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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.

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Even after 6 years, I still know how to use a sword

Friday, May 28, 2004

Those who've known me for a while know that I used to be involved in a historical re-enactment/living history group (The Hounds of the Morrigan). Although I left shortly before our firstborn arrived in 1998, since I transitioned I've often thought about going back. Despite finding acceptance just about everywhere I've turned I've found that to be a scary prospect - something which was brought home to me when I visited Tewkesbury Fayre (the biggest of the 15th Century events in the UK) last July as a spectator. Friends who went with me then will be able to tell you that I looked absolutely terrified!

Two of my collection: a 15th Century 'bollock' dagger, and a Landsknecht KatzbalgerWell last night I finally I picked up one of my swords (the Katzbalger in the photo on the right for those who know their blades...) and did some training with the group again.

It all came about because of my old friend Mark (who I only got back in touch with last Summer). Although I can be pretty outgoing at times, l knew I couldn't face going alone at first, and when he invited me along to a training session this week I jumped at the chance. As it turned out, there were 4 of us going along together, so I certainly wasn't alone!

It was pretty strange going back after 6 years away (believe me I was really nervous when I walked in the door), but fun, and definitely worth it. As well as quite a few old friends there were a lot of new faces there who don't know who I am or about my past. While I don't particularly mind if the newbies find out about me, it's rather fun to keep them wondering for a while - which I'm sure they will if I start playing with polearms again!

Although I'm pretty open about who I am (though much more on the web than in person), I don't see any particular need to raise my past with the majority of people I meet - it's simply not relevant. Personally, I don't see that as a precursor to going "stealth" as some may expect...just as a confirmation that the further behind me transition gets the less relevant it will be to my day to day life. If you've watched the way my site has changed over the past few months you may have noticed some signs of that.

Anyway, although I only sparred for a little while with shortsword and buckler it rapidly became obvious that I haven't forgotten how to showfight.

Despite falling flat on my bum at one point (that'll teach me to wear healed boots I guess!) I got past Mark's guard a few times, and it felt like my swordsmanship was far safer than I expected it to be after all this time. That said, I'm still pretty weak at the moment and it's going to take quite some time before I'm ready to don full armour and throw a polearm around - or take part in a "mass bash" (as the "games" the group play at the end of a training session are known).

I didn't get back home until 2am, so today I've been both aching and exhausted! All in all, yesterday was a pretty eventful day...especially when you consider that I had two policeman and an RAC man turn out to rescue me on the A30 yesterday morning too...

But that's another story.

Posted by Anna at 22:16 | Get Link

GerBill: "I am the Law"

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Fantastic news!

We've just received word that the Gender Recognition Bill has passed its Third reading in the House of Commons by 355 votes to 46. Subject to Royal Assent it's now Law.

Although there's still a long way to go, this is a big day for us, especially given what were up against.

Posted by Anna at 19:54 | Get Link

Laser + Bikini = Ouch!

Monday, May 24, 2004

I've just spent another busy day with friends in London.

As I had an appointment to have laser treatment on my "landing strip" (the treatment area is called "extended bikini") I thought I'd make a day of it and arranged to meet up with friends too. It turned out to be a hectic day (I've got the blisters to prove it!) and a great deal of fun.

My appointment (at Lasercare in Shaftesbury Avenue) wasn't until 2:30pm so the obvious thing to do was lunch with friends beforehand. I arrived at Leicester Square at 12:20pm or so, and met my friend Jayne in the Garfunkels next to the tube station (not where I'd planned, but that's another story!). Yasmine joined us an hour or so later and then well prepared (painkillers and two glasses of wine!) we headed down the road to Lasercare so I could get zapped.

It was certainly good to see Issy (the clinician who normally treats me there) again. I haven't seen her since August last year, and she was sweet enough to send me some wonderfully cheering messages while I was out in Thailand. I consider her to be a good friend, and we always share a laugh when we meet.

