Thursday, 30 December 2021

Ending 2021 positively

 Almost every year on Sue's News and Views my editorial team compile a summary of the year past, including trips out, fun had and challenges encountered.

This year the team are all in quarantine so it's up to me alone to compile the summary of this year's exciting adventures which have been ... er, well, nonexistent.

So that was easy. Bye!

Actually, it's worth saying one or two things. Although there has been little scope for travelling and meeting friends like I used to do, I have certainly kept in touch with my trans friends by other means every day. In addition, I have doubled the time I spend on my blog (whilst halving the excess weight I have put on!) I have been relearning my makeup regime and have spent most of my year in girl mode, which is always the best way for a transwoman like me to feel at peace. And despite the many attacks on trans people this year, I have found an enormous amount of support too (see below). 

Of the photos I took this year, I think I will use this one as my avatar for 2022. 

What a troubled year for the world, though. No-one has been unaffected by this pandemic and I hope that we can all pull out of it somehow in 2022. I did post this picture in my last blog post of 2020 as a sort of ray of hope for the future and that now seems a bit of a hollow sentiment, but what can one do, really?

Fingers crossed. Have good year-end/new year celebrations and I will write again in 2022.

But just before I leave you, here are a few comments on this week's news:


The Matrix

I thought the original Matrix film, directed by the Wachowski siblings, was stunning. Though the sequels suffer from the law of diminishing returns, in my opinion. Of course, the Wachowskis' recent revelation that the films are an allegory of gender dysphoria add a dimension few of us properly appreciated the first time around, although the "blue pill/red pill" concept made it into trans parlance a long time back. I'd like to see the new film.

They repeated the trilogy on TV here this week and the newspapers, the main national TV guide and other reviewers, when talking about the Wachowskis, mention their gender transition merely as factual clarification of first name changes and not some prurient detail. I am beginning to feel that the world is actually coming to terms with transition. Well, mainly...


April Ashley

This inspiring transgender pioneer passed away this week. May she rest in peace. Undoubtedly a heroine to so many people and an icon of the trans community.

Pink News tributes here: April Ashley tributes

Guardian obituary here: April Ashley obit

BBC obituary here: April Ashley obit 2 (photos)

Just to feel good...

Just to end this year on a lovely note, if I were to pick one piece of  positive trans support from the wider world this year I think this advertisement from Bhima Jewellery in India, about the transition of a transwoman from 'boy' to bride with the full support of her family, would be my favourite.


Best wishes for the year end and the new year to come.

Sue x

Monday, 27 December 2021

Christmas support

 I hope you have had a good weekend. And that your presents included something pretty. The best thing in my Christmas stocking was, as ever, my leg. I have always set time aside in the holiday season for looking pretty.

I made the mistake of standing on the scales this morning. Oops! Well, Christmas comes but once a year ... which maybe is just as well!

I was supposed to be joining friends in France today but that plan had to be abandoned because the latest surge in Covid has closed the French border to them. So instead I've got a week of pottering about at home and prolonging this lovely dressing time. I might even take some photos as, so far, this Christmas season has been a great opportunity to be dressed nicely all day every day.

Despite its being the season of goodwill the trans community still gets fired at by the usual snipers. But this meme doing the rounds did make me chuckle:


But for every attacker, I always find several supportive allies. Desmond Tutu, archbishop in South Africa who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, and who died yesterday, had this to say about religion and its anti-LGBT stance:-

“I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.”

And there was a nice, specifically trans-supportive message by Olympic gold-medallist Tom Daley in the annual Alternative Christmas Broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK, "There is no LGB without the T":


I've never been much of an enthusiast for the Western notion of "the great man" or woman but, that being the way it works, when celebrities and known people come out in support, I think it makes a difference.

I suspect most of my readers will still be on holiday so I wish you a restful time.

Also, thank you for your comments on this blog. There's still a technical problem and I haven't yet been able to reply to some of them, but I have read them all and thank you for them.

Sue x

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Happy holiday wishes

 Wishing all my readers a peaceful, healthy, safe and enjoyable holiday season. 

It's been a difficult year for everyone so I hope we can all have a restful break even if many plans have gone a bit awry because of the pandemic's seasonal upsurge. 

Maybe Covid has a benefit. Not being able to meet everyone all at once spreads the festivities out a bit. I've always found the Christmas season a bit apocalyptic with every person you know having to be sent greetings and relatives all having to be bought presents for a single holiday weekend of crazed overindulgence that doesn't necessarily do the psyche or relationships any particular good. Far from being a Scroogy humbug, I am kind of liking the reduction in excitement as it helps focus more on what matters. On Christmas day I shall wear a nice dress, I shall eat only what and as much as pleases me, and I shall wait to exchange presents till some other weekend next year, which means there's another day to look forward to. 

How ever it works for you, have a nice time over these next few days.

Sue x

Monday, 20 December 2021

My tribute to supportive partners

 The other day a TGirl mentioned that her wife had given her a pedicure before settling down for a girls' night in. It's wonderful to see how some people not only accept their trans partner but want to be part of their trans life. Let's face it, we often have the best times when presenting as our preferred gender and wives who've joined their trans spouse for a night out seem to enjoy the company of a group of trans people as well as the fun to be had. 

I'd like to thank supportive partners. It makes a huge difference to the trans community to have people who accept a trans person and are loyal to their needs. In various ways, those spouses are supportive of trans rights generally and in specific situations, and every bit of positivity helps every one of us. So thank you for helping to make the world more accepting for all of us.

