Monday, 14 December 2009

Another trip to Windsor

Saturday December 12th. Sally wakes me at about 8:45 as she sets off to play in a golf match.

Coffee, shower, shave, underwear, makeup and clothing.

Billie arrives at round about 11:00 and we set off for a trip out to Windsor.

Driving into town I’m struck by how thoughts, feelings and fears change as time passes.

Once, not so very long ago, driving around as Andrea in the daylight was a very self-conspicuous kind of thing to do. These days it feels comfortable.

After parking, the first port of call is the Post Office. Last week I ordered some computer memory for a friend and no one was home to sign for it when it arrived on Friday.

Of course, the man at the post office needed to see ID. The picture on the card is kinda fuzzy – but the hair definitely looks a lot different than Andrea’s hair. But he asks no questions and doesn’t look horrified.

Wandering along Peascod Street we call in at Fenwick’s. In the window there is a sign advertising “Pricilla Queen of the Desert”. Makes us feel at home, if somewhat underdressed for the occasion.

Lunch at Cafe Rouge. As always it’s a relaxed affair. The waiter brings food – but a little mixed up gives us the food destined for the people on the next table. The plates get passed across with a few smiles. Again, no looks of horror, or even especially of surprise. No one in the restaurant pays us much attention at all even allowing for our “deep” voices.

The restaurant manager says it’s nice to see us again as he passes by.

I have a shopping list from Sally and so buy some Christmas cards at the British Heart Foundation shop and some more at the Oxfam shop. Two nice glass bead bracelets from the Cancer Research shop (bracelets weren’t actually on the list … but well … I like them).

Then a short walk to Marks and Spencer’s for some food – this was on the list.

The people that I pay tills all say hello and don’t worry at all at the way I look or my rather low pitched voice.

I resolve to leave hold up stockings off my own shopping lists in the future. My legs don’t seem to be sticky enough. Stockings and suspender belt or tights from now on.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Cartoon Andrea by Dani

My friend Dani recently posted  a cartoon / self portrait of herself (http://entransed.blogspot.com/2009/11/cartoon-dani-self-portrait.html).

Having left a comment saying how much I liked it, I was really delighted and surprised to receive an email with the following picture:

 

andreacolor

Thanks Dani … you’re a sweetie!

Dinner, hobbies and personalities

Last Tuesday was the Christmas TV (Transvestite) Dinner at Billie and Kathie’s.

Excellent food and company.

We talked a little about where the transvestite thing fits into our lives.

In a way this seems to be connected to another question that two people have asked me about recently … about the meanings of the terms “cross dresser”, “transvestite” and “transsexual”.

The first time I ever wore makeup, Fiona Floyd shared with me her understanding of this, and I think it makes sense. The definitions are from a male kind of perspective and highly over simplified.

  • Cross dresser – a guy that sometimes wears ladies clothing.
  • Transvestite – also wears makeup and wig.
  • Transsexual – someone that feels that they are a girl that has been born in a mans body.

The truth is, I know, much more complex.

Personally speaking, for much of my life I was an occasional cross dresser.

For the past few years I have been a transvestite – though really, I think, this has always been a part of who I am and that it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve felt the freedom to be able to

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express it.

I don’t believe that I am transsexual.

Of course, everyone’s experiences are different and I can only speak with any authority about myself.

In many ways the cross dressing seemed to be associated with eroticism and masturbation.

The transvestism is different. There are elements of eroticism associated with it, I know. But much, much more of it is about self expression. It’s who I am.

I remember the first makeover … and the sensation of self discovery that was associated with it.

At the TV dinner we talked a bit about that.

Sometimes, I think, it’s useful to look at the transvestite things as a kind of “hobby”.

In a way I can see that from some perspectives, a transvestite could be viewed as a guy that likes to play at being a girl once in a while.

But really, it’s more than that – for me at least. And for other transvestites that I know – Tina, Julia, Laura, Billie and Fiona to name just a few.

Andrea isn’t just a hobby to me. I am Andrea.

The freedom to express the femininity that is a part of me matters a great deal. I also accept the masculinity that is a part of me. Both are more than hobbies. Both are aspects of who I am.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Stepping out a little further

Last weekend we headed north to join in celebrating the 6oth birthday of Sally’s brother in law. Mine as well.

The celebration itself was at the local golf club.

We dropped by on Saturday afternoon mid way through the inflating of balloons, setting up of sound systems and laying of tables.

I sat down with a beer. Sally’s sister, P, came and sat by me.

“I have a joke for you.”

Recently a group of transgendered folk had their first meeting at the hall of the church where she goes.

She was at a meeting on the same evening, and she needed another table.

The vicar had asked people to be sensitive and not pester the transgendered group. After all, it was their first meeting and they might be a little nervous.

In the end, though, P went and asked if they had a spare table.

The person that P asked said she should check with the organiser.

“Who’s that?”

“The lady.”

At which point P smiled a little bemusedly since the only people in sight were ladies.

P asked me  a little about my “hobby”. Which made me smile.

It was a short conversation. A small event in many ways. And yet, it was a big event as well. The first conversation with a non-immediate relative that has acknowledged this part of me.

One strange kind of thing is knowing that some people know a little of Andrea, but not knowing who knows what and who doesn’t know anything.

The cat is certainly out of the bag, but I’m not sure about who has spotted it yet, nor how much of it they have seen.

Actually, I don’t really mind who knows.

But, I hope that people that know things will be able to avoid the temptation to jump to conclusions. That they’ll be able to ask. To challenge. To find out.

Later in the evening J came to say hello.

She mentioned that she’d heard that I didn’t go to church any more and wondered if I minded talking about it … and why?

It was too late to talk much … but we talked a little. Just the beginnings of a conversation. We’ll talk again. It was nice that she wanted to know.

Ponies, people, the Bible, Jesus and me

Recently I spent a while chatting with someone using the nick ponygirl in a chat room. For over a year now she explained that she has lived as a ponygirl.

She has an owner … who owns five pony girls at the moment. Some of the things that she has mentioned:

  • It’s not a sexual thing.
  • She hasn’t been forced into it.
  • She is happy.
  • The ponies spend a lot of time restrained in various ways … mostly, I think, in ways that make it feel more like being a pony
  • They don’t talk
  • The ponies are trained
  • They are disciplined
  • They are well cared for
  • The pony that I talked with has access to the internet once in a while
  • Her family visit her every so often. They don’t find it easy … but they accept her choice. She doesn’t speak to them when they visit, but they do communicate by email

She said that the thing that she likes most is a sense of belonging.

In some ways, it’s not easy to understand why anyone would want to do this.

I think that quite lot of people would also find it hard to understand what it is that makes a guy want to wear makeup, a wig and a dress.

It’s not natural I’ve heard people say. I’ve even heard myself say it.

But is clothing natural? Plastic? Automobiles? Aeroplanes?

Maybe it’s really more about acceptability than it is about naturalness?

And different things are acceptable to different people.

Plastic, aeroplanes and just wars are acceptable to many people.

Pony girls and transvestites, gays and lesbians maybe to less.

There was a time when the Bible helped me decide what was acceptable and what wasn’t.

I was more of a “hate the sin but love the sinner” kind of person - as opposed to the “fire and brimstone” variety.

Nevertheless, the Bible was the final arbiter when it came to acceptability.

And yet looking back at those times, it was really my interpretation of the Bible that was the arbiter.

And my interpretation of the Bible was always flawed.

I think, in a way, everyone’s interpretation is flawed.

I mean … is it acceptable for women to speak in church? To commit genocide if God tells you to do it? To work on Sunday – or maybe that should be Saturday? To speak in tongues without an interpretation? To use contraceptives? To kill? To be gay? Lesbian? Transsexual? Transvestite? Pony girl? To manufacture weapons? To trade unjustly? To have two coats while someone else has none? To respond to one slap in the face with another?

Different Bible believing people have different answers to these questions.

Back in 1973, just after being Born Again, I remember reading a book Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer. Even then it seemed odd to me that the author was adamant that the existence of a real Adam and Eve were fundamental beliefs, but that the story of creation in six days and the eating of the fruit of knowledge could just be viewed as allegories.

