Monday, 30 November 2020

Please explain the mind of the alpha male to me


I've just seen a clip from a TV interview from the other day when the chief of police in Naples was asked about any initiatives his force was adopting to improve protection for women against rape and violence.

"Good evening," he started, "before coming to that question I'd like to express my deep sorrow at the death of Diego Maradona, a legend in this city and all-round great guy, blah blah ..."
Priorities, eh?
Of course, Maradona was known for punching his partner in public on more than one occasion.

Also gone this month was Sean Connery. Like Maradona, a man who entertained millions. And believed women should be hit, and said so many times. Don't believe me? Here's one interview:

Sean, if a woman's coming at you with flick-knives in her shoes or a rocket-firing helicopter, then self-defence is fine. Otherwise, no.
Donald Trump is losing his job as President, a man whose attitude towards women is vile. His departure will be a relief.

I've never understood the alpha male. I hated being brought up as a boy by such people. They really are like a gorillas, brutish and cruel. Football, films and reality shows are hugely popular and somehow that forgives these men's mistreatment of women. And with many women confined at home now because of Covid we have seen violence against them by their partners increase. So, Mr Police Chief, maybe it's time to concentrate, or move on.

A dip in the archives

Also passed away this month was Jan Morris, historian and travel writer, one of the highest-profile early transitioners who made the public realise that, though not common, transitioning really was a thing. Rest in peace.

Jan Morris in 1974, when she published "Conundrum", her book about transitioning

Sue x

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Pamper yourself once in a while

 Last week I decided to take a day away from the routine and really pamper myself. 

I usually dress in contemporary but comfortable style as Covid rules  confine me to the house most of the time. A cotton top and leggings are my usual look, or skinny jeans. Well, a smart dress is hardly right for doing the housework or pegging out the washing (this isn't the Fifties, dear). And although I like a bit of perfume and I make sure my nails are trim and pretty, I rarely have a reason these days to smarten up thoroughly.

So one morning I made sure my epilator and razors did a thorough job of my unwanted hair, my skin was buffed and cleaned, my brows were plucked, my nails filed and my makeup and hair done. I sprayed a decent amount of my favourite perfume and selected a long skirt, a light top and sheer tights. It felt a bit like getting ready for a night out in the old days before Covid. It was a beautiful sunny day and I even opened a mini bottle of sparkling wine just for fun. 

You won't believe how much it improved my mood to just give myself time to look and feel good on a nice day.

Here are some photos I took.

Good mood



Sneaking a biscuit

In these very distressing times when nothing is normal and there are many worries, upheavals and bereavements, we should take time out for ourselves. For me, really making an effort with my femininity made me much happier. 

I know that so many TGirls have restrictions on their femme life at home but even spending a bit of time on your nails or sorting through the wardrobe or the photo collection is time well spent boosting your feminine wellbeing. I hope you too can find a moment for something special.

A dip in the archives

Here's a much-loved photo from ten years ago which shows me with Dee and Chrissie in Salisbury Cathedral Close in England. 

This was when I was really beginning to live life as a woman and this day marked my first long-distance trip as Sue, travelling by train for a couple of hours to get there. I met up with these two girls and Susan who took the photo and we had a nice time shopping, having tea in the Polly Tea Rooms and a bit of sightseeing. A good day with nice friends and a big boost in confidence. It was very cold, though, as you can tell!

Sue x

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Why we need TDOR

 I commemorated Transgender Day of Remembrance two days ago. As well as being a day for reflection, it brings enemies and allies out, too. I'm sharing one item from the former and two from the latter.

1) This little item shows the sort of organised malice there is against trans people

 West Yorkshire Police in the UK support TDOR and remind us to report hate crime. To which an organisation We Are Fair Cop says hate is OK. 

It's the twisting of logic in this tweet that is as disgusting as the hatred:-

- Hate is an emotion - true

- Our emotions (and thinking) are legitimate - true, though they may be misguided, irrational or plain mad

- Emotions and thoughts are not a police matter - false. Although not directly policeable, some thoughts and feelings may indicate intent and may justly lead to appropriate police monitoring. Should a sympathiser for terrorist violence, for instance, be left to their thoughts without a bit of checking up? Few would think so.

- Therefore it's OK to hate people - false. You may hate what someone has done or plans to do that harms others, and you may even hate them as a person for that activity, but you may not legitimately hate people for being something over which they have no control, e.g their size, colour, disability, gender, etc, or even for illness, poverty, social status or other things that arise through misfortune. That type of hate is irrational and unjust and, if expressed or acted on, is a proper field for policing as it may cause harm to the targets of that hate or show intent to harm them.

"Say Yes to Hate" is a bit like Gordon Gekko's notorious speech about "greed is good" in the film Wall Street, the same false logic.

Thanks to my friend Stella for finding this item.

2) Fortunately, TDOR also brings out the best, some genuine and welcome support.

