Saturday, 30 June 2007

Phobias, insensitivity, kindnesses and ... shopping

A wet kind of weekend so far. But at least not affected by any flooding.

Last night I chatted online a while with one of the people that I thought might never talk with me again. It meant a lot that although she finds Andrea impossible to understand, she can still be OK. Thank you L ... it means more to me than you know.

During the conversation we talked a bit about how difficult it can be for people to be accepted or at least tolerated by society.

Some people seem to have a real problem in tolerating other people who are different. Often I guess it's associated with some kind of fear or phobia or maybe a need to feel superior in some way. Perhaps the need to feel superior is the result of some inner insecurity?

Some people seem to find it easy to pick on gay people or lesbians. Or fat people. Or transvestites and transsexuals. Anyone that is different.

So far I've been outside as Andrea just twice. So far I haven't experienced sniggers from people or verbal abuse. So far only inquisitiveness and kindness.

However, I have talked with tgirls that have, and read blog sites. I know people that are overweight and suffer the same kind of insensitive behaviour from others.

One day I know that it will happen to me.

I hope that I'll have the grace to deal with it in a way that minimises hurt and pain to all concerned. And also the bravery to continue just being myself. So long as being myself is something that doesn't harm other people then that's who I want to be.

Today I returned the clothes that I bought last week that didn't fit ... and couldn't resist buying alternatives. I decided this time to not have to go through another cycle of finding I had to return things all over again. So, I gritted my teeth (just metaphorically) and visited the changing rooms. This wasn't so bad at all ... at least compared with how I thought it might have been. The shopping was all at charity shops. There are just one or two cubicles. No one is watching. And I didn't feel embarassed or uncomfortable at all. It also meant that there was one skirt that I liked a lot but didn't buy because it didn't fit. So it saved a return journey. I ended up buying loads of clothes ... at very little cost.

I called in at M&S with my wife also. It was really nice looking at clothing with her. She bought a lovely dress and jacket. While waiting in the queue for the changing room it was interesting to notice how different it is from a queue of guys. Ladies ask each other how things look, whether or not colours match or clash ... even through they don't know each other.

It really is a totally different world!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Indigo Moments

A little earlier today I was thinking of love, falling in love and falling out of love.

A few years back when things in my marriage were in a falling apart kind of phase I was in a place wondering if it was possible to fall in love having fallen out of love.

Round about that time I discovered the musical love of my life. Most people I know only ever heard of Indigo Girls from me.

If it wasn't for Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, though, I think life would be a very different thing for me now.

I listened to Love's Recovery many times. Almost always I'd shed tears as I listened. I still do. The song gave me a hope that it was at least possible for love to recover. And sometimes just a little hope is all that's needed.

I discovered Amy and Emily in the earliest days of Napster. Downloaded a lot of their music and fell in love with it. Since then I bought just about all their CDs and have been to ... I think 7 ... of their UK concerts. If Napster hadn't been around in those days I would have lost out and so would the recording industry.

Actually the first Indigo Girls song I listened to is you and me of the 10,000 wars. One day it would be nice to get a chance to ask Emily what it all means to her. To me it expresses feelings about inner conflicts and emotions.

a hand in the darker side
and our sights set on Zion
the heart of a skeptic and the mind of a child

put my life in a box and let my imagination run wild
pour the cement for my feet
the heart and the mind on a parallel course
never the two shall meet

There have been times when I've felt like that. Wanting one thing, but not being able to do it or be it.

I don't know that it's been a conflict between masculine and feminine in me - haven't ever really thought of it in those terms before. But maybe this has been part of it.

There's a sense in which just beginning to be free to express the feminine side of myself is bringing my heart and my mind together.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

On being Andrea

Sunday was a lazy kind of day. I dressed in the morning and stayed that way most of the day.

Younger daughter got back from her weekend away a lot later than expected.

There's a strange kind of potential conflict that I feel at times. For the time being at least I don't think I can be Andrea while she is around. That doesn't mean that I don't want her around. But I do want to be able to take the opportunities that I have to dress. So I'm interested in how long she will be gone ... when she'll get back. Really though, I don't want this to be a big issue.

