That’s a controversial headline! Lets dive right in before someone bites my head off for it….


I want to preface everything below by saying firstly that I work for the NHS. I’m not going to say anything else about my job or where I work because firstly it’s against my trust policy to talk about my work without clearing it through our communications team (and I’m not out at work), and secondly because I know if I do someone will track me down and start harassing me. That’s the world we live in.

The reason I say I work for the NHS is because I know exactly the troubles the system faces, better than most. My particular role brings me into contact with a vast amount of information, oversight of complaints and patient records, and I can see a real whole picture of a service. The NHS is struggling mainly because of a conservative government determined to sell it off in bits to their mates, and there’s nothing the country can do about that other than vote them out.

That said……


For those of you outside the UK (or inside the UK who don’t pay attention) the NHS, or National Health Service, is the UK’s healthcare system. The NHS is a “free at point of access” system meaning you will always be given your care and the cost part is worked out later. The NHS generates money from a national tax (your “NHS Contribution”) that is set based on your salary.

The way the NHS runs is that the money all goes into a big pot and is then divvied out to “Care Commissioning Groups” (CCGs) who cover a set number of GP practices across the country. These CCGs get x pounds per patient they cover and then decide how that money will be spent in their area to buy services they need, like hospitals etc. They generally employ Trusts to provide a bunch of services to their population and your local hospital is likely a Trust that does all of your acute physical needs from x-rays to surgery.

The NHS is a remarkable system and something that our country should reasonably be proud of. Universal healthcare regardless of your financial ability is one thing, but a standardisation of care that is monitored nationally and trusts are held accountable, along with the NHS’s purchasing power (meaning pharmacies can’t hold the country to ransom by increasing drug costs 1000x like they have been in America) gives us something hugely beneficial.

It’s also fundamentally broken if you want gender services.


So the crux of the matter. This is something I didn’t really know about until I realised I was trans, but if you are transgender the NHS does nothing to help you. I’m going to look at this in 2 age brackets (because that’s how the NHS does it); under 18 and over 18. Interestingly most of the NHS works to this 18 year old split despite the fact it has routinely been criticised for being a completely arbitrary cutoff point that is often actively harmful for patients transitioning from children’s service to adult services. More and more commissioners are moving to a split at 25 but this is ridiculously slow to be picked up.

If you’re under 18 and you realise you’re trans you are in for a fight. To start with you’ll need to talk to your GP, and that is going to be a battle on its own. There are some truly superb GPs across England, unfortunately there are far more who are incompetent or uncaring. Even if you get one who does care the odds are they have no idea what to do and will refer you to local mental health services, who will bounce your referral because they’re not commissioned to deal with gender identity.

So eventually your GP will get the idea they need to do something else (although GPs across the country have a catastrophic lack of clinical curiosity and if a referral comes back negative, or a test inconclusive, they’ll just stop doing anything until you the patient chase them for it). They may hit the old Google and find out that there is only one place in England they can refer you; the Tavistock Centre, the Gender Identity Development Services clinic in London. That’s it, just one place.

So eventually you get a referral made to them. GPs probably won’t like doing this either as a GP has to pay per referral, so your best bet is to go around April when they’re flush with cash as if you go at the start of the new year they’ll be broke and not want to refer anyone (true story).

Now you’re on the waiting list for gender services! Yay! Now you wait. And wait. Currently the GIDS are seeing people who were referred June 2017. That’s a wait of 20 months to be seen.


Here I would like to highlight that the NHS has a set of targets that are enshrined as what you as a person entitled to NHS care can expect. These targets are highlighted as national ones that every trust and organisation across the country must report to, and failure to meet these targets is seen as a breach of commissioning standards. There’s a handful of them, for example if you attend A&E you are expected to be seen within 4 hours of arriving at the latest. These targets can’t always be met but when they aren’t the expectation is that the trust can and will explain why they didn’t meet them as well as to outline what they’re going to do to ensure they do meet them in the future.

For non-emergency care there is a standard called “RTT” or “Referral To Treatment”, the time every patient should be seen within. This is 18 weeks, or approximately 4.5 months. Let that sink in; the NHS has set out a target that all people must be seen within and also has a service that has a waiting list 4x longer than that.

And that waiting list isn’t referral to treatment, it’s for referral to initial assessment. We’ll get on to treatment in a moment.


So you’ve now been seen by the GIDS and things are moving. What next? Well we’ll have to have a set of assessment, between 3 and 6 according to their website. Usually 6 according to people who’ve gone through it. These sessions are around an hour each, usually nowhere near where you live (remember; single team) and will be held with a variety of people present from you on your own, to you with parents, to one parent etc.

The staff you get will be a real role of the dice too. For some unknown reason the NHS has decided that mental health professionals are okay to assess people with mental health needs (fine), and that social workers are interchangeable with mental health professionals. So the person who sees you may just be a social worker who has experience working with children, that’s it. Helpful. Remember all those scandals a little while back where social care were letting children be abused and assaulted without doing anything? Those people are going to do an assessment.


So where are we? We’ve been waiting 20 months (at least), been waiting at least 6 weeks more whilst we’ve been being assessed (but likely much much longer), and through all this we’ve been constantly telling people we’re not our assigned-at-birth gender and being disbelieved, questioned, prodded, poked, and made to justify our existence over and over again to a bunch of professional social workers. Surely now we can start treatment?

Well hopefully we weren’t over 15 when this started! Because if we were we’re now getting a bit old for GIDS and there’s a reasonable chance we’re going to be discharged to the adult services with no follow up.

If we were under 15 hopefully the service managed to get everything complete before puberty for maximum effectiveness of hormonal treatment, but unlikely.

Now we might get to talk about hormonal therapy, this doesn’t get done by GIDS though! It’s a referral to an endocrinology team who have their own waiting list and we get to start all over again!


So what you can see from the above is that if everything goes right we’re looking at waiting 3 years to start treatment. Remember that 18 weeks? we’re at 156 weeks. Over 8.5x longer than the NHS has decided is acceptable. Remember that 18 week target was set by the NHS, by professionals, by the government, and held as the minimum standard patients can expect to hold the NHS to.

So what if you’re an adult? You’re looking at about the same 20 weeks to get into the service. Once you’re there it gets a bit easier as they’ll start hormonal therapy after minimum 2 appointments.

Once you’ve had that agreed you’re in for a whole other work of hurt though, back to your trusty ol’ GP!

GPs frequently actively refuse any part of transgender care, refusing to prescribe the medication under Shared Care agreements (where a GP agreed to prescribe the medication at the advice of a specialist), repeatedly denying prescriptions, denying to undertake required blood tests, and generally being arsey about the whole thing.


So what can you do? The alternative is going private. This one costs money, you’re going to be paying a really variable amount for gender services. The advantage is there waiting lists are usually much shorted, if they exist at all. The biggest problem is if you thought a GP could be ignorant about NHS Shared Care it’s got nothing on private Shared Care. Despite the fact the NHS has sent out a memo to all surgeries instructing them that they must treat people who have engaged with private clinics the same as NHS clinics they frequently won’t (by the way; if you’re in this situation feel free to take and use this letter as ammo).


So where does that leave this particularly depressing post? There is no easy service for us anywhere. Despite medical standards applying across the board these break down when it comes to our specific needs and nobody cares. Professionals are at least usually confused if not outright hostile.

What should you do? That’s a decision only you can make. Talk to your professionals and support network, complain left right and center, fight for your rights. We shouldn’t have to, but we will keep needing to.

As for me? I’ll be going private. And heaven help and GP that gets in my way.

With love,

Sammy

P.s. this is a bit of a grim blog post. If you’re in this situation remember we’re all fighting for you, you are valid, you do matter. If you’re feeling really down or suicidal you can always contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or the NHS 111 service and talk to them. Stay strong.

So my promise to have posts going up Mondays and Fridays didn’t work. I’ve always had a problem keeping up with things but I feel I’ve got a few excuses.


First off Kingdom Hearts 3 came out. I’m a bit of an odd fan of the series in that for some reason I started playing KH2. I can’t remember why I ended up playing that first but I really enjoyed it (though was thoroughly confused for a while!!). I went back to play KH1 but never finished it, played a large chunk of 368/2 but didn’t finish that, and didn’t touch any of the other weird side games.

With that said I did love the games enough that I chased the lore a lot and really enjoyed what I had played, so I was really hyped for KH3. I’ve been playing that in pretty much every spare minute and loving it, so that’s been fun!! I’m playing through to 100% completion (if I can!) because I’ve learnt that Matt Mercer and Travis Willingham are both in it, but the characters they voice only appear in the secret ending movie. No spoilers; I’m going to get there eventually!


The second reason I’ve been out was this Monday just gone I had a job interview. My current role is a deputy to a manager and I really enjoy what I do. I’ve been in this role for 2 years now and I’ve been learning a huge amount. The place I’m in, though, is starting to stagnate. Not so much in the role but the management and organisational structure is failing and I’m finding myself frequently frustrated with not being able to do anything about it.

