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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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Giving Thanks

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A week ago I was quite frankly a mess, and when I came to Church last Sunday it was with a heavy heart, for I knew that on Tuesday morning I faced an appointment I was really not looking forward to (I can't discuss it here as it concerns my family).

After that service I felt a strong calling to go to our sanctuary - a beautifully tranquil area in the corner of our Church set aside for members to pray by candlelight. Once Beth and I were there, I lit a candle for those I have been separated from and prayed for them. As the tears flowed, the more I felt the Love that surrounds me...the purity of Love that can only come from the Lord. By the time the tears finished, the pain I felt had been replaced by resolve and peace.

Had I written about this event last week the title would probably have been "Letting Go", "Giving the pain to God" or something similar. As it is, this post is joyful rather than sad - and that alone is something to give thanks for.

By contrast today's Service was one in which I felt pure joy, and a perfect time to say thank you for all the wonderful things that have happened this week, and the new friends I've met recently (and no, I haven't lost my old ones either!).

Was it a coincidence that two of my favourite hymns - My Jesus, My Saviour and Lord I Lift Your Name On High - were prominent in the service today? I'll leave you to decide that for yourselves...

It was during the second of those two hymns that our pastor called on God to be with us in the most eloquent and moving way imaginable. Suffice it to say that by the end of the hymn that I felt a peace and grace that had tears literally running down my face.

It was one of those moments you just can't describe. Amazing.

After the service I talked to our pastor about the events of this week. He said he'd been praying all day Monday for a good outcome for me on Tuesday, and was visibly happy that our prayers had been answered.

For me, that says everything about God's Love for us. Ask with no expectation of an answer, and you may well be pleasantly surprised at the eventual outcome.

Incidentally, I was going to light another candle in the sanctuary to say thank you tonight, but as there was someone else in more need than I, I didnt get the opportunity. That candle of thanks is now one I carry in my heart instead.

In the words of the hymn - I am a new creation.

Posted by Anna at 22:58 | Get Link

One of the "old guard" of gender psychiatrists is under fire...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

There are two main paths of treatment for transpeople in the UK - NHS or private. Whilst the private route places a great deal of responsibility and flexibility in the hands of the patient, the NHS route is reputedly more rigid and inflexible.

Some (like myself) have the luxury of choosing the route that suits us best - but not everyone is so fortunate. Many have no choice but to follow the NHS route - even if their circumstances or nature do not suit the more rigid regime that entails.

Although I've never been under the care of an NHS Gender Identity Clinic, I've met many people who have, and the impression I have is that some of the senior psychiatrists - notably Richard Green, Don Montgomery and James Barrett at Charing Cross - seem to represent the sort of "old guard" style of medicine which is quite rightly virtually extinct in medicine today. My one meeting with Richard Green confirmed this - he appeared to be an academic with little or no empathy for his patients, and I felt profoundly uncomfortable talking to him.

Considered in this light, isn't it unnerving that such characters have so much say in the treatment available to transpeople in the UK? Judge for yourself...

It's going to be interesting to see how this develops. The fact that the Parliamentary Forum is involved suggests that this issue is not going to go away quietly this time.

All we can hope is that ultimately the provision of treatment improves - and by that I don't just mean its availability (that's another story of anyone who is on the waiting list for Leeds GIC can testify).

Had I been an NHS patient, I honestly don't think I'd have coped nearly as well in such an environment (or even made it through treatment) as I did privately. That's not to say that Dr. Russell Reid (my consultant) is perfect of course, but at least he was willing to empathise with me and give me control of the pace and details of my treatment.

Posted by Anna at 19:35 | Get Link

To wonderful friends, good food and good music

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Today is one happy day. Not only did an appointment this morning (which I expected to be painful and difficult) go far, far better than I anticipated, but we spent the remainder of the day in the company of friends, and tonight we were invited to meet some new friends for dinner.

First things first. After my appointment we dropped in on our friends Mark and Debs. It was good to see them, and just for once Mark wasn't wearing one of his many costumes (the last time I turned up there he was regaled in a Town Cryer outfit, ready to exercise his not inconsiderable voice on the streets of Basingstoke. The time before that I seem to remember he was dressed as a pirate...).

As usual we stayed there chatting for several fun hours catching up on everything.

Although I've not been active on the re-enactment circuit for several years, I still know lots of people and apparently the scene hasn't changed much. More interestingly, they still know me.

Those I've encountered (and all of my old friends in Berkshire) have all been fantastic - my transition was a complete non-issue. Among those who didn't know me quite as well I get the impression that there's still significant curiousity....they're intrigued.

