changeling times

trials and tribulations of eclectic chicken

Move along…no sensationalism here. February 29, 2012

Filed under: trans stuff — eclectic chicken @ 10:44 pm

The documentary is tomorrow night at 10.35pm on ITV1

“Transgendered people are vastly misunderstood by most of society, often ridiculed and reduced to sex-change stereotyping. My Dad is a Woman looks at the transition of journalist Jane Fae and Michelle, who was once Michael. There’s some pretty upfront shots of the gender reassignment surgery, but the two women show how transition is much more than taking hormones and going under the knife, while their partners and children discuss the impact of transition on their own lives. This a refreshingly honest and unsensationalised look at the issues around this difficult topic.”

Louise Bolotin

“Despite its title, My Dad Is A Woman is not particularly sensationalist. It’s quiet, considered, could arguably say more, but says more than I’ve certainly seen on television before about living as a transgender woman and how it affects her family.”

read more….

“Ultimately, however, the film created the image of nice people behaving decently. Partners are stoic and supportive; teenage children roll their eyes but are tolerant; the older generation of parents say they just want their sons to be happy. It is a study in making the most of a dificult situation and, despite some unanswered questions, doing it extremely well’.

Sunday Times -Culture section


delayed reaction and a sensible move February 26, 2012

Filed under: home stuff,trans stuff — eclectic chicken @ 4:43 pm
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I’ve been a cow the last couple of days. In part a grumbling ear infection… but also the run up to ‘that’ documentary.

Jane and Tash have been riding the media waggon and I’m not having any of it. Where we were half a year or so ago when the filming was done feels a million miles from where we are now… onwards ever onwards… but then in some ways it feels like personally, of late, i’ve taken a huge step backwards. Suddenly i’ve been launching some serious anger at Jane.. triggered sometimes by the smallest things.

What made me feel slightly more sane last night was reading a blog (the trans gentle wife) by another woman with a transitioning partner – our time lines are very similar.  She describes hereslf as a ‘delayed reactor’ recently signed off work due to the stress she has built up over the last couple of years. I feel so much better knowing i’m not the only one…. (aren’t we all?)..or maybe this long term reaction is normal for the partners of transitioners.

As lucy, whose blog it is says… she’s taken care of everyone else and now its time for her.

Watching the rough run of the documentary thats how i felt. I looked like a woman still in shock… I think i’ve already described it as ‘away with the faeries’. In every shot where support is needed for Jane, there I am. I did the first public 0uting with her, first shopping, first appontments, talks to schools, stayed with her in Brighton, stuck up for her when the going got bad, background researched the icky bits and overly formal bits she couldn’t bear to engage with, checked her new vagina (nearly fainted), drove her round, went to counselling. I think my role is summed up in the docuimentary in a shot of Jane recovering in hospital… I’m out of shot, except for my hand stroking Janes back.

All through this friends have told me to think of myself.. let rip with some anger and all manner of other sensible bits of advice. But its not been in me… i’ve had a partner who needs my love and support more than ever and so thats what i’ve done.

But i think in doing that its delayed my own reactions…. that grieving process I know i’m going through… sometimes i think i’ve been through it and then other days i realise i’m nowhere near.

Two years has been long enough for Jane to transition, ‘start’ to ‘finish’. So its heartening to know my timescale for dealing with it isn’t out of order.

The same thing on different days can cause seriously different reactions in i say above the impending documentary is stressing me out and i’ve been taking it out on Jane (after all it is ALL her fault) with everything else (ie the rest of transition)- I didn’t want, initially, to be in the documentary but once they were in the house it was such an interesting and gentle process it felt right to join in… after all to have an invisible partner is in televisual terms like having no partner at all (it works in soap operas where you keep referring to a character to keep them ‘live’ but only if the audience is already connected with them – see- I checked that option.)

I worry about Janes daughter too… she’s happy grabbing the publicity, (it could keep her in wine and fags for several weeks if she’s lucky)… but it worries me that she may be even further behind the curve than I am. She is a great ‘head in the sand’ person and still misgenders Jane.. doesn’t even try… just says its too difficult. No-one else in the world gets away with misgendering Jane… even my mother who is in her mid eighties and very forgetful makes a go at it, mixing Jane and john and he and she fairly randomly.. but she tries.

