Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Bosoms and bras

Dani has glammed me up in the wedding and cocktail dress pictures as you can see below.

A lot less wrinkles, fuller lips, magnificent bosom, fuller lips, shiny tiara, spectacular eyebrows and shadow. I need to book an appointment! I’ll definitely try the darker shadow.




Quite a lot of colour added to this one. Lips, eyes and cheeks. I think I prefer the darker eyes, though.



Thank you Dani … I love them! There’s a link to Dani’s blog at the top of my list of Nice Places on the left.

Susan emailed me a few other pictures from last Thursday … so here goes:


from susan IMG_1171_1280x960


from susan IMG_1173_1280x960

And Susan Bunny taken on a completely different evening:


from susan IMG_1150_720x960

Very cute tail!

Most of Sunday was spent in London where my younger daughter was running in the marathon. I think I was more exhausted at the end of it than she was. She ran 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 20 seconds. We didn’t see much of her during the run, but she did great!

In the evening it was a night out at the Surrey Swans.

It was quite cute arriving there. The car park was full, so it meant parking at the side of the pub and walking round to the entrance. There was a guy sitting in a Landover in the car park … waiting for someone, I guess. He looked twice as I walked past, lol.

As always, it was great to see people. Most of the evening I chatted with Emma, Laura, Billie and Didi.

I won a handbag!

We’ve planned a trip to Pink Punters on May 9th, so I’m looking forwards to that already and thinking about what to wear. I think it will be the short black dress. But who knows!

Nikki can’t make it – but she sent me a cute email with details on experiences with the bra fitting service at Marks & Spencer’s. She is definitely a 36C, it seems. Maybe June 6th will work out for an additional trip.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Three weddings and a funeral

It was a long time coming, but at at last we got around to it on Thursday. It was back in May 2008 that Claire emailed me wondering if I and a few girls might like to spend an evening at the bridal shop where she works to try on a few dresses.

So, at long last, myself, Julia, Susan and Rosie paid them a visit.

I organised to leave work a little early, so at 4:15pm I set off for home with only minor tingles of nervousness. Strange the things that matter at times like these … still undecided as to what to wear.

Applying makeup gets easier with time … though there is still plenty of room for improvement.

In the end I wear a long black skirt … almost a leg longer than usual … and a black shirt. I have black stockings on but decide I should also take some white ones. And beige. I’m wearing sensible walking shoes (i.e. heels no more than an inch high). And put the new 4.5 inch heel white ones in a bag. My handbag is full of “just in case” kind of things like foundation, powder, lipstick and gloss.

The short walk from the front door to the car is much less nerve racking than it used to be. I’m still waiting for the day when a neighbour will coincidentally be walking by just as I head out. Or for someone to ask my wife who the strange blonde woman is that they see coming and going every so often.

For quite a while now these possibilities have been real … but I’m ok with them – if people ask then they ask, if they notice then they notice. Sally says that she doesn’t mind. I guess, I’m not trying to flaunt the Andrea that is me … but neither do I live in fear of her being discovered. However … there is still a nervousness.

Getting in the car I fight with the sat nav. In the end it sticks to the windscreen without any broken nails. It guides me along a route that I wouldn’t have chosen myself … but the 23 minute estimated journey time is pretty much correct. I pull into the car park at 7:10 or so.

It’s very quiet. A man in a yellow jacket wanders past and then back again.

The plan is to meet Claire at the car park entrance at 7:30 so she can drive us to the shop.

So I have some time on my hands.

I decide against going loitering around the car park entrance.

I mean.

You never know who you might meet at a place like that.

Almost anyone.

Even guys in dresses.

Or skirts.

Fairly soon a car comes through the barriers and I find myself waving to Julia.

I get out the car and walk over … then get into Julia’s car and we sit and talk a while. Neither of us thinking it’s a good plan to stand around the car park entrance.

A small group of kids on bikes wander past, but pay us no attention.

Susan and Rosie arrive pretty much exactly at 7:30.

We walk towards the car park entrance.

Hoping that Claire will be on time … I guess Claire was hoping that the girls would be on time.

And there she is. Being out numbered 3-2 (tg to gg) Claire had more to be nervous about than anyone. But she didn’t show any signs of it.

It’s really nice to meet.

Arriving at the shop Claire introduces us to Cat and, shortly after to Cheryl. All three lovely, helpful, wonderful.

Susan, myself and Julia are the first tgirls that Cheryl and Claire have knowingly met … I think Cat had met a few before.

