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Re: Discrimination by RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) against transgender woman

http://www.causes.com/campaigns/96412-end-discrimination-at-the-rnli-against-transgender-people

I have been fighting for justice and for the truth to come out since June of this year, but the RNLI has not responded appropriately or effectively addressed the discrimination I have suffered. Instead they have whitewashed the individuals concerned at the local RNLI Station and chosen to believe their lies and misrepresentations. This despite the fact that the RNLI claims to be a ‘Stonewall Diversity Champion’.

Here again is a summary of what happened:

  • In April 2015, Trevor Griffiths, the Chair of the Local Management Committee at the RNLI Burry Port Lifeboat Station (which is near Llanelli, South-West Wales) informed my wife they were ‘desperate for help with their educational work’.  As I am a retired teacher and I had also been a National Trust Tours and Talks Guide for seven years at Hardwick Hall, North Derbyshire, I was well qualified and had relevant experience, so I was encouraged to put in an application to volunteer with the RNLI Burry Port Station as a ‘Lifeboat Visits Team Member’.
  • On 18th May 2015 we were invited to attend a meeting at the Burry Port Lifeboat Station, where we completed application forms and talked about our experience and qualifications and how we hoped to be able to help the RNLI with their educational work locally.  We were introduced as ‘Kate and Jane’, a married couple, and they did not seem to have any problems that we were both women and married to each other, or that one of us was a trans woman.  Trevor Griffiths has confirmed that he knew that I was a transgender person at this stage, though it wasn’t discussed.
  • A few days later, for training purposes, we were asked to attend a talk at the Lifeboat Station given by Mal, a member of the Shore Crew.  The talk was to a group of local nursery children and their parents. During this talk, Mal made a joke at my expense while referring to an RNLI dummy dressed in full RNLI gear.  Although I was not standing very near the dummy and there was no reason to refer to me at all, he pretended he thought it was necessary to distinguish between myself and the dummy, saying that he was referring to the dummy and not to ‘this gentleman’. This apparent ‘mistake’ about my gender was in spite of the fact that he had been previously introduced to me as ‘Kate’, the partner of Jane, and as I have shoulder-length blonde hair and have also had extensive facial feminisation surgery – I do not look much like a man.  You will appreciate that his behaviour was very insensitive and embarrassing for me.  Burry Port is a small place, and we live just round the corner from the nursery from which the visitors had come.  During the later course of his talk, when he had paused for a moment, I waved him over and said quietly to him, ‘not gentleman – lady.’ After the talk Jane and I went straight home, as we did not feel it would be productive or helpful to discuss the incident further with him at that time.
  • We felt that the best way to deal with it was to invite Trevor Griffiths to our home so we could discuss what had happened.  Our intention was to talk about it in a friendly, low-key way so as to help them avoid this sort of mistake in the future. Roger Bowen, the L.O.M. (Local Operations Manager) at RNLI Burry Port, invited himself to this meeting.
  • During this first meeting in our own home, Roger Bowen said that Mal realised he had ‘dropped a bollock’ (to use Mr. Bowen’s words). However, Roger Bowen seemed more concerned to let us know that Mal was ‘hurt’ that we had the temerity to bring this up. He did not seem at all bothered about the embarrassment which had been caused to me.
  • Roger Bowen said that before I started as a volunteer, he wanted to get all 21 crew members and ancillary volunteers together and make an announcement to them that a transgender person would be starting as a volunteer. (Some weeks later, this friendly and positive meeting in our own home was untruthfully misrepresented as being ‘highly reactive’ and given as the reason for my rejection as a volunteer.  The formal rejection was in a letter from Heidi Allen, the so-called ‘People and Transformation Director’ at RNLI headquarters.
  • A couple of days after the meeting, I had second thoughts about the ‘general announcement’ that Roger Bowen wanted to make regarding my transgender status. I suggested that if he wanted to talk privately to anyone who he felt might be prejudiced or unsure about a transgender person starting as a volunteer, that would be okay with me, but that I would prefer otherwise to talk to people myself about being transgender, if I felt the need or I thought it would be helpful.
  • This seemed to be accepted by Trevor Griffiths and Roger Bowen, and so we anticipated that we would be hearing shortly from them about starting as volunteers.
  • A few days later I received an email from Trevor Griffiths, asking for another meeting.
  • Again, Roger Bowen invited himself to this meeting.  They announced that they were rejecting my volunteer application and didn’t even want me to start as a volunteer. The reason given was that, and I quote the exact words used: “the ‘culture’ of the Burry Port Station is too ‘macho’ to have a transgender person working there as a volunteer’.  They said there would be too much gossip.  I said I didn’t mind what people said behind my back, as long as I wasn’t abused to my face.  I mentioned my experience dealing with the public at the National Trust and that I’d had no problems with other volunteers or with staff or visitors at the National Trust property where I had been a Tours & Talks Guide and a Room Guide for seven years.  I pointed out that over three years of my time with the National Trust were after I had transitioned, and I had been fully accepted in my female role and it had not cause any problems. It made no difference.