I think its easy (and a way of hiding from really having to deal with something) to say you accept someone or something… but acceptance is really about walking the walk. (you know… its the ‘but’ syndrome… ‘i’m not transphobic but they should just do it behind closed doors’ ‘i’m not racist but i’ll stand here as opposed to sit next to that asian gentleman’)

I’ve found walking this walk to be all clunky at times..its been very very difficult to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but by trying its taught me how the walk should go and now it’s getting easier… easy enough for me to let out some of the other emotional baggage i’ve been keeping locked away. What makes it hardest of all… is  ‘i’m not against someone transitioning but it’s difficult having a partner doing it’. That seeming hypocracy can sometimes feel very prickly.

The balancing of the political (and we are a VERY political household) and the personal makes the prickliness really hurt.

Janes transition has been so public (the documentary is actually a teeny tad of the whole), i often wonder how it would have been for us as a family if it had been a more private affair… (not to mention at a slower pace)… but that brings another dilema in that I don’t think given the chance again i’d choose it to be any differnt way bacause I’m incredibley proud of the work Jane has done over the last couple of years, not just in the tranisphere but in all manner of other places.

I guess i’ve been thinking about the documentary like the surgery was last year…. once its over..its over and we can get on with life. Though  in the case of the documentary (unlike the surgery where we hadn’t really thought about the after effects, after care, etc) i’m more prepared for the documentary…I’m  going away for a few days to avoid the furore, the phone calls, and any fall out that may ensue… and THEN (i thought) we can get on with life….

But slowly it dawns on me that this IS life with Jane… when one big event is over… the next one starts to loom. I guess the excitement is just another thing i’ll have to get used to.


documentary January 21, 2012

Filed under: trans stuff — eclectic chicken @ 3:18 pm
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We’ve now been given the showing date for the documentary we took part in back in the summer on the run up to Jane’s surgery. And no I’m not telling you the date… if you want to watch it go find it.

I’m totally torn by the whole thing.

On the one side its a decent, well made documentary about how transition affects those closest to a trans person. It’s well researched, the director cares about it, thinks it really is something that needs telling to a wider audience and great amounts of effort were put into it being both ‘trans acceptable’ whilst being accessible to a wider audience. I think it finds a good balance.

I know there were a couple points where Jane wanted the documentary to play closer to the trans ‘party line’ and I had to argue the case to go more mainstream as believe it or not the whole world hasn’t caught up with the sub clauses and definitional nuances of what passes as totally acceptable by the trans refuseniks.

Its that old ghettoised thing again…. if you live in the ghetto you understand the ghetto… if you are only visiting you havn’t a clue…. and when suddenly one day it makes sense you know you’ve visited to much and are ghettoised too.


That was the positive (or started out being)…It’s a good documentary – watch it.

On t’other hand… I hate it… Its got me in it…. not just walking but talking too.  But thats my usual grumble about being on film. Mostly I dislike it becuase I look so sad and sort of away with the faeries. I have to remind myself that someone in the documentary has to look sad… after all I was (am) struggling to come to terms with the whole Jane shebang AND I was on high strength co-codomol most of last year (and sometimes diazipan too) for my back… and I think I probably WAS away with the faeries much of the time.

I also refused to dress up and make up for the event…. I have these points of principle sometimes from a creative perspective that clash with the inner child my mother raised that knows the right thing to do when going out in public is wear clean clothes and scrub your face and shoes until they shine (preferably not with the same cloth).

Anyway… its a while off… but I’ll be fretting about it ’til its over.


Girls on film… April 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 11:41 pm
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Contrary to two things we are taking part in the making of a documentary about trans-women and their families. In our case this includes the run up (and very likely includes) Janes  ‘op’.

Two things?

