Friday, 9 December 2011

Changes in the bedroom.......

I am sorry to say that this is one of those posts which has a much more interesting title than its content.

When I abandoned male dressing in the summer I kept my male jeans (for gardening, changing oil in the car etc etc) and also I kept my male nightwear.  After all, when in pajamas, my 'masculinity' was all too apparent.

Life has moved on, and although reassignment surgery is now still (less than!) 11 months away, my facial surgery has settled down, my hair is MUCH longer and I am a decent 'B' cup, so in my PJ's I like to think the overall effect is more female than male.

So this week the blue stripes and the paisley PJ's were washed, carefully ironed and packed off to the charity shop, to be replaced by three pairs of nice female PJ's in lilac, pink / grey and baby blue, respectively.  MUCH nicer, and the postman even called me 'Madam' this morning when I went down in PJ's and dressing gown to collect a 'by 9am' special delivery.

Of course, that might have had something to do with the red nail varnish and the false eyelashes left on from last night's Chambers' Christmas 'do' in Bristol which I drove back from late, arriving home at 1.30 am.......

I DO aspire to nightdresses in the future, but that will, I think, have to wait until after reassignment surgery next November.

Now, I am quite focussed on the second round of hair transplants due on 23rd December.  I really love my lengthening hair, which is getting long enough to 'do something with'.  This second round will fill in the crown, which is still a little too thin, and strengthen the front hair line at the corners.

More about this as it happens..



Monday, 28 November 2011

It's Official !

I don't know why it means so much to me, but on Saturday I received my new driving license as 'Ms Robin Moira White' complete with new photogragh and female driver number.  I stood holding it for a few seconds.

Perhaps it is because this is the most 'official' recogfnition of my altered status so far.  Or perhaps it is because it is what I use, quite regularly, to prove identity when collecting post from my local postal sorting office.

I know for others in transition, achieveing an altered birth certificate is important.  I am not so certain that is significant for me.  After all, I was born male, at least apparently, and the change to female is something happening in my 40's.

All I can say is that I am now very comfortable indeed with the altered me, and the quicker the remaining steps can be completed, the better.  Almost without thinking about it, I note that it is now only 11 months to my 'final' surgery and I know that the months will click by faster and faster.  Be ready, Dr Kunaporn!

Robin Moira White

Monday, 21 November 2011

A lovely day

Had a great day on Saturday.

Went up to London for 4-month post FFS surgery check-up with Dr Bart van de Ven.

But first booked myself into Toni & Guy hairdressers at Canary Wharf for a wash and blow dry with 'Carli'.  A great treat and my hair is steadily getting longer, so it becomes possible to do more interesting things with it.  In fact I liked what she did so much that I have booked in again with her for my next cut just before Xmas.  I am having my hair cut every 12 weeks or so and it is lovely to have some length now.

I did have a look in the shops and found a lovely black dress and jacket in Austin Reed.  Perfect for court wear and with something of a circle skirt, so a bit more feminine than some of the more straight up and down black court dresses I have.  Lovely to be a bit 'floaty' as well as 'professional. 

Then on to the 'Four Seasons' Hotel nearby for my check-up with Dr B.  I was an hour early and as I walked in, he and his son were just crossing the lobby for lunch.  What a nice chap.  Anyway, I sat for a lovely hour reading the paper and enjoying a coffee (one of the true marks of civilisation at weekends) until the appointed time.

Dr B was very pleased with his handiwork and my progress (as am I) and he took some photos.  He is sufficiently pleased with them to want to use them on his website (which I am happy to permit) and to want to record a video interview with me in London shortly (gosh!).  Anyway, no more surgery is reccomended, which is good - cosmetic surgery addiction is not a good thing.

Then on to the second treat of the day.  A make-up hour with stylist 'Bunny' at the MAC cosmetic concession in Harvey Nichols in Knightbridge.  London Underground was having a 'signal failure' at Covent Garden, which gave me some concern, but I did arrive a few minutes early, which allowed me to scoot to the loo from where I booked treat 3 of the day, but more of that later.

This is the first professional make-up session I have had since surgery and it was helpful to be able to discuss how my ideas have developed. MAC has the best range and their £25 sessions are great.

Treat 3 was to go to the Trafalgar Studios in Whitehall to see 'Three Days in May', a play recreating the cabinet discussions in May 1940 when Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax wondered about negotiating a peace with Hitler, or whether to fight on.  I know the story well but it was well acted and presented.

And then off to London Bridge forthe train back to Sussex.  A lovely day.  I am now really very comfortable with my new self, as, apparently, are folks around me.

Bye for Now

Robin White

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The view from the balcony.

Yes, yes, I know my posts are like London buses, nothing for ages and then two come along together.  But then, that's life, isn't it.

Quietly, while everything else has been going on, my hormone patches have been quietly working away to redistribute my body fat.  In particular, my breasts have been doing their thing, so that I am now more of an 'B' than a 'A'.  On my trip to Yeovil yesterday for essentials like a new printer cartridge and some food, I took a look at the lingerie department - more of a necessity these days rather than a guilty pleasure - and treated myself to two rather nice 'balcony' bras.  They are rather less substantial that the 'ironclad' style I have been using so far (and which were necessary when they were not entirely naturally filled, but no longer).

The result?  A lovely, natural looking, visible decolletage which makes me feel wonderful.  At least the top half of me will be ready for a bikini next summer, and I should have a little more growth by then as well, as I have not yet been on hormones for a year, and I am told that the full effect takes a couple of years.....time will tell.....



Monday, 14 November 2011

Winter Draws On

I made the jump to living as a woman in the summer, when it was nice and warm and linen and cotton were the order of the day.  Now the gloomy (and colder) autumn weather is here and I find that the geography has changed......

I dont find female-cut trousers especially comfortable for a reason which gets solved at final surgery next November (less than a year away now - hooray!) so it is skirts for me most of the time.  But how the wind howls around the nether regions!  Off to Marks & Spencers for some thermal tights!

We have also had some unseasonably warm weather for October and November, making me wonder if we are to be punished by yet another unusually cold winter when December, January and February are here.  However, this raises an opposite piece of new geography.  As a man, my hair was very short but now, I am pleased to say, this is getting longer and longer!  Now on warm days I feel a bit like I am wearing a wooly hat the whole time.

Both bits of geography take some getting used to.

I have now paid the deposit for hair transplants 'round 2' just before Christmas which should deal with the resudual thinness at my crown (ansd so complete the 'balaclava' effect).  And next Saturday I have my 4-month check up with my facial surgeon. 

Meanwhile, still plugging away with electrolysis.  Facial hair definitely on the run now, butr still some way to go as still having ca.300 insertions each Saturday morning - eeeek!


Robin Moira White

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Stood up and counted

Now I know that I am truely female - I have been stood up on a date!

Somewhat against my better judgment I agreed to go on a date last week.  I looked forward to it for some days, thought carefully about what to wear, and on the day made arrangements to have my hair done in a gap in my morning.  By lunchtime I was feeling really good!

And then the e-mail appeared to say that work in Manchester had overrun, he would not be backing London until late, and 'perhaps we could do lunch the next day.'  As a busy professional, that was just not on  - BOTHER !

Looking on the bright side, my face has now settled down post surgery (over 3 months now) that I don't have to bother with heavy foundation and the nicely-styled hair from the hairdressers allowed me to pop into a photo booth and get some photos for the ID cards and drving licence that have been crying out to be changed for a while.

Who needs men! (Well, me, eventually.  But perhaps that is better left until after my trip to Thailand next year....)

Robin  (A little sadder and wiser.)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A careful judgment

One day last week I was conducting an appeal hearing at the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the Victoria Embankment in London.  We were arguing about the rights and wrongs of a case I had conducted in the Birmingham employment tribunal nearly 18 months ago, when I was very firmly male.  The appeal was heard by a very bright and immensely likeable judge called Brian Langstaff  (or, more properly, Mr Justice Langstaff).

The odd thing was that when we were referring to things that had happenned in Birmingham, then they were things that 'Mr White' had done, whereas if it was anything I was saying last week, then it was a submission by 'Ms White'.  Confusing, or what?

My opponent was in fact another member of my own Chambers, and Chambers' equal opportunity officer.  She only got my gender wrong once.

