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Hi girls,

This is about a website called TVChix. I am updating this post in the light of the bullying and harassment I suffered on this website, which is also the subject of a later post on this blog. My advice is avoid TVChix. I joined TVChix because so many girls at last year’s Sparkle (2012) asked me if I was on it – so I joined it – briefly – a decision which I now regret.

As I was not new to theories of gender identity and how we acquire our sense of gender – or in the case of transgendered folk like us, how things did not work out quite as society and our parents expected, I made the mistake of posting to a discussion forum on TVChix, naively thinking that the people in these forums wouold be intelligent and well-meaning individuals.

As I wrote a Masters degree dissertation at Nottingham University in 1990 under the title ‘The Aqquisition of Gender’, I thought I could offer some new perspectives, which would be welcomed. How wrong I was.

In my original research at that time I concluded that traditional feminine and masculine gender role stereotypes were mainly social constructs – ‘nurture’ rather than ‘nature’.  This was very much in line with theoretical thinking at the time, which had possibly been influenced by feminist writers of the 1960s and 1970s.

I have since revised my views in the light of some more recent biological and medical research which has suggested that gender (rather than biological sex) is partly programmed i[i]n utero[/i], and that things can go wrong with this, so that the baby is born with a sense of gender which does not conform to biological or genetic sex.  (That’s us, girls!)

I discussed some of this a while back on this weblog.

These posts are probably the most relevant:

How can we help people understand transgender individuals?

Why did I want to be a girl? Gender Identity and Transgenderism

How did it start? When did I first realise I wanted to be a girl?

Gender Identity as a continuum, terms ‘Transvesite’, Crossdresser’, ‘Transgender’, ‘Transsexual’

I am not keen on the divisions into sub-groups within the transgender community, (for example TV/CD, TG, T-Girl, TS) and I am disappointed that members of one or two of these sub-groups appear to think they are ‘superior’ in some way or more ‘the real thing’ than others. (Bella Jay wrote about this recently in her preface in the 2012 Sparkle Guide.)

These labels are artificial constructs, and at best are useful only in providing a vague indication of where an individual may think she is on the gender continuum at a certain point in her life. They also flag up to others who you are, but they mean very little. I found it disappointing that I had to pick one of these labels when joining TVChix, but my point is that what you pick is not written in stone for ever more. More than one might apply to you, and you may change your mind about which one is most appropriate. For example at present, I could have picked T-Girl, Transgender or Pre-operative Transsexual, but I am most comfortable with transgendered, as it is the most inclusive. Some people remain as self-identifying with one label all their lives, while others may move through several phases of transgenderism – get on at one point and get off at another.

That is why I am uncomfortable when, in chat rooms, members seek to ‘help’ other members by labeling them on the basis of what they themselves think, or claim to be certain of – often out of ignorance.

This has already happened to me in a TVChix chat room, when I light-heartedly asked what was the difference between a ‘T-Girl’ and ‘Trangendered’, because surely a T-Girl is by definition transgendered, as are ALL people who self-identify as TV, CD, TG or TS, – we are ALL transgendered, as is anyone who is uncomfortable to any degree about the gender role in which they find themselves, and wishes to dress or adopt the cultural and sociological characteristics and stereotypical behaviour of the so-called ‘other’ gender. This discomfort with one’s gender is sometimes called gender dysphoria, another term I don’t like.

A couple of the girls replied to the effect that these labels are all bollocks and we’re all mad anyway, which more or less sums up my own view; but one pre-operative transsexual took if upon herself to private message me to offer her ‘help’ about my ‘confusion’ regarding the terms ‘T-Girl’ and ‘Trangender’.

She seemed to think that whether or not one wanted SRS had some relevance to whether one was a ‘T-Girl’ or ‘Trangender’. In my view, it has nothing to do with it. And it is quite possible that at different times in one’s life, the answer might be ‘no’, ‘yes’, or ‘I haven’t decided’.

The presence or absence of a particular set of genitals between one’s legs has everything to do with your biological and genetic sex, but very little to do with your gender, and in seeking to live in the gender role of the ‘other’ gender, should probably be the last on the list of things you should think about changing.