Comments glitch

Blogger seems to have a bit of a technical problem at the moment in not always allowing me to reply to comments. At least not at first. I hope they'll sort the problem out soon.

Christmas weigh-in

Well, it's that mad time of year when you have to fill the house with food as if withstanding a siege and get in touch with every person you can think of, especially those you have neglected since last Christmas! 

My plan to join friends abroad this year has fallen through as two of them have Covid and the relevant international borders have been closed anyway. Oh well, this huge family-sized Christmas cake is all for me then!

Today has been my last weigh-in of the year as I refuse to check or worry about my weight over the holiday period. The last two weeks of the year are for enjoyment and the new year is for getting back to the slimming programme.

So this year I have lost two stone, eight and a half pounds, or 36 1/2 lb, or 16.4 kg, which is great. I'm well over half way to a healthy weight and maybe next summer I will be back in shape. I'm not rushing it as dieting is no fun; my trick is just to be more aware of fatty foods and get daily outdoor exercise.

Thanks for all the support I've had from you readers about this. 

Getting there


Sue x

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Thanks for the recognition

 In this strange year a lot of people have discovered new ways of doing things. One change for me is that I've had more time to write this blog and now do so twice weekly. 

So thank you once again to the elves at Feedspot and their Magic Algorithms for listing my blog in their top transwoman blog list and top transgender blog list. It's nice to have the recognition and feel that this blog is useful and read by the trans community and its allies. 

Trans blogging is something of a niche field of interest, I'll admit, but being trans is life-defining to those of us who are. Unlike many other niche interest blogs and media content, this is not a hobby, fad, standpoint or curio. It's real, and I feel responsible for what I write. 

It's also nice to see the same accolades for many of the worthwhile sites on the blogroll to the right. At a time when trans people are under unjust pressure, it's good to see us resisting in the blogosphere as elsewhere.

Thanks for reading and for your support.

A dip in the archives

I've rather neglected this spot these last few weeks as I've had a lot to do, but it wouldn't be Christmas on Sue's News and Views without my looking back at past festive seasons. 

I received a nice email the other day from my friend Dawn back in England and realised it was ten years ago that we spent Christmas together. And what a pleasant time we had:

A lovely Christmas

I had been invited to join friends for the festivities this year but what with significant testing requirements, travel restrictions and the fact that one of them has today tested positive for Covid, this is not going to happen, sadly. So nostalgia it has to be instead!

Sue x

Monday, 13 December 2021

Educating the older ones

 A relative of mine, who's about 70 now, has been very helpful to me over the last three years whilst I have settled in Italy. He's very much of the hippie generation (groovy, baby!) and was once a card-carrying member of a communist party, when communism was fashionable. Counter-culture and the struggle of the proletariat kind of run in his veins, although he's come round to feeling that Marxism wasn't that great after all and that eating in good restaurants is the best way to live! But the point of this preamble is that you'd have thought he'd be a bit progressive when it came to LGBT stuff, yet ...

I saw him the other week and there was a political debate on TV including a former minister who is now transitioning (male to female). "You know, that's not a woman," he said, "that's a man. He's still got a penis." My heart sank, for two reasons. (1) Is that the criterion? And (2), this wasn't the first time. A young, pretty trans woman passed us in the street a couple of years ago and from him it was, "That's a man, you know." We were in a crowd and in a big rush so I wasn't in much of a position to suggest a better way of seeing this girl until it was way too late. This time I just pointed out that she was transgender, and left it at that.

My relative keeps himself to himself and is not going out to cause trouble to others like the rest of my family. For my own peace of mind I'd rather he didn't refer to trans people in this way but reason tells me to just leave it at that rather than going into the whole "what is trans" spiel for him. I am giving up on trying to correct people set in their ways, as my last post discussed. Of course, he doesn't know I am trans and seeing him is one of the rare forays I make into male mode these days. I feel it best to be safe in unwanted male mode than sorry in true female mode, and in that I am with the large majority of trans people, sadly. It shouldn't be this way, but it still is.

I do have hope in the younger generation who seem much more clued up and accepting of sexual and gender variance, with fewer doctrines apparently being forced on them. It strikes me the older generation could be learning more from the young.


Not a man

Sue x

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Liberation from stupidity

 Today I responded to the UK government consultation on banning conversion therapy and said that the proposals as they stand risk preventing charities and support groups from providing direct help to transitioners especially children. It's a waste of time, though; governments do what they want whatever the public thinks. Given that my European ID card arrived in the post today, I think it's time I stopped worrying about what's going on in my previous country. 

Note that the consultation deadline has been extended from tomorrow to 4 February 2022.

My charming sister, the one who hates LGBT folk, wrote me another homophobic/transphobic email rant last week in which she was explaining why she doesn't want to give anyone Christmas presents. Having thought long and hard about what to do about combating her hate, I concluded that Dietrich Bonhöffer and Carlo Cipolla's observations are very apt. 

Who are they and what did they observe?

Well, this passage from a letter ("After 10 Years") written from a German prison in 1943 by Dietrich Bonhöffer, a Lutheran pastor who vocally opposed the Nazi régime that transformed Germany from a land of musicians and scientists into a murderous war machine, is eloquent and incisive. The problem with society from time to time, he perceived, and as we have seen in the last few years in various contexts, is not so much malice, which can be combated since most people find it repellent, but stupidity, against which reason and force are powerless. His argument is here (or skip to the short video below):

"Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenceless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.


