Thursday, 29 April 2021

Blog additions and updates

Firstly, I've added a couple more good trans sites to the blogroll: A Gender Variance Who's Who and Crossdreamers. Both excellent: the first provides a wealth of information on trans people in history and other useful information; the latter has many interesting articles and helpful resources. I've been reading both sites for years but until recently my blogroll linked chiefly to the sites of friends of mine. Since they blog less, I'm now linking more to sites that have a wider interest. 

Secondly, Blogger is to discontinue the email alert service so if you have been receiving update alerts automatically by email, this will end in a couple of months and I will then remove the widget. Sorry about that; it was not my decision. 

I am still working on my own resources page, and on providing better labels and links to past posts. My blog is a very mixed bag of adventures, thoughts and support and labelling ten years' worth of posts is taking a while. Bear with me! 

You'll have noticed that this year I am blogging regularly twice a week and this should continue for a while. 

A dip in the archives

In my recent trawl through old emails to find early photos, I came across this portrait taken at the Boudoir in 2008. It shows how much better my nakeup is when done by a professional! I'm now using this picture as my avatar on various sites.

 Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Speriamo che questa storia del virus finisca presto, e anche l'iter della legge contro l'omotransfobia. La strada è sempre lunga e lenta.

Oggi ho aggiunto altri due siti. Tutti e due in inglese, ma entrambi risorse utili.

Sue x

Monday, 26 April 2021

A trip to the theatre, and more

 Continuing my reminiscences of the first year I was out and about as a woman, I recall this time ten years ago when Emma and her wife Jackie came to stay. We'd planned a weekend sightseeing, eating out and seeing a play.

It shows how comfortable we'd both become about getting on with life as women, compared to our tentative and somewhat comical first night out in London. Whereas that night is seared into my memory for ever, I'm less sure of the events on this occasion, but thanks to Emma's well-arranged photos, I've pieced together what we did.

We went up to London by train, which is a lot easier and cheaper than going by car.

We met Joanne and Irene for lunch at Prix Fixe French brasserie in Soho.

Our main event of the day was a trip to the New London Theatre to see one of the most acclaimed shows of the time, War Horse, the adventures of a Devon plough horse sent to the front in World War I. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, the story was also made into a film by Stevan Spielberg. 

It was excellent, with life-sized articulated puppets for the animals and a vorticist style for the backdrops. (Here are the Wiki entries on the play and on Vorticism 

Horse puppet and human actors

Example of vorticist art of the WWI era that inspired the artwork on stage. This is "Dazzle Ships in Dry Dock at Liverpool" by Edward Wadsworth (1919)

Interval refreshments

That evening we had dinner at one of my favourite venues, Sarastro in Drury Lane that has featured many times in this blog.

The next day we went sightseeing. 

Lunch was at another favourite venue (now sadly closed), Bistro 1 in Brewer Street.


In my last blog post I wrote about nostalgia for London and included some photos. Well, here are some more from a sunny afternoon in and around St James's Park.

They also prove that we do get exercise and don't just sit around eating!



As I said, it was now great to feel as comfortable as this out in public.
The main point of my blog has always been to encourage others to live their trans lives happily so I'm glad to have had this chance to add to that aim.

Thanks to Emma and Jackie for another good weekend. I'd especially like to thank Jackie for her support for trans people and for coming out with us. 

Emma and I were to have a fantastic week together in July that year, and you can read about that in due time.

A dip in the archives

By way of complete contrast, a year after this I spent the last weekend of April in Blackpool and wrote about the Funny Girls show. Here's a link to the entry with the photos from this exuberant show:  

Funny Girls photos


Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Secondo me, si apre troppo presto. Non mi fido di questo virus. 

Nelle ultime settimane mi sono messo a guardare vecchie foto dei miei giorni a Londra. Oggi racconto di un paio di giorni dieci anni fa quando la mia amica Emma è venuta a trovarmi con sua moglie e siamo stati al teatro e in giro per la città.

Sue x

Thursday, 22 April 2021


 Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be ... goes the old gag.

The Covid-19 crisis all over the world means I have not moved from the Italian riviera for over a year, apart from a couple of days for business in Milan.

Being stuck on the riviera is hardly a tragedy, though! I guess the Covid experience has been less severe to me than to most others. It's lovely here: mild winters, and summers that are sunny but not overhot; the sea views and the mountains are stunning; the palms, pines, banana and citrus trees, banyans, eucalyptus, prickly pears and cactuses are green all year; the food is very tasty; and I am in good physical health and losing weight steadily, too. Apart from being always alone with worries about money and rights, I can't really complain compared to what most people have been suffering. 


