What I am VS Who I am

16th November 2017

A short passage that will take no more than 3 minutes of your time….

What I am

I am Transgender.

Who I am

I am Veronica.

I am 55.23559686_10155258935190939_4596505752011436960_n

I am a parent of 3. One of my children lives on the other side of the world.

I am a grandparent of one (and nearly 3).

I am divorced.

I live alone.

I work full time.

I work in the space industry.

I travel quite a lot with my job – but I do stay on earth 🙂

I am a Subcontract Manager which basically means I buy stuff (a woman’s dream right).

I am a vegetarian. I eat too much cheese. I constantly battle with my weight.

I Spend a lot of time alone although I am as content at this stage in my life as I have ever been.

In my spare time I;

Volunteer for a charity.

Keep fit.

Buy more stuff.

Socialise.

Write.

See my family whenever possible.

My ideal scenario for life moving forward is;

To do good things.

To treat others the way they want to be treated, not the way I want to be treated. We are all different and life is diverse and beautiful.

To be respected for who I am as well as what I am.

To settle down with someone who can love me for who I am.

To spend time with my family.

Maybe to live overseas but always have a place in the UK called home.

To travel the world and visit places that just make me go Wow!

To grow old gracefully and without drama, but still have a bit of sparkle.

So now you have read this far, if you feel you need to ask about what I am then read it again with open eyes, mind and heart. If you still feel you need to ask about what I am then please take yourself back to the maintenance department for recalibration. You need a bit of tweak and your humanity chip may need a reboot. 😦

All my love

Veronica x

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HRT and what to do for the rest of time…

 September 2017

Earlier this week I went to see Dr Curtis at Transhealth. Transhealth shuts down at the end of the year and I wanted to say goodbye and thank you to him in person for the help he has shown me. I also wanted to understand what the future looked like for me as regards HRT now I am post surgery.

I have the perception that I must take HRT forever and because the doses I take to even get close to a perceived GIC norm of 400-600 for Oestrogen are so high they put me at greater risk to adverse side effects like blood clotting, strokes and liver damage.

I wanted to know (1) what would happen if I just stopped taking them. (2) whether I could lower my dose and finally (3) the alternatives to pills (which pose the highest risk to me and gets higher as you get older). 

Dr Curtis has always had a different view on the Oestrogen range than the GIC. He holds little value in the 400-600 levels and rather looks for signs that the drug is having the desired effect. He is therefore not keen on high dose prescriptions just to reach a meaningless number. HRT has always given me desirable side effects such as softening of skin, breast growth, body hair reduction, wellbeing, and calmness etc etc etc. All of this has noticeably happened for me with Oestrogen numbers always below 400 apart from after one blood test in mid 2016 which was above 600! Ironically this last set of results came in one the money at 499, up from 350 in May. I asked Richard why my Oestrogen levels never quite made the grade on a consistent level even with the high dose. “We are all different” pretty much sums it up. My Liver works to remove the effect of the drug differently to most. “Is this a bad thing?” was of course my educated response. “it just is what it is” was his. You can see we were on an intellectual plateau here.

So in the short term I have decided to lower my dose from 10mg/day to 8mg/day. This is still high. I don’t know anyone on 8mg/day, let alone 10mg/day!!

I asked Richard what would happen if I stopped taking HRT? The likelihood is I will dive head first into the menopause with all the joys that brings any woman my age. I have read loads of articles on coming off and it does not make good reading. So I am not sure I want to go there just yet, if ever. I do however need to find a happy medium. This is not 8mg/day of pills for the rest of time. This risk is too high as I get older. So I plan to wind down a little over time. So what are the alternative, less risky ways to administer HRT? Well fundamentally these are patches or gel. Done patches; hate them. they either don’t stick very well or they stick too well and you are forever picking off glue from various areas of your knicker line. Not going there. So I am going to get an alternate prescription next time for gel. Administered just once a day apparently just before bed, so it gets loads of time to be absorbed into my body before I jump in the shower the next morning.

