Trip to Bristol

For the last few months I have been sat on tenterhooks wondering what would happen. I have not been the biggest fan of the psychological referral process of transition as to me it feels like I have to validate myself and my existence. The closest analogy I can think of is end of year exams which are make or break. As I need to transition I have jumped through the required hoops.

This week I attended a referral consultation for my second referral for reassignment surgery. So off I went to Bristol to jump through more hoops. As usual I am early and end up sitting in the waiting room with some guy ranting about an alien invasion from Mars that is happening and nobody does anything about. It is at this point I want to get the hell out of there. Instead I absorb my attention into a game on my phone.

The appointment itself was the usual questions and double checking the case notes. The guy is kind enough not to press for details as he had actually bothered to read the notes. Thirty minutes later he told me the hoop jumping is over and my surgeries should be in 6-9 months time. Three months of that I am busy with various Pride activities across the south west of England so that time is going to shoot by.

With top surgery I was able to leave my past self in the past. Now I can finally start thinking of my future self as I can see a light at the end of the tunnel where I can truly be me. It does not change the fact being transgender, whatever aspect of that umbrella, is still treated as a mental health problem. Sure it causes mental health problems by the bucket load, but in itself being transgender is not a mental health issue and should not be seen as such.

 

 

 

© JG Farmer 2016

The Operation

The Operation

 

Taken from my incoherent rambling of a diary for Monday 28 September 2015

To be honest I don’t remember that much. It was still dark when my friend and I left for the hospital and the roads were peaceful. Just as well as we were both tired from the previous night.

 

On arrival I booked in and was taken to my room for the next 24 hours or so. A flurry of people came in and told me stuff, can I remember any of it – not a thing. I ordered food for later in the day, undoubtedly vegetarian as I don’t eat meat that much and probably a bucket of coffee. No coffee since the day before and I know me well enough to know I would have been as edgy as a cat on a hot roof. We were told, so my friend tells me, I was going to theatre for 9.30am but didn’t go until 12. I was back by 2:30pm judging by his post on Facebook.

 

I must have dozed off as they woke me up to give me the anaesthetic, after that the next thing I know was talking to my mate and it was all done. I felt like I had been hit by a wrecking ball but was too groggy to make much sense of anything. The night was one of interrupted sleep as the nurse had to do regular obs on my sugars as I am a diabetic and some painkillers when needed.

 

The procedure can be found here http://transurgery.com/chest-reconstruction/double-incision-technique

 

Mr Yelland, the surgeon, made the cool dude list on Tuesday morning when he came in to sign me out. His tie was superb. Anyone who knows me will know, that means I was back to my normal self even though I physically felt like I had been demolished. So it was home for a week of rest and healing before the post op appointment.

Omens and Eclipses

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Written at some point on the night of 27 September 2015

Travelling down to Hastings was event free, the conversation easy and nicely distracting from what was going to happen the next day. We stopped at Cobham Services for coffee and sinful donuts. Donuts are a very rare treat for me so they always taste awesome.

It was getting dark by the time we were driving through Kent to East Sussex with the aroma of hops teasing our noses. I had forgotten the utter deliciousness of that. I must have drifted into my memories a bit, as the next thing I know was a glorious reflection of the full moon shimmering on the English Channel and we were nearing the end of the journey.

My friend dropped me off with the friend I was staying with. Again easy conversation and a chilled out atmosphere and I am too calm, I know I am too calm. Tomorrow I am having surgery and I’m not even feeling a slight sense of nervousness, just an amazing sense of calm that life is beginning to go the way it should be.

We watched the lunar eclipse. Light pollution in Hastings is so much less than in Swindon. The darkness of the sky made so many more stars visible and the colour of the moon was a deep blood red. A truly blood moon and prophetic to a Pagan like me. Blood moons are omens of an end and a change in life. I wasn’t going to watch it as I knew it would set my mind into thinking.

Thinking, oh yes, the thoughts started coming thick and fast. Back in bed for another nap before leaving for the hospital – sleep wasn’t going to happen quickly. So I let the thoughts come. Not once was it ‘am I making a mistake’. I never have had that thinking really. I have known my male identity too long to think it is a mistake or doubt myself on it.

Omens are not all doom and gloom and, when you think about it, what does the end mean. It just means something stops. The pretence of being content in a female body has come to end. For a new beginning, something must end and for the man I know to exist that pretence must end and tomorrow it ends, there is no going back.
©JG Farmer 2015

Hey Boss, I’m a Dude

 

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Another issue that can be problematic for the Trans person is work life. How does living out impact on work and working relationships.

