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Sunday, 23 September 2018

Why I won't ask my doctor to refer me to the gender clinic

I haven't posted for a while as I've been waiting on the people who claim to want to buy my house to get on with doing so. The English system of house buying and selling is soul-destroying. It's a lot easier in other countries.

The other thing that is destroying my soul is the deranged and toxic yet incompetent government that we have in Britain now. I rarely make political points here but for over 300 years the UK constitution worked well, despite being unwritten, and it is now failing. Governments of all colours are usually a background annoyance or irritant that citizens mainly just grumble about. This one is different. We are facing a dictatorship, the first since the 17th Century, with removal of human rights and other freedoms. The prospects for minority groups is frightening. Immigrants and even their descendants will obviously face the worst of it - European citizens even if they have lived and contributed for decades, Jamaicans who came in the 1940s, people of non-local colour and religion. And in the wake of that you can be sure of the persecution of others, the LGBTQI Etc community being almost invariably targeted in these instances. Although the current prime minister seems to be trans friendly at present I fail to see that lasting especially if, as has been the intention for 2 years, Britain leaves the European Union with its protections for citizens' rights. There are other government intentions, such as leaving the UN's Council of Europe so that there will be no answering to international scrutiny on human rights abuses, and so we can send a few more 'undesirables' to Trump's America for torture. This in a country that was instrumental in bringing down the dictators of the past and establishing modern notions of rights across the world.

When the Germans invaded Holland in 1940, they found it easy to round up Dutch Jewish citizens. The Dutch, you see, kept excellent records of their citizens and the Nazis simply went through town hall filing systems to find the persons they wanted.

The National Health Service here deals with trans people in one way only. Although slightly more relaxed recently, basically you have to transition, preferably surgically, to receive assistance, hormonal, psychological or other. That's basically it.

As mentioned a few times, I don't feel surgical transition is suitable for me and therefore I feel let down by the health system that I pay into that isn't really interested in assisting me in any other way. I have had to discuss my being transgender with doctors over the years, especially when I was being treated for eczema since I had to explain that I could not wear makeup and that was destroying my wellbeing as a trans person. They took that very seriously and I am grateful for their attitude. I have been seeing a doctor again recently for something else and complaining that NHS assistance available here is limited and actually unhelpful to many trans people.

I have always asked, though, that my medical record not be marked with any transgender indicators. Why? Well, if I cannot be offered any suitable help, I don't want my record marked unnecessarily with details of my being trans that makes it easier for Nazis to round me up, like the Dutch Jews. Sounds paranoid? Perhaps, but it's always been a niggle in my mind given my family's experience of dictators in the past and the way that extremist regimes like to behave. Previously I thought the chances of a nasty dictatorship in this country was so slight that maybe I oughtn't to be so paranoid. Now I am feeling that my caution has been well placed.

This is a very brief expose of complex and controversial issues, but it explains my disgust at the poor acceptance and help trans people have had from the state. I don't perceive the situation getting better despite recent government consideration on how to improve matters. A different prime minister - and that is certainly on the cards - and trans people may be persecuted instead, probably with impunity.

These are bad times. Live authentically, but be careful of evil people as their wickedness never rests.


Sue x

Sunday, 2 September 2018

More transgender literature

A lot of people write biographies about transition, their own or their partner's or parent's, and there are a lot of books that are very serious and supposedly academic about trans subjects, but there isn't so much fiction about transgender life.

Back in 2014 ( http://suerichmond.blogspot.com/2014/11/roz-white-transgender-writer.html ) I wrote about Roz White whose series of novels and novellas about "The Sisterhood" continues to grow and, to judge by online reviews, continues to be popular. Roz observes trans life from the point of view of five trans women who range across the spectrum and their struggles and triumphs and outlooks are very real and natural. A couple of years ago a national book club chose "The Sisterhood" as its book for reading and Roz was guest of honour at their annual meeting. So many readers in that club previously knew little of trans life and are now not only better informed but very supportive. A triumph for the genre of trans fiction and a positive boost for the trans community.

I see there are one or two other trans novels available online (e.g. "If I Was Your Girl" by Meredith Russo) and short stories (e.g. "A Safe Girl to Love" by Casey Plett). I might order one or two and see if they are good reading.

But the book that caught my attention recently was "Julian is a Mermaid", a children's book by Jessica Love.


Plot spoiler: Julian sees people going off to the mermaid parade all dressed up in beautiful costumes and wants to be a mermaid too. He improvises a beautiful costume but then worries about what his grandmother might think. He needn't have worried as she helps him out with accessories and they go to the parade. It's not directly transgender but more a celebration of expressing one's individuality and has had very positive reviews online. The illustrations look beautiful too.

