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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

That was 2014

Each year I do an end-of-year roundup here. The trouble is, this year is only really a half-year because the eczema that has afflicted my face curtailed all female presentation after July. It has been very hard, weird and quite distressing, after 4 years of presenting mainly as female, to go back to essentially full-time male. I think I should be OK to put on makeup again soon but I would prefer to be fully clear of it rather than trying to risk a start that’s too early. A friend of mine yesterday likened it to a sports injury: you feel you’re probably OK enough to go back to playing but end up making things worse if you aren’t yet 100% healed. So I’ve decided to adopt Stella’s portrait photo of me as my avatar for 2015 – you can actually see the scarring here, but I hope I still look pretty.



Nottingham: Revolution
As for 2014 itself, the first half of the year it was the regular round of meals out with my girlfriends – Brick Lane, the West End, and other parts of London. I


London: Kinkao in Brick Lane
London: Salieri in the Strand
Brighton: La Capannina

Manchester: Canal St
London: Islington



also had time away in Brighton, Manchester (twice) and Nottingham, always with lots of girls around.

But those trips I made to see Tgirlfriends after my enforced change showed me that I have made some genuine friends as they all insisted – despite my protests – on presenting as male in sympathy with me. Thank you.

I am bothered by the disappearance of some friends. Often TGirls you have got to know just vanish – they get fed up with the scene, or they hope to cure themselves of their transness by finding masculine distractions, or they remarry and the new wife doesn’t know (a mistake in my view). I’m wondering about the time that I can’t help feeling was wasted in trying to get to know these disappearing acts. Of course, people have their motives and it wouldn’t be right to discourage them from doing what’s best for them, but a quick word of goodbye and even explanation never goes amiss.

I’m not sure what 2015 will bring but as far as this blog goes I will definitely be doing proper reviews of places in London that TGirls can eat and drink at and feel comfortable. I have promised this for years but I am now ready to do this!

Sue x

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Just to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas holiday. Whatever you are doing, I hope it is a good time for you.

I will be spending time with a couple of Tgirlfriends over the next week even though, sadly, I am still not ready to apply makeup to my face and present as female in public. That being the case, I haven't been able to take my annual Christmas photo so here's one from 2009, taken just a few weeks before I went out in public for the very first time. I feel equally confined now so it seems a suitable picture to use this year.





My very best wishes to you.

Sue x

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Nottingham: the only place to invade!

Sometimes I leave a report of where I’ve been until some time after it has happened, for periods when news is slow. And now that the weather’s wet and grey I feel it’s time to think back to June when I went on the Nottingham Invasion again.

This was my fourth visit to this monthly event. The most popular posts on this blog are those which relate to my previous trips to join the Invasion so if you want to read up more about the fun to be had there, here are the links:





This time I’d reached Nottingham by train from Manchester where I’d spent a couple of days catching up with friends in Canal Street – see here http://suerichmond.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/manchester-in-summer.html ). The journey between the two cities was not one I’d ever done before, and it’s rather an attractive one as the railway cuts through the Pennines.

In Nottingham I stayed in the Welbeck Hotel just off the city centre, a decent place and very good value, I thought. Mind you, anywhere is good value compared to London! So I got myself nicely dressed and made up for the evening with a floral summery dress and a leather jacket for when it got chillier and I went to join Gina, Emma and Ange in Prezzo for dinner. It’s an Italian and the food was pretty good. It was good to catch up with the girls as it had been a while since I had last seen them.

We sauntered off to the New Foresters pub where, being summer, it was now nice to stand out in the yard at the back (it’s always been wintry on previous visits). It was good to say hi to old friends like Tania Thomas, Rachael Spire and Rachel Katie Showdown and meet some new girls, Pippa Jo and her wife, Nikki Evans whom so far I had only met online, Alison and Rachel Kay. I did miss Vanessa Hardwick whom I’ve been trying to meet for a while. That’s because the Invasion doesn’t stick to one location but is nomadic and who you chat to depends where you end up.


With Rachael and Rachel in Revolution. Photo by Gina.

So after the New Foresters we went to Revolution, not a venue I’d visited before. Mixed boys and girls there but large and a bit too noisy so we didn’t stay long and went to a new place a couple of doors along, the Rum House to try some of their cocktails, which were quite potent. Well, as they should be! I preferred this place but the downstairs bar where we sat and chatted closed at midnight so we headed to the venue we always end up in, which is NG1. This used to be a gay club but now seems not to bother emphasising the LGBT aspect, which I guess is the best way for things to go. The bar area is still comfortable, attractive and well-stocked and a good place for a chat, the dance floor at the back is fun. 

As I said, the Invasion tends to disperse over the bars, pubs and clubs of the city centre and girls end up texting frantically to see where everyone else has got to. You know, I’m not quite as young as makeup makes me look and, frankly, after four venues and dinner I felt it was time to call it a night.

I do recommend this event on the third Friday of every month. Compared to the small area and noisy venues frequented by Leeds First Friday, Girls’ Big Night Out at the single venue Pink Punters on the second Friday of every month, and the ghetto at Manchester's Canal Street, this is so much more like a normal night out on the town, which is what living a trans life is for me, i.e. just going to regular venues with the rest of the public.

I finished my summer holiday by leaving the hotel the next day and spending a few days with some of my best friends who live in the city.

Thanks to all you super girls in Nottingham for making a girl from so far away so welcome. I hope to get back to Nottingham and the Invasion again next year.

Sue x

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Roz White: transgender writer

It’s time to tell you about my friend Roz White who writes transgender fiction. She’s published four books so far and there are more on their way.

Roz and I have never managed to meet in person, sadly, mainly because we live at opposite ends of the country. But thanks to the power of modern technology we have got to know each other very well online over the last six years or so.



Roz writes well and is very much and a girl about town and has a smart wardrobe (I mean her clothes are smart, not the wardrobe). She therefore knows a thing or two about living in the real world as TGirl. She has just started a blog and I expect it will blossom into a really worthwhile one:


Her books to date have all been self-published with Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=Roz+White&type=

but she is now being shown interest by Cool Beans https://www.coolbeanspe.com/ , the type of publishing firm that is becoming more common in the e-book era.

Anyway, what does she write? Well, to start we have Sketches by Roz and Transits of Venus, two mixed collections of short stories and real adventure. The stories are mainly erotica or imagined situations, always with a TGirl protagonist. Roz’s real-life adventures in Edinburgh and Newcastle are very different and are much funnier (let’s face it, real life is pretty comical) and if I am right they were all posted on the UK Angels forum just after they happened.



