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Friday, April 1, 2016

My Local Trans Group - Guest Post from Lynn Jones

No matter what flavor of trans you may be, it helps to have like-minded friends. While on-line or email friends can be a blessing for many, from my own experience, nothing compares with having local friends you can get together with over coffee, lunch, dinner, etc.

I have found that there are many, many out there who have simply never met, in person, someone else who shares their sense of being transgender. Keeping it inside of you without any way to talk about it can be a lonely and even unhealthy existence.

T-Central will be featuring a series of Friday guest posts about local transgender groups. Today's guest post is from long-time T-Blogger, Lynn Jones, who writes about a group she visits regularly, the Nottingham Chameleons.

If you belong to a local group and would like to tell everyone about it, please contact me (calietg at yahoo), Jenny, or Halle. Our contact information is listed near the bottom of this page.

- Calie

A few posts ago, T-Central asked a question around groups for trans people, be they formal, or informal get togethers.

I’m lucky enough to live not too far the Nottingham Chameleons group. The group has been running since the 1980s, and is one of the longest running in the UK. Who knew there was such history on the doorstep?

We meet every second and fourth Thursday, at a community centre, on the outskirts of Nottingham. We’re just off a major motorway, so while some of us have to brave the city roads, for the most part, it’s pretty easy to get to.

In terms of what we get up to, the group is very much a social affair. There’s plenty of chat, tea & biscuits - well, we are British - and the group is very welcoming. Talk is very varied, although understandably conversation around trans topics often pops up. People support each other, in that we share tips, chat about each others lives and, probably most importantly, listen to each other. A few people have said that one of the great things about the group, is that they can talk about anything, to each other. You don’t have to keep that ‘gender guard’ up. You know the one, the one where you can’t talk about the new trends this season with your gaming buddies, or agree with a co-worker about the worthy pain of a great pair of heels. But, it’s not all about that; people mingle and there’s real life too. Talk about families, work, hobbies and everything else. That’s what I’d call a regular night, were folk pop in, have a seat, get a drink and catch up with friends.

We also have a party evenings, every now and again. which is a great reason to bring in good food, pull on your best dress and dance the night away. Luckily, the centre is ours and ours alone, from 8pm, so we’re not going to disturb anyone. Christmas is a given, then there’s a summer do. We may do something for Halloween, or Easter, but that depends on what else is booked in.

Other than regular nights and the occasional party, we have visits from local retailers. Sometimes they approach us, other times, we’ll contact them and ask if they’d like to visit. We’ve had numerous make-up artists come to see us, some clothing retailers and, some wig consultants too. The great thing about bringing businesses in, is there are benefits for our members and the retailer. They get to hear what the trans community need, and build their client base. We get to ask their advice before buying. Plus, it’s not always possible to be out dressed, so to speak, so this is a great way of bridging that gap.

In terms of people who come along, we’ve a regular number of folk who pretty much always visit and we’re always happy to see new people visit. We’re mostly - and I’m afraid I’ll have to play the label game here - the CD MTF aspect of the trans community. We have a number of partners who come along, and we’re seeing a growing number of FTM people come too. A few of our members either are transitioning, or have transitioned. We all get along and we like to think that Chameleons is a group, where you can find your feet, gain confidence and, when you’re ready, fly the nest. Sure, we miss people who move away, or move on; but change is part of life and it’s great to see people grow in confidence and become all they can.

In closing, and if I may speak personally for a moment: joining the group was one of the best things I ever did. I’ve made friends who fully accept who I am. I’ve learned so much as a person and they’ve really been there for me, when times were hard. What’s great, is that now, I can play that back, and help others.

Thanks for reading.

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