Although I've had this treatment before, I was pre-op then, and although it wasn't too painful, I had a feeling it might be a little sore this time. Boy was I right! Although most of the area I was having treated wasn't too bad, when she got to the area of my perennium just below the vaginal opening I nearly hit the ceiling. Youch!!!

Fortunately, it was over quickly...and I won't have to go back for another 8-10 weeks. With any luck it'll only take another three or four treatments to finish the job too (my chest took six, and this was my third on my bikini area). Incidentally, she also did a patch test on my armpits. I might as well get them cleared while I'm at it...

Afterwards the three of us headed for Charing Cross Hospital (not my favourite place, although I've never been incarcerated there) to visit Sue, who's recovering from surgery. It was good to see her, and by all accounts she's recovering well. By now she should have had her "grand unveiling", and should be well and truly involved in the local dilation team...

The next stop on our trek was the London Institute (Russell Reid's practice) where we'd arranged to meet Cathryn and Karen. While we were there Gail turned up, and in the end four of us (Cathryn and Karen had to dash) went for a lovely meal at Balans West before heading home.

I got back at 10:30pm, and by 11pm I was tied to the bed dilating as usual...

Posted by Anna at 23:32 | Get Link

Interrupted by two (not so) strange men...

Sunday, May 23, 2004

It's been a chilled out day. Yesterday Andrea and I decided we'd cook a roast today so this lunchtime the pair of us wandered over to Asda to buy what we needed. Although we totally cheated and bought a pre-cooked chicken I have to say it was lovely. I can't take much credit for that though, as she did most of the cooking this time. I do the curries!

After that the rest of the afternoon was not surprisingly a bust - I feel asleep, waking with a start at about 7:30pm. As my hair needed re-dying I'd bought some hair dye yesterday and at about 9:30pm I started dying my hair.

Have you ever noticed how some people have a knack of choosing the most inappropriate (or embarassing!) times to visit? Sure enough while I was waiting for the dye to set I heard Andrea calling for me. There were two men asking for me at the front door!

It turned out to be my old friend Mark and one of his friends - they'd just returned from a re-enactment event and thought they'd drop in and say hi. There was me with dye everywhere and a plastic bag on my head! Quite honestly I would rather they'd shown up while I was dilating. At least I'm not self conscious about that.

Never mind. Mark's a good (and long standing friend) and he knows to expect the unexpected from me! It was good to see him, and as promised I've loaned him and Debs my medieval tent for a show next weekend. It'll be the first time it's been used since (I think) 1997. Wow.

Who says life isn't full of funny little surprises?

Posted by Anna at 23:16 | Get Link

From Tears to Laughter: All it takes is friends

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I just wanted to say a big thank you to Jayne, Laura, Carol and Gail for meeting up with me after my rather traumatic appointment in London this afternoon. You turned an afternoon which would otherwise have been filled with tears to one filled with fun and laughter.

It means so much to me to be among friends, and I can't say thank you enough.

I fully expect my next trip into London to be much less painful, even though it involves having my bikini line lasered!

Posted by Anna at 21:03 | Get Link

I've come a long, long way

Monday, May 17, 2004

Today is a bit of an anniversary - it's two years today since I first saw a consultant psychiatrist (Dr. Russell Reid) to discuss my feelings about my gender. By then I knew I had to transition if I was to have any prospect of living a happy and fulfilled life. I think it's fitting to use this anniversary to illustrate how far I've come since then.

Believe it or not, when I first confronted my feelings in August 2001 the last thing I expected was to end up where I am now. The prospect of transitioning (as I learnt it was called) absolutely terrified me. Nevertheless, once I actually began the process each approaching hurdle turned out to be far less scary than I expected. Even the prospect of learning to merely talking about how I felt was terrifying - but once I finally did, I found friends were sympathetic and accepted me for who I was. That's a pattern that's been repeated ever since and something I find truly heartening.

That's not to say it's not a painful process - it certainly is at times (as the contents of this journal can testify) - but I found that the pain was (and is) balanced by all the wonderful things that have happened too - and the amazing friends I've met along the way.

