Monday, 26 March 2012


I have attended the first few days of the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and am experiencing a deep sense of comfort that I haven't felt in a very long time.

The calibre of what I have watched so far has been really thought provoking and quite enriching as well as inspiring on many different levels.

Last years festival didn't inspire on the levels that this years has.  It disturbed me in some places, partly because I felt insecure as to who I was but also I found a lot of the films I saw last year to be veering slightly on the crappy side. Or just irritated me. A lot.

Some years are like that when it comes to cinema anyhow.

The LLGFF has had its fair share of films over the years that have left me wanting to find the nearest exit as well as those that have left me feeling genuinely moved - I don't know if there was a single person who managed not to cry when The Chinese Botanists Daughter was played a few years ago. I still get a lump in my throat thinking about that film and found it was so beautifully shot.

So far I have been to a really riveting panel discussion about Trans Representation in the media, which had a really great panel that consisted of Jay Stewart, Fox, Paris Lees, Jason Barker and Valentino Vecchietti.

I loved that the panel consisted of trans people who had different relationships with the media and also different opinions about it.  It also covered interesting topics such as ways in which trans people are represented as well as other issues such as how trans people are using media themselves.  Particularly where the documentation of transition happens.

Many people keep video blogs and go on youtube.  I respect that, but this is something that I wouldn't be comfortable with doing.  But saying that I hate being in front of a camera.  I enjoy being behind one and I like to use words rather than speaking in front of a lens.

I wish I could be more outspoken and have a better confidence with the camera, as I have many opinions and thoughts but sometimes I feel a bit stuck.  I don't know how to always articulate myself as clearly as other people seem to be able to do.

I'm also slightly dyslexic which is part of the reason why I write.  My grammar may not be perfect but writing something regularly means that I am making the brain work a bit harder and it helps me be more eloquent and enables me to not feel inhibited about communicating.

It can be frustrating yet at the same time I refuse to let it stop me.

The grammar police might come for me from time to time, but as long as people do it in a constructive way, then I am open and welcome feedback.

I got to speak with Paris Lees and Fox yesterday which was really lovely. I enjoyed speaking with them, and I really admire the work that Paris Lees has been doing of late. Her energy and ways of speaking are really inspiring and I have the up most of respect for her.

Another thing I must say I liked about the entire panel discussion was how everyone on the panel was with one another.  Rather than being subjected to a halt of a flow because of in-fighting or political agendas hampering discussion; if people disagreed they did so respectfully and openly discussed why they may or may not agree with one another about a subject or an issue.

I really liked that approach.  I am seeing it becoming too much of a trend presently for people to disagree and one of the parties in disagreement seems to take a stance that the other person is somehow 'wrong' for having conflicting views and sometimes people start patronising others or being really condescending which I find a bit infuriating.

Everyone won't have the same opinion, but I feel people would benefit from discussing things in a more constructive and positive manner rather than a clash of egos emerging which so often becomes the case.

Online forums are rife with this and there is sometimes a feeling that there is a lot of one upmanship going on.  Which I find incredibly tedious and boring.  Just as I feel the same about those who troll relentlessly online.

Still this is something endemic within the digital stratosphere in which we are inhabitants of.  Media such as Facebook/YouTube et al will be littered with this kind of self importance as these are devices that are reliant on content created by the users of the site.

Therefore it is all a bit navel gazey. As is even my blog.

Although I feel my blog is a bit behind the times because I have no images, no video or audio clips but just my random wafflings about stuff that relates to my transition and life surrounding that

On the same day I watched a film about lesbianism in South Africa as well lesbian parents in South Africa who have adopted children. This was so well put together and was very thought provoking.

Today's documentary that I saw explored gender representation and challenged binary narratives. The short that was put on first also was fantastic. The Q&A that came with this documentary was wonderful and watching the documentary made me feel a sense of homesickness for San Fran once again.

I did start my transition there so in many ways I consider it to be my very own Queer Mecca in certain ways. The freedom in which for expression and to be able to express myself was such a crutial moment to me as well as my very own decisive moment. Where Henri Cartier Bresson applied such a thing to taking a photograph this was where I applied it to my life.

All of the missing pieces started making sense then.

Being in a very queer space has given me a much needed confidence boost, as well as a sense of belonging.

It all started on Thursday night when I took photos for the start of T Club in Dalston Superstore.  It was nice taking photos for a club night that was trans inclusive and positive about trans pride and visibility.  I definitely take my hat off to Stav B for creating this and for everyone who came and supported the night.

