The stories so far

So what sort of stories are they focussing on? Bear in mind that a documentary is actually a series of sub-narratives: stories within the overall story.

That becomes a lot clearer as the shooting process progresses.

These are, for now, some of the highlights that we seem to be focussing on (and I would be very interested in feedback, because even if the production team aren’t looking to drop me in it, I’d be interested in perspective from those outside the process).

First off, there’s a lot of stuff around the home: me cooking, serving food, etc. That, I hope, goes some way to explaining the mundaneity of what I am doing. Like, sure, there are some genuine highlights. But to be honest, those highlights are few and far between.

There’s a bit of stuff of me on camera explaining directly why I needed to transition, and a bit more of me talking about what it involves. I can see that being left out, because we got a far more succinct explanation of same from the surgeon we saw down in Brighton. The latter, if it is included, is likely to include some fairly icky stuff, both about the surgical procedure itself and a pep talk (?) after about how I will be expected to dilate and douche.

I’m all for that: I think there is a general cis view that one just blithely wends one’s way through life as one gender. One decides to “change” and hey presto! A quick trip to the operating theatre and one’s a new man – or woman! If the programme succeeds in communicating the seriousness both of the procedure and intent required, the length of time involved and the pain, as well as the risk, then I think that will be positive.

There’s going to be reactive stuff from daughter and partner. They’re also aiming to get some reactive stuff from the local community: maybe the school. Maybe out shopping. That’s mostly likely to be positive.

We also did a lengthy deconstruction of my experience with the local leisure centre. I very much hope that ends up in the final version, since it documents a degree of fear and upset that is now fading, but which deserves to be captured as a long-term rebuke to all those who say its “easy” or that its somehow acceptable to threaten and then think the threat can be taken back by saying “it wasn’t meant to be serious”.

I know the film-makers will see it quite differently, but for me, if any part of this makes the final prog, then this should, as absolute reminder to the cis community that there is a very real consequence to thoughtless bigotry.

Ho hum! There’ll probably be a shopping trip in there somewhere, which is likely to follow on and develop from one of the more embarrassing sequences I did – which involved daughter and friend critiquing my wardrobe. Drat! The problem is that I agree with much of what they said: what I bought last year is just wrong…was mostly clothes bought by someone just finding their feet and obsessed with the notion that the quickest way to feminity was through skirts.

Result: a rather mumsy hippyish look that I now repudiate absolutely. Well, mostly.

And, too, they’ll probably do a sequence of me at my dance class. Ugh! First ten minutes only, please, after which I suspect I get rather obviously red and sweaty. On the plus side, I am rather hoping to persuade the film’s director to take part: guess that comes from a slightly wry impulse and a wish to see her out of puff – but I bet she’ll turn out to be revolting fit, healthy and co-ordinated and show us all up.

And that, so far, is that. I’d be interested in comment from readers: I know some will see this as bound to go wrong, but, for fairly obvious reasons, I don’t believe that. I do think that information needs to be put out into the public and, as I said a couple of posts back, my intuition so far tells me that the team making this have their hearts in the right place. So even if there are some unfortunate moments, the overall direction of filming is likely to be positive.



4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Lucy Melford said,

    I don’t think it need go wrong, but of course the Producer has editorial control, and the programme has to be approved by ITV, so whatever is judged to make ‘good television’ will decide its ultimate form. It is however a good sign that the raw footage is reasonably diverse.

    I’m rather content that I wasn’t one of the stars. It all sounds like hard work, and in my present state I wouldn’t have been up for it.


  2. 2

    Everyone’s initial transition wardrobe acquisitions are questionable. It’s all part of the learning curve to learn that evening wear and skirt suits do not make casual attire.

  3. 3

    Caroline said,

    They love images of you doing makeup, please resist along with anything with which you are uncomfortable or thing can be used in a negative way.
    one day there will be an excellent thoughtful sympathetic filmmaker cover this subject, i hope this is that time.

    Caroline xxx

  4. 4

    vampy said,

    Ok, so you don’t know me, I found my way here from a post you made on a news article about that horrible McDonald’s attack, and carried on reading cos you’re kinda local to me, and because your blog is interesting. So feel free to totally ignore my comments, but from watching similar documentaries about people dealing with various life issues or disabilities or whatever, I find there seems to be WAY too much filler consisting of everyday activities that really aren’t that interesting.

    I am personally not at all interested in watching you cook dinner for your family or doing your dance class. I know they put that sort of stuff in there to show that you’re a ‘normal person just like everyone else’ and to show that your life in general isn’t that different from mine. Which is all true and correct, but to me it seems totally obvious, of course you have to feed yourself and do boring day to day stuff, that’s just common sense. If i want to watch a woman cooking, I’ll watch a cooking show, if I want to watch a woman dancing, I’ll put on a keep fit video. If I’m watching a documentary about transitioning, I want to know how it affects you physically and emotionally, and how it changes your life…in other words I want to know what you go through that I DON’T go through as a cis woman, see things you have to deal with that I may not even have considered, not see the stuff that’s exactly the same.

    I am most interested in hearing about why you decided to transition, and how the process is going for you, the details of the surgery and aftermath is also useful information (though less so to me personally as I have a couple of friends who’ve been through it, so I probably know all the basics that would be covered on a TV show), and I think the leisure centre story definitely needs to be told so people can understand the potential horrible things you may have to endure on a day to day basis, as well as the other side of the coin with your friends and family being happy for you and completely accepting. The wardrobe and shopping stuff may also be pretty interesting to show how you’re gradually getting to know the ‘new you’ and learning how you feel comfortable dressing.

    I’d also love to hear about how the hormones affected you emotionally. My trans friends have said that on starting hormones they felt like very different people, even though they generally thought the same way and held the same opinions as before, they found they experienced many different emotions that they hadn’t felt before, and it fascinates me that just a few simple chemicals can have that much affect on your mind as well as your physical body.

    I’m going back to carry on reading the rest of your blog now…good luck with the documentary, I hope I get to see it when it comes out.

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