Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 30 November 2015


I mentioned the other day that I was giving a lot less conscious thought to my gender issues, Well today I was forced into a position where I had to consider them, today I had my second appointment with the Gender Clinic, an occasion when I was forced to confront, my current situation, and how I got here.  Of course like many of us there are parts of my history that I'm not too proud of, but they have all gone into making me the person I now am.   Because of this I choose to be thankful for all that has gone before, just as I am thankful for all the support I am now receiving and family and good friends who surround me.

A threshold passed
I feel as though today I have passed another hurdle, crossed another river, or passed another landmark (choose your own metaphor) on this journey.   I started out trying to work out whether I was indeed trans or not, and where on the gender spectrum I sat. Then I had to work out how I was going to express myself as a woman ~ part time cross dresser; doing drag; androgynous confusion or full time conventional woman.  Once I had crossed that hurdle then I had to start to work out what sort of a woman I am, well I suspect that that will be a lifetime's work, but surprise surprise I'm a very similar type of woman to man ~ boring, conventional, with odd moments of silliness (although a lot fewer moments of depression)

As I said, recently I have simply been getting on with life, my move of home has been prominent in my thoughts and music has been occupying the bulk of my non-work attention, so other matters have been subordinated, but today I had to confront some of those other matters. What next?

Well it seems to me that the next stage of the process is about increasing the homogeneity of personality and my presentation, or more simply making the body match the mind. How far I go with any of this is still undecided, and open to change, but I will not be rushing into anything, it's taken me 57 years to get this far I'm sure I can bare a few months while we work things through.

My Doctor is very nice, and I like to think we got on very well, indeed, I enjoyed our time together so much that I forgot to ask one every important question. I need to change my Passport and wanted a letter from the Clinic to help, Now I have to hope that my GP will co-operate on this one!

Tomorrow is the first of December (I know! I can't believe it!) and I will be starting my Advent Calender again. I can't promise that I will not repeat anything from last year, and there will be no more theme than looking forward to Christmas, and of course it is a lot less fattening than chocolate, but I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Crash and Burn!

Recently I have had a couple of failures, and this morning I am experiencing another.   Months of intense activity are finally catching up with me, this morning I woke up a little late, but simply couldn't get myself out of bed, this is the second time in a week that my self starter has failed and I simply haven't started the day.

I have an appointment this afternoon and another full day tomorrow and a Gig at the weekend so there is no end in sight. I can't help thinking about my American friends enjoying their four day Thanksgiving holiday, although I'm not sure how much of a holiday it is for some.   I am struck that not only could I do with a holiday, but also that I have so much to be thankful for!

I won't start a list, as I have no wish to bore you all, but at times like this, the miserable end of the year when the parties haven't started but the days are short and cold (a bit like my bank balance) it is good to remember the good things life, to rejoice in them and to be thankful.

So to all of you who are celebrating ~ Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Just getting on With It

A while back I was talking with my Wife about something when she had to stop me and point out that "Not everything is about Gender" at the time I thought I was just boring her ~ as I so often have, since for me at that time everything was about gender.   This was before I started my public transition, and was still trying to work out where I was on the spectrum, indeed essentially who I am.

Since then a lot of water has flowed, under, over and around the bridge, since the beginning of the year I have been living full time in my chosen gender identity,   Many of the people I deal with now have never met me any other way, and as one of my longer term friends told me the other day, she had forgotten that I was ever a man and found it difficult to think of me that way now.    Apart from the odd occassion of total dysphoria when I catch sight of an unfortunate reflection I find that I now rarely think unduly about my appearance, I just get on with my life.

At the beginning of the year everything I did or saw went through a filter of gender identity, I was constantly asking myself if I truly felt like a woman, was I doing something in a feminine manner, was I behaving, reacting, presenting as a woman.   Recently I have found that has changed, my internal dialogue is no longer obsessed with gender, I just am me.   I no longer have to work out whether I am a woman, I know that, I have given up trying to work out what sort of a woman I am, I will just let that happen, now I am just trying to get on with life as the person God made me to be.