As I am not seeing a gender specialist ever again now I needed a crib sheet from Richard that I could take to my GPs so they know what to do, written in words, from a specialist, not from me, that they would respect and understand. The letter came in the post today. I received a copy. The master went to the GP.

Basically he has just said to maintain me in the “non menopausal range”, with adequate osteoporosis protection. That’s brittle bones to you and me. He told the GP what to test for each time they take bloods, which is primarily Oestrogen, LH & FSH (All hormone levels) and Liver function. He also reminded them to make sure they monitor my prostate (as I still have one) but not cirvical cancer (as I don’t have a cercix). He reminded me that I have to be proactive with my GP as regards Prostate checking as they won’t think to call me for check-ups.

So all in all, a worthwhile visit. That’s me done. I’ll make an appointment with my GP and get this all recorded on my file and then I think it’s time to finally move my GP to the area in which I live. Note to self; Prosecco and flowers for my GP practice when I leave them. They have been amazing for me. First name terms with the reception staff. GPs, who have always been supportive, if not a little behind the curve as regards gender transition. Being the only trans in the village has its pros and cons you know but I have been one of the lucky ones. We do though make our own luck. I am a firm believer in this

The only thing now I need to deliberate over it whether to bother applying for a gender recognition certificate. But I will save that deliberation for another day/blog. 

Veronica xx

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Life in the world of ordinarium…….

24th August 2017

I have not written anything for ages it seems, or to be more accurate, I have not written anything to publish for what seems like ages anyhow. The unwritten dear diary continues, never to grace the internet but oh god, how therapeutic it remains.

OK, so ordinarium is not a word, or at least not that I am aware of but it sort of defines my life now and I have to say, it’s just bloody lovely. It’s nothing like what I expected my life to be and almost in line with what I thought my worst fears were but without being my worst fears. Does this make any sense at all? It sort of does to me.

I always expected at this time in my life would be in a loving relationship, stable, settled, looking forward to an early retirement, contemplating a home overseas, somewhere hot, splitting my time between the UK and this hot place. And my worst fears? Well they were none of the above and being alone. So what of my wish list?

Loving relationship first. Nope. That is not going to happen or at least I can’t see it happening. It was first in that list because it was my worst fear. At least not being in one. I now realise it’s a state of mind and inner contentment that I now have. I thought a relationship gave me that. It does no such thing. Of course it can help but firstly it starts from within. I have it now and wow it put into context the meaning of life. Without it, life if pigging difficult. So with inner peace finally achieved I am complete right?

Well no, but it’s a blooming good start. I am stable and I am settled. I have the foundation to build off. So this is a real plus. Looking forward to early retirement? No not if I remain single. I turn 55 this November and it will be the first time I can obtain a redemption statement on my pensions. It will be interesting to see what they are worth but I know they are devalued significantly if I redeem them too early. I have always had a vision of doing something that seems to add more value to life and if that can be in a job form maybe that is an option.

The home overseas? Well who knows. Never say never.

So how do I fill my time? The person I should have been? Well in ordinary ways just like any other 50 something woman on her own would. I work. I keep fit. Pamper myself. I save for rainy days. I go out on occasions. My social circle grows ever so slowly and I am even about to embark on some voluntary work. Last year I visited a Samaritans stand at a festival I attended. I kept the leaflets and I said to myself then that once I was through surgery I would commit to helping this organisation. I kept that commitment to myself and phoned my local Samaritan centre soon after surgery. I went to an open evening, formally expressed my interest and then had to wait for the selection day. This was a daylong event where a group of interested wannabe Samaritans were assessed for their suitability to commence training. I turned up one hot Sunday in June with a dozen or so other people from my area and we were all assessed in group sessions and interviewed separately . I am one of 4 who made it through. I start my training in September. 7th September to be precise. Maybe this is my way of adding value to life that I mentioned above? I certainly want to give back to a society that has on the whole embraced me and supported me though really shitty times. Assuming I make it through the training I could go live on the phones in November time (under supervision). I know emotionally this is going to be hard but I so know I need to do it.