I've certainly come a long way since my realisation that I needed to come to terms with who I am (as you can probably see from the pictures below). For me, my life is just now beginning anew - and I fully intend to enjoy it.

If I can survive this experience and rebuild my life, I'm sure most others can too.

Summer, 1998

Anna-Jayne Metcalfe
March, 2004

I think the picture on the right rather speaks for itself!

Posted by Anna at 08:30 | Get Link

The little coincidences that litter my life

Sunday, May 16, 2004

I had another of those little "coincidences" today.

While I was in Pattaya in February I went swimming for the first time in years...and certainly the first time in a bikini!

I loved it, but since returning to the UK I've not had the confidence to try it here. A big part of that is a result of my feeling a lot less confident here than I did out in Thailand, and the fact that my face still isn't clear of hair doesn't help (although it's a lot clearer than it was in February, but then it was less of an issue in Thailand than it is here). However, one of those "reasons" is now getting noticeably less of an issue as each week goes face is slowly but surely clearing as a result of the electrolysis I'm having.

To cut a long story short sometime during the week I decided it was time I had a go. Unfortunately with the upset I felt on Friday I wasn't in any state to go yesterday, and decided to go today instead. I was still worried that I'd bottle out again though!

It didn't happen. This morning after Church I mentioned to one of my friends that I was planning to go swimming today and so my surprise she told me she was doing the same and invited me to join her and her family!

We met at the Aquadrome at 4pm, and spent a hour or so in the pools and riding the waterslides (woo!). I had a great time, but it certainly made me realise how out of condition I am at the moment. I've a lot of work to do, that's for sure.

Coincidence? That depends on your view of life I guess...I know where I stand on that one!

Posted by Anna at 22:19 | Get Link

Can it really be six months ago already?

Friday, May 14, 2004

Exactly six months ago today - 14th November 2003 - I was waking up on the morning of my reassignment surgery and thinking about what was to happen that day. I didn't even know if I'd live to see the evening.

Fortunately God smiled on me, and the experience I had was - despite being incredibly painful (I was a bit unlucky in that regard) - one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was truly a spiritual journey for me as well as a physical one, and I'll never forget the wonderful friends I made there and the way they looked after me.

So much has happened since then...and (from another perspective) so little. In January I returned to Thailand for facial feminisation surgery (an adventure in itself!), and now I'm back at work and well on the road to a "normal" life. I may even have a go at swinging a sword around again soon...

It's quite something. My skin fits perfectly now, and that in itself is quite a miracle. The contentment I feel in myself now is indescribable.

I can still scarely believe it's so long ago already though!

Posted by Anna at 00:13 | Get Link

Ouch, ouch and more ouch!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I had my weekly electrolysis session tonight. The pain was much worse than usual - despite the painkillers (two tramadol and two ibuprofen) I take before each session and the anaesthetic cream (Emla) I apply to the areas to be treated.

Normally when I have electro or laser I'm able to distance myself pretty effectively from the physical pain....although I can feel it, it's remote and mostly easy to ignore. I imagine it's similar to a state you can reach through meditation - although I'm awake, I'm about as relaxed as you can get, and when I finally get up it really shows!

Tonight even that barely helped. When Vanessa first started doing the left hand side of my chin I nearly hit the roof! Although she turned down the current, it was still excruciatingly painful, and - unusually - having my top lip (normally the most painful area) done tonight actually hurt less than my chin.

That's just weird. The only explanation I can think of is that the nerves in my chin (which were pretty badly disturbed during my FFS) are waking up. Indeed, even touching my chin lightly feels rather unpleasant at the moment.

I wonder how long this will last? Until it fades, if you're driving past Farnborough on a Wednesday evening between 6:30pm and 8pm just listen for the screams, and you'll be able to find me with no problem whatsoever.

Posted by Anna at 21:55 | Get Link

Testosterone does strange things to some people

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Last night (while I was dilating naturally!) I was IM'd on Yahoo by a 25 year old guy. That's not at all unusual (as any woman with a Yahoo profile can probably attest), but usually when a guy I don't know pops up like that there's a good chance he's after a sex partner - or marriage.

