Friday, 15 January 2016

The Danish Girl and the Scottish girl...




Everybody knows that there is an Oscar nominated film out about a Danish girl who broke the ground for all of us.

There have been several weeks of will I , will I not go and see this film. Do I need to stir up old memories and torment now that my physical transformation passed it's last big hurdle just two weeks short of four years ago. Memories of the transitional years and the decades of misery which preceded it have almost faded to nothing. A life which I never imagined possible just flows naturally day to day, congratulations on how well I am doing have petered out and most now seem to have appeared to have forgotten my previous incarnation. I guess what I am saying is that transition has worked just fine.

Today was the last day of the local film run, it was a clear ice free day and  not pouring with rain like the fast few weeks so I invited two of the friends who have known me the longest, through all incarnations to see the film. It cost me dearly since I felt that I had to pay or I may never hear the end of it! Perhaps the film would pass on some insights which I had failed to pass on. Others have written far better reviews than I could, I am rubbish at remembering names so shall just stick to random thoughts and impressions.

I was struck by the beauty of the film making by the second shot and knew that I felt I was getting my moneys worth and this was just an upside down reflection of a stark winter tree in a pond, those who know me will understand. It is  superbly crafted beautiful period piece with marvellous attention to detail. I was a bit disturbed by clearly newish roof tiles and guttering on a street of terraced houses but am probably the only one to be so... if the costumes have not been nominated for an Oscar there is no justice in the world. Someone got a steam train to drive over a bridge into Dresden for several wonderful seconds of screen time while a carriage interior shot from that train filled the screen for little longer, no expense or effort has been spared.

The casting and the performances cannot be faulted and were all believable, it is hard to imagine anyone else now taking the lead role. Some have muttered about not letting someone transsexual play the role but that surely would have defeated the point of showing the struggle of someone with a male body trying to find a way to break free, you needed an unaltered slim 20's period body for most of the film.

There are no two stories the same, just occasional similarities along the way so this is just a portrayal of one story at a time when medical knowledge on the subject was almost non existent and anyone whom you approached for help was more likely to harm you. Sadly ninety years on in many places not much has changed... There is a long slow awakening from the buttoned down role of fashionable successful painter who hated the limelight falling upon their fake identity. This stabbed me through the heart since my success as a photographer caused me to stall at the height of my career as that hated name kept showing up in reviews. The new me could cope quite well but lacks the energy and drive but has shown herself more than capable of standing in front of a crowd and giving a lecture without an extra heart beat.

Much is made of the clothes. We all approach female clothing differently, Lili is shown having her grasp on the old male facade cracked  open by exposure to the exotic world of different materials, textures and garments at a time of more mutually exclusively allowed modes of dress. To wear "other" really was to transgress! Lili does transgress and old defences against the world crumble.

Her wife Gerda is both supportive and by turns struggles with Lili's need to leave the male world behind at a time when there was no real alternative available. How all this is shown is probably much clearer to those of us who have lived through it all, it came over more hazily to my film going companions perhaps because of the slow languorous pace of the film to this point.

Then it gets more serious with a race between breakdown and finding help proceeds, this leads to finding the one person probably on the planet who can and is willing to attempt to help. I remember being asked multiple times, "are you sure that you want to go ahead with this procedure knowing all the possible risks?" Lili faced the same question but the risks were in a different league without modern antibiotics and multiple stage experimental surgery! Having been to the point of "I would rather be dead than carry on" I think I know something of how she may have felt, perhaps not as momentous a decision as most viewers would imagine!

After the long slow bulk of the film I feel that much must have hit the cutting room floor to speed over the final chapters.  We were given to understand that the operation would have to take place in two stages and at this point it becomes a bit unclear as to how far she has got. It was as if someone whisked away you plate of half eaten food in a fine restaurant while you exchanged a few words with a fellow diner, choice bits you were about to savour gone! The final chapters of the film were too rushed to give a true idea of what Lili had in the way of a life, we saw her happily working and having a close friendship with a male friend without any indication as to weeks, months or years passing... Perhaps a full gritty ending was too much for the producers...

It was a beautiful film to watch, a heartbreaking human story fairly well told but not one to really use as an educational tool to help your friends understand. Fairly flushed out the tear ducts in places. one scene was a master stroke when still male attired Lili pays to view a woman through a window and is at first given the usual routine only to quickly realise that she was having her movements copied, the centime drops and a feminine movement tutorial ensues...

A sad week when the news of David Bowie's death was announced on the radio as I was waking up, I thought it must be a very bad dream. The Beatles allowed me to start growing my hair beyond the previous ultra strict rules but Bowie sashaying about in gorgeous dresses like the one on the "Man Who Sold The World" LP and the gender fluid lyrics on those early seventies LPs really opened a door to a new world where I could survive. He really helped save my life. RIP.



















Sunday, 20 December 2015

Life just gets better.

How time flies. I have always found this dark and dreary time of year somewhat depressing. Nearly two months of ads to be glutenous and spend beyond our means to give  presents few need or want knowing full well that the sales start only a day or so after the rebirth of the sun. Perhaps having mean selfish parents who gave rubbish presents, and certainly never anything someone like me would ever want, did not help...

A week from now and I can stop watching the video recordings with no christmas ads and life can return to normal. Since transition I bounce back quickly in the new year whilst in the past the dark dreary months  do little to dampen my new enthusiasm for life.

When we start a transition the way is laid out before us in seemingly enormous lengths of time, a year for this, two years for that etc. It seems like it would never end yet here I am four years past my trip to Brighton to be reborn.