When we came to the end of the case, HHJ Langstaff gave an oral judgment lasting most of an hour and danced between my two genders well into a double-figures amount of times....and did not put a foot wrong once.  At the end of the judgment he was kind enough to offer to change all the references to my new gender.  However, given that he had done such a lovely job of work, and I cannot see this ever arising again, the form of the judgment will certainly go into my 'memoir' file!

Perhaps that goes to illustrate why it has just been announced that HHJ Langstaff is, from January, to be the next President (that is, 'Head Judge') at the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

I believe that we are very well served by our judiciary.


Friday, 30 September 2011

Sentiment or Sentimentallity

I have been on this earth for almost 48 years now, and 'your stone gathers some moss' over that time.  In the summer I took the majority of my male clothes to a car boot sale but I did keep some jeans and the like for gardening, changeing the oil in the cars etc etc.  But other things are hard to part with.  I still have, for example, the cufflinks in the form of pen nibs which I wore for my marriage and the silver and lapis cufflinks my wife bought me shortly thereafter when we had very little money.  I can't see myself ever wearing them again but give them away?  How could I?

And then there is the horrendously expensive 100% cashmere man's overcoat from Gieves and Hawkes I bought a few years ago.  It is still smart, lovely, light and wonderfully warm.  Fortunately my tailor has come to the rescue and is recutting it into a female shape rather than the straight up and down it was before. Hmmm.  Maybe there's an answer to the cufflinks problem in there.  what female jewellery could I make from the cufflinks?

Next problem is the entirely unflashy but utterly, utterly relaible Rolex watch I have worn for the almost 30 years since I was 18.  It and I have done so many court cases and other things together over the years that I miss it dreadfully....  Now it is left behind when I head off to court and I feel sorry for it (me?) in not taking it along.

What is the answer?  I really don't know.  What do you think?


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Hairs and Graces

I realised that I had not said too much about hair for a while, so I thought a comprehensive update might be appreciated. (And allow me to get this 'ichey' but necessary subject over with for a while.)

It is now just a little over a year since I began growing my head hair, and it is about 6 inches (150mm) long.  The combination of high-dose oestrogen, finasteride, topical regain and hair transplants last Christmas have given me a very respectable head of my own hair  (hooray!).  A combination of transplants to fill in the front corners of my previously male-shaped hairline, and lowering of the front hairline as part of my cosmetic surgery marathon in July have given me a very acceptable front look. 

However, there is still a little more to do.  I am still a little sparse at the crown, and if viewed from above and behind with that area combed open, I would notice but perhaps you might not.  Also, the front hairline needs strengthening a little.  The hair transplant clinic 'The Wimpole Clinic' in London warned me, before the first session, that a second round of transplants was likely to be beneficial and Dr May confirmed on Thursday this week that this was so, and the right time for 'round 2' would be just before Christmas coming.  That helps me fit recovery around work.  Last Christmas I had 1750 transplants which took a long day and cost me £3,500.  Fortunately Dr May predicts a much smaller number this year and a correspondingly lower cost.  It will be good to cross a further transition area off the list from pending to 'completed'.

I also plug on with facial electrolysis every Saturday morning for some part of an hour.  I now only have whiskery growth in most places, apart from the area over where my Adam's Apple where a few heavier hairs have come back to life.  That is a shame because the skin is thin in this area and zapping them is pretty painful.

I am also going to have a further half dozen sessions of laser to finish off leg hair and tackle the small patch I have above my waist at the back.  I was fortunate not to have too much body hair to start with.

The laser technician and I have agreed to leave the more 'intimate' area until after reassignment surgery (November 2012) so that we can see what we need to work on.  This, she tells me, will put me in one of her more usual groups of clients.

My arm hair seems to have thinned down from what it was (never too strong) and I put that down to the oestrogen, I think.  That is fortunate because my Italian parentage gives me quite 'moley' arms and laser would not be easy.

Tha's quite enough of hair for now.


Robin Moira White

Monday, 12 September 2011

Brought down to earth

I love my high heels.  Indeed, I am deliberately wearing one of my favourite pairs while writing this piece.  They are a lovely pair of black satin sling-backs with a 4.5 inch heel, peep-toes and a diamante band gathering the materuial from which the shoes are made just above the 'peep'.  I last wore them in anger a little while ago when my leder sister and her husband took me and a friend out to dinner in Poole.  I teamed them with a wonderful black Phase Eight mesh dress with red piping applique embroidery - wonderful.

However, practicallity now begins to bite on the 'everyday'.  I have to walk across town to my station, catch the train to wherever I am litigating, and then wheel me, my case and my papers to the court / hotel.  Alternatively, I have to shlep across town to the supermarket or the High Street.  4.5 inch heels won't do, or wouldn't last.  So over the last week I have been ensuring that my selection of flatter shoes is wide enough to cope with my new 24/7 female life style.  I have some very nice low wedges and a couple of pairs of loafer-style shoes that should do well for court, and I have 3 pairs of black lace-ups that should be fine for my hobby railway signalling.

I do like my heels, however, and they do make a useful statement of who I now am.  Fortunately I have never had difficulty walking in heels and when I was switching to-and-fro between genders they were a useful physical key as to who I was supposed to be on any particular occasion.  I suspect that I will be joining that sisterhood of girls who travel in flatter shoes with more vertiginous shoes to change into when the veue is reached.


Robin Moira White

Friday, 2 September 2011

Facial Surgery - 2 months on

A couple of folks have asked that I set out what stage my recovery from facial surgery has reached, and as Monday will be 9 weeks / two months from surgery, this seems like an appropriate moment.

Given that I had 13 separate procedures, I would say that I am likely, in that sense, to set an upper bound for recovery.  However, I have always tended to heal well when I have injured myself on other occasions

There is no visible swelling left anywhere. 

There is a little redness at the outer corners of the eyes where the thin skin around the eyes is recovering from the eyelifts (upper and lower).  This has been causing me to use a heavier foundation than I would like but I am this weekend going to experiment with a lighter foundation and a little more concealer round the eyes.

I still have some stiffness round the jaw line, but only I notice that.  I also have a little restriction on jaw opening at the extremes.  But then, I don't often eat boiled eggs whole, so it is no real problem.

The only scars visible are at the hair line (only visible if I lift my hair), at the sides of the nose and at the site of the wart I had removed from my right cheek.  All are fading rapidly.

I still have some numbness of the forehead.  The most significant numbness is my lower lip and chin.  I only have feeling in about the first 10mm of the right hand end of my lower lip, the rest is numb but in the past day or two a little tingling is heralding the return of feeling there.  My chin is numb over an area about equivalent in size and shape to an Elizabethan 'goatee' beard.  I have to be careful, as it is perfectly possible to dribble food down my chin during a meal and not know it is there - not a ladylike look!  I have told my friends of this and they have drawn attention to my need to wipe my chin once or twice...thanks.

Given the extent of the surgery I had, I think this is pretty minimal, and I have been very fortunate, although perhaps much of that should be attributed to the care and skill of my surgeon, Dr Bart Van de Ven  (my hero!)

Oh, and a final laugh.  My GP's surgery arranged changing me from 'male' to 'female' on the National Health Service database.  This has prompted a call for me, as a woman of 'a certain age' to attend the local clinic to give a cervical smear to ensure that cervical cancer will not get me.  The devil in me wondered if I should just turn up and see what happenned!


Robin White

Monday, 29 August 2011

Getting a man in...

I have been quite busy over the past month and whnever I have been at home it has been wet, so my (largeish) lawns have not been cut for several weeks.  Yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday) it was dry and I was at home, so it was the opportunity to give the grassthe cut it needed. 

For tasks like this I have kept some of my male jeans and jumpers back during the great clear out of a month ago.  For a couple of months now, I have been wearing nothing but female clothing, which fits nicely, is stretchy where it needs to be and fitted where it can be to show my shape...  Over my underwear I pulled on a T-shirt (I am close to a B-cup now) and then a male pair of jeans and a grey jumper.

How shapeless and baggy and sloppy they looked!  I stood looking in the mirror - it was really strange.  These were clothes that only a few weeks ago would have been totally normal for me to wear.  Now they seem totally wrong!  I did wear them for the work, but it felt like being swathed in far too much material.  As soon as I was done I pulled off the jumper and changed to a nicely-fitting pair of straight leg female jeans.  Not skin-tight by any means but I had my shape back.