These were followed by her first full-length novel, The Sisterhood, and this is very true-to-life as it describes the friendship that grows between five TGirls all at different stages of development. Roz has carefully observed TGirl fears and troubles, hopes, thoughts and obsessions very well indeed over the years and if anyone wanted to know what it is that bugs us and the obstacles we face and fear, then this book is a good place to start. It feels very real, despite being fiction. After all the girls’ troubles, it does have a happy ending.

I jokingly said whilst reading it that I hoped there’d be some dinosaurs, spaceships and sexy witches cropping up in the narrative at some point. There weren’t but she mischievously took me at my word and penned a delightfully zany tale involving dinosaurs, spaceships and some sexy  witches (with the added bonus that they are transgender witches). What’s more, she’s published it! http://www.lulu.com/shop/roz-white/the-unexpected-consequences-of-unattainable-desire/paperback/product-21785672.html I take no responsibility!

Enjoy. But note these are all for adults.

Also note that I am not endorsing Roz's work because she is a friend (she hasn't bribed me to write this) but because transgender fiction is a genre in its infancy, and with quality like this it's a genre that could become mainstream. Wouldn't it be great if bookshops had sections for Crime Fiction, Sci-Fi Fiction, Romance, Teenage Fiction, etc. as now, and then Transgender Fiction? I think so.

And I am hoping that Roz may be able to join me at next year’s London Book Fair in London.

Sue x

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Boudoir - a tribute

Today is the anniversary of one of the biggest milestones in the evolution of my feminine side: it’s ten years since I first went to the Boudoir dressing service in London. 

It was so important because this was the first time I had ever had proper hair, had makeup done professionally and the first time I ever really looked like a woman.

Naturally, it was only when I got the internet at home that this whole emergence thing became a real possibility. In the heady days before Facebook, Google, Wikipedia and WiFi broadband, intrepid webonauts would “dial up” their service and launch their electronic craft upon unknown seas of networked wonders. Who needed YouTube when you could watch Hampsterdance endlessly? And who needed a blog when there was Geocities?

I digress. In those far-flung days I remember tentatively typing the one word, “transvestite”, into a search engine and feared for what might happen when I pressed the Enter button.

Acrtually what happened was a lovely site popped up at the top of the list. It was for Nicola Smith (here she still is after all these years http://www.nicolasmith24.co.uk/index.html ) and her fantastic photos kept referring to the Boudoir. So, eventually, nervously, I rang the number and made an appointment through Sean for November 15th 2004. Yes, I was nervous all right. But I just felt that it was time to really start the process of being myself.

So when I got there Sean showed me in and I met the famous Jodie Lynn and her cat Spike and, to cut the story short, she did her thing, doing my makeup and putting a wig on me. It took at least 45 minutes and I can’t see a thing without my glasses but when I put them on and looked in the mirror I was stunned. Nobody ever forgets that moment when they see themselves as the woman they want to be for the very first time. I was there for 3 hours but it made a profound difference to the whole way I saw my transness.

My coming out then didn’t happen as planned because almost immediately after this visit I got into a long-term relationship. When I was back to progressing my femme side it was early 2008. I had lost two and a half stone, was determined to get out in the world and needed good advice and assistance. So I went back to the Boudoir and discussed my needs, which were clearer now, in more detail. I spent the whole afternoon there. Jodie talked me through the makeup process, put long nails on my fingers, and I tried five different outfits and different wigs. She advised me what clothes would work better on my figure and with my size. (And what’s more, since this was also a treat to myself just before I became redundant at work, she advised me on running a small business, advice which has been of great help.)

Later that year went to the Boudoir a third time and I knew what I wanted. Again, Jodie talked me through the makeup, I suggested what I wanted to wear and the kinds of hairstyles that I was looking for. She even abandoned her standard TGirl wardrobes and lent me some of her own clothes. And it really came together. I felt that my image was how I wanted it. A few days later I returned and bought one of the wigs off her, went to Charles Fox and Mac to get makeup, and practised a lot at home as I got up the courage to venture out in the real world.

Although I’ve not been back since – in many ways I’ve felt that I had found what I wanted (although I must do a professional photoshoot there soon) – I think these three sessions were the best time I have ever spent in my entire life. And it’s nice to bump into Jodie from time to time, at the Way Out Club, Pink Punters, Magic Theatre or Sparkle, where she’s always with ‘her’ girls.

Jodie (and Spike the cat, sadly departed now) was professional and considerate and I had no difficulty explaining and discussing what I wanted. Some say that the Boudoir has a ‘production line’ quality so that everyone ends up looking the same but the fact is that if you just go there and say “make me look like a woman” Jodie will do her wonderful work on a face she’s never seen before and can only guess at. If you discuss with her how you perceive things, then you can get a look that works in a way that particularly suits you. Some people say it’s expensive. I'd sat it’s a professional service and it’s the best money I have ever spent.

 
2004: overweight & unsure
Here’s my transformation:

Full length


spring 2008: slim and experimenting
Autumn 2008: confident

 
And my close-up:


2004: I was so thrilled to see myself like this
Spring 2008: Cute, but not sure about the brows
Autumn 2008: I know this is now me


And a bit of fun to round off when I asked to look like a teenage girl of the time (this was definitely the fashion in 2008). This is a real tribute to Jodie as it shows how a middle-aged person not blessed with female looks or form can be made to look like a sixteen year old girl:

The joy of being young (and female)

So an infinity of thanks to the lovely Jodie Lynn for those amazing transformations that not only changed my face and presentation but my life as well. And thanks to Nicola for first alerting me to the existence of the Boudoir.


Sue x

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

November: remembrance and reflection

Today is Remembrance Day when we commemorate war dead, even though the main ceremony at the Cenotaph is now on the Sunday before. This year, because it is the centenary of the start of World War I, there have been a number of special events in London. The one that has most captured the imagination is the filling of the moat at the Tower of London with an art installation by Paul Cummins, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, consisting of 888,246 ceramic poppies, representing British dead of WW1, which have all been sold for charity. Another worthwhile item is the Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace, a collection of photographs in St James’s Park by photojournalist Michael St. Maur Sheil, which shows what the battlefields of the time look like now. They look rather beautiful, in many cases.

November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance. There is little doubt that the number of trans people who have been murdered or committed suicide is very significantly higher than average, a shocking state of affairs. I wonder if this can be compared to the sort of wasteful slaughter in World War I? I will also be remembering them.

On a personal level, I have been mourning a friend who died very unexpectedly last month. He was only 51 but was (ironically) full of life. His wife held a cheerful memorial event in a local pub, which we all agreed was by far the beat way to reflect on the fun we’d had with him. We concluded that his philosophy of enjoying life as much as you can since you never know when it will end is absolutely the right one.