I'm usually very guarded with such people. I don't know them, after all. I do, however try to educate when the opportunity arises. Requests to meet or give out my phone number are firmly but politely declined (I'm not that stupid!) and I'll usually answer a request of "have you got any more pics?" with a suggestion to look at the About Me page on my site...which hints at the fact that I'm trans (if they actually bother reading it rather than just looking at the pictures of course!).

I didn't have to do that last night - this guy had obviously already looked at my site as he knew I was trans (my IM profiles don't say that). That in itself is unusual enough...but he also asked some quite detailed questions about hair removal, surgery etc. - and even asked about the prospects of those like me being able to have children in the future and to see pictures of the surgery itself.

I was actually beginning to think this guy might be a transperson in denial when he dropped the punchline:

So there we have it. Testosterone does strange things to some people. :squeamish:

Posted by Anna at 06:52 | Get Link

It's one of those days...

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

It's been one of those days when I've felt like I'm bashing my head against a brick wall.

It's not any single thing, but more a combination of them...broken builds, frustration at old code, lack of specifications for new products, out of date tools (we're still waiting for Visual Studio.NET at work - although thanks to Nick Hodapp I've had a copy for home use since August 2002...) and so on...not to mention the emotional load I'm carrying outside of work.

I shed a few tears today, but at least it passed quickly...and (as always) something happened to make me smile. About an hour before leaving work I wandered into the canteen to refill my mug (I know - I drink way too much coffee at work) and discovered that some considerate soul had left some lemon cake out for anyone that fancied a nibble.

It may not be chocolate, but this girl ain't fussy...or at least, not when it comes to free nibbles!

Posted by Anna at 19:47 | Get Link

10 years ago this weekend...

Monday, May 03, 2004

So much can change in far less time than you realise.

10 years ago this weekend I was standing on the field at Battle Abbey (near Hastings) participating in my first major re-enactment event. The event was called "Armies Through The Ages" and featured groups representing most major periods from Roman to 1940s. I was there with the Hounds of the Morrigan as part of the Greyhound Company of the Tudor Household. During our part of the event two companies (one Tudor and one Landsknecht) totalling only 50 of us entertained a crowd of 4000! In stark contrast to this weekend, it was (very!) hot - and incredible fun. Once I'd stepped on that field for the first time, the re-enactment bug well and truly bit me...and even now it hasn't truly let go

One of the funniest things about that weekend was what happened every evening after the public had gone home - everybody hit the town in search of beer, food and fun. After all, why sit in a field next to a ruined Abbey when there's a town full of pubs and takeaways to explore...

We invariably did in in costume (apart from the Ermine Street Guard, who bottled out and just wore their group sweatshirts). We Tudors (along with the Landsknecht tarts accompanying us and making us look drab) and the people from the English Civil War Society occupied one pub, along with (I seem to remember) some of the (V)ermines - who got wound up in good humoured (but pretty merciless) fashion about not coming out in costume.

Perhaps not surprisingly I can't remember a great deal about that evening, but a couple of memories stand out and just beg to be told:

That's just one of many memories I could talk about from the time I spent on the re-enactment circuit. So much has happened since then - in the intervening 10 years I've got married (1996), had two children (1998 and 2000), divorced (2002), transitioned (2002) and had major surgery to reconstruct my genitals and face (late 2003 - early 2004).

Ironically I've now almost come full circle...I may well be taking part in an event or two this year (though as a non-combatant for now - I'm under no illusions about my fitness or recovery).

Life can certainly throw some surprises at us, can't it?

Posted by Anna at 14:08 | Get Link

Taking a break from the Throw-It-All-In School of Catering

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Last night was one of those rare evenings where I actually cooked from a receipe.

That's unusual enough for me, but even more atonishing is that I prepared two dishes at once - a Mushroom and Green Coriander Curry and a side dish of Potatoes with Browned Onions (Bihari Bhujia). Both receipes are from Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible.

