Thursday, 8 April 2021

Good and bad allies

 Continuing this theme of coming out, I want to talk about genuine allies, abstract supporters, and frauds. 

It's hard to explain to people why we are trans. We ourselves don't know why we are, that's the problem, and there's not been a lot of scientific research done. There are tantalising glimpses from small samples that there may be biological reasons for being trans, involving genes, hormones, brains, etc. Until we know for sure we generally end up simply having to insist that being trans is for real, we are not making it up and that it's a critical part of our lives. Many, perhaps most, people shrug and say that's OK, you're happy and are not harming anyone so I'll go with it, even if it's a bit weird. If you aren't trans it's good simply to treat a trans person with respect and call them by the name they like and accept the gender they present. It doesn't involve much effort, and we give plenty of indicators like our hair and clothing as to our gender. And if, in addition, you defend people's right to exist as trans when they are criticised, abused or threatened by others, that's wonderful.

I do see memes created from time to time by trans groups as to how to treat a trans person and they often read like prescriptive machine instructions: "How to address and engage with your Transgender 3000 deluxe model"! ...Just be kind and that is enough. It's OK to ask a trans person what they prefer in terms of names or pronouns. But in the same way that you wouldn't talk about genitals or surgery to any other new acquaintance, it's not good form to do so with a newly met trans person. Really, that's about it.

I came out to my closest friends some years ago (post Telling my friends). Those who are gay, or who are in artistic or creative fields, or who are pagan, have been super supportive. Some friends, though, like former partners and lovers, were politically all in favour of trans rights, freedom to be, etc. ... just not in their back yard. But, if you date a trans person, you will have to address their very real needs to be truly themselves within your relationship, and similarly if you want to be true friends, you need to acknowledge who they really are. It's not some abstract concept that affects people in some other neighbourhood - trans people are all around.

I had one disaster with coming out to friends. I knew this group of friends would be the most difficult but I never imagined just how dishonest they would be. It's not an easy story to tell and I've paused for seven years before telling it as the disgust I feel is still very strong.

Having come out to many of my friends, there was a group of four female friends that I wasn't sure as to how they would take it. They had once been work colleagues and we got on well and saw each other after we moved to different jobs, and would meet regularly to eat out, go to the theatre and take holidays together. One wouldn't come to the theatre if there were cross-dressing roles involved; she didn't like it. Apart from that, there was no other indication of possible tension. 

From 2010 I was beginning to live as Sue most of the time, was trimming my brows, growing my nails and removing the hair on my hands and arms. These changes are fairly obvious to women. One of these friends - let's call her Doris - I used to meet up with regularly, often for lunch on work days. I opened up to her about being trans in 2010 and although she seemed to take it on board, somehow after that, whenever an opportunity for lunch came up, Doris always then had some excuse as to why she was unavailable. 

In 2013, on holiday with another of these friends - let's call her Meg -, I somewhat inadvertently, when talking of something else, outed myself. Meg was very supportive, though she said she was surprised to learn I was trans. Anyway, she and Doris agreed to meet me as Sue for the first time. We had a nice day in London, followed by more such days, including shopping together. This seemed great. I spent a lot of time - and I mean a lot of time - explaining trans life to them, and how trans people like to be seen and be treated and the dangers we face.

Then, in 2014, Meg seemed to decide I ought to be 'out' to more people. And took it upon herself to 'out' me to others. Apart from the inconsiderateness, and inconvenience of having to deal with these people who now knew at a time when I was swamped with work, it went against what I had said to Meg about discretion.

Then we went on holiday again and, without warning, at the same table in the same place where I had come out to her the year before, Meg spent an hour attacking me for not ever having formally come out to my parents, how the rest of the world had a right to know I was trans and what was I doing about that, and a whole load of other criticisms. To cut a long story short, she was having problems with her elderly parents and was projecting her emotions onto me; I had evidently become her 'project' and being 'out' was (she felt) going to be good for me, despite everything I had explained at length about the dangers trans people face; and she had assimilated everything that I had said about trans fears and threats to us and threw them in my face. I have a long fuse but once she started shouting at me, I exploded. Both Meg, the perp, and Doris, who is not the sharpest tool in the box, couldn't understand why I was so angry. "She's only trying to help," said Doris. But the bottom had fallen out of my world at this wholesale betrayal.

Needless to say, I knew that was the end of our friendship, after 14 years. Having gone on to further venues (Manchester and Nottingham where my friends are still friends), I went home, wrote to Meg not to contact me again, wrote to Doris at length to explain the background to Meg's abuse, and wrote to the other two who weren't there saying that I wouldn't meet Meg again. It's about all you can do but I knew I wouldn't be likely to see any of them again, and I never did. I rang Doris some months later who said I'd behaved badly in shouting back at Meg. What a waste of emotional energy spending time with people who aren't, in the end, worth it; who just don't understand, despite all the long hours explaining and educating; who are basically phonies who can't actually care at all.

Me and waterfowl on the shore of Lake Windermere. Idyllic, you'd think. Then just a few hours later the photographer laid into me without warning.

 

There are three postscripts to this tale:-

- Meg died the following year. I normally get very upset when someone I know dies or when friends of mine lose a friend or loved one. This once, I have no feelings other than that Meg can't behave badly towards anyone again.

- I've talked to a number of trans people about this, and to two friends who happen to be professional psychologists. Sometimes, when something goes wrong, I worry that I may have misinterpreted things. But Meg gets universal condemnation for her behaviour from them. That said, constructive disagreement with me and my advisers is welcome if you see an alternative. 

- Normally, I post something in this blog and there it stays. Except when I've been asked to delete or change names or photos of people who are now in stealth, the only time I have felt the need to rework some posts here were those describing my time with Meg and Doris, since my interpretation of their questions and attitude was incorrect. As initially blogged, I thought they were understanding and supportive. Boy was I wrong! Compare the post People who now know I am trans with its original title "Friends who love and care"! Another post from the time that was very popular with readers has also had to be reinterpreted: Kings and queens and jokers.

So, if you want to be a transgender ally, please:

- Never out an LGBT person without their permission. We live in danger of attack and discrimination and your outing us endangers us, quite apart from taking away our initiative and betraying trust. Most people are proud to have others confide in them and you should feel special that an LGBT person trusts you.

- Don't pretend to be supportive if you're not. You think being LGBT is weird? It's OK, we get it. We can't yet offer a clear science-based explanation for it, but it's real. If you can't handle the implications, be gentle in expressing doubt and concern and even, if you must, reduce your time with us. Even walk away. But don't be a hypocrite.

- Don't dump your emotional trash on someone else. Nothing to do with LGBT, just don't be a jerk.

That's it, just be a decent person generally. It's not hard. Thankfully, I think most people get this. 

Thank you to all true trans allies. You are so important to us and we love you for your care.