It shall also be back in April so that is also something to look forward to. 

People enjoyed themselves and my biggest joy was seeing that people from many different groups and persuasions were mixing together happily and peacefully. We weren't labels but we were people who were united by the fact that we knew there was a space that was designed to be inclusive of everyone but with a positivity towards trans people.

It was nice to socially have a safe space and a nice vibe floating around.

Following that energy on and then entering the film festival has made this really lovely to be able to experience.

Seeing friends at the festival and sneaking into free drinks receptions has also made this fun.  I also feeling especially happy as I am seeing another 6 things at the festival!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Spaced Out

The issue of space has started coming to the front of my mind recently, and throughout my transition. In 2009 when I decided to start transition I did so yet, treading really carefully.  Partly for my own sanity if I am honest.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to have hormones or change my name legally.  I knew that being male identified was something that was becoming more and more important and integral to who I felt I actually was.

This is why I started gently introducing a change of pronoun to my identification. I also couldn't think of what name I wanted for a while, but being called 'Leng' seemed to be what I wanted and what felt right.  I also wanted to retain as many of my friendships and links to some aspects of the women's community.

I came out as a lesbian when I was 15, and have found lesbian culture to be something that has been an important and central part of my life.  I have marched on pride marches as a very proud lesbian, I liked being a lesbian, I definitely had a very lesbian-centric life. I used to photograph for a lesbian magazine, which love it or hate it has been looked at throughout the scene in the UK for a number of years.

I like being in an environment that have a lot of lesbians frequenting the space. 

I use the word environment as the question of space has started becoming an issue.

I try my best to be respectful of other people's spaces.  For the most part I feel I am. I say this because I don't deliberately set out to antagonize people whom feel a space is for them specifically. The last thing I ever want to do by appearing in a place is to upset someone or make them feel uncomfortable. Just by my presence. 

If a place has particular policies regarding male identified people being there then I follow them and respect what a place sets out.

I don't think that I have a divine right to be able to be everywhere nor feel that it is me using any 'privileges' that relate to my gender that means that I am going out of my way to encroach on someone's space.

If lesbian friends of mine invite me to an event or a bar, I always ask if I would be welcome or if me being there would be a problem for people.

A few months ago at a bar that didn't have a clear policy as to whether or not it was women only did cause some problems.  I wrote a post about that on my blog whilst feeling pissed off so perhaps I didn't word things as well as I could have done but at that time I felt confused and quite upset.

I was upset because I had people barging in front of me and a had been physically elbowed by some people, as well as being made to feel like I had done a bad thing by coming to a bar that I had been invited to.

I felt bullied.

I respect that some women can feel unsafe, I understand that for some people seeing someone who is masculine in appearance can be seen as threatening.  Yet at the same time if I had elbowed someone or shouted, or been verbally rude I would have risked being accused of being aggressive or even accused of assault.

The thing that I have come to accept since transitioning is that some people don't like male-identified people. Nor do they want to associate with them.  I feel I am understanding that more.

I am in no way defending men and male-identified types that have entered women's spaces and been disrespectful in them. That is something I do not in any way endorse or support.  Just as if a place say's women-only or 'men as guests' then I do respect the rules of an establishment.

Where this does get tricky sometimes is where I can go to with my gf.  She identifies as a dyke and by no means wants to associate with creepy cis-men as much as the next person would. Nor do I.

I don't like being in the company of anyone creepy for that matter.  I say this because I have met some women who have made me feel very uncomfortable by asking very personal questions relating to gender.  I have had questions asked about what is between my legs and challenged when some people seem to like calling me 'incomplete' because I choose not to have phalloplasty. I also don't pack and don't see that everything comes down to what is between your legs.

Unhelpful comments such as 'What is the point in being a man if you don;t have a cock' or 'without a cock you're not a real man' perhaps biologically yes, but I know and am comfortable with the fact I wasn't born a man.

Love him or hate him, Buck Angel does dispel some of this binary thinking.

He is a man with a vagina, he makes porn...yes there are lots of things to shoot at him negatively yet there are so many things to say about him on a positive level too.

Given that I know him personally I do have a positive bias towards him.

I have heard people telling me what aspects of transition makes them feel uncomfortable.  I sometimes feel compelled to try and aide understanding on both sides and am happy to discuss constructively things people might not understand.

What I don't like feeling is a springboard for people's projections or assumptions. I have had many people say to me on a number of times that now I am legally male that "I must be straight" or that it means that my gf is now straight by default of having a relationship with me.

I have been asked if my gf misses being with women? Or have I taken away her lesbianism.

