Journal

Welcome to my online journal, which I started in December 2002 after several very persuasive hints from friends. Although I obviously don't write about everything that happens in my life here, I hope it'll provide an insight into who I am and what's happening in my life - whether good, bad, happy or sad.

Happy Birthday Susie!!

Posted by Anna at 20:17 on Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Today is my friend Susie's birthday.

It's not often I find a card which says so beautifully and exactly what I feel, but this one (which I had for a couple of weeks before sending it on Monday!) is most certainly one of them. It says just everything about our friendship and how much it means to me.

The verse inside reads:

    Do you suppose
    that we'll still talk for hours
    and tell each other anything
    and everything,
    and share worries
    and gossip
    over coffee and tea?

    I do.
    I think we'll be friends
    forever.

    Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday honey! I hope this year will be a truly special one for you.

I'm driving down to see her after work on Friday, and I'm really looking forward to it. Living so far apart is such a pain.

Justice for Gwen? Let's hope so

Posted by Anna at 09:52 on Sunday, March 28, 2004
I've just received a copy of the following press release from the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC):

    Araujo Murder Trial Scheduled to Begin March 29

    On October 3, 2002, 17-year-old Gwen Araujo was slowly and brutally murdered at a party after young men with whom she had previously had sex discovered that she was anatomically male. After finishing their "Tony Soprano-type" hit, they drove the teen's body to a site over 150 miles away and buried her in a shallow grave.

    The nation's transgender community, riveted by the brutality of the case, is looking forward to final justice in a trial where defense attorneys will attempt to affix blame to the victim. The trial for Araujo's murder, currently in the jury selection phase, is slated to begin March 29 in Oakland, CA.

    Jason Cazares, 24, Michael Magidson, 23, and Jose Merel, 24, are each charged with murder with a hate-crime enhancement in the slaying of the Newark, CA teenager, Gwen (born Eddie) Araujo. California is one of seven states nationwide that has hate crime enhancements that cover "gender identity" or expression - the transgendered.

    An additional suspect, Jaron Nabors, 21, entered a plea bargain earlier to voluntary manslaughter and will testify on behalf of the state against Magidson, Merel and Cazares.

    The men had speculated about the true gender of Araujo, an attractive girl from the neighborhood that they knew as "Lida." According to Nabors' testimony, at one point the accused sat around Merel's kitchen table and discussed a "Tony Soprano-type" murder and a plot to "get rid of her body" if their suspicions of her anatomical maleness were confirmed.

    "Fear and hatred of 'gayness' drove these men to plan, and carry out a stunningly heartless murder," said Vanessa Edwards Foster, chair of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC). The murderers "were attracted to a beautiful female," she added, and "couldn't live with others knowing of their affection towards a girl who was not born female."

    Meanwhile, defense attorneys are telegraphing strategy to turn the trial around by affixing blame to Araujo for her murder. In his line of questioning, Michael Thorman, attorney for defendant Michael Magidson, suggested that he might ask a jury to decide whether the killing was not a first-degree murder but instead a manslaughter - a killing committed during a heat of passion.

    "It all goes back to deception, and reaction to deception," argued Tony Serra, attorney for defendant Jason Cazares.

    "That's like saying any woman who was deceived by some guy with promises of love or marriage, and who is later dumped, can plan and carry out the man's execution and plead innocence due to being deceived," said Foster of NTAC. "That logic is specious and weak."

    Foster admitted that this type of defense, blaming the victim for her different gender situation, was not surprising. But she added that it "shouldn't factor into the conviction or sentencing if justice is properly carried out. If it draws a first-degree murder conviction in any other situation, then it should draw a first-degree murder conviction in this
    case, regardless of Gwen's transgender status."

    According to reports, seventeen year-old Araujo was invited to the loose party at the Merel home, setting the stage for the fateful event. After repeated questioning by the party-goers, Araujo was discovered to be biologically male and was reportedly set upon by Magidson and Jose Merel. The men beat, kicked, and bludgeoned the teen with a can of soup and a frying pan.