Because of this I’ve been looking at positions that are effectively on par with my manager (the one I’m a deputy of). These positions aren’t hugely frequent as I work in the healthcare sector and most upper management positions are locked to people with clinical backgrounds.

I didn’t get the job (I won’t keep you in suspense) but in some respects I’m a little… relieved? Its complicated.

I am quite ambitious and I want to do well, I want to be able to be in a position in an organisation where I can actually do something and affect change, and I genuinely believe that some of the skills I have are beneficial to an organisation. That said I’m also not really very confrontational and I do get a bit nervous around new things…. this means once I’m doing something I’m fine but I’m not a huge fan of the first few times.

This particular position was a good hour and a half drive away from where I live, would have been taking on loads of extra responsibilities, meant managing a team of 50+ people….. It would have been a big change. I would have really relished the chance to have a go at it but I would also be vaguely worried that I would mess it all up.

So there it is; I went for it, really gave it my best, got really positive feedback (they wanted someone with more management experience) but am glad I didn’t get it. Hooray me.


Last thing I did over the past few days is come out to one of my closest friends who has recently had to move away to London for work. Boy was that terrifying.

I know that he’s friends with at least one other trans person who I used to game with back in the day, but he’s also known me for like…. 5 years now? Quite a while, and it’s a bit of a change to go “hey, I messed up, I was a girl all along!”

I did it in the most stupidly obvious way possible, I showed him the tweet I got back from Matt (squee, by the way) and when he asked what I’d shared I said “oh a blog post about how I realised I’m trans”. Damn that was cringy.

But hey! Whatevs.

He was really cool, apparently I’m the third person to come out to him, and he was super chill, and just wanted to know what pronouns/name I wanted to go by. So that was great.


That’s all I’ve got for now, hopefully I’ll come up with something more interesting to write to get back into the swing of things. For now though?

With love,

Sammy

Hiya everyone,

I was having a good long think about what I should write about this time as I’ve been making moderate progress but nothing astounding due to several weekends away with families and lots of work stuff going on. What I have been doing in the meantime, though, has been a real positive help for me, so I thought I’d talk about that.


SOCIAL MEDIA

Never before such a loaded pair of words (not literally, obviously). A force for good? For evil? For making Lord Zuk the god-king-emperor of all humanity?

I’ve never been hugely into social media. I’m usually at the cutting edge of whatever technology I can get my hands on, but I’ve found social media annoying. To set the hipster scene the social media site I most enjoyed and engaged with was Google+ because it was full of like-minded professional people posting interesting stuff. My personal Facebook on the other hand is full of turds posting rubbish. Worse still I love some of those turds and it’s too much effort sometimes to explain why that post is rubbish.

So I’ve had a Fac-e-book account for years, G+ (before it was done in), and that was about it. I didn’t have a Skype account, didn’t ever really get into Twitter (beyond a “business account” made for a domain I set up), and least of all was Reddit.

Ah Reddit. The most wretched hive of scum and villainy this side of 4Chan. I may not have had social media but I did follow a lot of news sources I followed using Feedly, and I kept constantly seeing the dreadful things that came out of Reddit.

A fully unmoderated decentralised model of “freedom of speech at any cost”, packed with racists, sexists, bigots, and the sewage of human kind. Whole boards created specifically for attacking anyone coloured, women, overweight people, anyone who someone didn’t like. Completely without consequences. Literally illegal in many places, but impossible to control. Not a stretch to say it was not my thing.


When I started coming to a realisation I Was reaching out for help, guidance, anything that could answer some of my questions. It was at that point I found a couple of the most helpful places to date, three subreddits full of awesome people:

  • AskTransGender; where my biggest questions was answered: am I valid?
  • Traaans; just a bunch of nice people in the same boat as me
  • Egg-IRL; Just dumb memes highlighting things people say to convince themselves they’re not trans

All of these were places I could find stuff I wanted to know the answers to, get tips, advice, and best of all somewhere I could ask questions freely, and of people who had been through this before.

I created an account and pulled through my username from here, Blogging_Sammy. That was a fun time, I now had an account I could really let out the bits of me I couldn’t let out with anyone other than my wife. The people there were genuinely lovely too, helpful and informative, but most of all supportive.

I saw so many topics of people asking questions that must have been posted a thousand times before; “am I trans?”, “what do I do now?”, “how do I tell people?”…. And I’ve been on forums before, I’ve been part of some of the nicest and most upstanding forums I’ve ever seen, but with all of them these questions get “old” and people start responding with at best dismissal. Not here. There were always answers, they were always kind, they were always helpful. It was really positive to see.


Looking at my WordPress engine and the things it can do I discovered twitter integration. I wasn’t super keen on it but I figured I might as well set it up and start using it, and so I created another new account under the Blogging Sammy brand. Having set that up I went and added a few people, starting with the creator of HardCoded, as mentioned in a previous post, and the Critical Role folk, as mentioned last time.

I then went and found a number of twitter feeds cater specifically to trans news and things like that, and again found myself in a positive place where I had an account that I could really represent myself on freely.


So where am I now? I’ve got these two accounts, a google account to run emails and stuff from, and an amazon/pintrest account to collect pretty things (maybe I’ll add some links to my sidebar later!). I wasn’t keen on massive social media previously, but seeing it now I like having a place that is separate from the worry about coming out, about how I’ll look and sound and feel, and I can just be Sammy for my own sake.

I highly recommend it.

With love,

Sammy

Hiya all,

So last time I talked about tabletop games and how I got hooked into them, this time I’m going to talk specifically about a show that features a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors playing dungeons and dragons.


My wife and I discovered Critical Role years ago when browsing YouTube. We’d watched some D&D highlight videos, talks from people who made or ran the game about how they’d do things, and general jokes and memes around D&D. We kept seeing one group pop up over and over; Critical Role. As viewers of a lot of anime and cartoons as well I guess the algorithms of YouTube decided we would like them as they did D&D and their players voiced a lot of characters we love. We were curious.

They were staffed by a regular run of voice actors; Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Sam Riegel, Liam O’Brien, Taliesin Jaffe, and Marisha Ray. They’re all lead on their adventures by another voice actor and general legend; Matt Mercer.

When we first discovered them they were heading towards the end of their first campaign which was over 100 episodes long by that point. We liked what we saw, a few bits fans had cut out of particularly funny moments (some even animated!) but we didn’t have the time to re-watch 100+ episodes, each one around 4 hours long. So it was with a degree of sadness (but not much investment) we moved on.

Just over a year ago we read that they were starting a new campaign. We checked and, indeed, they had finished their last one! They were on a break running other random one-shot games until they were ready to run their next big thing; campaign 2!! This, we thought, was a good time to get on board! We could watch from the beginning, give it a few episodes, and see what we thought.

Oh boy…..

Let me tell you, Critical Role is big. It’s got a huge following, dedicated fans who are also generally nice people, and we didn’t realise how gripping a Critical Role campaign would be.

We started watching episode one and were introduced to a bunch of characters, the shy and stinky wizard Caleb, and his goblin compatriot with a penchant for pilfering; Nott. We met the tall southern half-orc Fjord and his recently-met ass-kicking monk associate Beau, and their joint bubbly Russian tiefling Jester. Lastly we encountered the Carnies; Yasha and Mollymauk; a half-angel Aasimar with a sword bigger than most people, and a flamboyantly, extravagantly, vibrantly enthusiastic tiefling, respectively.

Official art, going left to right; Mollymauk, Beau, Fjord, Caleb, Nott, Jester, and Yasha.

We got hooked pretty bad. It’s been just over a year now (they celebrated running for a year just a few weeks back) and we’ve seen all of them. It’s a real problem.


So what makes Critical Role special? What makes us keep watching, and keep wanting to watch more? A bit of a mixture.

To start with the actors are great. They’re trained and professional voice actors which means they bring a real sense of personality to their characters, but in different ways. Some slip into it just with voices, some with their whole body, but they are each a different person when they play. They also get on with each other, with this game springing from a home-game they all played many years ago that just got bigger.

The second point is the game is good, Matt is the dream GM and under his rule the game is brilliant. The world is detailed and immersive, the story compelling, the NPCs always brilliant1There was an interview with Travis and Marisha where they were asked who their favourite NPC was, and they both responded that the problem they had was each time they picked a favourite Matt would introduce someone else who would take over. We’ve seen 3 so far in campaign 2; Pumat Sol, Kiri, and Orley., and the combat is gruelling and deadly but always interesting. Matt has a real talent for creating sessions that are the pinnacle of what a D&D game can be.

The last thing is their characters. None of them are particularly good people (save, perhaps, Jester) but they’re all so realistic and genuine. They have skills, flaws, quirks, personality, but also really importantly they have representation. They all struggle with different things but there are issues that touch so closely on real-world issues including sexuality and identity (hint hint), and they way it’s handled is always so perfectly it feels inviting, and genuine, and kind.

The interaction between them all is wonderful as well. My favourite interactions at the moment (episode 49) are between Fjord and Beau with Fjord acting as a reluctant, amused, and exasperated teacher of social graces to Beau, someone who at best can be described as “blunt”. There’s also the interactions between Jester and Fjord where Jester seems to have more than a little crush on him, spawning this wonderful (minor spoilers) fan song about a rival love interest.

