Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Now It All Makes Sense...

I had a few strange dreams last night and recently have found that I have been remembering many things from my childhood.  From that it is definitely a bit of a start point from where things began especially where my gender feelings are concerned.

From age 6, I refused to wear dresses and skirts.  My Mum recently told me that I came home from school one day in a lovely yellow dress and I was refusing to wear it anymore and was even tugging at it (sorry Mumsie!) as I announced that I wanted to be a boy.  As the boys had more computer time.  From that day on I never did wear a dress again (out of choice) and people around me and in my school always asked me if I wanted to be a biy and I would quite frequently say yes.

This was when I was in Nottingham. I would also be out everywhere on my bike and I didn't have many close close friends at that time. When in the playground I would often spend time alone as I never felt I needed to be around people that much and I preferred to have my own adventures. I also felt thoroughly pissed off that the boys wouldn't let me play football sometimes because I was still a girl but then there were nice boys that said I wanted to be a boy so I could play with them.

The rest of my time there I would be climbing trees, riding my bike and I used to explore a lot of places alone. It wasn't that I was a loner, I just didn't feel that I 'needed' people to go to places with nor did I need people around me all the time.

I suppose in someways I am still a bit like that now.  In light to going out somewhere socially or even clubbing I used to and will happily go out somewhere alone.  As I hate feeling that I depend on people in any way and I like the freedom that comes with going where you want, when you want.  Now I find I always have people to chat to as 9 times out of 10 I would have taken their picture, but even in the days where I didn't know anyone I just liked exploring.

When we moved to London when I was 9 I remember the first school I went to.  It was right in the middle of Harlesden and I hated it.  I got bullied quite a bit there but that aside the thing I hated most is that I had to wear a skirt.  I used to wish I could wear schoolboy shorts.  Although I had long hair throughout that time I always visualised myself as a little boy. It was then from those moments in the mirror in the toilets that I did find myself feeling that I was different.

I knew then, that the thought of saying I had a boyfriend just sounded really wrong to me and inside I thought that the sound of saying I had a wife or a girlfriend sounded much nicer. But for the most part I kept that to myself as I knew that expressing it would really cast me out from everyone else.

When I was at school I was that kid who was a bit more sensitive, who wouldn't say boo to a goose a lot of the time and people would manipulate so naturally saying stuff out of the ordinary might cause a bit more trouble.

Still a bit later on we left Harlesden (thankfully) and went over to Wood Green.  I did like my primary school there quite a bit, as they were very positive about girls football so I mostly played football every day and found I could which was great.  I hated doing girly things and it was nice being at an age where you didn't have to do typically girly things.

Secondary school was where it got interesting.  Well in some ways. Puberty was going to happen and for a few years I always felt there was a pressure to be more girly thrust upon us as well as the whole girls hanging together in their various groups and boys packing together too.

From being at primary school I had usually found myself with one crush on a female teacher, I ended up with a massive crush on my chemistry teacher but obviously I never told anyone.  But I do laugh whenever I think about it now as I developed such an interest in Chemistry that I would even go to a lunch time science club thing with half the geeks and she would usually pop in and Oh My God, my heart used to pound I would feel like blushing instantly yet if she didn't come I would feel gutted.

I still blush a bit to this day as to how bad the crush was.  I also fancied another teacher before her but not on the same scale. Luckily in all my other subjects my teachers were rather ugly or male so that did help in terms of being able to concentrate.

Each time I had a crush though I always fantasized that I was the male version of myself. I never felt that my outer aesthetic matched my inner self image which once puberty set in was quite horrible.  Especially as I wished I was someone who had a tiny chest, but I wasn't which I felt was a curse. I also knew I was different from everyone else but a lot of the time I couldn't work out why.

I put a lot of it down to being a lesbian and justifying a lot of my initial thoughts on identity around that. But in my first days of clubbing, back when The Ghetto was in its hey day I still felt slightly out of place where women were concerned. I actually preferred using the Gent's as I would eye up the girls a little but I always felt I was doing so in a way a bloke would. I didn't see myself as being one of those girls either. It was confusing.  I knew I was a lesbian, but one who didn't wear make up.  I didn't feel that I was a butch lesbian either I did feel that I was a manly lesbian.  This would explain why I never pulled in The Ghetto (yet it seemed I pulled everywhere else).  The same applied to very girly spaces like The Candy Bar (yes I admit I went for a while) I knew it was full of lesbians but again I never quite felt that I fitted in there either.

I found places that were a bit more queer were far more relaxing as I did find that I didn't feel that I was such an oddball and that there were people who could express themselves in a very fluid manner. Still I did hold onto being a lesbian for a long time as I felt that I was that and also it was the only thing that made sense to me.

I also didn't have the confidence to really explore my masculinity.  I knew it was there but for some reason I just didn't want to go there straight away. I also didn't understand some of the thoughts I was having, but I knew they were there and I knew I would most likely explore them but when I felt ready.

I am a strong believer in women embracing and celebrating their inner and outer masculinity. I also believe to be female it doesn't mean you have to be feminine either. The one description of being female I have struggled to call myself for years now is that of woman. Woman symbolises a lot more to me than being more clinical with the term 'female'. I am female matter how much I try and hide it yet I never have felt I am a woman nor want to be a woman.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Time of The Month

Isn't it delightful, the week prior giving the urge to kill most things in sight, followed by feeling that the end of the world is nigh and then going from feeling sensitive being to bloated and sick.

It also marks that moment where I remember that I am in fact female.

Hello period.