And I have had conversations with people that find it easy to own a whole collection of coats and yet condemn, absolutely, a whole series of perversions.

I know, for sure, that I am far from perfection. A little like Amy Ray’s friend:

My friend Tanner she says,
"Y'know me and Jesus we're of the same heart
The only thing that keeps us distant is that I keep fuckin' up"

And I do.

Back at Sparkle, I remember the policeman saying that his view of bad-mouthing members of the trans-gendered community was that it was similar to the racist comments that people make.

Not so very long ago, a man that lived in a Bible believing God-fearing part of the world had a dream:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

Y’know. I think that pony girls, gay, lesbian and transgendered people are mostly just wanting to be free to be themselves.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Indigo, Dinners and Gatherings

I did get along to the Indigo Girls concert at Brighton on October 26th. In some ways it was similar to, and in other ways it was different from the Bristol concert.

The venue, Concorde2 is kinda nice. Not too big, not too small. And there is free parking right outside after 6:00 pm.

They played some of the same songs as at Bristol, but quite a few were different. Maybe this was partly because in addition to Amy and Emily, there was also Clare Kenny playing bass guitar and Carol Isaacs on accordion and keyboard. They both live in the UK and play fairly regularly with Indigo Girls in the USA. They played at Brighton because they happened to be around, and it was really nice.  For the first time ever live I heard them play Loves Recovery.

Stephanie Dosen played some songs at the beginning again. She said that she first got interested in playing music a long time ago after hearing Indigo Girls one time when she was babysitting. She’s 40 now … but looks a lot younger.

It was great.

Last night was a TV (as in transvestite) dinner at Billie and Kathie’s.

I wear my short black dress.

Sally says my bum looks a bit big in it.

There are round about 20 people there … a record attendance, I think.

As always, its great to catch up with people’s news.

Julia spent a few days in Bath and has been out and about quite a bit.

We talk about the why’s and wherefores of being a transvestite.

I mention that ever since Sally, my wife, accompanied me to a TV dinner she has been gently-ish pestering me to go along to a “Contemplative Fire” gathering with her. Each of us challenging our comfort zones.

To my horror, Julia thinks this is a fine idea.

I explain the discussions I’ve had with Sally … the reasons … or maybe excuses … that I have.

“Was that a girlie conversation or a guy one?” asks Julia.

“A guy one.”

“Ahhh I thought so” nods Julia knowingly.

Sally says that the gathering would be fine with the concept of Andrea. So who knows … maybe Andrea’s first outing to a churchy kind of thing will be to a gathering?

Then again.

Tina asks me about the story of Pink Punters and the front fastening bra.

“Why would anyone wear one?”

I know, I know, it is more liable to pop-open.

But it is my favourite.

We’re beginning to plan Sparkle 2010 … Tina, myself, Billie and Laura are planning to get there. And maybe others?

Nikki denies having a fetish for photographs in hotel corridors.

Tina thinks I don’t snore. At least not in Manchester.

Nikki thinks I breathe heavily whilst asleep and explains how useful the earplugs provided by Pink Punters can be.

I try to explain that I think Indigo Girls are musicians that are lesbian rather than lesbian musicians.

Short dresses and hold-up stockings are a risky combination. I think that the baby oil that I apply after showering maybe doesn’t help. The stocking tops are slowly sliding down my legs.

Katie is keen on an evening with a schoolgirl theme.

“So … who doesn’t have a schoolgirl outfit?

Only Kathie.

The second Tuesday of March 2010 is maybe the date.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Why Indigo

This post is mostly prompted by the previous one.

It may be that I’ve already said this … but at the risk of repeating myself …

Why do I like Indigo Girls so much?

A collection of connected and not so connected reasons.

I like lyrics that speak to me. Especially when they are sung by the person that wrote them. There’s something special about it. A feeling of connectedness. Empathy. Understanding. Closeness.

I like songs that touch me. That make me cry. Not because they make me feel sad. But because they touch me.

I like the sound of folk rock.

When I first discovered Indigo Girls it was the folk rock sound. The harmonies. Lyrics that touched me.

Loves Recovery is a song that has affected my life. I came across it at a time when I needed to know if it was possible for love to recovery. I’ve heard the song many, many times. It still touches me.  Still makes me cry. The tears are happy ones.

Quite a few Indigo Girls songs do that.

As well as the songs that bring tears, there are ones that make me smile and words of wisdom. A few words from Amy’s song Second Time Around: 

Here’s what I found about compromise
Don’t do it if it hurts inside
Because either way you’re screwed
Eventually you’ll find
That you may as well feel good
You may as well have some pride

The girl that I chatted with at the concert in Bristol last Saturday mentioned that she felt a kind of connection because of the connection that there was between Indigo Girls and the Church and the struggles that they have faced.

Because there isn’t much of a Lutheran presence in the UK, she goes to an Anglican church.

I explained that once I was a Baptist, but now I’m not really anything.

At the moment I don’t see a way back. Too many apparently unanswered questions and contradictions.

Indigo Sunday

Sunday 18 October 2009 - an Indigo night in Bristol.

Plan A had been to get to the Indigo Girls concert at either London or Brighton.

The plan fell apart upon discovery that both venues were sold out by the time I got round to trying to book.

So Bristol it was.

Only traces of Andrea make the trip. Bright red finger nails from the day before.

I arrive at the O2 Academy at 6:30 pm and join the end of a queue of maybe 40 people. There are three doorways, but just a single queue.

The queue gradually grows.

There was a time when bright red fingernails would have led me to keep my hands in my pockets most of the time. These days I’m not so bothered.

6:40. a barrier is built to demark the doorway on the right.

6:45 the queue is ushered across to the right of the barrier.

6:47 another barrier between the other two doorways.

6:50 signs appear.

To the left: O2 Customer Priority.

Middle: Paying and Guests

To the right: Ticketholders

O2 is a mobile phone company that also manage a selection of musical venues.

People with O2 phones begin to ask about the priority entrance.

All you need is an O2 mobile phone.

A little sheepishly the privileged few move across to the left.

Being an O2 customer I become a sheep.

Each O2 customer can bring a friend.

Within minutes I have a new buddette. Karen (I think) needs a friend with an O2 mobile phone. She’s been in the queue since 1:30.

7:00 the doors open.

No one checks anyone’s mobile phones.

I’m glad that I don’t have a handbag with me. They are all getting searched.

Into the auditorium and there I am standing at the very front just a few feet away from the stage.

“So … have you been a fan for long?”

The girl to my right and her husband have travelled over from Portsmouth.

She’s American and has seen Indigo Girls frequently in the USA.

Aged 30 and a fan since junior high school … age 14 or so.

She attended seminary and one day hopes to maybe be a pastor within the Lutheran church.

We talk a little about the church’s views on women, vicars, gays and lesbians. She smiles as she says that she was almost surprised to grow up and discover she wasn’t a lesbian.

We both see Indigo Girls as musicians that happen to be lesbians rather than lesbian musicians.

Favourite songs include The Wood Song, Ghost, Mystery and Loves Recovery.

Prefers the acoustic kind of sound.

8:00 and Stephanie Dosen takes the stage. And she is good.

I like her voice and her music.

She’s wearing a frilly white skirt. Black tights. A little wrinkled and torn. The tights that is.

Makes me smile to think how unfeminine I can imagine myself looking with torn tights and how feminine she looks.

Stephanie … smiling as she tunes her guitar.

“Joni Mitchell has a guitar that tunes itself when she pushes a little button.”

More twiddling and fiddling with the guitar.

A cute little smile.

Very quietly.

“Bitch.”

“Don’t anyone tell Joni I said that. When I see her I’ll tell her ‘I did not call you a bitch.’”

Stephanie introduces a song with what she insists is a true story.

A night drive in winter. Cows at the roadside. Cold and shivering.

She begins to sing. A freedom fighters song on behalf of the cows.

Drumming on the steering wheel.

All of a sudden the car is skidding, facing the wrong way and rolling over.