From the dead to the still living, yesterday I had an interesting communication from my old school. They are, of course co-operating with the police on the ongoing investigation into abuse there and are therefore unable to comment much. But in the carefully worded lines they do admit there will be reflection to be done. I would like to thank all of you who have so far commented here on this subject, and those of you who have sent me private communications. I appreciate all your thoughts. The post is here and I welcome any relevant remarks: http://suerichmond.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/historic-child-abuse-new-hope.html

Dark days of history, be it personal, community or worldwide, always cast a shadow on our lives, even after decades or centuries.

I promise to return to the more usual upbeat blogging next post.

So, with that end in view let’s also reflect on how Guy Fawkes night (November 5th) has stopped being almost Britain’s unofficial national day and faded away. As kids we would recite:

                        “Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
                        Gunpowder, treason and plot.
                        I see no reason why gunpowder treason
                        Should ever be forgot.”

Well, the forgetting seems to be happening! When people have fireworks it’s rarely on the night itself unless it happens to be a weekend (like Remembrance Day). And kids no longer make guys and cart them around town asking “penny for the guy”. The highlight of the night was, of course, chucking the guy on a massive, eyebrow-singeing bonfire!

So let’s leave it to that seminal work on British history, 1066 and All That, to explain why This Date is Important:

“There were a great many plots and Parliaments in James I's reign, and one of the Parliaments was called the Addled Parliament because the plots hatched in it were all such rotten ones. One plot, however, was by far the best plot in History, and the day and month of it (though not, of course, the year) are well known to be utterly and even maddeningly memorable.

The Gunpowder Plot arose in the following way: the King had recently invented a new table called Avoirduroi, which said:

1 New Presbyter = 1 old priest.

o Bishop = o King.

James was always repeating, 'No Bishop, No King'" to himself, and one day a certain loyal citizen called Sir Guyfawkes, a very active and conscientious man, overheard him, and thought it was the slogan of James's new policy. So he decided to carry it out at once and made a very loyal plan to blow up the King and the bishops and everybody else in Parliament assembled, with gun-powder (recently invented by Francis Bacon, author of Shakespeare, etc.). Although the plan failed, attempts are made every year on St Guyfawkes' Day to remind the Parliament that it would have been a Good Thing.”


So there you have it.

Sue x

Friday, 31 October 2014

Hallowon't!

You know, Hallowe'en seems to have taken over from Guy Fawkes night (5 November) as the main celebration in the autumn and this town is swarming with people of all ages dressed in 'scary' costumes. I'm sad as I would normally go to some kind of party but my ongoing skin health problem prevents any public femme activity at present. This is no good when I know the girls are meeting tonight in Brick Lane and I would have been there. And I've missed out on several other good Hallowe'en events this week that would've been great fun. So instead I'm looking back at my album of past party events and I still think the 2011 Magic Theatre Hallowe'en event at the Rivoli ballroom was the best to date.

http://suerichmond.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/halloween-at-magic-theatre.html

Well, there's always next year, and the year after! That thought keeps me smiling.

Sue x

And the hat!
Hell Bunny dress and spider tights and gloves

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Child abuse at my school - a new hope?

I started writing a post a couple of years ago when increasing attention was being paid to alleged abuse of children by TV celebrities that spanned several decades. Most of us were somewhat sceptical – after all, how could our beloved childhood heroes have possibly been evil? But what with the recent convictions of British media giants such as Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall, Max Clifford, Dave Lee Travis and others, and the condemnation of the late Jimmy Savile, it is clear that from the 1960s onwards the systematic abuse of youngsters, and the cover-up, in the British media was overwhelming.

Since then, and in the light of abuse involving other organisations, notably the Roman Catholic Church, other police investigations have been opened into abuse by politicians, and abuse in schools, children’s homes, etc. The detective in charge of the investigation into politicians has already been removed and, given the British establishment’s brilliance in protecting its own, I doubt anything will come of that.

Over the last few months I have been I touch with Scotland Yard, London’s police headquarters, about systematic abuse at my own school, one of hundreds such. I have also spoken to all my friends who went to school in the same era, just to compare experiences. The results of my chats were astonishing.


Sexual abuse at my school

In my response to Lynn’s “Our Different Story” questions http://suerichmond.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/our-different-journey.html
I said school wasn’t great but I survived and it was hard to be enthusiastic about it. I’d like to expand on that.

My school educated me, and did so pretty well, in fact, but it was a place to survive and tolerate rather than be inspired by. Why? Because the abuse was extreme. I survived it, others less well. But then I never suffered – thank God – a direct sexual assault, unlike dozens of others who went there.

Like so many British educational establishments, it was a single-sex school. I’ve never been clear why the British consider separating girls and boys to be such an important thing when educating them, but that is the fact in this country. I went to a boys’ school, therefore. As a transgender ‘boy’, this was an unhappy situation. But the idea is to be educated and, to be honest, I didn’t resent boys' things. I just liked girls’ things, too. So it was toy soldiers in public, dollies in private; footballs in public, skipping ropes in private; shorts in public, dresses in private. And wishing I could be a ballerina as well as an astronaut. That sort of a life.

Clearly, because of the way the law is framed (and because of prurient British interests in sexual matters), the police are looking into sex offences. There were plenty, and we youngsters all knew about them at the time but a conspiracy of silence accompanies all institutions and it is only now, decades later, that we seem to be able to talk properly about our experiences. The mafia word omertà is much used in this year’s media reports about this. Or, as would have been said in my day, “Gentlemen don’t tell tales”. It is right that sexual offences should have priority. Being ‘broken into’, as they say in Essex, is the ultimate violation of a person’s dignity and rights as well as their person. I do feel, though, that the emphasis on this alone risks covering the fact that sexual violence is merely one aspect of a wider culture of violent and psychological abuse. Recall how rape was used twenty years ago in Bosnia and Rwanda as part of an overarching process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and domination.

All of us were given genital inspections on a regular basis. Or just ogled in the showers. For most of us, that’s as far as it went. But I am sorry for those children at my school who were raped and subjected to humiliating sexual treatment at the hands of many evil teachers (and one or two other boys), most of whom have now died and so evaded justice. Offering children money for sex does not make it OK. Offering sexual alternatives to due punishment under school rules is not OK either. I am even more disgusted that those who ought to have dealt with the abuse correctly – especially headmasters – saw fit to act by quietly moving offending teachers out (only when caught) and giving them decent references for other schools, thus shifting the problem off themselves and onto other establishments who, in their turn, appear to have taken the same approach. I remain furious, after so many years, that parents such as mine assume that children are incorrigible liars and that authority is, by definition, automatically right.


