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(Copy of email to Bury North Labour Party CLP Members 17/07/16)

Please excuse my passion and please, please, do read all this (below).

RE: Affiliated Labour Party organisations, £25 voting surcharge for new members, & *possible* Fundraising Dog Walk

On reading this again it sounds a bit like a kind of ‘suicide note’ or ‘resignation letter’ to the Labour Party, but as most of you won’t read it at all or at least won’t read all of it – or respond – who cares?

I was going to organise a fundraising dog walk (but please note: you don’t have to have a dog) for all Bury North CLP members and ‘registered supporters’, (other local CLPs also welcome) – for both new Labour Party members and the ‘experienced’ members (I didn’t want to say ‘old lags’) from whom we new ‘pups’ (however old) can learn so much  – but I don’t see any point, as probably no-one will respond – or come – given the almost total lack of response to my previous email about the £25 ‘new member voter surcharge’ and ban on meetings until October.

Maybe some of you could at least let me know whether you would come on a fundraising dog walk (with or without a dog) – probably will be in October now – say £1 for unwaged /pensioners  and £2 or £3 per dog or ‘hooman’ for rest  – starting off at a country location or Bury centre pub / & also non-alcohol café, and ending there?  Another idea for fundraising would be to do a cask ale pub crawl (also with choice of soft drinks) or something along the lines of a Rail Ale combined with the East Lancs. Railway, again, soft drinks also available (with apologies to teetotal members or those who for faith reasons are against alcohol – but you would still be very welcome to come – I’ll make sure there is a café alternative for meeting up and finishing).

At the moment, however, I am wondering, why should I bother, when I can’t even vote in the Leader Election for this Party?

I would like to thank the only two members in the whole Labour Bury North CLP on the emailing list who were not too apathetic? angry with me? perplexed? or whatever to reply or discuss my previous email about these ridiculous NEC rulings disenfranchising Labour Party full members who joined after 12th January unless they make a payment of an extra £25, and for forbidding all CLPs from meeting until October.

Thank you, the only two members who replied, for your replies and support. I am beginning to see it does indeed seem to be the case that the vast majority of new members (who may or may not have voted for Corbyn) DO NOT get involved and leave it to the long-standing experienced activists to do all the work – who may, some of them, not be fans of Corbyn – but at least attend meetings, fundraising events, go out on the doorstep and get involved – I applaud your efforts and thank you for your hard work for our CLP, (well, YOUR CLP, as how can I be a part of it if I can’t even vote?)

I reiterate, I am a FULL MEMBER and an AFFILIATED MEMBER and I have just been to this page http://support.labour.org.uk/  (which is STILL there on Labour Party website and I registered for the second time to become a ‘registered supporter’ as well (sic) – I am waiting to hear response to my  online application as member of LGBT Labour, which IS an affiliated group –  so why is this still ‘live’ on the Labour website if it ‘doesn’t apply’?

How long will it be before you change the rules again, so even if you pay the £25 you won’t be able to vote?  How can we trust you?  I don’t trust the Labour Party anymore, you seem to be making it up as you go along.

Yes, this is getting ridiculous!  I would end up having paid £3 as a previous registered supporter last year + full Labour Party membership + £15 to join LGBT Labour + this extra £25 ‘voting surcharge for new members’ (which I am not paying).  This surely cannot be allowed to stand?  I watched JC on Sunday Politics this morning, and he also doesn’t seem to think the ‘£25 extra’ is fair, or the ban on CLP meetings; ditto most ‘Soft-Left and even some Blairite MPs think it’s unfair.  If I compare our ‘yet another new’ Labour Shadow Education Secretary talking to Andrew Neil with how the rather impressive new Tory Education Secretary did  – well, watch the footage for yourselves.  The Tories are running rings round Labour at the moment, and we are providing NO sort of opposition or proper policy statements about helping the N. of England – just pathetic examples of in-fighting and a seemly supine acceptance of NEC lunacy.

Surely these NEC rulings MUST be overturned or there must be an appeal or challenge against them, whether you are pro- or anti- Corbyn, for sake of fair play? I am new to politics and to the Labour Party, but (and apologies if you think this is rude): are all of you so docile and cowed by the NEC and PLP or even possibly your local CLP that you don’t have minds and opinions of your own?  (*Effort to provoke response*) We are just sent out this two or three line email from the Secretary saying ‘you can’t meet’, with no further explanation or discussion.

I would like to know, on behalf of ALL Bury North CLP members and past Labour Party voters in Bury (many of whom voted Brexit and have probably already gone to UKIP or Tories) – what is the position of our CLP on this, what is the position of our Executive Committee, what is the position of our Bury North councillors, and above all what are any of you going to do about it, if anything

I am wondering if I am in a DEMOCRATIC party at all?