Fortunately this view is starting to gain ground even in the NHS. If you are going to live in the ‘other’ gender, female hormones, FFS (Facial Feminisation Surgery), electrolysis, laser hair removal and voice coaching lessons are likely to have a much bigger impact on you success than what you’ve got ‘down below’.

It is in unwise to rush into SRS, thinking this is going to solve all your problems. If you are a huge, Neandethal-looking, hatchet-faced, lantern jawed, heavily-browed, grim looking person who never smiles (women smile more – so start by learning to smile!) – with a five o’clock shadow that comes back every three hours and you walk like a bricklayer and have a voice like Paul Robson – no one is going to think you are a woman, however much surgery you have between your legs. Sorry to say this, but let’s have a reality check!

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t dress as a woman and live as a woman if you are a very ‘big’ girl with very many obvious maculine physical characteristics – do enjoy life and go for it, be glad you’re transgendered – but don’t think that by labelling yourself ‘pre-operative transsexual’ and then getting your SRS without attending to other more obvious aspects which act as denoters of gender, you are suddenly going to convince ‘straight’ society out there that you are a woman.

Most people make up their minds about what gender you are in the first five seconds of meeting you – and it is probably the ‘Big Four’ indicators which are most important – pitch and tone of voice, facial characteristics, hair length/style, and the way you are dressed – in that order. The latter two are less important, as is clear if you’ve ever been into Vanilla, a lesbian bar in Manchester’s Gay Village, where you will see really dykey lesbians with very short cropped hair, or shaved at the sides, and wearing baggy jeans and a sweat shirt – but they are still recognisably women, because of their voice pitch and smaller facial features. (You will also see very pretty ‘femmy’ lesbians at Vanilla, so I don’t mean to generalise about lesbians in general).

At the end of the day, who cares anyway? If you feel your are a woman inside, then you are! The worse that can happen is that someone is going to recognise that you are transgendered – so what? Just be honest and smile! If you are upfront and friendly, people will accept you for who you are; they will either like you or not like you based on your personality, not on your biological gender or adopted gender.

My point is that perhaps it is better to start with some of the other practical things you can do, such as those listed above; I appreciate that these all cost money – although at present you can at least get the hormones and voice coaching on the NHS if you get accepted by a Gender clinic. (Yes, it is also still possible to get SRS on the NHS – but I wonder for how long, given the cuts?)

Anyway, as you can see, I love to write about these issues, but I’ll stop for now as I’ve probably already said more than my six penny’orth.

I love you all, whatever you label yourselves.

Take care in those six inch heels,

Love, hugs and kisses,

ambergoth (Kate Lesley)

(The above was the sort of thing I said on TVChix, for which I was attacked and harassed by trolls.)

aka Amber Goth

It is now six months since I began living living full-time as a woman.

My transition to the female gender full-time came about in early July, following this year’s Sparkle Transgender Weekend in Manchester.  It came about as a direct result of attending a presentation given by Dr. Luis Capitan, one of the facial feminisation specialist surgeons from Facial Team, based in Marbella, Spain and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I had a private consultation with Dr. Capitan (for which there was no charge, unlike some FFS specialists, who charge even for initial consultations).  Dr. Capitan was very kind and listened carefully to what I said.  I explained what I thought I needed to have done, and he did not try to sell me unnecessary procedures which I did not want, but understood that for me, the most important thing was facial feminisation itself.  It sounds obvious, but what I mean by this is that my wish was to look like a ‘normal’ woman for my age as far as possible (or maybe a bit younger!), but that I wasn’t aiming to look like a Holywood starlet or Barbie Doll.

Apparently this is what some trans women want. Whilst it may be possible if you are prepared to go to a lot of extra expense for facelifts, eyelid surgery, and God knows what else (in addition to facial feminisation surgery), I felt it was important to have realistic expectations and was delighted with my new brow and nose, as soon as I saw them!  I was actually just pleased to wake up after the surgery and not be in pain, thanks to the care I was given by Dr. Capitan, Dr. Simon and the other members of the surgical team.  And the two Patient Care Coordinators, Ana and Lilia, also looked after me very well.