Goodbye Masculinity (well for a few days anyhow)

Today my period arrived and usually I am not that phased by it but today I felt really self conscious when I bought tampons. I also find it irritating how expensive they are too, and before anyone says it I will not be wearing a Mooncup.  I tried one before and I hated it.  I also don't like the way people seem to be taken into some secret Mooncup occult that all sing, sway and spill it's praises.  Literally I have seen ornamental kunst art spilling of it's contents (as well as faux contents) for myself.

I'm not against silicon per se but for some reason Mooncups ick me out.  Same goes with things like speculum's too.  I've always been a little bit afraid of things like as I find the thought of it rather invasive. I don't see my current genitalia as relating to any particular gender, but at the same time I do see myself as a man with a c*nt unless I'm packing and then I feel as if I am a young man with a massive boner which is equally gratifying. As well as makes for heightened sexual desire and sometimes what feels like unstoppable horn.

But that can sometimes have a few problems. Such as last year when on a plane I had such bad horn that it was almost crippling and I think one of the contributing factors to why I nearly got banned from flying with United airlines on account of having air rage.

That frustration, coupled with a number of other frustrations did aide in me losing my rag at another passenger and I ended up shouting and swearing at her.  The best bit came when the air stewardess first called me sir, then ma'am and my retort was "Gender Indifferent".

After I calmed down I did apologise to the passenger and when we landed it was marvelous as no one wanted to go near me so getting my bag out of the locker and exiting the plane was somewhat of a breeze. It wasn't my proudest moment and anyone who knows me well would know that I am one of few people that are known for losing their temper easily. For the most part I keep a lid on it but that was in September at the start of my gender changes and one surge I did feel other than libido was my aggression levels.

Feeling connections with both sexual parts of me seems to make my libido grow too as I feel that I am now re-exploring my body given that I now identify as male and feel more male. It is almost a feeling that I am starting again, and sometimes I find I get really shy at really strange moments or will filled with a sense of happiness and exciteable butterflies if E so much as smiles at me or finding simple pleasures like waking up together feeling like its a massive luxury.

To be fair though, I think its good not to be complacent in any type of relationship you have with people and to appreciate the little things - its so easy when with someone to get lazy, but I think it's better not to. But saying that what happens in theory and in practice can be two different things altogether.

One thing that has always been the case for me is that I have always been a very sexual being. Within that I have had many adventures that have been fueled by my urges and curiosities as well as wanting to explore things and test my boundaries.  Only within that I am willing to challenge myself but I don't want to all out massacre myself either. There isn't a point in doing that and also it means I am not respecting myself.

I feel it's good to learn that one, in whatever form that may take. 

My three main passions in life are sex, food and photography. Those to me form a holy trinity (or tranity in my case!) but again my relationships with all three have changed rather significantly.

For example I will always be a massive foodie, but before the problem was I looked like one. I love food but food loved me back a little too much and didn't quite understand that it needed to let go of me. I am glad to have changed the way I eat and what I eat as well as how much exercise I do in a week, I have recently wanted to up my exercise a bit more as I am not quite yet at my target weight and I don't feel I am muscly enough.

E has much more muscle than me which I adore but its good as it motivates me to want to work on mine a little more.

With my photography, following my end of year show, I do feel more motivated to want to try different styles of project out so that I don't feel that the only photography I do is revolving around social events. Again it's all about expanding what I do and I think having enough confidence and faith in my own work. I don't like showing off very much and I like my work to be appreciated but I don't think I'll ever be the next best thing in photography as I don't have that competitive angle in line to the way I see my work.

My only criteria and passion is that my work is enjoyed, and that it can be understood by people viewing it.  I really tire of work I see by artists and photographers that are so cryptic to work out what it is the piece is saying and other pieces of art offends me when it is so heavily conceptualised that it can only be described as "The Emperor's New Art" or words to that effect. But like all topics like that everyone has a different opinion as to what makes a good piece of art from what makes a bad piece. I just hate pieces that in effect mock the viewer.  That to me is what makes it a bit elitist in some ways and I think puts people off from wanting to find out more.

That is a shame in itself in many ways as there are so many wonderful genres and formats in which we can connect with the visual presence created by a person.  Just the narratives presented to us as well as the visual imaginations laid bare for us to interact with are one of the many reasons I enjoy arts based things so much to watch and connect with.

I love contemporary dance, ballet for the movement and the non verbal communication.  As well as going to galleries or looking at photo books. I literally could and would spend hours doing that and I quite frequently do.  Although my gallery attendance has been lesser recently but that is because I have been going to performance and cinema more.

It is a no brainer as to why I have a limited wardrobe sometimes but at the same time I like that I do see a lot of cultural things, as well as enjoying meals out and nice drinks out from time to time as well. But even cheap eats can rack up as I've discovered.

At the same time you only get one life and that is to be enjoyed and experienced to the max. being miserable wastes parts of life and the feeling that we are living as oppose to existing.

Life is that never ending journey and that is one thing I am liking about being on the wrong side of my twenties is the disassociation starting to happen with youth. Or feeling that I am so young and still thinking that everyone else is a grown up and one day I shall be one too...

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Brain Whirrr

Do you ever get those moments whereby you know you should be winding down to sleep and your brain suddenly seems to find its inner caffeine or whatever the hell it is and before you know it you're sat bolt upright again and the whole world is whirring.

