Welcome to my blog, which I started way back in December 2002 - long before social media was a thing! With the advent of Facebook, Twitter etc. I don't write that often here now, but you never know when I might feel the urge to do so.
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Today is my last day of freedom before going back to work tomorrow. It feels a bit daunting, particularly the prospect of getting up at 5am to dilate!
This morning I started my dilation at 6am so that I could get it out of the way before going to Church. It was good to be back, although the temperature in the Church wasn't particularly pleasant (after 2 months of Thai weather the climate in the UK is is taking some getting used to). Afterwards I had a wander around town...not particularly to look for anything, although I did want to take in my ankle boots for re-healing (I broke a heal jumping off stage at Mummies Nightclub in Pattaya 3 weeks ago!).
Before heading back I stopped for a coffee and a baguette at one of the cafes in Festival Place. I couldn't help but laugh when a passerby said to me "You need a massage" when he saw me doing stretching exercises (something I learnt from Wannee on my first visit to Thailand) in my seat. Incidentally, he was right - I could do with a massage!
The plan for the rest of today is to take it easy. Red Dwarf IV beckons...
Incidentally, did you know that Red Dwarf -The Movie is in the pipeline...?
Saturday, February 28, 2004
I couldn't sleep last night (a habit I'm really going to have to break before I go back to work on Monday) and at 4am this morning I finally gave in and turned on the TV to distract me.
What I saw thoroughly shocked me - a BBC news report on "torture training camps" in Zimbabwe:
- President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned.
The Zimbabwean government says the camps are job training centres, but those who have escaped say they are part of a brutal plan to keep Mugabe in power.
Former recruits to the camps have spoken to the BBC's Panorama programme about a horrific training programme that breaks young teenagers down before encouraging them to commit atrocities.
Seeing what is happening there - and elseware in the world - just makes me realise how privileged I am, and is all the more reason to support organisations like Amnesty International which are working to promote human rights worldwide.
Friday, February 27, 2004
I never cease to be amazed at how many Christian transfolk there are. Ever since I started my journey, I've come across one after another - often in the most unlikely circumstances! It happened yet again last night.
Sadly, many are isolated and without a fellowship - often because of either the reaction they've received from Churches when they've revealed they are trans or the fear of it. That's a real tragedy. I've heard some true horror stories in the last couple of years - people being disowned, judged, exorcised or condemned as "Spawn of Satan" * no less.
- * I had that one myself from a truly wholesome individual by the name of Robert Baral after I took him to task for posting hateful comments on a friends guestbook, something that's apparently a hobby of his.
Tragically that sort of treatment can all too easily cause those on the receiving end of it to lose their Faith. A case in point is a young girl I met in 2002, who I discovered had been ejected from a Baptist Church at a young age (17 I believe) when she confided her intention to transition. Her knowledge of the Bible is much more comprehensive than mine, but her Faith is effectively gone now. I can only hope it will return, but at the moment she's in the wilderness.
However, it's always heartwarming to meet others whose Faith has survived (or even been strengthened), and I have a feeling that's becoming more and more common as society changes - and with it, the Church. Certainly, my own Church (St. Thomas of Canterbury in Worting) has been truly wonderful. When I come across others who are without a Fellowship, I'm reminded of how fortunate I am.
Sometimes you just know that certain things in your life aren't a coincidence. Those I meet are more often than not isolated in their Faith, and don't even realise that their are so many others among the trans community in the UK. It's the least I can do to put them into contact with each other.
I'll wrap this up with by mentioning a very interesting account I read yesterday on Stephanie Robinson's site. One of the Christian groups in the UK which has opposed the acceptance of transfolk most vociforously is the Evangelical Alliance. To any of us campaigning for the acceptance and rights of trans people in the UK the misguided and inconsistant rhetoric of their spokesman Don Horrocks is very well known.