The only christmas present I have ever really appreciated was a slightly negative one but a landmark moment. It was four years ago when christmas marked the time to stop hormones prior to my operation, something which focuses the mind on just how far you have come and how quickly the time passed once that first step on the path was taken.

If there is a downside to transition it can only be that something like the calorie content of the food about at this time of year will plump up the body faster than you ever could imagine possible. Could be why I still hate christmas but look forward to a happy new year. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The internet saved my life, now Google wants to kill us all!

http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-bans-explicit-adult-content-from-blogger-blogs/?tag=nl.e539&s_cid=e539&ttag=e539&ftag=TRE17cfd61

Google often behaves irrationally. Not long ago it was linking accounts without asking and causing deaths in the process. It likes to mess up my accounts all the time and all no-reply emails from Google are addressed as coming from an individual blogger, one I do not even follow! This was the main reason I started withdrawing from using Google services and stopped posting to my blog.

Now if you read the link google wants to shut down a whole raft of sites it has decided it no longer likes. Like a trawler it does not care which sites get caught in its net and get closed down.

Overnight your blogs could be effectively dead, locked out of interacting on the net unless the blog owner invites you directly, how on earth would you be found!? You could find yourself in the dark at the bottom of a mine shaft, lost to the world.

If anyone could post an easy to follow guide on how to migrate a blog to another platform and especially maintain all links they would be doing a lot of people a great favour.

 Brave new world!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Happy Birthday.


Happy birthday to me, three today!

Not only is life transformed, the memories of pains, trials and struggles of the old life have almost completely vanished from my mind. Truly have regained time...

.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Eight months on, postscript. Joy at the end of the rainbow...





Long ago now my blog started on my favourite beach. A place where I had felt most comfortable with myself and was able to be free of the tyranny of gendered clothing, to be free of society and close to nature. Brief respites from a life where I had been miss cast, a life spent hiding behind a barricade of facial hair, a life where I had preferred to hide away. After any public success I hid deeper with the self hatred that the false me was gaining credit and the real me would be forever invisible.

There is a certain irony that I could feel most comfortable when totally exposed. What others could see clearly from my perspective could not be seen, we see little of our own bodies without making a conscious effort so it was easy to dream…

My blog started when I had made a physical change by undergoing an orchiectomy, the limit of physical change I thought I would ever get. A statement that I was not male, never was male and the absence of testosterone clearly removed involuntary male physical effects and opened me to deeper emotional responses than I had ever allowed myself since early childhood. My test was to return to my paradise beach and sure enough I felt more alive than I had ever done before and was even more confident in my modified body than I could ever have been in the past. Surely this was my nirvana…

Fast forward several years to the here and now. I have just returned from a couple of weeks late summer sunshine curtesy of a ghastly but cheap airline and have spent several days wandering the beach and enjoying being tossed about in the wild warm surf like an insignificant piece of flotsam. It certainly puts you in your place in the scheme of things, tiny, vulnerable but alive.

Lost in thought on my first day there it struck me just how much more comfortable I now feel than the absolute peak of comfort I thought I had felt in the past, I have broken through the scale of what I though possible, that is the only way I can explain it. My whole being now feels right and I feel absolute comfort with my body. It is not the body of some goddess by a long way and a bit too rounded and curvy due to the wonderful French food! Walking the edge of the surf I finally have a woman’s body to suit my woman’s mind, looking down firm breasts come into view and move gracefully and naturally with my swinging stride and certainly nothing between my legs reminds me of nature’s mistake. My inward smile matches my feeling of being whole and right.

That feeling is no more than most people just take for granted every day of their lives which makes it very hard for us to ever explain to them and make them understand just how we feel before we manage to get our condition treated. 

My guilty pleasure these days is emotional fiction aimed at a female readership, you might call it chick lit! Reading it lying on the beach after the greatest heat of the day has passed is my pleasure when on holiday now, pressing all the emotional buttons long left seized up. As molecules organise themselves in regular patterns and get evenly spaced so do sunbathers on a beach, even the mathematically inept instinctively calculate to the finest degree the equidistant point between any two other sunbathers to set up their own spot. Imagine my surprise one day to hear a voice close by whilst deep in the plot of my book. It took me a while to realise that someone was trying to talk to me. A well toned, well tanned Frenchman A good few years younger than myself was practicing his native language on me, once I realised I used my best French to explain that my understanding of his language was terrible, (unless reading a restaurant menu), It did not put him off. He spoke with a southern accent which is not one which you hear at school but with his repetitions of many phrases I understood much of what he said and perhaps gave away that I understand more than I had let on, he asked if he could sit with me and I pointed out that where I had chosen to lie was surrounded by spiky dried plants! Perhaps he suspected more understanding now than I had let on… I was slightly amused by the guy and his refusal to accept a hopeless case and in no way felt intimidated, my recent reading matter had covered few flirting and seductive moves so I was on alert but unfazed. Clearly the guy had sight problems and tried saying that he thought me beautiful, sounds better in French. This could have been interesting and fun had he kept to his verbal seduction plan but he spoilt it by trying a move closer and  used the arm touching manoeuvre at which point my icy eye contact froze him to the spot. His asking wether I would like him to leave seemed a little superfluous, I said that I preferred to read my book, poor guy looked disappointed… Now if it had been a really fit woman it might have been harder to resist, my lesbian leanings of a lifetime have not changed… 

So there you have it, sea soaked, bedraggled and some fit guy actually took a fancy to me. I guess this test shows the project can be said to have been a great success.

