who remain trapped but know that release could be so close. That kind of endless suffering is visceral and unforgettable. They are the one's I am remembering from our war with identity...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Who are you?


Several times during my previous life, it was suggested by very good artists, that they would like to paint or draw my portrait. So where are they?

Obviously I was flattered that in some way they saw something interesting and worth investigating but what exactly was it? My first tingle of interest and intrigue was each time doused by the thought that they just might see the very thing I was trying so hard to hide though such thoughts were mixed with a dangerous dream that such a portrait of me could unveil the hidden me and set me free. Somewhere there is a photograph made by a well respected artist photographer of me and my partner. I had known this person for a long time and felt that such a short exposure to scrutiny by a lens could not be as revealing as one done during a long sitting in front of someone with pencil, paints or in one case a woman who could create fantastic images by cutting through multiple sheets of different coloured paper. It would have been fascinating just to watch the last artist at her work.

The photograph has been hidden away for perhaps a decade now, just at what stage of my transformation it was taken I have completely forgotten. If it was too early or dread the thought just pre the start of transition I do not think I would want to see it now. I certainly worried about the photographer visiting again and wondering where it was since I could never bring myself to frame up an image which would be a reminder of a couple now changed. Such a reminder could only cause negative thoughts for my partner who has stuck by me but still misses being part of that long lost couple...

British artist Grayson Perry, perhaps known to you through collecting their prestigious national Turner Prize dressed in a theatrical drag costume, an artist who works with ideas of identity and is showing work in the London National Portrait Gallery on the subject. A television programme about the series of portraits in various mediums has just been broadcast and for a limited period will be available online. I am sorry that I do not know if it will be available worldwide but no doubt it will soon find itself posted on a video site somewhere... There is also an online Guardian piece about him.

With a title like "Who are You" it will come as no surprise that somewhere in there will be a gender identity issue. There would have been a time when i would have obsessively seemed every possible reference to transgender issues but this one I came across just because I really like this artist's vision, I hope you do too.

TV
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grayson-perry-who-are-you/4od#3773238

Article
http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2014/oct/22/how-grayson-perry-has-revolutionised-art-on-television



Thursday, 16 October 2014

Signifiers.

I have been away visiting friends and enjoying myself in ways I could never have imagined possible just a few years ago.

Finally being able to live an open and honest life presenting the personality kept buried for countless decades is a joy that is hard to explain. Few ever have to hide their true selves in their personal witness protection scheme worried that a single slip will bring the world crashing round about their head. During those early days of finally showing my true self I was often asked how I knew that I should really have been a woman all along. Nobody saw the absurd irony in their questions, did they not all wake each day and take for granted knowing exactly who and what they were?

In preparation for my trip I needed to glam up a bit from my usual more casual look. For as long as I can remember I loved to have colourful painted nails, every glimpse from the corner of my vision giving me little bursts of joy. I have dozens of the little magic bottles and never thought twice about paying the asking price for a classy few cc of Chanel, a fact brought home to me when grumbling about the cost of household paint to cheer this place up where a litre costs about the same as I used to happily pay for those tiny drops of nail magic...

In those early years of transformation little signifiers like painted nails, pierced ears and personal jewellery helped boost personal confidence and divert gender radar when out in public. Freedom to indulge in these long forbidden embellishments to our new wardrobe can at first feel essential for acceptance but with time I found myself less addicted to the need to try so hard.

It was fun to be away and more colourful than my more toned down usual self. Even more fun now that I never feel anything but a natural unquestioned acceptance. Along side my transition there has been a transition within much of UK society to try a more loosened attitude to greetings. Long gone is the cold maintenance of arms length no go zone and limp handshake replaced with attempts to emulate our european cousins that we see embracing and kissing at every opportunity.

Just as we have decades of life learning to catch up with little help, the whole country is going through a slightly chaotic revolution. At the moment I am not sure if the experiment will work or we will return to the old cold safety of distance. Nobody knows the rules of engagement! Perhaps we need a TV series to show us the way or we should wear something to show our preference, the possibilities are almost too numerous to calculate. Handshake firm or weak, to hug or not to hug, to kiss, lip to lip, lip to cheek, lip to air, one two or three kisses and starting on which side!?