We look at the dresses on the rails and the fun begins.

It’s another totally new experience for me. The freedom to try on dresses at a shop without having to worry about anything other than what size dress will fit.

I know … it’s not quite the same as a crowded shop during the middle of a shopping day.

But also, it’s not at all like being at home in the bedroom.

The girls make the tgirls feel totally relaxed and welcome.

I know that many people might think that the whole scene is totally bizarre, unreal. Abnormal even. But, to me at least, it didn’t feel that way at all.

First I try a blue cocktail dress. Of course, I needed help with the zipper. And also with some unfastened hooks at the back of the basque. I like the dress a lot … it’s a shame that the zipper won’t fasten.

Julia tries a wedding dress.

Susan a wedding dress.

And tiaras and veils.

And of course, some pictures.

The zipper is undone … but it doesn’t show. The hooks in the basque at least are all fastened – I think.



The evening progresses … and honestly … it was so much fun … with such nice people.

Zippers fastening and unfastening.

I change stockings and put the heels on for a while. But the heels come off as the feet get sore.

I didn’t know that there are wedding skirts. But now I do. Complete with a bodice.

Of course, I can’t do the lace at the back of the bodice so Cheryl begins to truss me up.

“Are you still breathing?”

“Can you speak?”

“Is Andrea turning blue yet?”

The lace is quite tight.

But I can breathe.

And it does hide the tummy bulge.

A glass of wine and some nibbles.


More dresses and pictures.

Very laid back … almost falling over?



These dresses are just the right length for someone that is a ittle over 6 feet tall.



Look – no shoes.


Cheers from Susan, Julia and Andrea.



Complete with headgear.



Almost like three weddings, but no one getting married.

Talking a while towards the end of the evening is really nice.

We talk about gender. TVs. Sexuality. Work. Partners. Families. Life. Self acceptance.

Rosie and Susan and Cat all think that Erotica is a good place to visit in London in November.

Claire, Cat and Cheryl are lovely people.

Thank you especially to Claire for having the initial idea and dropping me the email and organising everything.

We all had a great time and it was lovely to meet you all.

For me, things like this help me enormously in terms of building confidence. Little by little I feel less and less worried about Andrea in the real world as I get further and further out of the closet.

Several months ago when I mentioned the evening to a friend I remember that she said that if she wanted to try on dresses at a shop then she’d just go to the shop whenever it was open and try on the dresses.

For me, Thursday was a step along that road.

There won’t be a time when I am Andrea 100% of the time. Or at least made up and dressed as Andrea all the time.

Last night Cat said that she didn’t think there are just two opposite sexes … rather that many people are somewhere between the two extremes. And that the way that society bundles all the people that are born with penises into the “male” camp and everyone else into the “female” one doesn’t really accurately reflect how a lot of people really are.

The real me is somewhere between those two extremes. With no desire to move from the male extreme to the female one. More a need to be able to express the femininity without being made to feel shame or guilt.

So anyway … thank you again Claire … and Cheryl .. and Cat … you are all stars!!!

Friday was a different kind of day. Last week a friend died from cancer. He’d been ill a while ago. Had treatment and went into remission. Then … all of a sudden it was back. And in almost no time took him away.

The funeral was Friday morning. Relatives and close family friends.

In the afternoon there was a service to celebrate his life, which I got along to.

Before things started there was a slide show to watch and music to listen to … his life … family. Things to make a person smile or cry or both.

As the pictures changed, the Paul McCartney song Blackbird played.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Song lyrics are always open to interpretation and mean different things to different people.

At that moment, the words seemed appropriate.

The time there was tinged with sadness but also happy memories.

A man spoke about where we came from … why we are here … and where we are going.

But I was unconvinced.

The certainty of eternal life in Jesus.

Once I would have nodded in agreement.

These days I see mostly contradictions.

As seems to happen at all events like this, there is a sense of being in a time warp. Meeting up with people that you haven’t seen for so many years.

Almost everyone was a friend or acquaintance from my born again years. A place where Andrea could not be. Where men must be men. Women must be women. And everyone must be heterosexual.

I would like them all to know Andrea … to accept her as a part of me. But I think many of them could not bear it. And once a thing is told it cannot be untold.

All of them such nice people.

Yet some would almost see Andrea as a demon to be cast out from me.

And yet, people can be surprising at times.

The friend who died had strong beliefs … verging towards fundamentalist almost. And yet he could cope with people that saw things differently. Could see the funny side of almost everything … even sacred things. Maybe he would even have been able to smile at the concept of Andrea in a nice kind of way.