I knew this already since my normal unexciting everyday life is a joy. There are no longer sleepless nights and constant endlessly repeating questions like could I ever change, what can I do to get help, who will still be my friend, will I be ugly, shall I ever be able to walk the streets without people pointing and muttering? 

There is peace and quite inside my head now, sometimes a strange spooky sense of quiet.

Life is good and for the first time in that life I actually “want” to be alive…

The words of others gave me information,hope and courage, if any of mine can do the same my joy shall be multiplied.



*




Sunday, 23 February 2014

Garden in transition...



Each year now springs new surprises, this one is the speed with which plants are eager to  show their first shoots whilst the rain hardly seems to stop, the wind blows hard and the threat of chill winter weather still hangs over us.

Perversely as soon as I started a project of sorting out the attic spaces and renovating and painting useable old furniture stored there than the rains have paused and every opportunity to get out for making some vitamin D and do some garden work has been taken.

My old self used the garden as a sanctuary and place to hide from the world. It may be a fairly small suburban garden but that never affected or hindered my love of trees which were planted as a visual shelter from the surrounding cottages allowing me to garden as one with nature, saves on clothing costs… A garden is in constant flux and my barrier to the world has been breaking down over the same period as my transition. First the older trees which were here long before I arrived have passed maturity and needed to be removed or as in one case dramatically came down in one of the increasingly strong winds at odd times of the year. The trees I planted to block out prying eyes have grown quite large, I never in all honesty thought that I would still be here and alive to have to deal with them but that time has come... The recent wet summers have caused a fast spurt of growth blocking out a great deal of light from the garden, even the grass has decided to give way to moss and trees which a short while ago were decorative now present  some danger if they get blown down. It was perhaps a mistake to believe the growing rates when quoted, they were planted in rich garden soil with no competition! As much as it has pained me to make the decision, some have had their sentence passed.

Someone recently told me of a girlfriend’s motto when faced with a job, “how hard can it be?” and regular readers will know that is also my attitude abetted by a very empty purse. I finally got round to purchasing a new chain for the saw I bought last year for pruning and a file to keep it and the original chain sharp and ready for action, a face guard also seemed a wise investment and then I was ready.

First victim has been my beloved chestnut first planted over twenty five years ago to replace the large pear tree slashed down by the folk who had just moved in next door and were turning their garden into a field for the boy child to kick his ball about. For many years I thought they must have given away or murdered their daughter and the mother for they were never seen from one years end to the next! The cute wee tree planted all those years ago was to have sheltered us in our old age from the rays whizzing down through the hole in the ozone layer, remember when that was the only topic of scientific news? Our tree was wonderfully sculptural during the winter and looked marvellous with the fresh spring green, we often missed out on the show of flower because of our holiday trips before the European summer heat set in. Autumn with the change of colour was a treat and the falling leaves were creating a great deal of new soil and fronded a duvet for the plants waiting for winter to end, especially the increasing small bluebell wood developing under the tree. In the summer it was a bit of a large sun block for the whole afternoon…

Well, saw plugged in, I had to get the tree down before too much more sprouted from the ground to be trampled under foot and falling tree. I decided exactly where it needed to fall, over but not damaging the mossy grassy patch, not a lawn, but not flattening the washing pole or the compost bin. It landed with one twig touching the washing pole and a light branch resting gently on the bin, it fell so gently that there is hardly a scratch in the garden and nobody even heard it fall… Big smile and mental pat on back!



A large space has opened up again to be put back to growing vegetables as I used to do only this time I hope to find a way of buying a polytunnel to shelter and extend out miserably short growing season.

So my old closed in garden world mirrors my life in widening out to be open and sunny.

Almost to balance the joy of real life, computer life is trying to drive me crazy  in so many ways. The machine which helped save my life grinds on as if it is swimming through treacle and is erratic in it’s behaviour as if in sympathy with the ghastly powers behind the services we have enjoyed and taken for granted for so many years. I am sure that most are delighted by the increasing aggregation of services without asking first if we wish every click we make being shown on every service or having to be a subservient slave to f******* or g***** to be able to join in and make comments on so many sites. I have never been too private online nor have I been too blatant either but times and services change and I can no longer put in the energy to fight the changes. 

I have withdrawn from various parts of the net before and got abuse for telling folk in advance that I was leaving. Some of you have come to know me and have contacted me outside of this blog and I hope that may continue. I have spent many weeks seeking out the countless numbers I have encountered along the way to see that they too have survived though so many have just melted away…

I used to think that the blog was such a part of my life that I would be here for the indefinite future to show the world that even someone like me could find a new life and perhaps help others believe that they too could change their lives for the better. I know that a few of us have gained greatly from helping each other along the way. I can only hope all find the joy in change which I have found.

It is painfully emotional experience to be tapping out a final farewell post. The blog will remain up though despite ideas about once being on the net it will be there forever, I am sure fewer and fewer will find it in future and even fewer will ever be drawn to read it through like I have read so many other's blogs before. I have personally gained much from bearing my soul to the screen and found ways to delve deep into long hidden memories about my former tortured self buried in lost time…

A television programme from my childhood used to end with a voice over with the words which seem appropriate:-

"There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.”


.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Seeking a way forward... Computer full of treacle and grit.




How quickly things change in life. 