  • Bowen and Mr. Griffiths were not open to further discussion about my rejection as a volunteer.  They just rudely marched out of our house, after dropping this on us.
  • We were both devastated and couldn’t believe what had happened. The same evening as the meeting, I sent several increasingly desperate SMS texts and then a long email to Trevor Griffiths, copied to Roger Bowen, imploring them to reconsider and pointing out that rejecting me because I was transgender was unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 and that if they didn’t reconsider, I would consider reporting them to the police and the EHRC. (I had no intention at this stage of doing so, because I hoped they would be open to reason.)
  • I received a single short text back from Trevor Griffiths, saying that they thought they had ‘handled the issue as delicately as they could’.
  • After that, I was informed that Trevor Griffiths had gone on holiday for three weeks (although it was over seven weeks before we received any further communication from him).
  • I felt absolutely gutted, and Jane was on the edge of tears for a couple of weeks after this.
  • I knew I needed help in dealing with this situation, so I searched online for ‘LGBT support Llanelli’.  A site called ‘Spotted Llanelli’ came up.  I put the following post on it: ‘I am a transgender person who has just – this afternoon – experienced discrimination and prejudice against me in Burry Port, from the RNLI station, because I am transgender. Are there any trans groups locally who can help or at least give me a shoulder to cry on?’
  • No one contacted me from RNLI headquarters or locally until I made this very mild post (above) on the ‘Spotted Llanelli’ website, after which I was telephoned by Sue Kingswood, so-called ‘Inclusion Officer’ of the RNLI.
  • She said she would not have known about the situation if I had not made that post, and thanked me for drawing it to her attention. She was glad that I had done so.  NOTHING would have happened otherwise.
  • Sue Kingswood and Matt Crofts (Regional RNLI Officer) came to visit us the following week.  They promised us they would deal appropriately with the discrimination I had suffered.
  • They DID NOT deal with the discrimination properly and my rejection still stands.
  • I had to wait seven weeks to get any sort of communication from Trevor Griffiths, Chair of the Local Management Group, which still did not address properly the issues I have raised.
  • All I have so far received from Roger Bowen, the Local Operations Manager at RNLI Burry Port, is a contemptuous and dismissive one-line letter referring to the original incident with Mal, but in no way addressing the substantive issue of my discrimination complaint or acknowledging what was said by Mr Bowen in the two meetings in our home.
  • From the above, it will be clear that I DID try to go through the proper channels in the way I dealt with this.  (The RNLI’s Legal Counsel argues that this was not the case, and that because I felt eventually I had no choice but to ‘go public’ by posting on social media about it, this disqualifies me from being treated properly or being offered any sort of resolution acceptable to myself and my wife, because my posts ‘upset’ the local people concerned.
  • It is the RNLI that did not deal with my complaint properly, or in a timely way, and the situation escalated due to the incompetence and intransigence of both the local RNLI personnel in Burry Port and at RNLI Headquarters level.
  • I understand from the most recent correspondence with their Legal Counsel that the RNLI are still not going to deal appropriately and effectively with the prejudice and discrimination I suffered, or withdraw my rejection as a volunteer.
  • They continue to maintain that they believe the lies and misrepresentations of the two individuals concerned at the local RNLI Station, while giving no credence to our account of what happened.
  • The two people have been allowed to remain in post.
  • I have asked the Legal Counsel of the RNLI, Duncan Macpherson, if they could appoint someone from within the RNLI or from an outside agency who is transgender or LGBT, or at least someone who might be more impartial, to liaise with me in order to help achieve a resolution acceptable to both sides. They have refused. I assume from their reply that they have been unable to find anyone who is either trans or LGBT within the RNLI, and can’t be bothered to contact an outside agency.
  • I have therefore requested statistics from the RNLI on the following:
  1. How many RNLI salaried staff and RNLI volunteers are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender;
  2. How many RNLI salaried staff and RNLI volunteers are from ethnic or racial minorities;
  3. How many RNLI salaried staff and RNLI volunteers are from religions other than Christian or of no religion (they must surely have at least this information in relation to lifeboat crews who risk their lives, as they would need to know their religion in the case of death or mortal injury).
  4.  How many RNLI salaried staff and RNLI volunteers are registered disabled.