 I have managed to also book flights back to New Zealand for this Christmas and New Year where I will spend time with my daughter, her husband and my grandson. Ironically if you scroll back far enough on these blogs, I was sat at my daughter’s home in New Zealand when i started writing (Chapter1) in 2015. This time on my return home I have a 3 night stopover in Singapore. Dead excited about this although very apprehensive about being on my own there.

What about the problems I had during transition, by way of acceptance? Let’s just say I am at peace. Those who perceived I added no value to their lives have let me go and I can deal with this now in relative comfort without beating myself up too much about it. It’s taken me a while to be honest but you know, work on what you can affect in life and ignore that which you have no control over. I now walk it as well as talk it. I have come though transition with a few emotional scars that have healed and I can sleep easy in my bed. Well that is, apart from alarm calls, reminders and timers which seem to be forever telling me to do things. I love it really.

Every morning when I ready myself for work or the day ahead and I pinch myself and smile that I finally did it. Believe me when I say this is not an exaggeration.

I have had love and lost it, but I have never had contentment like I have now. No one has given me this. I earned it. I am proud of this fact. Very, very proud. I will love again (and if I don’t, I’ll buy a cat or a frog). I will make someone happy. When you build that on the foundation of contentment, well, to coin a phrase from Del boy “The world is my lobster”…….

Later’s peeps 

Veronica x

 

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One of numerous selfies I collect as time goes by. It has to be said, I am going up in the world.

 

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We expect too much from people who we perceive should know better……..

14th July 2017

I started this ramble back in May and then the world imploded as it seems to do every so often. Trump continues to hang on in there in spite of his own incompetence. May clung onto a government by bribing the DUP when she thought she would win a landslide. Maniacs reaped terror in Manchester and London and then there is the Grenfell disaster. So it almost seems irrelevant to ramble on about Trans issues. But the last few days, I have had motivation.

Life is all good and great in the trans community. I am so proud to identify as a woman who is trans and to be part of the trans community. Trans people can be seen now doing real jobs and doing normal things. They no longer just come out at night when others are fast asleep. You could sort of almost start to think that trans people are actually human. Shock, horror! How will the world cope with these humans running around doing normal things, contributing to society? Some of these humans are even making it into prominent media positions. All is good right? Well it’s a whole lot better for the trans community compared to recent decades but let’s face it. The ‘T’, in LGBT, is still the last taboo. The black sheep (am I allowed to say that anymore?). Many people who are transgender, still have dual identities, they still hide in fear of what might happen to them should they come out. I could throw a load of stats at you about suicides, murders and other stuff but I don’t want this to get all technical and I don’t understand all of the data either.

It can and will be a whole lot better than it even is right now but, like it or not we have some issues to deal with I think.

Being trans is not new. People are slowly gaining courage to come out and I was one of them. We blossom emotionally or at least I have since transition. It’s not a fad. It is also, not common place but the reality is we just don’t know how much of the ice berg is not exposed and how big the trans community actually is or could be. The likelihood however is that the vast majority of people identify quite comfortably in the gender they were assigned with at birth. As it should be. The human race would be in a bit of a pickle if that was not the case eh. Some will say we are screwed anyhow. But for the sake of all the young, not least my own kids and my grandson, I hope not.

There are so many variants of being trans. I am not even going to go there because this blog is not a test for me, you, or a demonstration of my profound knowledge to be technically correct (the reality is I would probably get something wrong as its actually quite complicated). All I will say is that, for me at least, whether you identify (Gender Identity) as a male or female or neither, regardless of how you were registered at birth, or you express yourself as male or female or either (Gender Expression) and therefore present neutrally or somewhere in between, to your identity (Gender Neutral), it is absolutely fine with me as long as you are a good person. However I am not in favour of the removal of all gender labels in society. This I think is fear tactics whipped up by mainstream to create stories that are not stories. Let’s just crack on with being human, doing good things and adding value.