Sometimes I do stop and think ... what's the purpose in all this? How do I relate to Andrea? How does Andrea relate to me?

The only answers I get are that there is no conflict. I am Andrea. Andrea is me. Just different aspects of the same person.

Driving back from work yesterday was strange somehow. For no particular reason that I can think of I just felt kind of silly. Crazy. Why does a grown man want to dress like a woman? What's the point of it?

I don't know the answers to these questions.

Once, in my born again days I would have picked up a Bible and looked for answers there. And sometimes that worked. I remember one time ... must have been in 1975 ... I was feeling perplexed and uneasy. I remember reading Psalm 94:19 ... when the cares of my heart are many, Thy consolations cheer my soul. Those words meant a lot to me over many years, I still remember them and where they are written. At the time in 1975 I was falling in love. The relationship didn't last, but the words did for a long time.

Yesterday I remember thinking I need someone to say to me ... it's OK to be Andrea.

Within myself I believe that it is OK. It is OK to be me. I don't want to be anyone else.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Shopping ... fun ?

Today was a bit of a treat. An opportunity to shop a little.

Until fairly recently shopping has always seemed to be a necessary evil. I have a different perspective on things at the moment.

I'm still learning ... or trying to at least. What clothes do I like? What suits me? Where's the best place to buy from?

A couple of weeks ago I decided I'd try the charity shops.

I'm still not totally free of nerves when I shop for Andrea.

I park the car and walk up the stairs to the shopping level. Then a little visit to each of the shops. Most of the people there seem to be elderly ladies ... a little like Andrea ... in the sense of being elderly at least. Not many men in there ... but a few.

I look at the books ... pretending to be interested, but not at all interested.

I walk past the racks of clothes ... pretending to be not at all interested ... but wanting to stop and look.

The second shop is easier. By now I'm feeling more relaxed. Able to look at the sizes ... work out how things are organised. There are some nice skirts and blouses. No one is taking any notice of me at all. Really that's always how it has been. A kind of worry in my head that people will stare. But in reality ... no one is bothered.

Then another shop. And another. Then the final pass through to make purchases.

A medium length denim skirt, a long denim skirt, a tiny denim skirt ... OK I like denim I guess.

A long black pleated skirt. A short black skirt. A tartan pleated skirt. OK ... I like skirts.

A nice diagonally striped shirt. A white pleated shirt. A nice oriental top.

A necklace. A bracelet.

Just as well charity shops don't charge big prices :)

That was the end of the "planned" shopping. Now for the impulse.

Another town. Another car park.

Shoes with less than 4.5" heels. But size 11 or close to. Calling in at Evans ... a size 10 pair of sandals. Not perfect .. but not bad.

Then to Boots. I cannot believe how long I spend comparing lipsticks. I mean ... lipsticks. I want something that doesn't disappear from my lips after twenty minutes or so. In the end I chose some that says it lasts up to seven hours ... and ... nail polish ... at least it was free with the lip gloss. The lip gloss was an impulse though. I had to have a little discussion with the lady at the till about the nail polish ... the computer didn't think that it was free. It took a walk round to the aisle with an assistant to convince us both that I wasn't imagining special offers.

Then to Primark. Stockings and a shirt.

At last ... home.

I make some discoveries. The term "size 16" is almost meaningless. Three size 16 skirts fit. And the rest don't. A similar story with the shirts.

I discover as well that the shirt I got from Primark is the same as one from the charity shop. Same size same design. The odd thing is that the charity shop charged the same price ... and even though it has the same size marked on the label ... it is smaller.

One day I'll maybe be brave enough to try the things on at the shop.

Once everything has been tried on there's a chance to try some makeup. Over a week since there has been an opportunity. Eyes are tricky things to paint around. And lips as well. But in the end I'm pleased.

It's strange ... shopping is something that I'm beginning to enjoy.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Am I convincing?

It rained a lot last night and this morning. There was quite a deep pond of water in the road to drive through on the way to work. The car managed to get through it without complaining. It had all cleared up by the end of the day.