Only a short time ago I had set up a potential new blog to be about living with our house and garden which require a bit more energy and money than we have available. I started writing introductions to try and get a flavour of how I would approach the new posts, It was even mentioned here to see if there would be any encouragement. That was in the early autumn as the growing season in the garden drew to an end and I began to lay it up for the winter. I was busy before going to get my toes repaired. Yes, they are fine, so no need to ask… All trace of that potential blog has been erased now.

If I had an interesting story to tell I think it is the one I have told here, there may be more to tell but post ideas just do not come to me like they used to do. 

What is there to say beyond life has turned out so much better than I had ever imagined it would and unless I am sitting at the computer I do not give my past transitional life much thought, I get up in the morning and get on with life as I should always have been able to do without having to play a role to fit in with expectations from the rest of the world. The world I lived in did not implode by my being my true self, it just got better as the distortion field I had maintained around me broke up.

During my online life I really expected that part of my life to slowly and continuously expand. I was drawn here often several times per day to see how others were getting on and was always eager to join in conversations, the latter still applies but nearly everyone has melted away…

I have rarely abandoned a post but after lunch the tirade at the stupidity of large tech companies is out of my system, is now deleted, and you have no need to know why I have taken against google but them having a file on my computer which drew 94% of the processing power was the final straw! Caroline was an early user of G+ but is no more. Social media does not seem to be for me. In all the time I was there my input generated far too little interaction and I certainly do not want everything I do online all clumped together in one place, and as has recently happened, out of my control. If my comments require an "f "or a "G" profile, as more seem to, then my voice will not be heard…

I have been here long enough for many of you to know my routine, make marmalade, wonder about what to do with the garden this coming year, dream about possible holiday trips, just refer back to previous january postings… Obviously I have been doing a few other things but I now feel less inclined to write a public diary and more inclined to just get on with the new life. If I don’t post so often it is because I have far too much to do round the house and garden, more than enough for this lifetime. 

Post op updates have been my least popular posts so the two year one due on the third of February is here, now, between the lines and I feel should be the last anniversary update since everything has settled down just fine. Any further changes will be no different to the everyday changes my half of the population all go through…


It has been said before, I have an email address and will happily give you an individual blog post reply with joy…

.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Google kills!

Google kills!

Click on it and ZDNet will tell you how their stupid policies show no regard for personal safety!

Spread the word and beware...

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Virtual christmas tree.



Yesterday I saw the first easter eggs, got to hand it to them christians, they are keen on chocolate and it’s cunning use in spreading their word! Soon be seeing the first hot crossed buns...

I have never been one for new year resolutions since the logical me knows that good intentions will so easily be destroyed by a few months of the most miserable weather. This year I have broken with tradition and made one with every hope of keeping it. I have given up sex, a very small word so that can’t be too difficult can it. The first result of this is that my first post of the year was to have been one of those playful ones which might have been misread by those whose minds think that way... Rare these days for a blog post to rattle in my head for so long as an innocent post about a new kitchen toy evolving into something which I knew could be misread, I have perhaps done this before and it was bad of me. My curiosity about, amusement by and pity for the over sexed has had it’s day and it is now just an irritation polluting every strand of modern life. Scream at me if my resolution slips. 

Humans seem to be obsessed by it. The only good thing about it is that it works the opposite way for me so advertisers trying to sell something like chocolate will most likely put me off buying the product which otherwise I might have bought too much of, going to save me money and cut down on calories, win, win.

Another year looms ahead and I am trying to both maintain some activity whilst the weather suggests returning to bed covers with a good book would be the best idea, and contemplating cheap projects to fill my time.

A friend hinted back in May that she had already reserved a holiday home for several weeks in the summer with a spare room if we wished to drop by, that has all been confirmed so for once holiday not in France is scheduled and my gardening year will have to be planned around it. I could expend all my energy in the garden and still not manage to do everything I would like to do, some wall repointing in the spring and some removal of over large conifers which now house pigeons which have become a pest and have to go before any other birds think that they will make good nest sites… Never ends.

This old house has always had a lack of organised storage which got worse when Julie’s sister took away many of the best pieces of furniture after her mother died, drawer space vanished and book cases remained and not enough of them… This year I hope to create some more built in storage then perhaps random piles will not form themselves so frequently. This is NOT a resolution! Even Julie has finally started to tackle a slow wade through sixty years accumulation of stuff from the time she has lived in this house, a couple of hours each day until the good weather and this place could be transformed.

Sorry about the gloomy light on my virtual christmas tree photograph. In the tidy up for a large new year’s day lunch party I found needles from three years ago hidden in nooks and crannies, I will not be saying the same in three years about this “tree”.

.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Five years on...


Five years ago I made my first blog post, quite a scary thing for someone who had spent their life hidden away as much as possible and had to confront a blank screen whilst being dyslexic. But then again that as we know was the least of my worries.

A year of RLE seems like an enormous time for just one of the steps along the way to a real life but passed in a flash and has now sunk deep into the forgotten memories file as has most of the torments of that once hated past life.

A life in transition makes for an interesting story whilst life after transition has little of note to hold the interest of my small band of readers. Over the past five years potential blog posts were constantly forming in my head, obviously by the time I sat at the keyboard the fine turns of phrase had long been lost as had whole ideas most of the time. Quite a few got through, Just over three hundred including this one which must be equivalent to a fairly fat book if printed out. They say everyone has a book in them, perhaps this was mine... I have been utterly honest and hope that it has given support and encouragement to some others seeking a similar path. Does the blog sit gathering virtual dust or does it sometimes find a curious visitor start looking at those early posts as I once did for other’s blogs late into the nights when I desperately needed to know that I was not alone?