This week, no this year really, there has been a series of shit storms in the media about all things gender. These shit storms are becoming more and more frequent and generally intense, I think primarily because we are doing a bloody good jobs at being human and we are giving people reason to think about the so called norms and the status quo of life. The storms seem to appear out of nowhere. Some prominent socialite or so called media god or goddess, who is looking to increase their profile or just feather their nest will say something controversial. You know it could be anything. These sort of things “trans men or women are not real men or women” or “trans women have enjoyed male privilege and it’s not fair” or “unless you are really transgender, use the loo of your birth gender when out in public” or “what the hell is Gender non binary why the hell does everything have to be gender neutral”. Our media just loves to kick someone when they are up don’t they.

Let me say a little bit about social media. Generally, Twitter, but not exclusively. The same rules apply to other forms. Twitter has been great for me. It has introduced me a world of support and many other people like me. I am not sure I would have got through this without the support  or inspiration I have received. These people are just like me. Just humans. The other people on Twitter, the celebrity types are there, primarily for personal gain. They need Twitter. It expands their audience and therefore their ability to earn money, or if they are really good, satisfy their ego. Some of them respond to a message you may send them but generally they are in transmit mode. Then you have the media outlets, there to push their messages and opinion on us. Subliminal messages or controversial messages sometimes written by the celebrity peeps.

So what happens when these socialites speak out? Well we get a ‘shit storm’ that’s what. These normally appear as column inches in tabloid rags or even some morning sofa chat on the TV or radio. I have never known a group rally so fast to protect the community. Truly impressive. But the arguments can turn nasty very quickly. This is scary. The community can turn into a shoal of piranhas once one smells blood. It’s not a pretty site. I eventually reach a point where I think, ‘oh for god sake, just leave the poor person alone’ . They do not deserve my sympathy as generally they are exploiting my kind for their own personal gain. But I absolutely hate what’s happening. It just feels so wrong regardless of our motivation. We have to rise above it. Be better, civil and respectful, even if inside we want to scream. The moral high ground is maintained. As soon as we lose control we cannot win the argument. To support this theory, there was a response published from Ulga Stefania (Owl) who was verbally abused by Piers Morgan and the Good Morning Britain back in May. Owl (and her friend Fox Fischer) have every reason to act like piranhas. Piers was rude in the extreme and allowed them no opportunity to deliver their message. Owl’s response was measured and passive. It carried so much more weight. Huge respect.

I do so hope we can sort this out. We are so close guys. Let’s not fuck it up.

I know my views are not widely agreed with but I feel sort of obliged to write some additional stuff. Sorry.

 

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My first dysphoric moments……

You know the classic trans narrative? – “from my first memories I knew I was a girl”. Well not me. I think I always got on better with girls than boys. My bestie from the age of 5 was a girl from round the corner. We watched Andy Pandy together and stuff like that. However, my childhood, was pretty normal I think. So when were my first dysphoric moments? In my early teenage years I guess. I recognise them now as dysphoric moments although at the time like most of my age I had no idea what Gender Dysphoria or being Transgender was. I am not even sure those terms had even been invented back then. I dabbled in complete privacy in my teenage years and no one even knew. I parked those thoughts and emotions well and truly. I used my mum’s make up when I had the chance and those chances were few and far between.

However on Sunday (28/05/17) I was talking with Eva about what I now know was one of my first dysphoric moments . I reckon it was in the mid 1970s.

I went to school in Harlow. Burnt Mill Comprehensive, off First Avenue and right next to the town park.  Being a village kid, I used to get a coach into school every day. Anyhow I digress. Harlow Council used to put on free concerts every summer, They had some really good bands play there during the 70’s and early 80’s and the towns youth turned out in there thousands to watch them. (See the picture below).

