Personal Stories

We asked a few of our members what they get from visiting Chameleons. These are some of their stories.

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James

Who are you and how long have you been coming to the group?

I’m James, a transguy and I’ve been coming to the group for about a year.

How has coming to the group helped?

It’s given me people I can talk to who understand what I’m going through. Chameleons has given me a place where I know other people have been through similar problems at home and I can be myself in a supportive environment

What was your first visit like?

Terrifying at first, ok but a bit weird once I got talking to people

Do you have any advice for people thinking of visiting?

Just be yourself.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Chameleons is also one of the few places where people can openly talk about trans issues. I’ve made friends and got advice when I needed it.

Lynn

Who are you and how long have you been coming to the group?

I’m Lynn (another part-time male-to-female person) and I’ve been visiting since the start of 2006.

How has coming to the group helped?

Coming to the group has really helped me. Not just as someone who is transgender, but as a person too. The group have been there to help me come to terms with who I am, accept my nature, and they were there for me when I had issues with depression many years back. They’ve really been a lifeline.

What was your first visit like?

It was a long time ago, but I remember being very nervous! I think it was the first time I’d sat down and listened to other trans people like me. The group really made me feel welcome and looking back, I’m not sure why I’d been so fearful in going.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of visiting?

Yes, please don’t put off visiting. The group are a great bunch and no-one will out you, pick on you, or any of that nonsense. Chams is a great place to make friends who understand all of who you are.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Don’t give in to the fear and let it hold you back. Keep on being awesome <3

Steph

Who are you and how long have you been coming to the group?

Hello, I am Steph (male to female) and have sat on the Trans spectrum since I was a child. I have been on the Chameleons forum and regularly attended meetings since April 2018.

How has coming to the group helped?

I found Chameleons whilst looking for some support for my wife and I, after coming out to her. Attending Chameleons has given me a safe space to socialise with other Trans people and discuss my dysphoria openly. I no longer bottle up frustrations that I can’t discuss in my mainstream life, I am happier. My wife is appreciative that I have a genuine support group around me and it has helped her to be more accepting.

What was your first visit like?

I attended my first visit in male mode as I was initially a little nervous. On entering the centre I was immediately met with a warm welcome and put at ease. I spoke to several people from all walks of life in a very open and relaxed manner with no fear or judgement…an amazing feeling.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I would encourage anyone who has any issue with their dysphoria to attend a meeting. You will realise you are not alone. You could make some very good friends who will understand every part of you…priceless!
When you get to the centre, the hard work in your head is done…make the last push and walk through the door. I genuinely believe you will be happy that you did.

Diane

Who are you and how long have you been coming to the group?

Hi! I am a late fifties m2f (very part-time 🙁 ) transgender lady. I am have been coming to Chameleons regularly for about the last four years now. Apart from Chams, I do occasional shopping trips, and a couple of weekends away each year at the coast.

How has coming to the group helped?

As a Chams regular, I do enjoy catching up with chatting with friends twice a month. It is great to talk freely and openly with people who share similar issues. Over the years, I have made some firm friends here. I also enjoy meeting and greeting newcomers, hearing new stories, showing them round and putting them at ease.

What was your first visit like?

The first time I visited Chams was about ten years ago at the Christmas party which back then was held at a pub in Derby. Looking back now, I think I should have chosen a regular meeting as it was hard trying to talk next to the Disco 🙂 . (These days the Christmas disco has a separate room so this is no longer an issue).

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you fancy visiting us, I would suggest arriving after 8:30 when we have the whole place (including the car park) to ourselves. Feel free to seek me out and I will happy to show you round the centre and introduce you to other people.

Do not feel any pressure to attend “en femme” (male dressing as female) or “en-homme” (female dressing as male). We do have a separate large changing room if you need it – or you can just stay as day-to-day-you are if you are more comfortable doing that.

Katie

Who are you and how long have you been coming to the group?

Hi I’m Katie Jade, 56, Recently separated but BFF with ex-wife, and our children still love us both. About a year now since I first attended. Make most meetings unless work intervenes.

How has coming to the group helped?

This was my first group, by counsellor recommended them, but as I’m from Derby way, she thought they were still going in Derby which they are not. However, I relish the journey as well as my friends and acquaintances at the group. Since then I have listened to many people’s histories and felt deep sympathy for their need to journey or the internal pressure on them to show their real selves.

What was your first visit like?

I was/am lucky enough to have a nice friend who is a few years further on in transition, and she is completely out to the world and after I revealed myself to her as it were, in the middle of the office (trans situation revealing,) I wanted to come to the meeting, which I did, and my then wife came as well. They both gave me so much support that night I was so grateful. First time out even if it was in this private group.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of visiting?

Do it, you won’t regret it. It changed my life. I now go to other groups in Staffordshire and Nottingham, been to Manchester and Birmingham for days and nights out, all with some trepidation but if you are a bit confident and are careful where you go there will be few issues. So, loving this – it is my future I know. There is nothing I have done or are thinking of doing that the group has not done before and we are all friendly and offer advice when we see you need it. Just helping our sisters and brothers be happy, which is good.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Yes. Building on my first steps with Chams, I am aiming to go full time very soon. Although we are all in the same boat, so many have much more confidence that I had or have. I feel I don’t pass as a woman, but having the support of this group and others, I am getting to where I really need to be. Life is for living not hiding. Try and try again, we may fail sometimes but we see a brighter horizon that spurs us on to a better day.

Pippa

Who are you and how long have you been coming to the group?

Well, who am I? I’m Pippa and I identify as “male to female”. I attended my first meeting in June 2018 and I cannot believe how far I have come already. I hope I can transition eventually, something that has been with me for a very long time. Perhaps some of you looking on here might recognise a duality in your own identity and there certainly is a dynamic between my gender identities. Feeling that I’ve finally come of age, I feel happier and much more optimistic for my future despite frustrations with transgender services being in a state of flux in the UK. Hopefully, the NHS will resolve the issues they face soon. Following WHO definitions, I can now legitimately use the term intersex to identify myself which has meant so much to me.

How has coming to the group helped?

The most amazing and life-changing experience a real light bulb moment; it has enabled me to rationalise and normalise my position by sharing a safe space with like-minded people. Coupled with the Nottingham Gender Clinic support service Cham’s has really accelerated my journey. I guess I am lucky in that I have fewer responsibilities now other than exploring my hopes, my feelings and presenting myself to so many people in my preferred gender role now as Pippa. I am out and about in the LGBTQ+ world and loving it for sure!

What was your first visit like?

Liberating! I guess it was me that made it a bit scary for everyone else! Just a little nervous though but just a girl thing worried about my dress sense, but everything has just simply clicked for me and I think it was only after about six weeks that I went out in Blackpool as Pippa supported by others who helped that happen. This included my first ever ‘outing’ during the daytime into town. All of this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started at Chams, it was a catalyst for me and one that I shall always be so very grateful for. Thank you Chams!

Do you have any advice for people thinking of visiting?

Well, not much other than to say if you are contemplating doing so then you have already made the biggest step in recognising you might do so. Walking in as Pippa was so wonderful and for me relatively easy. If you are contemplating doing so, then just simply do it! Everybody there is so welcoming, genuine, and non-judgmental. If I hadn’t done so then I would still be trying to rationalise my feelings, however seeing others and sharing these thoughts and feelings had for me the most empowering effect, especially when see you are not alone and very alike with so many others.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Remember it’s your journey, your pace, and your future. Perhaps, please don’t leave it as late as I have to join. Time is precious so move along!!