I have shown that even though my route deviated far from a more regular path I got through in the end. I see occasional pictures purporting to be of the past me but they are surely of some long lost relation, maybe even a dead twin brother, it does not seem possible that the changes have been able to turn me into an acceptable old lady…

This old lady is quite gregarious given the chance and gets great joy from being so accepted and accepting of generously given hugs from all my women friends who once kept a safe distance… Sadly trans world has been filled with a great multitude of transient friendships online. It is understandable that people will want to leave this world behind and forge their new identities unhampered by past associations, not everyone is happy to have their past interfere with their future, I have to live with not hiding away and feel that since I am not hidden, and perhaps some may well suspect, I can at least put a positive face on transsexualism and show that we are not the monsters portrayed in the gutter press.

I would not have imagined that the net would provide me with such a range of interesting contacts nor how close it is possible to feel towards someone only known through their words where personalities can shine through. That so few have remained real longterm online friends or occasionally stepped out into real life is my greatest regret but that perhaps returns us to the point about wishing to leave us transient friends as far as possible from that hard won freedom and new lives.

How can five years online and almost two years now since my life changing trip to Brighton have passed so quickly...?

I have just realised that I started in the deepest, darkest depths of winter in my search for a life out of the shadows and in the sunshine…  

Not a fan of consumerval myself nor of presents after a childhood without any presents I could actually enjoy… As usual here we shall each receive a present of natural gas to power the heating system to try and survive another long drawn out northern winter. Some of that gas shall warm through those who come to our seasonal gatherings until about a week into the new year when the realisation dawns that lengthening daylight will not mean increasing temperatures for quite some time to come and semi hibernation is a good survival technique...


Yuletide greetings to all my readers.


.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Tongue, why has it taken me so long…?


Life moves on, the garden is filling up with fallen leaves and mornings are often sparkling with frost. I had hoped to have much tidied up by now but I underestimated how long it would be before my toes healed up, this is where juicy details would be if my readership were not so squeamish, now after a third course of antibiotics I am finally able to get out and about again. But not for long with the chilly days!

There was a great enthusiastic attendance at the exhibition and a few possibilities for showing it elsewhere in the future as the anniversary of the First World war looms. They were never going to be the sorts of images many would wish to live with even when told that two of the largest works have been in an American foundations' collection of 20th century photography for over a decade… The gallery was happy to just put on an impressive show and both  the painter and me were willing to put ourselves out and show work we both said would not sell. It will remain up for another couple of weeks to be seen by appointment only then they are getting repriced to make them totally unsellable but the collection will available for hiring out for a fee. Just need to find a good place to store them again.

The picked and stored apples are going fast, just remembered I have a few pears in the cold and dark which I should check over. The last remaining cropping  this year was a couple of vegetable marrows and a trug full of beetroot. There is something satisfying about squeezing a well cooked beetroot to slip off the outer skin, those more physically active than myself would probably find it quite erotic. Perhaps you will all now be sowing beetroot seeds next year... I really love pickled beetroot, thankfully it’s calorie count is low because my preferred portion size is large.

Traditionally in Britain the moment all the exhortations to spend money at the year end holiday on things you and your friends don’t need using money you don’t have the screens and letter boxes fill up with new demands to book early for a summer holiday. 

Well we can ignore those advertisements too. The moment the first frost hit my cycling friend from the summer got into action with a holiday let she had reserved ad paid the required deposit. We were only a couple of days into our summer cycling week when her reservation for next year was mentioned, she had made enquiries because there were two things which required here presence during a three week period next summer and it would be much more convenient to drive for a few hours each time than to make two arduous return journeys from the UK. She had found a house on a Danish island with three bedrooms at a price which in France would go nowhere near renting a mobile home… I was asked if I would like to drop by for more island cycling, hummmm, have to think about that… I booked a ferry crossing just the other day to ensure that we get a comfortable outside cabin each way. Anyone dreaming that I would be buying them a yuletide present had better forget it, I had expected that we would only have to pay a deposit now but the whole price was removed from our account! The final series of Borgen has just started, I watched the first series through the night with subtitles whilst I lay recovering in Brighton nearly two years ago, Danish is still incomprehensible…

I can’t believe how unadventurous I have been all my life with tongue. As much as I have enjoyed tongue on tongue for decades it has always been just the same every time. Obviously sometimes would be more pleasurable than others but basically all slight variations on the same thing. Many find tongues a bit creepy but they give me pleasure like nothing else but this week I got more intimate with a tongue than I have ever done before in my quite long life.



I curse all those trendy TV chefs who have turned all the once cheap cuts of meat which we were going to slowly cook with all the extra free time retirement would give us. Lamb shanks used to be so cheap they were given to our relations restaurant staff now they are hardly affordable on the menu and cost a fortune at the butchers if you can find them. We are eating a lot of warming soups now the weather has turned, mostly vegetable based, four pumpkins still sit in the cool near the back door waiting their turn. As a meaty change we used to buy whole OX tails which would last us days but they too are harder to get and are so expensive are sold in about four portions! Thankfully there are still some cheap beef cuts from the shin which slowly simmered add a succulent meaty note to a soup and with the addition of dried Scotch broth mix of peas barley and lentils is quite filling. Soups have been shown to keep you satisfied longer than eating exactly the same ingredients as a conventional meal. Need all the help to make up for eight weeks of not being able to walk about and exercise which has cost me a few of the pounds I had lost. Time to get back on track. One way is to eat really lean meats like chicken but for the first time in my life I got a whole ox tongue to cook myself rather than buying sliced prepared products. A good overnight soak in brine followed by three hours simmering in beef stock with chunky onions, leeks, carrots, celery, turnips, several bay leaves and half a dozen pepper corns cooked it to perfection. Once cooked it was lifted out of the pot and plunged into cold water which seemed to help release the outer membrane or skin leaving lean meat which took four days to eat… Total cost £4, an absolute bargain. Julie kept well away from the really up close and intimate parts but was more than happy to join in and eat it. The first serving was a thick warm slice each with vegetables from the cooking but she preferred it later when served cold and thin sliced. The stock and remaining vegetables made an exquisite soup when bulked out with some beans. 