I'm hoping that even more writing about trans matters will move away from the purely personal experience of writers and into expressing trans lives in more creative ways that will appeal to the general public better.

Sue x


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The seven-year blog




It’s seven years to the day since I started this blog, my aim having always been to express my thoughts on being transgender, and also to encourage other trans people to be visible by posting my adventures and the reception I have met with in public.

It’s been seven years of great highs but some miserable lows too, with delight and success countered by trouble and stalls. Being trans is, let’s face it, quite a challenge that, for virtually all of us, is a substantial addition to the ups and downs of everyday life.

With so many threats to trans people being able to lead authentic lives in the last year or two – threats from politicians, radical feminists, religious bullies, to name a few – it’s essential for the trans community to make it known that we exist, that we are genuine, and that we are likeable, worthwhile and regular members of society. Visibility – online, in media and in the real world – seems to me to be an important promoter of acceptance.

Well, that’s enough philosophy! In past years I’ve analysed Blogger’s stats to get an idea of what sort of posts are the most enjoyed and readable. But this time I’m not going to link to the most popular posts. You can select your own favourite from the archive list to the right. It is clear that people who read my blog most enjoy the occasions when lots of TGirls are out on the town. Importantly, though, there is also a lot of interest in gender surgery issues and, to an extent, my own struggle with ill-health that has badly affected my trans life and visibility.

Thank you to my 44 subscribers, including Jonathan Tait who subscribed this year. I’ve added "Male Femme", Jonathan's blog, to the blogroll. It's well worth reading.

Thanks also to all who have made comments. Lynn Jones and Mandy Sherman deserve special mention both for their comments and excellent blogs. Thanks also to TCentral and Feedspot for their promotion of trans blogging.

Thanks for reading. Tune in again.

Sue x

Sunday, 12 August 2018

A day out with Emma

I mentioned in my last post that I hoped to get out fully femme on Saturday, and that is indeed what happened.

Emma Walkey and her wife Jackie have featured in this blog many times as Emma's one of the first trans friends I made. We agreed to meet up in London just to catch up and enjoy some food together.

Train selfie

We met at the Cambridge pub, which I often suggest as it's about as central as you can get. Whilst Jackie went to nearby Berwick Street to look at the fabulous (if expensive) fabrics in the dressmaking shops there, Emma and I sat down to lunch at Melanie Italian restaurant, another of our favourite venues.

Melanie is on the edge of Soho, a district that was infamous 40 years ago for sleazy peep shows and sex shops. Not much remains of that era, which is for the best, but we thought we'd have a laugh by posing outside one shop as if we were streetwalkers. Well, you have to pay for your lunch somehow! Convincing? OK, probably not! We are of that era but haven't worn so well!



After lunch we strolled through Covent Garden to the terrace of Somerset House where you can sit and look over the Thames. We thought of taking a river boat but the temperature was dropping and we decided that sitting in a bar was preferable. We went to Champagne Charlies in the arches under Charing Cross station which I haven't been to for years but was very pleasant for relaxing with a bottle of wine.

So a relaxed day in good company and being treated as women, which to any trans person is the joy that makes it all worthwhile.

Sue x

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Summer outdoors

There's been a small amount of rain now but this extraordinarily sunny summer continues. It's been quiet workwise and I have been taking time out to explore. I now doubt I will ever be able to simply put on makeup and go out manifesting my female appearance whenever I want to, as I used to do when I started this blog, because of the risk of skin irritation, but I make do with more androgynous clothing now. It's not ideal, not what I want, but it keeps me connected to my femininity even if people take me as a guy. I hate this limbo I'm in at the moment but something is better than nothing between occasional fully-feminine outings.

I like staying at home in London over the summer. Many people are away and it's mainly just me and the tourists around the place. Except that I go off the beaten track.

Just a few places in Greater London visited recently include Putney, Kingston and Maida Vale.

Wonderful mackerel sky over Putney Lower Common
The Clattern Bridge over the Hogsmill River in Kingston-upon-Thames. This side of the bridge dates from 1175, making it by far the oldest bridge in Greater London and one of the oldest in Britain. Note the heron by the right-hand arch. The heron population seems to have vastly increased in the Thames Valley in recent years and this is due to cleaner water supporting more fish, including eels.
The Saxon Coronation Stone now outside the town hall in Kingston. Many of the Saxon kings of Wessex, including Alfred the Great, parked their royal bottoms on this block when being crowned. Why such a significant historic artifact is simply left out in the rain with little signage or ceremony I will never know.
The Regents Canal near Little Venice covered with algae that have been thriving in this hot summer

I have a few more outings planned. And I hope to have a full femme day this Saturday.

Sue x


Sunday, 29 July 2018

Heatwave!