With a hint of sadness. “And the cows never came to visit.”

The words have changed, but the next song came out of those moments.

9:00. Emily and Amy take the stage.

They start to play and then stop.

Amy could perhaps have used a Joni Mitchell guitar at this point.

They both laugh a little.

“Any questions?” Emily asks the audience.

“What’s your favourite pizza?”

“Well … cheese is good. And lately … mushroom and Canadian bacon.”

The atmosphere is friendly, almost intimate.

“Amy … please may I have your plectrum?”

“My plectrum? Well yes … especially since you asked so politely.”

“So how many people here would have asked for a picker?” asks Emily.

“Meeeeeee”.

“Only one?”

“But I am American”.

Amy: “Plectrum … it almost sounds sexual.”

Emily: “Anatomical.”

Amy: “Yes that’s what I mean.”

A request from the audience.

Amy: “Nooooo you cannot play with my plectrum. It’s a kinda personal thing.”

Amy: “It’s a good thing that our new songs are different than the old ones. If they were the same it would mean we never could have gotten better.”

Emily: “When I was younger I would write lots of songs. As you get middle aged it’s easy to find yourself repeating yourself. It takes longer to write songs now.”

Lots of conflicting song requests from the audience.

Then: “Play whatever you want.”
Amy, smiling : “That’s what Mr Obama says.”

“Amy, I love you.”

“Emily, I love you.”

Emily: “We love you too.”

All of a sudden its 10:40 and the stage is empty.

And then they are back and play a couple more songs.

Amy hands over the plectrum.

Time for home.

I loved it. The music. The people. The experience.

Just a few minutes ago I booked a ticket at the Concorde 2 in Brighton for next Monday – it seems it’s not quite as sold out as I thought. £20 at the Concorde 2 web site. The alternative was a bargain at £94 from what is, I guess, a less than honest web site. Now I just have to organise leaving work early enough to get to Brighton by 7:30.

A little like Emily I find it easy to find myself repeating myself.

See what I mean … three myselfs in two sentences.

It’s an easy thing to do in a blog.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Windsor, Hare Krishna and TVs

Saturday 17th was another chance to go walkabout in Windsor.

One of the challenges of doing this as a tgirl is allowing all the extra time that is needed for makeup and selection of clothing.

The makeup actually begins on Friday night with nail polish. Sally suggests I go pink. And so I do. For a while. Three coats of Urban Princess. Then an accidental argument … my thumbnail versus a door handle … changes everything. The pink stuff taking for ever to harden. So off it comes. To be followed by two coats of bright red Hot Gossip and one of 3 in 1.

At round about 9:30 on Saturday morning I begin the final preparations.

I’m still not skilled enough with makeup to manage much in the way of subtlety. I know that there are different looks … nightclub chick … everyday smart … casual … and all the in-betweens as well.

I just go for a little less foundation. Paler eye shadow. A little less eye liner and mascara. Pink lips instead of ruby red. Thoughts of Urban Princess versus Hot Gossip momentarily pass through my mind.

I select a bra that isn’t front fastening. Having it come undone in the middle of Windsor would be way more inconvenient than the time that it did at Pink Punters. I have discovered that when your boobs aren’t attached to your body it’s really important to have a bra that is unlikely to pop open. The bra is black – one of a pair that I bought at Peacock’s in Bristol - £6 for two.

A mid length denim skirt and red top – courtesy of M&S.

Shoes with low heels.

As I put them on I know they don’t feel anywhere near so good as four and a half inch stilettos. I know, also, that in an hours time I’ll be glad that they are nice and low.

I’m all ready by about 10:50. It’s kinda nice to just potter around the house and relax for a few minutes.

Sally has been busy all morning doing stuff in the garden.

I’ve managed to train her into realising that Andrea’s nails are way to delicate for such tasks. But I do make the coffee.

Tina arrives at about 11:30 just as Sally heads out to play golf.

The comic irony of the situation isn’t lost … wife out on the golf course … hubby out shopping in a skirt.

After applying a few finishing touches we head for the car.

There are a couple of neighbours chatting a few houses down the street. I resist the urge to wave and say hello. I also resist the urge to run back to the house. I have no idea if I am recognised. If I am then I am. Mostly people seem not to notice. But I would be even less noticeable if I were shorter than six feet tall.

Tina drives and mostly I remember to say which way to go.

Arriving at the car park in Victoria Street we pay at the pay and display meter and head off for the town centre.

Alas, Shoe Fetish is no more. It’s been replaced by a shop that sells motor scooters.

We walk slowly.

There are one or two quizzical kind of looks as we walk past people. It must be our husky voices.

But no one pulls faces or passes comments.

Gazing into a few shop windows we wander up Peascod Street from the St Leonard’s Road end.

Turning into King Edward Court we go into the British Heart Foundation charity shop and take a look around.

I see a white handbag – I have white shoes but no white handbag. It’s in excellent condition and a snip at £2,75. The lady at the till doesn’t really look at me as I pay.

We pay a visit to Fenwick’s. Then Boots, Daniels and Marks & Spencer.

Then on to Cafe Rouge. The place is pretty busy. The staff are, as always, very helpful and friendly. The other diners pay us no attention.

I order a Hoegaarden beer, Tina a lemonade. The food arrives very promptly and is excellent.

We chat about girlie kinds of things.

The waitress drops by … “Is everything alright for you, ladies?” It makes me smile.

It’s then a walk along to the castle and a photo opportunity or two.

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As I pose a little and Tina juggles two cameras a group of ladies walk by.

“Would you like me to take a picture of you both?” asks one of the ladies. We gratefully accept the offer, and she takes a picture with each of the cameras.

 

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Then on down to the riverside. Tina changes her boots for a pair of flat shoes.

We should have brought some bread for the ducks and swans.

 

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On the way back to the car park we call in at WH Smiths where Tina buys a newspaper.

As we stroll back down Peascod Street a man approaches us.

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

Brief introductions.

“What’s your name?”

“Andrea.”

“Is that your real name?”

“Of course.”

“And yours?”

“Tina.”

“Is that your real name?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m afraid that I have to tell you that you’ve exceeded the local limits for looking cool and being hip whilst out in public. So I’m going to have to ask you to pay a voluntary fine as a penalty.”

Of course, we are smiling well before this.

The man’s eyesight is, of course, immediately suspect.

Actually he is a member of a Hare Krishna group raising money to help support homeless people.

His western name is John … his spiritual name is much more complex.

We make a donation and he gives me a booklet … pink to match the colour of my lips he says.

“Do you have blue ones for boys?” asks Andrea.

“But of course.”

Back to the car and home.

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Each little trip out helps me feel more relaxed than the last time.

I have the feeling that Windsor town centre is a good and relatively safe kind of place for a transvestite to wander around in. People manage to “read” me without a lot of difficulty. But that doesn’t bother me really. A thing that Fiona Floyd shared with me several years ago has influenced my feelings on this. As Fiona said, “I’m not a girl, I’m a transvestite. If someone points a finger at me and says ‘Hey that’s not a real girl … it’s a tranny’ then it’s not a problem really … that’s what I am.” I feel the same way.

I think the centre of Windsor is maybe this way because people don’t have problems with strangers and off-beat people. The town relies heavily on tourism and really can’t afford to get overly upset about issues of gender or race or a whole range of other things.

One day maybe residential areas that don’t rely on tourism will get to see people as being people.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Pink Punters again

October 10th provided an opportunity for another trip to Pink Punters.

The room at the Campanile Hotel is booked … especially good value if you book two rooms at the same time.

On the day I pack quite frugally … for me at any rate. A fairly normal selection of makeup and other accessories. Only three pairs of shoes, 2 dresses, one skirt and one top. Three bras, two pairs of stockings, two pairs of tights and two of hold-ups. Two suspender belts.

No partridge and no pair tree.

I know. There is no way I’ll get the chance to use it all in one evening. But there is a logic in al of this.

The tradition is to get made up and dressed. Eat at the hotel. Change. Head for Pink Punters.

So two sets of outerwear are needed. And I’m not sure whether to wear the black dress or a skirt with a top. So I take three.