Violence

But I mentioned a wider culture of abuse. That would be the violence perpetrated against us by our teachers. On the physical level, we had official corporal punishment occasionally, and detentions were also a popular form of punishment, but that was a system that was regulated, at least in principle. The only system that was. Teachers were no longer allowed to use the cane themselves but were to refer gross misdemeanours to the headmaster. But only if they felt like it, which simply gave the abusive teachers the power to use their inventiveness on matters that they elected not to refer to the headmaster. Any system of discipline must be that: a process with clear rules so that those who commit offences under those rules may know what to expect in the way of reparation. It won’t do to give teachers free reign to be judge, jury and executioner according to their whims. You soon learnt what it was that set a particular teacher into a fury: this one hates sneezing in class (yes, really), that one cannot tolerate slouching, the other has random hates and you don’t know where you are from day to day. And that teacher there, well, he has lighted on that particular boy on whom to take out his hatred for the whole class. He’s the whipping boy for the lesson, or the week, or the term.

Gym shoes, spiked football boots, cricket bats and rulers all work very well on young bottoms, a wooden board rubber aimed at the head can be very effective especially if it raises a red bump or a black eye. Best, of course, is the unflinching use of hands and feet. A good crack round the chops (repeated at will) … or a firm punch anywhere on the body. Best of all, though, is kicking. A rain of kicks on the shin will render even the toughest boy to a crying wreck and leave bruises and a limp for days – nothing like seeing your victim in real pain, is there? The humiliation is a given, of course. Which means you can then, in addition, tease the boy for being a wimp. We’re talking of boys aged mainly from 9 to 12 here. It would be a brave teacher who took on a 17-year old, 14-stone rugby forward who might be thinking of a career in the army, so as we got older the teachers knew they could touch us less and less. One teacher famously missed a kick at a boy’s backside and broke his foot on the boy’s chair and hobbled around on crutches with foot in plaster for several weeks, such was the force of the blow he aimed. We didn’t know the word karma in those days, though. (Incidentally, the boy would have been aged around 11.) Just grab a boy and throw him across the room, bash his head on the desk or crack it against his neighbour’s. Repeat as required. The sound is satisfying. Go ahead, teacher, that’s what you’re here for, to satisfy your lust for power over the powerless. Justice never seemed to come into it. What with this and the hate-driven religion I was brought up in (more on that another day), I have never been able to equate punishment with justice as a result. The basic aim of school was to be punished or avoid punishment. You learnt the teachers who liked punishment and any especial things that they would punish you for. Not the same as what other teachers would punish you for, of course. You had to guess to start with and learn the hard way. Of course, a really great teacher keeps the boys guessing. All the time. And so has the satisfaction of brutalising someone in every class every lesson. The school law is like that of Sparta, unwritten and hard to know, and, like Sparta, the culture is brutal and physical. So keep your head down and your nose clean and never ever catch anyone’s eye. If you lucky, though, your teacher, who has just drawn your blood, will be oh so remorseful and maybe start caressing you. How nice and kind of them. Really lucky boys get invited to teachers’ homes and studies where they are given a direct demonstration of what a grown-up boy looks like and what a grown-up boy can do with his manhood. Nice.

Shouting at full volume at a boy is, of course, expected. Calling him names is pathetic but, hey, you’re the big important man who’s standing at the head of the class. Get the boy to stand up all lesson and make him answer all the questions. It’s a slap for every one he then gets wrong. Stand outside, stand in the corner, stay behind. And so on. “No, Sir, I don’t know the answer to the question. I don’t think we’ve been taught this yet and, no, I can’t guess it yet. Stand Up? Yes, OK. Sorry, didn’t mean to slouch. Biff! Again, I don’t know. Pow! Don’t snivel? No, Sir. Kick!” Later, much later, we see Mr Blonde taking his satisfaction of a trussed-up cop in Reservoir Dogs. That brings back memories. There’d have been a gasoline shower for us, too, if the stuff hadn’t been so expensive in the ’70s. We read school violence in our weekly comics and kid’s books (The Bash Street Kids in the Beano or the suitably illustrated ‘plain blip for numskulls’ and ‘headshave with ruler’ in Molesworth), so we assume that’s what school is. You get through it. Some boys have to suck dick, too. It’s just life and you’re glad that particular task wasn’t yours.

The reverends were almost the worst, men obsessed with punishment and the need to control and who used sexual brutality and humiliation as a weapon on many. Of the three I recall as being title Reverend, two have been investigated by the police and described as “serial paedophiles”. But they’re dead now. If you want to classify it by subject, those who taught Latin, for some reason, were the worst. Maybe they dreamed of running a school for gladiators or something, where only ruthless training makes for the best bloody spectacles. (Whereas French teachers, for instance, seemed a bit weak. We took advantage of them; I guess it was a relief to know you weren’t going to get it so badly in their class.) Worse even than the reverends were those who were known to be freemasons. They seemed capable of unrestrained malice, yet always kept just within the law, such as it was. The few women teachers were generally OK. Well, less nasty than the men. It’s all relative, of course.

The brutality from above rubs off on the boys and they come up with inventive tortures, like Sadistic Black Jack, or wedgies applied at any time and for any or no reason (or just a good kick in the nuts – it’s not considered sporting, but it’s a regular way of solving a fight – and once in a while boys are hospitalised after such damage), or the ‘paddy whack’ (you pass between two lines of boys who thump you, a bit like the traditional punishment in the Prussian army), or the classic wet towel whack, or the ‘sting’ (a downward flick of the fingers onto the buttocks – more painful than you’d guess), or the ‘operation’ (hold them down, remove their shorts and underpants and punch them in the bits – if they need anaesthetic gas, get someone to fart in their face first); there was indeed an elaborate system of warding off or awarding punishment for farting – list the names of ten brands of cigarette or titles of porn mags whilst your arm is vigorously thumped as hard and often as possible. Chinese burns, ear tweaking, the sharp bit of a compass in the fleshy bits (or even the face on occasion). Heat something up in a bunsen burner and apply the hot object to the seat of someone’s pants. The yelp gets them into trouble. Scratch another boy’s name into a desk and see them get sent to the head. Why not fold someone into the waste paper bin so they can’t get out before teacher walks in to take the lesson? Watch them get into trouble for that or any one of a thousand other japes. Or just lay into each other with the contents of a cricket bag – bats, stumps, hard cricket balls. A cricket stump rammed in the belly is pretty effective. But it’s OK, folks, at least it’s not the sharp end. Slam inattentive fingers in the window (seriously exquisite pain guaranteed). We give, we receive, we invent and apply. We learn to dodge and skyve and cheat. …We survive. 

I mentioned Reservoir Dogs. Actually, it's more of a cross between Lord of the Flies and Scum (a film of the era set in a boys' borstal, except we hadn't been convicted of anything).