Well that is my current state of flux as I write this.  My brain is awake and my mind is ticking over all manner of things. Tonight's main topic of the brain is what is going to change next? Right now my life feels as if it is subject to change and for the most part I find it exciting but sometimes I get the odd bite (like now) where I feel I need to tread carefully. Especially given how quickly things have changed since September and within that I know I need to remember to breathe otherwise I get overwhelmed, my anxieties start creeping in and I start feeling like a freak or just confused by who I am, where I am going and what I am going to do in life.

I had a few interesting emails today and something that cropped up in one was someone talking about what happened to them this time last year and after that it led me to start thinking about what happened this time last year.

In short I was a mess. With the power of hindsight I can see now that it was all necessary in a way, yet at the same time - ouch! It was ouch for me, ouch for someone else and in many ways it became what can almost be described as an Epiphany.

I knew my life was never going to be the same again, but between June and September I was in a lot of pain and I felt guilty and weighed down by guilt. Why you might wonder? Well in short I ended a relationship with someone and I felt terrible about hurting them. At the same time our relationship wasn't working and I think we are definitely doing much better in our lives without each other.

Still that is a pitfall of being in a relationship - they can either strengthen you or they can destroy you (well if you let them that is). That is the risk everyone takes when they form a relationship.  Just like in life there are some exes that you will be friends with and some that you will not. In order to find happiness and find out who I really was I needed to be alone. I also knew that changes were happening and that I needed to make some drastic changes in my life. It's scary feeling pulled in every possible direction but nothing around you making sense.

I need a sense of consistency or at least a feeling of it otherwise I feel like I am drowning. It's not a nice place to be in, and not a place I choose or will tolerate for a prolonged period of time.

Even now I hate it when I feel things that don't make sense or I don't know the root of what exactly is wrong. Clarity is something I think I am borderline obsessed with. I like to know where I am at with things, even if it isn't favorable.

Not knowing, or feeling that I am floating in limbo unnerves me slightly. But I know many people feel like that so it's not like its something new or that it sets me apart from everyone else too drastically.

During this time last year I knew I needed to explore some of these facets of confusion I was feeling.  I also needed to confront a few things too.  There are shades of my personality which aren't nice for those close to me and I am aware of that.

I hate that I have felt very sad at times to the point that people have worried about me or that some have seen me as a weak person. It isn't very empowering to be seen as a wimp or feel that you are a wimp.

At the same time I am not someone without feelings, nor do I feel I need to have a false shell of armor around me or pretend to be a 'tough guy'. That isn't representative of who I am and I don't want to feel that I am living under a facade.

But there is a balance that needs to be found and met. Sometimes you do have to push your feelings down a little, bite your lip and just carry on otherwise no one would get out of bed in the morning.

Life has funny ways of telling you things. Just like when you wake up some days and there is something that doesn't quite feel right - we can't explain it but there is usually something bubbling away in the subconscious. That is something not to be underestimated as it does count a lot for our own actions and how we react to situations.

Discovering that I was moving further from being female did initially scare me and I resisted it a little, yet at the same time I knew that I preferred to allow my masculinity to come through.  I felt stronger and more comfortable when I started to embrace that side of me in a way that I never quite imagined I would. Suddenly a lot of my apprehensions and feeling awkward disappeared.  As I felt I had started the process (that I am still in now) in discovering who it is I actually am.

I always felt inside I was a man. In any relationship I have been in I have always adopted the role of being the bloke in the relationship. That sits nicer than feeling I am someone's girlfriend. Being a boy or a man, or a fellow or a chap just feels right for me.

Yet sexually I have never found I have always needed to have a cock. Nor wanted to. I prefer to use other parts of my body too as well as a cock but even with that things have changed.  I feel a much deeper connection with it than I ever did before, but I am more choosy as to how and when I use it. Partly because I do feel now that it is very much a part of me, and that attachment isn't a case of it being just a sexual accessory or a tool.

Since the initial feeling of that of being a teenage boy that is still a virgin, I am glad I seem to have worked through some of my insecurities, clumsiness and awkward feelings surrounding that. It was awful for a few months as sexually I felt like I was starting again.

In many ways I am, as now I do identify as male there are certain things that have changed for me and are still shifting around. But again that is a process of discovery. I am lucky to have found people to be understanding about that too and I haven't felt pressured to be anything I am not and also people that have been nice enough to accept that I do sometimes get shy and I don't feel I know what I am doing.

The irony in all of this is that it isn't that I am not experienced as I am. But as a male I do sometimes feel that I am still finding my feet.

Because of this, that is another reason as to why I don't want to take T. I want to work with what I have right now and feel comfortable being in my new skin before any other alterations take place.  Also with certain chemical and emotional changes taking place right now I want to feel a stronger sense of my natural masculinity before I consider placing hormones in my system which will have bigger effects to the ones that are currently taking place.

Maybe one day I will or maybe I won't.  But I refuse to feel that I will be taking it in order to 'conform' with what it is I 'should' do. I just want to be a man with a c*nt.  It really is that simple.  Well in my mind anyway.

Monday, 21 June 2010 Uni anyhow.

Today has marked what I think will be the last time I will set foot in LCC as a student.  It felt rather nice.  I took down my work from the nine10 exhibition and got my degree results.  I got a 2:1 overall so was quite pleased with myself on that one.

My major project did receive a first but my other grades pulled down to a 2:1 overall.  Still I'm not going to complain.  My parents were very pleased and even phoned me from Australia to congratulate me on that.  My Dad said he was very proud of me at least 10 times, so after that I gathered that he was indeed proud of me. Mum sounded pleased too and also said she was missing me lots which I thought was sweet.