 

A dip in the archives

There were lots of links to previous posts in the main post above. So here, by contrast, is simply a nice picture I was reminded of this week. Emma and I were at the Elephant's Head pub in Camden High Street, London, in 2013. There was classic rock and roll playing and my bloody Mary was full of horseradish, Worcester sauce, Tabasco, garlic and other spicy things. It was the hottest drink I have ever had. Very good though. 

 

Sue x

 

Cari lettori italiani

No ci si può fidare di certe persone. Oggi parlo di un brutto tradimento da parte di due amiche che pensavo sostenessero le donne transgender e invece mi hanno fatto tribolare. Era sette anni fa ma sono ancora arrabbiata. Per fortuna, tutti gli altri amici che mi conoscono sono più onesti.

Sue x

 

Monday, 5 April 2021

Coming out to groups

 Last month I posted about how I came out (or didn't) to lovers (here), which proved popular. The other day a friend alerted me to a very different kind of coming out story, by a transwoman with a large social media following - nearly a million subscribers on YouTube.

I was unaware of Philosphy Tube before but it's been going for over seven years and exists to provide an introduction to the subject of philosophy by someone who wanted to share knowledge freely. I'm certainly all for sharing good thinking in defiance of today's enthusiasm for fake news, tweets and soundbites.

How would you come out as trans to such a vast audience? I know I'm not exactly helping sustain the surprise that Rhys Tees builds up to before the next presenter, Abigail Thorn, takes over, but as an example of how an internet celebrity might come out, this is very well thought through. I quibble slightly with the silly French accent given to René Descartes, maybe even the Flash Gordon-y music, but otherwise, top marks. It's long (35 mins), but spoke to me in many ways about being trans, the distress of living a lie, the happiness that acceptance brings ... and to hell with the reason for it all.




I wish Abigail every success and happiness. 145,000 likes to 6,300 dislikes for the video to date might be an indication that the trans information war is being won. But experience suggests that media stats can give a skewed picture, so let's be wise - philosophical even - about this.

The BBC also interviewed Abigail and the video accompanying the article is shorter and more emotional:

BBC interview with Abigail Thorn

I think she should be a good advocate when such intense attacks are now being made against trans people in her country. This shorter video is also about her coming out but is much more political, a warning about the situation for trans people (and working people) in the United Kingdom (and explains so much as to why I left that place).



So, generally, how should one come out to groups of people? Obviously, people in the media have to think carefully as their public image necessarily changes. High-profile Elliot Page will, I assume, have had a PR team to help (not that that diminishes his bravery and honesty). But how should you go about it if you have less of a public profile but have to inform your work colleagues, your social or sports or fitness clubs, your religious or other organisations, your social media followers, etc., where you are known personally?

Do they need to know? If not, work on a "need to know" basis so, if you don't plan to appear as Brenda rather than Bob, I'd keep quiet. Information is power and not everyone will use that information to your benefit. 

If you are transitioning or you intend to be your preferred gender in that context then, in a small team, it's best, in my opinion, to speak to each person individually about your transition or your being trans. People generally appreciate the personal touch and the confidence you place in them. Obviously, if the team or organisation is large then many I know have written a team email or got the boss/leader or personnel/membership team to do so. How you word it should include the personal touch, but don't put too much emphasis on how you've always been feeling or clichés about being in the wrong body. It's a formal environment and people don't like to read too much icky stuff about hormones or emotions. 

DO NOT, as so many seem to do, include the line "I hope you will support me but if you don't then we don't need to speak again" or "you know where the delete button is". This introduces aggression and division when what you want is positivity. If at work, your employer should have policies against discrimination, not to mention employment law. If they don't, then you need a new job; get that first. You can therefore reasonably assume that others are required to comply with employment policy, including non-discrimination, as part of their contractual conditions and that should then result in a proper, professional approach to you during transition. Report any instances where it does not.

If it's a social group, church, etc. (and even some work contexts) then talking to a select group whom you think will support you can be a good first step before informing the whole organisation; then you have already got (we hope) a team of allies behind you. Maybe one day these strategies won't be necessary but we're still a long way from that yet. Similarly (with caution), the old battleaxe, the bolshie unionist, the pushy member, if they're an ally, will defend you in ways no-one else can!

Coming out to friends is a different matter. Don't send them all the same round-robin letter or email. Approach them separately and ideally face-to-face. After all, you're friends and they'd expect no less for something so personal. Oddly, we never seem to know exactly how friends will take the news of our being trans. It shouldn't change the nature of the friendship, but odd prejudices that we knew nothing of can emerge. More on my successes and failures in this area in my next post.

I hope these suggestions from my experience are of some help. Good luck to all the other Abigails out there. 


 

A thought or two about philosophy

Like many English speakers, Rhys Tees trips over the name of the French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1659). His surname is pronounced Day-Cart. As in his principal axiom that puts Day-Cart before Day-Horse. Da-boom, tish! 😛

I skirt around formal philosophy (Greek for "love of knowledge"), mainly as we are all, in a basic sense, philosophers of sorts (even if all we want to know is where Meghan Markle gets her shoes). No serious thinker has ever actually come up with the Answer (be it forty-two or otherwise), even great philosphers are too influenced by their life experiences and environment that limit a universal outlook, and too many people who try to follow end up only part-versed in logic and critical thinking and misapply so many principles, with the result that the world is full of false reasoning, very much a plague of this so-called information age. Maybe as one professional observer of Philosphy Tube suggests, the commodification of thinking and the high profile of the presenter, rather than the content, can be unhelpful, too.

My own publications have included my acclaimed translations of ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, Lucretius, Synesius... but I try to avoid any academic approach in this blog so as to make it accessible. Someone told me that my essay style reminds them of French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592). That pleases me if it's true, though English essayist Charles Lamb (1775-1834) is more what I aim for.

I might delve into Philosophy Tube more. The presenter seems like an interesting and humane person, if a little theatrical.


A dip in the archives

This photo dates from this weekend ten years ago when I had organised a UK Angels lunch in London, at Salieri's restaurant in the Strand, which became a favourite venue over the years. I think this may have been the first time I arranged one of these big lunches, with about ten TGirls there. I feel I'm a bit of a work in progress here, but this was without a doubt the happiest time of my life.

A rose at table

Sue x

 

Cari lettori italiani

Oggi introduco una signora inglese che ha creato un canale su YouYube per presentare concetti di filosofia. Si è appena rivelata come transgender e, secondo me, avrà un ruolo importante nella lotta per i diritti in Inghilterra, dove le cose stanno andando male per noi.

Sue x

 

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Fools

Yesterday was Transgender Day of Visibility, today is April Fools Day, The former tries to enhance the position of trans people, the latter is really just an excuse for licensed bullying!

In my last year at school, aged 17-18, we were given a weekly lecture by representatives from some organisation such as the police, who'd tell us all about modern policing (and advise us not to watch shows like Juliet Bravo, which were a travesty), or Amnesty International, who'd tell us about jolly stuff like torture and asylum, or a museum, who'd tell us about art and stuffed animals. One week a man from the Solzhenitsyn Society came ... and his talk stood out. 