I was lucky to be able to go to some them as I grew older and mum and dad allowed me. The headline act was always supported by some local bands. I can remember going along to see Dr Feelgood, Darts, Caravan and Heatwave to name but 4. Normally accompanied by my first experience of Woodpecker Cider, the dreaded alcohol. I had my first date at one of those concerts; was beaten up by a gang after one concert, waiting for my dad to pick me up and also what I consider to be one of my first dysphoric moment. 

I remember one night. A steaming hot summers night. The park was packed, with thousands of people. The bandstand, which is still there today, used to have a moat in front of the stage. I remember being in the crowd and a woman, well she was probably in her late teens, early twenties was in the moat, splashing herself with water. She was drunk or high, who knows. She had jeans and a white cheese cloth top on (no bra). She looked stunning. I so wanted to be that woman. I remember the guys at school talking at lunch on the Monday about the girl in the water. You know, boy talk……. I sat quiet that lunch time because my head was all over the place. How the hell could I say anything. I did not even understand what I was thinking and they would not have a clue either. So I parked those thoughts, buried them deep inside. They found their way out eventually. It just took them a very long time. I never ever regret parking those thoughts. After all I would not have my own children or a grandson had I of not. But I do think if I were a child of the early 21st Century, life would have been very different.

So back to that bandstand. This moat in front of the stage has now been filled in. The steam still runs through the park but the moat can be seen no more. On our way back from the coast on Sunday Eva and I stopped off in Harlow and had a wander around the park showing her some of the sights from my youth. I have so many memories of that park. So many memories. 

Below is a picture of me from Sunday standing where the moat would have been, in front of the stage. Alongside is a picture of the crowd from one of those concerts.

Veronica x

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Harlow bandstand 28th May 2017

 

View from the stage on one of those 1970’s summer nights

 

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Sliding door moments…….

Who remembers the late 90’s film with Gwyneth Paltrow – Sliding Doors. A classic British rom-com with a bit of fantasy element thrown in. Like how do we ever get to live out two scenarios right? Life’s not like that. You pays  your money, you takes your choice. All that said I do wonder “what if”. All the time. I am watching the film again now as I scribble these notes.

What if I had bothered to watch the Spurs game at West Ham the other week. Would it of made a difference? Maybe we would have won. Put Chelsea under pressure. Maybe Spurs would still be in a title chase. Let’s face it, it takes only a miniscule flap of a butterfly wing to make a difference. Another one of my favourite films (The Butterfly Effect). Maybe for tomorrow when I eventually get round to doing my ironing.

I trivialise the point but really I do think through, what I call “sliding door moment” scenarios all the time. Trying to understand what may of happened if what happened had been, you know slightly different. How my life would have been different. Would I of changed anything? 

I wonder how my life would of turned out had of not transitioned and I want to write about that. It’s a pretty stupid thing to write about really as transitioning, apart from some fairly major consequences was the best decision I eventually took in my whole life. Without a shadow of doubt.

So what was life like prior to transition? Well I had a lovely life on the face of it. I was in a wonderful relationship, with a lovely girlfriend, who supported me as a guy who dressed on occasions. We had good jobs, a great lifestyle and we were very much in love. I am pretty sure we would have married one day. All I had to do was keep Veronica in the proverbial box. Easy right? Well for me at least it was all wrong. Of course I wanted to keep all the good things, our love and our lifestyle but just tweak me a little, you know just a tad! I needed to transition. I had to. I was becoming more and more withdrawn. I thought of nothing else. Eventually I could hold back no more and I effectively gave my girlfriend and myself a sliding door moment. Get on the tube with me or stay on the platform. Guess what? She stayed on the platform. “My cake and eat it”. Who was I kidding. Absolutely my loss.

In the early months she struggled more than me I think. I had my transition to plan, a house to furnish and a new life to adjust to. She had emptiness as soon as I left. It must of been really hard for her. Fortunately now I suspect she is over the worst which is great. We are two and half years further forward. Time has healed her. We still chat on occasions, mainly surface stuff. It’s, really not the same. We shared so much. Vowed we would always remain best of friends. But we failed at that. I have no idea how she feels anymore. That gets me down a lot. Not having her as a bestie; and we were besties.