And it’s nice to change shoes. And heels are nice. And maybe I’ll drive home the next day as a girl … so I need some flat shoes to drive in.

The dresses need a strapless bra. The skirt and top are fine with a bra with straps. I have no idea why I took three.

Stockings are fine with the long dress. The spare pair is insurance against laddering.

The skirt is ok with holdups.

The short dress is safer with tights.

And a spare pair of each. Just in case.

I bought a new suspender belt at Debenhams in Bristol … but haven’t given it a try out yet – so I take a spare just in case.

I almost forget the makeup remover.

The drive to Fenny Stratford … Bletchley … the home of Pink Punters … is pleasantly uneventful. The M25 is being widened … again … so has a 50 mph speed limit for what seems miles and miles and miles. But it is moving.

Round about 5:00 pm I pull into the car park and start to dismantle Tom Tom.

My phone rings.

“Hello.”

“Andrea?”

“Yes".”

“It’s Nikki. Where are you?”

Nikki arrived earlier in the afternoon and is out shopping. We’re in room 12. Nikki has paid half already. Well … half of one room or a quarter of two.

The man at reception is very patient as I check in.

The transgender thing isn’t at all strange to staff at the hotel.

In the room the ritual begins.

Shave. Shower. Moisturiser. Underwear. Makeup.

Phone.

Laura and Billie have arrived and are next door in room 14.

Nikki arrives.

She has a nice new pair of shoes.

She spotted a handbag outside the door of room 14 so goes to tell Billie and Laura about it.

Knock knock. “Hello. This is room service.”

“Oh … it’s going to be a half hour before I’m decent!”

”Ha ha! It’s only Nikki. You left your handbag outside.”

Nikki begins to remove makeup and showers ready to start over again.

I finish off with the makeup.

Knock knock. “It’s room service.”

But it sounds a lot like Billie so I just open the door.

With makeup and no wig I know I look a little like a clown without the red nose.

I look a little odd even with the wig, I know.

We agree to meet Billie and Laura in the bar.

Jewellery.

Dress.

Hair.

Shoes.

I head for the bar while Nikki continues with the makeup.

Billie and Laura are (well at least Billie is) watching Leeds play against St Helens. A big rugby league match. The TV set is muted though so we can talk as Billie watches.

There are two other people in the bar who pay us no attention.

The girl at the bar asks “What would you like to drink?”

“A white wine. Do you have a Chardonnay?”

“Ooooo you slut” giggles the lady rugby spectator.

Perhaps rugby union spectators are more gentlemanly? Well, the male ones at any rate.

We sit and talk rugby a little.

And t-shirts. Nail polish. Dresses.

Nikki arrives.

Leeds beat St Helens.

We move to a table in the restaurant area and order some food. Tastes varying from burgers to swordfish.

Nikki and Laura:

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Billie and Andrea:

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Guess who?

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Another tgirl is eating in the restaurant. Her dress is quite short … maybe too short to be bending so far over the buffet table like that.

After the food it’s back to get changed for the short trip across the road. Nikki kinda likes photos in the hotel corridor. And so …

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Those straps keep on dropping down:

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Decisions, decisions.

Black dress or skirt? Stockings or tights?

And so, back in the corridor all transformed.CIMG0873_720x960

 

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Laura had almost worn dress several times before. It’s very transparent. She managed the transparency pretty well … bit it is a little on the short side.  Cute legs though, don’t you think?

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A short walk across the road and there we are.

In we go.

I see Nikki collecting what looks like some sweets from a jar attached to the wall.

I like Pink Punters a lot. The kind of place where people can be different without worrying about being hassled. You can be who you want to be. You can be who you are.

It’s fairly quiet early in the evening.

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As time passes we talk and dance. And it’s a nicxe place to sit and watch people.

We talk to a girl that is in the process of becoming a full time girl. Medical appointments and things on the horizon. She explains that most people already know, apart from at work. In about six months time she will become a girl at work as well. She talks about the hopes and fears that go with all of that. She knows it’s not going to be an easy journey.

When I go to the bar to buy a drink the girl always calls me “babe”. It’s quite cute, so long as you don’t associate “babe” with “piglet” too closely. She has a painful leg … football (soccer) injury sustained on Friday. The girl sitting at the bar plays rugby, but prefers football.

A whole group of people are wearing white t-shirts with lots of messages written on them.

A few sit at the table next to us.

“Happy birthday Harry” I read on the back of the guy sitting just to the side of me.

I lean to the side.

“Are you Harry?”

“Yes …”

“Happy birthday!”

“Thanks … how did you know I was Harry?”

I explain it’s more a case of writing on the back than psychic talents.

Christian sits beside me and we chat a while. His girlfriend, Leandra, is sitting just opposite.

He’s impressed that my wife copes with the concept of Andrea so well and encourages me to buy her a big bunch of flowers and a holiday to the Bahamas. Leandra says she wouldn’t mind a trip to the Bahamas as well.

Sam sits beside me … he’s Harry’s partner. Tomorrow he gets to meet Harry’s parents for the first time and is a little nervous about it.

Simon says hello.

A little later on the dance floor he invites me for a bop.

The Pink Punters photographer is taking pictures.

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We leave at a little after 4:00 am.

Next morning Nikki breaks the bad news to me that I snore. Or at least, breathe heavily whilst asleep.

Of course, I know this already.

She says it was lucky that she picked up the earplugs at the nightclub.

So, the jar wasn’t a jar of sweets, it was a jar of earplugs.

A really nice evening!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Lima, Tambopata, Cusco, Machu Picchu and Miami

Things have been drifting along over the past few weeks.

We spent a family holiday in Peru. One of those “it might be the last ones we manage to take together” kind of events.

I’m a bit of an oddity in our household. As well as being the only transvestite …so long as you discount the fact that Sally and both my daughters sometimes wear trousers … I’m also the only one that would generally rather spend a relaxing few days at home rather than go through the rigmarole of packing, spending hours and hours and hours travelling, unpacking etc etc etc.

As Peru approached … or at least as mid August approached … there were moments when I questioned my sanity. In re-reading about “day 2 of the Inca trail” it was hard to remember what it was that ever convinced me that this was a good idea.

The flight was scheduled to leave Heathrow early on a Wednesday morning. It meant setting the alarm for 4:00 am. Good practice for the days ahead.

The night before was a TV Dinner.

My cunning plan was to pack everything the night before the TV dinner. Breeze along to the dinner. Sleep for a few hours. Wake up. Travel to the airport.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Come Monday I realise that  tgirls are not immune from this syndrome.

Emailed apologies and Tuesday night sees me packing and unpacking and packing suitcases. A little on the irritable side of grumpy.

In a sense, only a a few small pieces of Andrea gets to go to Peru. Things like girlie jeans, panties, finger and toenails, perfume.

In another sense, all of Andrea gets to be there as well since all of Andrea is me.

Wednesday August 12th sitting at the airport in Madrid waiting for the connecting flight to Lima and my mobile begins to ring.

I look at it.

It’s work.

I press “Ignore this call”.

A couple of minutes later … a text message.

I have voicemail.

I listen to it … and phone work feeling glad that the European Union recently forced mobile phone companies to reduce the rates that they charge for calls within Europe. Calls now cost only a small fortune.

On the flight to Lima we get to fill out a form asking if we have recently had a fever, a headache, a cough … I don’t know of anyone that admitted to this.

At Lima airport people are giving out information leaflets about Swine flu. A few, though hardly any, are wearing face masks.

We spend a few days in the rain forest … a 3 hour boat trip from Puerto Maldonado along the Tambopata river. The lodge is lovely. The lack of hot water not so bad as I expected it to be. Hot and humid. The nights might be cold we are told … maybe even as low as 16 degrees … Centigrade.

We see caimans, capybara, spiders, parakeets, trees, plants, the jungle from all kinds of angles.

Walking is an activity that makes me glow. A bright shining kind of glow. 

I empathise with the author of this: http://trichallenge.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/“horses-sweat-men-perspire-ladies-merely-glow…”-or-why-proverbs-are-complete-tosh/

After a pleasant few days of perspiration we fly to Cusco.