If you don't know him, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was a Russian writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. His best known works are One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, based on his and others' experiences in Soviet forced-labour camps in Siberia. As with Boris Pasternak (author of Doctor Zhivago), who won in 1958, he was unable to go to Sweden to collect his prize because neither he nor Pasternak were exactly full of praise for the Soviet system and this annoyed the authorities not a little. (Mikhail Sholokhov fared better in 1965 with his And Quiet Flows the Don, which is written in prose so exquisite that, even in translation, it left me enthralled. Wonderful stuff despite its historic setting of war, revolution and civil war).

Alexander Solzhenitsyn
 

The Solzhenitsyn Society, which doesn't seem to exist as such any more, wanted to promote his thinking, especially valid during the tensions of the Cold War that dominated international relations when I was at school, and a copy of the Nobel acceptance lecture Solzhenitsyn wrote but was unable to give was available to buy. If you want to read it, it's here: Alexander Solzhenitsyn Nobel lecture

It's not hugely profound but ends (part 7) with his condemnation of The Lie - that is, false dogmas - and how good literature may combat The Lie and the violence that The Lie gives rise to. Obviously, in context at the time was the lie of the Soviet system: not the communist idyll insisted on but an imperialist and repressive dictatorship. As with any other writer who has been concerned with understanding the nature of falsehood and the evil that ensues (Swift's Gulliver's Travels, fourth voyage, or Melville's Billy Budd, are other good examples from great writers) his concern is that "the simple step of a simple courageous man is not to partake in falsehood, not to support false actions".

I have grown tired of all the falsehoods that have cropped up in the last five years in particular. Those spouted against trans people, such as their being a predatory presence in women's toilets, a lie that will probably win through, despite its total lack of supporting evidence. Those spouted by corrupt, malign politicians such as Boris Johnson, who is constitutionally incapable of understanding the difference between truth and falsehood; the old dictators who won't go, such a Vladimir Putin in Russia (a true inheritor of the Soviets) or Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, and the new dictators who have appointed themselves such as Viktor Orban in Hungary. Thankfully Trump is off the radar for now. We get no peace from these people, ever. 

Don't imagine for a moment that your democratically elected government is actually all that much better. Here in Italy, where the Mussolini experience led to a hyperdemocratic postwar constitution, Covid has been combated by the prime minister issuing decrees like Napoleon, wrongly using administrative legal instruments to impose lockdown rules and sanction non-compliance in defiance of pre-existing legal codes. Today my regional governor decides whether or not to extend the easter lockdown in his region and even whether tomorrow will be fully closed, with just a few hours' notice for people to make arrangements! This is no good, it's not the way to act, even in an emergency. The payment for all this chaos, trillions of dollars, is likely to be dealt with in part by governments directly dipping into citizens' bank accounts. Watch out for that trick, dear reader. Twenty and so years ago most governments had a pandemic response strategy. I should know as I had professional input into it. What happened to that? Too much trouble to maintain, eh. Governments insist on nationalised health systems, yet run them down. In Britain the health service has vast amounts of money poured into it but much of that goes into servicing the debts on hospitals that were built using a contracting system that demanded private not public enterprise, and to pay a raft of unnecessary managers who have no contact with patients. That state health service is to be privatised soon now that Britain no longer has to maintain a state sytem under European Union rules, the chief reason why Nigel Farage and other millionaires pressed so hard for Britain to leave that organisation. I've lost my business and my income thanks to their Lie.

What bugs me is that people just accept all this. Being fooled and being bullied are so normal that there are few people who notice and object effectively. I'm transgender but live as such only if the law says so and also protects me, which in most countries it doesn't. The Lie has always been the essence of governing, of controlling. The Lie pervades every culture: religions that threaten reprisals in this life and damnation the next, political ideologies that need to gain power and control at any cost, pointless cultural practices and traditions that serve only to point up the outsider.

A year of shutdowns with no end in sight and I look at the medical, social and financial devastation that Covid-19 is causing and demand why this mess arose, why it's been tackled so ineffectually, who's answerable. People forgive too readily.

So as I prepare now for weeks more of being forced to stay stuck in my home, with my official residence actually in another place where vital documents await but that I am forbidden from getting to, with almost all my personal possessions stuck in another country that cannot be reached under any circumstances, with vaccines for me available only in places where bureaucracy and lockdowns forbid me to go, after losing my business and income and my health damaged and my position uncertain thanks to the Lie that is Brexit and the refusal of governments to follow the international agreement resulting from it, I have to say that I am tired of The Lie and its promoters and adherents and the fools who accept it.

In the light of the above, and more constructively, I hope in later posts this month to share, firstly, the advice I have been giving for years on tackling bullying and discrimination in the workplace; secondly, on dealing with bureaucrats, journalists, politicians and the like and in other formal contexts. Given how much trouble trans people can have in all these areas, I'm sorry I never got round to it before. The whole problem of the lack of integrity in many human interactions and relations has always bugged me so, thirdly, it may be helpful to talk more about troublesome people and what to do about them, especially as comments on my post about contemplating transition suggest that mental health and psychological functioning are critical as one considers how to live as trans, given that the official narrative on transitioning leaves quite a lot to be desired.

 

A dip in the archives

This is the picture I think best captures Transgender Day of Visibility for me. Me and five friends in the centre of London in happier, healthier times.

 

Sue x

 

Cari lettori italiani

Devo dire che sinceramente sono stanca della situazione pandemica in cui ci siamo trovati per più di un anno senza un buon esito in vista. Mi dicono che, finalmente, dopo cinque anni di sforzi, mi hanno concessa la cittadinanza italiana, ma non posso continuare l'iter a causa di tutte queste chiusure infinite. Sono stanca del caos, del casino assoluto provocato dal disordine creata dai governi incompetenti e maliziosi della nostra epoca.

Sue x 


 

Monday, 29 March 2021

Giving back to the trans and wider communities

In the Noughties, when I was building up to my emerging as a trans woman, I received a lot of help and advice from other TGirls about all sorts of things - where to go, where to get good hair and makeup, what undergarments work and, not least, the emotional support needed to brave the world. It was of incalculable benefit to me. 

Once I was confident, I felt able to help new girls myself and will always do so. There is a lot of genuine support from many in the trans community for one another. It is one of the things that struck me in my early days.

So if you are trying to come to terms with being trans and how it affects your future, do not be afraid to ask. People will be willing to help. And when you have experience to share, be generous with your support. We have all struggled to come to terms with being trans.

This month I've provided tips on selecting perfumes as a trans person and three posts on aspects of relationships. To judge by the feedback I've received, these have been useful and interesting. This sort of feedback is helpful so that I know what is well targeted and what isn't. I have even had one suggestion that my thoughts and tips on trans life should be compiled to make a book for a wider audience - I'm flattered and I will consider it, though publishing books is exhausting, I can tell you.

Similarly, just in the last week, we have useful tips on body shaping from Lynn's Yet Another TGirl Blog (Lessons Learned VIII), Stana's Femulate (Décolletage) and Hannah McKnight (A perfect balance)(Moot Lingerie). All very handy, helpful and freely-offered advice.