I am not very sanguine that any such statistics from the RNLI will be forthcoming or that they have even collected such information (as local authorities commonly do), but I can but try.

The RNLI Burry Port Station is not unusual.  The RNLI as a whole is a very white, very ‘traditionally gendered’, very heterosexual organisation with very few women (whether trans or not) in active roles as Shore Crew or Lifeboat Crew. In fact I was initially only applying to be an Education Volunteer, for which I was well qualified, but my rejection as Shore Crew was equally emphatic. In the case of the local Burry Port Station – the RNLI is also very Welsh – run and managed by just four local Welsh families, who run it as their personal fiefdom and each occupy 2-3 roles at RNLI Burry Port. This ‘closed-shop’ situation is by no means unusual in RNLI Lifeboat Stations in Wales, or more remote stations in England and Scotland.  (Sue Kingswood, RNLI Inclusion Advisor, has admitted this to us.) The RNLI needs radical reform.  It needs to be pushed to join the 21st century and accept and welcome the diversity of modern society in the U.K.

I can’t do this all on my own.

It is HIGH TIME the RNLI started to implement their own Inclusiveness Programme, and earn the right to be ‘Stonewall Diversity Champions’, which they claim to be.

Please, please, HELP by signing our online petition:

http://www.causes.com/campaigns/96412-end-discrimination-at-the-rnli-against-transgender-people

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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.)

Olivia Foster, a lesbian who wrote a paper on transgender and homosexual individuals for her English class,  recently commented how transgender and homosexual individuals are socially isolated from society. She asked: ‘How do you think we could help people understand transgender individuals? I really want an inside opinion! Thank you so much!’

This was my reply, which I am repeating here as a separate posting:

I think the first thing is that we all need to support and be tolerant of each other in the LGBT community. If we can’t be tolerant of each other, when we are ‘differently gendered’ or ‘differently sexually orientated’ from the so-called ‘norm’, how can we expect so-called ‘normal’ or ‘straight’ people to be tolerant and understanding of us?

As I said in my last blog post, I love lesbians and gay men, and I love socialising with my sisters and brothers in the ‘Gay Village’ in Manchester.

Unfortunately I have come across people, mainly in the trans community, who, in spite of their own transgenderism, appear to have a bi-polar approach to gender, and want to self identify as either a ‘transvestite/crossdresser’, just ‘a bloke in a frock but there’s nowt queer about me’ at one end of the TG spectrum – and what I might call ‘fundamentalist’ transsexuals at the other end, who regard themselves as in some way superior, or ‘more the real thing’ than other transgendered folk.

I think it is crazy to divide ourselves off from each other in this way. To me, if we have ‘gender discomfort’ or ‘dysphoria’ to any extend at all, whether we are occasional crossdressers, regular or full-time transgendered girls or boys, she-males, drag queens or drag kings, or pre- or post-operative transsexuals – we are ALL members of the transgender community, sisters and brothers under the skin, although some but not all of us usually identify ourselves as one gender or the other (not necessarily our birth gender) by our outer clothing, hairstyle, makeup, mannerisms, voice pitch, speech patterns and gender identity.

This is why I prefer the term ‘transgendered’, because it is inclusive and can be taken to cover us all, wherever we are on the gender spectrum or continuum, and I believe most people, including those who are not transgendered – so-called ‘normal’ people, are also somewhere in the middle.

We all, regardless of our biological and chromosomal sex, have feminine and masculine characteristics – but unfortunately many people are frightened or reluctant to fully express all parts of their personalities. So if most people are somewhere in the middle regarding the gender spectrum, transgendered people are just folk who find themselves on the ‘wrong’ side of the mid-point of the spectrum, so they self-identify as the ‘other’ or ‘opposite’ sex – that is, they have, in terms of traditional gender attributes and gender stereotyping, more of the characteristics of the gender on the other side of the gender ‘mid-point’.

This of course is very confusing for them, in a world which persists in the traditional bi-polar attribution of so-called ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ traits. But that is not to say that if this gender bipolarism was reduced to the point where everyone was free to wear what they like, and express their gender identity in any way they like, there wouldn’t still be transgendered people, because obviously there would be those, like me, who feel the need to have surgery to change their bodies as well as their clothing so that they can feel ‘whole’, be fully the person that they feel they are inside, and be perceived as such by others.

I don’t think I have exactly answered your question, Olivia, about how transgender and homosexual individuals can feel less socially isolated, as regards ‘straight society’. I’ll try to address that now:

Within the LGBT community, we can feel less socially isolated by all supporting and learning to understand each other, whether we are transgendered, lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, or any combination of the aforementioned.

