Thursday, 28 April 2016

Be wary of researchers

A lot of the time, trans folk are approached by students, artists, TV companies, etc. to be part of their research, projects, documentaries and so on.

Sounds good, huh? People interested in transgender matters want to make us better known.

And sometimes the research is legitimate. I've taken part in a couple of peer-reviewed academic studies and they were all to the good.

But so much of the time the person contacting you wants you to be part of their project for which the agenda has already been set by them:

"I want transgender people to be interviewed for my dissertation on the discrimination suffered by them everywhere so that they can give real-life examples of this common occurrence"

"I want transgender people for my performance art project where performers will eat endless candies to represent the oppression of having to take hormone pills"

"I want transgender people for my photography show which will show your male and female portraits side by side"

"I want transgender people for this great documentary we're doing about how transgender girls find it a struggle to come out to their families. We'd like to film you telling your family that you are a transgender and show their reaction. We will be very respectful to all participants, of course, and you will be on national TV. We retain control of all content and editorial matters."

Yes, these are the kinds of requests I've received and seen over the years. Students who have already decided what the outcome of their research should be and want examples to back them up. (Evidence-based conclusions? What's that?) Media types who want to exploit vulnerabilities for entertainment (sorry, educational, sensitive documentation for improving public awareness). Artists with all the greed of hedge fund manager, the bullying of a sargeant and the sensitivity of a brick.

So what I would say to you if you want to take part in research or a project is: it may be good and worthwhile ... or it may not. Find out what's really going on before committing yourself, and don't support other people's set agenda or preconceptions. We are who we are, not who they say we are.

I do so wish there were more legitimate, properly funded and peer-reviewed neutral research by professionals on trans life - why we are, how we are, not what we are or are deemed to be, especially not for prurient curiosity or entertainment.

Sue x

Sunday, 24 April 2016

For one night only

So I tested makeup on my face to see what would happen after five months of medication for eczema.

I put on my full makeup starting at 10pm on Friday and kept it all on for an hour before removing it, not with the standard cleansers but with the lotion that my doctor prescribed that I use as a soap substitute and moisturiser. I had also taken an antihistamine and covered my face in medication before starting. I have been using both since.

For 24 hours there was no reaction. My skin was incredibly soft because of all the emollient lotion I had used. In fact, a female friend remarked that I looked as soft and smooth as a baby's bottom (at least, I think she meant it as a compliment!) After 36 hours, though, there was an inflammation at the sides of my neck (where Frankenstein's monster has his bolts). Possibly I hadn't cleansed enough there ... or it's where my wig touches most with its irritant conditioner, or my necklace, or my blouse or my nightie, or maybe I had cleansed by rubbing too hard. Who knows? It's not so swollen and red now after 48 hours, but my chin is a little sore. I continue to monitor. I may try this again next weekend, for longer.

Here's proof. And only another trans person will appreciate the joy of being able to present how you feel.

Sue x

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Testing, testing

A couple of months ago I posted that I was in despair that the regime to cure my eczema had not worked. (Incidentally, it's interesting how popular disaster posts are!)

After a gentler regime since then with less potion and more moisturiser, things have improved once more and I am now shaving most days. I am not, however, cured. But after two years of this disfiguring illness I am growing desperate to feel the breeze on my legs again and my heels clicking on the pavement. So I will be doing a test shortly of how my face reacts to an hour or two in makeup, and how quickly I can damp down any inflammation that might arise using the approved creams, pills and potions.

I was invited to join girls in Brighton next weekend but it is still too soon. However, lunch at St Katharine Docks by Tower Bridge on May 7th might be a possibility as a second test. A few hours in makeup and the chance to scoot home to remove makeup if my face starts to prickle might work.

My fingernails are looking lovely and long and neat, my toenails are painted in anticipation, my gorilla fur has been removed and I am going to tame the caterpillars on my brows...

Fingers crossed.

Sue x

Monday, 4 April 2016

More than one way to be visible

31 March was Transgender Day of Visibility. I wasn't visible on the street as I am still not well, though somewhat improved. And I hear a lot of girls saying they would so like to be out and about and part of it. But I think that just being online - via social media, photo sites, trans forums, a blog - or being known to spouse or friends, is in its own way showing your visibility to the world even if you can't actually be outside for whatever reason. A presence of any kind makes you visible to the world, and that is good enough.

This happens to be my 200th blog post. So even if someone stumbles across this blog by accident or when searching for something else (Hell Bunny dress anyone?) they'll know there's another TGirl in the world.

This is Sue Richmond reporting from Westminster...

Sue x