I had it for years. Sandy colour with shiny silver embroidered brand logo on the face. A single popper to keep it shut and a zip down the edge for coins. It opens up with slots for cards. I really, with all honesty, did not know whether to call it a wallet or a purse. The zipper has a material tag on it for zipping the coin pocket shut and so I wouldn’t call that part a wallet. I really find it hard to distinguish the difference.

I didn’t, at the time, have an intended use for it. I bought it because I liked it. I was in Bristol city at the time and I saw it in the shop. I didn’t really need anything new, I already had nondescript material wallet that I’d probably call a life style wallet, I think it was blue, we are talking about eight or ten years ago, but it was probably unisex to some extent. This one though, to me, was all feminine. I remember deciding when I got it home that I would likely keep it for those Hannah days and I couldn’t see me using it for day to day use. There was a hint of terror back then at the mere thought of using it day to day and at the time Hannah days were becoming few and far between – it mostly became comfortable in it’s own bed in the bedside table, not getting used.

I kind of felt sad about it every time I opened the draw realising this purse-come-wallet that I really like was just not getting used. Several years on it was still in perfect condition, its puffiness with the material pleated at the edges and the silver embroidered writing still glistening brightly with feminity. While I might struggle to decide on the word wallet or purse now, thinking back to how I viewed this thing back then, it clearly had the vibrancy of being a purse, only because I associate the word so strongly with feminity.

It doesn’t really seem like it should matter what its defined as but what was important at the time was how I defined it in my own head as it stopping me using it. Using something I really liked. The reality is, though, that I needed not to redefine it as a wallet or something neutral or masculine but to keep the definition of what I thought it was to me and just enjoy using it, not being embarrassed about what other people might think – after all if I change the definition of it in my own head I might just not like it anymore. It might just mean something else to me.

When my last material wallet wore out a few years ago, which was a present and really quite unisex and I enjoyed using it, I opened the bedside draw, rummaged around and pulled it out from between all the underwear, gloves and odd bits of clothing that just didn’t suit being stored anywhere else in the bedroom. It was a bit like that advert from Christmas just gone when the woman puts away her childhood imaginary friend only to go back to the wardrobe later, as an adult, to find the little blue monster was still there hiding between the clothes – we all cried and judged her for putting the monster away in the first place. The purse was still there all crisp and new, hardly used.

Like somethings that get put away and forgotten we usually find them again a bit worn from being pushed around over the years by other objects or the material stained from a leaking pen or smelling of ageing and out of date make up. It thankfully wasn’t and unlike clothes it wasn’t something that I would out-grow.

All this is now a past memory and conflict. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I pulled the purse out of my jacket pocket while standing in the queue in a shop for coins to spray all over the floor where the stitching had come away from the edge and let the coins out of the side. To some extent it was a good piggy bank as at the end of the week I might find several coins in the bottom of my bag or in the pocket of my coat where it had literally leaked money. It is, as you can imagine, very well used now. I use it every day that I need to take it and as the rest of it is still looking so good I carefully stitched up the new slot that had developed alongside the coin pocket so it no longer sprays money at people willingly.

Life is too short to allow pretty little things to get stuck in the draw waiting to be tattooed by incontinent pens or ripped by angry scissors.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Sundays Later

There was a sharp cold light from a stunning sunrise, dry and super cold as I opened the back door stood there in my oversized shirt, still drowsy and not quite awake yet. I put on a sweater hoodie and gloves which was handy given the pale pink nail varnish I’d left on the night before that I couldn’t be bother to remove right away. I pulled at and snapped the plastic cord from the label hanging on a pair on new legging I’d bought before Christmas but hasn’t got to use yet. I had of course tried them on when they arrived, even though they were exactly the same design and size as the ones I’d bought the month before, just in a different colour. The option to send them back now diminished and ownership solidified.

The beginning of a new year and I’d actually got up and gone running. It wasn’t a chore though, it was just something I needed to carrying on doing but hopefully be able to do more often. A good start to the year but also a good start to the day. The thing is I want to make sure I have the reasons to continue going, other than just keeping fit, keeping weight off, the excuse to wear my exercise clothes and new leggings. With running you get to meet people. Even if it’s just a passing hello it’s contact. There are running events where you get to socialise but I want to be, once again, fit enough that it feels good to run and not an extra effort once a week or even a month just to share chats and a coffee after. I need to combine these things, a recipe to feel good and interact all in one.

With my body refreshed and new leggings run-in if you like I wanted to keep the day going. I travelled down to the city, browsed the shops, which I’d not done in a very long time, and get some cafe time in. I had a list of things I wanted to look at and may be even buy. Within 2 hours I realised that the only thing I’d bought were the batteries I needed for the clock and that was it. I’d fallen into that retail therapy trap. Walking through shops and looking for something to buy for the sake of buying.

I’d been through my list, one of the large department stores had the things I wanted to look at on the shelves but little stock of actual items to buy and the New Year sales were gone within days of the turn of the year. The jeans I wanted weren’t in stock either. A pair of grey skinnies that I needed for everyday wear. With all the things I wanted to buy dissolved that therapy trap had me in it’s aim. I remembered from the past though. I didn’t want to impulse buy that would end up filling my wardrobe with something I might barely get to wear or something that kinda-sorta-fitted but didn’t fit. I resisted looking at that top that appealed on first glance but in reality I didn’t really want or love in anyway, it was just different and that’s why it caught my eye. Buyers remorse.

I thought I’d get a seat in Starbucks, watch the people walking by between reading a chapter of a book I had for Christmas. If you remember I said about not buying that self-help book before Christmas just incase in the unlikely chance I was gifted one – I was gifted one. Much like those fingerless mitts I bought before Christmas that I fell in love with and wanted for some time but worried that someone might buy some, but it wouldn’t matter as two pairs would be great – I was gifted another pair.

Starbucks was full though. Well, it wasn’t full, in fact the queue consisted of one person and every-other seat in the cafe was empty but with the covid restrictions it meant the limited seating put a hard end to my dreams of people watching over a hot drink. In fact it wouldn’t have mattered if I had been able to get in because the view down the high street was a desolate one. A working weekday and the pedestrianised city centre was post-apocalyptic.