"If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is in essence not an intellectual defect but a human one. There are human beings who are of remarkably agile intellect, yet stupid; and others who are intellectually quite dull, yet anything but stupid. We discover this to our surprise in particular situations. The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect, but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them. We note further that people who have isolated themselves from others or who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals or groups of people inclined or condemned to sociability. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem. It is a particular form of the impact of historical circumstances on human beings, a psychological concomitant of certain external conditions. Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or of a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. It would even seem that this is virtually a sociological-psychological law. The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence, and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with a person, but with slogans, catchwords and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.


"Yet at this very point it becomes quite clear that only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity. Here we must come to terms with the fact that in most cases a genuine internal liberation becomes possible only when external liberation has preceded it. Until then we must abandon all attempts to convince the stupid person. This state of affairs explains why in such circumstances our attempts to know what ‘the people’ really think are in vain and why, under these circumstances, this question is so irrelevant for the person who is thinking and acting responsibly. [...]


But these thoughts about stupidity also offer consolation in that they utterly forbid us to consider the majority of people to be stupid in every circumstance. It really will depend on whether those in power expect more from people’s stupidity than from their inner independence and wisdom."


There is a recent and very good summary of this thought in a video that puts it in context:

You can compare Bonhöffer's thought with that of economist Carlo M. Cipolla's 1988 satirical (but serious) essay on stupidity ("Allegro ma non troppo"). There are 5 fundamental laws of stupidity:

1: the number of stupid people around is always underestimated

2: the probability of anyone being stupid is independent of any other characteristic they may have (e.g. status or academic ability)

3: a stupid person is one who harms others but does not derive a benefit for themselves from that harm (unlike, say, a criminal, a 'bandit')

4: people who are not stupid always underestimate the power that stupid people have to cause harm, so dealing with or associating with stupid people is always a costly mistake

5: stupid people are the most dangerous people around, more so than bandits because you can at least understand bandits' motives and take protective measures

These laws are reflected in 4 types of person:

- Intelligent people, who benefit both themselves and others

- Hapless people, who benefit others but at a loss to themselves

- Bandits, who harm others to gain something for themselves

- Stupid people who, as in 3 above, hurt themselves in hurting others.

I have spent a lot of time discussing the disturbing rise of narcissism with a friend of mine who happens to be a clinical psychiatrist and who deals mainly with children, including transgender children. In a field that is - thankfully - increasingly being explored by mainstream psychology, the current thinking is that narcissists, psychos and stupid people are best left well alone. You can't (and mustn't) try to reason with them. Yet other scientists feel that you might as well at least combat stupid people - e.g. the fake news brigade - and make them sweat for their stupidity. That was my feeling back in July. The trouble is, they can be vindictive and get more extreme when thwarted. Bonhöffer suggests that liberation from the context that created their stupidity is the solution, whether that context is populist political movements, fundamentalist religious notions, oppressive family dynamics, toxic workplaces or whatever. 

I'm still thinking about this as I feel some responsibility for the family I came from. They gain nothing from attacking LGBT people but, in doing so, only isolate themselves more from society that increasingly accepts LGBT. By these definitions, they are stupid. Having been infected with stupidity they are now dangerous and best avoided. Maybe avoidance would represent liberation for myself as well, instead of this lifelong shadow their transphobia has had over me.


Sue x


Monday, 6 December 2021

Authorities: the good, the bad and the fabulous

 There has been silence here for over a week as I have been away. I have been dealing with the authorities - successfully and not too traumatically for once - and now have a full ID card which enables me to travel abroad, I'm now part of the national health system and have a health and general services card (very important) and a proper doctor, and I am on the electoral register. I feel like I belong now.

I celebrated all this with an amazing meal at an outstanding restaurant in Milan. Here's a sample menu in English: Il Liberty menu. And did some Christmas shopping. Well, Milan is a fashion capital so it would be improper not to!

But I've had a further thought about the consultation my other government is up to, on conversion therapy. I don't trust their motives in suggesting that converting people to being trans might be a thing and punishable in the name of balance. What this will do - and I am sure it's the intention behind this whole consultation - is to prevent trans charities from giving all but vague support to trans people, and kids in particular, because of the risk of people turning round and saying that they were pushed to transition. Detransitioners can be litigious. My strongly-worded suspicions were expressed last month here

Pink News has more warnings here: 4 huge red flags

I will be answering only this question (you don't have to express thoughts on all of a consultation) but I will be pointing up the threat to genuine trans charities.

Q2. The Government considers that delivering talking conversion therapy with the intention of changing a person’s sexual orientation or changing them from being transgender or to being transgender either to someone who is under 18, or to someone who is 18 or over and who has not consented or lacks the capacity to do so should be considered a criminal offence.

The consultation for UK citizens which closes this Friday, 10 December, is here: Banning Conversion Therapy

I keep being pleased, though, that more trans people are being elected as representatives. A transwoman in Chile, Emilia Schneider, is the latest and joins plenty of others from round the world. Transwoman Petra de Sutter has been Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister for a year now. Despite the opposition and hate, I think we are making progress in the world.

Petra de Sutter


Sue x

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Triumphant transgender barmaids

 A bit of nostalgia. It was ten years ago that 30 or so trans girls acted as barmaids at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London. We had been invited to man (if that's the right word) a new feature, the TGirl bar at the Erotica Show, an annual trade show. (Before anyone throws their hands up in horror at the thought that trans women might be associated with the sex trade, I'd point out that the Erotica show was just another trade fair and about as erotic as your grandad's undershorts. "Erotica" was just a marketing tool: I bought jewellery, jeggings and a hairclip there, but declined the cavity wall insulation and toffee-flavoured vodka also on offer!)

