First Experiences of Safe Haven
As much as we'd like to be able to describe what it's like to receive the love and support from us here at Safe Haven....unfortunately that's very difficult as it needs to be experienced. In this section some of the people describe their experience of their first contact with Safe Haven.

Chrissy tells of her first experience at one of our Sugar and Spice Safe Haven events.  
Chrissy
With Knowing  Pixie and  Paula for just over two years from previous nights out etc. I know them to be both caring & loving people so when I heard they were opening up Safe Haven I knew they were exactly the right people to make this venture work. With the experiences they have both had over the years and with myself enduring a tough year this was just what I needed…to be with friends, so with finally feeling confident enough to get back out and talking to Pixie I decided to  come down.

I made arrangements with another girl to travel down with her and arrived about 4pm, lucky I knew where Safe Haven was as I’d been down once before during the day a year or so before. It was great to see Pixie & Paula after a few months and receive a huge hug, it was just what I needed.

With the film crew there doing a documentary on Pixie & Paula and all the good work they do, it was busy but was I was directed to a quiet place where could get changed privately. Once I was ready I made way downstairs and up to the venue where the music was playing, it was good seeing a few familiar faces and meeting new people faces, it was a great evening. I may have been somewhat reserved but I was breaking myself back in slowly, the music was great and the volume was pleasant enough in that I could hear myself think and listen to others in conversation. The buffet that was laid on was amazing, it was a great night even with the film crew there that night.

Come bed time and I was shown where I would be sleeping and had great night sleep thanks to my two “hot water bottles” that were Merlin & Penny LOL. Come morning time and I was treated to an amazing breakfast (not to be missed). Alas, all good things come to an end, it was tough saying good bye to people and leave this amazing place.

Amazing to think at that point that I had no idea that after that night I’d end up making so many friends and feel part of a family and a regular visitor to Safe Haven.

I cannot recommend anywhere else that you’d
 feel so welcomed, be free to be yourself and get so much help and support, not just from Pixie but all the other girls too.

Chrissy Rose xxxx



Here is Erin, she had her first taste of Safe Haven in April 2016, she tells of her unique experience.
Erin
Last weekend I went to a venue called Safe Haven in Camborne, Cornwall. A new friend I met told of the event. Inside I was reserved at first. I traditionally disliked events that involved dancing, clubs and the like. I always felt out of place and self conscious. But something inside told that voice to shut up. I had to say yes. I just had a feeling.

The closer the event came the more I began to feel excited for a weekend away. Friday came and I had a job interview in the morning, which was a great affirming experience to attend an interview as Erin. On the return to my house my road was blocked by police cars, while an irate looking scrap dealer surveyed the mess he had made of someone's garden wall after not attaching a car properly to his truck before driving off!

I rushed to change and pack two bags before my friends arrived. I wondered if the number of police and people watching the wreck on the road would be an issue if my friends had not been out dressed in public, and I was a bit nervous myself. Any concerns I had about getting attention from people of the road were quickly put to bed as I answered the door and my friend was there with her neon pink umbrella! Lets rock it I thought! All eyes on us! Fabulous!

We arrived at the venue, and I was nervous to meet everyone, and wanted to make a good impression. I baked a banana bread to share with everyone and was even nervous about that! We were greeted by Jackie et al. and already my nerves were eased. Inside, everyone was friendly. I was still a little nervous but everyone was nice, warm and welcoming. Soon we settled into our caravan and changed for the evening.

That evening I felt my guard and reservedness melt away. I was able to be at ease. We had a relaxed evening chatting, playing pool and having a drink. It was great to be around people who were going through a similar experience to myself in a normal, casual and sociable setting. That evening we danced the night away and I had an epiphany moment where I was finally just me, myself, relaxed and free.

The next day was revelatory. I was so relaxed, and there were no more doubtful or negative voices in my head. In such an accepting group of people I was able to be myself and see clearly who I am in a way I had not experienced before. Although I had already changed my name and transitioned on paper, I felt like I was able to be totally Erin for the first time here.

We lounged away in the sun during the day. That evening more people arrived and we had drinks and a lovely meal to start the evening off. Then the music came on and for the first time in my life I thought "I want to dance!"

Words scarcely do justice to the wonderfulness of Safe Haven. It was such a social, friendly, welcoming, hilarious and liberating experience to meet such genuine and friendly people that I cried on the Saturday night, overwhelmed.

I felt free. I felt like me. In that welcoming and accepting environment, without inhibition nor self-consciousness I was so at ease with myself, with who I am. I had no doubts as to my transition. I was simply Erin. I took this feeling away with me, and feel a new confidence to face the outside world.