I have a simple response for that. NO.

Firstly what we do in bed is our business, how we conduct our relationship is our business.

To reiterate something I have said on a number of occasions, she met me and we got together when I was already in my transition 

Yet what I am tired of is having to defend what we have so that other people can feel comfortable.

Marginalised groups will feel elements and waves of oppression from many sources, but sometimes I feel that some groups that have been marginalised are now looking for other groups to start jibing at.

Within the LGBT context Trans people are left at the bottom of the pile. Because we all operate as different groups in a lot of ways I don't know why we get lumped together or people assume that we are one big united front because we are not.

I find that I am more and more queer in my thoughts and actions but perhaps not a stereotypical queer. But like any movement that is predominantly self-expressive then there are shades for multiple expressions of a person's queerness.

Labels and identity that people choose for themselves is a crucial part of who someone is. What is hard to swallow is being told that my identity causes offence to others. Or more specifically that my gender causes people offence.

When I am referring to people who used to be more than comfortable to spend time with me or hang around with me, but then with a name change and a few shots of T and to some groups of people I am now considered slightly untouchable.

I also get fed up with being made to feel like I have 'stolen' a lesbian in terms of the person I have a relationship with.

The amount of times people tell me that "it must be hard for her" She is very "Strong" or "Brave" for being with me.

Am I not meant to have relationships? Or should I stop messing with people's heads and not be with an attractive, intelligent. wonderful, fit and amazing human being?

It makes me feel a bit odd sometimes. It also brings me back to a point and that is what space can I have which doesn't offend anyone but allows links back to the world that I am otherwise comfortable with?

With the exception of T-Club that is starting this week, there aren't many other places where there is mixed visibility. Or just places where there is a feeling that trans people are welcome and have a space that is mostly theirs.

I don't hang around in straight places that much.  I don't necessarily want to feel banished to The Pitcher and Piano, and do want to retain some links with the women's community.  Especially as most of my friends are lesbians.

Luckily I do mix with some people who are very open and mixed in the company they keep and I feel some elements of acceptance within that confine. But I do think of other people who are in my situation. There are many transmen that are with lesbians, and we are a bit different in some ways.  I can understand why there might be a bit of confusion and a lack of binary values that makes things simple and straightforward on a visual and political level.

I don't see it as a 'trend' to be in transition. Well perhaps for some, there is more experimentation with gender but actual transition is a different thing.

Just like there is a difference between not experimenting a bit with sexuality when you leave home to having a relationship with someone of the same sex.

I have a lot of respect for others around me, I try and look at things from other perspectives, but sometimes in transitioning I feel at times like it's not wise to be proud or celebratory of being male. I feel it's frowned upon, I also feel at times that my expressions have become censored.

If I get pissed off and rant I am at risk of being accused of being aggressive. Where as someone else around me is entitled to shout, stomp and bang things around, yet that isn't seen as aggressive.

There are subtle differences, I am also not forgetting that there are some men that are aggressive and horrible to be around. I have also met quite a few nasty women in my time as well.

I have had sexual, physical and emotional abuse from both men and women. So in my opinion I can't say that one gender is all bad. I am aware of triggers more so than people would think of me.

Men have been perpetraitors of all kinds of hideous things, that is a fact. Society is still imbalanced in many ways as to how women are treated.  I never dispute this.  Nor do I agree with it.

I don't think that now I am male it means I will have a simple and privileged life because most people living in the Western world will at points in their life experience elements akin to privilege somewhere in their life.

Be it skin colour, family roots, religion, job, social strata, lifestyle...the list goes on.

The main rules I live by are trying to live peacefully and respectfully amongst people. It's not always going to work 100% but a bit of love, tolerance and understanding doesn't always go a miss.

I like knowing people from all walks of life, but I am open to accept that not everyone wants to do what I do. People have their own lives, journeys and reasons why mixing in certain circles isn't something that they would choose.

I suppose I wish there could be a bit more of a unified way in which people could coexist or at least within the LGBTQI groups that are lumped together in descriptive letters yet in reality each group faced its own issues of visibility and awareness for the issues they may face. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012


There is still more waiting upon me right now.  Especially where Charing Cross is concerned.  They were all set to send my referral when I was struck off at my previous GP.  I re-registered with a new doctor, have sent my papers to Charing Cross confirming new NHS number, who my doctor is and nothing.  They wouldn't discuss or confirm if they had received these details from me over the phone. So I am left with what feels like a stalemate situation on my part.