I thought a bit about the concept of being convincing. Quite a few people at TVChix mention that they are convincing. Some say that they only want to meet t-girls that are convincing. Some only venture out into the world dressed if they feel that they can convince.

I think that's fine ... each to her own.

For myself, I guess my thinking isn't quite along those lines.

I'm not a girl ... more of a guy that has a feminine side. A transvestite. A t-girl. I don't want to be a girl. I'm happy to be who I am ... now that I'm beginning to learn to accept myself that way.

The first time I ever visited Charles Fox to buy makeup I remember thinking about what I'd say if I was asked "What kind of look do you want?" I decided my answer would be something like:

"A 25 year old girl would be perfect!"

Actually I would have settled for looking like a 25 year old guy!

In a way maybe whenever I dress and makeup I will look like a transvestite. But ... since that's what I am then I can't grumble too much.

I can manage to look like a convincing tranny :)

Ultimately I think that being dressed and made up is about how it makes me feel. It's about feeling a little more in touch with myself ... more balanced. I think.

I do want to be accepted by others as Andrea ... but whether people accept Andrea or not ... Andrea is still an expression of a part of me ... of my femininity.

Because of this, I guess, I want to make Andrea look as feminine as I can manage. But I realise that there are limits. And ultimately my aim isn't to convince other people. My aim is to get closer to myself.

So ... if any of you guys and girls have any tips on how I can be a more feminine Andrea then that's cool ... please please tell me.

However, if at the end of a day I still look a bit like a bloke in a dress ... well ... that's what I am really.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

By the way ... I am a transvestite

It's interesting how different people react to the concept of a person being a transvestite.

In the real world everyone that I have been able to tell so far has survived the experience.

T-girls in Portsmouth who are all lovely people.

People that I've chatted to on the couple of occasions that I've been "out" so far. They have asked questions and been interested. All of them lovely people.

My wife ... who is happy that Andrea makes me happy ... and that makes me easier to live with.

Eldest daughter who seemed OK but is struggling a bit. To have a dad that likes to dress like her mum isn't easy for her. But she is being honest about her feelings. I hope and think it will get easier as time passes.

Younger daughter ... who says it's OK if it makes me happy and if mum is OK with it. But she is kind of quiet. I think she is OK.

People I know on the Internet.

Two people have said they are proud of me. Being able to accept myself better and beginning to escape from the closet. Thank you!

A friend in Canada that I have known for years but never met thanked me for introducing Andrea to her.

Another friend in Canada that I chatted with a couple of weeks ago with the Webcam on said it was like talking with one of her girlfriends. She meant it in the nicest of ways.

A lady in Australia who mentioned the movie "The Adventures of Priscilla ... ". I bought the DVD and like it a lot.

Another in Norway ... surprised ... but cool.

And two people that may never chat with me online again.

But mostly a strong sense of acceptance.

Will I ever tell my brothers? People at work? Neighbours? Friends?

The nicest thing is that no longer do I live in fear of people finding out that I'm a tranny.

It's no big deal to me now. I don't want to flaunt it. Don't want to upset people. But if people find out then so be it.

When I got back from work today my wife was excited ... a trip to Marks & Spencer for some things to wear at a wedding later in the year.

It was lovely to see her trying the things on.

She thinks it's sweet the way that all of a sudden I like clothes.

I feel closer to her now than I have done for years and years and years.

At times I wish I had come out of the closet earlier. And yet ... earlier may have been too soon. Maybe we all needed the time to grow up a little first? So ... mostly I am content.

On Saturday I'm planning on hitting the shops myself.

It's nice to have some things in common :)

Is God there?

Nothing particularly special about the day. Work not boring or mundane but also a little unspectacular.

Went for my (almost) regular lunchtime walk ... a couple of miles from the office, along a road, past a small lake, across the golf course then back along a road.

Must have been about this time last year that I first started this. I remember young swans and the ducklings.

Provides a little thinking space as well as a little exercise.

Is nature red in tooth and claw? Or kind of nice?

I guess it depends on the time of day.

Today it mostly seemed nice.

Walking along the wooded path I wondered about God. Do I prefer to think that there is a God or that there isn't? Maybe that depends on the time of day as well.