As will be seen from the photos on my previous post, I had very little bruising or swelling and after only seven days I didn’t look too bad at all, and was able to go for walks along the sea front in Marbella.  In fact, the bars and restaurants on that part of the promenade, near the Princesa Playa Apartment Hotel, are used to seeing Facial Team patients swathed in bandages – so I did go out even while I still had a nose plaster and pressure bandage on!  But I have always been quite upfront and honest with folk, so when we got chatting in the nearby Italian restaurant with the proprietors, I just told them about myself and why I was in Marbella.  I went back to show them the results a few days after the surgery, and they were so lovely in saying I looked fantastic now, although I still had the stitches in my nose!

There were two other Facial Team patients at the same hotel, Paula from Holland and Josephine from France, who were very pleasant people, and we wondered about all going out together in our bandages and sitting outside one of the bars – but we thought it might be a bit unfair on the owners – as what a frightening sight we would have made for other promenaders on the front!  (So we never did it – but it was nice to have other girls who were going through the same thing to talk to.)

So, my decision to stay as Kate and not to go back to being ‘him’ last July, after Sparkle, happened because I decided definitely to go ahead with facial feminization surgery, and it seemed stupid having made that major decision not to go full-time as a woman.  I was surprised myself, and I still am a little in shock that I finally made the decision so easily, but I guess it had been coming on for years, as I had been Kate more and more, and had been taking female hormones for over five years.  I think it was something that I always knew, at some deep, sub-conscious level, was bound to happen eventually.

And it is also strange that perhaps I knew that I would have FFS at some point – see my very first post on this blog, back in 2008: https://ambergoth.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/facial-feminizing-surgery-%E2%80%93-my-first-blog-entry/

At that time I didn’t know I would be able to have FFS in Spain, and thought I would have to go to California.  I am so glad that I had it done is Spain with Facial Team, as it it was such an easy low-cost flight to Malaga airport with EasyJet, and everyone at Facial Team looked after me so well.  I did get a quote from the clinic in San Fransisco, and also from the Boston clinic, but the U.S. clinics quote ridiculous prices, and there are so many extras they charge for – and of course it is much further to go back there if anything goes wrong.  The Facial Team quote was reasonable and included free accommodation at the Princesa Playa Apartment Hotel, an offer which they do at certain times of the year.  They arranged everything for me, and took the worry out of it, as much as it is possible to do, bearing in mind it is major surgery and it is fairly natural to feel a bit afraid. But in the end, by the second week, I just felt I was on holiday, as did Rosie, my partner, who had a great time and did some good Christmas shopping in Marbella.

So – how do I feel two months after my FFS and six months after transitioning?  Well, pretty fantastic, actually.  No regrets at all, and I have found myself wondering why I thought it was such a big deal and was so worried about transitioning and having FFS.  If you are considering either, go for it girl – you won’t be sorry!   Finally becoming the woman I always knew I was inside – is great!

It is five months since I transitioned from male to female and became Kate full-time.  It is just over a month since I had my Facial Feminisation Surgery (FFS).

I have been moved by the number of people who have been supportive during and after my transition.  Strangers and acquaintances online who I have never met in the flesh have also wished me well.

To quote Blanche DuBois in A Street car Named Desire, the great play by Tennessee Williams:  ‘Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.’

Thanks to you all, for your kindness and friendship.

In fact, I am fine.  Just feeling a little bit tired and emotional, on the day that I uploaded to YouTube my most personal video to date:

http://youtu.be/0iegp8AYt0o

Here are some photos taken before and immediately after my Facial Feminisation Surgery, during the first 9 days after surgery:

Kate and Rosie

On day of surgery

On day of surgery

Three days after facial feminisation surgery

Kate three days after facial feminisation surgery

Six days after surgery

Six days after surgery

seven days after surgery

Seven days after FFS surgery

Kate 1 month after surgery

Kate one month after surgery

Today is Tuesday 8th November, so it’s six days since I had my facial feminisation surgery (FFS) last Wednesday.

We are in Marbella, Spain.

I am sitting in bed writing this; Rosie has gone out shopping for Christmas pressies round the old part of Marbella town.

Marbella is a really lovely place, now a classy resort on the southern coast of Spain, formerly an old fishing village of Andalucia, up to the 1960s. It is certainly the classiest and best resort we have ever had a holiday in; not at all what I imagine Benidorm or Ibiza are like.

We are in a lovely apartment hotel (four star), The Princesa Playa, right on the sea front, the best place we have ever stayed in, as we usually rough it. We are on the 7th floor, and have a view of both the sea and the mountains from our balcony.