It’s the abuse of power that disgusts me most. We went to learn stuff in good faith and instead we ran the gauntlet all the time of seemingly random beatings, punishments and abuse. Given with impunity. And many, many pupils were sexually assaulted, too. Those teachers who are still alive are being arrested and charged for the latter issue and there are already some in jail. Most have long since died, praised as war heroes and, naturally, great paedagogues.

I survive. I keep a low profile. I learn what sets each crazed teacher off and avoid it, do just enough work to avoid serious punishment … and quietly, at home, I create a different life. I make friends and we do support each other in the face of a greater enemy. I am not so badly treated as others, I can’t say that I am really bullied by my peers and I generally hold my own, but some terms I can’t help but feel that dying would be better than living.


Wider environment
 
Not all that far from the school were two men’s public toilets that we are told to avoid. They are a notorious pick-up place for men, and boys. We aren’t told that, but we know.

Not all that far from the school was a children’s home. You can guess the rest. 

Not all that far from the school was a gay and paedophile brothel. The gay bit is fine in my view. The paedophile bit is not. The police are still working on that one. The kids who disappeared will obviously never know justice, and I doubt their parents will. Especially not those kids who paid the ultimate price of high art by starring in paedo snuff movies. It is believed that such films were made there.

Not all that far from the school is a park where women get attacked and raped virtually every week. Streakers (this is the ’70s) regularly run naked up the path behind the school. Plenty of yobs do, too – skinheads, punks wielding bike chains, biker boys with flick knives. The whole area reeks of sleaze and violence, as does the school. But that’s what we were used to and we just assumed that was life, then and for ever. Britain in the ’70s and early ’80s was in economic crisis and our society was tormented and violent. We at school were just a microcosm of Britain as a whole, perhaps. Maybe that’s why Jimmy Savile’s behaviour was never really questioned at the time, nor that of his peers. Things were different back then, we are told. They were, but does that make those things OK?

I believe that 30-40 years on now, life is much better. There’s much less fear, worry, conflict and violence in our society. We can talk about things like this. Not perfect, of course, but a great improvement.


What’s this got to do with trans matters, and justice?

I left school at 18 and have never been back there. Why would I? They educated me; job done. When I first started going out in public as a woman I wondered if I should go to the school’s annual Open Day as an ‘old girl’, as it were. But then I had to ask myself what my motive was. I couldn’t think of one, so I didn’t go. There must be other ‘old boys’ there who are now also ‘old girls’ like me. I’m not sure how to get in touch with them.

I never mentioned out loud then that I’d have preferred to be a girl. Not openly. Just in slightly cryptic pencil annotations to schoolbooks, or quietly graffitied in dark recesses of cupboards or hidden areas of toilets where badly-drawn phallic images proliferated.

I have been chatting to my friends since the storm broke about six months ago. Their experiences of school, while not always fun, are totally different. Some went to single-sex schools, others to mixed schools; some went to public/private schools, most went to state schools. Nobody else experienced this sort of treatment, neither excess punishment and violence, nor abuse; and, with one minor exception, there was no sexual mistreatment. I feel resentful now that I should have been subject to this injustice, and that I couldn’t come out as trans, at least to my peers, when I was younger. Why did I, of all people, have to end up in a culture of macho violence, sadism, abuse and brutality? I assumed that everyone who went to school had similar experiences. This is not the case at all. I notice lots of kids these days saying they enjoy going to school. And I think: what’s wrong with you?! You’re not supposed to like school. It’s somewhere you go to be disciplined and educated, nothing more.

I don’t know what justice will be done. As I said, most of the perps are dead now. Maybe the school will be a much better place from now on. Or maybe it will close as a result of the bad publicity. I’m doing what little I can to assist the police, though I know others have much worse and more effective tales to tell. The violence is not prosecutable at this length of time later.

As for being trans, well, that’s something that’s had to be a quiet thing virtually all my life for fear of the consequences. Stunting people through fear is the way to control them. Institutions like governments, religions, schools, homes for children and the elderly do that very well. Such organisations should be avoided.

I am still thinking about how I feel about all this. I felt at the time that life was random, cruel and nasty. There’s one law for the powerful and a very different law for the rest. But I realise now that it’s only particular environments that create that feeling. I am curious to know more about how other people, especially trans people, felt about school. I do have two trans friends who were subject to sustained, appalling sexual abuse as children and the perpetrators did go to jail. But no jail term ever repairs a life that’s been ruined.

I half-drafted a post about the religion I grew up in and how that affected my perceptions of myself as a trans person, but I found it distressing even after all these years and stopped writing. But publishing that may serve a purpose, too, as the feeling of injustice is similar.

Thank you for reading all this way down. I have tried as much as possible to be positive in this “Sue’s news and views” blog to encourage other trans people to live a life nearer to the one they would like, and to that end it’s been much more news than views. And I suppose this whole issue illustrates how really important it is that you must not allow other people to dominate and destroy you. And we must all fight the brutality of the domineering, the cruel, the abusive and the criminal.

[ADD: 27 October: In the light of Demi's thoughtful comment below, I am still trying to see how different my experience was to that of other children of the era, in Britain or elsewhere. I would find your comments helpful.

We who seek justice must always be just. There are people who are sexually attracted to children. This seems to be a fact, presumably in the same way that many people are attracted to people of the same sex as themselves, or to particular types of people, or have a fetish or fascination for a particular kind of thing (for instance, BDSM - something I don't understand either -  is so common it may be considered mainstream). It's how you go about satisfying your need for what you love that distinguishes you. I do feel that a proper, rational, adult discussion on paedophilia needs to be undertaken, rather than knee-jerk reactions so as to avoid miscarriages of justice. My gripe here is that the sexual abuse of children at my school had little to do with sex but was merely one tool in a whole armoury of repression and brutality. I don't think paedophilia ("love of children", to translate it) ever really came into it.]

Contact the police if you feel that you were abused as a child (or even later). There are many investigations on the go with different names and different detectives and, of course, Britain has local police forces with their own arrangements. But Scotland Yard can be contacted on 020 7230 1212 and they can pass you on to other local forces when matters are not being dealt with by them at national level.
The next post will be jolly.

Sue x

Monday, 20 October 2014

A bit of this, a bit of that

I've not posted anything for a few weeks as there's not exactly been a lot happening in the way of trans life. I've mainly been getting back into the work routine after the summer (boring!) and redecorating at home (boring!). And other stuff (boring!).

I've also been sorting clothes that I don't want any more. They'll either be given away or go to the charity shop. We all buy stuff that turns out to be a mistake (or that no longer fits).

My lovely friend Roz White - the one Tgirlfriend I've never met despite five or six years online (we live at opposite ends of the country) - has set up a trans writers and readers group so I thought I'd put my blog up there. Hi to any new readers. Hope you enjoy.

