Saturday, 25 June 2022

Drought

 I've been enjoying the summer. But the temperatures are above the norm for the time of year and the rainfall in 2022 has been way, way below what it should be. The River Po and its tributaries, one of Europe's largest water networks with vast glaciers, lakes and winter snows to feed it, is at about 25% capacity. The drought is now serious and I expect water rationing soon.

So before that happens I'm making the most of my swimming, and I enjoyed a day on Lake Como, one of the large Alpine lakes. Not the greatest photos, but they make a change from the coast. 

 



 

The heat haze (it was 36C = 97F) made viewing from the top of a nearby mountain difficult but here's the view into Switzerland:


From some vantage points in these mountains looking south on a clear day you can see for hundreds of miles.

The problem with the heat is that it also raises the likelihood of forest fires and there was a bad one locally a few days ago. 

It's not like me to wish for rain in summer but I feel we need some relief. 

The one advantage is that the heat lets me enjoy my summer clothes: shorts, little skirts and light tops. I did my makeup properly for a chat on Zoom the other evening but forgot to take a selfie, so you'll have to take my word for it! 

I hope Pride month is proving supportive for you. There have been several pride events not far from home and they have been well-attended, and allies and outside supporters have been visible. I was pleased to hear that the pope had a special audience with a group of Italian trans women. His religion has been one of the worst attackers of trans people and a mellowing of its views would be welcome. We shall see.

Sue x

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

My favourite day

 Solstice. The longest day in the Northern hemisphere and my favourite day of the year. I worship the light, the sunshine. If you are in the Southern hemisphere, dont worry: the days get longer from now on.

For me it's been a day of simple things: I went swimming in the newly reopened pool, I bought some melons and oranges to turn into cool sorbets, I planted some herbs and flowers and I have just come back indoors after lying outside with candles casting a pretty light in the slowly gathering darkness. I'm dressed in my cute little shorts and a long T-shirt. That's all, apart from my soft cotton underwear. It's not glamorous, not sexy, not trendy ... but its feminine and still a statement. There are times a girl wants to be simply dressed, simply as a girl, on a day where the drowsy warmth and straightforward pleasures of life mean the most. 

I love the summer solstice - Midsummers Day, litha, whatever you want to call it. The peak of the year when one really feels alive.


 

Passport

 Thank you for your comments on my last post (and emails, too). I appreciate them very much but I am still unable to reply individually to Blogger comments as yet. I'm not sure what's causing this problem but somehow it's time to resolve it.

Sue x

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Rights secured

 Nothing directly to do with being trans but yesterday I went back to the police station in Milan where the smiley cops work and, after rummaging around for a bit, they handed me this. 

 



It's what I've been working towards for six years. Yes, six years. This passport is now way more powerful than the British one I used to have. It gives visa-free access to more places, affords more protections and is welcome without trouble. Unlike British passports that are less accepted and more troublesome after Britain's self-imposed exile from the European Union and because of its aggressive foreign policy. The same applies to US passports, folks: they're not as welcome. 

I can't work and play without this.

One day I may be able to get the sex marker changed to F or simply X, but it'll do for now. I'm not properly full-time female after all. Mind you, I'm certainly not full-time male either. Which does suggest such markers have little realistic value.

Six years of bureaucratic delays are not acceptable, though, even when Covid is taken into account.

 

Fun 

I've had a good few days, too, seeing a sister of mine after three years, enjoying beautiful Alpine scenery, revelling in sunshine and swimming... but I'll save that for the next post.


 

Sue x

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Pink and bubbly?

 This made me chuckle. I saw this cute little bottle of pink fizz in the supermarket. I've probably been casually overlooking it for years. Maybe because it's Pride Month or something it suddenly caught my eye. 


The reason for it standing out is that the manufacturer's name, Maschio, means "male" in Italian. Is this the perfect analogy for a male-to-female trans person? Male on the outside and according to the label, but all pink and bubbly inside? Or is that too silly and not a little sexist? No matter, I couldn't help chuckling when it struck me.

