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Friday, 25 October 2019

New home

I've moved into my new home but I still don't have proper internet access as the people trying to install my Wifi are a bunch of clowns. So that's why I haven't posted in a while.

But I have filled my wardrobe with some of my favourite clothes from England and quite a few more bought in Italy and am living my femme life again, albeit quietly in private as I am not yet certain of my ground in public.

Here's me in my home.

Once my internet is functioning I'll be trying trying to contact and meet local LGBT groups.

Sue x

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Looking for a new home

I've spent much of the spring and summer doing two important things. One is ensuring I have a settled status in Italy, at least for the next year, and the other is actually finding a proper home to live in. Family and friends have been very kind and let me stay with them whilst I look for a new home but it does feel like camping out.

Next week I hope my residence in Italy, in Europe, will be confirmed. So many Britons, fearful of losing their human and other rights as announced by the British government, have been applying for dual citizenship with other European Union states to continue benefiting from EU rights. Italy's my best bet for that, which is partly why I'm here.

I have now found myself a new home, which I will rent for a year. It's in a beautiful spot overlooking the Mediterranean Sea just a short walk from the beach and the flat itself has ample oudoor space, ideal for catching that sun that's become so vital for my health. I'm very excited about it and should be moving in in October.

It also means I can get back to that feminine existence which is expressed only subtly at present.

Here are a few photos of some of the places I went looking for a home. They're all different but beautiful in their own separate ways.

Portovenere

The Gulf of La Spezia from Lerici

Manarola in the Cinque Terre

Cactuses at Bordighera

Camogli

Monte Carlo casino

Alassio

One of the many public parks in San Remo

Sue x

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Blog anniversary and future direction

I started this blog eight years ago today as a celebration of transgender life, to encourage other trans people to live with courage as their authentic selves in the real world, which isn't as scary a thing to do as most of us often lead ourselves to believe. This blog was also intended as a celebration of London life.

Well, things have certainly changed. I no longer live in London but abroad. Partly because of some odd health problems regulating my body temperature added to the very real problem of climate change that has seen Britain become the cloudiest country in the world (to the extent that children are now given Vitamin D pills to prevent rickets and other diseases), which led my doctors to suggest I move somewhere warmer with more sunshine and more regular temperatures. And partly because the obscenely incompetent and malevolent politicians there now are in Britain, and the desperately weak constitution that leaves the country teetering on the verge of a potential dictatorship, have persuaded me that Britain is not a safe place. No right-wing regime was ever trans-friendly, not in Europe at least.

So far this year I have mainly been in Italy but have not ventured out as Sue, partly because I have mislaid my feminine essentials, partly because I am with family who would cause endless trouble if they knew, and partly because I am not sure of my ground outdoors. In big cities here like Milan, Genoa and La Spezia there are plenty of trans girls around. I have seen several and am gradually getting better acquainted with trans life here via social media. There are certainly excellent medical facilities and services if you are transitioning, as well as robust legal protections. But if you aren't transitioning, it's a bit more rough and tumble in a country that is still pretty sexist and where nobody minds their own business. So at present, as was so often the case when I was younger, I dress only when I have strict privacy.

So what of my blog? Is there a market for an English-language blog for someone who no longer lives in an English-speaking country? Well, I don't plan to close down yet, but clearly things have changed very dramatically. The days of organising Angels Lunches or London theatre trips are clearly gone, as are the days of participating in big events like the TGirl Bar or Sparkle. Of course, I may not stay in Italy but move to Spain eventually where LGBT culture is far more developed, accepted and protected. Watch this space, I guess. And that's the point. My trans life hasn't ended despite the huge changes, it's just different. I'm not at all sure what the future could hold as I'm still finding my way in a new life that's been somewhat thrust upon me. But one promise I made to myself at New Year 1997 was that I would no longer deny that I was transgender, no longer purge and no longer hide my reality from people who mattered, and that will always hold now and for ever.

My previous anniversary posts usually mentioned statistical things. But not this time - it's too masculine an obsession, in my view. Nor will I post links to the most popular pages as it skews things to those pages rather than others (the TGirl Bar 2013 is way too popular! OK, I know, who can resist all those gorgeous barmaids in pretty outfits?)

Thank you again for reading my blog, for your comments and your support. Love to you all. Be true to yourselves.

Sue x

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Big travels

It's been several weeks since I last posted which is not usual with me but the reason is I have been travelling a lot and had limited internet access.

I visited many places in Italy, France, Ireland and Britain, as well as Monaco.

Manarola, Italy

Nice, France

Monaco

Pride week in Dublin, Ireland

Wells Cathedral, England

I've been travelling to these places for a variety of reasons, but essentially not for sightseeing. I remain very worried about the political and constitutional disaster happening in the UK and am still working on the details of my alternative life away from it. Really, people have no idea how terrifying the situation is in a country with no written constitution where the government has been trying its best to avoid democratic and constitutional processes for three years already. I may give more detail on my thoughts on this in another post but for now just know that I am doing my damndest to salvage what I can before the chaos arrives.

Sue x

Sunday, 16 June 2019

So you still want that surgery?

I used to spend a lot of time at Charing Cross Gender Clinic in London in my early days out in public around 2010-2013, not as a patient but simply meeting friends there and generally chatting to people in the waiting room to see how transition was for them. It was research I felt I needed to do as my gender dysphoria ratcheted up to new levels. Then in 2013 I accompanied a friend there for her surgery. And that went horribly wrong, as this post explained http://suerichmond.blogspot.com/2013/08/when-surgery-goes-wrong.html

I assumed this was a one-off problem. But since then, everyone I know who has been for surgery in Britain has had serious complications.

