Escape to the World of Sport

Lilly’s World of Sport

I find another of my happy places by escaping into the World of Sport; no not Dickie Davis (one for you teenagers there), into Lilly’s World of Sport.

Now I love sport, not everybody does. Please forgive me if I’m wrong, but I do perceive that it’s a subject that many Trans Women are reluctant to talk about. Perhaps feeling sport is part of their past lives. Or is sport still considered un-feminine? Sadly it is true most young women stop playing sport when they leave school.

Well in this article I’m going to try to prove that women and sport really do mix, by telling the story of a few of my sporting heroes. Five women who are also both incredible competitors and beautifully feminine. These girls certainly can!

Why does sport matter to me so much. Well I am a competitive animal, it’s in my genes (size 12 from Primark); both competing and spectating satisfy that urge. I believe that, particularly for young people, learning to deal with the ups and downs of competitive sport, is a powerful way of learning how to cope with the vagaries life. A cliche I know, but learning to lose with grace is such a valuable life skill. It can hurt like anything inside but smile on the outside. Anyway sermon over, you can come out now, here are some my heroes…

Getty Images

Jessica Ennis-Hill – oh my goodness, Super Saturday 2012 in the Olympic Stadium. I was there. Why? To see Jess, no not Mo, but Jess. Three years before when I made my ticket selection for the ballot, I’d choosen this night as it contained the final event of the Heptathlon, the 800m. At this point Mo was an also ran, Jess was a World Champion and favourite for Gold. Jess didn’t let us down, withstanding the extreme pressure of being ‘The Face of Games’, she delivered. Blessed with amazing determination, strength and resilience, Jess produced personal best after personal best, to lead the competition into that last event. On that magical evening, in front of 80,000 people, Jess took the lead rounding the last bend and crossed the line to win a glorious gold. In the stadium, we all got a little over excited, hugs (remember them?) all round. I give you Jess, a beautiful, petite woman; now a Mum, who made herself the best all round athlete in the world. What a role model for girls and boys.

Kelly Smith – the greatest England footballer you have never heard of! “Lethally quick, bountifully gifted”, Kelly a forward, scored 46 goals in 117 appearances for England, and enjoyed a highly successful club career at home and in the States.

Over the last 10 years women’s football has at long last come to the fore. But why is the women’s game always in the shadow of men’s football? Well for a start men banded it! Yes in 1921, despite being more popular than some men’s games, women’s football in England was halted when The FA outlawed the playing of the women’s game on Association members’ pitches. The FA said that “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.” This ban was in force until 1971. It has taken 50 years for the female game to begin to catch up.

Kelly faced discrimination too, aged seven, with no girl’s teams in her local area, she played in a boys team, until other boy’s teams refused to play Kelly’s team; Kelly was just too good! Kelly’s magnificent career was ended by injury, just before the game came to real prominence (now shown regularly on the BBC), which is why Kelly is not a household name. The best England striker of the modern era? Shearer, Lineker, Kane, Smith….

Annemiek van Vleuten. Picture this, the women’s Olympic Cycling Road Race, Rio 2016. The course included a fast, fearsome, twisting down hill section that left no room for error. Riding flat out was not for the faint hearted, only the very brave. Leading the race was Annemiek, she had broken away from the peloton and in trying to maintain her lead and she was going for it. Oh no! Annemiek made a tiny mistake and the next second she was bouncing down the road like a rag doll, bike flying through the air! The world held it’s breath, Annemiek didn’t move for a long time, it took an age for medical help to arrive. The TV cameras held back just in case…..horrible.

Fast forward to 2019, Annemiek won the World Road Race Championship, her third World Title. Amazing, weaker sex? I don’t think so! Annemiek brave, determined, a winner!

Claire Williams. Motor racing is my sport, I grew up with tales of Nuvolari, Fangio, Moss and Clark, I raced karts for five or so years in my late teens. Motor sport is really a world of men! The women’s role was purely to look pretty or make the tea. Sure there were a few women drivers, even some who raced Grand Prix cars like Lella Lombardi and Divina Galica, Michele Mouton was almost world rally champion in the 80’s, or before the war, Kate Petra was one of a number of women who raced around the awesome outer circuit at Brooklands. Women are now starting to have some impact on the sport, particularly on the engineering side of the teams. Claire Williams is team principal of one the most famous GP teams, a role that comes with huge amounts of responsibility and pressure, not least keeping the company founded by her father, alive in an ultra competitive world. Hopefully Claire can steer the team back to the podium very soon, perhaps with a female driver called Jamie Chadwick!