At 3,310 metres it’s quite a bit higher than the jungle.

A few pleasant days acclimatising and we board the bus that takes us to the 82Km starting pint of the Inca Trail. That’s 82Km from Cusco … the walk from here to Machu Picchu is about 42km.

Day 1 and all is well. No problems.

Apart from sleeping in a tent and having no showers.

The guides are great, though. Miguel explains that you can spot the “real” travellers in Machu Picchu as opposed to the ones that got there by train. It’s all a matter of fragrances.

Day 2 is in three parts.

Part 1 is fine.

Part 2 … the walk to Dead Woman’s Pass … at 4,210m this is the highest point in the journey. At the start of the day we were 1.2Km lower.

It was steep.

I have fond memories of thinking … if I had a voodoo doll of Sally … the plotter of this whole adventure … and a couple of pins …

Maybe they’ll rename the place Dead TGirl’s Pass?

Rolando, the assistant guide is assisting whoever is at the back.

Which is me.

Very patiently he walks along and we talk.

Sit down.

Walk

Sit down.

Walk.

The proportion of time spent sitting down is increasing.

“Let me take your rucksack”.

I only take a little convincing.

And then my younger daughter arrives … having walked back from the top.

She takes my rucksack and we continue.

I’m walking four times further than she and Rolando … crisscrossing from one side of the path to the other.

Approaching the top, Miguel waves me on.

Now it’s a mere 800 or so metres back down the other side.

And I missed noticing the outline of the mountains that looks like a dead woman. Rolando explains that all you can see from this angle is the boobies.

Day 3 is easier … but a lot of downhill and very sore toes.

Julia asks me if living in a household where everyone else is a girl  has made me more “feminine”. Oh yes … definitely … I smile.

A campsite with a bar!

Day 4 is a very early start and a brisk … for me at any rate … walk to Machu Picchu.

The walk was hard work for both myself and Sally. The daughters found it a snip … hardly a glow and not much heavy breathing.

The sights … spectacular. The history interesting.

Back to Cusco.

My fingernails are torn at the tips … so with … only a a liiitle weeping and gnashing of teeth I cut them back.

Lima.

Miami. Thirteen hours at Miami airport.

I am amazed how long it takes to get through passport control at Miami airport.

And that the old green visa waiver form still has to be completed even though it also has to be filled out online before the trip. The one that asks if you are carrying a firearm or if you are a spy and other interesting kind of questions. It doesn’t ask about coughs, headaches or fevers.

Heathrow.

Windsor.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Do you believe in sex?

The past week I’ve been working in Bristol, staying at the Premiere Inn at the Haymarket.

The train was on time, no snow and only a little rain.

A couple of nights ago I caught the tail end of a TV programme that featured two girls who were travelling around with parents and grandparents. Having missed the start of the show I’m not certain of the exact details. It seems, though, that the aim of the journey was to help the two girls decide if it was time for them to give up their virginity.

The UK, it appears, is a European leader in things such as teenage pregnancies, sex without condoms and youngest average age (for girls especially) to become non-virgins.

As they say … sometimes one thing leads to another.

The girls spent some time talking with 15 and 16 year old boys at a school. Expert advice indeed.

They said they wished that their mothers could be more open in talking about sex … in particular their own sexual experiences.

They visited Holland … which reputedly has a much more open attitude to sex than the UK. And also much lower rates of teenage pregnancy and a higher average age for loss of virginity.

They talked with a Dutch mother and her 16 year old daughter. The daughter had recently had her first full sexual encounter. Everyone was impressed with the  openness of the relationship between this girl and her mother.

At no point that I saw were the concepts of marriage and sex seen to be related in any way. Perhaps that idea had been discussed or dismissed earlier in the programme.

Soon after meeting the teenager and her mum they went on a walkabout through the red light district of Amsterdam accompanied by a brothel owner as well as the Television crew.

They saw ladies in shop windows … and the brothel owner explained a little about how the places work.

The reaction of the two British girls to this was one of disbelief. Shock. How could people? Isn’t sex all about love? They cuddled mum and cried and sobbed.

I’ve given this reaction some thought. It seems that they hadn’t yet discovered that the significance of sex can be very different to different people.

  • A mechanism for procreation
  • An expression of love
  • A source of pleasure
  • A thing to not talk about
  • A source of shame
  • A necessary evil
  • Something that should only ever happen between married people
  • Something to sell
  • Something to buy

And many other things.

Not all of the above are applicable to all people.

In fact all of the above are applicable to no people.

It’s definitely a some opinions to some people kind of relationship.

And peoples opinions sometimes change.

Once upon a time in the distant past I remember one of those debating sessions in an English class. Pre-puberty, early secondary school.

I am a panel member.

Non-panel members get a chance to pose the debating questions.

Janet Taylor raises her hand.

“Do you believe in sex before marriage?”

Janet Taylor wears the shortest skirts in school. Even shorter than Andrea wears today.

Her legs go a long long way. Maybe she was already post-puberty.

It was, though, more of a question than an offer.

My turn arrives to express an opinion.

“I don’t believe in sex.”

As I said. Opinions change. Puberty does that to a person.

Eventually I came to believe in sex.

At age 18 I was born again. Sex still a belief rather than a practical experience. The belief restricted to the confines of marriage. There were definite rights and wrongs about it.

Today I’m not so sure about the rights and wrongs.

The reaction of the girls in the television programme seemed to be strangely inconsistent.

There are things that I wonder about …

  • Maybe some cattle-market-like nightclub dance floors aren’t so different from the red light shop windows of Amsterdam. People seeking the same thing.
  • Boys at nightclubs will sometimes invent all kinds of stories to impress girls. At times maybe this is about romance. At other times maybe it’s a lot more basic.
  • Maybe a shop window in Amsterdam can be a more honest and safe way of people achieving the same ends without a need to tell lies to each other?

I think that the things that matter most between people include things such as:

  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Love … in the sense of wanting to help rather than to hurt each other

I guess that in reality love encompasses the honesty and respect.

It sounds a little like things that I heard at Church.

But at Church this was supplemented by an additional framework of rights and wrongs that mattered even more than honesty, respect and love.

These included big stuff like not killing people. Unless of course it’s in self defence, or a “just” war …

And other stuff as well:

  • Do not be gay
  • Do not be lesbian
  • Do not dress in women’s clothing – unless, of course, you are a woman

And you can’t even do these things during a war or in self defence.

Mostly I’ve discarded lists of absolute don’ts.

It’s not that I think that everyone should do them. More that it “depends”.

Sex, like almost all other things, then just fits into an overall framework of honesty, respect and love.

Simple?

Well … maybe.

Easy?

Well … no. Not at all.

I think a lot of this begins with “oneself”.

I recall a Bob Dylan song … “Slow train coming”.

That’s how it’s been in my experience.

A lifetime to get to a place where I can be honest with myself and about about myself. A place where I respect myself. Even my unconventional dressing habits. My flirtations with pornography.  A place where I don’t feel I have to hide it all or live in fear of being found out. A place where I can love myself.

I know … this stuff is in the Bible as well. It says that you can’t love other people if you don’t love yourself.

A little while ago I spent some time talking with a girl that works as an escort. She is married. Has four children.

Her work involves sex. Her husband knows. Her family knows.

They are happy.

Is it wrong?

Whatever the girls in the TV programme feel about this, I have a feeling that it’s a lot less wrong than what happens every weekend at a lot of nightclubs.

Maybe not perfect.

But where is perfection?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Andrea and Sally go out to dinner

A few weeks ago … the second Tuesday of July (14/07/2009) to be precise, my wife Sally had her first experience of a transvestite get-together when she came along to the TV Dinner at Kathie and Billie’s.

She had met Laura, Billie, Kathie and Mandy before … but only ever one TV at a time and never outnumbered.

This evening provided an opportunity to be very outnumbered and to meet almost a dozen girls. It was also the first ever joint outing that Sally and Andrea have had.

So much has changed over the past couple of years.

As always it was a really nice evening … and even more especially nice than usual. Sally enjoyed it a lot as well.

