Welcome to my online journal, which I started in December 2002 after several very persuasive hints from friends. Although I obviously don't write about everything that happens in my life here, I hope it'll provide an insight into who I am and what's happening in my life - whether good, bad, happy or sad.

It all seems like a long time ago now.

Posted by Anna at 01:07 on Thursday, November 9, 2017
The World Parliament from Stockhausen's 'Mittwoch aus Licht'. The mask I wore was harder to spot.

The World Parliament from Stockhausen's "Mittwoch aus Licht". The mask I wore was harder to spot.

It all seems like a long time ago now.

It seems a long time since I realised I had a secret.
It seems a long time since I realised I wore a mask.
It seems a long time since I realised I had a problem.
It seems a long time since I realised I wasn't who the world thought I was.

It seems a long time since I realised I had to do something.

And make no mistake, it was a long time ago.

The first happened maybe 8 years after I was born, looking in a mirror and not liking what I saw. Wishing I'd been born differently, and feeling helpless and afraid.

The second happened when I was a teenager, when I realised that the world definitely wasn't ready for people like me. When I understood that there were people and institutions who would hound and humiliate me if they knew my secret.

So I kept quiet, and wore a mask of "normality". It was never perfect, of course - and the bullies could sense that. Inwardly was a mess, and when I look back I can't help thinking that it's a miracle I made it into adulthood in one piece, let alone as a functioning individual.

And yet function I somehow did, as by the time I reached adulthood the mask was so good that even I couldn't really see inside. Denial is such a powerful thing.

But no mask lasts forever. Eventually the elastic starts to wear out, and the mask slips...showing fleeting glimpses of the person beneath, and leaving them exposed and vulnerable.

For me that all came to a head in 2001 when the world still thought I was straight. I was married, and had two young children...and I honestly had no idea what was coming next.

But come it did. Time has blunted my memory of the sheer terror of it, but I know that I came closer to darkness than I care to think about, and that I only made it through by determination, faith and endurance and with the support of close friends.

But make it through I did, and 16 years on I'm still here.

I'm talking of course about transition. I am a trans woman, but for the first 35 years of my life everyone thought I was male, (relatively) conventional and straight. It turned out that I was none of those things, and now - 16 years later - I have a rather different perspective on who I've always been, and what I missed out on by being brought up wearing a mask which was not of my own choosing.

It's true that nothing can never make up for those missed years and experiences. That's something all trans people have to come to terms with, and I'm certainly no different in that regard.

That however is balanced by what I've learnt and experienced since, as despite the pain of what I lost my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. So many people have stood by me, and it's been a voyage of self discovery which has been at times alternately incredible, funny, maddening, humbling and illuminating. From a standing start where I could all too easily have become completely isolated, my life has been quite literally transformed.

I was through with wearing a mask, so from pretty much the outset I chose to be open about who I am and what I was experiencing. I cried, learned, wrote, met my partner and new friends, joined an inclusive church, started a company, spoke at conferences, went to lots of Pride events and generally got on with life. It's all been pretty amazing, really.

Along the way I've met many awesome trans people and learnt so much that I could probably write a book or two - but if I had to focus on the most important things, I'd say that they are to not be afraid, and to believe in yourself.

Every so often I take a breath to marvel at where I am now. To that 8 year old kid it would all be an unbelievable dream, but for me it's just my life. I'm happy, I'm here and (most importantly for the first two) I'm me.

If someone had told a much younger me that this is who I'd be in 2017, I wouldn't have dared believe them

If someone had told a much younger me that this is who I'd be in 2017, I wouldn't have dared believe them.

If you think you might be trans and are trying to come to terms with it all, please don't be afraid - the tide is turning, and although it isn't easy by any means there are now many more support resources and allies than there used to be.

Most importantly, know that you aren't alone. Good luck!


This post was originally published at

No Mandate for May-hem

Posted by Anna at 18:49 on Wednesday, March 29, 2017
No Mandate for May-hem

I can't help feeling sad today.

I grew up in a world where Europe was our future, where our horizons were expanding and dictatorships falling to democracy. When the Berlin Wall fell, I rejoiced and wished I was there.

Now, the reverse seems to be the case.

Brexit means that I now live in a country where politics have become even less about consensus (something I never thought possible) and even more about tribalism, point scoring and dogma than ever before.

Lies and backstabbing are back in high fashion (remember the conduct of the Tories during the AV referendum?), and the level of political discourse is mostly quite pathetic.

The referendum campaign last year followed exactly that pattern: outright lies, othering and even overt racism. Anything, in fact, other than being truthful about what the options were, and what each might mean.