We're about half way through Pride Month now and this meme is doing the rounds:


I'm not normally one for wishing bad things on people but in the last few years the hate that has been directed at the LGBT community across the world has been ferocious and depraved. In the first few years of writing this blog I felt we were achieving something, that life as a trans (or gay) person was getting better. And I am in little doubt that, actually, as far as everyday folk are concerned, most straight/cis people are quietly supportive or at least not hostile. The loud phobia now may be just the last gasp of the haters who have latched onto the LGBT community since they have failed to segregate race, failed to oppress women and there are not many groups left that they can oppress any more. I hope that is all it is. But given the bigotry and active homophobia/transphobia of the family I come from that continues to tax me, I do feel that the slogan in this meme is apt this year. I can't see what else to do but make them feel ashamed or uncomfortable or angry since reasoning serves no purpose.


Blogger comments

There are still problems with my replying to comments. Thank you for your comments which I value immensely. I am working on the problem so thank you also for your understanding if I am unable to reply immediately.

Sue x


Friday, 10 June 2022

Authority, luck and us

 I've been away this week to try to complete the last things required to settle in what unexpectedly became my new home, in Italy. Considering I first moved here in 2018, it's been a ridiculously long time dealing with this. Yes, Covid is partly to blame but also both the notoriously draining and stupid bureaucratic systems there are in Italy and the shambolic, abusive way the UK left the European Union and most other European organisations. Let me be blunt: I hate government and its ways. In the same way that you are of a nationality if a government decides you are, you are M, F or trans if a government acknowledges you to be, never mind what nature chooses. The false narratives of nationalism and statecraft make me sick.

There are some nice photos of Milan below to show my trip had highlights, too. But just to summarise, I first went to the forbidding, fascist-built courthouse to get a birth certificate created as my one is unsuitable for registration with the local council. Go figure. The court staff were lazy and abusive and tried to give me the runaround. The more I insisted that they were to do what was requested in their very own instruction book, the more abusive they became but I managed to get them to accept all the required forms in the end. They really don't want to do the work, do they? But that's what happens when you give someone a guaranteed job for life. They were abusive to all the other members of the public there, too. 

What a contrast with my bank who were more than helpful with various changes I needed making.

The next day I went to apply for a passport. This is done at specialist police stations and, again in complete contrast, the police were smiling and jovial and cracked jokes with the applicants and even called them by their first names. It looks like it's fun being a cop! Who knew? Well, maybe it's fun if you can sit in an office chatting with the public rather than chasing gunmen or clearing up murders, so maybe that's why they were all smiley. Anyway, a much better experience. I might even get a passport out of it. I say might as nothing ever seems certain these days.

Here are your classic tourist highlights of Milan. A huge medieval cathedral with 4000 statues, 

 

beautiful glass-roofed arcades, 


 

the world's leading opera house (La Scala). And perhaps most amazing of all are the trams, nearly 100 years old now, which have plied the streets every day since 1928. Here's one in front of La Scala:


Going back to the arcades that link the cathedral square to the opera house square, two little known cultural facts are that the glass dome had a "gas rat" and the mosaic floor beneath has some lucky testicles. Yes, you read both those right.


Photo by Marco Pagani

The arcades were originally lit by gaslight at night, which required a team of lamplighters to go round in the evening to light the gas burners. But sending men to light the burners in the dome would have been difficult so the architect designed a little mechanical lighter on wheels that would trundle round the base of the dome lighting each lamp in turn. People would turn up just before dusk for the pleasure of watching the "little rat" do its round to illuminate the dome.

On the floor there are mosaics symbolising cities of Italy: a white cross for Milan itself, a wolf for Rome, a winged lion for Venice and a bull for Turin. 

 


When in Rome there's a custom that if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi fountain, then you will return to Rome. (Or you could just set yourself a reminder on Booking.com). Here the tourists stand on the bull's testicles and spin three times. This is said to bring good luck. So this is what these tourists are doing:




It may bring luck here but, elsewhere in the world, treading on a bull's particulars is considered inadvisable. I have no idea how these mad notions arise, but I post this here for you to muse on any truths and cultural indications that may come to mind. 

I have a feeling that people's beliefs in magic and luck and invocation and prayer over the ages represent means of dealing with impotence at the encroachment on our lives of the rulers of the world. You get a passport to travel if officials say you do; whereas our ancient ancestors wandered where they pleased and any bad places or events could be walked away from. As humans settled, kings and priests demanded taxes, tithes and tribute, and bureaucracy took hold. How to combat their encroachment? By getting some gods or spirits to intervene on your behalf. So, frankly, gyrating on a mosaic bull's testicles is as good a method as any of trying to have things go better for you.