As a self-employed person it could be said I never had to come out at work and yes that is somewhat true as I have never had to go through the anxiety of telling my boss or work mates. However I do have an agent, a publisher and people who read my work. Being openly gay as a writer was in fact more of a hindrance and it certainly did not make the process a palatable one.

My agent was none too happy to say the least as he had focused on the ‘lesbian writer’ label. Not something I ever wanted as I feel sexuality, gender and what we do to make a living are all separate things and he knew this. This was my first real encounter with another member of the LGBT being bigoted towards transgender. Needless to say I found another agent who is open-minded and supportive. He is not perfect but then nobody is.

This, of course, highlights another issue – that of bigotry within the LGBT community and also that between the different aspects of transgenderism. Oddly enough that is not covered in the project so I have added it to the list as I think it should be.

My publisher has been wonderful. However she had already read me as Trans when we first met but never said anything. I totally admire her for that as it shows such a good attitude to other human beings. My agent at the time really could not accept my publisher was not backing his argument.

The argument being I would lose readers who were anti transgender. Seriously I have gained more readers than I have lost but a few voiced their opinions of disgust before swearing never to buy my work or read it again. As many of my writings are on the subject of bigotry and human equality it should have surprised me. However, it came as no surprise that some could be that hypocritical demanding for their own rights but willing to deny others theirs. That has been happening since humans started to fight for their rights – some people will give lip-service and say they believe in equal rights but they still need someone to hate on. We see it all the time in the news – if it is not one social group being victimised by the media then it is another and pretty much it is what they think will sell a story. The fact inciting hate can sell a news story is concerning, very concerning. As a journalist myself I would not want to write to feed that animalistic behaviour and refuse to do so. It may cost me the more lucrative opportunities but I would never fail my own principles and stoop that low.

Love and light

Jez

I Don’t Think I am Man Enough

I Don't Think I Am Man Enoug

 

This is the first in a short series of writes on some of the emotional and/or psychological issues that can face a transgender person. As this is a personal blog I can only write from my own experiences so have left stuff I have not had to deal with until a later date if ever.

Finding a Partner.

Why this is the first issue I do not know but it is so I will go with it. There is someone out there who has heard me say the words I have chosen for the title of this piece, not once but several times. Their answer is I am more than man enough so I cannot and do not argue with that.

If I look back over life before transition I have had a few relationships and all but one of them would not have worked out as I was not connecting fully with the people involved as a significant part of me was deeply buried within my psyche. I regret the fact I have hurt people because I could not be myself, but equally they would not have been part of my life if I had been. I am in no doubt those I did get involved with took what they wanted from me so I do not feel guilt or shame about it anymore. The end of love hurts and we move on.

So what good does looking back actually do? It tells me what I do not want in a partner. In the past I subconsciously or consciously sought out people who did not push too deep into me or try to invade my space. I did not look for someone who wanted me as I did not want me. Love with that sense of self-perspective is somewhat lacking at best. To know love, to give it and receive it one must first love self and I did not love myself, quite the opposite. I am not saying I did not love the people I was with in the past, I did in my own way, the only way I could but it was not enough because I was not man enough to accept myself and value myself.

Now I accept myself for whom and what I am. The fear of rejection is always a problem not just for transgender, but being transgender makes that fear all the more acute. The person I mentioned earlier knows and has known from the beginning of my Trans status and just where I am at in my transitional journey. I am accepted for whom I am and although I still doubt myself at times I know I am man enough.

 

Love and light

Jez

That Question!

From The Guardian

 

It seems a lot of people want to know how FtM make out in the bedroom. It is wonderful to have such privacy even your sex life comes under scrutiny and really what goes on is between the Transguy and whoever he is making out with. How would a cisgendered person feel if they were asked within minutes of meeting someone how they do it? Folks, just don’t ask ok it really is not a good idea.

However my editor asked me to cover the subject of the FtM and Sex and writing that article has left me thinking. From the questions I was asked to answer one thing is standing out as vital. It is something that is vital in any relationship too. It is the act of communication. Talking about the issues we face with those we are close to is vital and more so when it comes to sex. Intimate conversation has to be tackled carefully as even using female terms can trigger dysphoria.

By choice I have refrained from intimacy since my transition began. In the beginning I was very aware of what I see as my short-comings and how they can cause upset with a partner. I was also very aware how transition could send my sexuality and awareness of it into disarray. It didn’t mean my sex drive died, I still got horny with nothing I could do about it. Even a hand-job doesn’t work when you reach down to grab your dick and there’s nothing there. I don’t regret that choice. I needed the time out to sort me out and adjust to living as me.

There are other options available and it isn’t rocket science to work them out so I am not going to go into detail. I’ve always been the top or giver in a relationship for a reason beyond the kink of doing that there is the ability to keep to a minimum the bits I don’t want touched from being touched. Keeping my chest covered in a t shirt or binder made it more comfortable to relax. How a binder can make anything more comfortable is bizarre but it does. In essence I got my kicks in other ways.