Sunday, 3 November 2013

My new normal... Another month on, perhaps time to stop counting.



So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain?
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? 
Do you think you can tell? And did they get you to trade Your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? 

How I wish, how I wish you were here. We were just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year, running over the same old ground. What have we found? The same old fears. Wish you were here.

Out of the blue there was a 1989 concert on the TV. What had once been a regular part of the sound track to my life, the words had long ceased to register and were just a soothing mantra, suddenly I found myself hearing my interpretation of the words again.


You think you can tell Heaven from Hell but year after year the same old fears keep us in our cage, we trade an easy known cold comfort for the uncertainty of change...

No more, those useless wasted years are behind me now and memories fading fast since life has settled into a new normal. Even just a few years ago it still seemed an impossible dream and for all those I have met along the way, I wish you too were here…

My whole life I have tried to shrink into the shadows, not easy when you are as tall as I am. I hated the sound of my own voice and usually said as little as possible especially in public. Any time I might have to stand in front of people I would feel physically sick at the though of the fake presentation I would have to make, the fear that people would see right through me and that my real voice would come out without me being able to stop it! I once had a date where I had to speak marked on the calendar for six months as “Black Monday” and it haunted me. Sometimes I could briefly put on an act and get it over with but I was never comfortable.

Gallery in evening

Two weeks ago an exhibition of some of my photographic work went on display alongside the work of a fairly well known Scottish painter. We had agreed to open the show with an Art charity event and to speak about our work. I was strangely calm about the prospect. Come the day the painter and his new partner pulled out their three pages of notes and spoke about the work and why they had traveled to the sites which inspired it. For once there was a torrent of questions which brought up many of the points I felt they had left for me!

It took a while for the couple of dozen people to find their way through to the larger of the two galleries containing my work. As I stood waiting for them all to arrive and settle I was utterly calm without even an extra heart beat. I started by saying that I had no idea I was supposed to have brought three pages of notes and I would just have to make it up as I went along. I did and answered loads of question until someone came to say we had better leg it to the dining room of the country house where the gallery is situated if we wanted hot food.



A smile from a veil? Exactly right, I can smile now that I no longer live behind a veil. Finally presenting an authentic personality is like being set free from a gag and straitjacket and the world has accepted my presentation wholeheartedly. This is my new normal...

.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

RESEARCH ARTICLE Brain Signature Characterizing the Body-Brain-Mind Axis of Transsexuals

If you have the patience to read through stuff which may make no sense you well be rewarded with a few gems to confirm that you were right all along and far from crazy...


Research paper

Thursday, 3 October 2013

No longer in my teens...


Isobel

What happened? Suddenly I am out of my teens and just getting on with an adult life…

A few days ago, visiting friends who had just received their newest puppy, one which they shall care for during it’s first year before it goes on to be trained for aiding the blind, I was handed an envelope from my friend’s clearing out. We are all at it! Getting our homes in order, decluttering whilst we still can without a struggle, not wanting to get caught out should it be necessary to sell up and move somewhere more manageable at some point in the future. Not that we are decrepit yet! What was in that envelope? Mostly exhibition invites from shows long ago and three strange photographs of a creature I hardly recognise, like a long lost dead relation… I am told that I actually inhabited that strangers body but those memories if I had them are long gone just as any memory of the waste disposal apparatus has long gone. Impossible to imagine that a cancerous like growth was stuck somewhere on my lower torso for over half a century when there is no visible scar or memory of where it might have been or what it might have felt like!

I read countless blogs over the years, as tidying through the computer files recently has reminded me, but few have ever written about the complete and absolute change that transition can bring. I never imagined what it would feel like to just wake up and live an authentic normal everyday life where my body and mind match and all in the world around me accept me for who I am. Occasionally someone I have not seen for a while will ask how I am doing and I can hardly blame them since I have made my change openly and amongst people who have known me for half my life…

Not only have they accepted the new me they have embraced me, literally which I never expected, naturally I enjoy the women’s embraces more than the men’s but more of them have stepped forward than I could ever have guessed would. It is less than unpleasant to someone who has known themselves as a lesbian soul for nearly sixty years…

I do still curse that it has taken so long for the world to slowly turn to accepting and treating us less like pariahs and more like fellow humans suffering unimaginable torment and in need of help. If I could bottle up a taste of just how good it feels to have got through what I saw as an impossibly long and hard process, few sampling that bottle would have a moment’s hesitation in getting on that path if their circumstances allowed the slightest chance… 

In retrospect transition, though I took a long and tortuous route myself, was not as hard and painful as I imagined it would be. Strangely I suspect that some of what flashes through my mind these days is survivor guilt. I never though that I would get all the way through.