    Cazares then told Nabors to go with him to his house to retrieve shovels. Once they returned, Magidson strangled Araujo, hogtied her and wrapped her in a blanket, and Cazares finished by twice smashing the teen in the head with a shovel. They then drove in the early morning hours to a remote spot near Placerville, CA, and buried Gwen in a shallow grave.

    Nabors eventually led police to Araujo's body.

    Serra, the attorney for Jason Cazares, has argued that his client did not participate in the killing, a statement contradicted by preliminary hearing testimony that his client struck the victim in the head twice with a shovel in the garage of Merel's home in Newark.

    "The bottom line here is that these men despised Gwen Araujo for who she was and how her being transgendered affected them," said NTAC chair, Foster. "They conspired to kill her, discussed where to bury her, effectively carried out the plan, and no one did a thing to stop it."

    NTAC, as well as transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay citizens nationwide, avidly look forward to a full and proper conviction, and stiff sentencing of all parties involved.

    "This was a cold, premeditated murder," Foster added, "irrespective of whether the victim is straight or transsexual."

    Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a �501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.

This case is one that's particularly close to my heart. Gwen was murdered just two months before I changed role publicly, and her death is a vivid reminder that transfolk can all too easily be at risk from those who feel threatened by us. When I first read her story I couldn't hold back the tears - for what happened to her could all too easily have happened to any of us had we been in the wrong place in the wrong time.

All we can hope for is that the monsters who butalised Gwen will soon be facing justice. The tragedy is that no matter what the result, nothing can give her back the life that was so cruelly snatched away from her.

Rest in peace Gwen.

Sensitivity, Sensuality and what lies beyond

Posted by Anna at 01:23 on Saturday, March 27, 2004
I'm getting to the point in my recovery where it's obvious that I've healed enough to start thinking about where I'm heading in my life - and by inference what my body is capable of now.

Although I've never been in a relationship with a man I've always been aware that transitioning could affect my sexuality, and open minded to that possibility. I can certainly feel an attraction sometimes, but I have to say that up until now the way many men often react to trans women (which I've seen myself, partly through the experiences of friends) has really put me off.

After my surgery on 14th November believe me sex was the last thing on my mind - all my energies were focused on recovery and healing. Although I went orgasmic on 26th January (10 weeks 3 days post-op!) my libido crashed afterwards (which is apparently quite normal) and it's only now starting to recover...and with it, my curiousity about future relationships is beginning to grow.

Since that first climax I've given the whole matter a great deal of thought, and I've come to conclusion that men and women offer very different things in a relationship.

With a man, there's obviously the potential to give yourself wholely to your partner, and he can also offer a perceived feeling of being safe...having someone to protect you, almost. The downside is of course that inevitably the level of emotional empathy between the partners is limited by the difference in gender and life experience between them...and most men aren't known for their sensuality either. I won't mention staying power...

By contrast, a relationship with another woman has very different dynamics. Empathy, sensuality and emotional closeness can be so much stronger than in most heterosexual relationships....and those are all qualities I value incredibly highly - so much so that I really don't know whether I could handle a relationship where empathy and sensuality wasn't a central part.

So far I've not felt any urge to explore what it would feel like to be penetrated by a man. In part that's because when I've gently explored with fingers the sensations I've felt inside my vagina haven't been anything to get at all excited about (and in fact the sensation wasn't comfortable at all a lot of the time).

However, last night when I finished dilating and withdrew the stent I felt something new - a sensation like a "tingling shock" just inside the vagina as the stent rubbed against it. I think it's originating in the sensate tissue my surgeon placed just inside the vagina rather than the G-spot, but either way it's certainly much more pleasurable that what I'd felt previously. It was quite a gorgeous feeling in fact!

Does all of this change where I'm going or what I'll utimately look for in a partner? I don't know, but I'll keep an open mind and wait and see.

K-Y II: The Jelly Strikes Back

Posted by Anna at 23:33 on Thursday, March 25, 2004
The saga continues.