But how do we achieve social and cultural acceptance, and therefore feel less socially isolated, regarding ‘straight’ society? The answer is simple, and it is what the Gay Liberation Movement did in the 1960s and 70s – ‘coming out’ – by NOT staying in the closet, by holding events such as Gay Pride and Sparkle, and by mixing as much as possible in and with ‘straight’ society, so that we seem as ‘normal’ to them as we seem to ourselves – just ‘people’, human beings – like them.

I guess the implication of this is that we shouldn’t just hang out in LGBT bars and clubs, and areas like the Gay Village in Manchester, where we know we are safe – we should also go into and be seen in ‘straight’ places – out shopping, and in ‘straight’ pubs and clubs, or anywhere that any other citizen of the world can go! We should be proud to be who we are, and the more we are ‘out’, the more it will be accepted as ‘normal’ to be LGBT.

Easier said than done, I know! I recently did go into a ‘straight’ fairly working-class ‘blokish pub’ in my home town, as my femme self, naturally, together with my (genetic female) wife/partner and a genetic female friend. The three of us girls were the only females in the bar, and we did get stared at, and I felt decidedly uncomfortable. At least one man, a little, wiry, Yorkshire terrier of a chap who was very ‘blokish’ indeed, looked over in our direction with a scowl on his face, as if there was a bad smell emanating from our corner of the room!

It would be easy to conclude that he had ‘read’ me as transgendered and was prejudiced against me, or that he resented our feminine intrusion into an otherwise male sanctum, or that he was just appalled that two of us ladies were drinking pints! But it could just have been that it was a Friday, the end of the week, he had perhaps had a bad week, and was tired and not in a good mood anyway – and that that was just his characteristic expression – and nothing to do with our presence in the bar!

This brings me to a final point – which is that it is too easy and in fact we can be completely wrong when we try to ‘second-guess’ people’s reactions to us. What did that look mean? Why is that person staring at me or smiling at me? We may think we are attracting unwanted and possibly hostile attention – but it could just be that if someone is looking at us – they might just be thinking how nice we look, or how interesting we are, or how they would like to come up and talk to us!

There are different levels of ‘coming out’ as transgendered.

I have been out on the U.K. transgender scene for over 30 years. I regularly hang out in Manchester’s Gay Village as Kate; I have been to lots of TG groups and events over the years. This is one level of coming out.

But when you come out to your neighbours, friends & family, when you begin to inhabit the real world as a woman, that is a different level of coming out – and it is truly wonderful!

I have tried not to use the expression ‘coming out in the real world’ to describe this, because the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) world is every bit as real as the ‘real’ world, but in transgender clubs and groups, or in gay bars or night clubs, one feels immediately accepted – you are just yourself. I really like lesbians and gay men, and I love socialising with them.

We in the transgender community owe a great deal to the brave lesbians and gay men who fought for their rights in the 1960s and 70s. The Gay Liberation movement blazed the trail for all folk differently gendered or differently sexually orientated. And I am so grateful that the lesbian, gay and bisexual community have embraced the transgender community in recent years, and I am proud that the ‘T’ on the end of LGBT stands for us!

Thank you, sisters and brothers, I love you so much!

Coming out in LGBT places, you will feel safe and respected, and you will find many new friends, and no one will harass you or discriminate against you – that is one level of coming out. And it is real, and wonderful. If you are still entirely in the closet, get out there, young woman, and meet us all in the LGBT community! We don’t bite! (Well only the Goths and Vamps among us, maybe!) – and we are friendly, loving people!

But beyond that, there is coming out to the wider world, to the ‘straight’ world, to the so-called ‘real’ world – and if you can do it, you strike a blow for the advancement of all transgendered people – because the more we do it, the more we will be accepted.

I have passed a few milestones myself this week. I went to the hairdresser’s en femme, and finally had the girly cut I have always wanted. It was great! Thank you, Ellie, you are a star, and you made me feel a million dollars!

After that, we did a bit of shopping in Tescos. No problem. Then we had a drink in the local branch of Wetherspoons. No problem.

This morning, while I was tapping away on my laptop, doing my trans social networking on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (I’m Amber Gothy, Amber Goth or ambergoth on these, so please do ‘friend’ me or follow me!), my son came in and said he had terrrible itching all over his back from sunburn. My son is 24, and he has known about Kate since he was 7.

So we went off into Chesterfield, on a busy Saturday, and got him some Aloe Vera Gel in Boots; then we went into Wilcos so I could buy a Gillette ‘Venus Embrace’ lady razor pack and some Satin Care gel for doing my legs. Couldn’t find either in Wilcos, so we got them in Superdrug. Yes, I did that with my son.

