Hazel’s Story – the things trans women do
Here is my current project. She’s a 52’ Bruce Roberts Spray, she is a sad story, involving famous people, drugs and altercations. She was abandoned after having all her windows smashed, hatches opened, resulting in her being half full of water, unloved for several years. Her last owner a famous actor gave it to his son, sadly an addict.
So why did I, a trans woman, struggling to come to terms with life and all the doubts and concerns of being transgender, take her on? I asked this question of one of the staff at the London Transgender Clinic. “Simple” she said “you were both abandoned and left alone. Who better than you to sort her out!”
So that’s what I’m doing. With help I’ve spent the last 12 months pumping her out, removed 3 skips of rubbish from her, (people saw fit to dump their rubbish on her) replaced windows and hatches, and re-modelled her interior.
All the while like my boat, my family abandoned me with the exception of my children and grandchildren. I’m coming to terms with being a trans woman, getting rid of clutter, letting people around me, friends and neighbours see the person inside.
My boat one day will be beautiful. I, well I’ll do my best, I don’t expect to aspire to great beauty but I’ll be me.
We both will change our names she will be “Colne Spray”, I will be Hazel Jane Samways.
As to our ongoing journey, I plan eventually to sail her around the UK. However due to the lockdown, the work on Colne Spray has halted, but the work on Hazel is ongoing, I’ve had time to reflect, to look at who I really am, accepting I’m a trans woman, and yes, how to paint and improve her appearance. Don’t you love shopping!
I’ve written a more detailed article about “Colne Spray”, which will be entered on the JRA website (Junk Rig Association) under my proper name. I asked for this to be done as I intend to be honest with myself and others from now on.
I asked if this would be a problem, the editors replied “I think the members will be more interested how a 73 year-old person has taken on such a massive daunting project to rescue a well respected designed boat, that they will, if you are trans woman”.
Rest assured I won’t do it on my own. I’ve made too many friends on this journey. My two eldest grandchildren 12 and 13 have booked passage to do the leg through the Caledonian canal.
So girls and boys, next year or sometime soon, I’ll see you around the UK!!
Point of Information – Joshua Slocum, was the first person to circumnavigate single handed the globe in a Bruce Roberts in 1895. (The proper way not popping up to the pole and back as they do nowadays) See his book “Sailing alone around the world” Sanford’s Travel Classics.
Hazel has only visited us at Oasis a few times including one of our Christmas meals and is very friendly with Joanna, It is lovely to catch up and read her story.
Lilly’s Story (in songs)
Here is my story, Lilly’s tale, as told through the medium of my desert island disc selections. ‘DID’ can be heard on BBC Radio 4, nine o’clock each Friday morning, it’s a long running and always interesting show.
I rarely stray too far from the radio or my Spotify account. Music is the sound track of my life; here are eight records that express my feelings and my outlook on the world. I hope you this little bit of self indulgence. Mine is a happy, joyful story.
‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA – dedicated to Serena, my inspiration, my mentor, my confidant, my shopping partner in crime, my friend. Why this song? Well last year Serena, the beautiful Rachel (will you stop getting compliments please) and I went to see La Voix in Norwich. Oh what an evening, what fun; we were just three women having a wonderful time. The place was packed with a cross section of people. ‘Dancing Queen’ finished the show and everyone was up and dancing, all inhibition were well and truly gone. Serena lives in the real world and helps me do the same, she keeps me grounded. ‘Anybody could be that girl……. ‘ but this time it was we three.
‘Girls Just Want Have Fun’ by Cindy Lauper – dedicated to Dee and all the girls living full time. Dee and girls like Dee, Petra and Petra for example, walk the walk and talk the talk. Living full time is Dee’s dream and she has made that dream come true. Suffering the slings and arrows, she remains strong and determined to make her new life work. Every day during the lock down, Dee and I exchange a song for the day. This is one of her favourites; expressing how we feel and valuing what we what we are currently missing. We are certainly intend to have lots of fun when we all meet again. Oasis meetings will not be taken for granted, ever.