First shift 2011: waitresses (left) Ria and Stella; barmaids Mandy, Helena, Andrea, Amanda, Eve, Jackie, Holly and me.


For us, it was an outreach opportunity, a chance to educate the public and show that we trans women are decent, approchable and friendly. 


We were so popular that they unhesitatingly invited us back for the next show, in a different venue in 2013.

Cute barmaid


The 2011 show had us all dressed in plain outfits: white shirt, black skirt, just what any smart waitress or barmaid would wear. In 2013 we left uniformity and went a bit more fetish, but with a loss of charm in my opinion. 

The Sunday shift 2013


It was hard work. I had two girls to stay on each occasion, which is tiring even if fun, and the rota was serious. Pouring drinks for several hours whilst standing on very high heels takes stamina. But we were highly praised by managers and visitors alike and I think we got the message across that TGirls are personable, hardworking and, actually, very normal, sociable people. We answered visitors' questions about trans life and that's always good as those newly educated folks then pass the info on. 

The magnificent Olympia hall in 2011, with Holly, Joanne and Ria


Altogether a success, in my view. It's a pity this event ended after that for financial and organisational reasons. But the trans community being promoted in London's top exhibition venues was an honour and a big win. I'm proud to have been part of it.

TGirls on the burlesque stage, 2013


My report on 2011: Barmaids a go-go

My report on 2013: The TGirl Bar 2013 

(NB The latter has always been the most popular post on my blog with lots of photos and many links to more photos, blogs, performers and suppliers.)


Sue x

Monday, 22 November 2021

Procrastination in heels

 I'm writing my blog twice a week now, Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons. I'll confess that the Monday morning slot is to ease me into the week gently. Yes, there are more important things to do but that's the point. Since stopping working for other people I've wanted to emphasise not having that Monday morning feeling most of us get when at school or employed and we have to bolt down breakfast and rush, bleary-eyed, into the cold, damp murk to go somewhere we'd prefer not to be. Maybe this pandemic has opened the eyes of many to the benefits of home working, not every day, perhaps, but at least some of the week. You get more done, have your comforts round you rather than the questionable décor the boss chose and can raid the fridge whenever you want. Hey, you can always exercise those pounds off later, right?

So this week's procrastination regards my tax return, and preparing a trip which aims to get a health card, maybe a voting card, and a full ID card. My accountants keep messing up my tax return. They're supposed to be the experts; I'm perfectly capable of messing it up myself without paying some clown to do it for me. And the abusive staff at the council are something I am steeling myself for. At some point I have to get a passport and go to the courthouse to have a proper birth certificate made. Some advice - don't get born in a revolution so your mother has to flee with incomplete paperwork on you.

I've never been sure if tackling a grim 'To Do' list is best done in one masochistic sweep of health-straining misery or poisoning each day with an hour or two of Nasty Time. Ideas welcome.

Last week I took a whole day out for my girl birthday; this week my procrastination exercise, I have decided, involves getting back into high heels. My right leg was badly damaged when I was hit by a bicycle three years ago and it wasn't really till this year that I could walk properly again. Anything other than flats has been out of the question for any length of time. My highest heels are on a pair of boots so I shall be clumping around in those this week just to get used to the idea again. 


A dip in the archives

On the subject of high-heeled boots, here's a link to my winter boots lookbook as the weather gets colder: Winter Boots Lookbook

Sue x

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Birthday doll

 Hi, it's my girl birthday so I've taken the day off and am treating myself.


It's been a mild sunny day, about 19°C (66°F), which is nice for the time of year, so first I went to Sanremo town. There's a lovely promenade by the sea with beautiful palms planted 150 years ago, a gift from the Tsarina of Russia who enjoyed a holiday there. It's still called the Empress's Boulevard and it's a pretty spot on a bright day.

In Sanremo there is my favourite restaurant (Le Quattro Stagioni - The Four Seasons) and I treated myself to a long, lazy lunch. The fish is landed every morning and is as fresh as you can get.

And now at home I have done my makeup nicely and, as I write, I am having not a cake but an apricot lattice tart, which I prefer. I own some dragons so I squeezed one to light the candle with its fiery snout!

And he and his brood made a party of sorts. 


Well, normally I'd have had friends round but you have to make do in these crazy times when travel is difficult. Besides - a little secret, sshhh! - it's not my actual birthday, it's just a date I chose years ago to celebrate my girl life, which falls during Trans Awareness Week. I'm determined, with so much strife going on generally and so many attacks on trans folks, to find the positives. So celebrating my girl birthday is one. 


Here are some other positives, gleaned just these last few days.

- The Sunday newspaper supplement for titles published in North-West Italy devoted its main feature to transgender lives and realities, a good neutral guide for laymen. They interviewed 5 trans people, 2 MtF and 3 FtM, a good ratio as not so much is heard about transmen and I think they gather less opposition. For improving public awareness, I thought this feature was good.

- In Hungary, there was massive support shown for the LGBT community from bands attending at the MTV Europe Music Awards, in defiance of that country's current repressive policies.

- In the UK, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg has defied criticism to make some of his earlier lyrics more trans inclusive.

A gay friend of mine reasured me the other day that, despite what some governments and a lot of nasty groups want, public opinion has very much come round in favour of the LGBT community in the last few years, as many referendums and polls show. For instance, just this autumn, Switzerland voted clearly for gay mariage with not a single canton dissenting. I wonder if our opponents aren't getting a bit desperate.