I started the journey slowly expecting to falter at some point but it pains me to hear of others not fulfilling their dreams. Recently coming across so many names from the past and knowing that as brave as so many were to step forward and be counted, some, I felt sure would well ahead of me, have not completed their journey... I have been lucky that here in the UK, where forty years ago I was told that I would never get help in this lifetime, it has become somewhere where our taxes can pay for the change. Had they done that forty years ago I would have probably paid back something like a hundred times what I have paid in but that was the stupid governments fault and loss. My heart goes out to those who find themselves in difficult relationships or countries like the US where health care and jobs can often be near impossible to find or afford.

I remember thinking as a late teenager that if I was able to find the resources to go abroad and get the operation I would have placed myself in a situation where I would be a second class citizen in my own country, unable to enter into legal agreements without a “male guarantor” and would only get paid a fraction of the pay a male would get for the same job. That would all be for being female not for being transsexual! It still seemed to be a harsh but reasonable choice and the idiot doctor who said that I would forget about this stupid idea and just get on with life was completely wrong. Even with life as a downtrodden woman I would have been happier, richer, made a greater contribution to society and have a pension and probably have a lifetimes memories to fondly look back upon...

What an amazing group of people I have come across along the way. What a loss to the world that our talents are often wasted and a loss to our friends and families who often only know the miserable side of us and many cannot bring themselves to discover the joyous versions of ourselves hidden deep inside.

So here I am, twenty months on from that momentous day when during a few hours of chemically induced sleep life was utterly transformed...



.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Two years on...


Not my favourite day of the year. On this day two years ago I lost a very dear friend who had been an online soul mate since the moment we first made contact, I was later to discover that her end, though listed as natural causes was only due to the fact that she decided to take the quick way out of this crazy life by neglecting to seek treatment for a very obvious problem… I could quite understand since I had spent a lifetime with thoughts and plans for an emergency end to it all should life become too much. 

I am still drawn back to read occasional blogs, it has been such a large part of life over the last few years. Yesterday I clicked on a link leading to a tale of misery and loss as someone recounted their loss of a sister in transition who had been vivacious and looked amazing but found the fight against the world too much. A far too common posting!

I have to resist the urge to come back and open old wounds, I have moved on so much further than I could ever have imagined, Melissa would have been so thrilled. I thought that I was going to be about for ever as an online example of transition working and will continue posting but do not be surprised if my commenting fades away, I am getting burned out.

Here are my toes again! Real life is finally fixing things which have driven me crazy all my life and twisted toenails have been painful and cost a fortune in worn out socks… This time the local GPs have sent me to the local hospital for more expert treatment though I am sure that was not supposed to include an infection requiring antibiotics. Well, at least they are also clearing a sinus infection as a bonus. Not doing much whilst they heal up...




.



Monday, 2 September 2013

More house renovation...




My apologies for the last post, A report on a test run of the new equipment is a standard part of many blogs but as regular readers would have realised they were hardly ever expecting one from me. I had thought that an innocent trip to the airport to collect a friend and giving away some decent old clothes might get misinterpreted but… I put it down to the imprecise nature of English!

I have been doing some spring cleaning, well what do you call it when you clean out hundreds of bookmarks and thousands of emails of comment threads from years past. Most of these people gave up on me long ago and went on their own paths. My life is increasingly in the here and now and the computer was getting full of the near past… Little chance after house maintenance costs over the summer of getting a replacement computer in the near future and quite honestly now that my project of transformation has moved into it’s end phase I find little use for the thing now.

I had contemplated a new blog based on the house and garden since from now on we are mainly based in the house and garden! I have a blog title set up and was writing a few pieces as introduction and to try and set a voice and style for the blog. The good starting points have now passed and the first writings are now out of date as the summer is quickly turning to autumn here. I mentioned the new blog idea to gain some feedback and got none… My conclusion is that the world does not need a blog about two slightly bohemian old ladies trying to survive in the twilight of their years.

The last gasps of summer seem to have coincided with the early arrival of our replacement windows, thankfully dry and still mild which is needed since workmen have a need to leave all doors wide open! There were some shamed faces on Thursday when after hauling the window frame up to the roof level it was found to be too wide for the half dismantled space where the old rotten windows had been! It can only happen to me, it does only happen to me! 

Luckily they are a local company and they were able to take it away and re-fabricate it leaving the two fitters with not enough to keep them busy for the extra two and a half hours wasted. We sat drinking coffee in the late afternoon sun to kill some time and with extra help from another team they had the small bay fitted in record time clearly eager to get home but savouring the overtime, they were last heard agreeing on a finishing time for the day...The new sized double glazed units have to be ordered so we have a not so classy plywood pair of windows at the top of the house. Now that the windows will keep the draughts out of the rooms in the roof it is tempting to stop using them just for junk but return them to sunny lookout posts and a good place to go and read. Sorting the old junk is something that only Julie can do, it is mostly her old family stuff, before my time…

The house is far from finished but better than it has ever been in my time here, all I need to do now is work steadily through the winter when possible on the garden where there is an infinite amount of work available! Julie still can’t believe that I now just keep on going. She may no longer find me attractive in any physical way but does find me a much better companion...

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I did something nobody expected me to do...




There is something I have had the ability to do for eighteen months or more but have never done and many close friends probably thought I would never get round to giving it a try. I used to do it long ago in the past century but not in the way I can now, I quite surprised myself by spontaneously grabbing an unexpected opportunity and gave it a go.