Beau and Caleb have a wary respect for each other and deep frustration with their opposing points of view, and Nott and Caleb have a mother/son relationship that early on Nott highlights isn’t Caleb looking out for her, she looks out for him.


Some of the issues the show touches on (as I’ve hinted above) are quite poignant for me. The main one that stands out is Nott who is looking for a great powerful magic to change her. There are minor spoilers to follow, so if you want to avoid them (up to episode 49) stop here.

All good? Great!

Nott used to be a halfling woman with a husband and child, but due to a great big helping of backstory was transformed into a goblin permanently and forced to carry on in a different body to the one she knows she should have. She’s now spending all her time trying to find someone or something powerful enough to break this enchantment so she can return to her correct form and continue with her life with her family. Sound familiar?

Now Sam Riegel is brilliant acting this out, and Nott’s pain is heartbreaking, but he has also mentioned that there wasn’t necessarily a trans influence to his thinking about the creation of Nott’s story. That doesn’t stop me running wild with it though!!

So we have someone trapped in a body they know they shouldn’t have, who is seeking anything possible to try and regain the body she should have. I, and I know many other trans-critters, can sympathise with this. It’s touching to see a story about regaining the form you should be handled so well and thoughtfully, and it’s so encouraging to see the other characters be so accepting of it and trying to help.

Building on this there is a lot of support from the cast who, without much of a stretch, can be called great people. How do I know? Between the Sheets….


Brian W Foster ran a season of Between the Sheets, an interview show where each of the cast were interrogated for around an hour about their past, how they got to this point, and their careers and lives. Brian is a master interviewer, lord of active listening, and coaxes the best out of his guests. It was fascinating to see how the cast got together and how fragile and random the connections were until they all pulled together into this thing.

One thing Brian does not skimp on is the tears, he pulls a good few drops out of more than one person, but the two people I want to most focus on are Matt and Marisha (true nerd love). They are one of the sweetest, kindest, and also awesomest2Shut up, it’s a word! couples around.

In their respective interviews, and I really do encourage you to watch them, it’s clear just what decent people they are, and how supportive they are of people younger than them who are going through similarly tough times. Their support of charities like 826LA and a whole bunch of different charities, along with the generosity of their community, speaks volumes, but it’s the little things as well.

The Critical Role cast are the sort of people that make you feel okay in whatever body you have, whatever gender, orientation, disability, or ethnicity, they make you feel like it’s all okay and you’re welcome. And that’s pretty powerful. And it’s thanks to people like them that I can take steps with more and more confidence, bit by bit exploring who I am and can be, knowing that no matter who out there is a douche; these folk are going to be cool with it.

I’ll also add that I’m determined, one day, to see them and tell them this. To remind them that the effect they have on their fans isn’t just providing entertaining media to consume, or creating a thriving community to be a part of, but that wherever they go they leave better than before they got there. They came to Comicon London last year and I made extra effort to go (having dislocated a knee literally days before) but the outpouring of support from their fans completely swamped what the organisers had expected and meant neither I not many thousands of their fans couldn’t even get close because of the other thousands in lines. I’ll keep waiting for my change to strike, though.

Until next time, with love,

Sammy

Hiya everyone,

I thought I’d talk a little bit about D&D, and role-playing tabletop games in general. It’s going to be really nerdy but bare with me.


So what am I talking about?

That help? I’ll go into it a bit more as we go.

A Tabletop Role Playing Game: a game where people as a group tell a collaborative story together using a framework defined by a specific system, usually involving a “leader” of some description who narrates the world, and a group of players who narrate their own actions. Dice are frequently involved.

Sammy, just now.

The core idea of the games is that you all pick a system you like, you’ll probably have heard of a few of these regardless of how interested you are. There’s the biggest; D&D or Dungeons and Dragons. There’s FATE, World of Darkness, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Numinera, GURPS, the list goes on for approximately forever. Helpfully most of these games also have “editions” as they’re reprinted every few years and redesigned to make them better. D&D, for example, is on 5th edition currently. Editions are rarely backwards compatible so you all have to be working from the same thing.

Each system then usually comes in several books, some designed for players to look at that have all the stuff in them to make an awesome character, then some for the person running the game that include all the rules about how to do stuff and how to build great stories to tell. There’s also usually a book or two just packed full of enemies and monsters to fight.

Everyone sits down and starts by building their character. This varies dramatically between systems, but D&D is a good place to start. You get some stats such s how strong or intelligent you are, then you pick your race, class (what you do) and some skills and stuff. From there you go off into the world with a list of things you can do well and a list of things you can’t do so well, and you adventure!!

The reason they’re called Tabletop Role Playing Games is that they generally happen around a table with not much else. Some people use maps, some don’t, but the majority of the work happens in everyone’s collective imagination. The role playing bit is that when you’re in the game your acting things out from the point of view of your character, rather than yourself. You can make all the decisions you want as them, and do pretty much anything in the game world. These games have this advantage over video games in that the only limit is what people can think of, rather than what’s been programmed.

I could write tomes about Tabletop RPGs (role playing games) and in fact many people have, so instead I’m going to have a small list of resources down below for anyone who wants to check it out, and I really hope you will.


I started gaming in year 10 of secondary school, putting me about 13-14 years old. I was invited to join an ongoing game by a bunch of people who had been playing for a while. There were two main groups of players, about 5 in each, who were in the same adventure. Both groups would split off to go do things they wanted to but we would routinely meet up to trade stories and loot, or change who went with who. The games were run by a pair of teachers who had all the books needed (Which could be a bit expensive for a student!).

The group I’d joined have been going for that whole school year (which starts in September) and this was close to the June, so I was a little behind. One of the other players helped me out by going through the creation process, helping draw up a good character who wouldn’t be killed by the first thing I met, and in the end I had a reasonable half-elf bard. I don’t remember the name I gave them, and I don’t remember much about them, but I do remember I enjoyed it a lot.1I do remember one other thing, the loot we got at the end of the school year was insane. We weren’t going to be playing anymore so we each got something that would elevate our character to ludicrous power, so I got an instrument that could take any form I wanted, had a +3 magic sword in it, and gave me +20 to perform. If this makes no sense to you TLDR: guitar with a powerful sword in it that meant I could declare anything I wanted and as long as I played a song it happened.

After that I took a break for a year or so when I moved to college but shortly after meeting my future-wife she intended me to join an ongoing game her secondary school friends had been running for a while. This one was in a different version of D&D to the one I’d started in and was really different. I was allowed to play a character class the person running the game had created called an Umbromancer who was all about shadow magic and sneaking. After playing for not very long I quickly found the problem with making your own classes, they were hilariously overpowered. I got my character to the point that by mid-level every turn I could turn invisible; all of my usual actions like move, attack, help someone etc., had a side effect of “you also turn invisible”. Invisibility could be quite overpowered and was easy to break as if you ever attack from invisibility you become visible again, but I could do it so quickly and often it didn’t matter.

The game continued for a year or so and eventually ended when we beat the “big bad” by killing a goddess (Lolth for those in the know) and stealing her power. We got to do a little bit of narrating after that with what we did with it all.


University was a good time for gaming. The uni I went to had a really big and involved RPG club where I met some of my best friends. The first year I joined a game that I can’t remember in huge detail but involved robot arms, killing a dear, and a wizard who could tell the entire history of a glass of beer.

The second year I started running some games as well, for the first time. It was quite nerve-wracking to run a game, and maybe I’ll talk more about that later, but this post is more focused on the playing.

Third year I played more games but I was always playing male characters as there was a strong idea to create characters that represented parts of yourself.

After uni I started playing more casually with friends on a weekly basis (uni was often multiple times a week with different games, got quite busy!) and played a bit more experimentally.

I quickly found again that playing female characters was more interesting to me, and at the time I didn’t really try to think about it too hard. I was vaguely embarrassed I wanted to play female characters but also really wanted to do it, and justified it to myself and others by saying it was because I wanted to play strong female characters, like some kind of feminist bastion.


Since I moved for work (and to live with my wife) we’ve both been playing in some games from a slowly changing group as people drop in and out, and I’ve been more comfortable playing female characters. My most recent character, created just before I started getting these funny ideas in my head and realising I was a woman, is a changeling; a gender-less transforming race who mimic anyone they like.

Part of designing this character did make me think back times in my childhood (and more recently) when I wished I could just change gender at will. I would agonise over thinking “if only I could just spend a day as a woman”, or when reading those wacky-gender-swap stories where they main character has to try and turn back I would just think “I’d love that, I wouldn’t ever try to turn back”.

It took me quite a while to figure out I may have been trying to tell myself something.


So there we have it, a brief introduction to my introduction to Table Top RPGs. They’re great fun, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t started playing and utterly enjoyed it, and next time I’m going to talk about a group of people who stream their game, and why they’re awesome.

With love,

Sammy

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Hiya everyone,

How do you know when to come of out the closet? To come out and be trans? That’s a scary question.


