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Allison 2 by Allison James

This blog post is a continuation of part 1 from October 2018.Figured it was about time for some updates! It's been a wild first few months of being out full time, with a lot of pleasing progress, more smiles than I could shake an emotion stick at, and overall, a whole lot of positivity.I wrote the original blog post at the start of October, around two weeks after I had come out as transgender. At that moment, I was still buzzing about the initial general reception, but I was also still very much "early in". The latter few months were definitely me easing more and more into my true identity, picking up new things I'd always wanted to do while discovering secondary interests that were dormant until I had the ability to seek them.

Clothing

Clothing was the first big one to hit me. I had experimented with female clothing on and off for around four years prior to coming out - something I didn't really mention in my original blog post - but it didn't take too long for me to settle into my style. I started off with over-length shirts which acted almost as mini dresses (paired with my old joggers at first, then plainer leggings. I was still fairly shy about moving into proper dresses for the first month or so, scared of looking ridiculous. Aaaand then I started wearing dresses and stopped giving a f*** about it. And I adore them.I've diversified a lot of my wardrobe to a massive degree, really. Before, all my clothes were plain, most were black. I have dresses now to cover most colours, and other things to match. Dress collection includes:

  • White floral dress (flowers in black and red) with red hems

  • Second white floral one with a lot of layering

  • Red dress with a little gap below the neck

  • Black dress with short, wide sleeves and a frilly hem

  • Purple "formal" dress, low cleavage

  • Burgundy "formal" dress, goes down to my ankles

  • Another burgundy one but with cold shoulders and an elasticated bottom hem, love this one

  • Three that have a fake lower layer - two are varying shades of red with the lower layer black and white polka dot, the other one is black with a tartan lower layer

The latter four are my favourite, largely because all of them are fairly tight below the chest, which feminises my figure really effectively. I've also got a black elasticated band with a bow I can pair with most of the others to provide the same effect as well.Speaking of the chest area, I've started wearing bras. None of them are wired, instead being loosely elasticated (marketed as "comfort"). I will definitely need to replace them when I require actual "lift", but for now, they provide a small amount of extra shaping.Although I love a good pair of leggings, more recently (as in, a week ago) I finally, through months of trying, found a company - Snag - that sells incredible thick tights in my size - I have moved over to those pretty much daily now, although I'm sure the leggings will still see use! I love tights though, they are about the most comfortable thing on the planet, with lovely warmth and (at least to my eye) a pleasing appearance. It's also good to have the foot coverage I couldn't get with leggings that also fit.And on the subject of feet, my shoe selection has grown from "one" to "several"! I had a pair of black Holly ugg-alikes from years back that became my first pair of full time shoes. These have four pairs of friends - a similar pair in grey, another similar pair that's also black but a wee bit longer, a pair of extremely comfortable slippers my parents got me for Christmas (they have tassels!), and a pair of high heels. I'm getting fairly okay with the high heels! I'm definitely slower, but I have yet to fall over in them. They're a little "cloppy", although they pair pleasingly with tights, so I wear them occasionally.

Beauty & cosmetics

Obviously another big key area I tackled early on. This had already started to a degree months prior to coming out; I occasionally wore light foundation to even my skin tone out a little and had switched from gender neutral shampoo to a feminine Tresemmé alternative. This was built on when Emily, a childhood friend of mine who found out about my transition a couple of months after, got in touch to show her support and also provide me tips and tricks from her years of, y'know, being a woman!As well as being a great friend I've kept in regular contact with ever since, she's given me a lot of pointers on upkeep of my long hair (which has been long for years, but now I want it to be okay looking as well!) such as using a separate conditioner, positioning myself as I dry it so it's all dangling straight downwards, etc.While long hair is a thing I adore having on top of my head, hair elsewhere is another matter. Shaving is now a daily half-hour chore as I make sure every piece of flesh I intend on being exposed - as well as legs, chest etc every few days just to keep them cleav shaven - isn't stubbly or bushy hell. My razor needed new heads in October (I've had them for ten years prior to that) and, to be honest, they could do with new ones again now.I've entered two other new worlds - epilation and IPL (the latter thanks to a very generous person willing to spend £400 on a Christmas present to me - thank you so much). I colloquially call my IPL device, a Phillips Lumea Prestige, my death ray - it fires a big red flash to remove hair. But it's been fairly slow progress with it - despite being white with brunette hair, I think it's also a little coarse. Still, I'll keep on with it. My epilator just feels like it's rending my flesh - it gets results, but it has a loud, revolving barrel of little pinchies that violently yank my hair out one at a time, and it's as painful as it sounds. Again though, if it gets results in the end, I'll reluctantly tolerate it. (Definitely eventually going to get everything lasered off one day, but it's low priority.)Cosmetics are (almost) brand new for me otherwise. I had begun to explore nail polish when I wrote the original blog post, but my collection of polishes has now... expanded somewhat! As well as having nine colours of quick-drying gel, I've got several others that require UV to dry (as well as the UV machine to do that), proper base coats and top coats, and a small collection of other manicure equipment that was added to by my really kind and supportive family. Glass nail files are excellent, by the way.Completely new - mascara (which I love) and eyeliner (which I'd love more if I had learnt how to apply it well yet). I've got some other things such as blusher, eye shadow and lip liner, but am taking it one step at a time - I'm not learning anything else until I can give myself cat eyes that don't look like I had a fight with a particularly aggressive Sharpie.