The result was a close call comparable to the 1979 Scottish devolution referendum (also 52:48), the result of which the government rejected.

The Tory Government who started all of this were plainly ill prepared for the result, and we've been dealing with the consequences ever since. In the words of (eurosceptic) constitutional lawyer David Allen Green "They do not know what they are doing".

So, after 9 months of bluster, incompetence and finger pointing at "elites" and "experts" we arrive here - for today is the day the Tories throw the economy over the side of a cliff in a big red lying bus.

All for political expediency.

So, reality check time.

All of the talk in the media has been of trade agreements and opportunity. Which is fine, as far as it goes - businesses by their nature look outwards, and seek opportunity wherever they can. My own company is no different in that regard.


As ever our politicians seem to have a limited grasp on how businesses actually work (not surprising as most of them have never worked in a real business).

They think it's all about tariffs - but that's only a very small part of the picture.

It's true that just-in-time supply chains (think Nissan) may be badly affected, and the port of Dover is at particular risk of gridlock due to the type and volume of traffic it carries and the limited space it has available for greatly expanded customs facilities. Agriculture is also potentially at major risk due to the EU subsidies it will lose and the high tariffs which tend to apply on agricultural products.

But the majority of the UK economy isn't manufacturing, agriculture etc. (and hasn't been for a long time) - it is services. Services cover everything from financial services to call centres and technical and legal services. Some deal exclusively with UK markets, but many are international in nature.

One thing many people may not appreciate is that creative and technical industries such as software development are also services.

That's the industry I can claim to be something of an expert in - running a software company since 2004 has taught me a thing or two about selling software products (e-services) worldwide.

For example, it's taught me that while the US, China and India are huge potential markets, the EU is at least as big as any other. The UK market is a minnow by comparison with all of them.

It has also taught me that nations protect their services markets by different means (e.g. India applies a "withholding tax" to foreign owned businesses), and the US has different sales tax rules for each and every state you trade with. The EU is a very easy place to trade by comparison.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that the EU is our largest market. If I had to draw a picture of our typical customer it would be a German engineering company.

As a result Brexit represents an existential threat to us. We already trade with India, China, the USA, Australia etc. - but they can't make up for throwing up barriers between us and the Single Market. Inevitably, our future is at risk.

Note that Trade Agreements such as CETA can't fix any of this, as they tend to only cover goods rather than services.

What makes this even worse is that the UK Government isn't even talking about any of this - they're still obsessing about straight bananas and "Taking Back Control". So forgive me if I mourn rather than celebrate today.

Not only are taking away a core part of my identity, they're going to throw our entire business sector over the cliff as well.

I guess the only consolation is that - in a country where technical and mathematical illiteracy is seen as a source of pride - the worsening skills shortage that "taking back control" implies is likely to raise salaries in the software industry generally.

So I guess ultimately we'll be OK while the country falls apart, the NHS shrivels, the deficit spirals, the and people we care about struggle to cope in a shrinking economy they are priced out of while an unaccountable political elite gloats about how they've "taken back control".

Forgive me if that is scant consolation for all of this.

Blue Christmas

Posted by Anna at 18:49 on Friday, December 20, 2013
Blue Christmas

Christmas is a such difficult time of the year for so many people. If you are struggling or spending Christmas alone this year, my prayers are with you. Be safe.

A bit of a new look

Posted by Anna at 10:18 on Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Well, it seems pigs do indeed fly...after a long period (we're talking years) of dithering about it I've finally got around to re-theming the site. The changes should be pretty straighforward, but if you notice anything weird just drop me a line and let me know.

The journal commenting scripts still need a bit of an overhaul before turning them on, but that aside, the only bits that haven't been re-themed are the old photo galleries. Everything else is new and shiny - courtesy of the good folks at

I'll try to sort out the journal scripts next, but the old photo galleries will probably have to wait until I've worked out what to do with them = and how to re-implement them. In the meantime the aim is to look into writing some new (predominantly non-trans related, this time) content.

Bourne Free 2013

Posted by Anna at 20:19 on Sunday, July 11, 2013

The second weekend in July every summer is Bourne Free - Bournemouth's Pride Festival, and this year was no exception. As usual there were a crowd of us from MCC Bournemouth in the parade, and at midday on Sunday we took over the main stage in the Triangle for the Bourne Free Pride Worship Service (my favourite bit as I usually get to run the PA and make some noise).

This year's theme was "Bourne Free at the Movies", and our pastor Dwayne had the mad (or inspired?) idea of dressing us all as nuns during the parade and marching to the soundtrack of "Sister Act".