I love being a woman and having my womanly curves, even if they are still developing.  I'd love to be wearing more fitted trousers (when I have wear trousers) but there is still that annoying bulge to ruin the impression......but only for another 14 months or so.


Robin Moira White

Friday, 26 August 2011

Back into my normal life - law and levers

The week before last was a gentle re-introduction to the legal world, answering e-mails (including lots offering lovely support to my re-appearance) and some gentle paperwork.

This week I have been back in the Employment Tribunal in female form, In central London on Tuesday and Southampton on Thursday.  Clients, solicitors, staff, the oppiosing barristers and Judges have all been lovely, plainly making an effort to call me 'Ms' or 'Miss' White, which is wonderful to hear but still sounds distinctly odd.  I wonder how long it will take to get used to it?  I have felt comepletely comfortable presenting as female, the 7 weeks or so that I have been doing that full time have helped in relaxing me with my female presentation.  I even had the confidence to wear a purple Hobbs dress with a black jacket, rather than an all-black outfit. And I even managed to win all points decided in the first case (which will be finished off later in the year) and a hand-down victory in the second case, including getting costs against the untruthful claimant!

The other aspect of my normal life which I have gone back to in the past week is my volunteering as a (now lady) signal man on two of Britain's wonderful heritage staem railways.  My denoument was at Swanage last Sunday, and then I did a day at Crowcombe on the West Somerset Railway (Taunton to Minehead) on Wednesday.  Both are lovely locations and a great break from the trials and tribulations of court, doing something a bit physical but where thought and manual dexterity can help the train service along.  In each case I wore the lovely new female uniform I have had tailored, although my waist is narrowing (good), so I had to stitch up the skirt waistband a little.  One of the drivers called me 'dear' so I suppose that should be taken as acceptance.  As usual, at Crowcombe, I had some public visit the very attractive 1930's signal box and if they thought I had a deep voice for a 'girle' they didn't let on.

I think that makes me the Swanage Railway's first female signal man, and only the third the West Somerset Railway have ever had, and to my knowledge, the only trans gender signal man on either railway.  Both sets of management and volunteer collegues have been lovely, although I understand that my re-appearance in altered form has given folks a fair amount to talk about over tea in the mess rooms.

It is lovely to have two big parts of my life's jigsaw back in place.


Robin Moira White

Friday, 19 August 2011

Giving a little back

It is just over a week since 'The Times' published an article about my transition by their chief law correspondent, Frances Gibb.  I have had quite a number of e-mails congratulating me on my bravery (not really - just what had to be done), openness (yes, what a relief) and appearence (yep, I like it too, but a lot of that is down to Dr Bart van de Ven's skill).  These have been lovely to get.

Even better, though, have been a small number of e-mails from other transgender folk in the legal world, more than I would have thought.

Best of all, was an e-mail from a legal executive in a provincial law firm who e-mailed me to say that they have been working towards transition for some time and are about 6 months away from needing to speak to their partner (= department manager, for you non-legal folk).  The Legal Exec had been worrying about what the reaction would be and how to handle the meeting.

'The Times' article about me became the topic of discussion for the day in their department last Thursday and the partner expressed a number of very positive sentiments about what I had done.  So the Legal Exec is now feeling rather happier about approaching the partner early next year.  Lovely to have done some good, remotely.

I see also that I have had positive comment in a number of TG and legal discussion forums on the web.

I have also been asked to speak to several law firms on TG issues.  In each case their employer clients have not had to handle a worker transitioning, but given time and numbers, it will come up before too long, and the employer (if sensible) will go to their law firm for advice.  Now I get the opportunity to show that we TG folk still have the usual number of heads, still have a sense of humour, and treatment of us need not just be focussed on which toilet we should use....

On a more personal level, I volunteer on a couple of Britain's wonderful heritage steam railways and this Sunday will be my first day working a signal box in a skirt!  I have had some women's railway uniform tailored based on that supplied to the ladies who kept Britain's railways running during World War 2 when the men were away fighting.  Heritage railways are a bit of a male preserve, so it will be interesting to see what (if any) reaction there is....wish me well.

kind regards

Robin Moira White

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Out and proud

The barriers between the different parts of my life can finally come down.

I am a barrister, specialising in employment law (including, appropriately enough, equality, diversity and discrimination) at Old Square Chambers in London.  You can find me at

From Monday next (15 August 2011) I will be practising as 'Ms Robin Moira White'.  I used to be 'Mr Robin Mark White', although I hardly ever used the 'Mark'.  Advice was that it might be best in terms of gender change, to pick a new and very feminine name.  However, 'Robin' is gender-ambiguous and I have been 'Robin' for a very long time, and also, that is the name I have practised law under for 17 years.  I decided to change my middle name to a female name starting with 'M' which would allow me to keep my personal e-mail address, signature etc etc.  Last September I spent an afternoon in a cafe in St Ives, Cornwall, working through the 'baby names' websites to see what 'M' name suited.  It needed to be reasonably short to fit in  with 'Robin' and 'White'.  However, the likes of 'Mary' or 'Maria' were too religious for me.  'Moira' just seemed right.  Apparently it is Celtic in origin and means 'fate' or 'destiny'.

On Thursday of last week (10 August) 'The Times' newspaper in London published an article about my changing gender as a barrister and the wonderful help and support I have received from colleagues, staff, friends and clients.  That made transition so much easier for me.  Up there as well is the fantastic job that Dr Bart did on my facial surgery in Belgium.  The look gets better every day, already wonderful and it is not quite 6 weeks since surgery.

I will be keeping up the blog whenever I have anything interesting to say, so keep following.


Robin 'Moira' White

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Top and bottom of it

It is now just over a month since facial surgery and less than two weeks before I go back to work.

The surgery is now very well settled down, including my jaw, whicvh no longer feels stiff to the touch.  My jaw opening is still a little restricted and there is plainly some more settling down to go but I have to say that I am very happy with the result so far.  I plainly look much more feminine than before.  One day last week I was out in Wells and Glastonbury in Somerset with a good girlfriend who reports that I am now mostly accepted as female without question, at least until I speak.

Today (Saturday 6th August) I was helping with the vintage vehicle rally at the West Somerset Railway near Taunton.  I have volunteered on the railway for over 30 years now, since the tender age of 16 and this was my first day back there.  A number of folks plainly did not recognise me until I spoke to them and I am also told that my new look is very successful, even as it stands.

This is all wonderful, but there is a cloud to every silver lining.....

I am now completely confident that I can look appropriately feminine in public (and I know that with work I can sort my voice out).  However, every time I go to the lavatory, change clothes, shower, get ready for bed etc etc, I am reminded that my top and bottom don't match.  It is already beginning to jar, and I know that soon it will start to drive me round the twist.  The best I can say is that I already have reassignment surgery provisionally booked for 5 December 2012 with Dr Suporn in Thailand.  Last autumn my facial surgery and beginning to live full time as a woman this July seemed an impossible time away at 10 months, so 16 should be possible to bear with good grace but I just want the process over and to be able to get on with a normal life.

That's the top and bottom of it!


Friday, 29 July 2011

Gradually re-entering my life

This has been a week of steady improvement.

I started the week with a second session of electrolysis to clear the backlog from my weeks away.  It is lovely to be smooth skinned again.  It is very hard to feel feminine with stubble!

I am gradually getting feeling back into my lower lip, more on the right side than the left and working in from the ends.  Also, as the swelling abates, I am getting more jaw movement back.  My speech is now almost normal and I can manage most food.

On Wednesday I took a trip up to Cheshire by train to buy an item for my WW2 collection.  I met the seller at his local station between Crewe and Liverpool and, of course, the inevitable question was how to recognise each other....  I made plain that I was a transsexual and that he should look out for an impossibly tall woman in a black, white and turquoise dress.  Amongst the 5 or 6 folks who got off the train it was not difficult to pick me out.  It is such a joy just to wear a nice summer dress and heels and be out and about honestly as me.  I know I now get very few strange looks (at least if I keep my mouth shut) and I am just very comfortable as 'me'.

On Wednesday night I stayed in the Britannia Hotel in central Birmingham (good value for the money) and then headed off to the Severn Valley (Steam) Railway for the day.  A good day out on a nice warm but slightly overcast day.  Railway footbridge steps and heels do take some practise and you just have to accept a slower pace. 