It's been the strangest year for weather. First there was a long winter with unusual amounts of snow. Spring was late but beautiful and led to the longest, dryest summer I have ever known. Apart from the most spectacular lightening storm I have ever witnessed in Britain, which broke in late May, finally, this morning, we have some rain after more than two months without a drop. This is England, I would remind you!

I love hot weather and have a nice tan this year, but it has been oppressive, too, as in London any heat is always sticky. muggy and polluted. I have been trying to clear my loft, a task that has been very hard in the sometimes 35 C (95 F) heat up there - the sun has literally shone on that roof for two months (with breaks only at nighttime). Any exertion up there makes my mascara run!

As mentioned in the last few posts about going out, I can't use the water-based foundation in this heat as it all slides off. The oil-based foundation sticks but causes inflammation for a couple of days so it's not been easy to go to Pride or out to dinner in Chinatown. At home I am wearing only loose tops and floaty skirts - anything else is too hot.

I beat the heat by going to Chester and North Wales for a few days last week. It was greyer and slightly drizzly, which is typical of the area, and for once this was welcome.

Chester city centre
Conway Castle
Let's see what the rest of the summer is like. I hope it will still be nice, though not so relentlessly boiling.

Sue x

Friday, 20 July 2018

An evening in Chinatown

It's been a tiring couple of weeks so when Stephanie Monroe asked if I'd like to meet up again, I was happy to accept.

I did need a bit of a break from things and so I left home early in the afternoon and treated myself to a bit of retail therapy. Not only is it nice browsing in the shops but doing so as one ought to be, i.e. female, is the most relaxing and satisfying thing I know. Life seems to have fewer troubles when your transgender nature is allowed to guide your day.

Steph and I met in an old haunt, the Cambridge pub. And whilst chatting about mutual friends who should walk in but two of them, Pippa Bunce and Rachel Bull who have appeared in these pages many times, though not for ages. It was complete coincidence but a nice one.

They had their clubbing agenda and we had our need for food so we continued with our plan for dinner by heading to Chinatown where just about every business is a Chinese restaurant. We picked the New Loon Fung and enjoyed our meal there.





There has been a rare heatwave in London that has gone on for two months and my Mac makeup that doesn't affect my eczema can't be worn very easily because perspiration makes it run so I had to revert to my old oil-based foundation and that has left my face sore even though I use my eczema salve as a base coat and take antihistamine, too. This situation is very distressing. So it helped that it was so nice to catch up with a good friend. Thanks, Steph.

Check out Steph's beautiful photosets on Flickr: Stephanie Monroe-Tutton on Flickr

Sue x

Saturday, 7 July 2018

London Pride 2018

Given that I had to cancel Sparkle, the national transgender celebration, I thought I might at least get to London Pride, and event I always miss as it always clashes with Sparkle.

The day was very hot for England (over 30C / 86F), but there was a breeze blowing. I met my friends Richard and Sarah (my foreign holiday companions) for lunch at our favourite haunt, Melanie Italian restaurant. After which we sauntered through Soho taking in the vibrant atmosphere and watched some of the parade in Regent Street.

With Sarah in Soho

Pride in Soho

The Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton Street was nail-bombed by an anti-gay lunatic in 1999. Now it thrives with so much local and family support.

The parade was amazing, involved 30,000 participants and took an incredible 5 hours to pass by any given spot. It's impossible to list all the groups, organisations, companies, etc. that paraded past.

Parade in Regent Street
Parade in Piccadilly Circus

We had a refreshing pot of tea in a nice cafe in Kingly Court before heading out into the giant street party again.






What an amazing atmosphere: fun, positive, supportive and excited. It is the sort of event London does well. I'm glad I went.

Sue x

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Not at Sparkle after all

I've had to cancel my plans to go to Sparkle this year, which is a shame. It's simply because I have a buyer for my home and they want to move quickly so I need all the weekends I can get. It does mean that I save about £500 - yes, it's a very expensive weekend away, what with hotels, trains, meals out and entertainment.

It does mean that I may be able to go to London Pride instead. Something I have never been to because it always clashes with Sparkle weekend.

Click the links to read about my previous Sparkle weekends. There first two, before I had trouble with my skin, are the most fun.

Sparkle 2012

Sparkle 2013

Sparkle 2015

Sparkle 2017

I did go in 2010 and 2011 as well but that was before I started this blog. I hope all the trans people and their families going there this year have fun and feel supported by this community of ours.

Sue x

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Old boys who were really girls all along

Under the new data protection laws (GDPR), I've asked my old school to stop sending me its literature about reunions, appeals for money and other such stuff. The school was rotten and I don't want these reminders of a bad time any more.

Those who want to know some of the nasty details of life at school can read these two previous posts:

Historic Child Abuse - a new hope?