I love cooking, but living alone as I do there's little incentive to do anything innovative. Every so often I buy a new cookery book that looks good or because I'm curious about how to prepare something (Thai cuisine is a good example!). Once I've skimmed them, they tend to sit on the shelves - when I do cook I invariably improvise using ingredients I have rather than planning the meal and making sure I have what I need to prepare it.

Yesterday I had the urge to try something new, and those two receipes looked different enough to anything I'd normally prepare to be enticing. I had most of the ingredients too - including all of the spices I needed (I'm a spice nut, if you don't know. I've invariably got a cupboardful of interesting flavours).

It worked. Although I'm not convinced the side dish suited the main course, I enjoyed both cooking and eating it, and I guess that's all that matters. Mmmmmm.....

Posted by Anna at 17:26 | Get Link

I think I've narrowly escaped having a hangover today

Saturday, May 01, 2004

I think I've narrowly escaped having a hangover today.

Last night was one of those rare nights when I had a chance to get out and party. The occasion was a leaving party for my housemate Angie, who's flying back to Thailand shortly (although she lives in Chang Mai, she works over here for three months each year, and this year she's been staying with us).

The party was held at La Tasca - a Tapas restaurant/bar in Festival Place, Basingstoke. Patrico (one of my housemates) and his girlfriend Rosalind work there, so we were guaranteed a warm welcome - and I have to say the atmosphere was amazing!

Despite hardly knowing anyone (just about everyone there was a work colleague of Angie) I had a fantastic time, although there were occasions when I ended up feeling a little alone - a reminder that socially I've a long way to go. It was also very, very loud in there - which is a real challenge for me as I'm not good at projecting my voice at the best of times.

Last night also illustrated something I've known for a while - that no matter how well I appear to "pass" in day to day life, a social event such as this is much more demanding. A couple of people I met last night "read" me immediately, and although most of the time that doesn't worry me too much, in a social context it can be very limiting.

Obviously I need to do more ...first and foremost on my voice. I should explain that I've effectively had no voice therapy, and what I have achieved so far is the result of a lot of practice and hard work starting in 2002. Although I've managed to feminise my singing voice quite effectively, I have a big problem with confidence and my speaking voice has proved to be much more elusive. Although I can chatter to myself quite happily while driving to work in the car, once I arrive at work and open my mouth to say hi I get an attack of nerves and my voice drops out.

To that end, I've just acquired a copy of Andrea James' voice training programme Finding Your Female Voice, and I'm hoping that will help me gain the confidence I need. It looks very comprehensive by the way, and based on what I've seen so far I can't recommend it highly enough.

I've also decided that sooner or later I'll definitely have a tracheal shave done (incidentally, if you're wondering why I didn't get it done when I had my facial feminisation surgery, I explain how that came about on my FFS page). With a bit of luck I can combine that with a return visit to Thailand to see my friends over there again...

After drinking far too much (and probably eating too little to soak it all up!) 7 of us headed into town to hit one of the clubs. We ended up at Chicagos. It's the first time I've been clubbing in Basingstoke, and if that place is representative I think I'd rather go to Reading or London!

Although the barstaff were OK (despite being understaffed), the door staff appeared to have no sense of humour or any vestiges of common sense (if they didn't have a really detailed rulebook to follow, they'd undoubtedly be totally lost). As for their "no drinks on the dancefloor" rule surely even the dimmest member of staff should be able to figure out that the reason for that is to reduce the risk of broken glass getting onto the dancefloor - and that a girl sitting on a step in the corner quietly taking a drink while resting for a few minutes is hardly likely to cause a problem. Wise up guys. I'm sure you could do better if you wanted to.

One final thing. The bus service in Basingstoke sucks - bigtime. I waited 45 minutes for a bus which should come every 30 minutes. Stagecoach have a lot to learn about customer service and route planning.

Posted by Anna at 14:35 | Get Link