Welcome to my upcycling furniture blog-spot.

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog about anything, December 2015 in fact.Since that time my life has taken a dramatic turn. I had started on my third novel and halfway through the thi…

Source: Welcome to my upcycling furniture blog-spot.

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Welcome to my upcycling furniture blog-spot.

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog about anything, December 2015 in fact.Since that time my life has taken a dramatic turn.

I had started on my third novel and halfway through the third chapter my writing completely dried up. I just hit a brick wall and couldn’t write a single word. Also I was getting increasingly disillusioned with politics and the LGBT scene so I decided to back off for a while. I was bored with nothing to do or to keep mind occupied  and especially bored with daytime television. Having said that, a couple of afternoon programmes on upcycling and recycling old bits and pieces caught my interest. I’ve always had an interest in period furniture and I have rescued many items from skips over the years. I still have some of these items in my house including a  music centre I upcycled from an old table around 1980. This is now redundant as a music centre, as we’ve moved on from big stereos and top loading video recorders, but it’s still doing sterling service as a book case although in need of a little TLC. I also have an oak bookcase which I made at school back in 1957. I made it in the “contemporary style” that was so popular during that period and it’s still in one piece, but again it could do with some loving restoration. Due to circumstances (which I wont go into) I abandoned this hobby many years ago, but earlier this year I met some lovely people who are heavily into the vintage scene.

This rekindled my interest in vintage furniture as I have a house full of furniture and object d’art which has been handed down over generations. In March this year I needed to alter a pair of curtains for my bedroom. I had my grandmothers old manual sewing sewing machine hidden away in my garage which I thought I could use to sew these curtains. I got a bit of a shock when the old machine fell apart in my hands when I picked it up as water leaking from the roof had ruined it. Undeterred I decided to rescue it despite the mechanism being seized and the wooden base being in several pieces.Some research revealed this was an imported machine from the 1920s. The Stoewer Serata was made  in Germany and was a rival to the popular Singer . A little bit of cleaning and a good spray of penetrating fluid soon got the machine working again and the base was glued back together, the veneer repaired and varnished and the curtains altered and sewn back together on the newly restored machine, which works as well as it did when I learned to sew on it when I was ten. The seed had been also been sewn for the conversion of my old hobby into a new business.

I started out with some upcycled wall art and I had a go at ‘shabby chicing’ a couple of chairs. These turned out far better than I expected and before I knew it people were donating furniture they didn’t want. I started a Facebook page and named it Terainas Retro Chic & Vintage which was followed up with a new website

http://www.terainasfurnitureboutique.co.uk

to market my upcycled furniture and the many collectables I have accumulated over the years. I also offer the occasional pieces of wall art and man cave items.

Unfortunately a recent spell of poor health has held me back over the past month or so but I’m now recovering well and at last back to work. My latest project is restoring and upcycling a pair of Parker Knoll arm chairs from the 1960s which were in rather poor condition, having been been badly chewed by a dog and painted several times. The pair consist of a rocking chair and it’s companion arm chair. Unfortunately it was impossible  to bring these back to the original natural wood, so I have covered the rocking chair in decoupage and I’m painting the arm chair with some decoupage on the arms. The upholstery will be patchwork to go with the decoupage which is rather unusual to say the least. I call these my ‘Love Your Home’ chairs.

That’s all for now, more to come on these chairs and other projects in my next blog.

 

 

 

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De-transitioning and Male Privilege

Rumours of Caitlyn Jenner de-transitioning, Chelsea Attonley de-transitioning earlier in 2015 and now a story about Will Franken formerly Sarah (a stand up comedian I’ve never heard of) also doing it, make me wonder why some transition in the first place. I have met two people who have de-transitioned and neither seemed particularly happy in themselves.

Lets face fact. Transition from one gender to another is a massive step. Do you really hate living in the body you were born in?  Can you not live with yourself in your present gender? Have you lived in denial of your true self ever since you can remember? And to use a well worn phrase that I have come to dislike, do you feel you were born in the wrong body?

If the answer to all these questions is yes then there is a sound basis for transition. It is not an experiment to mess about with gender. If you want to experiment then try cross-dressing for a while first. You may find this is what satisfies the inner person. As I’ve already stated, transitioning from one gender to another is a massive step. Cross gender hormones will (in most cases) cause huge changes in the body. These and the changes brought about by surgery are irreversible.

I say to the press and public alike, do not take changing gender lightly it is a very serious matter. In actual fact most of us entering into transition are not changing our gender, but merely changing our outward appearance to match the gender we are inside.