I decided to end my day in the city in one last ditch attempt at control of my day. I popped in one last store to look at something for the kitchen but no intentions of buying. I recognised that any purchase that day would have been for the sake of purchase whether gender-thing related or not.

I returned home, pulled the curtains in the living room as wide open as possible with a view out into the street. Sat a coffee on the small table and sat in front a book and just did it at home instead. I think more people walked by the house than they did the cafe in the city.

The Sunday a few days later I woke to a similar day. Cold and crisp but not with the winter sun but a grey winter light. I felt like another run. Another chance to run again, and another chance to wear those fab new leggings, but I wanted a long run somewhere refreshing. I could head to the forests and run there or up into the hills or even the mountains that aren’t too far away. No, the beach. I wanted that drama that you get there in the winter and I wasn’t disappointed.

Stormy contrasting looking clouds in the distance but without threat of coming to anything. Gushing white froth on ocean-like waves coming into the beach and a flat sand still with a thin coating of sea water resting on the surface that splattered aside as my running shoes hit the surface.

It was perfect for what I needed that day. A chance to be me for a while and to get some sea air into my lungs. I ran a few miles of the wild beach. Enough people dotted around in the distance to not feel too alone but the extremes of open space enough to feel I owned the beach. Like always, possibly something to do with overdosing on oxygen everything felt very clear in my head and if there is one good start to a new year is knowing clear thoughts feel right.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Copper Tones and Highlight Tips – A New Year’s Eve Special

Copper tones in a plait of the cyclists hair that fell down her left shoulder. I thought it looked lush. The hair gleamed and it was really me. Then I realised that I could still plait my hair, despite being cut a few days ago, it was still really long and I do wear my hair down my left side quite a bit these days in a ponytail. My hair also has copper tones as well. Despite having some aspirations to the cyclist photo on Instagram, I was already in that place – from time to time. I find a cycle helmet tends to negate what feminity that I do have, but may be that’s something I can work on. They say it’s in the eyes.

New year’s eve does bring out the aspirational thoughts and to some extent so did Christmas but this photo made me realise not what I wanted but what I already have and what I can continue to do. Much like most years I don’t have pure hard resolutions I have re-affirmations of what I currently do. Will I continue them and will I make an extra effort. Is there anything else new I would like to do; I guess that would be the nearest thing to a resolution.

I don’t feel like I’ve given it enough thought though so far. May be it will come as the night draws on and residential fireworks start to go off sporadically through the damp evening. There are a few things though. Getting my exercise routine back that has been interrupted by colds and injury. Getting those blonde tints on the end of my hair or may be a balayage to the tips.

I’ve not decided on which yet. I noticed a woman on the tube train in London in the summer with a few dashes on the ends of her ponytail which I really liked. It wasn’t a full balayage, just a hint, a vibrant hint like nail varnish on fingernails. Then I saw a balayage when looking on the internet for examples and that looked amazing.

I discussed it with my Mum at the time and again some months later when I’d let the idea slide for too long. She said she’d do it for me but given how busy things have been the last few months I’ve still not got around to committing to it. I think, on top of the copper-ish colour tones I already put in every several weeks or so when those odd long greys need topping up, that these highlights on the end would give me that extra bit of sparkle that I feel I need. A slippery slope I’m sure but certainly something that the new year magic can help with.

With all the work from home that appears to be a permanent thing, walks and cafe time are a bit few and far between. Until last week I’d not really had a chance to just sit in a cafe on my own and take in life. That day I sat in the cafe actually watching life go by and getting some writing done made me realise how I had missed life itself. Somehow I need to do something that will give me time to do it. Whether it be something I occupy my time with on some weekends or if I make time around my work schedule to have that time to myself, almost earmarked out, I don’t know, but that certainly is something I miss that I need to do.

I went into a mini-market in the town today just to get a couple of things I was missing for when I return home after new years day. I queued for a few minutes and then the man in the front of the queue let someone through before him and then let me through as he was waiting for someone to bring him something he’d forgotten. I waited for the till to become free but then realised the other till in the shadows of the dull florescent light had a member of staff standing there. I caught her eye, “I’m sorry.” I said, “I didn’t see you there.” She had nice long hair and feminine eye browse and a covid mask hiding the rest of her twenty-something face away.

She didn’t say much. She seemed extremely shy and served me but I knew she was trans. May be new–trans, you know what I mean. Recently–RLT–name–probably–changed kind of new to it. It was just one of those things that I guess we just know between us but she was more than capable of passing. I thanked her and took my items and she thanked me back with a quiet voice as I left.

I thought for a moment how she need not be so quiet because she could ace it but then I soon realised that she was already acing it – I’d be totally terrified I think in such a public role. It kind of brought back to me that even though my state of daily dress that’s somewhere in between with plenty of dead giveaways that it’s also been many years since I’ve been out unmistakably presenting as female. You know, those vital things that leave no doubt what I want people to think I am or at the very least what I want them to think.

So may be that’s an important thing for twenty twenty–two. Pushing that boundary a little more than things I get away with or more realistically what I think I’m getting away with but in reality is more giveaway than I realise.

There are lots of things like that though that I must try to reach my back and pat it when I think of the red leggings with white sides I bought for running in November and the blue ones I bought inDecember, also with white sides but the dash design are in pastel pink. The rose gold laptop I’ve purchased replacing the twelve year old silver one that all of my writing had been done on. The fitness watch that I want to get soon that I imagine in white with rose gold edging and a more petite watch face – I think you get the pattern here.

I’m finding styles that aren’t just feminine for the sake of being feminine but because I actually like them. Things that I use and wear that make me feel so good. I also need to take more care of my hair too. I brush it every day and usually at night too but sometimes I feel I should be straightening it more often so it looks smoother or possibly use a soft spray that might be less damaging than constant heating all the time. I always feel so much better when my hair looks smoother and neater. Especially when it’s down and the wind catches it and I feel it rustle through my head.

It might all seem like frivolous stuff, and to some extent much of it is, but I’ve been thinking of too many serious things of late that involve worrying about other people than myself, worrying about finances rather than letting a little leak from time to time and worrying about my future and any possibly future relationship.