I'm happy to say that I've now found a source for metal tubes of K-Y Jelly - which I find much more convenient for dilation than the plastic ones you can get in the chemist. Even better, my local pharmacy was able to order me a month's supply when I took in my prescription!

As ever there's a snag. Although the tubes I received (the upper one in the picture to the right) are very similar to the ones I bought out in Thailand they have a different screw thread, and as a result my applicator doesn't fit.

Bugger.

That said, they're still easier to use than the plastic ones (I waste much less of the stuff, for one...not a minor consideration when you consider I now have two stents to play with) and although the applicator won't screw in place I can fill it a lot easier than I could with the plastic tubes.

When I realised these tubes were different again I rang Johnson & Johnson to ask if they could advise of an applicator which would fit these tubes. I'm still waiting for a call back, but quite frankly I'm not optimistic at the moment.

If you want to get hold of these metal tubes instead of the plastic ones the product code for the 82g tubes is 41248 and you can get your pharmacy to order them from 3S Healthcare on 0870-8734900. All of the major UK chemists (Boots, Lloyds and Moss Pharmacy) have accounts for them.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Information (who're dealing with my enquiry) can be reached on 0845-6012261.

More post-op blues...or back-to-work blues?

Posted by Anna at 22:47 on Monday, March 22, 2004
This isn't like me at all.

For the last couple of evenings I've been very tearful and tonight it's happened again. I honestly can't pinpoint the reason, though I can't rule out post-op blues (common in the immediate post-op period...and I'm sure I'm due for a second visit from those guys!) and uncertainties and fears over work (possibly compounded by the upset I felt on Friday afternoon).

Fears and uncertainty over re-integration and socialisation might be playing a part too - although I do feel quite confident in that area. Certainly the reaction of "Wow!" I got when I walked into my hairdressers on Saturday is a good sign, and I spent the rest of the day walking on air (and getting noticed as a result!).

Maybe I'm kidding myself about how ready I am to face the world - I really don't know. However, one thing I do know is that this is a strange and challenging time for me and that all I can do is be true to myself and do my best.

Right now though I feel very tearful, and really could do with someone here. Sadly, I'm alone tonight, but Susie's once again been doing her best to comfort me over the phone - as have Katie and Jenny by IM. Thank you so much girls!

My MP and the GerBill, part deux

Posted by Anna at 21:22 on Sunday, March 21, 2004
I've had a reply from Andrew Hunter MP to my letter asking why he voted against the Gender Recognition Bill at its Second Reading in the Commons (see Why doesn't my MP like GerBills? for the beginning of this saga).

    Dear Ms Metcalfe,

    Thank you for your letter of 25th February about the Gender Recognition Bill. I very much appreciated hearing from you. It was certainly the case that only 26 Members of Parliament voted against the Bill but a total of 324 declined to support it. There were 298 abstentions. The 335 members who voted for the Bill only just constitute a majority of the House (659 Members).

    I enclose a copy of the Official Report Monday, 23 February. You will find the debate on the Gender Recognition Bill covered in Columns 48-105. From discussion with colleagues and others who did not support the Bill, the overriding reason was our belief that the Bill in parts is unworkable, and other parts apparently contradictory and also highly likely to impact negatively on pension rights. These points of view are expressed in the interventions during the Minister's speech, in the speech made by the Opposition spokesman (Tim Boswell) and in the contributions of Andrew Selous, Andrew Robathan and Ann Widdecome.

    Thank you for writing

    Yours sincerely

    Andrew Hunter MP
    Member of Parliament, Basingstoke

I have to say I'm very dissapointed his response (or rather, lack of it), and I've written back to him:
    Dear Andrew,

    Thank you for your reply to my letter of 25th February, and the copy of the Hansard proceedings you enclosed. Although I'd actually already read the debate online, it was useful to read it again.

    Unfortunately your letter does not answer the questions I posed, and in particular does not give any substantive indication of exactly why you opposed the Bill. As far as I am aware you have not raised any such concerns prior to the Second Reading and in particular did not make any submissions to the JCHR while the draft Bill was being evaluated. Please feel free to correct me on this if I'm wrong.