Last month Stephanie had a meeting with him to try to change things. Her account of that meeting suggests that the organisation hasn't really encountered those of us who've successfully transitioned and got on with our lives:
- "In two hours of discussion and debate Dr Don Horrocks discovered that he had never come across anyone quite like me. He knew that I was not typical of those who had met and pleasantly surprised as he finally recognised a quiet God-given confidence in my character. We had a fantastic meeting not agreeing on all aspects but agreeing to disagree. We parted on excellent terms and he wants to invite me back for lunch to meet with others and collectively work on revamping some of the published EA material on Transsexualism and perhaps collectively produce a guidance booklet for churches as a collaborative project. We should all give praise for such a wonderful and productive outcome. I am now really looking forward to our next meeting over lunch and will give another update then."
*Apparently Stephanie has taken a lot of criticism (and even abuse) from some within the trans community over this meeting. I hope those people will reflect upon the message of confrontation they are preaching. God is Love, after all.
The tide is gradually turning.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
I'm wearing my activist hat today. The second reading of the Gender Recognition Bill in the House of Commons took place on Monday evening, and I've just been reading the transcript of the debate. It's interesting to see how MPs are coping with the complex issues our very existance raises, and I'm pleased to say that with a couple of exceptions (one of whom seemed to be a mouthpiece for the Evangelical Alliance, as he repeated their party line exactly), all who spoke were sympathetic and informed.
I was particularly touched by part of the speech made by Lynne Jones (the Labour MP for Selly Oak, and Chair of the Parliamentary Forum on Transsexualism):
- "I pay especial tribute to those people, who did a very difficult thing. Their bravery has, in many ways, been responsible for the sea change in public opinion that has happened over the past 10 or 11 years. We organised our first fringe meetings at the party conferences in 1995. I pay tribute in particular to Christine Burns, who is vice-president of Press for Change, because she spoke at fringe meetings at the Conservative party conference, as she was an active member of the Conservative party at that time.
"When we had the first fringe meeting at the Labour conference, I remember being in the lift with two journalists who had come to witness what they thought would be a freak show. The remarks that I overheard them making were, frankly, disgraceful. We still see evidence of such attitudes in some articles in the press, but I am pleased to say that that is slowly changing. It was wonderful to see the faces of those two female journalists drop when they saw the person who was there to talk about her experience as a transsexual."
This morning I drafted a letter to him asking why, which I'll be shortly be hand delivering. I know others in the area who are planning to do the same....
- Andrew Hunter MP,
Basingstoke Conservative Association,
149d Pack Lane,
Basingstoke RG22 5HN.
First of all, I would like to offer you my personal thanks for your support in my discussions with North Hampshire Primary Care Trust last year. Since your intervention, they now seem to be operating a much more enlightened policy with regard to the medical treatment available to trans women, which is not only benefitting myself but also others in the area.
I � and other transpeople both in Basingstoke and elseware in the UK � have been following the progress of the Gender Recognition Bill through Parliament (in my case from Thailand until a few days ago!).
However, I was absolutely dismayed to learn yesterday that you voted against the Bill in its Second Reading in the Commons on Monday.
I would like to ask you to elaborate on your objections, and what alternative proposals you will be making to bring UK Law into compliance with the ECHR judgements of Goodwin v United Kingdom and 'I' v United Kingdom which prompted the Government to introduce this Bill. You may want to study these judgements in detail.
Whilst the Bill in its current form is certainly not perfect, it does go a long way to addressing some of the absurdities inherent in current law. The current marriage laws are a good example � under current UK Law, legally I can marry only women, despite living and working as a woman and having undergone irreversible genital reassignment and facial feminisation surgery. Similarly, trans men can marry only men under current UK Law.
That's clearly absurd. I�m recognised as female by the Government for virtually all other purposes, so why on earth should I be considered legally male for the purposes of marriage?
I sincerely hope you will reconsider your objections, and look forward to reading your considered response. I would also say that I would be very happy to meet with you to discuss the issues involved in detail. I�m also sure that others in the area will be equally willing to do so.