I wish you a very happy new year and thank you for reading. I wish you the very best.

Until next year,

Hannah x

A Little Hint

The smell of the fresh new books oozed from the black bookshelves that seem to deaden the clumping of shuffling feet of the last dregs of Christmas shoppers. Fiction, travel, reference, a self-help section full of authors claiming their own take on cognitive behavioural therapy and one loan bright book from a respectable author challenging all of the others. I felt like buying it but being so close to Christmas there is always a danger of buying something that someone might buy, though I couldn’t imagine anyone buying me a self-help book for Christmas, and besides, there is always the danger of pushing the overdraft ever southwards.

My Christmas shopping is over. In fact I proudly ended it over two weeks ago. One of last year’s new years sort of resolutions was to start even earlier the next year so I didn’t stress so much about it. This year I actually did – starting in late October. But on that last day of Christmas shopping, when I had just one last present to find, I felt quite emotional about it. I don’t know why. It was just strange. It was like feeling sad that Christmas was ending and it hadn’t even started. That aside, shopping was so much less stressful and I could concentrate on a couple of things for myself.

Last year I saw a video of a women playing piano with some fingerless mitts. I thought it looked so nice. I have fingerless gloves with the individual finger holes which I’ve worn for years but the mitts looked so much more feminine. I tried last year to get some but the only place I could find them were online at that large retailer that I’ve happily avoided for all Christmas presents this year, but they had bad reviews and so I didn’t get them for a whole year.

I mentioned it to Maddie, best friend and ex from years ago, she said “have you tried this place”, she browsed quickly on-line showing me the website, “How about those.” And there they were. The perfect pair. If this was a film the camera would have been slowly zooming in on the picture of the gloves with a choir singing and an orchestra gently adding to the background music.

When I got home from Maddie’s that weekend, surviving the terrifying drive on snow, I looked on that website. I’d already bought new running leggings from them just a couple of weeks before but this was still black Friday weekend so there was a little money off them too. I to-and-fro’d about whether I should get them, and another pair of leggings while I was at it. I’d finally made my mind up that I would get them before I missed my chance and added another year to owning a pair of these gloves but then I had to choose a colour. Green, mustard yellow, a warm Red reminiscent of Christmas and cozy fireplaces in cottage pubs, or – light grey.

I was torn between grey or the yellow. The grey was in that video I first saw, would go with nearly anything and I really liked them but the yellow were new and exciting. I thought for a moment someone might get some for me for Christmas but it didn’t matter because if they did, two pairs would be great and would last longer. I decided. Grey.

I worried after clicking the order button and the money leaving my bank whether they would fit. There was only one size, and while I knew I could take them back, it was more about the disappointment if they didn’t fit.

Later that week they arrived with a pair of leggings that I didn’t need but wanted. The same design as the ones I previously bought but this time in Navy blue with pastel pink dashes down the side of the leg. It was that kind of I’ll get away with these with pink because they’re mostly blue kind of thing that in reality I was probably kidding no one. The gloves slid out of the stiff brown branded packaging inside their own clear bag. They looked great. These weren’t some cheap online market place gloves, (and they weren’t M&S either), but they looked quality.

I took them out of the clear bag. They even felt good and they had that kind of fine fuzzy fibre on the outside that made them seem so soft and feminine. I held my breath for a moment and slid one on onto my hand fearing the tightness – they were perfect. I mean really perfect. Not that kind of, they feel a bit tight but I’ll convince myself they actually fit kind of fit.

– ♥ –

Being in the book shop today though was just a wander. There was no intention of buying anything else. It was partly to see if their cafe upstairs was open as so many cafes were packed today – that and to look at a few perfectly cut books and that paper fragrance you just don’t get from browsing Amazon. I’d already spent an hour in one cafe writing the last couple of Christmas cards but a busker outside playing the saxophone was now on repeat and I had to leave before even starting any writing on the laptop. The cafe in the bookshop was closed though and so I was outside again. I thought I’d give one more cafe a try that I’d tried late morning but was so full.

The best thing about this cafe is that it was a great view down into the street with old buildings housing shops with crisscross window panes glowing slightly yellow warm light, especially on a dull overcast day like today. Even when it’s raining horrid fine misty pissy rain, it’s nice to look out over a hot drink and watch the umbrellas glide down the street. On a cold dry winter day like today just a week before Christmas with wooden Christmas market shacks in the middle of the street and glowing twinkle lights it’s even more comfortable and cozy.

I took my chance and I must have been extremely lucky to have found a lull in the queue. Just one person in front of me and before I knew it I was carrying an Earl Grey to a seat with the that prize view – it was either luck or someone looking down on me waving a glittery wand. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the build up to Christmas.

Coming into the city when I don’t have any shopping left to do is kind of therapeutic. It’s like some kind of wind-down. Like finishing work late in the evening, which has become a thing now and then this year, and not being able to go straight to bed. This is much like that. Watching other people doing their last minute rush for Christmas, or may be just watching their pain. Okay, I’m not that way inclined but I suppose it’s like the end credits to a film. Films don’t just fade to black at the end scene and that’s it.

There is also a sort of left over mince pie on a plate feeling about it all. It’s still Christmas but things are wrapping up but sat here looking out and writing once again it felt nice to be around people again. I wiped my mouth with a cafe tissue napkin and left a hint of Hollywood Red on it. I looked at it, kind of said it all, a hint. I damped the tissue and wiped under my eye out of curiosity, a hint of brown. You know sometimes I feel quite okay about lots of little hints. It’s a comfortable place to be and I get to have things I want. For now it’s clear polished nails and fingerless mittens.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Everyday Dream

I found myself on a serene beach along the Atlantic Ocean coast line with the low weak autumn sun. The water was a sea of deep greens that felt like the depths of a dream and dark ocean blues further toward the horizon. Golden sands stretching along the edges of jagged dark rocks that bordered the coast and fresh white topped waves rolling in. Only this wasn’t a dream. This was a real day that felt so perfect that it felt unreal.