It’s strange how at times there are people that you have known quite well … and then drift away from … and then only realise that you’ll miss them once there is no chance to meet them again.

And oh … Elina … I hope you had a great time in Italy!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Friends, school uniforms and apprentices

Last night was a TV dinner at Billie and Kathie’s. And, as always, it was great. Lovely company and fantastic food.

It was really nice to meet Mandy and begin to get to know her a little. And nice also to meet Helen and her partner. And also to catch up with Billie, Kathie, Laura, Julia, Susan, Nikki, Tania, Katie & co. Katie is still one of the few TV (in more ways than one) celebrities that I know.

The food theme was traditional English … so last month I had made a connection with school dinners and suggested a schoolgirl theme.

Well some people have better memories than others … don’t we Susan … so there were just the two of us in school uniforms. Susan’s looked more authentic than mine though … the ones from Ann Summers are cute but do lack that sense of total realism somehow.

Towards the end of the evening I stood up to change seats and heard a voice … “hey … what’s that” …

Andrea: “What’s what?”

Billie: “That. What’s it say? Stand up a minute.”

Andrea stands up.

Billie: “Lift up your dress. What does it say?"

Andrea (who is much to shy to do such a thing): “Ask Katie … she knows.”

Of course, Katie had gone by then.

And how come Katie knows anyway?

The answer is back in  January.

A little later, feeling less shy … it says “Spank Me”.

Of course, it is Ann Summers fault. She makes the short dresses and prints the words on the panties.

No one spanked me.

The pictures here were actually taken at Trans Femme by Nik … but the uniform is the very one. And no, Nik didn’t spank me either :)

Andrea (192)


Andrea (181)

Tonight I watched the tail end of “The Apprentice” on TV. I think that what bothers me is that people can be such apparent sods to each other and not feel any sadness about it. Everything seems like competition. Nothing seems like co-operation. I know that there are difficult decisions that have to be made. And that sometimes you have to chose between what seems to be the lesser of the two evils. But is there no way to do this with dignity? Of the three that faced the prospect of the wagging finger that means “you’re fired” … there was no dignity. Apart, maybe, from the person that was fired.

I think maybe a lot of it is about being afraid. At least, when I’m afraid I am a sod.

It seems strange, I know … a guy that likes to dress in a skirt and wear makeup … talking about dignity. Where is the dignity in that?

The only answer that I have is that it is me being me. And in being me I don’t want to destroy other people.

In a way, in my heart I think it’s even stranger that society … and maybe even Sir Alan himself … seems happier to accept the kind of behaviour that people demonstrate to each other on The Apprentice as being normal and reasonable than they do the concept of men attempting to express aspects of femininity.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Humour, obsession and charity

A few days ago I came across this story http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1165892/Tory-councillors-gender-joke-led-dressing-police.html

According to the Daily Mail:

As the 50 members of the public at the police liaison meeting were handed their electronic handsets to take part in a survey, an official told them: 'Let's start with an easy question to get us going.

'Press A if you're male or B if you're female.'

But it seems nothing is ever that simple. Someone asked: 'What if you're transgendered?'

'You could press A and B together,' quipped Conservative councillor Jonathan Yardley.

A complaint was made  -  and as a result, he was spoken to by police for his ' homophobic' remark.

I have no way of knowing how complete a record of events this is.

My own reaction to Jonathan Yardley’s quip would have been to have smiled and pressed both buttons – though I suspect that the electronics wouldn’t have coped with it. I’m not at all sure how the remark could have been construed to be homophobic. But maybe the story is incomplete

I think that within the transgendered community there people who feel they are men trapped in women's bodies, women trapped in men's bodies and people who feel that they are somewhere in between.

Maybe most people are actually somewhere between?

Either way, maybe the options of button A, button B or button A + button B are adequate.

It seems a really strange kind of thing to have required police involvement.


I had a little think about the Sermon on the Mount … the bit that I quoted yesterday at least:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed ADULTERY with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into HELL. 

What does it mean? I have the feeling that very few Christians take this at face value. Otherwise there’d be a lot more guys in churches with fewer than two eyes.

Is it meant to mean that anyone who looks at a girl and thinks … wow … she looks fit … has to make a choice between cutting out their right eye or going to hell? What about the left eye?

There are times, though, I can imagine, when a person can get very wrapped up in thoughts that are doing them no good at all. A kind of obsessiveness where the obsession is destructive. Obsessions are not usually good things.