I'll be posting about Roz's transgender fiction another day. It's pretty good stuff and can be found on Lulu.com. Sadly, the photo I wanted to take of me as Uma Thurman reading Roz's pulp fiction is not to be!

I have, in fact, been drafting a very long post. Not an easy one to write as it concerns the ongoing investigation by the police into historic abuse at the school I went to (part of a nationwide investigation). I normally try to make things positive here but some negative issues need to be aired, those that have a marked influence upon us.

Sue x

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Manchester in summer

Ok, this write-up is late … very late. But there are reasons for that.

In June I decided to take a proper two-week summer holiday, the first in some years, in fact. Part of that was a trip to Manchester to meet up with a few TGirls of my acquaintance. Manchester does seem to have the best T scene overall in Britain, focused on Canal Street and the Gay Village.

I booked into the Atrium apartments near Canal Street and was delighted to be given this massive flat, a penthouse, that would happily have slept four people. I didn’t ask for it, it’s just that business must have been slow that week. So it was good to entertain friends there.

First a trip to town to get supplies. Nobody much seemed to notice the TGirl about town. They’re probably all too busy with their own affairs. Or maybe I’m passing OK these days. A bit of both, probably.

Then I smartened up in my smart apartment and invited KD, Kate and Suki over for a drink before we went to Canal Street. Dinner in Velvet, which I haven’t eaten in before but which does a very good menu. Said hi to Priya (of the TGirl bar), who was also eating there. We headed to the Molly House for a while which, as I’ve said before, is probably the best establishment in the Gay Village. And then off to Napoleon’s for a bit of a dance. There was, just for once, one admirer there who had some conversation and a reasonable dress sense, which made a pleasant change! So that was an enjoyable day.

Relaxed dinner in Velvet, Manchester. KD's photo.


The next day my face wasn’t at all well and I mainly rested until the afternoon when I once more met KD and her wife, whom I hadn’t seen for quite a while, which is a pity since we get along very well. I often find supportive wives of TGirls particularly good company and whilst it is true that most don’t understand why TGirls are who they are and do what they do (as if we TGirls know!), and almost invariably wish that their husband wasn’t trans, I do think they enjoy the company and the fun, especially as most of us act way younger than our years. Anyway, enough musing. We met up with Diana, whom I hadn’t seen in ages and it was great to catch up with her at last. (Sadly, Diana seems to have deleted her blog.) We went to the Richmond Tea Rooms for a late tea (or early pudding course, if you like). This place is pretty unique, half Victorian tea room, half gin palace, very eccentric but with excellent food and tea. We had a meal in Taurus but the previous late night was still taking it’s toll and, sadly, I decided to go to bed at a sensible hour. Hey, my luxury apartment needed full use, and I intended to get my money’s worth!

More casual tonight: with KD in Manchester. KD's photo.



So as a couple of days to catch up with friends, this trip was worth doing. The weather was beautiful, too, so sitting out on Canal Street with a cool drink, having a chat, was very agreeable. Obviously, I was back in July for Sparkle but I don’t know when I will next be back in Manchester and its T scene. It’s a long way from home so inevitably I can't visit that often.

Many thanks to KD and MR, Kate and Suki, Diana and the other girls and boys we met and chatted with for making it such an agreeable two days.

Sue x

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A new kind of routine

Well, things have got back to normality in the sense that work has now gone full steam after the summer so I am seriously busy during the week. But I have been making sure that weekends are free. I previously mentioned a couple of TGirl friends I have met up with (in male mode) in August and since then I have visited another TGirl who lives near Leicester, where we enjoyed seeing the National Space Centre for the first time - a seriously good day out if you or the family are vaguely interested in science (and it may make you interested if you're not). Girl mode not possible for me or my friend, but this boy mode thing is gradually becoming less of a worry. My skin problem that's caused this exile is slowly improving, though. I hope to be out again as Sue next year.

So this means that work is the bulk of my life now (boring!) but I'm making the most of my spare time, including a trip to Berlin again this weekend. I had originally hoped to travel and stay there en femme but this is not to be. Maybe next year. (Incidentally, if you've not been to Berlin, I urge you to go. Not only is it cheap, it is also vibrant, exciting, attractive, and full of history. Great for families and for TGirls).

It seems odd to be forced back to boy mode after having lived almost full-time as a woman around 2011-12, and it's upsetting, but I'm coping.

I've been reminded that I haven't yet written about my summer holiday in the Lake District, Manchester and Nottingham. I was waiting a bit as Manchester and Nottingham were great, but the Lake District part went horribly wrong. So we'll let you know the good bits soon.

Sue x

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Friends' moral support

I've spent the last two weekends on Britain's South Coast, staying with trans friends each time. In deference to the fact that I have not been able to shave for 6/7 weeks and therefore couldn't appear as Sue as I would otherwise have done, my friends each insisted on spending the time in male mode. I told them this was quite unnecessary and that I would be delighted if they went out in female mode as they are accustomed to, but both told me that they preferred solidarity with my plight. They are well known as trans in their communities and dress more often than not but are quite relaxed about their roles so I don't think it detracted from their enjoyment or made them lose out too much, but I did feel warmed by their generosity of spirit.

Sue x

PS Just as an update on my eczema, my drastic remedial action has led to quite a lot of improvement and I have little or no remaining eczema on my hands, forehead or neck. My chin is still not good but what's there is now hidden by beard and I think it is slightly better. There's quite a way to go yet, though.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Three years of blogging

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of my starting this blog.

On the last two anniversaries I got curious about the stats. You see, it’s hard to get in to Blogger without going through the stats, so you are always aware of them. But something odd has happened. The stats tell me that in October 2009, for instance, there were 409 page views. This is not interesting, apart from the fact that I signed up with this site and started blogging only in August 2011! So I’ve no idea why there are statistics like this going back to July 2008! And only for certain months! Maybe my blog has got mixed up with another one. So now I’m not at all sure how often this blog has been visited (not all the 32,248 times the stats say, therefore). Maybe some techie can advise … without getting too nerdy about it as I’d rather talks about frocks than figures. If I was better at coping with technical stuff I’d also sort out my blogroll better since I can’t see how to delete dead blogs or even properly load some new ones like Hannah’s Illustrated Biography of a Crossdresser, which I really like.

Anyway, I do know that by far the most popular posts are those concerning my trips to Nottingham for the girls’ monthly Invasion (23 Jan 2012 and 18 Mar 2012). And why not, it’s a great event and there’s another Invasion to write up about shortly. The TGirl Bar of 2013 (1 Dec 2013) is also a popular read, as is the Nostalgia trip to Pink Punters (16 Dec 2012) and my contribution to Our Different Journey (5 Jan 2013).