Transgender Day of Visibility is on March 31st. Let's hope that many trans people can be visible despite current restrictions all over the world on movement. This helps to let the world know that we are here and part of real life. For some of us it will be online only, sadly, but that's better than nothing. At least I've been able to blog more in this lockdown year than previously.

 

Covid-19: the suppression of outdoor expression

After all, there have been many trans and gender fluid wins already this month; those I mentioned and, of course, Elliot Page featuring on the front cover of Time magazine. An excellent and very high-profile actor, his coming out also takes the focus off the eternal debate on (and abuse of) transwomen to show that transmen exist, too. 

I'd like to add to these my friend Allie Paltrow's recent feature in Transliving magazine, a useful resource for the trans community from Shane Marcus. Allie has always been very stylish and feminine and illustrates how to be the trans girl about town. Allie said to me that "if by sharing it can inspire more girls to try to live their best trans life then I will be very proud".


Best wishes to all in the trans community and to our friends and allies.


A dip in the archives

International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) began only in 2009 but I see it as a milepost in the trans calendar and a positive foil to the distressing Transgender Day of Remembrance in autumn.

A short post I made about it three years ago after I managed to be visible following several years of illness that prevented it, containing a link to Hannah's excellent post on the subject of TDOV.

Transgender Day of Visibility 2018 

Travelling transgender, TDOV 2018
Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Il 31 sarà la giornata internazionale della visibilità transgender in cui si può veramente sensibilizzare il pubblico alla realtà della nostra esistenza. Tragicamente, siamo ancora in una situazione grave di restrizioni. Però c'è sempre l'internet per farci conoscere.

Sue x

 


Friday, 26 March 2021

Relationships: the sex thing

SEX! Now that I have your attention ... goes the old joke. Finishing these extended comments on how being trans affects relationships, I want to talk about sex.

To judge by what the trans community posts online, you'd get the impression that sex and being sexy is of major importance to us. That, and being coupled with the gay community under the LGBT umbrella, can suggest to others that sexuality is what being trans is all about. Not unnaturally, all this worries a great many partners of trans people, and is a stick to beat us with by transphobic opponents such as radical feminists, religious groupings and prudes generally.

But I don't think sex is really any more of a thing for MtF trans people than it is for the general population. Therefore, I'd like to approach the topic from a general view of human sexual behaviour.

 

Human sex

The human animal is highly sexed compared to others, which comes as a surprise to many. Humans don't have a mating season like bears, or the complex rutting practices of deer. They don't prefer to wait till they are on heat. Or have just one or two days a year of frenzied partnering like ants or of emitting gametes like corals. Humans generally mate when they fancy it, or try to.

Another fact is that, unlike most animals, only about 2% of human sexual encounters are intended for reproduction. Yes, we humans have sex for a whole load of reasons: pleasure, closeness, making-up after a fight, power games and brutality, and many more. Our nearest relative with similar interests, the bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee, uses sex for social cohesion. Unlike its closest relative the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) that has a male-dominated society, the bonobo (Pan paniscus) has a matriarchal social life and the females encourage sex play within the group to reduce tensions and with other groups to reduce conflict. So most bonobos are having sex several time a day. A strategy that's evolutionarily favourable to them, but obviously different from humans in that we don't have it off with relatives, friends, colleagues or potential enemies whenever we see them. Which is quite a thought!

In fact, humans tend to stick with one partner at a time, and this is partly because of the great length of time it takes a human infant to grow to independence from its parents. But this is also due to the fact that many couples have an economic dependence on one partner, usually the man. That said, there are plenty of humans who have more than one love interest at a time, though rarely openly. Jealousy is a big thing with us, and can be very destructive under certain conditions.

There are other major differences between humans and other apes. For instance, the significance of female breasts and legs as a visual sexual signalling device, not just the bottom so beloved of apes; and the comparatively large size of the human male organ, which does not contain a penis bone to help with rigidity but relies wholly on fluid injection to create, as Richard Dawkins puts it, a "hydraulic advertisement" of suitability for mating.

I'd prefer to leave off other references and quotes from academic research in this post, which would make it rather dry, but if you are interested, I can recommend some readable science works. A recent book that goes into more detail on the above is Adam Rutherford's The Book of Humans. There are other, older works by biologists and geneticists that present useful research, such as Matt Ridley's The Red Queen, Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, and so forth. For an informal and non-specialist take, Mary Roach's amusing Bonk! is worth reading.  

Problems with academic research into transgender matters are that sample sizes are small, can involve subjective and inconsistent assessments and, most significantly, involve participants from the more 'out' end of the trans community rather than the closeted and unknown trans people who actually make up the bulk of our community and are therefore its more typical representatives. Science has to date only seen the tip of the trans iceberg. This leaves us with little to explain the causes of transgenderism and its real relationship with sex and sexuality. So these are my thoughts based on real-life experience and discussion with others.

So, given the fact that humans mate in all seasons, mate mainly for reasons other than reproduction, find many body parts and clothing sexy, are highly social, need structured family life to raise offspring more successfully, and are much randier than most animals, it's not surprising that sex features so much in human culture and history even though we try to downplay it. Unlike cats or tortoises, we tend to prefer sex in private and try not to arouse jealousy or unrest by boasting or revealing too much about our interests and what we do in the bedroom.

Human society is complex and this also accounts for the use of sex in wielding power, be it a leading male with a harem of wives or the frequent use of rape in war, or by attempts by governments, religions or cultural taboos to limit or apply sex to certain partners or practices. These restrictions are therefore very powerful controllers of our lives.


Marriage

Some creatures have one mate for life, like wolves or bald eagles; others are promiscuous, like ladybugs. Humans are somewhere in the middle; they'd be more promiscuous if long childhoods and stable economics weren't the drivers of family life.

We live in a time when the ancient institution of marriage is said to be under attack. But I don't think this is the case; it's an institution that no longer corresponds well to modern society with its greater financial independence for women and medicine that results in most people living into old age. Until the twentieth century it was normal for someone who lived into their seventies or eighties to have been widowed several times because partners died from the sorts of diseases that we now just shrug off with antibiotics or surgery. Estimates of typical marriages in Europe in the eighteenth century, when modern notions of legal marriage were established, suggest an average marriage lasted around fifteen years before death did them part and the survivor, often for economic and practical as much as emotional reasons, sought another mate. This has all been turned on its head and someone who marries in their twenties, making the traditional life vow, is quite likely to be married for fifty years if they don't get divorced; both golden anniversaries and divorces being almost unheard of in the past. Romantic love doesn't always last for ever and it's not actually natural for two people to share their lives for so long. So it's not that people these days are not making an effort to be together, it's that neither nature nor the law ever anticipated such longevity. If you have been together for fifty years, then well done. You are amazing. My parents have been together nearly sixty years! By rights, my mother should have died from a miscarriage in the 1960s and my father from heart problems a few years ago (to say nothing of any childhood diseases they had). But thanks to modern medicine, here they still are in their eighties.