In the late afternoon I called into Regis Hairdressers in Corporation Street Birmingham for a lesson in blow drying from stylist Dean.  Now I just need to practise what I have been taught but it is so good to have hair long enough to do things with.  Such a change from years ago.

The next couple of days require me to concentrate on some mundane household tasks to (1) be ready for my friend Debbie from Essex coming to stay next week and (2) getting ready for a car boot sale of my 'maleness' on Sunday if the weather holds.  Perhaps I have not had long enough yet but I am still having difficulty generating enthusiasm for housework.

'Bye for now


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

That's enough of your old lip

One of the procedures carried out as part of my facial feminisation surgery was an 'upper lip lift'. 

Male top lips tend to be thin in appearance as they turn down and firmly meet the lower lip.  I am told this comes from our hunter-gatherer past of thousands of years ago when the men would be out hunting on the plains and preserving every drop of moisture was important.  Women, on the other hand, would tend to be back at the village / cave where such considerations did not apply.

The procedure involves taking away a slice of flesh from below the nose and pulling the upper lip up as this gap is filled. 

The result is lovely.  I now have a beautiful feminine upper lip and will not have to resort to subtefuge in future by exaggerating the upper lip line with a lip pencil when doing my make up.

All the above was expected (thank you again, Dr Bart!) but what did take me a little by surprise was the need to learn to keep my mouth closed!  If a woman (and now me!) relaxes her mouth muscles, the resting position is with the lips just slightly parted.  This can result in breathing through your mouth, dry mouth, and the like.

Also, with more lip area exposed, the risk of drying out and getting cfhapped lips increases.  I find that if I am not wearing lipstick, I need to used a lip salve stick.

So much to learn / re-learn!

On the general recovery front the swelling around my jaw has now started to go down and my speech is becoming much more normal.  This also means that my chin / jaw shape is beginning to emerge and as with everything else, I really like what I can see.  My left foot is still giving me some pain and I am still on tablets for that.

Bye for now



Sunday, 24 July 2011

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated....

It's an Oscar Wilde quote.  Thank you to those who sent me messages asking how I was and expressing concern that I had not blogged for a few days.

I have been away for a few days, staying withn my lovely friend Wxxxxxxx in Cardiff.  I have had a restful week, walking, visiting a few local attractions and generally reminding myself that Dorset is more attractive than South Wales.  Thanks also to W's house-guest E, for making me very welcome.  W's lovely boyfriend is an optician and he was kind enough to arrange an out-of-hours trip to his premises for an eye test and lesiurely choice of new, more feminine glasses, a pair for work and a pair of prescription sunglasses.  Yes, I did go to Specsavers!  Now I'm watching the post for them to arrive.

The facial surgery continues to settle down as predicted.  Most of the stitches have fallen out now, with a little careful encouragement.  I am still somewhat swollen around the jaw as might be expected but everything is moving in the right direction, at its own pace.

One difficulty I have had, as previously referred to, is that the long operation brusied my lower back and I have had 'phantom' pain from this, particularly in my left foot.  This is not a bother when I am up and about but when lying down trying to sleep it does become a problem.  Hence I found myself at the Heath Hospital in Cardiff at 2.30 a.m. to see the duty GP for some enhanced pain relief tablets.  Many thanks, Dr Carwyn Patel, for your understanding and efficiency, and full marks to NHS-direct and the Cardiff out-of-hours GP service.  We are very lucky to have the NHS we have.

I am now combing through the house for 'maleness' to go to the car boot sale next Sunday, if the weather is good.  I already have a good pile of shirts, cuff links and the like.  A good friend suggested that the appropriate response to being asked why these items were for sale might be to say 'there is no longer a man in my life...'  true, but hardly the whole truth!

I'll keep you posted


Friday, 15 July 2011

Are you trying to get arrested?

So, after a quiet day in Ghent on Wednesday, Thursday was my day to travel back to the UK.  I was up at 6 and pottered around getting ready and packed and by 8 was ready.  I did not need to leave until nine, so I chatted to the guest-house owner and then dragged my luggage off across the Ghent cobblestones to the tram stop.  I was attracting fewer looks now as my crazily coloured skin was fading a bit, and before too long I had caught the train to Brussels.  A tomato soup later in the departure lounge and I was onto Eurostar. 

Oh, and that's how my attempt to get arrested comes in.  When the UK Border Agenct official opened my passport, out popped a 50 Euro note I had slipped into it early in the holiday.  'Yours, I think?' he said a little sarcastically.  I can't be certain that I blushed, or even if I did, any one would notice, but I did feel a fool.  Arrested for attempting to bribe an immigration official....that would have been a new one...

A quiet soooze, I thought... And then I found that Eurostar had booked me, as a single traveller, onto a table of three others travelling with a baby which wanted to climb around on the table, bang the table with anything handy, etc etc.  They were grateful when I found myself another seat to move to after we left Brussels.  For me it was self-preservation.

Ghent had been cool and damp but London was hot and sunny and by the time my train from Waterloo had travelled the two hours to Dorset my etes were sore and I was ready for my own front door.  A lazy evening and then I slept - how I slept! - in my own bed - luxury.

I was supposed, this Friday morning, to call in to see my GP but he has damaged a leg playing with his children so I spoke to him on the phone instead and we have agreed to meet in early August.  A potter around town was lovely and a few gentle calls to friends, and a catch-up with post and e-mails.

My mouth still feels as if it is packed with cotton wool, which makes my speech rather slurred and difficult, and I am still fairly swollen but it does get better by the day.  If you don't hear from me for a few days, don't worry, I'm off to stay with a friend in Wales for a few days andf I feel like some walking to get the juices flowing and push along the healing process.

I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Lenny Henry eat your heart out

Lenny Henry and ‘red nose day’ eat your heart out.  12 July 2011 was my ‘new nose day’.
I decided to leave writing this piece overnight to see if my reaction was the same this morning as yesterday, and it is!
What Dr van den Ven appears to have achieve (as far as I can tell, because the general impression I still give is of a domestic violence victim, is that he has done what we discussed, namely to reduce the height, size and sharpness of my nose subtly to bring it into the female range whilst recognising that i am 6’ (183cm) tall and everything needs to remain in proportion.  It is fascinating to watch my features settling down.
I made a tactical error yesterday afternoon.  Th e stitches around my eyes are still distorting eyesight a little, and I am not supposed to do too much looking down for the next couple of weeks as the facelift heals and my toenails needed cutting, si I thought I would book in for that wonderfully relaxing experience – a pedicure.  The guest house owner made to call for me and booked with the Ghent branch of ‘Yves Rocher’ a continental  beaty products chain.  I had visions of quiet music, soothing oils etc etc.
Things started to go wrong when on passing though the ‘Institute’ door at the back of the store I found myself sitting waiting in a corridor full of boxes.  The treatment room looked welcoming enough but the array of metal tools would have done a dentist’s surgery justice.  The therapist then proceeded to slice, scrape and cut in a manner which was certainly painful at times and left me with a plaster on one toe.  I am sure that this has been good for me (in just the same way that you are sure that foul-tasting medicine is good for you) but I am not sure that I would do it again.
Now time for a nice long bath to soak away the last for the wound crusting, as prescribed by Dr Bart.


Monday, 11 July 2011

The battle of Balaclava

A friend e-mailed me yesterday to ask if I really meant what I’d said in an earlier post, that I had not suffered pain, and that really is true.  I suspect that I must be a bit unusual in that not least because of the pile of strong painkillers included in the hospital discharge pack by the doctor.
What does it feel like, then.  Well, do you know, its a it like wearing a woollen balaclava.  Not having been an armed robber, I last wore one when I skied with my school, years ago and you can feel your face when wearing it, which you rarely do.  I can feel the line of stitches and staples just under my hair line, the stitches around my eyes, the cast on my nose and the stitches under my chin.  Also the swelling in cheeks and jowls brings them into unusual sensory experience.  Also, like wearing a balaclava, there is some restriction of movement.
I can also feel the muscle stitching which achieves the facelift.  This does feel a bit like having a pudding basin cloth tied over your head from under your chin.
I have certainly had some discomfort.  Not least my eyes which if they don’t get their drops every 4 hours or so, start to get sore and misty, and there is plainly a fair amount of stitching, and swelling in my mouth which presently makes anything solid a challenge..
This time last week I was groggily breathing through a plastic mask having only just been brought round from the anaesthetic.  Today has been a quiet day at my rented apartment after the exertions of yesterday. Thank goodness for Radio 4 over the internet.  I did venture out to the supermarket during the afternoon and was asked by a nice young lady, firstly in Dutch and then in English, how I managed to walk on the cobbles in my heels.  I showed her my wedges and her reaction was ‘how sensible, you English are’ as she showed me her heels stashed in her bag in favour of flat shoes.  Now I am very much looking forward to nose cast and stitches coming out tomorrow, only a week now after surgery.   That’s not bad, and I do hope the selling sorts itself out reasonably soon, as part of the object was to give me a trimmer chin and less square jaw, and at the moment the selling is doing the opposite.
I’ll keep you posted

A Monster prowls the Belgian backwoods...