I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I think it’s because I’m at a crossroads. My current gender expression is limited to hanging around the house, days we’re not going to go anywhere at the weekend. I might slip on some of my underwear under my old clothes and hang just in that. Sometimes I slip on my pads and wander around with breasts, and rarely I spend a day or part of it in my gorgeous dress with the whole getup going on.

But that’s it.

There’s a lot of questions for me about what I do next, do I keep this up? It’s okay, I can do that. Do I keep moving forwards? Pushing what I’m comfortable doing to get more towards what I want to do? Or do I back off and go back to what’s familiar and easy?

The main next steps for me to consider are (in no particular order):

  • Facial hair; I’ve got a lot of it
  • Body hair; I am so hairy everywhere
  • Head hair; do I grow mine out or buy a wig?
  • Wardrobe; expanding it, do I go dresses, skirts with existing t-shirts, new t-shirts/jeans? Secondary consideration on this point: money!
Me Currently. This will make more sense further down, but not much.

The trouble I have with wardrobe is that it’s the most expensive part, there’s only so much I can buy from amazon’s bargain section, and it’s really limiting when I can wear it so any great expense on something beautiful feels wasteful at best.

The massive issue with everything else comes back to the question at the top of the article. I have always been hairy and especially for people who I’ve worked with for the past 4 years I have been bearded and gruff. If I start shaving to confirm my gender I’m going to be asked a lot of questions. I really doubt anyone is going to go with “aha, I see you’ve shaved, transgendered are we?” but as someone who is naturally shy and doesn’t like a lot of personal questions anyway even just asking “so what made you want to do this?” is going to fluster me. Even worse is whatever I say is going to be a lie, and I’m going to know that, which will make it much harder for me.


Back to the point…. When do you tell people? And who do you tell?

My wife, obviously, knows everything. She’s my wonderful rock who tempers my excitement with calming reminders and always calls me pretty, even when I know I look at best like a hairy-potato.

What about other people? My family? I honestly don’t even know how they’d react. My sister came out as a lesbian a few years ago and they took that pretty well, she’s getting married to her partner at some point (who might also be be trans?). They don’t have a problem with this, their biggest concern is the planning. But if it was me? And they were basically forced to accept me as a woman? I don’t know.

When I was much younger we used to watch things like Fear Factor, for those who were lucky enough to miss it; contestant on a TV show would have to do gross of scary stuff to win prize money. It was pretty gross including picking up dead rats in their mouths to get a key. I do wonder now looking back how much of it was real and how much was staged. The only reason it was ever on was because it was prelude to what we really wanted to watch; Doctor Who, but we needed to put something on in the half hour or so beforehand to kill the time.

Anyway, there’s a point to this I promise…. There was a “game” my mum like to play with the contestants called “spot the man”. I’ll bet you can see where this is going? When a slim busty woman comes on try and spot if she’s actually a post-op transsexual. Big hands? A man. Prominent adams apple? A man.

At the time I didn’t really understand it, or care particularly. I didn’t get the implications of “used to be” a man, and couldn’t understand why it mattered that they used to be anything when they were clearly a woman now.

This kind of casual transphobia is something I’m most afraid of, not being shunned or ridiculed over it but just being told I’m wrong, I’m just a man and that’s that.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents are great, they’re both really caring and I couldn’t have wished for a better life growing up. They’ve had to content with 3 neurodiverse children, hosts of health issues, and they’ve come through it generally smiling and laughing.

For me personally though now wouldn’t be a good time to start pointing out the size of my adams apple or how hairy my knuckles are.


What about work colleagues? How will that go? I know that we’ve got at least a few trans individuals in my workplace (to be fair my workplace is huge, like over 3,000 people, so there’s a few everything in it) and we have a fairly prominent LGBTQ+ group as well as an equalities lead so from the discrimination point of view I’d have a lot of ammo to go with… from the personal though? I don’t know how I could handle all the questions, the sidelong glances, the whispering behind my back. To compound this I’m not going to be particularly good at “passing”, certainly not for a long time if ever.

Friends? I don’t have a large number of friends but the ones I have tend to be close. I know for a fact at least a few of them already know another trans person and they get on well, but both of them met this person after their decision and switch to full-time living as their gender. I’m not sure how things would go during that process.

There’s another question about if I actually want everyone to know. As someone who has done more than a bit of psychology and read more than a bit of Terry Pratchett I’m quite adept at what he called “second thoughts”.


In Terry’s “Wee Free Men” series the young Witch Tiffany learns about the 2 most important things a Witch needs. She needs First Sight, and Second Thoughts.

Tiffany Aching, Witch of the Chalk

First Sight is seeing what’s really there, rather than what should be there. In these books there’s a habit for people to ignore anything that shouldn’t be possible, meaning magic gets away with a lot by just going unnoticed.

Second Thoughts, meanwhile, is the ability to think about what you’ve just thought about. That’s a confusing sentence to write but thing of it this way; if you think “eww, look at that person” that’s your first thought. Your second thought might be “that’s not fair, look at this etc.”. It’s basically mentally keeping tabs on yourself. In the series Tiffany (our young Witch) takes things even further and had Third Thoughts as well, keeping tabs on what her Second Thoughts are thinking. It all gets a bit complicated.


So knowing about my own mind (lol) I wonder if this blog is an attempt to put my thoughts out in a way people can see and discover. If anyone who knows me were to read this the level of detail I’ve put would mean they’d probably guess it was me. A few things I’ve mentioned are cornerstones of my identity and would flag up to anyone who knows me even a little.

Do I want people to see this? To read about my thoughts? Would that be pushing the onus and responsibility of the thing onto them, rather than have it rest on me? Rather than telling them and letting them react I’m leaving it open for them to consume the thoughts, devise a reaction, and bring it to me? How arrogant would that be?

And I can’t really answer one way or another if that’s the case.


So my questions kind of boil down less to who do I tell and when, because I’ve happily convinced myself it’s a bad idea to tell anyone ever… but about what I should do next.

Shaving is going to be my White Whale, it’s going to completely change the way I look to myself and allow me to start exploring a lot of other stuff (wigs and makeup), but it will also open a can of worms for me in my life. It’ll be a bit of a turning point for my closer relationships as I try to decide if then it the moment I should tell people I care about, and something I’ll also have to practice lying about convincingly to those I care less about.

For now, I guess, that’s it?

With love,

Sammy

Hiya again, another post a bit out of the blue…. I’m going to chat about one of my favourite book series and favourite books ever. The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix consisting of Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, and some side stories Across The Wall, Clariel, and Goldenhand.

I’m going to focus on the core trilogy starting with Sabriel, I’ll talk a little bit about the books and then talk about what I like about them so much.


The series is set in a divided continent. To the north is the Old Kingdom; a place of magic where the dead can be called to unlife, where there are evil creatures of Free Magic fought back by Charter Mages. To the south is Ancelstierre, a country of roughly industrial era technology where the idea of magic is laughable. Dividing them is The Wall; a magical construct that prevents evil creatures from the Old Kingdom crossing south, and is manned by soldiers of Ancelstierre who prevent any crossing either way. The Wall also acts as a rough barrier for magic where the further south one goes the less potent the power becomes, quickly tailing off. Similarly the further north any Ancelstierrian technology is taken the more likely it is to malfunction, break, and eventually crumble. The more complicated the magic or technology the quicker this breakdown happens.

The story of Sabriel focuses on our heroine of the same name, daughter of someone called the Abhorsen, a kind of “good necromancer” who uses necromantic powers to return the dead to death She has been raised mainly on the southern side of the wall and doesn’t know much about the state of her home country which has fallen to hordes of dead and destabilisation with her father unable to keep up with the new creatures being summoned. Through the book she discovers more about her home country, meets a mysterious beserker, and begins to learn her role in the Old Kingdom that her bloodline dictates.

This is a running theme through the books, as the quote above says, “Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”, and it’s echoed throughout the books for different characters.

The second book breaks sharply away from the first; it’s decades later, Sabriel is now a fully fledged Abhorsen, she has a family and the kingdom is beginning to recover from the events of the first book. This book is split between three characters; Lirael, Sameth, and Nicholas.

  • Sameth is Sabriel’s son and as the son of the Abhorsen it is assumed and known that he is the Abhorsen in waiting, something that terrifies him as he has trouble even entering Death.
  • Nicholas, the son of an Ancelstierrian minister and firm believer in the “silly superstitions” of the north who is turned into an unwilling vessel for a great evil.
  • Lirael, ❤, who is a Clayr; a young girl living in a glacier, part of a huge extended family who can see the future in the ice.

I’m going to focus on Lirael who is one of my favourite characters and the reason Lirael is possibly my favourite book of all time.

Lirael is born in the glacier never really knowing her parents. For the Clayr it is typical for a male to be taken briefly for pleasure or for children, but they are not allowed in the Glacier proper. The daughters of the Clayr are all dark-skinned, blond, blue eyed, and in their early years they awaken to the Sight and are able to look into the future. This power is harnessed in groups for the benefit of the kingdom.