As usual, my passport and birth certificate will have a big fat M for male on them. Yet these state entities demand my respect and my taxes. 

Sue x

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Quite dysphoric this week

 Gender dysphoria varies in intensity, from person to person and over the course of a lifetime, and even from week to week or day to day. Usually in the springtime, as the days get longer, warmer and sunnier, my own mood lifts and I find my femininity waning a bit. I doubt that's a coincidence. But this week I have been fiercely dysphoric, even my dreams have repeatedly gone over my life as a university student and how differently things would have been (in a positive way) if I'd come out as trans then. I have no idea why these dreams and ideas have arisen all of a sudden. Perhaps the stress of difficult bureaucratic appointments to prepare for next week. But my head seems to have been playing a record of what might have been had I had the knowledge then that I have now.

I was on a small course, just 20 students. Two were legally male (i.e. me and one other) and 18 female. I know the girls on my course would have accepted my being trans, as would my lecturers, and the university had a policy of letting LGBT students live the life they wanted. I don't recall if we used terms like LGBT and transgender in the 1980s, but things were pretty cool back then, even in a fairly staid, respected institution like mine. I regret my lack of courage, but the idea of news filtering back to my severe family that I might be dressing as a girl and liking it was one of the things that prevented my doing so, and stupidly getting involved in university societies that I thought my family would approve of meant I lost that wonderful early opportunity to break away from my conditioning. Instead, I joined religious societies that eventually made me miserable because, far from enhancing my religious upbringing, revealed a serious contrast between the mainstream religion I was nominally brought up in and the idiosyncratic cult run by my parents. When I tell you that at home extreme religiosity was coupled with racism and homophobia, you may not be surprised. But when I tell you that, among many things, eating pizza, wearing jeans or calling anyone's parents Mum or Dad were activities that provoked wrath, then you may start to realise that life was actually bananas on the homestead.

On a practical level, I had to prevent myself damaging my credit card yesterday when I was tempted to make bad purchases of summer dresses. It took effort, despite the items being misshapen and ugly! Dysphoria ebbs and flows, I know this from, well, so many decades of being a woman struggling with physical and official restrictions. But it can still be hard. As for the 'alternative personal histories' that have been plaguing my dreams, I hope they go away since the regret is distressing. I know better dreams are available.



Afterword 

I did buy a cute pair of summer shorts, which are very stretchy, so ideal for girls with yoyo tums and a different structure around the hips; and some straightforward girly flipflops. Cheap, practical and yet ideal for being feminine in summer. You don't have to be flamboyant to affirm you are a woman.


Blogger comments

Thank you for your comments. Blogger seemed to be resolving its comments issues, but now others have arisen. So I will reply to comments on my previous post when I am able to override the weirdness. Bear with me.

 

Pride

For many this is Pride month. I hope we regain ground against the many abusers and haters who have arisen and been encouraged to arise in the last few years. I will (as ever) be tackling my bigoted family. It won't stop their bigotry, but it will make it more difficult and frustrating for them. If pride is not a sin for you, then be proud of who you are.

Sue x

 

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Local schools accept gender preferences

I am pleased to say that schools in my area are increasingly accepting students' right to be called the name and be treated as the gender they desire. This is for the purposes of registration and day-to-day use. Sadly, their final certificate will still have their legal name, but this is a good start. After all, since we don't have school uniforms here and kids can wear what they like and are normally called by their first names by peers and teachers alike, it makes no difference to everyday studies and interactions what name and gender is used. Make the student comfortable and respected and their studies will thrive.

In some ways it's a pity that the issue had to be forced in some places by some legally male students turning up to school in skirts, but the issue doesn't seem especially contentious for the reasons given. Since 2015 Genoa university, for instance, has officially acknowledged people requesting the name and gender they have chosen rather than what's on their birth certificate or other state documentation.

I think the world is moving on and increasingly acknowledging people for who they are despite the attempts at continued repression by certain abusive groups. I wish the youth of today a happy future.

Now, if I had been allowed to be a transgender student for real...


Sue x

 

Friday, 27 May 2022

Cerise is back!