Over the weekend I found I was missing her too as currently they are away in Oz for the next 3 weeks. I still do feel a bit sad that they missed my show, but this trip was planned over a year ago, just would have really liked it if they had of been able to be there.  But in a good way the next thing they will see if I am in an exhibition again will be under my name of Leng Montgomery. Will also be for work that I made that isn't for Uni. So I suppose there is a silver lining to be found in anything.

Still in a couple of weeks they will be back which will be nice as I didn't realise how much I like communicating with my Mum in the week and have got used to that. We also work together too in a company that they have set up. So for work related things its always nice to bounce ideas off her and find some direction in regard to stuff.

It's interesting - in a work setting I don't see them as my parents at all but I am glad that I don't as I feel things would feel far too embedded otherwise.  But it is nice to switch between having them in dual roles.

Had a really nice weekend, went to the Tate Modern with E and just chilled for a lot of it which was really nice, watched some DVDs too which were both thought provoking and in the case of one of them very entertaining. Still that is my idea of a great weekend just spending time with someone you love and doing things that are good for the senses. Can't really ask for more really.

Oh and on Friday night I was taking pictures at Bird Club and saw some amazing performances that were rather eye opening in places but lovely and I had a really great time.  I don't quite know ow I ended up wrestling on stage with a very tall chap and with a massive horn either but I do attract randomness.  Such as when I was leaving a lady said I had a nice face and someone added to E that she had a nice arse. It's always nice to know that combined we can give good face and arse.  Again the random magnet was in full flow!

Today has mostly been spent sorting out bitty things and planning of other stuff.  Oh and uploading photographs.  I'm still whirring from the last week of passing my degree, doing the exhibition and now concentrating on what my future work is entailing and what it can entail and finding ways to make it happen.

I do feel a sense of disjointed feelings over some stuff but again I think that is normal. It is an added feeling of this is the first day of the rest of your life.  So far its working well.  The sun is shining and I'm sat here writing. Something of which I am starting to feel a little happier about once again.  I need to remind myself that as long as it isn't an essay or academic then my creative juices seem to work and there is pleasure to be found in words.

I did used to write a lot of poetry and many short stories, but on re-reading some recently I realised how rubbish they were and how sad I was when I wrote them so I got of them as I didn't like the feeling that they acted as a journal of misery.

I do have depression but I try not to be miserable. All I know is that I have to work hard sometimes to not allow negativity to overshadow me in some respects.  As I feel as if my wiring is all wring sometimes and that my settings (assuming myself to be a piece of machinery) are naturally set to be against me so I work hard to do things that prove otherwise.

I have wonderful people around me and I don't want to let anyone down or be the person that ends up wearing everyone out and pissing them off because I didn't make the effort to work with myself.  I also don't like to feel that I am depending on people as that is heavy and I never want people feeling that they are 'responsible' for me.  I dunno, maybe it's my pride talking but I feel horribly guilty if I feel that my mood or my actions has an effect on anyone else.

I also think I am 26 I need to be able to be either equipped or work towards being as self sufficient as possible.  Fortunately living alone has helped in that as I don' depend or rely on people in a domestic sense. I also like to feel that I keep a sense of order in a place on a small scale.

There are many things right now that I am working on and continuing to work on but such is life. I see the potential and I want that but like everything we all need to put the work into it.

I'm very fascinated to see how the next year unfolds.  For the first time in 5 years there really is no more Uni - that chapter has now ended and now it's all about life and the real world.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Wow Wow Wow

I have had an amazingly adrenaline fueled 24 hours. I had my end of year show which went really, really well.

I can't believe how packed it was and found that the people just kept on coming.  It was also nice watching how people were viewing and interacting with my work.  I was really touched by how many of my friends came too, and was nice to be surrounded by people who were connected to me or my project.  Not just because there was free wine either!  I also got a lovely card sent to me from a friend who couldn't attend as well as some Brylcreem! (Thanks Michelle!)

E looked amazing and aside covertly 'admiring' (aka perving on her) she also took a few amazing photos of the show for me, (I am thinking that my camera is liking her more than me! Still a bit of lenscest never harmed anyone) and it was also nice to have Kitty Stryker and Maria Rosa Young in attendance too.

I realised that this will be the last thing I will do with LCC and I felt a little nostalgic thinking about where I started off from and where I am now.  In my 5 years there I have experienced a lot and although my work hasn't always been well received or understood I have come to see that it has really shaped how I take photographs now.

In many ways being a square peg in a round hole has helped me develop a sharper perspective on my work. I know that I will think strongly about what it is that I want to visually communicate, how will I compose and light the shot and also what is it saying? Am I communicating what I want to with the image?  Will it be aesthetically pleasing? What makes my pictures different?

Well with that last one I know that it is an ongoing thing and rightly so.  You never stop learning and you shouldn't stop learning. Looking at the work of other photographers and making decisions as to why certain photographs carry aura and what is it that makes you love the image or feel drawn towards it.

That is something that I love about photography.  Some photographers have a way of taking a picture that even something as simple as a cup of tea as illustrated by Martin Parr can still leave you feeling visually satisfied (or not as the case may be). Whether we like it or not, images do stick in our mind, and some we just have an affection towards. I especially like this little gem from Nobuyoshi Araki.

Following the show a few of us went to a pub that kept playing the same mix CD, I kept having two balls left when I played a bit of pool with someone who can only be really described other than fabulous as 'Uncle Tweed'.