In the end though I’m sure that thinking something is not the same as doing something. And i don’t think that was the idea that Jesus was trying to convey. Not at all.


There was a story on the news today that the government are planning to experiment in making grants to charities that involve themselves in political lobbying as part of what they do.

There was a guy defending the idea, and a lady that was saying how bad it was – that charities should be about providing aid to people in need and not involved in messing about with politics.

The guy convinced me – though I was maybe already convinced. If a charity is involved in helping people and it discovers some kind of injustice that is built into the way that society is structured – then surely the charity needs to get involved in trying to change the way that society works – and that probably involves politics. The people that are being helped by charities are often not in a position to be able to bring about the changes themselves.

The guy seemed ok with the concept that it is ok for the government to supply funding to organisations that actually challenge the government and press for change. I think that’s a nice thought.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Sparkle, thoughts and words and deeds

I at last got around to booking a hotel in Manchester for the weekend of July 11th.

Why this date?

Because this is when Sparkle 2010 is due to happen … you can read all about it here: http://www.sparkle.org.uk/

I was a little underwhelmed by Sparkle 2009, but I’m putting that down to the fact that I kind of just turned up at it without giving much thought as to what I’d do. This year I’m planning to … well … plan it.

Today during my lunchtime walk I was thinking about things that we tell each other and things that we don’t. And the difference that it makes.

Initially I was thinking about people that I know that, for one reason or another have partners that are unaware of their dressing habits.

Whether or not a partner knows has a big impact upon some things. What clothes can I buy? Where do I keep them? Where do I get changed? Where do I put makeup on? How thorough do I have to be in taking it off? Can I shave my legs … my arms. All kinds of things.

For myself, I know that life became much easier when the whole thing was no longer a secret at home.

And yet … it wasn’t an easy thing to begin to talk about.

In many ways the things that led me to a position where I needed for my wife to know were all tied up with feeling that whatever the risks were - the stresses and strains involved in keeping the secret were worse than the risks.

Of course, hindsight helps. Sally has coped with this whole thing better than I ever could have hoped for. And life in the “now” is better than it was in the “then” – for us both, I believe.

By and large, other people that know of Andrea have also been more accepting of things than I would have believed possible. Sally told me that she had chatted with her sister about things. We spent a few days visiting her sisters family a few weeks ago and though the topic was never raised, there was no sense at all of any awkwardness. In fact, almost the reverse.

But I know, things could have been very different. I understand why some girls aren’t in a position to tell their partners.

As I thought about these things, I also thought about the kind of things that I write here in this blog.

Several people that I know read it – people that I chat with online, tgirls that I know, my wife.

This, I know, influences the kind of things that I write about.

It' made me think of the stories in the news a few weeks back where people have been dismissed from work because of things that they said about their jobs on Facebook.

So far as I know, no one from work knows about Andrea – though maybe my fingernails are unusually long and shiny. But work is fine so I don’t feel a need to sound off about it.

There are, though, things that are not said because of the people that will hear them. And, I think, this is how it should be.

To me it’s associated with an unintended consequences kind of thing. Some things are better left as thoughts that are forgotten. They are better not put into words. Better not acted upon.

Thoughts are not the same as words or deeds.

This reminds me of a time in the past when I had this notion that the “thinking” was as bad as the “doing”. And some people give the impression that they believe this still. Take a look at this for example: http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/lust.htm. Part way through it are these words from the Sermon on the Mount:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed ADULTERY with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into HELL.

and then, commenting on this:

Nowhere is this form of adultery, though solely mental, less serious than other forms, although many treat it as such

I think this interpretation is missing something. It all depends on the perspective. Whatever Jesus meant when he said what he said, it is self evident that the thought is not the same thing as the deed.The outcomes are different. The consequences are not identical … especially for the woman.

In the same way a thought is different in its consequences than the words.

I know I’m not alone in having said things that I wish had never been put into words. Unthinking something is more of a possibility than unsaying it.

And yet, having said all this, the opposite is also true … some things that never get beyond the thinking really should be expressed as words and actions.

And there are things that are even better if they are left unthought.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Better than chocolate?

Here in the UK there has been a lot in the news about expenses and allowances being claimed by MPs (Members of Parliament as opposed to Military Policemen).

An especially prominent story has been that of Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary who accidentally included a bill for pay-per-view movies in an expense claim. Some of the details are at http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/relationships/article6005065.ece

The story seems to be especially newsworthy because the movies were of the “adult” variety. It’s almost as if some people think that it wouldn’t have been so bad if the movies in question had been “family entertainment”.