I would have stayed if it wasn’t for a final train to take me home. I have conflict for these places. I think for a moment, imagine living here. Why do I live where I live rather than this place that seems so perfect that I could visit every morning with a hot drink and take in that oxygen rich o-zone thick air to refresh me for the day. The thing is the reality of an everyday dream isn’t the same as that day I had, near alone on a wild beach with little in the way of other people and a sunset waiting each day.

The reality down there is being in-the-sticks. A few hours drive from family. More hours from friends and every day isn’t like that day. The rain and wind soon drive in hard from the ocean through the winter. House prices higher that affordable and jobs to pay for it rare. Trans-life is much the same. Miles from the serenity of a day trip and on top of it the hard poisonous injection of transphobes from time to time.

It’s not like I’ve forgotten about my gender thing or put it away or decided to kill it off forever. It’s there but life has got in the way. Work has been so non stop that I’ve had little and, more recently, less time for other things and other people. There hasn’t been a job I’ve stayed in as long as this one where I work the odd weekend and not felt hard-done by and sometimes hours into my own time, midnight being the current record where I had to close the work-at-home conversation on the headset to a close for fear of waking my neighbours and that coupled with annual leave not taken. But the importance of what I do means so much that I keep going through all the tiredness, anger and tears. But I’m so tired and look haggard in my face.

I’ve recently met a couple of people online in the trans-community and yet I barely feel I have enough time to even keep in touch. I’ve missed multiple meet ups at the running events I was doing pre-Covid and drinks with friends have been pushed back weeks on end simply because by each Friday I feel totally fried.

On top of this, where people I work with or friends and acquaintances are mostly married by now and settled, and where I don’t want to be so comfortably settled that I would feel stagnant, I feel like I’m living some part of a twenty-something as a forty-something.

I thought this week, and well – multiple other times since being discharged by the gender clinic – that may be I’d let myself down. I’d made so much progress over so many years going through the system from counsellor, psychiatrist, phycologist and all the way to a gender clinic in London, some 300 mile round trip each time for a psychiatrist specialising in gender dysphoria and to just fall off the edge of the cliff with it all.

But then I really thought about this, and while my indecision is in many way my downfall, much like the saying that there is no such thing as a bad student but only a bad teacher, that these specialists have fallen short of their ability to help me and allowed me to fall through the cracks in the system. A system with a waiting list that is now measured in years rather than months. The whole thing was really appalling.

Even though my days are spent a lot of the time in a work, eat, sleep pattern with the odd day break to one of those serene places like the beach on the wild coast, I realised that some of the things I’ve previously made progress with, such as the way I wear my hair in every day situations that I wouldn’t have dreamt of in the past or sneaking on that layer of clear nail varnish, are daily things I actually take for granted now – and isn’t it when we take those things for granted that we once longed for – everything about living that female life, much like living along side that beach even in the winter.

Until next time.

Hannah x


There was no way I was going to wear skinny jeans on a day so hot and humid. My plans for the weekend had gone awry with train problems from the restrictions and so I suddenly found myself alone at home with little to do. I had to get out of the house. That was the only option. I love working from home but, much like an office, you kind of don’t want to be there on the weekend – especially a super hot weekend. Message to Mum, ‘Do you want to walk down to the sea if I come down?’ It wouldn’t be an afternoon of sitting there wondering whether I should spill my entire heart about everything about my gender identityand then find a reason not to, I just wanted to see her and have some time out for the afternoon.

The thing is it was such a proper full-on genuine British summer day that I just wanted to wear my denim shorts. You know, the ones with the turn ups, lovely soft stitching on the back pockets and the odd discrete blue crystal whether pocket studs would normally sit. They’re also the shorts that I’ve worn to the death with pocket linings that have split and hold nothing more than hopethat they’ll survive another wash. But I love them so much. They were the last pair in an outlet shop and in my size that I bought several years ago and if I could get another pair right now I would.

I still wanted to feel light weight and the one t-shirt I wanted to wear I’d not seen for a couple of weeks. I was hoping it hadn’t fallen out of a bag or something and lost forever but I pulled a big clump of clothes out of the cupboard and within a few seconds I’d spotted it. It had got crinkled into ball amongst the other clothes but in the humidity I imagine it would self iron in a matter of minutes.

Like the shorts I have a love for this t-shirt. It’s white with a purply yoga style pattern print on the front and has the cutest cropped short sleeves and a hint of a tailored shape to it – it was also cheap. ‘I’ll wear it.’ But I felt like I needed a shirt to go over it to keep the sun off a little. I didn’t want to wear anything heavy or long so I went back to the wardrobe and unhooked a pale blue plaid shirt with equally cropped short sleeve much like the t-shirt but with a short loop of material on the shoulder than can be hooked onto a button on the inside of the sleeve making it even more cute. These were unhooked and I’d forgotten about them. It was also much more of a tailored-cut curving in at the waist and back out towards the hips and it was shorter than my t-shirt so it saidsomething. I’d not worn it for quite some time so it was perfect.

I finished off with some pale ankle socks just incase my legs got sun burnt and so any suntan line would hopefully be below my ankles. I chucked everything I needed into my shoulder bag, pale material purse that I’ve openly used for the last year, spare masks, water, a coconut lip balm and stood in front of the mirror tying my hair up into a high ponytail to feel as cool as I possibly could before leaving.

It was probably the most feminine I’ve looked on a visit to my parents house since a holiday abroad. Was it a step too far? No. This was about wearing something I really fancied wearing that day so just do it.And yes, it was a little further than I normally felt comfortable with, I’ve worn them all around my parents, just not in that combination, but why not push the boundary a little more. Not for some statement but so I can feel I can wear something I really want to wear. It wasn’t like I was turning up in a dress.

I jumped in the car, key in the ignition, ‘should I put on a little eye liner?’ 
‘Don’t be stupid.’ I thought, this isn’t about having ‘that’ conversation, at least not today. Today was the rarity that I really wasn’t in the mood for that. I was already feeling quite low and dejected about my femininity this week for a whole bunch of on-line reasons and so today was just about feeling myself and this was just about right as it was.