‘We are Family’ – Sister Sledge dedicated to Oasis. It’s two years since my first meeting, which is now such a treasured memory. I was made to feel so welcome, so special. Oasis has created a wonderful safe space where we can meet new friends and catch up with old ones. A place where we can experiment with our look, live out some of our dreams and discover we are no longer alone and oh, have a wonderful time. We are all custodians of Oasis, but I cannot give enough thanks to those who created, nurtured and developed Oasis. There are too many people to thank but nevertheless I insist on saying thank you to the brilliant Beccie, for that she has done and continues to do. Beccie always has a wonderful ability to make me smile. Thanks to all our partners, our friends, our Phyllis and Barry, our delicious Vicki, our Joanna, our Geri and Michelle (how much washing-up do you do? A thankless task). Thanks to Barbara Ross and the founding members, I’m sorry I don’t know you all but I’m thinking of Jenny, Rachel R, LTS, Carole, Alison… I’m thinking of the wonderful Lana, such an inspiration. ‘I’ve got all my Sisters with Me’, have I? Oh yes I have!
‘Rebel Girl’ – Bikini Kill dedicated to Angela, Anne (with an ‘e’) and all the girls out there, that don’t quite fit in. On our travels, I’ve been lucky to meet so many interesting and stimulating people, some Trans, some not. I guess we all know what is like to be an outsider; me, happily I did find a little home in the Punk scene. Though it may appear so, Punk wasn’t all about boys and there were also many amazing women too. Later, after Goths and Grunge, along came the Riot Girl movement and some brilliant girl bands. I choose this track simply because A & A will like it. Girls can’t play guitars. Oh I beg to differ!
‘Shame’ Evelyn Champagne King dedicated to all Trans Girls everywhere. Einstein said that he had stood on the shoulders of giants, one of whom was the brilliant female mathematician Emmy Nether, who helped him construct the mathematics required to express the 4D universe necessary for the theory of relativity. We Trans women are also using the shoulders of giants, those who have pushed back the boundaries that allow us the freedom to express ourselves in relative safely, here in the UK. Thank you to our predecessors, those brave Trans activists, those who have risked their health and their personal safety fighting for our rights. We in our turn, we must try to make this a better world for those who follow us. Small steps, little acts of kindness, and a generosity of spirit. ‘Shame’ is one of the greatest dance recolds ever, let’s dance around our handbags ladies.
‘This is Love’ – P.J. Harvey dedicated to all the women in the media who are helping us to get us through this current crisis. My favourite is Lauren Lavern, who presents on BBC Radio 6 and more recently Desert Island Discs. Lauren’s infectious enthusiasm for life shines through and always puts a smile on my face. I think of the wonderful pioneering DJ, Anne Nightingale. When Anne started in the 60’s, the male DJ’s made her life very difficult; she was subjected to a great deal of sexist abuse and belittling behaviour. Anne is strong, and she is still pushing back musical boundaries 50 years later. If you don’t know P.J. Harvey, she is a brilliant song writer, poet and musician. I love this song, I absolutely love Polly Harvey.
‘I’m every women’ by Chaka Khan, dedicated to the Feminist cause, dedicated to The UEA’s Feminist Book Club, dedicated to Women’s Hour, dedicated to all the female scientists, astromeners, mathematics, physicist, artists and authors written out of history. History is written by the winning side, it is certainly written by men! Take the case of Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Jocelyn discovered radio pulsars in 1967 but later when the Nobel Prize was awarded for this discovery, she was not included as a recipient, instead the prize was awarded to three men. The western world is slowly changing but if you have any doubts there is a long way to go, look up Laura Bates’ Every Day Sexism Project. The world needs to change for every woman, equal but different.
‘Like a Prayer’ by Madonna dedicated to all members of the LQBTQI+ community. We are a community, though some times not always in complete harmony. On my way to my first Norwich Pride, on the radio I heard a story of a gay man, and how Madonna and her songs, helped him through the sadness and isolation he felt growing up. Later as we paraded through the streets, I found myself walking with and talking to, a young gay man in a Madonna T-shirt. I wonder if he was the same boy?
I hope you have enjoyed my little selection. If you would like, please send me your choices. Stay safe, lots of love to you and your families.
I was amazed to find the first record I ever bought with my own money. No not ‘We’ll Meet Again’ but, from WH Smiths in Margate High Street, sometime in 1972.