So, going back to my previous posts about being trans and finding after many years in partnership that the hormones are demanding attention and presenting as female is becoming urgent again as it was in our youth, we find that this impacts on the outlook of the relationship, often at a critical time when things are getting stale, the kids are older and more independent and we feel life demands something new. It's then that many trans people go a bit crazy with the need to be themselves, yet feel constrained by social and family expectations.

 

Sexuality

Another espect of human sex life is that it is believed, and often insisted upon, that only a tiny minority of people are not heterosexual. If you conduct polls or research on sexuality you find two main problems: one is objectivity and honesty - people can only really give a subjective assessment of their place on the sexuality spectrum and may be coy with researchers -; the other is that social pressure may make them deny their sexuality.

Such research as I have come across suggests that somewhere between 3% and 10% of men are gay. But the same researchers record that up to 30% of women have felt sexual attraction towards another woman at some point in their lives. This partly explains why magazine covers mainly have women on them - both sexes admire attractive women. So the summary of human sexuality would appear to show roughly 5% of men are gay and roughly 5% of women are lesbian, but with another 25% of part-time lesbians. This creates an imbalanced and asymmetrical sexuality chart, though. Are men not occasionally attracted to men even when mainly hetero, like the women polled who were sometimes attracted to other women? To accept the conclusion of such research would be to suggest that men are only ever heterosexual or gay. But I am in no doubt that many men questioned about their sexuality would not dare to reveal that they too have liked men just occasionally, just as women occasionally fancy women. The brutal social pressures of virility makes men hide their true feelings and skew the research. See what happens, though, when men are cooped up for months together in prison or on ship, not to mention the apprenticeship practices of ancient Greece or Japan. So, without robust evidence, because macho culture pervades the world, I'd say that it's likely that about a third of humans of all kinds have flexible sexuality.

There's nothing strange in that. Believe it or not, male giraffes are almost all bisexual. And who hasn't read endearing stories of gay swan or penguin couples who have adopted orphaned chicks? OK, we shouldn't determine human sexuality based on what other animals do, but sexual flexibility is, I suspect, a lot more prevalent in nature, including ours, than we are inclined to believe.  


Trans and sex

So, after that preamble, what are we to make of trans people when it comes to the sexuality spectrum? If you are a transwoman but are attracted to women does that make you a lesbian? Or does the fact that you married legally as a man and still love your wife still make you straight, even though you are now Brenda and not Bob? I think you can see that categorising sexuality becomes pretty unhelpful when looking at trans people. Or people generally, in my view.

Purely based on my contacts with many hundreds of other trans people over the last twenty years, I'd say that sexual flexibility is much more prevalent in the trans community than in the general population. Indeed, some people seem to flip sexuality when in female mode from their norms in male mode. And then there's everything in between. So it's not unreasonable, even if illogical, for your partner to ask if you are gay after you've come out that you are transgender. Nor is it unreasonable sometimes for partners to accompany their trans other halves out just to make sure they don't play away from home!

 

Adultery

A few people have an open relationship or are swingers and don't mind their partner having other sexual partners. Indeed, some make a game of it. But this is rare and understandings like these involve much mutual trust. The problem with the trans person emerging in later life after many years of marriage is that they find the freedom to be their real self can often involve exploring other possibilities, freedoms and different ways of approaching other aspects of life that may have felt were stifled up to now. Their biggest thing - being trans - has finally been accepted so what else can be changed? Sexuality is a clear contender, especially now that you look and act the woman and you become attractive to many men. The liberation from the constraints of acting one's legal gender therefore lead to so much other liberation from practices and habits that no longer suit. 

I'm disappointed that so many trans venues are little more than sex clubs - the problem of dealing with "admirers" was one thing that delayed my emergence into the world as I didn't know if I would be able to handle the attention from these men when making my first steps. Now I usually find it just part of the scene you can ignore, although admirers can be pretty annoying and even menacing at times.

I have lost track of the times that other TGirls have hit on me and asked for sex. Very flattering, no doubt, but I always then ask them if they are in a relationship already and, if so, do they think it wise to sleep with others, especially if their partner does not know where they are (see my last post on secrets and lies). So many TGirls of my generation have reached that point in their marriage where things are stale and their new found trans side is demanding experimentation and adventure. I've mentioned previously how we often revert mentally to our youth as though a life reset button has been pressed, dancing till the small hours in clubs even though our old knees are seizing up and our breath is labouring! Well, looking around for sexual novelty does seem part of that, especially among TGirls who feel their marriage isn't working. So I do ask them if playing away from home is the way to go if their marriage is rocky as it's hardly going to improve matters. I have been thanked by some for my candour in suggesting to them that adultery is hardly going to make dealing with wife and family any easier. If you are having problems with your marriage, face up to them and see if you can improve things, get back to what attracted you in the first place, then you're more likely to meet with success in coming out to your partner about being trans. Some TGirls have told me their marriages and domestic sex lives improved after a heartfelt, open, honest talk with their wives about their being trans; avoiding the issues and sleeping around will very likely be the last straw in a rocky marriage when discovered.

 

Trans erotica

So why are MtF trans people often obsessed not just with presenting as female but dressing in extra-sexy clothes? and showing off their underwear and genitals in their photos? Well, the autogynephilia idea of older psychologists and transphobes is that MtF trans people aim to create in themselves the fetishy woman they'd be most attracted to. A lot of us think this is rot. I don't dress as a woman to be a fetish to myself or anyone else and I started dressing as a girl long before I knew about sex so I think that, despite appearances, it is not the main motivator for most (or maybe any) trans/crossdressing activity. Of course, we like to be attractive and sexy but the effort we put in is chiefly so as to be accepted as female. To me, clothes are a badge, a signal to society that I wish to be treated as a woman; only secondarily might they be sexy, and I'm sure that's actually the case with all MtF trans people. Necessarily, one's sexuality and sexual outlook leads to oversexualising and overfeminising the female look, not just with high heels but skyscraper heels, not just a skirt but a miniskirt, not just hosiery but stockings with lace tops on show. I'd say many MtF trans people go to the feminine extreme to emphasise the point that they are female now, in much the same way that, when in denial, many MtF trans people go into very macho trades like the armed forces.

I would also point out that a part-time transwoman has little to lose by posting erotic photos online - she's unlikely to be mistaken for her male alter ego. Whereas a natal woman is herself, both online and in real life; there's nowhere to hide. To judge by conversations I've had with natal women, there'd be a lot more GG erotica from everyday women if they weren't worried about the social consequences. The creative web is a place for fantasy anyway, whether it's Second Life or Flickr, especially to those who are closeted in real life.

And the reason why so many transwomen work in the sex industry - a favourite stick for transphobes to beat us with - is not because we are unusually sexual but because so many transwomen are rejected by family, friends and society that no typical job or relationship prospects remain open to them. Sex work is so often the realm of the desperate.