To understand this post you need to know something of my appearance.  Yes, yes, I know a picture paints a thousand words but you’re not getting one.
My neck and d├ęcolletage are a background sickly yellow, overprinted in patterns of black, red and purple.  My eyes are purple, with two lines of neat stitches above them and one line below.  The outer corner of my right eye is bright red.  The outer corner of my left eye is bright yellow.  Below eye is a half-moon of mixed purple and yellow.  My nose is covered with a bloodstained white plaster cast.  My lower lip is distended like half a Big Mac bun.  My cheeks and jowl area is swollen and distended.  I walk slowly and deliberately because (1) I am still missing some feeling in my left foot because of the bruise to the lower base of my spine where I lay on the operating table for 12 hours, and (2) I am very scared of disturbing any of the work so recently done by falling on it.......All-in-all I reckon I could be pretty useful to Local Authorities (do we still have them?) in convincing school truants that they would be safer back with Mrs Smith in class 3B.
Anyway, this picture of loveliness shuffled into the local hairdressers at peak time on Saturday morning to inquire, by a series of gestures, part French and part English (I should say that my mouth is pretty swollen, so I sound like something out on the Munsters, to inquire whether someone might wash and blow dry my hair.
To the eternal credit of Jill’s Hairdressing, Sleepstraat, Ghent, their reaction was to shuffle around their other customers on an already busy day and to fit me in.  Either the 20 Euro fee was very important, or they are just good people.
Emboldened by the above and after an afternoon trip to the local supermarket, I wondered what to do with my Sunday.  Grandfather was awarded a Military Medal for an action in the Belgian Ardennes on Christmas Day 1944, so that has always been a focus and I have wanted to visit the Museum at La Roche-en-Ardennes for a while, so I thought ‘why not’?  By the wonders of the internet I was able to plan the two train connections and final bus connection to get me there, and a 9.27 departure from Ghent would have me there at 1.
It was lovely to be out on a beautiful summer’s day.  The trains were well used but not overly busy and I only made one tactical error which was to go to the WC after Namur.  When I returned, my book remained where I had left it and my seat was still free but surrounded by a sea of scouts.  It seemed to be the rule that scouts had to carry packs at least twice as large as they were, so it made it pretty crowded for the last 20 minutes of the train journey.
The bus to La Roche was a rollercoaster ride over typically narrow and twisting Ardennes roads with surrounding dark pine forests.  La Roche was busy and sunny, full of tourists, many of which were on highly chromed motor cycles.  I was hungry, so I found a riverside cafe and decided to leave the soup menu for a salade Nicoise – my favourite.  With a swollen mouth and a lower lip with no feeling, this was no mean task but well worth it.
I then headed off to see the museum, which, was expected was dreadful.  They had some good stuff, mounted in displays in cases long ago but there was no attempt to bring the drama of the fighting in the Ardennes in 1944 alive.  In a town full of tourists, the museum was deservedly empty.  I just missed the 3.04 bus (next one 5.05, curses) so repaired to a local cafe for a lemon tea and a read of Caitlin Moran’s recent book ‘How to be a woman’ until it was time for the bus.  Then bus, train, train and tram back to my accommodation.  It takes real skill to make a country like Belgium seem large but SNCB, the Belgian national rail carrier, managed it by scheduling the trains at a pitiful 50 mph or so and throwing in some weekend engineering works for good measure.
In all the above the ‘Monster’ (with nicely blow dried hair) received consideration and courtesy from all involved.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Its all in the eyebrow action..

I am old enough to remember the ‘Sitting Image’ puppet of actor Roger Moore, who, rather bitchily, was portrayed as only having three facial expressions, namely; left eyebrow raised, right eyebrow raised, and, wait for it. BOTH eyebrows raised.  Personally, I always thought Roger Moore had the drop on his critics.  He had, after all, played ‘The Saint’ on 1960’s TV and then gone on to play James Bond in a number of 1970’s and 80’s editions of that long-running franchise AND he got paid well and always wore a really nice suit...
You are but wonder what, on earth this has got to do with my transition.  It has nothing to do with the interesting bit of transsexual trivia that Caroline Cossey (born Barry) appeared in a film with Roger M until the press outed her and the Bond producers deleted her scene (which was plainly so vital to the storyline that is absence has never yet been noticed.  No, its all about eyebrows.
I noticed in front of the mirror this morning that I now have eyebrows that move!  So he swelling is now on its way down, and my football-face status’s days are numbered.
I also had my 4th day after operation consultation with Dr Bart, who expressed himself well satisfied with my progress and (thank goodness) removed the enormous plaster across my jaw.  It is all still swollen but eating my soup this evening was a little easier and that is another step on the road back to normality.
Now, where was that DVD of ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ to watch after dinner.......

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A couple of quiet days

For the rest of Wednesday 6th July I stayed to close to home in the apartment, encouraged principally by the fasct that I couldn't feel my feet and I felt a complusive urdge to hold onto walls and other solid objects when moving around.  I also had very little appetite, so just confined myself to a cup or two more of the mushroon soup - very enconomical!

The guest house owner Karien was wonderful in keepting the gel-packs coming in between running her soap shop business.  She loaned me hte '3.10 to Yuma' a fairly violent western with Russel Crowe starring which helped to fill in the evening.  I had a really weird night.  I just could not get to sleep so I took one of the sleeping pills included in the pack by Dr Bart and was, I think, hallucimating a bit.  The fact that I made a pot of coffee about 2 am is pretty strange behaviour (at least for me).

This morning I was feeling much better.  I could feel my right foot although my left foot was still just the thing keeping my left leg off the floor.  I decided that sitting arounds wasn't going to make things any better so I got myself cleaned  up as far as possible and plodded off into town at 9 over the cobbled streets of Ghent. (Mental note for those deciding where to perform surgery in future - inverse relationship with number of cobbled streets...) Well, I didn't fall over but I did frighten the local inhabitant's a bit with my appearance, especially the cashier in the supermarket.  Still, a visit to the supermarket (tights and mouthwash) and chemist (powders for head cold) met my provisions needs and an ice cream at the cafe in the square worked wonders for my sore throat.  I was back in the apartment at 10, feeling pleased with myself.

I lunched on half a banana, sliced thinly and inserted between swolen lips and tongue - easiest with a mirror, given that everything iis still fairly numb.

And then at 2 pm I set off on the great adventure of the day, cheered off by Karien.  This was a two hour plod around the outer reaches of the town intended (1) to stop me going stir-crazy (3.10 to Yuma again...) and (2) to make sure that I can manage to route to my check up with Dr Bart at the Cosmetic surgery clinic here in Ghent tomorrow.  Well, object achieved on both counts, although the little lad who asked his mum'what had happenned to the poor lady?' was unlikely to be getting a full explanation, I thought.

So I got back with a restored appetite and a glow of self confidence.  My right foot is now pretty much in full commission and the left is now going through the 'pins and needles' stage which presages feeling returning, so I should have good news for Dr Bart.  Tea consisted of a whole tin of minestrone soup and might yet be accompanied by some fruit pastiles to keep this tickly throat quiet.

More news after I see Dr Bart tomorrow.

Bye for now


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Out the other side!