When I got to their house nothing was said. I was wondering if there would be a look or something but I guess they’re used to it. I mean it’s been so gradual with me feeling more confident with some of the things I wear. I mean it’s probably been done over the course of ten years so it’s no surprise if they don’t even notice. 

My Mum and I left the house and headed to the town, probably to find somewhere with a coffee and a view of the sea. “Your hair is looking good.” she said. She’s always loved my hair given I’ve kept it long and as she said today how lucky I’ve been to have kept it at my age. 

“It’s so curly today.” I’d forgotten. I’d been for a run in the morning and a dose of humidity and sweat makes it more curly than if I’d been playing with a pair of heated tongs for an hour. Essentially a ponytail of curls and ringlets falling towards the centre of my back.

We arrived at a suitably chosen cafe overlooking the sea with a sporadic few paddling in the mill pond of water with only a few ripples when a yacht sailed by some way from the shore. We ordered at the till. I’d not eaten lunch and so I ordered a snack. I thought we might take them with us ‘to-go’ but with little shade outside and nowhere suitable to eat and drink along the beach the lady at the counter said “Would you like a table upstairs on the balcony? We have a wedding going on in the back so you’ll need to walk past the chef.” it sounded fun and a balcony for lunch in the shade would tick every box.
“Yes, we’ll eat in, that sounds great.”
“Emma.” she said, calling over the young woman that had been clearing a table, “Would you show these ladies to the balcony. Thanks.”

I looked at my Mum and expressed a smile with my eyes because my mouth had been hidden with a Covid face mask. At that moment I realised, with help from the mask of course, that my clothes did actually express themselves with femininity and said something about how I wanted to express myself. It seemed to be the tonic I needed for the end of this week. We followed the woman to the maze of stairs through the building, and as we were told, passing the chef who was busy cooking in a side room. My Mum chatted to the woman while we were finding our seats but nothing had been corrected.

I wondered how my Mum would react. I know I didn’t want aconversation today but if anything was said then it wouldn’t hurt. But nothing was said to me, not at the time and not after lunch. Not to me at least. Only later one when she was speaking to the lady from the counter just before we left and they got into a conversation about where we’re from and so on, “well my son is from…” A kind of correction hidden within conversation I suppose. Either way there is nothing like a gender identification to brighten up a week when you’re at your lowest about your own ability to pass – even if it is only short lived.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Some Me Time

I was standing close to the end of the platform waiting for the train. Some calf high boots, probably suede, shapely black skirt above the knee, short in fact, not a belt but certainly not long and casual top, not too casual because I was going to work. I stood there on the spot just waiting and while it was the mundanity of commuting I felt somehow at peace. You know, like when you get a day when everything is just clicking together. You wake up with a little zest for the day. Breakfast tasted good and just looking forward to the day, even if it was just another day at work.

I think it was Hamstead Heath overground station. It was definitely a suburban station in London, even if it wasn’t packed to the rafters on the platform, it was definitely London and if it wasn’t Hampstead it wasn’t far away. I don’t live in London though, and I don’t work in London either. In fact I don’t even work in the city or an office since the lockdowns. But that’s dreams for you. Never quite concise and if you are lucky enough to remember a dream, especially a good one, the details are never always that clear.

The dream stuck with me the whole day because I felt at one at that time. Unquestioning, everything about it was just a ‘normal day at the office’, wherever that office is. Being able to have that kind of calm, that knowing that the day is going to be good and being happy about the way everything is seems like some kind of utopia but in some kind of ‘may be obtainable way’, even if that utopia seems, strangely, to be commuting in London, which I’m sure wouldn’t be in any way quite so appealing on a rainy October day when the day light hours are short and the platforms full.

But the chances of being able to work in London in the way that would feel utopian is very unlikely. Jobs in London are highly competitive, I’ve tried three times to get into the city in the last twenty years but always been pipped to the post by sheer talent that’s out there. At my age now I don’t have that pure energy needed to put up with all the toxicity and competitiveness that goes with it. Besides, the dream of living somewhere like that would require some typical London house on the edges of Primrose Hill with a roof-top terrace to lounge about on – something no typical national average wage is going to pay for – in fact no average millionaire could probably afford either.

I would also miss having the access to the stunning scenic mountains and forests that sit not far from where I live now and would miss them in much the same way as I miss having vibrant night life of the city as I do now.

I was sat outside in the garden the other evening. The parasol up and a small wooden table, a bottle of something strong and the evening well on it’s way enough to light a couple of candles. I heard something from a side window from a neighbouring house “Sometimes looks like a girl and sometimes looks like a boy..”

It was about all I heard from two kids in that room. It came from an open window that doesn’t quite overlook my garden but if they were looking out, well then may be they were referring to me. I didn’t hear any more of the conversation – it was all background as the voices disappeared inside that room with the open window.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. Was it about me, was it about someone else completely. It really could have been anything about anyone really but the co-incidence was enough to make me think about it and for a short while worry about it. It certainly is the difference between living in the anonymity of the city and the closeness of the countryside.

It’s been a long time since something like that has been pointed out directly like that, at least in the form of ‘isn’t she or is he’. The last time I can think of something like that was probably in about 2007 or there about when some bloke approach me and my friend at a table in a bar and said, “so have you alwaysbeen a woman.” I’m sure I wrote about this some time ago so not something to go over again but you get the idea. On the one hand it felt ‘read’ but on the other hand it was a compliment.

The thing is whether it is anonymity of the city or the lack of it in the countryside it shouldn’t really matter. Yeah sure one is easier but almost in a cope-out kind of way. I think within half an hour the whole matter was settled in my mind and I just carried on with my evening in the warm summer humid night sipping a sprit by candle light. In fact I kind of felt like if it was about me then it’s a good thing. A chance to find out if Im accepted as a citizen no matter what my gender issues are.

I went to the beach on the weekend. I mean it’s the thing you do when it’s hot, but rather than stay amongst the tourists and local beach dwellers I headed to a wild beach. Miles of sandy coast line, stretching to a horizon of grey hills in the haze, where I could wander the waters edge and only the odd person here and there doing much the same apart from the fishermen at the far end. The tide firmly turned and heading in, hitting the rocks where they jetted out at the point spraying salt water into the air.