It made me smile that Sally pretty much always referred to me using my “man name” rather than as Andrea.

Nicky mentioned that whilst on a night out not so long ago a girl (real as opposed to t) had asked if she fancied swapping clothing. The mind boggles.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Sparkle 09 … Thank you

Sunday 12th July … the alarm rings.

Shower, shave but no makeup.

Soon be time to head back home.

We have breakfast at the hotel.

David, I think the restaurant manager, asks us what we’ve been up to over the weekend.

He tells us about the Gay pride weekend in August and that last year Premier Inn was the first hotel in Manchester that organised a float for this.

We meet up with my daughter for a drink before driving back south.

I have a cup of tea at Tina’s place and meet Tina’s wife and the drive home to say hello to Sally.

Like many things in life, I think my memories of a place or an event are deeply affected by them people there.

And this is so of Sparkle 2009.

It was special because of people like my daughter. Tina. Jae. Paula. Cindy. The girls that said hello as we wandered along Canal Street. The girls at the New Union Hotel. Sam Tennant, the policeman from GMP and the community support officer that we met.

And all of this because of the efforts of the people that organised Sparkle (http://www.sparkle.org.uk/).

Thank you all.

Sparkle 09 … The Dogs Bollocks

After the self defence meeting we meander back to the hotel.

A change of makeup and clothing.

Back to the park to see the awards … best outfit … style, deportment and personality … most convincing … miss congeniality … tranny of the year. Here are some of them:

 

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Tina also has a chat with the guys that drove the Pink Punters bus from Milton Keynes to Manchester … at a maximum speed of 37 miles per hour. Very patient kinda guys I think.

Tina seems to know a lot about buses. Almost as much as I do about Star Trek and Babylon 5.

Smiling, we wander back towards canal street and spot Paula and a friend sitting  at a table outside one of the many bars. We stand and chat a while. Paula’s feet are sore … to be more precise … one foot is sore.

We then head along Canal Street in search of something to eat. In the General direction of Velvet where Billie and I had a really nice meal last year.

Glancing briefly at the menu we head inside. Down the steps.

“Mind the fish.”

Part way down the steps is a fish tank. You walk over the top of it. I guess the glass is pretty tough.

The place is busy, but there will be a table in 10 minutes or so.

Back upstairs to the bar. The alternative Miss Manchester is at Velvet tonight.

I wave to Cindy as we sit down with our drinks,

The man from the restaurant downstairs comes and collects us.

Walking to the table I almost trip over the step in the floor.

Walking a little further … looking down very carefully for steps … I bump my head on the shiny globe dangling from the ceiling. But quite gently. I smile at the irony.

The food is great.

The decor is different. There aren’t too many restaurants that I’ve been to that provide an ambience quite like this:

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We enjoy the meal.

I don’t thing Tina has spotted the man in the background.

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Top left … the globe that banged my head.

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To the left and up a ways from where I am sitting … the right as in the picture … there are windows at about street level.

Tina notices people walking past with umbrellas raised.

The weather forecast had said it would happen … and now it is happening.

Being occasionally sensible girls we are prepared.

We head for street level thinking … everywhere will be full … and noisy … and without seats.

Two thoughts come to mind … Eden … and the pub at the end of Canal Street that we visited last year.

Eden … the barge outside has seats. But Tina notices that people there have umbrellas raised.

So we walk on towards the pub … The New Union Hotel.

We go in and …. there are seats … and it is noisy … but not deafeningly noisy.

I order a Carling (lager), Tina a lemonade.

We share a table with a guy that is already there, sit and talk and watch the world.

He’s drinking mild and black … Mild is an English beer … black is blackcurrant juice.

The Mild brings back memories of my youth. I always drank Bitter though.

Just to our right there is a machine with a punch ball hanging down from it.

A couple of guys with their girls drop their money into the slot and hit it … hard.

Sore knuckles with the occasional smile or grimace.

A group of eight or so girls sit at a group of tables to our left. Mostly with pints of lager. Their drinks, like ours, are in plastic “glasses” … maybe they should be called plastics rather than glasses?

After a few minutes another girl arrives … standing at the far end of the group of tables throws a handbag across the room. It lands on top of the plastic pint. The girl at the end of the table is showered in beer.

“Victoria … you f…. idiot!”

Tina and I sit there smiling. I can’t help but think that if it had been a group of guys, warfare would have broken out.

As it is, there is just a lot of laughing and swearing.

The girl behind Tina insists on pressing her boobs against another girls face every so often.

“She loves it really.” she winks.

“I’m at Linsey’s 18th birthday bash”. So pronounce a whole stream of t-shirts. The names on the backs are all kinda cute. Sitting here a week or so later trying to remember them isn’t easy. The one that springs to mind is “Sticky Vicky”. Tina and I eventually decided it was because Vicky is quite a tall girl.

They take a few punches at the punch ball. Makes us smile, One of the girls almost performs a somersault … slipping as she winds up to punch the thing.

Linsey arrives eventually but we don’t quite get a chance to say happy birthday.

A guy celebrating his 21st birthday sits beside use together with a few friends. He’s slipped and landed badly on his back and is in quite a bit of pain. Staff at the pub fill in forms and offer what help they can  and we talk with him a while.

A couple of other girls arrive.

One off the girls at the table is chatting with them.

After a few minutes the new girl takes out a stick of lipstick and is carefully applying it to the girl from the tables lips.

I’m looking on in a “watching the world go by” kinda way.

As the lipstick application finishes I can read the lips of the girl from the table.

She’s looking in my general direction and saying to the new girl something like “I think the lady in black over there would like some lipstick.”

And so … the new girl looks over … and then walks over … lipstick in hand.

She looks at me with a “Well … do you?” kind of look.

I nod … so she applies it.

What takes me minutes, takes her seconds.

Maybe if I wore it every day I’d get faster?

She stands back and smile ….

“Wow …. you look the f… dog’s bollocks you do”

The term dog’s bollocks is, in England at any rate, no bad thing.

I quote:

“Excellent - the absolute apex.”

I think she exaggerated … but it was a nice sentiment and I enjoyed the moment.

A little later I need the loo … bathroom.

I head for the ladies and there is a queue. The ladies in the queue don’t seem to mind.

I reach the front and head for a cubicle.

As I close the door I notice that inside the one cubicle there are two toilet pans facing each other.

The other one is vacant.

I smile. I am often reminded how different the girls world is from the guys.

Back at the table, Tina and I try a Guinness. Not bad.

Eventually we head back to the hotel. Pleasantly sleepy. The rain still falling.

Sparkle 09 … Pictures and Policemen

8:30 am and the alarm sounds.

Shower.

Shave.

Moisturiser.

Perfume.

Stockings, bra, panties.

Boobs.

A dress.

Foundation. Powder. Shadow. Liner. Mascara. Rouge. Lipstick. Gloss.

Necklace.

Hair.

Earrings. Rings.

It’s 10:00 by the time we’re ready for breakfast.

Actually. It’s 10:00 by the time Andrea is ready.

The breakfast is excellent.

Tina decides to wear boots for the morning.

I stick with the low heels.

I like the high ones a lot better. But I remember Sparkle 2008 and the sore feet that accompanied it.

Part way along Portland Street we are reminded of Billie …

 

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At Sackville Park things are beginning to happen.

There’s the volleyball.

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And we bump into Cindy … who I met at a Trans Femme party a year ago.

Jae, Tina, Andrea and Cindy:

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And the police presence:

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Music:

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And all kinds of girls:

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Then back to Canal Street for a little walk:

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A couple of girls get up from their seats and ask if they can have a picture taken with us. There’s a whole family group … out relaxing on their dad’s 50th birthday.

This is them … and us:

 

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Really sweet, friendly people. We chat a while.

Then a coffee and we head for the “Self Defence & Staying safe  when out as a Trans Person” session at the Shang Hi Restaurant on Whitworth Street.

In fact, this was mainly Jae’s idea and I wasn’t so interested.

But, I have to admit, it was a really worthwhile hour.