- Anna-Jayne Metcalfe
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Now here's an interesting thing. It's not often I'm surprised in a nice way by my bathroom scales in the morning, but that's what happened today - I weighed in at 136.4 lbs (9 st 10.4 lbs).
That's rather surprising when you consider that I came back from Thailand last week 2 lbs heavier than that (having been 141 lbs when I went out there) and I haven't exactly been dieting this last week. In fact, I was out for a meal both last night and Friday night, and despite munching more today during the day than I usually would, I'm feeling a bit light headed too.
I've felt this way before. I should explain that back in Spring 2001 I weighed nearly 14 st (196 lbs) and that I spent the next 10 months crash dieting, until I got down to 9 st 8 lbs (134 lbs). By the time I started hormone therapy at the end of May 2002 that had crept up to 10 st (140 lbs).
I stayed on the same diet, and after a week or two of feeling light headed, tired and the rest I realised I couldn't continue while my body was developing and I eased off a little. The light headed feelings disappeared, but my weight went up to 10 st 7 lbs (147 lbs), where it stayed until I flew to Thailand for my reassignment surgery last November. When I flew back I was 9 st 12 lbs (138 lbs), but over Christmas it crept up to 10 st 1 lb (141 lbs).
The upshot is that I'm wondering if the weight loss and light headedness could be down to the fact that my body is now trying to adjust to its changed chemistry and needs more energy at the moment to make up for the breast and other tissue development I lost while I was off hormones for my reassingment and facial feminisation surgeries. I can certainly feel the tell tale lumpiness in my breasts which suggests they're growing again (conspicuously absent until recently).
It's certainly fascinating. The next question of course, is whether I can keep my weight and figure the way I like them over the coming months...
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
I'm finally back in The Land of a Thousand Roundabouts. I was met at Heathrow yesterday evening by my friends Kirsty and Charlotte and spent last night at their flat, before coming back here this morning. Thanks girls!
It's wierd being back. It hasn't really sunk in yet, but it'll certainly be good to see friends here again!
Monday, February 16, 2004
I've never liked goodbyes, and especially not when the friends I'm saying goodbye to will be so far away so soon. This afternoon I said goodbye to my friends at the Suporn Clinic (especially Wannee, Aey, Fai and Aoi) for the second time...and this time I know it'll be some time before I see them again. Before I left Aey gave me some gifts to bring back to friends in the UK and Dr. Suporn's wife Aoi gave me a Buddha statue.
I was quite tearful as I walked back to the Mercure to check-out.
This time tomorrow I'll be well and truly on my way home.
It's going to be so strange. I'm so looking forward to seeing my friends back home again, but I'm going to miss my friends here in Thailand so much. One day I'll be back, of that I'm sure.
Sunday, February 15, 2004
Tonight is my last night in Chonburi following my FFS with Dr. Suporn on 21st January. Tomorrow I check out for the trip to Bangkok, before my flight to Heathrow on Tuesday. I can't believe I'm going, and that all too soon I'll be back at work.
Although this trip has been a painful one for me (I found FFS really knocked my self-confidence, and I was already struggling with a lot of emotional pain which didn't help), I'm really not looking forward to leaving everyone here behind again...this time knowing that I won't be returning for some time.
During the last week the swelling has gone down enough for me to start regaining my self confidence again, and being in Pattaya certainly helped me to do that! Just being able to don my bikini and go swimming was a big boost, but all the partying, dancing etc. really has helped too - despite wearing me out completely! (I didn't start the pole-dancing on Thursday night, honest...!)
There is a price to pay of course. The removal of such a significant area of bone from the chin/jaw means there's a risk I may need a lower facelift at a later date (I'll have to see once the swelling goes down), and ironically, the one thing I didn't need before (a tracheal shave) I may now need as it looks like the size of my chin was helping to mask it.
We'll see. I'm not about to become a surgery junkie by any means, but if there's anything that needs fixing later I'll certainly do it. On the plus side, if that happens I'd get an opportunity to see all my friends in Thailand again...