My daughter has known about Kate since she was 9 – and she is 26 now, and has just had a baby boy, making me and my wife both grandmas! My daughter and son have also been very supportive and completely unfazed by my transgenderism right from when I first told them – I am very lucky, and I do know it – thank you, Anne and Henry!

My wife has fortunately known since before we were married – and I think that’s 38 years this year. She has always loved me as Kate (in fact she prefers me as a woman), and she has been wonderfully supportive and just about the most fantastic wife and partner any transgendered girl could ask for! Thank you, Rosie, for always being so accepting and loving!

To finish up about our shopping trip in Chesterfield today, we went into Waterstones, where my wife works, and she introduced me as Kate to one of her fellow booksellers, explaining that I was transgendered, and always had been! The lady in question didn’t bat an eyelid, just said: ‘Well why shouldn’t you do what you want?’

Walking through the crowded shopping streets on the way back to the car, no one gave us a second look. Apparently no one ‘read’ me – or if they did, they didn’t stare. The more of us who do this, the more folk in straight society will regard us as ‘normal’ – because we are normal! We’re just people!

So there you go. A happy, liberating experience. I guess I am fairly lucky in that I have my own long blonde hair, and I am not tall or big-boned and I do not have a very masculine face – although it is still more masculine than I would like, which is why I have decided, finally, to have Facial Feminisation Surgery (FFS) this year. I am so excited about it!

But even if you are over 6 ft, with huge hands, a jutting jaw and a heavy beard shadow – you can still do it – and I know people who do. Some of the girls who come to Sparkle come by train or other public transport, and even if they look a bit masculine, they brazen it out! They don’t care! It is all about confidence. Most ‘genetic’ women (i.e. women born female, with XX chromosomes rather than us poor girls who were born XY) do not go around wondering if strangers in the street or in a shop are thinking they might not be women. They just don’t ever consider it. Even women who are – well – frankly ugly or overly masculine in some way – don’t ever think this (though to me, no woman is ugly, some of us are just differently beautiful, and it is what is inside that is important). So we, as transgendered women, just have to remember when we are out and about – we ARE women. Walk with confidence. Act normal. Don’t slink. Don’t look embarrassed or furtive. You are doing nothing wrong. You are just being yourself, your true self. You are expressing your femininity, as any woman – or for that matter, any man – has the right to do.

Be proud that you are a woman. Be proud that you are transgendered! You are in a state of grace! You are lucky! Not everyone – particularly not ‘straight’ men – can feel and experience what you can feel and experience, if you ‘out’ as a woman. Women know it’s great to be a woman!

(URL for this is: https://ambergoth.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/coming-out-as-transgendered/)

How Stephen became Stephanie and other transgender tales is now available in the U.S, in paperback and Kindle eBook formats from  Amazon.com; in the UK from  Amazon.co.uk, and in Germany from Amazon.de.

The new paperback edition can also be ordered in the UK from TVFiction.com and the eBook format is also available from eBooks-UK in non-DRM versions.

This is ALL of Kate Lesley’s classic transgender short stories, which first appeared in serialized form in FFG’s transgender fiction magazines, Tales of Crossdressing, Tales of Sissy School and Forced Femme and Girlhood.

The magazine serialisations, with illustrations are also still available from http://www.tgfiction.co.uk/ (digital version) and http://www.tvfiction.com/ (original printed magazines, some with full colour pictures).

The new book version of the stories can be ordered online from Amazon by going to:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stephen-became-Stephanie-transgender-ebook/dp/B005AK3ZDO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A3TVV12T0I6NSM&qid=1310326249&sr=1-1

The book features eleven classic stories on themes of male to female transgenderism – tales of forced feminization, sex change, sissy schools, maid training, petticoat punishment, cross-dressing and transvestism.

‘I was Aunt Mary’s Sissy’ – An eccentric aunt who dislikes boys takes her nephew in hand, and soon has the niece she desires….

‘I Turned my Husband into a Girl ‘ – Classic tale from the point of view of the wife, who is sure that things will work out better for both of them if John is turned into Joanne…..many surprises, and a breathtaking ending.

‘A Walk on the Wild Side’ – Experience a taste of transgender real-life – eavesdrop on the conversation of two transvestites on the streets of Manchester’s Gay Village in the 1990s.

‘The Lady of the Lake’ – Dark Ages fantasy inspired by the ‘Iron John’ story, a fairy tale first set down by the Brothers Grimm. Explores the theme of recovering lost parts of ourselves.