Femulate and the opposition

Thank you to Stana of Femulate for featuring one of my favourite pics the other day. I link to her post here not from vanity but because the main point, from Diana (her original post, Fluff), is that there is a lot of pressure on trans lives from a variety of nasty sources but resistance doesn't seem to gain much traction online. I know readers are already exhausted with bad news and go online to relax ... which is why I try to point up the positives, as above, but trans poeple and allies need to be alert to the ever-increasing restrictions being imposed on us in many places. I'm sorry, but despite the good stuff, we still have a problem.


A dip in the archives

I was also reminded this week of multiple grammy award winning composer Wendy Carlos, a trans woman, whose scores include Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Tron and who was an early developer and player of the Moog sythesizer.

I like this brief article about her, with a short BBC interview (from 1989) as she goes about her work.

It's amazing what trans people can do if you just let them get on with their lives.

Sue x

Monday, 15 November 2021


 It may seem strange to start with a photo of salad in a pot but I'm pround of this lettuce!

You see, Lenny the Lettuce here is a second generation lettuce, who unexpectedly and naturally self-seeded himself in a spare pot of earth from a parent plant that I let go to seed. A packet of lettuce seeds was a free gift in the local paper in the spring and, frankly, with all the forced time at home this year because of Covid lockdowns, I thought I might as well try growing some salad. What's the worst that could happen? And I'm pleased to say that I munched my way through many fresh lettuces all summer. But Lenny is the baby lettuce, the firstborn of my other lettuces, the little cutie. 

It was a lovely warm sunny day on Saturday and I had lunch outdoors and, well, Lenny is just a bit smaller now! 

Next year I'll try tomatoes, too. I've never grown veg before but I'm beginning to understand how satisfying it can be to crop your own fresh food. The herbs like basil, sage and parsley are doing very well (this area is famous for basil), and Arnold the Olive is looking healthy - he's a long-term project! Of course, in my transgender world, the basil is called Rosemary and the rosemary is called Basil.

I give them names, but I don't talk to my plants. I'm not completely mad!

So I try to find small satisfactions in a world that's pretty harsh at the moment. I was delighted to find this from a high-profile trans person, Elliot Page:

This week is Transgender Awareness Week and this made me feel there is good mutual support within our community. There are ever more trans people coming out, being visible and making a difference. I recently posted about local elections in Italy and the USA where many trans candidates were elected to office. In Britain yesterday, a group who represent LGBT military personnel, Fighting with Pride, were at the Remembrance Sunday parade, including those who had been thrown out of the military for being gay or trans. So despite the campaigns of the haters, including - upsettingly - my family, we seem to be getting somewhere. 

Look after yourselves. A hug.

Sue x

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Dealing with governments

 I am pleased to say that a new, publicly-funded regional anti-discrimination centre has opened where I live. It will provide information and help to local authorities and to individuals who need assistance. Not just against transphobia, of course, but discrimination of all sorts such as racism, sexism and disability issues. Given that a law to provide further protections against discrimination has effectively been sunk in the Italian parliament, this is a positive piece of news.

But I am concerned about the item I mentioned in my last post about criminalising conversion therapy in the UK. Not because the matter doesn't merit looking at but because I think the government is likely hiding a very transphobic measure within it. I have asked a gay activist friend of mine what he thinks and he is recruiting more gay colleagues to advise. There is a whole army of gays to fight discrimination but the problem for trans people is that we are less visible, less experienced and less organised. What do you expect when the overwhelming majority of trans people live hidden through fear?

The worst mistake I ever made was taking a job in the ministries in London. The work was interesting but the people were vile, creating a toxic mix of malice, incompetence and corruption. So I can tell you a thing or two about the real motives behind legislation and consultations like this. The main thing to bear in mind is that nothing is what it seems. 

Proposals like this may not originate with government but with civil servants who may be acting simply in order to have something to do and so justify having jobs, or from personal motives. I can give you a classic example from my days in government when one person, worried that his job might disappear, cooked up regulations to 'tidy up' various other pieces of legislation that were diminishing in relevance. These regulations were unnecessary but created work so he could keep sitting at the same desk. There was a public consultation about the proposed measures and many people foresaw the knock-on effects of the changes, including, in a roundabout way, some disabled and vulnerable people losing rights to specialist services. Not many, but those affected would have their lives worsened in an appreciable way. But the change had been decided anyway and the consultation was just a sop to the public to imagine their say was being taken into account. This jerk civil servant got to keep his desk and to hell with the public who lost their services.

The situation worsened when Tony Blair became Prime Minister and consultations were still required but zero notice was taken of views. Blair's government even had legislation passed whilst consultations were still running. Now that the UK is run by hoods, you can imagine what a waste of time responding to consultations is. But it is necessary to fight government encroachment on power all the time. That goes for any country.

I wonder what the motive behind this latest consultation is? This is what particularly bothers me:

Q2. The Government considers that delivering talking conversion therapy with the intention of changing a person’s sexual orientation or changing them from being transgender or to being transgender either to someone who is under 18, or to someone who is 18 or over and who has not consented or lacks the capacity to do so should be considered a criminal offence.

You might not spot it at first, and when you do it sounds like a balanced, reasonable point: "Changing them from being transgender or to being transgender". Except that nobody sets out to change someone to being transgender. You can't anyway; you're either trans or you're not.

But the implications are that someone who assists people, especially the young, to transition, could be in trouble with the law. This is especially true of trans people who detransition and can be litigious or vociferous in saying they were pushed into transition. I can think of at least two who felt they had made a mistake and, rightly or wrongly, held that they had been pressured.