    You state:

    "...our belief that the Bill in parts is unworkable, and other parts apparently contradictory and also highly likely to impact negatively on pension rights"

    I'd be very interested to hear exactly which parts you feel are unworkable, and why, as well of course what (in your view) would be an acceptable way of resolving these contradictions? What alternative provisions can you envisage which would not "impact negatively on pension rights"?

    As far as the other members you mentioned as having raised objections to the Bill are concerned:

    • Tim Boswell is on record as giving his support for the Bill. He has the gratitude of the Trans-community in the UK for doing so.
    • Andrew Rothahan has made clear in his statements to the House his total opposition to Bill. He said very little other than "I do not applaud this Bill. I think it is the most arrant nonsense".
    • Ann Widdecombe went further. Her statement that even if the Bill were "the most brilliant Bill on Earth I would oppose it" makes clear she wants me to be treated as a man in Law. That's unacceptable � not only to myself and many others but to the ECHR and JCHR.
    • Andrew Selous speaks for the Evangelical Alliance - who are on record as not believing we should have access to medical treatment, let alone legal recognition. His opposition was expected.

    I repeat again my request for you to quantify your objections to the Bill, and what you intend to do to bring the legal recognition for trans-people required by the ECHR into UK Law. Have you made any alternative proposals?

    If (as I suspect) you are fundamentally opposed to the aims of the Bill, I would ask you on behalf of your trans-constituents not to vote against it - but to abstain - when it returns to the Commons for its Third Reading.

    Finally I can't emphasise strongly enough how much the provisions of this Bill will mean for trans-people in the UK. Please don't be part of any effort to prevent us from being given back the fundamental human rights so cruelly snatched away from us in 1970.



      Kind Regards,



        Anna-Jayne Metcalfe

One week on: the other kind of full-time

Posted by Anna at 20:53 on Friday, March 19, 2004
Somehow I've made it through my first full week at work since November. I'm exhausted!

Having had my start time moved back to 9:30am has helped a lot...I honestly think I wouldn't have made it had the company insisted on me being at my desk by 8:30am. As it is, I can now set my alarm for a leisurely 5:30am, do a full dilation and still have time to relax for 20 minutes or so with a mug of coffee before starting to get ready.

Most of the week was pretty uneventful, albeit dragging a little as I'm doing mostly documentation right now. Friday proved to be the exception on two fronts - one good, and one bad. The (very) good was being invited out with a group of the girls from downstairs this lunchtime (a very pleasant change from the all-male company I usually have!). It meant a lot, and I got to meet some new faces too.

The bad was a discussion with one of my colleagues (over a software architecture proposal no less) which only served to remind me why I don't enjoy working in an otherwise-male team and brought all of my old fears of isolation back to the surface. I spent the 10 minutes afterwards in the Ladies toilet crying, which I really could have done without.

I had hoped that once I was post-op (and also given my extended absence and the changes to my face) my co-workers might relate to me more as a female than they had previously (they largely treated me as gender-neutral before I flew out to Thailand in November).

Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be happening accross the team as a whole, although there are one or two who are making an effort. Interestingly enough, the guys I met at the CPian gathering last weekend reacted to me in a very different (and much more positive) way - despite also knowing my past.

There's one big difference between the two groups. My co-workers knew me as a "male" beforehand, which suggests that at least some of them are still struggling with re-gendering issues. Given that a significant amount of time has passed since my transition (15 months now!) I suspect they'll not get past that, so I've either got to cope with it or ultimately move on and seek an environment where I can be comfortable.

Only time will tell which will come to pass.

Men, their hang-ups and why we often have to lie to them about who we are

Posted by Anna at 22:29 on Sunday, March 14, 2004
One of my friends is going through sheer hell right now - and all because of men and their hang-ups and insecurities. That may seem harsh, so I'll explain for those who can't guess what I'm talking about.