I am feeling stressed at all of these changes in the pipeline that are coming up where NHS is concerned as I know that it won't be as straightforward to go about having some of the access to services that I require. 

My few options left are to try again to contact my doctor who I have emailed. Or to show up there and demand to speak to the service manager there. If they can give me a referral letter then I am happy to take it to my GP but other than what I am doing I don't know what else I am supposed to do other than bang my head against the desk repeatedly.

I have also enquired about having a private appointment with my doctor there which isn't ideal but if it means I can get come contact and closer access then so be it.  I refuse to give up where this is concerned and I feel I shall only complain if I have exhausted every single possibility that I can either afford or have the power to potentially change. 

I would have registered with a new surgery a whole lot faster if the health authority hadn't changed my name to Miss Leng Leng on everything.

Miss Leng Leng has brought me nothing but complications, delays and hassle.

This galvanises to me even more that being a female is a time consuming inconvenience where my life is concerned anyway!

But before someone reads this and thinks I am a woman hater, I am not. I am being tongue in cheek.

Patience is required but I am aware that there is a clock ticking. This September will mark 3 years of binding every day which isn't good for my body.  I am squashing my internal organs on a daily basis, I am also losing some of my sensitivity on my right side.  I also now get pins and needles in my hands and legs every single day now which is uncomfortable. But that isn't associated to binding.  

I had some blood tests done this week and given how super quick my new surgery is at giving appointments with my GP the next available time to see her is on the 26th. So yes, more waiting. Within the blood tests they did a hormonal levels check too so will be good to have some up to date records of what my hormone levels are like, especially as now I am at 7 months of taking Testosterone.

I have been spending some of my time working and writing some new content and material based on what is in my mind right now. There are so many thoughts bubbling around and now I am working out how to make them happen, get them out and making them make sense.

My body and mind both feel very crowded and busy right now.  I am happy that I am not feeling depressed or having a period of feeling miserable.  I just feel that I don't have much space in my head for myself right now, as there is always something that needs to be done or requires attention.

I am left feeling that I can't breathe sometimes because I feel so busy, but at the same time I remember to drink lots of water and to plough on with any task in hand. Right now there are plenty of things that require a lot of planning, patience and determination. I just crave a little space that I know is my own, and won't be tainted by something or someone else just some time soon.

There is something I need to do soon that relates back to being a child. I know I need to make that happen before Summer and I will. It shall be a situation whereby I take at least 6 hours where I won't have contact with anyone, there will be no distractions but just me and what I need to do. 

I am looking forward to that. When I get time to action that.

In the meantime there are other things that take priority in thoughts and actions right now.

One thing that has become acute recently and that is I feel a lot different.  I can't describe how but I feel something has changed from within and I enjoy that yet am studying it too.  I feel like I am stepping around cautiously so that I don't disturb what feels like something setting inside of me. I feel connected and wanting intimacy more than I used to.

I feel closer to who I am which is quite nice, as transition has at times left me feeling segregated from who I am.  At least when I have been looking after or been around the Boychild it has given me moments whereby I have felt very much on par with him.  In the sense of trying to make sense of the world and environment around him. De-coding situations, places, people...I understand on some levels.  Only difference is I can walk, talk, feed, bathe and clothe myself.

I am three years into a transition and like him a one year old boy. It's funny how it manifests its way in different expressions huh?

Still spending time with him makes my mind sharpen and for some reason things don't seem as stressful anymore whenever I see him. Perhaps because his needs are more complex, or just a little snuggle or a smile from him is enough to melt the heart of anyone.  Even stone statues.

Still there is a feeling that I am solo right now even though I see people every day.  If I don't sleep with E, there is usually her grabbing my foot first thing in the morning, or curling up on me, cuddling and squeezing me tight like I am a giant teddy bear sometimes that she keeps clamped to her body. We also wake together a lot too but that changes and I like it like that.

I like that some nights we sleep apart.  Especially as for me it is important to feel that I am someone's lover as well as their boyfriend. I like feeling 'invited' to see her and that I am a guest to her space, just as I do the same with her.

I love sleeping with her when it feels like a choice. But the rest of the time I do relish time spent sleeping alone.  Especially when my cycle is doing something as I become fidgety and restless and I hate feeling uncomfortable or that I am disturbing someone else.

It is nice to sometimes find that I can be me, and feel at peace within that.

The most liberating thing I think I can say that I realised was that I feel happy in a genuine sense. I don't feel inhibited by the past or that things are pulling me down.  If stressful things are occurring I always find a way of solving the problem or doing the best that I can do.  Sometimes things do go wrong or mess up but I am trying not to become consumed by bitterness or resentment and instead I try and forge out something that can work with what I have around me at a given time.