Historic Child Abuse Update

I did wonder if there were any other trans girls at my school. I can't have been the only one, I thought. Ironically, the newsletter I got earlier this month that mentioned GDPR also mentioned an 'old boy' who has transitioned and now lives a full female life. So there's my answer. Of course there must have been another! I just never new if there was anyone with the guts to say so.

There's also a footnote saying how the school is much more alert to LGBT issues and provides suitable help. As it's still a school just for boys, and I am unconvinced about its attempts to reform its culture, I have some doubts that trans girls will really get much help. Maybe I'm too cynical after my experiences there, but I would hope that those struggling with their gender might be able to go to a mixed local school instead. After all, why is splitting the sexes / genders up deemed to improve their education in any case?

I'll be emailing my new-found fellow old girl just to say hi. Who knows, something good might come from the whole experience.

Sue x


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

My first time abroad as my true self

I was determined that 2018 would see my first outing in a foreign country and I felt that Berlin, with its relaxed, cosmopolitan way of life, was an ideal place for it. I can't live full-time female for the health reasons I have often mentioned but I am increasingly getting vital female time so some of the trip was for me to be myself.

I visit friends in Germany virtually every year. Last year's trip was described here:

Germany 2017


This year I travelled with my lifelong friend Richard who was a perfect chaperone (and photographer).

Berlin was hot - high 20s / low 30s centigrade (80s fahrenheit) - and this didn't help my makeup regime. My Mac makeup is water-based and can slide off if I perspire. So I had to revert to oil-based makeup which my skin can react against. I did have my medication in case of flare-ups and it was necessary to use it, sadly. Despite that hiccup, I had a wonderful time.


Day 1: Arrival

We took a late flight and arrived a Berlin Tegel in the evening. A good little airport with a small but well laid-out terminal, unlike the vastness of London's Heathrow Terminal 5, Britain's biggest building. I like the sculpture outside that is a reminder of Otto Lilienthal, the birdman who attempted unpowered flight in the late nineteenth century and to whom the airport is dedicated (Wikipedia: Otto Lilienthal)




We had dinner at a decent Italian restaurant, Fellini, in in the Schoeneberg district and sat outside in the warm evening. My grilled vegetable starter and tagliatelle pasta main were both very good. (Their website is only in German - well, they are just local. Trattoria Fellini)


Day 2: A woman's guide to Berlin

The day dawned hot and fine and I knew that my makeup would have to be heavy-duty to survive a hot day of sightseeing.

We travelled to the city centre by S-Bahn, the elevated.

Sitting on a hot S-Bahn train

Every city has an iconic monument and Berlin's is the Brandenburg Gate. So photos are compulsory.





Pariser Platz and Platz des 18 Marz are pedestrianised spaces on either side of the monument that are attractive places to stroll or cycle in. A grimmer reminder of Germany's past, though, is the nearby Holocaust Memorial, which has been placed over the site of Hitler's Bunker. Consisting of hundreds of almost but not quite aligned blocks, it's a curious but effective testament to the wilful confusion and disorientation of people by the Nazi regime. Berlin is honest about its past and, in many ways, that makes its future more hopeful.



Next we had a stroll down Berlin's elegant main boulevard, Unter den Linden. We enjoyed coffee and cake in a cafe midway down the street. You then get to the finest buildings of Berlin, rebuilt after World War II almost exactly as they were in Frederick the Great's time. Here's a more recent building, the Fernsehturm (TV tower), build in the Soviet era, with a bit of the Berliner Dom on the left, a sort of chapel royal for the Hohenzollern dynasty that ruled these parts until World War I.




I had a sit-down by the Neptune Fountain in the centre of town.



And then we went up the Fernsehturm to enjoy a commanding view of the whole of Berlin.


We had lunch at the Momotaro Tavern in Alexanderplatz just underneath the Fernsehturm, a brilliant and cheap new Vietnamese-run Asian fusion restaurant with stir-fry dishes and burgers. The shiitake and chickpea burger was stunning, and just 6 euros! And the iced jasmine tea is really refreshing. Here's their site: Momotaro

These are mainly photos of me, I'll admit, but this was my Big Day and that all-important first: my first time abroad as Sue. Other photos of Berlin are below.

That evening our friends drove us out into Brandenburg, the region that surrounds Berlin, for the annual asparagus festival. It was suggested I did not go as my female self because of the somewhat 'redneck' nature of the place, which is very rural. So despite having to end my Sue day early, we still had a very good meal in Beelitz. The asparagus, grown under cover so it turns fat and ghostly white, is a speciality of the area and makes a good soup and accompaniment.


Day 3: Baboons and Bunkers

Saturday was very hot and, in order to give my face a rest, I hadn't planned to go out as Sue. We had been recommended the cafe overlooking the zoo in the new Bikini Mall. Sure enough, you get a view of various apes and especially the baboons whilst you have refreshment, without having to buy a zoo ticket. Berlin Zoo, by the way, is one of the world's best.