When I was growing up, I never imagined the women could participate in contact sports such as rugby and boxing. At school, girls played hockey and netball, boy’s didn’t.

Margaret Alphonsi MBE is an English former rugby union player who played as a flanker for Saracens and England before retiring in 2014. She has one World Cup winners medal and seven from the Six Nations, and was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in November 2016.

Maggie can now be seen and heard regularly as a pundit and newspaper columnist, even commentating on the mens game! Inevitably, she has faced sexist and racest comments but Maggie’s calm authoritative manner makes her one the most respected voices on the game; a game that is now open to all!

So what’s next? Trans sports women? An openly gay premier league football? Well the former is a hugely nuanced discussion for another day, the latter, any male professional football who came out as gay would be a hero!

It not the wining, it’s the taking part and above all, having fun

On a final note here is Lilly racing karts in her late teens.

Lots of love

Lilly x

 

July Oasis blog

The gorgeous Beccie!

Call me a doom maker but I really do worry about the acceleration of the return of services after our prolonged lock-down and perhaps wish I lived in one of our devolved nations. This government doesn’t seem to give any relaxation of lock-down measures long enough to see if there is a spike in infection rates, and I’m not certain if they care there’s a spike.  It just doesn’t seem the right time to be coming out of lock-down with infection rates of over 600 a day! Well that’s my political rant over with!

Another month passed by as our houses, wardrobes, shoe collections and gardens continue to get their makeovers.

Recently we had a lovely afternoon visit to see Joanna, our first visit out together which hasn’t involved shopping or going to the doctor’s. Even the car was surprised we were travelling further than our local shops!  It was a lovely afternoon. We sat (socially distanced) in a large tent on their back garden and it was so nice to chat with someone face to face outside the immediately family, followed by a lovely look round the garden. We were sad to say goodbye.

We have had both Vicky and Anna G over for a socially distanced take away Sunday lunch which again was lovely and afforded us glimpses of what was once normal!

Pride 2019

Of course this month (25th) would have seen our annual Norwich pride taking place, as well as our second visit to Kings Lynn pride. A chance to be out and proud. Another casualty to Covid-19.  This year it has gone virtual.  Click on this link to view more.

We had a very good virtual Oasis Zoom meeting on Saturday the 18th, with over 17 people (including partners). It was also nice to see two new ladies join us, Davina and Julie. We talked about recent events, as well as the construction of concrete boats. You do learn a lot at these get together!

I’m pleased to say that Serena, even though Oasis is not running its meeting, has also been very busy this month, meeting new people (Lucy and Julie) as well as liaising with a member of Norfolk constabulary to discuss how Oasis might help.  We have also been contacted by Radio Norfolk to comment on the possible changes to the legislation related to “self-identifying”.  Two student’s undertaking research projects, one from Bath and the other from York have also contacted Oasis. If these projects are relevant to you, please afford some time to communicate with them.  (look in the archive post section of the website or use the search button to look for “research”)

Carole has survived her time in hospital and is recovering slowly at home being waited on hand and foot.

Michelle tells me work has gone silly and she’s driving all-round the country.  She needs a second wave to sort out her last 2 shed before the winter.

Anna F, apart from a recent set back has been out and about from cycle rides in full make up, to leisurely walks on Gt Yarmouth beach in her flowing summer dress.  She says her latest discovery is shopping is now bloody awful!

Gemma is keeping busy with her new lady chum, ship spotting in Cromer, with binocular, telescopes and interesting apps. She pass on her best wishes to all the Oasis ladies.

Well that’s about it for this month, keep sending in your stories and articles and see you in August.

Look out for some more ramblings from Lilly’s escape stories as well as some interesting reading from Loraine next month.

Beccie x

We need your help please

Hello,

We are still desperately looking for participants, and would be extremely grateful for any help.

My colleagues and I at the University of Kent are carrying out a project, which aims to enhance trans awareness in social work education and practice. In order to do so in a way that is the most relevant, we would like to hear from people of trans history about their experiences of support or input from social workers and their recommendations.

Why are we carrying out this research?