It was a chance to wear what I wanted to the beach. My favourite turn-up denim shorts that are now near threadbare but I just can’t find any quite so cute to replace them. And a very beachy-like Hollister top that rarely sees anywhere outside of the house or the garden. A hoodie tied around the waist in case those arms get too much sun and sun glasses propped up on top of the hair.

My hair was down. It spends so much time tied-up in a ponytail of some kind that I’d not realised how long it had got and I could feel it half way down my back. It felt freeing to just walk in the off-shore breeze as the sea air hit my hair and made it wavy and curly as it always does at the beach. Some me time.

But it wasn’t that walk in the water on the wild beach that was quite so revealing or mildly liberating. It was the return walk back along the coast passing people on the pathway as I headed back towards the busy beach. The sea breeze had been blowing my hair all over the place so I put a hair tie in, low down and allowed my hair to drape over my left shoulder. With that top and my hair in it’s more feminine form there was no hiding that femininity away. It was there on show. I was lightly saying something, a picture forming a thousand words as they say.

What was different was that I wasn’t nervous about it, it was what-it-was. It was nice to relax. To chill out and just enjoy the day, the walk, the people, my clothes. “Thank you.” As someone let me pass on the narrow path. Interacting with people. It felt like that top was getting used where it should be and that I was enjoying it for the reason I bought it for in the first place. It wasn’t so much about the detail though, it was that it was another step. Something I hadn’t felt for a long time. May be things are heading in a direction after all.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Degree Without a Certificate

A trail of small sharp white lights were draped in the window sill of the living room, a small lamp at the other end uplighting the wall and warmly lighting the rest of the room and a small single candle near the television. A film and the curtains still open watching what little life there was passing in the street as dusk faded.

It felt like the first time in several months I’d been able to sit down and relax and do something slow. Weeks had turned to months, exhausted from the Covid-related work that continues on only able to do something energetic like exploring the hills and valley or cleaning the bathroom, and spending the rest of the weekend and evenings recovering for the next days work.

I didn’t seem to be able to recreate that Saturday evening of my thirties. I had dug out a meal I’d not made for a very long time. I don’t mean from the back of the freezer. It was the food processor, chicken with olives, bread, thymes, oregano, pine nuts and some aged cured pork and a sink full of washing up spilling over to the hob and worktop ready for regret in the morning. To finish a chocolate sponge pudding with sauce to match that meant the oven had barely had time to cool before it was baking that dessert.

There was something that felt rushed and matter-of-fact about my evening. Formulaic. I don’t want to live in the past but at the same time I wanted to feel that feeling of comfort and enjoyment. It wasn’t until I paused the film and got up out of the arm chair to refill my tall wine glass of not-wine that the pungent smell of the scented candle flicking by the fake fire place that kind of kicked in that memory. It was the kind of recipe of a night in at my old house where I’d enjoy a film after going to some effort to cook something nice, bake and then drink to music until the early hours.

In fact it wasn’t really as similar as I first thought. I was in better surroundings. I have more furniture and more music. Better decor and a bookcase full of music score. Emotional, slightly delayed teen angst, turmoil had been replaced by a mature more adult way of dealing with things and the chances of me staying up until two or three in the morning listening to Jazz or Classical just to explore those feelings were unlikely unless I wanted to feel even more exhausted through Sunday which would inevitably lead into the working week. With a job that requires thinking and Agetrying it’s hardest to make thinking really really difficult, I need all the help I can get, and that means sleep.

But all this revisiting the nights of ten or fifteen years ago doesn’t really help with trying to catch up with my feelings on the gender thing. It’s been months since the gender clinic in London had brushed my patient file under my own carpet. They never replied to my e-mail. After feeling rather dumped I felt exhausted. A journey that started in my late thirties with professional help and I’ve been left at square one, just with a lot more knowledge and self-discovery, but essentially no outcome. A degree without a certificate.

I certainly, at the very least, came out of it with a lot more self confidence about my femininity and expression to an extent I probably never thought I’d get to. It has allowed me to get on with other parts of my life and slowly recover. I’d got in touch with my emotions long before the psychiatry and psychology sessions but they allowed me to put it together in such a way that it wouldn’t bring me down, to balance out highs and lows so I wasn’t on that rollercoaster anymore.

So where do I go now though. May be London discharging me wasn’t such a bad thing after all? I was thinking about this. At the time it seemed fine because she was discharging me with a recommendation to being taken on for some counselling at the local gender clinic. It wasn’t long after that the local clinic told me that they don’t do gender counselling and so that is why I felt abandoned but need I really feel that way? I’ve been through counselling in the form of a psychologist that I feel, even though they weren’t gender specific specialists, offered more help than any gender psychiatrist in London had ever offered.

So with that in mind do I really need to go through all that again and go over the same ground again? Why study that degree for a second time if all I’m waiting for is the certificate? Okay, may be it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone for an hour if I felt like I needed some guidance but may be I have all the guidance already. 

I just need to listen to the things that I can remember from those sessions all those years ago. Save the waiting-list heartache and make further inroads by myself. Or just carry on as I have been if that suits. After all it’s not like I’m the typical male of my age by any means and people know this. It’s not really made life any harder for the most part. In fact it’s freeing and I would never want to go back.

As I get older the gender thing doesn’t have quite the same vibrance as youth. What it has is something more real and thought-out. It has experience and depth that it didn’t have in the same way in my twenties when I was discovering myself. It’s kind of like I’ve lost the dream, the hope, the wish of it all but when I really think about it, it’s because it’s slowly become reality and that dream is diminished. May be there is just a little more dream to complete.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Brushing up the Static and Stale

Every breath of air just one degree above freezing felt worthwhile not just for the view but the breathlessness of it all. The gravel crackling and popping under the tyres of my cycle. The stillness where, thankfully, no breeze blew on the top of the hill between giant wind farm turbines towering above that lay dormant. That unbelievable silence in such a vast open space – you can’t do anything but have thoughts.

It was all part of that blending in of last year to the new year. Enough of a change to feel like there is change but not in such an abrupt way that within a couple of days get fed up with it all, drop all motivation and return to old habits, ‘out with the old, in with the old.’ No way.