We went to a new museum, the Berlin Story Museum, which has a good short history of the city and is housed in an old bunker near the former Anhalter Bahnhof, a mainline station that was destroyed in the war. It was a curious yet appropriate setting.

Berlin Story Bunker

That evening we went to a very good Greek restaurant in Schoeneberg called Kos and sat out on the pavement. My pork medallions with plums were unusual but delicious.

(Again, website only in German: Kos)


Day 4: Berlin by boat and on foot

Sunday was a very hot day indeed, so hot that I aborted my attempt to get out in wig and makeup as it would have been very uncomfortable. We felt that taking a boat trip on the River Spree that flows through the centre of town would be a good way to keep cooler. You see all the main buildings along the way.

From 1961 to 1989 Berlin was, of course, divided by the Wall and the river was, at various points, the boundary between East and West Berlin, such as in this next photo. The building below serves as offices for the German Federal Government and its members of Parliament and has been designed in two halves, one on each bank, linked by footbridges, upper and lower, and obvious symbol of the city and the country now being now being unified.


The Reichstag building, with its rather chequered history, has been rebuilt with a glass dome to house a more transparent form of German government:


And the Chancellor's Office also has a lot of glass for the same reason:


The amount of building that has gone on in Berlin since unification is incredible. As well as all the new government buildings, ministries and embassies needed since the government moved from Bonn, there have been many new hotels, shopping malls and offices, and they are still going up. In the middle here is Berlin's new central station, with new office blocks all around it:




But it's not all modern architecture, as the Berliner Dom, the unofficial cathedral, attests.



And the Tiergarten is a nice expanse of green in the middle of town, with the Victory Column peeping up above the trees:



We also walked in the Nikolaiviertel district by the river that was rebuilt by the former East German government to celebrate the city's 750th anniversary in 1987. Old in style, the buildings are largely high-class Plattenbau, the prefabricated concrete construction that characterises so much of the former East Berlin. A lot of facing slabs are slightly wonky. To be fair, they did try to rebuild important things as well as the very limited resources would allow.

George and Dragon in Nikolaiviertel, with Berlin's rebuilt and patched up library behind

That evening we ate dinner at our hosts' flat, which was cooked by a representative of the Thermomix kitchen gadget, a versatile if expensive device. The food turned out pretty well.

Having missed out on being femme at the asparagus restaurant I wasn't going to miss out this time and I was happy to be myself again in the relative cool of the evening.

On the balcony after dinner

Day 5: Bond Girl Heaven

We had been recommended the Martin Gropius Bau gallery but when we got there the weird art exhibitions didn't really take our fancy so we sat in a cafe in Leipziger Platz to plan our next move. And right there was the new German Spy Museum, which was brilliant. Here's their website:

German Spy Museum

Naturally my Bond Girl tendencies were fully favoured with exhibits such as the handbag with hidden camera, the lipstick camera and lipstick pistol and the femme fatale camera bra.




The museum succeeds in being serious and fun at the same time. They have some outstanding exhibits - gadgets such as the above, poisoned umbrellas, spy cars, miniaturised devices, weapons and so forth - but also WW1 trench observation equipment, sections on fictional and film spies, satellites, Enigma and other cipher machines and devices, and some thought-provoking exhibits on how our online activity is all monitored, even if not officially. An excellent museum.

We also had an outstanding lunch at the Qiu Bar of the Mandala hotel near the Sony Centre: QIU bar
 
Sadly, it was now time to go home.


All in all, it was a very good trip and my first time as a woman abroad. Berlin is a great place to blend in and no-one took the least bit of notice of me, which is just how I like it. Many thanks to my lifelong friend Richard for being good company as ever and to my two German hosts who put me up and met me as Sue for the first time.



A few last pictures for fun

The city's symbol is the bear, which can be found everywhere
Bear shop
For some years, Schoefferhofer Weizenbier has been my favourite
We always check to see how the rebuilding of the old royal palace as an exhibition centre is coming along. It replaces the former East German parliament building, a plate-glass construction that was very 70s.

Berlin is like this: an iconic classical building (the Deutscher Dom) reconstructed almost as was, with quality prefab reconstruction in the square behind, and modern buildings all round. The bubbles floating across the foreground are just for fun.
Health or happiness debate.
The best places we visited

Hope you too have happy holidays this year.

Sue x




Happy Fraulein


Saturday, 26 May 2018

Forthcoming days out


Last year I went on holiday to Germany but, in deference to my hosts’ various concerns, allegedly for my safety, I didn’t venture out en femme. I think their worries were unfounded but, anyway, this year in June I plan to be seen as Sue in Berlin, which is a very cosmopolitan and trans-friendly city.