Today was spent at the gym, then from there I still had bags of energy so after my workout I walked from Moorgate to Chancery Lane, saw my counsellor, then saw my friend Lady V and then after that I ended up walking most of the way home. (To be fair when you are surrounded by wonderful sunshine why waste it being sat on the tube?)

I then saw a family friend and experienced what can only be described as 'Death by Pasta' as I am not so used to heavy carbs after 6 but Nick's food is lovely and although a food coma followed it was worth it.  The inner sumo wrestler that lives inside me was happy tonight.  He won't be happy tomorrow night though as of the morning I am back to my fruit and salad diet. Given that I had a happy scales moment today I intend on keeping it that way.

For some reason I go crazy in the gym on a Friday as I like to give it one big push before the weekend, but as of next week to incorporate more cardio into my exercise routine I shall be playing squash too with my sibling.  Hopefully I will be of a better standard now so I might be able to offer a little bit of competition but if not I will get there!

As I write this I feel turbo charged in the energy stakes.  I have a lot of exciting things planned and things to write about, take photographs of or to explore. I like that life is like that.  Even if the twinges of uncertainty are there I have come to realise that things in my life are rarely simple or overly straightforward because if they were then I would be very bored right now.

My main priorities right now are to live and to keep my creative projects going as that is something that is and should be important to me. As in effect this does make up a lot of the other parts of my identity as well. It's all about exploring and now is the time to really do it - in all capacities.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Cleo For One Night Only

Tonight is my end of year show at Uni.  I feel a myriad of things surrounding it.  I feel mostly nervous about it for some weird reason and another part of me wants to get it over and done with.  Part of me does feel like a fraud, as I will be using my legal name and that is who I feel I shall be impersonating rather than being. 

I don't feel Cleo is me anymore other than for legal administration reasons. 

For some unfathomable reason the thought of being Cleo makes me feel unhappy.  It signifies too much of my past life and also how my life used to be.  It's weird but I have a strange heaviness inside and then there is another part of me telling me that it's just a name and why is it bothering me so much?

But it is bothering me and that is what I am trying to work out. I feel a little like tonight I will be lying about who I am and also the confusion of how do I introduce myself to industry people as what my name is now when my legal name suggests otherwise? Would they understand? Can I really be bothered to go into the whole my-gender-is-changing and my name on my project isn't my real name anymore? I feel backed into a corner a little and I do feel a little apprehensive about speaking with strangers. Still on a positive note I have a lot of people that I know coming and people that know me as Leng so that is something of comfort and will be really nice to see people that know me for who I really am.

It is a shame my parents aren't here tonight as its the first time I have been in an exhibition and its something more solid.  Graduation is of course important but they aren't going to see what I have done, up on a wall or my book being displayed. Still, such is life.

I see this as my final thing with Uni, which shall be good as I am tired of the place. As of next week I have set some new targets which shall be nice to go and take part in. First of which I plan to have more articles for my company completed and I might start a photo project. As long as I do something photographic or photjournalism related everyday that will be good in terms of staying productive.  I really want to work hard not just for stuff in the company I am part of but also for my own creative ventures.

Now is the time to really do it, otherwise I will end up having many pipe dreams to which I don't want to have.  I hate it when things don't materialise or I see creative types that like to talk but not do anything with their ideas and more importantly their talent.  Well maybe not out of choice but more situation to be fair. But at the same time if you do have the opportunity then I feel that has to be used productively, as how I see it, you only get one life and I feel it should be spent enjoyed and should be as fulfilling as possible.

I would hate to get to 30 and feel that I had nothing to show for myself, or feel that I had wasted many years away just not doing anything.

Given what a fidget I am though I can't see that happening in a hurry. I go through phases where I set myself many goals as I like to know that I am working towards something or feel that I will be working towards achieving something.

Hopefully by this time next year my book will be well and truly into phase two, a documentary idea I have shall hopefully be in production too.  Still those are two things.  I still have a load of other things to do too - but I much rather have it that way around rather than feeling blank or not knowing what I want or need to do.

Monday, 14 June 2010

9 Months Later...

I have realised that I have been binding every day now for just under 9 months. In this time so much has changed. I found myself thinking about this lots this morning.

I will still never forget the Cinderella trying on the shoe moment that happened when I slipped on the binder and rearranged my chest slightly to give a flatter appearance. I felt as if I had started to grow taller, instantly, as my chest looked physically flatter. I wanted to stand taller, I didn't feel like I had breasts and where they spread made me feel like I was wearing a muscly set of armor across my chest.

I could now face the world and not feel so vulnerable as my chest wouldn't get attention. I also didn't feel that I felt so female anymore.

It was at that time I felt that I started stepping away from being Cleo and embracing my male side. I felt a near euphoric feeling that I could stand straighter and have my chest out without feeling that I had breasts attached.

It was a rather tight feeling too feeling tightly bound in my t shirt but it also made me realise how differently clothes sat on me and

Initially I thought I would just bind, wasn't too sure about using 'he' pronouns although I felt far more masculine and felt a tremendous surge of something bubbling up inside of me. I suddenly felt as if I was alive again. The world became a new place and SF was the perfect place in which to start my adventure.

When I returned my parents and some of my friends seemed to think I came back a different person...I felt like I was. In a near spiritual way it was like doing some sort of pilgrimage type thing.

Last September's trip out to SF was one of the best spontaneous things I think I have ever done in my life.

Since then I have finished my degree, made more friends, had many many adventures and do things I didn't think I would do. My life has turned into one random adventure to another and there have been some days that haven't been so good but in general I see the world through different eyes.