Here's a statement from US president elect Joe Biden that I found a great relief to read after Trump's persecutions:

Thanks to my friend Steph for alerting me to this.

3) Finally, the trans community in Italy, where I am currently living, was delighted that Milan Town Hall, in many ways under siege as the epicentre of the European Covid problem, took the time and trouble to hang the transgender flag for TDOR. Thank you - grazie. And thank you to Arcigay Italia for sharing the photo.

Legislation is currently going through the Italian parliament to combat discrimination against many groups of people: women, disabled people, gay/lesbian/bi people and trans people. Like Biden's promise, this is also a very welcome move.

Stay well and safe.

A dip in the archives

Here's a post in wrote in 2014 about the many people to remember during the month of November:

November: remembrance and reflection

Sue x

Friday, 20 November 2020

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2020

 In memory of the 350+ trans people murdered in the last 12 months.

Nearly one every day. Still the highest rate of violent death and suicide of any social group.

As well as the everyday brutes, the increase this year in the number of bullying politicians, hateful feminists and intolerant religious people, i.e. all the cowards who target a group that already has many struggles in life, will have me posting something similar next year. And the year after. 

Thank you to those who choose the opposite path and are no threat, and you are many. Please help us find the peace to exist like any other person.

Sue x



Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Women, the winning team

 As a trans woman, I obviously root for the women's team that's increasingly succeeding in a world previously dominated by men. I like to be part of that team, despite the bizarre aggression of certain feminists who, instead of concentrating their complaints on the predatory men who are their real bugbear, choose the easy route of finding a weaker group like trans women and taking it out on them. Most transwomen are against predatory, aggressive males, too. We never could deal with this overmasculinised world and are only too glad to embrace our femininity. We've seen the world the alpha male has made and, frankly, it could do with considerable improvement. Time for the ladies to make their mark.

A few weeks ago the Nobel prizes were announced and several women received these prestigious awards, some in their own right and not as part of male-dominated teams so prevalent in science. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for their work on gene editing. Andrea Ghez was one of the winners of the Physics Prize for her work on black holes. And the prize for literature - a prize field surprisingly dominated by male authors (101 out of 117 winners are men) - went to American poet Louise Glück (I've not read her yet but will do so). It's pleasing to see that women are being recognised in areas that have been so dominated by men.

Of course, honourable mention for women at the top goes to Kamala Harris for becoming the US's first female VP elect. And I'm pleased to hear the US now has a transgender senator.

Talking of Nobel, here's a picture of Villa Nobel in Sanremo, Italy, where Alfred Nobel spent the later years of his life. There's a lab in the basement where he conducted experiments on explosives. The big gun in the garden was used to test them by firing out to sea, much to the discomfort of local fishermen. Legend has it that he created the Nobel Peace Prize to counter the murderous uses to which his mining explosives were being put, but I suspect it was the locals who pressured this maniac into considering a bit of peace for once! 

It does illustrate, though, that men do tend to like the aggressive exploitation of the world. As we face up (or ought to face up) to the fact that we have been trashing our planet, I do think that a different approach from that of the alpha male of our apish species is very necessary. I'm not suggesting that positive discrimination is the approach; that would be wrong and can disguise underachievement. But it is good to see that women's contribution is being recognised, that women are reaching the top.


A dip in the archives

To people who think that the transgender spectrum is a modern phenomenon, I always talk about trans people and culture of the past. Going to the very far past, legendary times even, I'd point out how Hercules, the epitome of Greek and Roman masculinity, was forced to serve Omphale, Queen of Lydia. This was especially degrading from the point of view of Hercules' own high social status. Initially Hercules suffered forced feminisation as a maid (which, of course, is a subculture within the trans spectrum). Early accounts suggest that Hercules was genuinely humiliated by this; later ones suggest he delighted in gender reversal with the queen after she freed and married him. And Hercules' appreciation of his feminine side and subsequent desire to dress seems to have remained in later adventures according to some writers. So there you have it, even the most macho of men may actually have a preference for something less hulkingly male. I have always felt that a lot of macho culture was really just a desperate, consuming attempt to deny something preferable, easier even.

Hercules wears a dress and holds distaff and spindle (representing women's work) whilst Omphale sits bare-chested wearing Hecules' lionskin and holding his trademark club (bashing people semi-naked being men's work). Roman mosaic from Spain, 3rd century AD.

Sue x



Sunday, 8 November 2020

Relief, American style

Anything in the news this week? ...Not really, but I must thank the citizens of Andorra for their contribution to how I'm feeling. 


Ah, Andorra, that tiny, picturesque and ancient country in the mountains between France and Spain, ruled by its twin princes, Prince John and Prince Emmanuel. Every other year the citizens send Prince John some hams and some chickens in payment for his services and in alternate years Prince Emmanuel gets sent about $500 in recognition of his. Mind you, he does represent Andorra in the international community, whereas Prince John just tends to sit there. To be fair, though, Prince John does have another job as Bishop of Urgell in Spain, whilst Prince Emmanuel spends his spare time being President of France. So actually, the citizens of Andorra get these two princes by virtue of the votes of the canons of Urgell Cathedral (as approved by the Vatican) and by the votes of the electorate of France. Andorrans are therefore ruled by persons elected wholly outside their country. It must feel odd that foreign voters can have such an influence over you.

