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.


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.



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!



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!



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

Cari lettori italiani

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


Cari lettori italiani

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

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'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

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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

Thursday 4 March 2021

Perfume: a guide for selecting a good fragrance as a transgender woman

 I'm wearing a new perfume I've recently bought, "Forever" by Laura Biagiotti. Deliciously feminine and very heady, it needs only a light application from the gorgeous bottle to last all day.

It's now my perfume of choice, replacing Versace Crystal Noir in the top spot. 


Rivals for my olfactions: Versace Crystal Noir (left) vs Laura Biagiotti Forever (right)

My last bottle of Crystal Noir has disappointed me, for some reason; it seems to lack the staying power it once had. Perhaps they have changed the formula (a regular trick in the industry). 

So Laura Biagiotti wins through in 2021. The glossy marketing blurb in English is here: Laura Biagiotti Forever

I was recently discussing perfumes, their uses and abuses, with other trans friends. Having done quite a lot of work for the fashion industry over the years (see, for instance, my 2015 post Working in fashion and other good stuff), including perfume companies such as Acqua di Parma, I thought I would share some tips on selecting a good perfume. There are so many pitfalls, especially for MtF trans people, but the right perfume can be the perfect compliment to your outfit, makeup and jewellery.

Vitally important tip

The main thing to consider is that a perfume works not by giving you a smell but by combining with your own natural odour. Therefore, the same perfume smells differently on different people and what works for one may be a dud on another.

This has important implications for any MtF trans person who is not taking female hormones - your own odour will be more masculine, and this means that many perfumes blended to work with women's natural odours won't smell good on you. This reduces your choice.

Related to this is the fact that perfumes are not a substitute for cleanliness and won't hide BO. Go take a shower, you dirty pup!


Perfumes have three main layers of aroma, known as notes. The top notes are those most active in the few minutes after application, the middle or heart notes emerge after half an hour or so, and the base notes represent the perfume's staying power. The top notes are chiefly what you smell in the shop when the assistant offers you a sample and are therefore only a partial guide to the blend, unless you stick around for a few minutes. It is the middle and bottom notes that really matter as these are the ones that blend longest with your own odour. 

Do try the little free samples in magazines, dropped on the doormat or given out in perfume retailers. 


This week's free samples: Narciso Rodriguez For Her in Elle magazine, Sisley Eau de Soir tiny spray bottle from the perfume shop, and classic Acqua di Parma wipe for men that gives an idea of how a citrussy cologne can act as a guide for chosing a MtF female perfume

You can wear these for a day at home and see if they work for you and, more importantly, for those around you. Don't be afraid to ask honest opinions. If your loved one tells you that you now smell like a dead horse, then don't be offended - that's actually a win as that perfume isn't for you. It saves you wasting a lot of money.

Scent families

So, what scents work for MtF trans people?

There are four main families of scents: the floral (or sweet), the citrus (or fruity or fresh), the spicy (or oriental) and the woody (or chypre).

Floral is obviously local things like rose or violet; citrus obviously things like lemon; spicy is more exotic, things like sandalwood, vanilla or musk; and woody is mosses, patchouli, agarwood, etc.

Given what I have said about the blend of odours between you and the fragrance, an MtF trans person not on hormones should be looking for a perfume that has middle and base notes that resemble those found in aftershaves/men's cologne. That doesn't mean you will still smell like Ron Burgundy or Henry Cooper (thankfully) but you won't get a clash that ultrafeminine fragrances like Chanel no 5 can create. Avoid anything too fruity or floral as you might end up smelling like rotting melon or, worse, rotting meat.

How strong a pong?

There are five strengths of fragrance. There are the (usually cheap and synthetic) body sprays which will give you a bit of oomph for an hour at most.  

Eau de cologne is a pleasant blend with lots of water that usually gives a soft aroma for an hour or two. You can apply liberally.  

Eau de toilette is stronger and is a good choice for those starting out using perfumes.

Eau de parfum and you know you're in business! Apply very sparingly as you want to enhance your allure when people are near you, not knock out the whole room!

You can also get pure parfum but this is harder to find on the average perfume counter and you really need to know what you're doing (and be rich). Good as a base for women alchemists who may want to create their own strength from pure essences.

Where to apply your perfume

Pulse points, inside joints (elbows, even knees, but not armpits!), behind the ear, back of neck (but beware of chemical interactions with sythetic wigs and wig/hair products), base of throat. I favour the collarbones as these are often under clothes and therefore release the perfume very slowly and it's delightful to get another burst of fragrance after getting undressed and into bed at night.