I have had very little time to myself and away from the house maintenance and painting since we came back from our French trip in June and it has suddenly become even more hectic after a phone-call saying that the replacement windows are ready to go in ten days early! So much for forward planning! Today I hardly stopped until it got dark just after nine pm. and came in sweaty and tired but the exterior is now ready for their arrival on Thursday. My scaffold tower is built up the front of the building because the largest window frame for the attic could not pass up the narrow twisting stairway, girls should not really make these kinds of offers! Weather looks promising and we want the house sealed up before the weather changes and cools down or gets wet so when the call came while I was out Julie just said yes.



I had thought that with the fine weather the painting was well on schedule so we have been less frantic recently and had a few meals here with friends. At the end of one of these, Iain our close friend of more than thirty years stayed on after his wife and teenage daughter departed and the two of us headed upstairs together. I showed him into our spare bedroom and left him briefly to get ready and when I returned soon afterwards he was already partially undressed. I had though long and hard about who was the ideal candidate to be given something so special and Iain is about the nicest sweetest guy I know and he seemed keen. I thought it might take longer than it did but he is a guy and they can be quickly and easily satisfied. In some ways I am sad that it is gone at last and I can just get on with my new life. 

Not sure what his wife will be saying when her husband comes home changed for ever, not the perpetual tweedy guy she has known for twenty years but now stylishly casual in a smart and washable pale cream summer suit…

This year has seen the best crop of brambles ever, the fruit is hanging thick from the stems trained high and away from the walls on long bamboo canes. It has been such a successful system that the growth has filled up the spaces between the rows more than I thought possible, a large bowl full is picked every day and anyone living nearby is likely to get a load and the freezer is filling quickly, our daily portions are keeping us quite regular!

I took a rare day off this bank holiday Monday to spend it with someone who has known me the longest for the time I have been in Scotland. He was invited to join the cooking rota when I lived in a student flat which made sure that we had someone to cook a meal for every weekday and made sure that he ate better than we did when we were both living in bedsits on the western outskirts the year before. I remember the surprise when we first visited his parents in a town not far away and they thought he was bringing home a tall longhaired girlfriend for inspection! That was forty years ago now which is hard to believe. Malcolm has always found it hard to keep his hands off women which I have found somewhat embarrassing in the past when I used to help out when he had complicated advertising photo shots to do, otherwise we made an ideal team since I had always already done everything he wanted before he even thought about it usually while he was drinking coffee and chatting up the women! His wife has been away on a holiday on some far continent for weeks so when he was offered a day with some naked women’s flesh he took no persuading! Why I got myself into this I don’t know but avoiding experiences is something I have been good at so what the heck… We did it twice which is twice the number of times he thought I would do it! He was more than surprised I suggested doing it at all! Not sure that I will be in a rush to ever do it again, it was not as uncomfortable as I imagined it would be, we were a bit disorganised, wore all the wrong clothes for such a day, I still have concerns about letting someone else be in charge of my destiny and it took a while longer than I thought it would but we survived. Later on we drove out and collected his wife from her twenty hour journey home…



So there you have it, my virginity is finally gone and I will not be embarrassed and unsure of the procedure should I ever chose to do it again. 


The exhibition of fashion photographs was superb with plenty of bare flesh and my old persons free bus pass does work after all .

.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Last of the beans but first of the brambles and pink fir apples.







Two weeks since my last post. Not because there  has been nothing to write about, quite the contrary and just too busy to sit down and choose something and type. It has not helped that I have written a few emails to people and as they know they are often longer than my posts. As much as I have written here on the blog much more has been written on comments to other blogs and personal emails…

Here in Scotland we have a parliament with quite limited powers but the thing is small enough that they should just be able to get on with things so much quickly than the cumbersome English parliament which still controls most of the legislation. So why on earth are they still faffing about up here with their marriage equality bill when even the English have managed to get the legislation through and be rubber stamped by the Queen. Our lot of over paid crooks, (one was found guilty yesterday of physical abuse to a series of wives and step children and lying about it but still keeps job and £65,000 per year!), are still “consulting"…

Just over a week ago me and Julie were walking hand in hand through the same town where thirty years ago to the day we signed up to be together and look after each other probably until death and all that… In England we could now be legally two women married for thirty years but here we are married and two women though they still can’t make up their minds as to wether folk like us can get our paperwork sorted and live happily ever after. Is it little wonder that people are confused and often ask what our current status is!

At twenty five years we threw a large party but at thirty rather than give a big boost to the local economy we slipped away to have a restaurant lunch together. Thirty years ago there was not a fun-fair filling the streets where we normally park…



Much later in the week we did have a few friends round for what we had hoped would be a garden party, I spent last Friday, after watching a weather forecast, tidying a house fairly neglected since the painting work began. As predicted it rained though nobody seemed to care with bubbly wine and food on offer, music just happened when Elizabeth my garden help until recently brought her friend Joanna along and they commandeered the glass house attached to the house and played Scottish fiddle music. Eventually the sun broke through and chairs were carried out to take advantage then all carried back to the glasshouse when it restarted an hour or so later. For the first time ever we had everything cleaned up the same day as the party, just as well since we quickly called people to come and help eat the remaining food the next day.



Every day has been long and hard this summer and I have only been out of rags for the few social occasions otherwise working in the garden or on the painting job. There was one day when our friend Louise came to stay and that gave us an excuse to go off together for an afternoon on our bikes like a couple of kids, Julie has always hated bikes… It is always the same year after year, if the weather is perfect for a cycle ride it is also perfect for home maintenance or gardening, little cycling can be justified!



Just a wee bit tired.

.