Probably not for long, some of you are thinking…well, feel free to expel me for asking ‘awkward’ questions, but freedom of speech is one of my most cherished illusions – that we still have it in this country, this Old Blighty, this Sceptered Isle – but do we even have it in this Party? Do we have anything even approaching real democracy in this county or this Party?

See my Twitter Profile:  https://twitter.com/ambergoth  This is the 21st century – why can’t we use secure online digital technology to add REGULAR DIRECT VOTING by the electorate to our representational democracy, on the most important issues affecting this country? Most people have ‘smartphones’, even in the most deprived areas where folk are not registered to vote or don’t vote in General Elections, and they are cheap enough to GIVE to anybody who doesn’t have one.  To see how easy this would be – try out the ‘Note My Vote’ app  https://www.notemyvote.co.uk/   (I am not connected in any way with this, but it’s a bit of fun and shows you how it might work).

I’ll tell you why  they will never reform our democracy willingly – the ‘Powers That Be’, The ‘Establishment Great & Good’ – AND the PLPs of both major parties as presently constituted would be against this – as it would mean giving more power and a regular say to ‘ordinary people’, us plebs and peasants, to decide what happens in matters that affect us all.  And we can’t be trusted can we? Look what happened in the EU Referendum…!  Oh dear me no, we can whistle for that!

To conclude: it’s just £25 to join the Tory Party and I don’t think there would have been any newly introduced gerrymandering measures re. who could vote for their leader (if they’d had an election that went to the membership, which of course it didn’t), but I can’t check because a copy of the Constitution of the Tory Party costs £10 apparently, and many of us can’t afford that any more than we can afford the extra bloody £25 to vote in the Labour Leadership Election! (No, I’m not thinking of joining the Tories at the moment.)

**Don’t suppose many of you read to this point – but if you did – well done.  You are a literate Labour Party supporter in the North of England, contrary to what the media think!**

PLEASE REPLY – PLEASE SAY ANYTHING!  IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE? (…..Tumbleweed rolls across Bury…..) DO YOU WANT TO COME ON A DOG WALK (WITH OR WITHOUT A DOG) or shall I just ‘call the whole thing off’, together with my Labour Party membership?

Is this Party even worth raising funds for?

‘No offence’, as the late great Mrs. Merton used to say,

Best wishes & love to y’all, be ye Corbynites or Blairites or something in between…

Kate Mason

P.S. Please, please, please sign petition re: discrimination of RNLI against LGBT people:

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

https://twitter.com/ambergoth

https://twitter.com/de_Bury

https://twitter.com/BuryBT

https://www.facebook.com/ambergoth

https://www.facebook.com/GothicKate

https://ambergoth.wordpress.com/

 

One Sunday night several weeks ago I found two police officers from our local police force (not in Wales), who on behalf of the Dyfed-Powys Police issued me with a very intimidating so-called ‘desist from harassing through social media’ notice in relation to a person in the management of the local RNLI Station concerned.  I was told that if I continued to post on social media about this, I might get a criminal record.  I had to sign that I had received the notice.

So let’s get this straight: AS A TRANS WOMAN I AM THE VICTIM OF DISCRIMINATORY BEHAVIOUR BY THE RNLI  – but the police, the EHRC (Equality & Human Rights Commission), Stonewall, and any number of other agencies and people that are supposed to uphold the rights of #LGBT people – could do nothing about it.  But when a local RNLI manager complains to the police about what I am saying on social media – I AM THREATENED WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD.

This was a blatant attempt to silence my campaign for justice and for the RNLI to stop their cover-up.  I regret I am therefore no longer able to name the individual concerned who persuaded the local police to take out this notice against me, and also I cannot now name the local Station in which he is a member of the management team.

I have also just discovered that the #RNLI  tweeted this to my @peakeasy Twitter account on 15th January: ‘At no stage was Kate told she would not be suitable to volunteer as a education officer because she is transgendered’.

Whilst it may be true that the exact words: ‘We are rejecting your education volunteer application because you are transgendered,’ may not have been used – that is precisely the implication of what was said – see my tweets in reply which can be read in full @peakeasy: https://twitter.com/peakeasy/with_replies.

The main point I made (yet again) was this:

I was told by the local management that I was rejected ‘because the Station is too “macho” to have a trans woman volunteer,’ and because the local Station by their own admission could not ‘cope’ with a trans woman  as there would be ‘gossip’.

Doesn’t that mean that I was rejected because I am transgendered?

Of course, the two individuals concerned have also denied that they said this.  That was to be expected.  They would deny it, wouldn’t they?