To anyone thinking about coming along to a future event I say that there is nothing to fear from anyone there. You couldn't find a nicer bunch! Accepting of anyone and everyone.

Erin x


Jadey tells us of her first contact with us.
Jadey
Prior to the event, I had spoken to real girl Pixie the event owner, and partner of Paula, a number of times.
WATTSgirl did a small article on Diamante Unicorns (previously) the all round dressing service.

We had spoken to each other many times on Facebook, so I had an idea of what the event may hold.

I arrived at approximately 4pm in male mode, with another girl, found the venue, (Thanks to SATNAV) ha ha, and met with Pixie and Paula, briefly. A big hug from them, the biggest welcome you could imagine, wow I felt like a wanted princess. I won't be jilted, at the alter here. Me thinks.

Other girls, mostly in male mode, were there, but we had never met before. (For me this is one of the delights of being a girl. The transformation of us all.)

Then the whirlwind that is Pixie sent me to a room and I started to get changed, privately.
In one of the other rooms, was a recording crews, of the pre-arranged filming of Paula's documentary. My transformation takes ages, and as I applied my make-up, I could hear the questions being fired to Paula, and recording taking place. (Obviously keeping silent while this was taking place)
Paula's Bio, is for another time, and probably a new book...ha ha, and obviously a biopic...

I got ready, and Jadey came out, ready to dance the night away. (As it transpired more like yapping). I had a pre-arranged bed, booked in the caravan.

I was amazed by the dozens of TGirls parading their girly wears, this evening, the hospitality was second to none, music for the masses, drinks at the bar, buffet on the table.....and party until the early hours.

A Tgirl's dream. Of feeling free, no heirs and graces, no ego's, no prejudice....Constant talk of dressing, how long, why.....who knows. Wow, the new people and friends I have met.

Then there are the extra little things that Pixie and Paula had organised:-

A pop up wardrobe, high heel cakes, a photographic session.........help with make up for all the girls.....
The list and hospitality, is both endless, breathless and so, so very welcome.

The next morning, for those that stayed, we had a buffet breakfast........and it was most welcome, mainly thanks to the 2 x bottles of wine I had the night before. ha ha.

I arrived as a princess, but left a coronetted Queen.

Thank You.

A MUST TO ATTEND.


Review by Jadey Clarkson



This is Ness, she came to her first Sugar and Spice party in January 2016 and tells us of her first experience and how she felt
Ness
So I knew about Safe Haven for many months as I had been invited to be a member of the page on Facebook. It wasn’t until I found myself living and working in London Monday to Friday away from my family that the voices in my head started getting louder, it was driving me insane sat in these four walls (bedroom) all week with no company but Facebook and the Internet.

I had often pondered with the idea of going down to Safe Haven and meeting everyone, and yes everyone was saying, “come on you’ll love it!” or “you’ll wonder why you never did it ages ago!” … but in the back of my mind I just kept thinking that I’d spent all my life as I am now (yep dressing since the age of about 8)…so why do I suddenly need to change anything at this time of my life (45 last time I counted!), not only that but getting dressed up in the safety and comfort of my own home is one thing…..being with others is an entirely different ball game surely!
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So there I was for months, refusing to go down to Safe Haven, thinking that I wasn’t good enough….or that I wasn’t like the rest…”happy” (who am I kidding) in the knowledge that I would carry on for the rest of my days as I’ve always done….behind closed doors with just my smart phone and Facebook and a handful of carefully selected pictures to satisfy my girly needs!
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One Sunday night in January 2016 I was on the train on my way back to London and was chatting (on Facebook messenger) to one of the girls who regularly goes to Safe Haven, I don’t know what it was but there was some voice inside of me that said, “right, enough, what are you doing? You are wasting your life away, you only live once, there are genuine friendly people at Safe Haven who are trying to help you.....for Gods sake, live a little, stop worrying, get yourself down there....what’s the worst that could happen!?”
So I took a deep breath (still on the train) and sent my wife the following text:
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“So there are a nice bunch of people down in Cornwall who hold a get together for other people like me and their wives who have transgender tendencies and need to dress as women, they normally hold an event once a month, it's a B&B too on a campsite, lots of "ladies" like me go, and a few with their wives. I keep getting invited to it (remember there was something similar in Plymouth, but I was too scared to go, this one down in Cornwall seems much better), what do you think? Would you come with me if we got a baby sitter one month? I think I need this, I think I need to know I'm not alone with my need to be a girl sometimes, don't worry I have no desire to be a girl permanently.....just need to accept that it's part of who I am and has been all of my life. A bit of a deep text, just don't want any secrets and want you by my side always because I love you more than life itself. Xxx”
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And the reply I got back was, “Yes, I will support you xxx"
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So that was it then, I was finally going to go to a Safe Haven, Sugar and Spice party….and I was already getting nervous about it, I’d never been out before dressed as a woman (well apart from the very odd occasion, late at night up and down the street to the post box when nobody was around!).
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From that moment 17th January 2016 until the party on the 23rd January I was chatting to a few of the regular girls who attend Safe Haven, guess I was looking for reassurance that I was going to be ok. Pixie and a few other girls gave me their mobile numbers too and Pixie said she would hold my hand and walk me into where the girls were having the party. I was very nervous about the whole thing right up until two days before when I almost backed out of the whole idea.....but I didn’t back out….I took a deep breath and decided to go for it.
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For my first visit, I had no idea what to expect really, what I did know is that I wanted to be in “girl mode” when I arrived….the thought of someone seeing me in man mode at that point for me was just unthinkable…..what if I knew someone there I thought (in hindsight….if I did know someone there….then they would be in the same boat as me anyway!).