I don't want to go into the subject of erotic presentation too deeply here as I want to keep this post relevant to relationships, but the sexualisation of trans life online and on the trans scene is definitely a worry to partners, as I can tell you from my own experience. I had a hard time reassuring those who knew of my trans side that it wasn't a fetish or a sexual practice, mainly because of what people find online when they research into trans life. To TGirls I'd say, be aware of your partner's feelings and any discomfort they display. And don't upstage your wife by being so much more glamorous than her!

 

Conclusion

So, because sex is such a significant part of the life of the human animal, to the point that there has always been legislation about it, it's impossible not to connect trans life to it. Being in the middle of the gender spectrum inevitably raises questions about sexuality and how a trans person approaches the mating game. It's very varied. The one thing that worries me is how many MtF trans people can damage a relationship by getting too distracted by sex and sexiness rather than truly accommodating their gender difference into the wider aspects of society and into their relationship. 

Forgive this long post but, as most people find the topic of sex eternally fascinating, I'm sure it won't have been a bore. These were a few personal thoughts on the topic that maybe raise more questions than they have answered. By all means disagree politely with me. We have no clear idea yet why people are trans and therefore no idea what that really signifies for our sex life. At the moment we are left to try to make our trans life work for us in whatever ways we can. If you are a partner of a trans person, please be understanding - we are struggling with it as much as you are. The sexual side of things that can seem so major is not actually the focus of our life, just one manifestation.

I have written with my generation of MtF trans people in mind; I cannot speak for the transmen out there. I may be wrong, but being FtM seems to involve less sexualisation of trans life. I'm also not quite sure how it is for the Millennials who have benefited from a life of internet connectedness that was lacking to my generation when young. I'd be interested in knowing what it's like for you.


A dip in the archives

I miss Maddy Watson, doyenne of the trans scene in Nottingham, who seems to have reached the evaporation stage of the trans half-life I mentioned in the last but one post (Repressing our trans nature). It was her birthday this week and I found this photo of us at Pink Punters nightclub. I'm in a minidress and suspender tights (all the rage in 2012). Sexy? Or just the style of the time?


Sue x


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Speriamo che questa ondata di Covid sarà l'ultima. Comincio ad essere depressa dalla mancanza di progressi visibili dopo tanti sacrifici.

Oggi parlo un po' della nostra vita sessuale. Sono convinta che essere transgender non ha niente a che fare con l'erotismo e che i nostri vestiti un po' sexy non corrispondono alla nostra condizione ma che la vita sessuale della razza umana è più diffusa e complessa di quanto ne pensiamo. Quando accettiamo che siamo donne transgender, vogliamo cambiare tanto nella nostra vita che non funziona e sperimentare con cose nuove, anche con i nostri rapporti sessuali.

Sue x

Monday, 22 March 2021

Relationships: secrets and lies

 I wrote last month about coming out to lovers. Since accepting I was trans, my own policy has been to do so early on in a relationship. In my last post I expanded on how I feel that life is a bit cruel because many suppress their trans nature when settling down into a relationship and starting a family, only for it to demand attention twenty years down the line. At which point there is a real dilemma as to how to deal with it.

Most people I know have spent that rediscovery time in stealth. Either they hide their girl kit and dress only when the family are out or they venture out and lie about where they're going. Relationships often, sadly, involve lies on all sorts of things: money, affairs, redundancy, health ... so the fact that you've sneaked out dressed as a woman but said you were at the football is hardly a whopper in comparison. Let's face it, revealing that you are trans to your loved ones is a big topic needing a large dose of courage. I don't blame anyone for creating a hidden life for the girl in them.

Of course, you have to prepare for discovery. Your partner will want to know why you didn't say before, will ask if you are gay (illogical, but it will get asked), will ask if you want to change gender and a thousand other questions. He/she'll be especially cross if you've been spending the family money on girltime. And if it's not discovered, you end up with a split life anyway.

I'd say that if you feel the need to hide your trans side from family, don't be like one person who, over 30 years, elaborated a whole second life revolving around sports matches to hide her trans trips from her wife. In other words, she was out and about as a transwoman only when a certain team was playing away or certain tournaments were on, and had to keep an eye on the score when out in case her wife rang for an update, when we all had to pretend to be her sporty mates. When I wondered if this was a little complicated and restricting, her explanation was that she loved her wife and didn't want to hurt her. It's funny how we can lie to ourselves as well: lying to the wife is OK, spending lots of money is OK, going for a fun weeked but leaving the wife at home is OK, and treating her like an idiot who falls for these lies is OK! If I were the wife, these endless lies and, more significantly, taking me for a fool would hurt me more than the fact my husband was a crossdresser.

Don't be like the idiot TGirl who went out lots of times and said to everyone that her wife knew about her trans side, accepted it but didn't want to join in. Then it transpired that the wife actually knew nothing of all this when I got a weird set of texts from the wife asking if I was having an affair with her husband. Er, no, I certainly wasn't and I couldn't work out why she thought it possible. It seemed laughable at first till she told me that her husband's trans life was all news to her, and I learned that the TGirl had said I had led her on and had lent her clothes and wigs, all of which was untrue. I was shocked. So this awful TGirl was some kind of pathological liar who lied about everything. Needless to say, I've not wanted anthing more to do with her. There are, however, postscripts to this tale. A few months later I got a text from the wife saying how happy she was with her crossdressing husband and how we were now all going to be the best of friends but there'd be trouble if I complained about her lovely husband's lying. And other communications over the years about being friends. No, thanks; with friends like these, who needs enemies, eh? In the end, I did a bit of research on these two. The wife herself works in the public sector and online there's the verdict of a disciplinary hearing against her, for taking extended time off work claiming she had to look after her husband since he was ill yet also violent, which was untrue and - get this - news to him. So I'll be leaving these two mendacious psychos to enjoy each others' company well apart from mine. I chose this example to show you how a web of lies can get totally out of hand and involve other people unjustly. So if you feel you have to lie to your spouse - and you're in good company there - be intelligent about it and don't create chaos all round.

These are two extreme examples, but there are so many trans people essentially in this position. Last year I wrote about the courage one needs in life, especially in living as trans and coming out. How to tackle one's family on this topic is inevitably very personal. As I said last time, a strong loving relationship will usually cope with the revelation; a weak one probably won't and you may need the courage to tackle what's wrong in the relationship before opening up about your trans side. 

There's one other aspect of trans life and relationships that can't be ignored and that is sex and sexuality. Although gender and sexuality are not directly related, having a gender-different partner may make a big difference to the way they approach sexual relations. A big topic for next time. 

Personally, I feel it better in the long run to be truthful than maintain secrets and tell lies, but your situation may require a different approach. I don't judge you on your choices and appreciate how your need for caution may involve deception of some sort. I wish you a good outcome so you can lead your trans life safely and happily. It shows we have a long way to go before living as trans is something that doesn't bother anyone and we never have to hide.