As a country we are at least giving it a go and local traditions may form, in the meantime it is fun finally getting to join in. My greatest surprise is the number of guys who want a kiss and hug and how I no longer have a horror of facial hair and can even enjoy a moment of cheek to cheek contact. I once hated male kind and the absurdity that anyone could imagine that I had anything to do with it but from my new position of personal comfort I find many of them to be charming though that is still  as far as it will ever go...

Friday, 26 September 2014

My history of reading.

Long ago I lost myself in books. The day I gained my freedom was the day my mother took me to sign up at the public lending library. A place of peace and tranquility unlike the noisy places we have now in the fast reducing number of remaining buildings the local authority have allowed to survive their budget cuts.

Books at school were a nightmare and so many I hated, the absurd fantasy of Alice down her rabbit hole, the violence of Treasure Island or the anthropomorphic rabbits, toads or whatever meant to amuse, I shudder even now just typing out their titles. If I liked a school reading book I would smuggle it home and read it but if I did not like it nothing would get me to read it! This convinced my teacher that I could not read and she suggested the public library to my mother. The hoe was almost devoid of books and I have no memory of either parent ever sitting down and reading us children a story or even reading for their own pleasure, a book desert...

The library was walls of books! How on earth was I ever going to find the books which interested me? My first rule was no smelly books, what on earth did some people do to these books to make them smell so rank? Rule two would have been rule one if the smell of some books had not been so gut wrenching and it was clearly, no girl's books. I knew they existed, I had found them when visiting cousins and had made furtive dips into them and got a thrill like I am told teenage boys leaf through forbidden porn magazines. This was my pink porn and I should never let anyone see me show any interest! A quickly discovered rule three was, cut down searching time by only seeking out fresh new purchases.

That was how I discovered science fiction and devoured Jules Verne and H G Wells which thankfully were not very popular and stayed fresh. There were surprisingly few books that I could find that were written for me, a sensitive soul not interested in anything boyish. I often drifted off to non fiction instead, I filled my head with stuff. Perhaps if I had friends they would have shown me the way to books for school age children but I somehow doubt it.

Once way from home in my late teens with friends reading for English degrees I suddenly found a ready supply of fiction at last, very little of it contemporary, books of ideas, little sex or violence, I read for years from this rich seam of classics. By my late twenties I was drifting lost again, few contemporary books spoke to me, I found few books of interest and those at random. By now rule two should have been irrelevant, books aimed at women were freely available to me if I wanted them but there was an invisible barrier. If I reached through that barrier those books would infect my mind, they would show me a glimpse into that other world and infect me like a parasite itching through to my soul. I resisted.

Once I got online all my reading was of one subject and off the screen. Years of blogs from fellow sufferers, the whole of life was there with no two stories the same. As strange if not stranger than any fiction, these histories had me hypnotised, showed me I was not alone and helped me find my way forward. Those blogs have slowly dried up as their writers found their way forward and into the light, the screen now is usually blank, nothing to read!

At last rule two has been scrapped, all rules on books have been scrapped and I now find I have time and freedom to indulge in my longtime desire for women's books. It is not all easy, I am not prudish about sex but have no interest in poorly written sex scenes, number specified by publisher to satisfy contract. Sex in books does not give me the tingle the authors hope for, it is not on my radar and does not interest me, I crave emotion. I have spent a couple of days wondering if there is an equivalent word to lustful for someone longing for emotional tingle.

I should almost be embarrassed by some of the books I have been reading compared with my English literature only days but being able, finally to wallow in emotion and let floods of tears flow and heart bump is an unexpected bonus of transition...

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Surprise on the radio.

Over the years reading online I thought that I had come across just about everything related to our interests but within the last week I have twice come across something which stopped me in my tracks and made me think.

We spend years wondering what life would have been like had we just been born girls. Well, not always so great!

Imagine my surprise to discover that there is a fairly hight incidence of girls born without full internal girl parts, this part I knew, but the big surprise was the treatment. They could have an operation, details unspecified but most of us could work out the details, and a neo vagina could be created. Or the girls could just start with very small dilators and slowly form their own internal space, that over a period sometimes a short as six months, through utilising ever larger devices could create a useable space!