Contrary to Germain Greer’s opinion that and I quote “Cutting your fucking cock off doesn’t make you a fucking woman!” for me, and 99%  of other trans-women I know, having Gender Reassignment Surgery is conformation of our gender. My vagina is NOT my sex toy, it is the symbol of my womanhood! Without going into the gory details of what GRS entails, the penis is not “cut off” merely modified. The glans, with the nerves still intact, is used to form the clitoris. Other tissue and skin is re-grafted to form the labia and line the new vaginal canal. thus forming, as near as can possibly be, the female vulva.

Anyone who knows anything about foetal development will know that the male and female sex organs develop from the same cells but are shaped by the hormones and  androgens released by the mothers body during early pregnancy. Brain gender development, again influenced by the mothers hormones and androgens, happens at a later stage after the sex of the foetus is formed. Thus the conflict we as trans -women go through, coming to terms that we feel we are female but with a male body can be tough.

Most of us go through a lot of hardship when we transition, personally I lost a business worth a many thousands of pounds and being “outed” by a national newspaper under the headline “Mechanic Loses Nuts- and Customers Bolt” didn’t help much either. Many are disowned by their family, sacked from their jobs, have trouble finding somewhere to live or end up homeless. Some find it almost impossible to get the correct treatment and end up turning to sex work out of sheer desperation just to survive or to pay for private treatment. If found guilty of a criminal offence face a term in a male prison as has been highlighted this year. Many trans-women take their own lives, figures for trans suicides are, pro-rata,  higher than any other group.

I can’t help but feel that trans-women who de-transition not only find it hard to be women but are missing their “male privilege”. Chelsea Attonley (now Matthew) was quoted as saying it was too much hard work being a woman, what with make up and hair clothes and looking fabulous all the time.  Yes it can be hard being a woman at times and we don’t wear make up or pretty frocks every day let alone look fabulous all the time, but, and I’m sure many cis women will agree with me here, women historically have lacked the privilege that men have enjoyed for centuries. Not of their own volition, but by rules imposed on them by a male dominated society.

Thank goodness things have changed dramatically in the past few decades and in some way influenced by Greer (whom I once admired for pushing feminist rights and her book The Female Eunuch). Now her and other feminists especially the trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERF’s), have turned their attention to attacking the trans community as not being real women, accusing all trans-women of retaining their male privilege and without any understanding of how we feel and how we want to live our lives. Okay we are not natal women but we would be if we could. Maybe with the medical advances in womb transplants now being pioneered trans woman will be able to have babies one day. What the TERF’s fail to realise there are many women born without wombs or ovaries, does that make those women any less than women who have them?

Personally I can’t remember ever enjoying male privilege, or to put it another way, it never worked for me if I did. Now I am quite content with my female role and seldom use my advantage as a woman unless fluttering ones eyelashes and looking coy, to get ones own way, can be classed as female privilege.

The link to the article on Will Franken is below and I’ve included the link to my autobiography Unashamedly Me for those who may be interested.

http://www.beyondthejoke.co.uk/content/2344/exclusive-will-franken-changing-back-sarah-will

http://splatterbooks.com/product/unashamedly-me-by-teraina-e-hird

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Caitlyn Jenner and Celebrity Transgender. A purely British perspective but don’t forget the ordinary folk. A rewritten blog.

There’s been much publicity in the media recently about celebrities ‘coming out’ as Transgender. High profile celebs for example, Chaz Bono, Kellie Maloney, and now Caitlyn Jenner, along with lesser celebs fashion model Andreja Pejic and radio DJ Stephanie Hirst have learned how to deal with the media in their professional careers, in some cases for many years. Some have sought that publicity and are used to handling it. They know how to deal with publicity, whether it be good or bad and know how to turn things to their advantage if intrusive and insulting stories are written about them. I’m thinking here of Kellie Maloney’s decision to ‘come out’ when there was a good possibility that one of the newspapers was doing a story on her that didn’t flatter at all.

Other well known American trans-women such as author Janet Mock, actress Laverne Cox and British trans activist Paris Lees have actively sought publicity after their transition. All have done wonderful work on transgender issues, if not taking them to the top of the agenda they have certainly pushed trans issues high on the list of public awareness through the media of television, internet and the glossy magazines. But when the press in the UK turn their attention to ordinary folk, the little people of this world, as they have done so much in the past, it’s a different matter all together.

We haven’t got the first idea of how to handle the press. That publicity can ruin lives or even lead to people taking their own lives, as in the recent case of Lucy Meadows, a teacher, hounded by the press until she could take no more. A rather derogatory article about my own transition in a popular tabloid in March 2010 led to me consider taking my own life as the criticism, insults and abuse I received as a result of that article was too much for me to handle.