A dip in the archives

It's a bit of a struggle with Covid infections and lockdowns still going on after a year, isn't it? So I've been looking back at my photos of happy times. Here's me and my friend Jo from Devon at the sunny Sparkle festival in 2011, taken by Manchester photographer Sheila Blige.


Sue x

 

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Oggi parlo delle bugie che diciamo ai nostri cari prima di rivelare che siamo transgender. Si capisce che vogliamo essere cauti in un mondo ostile, ma non bisogna crearci un mondo alternativo troppo discostato dalla realtà. 

Aggiungo anche una foto che mi piace molto, scattata da una brava fotografa dieci anni fa. Eravamo a Manchester per la festa nazionale delle persone transgender.

Sue x



Thursday, 18 March 2021

Relationships: repressing our trans nature

 Last month I did a series of posts on how I settled into living my trans life in public. The most read post was the one about coming out to lovers. (And thank you to T-Central for featuring this.)

There I wrote, "As I've said before, nature can be cruel because often in our early twenties we want to suppress our transness, marry, raise families, only to find that our gender variance bursts out again with a vengeance twenty years later, leaving us to square the re-emergence of a status we thought we'd overcome with our startled spouse and children. It can be a shock to them after all that time to find that dad is really a lady, that the man or woman you married is anything but. As I say, nature is cruel in diminishing our trans fervour at breeding time but leaving a hormonal time-bomb to explode later. This is a subject to expand on again another time."

Given the interest the post generated, I'll expand on this subject here. Several people told me how this resonated with them, and I have talked about this endlessly with other TGirls over the years. 

For many of us MtF trans people, we know when very young that really we are girls or want to be treated as girls or just look or play as girls. That desire usually becomes fiercer after puberty and we have more time, wherewithal and either support or subtlety to experiment with looks and behaviour to match our feelings.

But then adulthood brings the realities of life, such as work and taxes, car and insurance, a home of one's own and, of course, serious romance, the need to breed. The need to suppress the more individualistic aspects of our nature becomes paramount. I emphasised that nature is playing a role: those hormones or genes or environment that made us develop as trans seem to give way to a desire to 'man up'. Maybe I am wrong to single out nature at this point as societal norms undoubtedly play a major role in our conforming to expectations when in our 20s.

So we seek our life partner, the mother of our children, and assume that all that acting and dressing as a girl was just a childhood fad, a passing phase, that we have matured out of. Many I know turned very macho at that point, suppressing their feminine side by, say, joining the armed forces. In my case I repressed my femme side as best I could to avoid problems with work and to try to satisfy the demands of a religion I had at the time. There are lots of variations on this but the same basic pattern clearly applies to a great many trans people. We generally choose not even to mention our previous escapes into femininity. Why would we? It's history.

And what happens? Come our 40s, the testosterone (that bulwark of masculinitty) drops, the relationship is getting stale, life is routine and we realise that we need to be a girl again. This is where I think nature is cruel, in that it doesn't give warning of wanting to take over; why can't it just co-operate?!

And that's when the cycle of dressing and hiding begins again. If our partner knew of our trans life before, could the subject be raised again easily? If she/he didn't know, do we bring it up now, years into the relationship, or keep it hidden? Will the marriage fall apart at the news?

All relationships are different; I cannot advise on yours specifically. Personally, after I finally fully accepted that I was trans, aged about 30, I decided that the subject must be tackled early with any partner, as described in my post on coming out to lovers. My own 20s were spent trying to repress my trans side and chasing one girl only, who was never receptive to my advances. Had I been successful with her, I dare say I would have thoroughly squashed my remaining transness... to have it return with a vengeance later.

I have found, when in a relationship with a woman, that my desire to dress as a woman has spontaneously lessened, as if my partner or girlfriend was supplying part of a need. I'd be interested to know if others have experienced this.

One thing seems to be a commonplace: despite being in an intimate relationship with someone for years, nobody seems to know how their partner will react to the news that they are trans and now want to spend time in their preferred gender. Some have told me that they thought their partner would take it well enough and were wrong; others agonised, and then it wasn't an issue. The former happened with me. One observation I will make is that a strong, loving relationship usually survives the revelation, whereas a relationship with cracks in it usually does not; it's the last straw. 

If it hasn't gone your way, being trans does not make you undateable either. It's a big thing to negotiate around, but most potential partners will appreciate your honesty and often begin to appreciate having a boyfriend who knows about perfume, style and sensitivity, especially as one gets older.

Related to this subject, I also want to talk in forthcoming posts about the secrets we keep and the lies we tell when in a relationship; and about sex and sexuality when trans away from home - I've learned more about human sexual customs since emerging as trans then I had in all the rest of my life! And sex is an endlessly fascinating subject so I'm sure there will be a big eager readership (I only have to put a word like "stocking" into a post heading for it to garner twice as many views than usual!)

But one final thought on this aspect of the subject is what I call the "trans half-life". So, you're mid-40s, you've rediscovered your trans nature with a vengeance and you want to live your new life, with or without your partner's knowledge or blessing. You have a blast, meet others like you, go out dressed in public, go to nightclubs and strut your stuff like you were 19 again ... And this lasts for four and a half years. And then you either transition or disappear. The former rarely sees a partner tagging along, the latter seems to involve getting the trans urge out of the system and returning to being daddy and hubby again when the trans scene gets routine. One TGirl I knew was given a new motorbike by her wife ... and that was the last we heard from her! (Wives - this may be the cure for your trans hubby; take note!) People like me who neither transition nor go back into the closet after the half-life period are fairly rare.

OK, so the motorbike idea doesn't always work. Grayson Perry.
 

As ever, your thoughts, comments and experiences on this are always welcome. This is how it seems to be to me; you may feel it's different. There's little so fascinating as human experience, especially when it comes to very personal ways of tackling things.

 

A dip in the archives

The background to this post can be found in the series of posts I did about trans living. 6 posts on early steps in June/July of last year and 6 posts on further steps in February of this year.

The first series starts here: Baptism of fire

The second starts here: Body morph

You can link to other posts from the blog archive on the right.

Sue x

 

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Oggi si commemora le vittime di quest'epimedia. Che brutta strage!

Qui parlo un po' sul fenomeno che spesso colpisce le donne transgender: sopprimiamo la nostra natura trans quando ci sposiamo. E poi il desiderio di essere donna ritorna dopo vent'anni.

Sue x

Monday, 15 March 2021

Losing weight

 Regular readers will know that I struggle to keep excess weight off (even back in 2011 when I was a lot slimmer I wrote this: Why can't I lose weight). This is all due to sedentary work and perhaps a little too much of the wrong food and drink. I think most people can relate. 

I was thin until my late 20s, then fat for 10 years, then I went to Slimming World and that worked well (as did changing jobs to one that involved cycling to work and a lot of standing up). But then I started working for myself at home and all the necessary work-based exercise vanished. A slow expansion followed. The last two years with, first, a damaged leg that I had to keep rested for months and then Covid lockdowns forcing me to stay at home, have been disastrous.