Some other thoughts and tips

Different perfumes are appropriate for different seasons, times of day and even events. Summer outdoors favours fruity, floral, citrus notes; the cosy interiors of winter are better for musky, close perfumes. Some claim that our sense of smell is heightened as the day wears on so a statement perfume for an evening out can really be noted; apply sparingly! 

Despite what I said about perfume under clothes, its best not to spray directly onto clothing as perfume can stain. Be careful also if you have sensitive skin; alcohol is in most perfumes and this can irritate many people.

An oily skin retains perfume longer than a dry skin. If you have dry skin you can apply a little petroleum-based lotion before spraying your perfume.

If sampling perfumes in a shop, sniff a maximum of three at any one time, otherwise your sense of smell gets confused and you can no longer distinguish.

If you really like a perfume, there may also be toiletries with that same fragrance. This helps you avoid clashes between perfumes in your washing products and your expensive fragrance. Scented candles with well-known perfumes are very popular and are nice at bathtime or in the evening. Be prepared to spend money on such options; although it can be money well spent.

If you have ethical concerns about the use of certain products, e.g. civet, ambergris or other animal secretions, or have allergies, all good manufacturers and distributors will be happy to list ingredients and suggest alternatives.

There are plenty of sites that give more detail on the points above, including fragrance charts and strength guides, and most online perfume retailers have similar advice.

I hope this is interesting and helpful, friends. Smell you later!


A dip in the archives

Here's one of the well-known photos from interwar Berlin, a mecca in the 1920s and early '30s (as now) of alternative culture, with a lot of havens for TGirls. 

Hitler stamped all that out, of course. I visit Berlin regularly and there seem to be more TGirls there going about their daily business unmolested than anywhere else I know. It's a joy to be there.

Me in Berlin, 2018

Sue x


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Ho comprato un nuovo profumo qualche settimana fa, Forever di Laura Biagiotti. (Sito: Forever di Laura Biagiotti). Mi piace cosi' tanto! Però bisogna stare attente quando si compra i prodotti profumati perché senza gli ormoni giusti si può creare un odore poco gradevole. Oggi vi presento la mia guida ai profumi di qualità per le donne transgender.

Sue x

Monday 1 March 2021

Spring favourites

 There's more than a hint of spring in the air and I have been looking through my wardrobe. One thing that struck me was how often this skirt appears in my photos over the years. 


That's partly because it's a skirt for mild weather so there's never a coat hiding it, but also because it's ideal: just above the knee with an elasticated waist for my yoyo tum, it's lined for a bit of warmth and comfort and for eliminating seethrough effects. The pattern and style were popular when I bought it ten years ago but, at the risk of being unfashionable, I'm keeping it! Old it may be, but the matching pink shoes and facemask below are totally 2021!

The winter sales have been on (delayed by a month because of restrictions) and I do have one or two nice new things (apart from pink facemasks), which I'll tell about in a later post (suspense!)

I've done a thorough epilation this weekend and lost a bit more weight so it's amazing what the promise of warmer, sunnier weather can do for one's self-esteem! Oranges, lemons and bananas are ripening here, and they're always cheerful. I hope spring is on its way where you are.

Oranges, lemons and bananas in a neighbouring garden

A dip in the archives

Last month was LGBT history month. Obviously this year, with Covid restrictions everywhere, it's largely been an online affair, but there have been many events highlighting the realities and contributions of LGBT people worldwide.

The favourite thing I found in my look through LGBT stuff online last month was this beautiful award-winning animation from Eleanor Davitt, Drawn to You.

"Young Emily didn’t see anything wrong with her drawing of two girls holding hands, but her mother saw otherwise and tore both the paper and her child’s heart in two. Little did they know, the drawings had come alive and were determined to reunite with one another across the vast bedroom of pages, no matter what risk came their way. An adventurous and heartwarming tale, “Drawn to You” shows audiences both the struggles and joy that comes with being true to your heart, and not letting others tell you who to be."

Although more L than T, I found it's simple, emotional take very moving and charming, with many happy endings.

YouTube link: Drawn to You


Sue x


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Con l'arrivo del bel tempo ho tirato fuori una gonna preferita, vecchia ma buona (come me!)

Il cartone animato, senza testo, è bellissimo. Una storia emozionante sulle difficoltà e le gioie di essere se stessi.

Sue x