We are committed to social justice for trans people. We believe trans people everywhere should be treated with respect, their views taken into account and that their needs should be met sensitively. Policy reports show us that this is not the case and that trans people can face stark inequalities especially when they come in contact with social services. These inequalities can take the form of not being heard, being over-referred in cases of child protection and in the case of older trans people, sometimes being treated in ways that mean their identities are not taken seriously when planning their care needs. We want to make sure that social work students and practitioners are fully aware and properly trained in how to support trans people as well as their parents, family members and loved ones who care for and support them. We want to hear from you if you are a trans person (aged 18 or over), an advocate for a trans person or a parent or family member supporting a trans person with experience of social work input. Your voices are extremely important to us, in highlighting what social workers are doing well, but more importantly what they need to change in making sure trans people everywhere get the support they need. Please get in touch with us if you would like to know more about our project. Thank you for reading.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions.

Kindest regards, Rasa

Dr Rasa Mikelyte-Research Associate-Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS)-Room CGA217, Cornwallis George Allen Wing, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NF | ( (01227) 823666 | : R.Mikelyte@kent.ac.uk

 

Ultra-Orthodox and trans

image from BBC News stories

When Abby Stein came out as trans, she sent shock waves through the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community. A direct descendant of Hasidic Judaism’s founder, The Baal Shem Tov, Abby’s parents considered her their first-born son and a future rabbi – but she was adamant that she was a girl.

My dad is a rabbi, and having a son was a big deal. He would always tell me that after five girls he had almost given up on having a boy, and how much it meant to him. I almost felt bad for him throughout my childhood – a feeling of: “I’m so sorry, but I can’t give you what you want.”

I didn’t know there were other people like me, but I knew what I felt – I just saw myself as a girl.

I sometimes wish that I’d had a teacher who was transphobic, because that would have meant I knew trans people existed. In the Hasidic community they simply never spoke about it.

What kept me sane during my childhood was my imagination.

To read her full account click on this link or the image.

Julie’s story

Julie contacted me early June interested in coming to Oasis.  I do hope we will be able to meet her on the “other side” of Covid-19.  She wanted to tell her story as an introduction to coming to Oasis.

Lovely to have found you and made contact, my name is Julie, I have been travelling my road now for the best part of fifty years, so I am no spring chicken!, from very early on I knew I didn’t fit in, it was and still is to an extent very difficult to come to terms with, and I am sure all of us can tell a similar story…

I am to all practical intents and purposes an ordinary, fairly well balanced guy, single but with a secure full time job and a home of my own, I have a range of hobbies including singing and playing music, though not that well, I’m a much better and more confident singer than musician, I have even done several open mic nights and been well received, sadly at the moment of course all of that is cancelled, and I am really missing it, but with the extra time I am getting on with other stuff which is demanding my attention at home including fitting out my kitchen

My biggest problem I feel was the conflict within myself, I was only six when I first tried anything on from my sisters old clothes which were in the attic at the time, I could say I resisted the temptation for a long while, but that wouldn’t be true, I seized it with both hands!, it was still just my little secret though,  later in school life I had to suppress it, and more so when I found myself at a boys only boarding school!, I discovered then I am not Gay, I won’t go in to detail, he was older, and fortunately for me a nice guy who took no for an answer, we did become friends, and he stuck up for me against some very cruel people, I really missed him when he left, as he had seen something in me other’s didn’t see…

When I left school it was a traumatic time for me for all sorts of reasons I won’t share right now and my real self became submerged again for some time, in my later teen’s and with my own money I ventured over the forbidden threshold once more, I think buying my first pair of panties was one of the most terrifying experiences I had had at the time, now I am very casual about clothes shopping generally, in fact after my first admittedly bad experience, I had no trouble really,  no internet options back then but I managed, I live in a village, and my local market town is not very big but I still shopped there, even in the small privately owned lingerie shop we had at the time!

While I’m on that subject, It has come to my notice and I am sure many more of us would agree that the “buying a present gambit” doesn’t fool experienced lady shop assistants, regardless of their age, but if your nice, polite and approach them properly the girls are very happy to help as I am sure they meet a lot like us, and they appear to be very understanding in my experience, or perhaps I have just been lucky!

I think the major turning point for me was when I properly acknowledged my true self, she has a lot more confidence than I did, and I wouldn’t be the person I now am without her, she used to be entirely in the background, but now she has come to the fore I am now much happier, more confident,comfortable and generally a much nicer person to be around, I regret not accepting her sooner, she’s lovely and has opened up my world, I used to really struggle with meeting new people especially socially, I didn’t join clubs or really go out much, now I’m with her I don’t feel so alone, I love meeting people, and take a genuine interest in them, I’m a proper chatterbox, and I belong to three different clubs mainly connected with music, I find work easier to cope with, I am nowhere near as stressed as I used to be, I was like a coiled spring some days!, but now I just sail through most of the time, and I wouldn’t put my genie back in her bottle if I could, the only question remaining is do I live with her, or become her full time, I’m still not sure on that one, but I do know one thing, she’s here to stay and I love her with all my heart….