I'll be publishing an FFS diary on my website in due course, but it'll take me a while to catch up on the typing...
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Some rather important news from Press For Change that broke here in Thailand yesterday. We were celebrating here in Thailand last night!
- In a division which was counted at 18:37, the House of Lords passed the Gender Recognition Bill (GerBil). By a majority of 155 votes to 57, the Lords have now sent the bill on its way to the House of Commons. That's a majority of nearly three to one!
In all the stages of the Bill's progress in the Lords, no opposition amendments have been carried.
The closest the government came to a defeat was in the very close vote this evening on Baroness O'Cathain's amendment No. 3, which would have allowed churches to exclude trans people from religious services. However, the amendment was opposed by two bishops: even the very conservative Bishop of Winchester said that Baroness O'Cathain was going "too far" ... and that was in response to an amendment which had been toned down a long way since its appearance at Report Stage. The Bishops' opposition may have been an important factor in ensuring the defeat of the amendment.
The next parliamentary stage of the Gender Recognition Bill will be its First Reading in the House of Commons. That step may happen as soon as tomorrow, 11th February. We will all have a lot more hard work to do to help the bill pass through the Commons. But tonight, I think we are all due a little cautious celebration.
The Lords was always going to be the more difficult of the two Houses of Parliament: the predominantly aged peers have derailed a lot of other progressive legislation. But in the end, they vote by nearly three to one to protect our human rights, and to implement the judgment of European Court of Human Rights.
Tomorrow, I will write to thank the many wonderful peers who have worked so hard to ensure the bill's passage through the Lords. But tonight, I'm going to treat myself to a few hours off-duty, to celebrate the success of all the hundreds of trans campaigners whose hard work has made it possible for me to write the headline:
Lords PASS the Gender Recognition Bill by 3-1
Best wishes, Claire McNab (Vice-president, Press For Change)
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
We're now in Pattaya in the Royal Twin Palace Hotel. Although it's not up to the same standard as the Mercure in Chonburi it does have the advantage of having a swimming pool and being in Pattaya (where there's much more to do). The change of scenery has done a lot of good too - I'm feeling a lot better about things now.
Naturally, we've been taking advantage of the opportunity to look around and sample the local nightlife (of which there's a lot). On our first evening here we ended up at the Honeypot bar in Soi 9 where Natta (one of the clinic staff) works in the evening:
After being pretty much limited to the Mercure until now we cut loose a bit that night and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The atmosphere was relaxed, the company good and we were in the mood to party...if you've ever seen Coyote Ugly you'll get the general idea - although we didn't go quite so far as to dance on the bar or squirt water at the other customers...
The following day we were pretty much wiped out as a result, although I did manage to take my first swim in the hotel pool in the late afternoon! In the evening we found a wonderfully friendly (and much more authentic than I've ever found in the UK) Indian Restaurant to dine in...there's certainly no shortage of places to go here - whether to eat, dance or chill.
This morning I was swimming again, but this time I wasn't alone so there's a record of the occasion:
Last night after a fairly lazy day we went bar hopping again, although not as exhuberantly as the other evening. First we went back to the Honeypot again where the barstaff welcomed us with big smiles! Although Natta wasn't there tonight, it was still fun...Helen and I played several games of pool (I was dancing in between taking shots, much to the amusement of the other patrons!).
It's the first time I've played in years, and I was surprised to find I haven't lost my touch - although long balls are still a weak spot (maybe because my vision isn't 20/20)....
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
The days are passing fast here now. I fly home in just under two weeks - it'll be a big wierd coming to terms with winter weather again after getting used to the heat in Thailand (the temperature here is about 35C at the moment). I'm relocating to Pattaya on Saturday so hopefully I'll be able to lounge by the pool or even do some swimming!
On the healing front, the swelling is going down quite fast now and everything looks very good so far. Hopefully there won't be any need for further surgery after this.