Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Becoming Jen (Part 10)

Are you all still with me? I'm sorry if this seems a long slog. This part of my story is slightly non linear with the rest, but it covers my time with a support group.

Up The Junction

After my enjoyable night out On The Scene, I was keen to make new friends in the community. Nathalie, who I met at Lichfield Dressers told me she also attended a lager group that met in Derby called T-Junction. This would be handier for me, so I decided to go along. I got directions via a lady called Karen who was its chief mover and organiser. The venue was at a small community centre smack in the middle of a housing estate. The building was an the centre island of a tiny cull-de sac surrounded with bungalows. I am never quite sure what to wear to such groups. I always tried to dress appropriate to a woman of my age, but this sometimes left me looking a little dull next to the fabulous outfits of fellow members. I was dressed in my usual long denim skirt, sweater and long boots. I stood outside my parked car with a degree of trepidation. The community centre had lights on but the curtains all closed. I could understand the need for privacy in such an area, but my innate neuroticism coupled with my talent for confusing arrangements, I could not be 100 % sure that it was T-Junction inside instead of a different community group. The thought of me blundering into a Neighbourhood Watch meeting did not thrill me. Anyway, deep breath inhaled, I opened to door and walked in. Phew, I was in the right place at the right time, it was clearly T-Junction (I did one week get it wrong a stumbled in on some bemused residents). It was a much bigger group than Lichfield. Perhaps a dozen or so people were there. Some were with their partners, there were 3 in male drab, perhaps not ready to go out dressed, getting changed at the venue, but most made up a colourful spectrum of T-Girls. I was immediately greeted by Karen with the friendliest of welcomes. She introduced me to everyone and I spent a pleasant and relaxing evening chatting and sharing experiences with the other girls and I was sad when it reached chucking out time at 11pm.

Any Transgender Support Group is a fascinating gathering and those non Trans Muggles (see Harry Potter) definitely miss out. I can’t imagine any group so diverse, yet with so much that binds. A high flying Chief Executive, and Mechanic, a post op transsexual, and a high heeled cross dresser, Young and Old, all sharing our, hopes, fears, experiences and make up tips. I remember one fascinating night there talking to a Spanish Buddhist Cross Dressing Dentist (That is someone who needs Biographying!). Being Trans is the ultimate social leveller.
At T-Junction we sometimes invited speakers and held themes. For instance on one week a representitive from the local authority joined us to seek views on provision of services for Trans people. Another week, a Police Liaison came along and we discussed hate crimes. On a lighter, but no less important note we once had a wig supplier attend complete with wares to try on. That was Jenny’s one and only “Blonde Moment”. For me, the most important thing was to be able to talk to and learn from those who understood just what I was going through. I got that in spades. I was always impressed and somewhat jealous over the couples that attended together. The fact that they had stayed together and were supporting each other was a joy to behold. I guess the trick within couples, is to find some sort of balance. Sadly this doesn’t work for everyone and this is not wholly typical.

The highlight of my T-Junction year would be the Christmas party. This was to be held at a cricket club the Nottingham side of Derby. This was my one opportunity to wear my dress! I had bought this a year ago in the post Christmas sale. It was a full ball gown style dress in a metallic rust colour, fitted at the bodice with straps and a full skirt over ruffled netting. I had bought this at a time when I bought clothes for their fabulousness and not practicality. I never seriously thought I would have the opportunity to wear it outside. Being the non drinker I arranged to pick Nathalie up from Burton.
After some last minute crises of confidence over my outfit I got ready. I teamed my dress with black very high heeled strappy sandals, that I knew would be unbearable after a very short time. Over the top of my dress I borrowed a long coat from Caroline. Any chance of blending in and passing would be impossible in that dress, but hey this was not the aim tonight. I must admit for once in my life I did feel ever so slightly fabulous. The only hiccup came when I had to fill my car up. I was nervous enough walking across the forecourt, when up pulled a minibus full of men. I wouldn’t be able to avoid them, and I didn’t see how I was going to get by dressed like this without being read. Considering they all appeared under the influence this I was sure would result in some loud abuse! There was a queue at the till and I decided to take a brief refuge in the loos. This was a time before I was confident to use the ladies cubicle so like many T-Girls before me I became a regular unqualified user of the Disabled toilet. The one benefit was that the disabled loo had a good full length mirror, which to an insecure me was like a sugar cube to Dougal (Magic Roundabout fans). As I squeezed past one of the scary men outside the loo, he said “sorry Luv” and smiled genuinely. Yet again I had made unfair judgements about someone.
I picked Nat up, who as usual looked very slim and feminine. Not only is Nat gorgeous, but she has the tidiest house in the world (I should really hate her!). The party turned out great fun, and everyone had made a real effort with outfits. I got some compliments which I always struggle with, and fended them off with mumbled false modesty. I did actually relax enough to have a dance. Which due to my painful slightly too small high heels involved much more swaying than feet movement. I must have looked like a Oak Tree straining to stay upright in a hurricane! I also remember sitting and talking to Sharon, the wife of Izzy. Izzy was a bit younger than me. They had a young child and she had only just recently started dressing, with some support from her wife. In fact this was only the second time I had seen Izzy dressed as she had previously attended T-Junction in male mode. They were a lovely couple, and although Izzy’s dressing must have put a strain on their marriage, it never showed. Sharon had helped Izzy with her makeup and she looked stunning that night. I talked for ages to Sharon and we got on well. In fact it was then that I had some realisation that I was possibly just as at home in the company of women than in the trans community.
When I dropped Nat off at home I went in for a coffee. The chairs in Nat’s lounge were beautiful designer sprung cantilever affairs. I looked at them and thought... uh oh, they were probably not designed with me in mind. I had to sit somewhere so I lowered myself gingerly onto the chair trying to maintain some contact with the floor to take some weight! As the chair slowly swayed back I panicked that it would not stop till it was bent to the floor, or just snapped in two. I managed to extract myself before any permanent and horrifying damage had been done, and opted for the strategy of perching on the edge of my seat with my feet firmly taking the weight. I could not break a whole chair after the previous loo seat incident. What would I do next..taking a wall out! No harm was done. Nat chatted I for a good while before I eventually made my way home.

I loved my time attending T-Junction, and made some lasting friends. I was regular there for about 18 months, and now my attendance now seems to be no better than an Annual appearance! My friends at T-Junction helped me no end at a difficult point in my trans journey and it seems ungrateful of me to not make the effort to attend and possibly offer someone else the support that I had.
I would urge anyone who is wavering over attending a similar Trans Support Group is to give it a go. There is nothing to lose, and much to gain.


brad said...

Speaking of couples, we had, until recently, a transgendered woman who was still with her wife. They were married about 20 years prior to her surgery and remained happily together afterward.

Jenny Harvey said...

It is rare but some people can stay together. I guess the sex is only one part of the marriage. In my case the marriage ended for different reasons. If it had survived I might never have come out, let alone transitioned

brad said...

Some marriages shouldn't last.

Jenny Harvey said...

Yes. Our marriage ending was definately best for both of us.
Still makes me sad though