A government that has shown itself the most openly corrupt in UK history, has policies on issues like Covid that are irresponsible and destructive, even genocidal, which is listening to all sorts of unfiltered transphobia from several antagonistic sources, is hardly going to be trans positive. I suspect its motives here, or those of its officials, especially as the proposals are not very well backed up by the research study that was produced in evidence. My gripe with conversion therapy (described in my last post) was not so much with the therapy itself, such as it was, but with the overarching threatening nature of the religion that prompted it, and several respondents to the study said much the same. I do know of cases of bad treatment by therapists, pastors and families, but they are not, thankfully, so common. 

I will be chatting to my gay activist friends some more and deciding how to respond. But do not be fooled by what seems like a pro-trans measure. I doubt that that's the motive. It's not cynicism on my part but direct experience of what motivates ministers, lobbyists and civil servants. Their interests come first, citizens second, believe me.

Tunnels and twisting paths


Sue x

Monday, 8 November 2021

My conversion therapy

 The British government is holding a public consultation (open till 10 December) on taking legal measures against conversion therapy.

This has distressed me as it reminds me of the days I sought to be cured of being trans with the help of religious leaders. It also distresses me because of past experiences dealing with governments. I'd like to offer advice on the latter in my next post but just for now I'd like to talk about conversion therapy itself.

The consultation on LGBT conversion therapy is here (for UK citizens): UK Gov online consultation

There is a serious issue with this consultation as it states (Q2) that cisgender people can be converted to being trans and this has implications for assistance to genuine trans people, especially young ones. More on that next time.

Conversion therapy is basically an attempt to cure a person of their sexual orientation or transgender nature, usually by spiritual, emotional or psychological means. So it tends to involve religious leaders, psychologists, life coaches or family and friends acting to 'straighten' the LGBT person.

I have mentioned this before in this blog, notably in my answers to Lynn's "Our Different Journey" project (here), that I was brought up in a very religious household. Although nominally within an everyday, mainstream religion, the faith I was actually brought up in was, in fact, very idiosyncratic and bore little resemblance to the main branch. A one-family cult, almost. This difference became a problem when I left home and started attending mainstream places of worship.

I am not going to state what my religion was as it is irrelevant to the subject of conversion therapy and might result in some readers thinking "Tut! Well, what do you expect from that lot. Now MY religion (my atheism/my agnosticism) is the true path and that would never happen where I'm from."

Present-day mainstream religions are largely obsessed with issues around fertility and food, which does imply their origins lie in early agricultural societies. An essay for a different site, no doubt. Conversion therapy is connected with the fertility aspect - gay people don't procreate, and that's no good since no procreation = no new generation of breadwinners (putting that all-important specialised food on the table). The fact that gay uncles or transgender aunts might exist by natural selection as they provide an unprocreating extra pair of hands helping with child rearing and family income is not something that most religions seem to consider. Again, let's leave this point for another day.

So... From about the age of 5 I started imagining myself as a girl. From about age 7 I started playing with dolls and secretly reading books about fairies and stuff. From 9 I started dressing as a girl regularly. And that was all fine and neither my religious upbringing nor secret life as a girl had any relevance to one another. Then one day, aged 12, in the voluminous religious literature I was expected to study I found the tiny throwaway line that boys and girls shouldn't swap clothes. This was a devastating revelation because I was officially classified as a boy no matter how much I might secretly prefer to live as a girl. 

At much the same time a teacher of mine used the word "transvestite."
I had to look the word up and it was a revelation. You can imagine my confusion now. I was a transvestite, it would seem, but that was bad. A source of ridicule in secular quarters and a source of condemnation in religious ones.

My teens were therefore troubled not only by the usual trials of puberty but also in trying to reconcile my reality with the opposition all around. I tried a legalistic approach with my deity, leafing through dictionaries and encyclopaedias to ensure that what I wore didn't strictly clash with the no-girl-clothes injunction: kilts are fine - Scotsmen wear them with pride. But are other skirts? My dictionary told me that tights were worn by acrobats and gymnasts. So they were OK. But with a kilt, too? They have acrobats in Scotland, right? And so on. Teenagers are barrack-room lawyers at the best of times so this approach worked for me. I couldn't ask my parents what was going on with me - I was too terrified of them. Then I went to college and got involved in the student clubs associated with my religion and realised that I was only fooling myself and that my deity would hate me if I carried on in this way.

So, aged 19, I sought a suitable spiritual leader to help me overcome this compulsion to dress and behave as a girl. He wasn't my regular spiritual contact because I felt a stranger was someone I could walk away from in case of rejection or threat - I honestly had no idea at all how my opening up might be taken. He was also relatively young so I felt less generational disconnect. He was the first person I ever spoke to about this.

Our interview was fairly short, and unexpectedly positive, or rather a relief. He commended me on my openness and honesty and suggested that I should join one of the various groups for young people that the religion had going in the area since that would give me regular social and spiritual support from people of my age and faith and that would no doubt help with overcoming my tendencies since I was genuinely wanting to change. I explained that I was already in the university club and he said this was excellent. This was certainly a more positive response than I had expected. I then explained that, although I was genuinely wanting to end my feelings and behaviour, I had so far found it very hard to do so. I was worried about relapsing. "Then do try to cut down on these things," he said. I did feel he had some compassion towards my struggles and seemed impressed with my wish to please the deity. Unfortunately, neither he nor I really knew about being transgender - if the word or even the concept existed in the public mind then - and I didn't help by implying that this was probably a sexual problem.

This kind of worked, though, and I felt I was cured. I also felt happy at overcoming a problem. I never mentioned it to anyone else except hinting to two female friends that I was feeling less troubled (I never said what about). For six months I overcame my transness, purged my female clothes and anything associated with my previous girly life.