Which leads me onto an amusing incident which happened while we were there. Purely by coincidence, one of the guys who trained me back at the start turned up at their house while we were there. At the time I was talking to Mark in the lounge and Beth went downstairs to ask Debs if she needed any help in the kitchen.

If you know re-enactors you can probably hazzard a guess at what happened next. When Mark and Debs' visitor enquired who Beth was, Debs' son Shane replied "That's Beth -Anna's bird".

After leaving Mark and Debs we headed off to meet some new friends (always a favourite pastime of mine!) at an informal vegetarian (and very tasty) dinner party.

As it turned out, most of those there were musicians so by 9pm we were being entertained by an impromptu jam session! Not just any jam session though - instead of the usual guitars and keyboards this one mainly featured congo drums and diggery-doos.

The atmosphere was absolutely incredible, and very, very infectious. It's almost enough to rekindle my long dormant ambition to learn to play an instrument or three. Now if only there were more hours in the day...

Posted by Anna at 23:45 | Get Link

"There must be a full moon out there tonight"

Monday, February 21, 2005

I've never really been one to fit in with others' expectations. Even if you disregard the gender issues I used to have, I was always different in one respect or another.

As a case in point: by the time I transitioned at the end of 2002 I'd already had long hair for something like 12 years (throughout most of which time I had to put up with regular digs from my mother who hated it. Then again she's one of those people who worries about "what people think"). At the time I also had a bikers leather jacket, which was according to friends nowhere near scruffy enough (one even advocated running over it in my car to give it that "run in" look!). Although that alone made me stand out a little in most crowds (well, except the annual one at Castle Donnington!) I just felt I'd found an image which suited me...almost.

Of course I had issues I was only dimly aware of then...I was extremely deep in denial at the time. Aware or not, those issues were nevertheless very real, and with them came the deep emotional scars they had caused throughout my life. For one thing, I was socially awkward, and although most people seemed to like me (maybe they sensed I was empathic...something I didn't even realise then) few came anywhere close to figuring me out.

Getting involved in the medieval/dark age/renaissance re-enactment circuit from October 1993 onwards helped me a great deal with that reticence, as it gave me access to a subculture (for want of a better word) with a completely different view of life than that in mainstream society. Looking back, the sheer flamboyance of some of the people (not to mention the costumes - if you know anything about 16th century European history you'll know what I mean!) also probably appealed to me on a level I wasn't even aware of. In that environment I could be different and distinctive, while still being part of something unique.

Skip forward a few years.

When I was transitioning I really had no idea what my new "look" would mind was really just focused on surviving then. It was an agonisingly painful time, and looking back I find it amazing that I made it through, let alone that I managed to put my life back together as successfully as I have.

However, one thing I did discover during the latter stages of transition was that black really suited me. That's a look I've gradually built upon, to the point where I now have a reputation as "a bit of a goth". In a way that's misleading - I'm not really a goth...I just like the much so that I brought it with me to Thailand when I returned there for my FFS last year...

And so (finally) to the present. Last night Beth and I were in town and had some time to kill before the Church service at 6:45pm. I was dressed casually in a pair of black jeans, ankle boots (with 3" heals, of course!) and a closely fitted black top with lace on the lower arms. It's a look which I really like, and which many people have said suits me perfectly.

To pass the time we wandered into the Branksome, a friendly and often quite lively place which is fun to visit occasionally. They often have some form of entertainment there - for example, the last time we were in there there was a singer entertaining the crowd, and tonight was no exception. There was a "comedian" on the stage, and although he seemed to be going down well enough, I didn't really pay much attention as we walked past the tiny stage (you have to walk past it to get to the bar).

Of course, many comedians love to crack jokes about those who stand out from the crowd in one way or another, so it didn't come as a huge surprise to me when this loud voice boomed out over the PA...

"There must be a full moon out there tonight".

I just smiled enigmatically, and carried on walking towards the bar...

Posted by Anna at 20:47 | Get Link

What an amazing picture!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Every so often in our lives a picture is taken which says so much about who we are, and how we feel. We think it's time we shared one such picture - one which we feel shows our love better than any other we have. It was taken by one of our friends in the Church at the Church's 25th Birthday Bash in November, and at the time we didn't even know he was pointing a camera at us!

Now isn't that an absolutely stunning picture? I've a feeling that when we eventually have our own place (we can dream, can't we?) a framed print of it will have pride of place on the wall in our living room...

Posted by Anna at 22:43 | Get Link

Finding Nemo

Friday, February 04, 2005

We watched Finding Nemo tonight. It was absolutely hillarious, but I found parts of it profoundly upsetting, as the theme - a father searching for his child - tugged at a wound I carry with me in my heart.

Once you become a parent, it's not something you can (or should) put behind you.

Posted by Anna at 23:26 | Get Link