I arrived back in Plymouth on the coach late on Friday night (just before midnight) and my wife was there waiting for me as usual, we had obviously discussed during the week the event at Safe Haven and we had already agreed on what I would be wearing. Up until that point I had assumed that I would be driving down to the event by myself in girl mode as it was not possible for us to get a baby sitter, and although my wife had said that she would support me.....I was understandably not sure how far that support went...this was all very much unknown territory to me. As we were about to leave the bus station and set off for home my wife announced that she would be accompanying me to Safe Haven on the Saturday for my first visit.....well.....as you can imagine....I was just stuck for words...it had taken me all week to get it straight in my head that I would be driving down to Safe Haven as Vanessa in my car.....and I had been through all the turmoil of "shall I?"...."shan't I?""...."shall I?"...."shan't I?""...."shall I?"...."shan't I?""....and then "BOOOOOOOOM" ......my wife announces that she is going to go with me.......how do you cope with such a roller coaster ride going on in your head....I just started to cry....I was just so overwhelmed that I had the tremendous support of the woman I have loved dearly for the last 10 years....I'm such a lucky girl.
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The next day (the day of the party) I was shaking like a leaf, and for my first visit (as I didn’t know what to expect…would I be the “new girl”? What would others be wearing? Am I going to fit in?) I decided to dress conservatively and so wore some ankle boots with black skin tight jeans and a loose belted top that covered my bum, my wife lent me a nice long fur coat too (which is mine now!).

When my wife and I arrived at Safe Haven one of the tgirls met us, when she introduced herself I started to cry….with happiness….I was so overwhelmed…it was the first time in my life I had ever met another person like me (and I will carry that moment with me to my grave). We then met Pixie in her house and had a hug and a brief chat and then we went to join the others at the party.

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I was introduced to the girls there (I couldn’t remember their names all night as I was just buzzing to my core with happiness and emotion that seemed so natural). Everyone was so nice and friendly and welcoming….hugs all round, at that moment it was like an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders, a weight that I had carried all my life, a weight that I had kind of got used to being there, so much so that I didn’t realise I was carrying it….and I just felt it lift away!! It’s very difficult to describe in words….I’m welling up now as I type this as I remember what those first few moments down at Safe Haven were like.
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My evening there was very short as the babysitter was only prepared to look after our children until about 10:30 (still….I think we blagged another hour out of her! :)
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I woke up the next morning with a huge grin on my face….and this is what was going through my head:
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 - “what the hell just happened?”
 - “wow, that was amazing!”
 - “ I want to go back down Safe Haven and experience that again!”
 - “those people I met are amazing!”
 - “can’t wait for the next party!”
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So that’s my first experience of Safe Haven in a nutshell, and I never thought I’d be the type of person who would ever pluck up the courage to go there, I know everyone says it, and I’d heard it a thousand times before myself but…..”why did I wait so long before going down there?”
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One of my favorite films is The Matrix, and in the first Matrix film there is piece of dialogue between Morpheus and Neo as he offers him the red and blue pill, in a similar way….no one can be told what it’s like to experience the love and support that you get at Safe Haven.

Nessy xxx

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Matrix Dialogue:
Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be…told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. [opens pillbox, empties contents into his palms, outstretches his hands] This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill [opens his right hand revealing blue pill], the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill [opens his left hand revealing red pill], you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. [Neo, after a pause, reaches for the red pill] Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more.