But then it all came back when two things happened. Firstly, I had begun to notice inconsistencies and contradictions in all that religious literature, and this started to trouble me. Higher education does have this nasty habit of making you analyse stuff and think for yourself. Secondly, once home for the long holidays without the social and spiritual support of my peers that my contact had recommended, I relapsed. I remember sitting in my bedroom one day, fully dressed in the loveliest outfit I could create, and feeling this was actually right; and for the first time ever I admitted that I was something other than a boy. I told the deity aloud: "This is who I am: I am really a woman. Do you understand? This is me."

The focus of my religious struggle became more and more with the religion and its contradictions, its repressiveness, its threats, and with trying to deny how miserable it was making me. Once more, at age 21, some visiting spiritual leaders giving talks invited students to come and see them privately if they wanted to discuss anything. Once more I mentioned my struggles with fighting off this desire to dress as a girl, only this time I had a lot to get off my chest about my theological struggles too. My intelocutor suggested that I needed to find inner peace. I asked him how one achieved that. He shifted uncomfortably, and it was clear I'd taken more of his time than he'd allowed for, so he suggested I "try to find that peace" and I would if I really wanted to. And to keep regular with the place of worship and the club. He touched me, a sort of encouraging pat! This avoidance of the question didn't help, nor the pat, nor the proposed laxative to keep me spiritually regular - I soon stopped going to the student club and simply went to another place of worship. The twisted theology and callousness of its proponents - from parents to peers to leaders - was getting to me.

I struggled on with these same spiritual and trans issues till age 26 when I decided the problem was me, that I was being wilfully awkward and that it was time to shape up spiritually again. I sought out my third spiritual guide - a stranger again - and went through the spiel about crossdressing yada yada. He was unphased - bored almost - and brief: OK, avoid it in future. He had other people to see and I left. But this time it took. I now realise that it wasn't the guidance from these people that was determining my approach to converting from being trans but my own spiritual needs at these different times. The help from these people wasn't very deep because I think - in hindsight - I had made a much, much bigger issue of what was defining and vital for me but was actually a fairly minor problem for the religion.

In the end I lost my religion. Its theological complexity couldn't support the weight of its innate contradictions and my faith collapsed dramatically like a house of cards. I was angry - so angry - at having had nearly 30 years of my life poisoned by the interminable threats of punishment if I failed to comply with religious diktats, including forcing myself to reject and deny who I really was: a transgender woman. I was so terrified of retribution, rejection and ostracism from my religious family and friends that it was five years before I told anyone I had lost my religion, and another ten before my anger subsided and a further ten years before I was able to look back more objectively at the abuse, of which suppressing my trans nature was just one part. On abandoning that religion, the first thing I did was to acknowledge fully, finally and fairly that I was transgender (Those biggest resolutions) and here I am.

Recently, I came to understand that the ban on crossdressing that had shocked me at 12 was just sloppy interpretation of rules by religious writers. Also sloppy is the assumption, and insistence in the face of evidence, that there are boys, girls and nothing in between. How intersex people deal with this cancellation, I do not know. Biological and social realities don't fit in with many religions.

As far as conversion therapy goes, it was I alone and on my own initiative who sought it; I was not coerced. I was not abused by the spiritual guides I sought - indeed, they were somewhat indifferent. I wasn't shamed, still less effectively imprisoned and worked over by verbal and physical manipulations for weeks as one poor trans woman I knew was; BUT I felt very under threat by the general nature of the religion to come out to someone in authority and seek conversion to cisgender norms and to suppress my nature and condemn myself for previous failings. The shame and the fear were relentless and have made much of my life very miserable even after leaving that religion. I still have flashbacks to the threats from relatives and spiritual leaders on the terrifying consequences of non-compliance with the requirements of the deity who, believe me, was a dictator who would have impressed Hitler, an Orwellian Big Brother of overbearing malice, unpredictable narcissistic rage and a micromanager of one's whole being and demeanour, who sees mankind as a species specially intended for brutalisation at every moment of every day now and in the hereafter - Orwell's famous "boot stamping on a human face for ever"-, a deity cooked up by ancient psycopaths and maintained by modern ones for coertion and control, who insist on forcing it on tiny children who have no alternative reference points. THAT is abuse that governments could do with criminalising, not coming up with poorly-conceived consultations like this. Respondents to the consultation study had experiences similar to mine.

Please excuse me about this upset but I'm tired of religious hate. 

Next time: why this consultation is flawed and could be misused to stop transition, how it contradicts the studies that it is supposedly based on and why it is being proposed by a malign and corrupt government. And how to deal with answering such things when the recipients and processors of the public's comments couldn't care less.

A dip in the archives

My previous post (More Trans Wins) was to show that trans people are making progress in public life and visibility despite the war against us on many fronts. Life as a trans person can be wonderful. I've tried as much as possible to reflect that in this blog though sometimes things, like the above, can get to me. So in contrast, here's a link to my post that ended 2011 when being trans was ... perfect :-) Readers even got three kisses after my sign off! lol

Summing up 2011

Sue x

Friday, 5 November 2021

More trans wins

 I'm pleased to see more trans representatives have been elected or re-elected in the USA this week: Danica Roem in Virginia (re-elected), Thu Nguyen in Massachusetts, Xander Orenstein in Pennsylvania, Andrea Jenkins in Minnesota, Dion Manley in Ohio. These are just those who are out; there may be others who choose to keep their LGBTQ+ status quiet. It's not necessarily relevant, after all. Given the wins for candidates in other countries in recent years, such as a local councillor of mine, I think we are showing that trans people make good, responsible, representative citizens. What are the transphobes scared of?