In stark contrast to this Lirael is pale, dark haired, brown eyed, and the oldest child to have not awoken to the Sight by some years. She stands out and nobody quite knows what to do with her.

One evening Lirael decides that she can’t cope anymore, that she has no place in the family, and plans to throw herself onto the ice in a romanticised view of a death that would mean something, possibly shock the Clayr into realising how distraught she feels. It’s a very silly view of suicide and very moody-teenager, but it did speak to a part of me that didn’t have the same large friend groups of other people in my school, who didn’t like football or gossip magazines, and did feel out of place.

As she leaves the glacier onto a platform at the very top to throw herself off a pair of dignitaries arrive. She hides and burrows into a snowdrift but is spotted by one of them and the Clayr’s strongest seers haul her out. They ask her what she’s doing there, fearing she was spying on this visit, and when she reveals everything they promise her that they will find something to keep her occupied whilst she waits for her Sight, revealing they too had a very late awakening, later even than Lirael’s, and they were all the more powerful for it.

Cheered by this revelation and the promise of something in the glacier she can help with Lirael begins working in the Library of the Clayr. A twisting corridor of immense proportions with dark secrets and things best left unfound below. She explores, breaks some rules, learns some harsh lessons, and in the meantime she discovers a loyal companion; a Charter Magic dog that is more than it seems.

I could recount the entire book by memory even though it’s been years since I’ve read it, but I’ll skip that, encourage you to read it, and summarise the rest of the books, as spoiler free as possible.

Lirael eventually has to leave the glacier with a mission, she meets up with Sameth and the two of them are thrown by circumstances against a powerful evil fro the dawn of time. They draw in others, face challenges, and learn that the paths they thought were laid before them are not the ones they ultimately must walk. They also learn that what they wanted all along might not be what they needed.


Lirael as a character resonated with me in a lot of ways. She was isolated, felt different to everyone around her, and was surrounded by people who all just seemed to get it, and fit in. Some of this is typical teenager feelings, but part of it is also growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome in a neurotypical world.

Lirael found a light though, a purpose in her job which helped her overcome her troubles, and a close loyal friend who looked after her and in turn she could look after. As a dog person this also really made sense.

Lirael also embodied a lot of characteristics that I wanted to have myself. She was shy and awkward, especially when meeting new people, but when it came to it she was brave, fearless in the face of danger, she was confident and powerful. I do wonder now, knowing what I know, if it was also escapism to put myself in her place. A young nerdy girl, outcast and almost living in a library with her pet dog? That would have been a dream for me.

I did always used to make up further stories in my imagination (something that continues to this day) about new adventures for Lirael as she became a strong Abhorsen in her own right, a powerful slayer of the dead and master of her art. In these stories I always told them from my point of view, putting myself in her shoes.

It helped that the world was fascinating to me. A magic system that was carefully thought out but vague enough it ever felt constraining or overly explained. The magic of the Abhorsen focused on the ability to walk into death and use 7 bells to bind the dead to a purpose. In the Abhorsen’s case the purpose was to walk deeper into death and possibly be ushered on to the true death, but in the case of necromancers it was to walk to life and obey.

Death itself was a really interesting concept for me; death flows like a river of 7 precincts each ending in one of 7 gates. The precincts had the cold river of death flowing through them but were all treacherous in their own way, seeking to trip an unwary traveller and pull them downstream deeper into death. The gates as well were barriers between each precinct but also an obstacle on their own, some were great waterfalls, others whirlpools, and the final gate a single peaceful starry sky.

As I said I highly recommend reading the books, but also please check out this artist by the name of Laura Tolton who has drawn each of the gates; they are simply put beautiful.

The ninth and final gate of death, credit to Laura Tolton.

That’s all I’ve really got this time. I just wanted to share my passion for a series that captured my heart as a teenager and stays with me to this day.

With love,

Sammy

I’m taking a big of a diversion here to talk a out a game I’ve been playing a lot of recently. It is a bit relevant though, promise.

Solitude; seat of the Empire in Skyrim

Skyrim, for those of you who don’t know, is a large scale role playing game (RPG) set in the mythical world of Tamriel. There have been several games set here forming the Elder Scrolls series, named after important magical prophecy Scrolls in the game. Skyrim is the latest main title focusing on the snowy mountains to the north of Tamriel, an area called Skyrim, unsurprisingly.

This game was released 11/11/11 making it over 7 years old now. There’s a bit of a running joke that although it was released on PS3 and Xbox 360 it has since been ported to all consoles, PC twice, Nintendo switch, and just about everything you can buy games on (Skyrim on Samsung Fridge coming 2020).

I originally bought Skyrim on release day, I got a special edition with a statue of the games main bad guy Alduin. I played it a lot after that. I had a main character who I sunk over 300 hours into, doing quest after quest, finishing the story, doing bits of the DLC…. Since then I have accumulated Skyrim on other systems, I own 2 versions on Steam from Humble Bundles, I own a special edition on PS4 as well as my original PS3 version, so why on earth did I get another copy on VR?


I got VR as a birthday present to me from me, using all my birthday funds and a bit more. I’d played VR round a friend’s house but lacked the computer to use something like the Rift or Vive, so I went with the PS VR for the PlayStation I already owned. The first pair of games I got for it were Star Trek Bridge Crew and Playroom. It was brilliant!

When I saw Skyrim was coming to VR I was sceptical and a bit tired of the constant Skyrim re-releases, but I got a chance to try it for a half hour for free so I thought I might as well have a go.

I was pretty impressed with it, it was fun to swing swords around, it didn’t make me nauseous, and it was nice to get back to good old Skyrim.


I’ll mention at this point the problem with mods. Mods are brilliant, the Elder Scrolls community has always been good at making add-ons and changes to the core games. Some are huge enough to be whole games on their own, others just re-texture weapons to look different, some add famous items from fantasy like the One Ring, and then there’s the “all dragons are Thomas the tank engine” mod. Some of the most practical are just massive bug-fixing mods that tidy up all the work Bethesda couldn’t/didn’t do before launch.

Your nightmares made real

The trouble with mods is they’re very easy to get hooked on, installing dozens and dozens, then messing around with them. Once you start it’s hard to not install a few cheat mods to give you infinite health or invincible armour, and pretty soon you’re a Goddess amongst mortals.

That usually takes me an afternoon, then I get bored.

Sadly there are a lot of good mods, I just don’t have the self control to install them and wade through hours of content to get to the new bits.

So when I say it’s nice to get back to good old Skyrim I also mean it’s nice to play the game as it was originally made. No mods, no PC cheats, just Skyrim and the official expansions.


I let it load up and sat through the opening scene as you’re lead through a mountain pass to be executed. It was only at this point I realised just how badly done everyone’s feet were. Horrible pointy things with perfectly triangular arches.

I got to character creation and created a young Bosmer (wood elf) girl, about my height, long brown hair tied back, sleight build, a cute face with piercing violet eyes…. She may have been rendered in 2011 graphics but she was beautiful to me.

Then I got to play as her, it wasn’t a particularly powerful moment because they don’t refer to you as “her” or “she” much. You’re “The Dragonborn” to most people, but every now and then they’ll chuck in a “ma’am” or “sister” and bring a little smile to my face.

The part that really made me pause and realise I was going to get sucked into this game again was standing in one of the first cities and looking around. I caught sight of the Throat of the World, the tallest mountain in the game and important Plot Point later. You really don’t get a scale playing the game normally, but in VR… holy fuck that mountain is big.

The Throat of the World

I’ve been playing it for a few months now, I took a break but am back on it now. I’ve done a lot of the major quest lines; the Thieves, Mages, become Thane of all of the Holds and bought all the houses I can… I’ve explored the Hearthfire DLC to build a house of my own and adopted two children, and married a lovely elf lass who hangs out in my house with my bard, housecarl and children.

I’ve gone for my typical build; bow and arrow. Especially deadly in the VR version where there is no time delay as you draw your bow, meaning you can just pummel people with arrows. I like to sprint up to enemies at full speed and shoot arrows into their heads. Lockpicking is maxed, bow and arrow is maxed, and heavy armour is pretty high because I get shot a lot.

I’m currently murdering my way through the assassins quest whilst also doing the second DLC Dawnguard. I realised I never finished the third DLC when it came out so that’s something I’ll really have to do next, and I’ve not technically completed the story yet so I’ve got plenty to go. And I’ve already sunk over 100 hours in….

And I’m going to keep enjoying my pretty Bosmer, slaughtering her way through the mountains and snow.

With love,

Sammy

It had been a really long day, one of those tough ones where work doesn’t seem to stop and you get home and still have to make dinner. We’d both stayed up later than we should but were in bed cuddling just before we would head off to sleep.

I narrated to my wife, as we sometimes do to each other, “Your husband; he’s had a really long day” or words to that effect.

I paused as soon as I’d said it, and she picked up and said “you just used ‘he’, is that the pronoun you want to use?” and I panicked and said I would rather between us we used ‘she/her’ for the time being. She was accepting of this, but it caught me out… I’d just mis-gendered myself.