The first is that I swore after the Mail piece to never ever ever ever….ever… get involved in any sort of media shebang ever…ever…. (did i mention ever)? again. Not becuase I think the Mail piece […and no you can’t have a link…just trawl back through the blog or google til you find a pig in a wig (thats me that is)] is/was intrinsically bad per se. But becuase of the aftermath.

No, silly…. not those terrible bigotted cis types wot said all the wrong things and displayed their ignorance. But those trans types….who should know better and indeed let everyone know, at every opportunity that they DO know better and said the most horrible things.

Secondly… when I say ‘we’ are taking part. Our son (age 6) tells me its actually a documentary all about him (and perhaps the chickens).

But anyway….contrary to both those things we’re in cahoots with the lovely ladies at Wild Pictures and the end result should be shown in the Autumn on some ITV channel.

I fought tooth and nail not to be in it at first through shyness mostly (and tv adding HOW many pounds to ones visual weight)… but last week was first visit to the hospital in Brighton. To refuse to have been filmed would have made filming a nightmare for everyone….so I caved in… signed my soul away and tried to remember not to swear too much.

I know the end result will do the job it intends to do…same as the Mail piece did. It will get a message out that gender dysphoria happens to normal people in normal families and that those families one way or another have to deal with it.

Having us in it (and I don’t know the circumstances or any of the other people involved) will show it can be coped with… that life goes on. It may even educate people a little. It’ll certainly draw in an audience who want to gawp… but even if it makes a small percentage of those people pause for thought even once  it’ll be doing its job.

I think I trust the girls at Wild pictures to do a good job… what I don’t expect is a result that will please everyone.

Especially the politicised trans community… the consensus amongst most (cis?)people making the effort to show trans to the wider population is that they are buggers to please and that is perhaps what holds back their cause the most.

This is the sort of documentary that can’t hope to use all the right language in all the right places at all the right times… if it did it would have a very small politicised audience who understood it. It would be preaching to the converted.

It (I hope) will maybe make some small steps educationally and a HUGE step in just getting the subject out there and ‘all in the best possible taste’. [hmmm…not the best reference point to make methinks].

…and by the way… we don’t get paid. (though we did get bought some chips on Brighton beach)


An interesting day in London March 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 11:15 am
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We spent much of yesterday sitting in a hotel lobby drinking tea and eating biscuits.

No hardship there then.

What was slightly more challenging and interesting was meeting a writer of television dramas and a maker of documentaries….both fairly successful at what they do and both interested in making something out of Jane’s and my story.

At the moment we are all cogitating on our conversations of yesterday, but they are two projects I’m very interested in exploring further. It just feels a far more suitable way to go for me than the more immediate ‘sit on the sofa and get asked questions in front of a camera’ propositions we’ve been offered (and in the main turned down).

I like both ideas. One would be far more challenging to do than the other and both i think could potentially get under the skin of some fairly big ideas one way or another.

We’ll cogitate some more.

What was even more interesting and challenging (interesting for me and challenging for Jane) yesterday, was that one of the people we met was female and one was male.

The social interaction was riveting.

We also had Janes PR present and so at one point we had four  women sat around the coffee table. I say four….we had three and one who pretends pretty well…… (more later on that). It was a fairly rambling touchy-feelie conversation and ended in a period of gossipy finding common ground mostly between Jane and the lady involved. Jane was relaxed and animated and her usual happy self.

And then we swapped for our meeting with the male documentary maker.

A very different, a more male led meeting, very interesting and enjoyable for me until I glanced at Jane who was rather more quiet.

She had totally disengaged from what was going on, throughout the meeting she said less, was far less animated, lacked eye contact and fidgeted with her scarf…a lot… she basically went back to being the man i used to know.

That was John, socially a bit awkward, gauche in some ways: a man who looked awkward, looked away when socially interacting.

Except he used to do it with both genders and i used to excuse it as being part of his eccentricity, we often allow the highly intelligent strange behaviours in the name of eccentricity…that and i used to think he was maybe somewhere on the autistic spectrum.

So maybe before he didn’t feel comfortable with anyone…neither fish nor fowl.

At least now Jane feels comfortable with half the population…and as she becomes more comfortable in herself perhaps she can feel comfortable with the other half.



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