So, now I am out the other side of my transition I think long and hard sometimes about what would have happened if she had caught that tube with me. Of course I will never know. We never know what would of happened “if” and nor should we. We make decisions and deal with the consequence of those decisions. Life is not a fantasy. It’s the real thing. We get once chance to get it right. 

Before transition I had a wonderful life with a wonderful girlfriend but it was all built on crumbling foundations that I thought I could underpin without the house falling down. Sadly, the house came down.

After transition my foundations are rebuilt, robust and will last me a lifetime. I just need to rebuild a wonderful life to put on them. Life goes on. Onwards and upwards……

u

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Being ‘clocked’…..

Let me first of all explain what being ‘clocked’ is in the context of being transgender. It’s when someone recognises that you are transgender. Now this probably happens every day of my life but if people say nothing, I never know. When however they say something to you to let you know that they know well that’s a different story and that’s what happened to me at the gym on Saturday (22/04/2017) lunch time.

I do have a defence mechanism to help me deal with such occasions and to be honest it’s the first time its happened since last summer and I wrote about that occasion in my blogs. This mechanism which I put into action since then is to just assume mentally that everyone knows. This means that most of the time I have a positive mental state as the vast majority of the time I have no problems at all.

Today was different though. I joined the gym just over 3 weeks ago. I never had the confidence before surgery. For obvious reasons my anatomy would have been a dead giveaway in the changing rooms. I knew that as soon as I was fit and able I would be joining a gym. So I took the leap and I have been going around 3 times a week ever since.

This is dead different to going out in mainstream places, dressed appropriately and wearing makeup. When I go to the gym I have no makeup at all. I choose to shower and change there and that means stripping naked. Clearly I am not alone in this. The changing facilities are open plan. One thing I have noticed is that women are much more discrete in the changing rooms. Unlike men they stay naked for the minimum amount of time possible and generally don’t hang around too long unless they are drying hair or putting makeup on after. So I behave in the same way. I learnt quickly. When I wash my hair and put a face on after, of course I am there longer also.

So in the 3 weeks or so since I joined I have had no problems at all and to be honest Saturday lunchtime was not a problem as such, it just reminded me that I am not always getting away with it all the time. I have started going to classes. Body pump, Pilates and Bums Legs and Tums are the three classes I am enjoying. Spinning is off limits at the moment as I am not sure I can sit on a saddle for a while yet. So what it means is I am able to socialise with the other ladies. Get to know them and talk to them before and after the classes. Only in passing you understand but none the less it is nice. I have also purchased a swimming costume and whilst I have not been in the pool yet I do use the Jacuzzi, Steam room and Sauna. This is a perfect way to unwind after a hard class and gives me more time to interact.

It’s funny, just before I was “clocked” I was chatting to a lady in the sauna who was commenting on my tattoos. We got chatting and I was telling her about a cover up I had to have of my ex’s name on the base of my spine which I converted, with my design into my very own personal tramp stamp. Her retort to me was “did ‘he’ have your name on his spine”. To which I replied “yes of course”. There was no need for me to correct her.

So what happened in the changing rooms? Well one of my fellow body pumpers  was very chatty. So I was passing the time of the day with her whilst I was trying to dry my hair. She beckoned me to one side and said “just so you know, it’s cool, no one else has clocked”. I went red I guess, played it down, but she gave me a cuddle, a reaffirming cuddle and we carried on getting ready. She could have said nothing, she should have said nothing but she did and it was done.

It could of been a whole lot worse I think but again, realisation that I can be ‘clocked’ still. I asked her what was the sign. “My voice”! God I have to work on this more. I thought my voice was sort of ok but clearly it needs work. Now if she had said to me “darling you are quite tall, or you have no arse, or your shoulders would look good on a line backer for the New England Patriots, or your tits just defy gravity and are too far apart” I would have sort of understood. But my voice. Damn! I need to work on that.

All in all, not a bad experience, but worth writing a few words about it.

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