...Did I say Andorra? Silly me, I meant to talk about America. 

Now, I don't have to take account of what the Americans do, do I? No, but the world is highly interconnected now so what goes on in another country has an effect on many others. American voters' choices certainly have an influence well outside the USA.

Thank you, Americans, for exchanging the aggressive, corrupt, abusive bully Trump for a more normal politician. Now, I could say a lot against politicians but when you've had the toxic rhetoric of Trump dinned in your ear for four years, you appreciate normality all the more. If you have ever been a refugee like me, or mixed race like me, or born abroad like me, or in a minority such as transgender like me, and have experienced hate and discrimination because of those things, then you too will appreciate when the source of that hate or discrimination is removed. I also appreciate the pressure this change in the US now brings to my former country, Britain, to stop being so brazenly racist and aggressively isolationist.

It's made a big difference to my life. Here's a bottle of local sparkling wine I opened yesterday to celebrate your change of approach. Thank you.

A dip in the archives

1) On the subject above, here's what I wrote in January 2017 when Trump took over. I was uneasy, but I wasn't to know how badly the following four years would trouble me:

Farewell, Mr Obama

2) And now for something completely different: enjoying a summer's evening in London in 2013, showing off my new pink shoes.

 I love pink! Here's the full story of my shopping trip with Pippa:

The Princess and the Shopper (or How to Get Noticed))

Sue x

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Lockdown is time to play

 Well, pretty much everyone had hoped that the drastic measures in the spring were going to be enough to reduce the effects of a second wave of coronavirus ... and everyone was wrong. So as we prepare for a very difficult winter I'll link back to the suggestions I made in the spring for practical survival when in isolation. I myself am used to being alone at home because of the nature of my work but it will feel odd to many.

Life in Italy in the age of the virus

How to survive isolation at home

One point I made then was that you could use down time at home to invent a board game. I was reminded of this by an article in yesterday's paper that described a number of board games issued recently that are set in the local area, including one where gangs of pigs in a post-apocalyptic future have taken over Genoa and fight for city blocks, another where of teams of bears fight off monster babies who are devouring the world, or just Monopoly but played in much smaller towns than New York or London. They all sound fun and remind me of the days before the Internet when our family would get together to play just these sorts of games. Now, the Internet is great but there's something missing in life when the family are too busy each with their own phones to interact together, which is always the best bit of playing games with physical pieces.

My grandfather was a great artist and created some amazing board games, including two painted on layers of acetate that were stacked and could be moved about to change the layout or scenario. One was an adventure game where you chose a route to the treasure cave but might (or might not, depending on the shifting configuration) encounter quicksand, lava, crocodiles, cannibals and any other hazards. The other was a driving game where the road conditions changed at every turn. Never select 70mph if there's any chance of pedestrians on the crossing, heavy traffic, a train on the level crossing and so on. Avoiding traffic jams by a shortcut down country lanes might work ... or the bull might be loose or the ford flooded. And never ever run into the back of a police car, the one that's just materialised in front of you! We loved that one.

I remember my father teaching me how to play draughts (checkers) by candlelight during the 1970s energy crises when we had endless power cuts. (We survived that crisis time as we will this one.)

I recall how we used to invent games at school - not just outdoor ones involving tennis balls and odd-shaped corners of the playground, with hymn books as bats and school bags as traps - but ones where you actually had to make a board and cards and find something to act as counters. We did our own local Monopoly, too, with the innovation that some cards were demolition orders, not just on shabby houses and dodgy hotels but on entire streets. It seemed appropriate for the area near the school! And a card game involving an alien invasion - the inventor had a lot of fun drawing weird extraterrestrials. I'm sure they weren't modelled on our teachers really!

A few years ago another TGirl and I thought of a card game where the TGirl has to get ready for the club, get her outfit and accessories together and avoid hazards like blunt razors and laddered tights. Perhaps there's a limited market for that one.

There's nothing like working with your hands and being creative and I do worry that we are losing a love of making stuff because our entertainments come ready packaged. I'm not criticising video games or online stuff as a lot is undoubtedly great fun but the point is that when you only play those you don't get to be inventive yourself and you get more isolated, which is hardly what we want right now.

Get out the old board games or make your own. Your Neighbourhood Monopoly is just waiting to be created, and don't forget those demolition orders - the Smiths' garden shed at no. 34 has got to go!

Have fun. 


A dip in the archives

Another photo from ten years ago, this one in Manchester with Lee Middlehurst who interviewed me as part of her PhD research on transgender matters. Later we met several friends for dinner at the Eden Bar on the canal and joined the weekly Concord meeting.

Sue x