Like I said about coming from the gender identity clinic and jumping right onto things straight away before confidence fades, New Year and the refreshing need for changes for the positive, I want to make a start now. Dust those tables and clear the clutter. These new year resolutions of mine aren’t January fads waiting to be broken but continuations and corrections of what I was already doing with a sprinkling of new ideas to make life and the year feel fresh and new.

A few days ago I opened last years diary to finish off what needed ending. A few notes about Christmas week and things that had happened. I neglected the rose gold diary too much last year, but then I can only write in my diary when I have something to say or feel I can. I just hadn’t been in that place to feel to write about things, but may be if I’d forced myself even just on a couple of days it would have helped with stresses and problems.

That week after Christmas day comes with a sense of renewal. I don’t know what it is, may be someone gives a gift of something I’ve never tried before and that starts some kind of sense of trying new things. That with the approaching new year gets my ideas of new year resolutions. It’s never strict resolutions but just making some tweaks and anything new I might have time for that will make me feel more positive.

I started with some basics. My first twenty-twenty-one run during my work lunch break. It was bitterly cold, even hatted and gloved-up my lungs were filled with cutting cold air, but it was something. I wish I’d been able to run over the Christmas week, I even took my running leggings and top to my parents but I just didn’t feel well enough. Bunged up a bit with a headache and a light cold, it just wasn’t going to happen.

My first January day of work started with all the computer equipment thrown on the dining table which was great for having the sun rise through the window and easy access to the kettle and coffee machine but it was temporary. Not being able to close the door on work at the end of the day isn’t mentally good in the long term and clearing the dining table at the end of each working day didn’t appeal to me. 

My next basic new year mental clean out was to dust my desk in the study (spare bedroom with a desk, plants and plenty of lighting), tidy up, shift my blank art canvases that were stored behind the desk and regularly took up my foot space, reset my clean surface attitude and vacuumed the carpet. Finishing up by plopping a little air freshener pod thing on the desk. I returned all the work-computer equipment to the study and a nice environment waited for me the next day.

It didn’t seem much of a start but when I really thought about it, it was a step towards starting the new year with a new hope and cleaner mind. I sat on the sofa that evening after all the cleaning up and decided to clean myself too. I grabbed a pack of face wipes from the bedroom, sat on the floor of the living room and cleansed my face. I still felt a bit bunged up in my sinuses from that afternoons run and so this felt like a way of making me feel at least as good as I could before the end of the day – the first normal day since the new year began. I say that, the Christmas tree is still up, I never believed in that January the 6th nonsense. 

Starting work that next day in the refreshed study felt so cleansing. It felt spacious and chilled and even though work that week was extremely stressful due to the type of work we’re doing right now I hate to think how I would have felt without that clear of clutter. The challenge this year will be to keep that mental cleanliness by keeping a physical declutter.

But for my gender identity this will be extremely important. I found over the last year with everything everyone has had to go through along with everything in my life that feels like a weight, I’ve had the perfect excuse to put my identity on the shelf only bringing it down when I felt like it for a brief look before putting it back. A thin layer of dust had settled on my gender identity and it felt it had become static and stale.

I really needed to do something about all those distractions and while there is still a lot to do around the house and a few things to clear up in other areas of my life, some things out of my control that will remain too, I will hopefully have a clearer mind to deal with my gender identity. Question it further if I need to. Decide what is denting my confidence. Think about what I really need.

It’s funny but when I have a good day with something, whether it’s the elation of forcing myself on that frosty cycle ride into the hills and feeling euphoria with something with no cost or just a successful day at work that reaffirms why I work there, whatever it is, sometimes at that moment I think, ‘that’s what it’s like to feel good about something that’s not about my gender.’

Until next time.

Hannah x

Nail Varnish, Mascara and a Flame – A Christmas Special

The flames licked the inside of the glass tube surrounded in a tall thin pyramid cage – partly to keep out the fingers of drunk stupid people. It lit the table orange and kept a hint of warmth in the cold December evening. It might seem madness to sit outside on such a crisp night with single figure temperatures, bobble hat, gloves, scarf and more layers than normally acceptable but the modern little village bar was full which meant sitting outside was the only option. Everyone had to be sat down in the current situation, on their own tables between their own clear plastic screen separators keeping us protected as much as possible from that damn virus.

It was the only night I could be there as well because it was a Friday – you know, thatFriday, before national lockdown where alcohol would no longer be served and besides it would all be last orders by six. But, like my effort to get out and exercise more, I also wanted to socialise more. This was the last chance until who knows when and with work being so hectic and working from home now, I needed just some time out, even if it was just an hour and a half outside in the chill.

He looked over from the next table, the one around the other side of the flame heater, “Didn’t I used to work with you? Where did you work?”
“Oh god, how many do you want me to list?”

It turned out that I hadn’t worked with him but he had been a client of a place I had once worked several years ago. I hadn’t even been on that project but somehow he’d remembered me. We chatted until lockdown decided to end the bar opening time and it turned out our places of work had crossed at other times without even personally meeting. It seems that getting out to socialise and meet new people, a quote I remember from someones CV once, had actually worked. 

The one time I’d visited that same bar in the village weeks before, I had ended up chatting to an American woman who had only been in the country for several months and had plenty to say, slightly tipsy, about how Americans would never accept country-wide lock-downs like the UK. Her British boyfriend joined us soon after and divided the conversation. She dropped items from her purse on the way out without even realising, the effects of strong alcohol, until I informed her. Seeing people in these ways that we normally take for granted had helped a little.

It wasn’t just work though that had pushed me out for a couple of hours with locals, it was that last session with the gender clinic in London. It had kind of passed me by, the time between that and the last one that was actually in Hammersmith, this time it was over the internet, a “Zoom Meeting”.

Last time we talked about what the clinician wanted me to do next. It was pretty much everything you could think of rather than just one or two next steps. It was too much but whenever I speak to some kind of clinician or psychologist I usually end up bouncing out of there with a tonne of confidence that slowly fades as the weeks go on. It’s the sort of thing that either needs to be jumped on straight away or boosted once a week – regularly recharged like an overly hungry mobile phone.