My personal life has been really interesting too. Before I would be more promiscuous than I am now, and I am not against it at all but really since I broke up with S last year I have been far more picky about who I sleep with but also how I think about how I am with people. Especially as in effect I am still female bodied but want to be treated as male and seen as male. It's not the easiest thing to really explain or expect it to make sense to people.

Luckily I am in a relationship with someone who really does seem to understand me and loves me completely for the person I am. I do feel lucky to have made that sort of connection with someone. For a while I didn't think I would. I thought of myself as being good as a little fling, or maybe a nice person to have a constructed date but not someone that someone else would want to be with. But maybe that is some of my own insecurities speaking.

For a little while I felt strange, as well as slightly exotic. I was getting attention but for a while for me it was hard to decide whether or not people were attracted to me for me or because I was being fetishised in some way.

I knew I was still trying to find my feet a bit with this whenever I went out. The start of what toilet to use was beginning as well as when out I would get very very drunk. I had to remind myself that there is a difference between vodka and water...water quenches thirst, vodka makes you forget and gives you a headache.

I wasn't expecting to experience what can only be described as a second puberty but within that there came shyness and now there is just a feeling that can only described as being the new kid at school. Everything feels new and is different.

My values have changed and I find that really nice. I feel less embryonic as I did before yet at the same time I get scared sometimes - well quite a bit of the time as I don't really know what is around the corner, where I will be and sometimes who I am. I don't like pretending that I am something I am not though where possible as I find that feelings surrounding that will always come back and bite me on the bum.

Yet at the same time I wouldn't go back to the life I had before as that wasn't me and I think that definitely was a reason why I was very unhappy at times as I never felt that I knew who I really was or could be the person I want to be.

Now I feel I am the person I want to be, but I need to wait to make more adjustments to assist in that.

On a day like today I was definitely day where I wasn't passing. I don't know why but getting called "young lady" felt very weird, but at the same time it happens sometimes and it will happen from time to time. It's no tragedy and I won't be losing sleep over it. I do feel a twinge of disappointment but at the same time I know in other situations I haven't had too many problems in passing. But that is something I have come to expect.

I know I am a bit different, I am not taking hormones either which maybe if I was it might be easier to pass? Who knows? I will only take hormones though if I decide to and not because I want to out of feeling any pressure that I 'should'.

I care more about how I feel on the inside and to me being comfortable with who I am is really important. I feel more and more male everyday and I am identifying comfortably like that as it does feel 'right'. I don't know how far I shall go - for example I have no desire to take hormones, nor have a hysterectomy or anything like that.

But I don't feel that I am female anymore and that is what I concentrate on rather than looking at too many side issues around that, as otherwise I find myself going around in circles or I would drive myself insane from placing too much pressure on myself.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Ex Lesbian

I feel this is a suitable title for myself as well that is in effect what I am. It started off as a bit of a joke to see myself as that, but the more I think about it and the more I look around I kind of feel that there is an element of truth in this.

But then I sometimes think what am I? Given that I would want to be with women that do things with female bodied people as I feel they would understand who I am a little better. But at the same time for me it feels wrong to call myself a lesbian as to me being a lesbian signifies the relationship and love that two women have for one another. I'm not a woman and I'm not quite a man.


This is where I know I am queer. I'm not a lady and being surrounded by ladies or feeling that I am being included in being called a lady really doesn't sit right with me. It might sound absolutely silly on my part and maybe it is but I feel male and that is what I like to present myself as. The thought of wearing heels and a skirt and wearing make up has always to me made me think that I would be a drag queen if I was dressing in that manner.

(Obviously if you are female it also doesn't mean you automatically wear heels, make up and a skirt either.)

Girly things work well on others and not me.

I started remembering all manner of things from being a child and one was that I always thought and felt a bit like I was a little boy, but one of those delicate boys - you know, the ones that would play with a watering can rather than be roughing and tumbling around smashing two cars together. I used to like to read and be in the company of girls but I never felt like I was one of them.

Puberty confirmed this when I used to try and desperately fancy boys on posters but I would really like women. I couldn't admit that for a while as I didn't feel there was anything wrong as such but at the same time I wanted to feel that I vaguely fitted in.

In my friendship group at school I always felt like I was the guy of the group. Even when with my female friends I see myself as the gayish man/metroman amongst them. I even have fag hags which I adore as it means we talk about fluff but I still feel like I am the guy amongst the girls.

Coming out at 15, it was easy to think I was a lesbian and for many years I felt I was one. I put my feelings of feeling male all down to the fact that I was a lesbian. Yet even in very lesbiany places I never felt I fitted right either. Right now if I am in a space like that I feel like I don't belong in there and I don't feel comfortable.

Yet many of my friends are lesbian, I used to photograph regularly for a lesbian magazine AND I used to feel that I was one, but just not one that was part of the mainstream scene even though I seemed to live in it.

(Reading all this back I am aware as to what a contradiction I am sounding like myself)

Having a female body with breasts in particular has always been an issue to me, yet at the same time having female genitalia doesn't bother me, but having breasts does.

That to me is too feminine for who I am, and I did used to wish that there were ways to hide it, as I used to feel at first that if I concealed it then I would be found out. People would still think that I was a girl and I would never be able to escape what I am underneath it all.

Yet right now I don't know exactly how far I will go when I do transition more. I am definitely going to have surgery on my chest. Initially I wanted a breast reduction but I know I will have them completely removed as I really can't stand having them and I know I will feel a lot better about my body if I have no breasts. At the same time I have no desire to take Testosterone. I'm not against it and I have seen the changes on others and yes everyone I know that is taking it looks fantastic and I see how much it has helped them. But at the same time I don't know if I want that or if I need it.