But since New Year I have steadily lost weight. Just a few ounces/grammes a week, but always in the right direction. Not being able to eat out helps, and I have been draining oil thoroughly from shop products in jars, avoiding cakes and suchlike. Today there was an easing of Covid restrictions and I went for a good walk uphill. This photo is my ideal, and I am hopeful I can reach it again:

 

I know I've said that before, but I seem to be doing well with little effort and avoiding the drastic aspects of dieting that eventually destroy resolve. Slow and steady wins the race, it's said.


A dip in the archives

If you haven't come across Zagria's Gender Variance Who's Who yet, then it is a superb resource for those interested in biographies of other trans people.

A Gender Variance Who's Who

It's quite an encyclopaedia and she is to be commended for all her work in compiling it over the years.

I have always had a fascination for ancient history and culture, as you'll have noticed from my recent mentions in this dip in the archives slot of the potentially trans status of various persons (such as Hercules, Sardanapalus and Elagabalus). Digging around in ancient sources has always been the love of my life and I will carry on in future describing the lives of trans people from ancient times that Zagria doesn't cover. Contrary to what a lot of transphobes are yelling these days, being trans is nothing new but is as old as humanity.

Sue x

 

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Sto perdendo peso, una sfida difficile e lenta, soppratutto in questi giorni di lockdown. Però il mio peso sta scendendo in un modo adeguato. Vorrei di nuovo essere snella come nella foto.

Sue x 

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Hugs needed, hugs given

 It's a year now since Covid closures and lockdowns first began and there is no clear end in sight yet, with harsher measures to come around easter. I confess I am now struggling from lack of close human contact, and several other people I know have expressed similar feelings. Apart from a brief time with an uncle six months ago, I have seen no friends or family face-to-face for over a year and, for all the genuine messages online, I need some physical affection. I am actually amazed at how well I have coped with solitude so far, partly thanks to a previous disciplined regime of self-employment, but I think the anniversary has triggered less than happy feelings. 

You'll have noticed that this year I have been blogging twice a week, rather than as and when I had the time or there was some event to talk about. There is so much I'd like to write about but trans matters without social input can be rather academic and dry.

Really I want nothing more than to have a bunch of hugs right now. Real ones.

My regular dip in the archives, then, is just some photos of past hugs with trans friends, a nostalgia for cuddles.

 

A dip in the archives


With Rebecca

With Emma

With Kate

With Pippa and Steph

With my childhood hero, Moomintroll. Now, he is definitely cuddly!

With Leona and Jessica

With Emma and new found friends
 

Hugs to all, be it only electronic ones.

Sue x 

 

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Con l'anniversario del primo periodo di restrizioni a causa del Covid, un anno senza baci e senza abbracci, comincio a sentire la mancanza di affetto e di gioia. Le foto sono ricordi di giorni di libertà e affetto.

Sue x

 

Monday, 8 March 2021

More wins for gender fluidity

 First of all, happy International Women's Day. I count myself a woman. 

Here in Italy there is a tradition of giving women a bunch of yellow flowers, known as mimosa (Acacia dealbata, to distinguish from the other plants known as mimosa). 

 

Picture: Eugene Zelenko

There are lots of these mimosa trees here on the coast of NW Italy, but they aren't native but come from SE Australia. The climate here suits them, as it does the various species of Australian gum tree growing behind the house that give off a lovely smell, especially after rain. I digress (again! - curse you, stream of consciousness).

Well, it's nice to get a bunch of flowers but there is still a lot of discrimination in the workplace, there's is still so much violence against women, and other injustices. Who'd be a woman, eh?

 *

The Sanremo Music Festival is a huge event in Italy, providing five nights of prime-time TV, five hours a night! Common sense would have cancelled it this year but there's too much money and morale riding on it. The Festival spawned the Eurovision Song Contest. 

The winners of this 71st annual festival were a rock band called Måneskin, a somewhat gender-fluid group that remind me in many ways of the glam rockers that had quite an influence on me when I was little (see Who is David Bowie?). 

Instagram screenshot, from BlogLive.it
 

This is a very public way of raising the profile of gender non-conformity, although it's hardly something new in the celebration of camp that is European pop. The band leader insisted that all members receive bouquets of flowers, not just the one genetic girl. This win is a source of satisfaction to the LGBT community here. 

Less content is the local bishop, Antonio Suetta, who is a well-known homophobe and transphobe, and who called this all a disgraceful spectacle during Lent. I'll leave it to you to consider his comments, given that his public appearances are usually in flowing ankle-length numbers with pastel facings, or delicate white lace kaftans and purple boleros.

The bishop and his band; full-length and lacy is their funky style. (c) Riviera24
 

Frankly, he should be defrocked! (goes the old joke).

I can't advise you on the quality of the winning song as I have a poor ear for music, but here it is. I believe it will be this year's Eurovision entry. I won't translate the (surprisingly clear) lyrics as they contain Rude Words, and my blog's not into that.

Måneskin Sanremo 2021 



 *

More trans advocacy and outreach this past week from various people I know. 

There's a nice article about Jan Eldridge, a friend I used to meet up with quite a bit at Pink Punters in England. She's moved to New Zealand where she works in academia and is out as trans in her profession. Nice photo of her, too.

Mindfood L'Oréal Women of Worth: Jan Eldridge

Lynn Jones of Nottingham Chamaeleons has been guest on talley.app's weekly call on LGBT History Month. Her report here:

Conversations with strangers

Thank you, Lynn. 

And Chrissie Chevasutt, who appeared in the Invisible Prison video I mentioned a few weeks ago (More quality trans videos, blogs and books) has a book coming out in July about her experiences, especially regarding her faith and her church. There are many trans autobiographies out there, almost all self-published, but this is being published by Darton, Longman & Todd, a reputable publisher of mainly religious books. You can pre-order from Amazon but as I cannot approve their business practices it's preferable to go directly to the publisher:

Chrissie Chevasutt: Heaven Come Down

I am sure I will link to it again when it actually comes out. Given my own struggles with an oppressive religion when I was younger, I will certainly find it interesting. I have found Chrissie's story very moving. Here's a link to the video again:

The Invisible Prison


*

All quite encouraging in difficult times like these. Keep well and safe.

Other news: I keep losing weight, very slowly but at least steadily.

I notice from the Blogger stats how popular my guide to perfumes in the last post is proving to be (Perfume: a guide for trans women). So I may do more guides as the realities of having a different body mean you can't just wear/do what takes your fancy.

 

A dip in the archives

Covid lockdowns first started in the West this time last year. As if there weren't enough links in this post already, I'll link back to my post last March giving some advice on how to survive isolation at home. It's still valid:

How to survive isolation at home 


A year ago, as Covid started to grip
 

I've been coping all on my own for a year now, but I confess I am getting desperate to go on a long-distance trip, eat in a restaurant again, see friends and hug them. Patience.

Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Io non m'intendo della musica ma sono contento di vedere che a Sanremo ha vinto un gruppo che ridefinisce le norme sulla presentazione di genere. Ogni piccolo simbolo di fluidità di genere è buono.

Sue x