And I do know that 39 of you follow me publicly (though I reckon some followers are now functionally dead). Hello there, and thanks for reading. I have no plans to stop writing about my trans life yet and there are plenty more posts coming up.

It’s been very up and down emotionally and in terms of activity this past year and, sadly, my going out time is over probably for the rest of 2014, though I am pleased that this horrid skin complaint is gradually improving as a result of the care I’m taking, even though the solution is rather drastic.

Best wishes to you all, and to my fellow bloggers.

Sue x

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Kellie and Simone talk to the press about transition

I don’t usually comment on trans-related news articles. Normally they’re either not newsworthy, or the news is designed to attack, provoke or uncover, or it’s simply misrepresented. And they usually lead to nasty arguments in the online comments pages. If you’d like to follow trans (or, more properly, LGBT) news items, Emily was in touch last week and you can link to a large number of them via her blog: http://emilysvirtualrocket.blogspot.co.uk/

However, on this occasion I will make an exception because the matter is much closer to home, and also concerns a public figure, Kellie Maloney, formerly Frank, a boxing promoter who has started speaking to the press about her transition. Good luck to Kellie, whom I admire for being frank (rather than Frank) about what it is like to be trans in a macho world like boxing and having to suppress your real self to feel successful in such contexts. But my friend Simone (we generally know her here by her other name of Holly, she of the TGirl bar in 2011 and 2013) has, in the light of Kellie’s comments, spoken to the Daily Telegraph about life when transitioning.


It’s a decent enough article as these things go. Simone’s thoughts really caught my attention not just because she’s a friend of mine because they tie in closely what I have blogged about, both in the past and just recently. Most immediately and obviously, for me at least, is that fact that, whilst staying with me over the weekend of the 2011 TGirl bar she then went to work on the Monday sporting the beautiful baked-on nails that she’d had done for the event and didn’t want to remove since the Enigma Ball was happening the next weekend and she would have had to have had them done all over again. This was a dilemma because, obviously, spending the intervening week at work with them on would definitely ‘out’ her in the male-dominated world of plumbing. We discussed this at some length and I suggested that, annoying as it was, she should remove them: she’s the boss so it would be a risk to business, etc. But she decided to keep them on… and the rest is history! I touched on this event in the last paragraph of my report on the TGirl Bar of 2011:


Simone says in her interview that transitioning has not, in fact, damaged her business and her staff have been supportive, so I’m happy she proved me wrong. That said, I am always ready to point out that the joy that often accompanies transition can gloss over practical points. On a more cynical level one could point out here that there is a recession on and so staff may prefer to keep their jobs rather than fuss about the boss being unusual. And holding a royal warrant may also be a boost to business, too. Not to mention the long establishment of the firm. Transitioning at work is a serious and difficult issue for some, but others get lucky. To those who feel full transition is the way forward, I’d advise not to underestimate the difficulties or gloss over that people may express prejudice in many ways, often very subtle ones. Neither should you let your excitement for your transition distract you from the day-to-day issues we all face when trying to progress any career.

It’s not really so unusual these days for someone to let others know that they are trans, which is why it bugs me that the media still harp on about transition and trans life, cross dressing and related subjects so much. OK, the number of trans people in the public eye is small, but it’s hardly news any more. Well, I would have said not, but obviously newspaper editors disagree. Simone’s interview is a decent summary. Just one thing, though:

“It’s a single operation, and two and a half hours later it’s over, the job’s done.”

I must disagree. Please read my previous post here. If you have surgery and take hormones you will spend many difficult months recovering from your operation and have a lifetime of maintenance work to do. This is not like having a filling at the dentists.

I’ll finish by quoting Simone's wise words here:

“You live your life but once: would you live your life unhappily for the benefit of others, or would it be better to live as happy a life as you can for yourself? Because if you’re happy then everyone else around you is too, usually.”  

Sue x

Monday, 11 August 2014

That notorious surgery, one year on

Regular readers may recall how I took a friend to Charing Cross hospital last summer for her gender surgery (because her lousy boyfriend let her down at the last minute - you’ll be pleased to know she’s since dumped him) but how her operation went drastically wrong and she all unravelled and got a dreadful abdominal infection. She’s recovered well from the ordeal and is working full time again but obviously where she has been operated is not quite as it should be so she is now undergoing corrective treatment. I am so sorry for her, partly for what she has suffered and also because she’s one of the girls who is looking for a nice male partner, but may be unable to make love as she’d like. I appreciate that sex isn’t everything, but it’s often important in a relationship nevertheless.

The reason to post this is not to delve into another’s life – my friend remains strictly anonymous – but to say to my fellow trans people, if you feel that surgery is the way forward for you, just be aware of the many, many complications. It’s a serious and major op. I have heard more than once that 97.5% of those who have had surgery are very satisfied, yet I know several transsexuals whose surgery has gone badly wrong in one way or another and, although they may be happy to be ‘complete’, are definitely unhappy with what has happened to them. Either I just happen to know a high number of those for whom it went wrong – a highly unlikely statistical probability – or the sort of information that transitioners are being fed is wrong. I can’t help getting the impression sometimes that this sort of enthusiasm for encouraging people to have surgery may be propaganda put about by the unscrupulous for reasons of their own. Please be very aware and properly informed of what you are letting yourself in for. Good luck to my friend here, and to another friend who has decided, after many years of living full-time as a woman and going to the gender clinic, that she has taken things as far as she wants and surgery will not now be an option for her.  

Sue x

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sparkle 2014 – a game of two halves


The second weekend of July sees the national transgender celebration, Sparkle, in Manchester and it attracts trans people and their families and friends from all over the British Isles and abroad.


It’s not possible to tell exactly how many people turn up but it’s well into four figures. I wouldn’t miss it for anything, and as this year was Sparkle’s tenth anniversary it promised to be extra special. I was also glad to see that there was a strong emphasis on the female to male side of things this time as we male to female do tend to dominate the community as a rule. It was also the last year than Bella Jay was organising it and all credit goes to her for her incredible work in making this brilliant weekend the success that it is. Thanks, Bella. And also thanks to Kim Angel who founded the event and got it going.

I had booked long before but I was worried about the state of my face, as explained in previous posts. So I only applied my makeup when I was definitely going to go out. 

Every TGirl must photograph herself in her hotel room before she goes out. It's the law.


I started on Friday by meeting a friend who works in Manchester and we had coffee and cake in the café in the Manchester Art Gallery, a nice venue. I have spent most of my trips to Manchester meeting my friends around the Gay Village and have seen very little of the rest of the town so it was nice to do something cultural for a change and look at the paintings, including some of my favourites such as this one.