Hello bloggers!
Well now, i’m out the other side of surgery and its great to be here.
6.45 0n Monday saw me waiting nervously in mid heels a black pencil skirk and a mauve knitted top for the taxi driver to take me the 13km to the private unit on an imdutrial estate in one of Ghent’s suburbs where the op was to be performed. I was a bit early so had to sit in a corridor while preparations were made,  Then I was shown to a private room and left to change into surgical dress, compression stockings and a dressing gown.  Soon the nurse can to get me for surgery and once in the operating theatre everything was  blur of activity, saying hello to Dr Bart and his colleagues, getting positioned on the operating table and finally the sharp scratch in my left hand and pain in my left arm which presaged to anaesthetic and  oblivion for the next 12 hours.
Dr Bart tells me that is his longest surgery to date – 10 hours – but i think the preparation and recovery had me out for a bit longer .
The night that followed was pretty unpleasant.  Highlight (lowlights?) included vomiting up the  stomach of blood which had accumulated from the nose surgery, and the first sight of myself as a football.
I don’t recall sleeping at all.
By Tuesday morning I was being cleaned up for discharge. My hair was absolutely matted with blood from the cranial surgery and took several goes to get half decent by which time the hospital bathroom was swimming.
But a problem  them occurred with my discharge.  Probably as a result of the length of the surgery I was pretty shaky on my feet.  It took a while to get to the point where Br Bart (who told me he had slept  tor ten hours after the surgery - lucky him!) and the nurse were prepared to let me take a taxi back to Ghent.
Here the lovely guest house owner, Karien, was waiting to help me back into my apartment and make me comfortable with the cooled gel packs she had waiting.
Tuesday afternoon and evening I took pretty easily, with a little light reading and an episode of ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ from BBC i-player.
I did get a few hours sleep last night, assisted by the sleeping prescribed by Dr Bart.
Wednesday morning finds me still very swollen – more uncomfortable than in pain, and I breakfasted on watered down orange juice and a few sips of cream of mushroom soup.  I am thinking of rewarding myself for getting this blog posted by a weak half cup of lukewarm coffee through a straw.  Such things are pleasures made of.
Even in my football-shaped state, I can see signs of what the surgery was intended to achieve, so I am encouraged that, in time, I might be more ‘Footballer’s wife’  than ‘Football’
I’ll keep you posted....

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye....

Its just coming up to 9pm on Sunday evening and I am packing my overnight bag for the hospital tomorrow.  The taxi is booked for 06.45 and I feel remarkably calm about the whole thing.  I am due to be in until Tuesday lunchtime and I may well not be on top form when I get out so don't worry if you don't hear from me until Wednesday.

I have had a really pleasant weekend mooching around Ghent. 

On Saturday I lay in bed reading and surfing the net and then went for a wander around old Ghent and the shops, ending up at a pavement cafe for a pancake and......well, there's the thing.  Most everything is in Flemish (a version of Dutch) and many words are pretty close to English:  straat for street is a good example.  But every once in a while you come across something odd.  I just had to order my pannenkoeke (pancake) with 'slagroom' just to see what it turned out to be.  And the answer was.....whipped cream, so no disaster there.

On Sunday I went for a wander round another part of the city, in search of an Italian restaurant reccomended by my surgeon.  It turned out not to be open for Sunday lunch but close by was the Museum of Industry, Work and Textile Manufacturing which I found interesting but I seemed to be about the only person there on a sunny day.  Then I took a tram ride to St Peter's station and walked from there to the Museum of Fine Arts.  If you like large old canvases of 'the torment of Christ' and the like, then its the place for you.  I'm not so sure.  However, the Museum restaurant score 5 stars for a lovely lunch.

After lunch there was an amusing incident when I sought out the lavatories.  The cleaner had propped the doors back for the cleaning process, so you coudn't see which were the gebts and which were the ladies.  I paused, nonplussed.  The cleaner, chatting away on her bluetooth headset mobile phone then appeared and muttered something about 'Fruaen, frauen' and gesticulated towards one side.  Given that there were no urinals in the facilities I found myself in, I seem to have passed muster with her, even without tomorrow's surgery!

I have been reading John Le Carre's 'Our Kind of Traitor' which is just out in paperback and it has been lovely o have a couple of days of no legal paperwork to be able to read with a clear mind.

Well, time to turn in now and to set the alarm for 'unreasonably early' and 'a new life'.

See on the other side.



Friday, 1 July 2011

A day of planning and preparation

Today I had a leisurely start and then strolled through Ghent to the Cosmetic Surgery Institute for my midday consultation with Dr Bart van der Ven.  The building is rather anonymous and a little difficult to get into but once in Dr B was courtesy itself and after the ineviable photographs we carefully worked through the surgical procedures, what we are trying to achieve and post-operative care.  I have to admit the sight of the skull with the bits sliced off the jaw and metal plates in place was a little scary but the computer-view of the changes was very encouraging.

A snooze in the early afternoon and then a further stroll in the Ghent sunshine to the city's public hospital for my CT-scan.  Good impressions, the hospital was spotlessly clean (even with a new extension being built) and the staff were faultlessly courteous and bi-lingual.  First you book in at a general reception area (think up-market Argos ccollection system).  The receptionist was a bit confused about English addresses and post codes.  Then on to the imaging department where my scan took longer to wait for than to perform.

The old centre of Ghent is very touristy and lovely.  I had an early evening meal at a road side cafe in Veerle Square during which I watched a traffic jam caused by a wedding cortege of 6 Mercedes-Benz saloons picking up from the Medieval castle on the square which I presume houses the local registry office.  Included in the jam were a number of road vehicles, several trams and two horse-drawn vehicles.  Many of the streets are cobbled and I'm glad I brought mostly wedge shoes with me.

Now I have a free weekend in Ghent until a taxi-ride out to the hospital for surgery at 07.30 on Monday morning....



Thursday, 30 June 2011

An eventful day

What a lot has happenned today!

After I arrived at Waterloo my London cabbie battled through the road closures caused by the civil servant's'day of action'to get me to my appointment with gender specialist Dr Richard Curtis.  He seemed sufficiently confident with my progress to only ask me to come back in 6 months rather than 3.

Then into another taxi and off to St Pancras for a bite of lunch and then the 14.34 Eurostar to Brussels.  On the way through security it was so easy to know that everything metalllic was in my handbag rather than all the pocket-emptying I had to indulge in previously.  But then I forgot my relatively heavy silver bangle and set off the detector.  Dooh!  The French immigration official gave my male passport no more than a glance.  On the train I found myself on a table with two apparently nice Japanese, who then managed to sustain a loudish conversation in Japanese all the way from London to Brussels.  Given that I was trying to snooze, that was a little frustrating.  The raw speed of Eurostar, particularly on the French side, always surprises me. 

Soon I was changing trains at Brussels to a local train for Ghent.  There are no gentlemen left in Belgium, it seems.  It was 17.44 and the commute train was busy but no-one allowed a tired lady with several pieces of lugggage to sit down and I stood in the vestibuls for the 30 minute ride to Ghent.  A taxi ride to the apartment in which I am staying, a walk around the local streets (cobbled - glad I brought mostly wedge shoes), dinner at a pleasant local restaurant and now to bed, looking forward to my visit to the hospital tomorrow for tests and final consultation.



The Adventure Begins!

Well now, the adventure has well and truly begun.
It is 0900 and I am now sipping a coffee in first class on the 0728 train from Sherborne to London Waterloo as we whisk along at about 90 mph.  Before you get the wrong idea, the first class advance fare available yesterday was a few pounds cheaper than the walk-on standard class fare.  Still, it does lend a sense of occasion to the start of the trip.  Important, I think, when you are starting a new life.
I had to work right through the night to finish of the last piece of legal work, clean the house ready for the relatives who are looking after it while I am away, and get packed.  Phew!  Just as well the neighbours were away as I ended up hovering at 2 am!
The program for today is a consultation with gender consultant Dr Richard Curtis in London at 11, then catch the 1434 Eurostar from London St Pancras to Brussels and change there for a local train to Ghent, and a (hopefully) restful and full night’s sleep before the pre-operation consultation and scan with Dr Van der Ven in Ghent tomorrow.
I’ll keep you posted!


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Torment over

I don't minimise the difficulties ahead, not least facial surgery in a few days time and genital surgery in about 18 months time and the HUGE challenge of living and working as a woman full-time for ever more BUT yesterday was my last male day and I am so PLEASED I have got to this point.