I have also booked a hotel for Sparkle in July. As a lot of my friends won’t be there this year I am in two minds about it as it is a very expensive weekend (hotels and trains accounting most of the cost). But I do want to be there as it’s a fabulous way to meet so many other trans people.

I’ve been so tied up with domestic matters these last few months that my outings have been low-key local walks. It takes a lot of effort to organise those big girly lunches I used to do before my illness, but I shall be trying to do something in that line again soon. I have missed seeing my girlfriends.

Sue x

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Thank you, Meghan, for boosting diversity

It's proving to be a beautiful spring here in England. Let's hope it continues.

Yesterday, then, in glorious weather, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was celebrated in Windsor.

To me this lays to rest a ghost in British history and helps usher in an era that I hope will be rather more positive than Her Majesty's current Government seems to want.

Unlike King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 in order to marry an American divorcee (according to the official version), Prince Harry has now been able to marry... an American divorcee. OK, so the prince is not a reigning king with an empire like his forebear, but the fact that this has been accepted by the establishment and the church with relatively little fuss is a new attitude. It also suggests the old rivalry between the two powers is dying out.

Meghan, like President Obama, is mixed race and that to me is a sign of a more humane acceptance in high circles that you don't have to be white to be worthy, in the same way that you don't have to be male, or straight, or have some specific attribute over which you actually have no control at all. The poisonous racist filth that has been spewed online by English supremacists about having a mixed-race person even coming to the country, let alone marrying royalty, has been beyond vile. "Meghan Markle's Mum peels bananas with her feet" is their favourite horrible meme. These same white supremacists rail against the fact that the Mayor of London happens to be a Muslim (despite the much better job he's actually doing than the two narcissists who preceded him). The same goes for for the new Home Secretary (i.e. the person responsible for policing and immigration), not to mention his opposite number in the House of Commons, who is a black woman and is often judged on that.

There are two reasons why I mention racism. One is that the same people who are racists are almost always homophobic and transphobic, too, and frequently misogynistic, with all the unhappiness that that causes women like me. It's a pity that racist TGirls and their supposed allies whom I have come across can't see the connection between hatred for foreigners and the rise in attacks on gay and trans people, including themselves. There's a significant degree of stupidity here. The other reason is that it's now five years since I last spoke to my father whose race hate I can only describe as feral. Naturally, he also hates gay and trans people, like my "Lugbutt"-hating sister, his daughter, whom I wrote about last autumn. The pig-headed insistence on not wanting or feeling the need to understand the perspective of people who are different from them, or even that another perspective exists, shows an absence of human empathy. This hatred stems so often from jealousy and from a fear of losing a privileged position. The inferiority complex of racists and homophobes is pathetic.

So I hope that Meghan, who is a beautiful woman and could make a super and popular princess, will defy the haters and have a long and happy marriage and be much loved. Her presence will help all of us who, through no fault of ours, don't fit a narrow mould. Maybe it's wrong of me to appropriate her in this way for the benefit of trans women, but her being embraced by the establishment sends a much-needed signal to the haters.

Sue x

Monday, 14 May 2018

Bugs of all kinds

It's been over a month since I last posted but that's partly due to a horrible bug I had that left me coughing uncontrollably and which has still not properly cleared up. In the end they sent me for an X-ray and various blood tests, which is pretty rare for me. I've not slept very well because of it, often waking and thrashing about trying to breathe.

The other major reason is that I have put my house on the market and that takes a lot of effort. Because I don't live full-time female and am not transitioning, my extensive wardrobe and any identifying items have been rendered neutral, i.e. there's some female involved in my life, but no-one would make the connection directly to my male side. I wish such precautions weren't necessary, but there you are.

So that explains the recent lack of activity here. It doesn't mean that I have no news.

As before, I have been getting out and about in my local area. I'm not quite in the mood for arranging one of those huge T-girl lunches that I used to do, but I dare say that will come at some point. I did, however, agree to meet a man who had been pestering me for some time, initially online. I normally don't bother with admirers or men who are interested in meeting trans women but this guy happened to mention a mutual acquaintance so he gained my curiosity. I met him in a local pub and far from being a pest or wanting sex as they often do he turned out to be a great trans ally and just has a curiosity about people who are a bit alternative. We got on very well indeed, chatting all afternoon. I felt contemporary and chic in leather leggings and a red top. So that was very positive.

I've been keeping an eye on the horrible anti-trans media abuse that's been going on this month, from the usual sneering contempt of the British tabloid press and the attacks by radical feminists and Donald Trump. I'm hoping that all this is in fact the last gasp of a dying breed of nasties, but there's no room for complacency. The Genderquake debate on Channel Four last week was, I am told (I didn't see it), what you would expect from the likes of media-supported bullies like Germaine Greer. Hate has become currency in the toxic, inhuman world of Trump and May.

