Tina's Diary (4)

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Once again, Tina resorts to her diary to put her thoughts in order in her far-fromuneventful life...

Transsexuals spend much of their life in a quandary. Prior to transitioning they secretly pray that they will be spotted, have their femininity brought out, and for their tortured soul to receive help. During and after their transition they desperately hope that they will not be 'read', that they will pass as real women and that their former gender will be consigned to the annals of history. To this end, every detail of the transition is often kept to monitor the slow passage towards eventual womanhood.

This month I have found in my old diaries a few episodes where these sentiments were never truer.

September 2005 Nantwich/Stoke

So v. v. v. tired, felt dizzy. Ended up in bed with Helen, but not as expected. Gallons of blood after 'Dr Death's visit. Nearly caused riot in hospital. Need to sleep.

'Awww, my fave shortie satin nightie'

I was enjoying a relaxing weekend with Helen after taking a break from my teaching placement in Barrow. As usual, she was concerned at how much the short hundredmile journey had taken out of me - a situation not improved when she realised that I was perilously close to running out of some tablets used to 'control' my diabetes. 'I'm sure that I will be able to get some Metformin somewhere,' I reassured her. However, two hours later, and the best that I could find was a supermarket willing to provide me with three days' supply for £5. Helen decided to take me to one of those marvellous 'walk-in' clinics - but they could only advise that we go to the local hospital and get the medicine from A&E.

The waiting-room at that muchmaligned hospital appeared to resemble the set of an action film, with an amazing Saturday night array of drunks, drug-addicts and, on this particular evening, even the remains of a police chase where they had mislaid an injured suspect!

It was not long before I was called to see the triage nurse and I duly presented myself, ready to apologise for wasting their time when all I needed was a supply of my regular medicine.
'And how do you feel in yourself, yourself?' the nurse asked in a broad Irish brogue, 'because,' she continued without waiting for an answer, 'you look like shit.'

Tell it me straight...

I had never actually heard a nurse swear in a hospital before and, in a state of shock and without further ado, I climbed aboard a trolley while the nurse sent somebody to collect Helen, muttering under her breath 'better have the next of kin'. Several duty doctors later I was wheeled into a cubicle where a tired-looking doctor decided to take some blood.

Plunging what, to me, felt like an extremely blunt needle into my arm, he then began to attach the canula. Oddly, I had always thought that it was the patient who looked away or closed their eyes when such a procedure was taking place, but obviously I was wrong. The next moment there was a pop and a clunk as the stopper fell on the floor, followed by a geyser of blood from my arm, which sprayed the ceiling, curtain and a shrieking Helen. The doctor groped around on the floor, trying to find his lost item while Helen slowly began to freak out - and I rapidly began to pass out.

I have to assume that 'Dr Death' resolved his dilemma, because 3 am found me, still on the trolley, in a holding area. By this time we were both extremely tired and while I was worried about the lapsed car-park ticket, Helen was worried about the clothes that I had been wearing (were they too feminine?) and the prospect of teaching at school the following day.With Helen half on the trolley trying to catch forty winks, I was eventually admitted to a ward and hooked up to three drips and an insulin pump.

'Very close to coma and death,' was the verdict delivered later that day, when Helen finally returned with some essentials that would be required for my stay.

I peered into the proffered carrier bag... toothbrush, hairbrush, something to read, my favourite leopard print satin negligee. I burst into tears, not for the last time during my stay, as the horror of being in a male ward sank in. Indeed, my stay caused the nurses so much of a quandary, with a 'Tina' name board above my bed, that they forgot to affix a 'D' for diabetic, leaving me to enjoy extra biscuits at tea-time and even a donner kebab, once I was on the mend. I remain ever thankful to the nurses on that ward who, on many occasions, had to administer 'emotional support' with the assurance that I'd 'make my mother a wonderful daughter'.

Difficult days...

So it was that I had my own 'mini-transition' while in hospital, being treated as female in a male environment.

But life, no matter how heart-breaking, was not always so clear-cut. Indeed, I empathise with Neil Warnock when he stated, on Match of the Day, that 'he often had that 'nut-wrenching' feeling'.

There are occasions, however, when I have been left in the dark as to whether I had been 'read' or not - whether I was seen as male or female - and if harsh reality proved all of my carefully taken measures to have been in vain.

A previous August Borough Street Market,London

OMG! What a job, what a year. Met HG, dunno why they call him Huge Rant - he was lovely - I really confused him! Did he suss me? Got mobbed by security, but the shoot itself went OK. One moment I feel on top of the world, next moment my body stabs me in the back and reality kicks in. 'I say, are you sure that we haven't worked together before?'

The tousle-haired young man moodily stirred his instant coffee, the chink of the spoon on his cup lost in the hurly-burly atmosphere of the Greek cafe. Outside the wind picked up a sheet of discarded newspaper and tossed it in the air before depositing it in the gutter with the rest of yesterday's news.

