Wallflower

Curiously, the first vinyl I ever purchased as a boy was Tiffany – “I Think We’re Alone Now”. Bought from a market stall along with Pet Shop Boy’s outstanding cover of “Always On My Mind”. I loved them both. This was originally going to be a post about how social isolation and being transgender often go hand in hand. Hence the title and song choice. But as much as it can be a terrifyingly lonely experience for many, this week arguably showed me something worse. Anyone with an interest in Trans issues, or fans of car crash journalism in general, could not be aware of Bruce Jenner’s very public “coming out” on American television. Part of me applauds this as courageous and to be welcomed with open arms. But part of me recognises that the news was hardly revelatory because of the excruciating scrutiny that has been applied to his (his choice of Pronoun) private life and personal journey in the press. I have said before that I am very lucky, I’m far from alone and have avoided the stigma and loneliness that being Trans can bring. But I cannot fathom how you would cope with going through this as public property. And that’s where Bruce Jenner really has been exceptionally brave. On a worldwide scale, his life is up there for public discussion. And that can only increase awareness, which has to be a positive thing. More power to him.

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Nuremberg

Today I learned a new definition of indignity. Had my monthly round of electrolysis. With an added twist. Today, instead of just face and hands, we started on the Pre Surgical area. While it wasn’t as painful as anticipated, there is little amusing to me about chit chat with a relative stranger while they methodically zap your nether regions. Women do this treatment through choice apparently. Mine is more from necessity. Barely started and it won’t end soon enough. I have no idea where you learn to practice IPL but suspect the Josef Mengele School Of Beauty figures highly. Still, no pain, no gain.

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Crustacean

Just found myself accidentally watching a documentary on Channel 5. A hotchpotch of human interest stories that I’d normally zip straight past. But then, one of them was a transgender woman estranged from her family. Sort of impossible not to connect with that. If we gloss over an ill advised attempt to auction her virginity then it’s strangely comforting to know that my situation with my family is not an isolated one. And that there is space to hope that things can change. Which they did for her. Still early doors for my turn and it’s probably a little “s(h)el(l)fish” of me to want it any quicker.

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What’s The Mantra With You?

Back in Glasgow after a short holiday but managed almost 5 days living as a woman in an Eastern European city where almost everyone we encountered spoke little English or none at all. On the plus side, my limited Polish is slightly improved. But it’s been a hugely positive experience. Like Sinatra sort of said, if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. Kind of love Poland. In general, not one fuck was given about whether I was Trans or not. And I like that attitude. I’m totally stealing that. It’s really no more important than my blue eyes or the colour of my hair. The one thing this trip to Poland has proved to me is that I’m really doing pretty ok. I don’t have to care about “passing” and basic manners get you respect, regardless of where you are. Like the video says “it’s a long road, there’s no turning back”. Pretty much covers my journey, home and otherwise.

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Standard Operating Procedure

In my 16th month of living fulltime, it seems reasonable that my thoughts might be ever more preoccupied with the surgical option. Despite being told the Real Life Experience is two years, in truth it is completely arbitrary. It seems to be more to do with where your head’s at rather than a fixed timescale. I’m already on hormones, about to start a Testosterone blocker and can clearly see movement in the direction I want. But surgery is a complicated thing. And very permanent. I would also imagine it to be  physically and emotionally traumatic, e.g “I miss that little guy”, uttered too late might be catastrophic. It’s not second thoughts though, I’m definitely doing it but I’m just not being naive about it. The “grass is always greener” aspect is not lost on me. Caution seems  sensible. I’m currently pretty happy with my progression and just enjoying that for a while seems like a plan. And in the unlikely event that I never got around to surgery? There’s always the circus.

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Travel Sized

Today finds me travelling abroad for only the second time as a woman. I’d be lying if I said it was without trepidation.  The destination is Toruń  in Northern Poland. Any concern I have is only because I am completely ignorant about current Polish views on my particular situation. I have visited Toruń before, as a male. It’s a beautiful city with a vibrant University population and since it has a centre against homophobia, I’m expecting it to be pretty tolerant. Why Toruń you may ask, well it’s “the birthplace of the greatest and (most) famous Nicolaus Copernicus. In the Middle Ages Toruń was a prominent trade centre as a member of the Hanseatic League; in Poland it is called (the) ‘Krakow of the North’. Toruń is the most Gothic urban complex in Poland, one of the most important and crowded tourist centres of unique value, right after Krakow the second richest of original and best preserved historical monuments city in Poland”. Or so says the tourist blurb.

Looking forward to returning to a couple of my favourite restaurants in the Old Town and hoping that it all still feels pleasantly familiar. It was the first Polish city I ever visited and I’ve been a wee bit in love with Poland ever since. Most of all, I’m looking forward to finding out how good I’ll be at managing my new gender with a language barrier added. It’s all very well feeling confident within the confines of Glasgow but it’s good to stretch things now and then. And a Glaswegian mangling Polish is as stretched as it gets. But we’ll never go thirsty, “dwa piwa proszę”. Important priorities sorted.

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Stoically Yours

Something that’s been offered to me frequently since I started to transition is how brave a thing to do it is. It certainly doesn’t feel brave. For me, it’s the most self centred thing I’ve managed in my 40 odd years. I am certainly happier and more confident but the cost was phenomenally high. I’m glad I made the decision but the body count of relationships is uncomfortable all the same. To date, I’ve almost wrecked my Mother, “lost” two brothers and at least a few people, that I was close to, are currently footnotes in my daily life. So the price of admission is prohibitive. And it’s pretty hard to wear it as a medal, if you’re feeling emotionally scalped. I’m not angry with them and I hope they stop being angry with me at some point. The Indians had it right, “Never judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”

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