I was conducting a case in the Manchester employment tribunal yesterday.  It only lasted the morning and then I had to kick my heels in Manchester as I had a timed ticket back on an early evening train.  It felt really weird to be on the verge of such a change in a massive city with virtually no one there knowing.  Part of me felt I ought to be shouting it out aloud.

However, being English, I settled for buying Caitlin Moran's new book 'How to be a Woman' (!) and reading it in a quiet corner of the cafe in Waterstones bookshop in Deansgate in Manchester.  I decided that reading the book could be described as a feminist act...

So eventually I collected my luggage and headed back to the station.  And the railway seemed to want to delay me on the way home.  An 'incident' near York made my train half an hour late and then we limped along, losing more time as we got in the way of other trains.  Don't they know, I thought, self-centredly, of the momentous events about to occur to one of their passengers?  Apparently not.

Totally manic day today packing, tidying and dealing with losse ends before I head off tomorrow.  Updates follow....



Friday, 24 June 2011

Forgetting how to be male

I am now living virtually full-time as female, only reverting to male when working with exterior clients.  On Wednesday I caught the train up from Dorset for a two-day case in Birmingham.  I travelled in a smart black linen dress-suit and felt very comfortable indeed.  But lurking in my suitcase was a male suit for me to wear in court (yuk!). 

With a heavy heart I showered on Thursday morning and then dressed in my male suit, which now feels distinctly odd. and then, horror of horrors, I discovered that I HAD FORGOTTEN TO PACK ANY MALE SHOES!!!!!!!

What to do? Help!!!!  Well fortunately, the cheap clothing chain 'Primark' is right next to my hotel here in Birmingham and 9am found me standing outside their front door, in suit, with court papers but in just my socks.  5 minutes later I was the proud possessor of a pair of brown slip-on male shoes for £17.  Not exactly elegant, but they'll do!

We were only in the court until the end of the morning and then the court broke to read documents for the afternoon.  It was a terrible hardship (not!) to change back into a dress and have my hair and make-up done at a local salon ready for an evening at a restaurant (Cafe Rouge) with the solicitor I am here conducting the case with.  Lovely to spend the evening chatting about clothes, shopping, men (!) careers and the like.

And gosh, NOW LESS THAN A WEEK before I head off to Belgium for surgery....



Friday, 17 June 2011

A thumping great milestone !

Wow!  What an amazing day!

First day at work in a dress.  Had warned my management that I had had enough of trousers and stepped out of the house this morning in a business (dress) suit, medium heels and light coat and headed off to work as 'me' for the first time.  The admin staff had plainly been warned to make no comment, and were lovely.  My 'senior management' complemented me on 'an elegant' look, other work collegues made other pleasant remarks and I just got on with the working day - lovely.

I just feel so comfortable as 'me' now it doesn't seem quite real.  Wonderful.  Wonderful.

I head off to Belgium in just under a fortnight for facial surgery.  I have 4 days in this time working with external clients and will revert to collar-and-tie (yuck!) for those days as clients are not expecting transition until my return to work in August but otherwise that part of my wardrobe (and former life) is OVER!

I should say that if you add together the hair, the eyebrows, a trace of yesterday's eye make up, the near B-cup cleavage and the ear studs, I make a pretty unconvincing male these days....

Hoorraayy!  Hoorraayy!  Hoorraayy!


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The station cafe

Wow - two posts in a day.  The pace of change is really hotting up!

Another milestone passed today.  One of my guilty pleasures when I am working at home is to head for lunch to the cafe at our railway station for a none-too healthy all-day-breakfast.  So there I was today for the first time in heels and a skirt.  As usual, I took my 1945 Jeep out for a run and parked just along from the cafe, so no one was in any doubt who I was.

As sometime happens, the local track gang piled in just after me for their lunch, so I was surrounded by a sea of high-visability orange.  It clashed a bit with my lilac cardie but the size and meatiness of these chaps did at least make me look slim and svelt....

The cafe owner fought his way through the orange throng with my food and asked for the track workers to allow him through with 'this chap's lunch' which he hastily corrected to 'this lady's lunch' and profusely apologised for any offence.  I made plain that I was taking time to get used to the change and I had had 18 months to get used to it, not the 5 minutes he had had.  We had a good laugh together, he made some polite remarks about bravery and good luck which I thanked him for.

So there we are, another part of normal life 'changed over'.



A first, a truth and a start....

Well now, yesterday was a busy day.  Lets start with the 'first'.  I was supposed to be travelling to Watford to conduct a court case on Wed, Thu and Fri but that settled during the morning, and all I had to go into London for was my seconde speech therapy session (of which more later) and to deliver and collect some papers at work.  I started to change out of my nice summery dress but just could not face trousers so decided not to and headed down to the station in a summer dress (which looks rather like it has been made out of a deck-chair) and jacket.  And so I found myself in work at the end of the day as my female self.  Virtually everyone had gone home by then but the stallwart few were left and the world did not fall apart.  I am back in Dorset today, so I wonder at the chat in the office....

The 'truth' is that the world is rather larger from a female perspective.  I live about a seven or eight minute walk from my local railway station.  Or at least, it is 7-8 minutes as a man.  In heels, even fairly sensible wedges, I find that I need to allow a few minutes more.  Work is about a 20 minute walk from Waterloo in London and yesterday evening a building being refurbished along the route caught fire and the roads were closed to vehicle traffic, including buses, so I had to walk.  The normal 20 minutes took me 30 in heels and I missed my hourly train back to Dorset.  I will have to alter my 'mental maps' of the world.

And the start?  Well, at the speech therapy session the therapist started me on controlling breath and doing groundwork for increasing pitch with a trick involving blowing through a straw and humming at the same time.  If this sounds rather like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time, then that's what it feels like at the moment.  I have to do 20 repeats of this three times a day and apparently it will beging to come naturally and is the basis for what we are to do in future.  If you see a carefully dressed woman on the train to London in future, humming tunelessly through a straw, it might be me......



Sunday, 12 June 2011

Sublime and ridiculous

The pace of change must be hotting up.  I can tell that from the fact that this is my second post in two days!  I thought I should record two differing parts of the transition process.   One sublime and one more ridiculous.
The sublime part is that I finally ran out of male aftershave / cologne last week -  Cerruti 1881 to be precise.  So I have now switched over to my long-hoarded ‘Coco Mademoiselle’ by Channel.  I don’t have the best developed sense of smell but I do like this – in moderation.  I only have 17 male days to go now until I head off to Belgium for facial surgery and, to be honest, the male crossdressing (that’s what it feels like) is wearing pretty thin.  If you add together the hair, the eyebrows, the ear studs, the body shape (breasts and hips),  and now the perfume, I now make a rather unconvincing male.  I have to say at the end of last weekend I looked at my neat French manicure and just could not bring myself to get the nail varnish remover out.  The clients I was working with last week know of my impending change.  Truth be told, they were a little disappointed that my case for them was ‘just before’ as opposed to ‘just after’ so they were not phased by a male (sort of) barrister with very well groomed digits...
That brings me on to the ridiculous aspect of the moment.  I haven’t bought any male clothes for around a year now and my sock drawer is getting pretty empty.  Last Sunday found me scratching around for enough black socks for the week ahead.  Sunday night found me in my hotel room washing socks by hand and drying them on the heated rail in the bathroom.   Pretty ridiculous, I thought.
I also seem to be well supplied for M&S male white vests, a staple of my wardrobe for many years now.  Certainly in the early stages of my transition, when I was an ‘A-cup’ or less and was hanging on to my male image and was no where near as ‘out’ as I am now, an extra layer under my shirt to confuse the issue seemed very welcome.  Now I don’t care as much; you can’t hide a ‘B-cup’ anywhere near as effectively, and I have had ENOUGH of the cloying heaviness of male clothes.  (Wearing collar-and-tie is almost as much as I can BEAR.   Fortunately I only now have 8 or 9 days in court left before the change..)   So last weekend, when packing to go away, I left the vests behind.  I tend to wear white shirts for court and the lace of my bra is now clearly visible through the shirting material.  
But I don’t care now.....

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Different sounds

I started to tackle another piece in the transition jigsaw ths week - voice.

I had my first appointment with a speech therapist at the Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital in Gray's Inn Road, a lovely chap called Gary Wood.  He plainly lnows his business and put me completely at ease.  Just as well as he then proceeded to poke a camera thingy up my nose and down my throat to photograph my vocal chords.