I’ve commented on pornography in a few other posts already, I know, but the article at the Time Online web site prompted me to some more thinking.

The expense / allowance claim thing isn’t the issue that I’m especially thinking about. The rights and wrongs of claiming the cost of a pay per view movie as an expense are all tied up with the rules and regulations about what is an allowable expense for a parliamentarian.

I do feel a lot of sympathy for both Jacqui Smith and her husband over the meal that the media have made over the porn aspect of the whole thing, though.

I’m not aware of anyone suggesting that what was being viewed was illegal to watch in the UK. So why all the fuss about it being pornography?

Well – just because it is pornography, I guess.

How many people … guys in particular … use pornography?

There was a time when I thought that I was alone in this … at least when I was still attending  Church.

But the statistics seem to say I’m not … and I never have been.

Of course, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. But these statistics seem to be genuine.

I had spent many years feeling guilty and shameful about this.

I’ve read the arguments against it.

Like many arguments, I feel ther are elements of truth – but it’s not all true.

There is an article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/08/gender.weekend7 that includes these snippets:

the musician Moby, [who] once said in an interview, "I like pornography - who doesn't?

But is it as simple as this? One of my best friends is a man for whom pornography has apparently never held even the slimmest interest. Moby may choose to distrust him, but his sex life otherwise has always seemed to me perfectly robust. He is, however, so much in the minority as to seem almost an oddity.

A little later, it continues:

Bill Margold, one of the [porn] industry's longest-serving film performers, was interviewed in 1991 by psychoanalyst Robert Stoller for his book Porn: Myths For The Twentieth Century. Margold made no attempt to gloss over the realities. "My whole reason for being in this industry is to satisfy the desire of the men in the world who basically don't care much for women and want to see the men in my industry getting even with the women they couldn't have when they were growing up. So we come on a woman's face or brutalise her sexually: we're getting even for lost dreams."

But it really isn’t as simple as that. Whatever Bill Margold’s reasons were for being a part of the porn industry, he wasn’t satisfying those kinds of desires for me. I know that it is not true that all users of pornography “don’t think much of women”. It isn‘t true that they all are trying to get even with women that they couldn’t have. It would be a lie to suggest that we are all making an attempt to get even for lost dreams.

There are women, I guess, that I am envious of … they have much better figures than I do … though I have been told that my legs are quite nice.

Of course, Edward Marriott, the author of the article doesn’t actually say that these things are true of all men that use pornography. But neither does he suggest that it might not be the case.

The article in Times Online includes this:

“I know of at least one case where a husband went to a wife and said: ‘We are no longer having sex. I love you very dearly. I want to honour your choice not to have sex. Rather than have an affair I want to tell you that I am going to use internet porn.” She cried a lot and she said to me ‘I'm glad he was honest with me and in the end I had to say thank you, this is a real sign of love'.”

I understand this. Empathise with it. Understand that it’s not easy.

I have read of the evils that pornography leads to. And yet, as I have written before, I know these are not inevitable outcomes. I have no more desire to brutalise women than I have to stab people with kitchen knives.

My own feelings are that it’s a great shame that the media felt a need to emphasise the fact that Jacqui Smith’s husband is a user of pornography. I mean … I get the feeling that it would be more newsworthy if he didn’t use it.

Fair enough … if people in public office are cheating on expenses then I can see how an argument can be made about public interest.

But really, I’m tempted to think the pornography angle is really about a totally different kind of public interest.

Like many things in life, I think that a person’s views on pornography are shaped, to some extent at least, by more than just pornography. Some people are influenced by the Bible or the Koran. Others by bad experiences that they have had. Others by good experiences. It’s not simple. Life isn’t simple.

A few words from Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls):

We're sculpted from youth
The chipping away makes me weary
And as for the truth
It seems like we just pick a theory
And it's the one that justifies
Our daily lives
And backs us with quiver and arrows
To protect openings
Cause when the warring begins
How quickly the wide open narrows
Into the smallness of
Our deconstruction of love
We thought it was changing
But it never was
It's just the same as it ever was

In the end, different people are … well … different. Not everyone enjoys playing golf. Not everyone likes to go overboard with the makeup. And things aren’t always how people might predict that they would be. At home it tends to be me that goes overboard with the makeup whilst my wife goes way, way, way overboard with the golf.

It isn’t a foregone conclusion that chocolate is better than pornography. It depends on who you ask.