The simple truth which they cannot dispute is:

  • The RNLI REJECTED my volunteer application.
  • Their local management rejected me after I discussed with them that a member of their shore crew referred to me in the wrong gender as ‘this gentleman’, in front of a group of nursery children and their parents (highly embarrassing) – whilst supposedly ‘training’ me in the role of Education Officer – by demonstrating (poorly) ‘how to do a talk to visitors.’ (This person DID in fact apologise properly and sincerely by letter for what happened, which I regarded as a minor issue anyway. However, a member of the local management whom I am now unable to name has intractably refused to apologise regarding HIS behaviour, throughout all our proceedings with the RNLI).
  • I invited them to our home and discussed the ‘this gentleman’ incident in a non-confrontational way, in order to help them, but this ‘impossible-to-name’ individual was particularly very defensive. HE was highly reactive, in fact, which is ironically what RNLI Headquarters accused me of, some weeks later, as their fabricated reason for my rejection.
  • Two weeks after the meeting at which we discussed the ‘this gentleman’ incident, the  local management asked for another meeting with us, at which they rejected my volunteer application outright, saying they were rejecting me because their RNLI Station was too ‘macho’ to be able to ‘cope’ with a trans woman as a volunteer and they feared their would be ‘gossip’ about me.  (Pretty cowardly?) Naturally they have later denied that they said this, because to admit what they said would prove my assertion that I WAS rejected because I am transgendered.
  • I reiterate: they DID NOT give as their reason for my rejection on 16th June 2015 that I was ‘highly reactive’ – this was only concocted as the excuse for my rejection some weeks later, in a rude and dismissive letter from the RNLI People & Transformation Director.
  • My wife Jane was a witness to both the meetings in our own home with the RNLI local management, and has confirmed my account of what happened and what they said. She herself was very upset.
  • The actions of the RNLI locally and at Headquarters level in rejecting my volunteer application BECAUSE I am transgendered – AND FOR NO OTHER REASON – WAS discriminatory against me as a trans woman.
  • Consequently, I HAVE been discriminated against as a member of the trans and LGBT community by the RNLI.
  • Two damn right my later use of social media to get justice has been highly reactive, and I make no apology for that.  But it occurred AFTER the rejection and discrimination against me on 16th June 2015, because I could not get the RNLI to address this properly, and because of the misinformation and untruths they have subsequently perpetrated.

If their local management would care to have a meeting with us face-to-face (which I have already offered to do via RNLI Headquarters, but they have declined to meet us) – Jane and I would be happy to put the above points to them ourselves, and see if they care to tell the same untruths and misrepresentations about it to our faces.

 

 

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

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

Hi Girls,

I am writing this and future posts about Facial Feminisation Surgery to reassure those of you who are considering it but are understandably worried and a bit scared about what is involved.  I also felt apprehensive about it, as it is major surgery, but I would like to reassure those that are thinking about it that really, you have nothing to worry about.

I can only speak about my own experience of FFS, which was performed by the Facial Teamwww.facialteam.eu.

The Facial Team are based in Marbella, on the south coast of Spain; or you can go to their clinic in Sao Paulo in Brazil, if you prefer.

I had a brow and orbital reduction performed by Dr. Daniel Simon and Dr. Luis Capitan, who are both experienced and very skilful maxillo-facial surgeons.  I also had rhinoplasty on my nose and liposuction under my chin and on my neck performed by the plastic surgeon Dr. Kai, ably assisted by Louise, Dr. Kai’s lovely theatre nurse (who hails originally from South Yorkshire). Dr. Simon is Brazilian; Dr. Capitan is Spanish; and Dr. Kai is German.  They are all professionally qualified to the highest standands.  So my experience is about these procedures; I can’t comment on other procedures which I didn’t have, such as eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) or facelifts, full or partial.  I think Dr. Kai does perform these surgeries as well, if you are interested.

The main focus of surgery with the Facial Team is facial feminisation – and this is what I wanted, because I want my face to reflect my true gender (female), so that I just look like a normal woman.  I did not want to end up looking like a Barbie Doll or Holywood starlet.  There are clinics that will assume that this is what you want, and will try to convince you that additional surgeries are necessary.  They are not, if facial feminisation is your principle objective.  The Facial Team will do enough to give you a convincingly feminine face, and no more – unless you want it.  This honest approach was one of the things that attracted me to the Facial Team.  I did not find this honesty with a couple of the FFS clinics based in the U.S. and one other FFS clinic in Europe, who I also approached for quotations, and all tried to convince me that I needed procedures such as facelifts and eyelid surgery, which I didn’t want and hadn’t budgeted for.  I can’t name these surgeons and clinics, as I don’t want to get into trouble with them legally, but you will be able to work out who they are, and if you can’t and want to know, then contact me privately.

I think that is enough for my first post about this – more in my next post about my recent stay in Spain for the surgery.

Kate Lesley (Amber Goth), Sunday 13th November 2011.

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/)

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.