My family shared a three-storey, Victorian, terraced house in North London with my maternal grandmother. The first items of clothing I tried on were stockings and suspenders. My Nan always called her suspenders her “stays” and my mother referred to hers as her “belt.”
In later life I attended some dog training classes and in answer to my question, the trainer said that if an animal stole food, they would always be a food thief as the rewards was too great. That was how I felt in female clothing- the reward was huge.
To this day, I can shut my eyes and be transported back to those times when I was ten and recall the sights, sounds and smells. The reward was so great that I can have instant recall to this day.
As time passed I continued to flirt with female clothing and wanted a female form. I never felt that I was trapped inside the wrong body, just that I would have preferred to be female. This seemed especially strong when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I was married at eighteen and divorced at thirty-six.
I continued to cross dress on and off throughout this married period of my life, mainly by wearing female underclothes. So, I would present as a professional person in a suit and tie, but only I knew what was underneath.
After I separated from my wife, whilst staying in the marital home with both children, the urge to dress completely as a female was very strong. I could not wait to get home from work on a Friday night, when the children would be absent visiting their mother over the weekend, in order that I could become female and under cover of darkness would often go out. I would drive to a secluded location taking my dog with me, and use her as a pretext for a walk. I suspect neighbours knew I was behaving oddly but they never challenged me over my behaviour.
When I was forty I met someone and got married again. During the years we were together I kept my feminine side largely suppressed, without a lot of pain.
Following the breakdown of that marriage I re-located to my current address and the old desire grew strong again. I was cross dressing in the seclusion of my home until a neighbour called unexpectedly one day. I put a bath robe on but in my haste, forgot about the earrings! From then on I was “out” and leading a largely female life.
I consulted with my GP on what was happening to me to try and understand why. He recommended some counselling which was not particularly helpful but that led me to Gender Agenda and Oasis.
I had a long telephone consultation with the former and became a fairly regular attendee at Oasis gatherings.
In 2017 I told both my children of my circumstance. My daughter, who I had not been close to for nearly thirty years was upset and has taken time to adapt. My son accepted things but made the request that when we met, I be in “Dad clothes.” I accepted that but soon learnt it was a mistake and advised him I could not continue on that basis. He has accepted that and I am very relieved.
In the meantime, I had seen my GP again, by which time I was living virtually full time as a female and he referred me to the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) at Charing Cross Hospital (CX), where I was accepted as a patient. However, the lead time for appointments was eighteen months plus.
Knowing that time was not on my side I looked on line at the consultants in the GIC. I selected one and following an internet search discovered she had a private practice. I made an appointment and have seen her three times. She diagnosed Gender Dysphoria and put me in touch with a voice coach and endocrinologist, as well as dispensing some sound advice and guidance.
The voice coach only required a single consultation but a lot of exercises and practice. I am now overdue a follow up appointment with the endocrinologist, due to Covid-19, but have been taking female hormones for about eight months.
My first ex has learned of my cross dressing in the last few years, our children advising her after I “came out” to them. However, I don’t think the second ex knows and she now lives on the Isle of Mann so is unlikely to find out. I am not bothered about who knows. I take the view that if I was concerned, I probably should not have done it in the first place.
I have been asked if have any regrets and the answer is “Yes, I do.” But that is only because I have wasted years and should have publicly acknowledged my dysphoria years ago.
Covid-19 and me
Since the lockdown, which now seems such a long time ago, I have been on furlough as I work in a coffee shop. During this time, I have found it surprising easy to adopt new routines. It’s good for the soul to eat fresh baking bread (though sourcing ingredients are difficult). Cooking the family meals, different styles whether they like it or not, whiles away my time. Also my girls clothing has all been sorted, some destined for the charity shop or more likely the bin (knowing my style). My shoes all cleaned and sorted out in to different styles.
Oasis and me
I have been a member for 11 years and it has given me pleasure and pain. Happy times are sorting out my outfit for the evening and arranging the catering. Bad times are sometimes feeling totally out of place. I have always struggled with talking with people, I know, in large or small groups. So sometimes going to Oasis or related events can fill me with dread. However, I cope by finding things to do, cooking or outside for a cigarette. But, hey we all have a cross to bear! On the plus side I have meet some lovely people at Oasis, truly warm-hearted and gorgeous looking.