I have also been keeping up with scientific literature on trans matters. I really would like to see better research into why a lot of people are trans. Instinctively I feel that it's a matter of biology, but there is only a little hard evidence of this as yet. Obviously, the subject is of insufficient interest for major funding, and so we remain in the dark. My research continues.

Now that the weather's better, I may remember to take a camera on my travels!

Sue x


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Catching up with old friends

Now that my skin is somewhat better and I can wear makeup once more, I am gradually getting more active in my trans life again. I'm suffering a certain loss of confidence, though, as the disfiguring sickness I had, and the length of time it took to improve (over three years), as well as a host of other unexpected work and home problems in 2016, have left me a bit shocked and unsure of myself.

A while ago, though, I'd been in touch with my friend Dawn about meeting up again. She was the girl I spent Christmas with in the early days of this blog (http://suerichmond.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/lovely-christmas.html).

She came for lunch last Wednesday and we had a nice chat and catch-up. She's married her partner, another trans woman, which is lovely, and she seems to be having a nice retirement, often visiting exotic places like Central America and Antarctica. I'm not jealous, not one bit! I'm sorry I forgot to take a photo of the two of us.

I'm pleased that my friend who had gender surgery last month is progressing well with her recovery and has now moved to her new home.

I'm hoping to get to see more of my old friends now. Little by little. As I said above, I am still somewhat uncertain of where I am now and where I stand in the trans spectrum as someone who wanted to live full-time female but was unexpectedly thwarted and can't now do so. So I'll take it step by small step.



Sue x

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Transgender Day of Visibility

Each year, March 31st is Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), when trans people are encouraged to be seen in public to raise awareness of our existence and celebrate our authentic lives. Every time we go out we are being advocates for the transgender community, but today is a special day of recognition. I cannot express this idea better than the wonderful Hannah McKnight who writes such a superb blog and penned this entry today:

Hannah McKnight TDOV

Having been sick for many years, I was unable to participate fully by going out before, but this year I did.

On the train today


Now, I'll confess there's a bit of a conflict between the me who wants just to blend in and not draw unwanted attention and the me who wants people to know that there are trans people out and about in their community getting on with their lives. Invisible yet visible, as it were. Ideally, we want a world where trans people draw no attention except the best attention when merited or needed. But we aren't there yet, hence TDOV.

Sue x

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Photography exhibition

I didn't post last week as the news for the trans community in Britain has been so toxic - threats to the Mermaids charity for trans children, a group of trans-exclusive feminists invited to parliament to attack trans women, and the usual hate in the Daily Mail and ridicule in The Sun newspapers. The xenophobia behind a lot of the votes in the referendum on Britain leaving the European Union has caused an explosion in hate crime and anti-minority abuse.

So instead this week I am going to mention an exhibition I saw at the Photographers Gallery in London, which I visited with my oldest TGirlfriend, Ange. I know various other of my trans friends have seen it.

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/under-cover-secret-history-cross-dressers

The exhibition is based around old photographs picked up in markets and such which show people who are not conforming in some way or another with gender norms. They vary from known transsexuals such as French stars Bambi and Coccinelle to college women of the late nineteenth century who dressed as men to express their equality, with representations of many other reasons for presenting gender difference through dress: drag queens and kings, prisoner-of-war and concentration camp theatre shows, local trans groups and or just individuals from the West and other cultures, and (what I didn't know) ladies' college girls in mock wedding photos with women playing the groom, parson, best man and male guests (something that seems to have been all the rage a hundred years ago).

And, as an additional exhibition in another gallery, Grayson Perry's photo album, not showing him as his well-known alter-ego Claire, but in his younger years before he was famous just dressed largely as a middle-aged woman.

Altogether, an interesting exhibition. Entry £4 to these two exhibitions and the various others that are on.

I'm pleased to say that the friend who had her surgery a few weeks ago is recovering well. And one of my trans friends who was looking for work has found a job. Fingers crossed for the other.

This coming Saturday is Transgender Day of Visibility. I shall try to be visible.

Sue x

Sunday, 11 March 2018

It's a difficult journey

I've just visited another friend at Charing Cross Hospital who has had her gender surgery. She seems well enough, if bored and in some pain. Fingers crossed that all has gone well in the long run. I've seen rather too many of these operations go wrong and, as a result, I'm becoming more sceptical of their worth. But this is the route people are currently sent down and one day trans people might have a wider range of medical assistance available that isn't so dangerous and is more geared to the diversity within the trans community. To get treatment on the state-run National Health Service here you have to fulfil many strict criteria and you are always pushed towards surgery. After much research and discussion with trans people on this programme I have still not formally approach my doctor about my being trans and, like most of us, end up in this unsatisfactory limbo, wanting to be one gender just for simplicity's sake but having to lead a double life with two wardrobes.