I am not completely “out” but I’m not in either!, I have not told family or most friends yet, as you don’t want to spoil a long standing friendship, or alienate yourself from your relatives, it’s a difficult choice, and one big reason I am making contact with you all is to gain some perspective from others who are on this difficult journey as well, I am not totally out but it’s not the secret it once was, as one day when out off duty in my usual smarter than average well fitted outfit I happened to run in to three of my younger female colleagues from my  current work, I wasn’t sure where to put myself, but decided to brazen it out, smiled and acknowledged the three of them by name and explained I couldn’t stop to chat as I had an appointment with my opticians!, which was actually true I was walking there from my car.

A couple of day’s later I met one of them at work, she gave me a lovely smile and didn’t even mention it, I still work with her, we get on well and often chat, but we haven’t talked about and  I have heard nothing more about it from anyone at work,   and I’m not the talk of the town either as far as I know!, the only other comment from one of the other lasses I had seen that day was when my rather commodious work trousers were slipping down as I bent over to pick something up, and she suggested without a hint of humour that a ladies cut might suit me better…

I said are you saying I’m curvy?, she said well your not typically male, a truer word never spoken, so at least some of my co-workers know, and possibly more than I realize!

I said above that I am not completely in either, so a few words of explanation are due, although I haven’t been out and about fully made up and in a skirt or dress in public yet, I have been wearing a range of ladies clothes now for years, sometimes with stealth, but in more recent years openly, I think it’s a confidence thing which comes with age and experience, I find I just don’t care that much about what the world thinks about me anymore, also you probably pass with less notice when your over 21!

So I wear ladies trousers, skinny jeans and jegging’s, pretty blouses often in deep colours or with floral prints and embroidery together with a range of  smart well fitted jackets or a ladies pullover and appropriate shoes, often ankle boots when out shopping just in my little town, the only comments I generally hear are either positive, I get a lot of smiles, or just politely puzzled, on one occasion in a supermarket a young woman was walking behind me and noticed my boots, she said to her boyfriend he’s wearing ladies boots!, his reply was a classic, he said so, probably just one of those gender benders! I had to smile! and I am laughing till I cry just thinking about it, and it’s at least three years ago now, suffice to say I am a lot more relaxed in the shop nowadays and I haven’t had an off hand comment recently…

Love and hugs Julie 

Rights of Trans people zoom meeting

TRANSACTUAL

We have received a very interesting communication from Transactual regarding the current controversy over the rights of Trans people.

Good evening,

 I hope that you are doing as well as you can, given the circumstances. With the leaked information that the government is considering rolling back trans people’s rights under the Equality Act (2010), it’s really important that we all speak out against it together. We, like many other organisations working to advocate for trans people, are encouraging people to write to Boris Johnson and to their MP to explain why any removal of our right to access the appropriate toilets is a threat to trans people’s safety and dignity. We’re also asking people who are fortunate enough to have a supportive employer to ask the CEO of their company to write to Boris Johnson too. I’ve attached a leaflet with more information as well as some template letters.

If you run a group and would like a member of the Trans Actual team to appear via Zoom (or similar) to talk about trans rights, how to engage with your MP, or another topic then please do get in touch.

And finally, we launched our website a few months ago – it’s packed with information about trans people’s rights, clearly dispels many of the myths and also has a regular blog. If you haven’t seen it, do take a look: www.transactual.org.uk

Many kind regards,

Chay Brown Pronouns: he/him

The offer has been made for one of their members to address a zoom meeting for us in order to discuss the issues and how we can move forward. In order to know if this is something our members wish to do, please contact Oasis.

Serena

My working life – Part 3

Missed  part 1 and part 2 of Geri’s working life click on the links.

Here’s Geri final installment of how to live life to the full…..and all this before transitioning!

MAGGIE, ME, DECORATIONS AND SCOTLAND

An example of re-built chimney stacks

Within the group of companies was one of the oldest contractors in London; founded in 1781, and I transferred to them.

Hampton Court Palace, typical grace and favour apartments

Shortly after the move I took charge of the Special Works Department that had been working at Hampton Court Palace for many years, carrying out brick repairs, especially rebuilding the intricate chimney stacks of which there are 241 and it is believed no 2 are the same, Experiments were carried out over the years to produce lime mortar that gave the appearance of being Tudor. Just prior to the fire in March 1986 one of the grace and favour apartments was being refurbished for occupation by the retiring personal private secretary of The Queen and his moving in was delayed by a few weeks.