Who says churches have to be stuffy?

London Pride 2013

Posted by Anna at 19:24 on Saturday, July 1, 2013

Over the past year I've been keeping myself rather busy at work, at home and in my church.

The latter is of course the Metropolitan Community Church of Bournemouth - an inclusive church with a specific ministry to LGBT people. As well as our regular Sunday and services and weekday events, there are various events in the community we get involved in - and one of those is Pride.

This June, the church (and our sister churches MCC North London and MCC South London) met with other Christian denominations to take part in the annual London Pride parade under the auspices of "Christians Together At Pride".

I won't go in too much detail, but suffice it to say that it was quite an experience, and we met some great people both within the parade and along the way. Hopefully the photos linked below (taken from within the parade itself) will speak for themselves.

Wessex Belle

Posted by Anna at 09:16 on Saturday, November 5, 2011

Being a software engineer, my work "uniform" is most usually a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt. It's a pretty laid back profession, which suits me fine most of the time.

However I think it is good to have the opportunity to dress up (or "look nice", in the language of times past) occasionally, though. These days such events seem to be uncommon - when we've dined out with friends recently they've always dressed down themselves, so if you go "all out" you invariably end up looking overdressed.

So, back to the jeans, then.

Of course the one place where I never dress up is when I'm volunteering (coal dust, oil and heels really don't mix), so in that environment I'm invariably in overalls and a high visibility jacket (though if I fancy being a bit nattier I suppose I could always don a safety helmet as well...). Hence it goes without saying that the crowd in Swanage haven't seen me "all done up".

Until Friday, that is - when Beth and I took up a invite to dine on one of the Wessex Belle dining trains laid on to thank staff and volunteers for their efforts this year. It was a great evening, and an experience I can highly recommend - a real credit to the railway and all of the volunteers who work behind the scenes to make it happen.

Aside from feeling very pampered the evening also yielded a photo of me I really rather like:

Wessex Belle

Purbeck Raindrops

Posted by Anna at 21:58 on Friday, October 28, 2011

A slightly different view of Corfe Castle, taken while out volunteering on the Swanage Railway today:

Technically this shot isn't particularly good (it was taken with a point and shoot camera on a whim), but I think the raindrops make it interesting.

Needless to say, this wasn't taken through my usual windscreen - the shot was taken from the cab of one of the line's heritage diesels, where I was riding shotgun en-route to Norden to assist in shunting some wagons.

Mixing it all up

Posted by Anna at 10:49 on Monday, October 3, 2011

One of my friends in the church sent me this photo of me setting up the mixing desk for the open air MCC service at this year's Bourne Free Pride Festival:

Who is this lady?

Posted by Anna at 20:47 on Saturday, September 10, 2011

When I started on this journey 10 years ago I didn't even dare expect to succeed, much less to be accepted and in any way "successful" (whatever that means).

Thankfully I've been blessed (or lucky if you prefer) in that regard, and all things considered I think I've done OK. Despite what has happened with my birth family, my church, friends (both old and new) are great and I couldn't ask for a better family than Beth's. I'm happy, and (by any definition of the word excepting the purely materialist one) successful. That does me fine.

One bonus I didn't dare expect was that I now don't need to make any effort to be accepted - I just am.

If I needed any proof of that, I've certainly had it in the past year since I started volunteering on the Swanage Railway (a very friendly organisation I can highly recommend if you fancy pitching in). The area I volunteer in (Swanage Motive Power Depot) is quite probably the most grimy of the lot, and I'm regularly up to my neck in coal dust, grease and paraffin.

But that doesn't matter to those around me. To those who know my history it's irrelevant, and to those who don't they probably either wouldn't think of it or they wouldn't care anyway. It's not like there aren't any other female loco crews either - quite the contrary.

At the steam gala this weekend I was offered the opportunity to ride shotgun on one of the visiting engines and was snapped by a photographer on Flickr. Never mind how much of a mess I think I look, his caption "Who is this lady?" says it all, I think:

Who is this lady??

Bournemouth Triathlon 2011

Posted by Anna at 10:22 on Monday, July 4, 2011

The Bournemouth Triathlon has to be one of the most colourful events to happen in the town. From a photographer's perspective it's an opportunity that it's hard to ignore, and this year was no exception:

Separation and Loss

Posted by Anna at 09:53 on Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm in a very disconcerting place this morning. Last night - and purely by accident - I discovered that my mum died at the end of April. Although we were never close (especially since my transition in 2002) that's a hard blow for anyone with a heart.