The apartment is very well appointed, with electric hob, microwave, fridge, and plenty of pans and crockery and cutlery, so Rose-Marie has been able to prepare us some really nice meals with fresh produce from the local shops. We have a small supermarket just round the corner, and there are many lovely bars and restaurants within easy walking distance along the front, which is swathed with palm trees and fig trees. The weather is cool and comfortable, but still with blue skies and sea. We like it so much maybe we will come and live here! I am remembering my Spanish more every day.

There are plenty of really fresh seafood restaurants and everywhere serves tapas for a Euro or two. It is not too dear to eat out compared with Switzerland – about the same as the UK or a bit cheaper, if anything. You could certainly stay and eat here cheaply. We like Marbella so much we certainly intend to come back next Spring – I have to anyway, to complete my treatment, as they couldn’t do the lip lift at the same time as the rhinoplasty (nose job). I may also have a hair transplant so I have an even thicker head of hair at the front!

I haven’t seen my new nose yet, but it looks promising – smaller and neater, with smaller nostrils rather than the Mersey tunnel entrances I used to have. I haven’t got a big, splodgy, ugly nose any longer! I will see it properly on Friday, when the nose plaster comes off.

We are going back to see the plastic surgeon (a German guy, Dr. Kai) who did the nose job and to the hospital to see the maxillo-facial surgeons (Brazilian Dr. Daniel Simon and Spanish Dr. Luis Capitan, both of the Facial Team clinic, here in Marebella, Spain) tomorrow. I may be able to have the scalp stitches out. My forehead is a lot flatter and more feminine, and the top of my new nose just continues straight up to my forehead, without the indentation that used to be there.

My eyes are no longer so deep set, and do not now peer out from beneath a Neandethal (or at least masculine) jutting brow! My eye-brows are also higher and in a more feminine arc. It will take a few weeks, and in the case of my nose, a few months or even up to a year, for everything to settle down, but I certainly shouldn’t look too bad by Christmas.

My neck is still looking a bit bruised after the liposuction, in fact this is where the worst bruising was, after the first two or three days.

For the first 2-3 days my eye-lids swelled up and my left eye nearly closed, so I looked as if I had gone several rounds with Mohammad Ali. By Sunday the swelling started to come down, and I looked a bit more human. To begin with, because my cheeks were also puffed up, I looked a bit like the lion from the Wizard of Oz! I made a joke of this to the ladies who work for the surgeons – Lilia and Ana – who have kept in touch with us throughout by a Spanish mobile phone which they gave us when we arrived. I have been really well looked after by them, and of course Rose-Marie, my wife and life partner for 40 years, has been wonderful. She is having a nice restful holiday herself now, which she needed after the months of worry leading up to the surgery and her over-working at the shop, etc. She is also being a good girl and relaxing.

Well, that’s about it from me. I am staring to look more Dorothy, less like the Lion (another Wizard of Oz reference). I have loads of books to read on my Kindle, and I can get three English-speaking radio stations on my HTC mobile and there is BBC 1 and BBC 3 and Sky News on our two TVs, one in the bedroom, so we can watch TV in bed, and one in the living room.

We have been able to keep up with East Enders, but have no idea what has been happening in Corrie – we’ll have to wait until we get back to find out. We fly back to the UK next Saturday, 12th November, but I will be posting again, tweeting and updating my status on FB regularly from now on, so keep watching out for my updates!

We can get onto the Internet in the foyer of the hotel on the ground floor, so I will post this now here and on FB. Please let me know, all you lovely girls who follow this WordPress blog, or are are my friends on FB or Twitter, if it is of any interest! Please reply! I will messge some more about the Facial Team, but so far I have been very impressed with the high standard of care and the kindness of Lilian and Ana and the surgeons, so I would say if you are considering FFS – the Facial Team clinic in Spain should be at the top of your list of clinics to look at. I looked at three others and chose them for a number of reasons, which I will discuss more on my WordPress Transgender blog.

I’ll post again soon, hugs to you all, I love you all, especially Sarah Hardman and Alessandra Bernaroli,  who have been good friends on FB in recent weeks – thank you, Sarah nd Alessandra.

x x x Hugs, Kate Lesley (Amber Goth)