Gender reassignment surgery, or whatever you want to call it, is certainly not touted by the professionals as an easy or straightforward procedure and it takes a lot of genuine effort on all sides to get to the point when surgery is offered. I have always felt that surgery promoters in the trans community can be very irresponsible in the way they suggest it is a solution to dysphoria and a panacea for lots of other life problems that trans people experience. This surgery is a serious deal. But the number of times it goes wrong is disturbing me. I no longer believe that I have unlucky friends but that there is a fundamental problem with the surgery itself.

So my friend in 2013 had her vaginal lining come out in a long strip that hung between her legs. It was horrifying. So was the infection that followed. The next girl had to have surgical adjustments made, also developed an abdominal infection and her hormone dose needed to be so finely balanced or she would be either prostrated with depression or suffer other health problems. Another had further surgery to try to correct a serious flaw in the first and that didn't work either so she is now unable to make love to men as she would like to do. This last year, one friend has had major problems with granulation that only a lot of persistence on her part saw treated properly, a process that took nearly 12 months. Another friend got shingles within a few weeks of her surgery, predomonantly and persistently in her new vagina where the nerves are trying to knit together. The pain and discomfort not ony of the surgery but of the illness are understandably awful. Whilst it is bad luck that this has happened in her case, she complains that it took a lot of effort to get the doctors to take it seriously and the lack of a swifter intervention has made it a long-term problem. I could give other examples where surgery did not go right. As I said, everyone I happen to know seems to have major difficulties.

Obviously, I can only report from their perspective and what I have seen myself. The procedure is complicated, certainly, but the trouble seems to be caused by a low first-time success rate and, above all, the poor aftercare. I'm not sure if going private (if you are lucky enough to be able to afford it) or going abroad (to Thailand, say) is a solution but it's hard not to come to an assessment that gender surgery and care in the UK is not, from what I have seen, good enough.

None of the girls above regretted transition and they are all glad to be undeniably true to their gender now. But they have all been very upset at the things that were allowed to go wrong. Be aware of this if you go for gender surgery in the UK.

Sue x



Wednesday, 29 May 2019

A tour of Great Britain

Well, the title's perhaps an exaggeration, but I certainly visited the three constituent countries of GB recently.

When in England I am based in Chester, where the spring has been mixed weatherwise, but there were some nice walks to be had along the River Dee.

Chester Cathedral Green in spring

I also went to Wales with a friend, visiting the elegant seaside resort of Llandudno, the attractive town of Llangollen and the soaring Pontcyscyllte Aqueduct that is alarmingly free of much protection if you boat or even walk across it, something I have always wanted to see.

Lladudno

The wilder side of the Rover Dee at Llangollen

The astounding Pontcyscyllte Acqueduct, 336 yards (307 m) long and 126 feet (38 m) above the valley floor. There's a railing for pedestrians on the path, but no protection for people on boats!

Later I went to Scotland, a country I have visited only twice before.

As my final destination was a long way from Chester, I decided to break my journey in Edinburgh. This was an opportunity to test my legpower following my accident last autumn which left me on crutches. My leg is still a little sore and swollen but I'm told exercise is the best remedy. So I climbed the Scott Monument in Princes Street and later the taller Nelson Monument on Calton Hill. Fine views from both.

Edinburgh Castle

Finally I took a train I have never been on before that trundles right through the scenic Grampians - sometimes pretty, sometimes bleak - and leaves you at Inverness.

And at Inverness I was met by my wonderful friend Roz who has been living full-time as female for two years now and looks lovely. We went to her home in Invergordon on the Cromarty Firth, famous for its navy days but now devoted to repairing oil rigs.

The Cromarty Firth and its oil rigs

We had so much to catch up on and it was delightful to spend a long weekend with her. The hormones, electrolysis, voice thereapy and other treatments work wonders for a TGirl's hair, complexion and confidence and Roz was looking and sounding amazing. It really makes me feel that despite the setbacks I have had this is the route I would still like to go down if I can (I doubt I'd ever have surgery, though).

Anyway, we enjoyed days out in Inverness and Invergordon and the surrounding area of the Highlands and East Coast. There were lots of lambs, snow on the mountains, gorse in flower (such a tough shrub but with such delicate yellow flowers) and some welcome sunshine.

As there seems to be a delay on the Brexit omnishambles I might return to the UK in July. There's a friend's wedding and other events. I do like a wedding!

Sue x

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Me time

I've spent the last week in Britain. Partly to catch up with certain friends but mainly to have a little bit of time to dress and apply makeup. Living abroad with family has many benefits but being my full trans self is not one of them.

Although most of my everyday clothes are now female, I dress androgynously, which is not hard as so many items these days, from shoes to trousers to tops, are unisex. But now I am in my den in Chester I can wear dresses and paint my nails. I love painting my nails and I got in party mood with this glittery red! One thing I can do in stealth mode, though, is grow my nails and I am pleased to have them long.





Chester is a great place for shopping, with all your standard high street chains plus many quirky independent retailers. I've just bought some comfortable women's trousers and two pairs of shoes, includng a comfortable pair of black patent ballet flats. As I am only a shoe size 5 1/2 (38) I am delighted to have found them in the girl's department! This saves me VAT and makes me feel that my small size, which is a liability when having to act male, comes into its own when I am able to be my female self.

Photos of travels in a later post.

Sue x