‘How Stephen became Stephanie’ – Stephen’s landlady conspires with his personnel manager at work to change him into a supermarket check-out girl and part-time maid.

‘New Girl on the Ward’ – Nicholas has always had a ‘thing’ about nurses – but he never dreams that one day he will be wearing that blue uniform himself. The story of a young man’s transformation into a female nurse.

‘Mother’s New Daughter’ – A mother begins her plan to feminise her son and change him into the daughter she has always wanted.

‘Virtual Reality Woman’ – By the early years of the new Millennium there is an unemployed male underclass. The feminist Dr. Hannah Klonek, suggests a solution – to make boys much more like girls. A young male postgraduate is invited to wear the prototype Total Virtual Reality suit and try out the program. And so Andy becomes Laura. A surprise awaits Laura when she discovers what has been done to her real body….

Jackie and Melanie Take Charge – Kevin can’t believe his luck when two attractive, sophisticated women pick him up and take him back to their hotel room in Bangkok. But Kevin has fallen into a complicated web of intrigue woven by two formidable female academics. Their research takes on a practical turn when they inveigle Kevin into dressing as a girl, and slowly Kevin is transformed completely into an attractive blonde.

School for Sissies – François is left fatherless and his mother Lydia is appointed to a teaching job at a girls’ preparatory school. Having already taken pleasure in dressing her son as a girl while he was a toddler, she decides he is to be enrolled at the school as a girl. Francoise settles into the life of a girl, and spends five happy years at St. Saviours. When Francoise is eleven years old, her mother begins to think about how Francoise’s education as a girl can be continued.

Lydia resolves to start her own private high school for girls, with the financial backing of wealthy friends. Lydia’s ‘special’ educational methods of corset training, sissification and petticoat punishment are introduced. Boys who resist sissification are put into tight corsets and undergo complete petticoat punishment. The new ‘girls’ are started on ‘vitamin’ pills which are in fact female hormones. At the age of 14 or 15, a regimen of extra female hormones and anti-androgen tablets is added. By the time they are in the Sixth Form; most Stage Four transitioning girls are practically indistinguishable from their genetically female friends. What happens at Stage Five? – Well, you will need to read the story to find out…

Deborah’s Decision – Deborah has to choose between a rich and successful businessman and a rather feminine Australian boy whom she meets at work. When she has a night out at a nightclub in London, Deborah encounters a beautiful young woman who turns out to be Tim, the young Australian. Who will Deborah choose – the rich businessman or the Australian girly-boy?

Hello Girls,

I don’t know if any of you are serious about really becoming girls, but if you are, my advice would be to seek medical advice in the first instance. If you do choose to self-medicate, which can be risky, below is a ‘typical’ transsexual MtoF feminizing medication regimen from: http://www.transgendercare.com/medical/resources/tmf_program/tmf_program_regimens.asp.

This is a U.S. site and some people have suggested (see comments) that the doses recommended here are far too high. It is best not to self-medicate at all if you can get hormones through a Gender Identity Clinic or from your GP. If you must self-medicate, start off with a relatively low dosage, like 2 mg of Estrofem or similar a day, and see how you go.

This is how I started, and together with the 5mg Finasteride which I was taking anyway for prostate problems (BHP), was sufficient to cause breast growth.

The following full transsexual regimen, which I have been taking more recently (minus the Spironolactone), certainly promotes full feminisation fairly rapidly:

Feminising Medication Regimen

  1.  4 mg Estradiol (Estrofem) (sublingually – under the tongue) daily – one in morning, one in evening
  2.  Two 50ug (mcg) Estradiol (Estrodot) patches applied weekly Saturday morning and Tuesday evening, or any other two days in the week, three and a half days apart – but stick to the same days each week.  Alternatively you can use transdermal gel rather than patches – see the above website.
  3.  5 mg Finsasteride in the morning (in the U.K., you can get this from your G.P. on the NHS, if you have a dodgy prostate – BHP – Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia).
  4. (Optional) 25 mg Spironolactone (Spirotone) in morning, 25 mg Spironolactone in evening – building up to 50 mg Spironolactone in morning, 50 mg Spironolactone in evening after 6 weeks, and thereafter optionally building up to as much as 200 mg per day, according to the transgender care website (http://www.transgendercare.com/medical/resources/tmf_program/tmf_program_regimens.asp)  BUT BEWARE! I don’t actually take this myself, because I had a severe allergic reaction to Spironolactone.
  5.  (Optional) Progestin : 5 mg daily for 10 days at beginning of the month.