New wall in background

I then had under my wing the re-building of the garden walls between the back garden of 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street and Horse Guard’s Parade. At that time there was a police “tardis” adjacent to the rear entrance of the gardens and on a pre-commencement site visit I was asked to check in my brief case. So, on a subsequent visit I offered to do this only to be rebuffed with “If you’ve got a bomb, you can blow yourself up, but not me.” British security!

Yes, that is me to the rear and on the right of Mrs T

The walls were constructed of reinforced concrete with hand-made brick skins either side and Portland stone copings. Special measures were taken to inhibit ram raiding and to offer protection to tree roots.

At the end of the project the PM – Margaret Thatcher – wanted to meet both the design and build teams. Permission was granted to have a photographer present and about an hour was spent in her company. I presented her with a book commissioned to celebrate my Company’s bi-centennial.

Specialist decoration works were undertaken for a leading company in Berkeley Square. The work comprised silk wall coverings, hand printed wall papers and gold leaf on the balustrade. The silk was stretched over timber battens with cotton waste, felt between, known as batten and bump. To finish the silk at the edges plaster moulds were cast using single strands of hessian as reinforcement then silver gilded. The wall paper pattern was over 2 rolls so, left and right hand rolls had to be ordered. Regrettably, some of the paper was hung upside, so had to be replaced. Only 20 rolls at £20 each! But the pattern was unclear.  Shortly thereafter our client – Ploy Peck – was broke!

A project to construct an extension to the Kennel Club was carried out but there were sensitive issues with neighbours who, it seemed, were probably security services! All restrictions were complied with, without too much difficulty.

Osterley Park House

My next foray into specialist decoration was 1 room at Osterley Park House and involved using batten and bump again to the walls with hessian stretched and glue sized to make it taught, covered with hand-made linen, untrimmed, lining paper. The whole was then painted in soft distemper that was made on site.  3 coats were to be applied and the foreman decorator said that would be impossible as the whiting used would “ball up” but the paint Consultant was adamant 3 coats be applied.  After the 3rd coat, the finish was appalling; all lumps and bumps. The site team said it could be rescued by washing the distemper off with warm water and applying 2 coats. It was successful. Again, gilded dowel was used at the edges.

Ferry Terminal, Campbeltown, Argyll.

I moved to the west coast of Scotland for about 7 years and became General Manager of an Argyll based contractor where I and had to convert most of the 200 plus operatives from self-employed to PAYE status whilst not inviting union involvement. I was successful and all received new Contracts of Employment.

Wooden Spoon House

On returning to England, I worked for a company who were making great inroads into social housing by virtue of the Government’s “Decent Homes” programme. This required many procedures to be created due to the interaction with Residents. I wrote many of these procedures as situations presented and in 2004 the company won The Queens Award for Enterprise for their Resident Liaison Procedures. Other projects I was responsible for won Gold and Silver Awards from the newly launched Considerate Constructors Scheme. I also became manager for the refurbishment of a building to become Wooden Spoon House in London, which was opened by the Princess Royal.

St Peters Court, Lowestoft

My last significant project was the design and build contract to upgrade a tower block in Lowestoft. The work involved insulating the roof, insulated render to walls, new windows, individual heating schemes, re-wiring, bathrooms and kitchens refitted for the 90 flats. The external face of the scaffolding was clad in clear tarpaulins to provide protection for the render works; but due to high winds these were often ripped off as they were designed to. About £5,000 was spent on the rubber ties and during one very windy period, the Building Inspector issued a Dangerous Structure Notice as the tarpaulins were blowing on to the A12 nearby causing it to be closed. If stronger ties had been used, unacceptable forces would have been applied to the scaffold possibly leading to its collapse. Being the tallest structure in the area, many aerials were fitted on the roof and these had to be carefully worked around.

Early discussion with the Planning Dept. about colours to be used led to a request for a motif to be introduced above the entrance with a representation of a fish to show the local connection to herring fishing. However, the suggested motif reminded me of spermatozoa. I managed to convince it was not a good idea!

Whilst I reflect nostalgically, I’m not sure I would want to be part of the construction industry now. Times move on and some of us get left behind!

Geri

 

 

Research Project

Jessica Barlow, a master’s student at the University of Bath, is currently researching the effect of ambiguous loss on parents of gender diverse children.  If you are a such a parent, please take time to read this post and take part in this research.