Anyway, I hope my friend makes a good recovery. I think she's happy to be approaching the end of a long journey.

And talking of wardrobes, as planned and as mentioned in my last post, I have now thrown out a lot of worn-out clothes and shoes and given a couple of bags of unworn and nearly new items to a nearby charity shop.

I'm also hoping that a couple of very close trans friends of mine who have been out of work for a few months will find jobs soon, especially the one who is transitioning and who may therefore encounter more discrimination.

Its not easy, is it?

Sue x


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Life laundry


I’m doing a lot of throwing out as I intend to sell my current home. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and my moving in coincided with my fully acknowledging that I was trans and embracing it. I recall how, in the first weeks here, even with all the decorating and furnishing to be done, I made up for my previous purge by buying a huge new stash of clothes, from shoes and coats to skirts and nightwear… everything.

Every so often I’ve exchanged clothes with other women, be they transgender or genetic, and thrown out stuff that was worn out, no longer fitted or was out of fashion, and I’ve blogged about that in the past. I can’t seem to get my clothing to fill less than two cupboards and three chests of drawers (as opposed to one of each for the boy stuff I still have to have).

This time, though, I am doing a significant clearout and the charity shops will get some decent stuff, like these sequinned peep-toes (frankly, I can’t do five-inch heels any more!)



and the white satin pencil skirt (that wouldn’t survive a second on London’s grimy, greasy public transport system). The dustmen can enjoy the horror purchases (surely anything is better than those orange boiler suits, boys).

Ah, yes, the horror purchases. Those things that only a weirdo would design, a crook would sell and a ditzy TGirl would buy! Like this top in layered lace frills, a sort of goth ra-ra vest. One TGirl who saw it gave me a look that suggested I burn it immediately (with me still in it was the implication).



But then there are the things that are simply no longer fashionable, like 50 denier tights in avocado and turquoise that were all the rage about ten years ago. They are so soft, warm and comfortable, though, that maybe I’ll keep them just for use at home. Or the leather trousers from the MILT* era fifteen years ago. Leather legwear is in again, but as leggings and skinny jeans, not loose trousers.

*For those who’ve forgotten, MILT = mothers in leather trousers.

Clearly it’s time to throw out the shoes with broken straps, the boots that have worn through (so hard to do - I loved them! L ).

A necessary clearout, but everything I get rid of is part of my history, and I feel strong emotions of loss.

Sue x

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Increasing outings

I haven't posted for a few weeks but that doesn't mean I've been idling. As in my last couple of posts, I've been applying my makeup regularly and going out in the locality just to get used to the feeing of being seen as female again after the few years I couldn't. No selfies to show this time but I am quietly revelling in being just another woman in the street. 

I've said it before, the joy of doing ordinary, banal, everyday things, but in one's true gender, beats even the most glamorous transgender party hands down. It does for me anyway. I just want to be treated as a woman, a lifelong desire that it's taken me so long to fulfil.

Sue x

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Lighter makeup routine for more regular girl about town


When I went out last week I got away, for the first time ever, with just one coat of foundation and powder. Previously, I used to use an orange base coat to cover beard shadow and then two to three layers of oil-based foundation and powder. As well as hiding beard shadow this also reduces shine and bleaching from camera flash (a tip from the Boudoir). Oil-based foundation also stays on if a TGirl perspires (which can happen any time with a wig on, even in winter), and is certainly a problem I have had with water-based foundation on hot days.

My natural hair colour is a very dark brown so not even the closest shave could hide it. But I have realised that my chin hair is no longer brown but turning grey. Although a sign of ageing, it certainly makes life easier when applying makeup. To avoid any flareups of eczema in my sensitive eye area I am not currently wearing eye makeup or mascara. I wear glasses anyway so eye makeup is partly hidden and therefore not worth doing to impress. Instead I have always concentrated on having nice lipstick. This means that my entire makeup routine now takes about 20 minutes, as opposed to nearly an hour in the old days of heavy-duty cover.

And that means that I can much more readily put my face on and go out more spontaneously. New possibilities are opening up. On Sunday, despite the snow, and today, when it was pouring, I put on my face and went out for long local walks. It’s not that I’m attracted to foul weather, but that’s just when I happened to have a spare hour or two. Anyway, I’m waterproof! But the idea was to test and see how my face is tolerating a more regular use of makeup. The answer so far seems to be: pretty well.

Here’s me today in local woodland.

"I care not for the rain, not I" (Jerome K Jerome, Three Men in a Boat)
 
Sue x