I have of late preferred to just to get to know who I am and keep a balance as to dealing the changes taking place within me.

I do want to work with what I have as much as possible and also some side effects to T I don't think I really want in my life right now. Without taking T I have found a few changes that have started taking place in my body which I do find really fascinating since I started to identify and transition towards being male.

For example my temperament has changed a lot. I sometimes feel far more aggressive than I ever felt before, yet I do still have a lot of sensitivity in me. I will always be more of a sensitive guy than a big, bold, brash macho man. That wouldn't be me and it isn't me. My sweat seems different in smell, my body hair grows quickly and my libido is higher than it ever was before.

I find that exciting yet at the same time it can be really challenging sometimes. Especially if it feels like my body has constant perma-horn. I know T makes that much worse so given that I would like to leave my bed at some point everyday I think right now that is another reason that might be wise not to have any.

But that might change that might not. I do think that in order to transition I don't need to have hormones in order to do that. If I do it will be out of personal choice and I don't want to bow to any pressures of that "I should" if I do it shall be my choice.

I am deliberately doing everything one step at a time as I think its important to work with what you are individually comfortable with and what you know you want to do.

Everyday is a new learning experience though and that is how I am keeping things for now.

What's In A Name?

The issue about my name has started popping up given that I still have to use my legal name sometimes. For example next week at uni I am having my end of year show where it is all in my legal name and in my artist statement it has female pronouns used.

In the land of non-queer or non self-identifiable this is 'normal' I suppose. But there has been something bugging me under the surface about it all. I'm not Cleo Leng anymore. To some reading this or that I have discussed this with then this might be a bit confusing. To people who know me well they know there is a difference between who Cleo was and who Leng is now.

Part of me is dreading the show for a variety of reasons but one is that I am still stuck with my legal name which for things like this will have to remain intact. Also when I have my graduation ceremony it will also include my legal name.

Maybe I am being petty, but when I collect the award (will find out what I have got on Friday) and when I hang my work, I sort of feel like I am stepping backwards in time slightly as I feel that I am not Cleo anymore and I do feel as if I am impersonating something from what feels like a previous life.

I don't have too much of a problem right now with bills and bank statements coming in with my legal name as to me that is an admin thing, but things I feel that are me or that define me, well that does bother me.

In a way it is a good thing as it has given me the motivation to want to seriously start going about changing my name to Leng Montgomery. I will still have to remind people that I am no longer called Cleo and I can understand that it's hard at first but hopefully with a bit of time and patience people will start to get it. I know with some people who have known me over the years calling me by a different name will be confusing at first. I can empathise too especially people like my Mum for example who have known me as Cleo for the past 26 years. It isn't easy and it is confusing for some, especially people who don't get that some people change gender.

But being Leng is definitely who I am now and in many ways I find it much easier when I do meet new people as that is the name they will know me under from now on rather than what my old name was.

Still it will take time and I do have to realise that not everyone is going to understand, nor want to understand. I understand some people might have even happened to like my old name too - but that isn't the person I am now or the person I am growing into.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Heavy Brain

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. In fact I think I spend around 80% of my life thinking - usually my thoughts surround food, sex and what am I doing with my life. Followed by am I achieving enough? Am I sticking to plans I have made? Am I taking photos that I am proud of? I also feel an incredibly intense pressure on me nearly all the time and I sometimes find it hard to identify where it is actually coming from.

Recently I seem to be having a stage where I just feel that I am rubbish at everything but at the same time there is a massive contradiction in there as I am achieving well and I am working on things. I never sit idle, nor do I find that I have days where I do nothing so I think I need to remind myself of that.

I'm not sure if this is what comes with the territory of having a creative mindset, coupled with having a mentality of acting like a hamster on a wheel. Needless to say is that I need to manage it better as its not nice and it feels lame. It also annoys me and I am sure it annoys people around me too.

I set myself a lot of goals which when I think about it more translates to pressure. Recently I had to put things into context a little when I started having thoughts that I wasn't doing well in life because some of my friends are older than me, have established careers and all do various things that realistically they weren't doing at my age. I had to remind myself that at this point in life I won't own my own house, or be well and truly entrapped within a career structure as of yet.

But right now I am in an amazing position where I am trying lots of things out and am working for myself primarily. It is unique and with some business ideas I worry sometimes as to whether or not they will work, but you don't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. I have until I am 30 to stop fucking things up. That is my new thing I am reminding myself of.

Like Stalin, I made a few 5 year plans and some targets within them will definitely happen but one or two things are pretty much down to fate, ie if I end up married or thinking about children or having a pet.

My main priorities right now revolve around creating new work, changing my name legally (I think that will be a separate blog in itself) making some current projects happen and to continue collaborating and working with other people and to believe more in myself.

My main problem is that there is sometimes something in me that just wants to forget the positive things around me and concentrate on aspects that suggest I am shit at doing stuff when the reality is that I'm not. Everything is relative but I sometimes seem to lose sight of that.

I am very lucky that at this stage of my life to know that I have very supportive parents to the fact that I am changing gender - many people don't have this reality and for that I am very thankful. Particularly as I know not everyone will have this sort of support available to them.

I also really appreciate my friends, they are always honest with me and always tell me what they think and do sometimes challenge me in ways that I need it. They never tell me hat I want to hear and I really like that as I really like it when people are direct with me.