I really feel for my Dad, but given that they'd made it abundantly clear since 2002 that they don't want anything to do with me I'm not really sure whether to call him or not.

I'm also deeply saddened that none of my family thought it worthwhile telling me of her passing, and that I had to find out from an online news site instead.

Damn. Despite all the rebuffs I'd so hoped to be able to be reconciled with them both one day.

Retreating from the world is harder work than you expect

Posted by Anna at 21:35 on Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Hilfield Friary.

Every organisation needs to take stock and regroup every so often, and believe me churches are no exception. Although I've been a Trustee of MCC Bournemouth for something like a year now, we've not had a chance to do that since I joined the Board.

Until this weekend, that is. On Friday we gathered at the Church to leave for a weekend retreat at Hilfield Friary near Cerne Abbas.

The frozen lake just outside our cottage on Saturday morning.

Hilfield is a Franciscan Friary, so it emphasises simplicity and being at one with its surroundings. To quote from the Hilfield Project website:
"At Hilfield Friary in Dorset, UK, the brothers of the Society of St Francis have established a project which brings together both a commitment to peace and justice between people and also a care for our natural environment. Rooted in the life and spirituality of St Francis of Assisi we are working to share the Gospel greeting of peace with those whom we meet and to find that harmony between ourselves and the world around us which we believe is God's desire for all. Hilfield is a place where others can come to join us in seeking peace, reconciliation and the integrity of creation."
It most certainly is that. I've not been anywhere so peaceful for quite some time, and it formed a perfect backdrop to our musings and prayers this weekend.

The view from our kitchen window.

On the Saturday evening we participated in a very moving night service in the Friary Chapel. Coming from an Evangelical background it was a very different style of service from that I'm used to, but it was absolutely beautiful and so, so tranquil. it's also the first time I've sung in Latin! *

* Salve Regina, if you're curious

Although we've been referring to it as "a weekend retreat", in practice we only had one evening and a full day as the aim was to be back in time for the 11am service on Sunday morning. As a result, our "weekend" was a very, very busy one, and by Sunday I was thoroughly exhausted.

The good news is that the brainstorming paid off and we now have a very good idea which areas we need to work on and where to take the Church next. Well worth the thumping headache and yawning which was the inevitable result of far too little sleep this weekend!

A new and slightly different challenge

Posted by Anna at 20:49 on Tuesday, February 02, 2010
The Dorset Trailway, which follows the route of the S&D

I've never been one for too much routine. Fortunately, neither is Beth - since we met in 2004 she has constantly challenged my assumptions about our life and how we live it - everything from what we eat to exercise and interactions with those around us. I've got rather used to it by now.

Our latest challenge - that of challenging the automatic assumption that we drive everywhere we need to - was born the last time petrol prices started to climb (prior to the current series of hikes). As we (fortunately) don't need to commute that challenge is one which hasn't been too onerous for us to maintain. Where practical we make use of public transport (or indeed walk, which both of us rather enjoy), and as a result our cars spend most of the time parked up at the moment.

It was against this background that last summer I became aware of a group campaigning to reopen the rail line from Bournemouth to Bath (one of the more objectionable closures of the 1960s, and one which even now makes it harder than it should be to reach the west of the country from the south coast). Although most of the rail closures of the time were branch lines (some of which have since reopened as heritage lines) this one was an 80 mile long main line. A loss indeed.

As the quote on the New Somerset & Dorset Railway blog says quite eloquantly:
"The original Somerset and Dorset Railway closed very controversially in 1966. It is time that decision, made in a very different world, was reversed. The New S&D was formed in 2009 with the aim of rebuilding as much of the route as possible, at the very least the main line from Bath (Britain's only World Heritage City) to Bournemouth (our premier seaside resort); as well as the branches to Wells, Glastonbury and Wimborne. We will achieve this through a mix of lobbying, trackbed purchase and restoration of sections of the route as they become economically viable. With Climate Change and now Peak Oil firmly on the agenda we are pushing against an open door.

"Our aim is to use a mix of lobbying, strategic track-bed purchase, fundraising and encouragement and support of groups already preserving sections of the route, as well as working with local and national government, local people, countryside groups and railway enthusiasts (of all types!) to restore sections of the route as they become viable."
A worthy aim indeed - and quite obviously a rather long term one (realistically this is a project which could take 20 years to really get going). It shouldn't come as a surprise that the New S&D is just one of several groups involved along the route (for example the stations at Shillingstone and Midsomer Norton have already been restored by heritage groups) but it is by far the most ambitious. it goes without saying that the aims of the New S&D are deliberately complementary to the other groups working to preserve and restore sections of the line and that the more involvement from them in the project the better.