The answer to that question then ‘how do we do it?’ – just like anyone else to the mutual satisfaction of all involved. I said I was not going to do details and I am not if someone is that bothered may I suggest they take a trip to a sex shop and look around – some of the answers are there.

 

Love and light

Jez

I am Human

lgbt-rights

 

Anyone who knows me will know I am a huge supporter of the NHS, without it most people in the UK would be screwed. However, this will not stop me kicking up a veritable stink if they get it wrong – and this time they have got it wrong, very wrong.

As a citizen of the UK I have the legal right to change my name and title. As it happens I obviously want to change my name to a male one and I have done. I have also changed my title to that of Mr. and that is my legal right to do so. No organisation has the right to refuse me that not even the NHS.

I informed my doctor, and to be fair she totally and absolutely supports me, my gripe is not with her in anyway. My issue is with the practice pen-pushers who call themselves management. At best I call them uneducated in matters of law, more likely discriminating bastards. They refuse point blank to change my records without a gender recognition certificate – which they are not allowed by law to ask for. By law they have to change my name on the records and accept I am now Mr. Simple as that – it is not rocket science. They still refused.

I have now obtained, in addition to a deed poll which is a legal document, a statutory declaration that my name change is permanent. This was done at my own expense as it matters a great deal to me. Okay that is not a huge amount of money but nonetheless it is inconvenient. This document has been presented to the practice. They still refused to amend their records.

So here is the legalities under the Equality and Human Rights Act.

 

Specific processes for certain agencies

 

Some organisations have specific procedures for processing name changes relating to gender transition. These procedures have often been in place for 30-40 years and are not negatively affected in any way by the Gender Recognition Act.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will alter your name on their records and will issue a new plastic National Insurance Number Card with that name on it. They don’t alter anyone’s National Insurance number under any circumstances. There is no gender indication within the number and therefore no point to do so. A change of name on its’ own does not alter the rest of your national insurance / tax computer records, as you will remain a member of your birth gender until such time as you successfully apply for legal recognition. The Gender Recognition process issues instructions to the DWP and Inland Revenue to make appropriate changes at that time.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will change their records of your name and issue you with an updated driving license on written request. In this case the procedure, which has been used successfully for many years, includes the issue of an amended driver number. Your driver number includes a gender marker. This is updated to show your new social gender so that anyone inspecting your driving license will see a code that concurs with your name and the way you present.

The process with passports has changed slightly over recent years because of a greater need to prevent fraud. However, the policy of the Passport Agency has always been to facilitate issue of a replacement passport when the applicant has changed their name and social gender role, backed by a letter from a medical professional to confirm that the change is for gender reassignment and intended to be permanent. As the process for any change of photo and details involves an interview it is best to enquire with your local passport office about what you should do and the evidence you need to supply.

Processes like these were in place before the Gender Recognition Act and remain unaltered by the introduction of the formal legal recognition process.

Other organisations such as employers, educational establishments, registration bodies, your local NHS GP, hospitals, utility companies, and service suppliers such as banks should likewise be prepared to change your details on request. Some may request evidence in the form of a statutory declaration of your name change, but that is all.

 

Gender Recognition Certificates

Some organisations may mistakenly believe that they are not supposed to change their records to show your new name and appropriate title (Mr, Miss, etc..) until you have obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate. This is incorrect and in most cases would constitute discrimination.

Furthermore, nobody is entitled to see or record the details of a Gender Recognition Certificate if you have one. If someone requires proof of your legal gender then you could show them your birth certificate.

The Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) exists only for the Gender Recognition Panel to instruct the Registrar of Births to make a new entry in their register, from which a birth certificate can be drawn. The document states clearly that it has no other purpose. Recording sight of a GRC would automatically lead to a breach of Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act, since sight of the record by any other person would constitute an unlawful disclosure of protected information. Officials should therefore be gently advised against making up rules involving GRCs.

 

There you have it in black and white. I am now sending a copy of this act with yet another copy of my documentation to the practice management and also a letter from my lawyer informing them they are breaching my rights, and unless they change my records at once there will be legal proceedings taken against the individuals causing the issue. As I said I have no gripe with my doctor nor should I she is just as unimpressed with this as I am.

No one should be made to feel less for being who they are. Here in the UK we are protected by law from discrimination like this and I will not hesitate to use it. I face enough prejudice every day from walking down the street and I deal with that. I will not put up with it when I do not have to.

Thank you so much for being there to all who read, follow and/or comment. Your support is very precious to me and I love you all dearly

Love and light

Jez