I ask the press to take on board the fact that early in our transition we are in a very vulnerable and emotional state, due to the upheaval in our lives and the effects of the hormones we are taking. Probably the worst time in our lives the press could chose to expose any of us, famous or unknown, in this way. Although the press, in many cases these days, write far less aggressive pieces when trans people come into their sights, even apparently sympathetic stories in the newspapers, along with before and after pictures and names, announce to the world who they were before, when many just want a quiet ordinary life, remain nobodies and live in stealth.

We may be nobodies, we may be people who count for little in the larger scheme of things, but we are also the pioneers, the trail blazers. From Roberta Cowell onwards (in 1951 she was the first English trans-woman known to have surgery), Michael Dillon (the first trans-man to be outed in the UK), April Ashley (famous for marrying a Lord and her subsequent divorce) and Jan Morris (who announced to the world the conquest of Mount Everest, transitioned in the 60’s and wrote the best selling book ‘Conundrum’), it is the ordinary people, some of whom became celebrities, quietly working away in the background who have paved the way for young transgender people today to be more accepted.

I understand that Caitlyn Jenner has been put forward for an award for courage. If that’s the case hundreds of ordinary people deserve the same, although we certainly wouldn’t expect a medal or anything of the kind, even though we have been through as much and probably a lot more. Transition is something we have to do as we reach the point in our lives when we can no longer live in the gender we find ourselves marooned in. We have to change but it’s not particularly courageous, it’s more a matter of survival. But even surviving can be difficult, many trans-women have had abuse directed against them and even physically assaulted. Hundreds of trans-women throughout the world have been murdered simply for being trans, something we must never forget.

But there is still the misconception in the public’s mind that transition can be achieved easily and rapidly. Caitlyn Jenner’s apparently sudden transformation in only a few months, from an ordinary looking man, judging by the pictures on the internet when she first announced her decision to transition late in 2014, to a stunningly gorgeous woman appearing on the cover of July’s Vanity Fair has done little to dispel that misconception. I’m not criticising Caitlyn in fact I wish her well, she has made previous attempts to transition and has been taking female hormones for a number of years. But the publicity surrounding her apparently rapid progress from male to female doesn’t do much to help those trans people living openly in the wider community. All it does is unfairly raise expectations both from the public at large and those going through transition, as we in the UK have to engage on a minimum two year programme before even being considered for surgery on the NHS. Contrary to the comments made on the Channel 5 programme about Kellie Maloney, the majority of trans-women can’t afford facial feminisation surgery or any other private surgical interventions for that matter. We just have to make the best of what we have. As a result I can’t help thinking that fingers will be pointed at some of us that will never look that good and remarks made behind our collective backs or to our faces. Although we all would like to look as feminine and beautiful as possible, transition is not just about looking good, it’s about how one feels about one’s self and at last, being comfortable and content in one’s own skin.
However, fabulous looks can be achieved if one is wealthy enough to throw ones money into that particular pot.

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Celebrity Trans are in the news, but don’t forget the ordinary people.

There’s been much publicity in the media recently about celebrities ‘coming out’ as Transgender. High profile international celebs like Chaz Bono, Kellie Maloney, and now Caitlyn Jenner, along with lesser known celebs, fashion model Andreja Pejic and radio DJ Stephanie Hirst have learned how to deal with the media in their professional careers, in some cases for many years. Some have sought that publicity and are used to handling it. They know how to deal with publicity, whether it be good or bad and know how to turn things to their advantage if stories are written against them. I’m thinking here of Kellie Maloney’s decision to ‘come out’ when there was a good possibility that one of the newspapers was doing a story on her that didn’t flatter at all.

Other well known trans-women such as Janet Mock, Laverne Cox and Paris Lees have actively sought publicity after their transition. All have done wonderful work on transgender issues, if not taking these issues to the top of the agenda they have certainly pushed them high on the list of public awareness through the media of television, internet and the glossy magazines. But when the press turn their attention to ordinary folk, the nobodies of this world, as they have done so much in the past, it’s a different matter all together. We haven’t got the first idea of how to handle the press. That publicity can ruin lives and lead to people taking their own lives, as in the recent case of Lucy Meadows, a teacher, hounded by the press until she could take no more.

Although the press, in many cases these days, write far less aggressive pieces when trans people come into their sights, even sympathetic stories in the newspapers, along with before and after pictures and names, announce to the world who they were before, when many just want a quiet ordinary life and remain nobodies and live in stealth. We may be nobodies, we may be people who count for little in the larger scheme of things, but we are also pioneers. From Roberta Cowell onwards (in 1951 she was the first English transwoman known to have surgery) it is the ordinary people, who have paved the way for young transgender people today.

I understand that Caitlyn Jenner has been put forward for an award for courage, but hundreds of ordinary people probably deserve the same, although we certainly wouldn’t expect a medal or anything of the kind, even though we have been through as much and probably a lot more. Many have had abuse directed against them and even physically assaulted. Trans-women throughout the world have been murdered simply for being trans. Transition is something we have to do as we reach the point in our lives when we can no longer live in the gender we find ourselves marooned in. We have to change but it’s not particularly courageous, it’s more a matter of survival.