Do you have a gender diverse child who is currently seeking to transition their gender?

If so, this study may be of interest to you. This study intends to examine how having a gender diverse child can influence the relationship between you and your child, as well as yourself as a parent/carer. If you are interested in taking part in this research project please click the link below.

By partaking in this study, you will help further the research into families of gender diverse children, as well as helping the lead researcher with their dissertation. If you are also willing to share this project with other parents/carers of a gender diverse child, are over 18 and speak English it would be appreciated.

If you choose to take part you will be shown an online participant information sheet which contains more information about the study and asked to give your consent to continue. This study will only take 20 minutes and you are free to withdraw at any point before completion.

https://bathpsychology.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9GlarGorusoWyOh

If you would like to find out more and take part in this project please contact the lead researcher at the following email address: jrb200@bath.ac.uk. Ethical approval has been gained, any questions regarding ethics please quote ethics 20-124.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,
Jessica Barlow

Lana’s Story

LIFE BEGINS AT SEVENTY

This article was first published 18 years ago in the FXG Bulletin produced by Mary Johnston.

I “came out” in a small way, about a year ago. It was a heady feeling, very thrilling and exciting. I thought I would like to tell everyone about it. However, as I read more about the TV world and met more girls, I realised that I didn’t have much to tell that hadn’t already been told, many times before! My great adventure would probably be met with a big yawn and “been there, done that, got the tee-shirt”. The more I learned about the TV world the more I realised that, as a TV, I am perfectly “normal”. In a way this was quite a relief as I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd and am quite happy to be “normal”.

But there is one chapter in my story which may be of interest, and this is the way adults can unwittingly implant the concept of cross-dressing in the mind of a child. When I was in my infant school the teacher planned, rather ambitiously, to put on a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Shakespeare buffs will recall there is a play within a play put on by a group of rustics in honour of the Duke’s wedding and my class of eight year olds was to perform that part of the play. One of the rustics, Flute the bellows-mender, was cast to play the romantic heroine, Thisbe, in the playlet and I was cast to play Flute and therefore also to be Thisbe! My sister, three years older than me, had recently been a bridesmaid at the wedding of an older cousin and it was decided, by whom I don’t know, that in my sub-role as Thisbe, I was to wear my sister’s bridesmaid ‘s dress. One day she brought the dress into my class to show my teacher and I can still remember the titter which went around the class of eight year olds at the thought of me putting it on. It was a long, frilly, candyfloss affair, typical of the 1940s. In the event, the production did not go ahead (I can’t remember why) so I never did appear on stage before the public wearing the dress. However, it must have been quite shortly after that episode that I started to experiment with feminine clothes, anything I could find, whenever I was alone in the house.

Thus began sixty and more years of secrecy and fantasising about cross-dressing, ebbing and flowing as it does, but never going away. Early last year, I discovered the Beaumont Society and FXG web sites and I became desperate to be “real”. It was now or never – and I hoped it would not be never. How to tell my wife of 41 years? I spent many weeks trying to work out what to say and two days after my seventieth birthday I asked her if she knew what a transvestite was – and told her that I was one! She was utterly astonished, matched only by my astonishment, and intense relief, that she did not react adversely. She does not understand, any more than I do, why I need to dress in feminine clothes but has accepted the fact and is supportive and helpful. In gratitude for her attitude I aim to be as discreet as possible in my comings and goings and make every effort not to betray her trust.

On joining the Beaumont Society, I was able to contact the Norwich Oasis and after a preliminary meeting with Barbara and Allison, have attended all their meetings. I have greatly benefited from the support and, encouragement, advice and friendship of the Oasis girls, help and advice, on make-up from Alice and hair from Anne in Wisbech. Do I “pass”? I don’t know but I draw some comfort from the fact that, having been invited to join the Oasis Ladies Luncheon Club, which meets periodically at a local restaurant, perhaps I don’t look too ridiculous.

Am I “read”? I don’t know. Does it matter? Perhaps not. Perhaps we don’t all share with equal passion Robbie Burns’ desire for “the gift to see ourselves as others see us”. It must be said however that, from where I stand, i.e. dressed, in front of a full-length mirror, no right-minded, clear-thinking, objective observer could possibly come to any other conclusion than that I am a well-dressed, well-groomed, elegant (attractive even), woman of seventy.

AAAAAAAAAAAAH     IF ONLY – IF ONLY – IF ONLY!

Lana