Saturday, 8 March 2008

Becoming Jen (Part 9)

Birmingham or Bust
Where was I?
I think we are up to about 4 years and half years ago. I was by now semi confidently going out around town as Jen. I had even coped with the falling A*** over T** incident and survived. I had now fallen into the new pattern of the semi-closeted. My life had 2 distinct parts. To work friends and family I was scruffy lump of a bloke! Weekends and at home with Caz I was a non scruffy Jen. As you can imagine weekends were my favourite time. Caz and I became like sort of odd sisters. She did sometimes accompany me out on my Jen shopping trips. I do recall the first time she came along she got quite upset when she saw some girls laughing at me. Sometimes it’s easier for me to cope with this unwanted attention than someone who loved me. As I got more confident I started clothes shopping properly. I was always nervous about using changing rooms, but with the encouragement from the staff at my favourite branch of Evans in Newcastle under Lyme, I got bitten by the trying on bug. It gave me the chance to try out different looks. The staff at this small branch seemed to adopt me as their very own first Tranny customer. I found out that Evans actually has a policy on Transgender customers, in which as long as they are presenting as women then they are encouraged to use changing facilities. Anyway there is much gratitude from me for the staff at that small branch that always made me feel welcome.

Pretty soon I found myself frustrated again. I needed more. I needed human interaction as Jen. I also needed things to do that were cheaper than shopping! I decided to give Support Groups a whirl. I managed to get in touch with a lady called Paula through The Beaumont Society. She ran a small group in the south of our county called Lichfield Dressers. A phone call to Paula elicited some complicated directions. Luckily in those pre hormone days I was good with a map. (Now, not so much!) I was really nervous when I went, but I didn’t need to be. There were 5 other girls and 2 of their wives. I can recall, Paula the organiser. She was a fascinating TGirl with striking black hair in jeans and a tight top. One married couple was Julia and her Wife Mary. I recall Julia in a short denim mini, fishnets and high boots. I did actually make a long term friend on that first visit. Nathalie from Burton was about my age, slim and wearing a fab floaty long hippy skirt. Me and Nat hit it off and have remained friends, although I am not good at keeping in contact (in fact I am going to text her now)….Right back again. It was such a relief to be able to talk to fellow T- Girls. These were honestly the first Transgendered people I had ever met. It was such a relief that I gabbled on and on and on, dominating the conversation. (This is definitely one of my worst habits). That first night interacting as Jen was unforgettable experience. I felt immediately at home, and one of the girls. It was so comforting to be with others who shared some of my anxieties and experiences. Paula was a fabulous creature with strident and interesting views on Gender Identity politics. Nat was more like myself and was semi-closeted but needed more. After a couple of visit to Lichfield Dressers Paula asked me if I wanted to join them in a night out in Birmingham. I jumped at the chance.

This night thankfully came around soon. My first Social outing a Jenny. That day I was in Birmingham on work business. I asked Paula If I could go over to her place to change straight afer work, as it would save me from trekking 50 miles north up the M6 (If not the road to hell, then the highway to purgatory!) The day before our outing, I went to my Evans branch in drab to find an outfit. I had no idea what to wear. We were going for a curry in Lichfield first and then to a club in the Gay Village part of Birmingham. I ended up with a long dark floaty top, a mid length handkerchief hem skirt and some black kitten heel courts. I actually tried the shoes on in the shop while in drab which elicited some strange looks. You know what it is like I was happy when I left the shop but as soon as I got home, I hated my outfit. Still, it was all that I had.
The trip from Birmingham to Paula’s place was tortuous and frustrating. I just wanted to get there and change. Paula was alone, when I got there. She looked great in a black leather mini and high heel boots. Proper night out gear. I was going to look so out of place. My outfit would be better at a WI meeting or something. Anyway I went upstairs to begin transformation in her bathroom. Things didn’t start well. I wanted to sit down to concentrate on make up. There was no chair so I plumped to sit on the toilet with the lid down. As I sat I heard a load crack, felt a pinch on my bum and I sank 4 inches. The loo seat had snapped in two, trapped my left cheek in the crack and I ended up sort of half in the bowl! I was mortified on so many levels. I had bust the toilet seat of a lady I didn’t know that well ( I am not sure how well you need to know someone before you can legitimately destroy their loo!!), My left buttock was bleeding, I was also clearly to fat and clumsy to be let out in civilised company.
I managed to compose myself, get ready and went downstairs. The 3 others had arrived. Julia and Mary from the support group and a girl about my age introduced as Melanie. All the others were dressed just right for a night of curry and fun, while I stood their feeling like the proverbial sore thumb (sore bum in my case). Everyone was kind enough to say I looked nice. I did appreciate their well meaning insincerity. I owned up to Paula about the loo seat accident, and she said it was all right (this was definately sincere, so I felt a bit better)

We all squashed in my car to head to the Indian Restaurant. As we all walked from the car park I suddenly became very self conscious. There were 4 of us dressed in mini skirts, tight tops and high heel boots…and me. I looked like I was their Social Worker (appologies to Social Worker's, I don't mean to imply thry dress as badly as did)! I had managed the trick of being the youngest, but looking the oldest. As a group we did draw attention from passers. I tried to follow the others lead and ignore the looks. Once at our destination and ensconced in my Chicken Tikka Massala I relaxed and actually started to enjoy myself. I recall one piece of conversation. Melanie asked me about what I did. When I said I was a Trade Unionist she said “You might not like me, I’m a card carrying Conservative”, I laughed and retorted “You know I found it hard to come out as a TV, but I would never be able to come out as a Tory” (well it made me laugh anyway!). It turned out despite all political differences we got on well.
The club we followed on to in Birmingham was a revelation. It was called Nightingales. It was on 3 floors, with pumping beats all round (as you can tell, I’m up with the club lingo!) I loved it there. It was such a happy and relaxed atmosphere, with none of the underlying menace that can pervade straight night clubs. Ther were also loads more women than I expected. I guess many were straight, just happier to be somewhere they were not going to be hassled by guys. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and really friendly. As a group of T girls we became a minor centre of attention, with lots of the clubbers talking to us and asking questions, genuinely interested in our lifestyle. I had a brilliant time, and even forgot about my slightly inappropriate outfit. We left the club at kicking out time having to prise the last cold Guinness from Paula’s hand. I finally got home to Stoke at 4am, after dropping everyone off. I was exhausted but happy.

That night, just for one night, I was part of a Scene!

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