The lovely Roxy is a regular vistor to Safe Haven,  thank you Roxy for being part of the family.
Roxy
Well I go back to The Castle at Axeminster and meeting Pixie Laylia Lily and Paula DeVine but the very first time I meet them was the Exeter Pride and straight away they came across as lovely people with big hearts. I had been out for some time but was still nervous about going to strange new places but was drawn to these caring people and I found other like myself it helped me so much ,

I remember my first time at Safe haven Sugar & Spice the same as they always are... a lovely feeling of being accepted and supported, I found I could talk to others about transition and their journies to the end of there transition.

I myself will help anyone with their heartbreaks, their ups and downs. I didn't have any of this support so I do know how scary that outside world can be, I have looked them demons in the face and sat in front of bottles of pills bevause of my pain of not being who I was meant to be.

Pixie and Paula are there for all of you.

I hope that when you read this you will realise that we are here for you, we won't look down our noses at you and you will become part of the family whether you come as a brother or a sister... yes it works both ways (even though we are mostly made up of girls) but even so we are there for all of you. I hope Pixie and Paula don't mind me saying this I am not taking any of their good work away I love them so much and because they showed me so much support and kindness. I want to give something back to them and I can do this by providing my support to others too, working with them.

One last thing to say, "Live Your Dreams, cuz no one can live them for you!"

Roxy xxx


Our lovely Sophie tells us about her first time at Safe Haven.
There's not many events that Sophie doesn't make now,
and it's never the same without her. xx
Sophie Ross
My first visit to Safe Haven was in May 2016 ... I'd "discovered" Sophie only two weeks earlier, and was invited by Faye and Linda to come to Cornwall..

I remember being very shy, lacking any confidence, and confused as to who I was or where I fitted on the spectrum. I was immediately made very welcome by Pixie and Paula, who were kind and supportive.

Shy as I was, I do remember befriending another first timer and we both spent the evening talking (when I wasn't dancing).

It was my first night in heels ever and I must have had them on from 6pm till at least 0200. I decided I could live in heels after that night.

It was the burlesque evening and I think I started to understand who I should be when I saw a picture of me smiling and happier than I've seen myself in thirty years. I treasure that picture and it hangs on my wall to remind me.

Apart from the party it was so good to meet so many different girls at various stages of their journeys and begin to make sense of mine..Roxy was a fountain of knowledge and I learnt so much of the girl I was to become.

A year later I'm referred to Laurels, on hormone therapy through my GP and have just gone full time (without realising it... to the amusement of several girls at Safe Haven)

Safe Haven is still special to me, and it's always great to see old friends and inspire and encourage the new girls who arrive there for their first time, shy and sometimes confused. It's so wonderful to watch them blossom and become who they are.

Sophie
Xx


Suzi tells us a little about her background and how she first came to visit us at Safe Haven.
Suzi
It was over a year ago now that I first visited Safe Haven, and found a group of supportive friends who have become a major part of my life. Before I get to talking about that visit a little background might be useful.

I have been out on the trans scene for many years, though hadn't been  expressing myself much since I moved from Bristol back to rural Cornwall  to care for my elderly parents. It seemed there were no safe places to go down here, I could almost believe I was the only transperson in the county.

Back in Bristol there had been a vibrant trans scene, though it was centered mainly around fetish clubs and gay bars, neither of which was ideal (being transgender is neither a fetish or a sexual orientation) but at lest there were plenty of opportunities to go out and be happy. Apart from Sparkle in Manchester I wasn't aware of trans events that didn't fit into these niches.

Then one night at an LGBT pub in Plymouth I met Pixie and Paula, and they invited me to a venue where I wouldn't be groped and I could have a conversation without shouting over loud disco music, it sounded too good to be true!

Full of trepidation I headed down to the narrow bit of Cornwall, and ended up at Safe Haven, it took me a moment or two to realise there was a bar in there too, and a group of people chatting and laughing. People who didn't treat me as strange, or even as a stranger. We soon became firm friends.

I had found somewhere I could be myself at last, with no sexual overtones, no predatory admirers, no little cliques making me feel even more marginalised than I am already, there wasn't even any need to shout. wonderful. 

 I soon became a regular visitor, and was made to feel like one of the family.

Since that first visit I have managed to do things I never imagined I could, all with the support and encouragement of the people at Safge Haven, going to a local public cosplay event as Lara Croft, eating out at the local pub, I even had my 15 minutes of fame on local radio!

No pressure, no danger, no drama, no hidden agendas, just a steadily expanding group of friends.

What more could a girl want?