A police trainer from Merseyside police force was leading the discussion, together with an officer from the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) force.

The police in the UK have had a lot of bad press recently.

But not all policemen are the same.

I know ….it’s obvious. But it’s easy to forget.

As the man from Merseyside said … a lot of it is obvious.

Be wary.

Avoid dangerous situations.

Given a choice … ignore people that have nothing better to do then hurl verbal abuse around.

Cross the street.

He says that the best defence most people have is their voice.

Shout enough and most potential attackers will decide to find something else to do.

However … shouting “Fire” really loudly is more likely to attract attention than shouting “Help”.

We learn a sure fire 100% guaranteed way of escaping from a wrist lock. It’s all about toes and nose.

There were many things that were said during the hour that encouraged me a lot. Some of the snippets:

  • A tgirl mentioned that having been verbally abused by people one time, she had mentioned it to a policeman. The response was … “well what do you expect if you dress like that”. The GMP view is that this kind of comment from a police officer is not acceptable. People have no right to verbally abuse transgendered individuals in this way. Police officers that think otherwise need to get better informed.
  • Recently some guys were arrested in Greater Manchester because they verbally abused a guy in a dress. They were astounded that they could be arrested for that and extremely surprised to spend a night in a cell. The Crown Prosecution Service didn’t think the guys had been sufficiently abusive to warrant charges being made against them, but GMP have expressed their own view that this behaviour is totally unacceptable and that charges should be brought against people in these circumstances.
  • Last year GMP only had a couple of incidents of “trans-phobia” reported to them,. However, they know that many more incidents happen and that people just live with it (I remember at sparkle 2008, the piece of banana that was thrown at me … I said nothing to the police). GMP want transgendered people to report any and all incidents of trans-phobia. They view the behaviour as being unacceptable. It is possible to report incidents without having to give personal details . They need to know the scale of the problem and the places where it happens.
  • It isn’t only GMP that take this view … police forces throughout the country have similar policies and aims.

I know, there are people in the world who would say that GMP are too worried about political correctness … that they should be investing more time in solving burglaries than with dealing with weirdo’s. There was a time when I might have thought this.

But, right at this moment, it means a lot to me that the police force are interested in protecting the right of people to be who they feel that they are. And really, that’s all that we want. Just to be ourselves.

I remember sitting at the meeting and being very moved. I felt that these people cared about people and that they wanted to make things change. And that in a situation where a transgendered individual is subject to abuse because of nothing other than their transgendered nature, the police will take the side of the transgendered person. This isn’t about political correctness. It’s about letting people live.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Sparkle 09 … Rembrandt, Chilli, The Place and Eden

A fairly fast change at the hotel. Off with the yellow top and denim skirt and on with a brown dress.

In the hotel reception my phone rings. My daughter is awaiting us just outside.

It’s back to the Rembrandt to meet Jae.

Everyone, including Jae, had been at the upstairs bar at the Rembrandt …  we hadn’t even noticed that there was an upstairs bar.

At the Rembrandt we head upstairs.

Of course, the bar is empty.

But … we manage to find Jae.

The Red Chilli restaurant is a short walk away at the edge of Manchester’s Chinatown.

Lots of Chinese diners … always a good sign for a Chinese restaurant.

Just three TVs … Tina, Jae and Andrea … together with my daughter Sarah who recommended the restaurant to us.

We sit at the bar for a few minutes looking at the menu and then follow the waitress to the table.

The other diners pay us no particular attention.

We order a selection of dishes … chicken, beef, fish and duck. Rice. Vegetables. Tea. Water.

The chopsticks prove to be not too unmanageable.

After an excellent meal we bid Sarah goodbye and head back towards where Sparkle is at.

“The Place” on Ducie Street is a short walk away and where the early evening get together is.

“Can I take a photo?” asks the photographer as we arrive.

And here it is … Jae, Andrea and Tina at “The Place”.

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The original is at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_jones/3724060237/sizes/o/

There are loads of Sparkle pictures at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_jones/sets/72157621516157566/

Tina spots Paula … friend from Surrey Swans, Candy Girls and Trans Femme.

We sit and chat a while and also spot another couple from Surrey Swans.

It’s really nice to get to know Jae a little. We share memories of the first times that we had a chance to see the feminine side of ourselves. They are emotional kind of memories.

As the evening passes Tina and I head for Eden … a bar just across the bridge over the canal on Canal street.

Sitting outside we realise that we are actually seated on a barge that is moored to the side of the bar.

A trio of girls ask Tina to take a picture for them … and they take one of us and we take one of them.

Andrea and Tina at Eden.

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The girls that took the photo:

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And then … back to the hotel.

Makeup removal

Sleep.

Sparkle 09 … Please Miss …

Having settled in to the room the next couple of tasks are selecting what to wear and getting made up.

A smaller suitcase would have made selecting the clothes easier.

After a little humming and ahhing its a medium length denim skirt and a pink t-shirt.

Soon to be followed by a yellow dress that is a little on the short side.

Quite a lot on the short side. But it works with the denim skirt.

Then on goes the makeup.

Usual routine.

I opt for the Maybelline 18 hour lip stuff … a little more like paint than lipstick. But it does stay on and looks ok if it’s dabbed with the moisturiser that is provided with it.

Poor Tina. I still don’t break any speed records when it comes to applying makeup.

A look at the map to check where we are in relation to Canal Street and then we are off.

Right out of the hotel along Lower Moseley Street.

Right at Peter Street.

Left at Portland Street. We walk past the Premier Inn that has no power. It looks deserted and dark.

Right at Princess Street.

Left at Canal Street and into “the village.”

If Manchester were New York I suspect that a policeman or woman somewhere would have indicted us for jay walking. So many crossings showing red for pedestrians and yet with the traffic at a standstill as well.

As seems normal, no one seems to notice us much or to mind.

We head for the Rembrandt Hotel on the corner of Canal Street and Sackville Street where the Sparkle Welcome is at.

However, it is 5:45 pm and the Welcome ends at 6:00 pm.

There are purple Sparkle balloons at the door.

In we go.

But the place seems to be bereft of tgirls.

We order a couple of drinks at the bar.

“Are you going outside?”

“Yes …”

The drinks come in plastic containers.

We go outside and look around a while.

No obvious signs of a Welcome.

Later we discover we are actually not looking in quite the right place.

We dawdle along Canal Street, sipping and chatting.

“Please Miss”. I hear a voice.

“Can I go to the toilet?”

A rather sozzled (as a newt as the saying goes … a Google search for the term “as a newt” will give you the general idea of what I mean) young man is standing beside me.

“Of course you may” says Andrea. Somewhat confused.

“You look just like a teacher” says the newt.

Andrea thinks … “a pity I left my cane at home. My skirt must be way too long”.

The young man looks at Tina.

“And so do you.” he says.

We smile and chat a little.

And dawdle a little more quickly as we pass him.

Still, there are much worse things that a person could be mistake for than a schoolteacher.

Tina at the Rembrandt:

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Miss Andrea near the Rembrandt. Complete with plastic container.

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Walking along the street we meet a very colourfully clad girl at one of the many restaurants.

 

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Wandering along we try phoning my daughter who is a student at Manchester University and Jay, a friend of Tina’s. The plan is to meet for dinner.

So … it’s back to the hotel for a change of clothing and to try to work out where we’ll all meet up.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sparkle 09 … Polish, Packing and Premier Inns

Friday July 10 2009.

The alarm sounds at 7:30.

Breakfast.

Disaster recovery.

How do you remove nail polish from a carpet?

I decide cotton wool buds and nail polish remover is worth a try.

And it works.

How many suitcases do I need?

The fairly large suitcase comes out first. And then a smaller one.

Stockings. Hold ups. Tights. Black. Flesh.

Bras. Suspender. Panties.

Blouses.

Skirts.

Dresses.

Cardigan.

Cosmetics. Brushes.

Jewellery.

Jeans.

Trousers.

Wigs.

Shoes.

Handbag.

I know. It’s only two days.

Load the car.

Check the maps and the SatNav.