Gender dysphoria diagnosis & Christmas

From a light hearted quip about felt tip pens onto seeing a professional in gender identity. Yay, transitions! (In two ways!)I'd seen, before and after coming out, the waiting times for an appointment with the NHS Gender Identity Clinic. Over two years on average. While that would have been free, I wanted to get the ball rolling sooner - especially since I'd been waiting years to come out already by September 2018. After doing some research, asking some very friendly trans people further into transitioning (or even finished with it by then) and contacting a couple of different companies, I ended up contacting Dr Penny Lenihan through GenderCare at the beginning of November 2018. After giving her some preliminary information about myself and my steps so far, she agreed to see me in January this year. For the rest of 2018, this appointment was at the forefront of my mind - a weird mix of excitement and nervousness into a single emotion that could summarise most key moments of my transition to date.I went home to my parents' house for Christmas, itself a fairly nervous moment (presenting them myself as Allison face to face for the first time, not to mention being in public in fully female clothing for five straight hours). Christmas was lovely, with a mix of feminine and regular agender gifts - including one to myself, a LEGO Hogwarts Express. I built that on Christmas Day while watching the new Kevin Bridges standup (in which it took him 5 minutes to bring up gender in a comedic sense in full earshot of my dad - should have been awkward, but it was Kevin Bridges, so he tackled it with grace and absolute f***ing hilarity).But the Christmas holidays definitely had a weird sense of being a countdown. That was because me and my dad were bringing a van I hired for us back to Newport to drop me, and some of my Christmas holiday acquisitions, home - via London, and via the appointment too. I distinctly remember, three days before the 16th (appointment day), starting a countdown at 72 hours in my head at the time three days forward that the appointment would be complete, we'd have taken the underground back to our main transport, and set sail in the privacy of the van for home.We set sail in the van on the 16th, over an hour earlier than I'd projected we'd need to to get to the appointment on time at the insistence of my parents. That countdown (which I internally visualised as a big blue number) was on 7. But parents know best - because a massive chunk of the motorway taking us to London was completely closed off, I had to Google Maps GPS us through 25 miles of back roads for us to reach Epping.On the train, I had the thankful foresight to email Dr Lenihan and let her know of my likely small delay about a minute before the train went underground for the rest of the route, leaving my phone signal-less. I was too busy staring at the map of the London Underground Central line and the time intermittently, ticking off stations between Epping and Bond Street, to actually be fearful at this point. We hopped off at Bond Street, took the small walk with haste to the appointment office, and I was two things - seven minutes late, and fairly out of breath.I had nothing to be scared of, really. Dr Lenihan was really nice, understanding of the small delay, and the appointment went ahead just fine. The hour flew as she got to know me, worked out how I wanted my transition to go and what I wanted, and a plethora of other related questions.Before I knew it, me and my dad were back on the underground heading back to Epping. It kind of struck me at once, staring blank faced once again at the map of Central, that it was done - it was painless - and I was a big bag of things. Sane, transgender, and a woman. Nonetheless, we got back in the van on arrival back in Epping, took off, and when the clock struck 2pm, I saw the big blue number in my head for the final time.Zero.