The other day the Wonderful Hanna posted this picture on her Blog, it just sums up so much of what I have been experiencing recently I had to share it with you all.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Girls Doing for Ourselves

I know a busy weekend is nothing that unusual for me! I am constantly over committing and taking on slightly more than I can manage, you see I'm just a girl who can't say no, and every now and then my worlds collide and I end up running around in ever decreasing circles until I disappear up my own fundamental oraphis! This week end was in danger of being one of those occasions.

On Friday evening after an extensive day's work  I met up with some good friends for the London TDOR event, this was a very moving occasion, organised and presented by and for the Trans community. On these occasions it not only strikes me how cruel the world can be but also just how many of us, in our diverse expressions of gender, there are.   There were many there who I already knew, but even more I have yet to meet.   Afterwards we followed the traditional routine and adjourned to an adjacent hostelry. Several bottles of wine later I managed to remember that I had to get home, a journey involving two walks and two trains, in the end by the time I managed to get home it was the wee small hours of the morning, so I had all too few hours sleep before getting up and starting to prepare for our own TDOR event in Croydon.

There has been an act of remembrance for many years in Croydon, and this is the second year that I have led the event, last year we had a simple ceremony, but we wanted to build on this.   Previous years' events had been put on by the Excellent Aurora, Croydon's LGBT/Police consultative group, this year we were keen that the Trans community should be much more involved in both the organisation and presentation of the event. We had a wonderful event, suitably solemn, but at the same time celebrating our lives, I think we successfully managed to involve both the local Trans
Community and supporters. I hope to have some photos at some point and will (maybe) write more on this event then.
It was wonderful to have the wonderfully talented Stephanie sing for us and Faye play her Sax, with a mixture of ceremony, music and poetry I feel we struck the right note with our event, and for the first time we did it for ourselves.

I have no wish to belittle the work put into previous year's events, Aurora have done a wonderful job and we would have nothing without them, no, we are standing on the shoulders of giants, yet somehow this year it felt that it was time that we did it for our selves.   That we should make this an event put on by, and for the Trans community.   I am so grateful to all the guys from Aurora and CAGS for all the physical, and financial assistance that they have given us this year and previous years.  I am grateful to Croydon Council for providing us with a space and refreshments, I am grateful to Croydon Library for letting us put up a display there prior to the event (and to Roger for putting it all together), I am grateful to my friends in TransPALS for bringing it all together, despite my own disorganisation.  But most of all I am grateful to those who turned up and made this a valuable event in the life of the community.

This has been an important year in the life of the Trans Community here and around the world. We have witnessed some high profile transitions, and more and more public figures are coming out. I won't go as far as to say that being Trans is now normal in most people's experience, but it is definitely less scary, and more and more people know that they know a trans person.   It is becoming less hard to walk down the road without fear, more and more girls are feeling able to go beyond their own front door, and as more people read about those high profile outings, less feel the need to ask inappropriate questions.

Here in Croydon we have had a year of change, the old Croydon Trans Group as developed into TransPALS, now serving all of South London, we have more members, but have still to reach a lot of people who don't yet know us. We have developed a different management structure and are slowly managing to be more involved in London and National forums and campaigns as well as local and individual issues, yet still want to put on more events.   Maybe we are not quite ready to run yet, but this weekend we walked a lot faster.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

So Much to Remember

I feel as though I have been absent from here quite a lot recently.   Between moving home, trying to keep four separate business going and lots of musical engagements, I'm afraid that blogging and social media have rather taken a back seat.

There are positives and negatives about being as busy as I have recently, I am not getting bored, in theory I should be making a living, and my reputation as a musician is once again spreading.   I have also acquired a couple of new customers for my little Avon business!   The down sides are more physical. I am beginning to feel exhausted with all the burning the candles at both ends, there are things I should have done that I have missed and others that I should have done better, but have done little more than go through the motions.

I know that there things I should have done that I have simply forgotten, either to do or to prepare to do. people I need to contact about concerts, and work that are getting forgotten, there is so much to remember.