Reading of the prolonged recovery some go through you do have to wonder if this could ever form part of our transition procedure...

The decreased viability of many current anti viral drugs does make me wonder how easy future surgeries are going to be...

Friday, 29 August 2014

New life.

I have more respect for bloggers than I had before. All those potential posts that drifted through my mind in the period leading up to starting the blog have  vanished from my memory and the blank screen is harder to face than you might imagine.

Two couples who are friends have become grandparents for the first time this month. The news has given them a new lease of life at the thought of interacting with their new grandchildren. Photographs are proudly shown of the new wrinkled bundles of joy and each gets a turn holding the new treasure. It all goes to remind me of the old life and role play where as a "guy" it would be assumed that you want nothing to do with new life. In some ways that was true enough, I decided even before I started school that having children was not going to be part of my life, I did not wish to bring another into the world to suffer like me! That said it does not mean that the nurturing part of my nature, that I was keeping hidden as part of my life saving role play, did not long to be within the warm circle of caring for friend's and families' young children. In reality a form of deprivation and alienation from real life.

I shall never know if I would have made a good parent. I shall never know if I would have been able to have a career which could have supported a family. I chose not to pretend to be a guy who could be a father and started my requests for sterilisation to ensure that never happened in my late teens. It took several attempts before they stopped telling me that I would change my mind. I hardly need have bothered, I was clearly not seen as mating material anyway!

I have watched others go through the joys and sorrows of rearing children and few have stayed to live within easy reach of their parents and lead more independent lives than previous generations and have to say that helped soften the thoughts of what might have been if this cruel trick of nature had not been sprung upon me... I know so many of us see no other way out than to try and play out the role as a parent even if it is not the gender role of parent that we would have preferred, unfortunately it often becomes a self made cage which is hard to break out of...

The one compensation for me is that now there is no hesitation to include me when the youngsters arrive.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Why Ruby?

More respect for blog writers, a blank screen is quite a challenge and all the ideas that you once had fly out of your head.

One has stuck and it is a good place to start.

If you have ever lived with a name you dislike you may have some idea how hard it is for someone transsexual to live their lives with not only a name they dislike but one which gives completely the wrong message about who they really are.

 have to put my hand up and admit that I have not passed on any of my DNA, not to pass it on was my principle mission in life incase there was a genetic component to being transsexual. Being unattractive to women and very low paid helped...

People are always surprised at how well I get on with children and am prepared to give them all the attention they want, then again I can hand them back when they decide that they have had enough psychological probing. Strange that when I had a beard it was assumed that I would have no interest in looking after children and would be ignored.

The hardest part about having a child I thought would be the naming. Not so long ago many used long held traditional methods of naming children after grand parent or used family names, now any name or spelling goes. How do you choose a name which will suit both the young child and also not become an embarrassment in later life? I have long thought that parents should give temporary names which at a certain age the child could choose to keep or change to something more suited to their evolving personality.

We are uniquely lucky in getting to choose our own names and few can be offended that we do so. Some family bemires can be the last to come onside after knowing the old you for so long but the joy of hearing that new name from the lips of a loved one is hard to describe.

Obviously Ruby was not my original name but I think it suits me well.

Rubies are precious, simply created out of ordinary materials, aluminium and oxygen, but co closely packed as to be nearly as hard as diamond. All naturally occurring  rubies have imperfections but uniquely that is what gives them their real beauty. Not all rubies are naturally occurring some only appear by human intervention and they sparkle more!

A warm red gem created with human intervention, cut and polished to bring out my beauty, that's me.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A dry start but from small beginnings...

"Ruby transitioned later in life than she would have liked. She faced all the fears others online faced and made it through."

Being transsexual is not something which ever goes away, it runs right through you like the letters running through a stick of holiday rock.

(This blog is being written in British English so may contain a few phrases strange to overseas readers, call it local colour. We do not always understand American English either!)

After years following the lives of others I still feel that I have to keep up with those who are still blogging and perhaps have not been as lucky as I turned out to be. The blog title says it all, the grass is greener on this other side, far greener than I ever hoped it would be.

Perhaps my observations from this perspective will be of use or comfit to those still on their journey of transformation, I know how important all those countless posts I read were encouraging to me.

I hope that me joining the bloggers is better late than never!