Now & the Future

Since then, extra progress has been made. Dr Lenihan sent me a seven page document detailing her thoughts and everything I'd said of any importance in our hour. It refers to me by name and by female pronouns continuously - part of the reason I have read through it several times since receiving it. Along with that though, was a note I was able to include in a new passport application, giving me official female gender status. That, along with a new picture, the form and all the requested extra documents, has gone straight onto HMRC. I'm crossing fingers that I didn't mess anything up - but when I get my new passport with my name and a big little F sitting right there beside it, I'm going to scream with joy!My next step will be to have blood tests done and to contact Dr Jonny Coxon, another member of GenderCare that Dr Lenihan referred me to (and sent her endorsement of me to) - this should, barring anything that pops up in the tests, allow me to begin HRT and start the process of feminising myself physically. This may have to wait at least a little, as I need to sign up for a GP and will likely be moving cities soon, but is an extremely exciting next step on a journey that's already been full of them so far.Concurrently, I should be able to use my new passport, once I have it, to knock off the last few things still under my old name, such as my bank account and my provisional driving license. (Recommendation: Free UK Deed Poll is an incredible resource not only for creating and printing out a deed poll freely, but also for giving you everything you need to check up on regarding old names.)And then there are a few other things! I still need to work out my sexuality, which since settling into a female mindset has been a confused shrug. It's not a priority either, especially since I don't really intend on getting into anything until my transition is basically over (ie I've had sex reassignment surgery), though it's still a curiosity. HRT could send me in any direction from what others have reported, but I suspect I'm probably going to end up either bisexual or straight (that is, a woman attracted to men), just from how I feel at present.Anyway, that's about it for now! The next few months will definitely be eventful, but I'm hoping that after a move, a few extra appointments and a few pieces of legal admin, I can settle down, work on other aspects of myself such as my weight while HRT helps me feminise, and I can keep progressing at a steady pace overall.I love it. I love me. And I love all of you that have shown any level of support - be it full-on support, friendly curiosity (which I am always, and will always be, happy to field and sate with answers, no matter how baffling or obscene!), or even just not giving a single damn and still just nattering to me at your usual pace.Have a great one. 💛Allie

Mirror's Edge: Catalyst Review by Allison James

I loved Mirror's Edge. A lot. But, seeing how the game failed in sales - how it was half price within a month. and a pittance within six, I'd written it off as one of those one-off experiences alongside Bully, Brutal Legend, Psychonauts, Sunset Overdrive and many of my other all time favourite games. So when a reboot/sequel was announced, I was over the moon.SummaryFaith Connors is being released from jail after a two year sentence, and must take down evil benevolent leader Kruger and his daughter. Or something. But we'll get to that. Faith can parkour her way through a freeform world (rather than the original's more linear levels).PleasingBoy oh boy, it's good to have.a new Mirror's Edge. It's not like I've touched the original in a while, but Catalyst just felt natural immediately. The formula still works, parkour remains immensely satisfying to perform, and nailing a line squeaky clean is nothing short of ecstasy.The world presented in Catalyst looks and feels great. The city of Glass is a futuristic, shiny, clean level. You can look off of the edge of a building and see city dwellers bustling at ground level - for as lonely as you are on the rooftops with a smattering of delivery people and Kruger security as all your company, it feels truly alive. All of the beauty of Glass is complemented by an absolutely exceptional ambient soundtrack that brings everything together.And for all the simplicity of the game's presentation, its expansive map, that expands as you progress through the story, is visually varied from location to location is quickly easy to learn and navigate without referencing the map more than needed.Collection elements and side quests keep you busy parallel to, or beyond, the story, unlocking extras for the online segments of the game (which I cannot comment on as I didn't touch them) and new skills for Faith.Story missions were memorable and enjoyable. The final mission particularly was, although a little bit set, breathtaking, seeing Faith escalate an epically tall skyscraper as it gets systematically destroyed. And the story? Well...FrowningThe story is bad. There's no two ways about it. Faith makes silly decisions which are unavoidable. Icarus is insufferable. Noah is tolerable if generic, and Kruger is as vanilla a villain as you could get. Rebecca is perhaps the best written character as she has a couple of actual two dimensional motives, but... don't get Mirror's Edge: Catalyst for the story.My other issue, which stopped me gunning for a 100% completion, was that I found the running side quests to be very difficult. I managed to complete the main story without too many resets, but the running side quests are clearly designed and balanced for those people who like to continuously repeat and perfect their runs tens or hundreds of times. It is satisfying to do this I'm sure, but it's not for me, especially because the fragile deliveries had someone repeat the exact same snippets of dialogue in every attempt.OverallMirror's Edge: Catalyst was absolutely great. Skip the story cutscenes and the strict timed runs and you're left with a joyous world to explore, trick around and experience at your own pace - something that I've been missing from my gaming life since Skate 3. The slight lack of focus compared to the tight original Mirror's Edge is made up for by the successful open world elements and the higher quantity of content.4s