But from various conversations I have had with many people recently I have discovered a few things. I need to improve on my self confidence - although I must say its not easy. I really wish I could be cocky and arrogant but that just isn't me. People that are like that make me want to cringe, and quite actively at that!

If for the next however how long I just get my nose down, apply myself, try some other work things out and find some things that start working for me I will feel slightly less in flux and that I am drifting. I know it is common to have a disjointed feeling straight after you finish university - as many people have told me.

I know there will be a calm soon where I can just feel comfortable somewhere but right now I feel slightly in flux and all the changes I am experiencing at the moment sometimes clobber me a little.

Over the weekend I saw lots of friends, had a really lovely time with E, saw my parents and a few things have forged ahead well with a project we are working on and the main thing I have been left with feeling is that there is security that I have people who love me, care about me and respect me.

I'm not starving and I have somewhere nice to live. I just have to take a deep breath and carry on.

Friday, 4 June 2010


I have been having a slight debate with myself about how well I 'pass' sometimes. On the rarer occasions that I am discovered to be either female or given the look that suggests "she is a lesbian" - I do sometimes find myself feeling really weird about it all.

I feel that factually it is true that I was a lesbian, and I would have said that I identified as female. For 10 years I did. I remember being a teenager thinking that I was happy to have long hair, but things like make up always made me feel ill and as for bra shopping I couldn't think of anything worse. I always felt like I was a pervy man who didn't belong amongst the lace clad bras of M&S.

I craved pecs not breasts and even when I used to wear my school uniform I used to think of myself as a little boy going to school. I always found that girly chats involving magazines and eating chocolate a little boring at times. The annoying questions of "what are you wearing?" "Does my bum look big in this" and sweet smelling perfume just felt completely alien to me.

To make it worse, having a chest size of DD naturally doesn't help either. I feel as if I have two oranges in a pair of tights, dangling from my chest like giant conkers. Only if you bash them together they don't disappear. It's a nice fantasy though!

Luckily I was never made to dress like a girl, so I didn't. Growing up I always felt like the bloke of my house and in many ways I was.

Still one day I will have my surgery but I know deep down I am not ready for that now even if I did have the money.

I just want to be seen as a man with a c*nt. That to me makes sense, that feels most comfortable to me yet there are the occasional moments like now where I feel as if I am stuck between two genders. For the most part it doesn't bother me but it does make me look at the world a lot differently and there are certain learned behaviours I have had to unlearn. Such as remembering to leave the toilet seat up and not to make much eye contact if using the Gents.

In the gym today I challenged myself to see how well I passed by using the ladies locker rooms. I got one comment from an older woman reminding me that this was the ladies! I felt so happy inside, and perversely I did find I got a kick out of feeling that I didn't belong in there. I was almost tempted to beg to be told off or called a 'dirty boy' or something along those lines, but perhaps that wasn't necessary as I seem to know plenty of people who would do that without it being down to viewing the world in such a blue/pink gendered approach to seeing people.

I have been going to the gym a lot at the moment, and I shall continue to do so as I am aware that I need to do everything I can to change the natural shape of my body. I want it to be less easy to wonder if I am female as much as possible. Hence why I do go to the gym in my binder and have found that when I work out I have stopped wearing t shirts and have switched to using a vest as it shows off the fact I have hairy armpits which has helped me pass.

I think I will have to work a little on my voice sometimes as I feel that is what gives me away or if I have a day where I don't bind flat enough but I am also aware that there are health implications to doing this. Yet at the same time I feel happier when I do so.

It's a bit of a catch 22 situation sometimes. But I do generally see it as one big learning curve and it is part of a journey I suppose.

There will be a day where I don't have breasts anymore and where my arms and rest of my body are more muscular so it will be harder to differentiate me from other men.

I started binding every day on the 17th September 2009 in San Francisco and I have never been happier with my body since. I feel happier when I am exercising more as my body feels stronger but also I feel less worried that I am fat which then translates in my mind to feeling unattractive.

Since last year I have dropped 2 stone in weight which for the metric minded of anyone reading this is the same as 13kg. I'm fairly tall so that helps but still I am pleased that I have managed to get that amount of weight off. Hopefully by August I will be 11.5 stone. That is a target I have in mind and at least by having that I feel it stops me becoming complacent.

Summer helps keep weight down for me, as does a variety of other things too. I still get butterflies in my stomach whenever I see E, which in turn helps me eat less, and also it seems if I get excited, sad, very happy I also seem to lose my appetite.

I do love food though. I think about it a lot, day dream about it, read about it I am a self confessed foodie, but I won't allow myself to get into too many bad habits that I was in before. I did find that changing my relationship with food helped. But that to me was a personal choice. As is a lot of things in life.

I don't believe in preaching to others how they should or shouldn't live but one thing I am fast learning and discovering is ways in which an individual can live in order to create his or her own happiness. It has to come from within. It ideally shouldn't come at the cost of making life unhappy for others surrounding someone either.

Since I started my transition I have found that I have placed myself on an emotional roller coaster as I am sure that this blog shall map out from time to time.

Still today has been a good pass day and hopefully I shall maintain that for a while.

How long will this last?

I had a little giggle to myself today before I thought about starting a blog. I had quite a few apprehensions before I started this, and this is why I have put it off for a while. But I feel this might be a good place to write stuff down and to also discipline myself into writing something everyday.

I can't promise it will always be interesting, but I promise that I will try not to write about the price of peppers in the supermarket or other trivial things like that.

This is also mostly intended to talk about my feelings regarding my transition that I have started.