At that point more self-doubt hit; was I really trans if I still called myself ‘he’? Was this all just a big mistake again and I was actually just male and confused? It wasn’t a fun loop of thoughts to get caught in.


I did what came natural; research. Surely someone on the internet has had the same experience and I’ll be able to guide my thinking from that?

You may notice a common theme here, that as soon as I become doubtful I rush to find something to back up my point of view. It’s not escaped my notice and I’ll get to that a bit more down below….

Anyway, of course I found lots of stories about people doing exactly the same thing. Some people said they had trouble in their own internal narration not using the wrong pronouns, and some people just said it randomly happened when they were talking.

It boiled down to habit; most of us have been using the wrong pronouns fo r years (if not decades) and that’s a hard habit to break! It’s not easy to suddenly change what you’re referred to as in much the same way changing name is something quite hard to figure out.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Mid-gendering yourself doesn’t mean your not trans anymore.

Then I had a though…. Why was I so worried about it? Surely, as discovered back in the start of this, if I was worried enough to be questioning it then that basically answered my question anyway. In other words if I was worried that this would “prove” I wasn’t a woman that meant I wanted to be a woman.

A more pressing question for me was why I leapt for validation from rando’s on the internet for my internal thinking and processing. What was it that made this the way I decided if what I felt was right or not? And should it? If you’r reading this then you’ve been on the internet long enough to see that some dreadful things come out of it, some truly hateful people with opinions best consigned to history, so should I be trying to weigh my feelings against it?


After a lot of thought I’ve realised it’s not about whether I should or not, but more about if I can stop…. I’m in unfamiliar territory. I’ve got no real bearing to go by for what to do, everything I thought was good and solid isn’t anymore. I’m probably going to keep checking the internet and browsing the more police parts of Reddit to see if people share the same experiences but I’m going to try and stop doing it as a way to validate myself and more for solidarity.

At the end of the day my goal (and new years resolution) is to develop myself in ways that make me happy. Rather than worry if I’m trans, or trans “enough”, I’m going to keep doing the things that appeal to me. If it appeals to someone else who is in a similar situation then great! If not; too bad, it’s about making me happy, not them.

With fierce love,

Sammy

Wow that’s a big question.

So since starting this out I’ve been doing a lot more research and trying to understand and answer that question.


It’s a difficult question to ask, especially when looking at other people’s experiences. One of the biggest themes I’ve seen is that people suddenly realise that they’re not their assigned gender and it all makes sense. For where I am now there’s not as much of a click that my gender is wrong, more of a desire for my gender to be female. I’m not as much unhappy in my body as I am happier as something else.

It turns out this is the difference between Gender Dysphoria and Gender Euphoria. Gender Dysphoria is the feeling that you’re not right in your gender, whereas Euphoria is that you’re happier in a different gender. Judging by how I feel when I wear my dress and my forms (as I sit and write this) I am firmly in the latter group.

One of the articles I read did highlight that a really obvious point is that if you’re asking yourself this question to begin with then you’re probably not 100% happy with your gender. If you were happy with the gender you were assigned at birth (Cisgendered) then you wouldn’t think about being another gender.

The second article (reddit post) I read was really comprehensive. Obviously it’s been written because the /r/asktransgender was flooded with people in the same situation as me asking if they were trans and so someone write a fantastic long post about stuff to consider that might answer your question immediately.

The first point ws simple “nobody can tell you for sure”…. great.

Point 3 was asking about having fantasies about being the other gender, and I realise I have always had this. I’ve often wished I was a girl, wanted to wake up one day and a magic body-swapping spell had taken place, or that there was a pill I could take that would suddenly make me a woman (physiology and all).

Point 10 asked if you feel jealous seeing other people who look like the gender you’re not, and I’m not sure about that one to be honest. I’ve always liked looking at cute and pretty women, has that been out of a sense of desire to have, to be, or both? I’m not sure on that one.

Lastly how do you feel being called the gendered pronouns for the gender you want to be? It makes me happy. It feels right and nice.


The most important theme seems to be that nobody can tell you for sure, but that sometimes you’ll just know, and other times you’ll just wish.

I am a trans woman.

Writing that was surprisingly hard, especially the knowledge that I’m going to schedule this to automatically post in a few weeks and it’ll be out there.

I’m not sure I’ll never change my mind again, that I won’t want to be more masculine, but for now I feel that I am a woman, and I want to be more like that self.

It’s fitting that today is the first of January 2019, a new year and a new start. I’m sitting in my living room whilst my wife plays video games, wearing my dress and panties, with what I’m coming to think of more and more as my breasts, and I feel happy. Happy in a way I didn’t know I wasn’t before.

Let’s see what the new year brings.

With love,

Sammy

Where did we leave off last time then? I believe I owned a dress, some panties, tights, and a satin chemise. Over the course of 2 weeks I slipped into them more than once. It’s lucky it was over the Christmas period where I had time off and spent a whole day in my dress, and another in my pyjamas (having a lazy day) with a pair of panties underneath. I was getting bolder.

The next obvious step was my chest, but I couldn’t really do much with it. My wife, again, leant me a bra. She is many things but small-chested is something she could never be accused of being. It fit me around the chest reasonably, but the cups were sad and empty. We tried socks; pro-tip is don’t try socks. That looked even sadder.

I did some research and found the plethora of options, but boy was it confusing! The best option looked like silicon breast forms, but they were expensive with some looking around £50 each. There were whole chest-forms which were vaguely eerie looking on the mannequins and far more than I was able to spend. There were little gel pads which were mostly advertised at making women’s natural breasts more perky or bigger, which wouldn’t really have helped me.

Eventually I found my way to Oxford’s LGBTQ+ student group and their page of resources for MTF Trans people to use. Amusingly to me at the time they had Marks and Spencers on there. If you’re not from the UK you may not know the reputation M&S has, but “Trans Friendly” wasn’t what came to mind.

What they did have, though, was an avenue I hadn’t considered pursuing, and one that made me feel vaguely guilty. Their range of post-op breast forms and bras. Designed for women who have undergone a mastectomy 1A surgery to remove one or both breasts, often performed on women with breast cancer. these were foam pads and bras with pockets for holding forms. They were also within my price range and came with a wonderful guide of sizing explaining what cup size the Small, Medium, Large, and L-Large would come up as depending on chest size. This was obviously designed so that women could buy the form they needed to match the bra they already used, but for me it let me pick what cup size I wanted based on my existing chest measurement.

I bought a pair, opting for C cup, nothing too big or flashy but definitely noticeable.


Back to waiting. Far from Amazon’s 1 day shipping I had to wait 3 days for them to come! 3 days which fell nicely over the Christmas bank holidays! In the end I spent Christmas out with family and didn’t get a lot of time to dwell or fret, but it was 5 days for them to get back to my house and they arrived the day we returned from visiting relatives.

Again, I felt slightly guilty (theme of the month) that whilst I was saying goodbye to my parents all I could think was “can we hurry this up so I can try on my breasts?”…. not how I thought I’d be ending the year.

Trying on foam breast forms without a bra is tricky. They don’t naturally stick, especially when they’re made of foam and upside down. We returned to my wife’s bra but it was still to big, and only loosely held them in place. Eventually I tried my first dress which was tight enough on the chest it actually held them in place reasonably well, well enough for my wife to take my measurements and determine I was a 38C.

I hit the internet again. I needed a bra now, I had cute panties, I had a gorgeous dress, I had some breasts, just something to tie them all together. I ordered an adorable matching set of very racy lingerie in a burlesque style, tight little bra and hipster brief in red and black with lace and fake string in a crossed pattern. They were cute, sexy, and when they arrived the next day about 2 sizes smaller than me. That was disappointing.


They’d arrived on a Saturday that we both had off, so my wife suggested we go out to try and buy a bra at a shop (Yours, one she has visited in the past).

That was a big surprise, and a big step. Going into the world? Into a shop? With people?!

She rightly pointed out that if we played it safe nobody would care. She was a woman with breasts of her own who had bought bras in there before, nobody would be thinking it was for me, we just go in, have a look, and get outta there. I still wasn’t 100% sold though, but I wanted to do it.


One thing I’d read online was how people’s exploration of their gender changed over time, with people starting saying that they were only expressing their gender in their room, then that evolving into around the house. This then develops into going out at night, when it’s hard to be seen, before finally, potentially, going out in the day.

To me going and buying a bra, even through the medium of my wife, meant two things:

  1. it validated me, it was confirming that this was something I wanted to do and that I would go and do it, and
  2. it was expanding the limits of my bravery.

So that’s what we did. We drove to town, stopped off for lunch, then headed to the busiest part of town that Yours was situated in. Yikes. Clutching my wife’s hand tightly we went in, we quickly separated due to the absolutely tiny gaps between hangers, and she made a beeline for the underwear at the back. I tagged along, hoping to look the disgruntled boyfriend.

When we got there they had maybe 2 shelves of bras, a handful of designs in multiple sizes, and a few pairs of matching panties. Nothing exciting if you were assigned woman at birth, maybe even something annoying or frustrating, but exciting and desirable for me.