The God that I used to believe in wouldn't have been happy about Andrea. I seem to recall something Biblical about this. OK ... Google ... what do you say?

At the moment is top of the list. It doesn't make for happy reading.

Believe it or not, the Bible also has something to say about this issue. Again, it is back in the Old Testament, and many Christians are not even aware this verse exists on the subject.
The verse is very specific and again God says that this activity is an abomination in His sight and that He will not tolerate or accept it. Just like the problem with homosexuals, I believe that many of the transsexuals and transvestites are operating under heavy demonic influence.

Here is the verse that will give us this direct revelation from the Lord:
"A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an ABOMINATION to the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Thank you Mr Bradley. I hope the ladies in your life don't wear trousers.

Is Andrea an abomination to God? Even though I know that many of the nicest parts of my character are associated with the part of me that feels the most feminine. And Andrea is an expression of this.

I guess that I just can't believe it. If there is a God I don't think I'll ever be able to believe in the one that Bible Believing Christians seem to believe in - even though I once did.

Would the church friends that I have see Andrea as an abomination? Some of them would ... but they would also, I think, do their best to love her. Unfortunately that would mean attempting to heal her.

Well ... I'm not gonna get uptight about this.

Another thought as I walked along the path ... how wasteful nature seems to be ... or God. I think I've heard the term extravagant used sometimes. Offbeat thoughts I guess. How many millions of sperm have I produced during my life? How many eggs has my wife produced? We have two children and one miscarriage.

Did God plan the birth of the kids? Did he select the sperm and the eggs? Did he leave it to chance?

I suspect that anyone that claims to know the answer to these questions is misguided.

People that claim to know all the answers worry me. Fundamentalists worry me.

Troublesome stuff for a Wednesday night.

But actually, I feel at peace with things and untroubled. All depends on the time of day, I think.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

The closet door opening wider

I had an email back from L today. She's a lovely lady in Canada that I first met a long long time ago on ICQ.

We don't talk online these days, just communicate by occasional emails.

I have a lot of admiration for her. We are similar ages ... she has recently completed a course at University. Very easy to talk with.

I emailed her a few days ago telling her about Andrea.

Her reply was really lovely. I have a feeling it's not always easy to predict how people will react to discovering that a person is a transvestite.

A few of the things that she said really cheered me:

"Okay -- so that was a big announcement :) . But the only difference I see/feel is that you seem happier and that you are simply expressing another part of yourself in a more honest and open way. Women wear men's clothes all the time and no one seems to think that odd ( something I've always puzzled over). It must have been a big load off your mind to get this out in the open. No one should have to live with that kind of secret. This world would be a far better place if everyone felt they could be as open and honest as you have been. So that said -- welcome Andrea!"

How will she feel?

Today I picked up my eldest daughter from Watford Junction railway station. She'll be home a few days before setting off for some travelling in central America.

Having talked things over with my wife I'd decided that now was the time to explain about Andrea.

Driving back we chatted about this and that.

Eventually I gave up looking for a way to say something that would fit into the context of the conversation. So .. it just came out as:

"I need to tell you something ... I'm a transvestite ... do you know what that means?"

A strange thing to ask in a way since I don't really know what it means.

One of her first questions was to ask if that meant that I like men.

Then there were lots of others.

She didn't freak out. And she tried to understand.

She asked why I hadn't said something years ago if I'd been cross dressing for so long.

I think she understood when I explained that it's not such an easy thing.

She talked with my wife later. Concerned about how my wife felt about it. Wondering if she (my wife) loved me.

The love thing isn't easy for me. The answers that I get include words and phrases like "yes", "you're a great friend", "you're a great dad".

There are things missing though. Passion. Sex.

My wife is at a stage in life where she says these things aren't important. At least not when combined. She's also past the stage of feeling that she'll be obliging to keep me happy.

I've talked to several people who talk about living with a person that they love and yet not being in love with the person that they love.

Sometimes I feel that this is the kind of place that we are at. It's not always an easy place to be.

I think my daughter is ... well ... as OK as can be expected or hoped for.