Voice is a big deal for me.  I am a barrister so my voice is my working tool and it gets used most day and often all day.  I am also fairly low pitched so, although carefully made up and well dressed I pass reasonably well (as well as yu can at 6 feet tall!) if I open my mouth my trans status rappidly becomes apparent.  Male voices have a pitch around 120Hz, and female ones about 220Hz, although there is a range.  My natural pitch is about 93Hz, so on the low side of natural male.  Apparently barristers are naturally a bit lower than normal and given the need to have 'authority' in our voice and to be heard by the whole court, that is not surprising.  You may recall that Margaret Thatcher had voice coaching to deepen and lower her voice to give it more authority.  I can's end up as 'Minnie Mouse' but I would like to sound a bit more feminine.  It's not all about pitch, though, and apparently there is a lot we can do.

This week's appointment was all about checkking me for the health of my vocal equipment and establishing a base line for the coming work.  The good news is that my equipment is in good condition, especially considering that I have never smoked and I used to sing semi-professionally.  I do need to drink more water, though.

An unexpected court cancellation has allowed me to bring my second appointment forward to next Tuesday, so we should start with some exercises then.

And in the meanwhile it is now only 19 days (Eeeeeek!) until I head off to Belgium for facial surgery.  Transition is all seemiing very, very real (and very, very exciting) now.  I can't wait to get rid of collar-and-tie for the last time.



Friday, 3 June 2011

Broad sunlit uplands....

Today has been a lovely day for weather here in Dorset.  Properly warm so that I had to make sure my legs were completely hairless before going down into town bare-legged and in a linen dress.

Worked on my differently-shaped suntan for a couple of hours, then had a very pleasant wander round, and then a coffee before an hour's facial electrolysis, and out to the cinema this evening.

Tomorrow I am treating myself to a facila, manicure and pedicure to celebrate the fact that today (1) I paid the balance of my facila surgery cost to the clinic in Belgium and (2) I booked my first session with a speech therapist for next money.  He sounds lovely....I am beginning to allow myself to think about men in a rather different way now....interesting...

Today I was exposed to only the third adverse comment I have had out dressed.  I was in Costa coffee before my electrolysis session and so I had some beard growth showing with no make-up to cover it.  But its my town so 'hey!'  A chavvy male twit of about 30 behind me in the queue started making loud remarks about 'Little Britain' repeats on the tele..  He was with what I presume to be his wife and another couple and a collection of about 4 children aged 4-5 or so.  I suspect a pub lunch had not been too far previous....The women were clearly embarrassed by the remarks and were telling him to be quiet but he could not contain himself.  I went over and explained that I was having a coffee before my electrolysis session and was in course of gender re-assignment.  I explained what electrolysis entailed.  He went absolutely purple with embarrassment, apologised about 20 times and was roundly told that he was a total idiot by the two women who apologised for his behaviour.  Before they left the other chap came across and apologised and complemented me on the way I had dealt with the situation.  So overall, this left me feeling fine, although increasingly desperate to get electrolysis finished and to Belgium for my FFS....

I am going to soak up a few more of the evening rays before a trip out to the cinema



Friday, 27 May 2011

Steamy women....

Readers may remember that I have revealed before that I am a volunteer on Britain’s heritage steam railways.  This is a very male environment.   I volunteer as a signalman.  We have around 80 volunteer signalmen with 4 or 5 signalboxes to ‘man’ every operating day and in the 35 years the heritage railway has been open, we have only had two lady signalmen.  One was some considerable number of years ago, and the other more recently when the manager of our supporters association a (youthfully) retired ex US airforce logistics half-Colonel who decided that for credibility she should have a voluntary qualification.
I am well known amongst our volunteers not least because I am our second-longest qualified signalmen (first passed to work a signal box in 1986) and secondly because I have held a number of posts over the years, including ChairMAN of our supporter’s association.  My transition is, therefore, unlikely to go unnoticed.....
Britain’s railways had a noticeable influx of women into front line roles during the Second World War but they left again when servicemen came back into civilian life as the war ended and significant numbers of women have started to work on the railways only in very recent years.  Fortunately that influx of women in WW2 produced a useful collection of photos and I have a tailor, a milliner and a cobbler working to produce me suitable uniform, headgear and footwear for August on.  This hasn’t been cheap but it is how I spend a good part of my free time and I do want to get the image right.
Coincidentally, a really good friend of mine, from the time I worked for British Railways in the 1980’s before re-inventing myself as a lawyer is a really effective train crew (drivers and guards) manager who has been working part time for a few years whilst her children were young and is just about to go back to full-time work as they are now approaching school age.
It is now only 34 days until my trip to Belgium and I received my new passport last week, so one more hurdle down.  Tomorrow I should pick up the blood test results from my doctor’s surgery to check that all will be well under general anaesthetic.  It is all now starting to feel very real......

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Out with the old and in with the new

Life at the moment seems to be marked by comings and goings.  It is now only 40 days until I head off to Belgium for facial cosmetic surgery and begin to live full time as a woman.

Going are the male facets of my life.  It is the little things like the fact that I haven't bought any new socks in a year and they wear out, so my stock is getting smaller all the time.  More crucially, my male shoes are fast wearing out.  I just hope they last the remaining 40 days.  My wallet got beyond the pale a short while ago and I am too mean to buy a new one for 40 days (there is plenty else to spend my money on at the moment....) so my purse is now in use.  Most folks at work know what is coming, so that has not caused comment but there are some practical difficulties like the fact that it does not fit into my suit pocket, and I have to remember where I am carrying it.  The temptation to carry my handbag now is very great....

On the female front it is just wonderful (and wonderfully comfortable) to have pierced ears and I have a small and carefully chosen (but growing!) selection of earings.  The tyranny of clip earings is now over - hooray.  I do love jewellery

My hair is doing REALLY well, so there will be no need to bother with wigs from July on (hooray again) and I have offered my four expensive wigs for sale (at a vast reduction on their cost) on a social networking site for transgendered folk in the hope that they can find a good home. (I know, it does rather sound like disposing of a well-loved pet.)

There are still plenty of difficulties ahead but I am now SO HAPPY it isnt true.  Life is jsut great, great, great.



Sunday, 8 May 2011

Steady as she goes....

I haven’t posted an update for a while as nothing major seemed to have happened, until I took a step back and thought about it….

I had a bit of time off over the Easter / Royal Wedding/ May Bank Holiday period and, yes, I dressed as a girl most of the time, during which my good (girl) friend from Cardiff  came to stay at my holiday home on the coast for a couple of days.  The lovely weather we have had (and last winter’s laser treatment) has allowed me to start working on a ‘female’ sun tan.  Cutting the grass in pink shorts and a white vest top was a particularly memorable hour or so.  I have a WW2 Jeep that I use around town and I am well known because of it in our High Street and at the local refuse site where the grass cuttings go, so, I presume my change is now well known around town here in the English west country.  I did drive the Jeep in vest top, new cleavage, pink shorts, long, long legs and sandals...

A minor landmark was that my wallet got just too worn out to use and I haven’t bothered to replace it for the just over 50 male days I have left, so my new purse / wallet is now in full time use.  This is a hint inconvenient as it doesn’t fit easily into a suit pocket and unless I start carrying my handbag I have to fit it into whatever else I am carrying.

On reflection, the BIG change is that I am now spending so much time as a girl that it is the ‘boy’ time that feels very wrong, especially collar-and-tie.  Sure, my features are a little masculine (hence the facial surgery shortly) but my hair is now a workable length (about 4 inches) and with a slick of eyeliner and some mascara I don’t seem to rate a second glance in the supermarket.  My lovely neighbours have now met the alternative version of me and not turned a hair, so all goes well.

I took some photos for a new passport in the booth in my local Post Office yesterday and boy! (sorry, ‘girl!’) do I look different from the photo in my old passport from 2001.  Frustratingly, my passport ran out in January and I need a new one for my trip to Belgium for surgery in July.  That will alter my appearance, so I will need a new passport…..Ho hum, £77 for a passport that will only be useable for 6 weeks.

I am, however, now floating along on the cloud of delight generated by the idea  that in only just over 50 days now I will be having my surgery and then gong full-time.  Hooray!  Hooray!  Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!