We had a look at a few with my wife talking about the benefits and negatives of each type (do I want underwire? Full cup?). I feel embarrassed now that I shushed her because I was worried one of the sales assistants would think it was weird.

I don’t like this about myself, but it’s something that’s been hammered into me to not be weird or out of place. This is something I’d like to work on, I don’t want to be beaten down to not being and presenting as myself. This might be a bigger hurdle than I can tackle now though.

So back to the shop, we settled on one that was a cute full-cup underwired t-shirt bra. It caught my eye being plain colours (beige and black) but was still lacy and had a cute bow on the front. Silly? Maybe, but I wanted it.

At the same time my wife picked up one for herself and took both up to the till while I loitered and tried to look like I wasn’t there to buy a bra. We left, got some more bits, and came home.

I had to try it on immediately, so I rushed upstairs, pulled it on, adjusted the straps, and slipped my forms into it. At that point I looked down again and saw (unsurprisingly) breasts. They weren’t perfect but the bra covered them enough that I couldn’t see the forms, and it was easy enough to suspend my disbelief, and believe they were real and mine.

I’m purposefully avoiding using certain words because I’ve got a post lined up with a lot of knowledge I’ve gained in. I’m trying to write these posts with what was in my mind at the time, so I won’t say “Gender Euphoria” but just say that looking down felt and looked right. I was obsessing over them, running my hands down my side to feel the curve there, looking in the mirror (carefully below the neck only), I was entranced.

I slipped on my dress and it was even better, with my tights on I was passable from the neck down, ignoring my hairy arms. I was delighted with the look, even when I took the dress off and changed back into my old clothes I kept the bra on, wearing it round the house under my t-shirt.

My wife was, I think, slightly perturbed. She certainly wasn’t used to her bearded husband having breasts, but for me it felt so natural and so nice to look down and see.

That’s all I’ve got for this time, the next post I’m going to write is me “now”, after some deep research and a lot of learning. Until then.

With love,

Sammy

The second question my wife asked me when I came out to her was “why are you telling me now?”. To put that question in a little context I was terrified that night and had been promising myself all day that I would tell her, so to stop myself weaseling out of it that’s what I said; “I’ve been promising myself all day I’d tell you this”.


As discussed last time when I now look back on my childhood and early years as an adult I can see a lot of patterns that suggested I wasn’t comfortable with my gender. What was it that finally pushed me to actually consider that gender was the common theme?

I mentioned in my very first post that the reason I’ve chosen Sammy as my username is wholeheartedly lifted from a webcomic called Raan’s Doll (very NSFW), written by Kannel (Patreon link). This webcomic starts with a young gentleman getting in an argument with his girlfriend and progresses to him understanding that he is a she, aided by her girlfriend who discovered she is more than okay with this. They continue to discover themselves with the help of a local trans/crossdressing cosplay scene.

It’s all very sweet and I originally only discovered it through some of Kannel’s *ahem* other art. Kannel is primarily a pornographic artist whose art happens to tick a lot of boxes for me, and by working through their stuff I discovered this comic and it hit a little closer to home than I was expecting.

I had also been playing through Skyrim on VR and had rolled up my previously mentioned cute Bosmer who took down everything with a well-placed arrow. Unbeknown to me then, but clearly apparent now, was that whenever everyone spoke to “me” they were using female pronouns, which felt really right and was one of the reasons I got hooked (again) on Skyrim.

Feeling this tug from Raan’s Doll, questions raised by Skyrim, getting a hint of my past experiences, I was immediately drawn in when Kotaku ran an article on Hardcoded (mildly NSFW).

A Sexy Cyberpunk Dating Sim About (And By) Trans Folk

https://kotaku.com/a-sexy-cyberpunk-dating-sim-about-and-by-trans-folk-1830309223

It sounded pretty good to me:

  • Sexy – I like sexy
  • Cyberpunk – I like cyberpunk
  • Dating Sim – I can take or leave?
  • About (and by) Trans Folk – That’s something I’m thinking about at the moment!! Win!

So I hopped over to the Patreon and had a look at it, downloaded the demo, and started playing. I ripped through it, really enjoying myself. I won’t deny that the game is a thin layer of reasoning over porn but it was also sweet and funny, cute and sexy, but most important genuine.

But it didn’t really help answer any of my personal questions, it was just another great big question hanging over my head, and I already knew I was bisexual so it didn’t uncover any great revelations. It did leave me with a cute android-avatar though…..

My HC from Hardcoded

It’s at this point I started doing research. I wasn’t even really sure what to start Googling and I certainly didn’t want to search for things like “Transsexual”, because that was too big of a step to admit to myself. So I Googled around it, I won’t repeat the searches as I think I Google’d every offensive term one after the other and was confused when I found nothing but porn.

In the end I started finding people talking about how they came to realise they were female not male. Reading these a lot of them worried me even more, a common theme seemed to be that people realised they were Trans, begun working towards their ideal self, faced abuse and bigotry, had loved ones abandon them, and came out stronger because of it. It may be pathetic, but I didn’t want to face those difficulties.


Weeks later I decided enough was enough, I had been dodging the question and doing everything possible to avoid and ignore it. In doing so I managed to make it my only thought at night for 4 weeks running. I decided to (ironically) “man up” and tell my wife, get her feedback, and see what I could do from there.

That picks up just where I started, at “So this Gender thing…. Part 1“. It also makes this the last of the 4 bulk posts I wanted to write. In writing these I’ve already got more ideas which I’ve planned out a little of, so I’ll probably keep writing these as long as I care to, and I’ve scheduled them to post automatically Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for now. I’m not sure if it’ll stick to that. Either way….

With love,

Sammy

The next two posts I’m going to make are based on two questions my wife asked me when I told her I was thinking about my gender. They were “How long have you you been thinking about this?” and “Why did you tell me now?”. I’m going to address each one in a separate post, and they’re mostly the same answers I gave her then but more considered and hopefully better written than incoherent 2am brain-farts.

So the first questions was how long have I been thinking about my gender, and the answer is a bit complicated. At the time I said a few months, but in looking on the internet and reading other people’s stories I’ve realised there’s a lot of similar themes that go back much further.


One of my earliest memories is when I was 8 or 9. I had a cabin bed which had a desk under it and a wardrobe to the side. The way it was laid out meant that if you ducked under the desk and crawled round a little there was an area behind the wardrobe that was out of sight. I remember I had taken one of my younger sisters dresses from a pile of clothes that had been cleaned and needed ironing. It was light blue and made of some sort of lycra/polyester I think?

Anyway, I snuck back into the hidden space late at night once everyone else had gone to sleep and retrieved the dress from where I’d stashed it before pulling it on. I’m not really sure why, or what I was doing, and I don’t remember much else except taking it off and scampering back to be feeling guilty.


I’ve always loved games and there will be many posts in the future about them, but my main love in games has always been escapism. I particularly love fantasy games, something sword and sorcery with lots of magic being thrown around. A close second is a dramatic about-face; hard cyberpunk dystopia games. In both of them I love games with a story, something I can really get my teeth into, and something ideally with choices that matter.

I’ve always tended to pick the female characters. One of my best gaming memories is the time spend with Commander Sheppard, a strong, kind hearted, fiery woman with a soft spot for the colour blue. I had great fun running through all 3 Mass Effects, building up a character from my choices. I don’t know why I picked FemShep to start with other than she looked cool. This, as it unsurprisingly turns out, is something I’ve noticed now as a pattern.

I’ve always loved skyrim as well, I can’t even count how many hours I’ve sunk into it, and I am indeed one of “those people” who owns it on multiple platforms. Not always by choice (I’m almost certain I’ve got 2 copies on PC from Humble Bundles) but sometimes I’m a sucker for a re-release with something new (the VR version blew me away).

Again, in Skyrim, I was a girl. A short willowy wood-elf who was moulded into a deadly beast with a bow and a flailing idiot with a greatsword.

This pattern goes back for as many games as I can remember playing where gender was a choice. I’ve always leaned into the female character. I remember that I’ve often justified it to myself as wanting to tell a more interesting story than “the hero guy does his thing as usual”, especially as some of my favourite fiction does a lot of work with strong female characters that were missing through much of my childhood.

Looking back on it now it’s another tick in a box that suddenly makes a lot more sense in a different way. I did want strong female characters but not just for the narrative, I wanted a strong female character that I could be, who could be the avatar of my ideal self.


I’ve known I was bisexual for a long time now, it’s something that’s not really impacted my life in any particularly earth-shattering way, but it’s something I’ve known about.

I came out to my wife shortly after she came out to me, I was really grateful that she, as my girlfriend at that point (some 7 or 8 years ago?), trusted me to support her and to not go through the stages of bi-anxiety; “Does this mean you’ll start dating girls?”, “Do we need an open relationship now?” and the usual ending point “Can I have a threesome with your friends?”. I like to think at the time I did support her, though I can’t remember my reaction very well, it’s not something I really cared about. She liked me and was with me, I liked her, that was it.