'God, this is ridiculous!' he swore under his breath, and then looked across the table at me and muttered an apology. 'You want to try the mock-cream pastry,' I joked, in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere and excuse his behaviour. I had no idea who he was, but could clearly see that he was upset about something.

I am usually happy to chat with anybody and he didn't look like a total nutter - although I could have been wrong. It was early evening and I was on location at London's Borough Market on the set of Bridget Jones' Diary. I had joined the rest of the background artistes and extras, to 'clock in', and then been promptly excused for at least an hour. Taking refuge in a local cafe, I had grabbed the only visible vacant seat and ordered coffee and a pastry. To be honest, I was more worried at spraying agonisingly hot coffee over my table companion and, when I saw that he was studying me intently, became totally convinced that either I had showered him with pastry crumbs or that I had shown some transsexual mannerism.

'I say, are you sure that we haven't worked together before?' he asked, smiling at me. I racked my brain to think of the various people I had befriended on set over the previous month but, although faintly familiar,

I wasn't sure that I knew him. On most shoots people would often come up to me and ask if they knew me or had worked with me. That's what comes from having such a common face.

Eager not to upset him, I replied that it was quite possible that we had worked together on some previous project.

Charming Mr Grant

'Have you travelled far to get here?' I asked, thinking of my own uncomfortable commute earlier that evening. 'From America,' he replied with a laugh that shed years from his features. 'But obviously not far enough,' he added, with a deflated shrug of his shoulders.

He stared out through the window of the cafe to where several film security guards were firmly escorting away what appeared to be a reporter. Strangely, it seemed that this particular shoot had almost as many security people on location as there were actors. 'Please keep in touch', he said 'I hope that we work together again soon.'

With a scraping sound that silenced the cafe, he pushed back his chair and made his way down the street, pausing only to talk briefly to a man I knew to be the unit director. 'You shouldn't be too friendly with the stars,' I was admonished later, and it was only then that I became aware that I had taken tea with Hugh Grant, recently returned from America and criminal proceedings, where it would appear that much of the evidence had been swallowed.

Me and Ms Jones

Actually, knowing that the film was coming up, I had been avidly re-reading Bridget Jones' Diary and sharing in the heroine's careful documentation of her measurements and her inability to lose both weight and inches from various parts of her body.

Ever since I first started taking hormones, ill-advisedly sourced through the internet, I have noted each minute change to my body. Every month for the past three or four years, I have committed to history every ounce in weight gained or lost, every centimetre's movement on my tape measure. One way that I have kept records of these changes has been through the use of 'Translog' - part of 'Transgender Care', a free computer programme devised by Carl Bushong PhD and Richard Martin MD of the Tampa Stress Centre, two leading American gender specialists.

Vital statistics

Inspection of my personal 'Translog' shows that unfortunately, my own thighs make Bridget Jones' seem positively svelte and, whereas hers may alter by the odd inch or two, mine seem to resemble a giant sequoia or Californian redwood every time I feel depressed.

Of course, a lot depends upon where the measurement is taken from - where exactly is the thigh? Mine seems to have moved from just above the kneecap to just below the groin - depending on how small I wish the measurement to appear.

And don't even mention the waist; I think that, according to Translog, the tape measure is meant to run across the bellybutton, but nobody I talk to seems to know for sure exactly where the waist is.

You may laugh... but look at Simon Cowell. Hence, my waist measurement has been taken variously from just below my bust to an area just an inch or so above where I measure my hips.

I do try not to dwell on my hips - in my early days of transitioning I used to do everything in my power to get away from the lack of definition caused by my masculine frame... now I have to do exercises to bring my hips under control!

My upper measurements have also been a cause of much hilarity and not a little distress. I have to measure the chest (just below the armpit), the breast (across the nipple) and the ribs. I think that eventually I will be able to work out my cup-size - probably by taking the first number, halving it, adding the time and then converting the resulting figure into inches!

Taking advice

It must be noted that originally the Transgender Care site, as well as providing the 'Translog', also featured various medical feminising programmes, details on hormones and other transsexual-related issues. Recently, the site has been expanded by Kimberley Westwood CPE, resident electrolysis expert and a lady with personal experience of TS problems and opportunities.

Rather disconcertingly, this expansion has included the introduction of a store selling cookery books - mind that blender!

If, with all of this kerfuffle, I appear a rather sad creature, then forgive me. My male skeleton was developed through playing badminton for my county and swimming with Team England so, not surprisingly, neither activity was conducive to a 38- 24-36 figure. At this stage I should add, under Helen's prompting, that a good diet with five portions of fruit and veg a day, together with suitable exercise, would benefit any figure far more than wishful thinking, and that it is probably excessive amounts of extremely hot curry and pillau rice that has spoilt my figure.

Oh well, there goes any chance of being given the opportunity to sample a cutprice curry in order to offer an honest, but glowing, critique... Unless anybody knows differently!