From: http://www.transgendercare.com/medical/resources/tmf_program/tmf_program_regimens.asp

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a doctor or medically trained.  You should NOT start taking feminizing hormones unless you are absolutely sure you want to do this. In my case it came from somewhere so deep down in my psyche and subconscious that it was inevitable that I would do it eventually.

It SHOULD be done under medical supervision.  If you don’t want your transition to be medicalised and controlled by an ‘expert’ gender identity clinic, involving psycho-sexual psychiatrists and psychologists, endocrinologists and SRS/GRS surgeons, whether private (or if you are in the U.K., at an NHS clinic such as the one at Charing Cross Hospital), you can obtain the feminising hormones from a reputable Internet supplier such as InHousePharmacy – I can recommend this company without reservation.  They deliver anywhere in the world, it’s the real proprietary medicine, and thay are prompt and reliable on delivery.  In the U.K., you may have to pay 20% V.A.T. plus £8 handling charge to the Post Office when you import the drugs, but this is quite hit and miss.  The last two deliveries from InHouse Pharmacy I had to pay it, but on the most recent one I didn’t, so it seems to depend on the efficiency (or otherwise) of the local Post Office.

It is wonderful and truly liberating that one can control one’s own feminizing drug regimen, and it has only been possible to do this since the advent of the Internet – certainly no one could do it in the 1970s, or 1980s – or I might have started a lot sooner.

BUT, and here is a very important point, you should still at least tell your G.P. what you are taking, in case there is any conflict with other medication. My G.P. (who is female), knows what I am doing, and so far she has been pretty good about it.  She hasn’t commented on the full transsexual drug regimen, as above, as she admits honestly that she is not an expert in this area.

UPDATE: I am about to start sessions with an NHS Gender Identity Clinic (October 2011), and I am guessing they probably won’t be that pleased that I have been self-medicating.  I hope they don’t tell me off too much!  Hopefully I will finally receive some advice from an expert clinician in transgender endocrinology and be able to get the hormones on NHS prescription in future.

Please be warned: it is best NOT to do what I have done.  Taking female hormones has well-known risks associated with it for women or men.  If becoming the woman you have always felt yourself to be is important enough to you, you will no doubt proceed in spite of the risks – but be aware of them.

I was surprised to realise recently, looking back on my invoices from  Inhouse Pharmacy http://www.inhousepharmacy.vu/transgender/transgender.html that I have been taking female hormones for over 5 years, so I guess it’s not surprising that I have boobs and a curvy shape – my hips have broadened, and my fat distribution is pretty female – my arms and legs look feminine, and it has also feminised my face.

I did not begin with the full pre-SRS MtoF transsexual feminising regimen as above, but started with just 2 mg of Estradiol (Estrofem or Progynova) for most of that time, building up to 4 mg per day.  That is enough to promote breast growth and body feminisation- you start to see the difference after 6-9 months.

I was lucky in that I started with a fairly un-masculine body to begin with – I am not that tall, I can wear a normal female size of shoes and clothing, and I have always had broad hips and rather narrow shoulders, and not much musculature – so my body lapped up the female hormones from the beginning.  I am also blonde, which means that body hair has not been a great problem, and it has now reduced to a female level anyway.

I have had quite a lot of laser hair removal treatments to get rid of facial hair, and can now manage with only light foundation or no foundation at all. I will probably also have to have electrolysis eventually to get rid of the remaining facial hair, as I want to look as natural a woman as possible.  I would love also to have Facial Feminisation Surgery (FFS), but I am frightened to do it.  My face is reasonably feminine anyway, and since I went full-time as a woman from July 2011, I haven’t really had any problems so far. (However, see update below about Facial Feminisation Surgery – I have decided to go for FFS.)

I am able to go shopping en femme with my wife, and I don’t get stared at.  I can go into the female changing rooms  – I guess I just look like a woman.  I can hardly believe it myself!  My wife says when we are shopping and she looks round, she just sees another woman – and doesn’t always realise it’s me!

I have my own shoulder length blonde hair, and so don’t have to wear a wig, and my boobs are big enough to give me some cleavage.  I dress sensibly, and wear what other women around my age wear.  It’s great to be able to spend as long as I want looking at lingerie and women’s clothes and shoes without feeling embarrassed!  I have debit and credit cards in my female name, so paying is no problem.  I am working hard on developing a feminine voice – so far without much success – more on this is a future blog.

UPDATE:  I AM having Facial Feminisation Surgery this November 2011 at the Facial Team Clinic in Marbella, Spain – and I am still frightened!  But I am going ahead anyway, as I think it will give me more confidence that I just look like any other woman.  I will post about this nearer the time and after the surgery.