Dressing and me
I love dressing. It took me a long while to get a style and make up that I felt happy about. It’s probably a bit of the “drag” in me, that makes me want to stick out! Dressing for me is always a light at the end of the tunnel, when I am down and hating myself, dressing always makes me happy to be alive. Not really concerned with trying to pass only concerned with looking like a very stylish bloke in a dress! I feel, we as trans bods, bring a bit of colour to a somewhat dreary world!
Shoes and me
Why do I love my shoes so much? Why do I find a reason to buy yet another pair of black high heeled shiny shoes, that are so impractical to wander around in? Well because, of course, it makes me so happy.
Been friends with her for 9 years, it took 2 years before she realised that I could cook. Oasis you are welcome! Do so admire her for her tireless efforts at Oasis and here God given ability to talk to anyone at great lengths. She has another great skill of totally believing in her ability to be mistaken for a real life woman any time she walks out her door dressed. I love her for that! I totally love Beccie’s wife, Annie for putting up with her, and still loving each other. Thank you both for being my friend x
The future and me
Looking so forward to doing some my favourite things …
Shopping, drinking coffee at Costa and wearing totally inappropriate clothes.
And of course going back to work … Sort off!
Be safe everybody
all my love. Vicky x
Phyllis and Oasis
Following on from Denise’s story, Phyllis a great supporter of Oasis wanted to tell us her story.
I remember the first time we were introduced to Denise.
John phoned us to say he needed to have a chat . We were a bit worried as he sounded upset. When he came in he showed us a photo. We knew he never had a sister so we were puzzled. He then told us It was a photo of him as Denise.
He was worried that it may have made a difference to our friendship. Barry (Phyllis’s husband) had known him for a number of years. Barry being a police officer and John being in security.
I have to admit it was a bit of a shock. We had a long chat and we told him he was still the same to us whether he was Denise or John.
Then we became involved with Oasis.
The club were having a 40’s evening and John asked if we would help. We didn’t hesitate before saying yes. Just before the 40’s evening he asked if Denise could visit us. I am ashamed to say we were very nervous about the first meeting and regrettably said we weren’t ready to meet her.
On the night we went round to John’s house to prepare to leave. We sat outside and I was so nervous about going in. When we entered the house Denise stood there in all her glory and she looked really good.
We made our way over to Oasis. We have never looked back. We really enjoyed the evening and have been attending ever since. They are all a great crowd of people and we always enjoy their company.
Roll on when we can all get back together again. It will be a night of celebration.
Phyllis and Barry
Who am I, the person within?
I was born and no one noticed the person within.
My will was not strong enough to break out I was a passenger with no name, the person within.
Time passed and I still looked out at this outer persons world and the games he played with his friends. I wanted to play Cindy dolls with his friends sisters. But they didn’t see me the person within.
The world turned and time moved on. I wanted pretty clothes and my will got a little stronger! I could push my way out temporarily from this Male cocoon and wear female relatives clothes forcing confusion on the outer shell, who didn’t understand the situation anymore than I did because I was still the person within.
I had no name the person within. But through my windows to the world I saw a little girl who lived a few doors up. A sister of the outer shells friend. Her name was Denise! And I thought it such a pretty name that I would become Denise within.
Confusion reigned as my will got stronger little by little and I could exist for short periods of time outside of the Male. But my world remained hidden to the outside world. Still Denise within.
As we grew older I found I could exert my will and command the outer person to buy me clothes but confusion continued and I still remained Denise within.
Societies expectations, girlfriends, wives and children would diminish my will. I would watch helplessly as my cocoon destroyed my things! I was imprisoned forever. Denise within.
Trapped inside I thought I must be the only person in the world who is trapped within, surely now there would be no escape for Denise within.
As time went on three things would change my inner world for ever! The internet, Barbara Ross OBE and Oasis.
I was no longer the only person within! I could emerge and talk with other people like me and have real friends for the first time.
Confusion would still abound, but for the first time I could find a happy life balance with the outer person. He and I could exist together. Like sharing a car and taking turns to do the driving!
A fellow emerging person once told me I was her inspiration! I’m really not sure how? But if these words help inspire others then I’m glad that I am Denise that’s out and the journey has been a struggle but it was worth every step!