LGBTQ Nation: big wins 

I'm a bit late posting as I've been trying to get my head round the implications of the conversion therapy consultation in my former country of the UK. The implications are not as positive as they might appear at first glance. I have to get my head in the right frame of mind to share tips on dealing with governments as the subject actually distresses me but I will try to do that as soon as possible. 


A dip in the archives

I haven't got back to painting for years now but back in November 2012 I did my first art show as Sue. There are many trans artists around so I wasn't breaking ground there but it was a big first for me having my name in print and meeting the public as an out trans person. The pics were all portraits of TGirls in fairly simple style slightly inspired by Julian Opie (this is what he doing at the time: Opie 2012)

2012 post: On public view


Trans representation takes many forms!

Sue x

Monday, 1 November 2021

Slimming success

Mondays are my weekly weigh-in and I've now broken well through the target of 2½ stone (16 kg) I'd planned to lose between New Year and Christmas this year. Maybe I'll make it to 3 stone off by Christmas, then. That would be pretty amazing. 

Astonishingly, I've lost more than an inch (3 cm) off my waist this week! I can actually see the difference.

It's not the fastest I've lost weight. 2½ stone in half the time (5 months) in 2005-06 was very good, I thought, but then I was going to Slimming World so focusing was easier.

The other week I was excited to be close to my weight loss target for the year and dolled up for some photos, largely to record how I was looking. I had hoped to do the same yesterday and combine it with a sexy vampire look for Hallowe'en. But I didn't quality control the cheap fangs I'd bought before donning them for the first time yesterday... and they made me look like a bulldog! So no photos of the result will ever be posted here! Ever!

This year I've lost weight not so much by following a programme like Slimming World's but simply by cutting out ham and bacon and draining excess oil off anything in a jar or can. Both pork and oil are everywhere here in Italy but Covid has restricted access to restaurants and other people's kitchens which means I've had much more control over what goes on my plate. Thanks Covid!

The most fattening thing of all is red wine (followed closely by white wine!) but if you're not eating socially you have less desire or need for wine. Frankly, spirits are not so bad for weight gain, hence the fruity cocktails I devised over the summer. 

It's becoming harder to lose weight now that the autumn is here. In summer there were swimming pools open, and heaving my shopping up the mountain road in 30°C heat was a good boost to the programme. I'm going to have to concentrate more on what I eat as my excess weight is more modest now so it will become harder to lose the remainder. 

Wish me luck. I'll share more tips and tricks on weight loss another time. But the main thing is to have a genuine desire to lose weight. It's a state of mind as much as anything. I needed to lose weight and it was time.


Governments and transgender legislation

I was going to write about this topic today but I prefer positive news. Maybe next time. I'd like to make suggestions on dealing with public consultations, on which I have more experience than I care to recall. And I'd like to comment on the loss of the anti-discrimination bill in the Italian parliament that would have really helped against transphobia. I'm not sure it's so bad as we thought as it shows those who scuppered the bill in a very bad light.


A dip in the archives

So I won't be showing you what I looked like yesterday with my bulldog fangs in but here's a picture from Hallowe'en ten years ago when we went to the last fully operating ballroom in London. My writeup of that fabulous evening is here: Magic Theatre Hallowe'en 


Sue x

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Bobby Sox - a tribute

 I am very sad to have to write that my friend Bobby Sox has passed away.

Bobby was one of the first TGirls I ever met and she and her wife Sandy were regularly to be seen at trans clubs and events: Pink Punters, Sparkle, Leeds First Friday ...

I borrowed the above photo, and the one below, from her blog as I think they show her very much as she was: slender, rich hair, body-hugging dress, bare legs and peep-toe heels that made her even taller, standing in the garden that she so loved. 


She took a lot of care over her appearance, which was always striking, with her hallmark dresses and killer heels. See Bobby's picture page, which is a tribute to a TGirl who developed a winning look: Bobby's picture page

As a person I found her humane, calm, witty and friendly but also very determined, putting up with no nonsense and feeling strongly about injustice. The way she fought cancer was typical and she outlived the predictions of the doctors, whom she found less than caring. Her main worry about dying was the messed-up wider world her wife and son were going to inherit. She certainly had things to say when Facebook questioned her name and authenticity! I found her calm thinking helpful when I was beset by online trolls once. 

She'd built a good life from hard beginnings and the garden at her last home in Wales ("Sox Cottage") was obviously a delight to her. She always referred to the nature around her when she wrote her blog. 

Bobby did leave her blog up in the end. Do read her thoughts and adventures and enjoy the photos of her trips out, her garden and her fabulous outfits: The Bobbysox Blog

Bobby called her wife Sandy her soulmate and their closeness was clear. Sandy often joined Bobby on her jaunts and we could not want a better trans ally, kind friend or such good company. My heart goes out to Sandy at this time.

I have missed Bobby for some years - she was left much less mobile by her illness - but I kept in touch with her. We last exchanged a few words in August when she was enjoying her birthday present of a foot spa. Sandy's message to me about Bobby having passed away was sent a month ago but I missed it till yesterday thanks to spam filters - the algorithm wins again. Bobby would have had something to say about that! 

Just two photos from my collection showing Bobby in her other natural element: socialising with other TGirls.

With Bobby at the Angels Lunch during Sparkle 2011

Bobby presides at the head of the table. With JJ, Maddy and Jo.

No regular dip in the archives this time as I want this post to be about my friend. I am very sad and I miss you, Bobby. Thank you for so many good times.

Sue x