It's a bit like cooking, and discovering that the ideal set of ingredients aren't available so making the best with what you have. It also allows a person to experience something new as well, without feeling like the world is going to end because of what has just happened.

Perhaps this sounds simplistic but it is so easy to fall into very binary ways of thinking and feeling.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Low Expectations

It sounds a bit cynical and perhaps slightly negative but recently I have started lowering my expectations out of situations in order to feel pleasantly surprised.  So far, so good.

I have been trialing this for the last two weeks so early days on that front.

Last week I met my new GP who seemed willing to want to help.  It might have been me but I felt she was a bit nervous at the same time but then my translation of ‘nerves’ could have been the fact that she only had ten minutes to see me and there was a massive queue of people waiting to see her? 

Who knows.  I can't be bothered to analyze what it could be and just take note of the positive things that came from this. 

It was a good initial meeting which was useful to have as Charing Cross haven’t been in touch with her yet, but they will soon. So it helps that we have met and spoken in this interim period.  Was also good to make sure my prescription for Nebido was set up too as irritating admin type things like this can be a pain otherwise.

I would use the term ‘pain in the ass’ but Nebido is literally a pain in the ass and a necessary one at that. Without it, I wouldn’t get my burgeoning hulk physique nor would I be able to pass half as well on account of having a lower voice.

I am starting to hit the mid point of my cycle, which is feeling a little more comfortable in some respects, yet in others I still feel slightly out of kilter. I am having bloods taken soon so will see what my hormone levels are doing. It will be interesting; especially as there are some days I feel I have nothing in my system and other times I feel I am firing from all cylinders.  

Still, I prefer to know the fact rather than an assumption and in the meantime continue to develop.

I am behind with a few goals I have made recently so really have to refocus my energies there. But on a positive note, I am feeling less tired than I have done over the past few weeks so that will make things a bit easier.  For the next few weeks I need to plot a few things out and just lock myself away and write.

The film festival is happening at the end of the month, which I am looking forward to, but until then March has had a few nice things happen already and other things to be looking forward to.

Over the weekend it was the Boychild’s first birthday, which was rather sweet and very busy.  I don’t know that many 1 year olds that have a giant entourage by default.

I made his birthday cake, which did bring me great pride and it was an absolute pleasure to make.  It had limoncello, polenta, almonds, mascarpone and lemon curd amongst some of the ingredients and from what people told me it tasted good.  I also made a giant brownie and a coconut jam sponge which was neatly diced up and dished out.

I have never made a 1st birthday cake before so that will always be especially memorable to me.

I think the little one had a nice one.  It’s an interesting stage that he is currently at – whereby he can’t fully walk or talk yet but he wants to, and with that comes an obvious tension at times.

Still by this time next year he will be zipping around the place like there is no tomorrow! I am intrigued as to how he shall grow up. What will he like (aside pears, bananas and his Mummy’s bosom) Will he be brash? Will he be sensitive?  Who knows? I suppose all of these questions shall answer themselves over time.

Fortunately in the time he has been in my care he has still remained intact and I feel I have made a bond with him. I genuinely care about him and if I don’t see him for a while then I have found myself missing him.

I have on occasion described him as the ‘magic baby’ and I still stick to that.  Not just on account of his smile that can melt the most hardened of hearts but he has a warmth about him and a charm that makes you like him even if you are not a baby person.

I still don’t consider myself to be a baby person.  I tolerate other babies, I will give a bit more time to babies that are had by my friends but just any old strangers baby and I can’t say I find myself enthused.

Nor do I think I want my own. I have moments where I think yes, and then others where I think no. I like being an uncle. That is a place that makes me feel comfortable, and gives some level of flexibility.

It also allows me to maintain a nice lifestyle,  which is something that is important to me.

But I am also aware that these feelings could change.  I didn’t want to take hormones straight away but here I am 6 months into taking testosterone.

Never say never I suppose. 

Even if the thought of becoming a parent freaks me out. Saying that plenty of things freak me out.

For example being in a relationship...even though I one day want marriage, commitment and the whole nine yards, I still panic when I am intimately entwined with someone. It is like a game of push/pull that only I seem to be playing with myself. 

If things are meant to happen in life (such as a little Monty or a Mrs Montgomery) then it shall.  For the meanwhile I will focus on other things such as getting career and body on target and seeing as much of the world as I can before it eats itself.