On Saturday I will be hosting the Croydon event event for Transgender Day of Remembrance, this will be a big event for the trans community in our area. This will be the first year where we have taken the lead in organising this event ourselves, and we are making it a slightly bigger event with readings and songs as well as the act of remembrance itself.   I am sure that it will be a great success, yet I am also feeling considerable guilt that I have not done as much as I should have to ensure that all goes smoothly.   If you do come on Saturday afternoon, please remember that some of us have been going through a lot and have had to concentrate on our own private lives a bit more than anticipated, but also remember those people murdered for nothing more than being themselves.  I thank God that I have no problems that can't be solved with money, I am safe, I have friends, and my local community appears to be accepting.

Monday, 9 November 2015


We seem to be having a bit of an epidemic of high profile transitions recently, Caitlin Jenner over in
the States, Kellie Maloney, and now India Willoughby, I am glad that these ladies find that it is now possible to come out, be authentically who they are yet still remain in the spot light of publicity. It is good for all of us that they are able to come out in public, tell their story, and so help to normalise the whole concept of being Transgender.

However I am a little sad that so much of the coverage dwells so much upon the anguish that our situation can give rise to.   It is great that so often at the end of the story we get the "Now I'm the person I always knew I was I'm so happy" bit. But there is so much more.

By being Trans I have had some wonderful experiences that very few women of my generation could have had.   I am quite sure that any 13 year old girl who wanted to play the Tuba would have been heavily discouraged, or even prevented.   In those days girls played the Flute, Oboe or Violin, my Youth Orchestra had a couple of girls who played trumpet and that was considered to be worthy of comment!   Through playing music I have met so many wonderful people and been to wonderful places.   There have been times when my music has kept me sane, it is a gift to be able to play, and a gift that is a joy to share with others.

Equally, although England ladies are the current Rugby World Cup holders, ladies of my generation did not play Rugby, they made the tea! I'm not sure about the friendships I may or may not have made playing Rugby, since none of them could be described as current! However I loved playing the game, and now I love watching it.

In those days anything involving quite that level of physicality would not have been encouraged, or indeed even available.

Women now play very good Rugby, in many ways a purer form of the game than many men's teams. Women seem to approach sport differently to men, striving to be the best they can, rather than simply to defeat the opponent.  In retrospect I think I played like a woman, although if anyone had suggested that at the time I would have been most offended.

When I started work although equal pay was a legal obligation it was still a very unequal world, women in senior positions were very much the exception, and I am quite sure that some of the career opportunities I had would not have been as open to me had I been recognised as a woman.

But perhaps more than any of these I have an insight into both the male and female that few (although a growing number) people will ever enjoy.   As my journey progresses I increasingly feel that rather than having been deprived of the opportunity to live authentically as a woman, have been blessed to experience so much, thathas been denied to most people.


This morning I broke with my normal Sunday morning habit and rather than attend my usual Church service I went to a local remembrance service, and was a little surprised to find that it was Vicar from my Church who was conducting the service.

There was a good turn out, with members of uniformed groups, cadets, scouts, guides etc. a decent band from one of the local schools, a piper. and of course local dignitaries. I noticed quita a few younger people sporting medals, I don't know whether they themselves recently served, or maybe they were wearing medals won by their parents, something I know happens, but find it difficult to approve of.   The ceremony around the act of remembrance is very much a Christian one, and in my own mind I was quite certain that the majority of attendees probably hadn't been to a church since Easter, or maybe last Christmas.

I am all in favour of remembrance, indeed virtually every year of my life I have either attended or played at a remembrance service, however I worry a little that there does seem to be an increasing element of jingoism. A celebration of Victories won, rather than a remembrance of lives lost.   We remember so that we can avoid repeating, remembrance without action is meaningless.

I pray that our leaders will remember the lives lost and concentrate their efforts on ensuring that they were not lost in vain, and that every effort will go into making sure we do not travel the same road again.

I wrote this yesterday, Sunday the 8th November, but technical problems with my computer stopped me posting it then.