Beth and I attended one of the early meetings of the group last September, and another late last month. At that second meeting I was invited to join the committee of the group, which in practice will probably mean I'll end up doing publicity and a bit of writing (in fact the former has already started - see Living in Electric Dreams on the group blog. Since then the group has already secured one of the stations on the route (Midford, near Bath) and is starting clearance work at Spetisbury.

If the feedback we've been getting from others who've learnt about the scheme are anything to go by, there is a great deal of interest in the group's aims from local people in the area. This is certainly a different type of cause for me (and certainly a world away from Gender or Faith issues!) but I'm always game for a new challenge.

Change we (are not allowed to) see

Posted by Anna at 20:41 on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This is just classic. Some bright spark at Labour HQ thought it would be a good idea to start a Flickr group for photos recording Labour's achievements since 1997. Unfortunately they didn't anticipate that photographers would instead post scans of the "Stop and Search" cards they'd been given by the police when stopped for (you guessed it) taking photographs.

Oops. They've now thrown their toys out of the pram, locked discussions on the group and are busy deleting images which don't suit their message:

Of course, the response of the photographers has been to start their own group, entitled Change we are not allowed to see and upload the banned images there instead. If it goes viral (as these things often do) that's one big backfire by the politicos.

Epic fail, guys. Really. I mean, WTF were you thinking? (and just as few days after the photographers protest in Trafalgar Square over misuse of stop and search powers, which just beggars belief)

Of course, this could easily be just about any political party rather than just Labour. I doubt many politicos fully appreciate what social media have really done for mass communications, after all.

Labour: Change we see but you can't photograph (Telegraph article)
Change we see (the Labour one)
Change we are not allowed to see (photograpers bite back)

Fun, this technology stuff, isn't it?

Self Explanatory

Posted by Anna at 12:00 on Saturday, January 23, 2010

2009: Ups, Downs, Potholes and Fog...

Posted by Anna at 20:07 on Thursday, December 31, 2009

When I took the picture above on Boxing Day (it's taken from the summit of Titterstone Clee in Shropshire, by the way) it occured to me that it rather symbolised the year we've just been through - a a maze of ups, downs, potholes and political fog, mixed in with a smattering of industrial devastation. At least, that's what it's felt like watching the news reports throughout the year. Pretty depressing all round!

From a personal perspective this is also the year when I've finally given up on my birth family. Fortunately, I now have a new family, and one which doesn't have the hang-ups and embitterment my old one seems to dwell in. Oh well - it's their loss really.

Whatever the coming year brings you, I hope it's better than the last.

P.S. I'm conscious that I've not written a thing in this blog for many months. In part that's because I'm a little unsure what to use it for now...the trans stuff is part of my past now, not my present (although it can occasionally raise interesting issues those aren't my real focus anymore). Hence I've taken a sabbatical and concentrated on writing elseware (dev forums, twitter etc.).

I have in mind to retheme and refocus the site, and when I do I may start writing here more regularly again. Who knows?

Heartwarming Blog Post from a parent

Posted by Anna at 06:01 on Saturday, April 11, 2009
It is an unfortunate fact that far too many transpeople have bad experiences with their families when the come out. Faced with that reality it is heartwarming to hear from a parent who has been strong enough to support her daughter through transition:

People just do not understand:

My daughter was born a male, but right from the word go I had a feeling she was in the wrong body and I didnt know enough about transition then to help her. Many years my daughter suffered, feeling she could not talk to people about it. So one day i sat her down, and asked her what we are going to do about it. I tried to get her help, but she was too scared. I was a bit mean to her, because i was fed up with her being upset. I said to her "we will have to do something to help you along". So I tried to get her to a psychiatrist to help her, but she didnt feel she could talk to him.

Many years went past i kept trying for her, and she managed to talk to a trans woman on a chat site. Between the two of us things have changed, but there was so much bias out there it is hard sometimes. People need to realise that it is not a choice for a transsexual to transition (This includes doctors and professionals). They do not live with the person, they do not know the person how can they judge. I know this person and this person is a female, and I want people to realise this.

Unfortunately, the experience of many transpeople I know (and as a moderator of a large trans-support group in the UK I know a lot!) is that the "people who do not understand" are often their own families rather than colleagues, friends and neighbours. Society is changing, and the stigma some parents imagine having a transsexual child will being is - for the most part - in their own mind rather than a reality. As a result, far too many transpeople are estranged from their parents.

Go in peace this Easter, and do not lose heart.