In 1960, when I first realised I should have been a girl, I had two options, denial or spending a great deal of money (which I didn’t have) and going abroad. I admit I chose the easy (or so I thought at the time) option of denial which wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. As one gets older it can get much harder to realise ones true self until one reaches the point when life becomes unbearable. Having said that, it has been far easier to transition in the last 15/20 years than it was 50/60 years ago. These days, thanks to greater understanding, it is so much easier with far more medical services readily available but there is still the misconception in the public’s mind that transition can be achieved easily and rapidly.

Caitlyn Jenner’s sudden transformation in only a few months, from an ordinary looking man to a stunningly gorgeous woman appearing on the cover of July’s Vanity Fair has done little to dispel that misconception. Her rapid transition doesn’t help the trans community much either. All it does is unfairly raise expectations both from those going through transition and the public at large. I can’t help thinking that fingers will be pointed at some of us that will never look that good and remarks made behind our collective backs. But it only goes to show what can be achieved if you throw enough money at it.

Teraina Hird’s full story can be found in her autobiography ‘Unashamedly Me’ available in paperback or ebook formats.

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Transition, Hormones, Surgery and TERFS.

There are many groups of people that hate people who have recognised their true gender and done something about it. Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFS) are just one of these groups. They see us as men in frocks, who have cut off their cocks, but still cling on to the illusion of male privilege. (What ever ‘male privilege’ means, I have never understood it, having been brought up in a mainly female household).

Surgery only changes the genitailia, it doesn’t make one female. It only brings the body inline with the way one perceives oneself as a female. Having a vagina doesn’t make me female but as sure the Sun rises in the morning it makes me feel wonderful. Seeing a female form in the image reflected in the mirror still gives me goose bumps.

However, becoming a woman (given that, that is how one has always felt inside) has more to do with those wonderful things called Female Hormones.

Hormone therapy will change more than surgery ever could. Hormones change one’s thought processes,  as well as the shape of the body ie growing boobs and a bigger bum. The longer you’re on them the better things become. Losing my male hormones was the best thing ever for me. I never felt comfortable with all that nasty testosterone coursing around my body.

This hormonal change is something the detractors ignore or just don’t understand. Given the levels of oestrogen and progesterone we take we are, to all intents and purposes, hormonally female, there’s no getting away from the fact. We are all controlled by our hormones, natural or otherwise we couldn’t live without them. Transition is just swapping one set of hormones for a better set.

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In full support of Emily Brothers and Transgender Remembrance (TDOR)

Ed Miliband has said he is proud of Emily Brothers, the new Labour candidate for Sutton and Cheam. She hopes to become the first visually impaired woman to be elected to parliament. Not only that but this week she has come out as Trans*. If elected she will be the first ‘out’ Trans* woman in the House.

I feel the whole Trans* community should be immensely proud of Emily Brothers, even getting selected must have been difficult enough but then to ‘come out’ as Trans* takes a special kind of courage. I would imagine that being visually impaired makes it even harder. But the thing that must considered is that, here in the UK, we as Trans* women (and men) are lucky to live  in a society that is reasonably tolerant of LGBT issues. Lesbian, Gay and to a lesser extent Bi-sexual people have gained wider acceptance than Trans* which in the opinion of the writer, and many others, still lags behind LGB by many years. Many Trans* women (including myself) have been vilified and insulted by the gutter press in the past few years one of which led, in a recent case, to the suicide of lady involved.

As I have said we are lucky to live here in the UK  as we live in a reasonably tolerant society, although there have been cases of Trans* people  that have been beaten or murdered because of hate.

I say lucky because every year hundreds of Transgender people, throughout the world, have their lives taken from them . Killed by shooting, strangulation, beaten to death, even being drowned in a toilet bowl. Their murders often not recorded because of lack of interest by the authorities. But murdered they were. Murdered simply because they were Transgender, murdered simply because  (like myself) they needed to live their lives in the gender in which they should have been born.

Every year, the 20th November is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR).  At venues all over the world Trans* people and their friends gather to remember those whose lives have been taken from them or have taken their own lives because of hatred and harassment. Their names are read aloud, poems are recited, candles are lit for a vigel and prayers are offered. I have attended many TDOR events over the past few years, I’ve read my poems, lit my candle and prayed ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’. Unfortunately next year there will be a few hundred more names added to that list .

So I wish Emily Brothers every success, the publicity she has generated will be great positive for raising Trans awareness  even if she is unable to gain a seat in Parliament. I just hope the press don’t get their teeth into her.

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