Just before 10:00 I set of to collect Tina … my partner-in-Sparkle for the weekend, aiming to arrive there at 10:30.

10:25 and I’m there.

Being a little early I drive by and aim to turn back in a couple of minutes.

Ring … ring.

I answer the mobile.

A man from the Portland Street Premier Inn.

A power failure means the hotel has closed.#

The good news is that the booking has been transferred to the GMEX Premier Inn … 2 minutes walk from Portland Street.

I’m offered the latitude and longitude of the hotel, but I already have them … or so I think.

Eventually I arrive at Tina’s a little after 10:30.

Coffee.

Then into the car and on the road for Manchester.

The traffic isn’t good, but nor is it terrible.

A couple of stops en-route.

Manchester City Centre … and Tom-Tom says the words … you are arriving at your destination.

We look around.

We have to be more or less in the correct place … Tina knows that GMEX used to be Manchester Central Railway station. And we have just passed Manchester Central Convention Centre. But GMEX Premier Inn is not here.

We drive around the block … just in case.

Still n0 Premier Inn.

Another trip round the block, but pulling in to a lay-by.

In the distance there is a purple sign and Tina spots that it’s the missing GMEX Premier.

The SatNav co-ordinates seem to be a hundred yards or so out of synchronisation with reality.

Lower Mosely Street isn’t far away – but the one way system and signs instructing that there is no right turn make it a little bit of a challenge.

We drop the luggage at the hotel and park the car.

Events at the hotel reception then take an unexpected kind of turn. 

They check my name … and it doesn’t appear anywhere.

Nor my post code.

Nor any reservation number.

A phone call to Portland Street … well several phone calls in fact.

It seems that the Portland Street booking didn’t get transferred to GMEX … but to Trafford.

Which is miles away.

How can a couple of girls in heels survive with that?

If we had been bunnies we would have been very not-happy-at-all bunnies.

And GMEX is, of course, full. A lot of people from Portland Street are here.

It takes a little while, but eventually we manage to get a twin room for the two nights at the same cost.

Jessica, you are a star.

The room turns out to be a triple room and bigger than I expected.

In fact, the hotel is great. The room is fine. The staff really helpful. And the breakfasts excellent.

A little later than planned, but not much.

Sparkle awaits us.

Sparkle 09 … Nipples and nails

A long time ago … well several months at any rate … I booked in at the Manchester Portland Street Premiere Inn in preparation for Sparkle 2009.

For me, last years Sparkle experience had been a little mixed, but I decided to give it another go. My hope was that if I spent a little more time getting to grips with what was due to happen that I’d end up with a better experience.

Towards the end of last week I’d got to the stage of wondering if it was worth the effort. Hectic weeks at work seem to have that kind of effect on me. A weekend of doing nothing somehow seemed very appealing.

However on the evening of Thursday, July 09 09, the preparations begin.

A soak in the bath and a little time with the Bic razor. Maybe one day I’ll try the waxing experience. But today is not that day.

My nipples survive intact.

I remember a few years back on my second trip ever out in the big wide world in a skirt. Listening to Fiona Floyd in conversation with a guy about the merits and otherwise of the t-girl experience. She mentioned that if he’d never felt the swish of clothing against newly shaved legs then he should try it – even if he never got round to trying on a skirt. And there is something very nice about the feeling.

Nail polish. A bright red shade from Rimmel. I recently discovered that it comes with a newly designed brush. And it seems to work. I can actually paint each nail with three strokes.

Toes.

Fingers.

Disaster.

Sally asks me about the red spots on the carpet.

Either my nipples are not so intact as I thought, or the new nail polish brush got me over excited.

The nipples are fine.

I decide that it’s best to let it dry a little and work out how to clean it up in the morning.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Life journeys

The UK news recently has been full of the election of the new “speaker” in the House of Commons. John Bercow, the speaker elect, is apparently famous, or infamous, because of his political life journey … from extreme right wing Conservative to almost quitting to join the Labour party. It means that as a Conservative he seems to be extremely unpopular with the Conservative party who accuse the Labour party of manoeuvring to get him elected.

Somehow or other during my lunchtime stroll this triggered some thoughts about one of my own journeys in life.

As a mid-teenager I decided I was an atheist. Mostly at school I’d enjoyed scientific kind of subjects and, somewhat arrogantly and naively, decided that science and God were mutually exclusive concepts.

On 3rd March 1973 I gave my life to Christ. I remember the date because it has a lot of 3’s in it.

Over the past few years I’ve gone through the process of pretty much taking it back.

Why?

Back in 1973 I was influenced a lot by Christians that I met. They were people that had a purpose in life. They were nice people.

I went to church. Did some Bible Studies.

I remember reading about Christians that were so convinced about what they believed that they were willing to give up their lives for it.

And I began to believe the same things. Conventional, evangelical.

Though always, in some ways, a bit of a rebel.

My hair was long. I read different books than most. Liked different music. Larry Norman and Parchment being much more my kind of music than the Glorylanders.

Yet, at heart, I saw myself as being part of the Bible Believing community. Not fundamentalist, but evangelical. I hope not overly bigoted.

For many years.

So what changed?

All the way through those many years there was a sense of inconsistency and tension that I’ve mentioned a few times before.

The things that Christians don’t do that I couldn’t help doing.

Eventually that led to a kind of intellectual crisis as well.

Could I really continue to believe what I was believing?

How do you really reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament?

A God that seems to command genocide in the Promised Land?

A church that says it is ok to not keep the Sabbath holy … but you definitely had better be heterosexual.

Picking and choosing.

The realisation that suicide bombers also believe in things strongly enough to give up their lives for it.

I know there are differences, and it really isn’t so simple. There is a difference between giving up your life for something that you believe and taking lives for something that you believe.

But in the end, I can’t square it and it doesn’t really seem to add up.

The whole thing seems ambiguous.Confusing.

One of the few things that I am certain of is that fundamentalists … people who are convinced that they are right and that everyone that disagrees is wrong …  can be amongst the most dangerous of all people.

People need to be allowed to be themselves.

I know, there are limits. People cannot always be left to do just whatever they want.

But if a man wants to wear a frock … well … I admit to a certain amount of bias on this one.

Cover girl

A little while ago I noticed a magazine covers that my friend Dani had put together (http://entransed.blogspot.com/2009/06/mag-cover-2.html) and mentioned how much I liked it.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when Dani sent an email with the following:

 

cover3

 

Thank you Dani, you’re a real sweetie!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Pink Punters Strikes Again

June 6th was another Saturday night out at Pink Punters for myself, Laura, Nikki and Emma.

The Campanile hotel seemed busier than last time, but friendly as ever. We ate there before heading across the road to the nightclub.

It’s kinda strange, but also cute to get dressed up for the meal at the hotel, eat then get changed again for the walk across the road.

Here we are between the food and the club.

Laura and Nikki:

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Laura and Andrea:

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The steep slope down the driveway at Pink Punters is definitely not made for high heels.  Staying upright is a challenge. Maybe, though, it makes for the trip back being a little easier.

As we sit sipping at our drinks we are joined by a young man who is eager to explain the benefits of Sundays@Pinks. The only down side is the fact the Sunday is followed by Monday. And Monday is normally work.

Laura and Andrea:

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Nikki:

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Emma:

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A little while later Cibelle, the Pink Punters house photographer came along to take our pictures.

Cibelle:

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There’s a slideshow at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU7hbr8Q0bk that includes loads of pictures of that evening. You can see the famous four at round about the 2:49 mark.

There are also some included in the photo gallery at Pink Punters for June 6th at: http://www.pinknet.co.uk/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=392&page=10 and http://www.pinknet.co.uk/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=392&page=17

They look like this:

Laura, Andrea and Emma:

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Laura, Andrea, Cibelle and Emma:

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Laura:

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Laura, Andrea, Emma and Nikki:

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Cibelle is a really sweet girl … there’s a whole story board about her transformation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22hOrIfoxcI&feature=related

So then … can you spot the legs … Andrea’s, Nikki’s, Laura’s or Emma’s?

Legs a):

01

  Legs b):

02

Legs c):
03

Legs d:)

04