After coming to terms with the fact that she prefers relationships with men (no small step for a trans woman, I can assure you) she's been "testing the water" by talking to guys and dating. However, time after time she's been rejected after revealing she was trans, and she now feels compelled to lie about her past and go "stealth". That's something that's as alien to her as it is to me (why should we have to hide our pasts?), and it's tearing her apart.

It's also potentially dangerous - some men can become abusive or violent when they discover that a woman they have met is trans - particularly if they're already involved by then. Although brutal murders such as that of Gwen Araujo are thankfully rare (particularly in the UK ) we often face ridicule or abuse from men we encounter socially.

Today she sent me this poem which says it all:

    I tell you the truth

    I am very disillusioned about the world
    it has to be said.
    I despise your prejudgment of me.
    Especially you men,
    But you women are just as bad
    In your own way.
    I am tired of being the candle bearer...

    You turn your eyes away from me
    in droves...
    Because I tell you the truth.
    But if I tell you a lie or
    a half truth,
    or simply hide reality from you.
    You shower me with attention,
    affection and love...

    You love me for how feminine I am
    and how beautiful I look...
    While how upstanding,
    honest and true I am
    really doesn't matter to you.

    A 'lie' will do just as well for you
    so that is what you will have
    You will not be privileged to the truth
    because you do not want the truth
    so the truth will be hidden from your eyes

    And you can say to yourself
    Either today, tomorrow or
    Many years from now.
    I wonder what she meant
    What was true for her...?

    Obviously I do not include you in this ...
    But some times life is what it is
    and people are what they are
    and if we don't like it
    then it is just too bad.
I have a question for the guys out there - would you date a post-op trans woman?

If your answer is "no" I pity you. Do we scare you, or are you afraid of "what your mates will think"? You compel us to lie to you about who we are, as if we do otherwise, we risk rejection or ridicule. If you find out, we face abuse or violence.

Why should we have to lie so you don't have to face your hang-ups? It's no wonder so many of us are lesbian.

In at the deep end...

Posted by Anna at 22:23 on Friday, March 12, 2004
My honeymoon period at work is over - next week I go back full time. That's a pretty daunting prospect, but one made easier by the fact that my local management have now managed to officially get permission (from the MD) for my working hours to be temporarily changed. I'm now working 9:30am to 6pm, which means I can push back my dilation to 5:30am (almost a sensible time) and still not have to rush. That's a huge relief, as I absolutely detest having to rush while driving into work. Aside from anything else, it's stupid and dangerous...and yet most of us do it as we're slaves to the clock of corporate inflexibility.

Why they needed to formally change my working hours rather than relying on common sense and trust I don't know. Still, it's the end result that matters.

I'll cope.

Motivation 101

Posted by Anna at 22:15 on Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Don't you just hate it when you do your best and it's not enough?

When I arranged my surgery last year I negotiated a staged return to work (starting at the beginning of March) as I knew that if I attempted to go back full-time with no lead-in I'd probably not be able to cope. I committed to working three half days the first week, five the second week (all mornings, as they're far harder for me because of my morning dilation) before returning to work full-time at the start of the third week. Where I only worked a half day in those first two weeks I agreed to take leave.

Despite this flexibility, knowing that I was facing a two hour dilation each morning before even leaving for work I've been absolutely dreading going back.

However, until yesterday morning it was however beginning to look like my fears were misplaced. Last week I was very happy that I actually managed to do not only two half days (Monday and Thursday), but two full days (Wednesday and Friday). Although the first day I arrived later than I liked (about 9:15am) once I got into a better routine I was consistantly managing to get in between 8:45am and 9am - which was far better than I expected and not much later than our official start time of 8:30am.