She was much more on-the-ball about it, though. She knew she was bi from a much younger age than I did, I only figured out just after secondary school (16/17 for my overseas readers). I was browsing the internet (and I’m going to add a much more NSFW later around this) when I realised that hey; girls are awesome and guys are awesome too. This revolution for me was less concerning than the one I’m going through because I knew some gay people and I knew a bunch of straight people, and at that point I didn’t know there was a whole specific branch of bigotry associated with being bisexual, so I just got on with things.

I’ve never actually been with a man, romantically or physically, but it’s something I know that I could have done just as easily as be with a woman. Meeting my future-wife and falling utterly in love with her didn’t put a stop on me exploring and figuring things out because I never needed to explore, it just made me not care about “trying the water” because I’d already found the perfect person, regardless of their gender.

Realising I might have something complex going on with my identity as well bought up a lot of questions I encountered about bisexuality only after the fact I had figured myself out. “How do you know?”, “Aren’t you just going through a phase?”, “You’re just doing this for attention!”…. Those last two still hurt to write.

Looking at them now with a more mature eye, the knowledge of how vile people can be and how little it matters, it’s easier again to see a pattern with how I’ve felt and how I feel: I’ve been considering who I am for many years and I probably should have started thinking about it earlier, if I’d had the emotional intelligence back when I first tried on that dress as I do now.


So when my wife asked me “how long have you been thinking about this?” I Said a few months. Turns out that was true, and not so true. I’ve been consciously thinking about it for a few months, but it looks like I’ve been unconsciously thinking about it for years, and only now am I getting a chance to do something about it.

With love,

Sammy

Where were we? Trying on my first ever dress1I’ll talk more about this in a later post coming very soon but this wasn’t quite my first ever dress.….

I’m not sure what I was expecting, if it would be momentous or there’s be thunder/rainbows/choirs? Obviously none of that happened, but it was easy to put on. A single zip running from butt to mid-back, then a pair of lovely dome buttons on the collar that do up really easily. I was shaking so much I appreciated that touch, made it possible for me to get it on by myself after I’d stepped into it.

My wife was there with me, encouraging me to put it on, and my usual habit of grinning like an idiot when I’m nervous came out.

Then it was on.


It felt nice, thick pleated skirt with a bit of weight to it, thin ad breezy top in some sort of faux-silk. It fit perfectly, draping down from my hips and hugging my neck just tight enough, and the chest looked natural lying completely flat. I remember distinctly that it swooshed when I spun around. It flared out from my hips slightly, moving gently with my motion.

It felt right. I looked down and saw it hanging off of me and it looked right. Up until that point I’d not really cared much about what I looked like, I’d never bothered to do anything with my hair other than keep it length 4 all over, and I realised that it was because I didn’t really care. Looking down at myself I realised that this is what I wanted to look like, that I was more happy with myself standing there in a dress with hairy legs and hairy feet, a full beard and a stupid grin, than I’d ever been before.


I talked to my wife after this, sat on the edge of the bed in a dress, not able to stop looking down at it, only just able to stop running my hands over it to appreciate that it was mine and I was wearing it. We talked about what this meant, and again what steps I should take next. She asked if it was something I’d ever want to do outside, I said I don’t know but that I was definitely not there yet. She asked about wigs, makeup, underwear? I was all for all of it, in stages. I hadn’t even thought about wigs.

I immediately went and ordered some panties, pictured below. I started with a lot of thinking on this one; the sites I’d browsed included information on tucking and gaffes, which I’ve still not tried yet, but I thought start simple. They arrived and they were another moment of joy, slipping them on and tucking myself out of the way as best I could, they were nice to wear. I left them on for the rest of the day (spent around the house) under my trousers.

My first panties, cheap and frilly, but so pretty.

My wife suggested I tried on a pair of her tights next, to see what I thought of them. We’re about the same size height-wise, so they fit pretty well. Comfortable, functional at hiding my hair, they were another thing to add to the list.

My tights, garter included

Buying these I got 2 things, a pair that were far from standard wear, and a nightshirt that was far more scandalous than I would have ever considered. My logic (what remained of it) decided that if I wanted to try this girl thing I should really lean into it, and the stuff I was being drawn to was the ultra-effeminate, pink and lace. Practical? No, but then I wasn’t going anywhere in it.

This comes up a lot shorter in the picture, but it feels nice enough I didn’t care

That brings us closer to today. I’ve got a small set of women’s clothes I’ve worn. I love all of them, and they make me feel more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have before.

I’m not sure what this means for me. I know I want to keep going, to keep exploring, but does this mean I’m a woman? I’m certainly not 100% happy with being male, but there’s a lot of spectrum past just “male”.

I’ve decided for this blog to go by Sammy, there’s a reason for this I’ll expand upon later, but I’ve taken it from a webcomic that inspired me to talk to my wife in the first place; Raan’s Doll by Kannel Art (warning, very NSFW). I’ve got a few more things to write about before I get to “now”, so I’ll start working on those next. I’m queuing my posts up as much as possible to be regular, but we’ll see how long that lasts!! Probably just until this buffer runs out, but my new years’ resolution is to do this better than my previous attempts so I can look back on this in a few years time and remember what journey I took. For now though?

With love,

Sammy

These first couple of posts are being written in bulk. I decided to create this about a month after things started, so I’ve got a month’s worth of writing to catch up on. I’m going to try and write them in a single go, so they’re going to follow on a bit more fluidly than can be normally expected.


So this Gender thing?

Well it’s the reason I’m here, writing this, at least. I was born male and for my life up until now I’ve identified as such. I’m also bisexual so I’ve never had an issue with fluid or queer sexuality, and this has really extended to gender as well. I couldn’t care less about what gender people are or what they have in their pants (or if they match), but that’s been something of an academic point for me as it never meant anything to me personally.

About a month ago now I told my wife, cuddling in bed at about 1am, that I was interested in crossdressing and femininity, and that I wasn’t sure about anything else. Was it just a fetish thing? Was it something I was interested in from afar but not for me? Was I trans? I couldn’t really answer.


It’s worth pointing out here that my wife is awesome. She’s amazingly supportive, bisexual herself, and a firm supporter of gender, sexuality, and neurodiversity rights. I can already feel a post just about her coming up, but for now I’ll keep it simple (so she can check what I publish before I do it!).

My wife told me that it was okay, she supported and loved me regardless, and asked me about what I thought the motivation was (I didn’t know), how long I’d been thinking about this for (that month), if there was any reason I’d told her today (I promised myself I’d tell her that day so I’d stop putting it off), and what I wanted to do about it.

That last one caught me out. I hadn’t considered I could do something about it. I felt odd and uneasy, I was terrified that I’d told her, worried what she would say, and I didn’t even want to think about what came after that. The relief that she just went “okay” was indescribable.


So what next? What could, or should, I do? As a bit of an academic the first place I started was research. I’d done research already in the month leading up to telling her but very perfunctory. I realise now that I didn’t want to admit anything to myself or make any definitive statements in case it proved true and caused me problems, but now I was able to take a moment to look around I found a lot of friendly and helpful advice. The best piece was that things take time.

As someone who has always considered themselves male by default I am about as far away from the femininity that intrigued me as possible. I’m not tall but not short, reasonably thin but with a bit of a belly developing over the past year, short hair when I remember to cut it, a thick very dark beard ranging from short to bushy, and hair on basically every other part of my body.

My wife suggested taking things slow and bit by bit. First place to start was try on some female clothing, see if that did anything for me. We might be able to work from there to see if it was purely sexual for me or if there was an element of identity in it.

But what should I get? Just start buying women’s clothing and hope? Measurements were no problem to get, we had a tailors measuring tape, but what style? What sort of clothing, even?

Again my wife was to the rescue. She suggested that she had a set of fashion books she had bought in preparation for sewing and that, although she’d not looked at them in a while, we could go through them together to see what I liked.

We spent a chilly Sunday afternoon pouring over these books before moving to the related websites full of patterns, her explaining what things were and all the components to them, what would work best for my figure (rectangle, if you were wondering), what fabrics were a good idea, what styles were flattering…. it was a lovely experience, something I smile at remembering. It made me feel utterly comfortable.

We moved to amazon for the purchase, and wrangled the sales page on the women’s dresses before I finally settled on the piece below. A simple dress, sleeveless, pretty material and a lovely coloured floral pattern. The nervousness as I hit “buy now” was almost overwhelming and I remember she had to encourage me to actually take the step and do it.

The first dress I bought

The waiting was intense. I had work the next day and spent most of it checking my phone for the live postage updates. I knew when it arrived and I was a mixture of hyper-excited and hyper-nervous at the same time. The walk home was terrifying.

There it was waiting for me. Lighter than I thought (although maybe I just expected it to weigh more from my expectations?) and smaller, but when I opened it it felt wonderful.

My wife once more reminded me to be careful, not to be too excited and not to be too disappointed if it didn’t “work”. Neither of us were sure what would happen, if anything. So I went upstairs, carrying my dress, and tried it on.


With love,

Sammy