Suzi xxx



Terri is now one of our regulars, here's what she has to say about coming here.
"It's awesome!! Oh wait... you want to know more?"     
Terri
My first time at Safe Haven was in July 2016 after speaking with the ever-lovely sista-from-another-mista Yvette on the TV Chix website. The TV Chix website is a great resource for chatting and getting to know people but unfortunately it does suffer from the fact that it all takes place in a "virtual space" which only gives a temporary fix to those feelings of isolation we all feel. It was all beginning to feel a bit pointless and I wanted more.

I became friends with Yvette who is a passionate advocate of the merits of Safe Haven and it did seem a little bit too good to be true. I'd seen the other local events but they didn't sound the kind of thing I was looking for. I didn't want to be surrounded by those "admirer"/"chaser" types as I just wanted to make some new friends and talk to like-minded people.

As the big day arrived I did feel a bit apprehensive about what I was letting myself in for! Staying with people I don't know in a place I have never been before.... eeeeek! I emailed Pixie and Yvette several times before I left and apologised profusely for the continual questioning!

The BIG DAY.... (Bigger Eeeeeek)
I took the "when in Rome" stance and decided that I would just do the whole weekend in "girl mode". I was a little concerned when I got half way and realised that I hadn't packed any boys stuff. I spent the rest of the trip praying my car didn't break down as it might be a tricky one to explain!

Safe Haven is tucked away but wasn't too hard to find. There is CCTV watching over the car park so as soon as I got out of my car Pixie greeted me. What a relief! She is one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet and instantly put me at ease.

To the Bar.... (Mahooosive Eeeeek)
So here I was following a strange person into a wooden hut that I have never been to before dressed as a girl.... what the hell am I doing? My mother warned me about situations like this!

I had decided that I would come down on the Friday which turned out to be much quieter night than the Saturday. The moment I entered the room everyone was so welcoming I was instantly put at ease. It felt like I was part of the furniture or putting on that old jumper that you have had for years but you just love! Paula was serving behind the bar and I thought a bottle of wine was probably in order.

Dominoes... (be warned!!)
Everyone that has been to a party night at Safe Haven will know what "Dominoes" is. Its a drinking game. Its not a pizza. However at the time I didn't know this. In terms of ice-breaking you can't get better than this. Its brilliant fun but not for the faint hearted. Some people didn't fare too well that night
but they were all looked after.

Beddy Byes (zzzzzz)
After a superb evening, sophisticated conversation and fine cuisine... oh no... sorry drinking.... and.... chatting... and more drinking it was time for bed.

Safe Haven has numerous caravans and a Pixie showed me to my bed in the static van. The caravan was clean, well maintained and stocked with a variety of bits and pieces that people staying might need.

In the morning I had to travel back fairly early so I got dressed again and headed out of my room. One thing that does take a bit of getting used to is the fact that you get to see two different personas and sometimes you just don't recognise the girls as the boys!

The whole experience was incredibly positive and I left that weekend feeling elated, that I had a second home and a lot of new friends. I have been several times now (it's now December) and every time the experience is the same and each time I make more new friends.

I live in Plymouth and if you are reading this, apprehensive and don't want to travel alone I am happy to meet up and you can come down with me. I can assure you that you won't look back.

Terri xx



Yvette tells of her first experince:
 "Safe Haven and the Bond!  
Yvette
Bat shit stir crazy about summed me up! I had already gone out, my first outing was Sparkle! Yvette Bond does not do half measures. But all that seemed a life time ago and the realisation had already dawned…I am alone down here, I have no local friends, no one to socialise with and no where to go. So I continued to climb my walls, a caged tiger. Then one day an angel came to call, her name is Jadey and she invited me out and I knew from the first time I met her that we’d be bezzy mates for ever and we’d meet so many more. She told me about Safe Haven and I was hooked…I had to go!

By now I had gotten onto Facebook and thus joined the group and oh my what a family of ready made friends they all seemed to be and OMG how true that was. What a first night! To meet so many beautiful people, to chat with so many new friends, to dance…to be hugged just for being in the way! Tears came to my eyes and I had to feign the toilet just to shed them a little more before composing myself to go back out there…and yes it was all real and in charge of it all was the most awesome lady, Pixie. When we spoke I felt a washed with love, she genuinely cared about me…someone she’d never met!

I cried again that night, I made my excuse that I always cry when I take my makeup off for the night, when Yvette has to leave - I always do. But that night it was so much more. I cried because I was so overwhelmed, so happy, so filled with love.

I guess you could say I am a regular now, even an old hand. OK it’s only been 6 months or so but hay we know that’s a life time in a Tgirls timezone! And yes you may still catch me crying there in the dead of night but it won’t just be because of the loss of my makeup. I thank you all my beautiful friends, From the bottom of my heart I thank you... for setting me free, for now I am a tiger burning bright.

Yvette

xxx

 


 


 

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