My schedule each morning has so far gone something like this:

5:00amAlarm goes off - stumble out of bed and start getting everything ready (e.g. painkillers, K-Y jelly, stents, a pad to lie on and some tissues)
5:10amStart dilating. Grit teeth if it hurts (microtears at the vaginal opening are common at this stage) and wait for the painkillers to kick in (usually 15 minutes or so)
5:30amGet close enough to depth that I can place an upright bottle between my legs to stop the stent from sliding out. Set alarm for two hours later, and try to fall asleep.
7:30amWake up when the alarm goes off. Stumble out of bed, douche 4 times then shower
7:40amGrab a coffee and some cereal. Start frantically trying to get ready at the same time
8:15am (ish)Leave the house.
8:50am (ish)Arrive at work a little late, but not at all bad considering what I've already done this morning (I can always do a little extra in the evening to make up any lost time)

I should say that I'd previously asked my local management for some flexibility, and they were perfectly happy with these arrangements. I was just glad to be able to do more than I thought I'd be able to, and in the first week I felt real enthusiam for my work.

Unfortunately that's faded now. When I arrived at work yesterday morning at 8:50am I had my ear bent by one of the directors who wasn't happy with my timekeeping. To say I was upset with him would be an understatement, particularly as he was the only one expressing dissatisfaction and obviously hadn't discussed the matter with the managers I report to directly.

This morning I tried my best to do better, and actually started dilating at 4:30am. Despite leaving home much earlier, I didn't arrive at work until 8:40am as there was a queue on the M3. To say I was exhausted would be putting it mildly. I came home in tears at lunchtime and fell asleep.

I've since been told that the matter has been sorted out, but the annoying thing is that arose in the first place. This sort of incident doesn't help morale, motivation or productivity and I can only hope that the Company will learn from the experience.

Getting a life, Part I

Posted by Anna at 23:25 on Sunday, March 07, 2004
It's been an interesting and fun day. Although I was too tired this morning to make it to Church, this afternoon Andrea and I went up to The Vyne for a look around, with the aim of taking a few pictures (she's a very competant amateur photographer - with the equipment to match - whereas I'm just a rank amateur with a compact digital camera...).

Nevertheless, I did manage to take several shots I'm rather happy with, including these two:


Afterwards we went for a gorgeous meal at a local pub nearby, and then (after going home to change) caught a bus into town and went to a local pub to play pool.

It was a fun evening, and although there was one idiot there questioning my gender (and not in a particularly subtle way) he was drunk and no-one took him seriously. Everyone else was very friendly towards me, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself - and in fact I'm looking forward to returning on Wednesday evening when Andrea is taking on one of the security guards from the precinct in a pool match.

By the time we left we were hungry again and fortunately there's not only a taxi place but also a Domino's Pizza opposite the pub...

Of course I'm now dilating (yet again)...

Fun and games with K-Y jelly

Posted by Anna at 20:12 on Thursday, March 04, 2004
Sometimes the simplest things can cause the most trouble.

Since I was about 6 weeks post-op I've been using an applicator to libricate myself before dilating. The applicator screws onto the end of a standard 82g tube of K-Y, and when you squeeze the tube it fills up. It helps enormously, and means I don't have to cover the stent in K-Y.

Now I'm back in the UK, I've realised there's a problem - the only tubes I've been able to find in this country are plastic, and have a much bigger thread on them. You can see the problem in the picture on the right - the tube on the left is one I bought in Thailand, and the one on the right is the UK equivalent.

What a pain. I rang Johnson & Johnson yesterday to try to find out whether the old style tubes were still generally available and apparently they aren't - and neither do they produce an applicator for the new ones.

The phrase (un)screwed springs to mind.

My first day at work since 10th November...

Posted by Anna at 23:19 on Monday, March 01, 2004
Today was every bit as tiring as I expected, and even with my my 5am start I was still 40 minutes late into work!

Not a lot's changed while I've been away. A couple of people have left (one from my team), promised upgrades to development tools haven't materialised...all the usual things that happen in most organisations. On the positive side, I didn't find it difficult diving back into the code again (I'll be doing bug fixing and re-familiarisation initially) which is hopeful.

I stayed until 2pm then came home - utterly exhausted. I slept for over hours in the afternoon. Crazy!

I'm off work tomorrow as I have to go into London to see Russell Reid (to get a new prescription and discuss endocrinologists) and then to the Portman Clinic. I'm back at work on Wednesday, and although I'm only supposed to be in during the morning I'm going to see if I can manage a full day....and how I cope the following morning.