I said to her last time I was there, “The thing is I’m worried that I’m not progressing and I’m tying up your time and resource.” or something along those lines.

“Don’t worry about that, this is what we’re here for. It takes as long as it takes.” may be not word-for-word.

I waited for my three o’clock appointment. Laptop set up, plenty of light and privacy in my own home. Zoom all ready to go and waiting for the other person. Nothing happened. Three passed by as did ten past. I gave it fifteen minutes and decided to call. It’s probably just her last session over-running as they normally do at the actual clinic. “She’s probably still on her previous patient, they tend to get delayed through the day.” said the receptionist at the other end of the old-school phone call, “Give me your name and address and I’ll send her an e-mail to let her know you’re waiting.”

I gave my name, my male name, after all that is the name they’ll still have in my records and it seems pointless confusing the matters, and my address. Within five minutes zoom sprung to life and there was a clinician on the screen.

“Hi, have you changed your name.” she said straight away?
“No?” I said confused.
“You called just now didn’t you, and gave a name of –”, now for privacies sake, insert any street name here. That’s right, she seemed to think my name had now been changed, by Deed Poll, to the name of my street. I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of it, the street isn’t the name of a person, it made no sense what so ever, if it wasn’t for the fact she seemed annoyed at me. I was utterly confused.
“No, that’s my street address.” I said incredulously.

We started to talk about what she said we were going to do by next session, I hadn’t done any of them, I’d prepared for some and even tried, but nothing achieved. I got the feeling she had just read the notes from my file, may be they were a set of bullet points and expected me to have ticked them all in real life. I don’t expect them to remember me specifically from all the others they see over such a long break but this is where the system is broken. All emotion and understanding is lost until I go over things again, my fears and concerns, my broken confidence. It just doesn’t work.

It’s not worth trudging through the whole session again but it ended long short of my allocated forty five minutes. “I’m going to discharge you. I think you need to see someone, may be a counsellor or psychologist locally to help deal with those issues. Do you agree?”

I did of course agree. I couldn’t meet their expectations and it probably wouldn’t be possible over a long distance to London. “You have a local Gender Clinic now so in my letter to your GP I’ll recommend gender counselling locally and hopefully they’ll refer you to them. In fact you could contact the gender clinic yourself and at least you’ll know. You’re not justsaying you’re ok with it are you because some people say yes and then go away and feel differently.” I agreed. It seemed right, it made sense. It felt like I had somewhere to go and not have to commit to expensive long trips to London in the future.

When the call ended I wrote to the new local gender clinic right away. I wasn’t sure quite how I felt, I know I felt exhausted by the past year or so of not knowing where I was with this whole thing. It’s almost like I felt like I needed a holiday from being transgendered. Two days later a reply came back.

“Hi Becca,” Becca! I know I’m confused about my identity but this really doesn’t help. I wrote back and they were more than apologetic, but “Unfortunately we do not provide counselling services. Your GP may be able to refer you to your local community mental health team or may be ask London if they can provide therapy.”

Suddenly I felt a bit… abandoned. I remembered what the therapist had said the last time I spoke about worrying I was taking up their time but this time I was discharged because they could no longer help. The two sessions were chalk and a very short bit of chalk. I wrote an email to the reception of the London gender clinic for the attention of the therapist informing them that the local clinic will not be able to help. Of course I received no thank you or no reply.

Some weeks later I received a copy of the letter by email, by email – that nice secure form of communication for very personal matters like this, from the London gender clinic to my GP, the discharge letter if you will. “..the patient has not embarked on his social role..”, “He has said that he had..”, you get the idea, I was misgendered nearly twenty times through the letter, come on – basic gender identity rule one. There were of course mistakes about me in the letter as well. 

I think it was at that point that I really lost faith in the London gender clinic and that I’d exhausted their use and what experience they have with gender identity issues didn’t really seem to go as far as I thought it might. The fact that clinicians come and go between sessions, ever increasing waiting list for referrals, the awful handling of appointments and paperwork.

When I first went on the waiting list from a referral by my local hospital mental health unit, by the time it came to my turn London had no record of my referral and said I’d have to wait another year. Only when a high position staff member from my local hospital proved the referral had been sent did I get a date that I still had to wait some time for.

It’s a shame, but once faith is lost in something that is supposed to support you then it would be difficult to gain that trust again. I’m just glad that at present I feel mentally solid enough to move on in some way but I also worry about those who are vulnerable or fragile and will be joining them – relying on them for support.

–– ❤ ––

I found myself at the supermarket. The last visit before Christmas. All my Christmas present shopping had been done early, I didn’t even need wrapping paper – it was all done, and so I found myself thinking about myself. May be a little treat just to make the weekend feel better and may be melt away the tense working-week. A quick browse of the make-up isle. ‘Nail varnish, something sparkly that feels like partying and Christmas. Crystal Rocks.’ A clear vanish packed with extremely shiny silver flakes that reflect colours like crushed diamonds. ‘Ooo, Mascara. Haven’t had that for a long time.’ – one of those things bought, used, hardly used, gets thrown out because it’s past it’s opened time. ‘Which treat though. Oh get both for god’s sake.’

There are some tips though;

  1. Spend on decent varnish. It goes on better, it comes off better, it looks better.
  2. Mascara. Get whatever. It’s probably going to be under-used and in the bin soon enough.
  3. When putting Crystal Rocks varnish on, remember to put a regular coat of clear varnish down before you start.

Some days after the weekend and enjoying the sparkle of toes sticking out of the froth of bubbles in the bath I decided to try to remove the varnish, protect my nails from wavy growth caused by old coats. Of course knowing to put down a clear coat first came from experience and I should have remembered. Cotton balls soaked in varnish remover and toes soaked in cotton balls soaked with varnish removerlead me to twenty minutes of rubbing and scraping, covering fingers in silver flakes and leaving nails with a mat unhealthy looking finish. So remember this, when it says top coaton the bottle, they really mean it. The mascara seem to disappear all by itself. May be don’t get the cheaper?

However you find your Christmas sparkle this difficult time, Merry Christmas.

Until next time.

Hannah x