"Silver Favourites" by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. I was surprised by how small it was.

I went to Canal Street as other friends were beginning to turn up. I love just sitting out there in the sun with a drink, usually strawberry cider, and saying hello to people. Emma Walkey and wife, Zazoo and her pal David, Kerry Nope and Kat Roberts, Kay Denise … Joanne, she of the TGirl bar who was to be my room-mate, finally made it after almost the whole day on the road from Devon.


It's nice just to sit out on Canal Street. KD's photo.

That evening Joanne and I smartened up and went to out for the to eat at Velvet. It’s a relaxed venue for decent food and the nine of us enjoyed it.


Dinner at Velvet. L-R: Alison, Amanda, me, Zazoo, Joanne, Kay Denise and Sarah, representing between us all corners of Britain, from Kent to Northumberland and from Glasgow to Devon, with everything in between. Just the TGirls in this shot. Suki and David also joined us. KD's photo.

We went to the Molly House where there was a band playing but it was so packed that we could only just get in. Actually, it was more fun to chat on the stairs with friends like Gina and Priya. On to Napoleon’s briefly, which was heaving, and then a quieter time in Via but poor Joanne was dropping off after her long days travelling so we called it a night, pair of lightweights that we are.

On Sparkle Saturday I traditionally book lunch at Villaggio and in the past we’ve had 15-18 people come. Sadly not this year and only eight turned up, but it was an enjoyable lunch all the same and the restaurant treat us really nicely. Maybe next time it’ll be better to do it as a Saturday dinner as people these days seem too hung over or full of breakfast to want much lunch. 

Traditional Saturday lunch at Villaggio in Canal Street. L-R: Emma, Joanne, Sarah, Mrs Sox, Bobby, me, KD, Mrs Walkey.


Nice to spot Wilhelmina from Hungary and Erin from Norway in the Canal Street crowd, as well as Lisa and Rebecca from the TGirl bar, Helen from closer to home, Emma Hudson and Mrs H, and Maria who was the first person I ever met at Sparkle, back in 2010.

Sparkle in the Park is the main event, with the usual stalls and live entertainment. This is where you bump into everyone, which is what it’s all about for me and is why I go. There's plenty more 'official' entertainment laid on, but I just like the excuse to catch up with people.

But this year, this effectively marked the end of the festivities for me as my face was so sore, raw and flaking that I couldn’t continue. As it was, I hadn’t been able to shave that morning and I had somehow managed to cover my stubble with enough makeup to hide it and the awful state of my skin. I went back to the hotel, removed my makeup and my trans holiday ended.

It was pretty devastating. My friends, though, are kind and supportive and did persuade me to join the girls for dinner in Chinatown that night, albeit as a guy. Fortunately, David, Zazoo’s friend was there so I didn’t feel entirely out of place. And the following afternoon I met KD and her wife as planned. Mrs KD has become a good friend and I did want to say hello again. She saw my male side for the first time, which felt really odd, but as I am not living as fulltime female, much as I might like to, I guess there’s honesty in letting real friends see both sides of me. But I did feel out of the festivities despite a really nice tea at the Richmond Tea Rooms. I bought a Sparkle cat to console myself. 



The World Cup final was on and although I never normally take an interest in football, I watched that in the evening as it seemed the best thing to do, while Joanne, looking fabulous in a lacy goth outfit, went and did the Sparkle thing.

So basically I managed a little bit of Sparkle this year and then had to give up. And I don’t know when I will next be able to get out en femme. It won't be for a long time.

That’s not the end of this blog, of course, as I am still trans and that doesn’t change. I have various overlooked events to write up and start the restaurant bit of the blog and there’s the general thoughts about being trans. But somehow, there won’t be many out-and-about events to report on for a while. But thank for reading this. Sparkle 2013 and 2012 were blogged in the July posts for those years. They're a bit of a contrast:



Sue x

Friday, 18 July 2014

Gorilla in the Miss

It’s now exactly a week since I last shaved my face. Which means that my eczema is greatly improved already … and I have more than just a touch of designer stubble.

It takes about three weeks to grow something that properly resembles a beard. And about the same amount of time for me to grow myself a hairy gorilla suit. In fact, it is the swiftness of growth and the luxuriant extent of the hair all over me that is one thing that persuades me that full transition from male to female is not really appropriate in my case. It’s too obviously masculine. Though why this rich hirsuteness should not extend to the top of my head seems very unfair.

Very many friends have contacted me over the last few days and have said many kind words to console me and I am more grateful than I can properly say in words. But the eczema is a problem that flares up on my face about every ten years and despite the best care and medical intervention there usually comes a point when the only thing you can do is to leave it strictly alone. My skin reacts badly to things like dust, mould, perfumed products, chemicals and so forth so I have always had to be careful with bathroom and household cleaners and personal grooming products. But there come a point when my skin simply overreacts furiously to anything at all put on it, even the medicines designed to fight it. So it was that, half way through the Sparkle celebrations, my painful face literally started to fall off and I realised that it was just reacting against everything that touched it – soap, moisturiser, makeup, medicine, anything at all. It’s been bad for weeks, as recorded here, but I was determined to take my planned girl time. But in the end it was just too much and the worst happened. It will clear up of its own accord in time, though how long I cannot say. Last time I did this I kept a beard on for two years. But I wasn’t out in public then. I am dreading the prospect of being bearded this time, but I know that I now have no choice.

I take some consolation from Conchita’s vistory in Eurovision and the comperes at Sparkle who wore beards. If need be, I shall go to Sparkle next year proudly sporting a beard and high heels. If I keep the hairy gorilla look I might even blend in with the Furries who gatecrash the event. After all, this doesn’t have any effect on the fact that I am trans, it’s just that I wont be able to present as a woman for a while. Oh well.

Sue x

Monday, 14 July 2014

Disaster

I went to Sparkle, the fabulous national transgender celebration in Manchester, as planned.

Sadly, I had to abandon my plans on Saturday afternoon as this eczema on my face got so bad.

I am going to have to take the final step in dealing with it, the one I had been hoping it wasn't necessary to take, which is to stop shaving and apply nothing to my face - soaps, makeup, razors, moisturisers, sunscreens, etc. - and also stop absorbing anything that heats the skin - direct sunlight, alcohol, spicy food...

I've been in this situation before, so this decision is after consultation with doctors and specialists and based on past experience.

This means that my appearances in public are ended, very likely for the rest of this year and probably more.

I have dressed as a woman every single day since I stopped purging nearly 20 years ago and I have been out and about happily in public for nearly five years so this is the worst situation that could have happened. I will still be online, of course, and I have a few things to write up, such as my holiday and what news of Sparkle I can provide.

But I am pretty devastated.

Sue x