 This blog is written in cerise coloured font. It's a colour I like very much but it's also the colour that was in fashion in 2010 when I first started going out. In the end, as well as cerise tops and a skirt, most of my accessories were cerise too: watch, gloves, pen and notebook, and my beloved purse as seen in a photo in my last post. So it's a colour I associate with my emergence as a TGirl into the world. (Lady Gaga was playing a lot in that year and so has a similar association.)

A heatwave has suddenly hit us and the whole town is now wearing cerise. Indeed, there was one entire family - father, mother and daughter - each with at least one cerise item. All of a sudden, the shops are full of cerise coloured clothes, from blouses and skirts to bikinis and shorts. At least, they are cerise in this part of the world.

It makes me happy that 'my' colour is back. I have a feeling that there are going to be a few more additions to my wardrobe in this year's colour any day soon!

Even the gloves!

Sue x

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Some more old photos

 Life has really taken off now that Covid restrictions have reduced and all of a sudden all those things that have been waiting for two years or more are all demanding attention. I was away again last week - more on that in another post - and yesterday the builders came to look at what's left to finish in a job that started in autumn 2019! This time, I'm prepared to say it's not their fault it's been slow. But don't make a habit of it, boys!

In all this I've been reminded that Flickr is changing its terms. I haven't looked in detail at the new terms yet as I've never really liked it or bothered with Flickr that much. I got the account mainly as I wanted to keep track of the photos of me other people were posting. In my early days, I was very conscious of being outed or targeted and I worried about the encroachment of social media on privacy and liberty. I still do, but in different ways now. Anyway, my account is still there if you haven't seen it:

Sue's Flickr

But recently, as has happened before, I found some more old photos. We TGirls really do take an awful lot of pictures! But when you've taken a long time to get ready to go out, you've got to capture that hard work, right? Also, we tend to have a lot of fun together, and that's worth recording, too.

Here are some, including this all-time favourite from experimenting with outfits at the Boudoir Dressing Service in London in 2008. My 'biker chick' look:

 

Here's me relaxing on a café barge in 'Little Venice' on the Regent's Canal in London:


And laughing my head off at dinner in a Chinese restaurant:

 

These are not my usual style of photo but they illustrate the freedom we TGirls can gain for ourselves. I'm glad to keep coming across this old stuff.

Sue x

 

Friday, 13 May 2022

French holiday

 I've just come back from my first holiday in over three years. Not en femme but at least wearing my clothes off the women's racks. It wasn't my first androgynous holiday, by any means, but this method of dressing in women's clothes but presenting male keeps me connected with my femininity without causing social problems or making me fret about my skin that is still a little reactive to makeup after the years of severe eczema I suffered.

It went very well; I relaxed but saw a lot of interesting things, too. 

I went to Toulon on the south coast of France. Since it's a working port I expected it would have only a certain amount of interest and I would use it as a base to explore Provence, a region I've never been to before. But it proved to be a fascinating and charming place that kept me well amused for three days.

I stayed at a pretty little hotel overlooking the sea:

 

The main harbourfront is bustling with life and endless bars, cafés and restaurants. Although badly damaged in the war, the old city centre is full of charming quiet little squares with olive trees and fountains:






 

The most impressive thing, though, was the cable car that takes you up the mountain that rises above the city. The view from the top is stunning:


 

Also at the top is a memorial and museum of the battle for the city in 1944.

I enjoyed a boat tour of the harbour. Apart from old forts, mussel and fish farms, and huge ferries to the Mediterranean islands, most of the harbour is a major naval base for warships and submarines, including the Charles de Gaulle, which is Europe's only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Charles de Gaulle on the left, helicopter carrier on the right

I did wonder if it was a good idea to stay in a naval base when the mad Russian government is threatening nuclear war! But I survived.

The city art gallery has some good paintings including this astonishing Cairo dancer by Eugène Giraud that stunned me by the way the painter has captured the sheen and translucence of her gauze blouse:

 


Best of all, though, is the naval museum with its beautiful models of ships. The most impressive have got to be these teaching models from the 18th century that were used for training officers. The one on the right is 1/10 scale and I estimate it's nearly 15 feet from the floor to the top of the mainmast. You could stand on the deck!


Even I who am not into macho stuff can appreciate the detail here, and the painstaking labour that went into making these.

I was glad to get away at last and go abroad if only for a few days. It gives a sense of normality in a world that has been anything but recently. And since it went well I hope to do a few more little trips this summer, in my soft feminine clothes of course.

Sue x