I hope this has been some help to a few of you – please do let me know by commenting.

Hugs and kisses x x x

Amber (Kate)

I have started a new Facebook Group – anyone who likes transgender fiction can join: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_157755277597309

Yes, I have two Facebook accounts now.

I realise I haven’t blogged for ages.  I will try to find the time to write something here very soon.

Meanwhile, you might like to know I am now ‘tweeting’ – you can visit my two Twitter accounts below:

Amber Goth on Twitter

Tranny Fiction on Twitter

I have hardly any followers on Twitter! Please do follow me, as I will be able to Twitter more often than I can blog

Tales of Crossdressing Volume 10 has also just been published

That’s all for now, folks.

Pope Benedict XVI says saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

The pope used his traditional end-of-year speech to say a few words about what he considers the important issues of the day. In a world where the practices of greedy bankers and corrupt financiers have forced the global economy into recession, and the insane policies of evil African dictator Robert Mugabe have caused the outbreak of a cholera epidemic and driven his own people to the brink of starvation, the 81 year old pontiff felt an attack on homosexuality and transgenderism was the best way to make use of his end-of-year address to senior Vatican staff.

Pope Benedict looks askance at gays and transsexuals

Pope Benedict looks askance at gays and transsexuals

At a time when a record number of homes even in more affluent countries are being re-possessed and many people find themselves unemployed and facing an uncertain future, the pope emphasised his total rejection of ‘Gender Theory’. While people are facing starvation, disease and genocide in the failed states of Africa – Zimbabwe, the Sudan and Somalia, to name but three of the worst – the 81 year old ex-member of the Hitler Youth showed where his priorities lie by saying that homosexuality and ‘Gender Theory’ are as big a threat to humanity as environmental challenges such as the destruction of rainforests.

 

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe raises his fist against the decadent West

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe raises his fist against the decadent West

Pope Benedict XVI explained that defending God’s creation was not limited to saving the environment, but also protecting man from self-destruction.

The pope warned that ‘Gender Theory’ blurs the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the “self-destruction” of the human race.

Gender theory

Gender theory explores sexual orientation, the roles assigned by society to individuals according to their gender, and how people perceive their biological identity.

   

Gay and transsexual groups, particularly in the United States, promote it as a key to understanding and tolerance, but the pope disagrees.

It is not “outmoded metaphysics” to urge respect for the “nature of the human being as man and woman,” he told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican’s sumptuous Clementine Hall.

The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage. It teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are.

In 2005 (his first year in office), Pope Benedict XVI upheld a ban on men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” becoming priests, and also described homosexuality as a “tendency” towards an “intrinsic moral evil”.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – once known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition – from 1981 until his election. His defence of church doctrine led to him to be called “the Pope’s enforcer” and “God’s rottweiler”.

Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy in April 2005. At the age of 78, he was the oldest cardinal to become Pope since Clement XII was elected in 1730. Joseph Ratzinger was born into a traditional Bavarian farming family in 1927, although his father was a policeman. At the age of 14, he joined the Hitler Youth and was briefly held as a prisoner of war by the Allies in 1945.

Could there be another reason why the pope has used his end-of-year address to speak out against homosexuality and transsexuality? Perhaps he hopes that the traditionalist, ant-gay wing of the Church of England will depart from the Anglican Communion and re-join the Catholic Church.

It cannot have escaped the elderly pontiff’s notice that in July 2008 the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan declared that Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, “should resign for the sake of the church.”

In a press conference at the decennial Lambeth Conference, the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul said that homosexual ordination “is not what is found in the Bible” and that it is “not the norm of the Anglican world.”

Archbishop Bul, who serves as Bishop of Juba as well as primate of the church in Sudan, represents some of the most persecuted Christian minorities in the world, and lives in the country where Mrs. Gillian Gibbons was last year accused of insulting Islam. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 15 days in a Khartoum jail.

What had she done? Sheffield-born Mrs. Gibbons, mother of two, primary school teacher – and clearly a danger to the Sudanese state and to the whole Islamic religion – had allowed the seven-year-olds in her class at the Unity High School, Khartoum, to name their teddy bear Mohammed!

Did the pope speak out when the Sudanese government of President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir persecuted a harmless, 54-year-old English primary school teacher? Did he denounce this ludicrous, outrageous act of bullying? No, he did not – even though he is no lover of Islam. In 2006, in a controversial papal speech, the Pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only “evil and inhuman” things. This provoked intense anger in the Muslim world. He recently generated more anger among some Muslims by personally baptising a prominent Muslim convert, Magdi Allam, who has been an outspoken critic of Islamist militancy and a strong supporter of Israel.

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