I took this photo as I was writing this post. The view over the Mediterranean from home.

Lush local greenery, which I love.

Snow on distant mountains. Beautiful from afar as it doesn't snow where I live!

But I have been missing my old home in London, England, a bit. I lived there most of my life, after all. I had planned to spend last August there revisiting old haunts and seeing old friends, but it wasn't viable to travel. So I've been going over old photos and also enjoying watching various London vloggers. The dry humour of Jago Hazzard as he informs us about various architectural or transport successes and failures is certainly interesting and entertaining, but if I were to link to any vlogger here it'd be the fascinating artist Nicola White (site here), who is a modern-day mudlark. 

What's a mudlark? 

Well, if you read Henry Mayhew's fascinating and influential London Labour and the London Poor, articles published in book form in 1851 and 1861, mudlarks are people who scrabble in the Thames mud at low tide to try to find lost objects that can be resold or reused, such as lumps of coal. When very lucky, they might find a coin. In previous ages they were pretty much the poorest of the poor. These days, people like Nicola White scrabble in the mud to find objects like driftwood or broken glass and pottery that can be turned into artworks, or simply unearth old objects that are interesting from the point of view of social history: clay pipes, brass buttons, jewellery, musket balls ... not to mention messages in bottles. It's extraordinary that things as ancient as Roman coins and pottery are still there to be picked up from the gravelly mud after nearly one and a half million tides have washed over them since London became a Roman city. It's a mucky hobby, but when you've lived on the river as I have, walked its towpaths and embankments, boated on it, crossed it on bridges and tunnels, even swum in it, then it still holds a fascination, for all its sludginess.

Here's a link to her YouTube channel: Nicola White mudlark; and a link to the ITN (Independent Television News) short feature about her and her weird pursuit ...

Well, it's one way of connecting with one's past.

A dip in the archives

A few random photos from my days in London, with some well-known landmarks...

No idea where this is!

Buckingham Palace

Cuty Sark, Greenwich

Tower Bridge


Covent Garden at Christmas

The Thames at night

Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Benché mi piaccia la Liguria, questa settimana ho avuto una nostalgia per Londra dove ho vissuto la maggior parte della mia vita. Che peccato che gli inglesi si stanno autodistruggendo con il nazionalismo, il razzismo, l'omotransfobia e tutto l'odio che hanno perché non comandano più. Che arroganza! Era un'epoca bellissima quella che ho passato a Londra quando ho incominciato a vivere come donna, ma ormai è finita. Quando anche la storia del Covid è finita e mi sento meno a disagio con tutto quello che è successo negli ultimi cinque anni, cercherò di farmi una vita da donna transgender in Liguria.

Sue x

Monday, 19 April 2021

Combating discrimination at work - some tips

 Having provided a lot of advice to people over the years on discrimination and bullying at work, I've been asked to share tips and best practices here. Not just with a trans slant because workplace problems can affect anyone.

In the 1990s I had several lousy experiences in a toxic workplace. These included threats of violence against me, witnessing racial discrimination and abuse, corruption, and of course the endless bullying and mobbing all round. I moved from this violent, corrupt department to another where my new boss was soon replaced by someone insane. Her temper was so uncontrollable she would even kick the furniture. Stuck in an unhappy marriage because her religion rejected divorce, but desperate for children, she became obsessed with sex and her conversation revolved around having babies. Not being emotionally involved with hubby any more, she would (and I'm sorry to be graphic here) masturbate at her desk to relieve her sexual frustration and would make suggestive, creepy or abusive remarks when not shouting her head off in rage. My complaints to management fell on deaf ears until I took the matter up with a senior vice president, and I was finally taken seriously. My subsequent role led to my being injured at work and my employer's health and safety failures led to my suing them, successfully.

These experiences poisoned my desire to continue with a career in that line of work. But since I had had so many discussions with legal and other advisers that I had gathered enough information to be of use to others as well and I am pleased to have been able to give advice to trans people being bullied or discriminated against so that they too got suitable compensation.

There are two main pieces of advice I would give to any working person:-

- You need representation and support now that we are living in an employer's market. Join a union and/or professional body. If you are in a minority of some kind (like being trans), join a representative organisation too.

- Keep a diary of workplace issues, even if things appear fine. Anything, even trivial-seeming, that somehow makes you uncomfortable - from casual remarks to equipment problems - should be recorded. This diary may prove invaluable as evidence later. Not to mention keeping evidence such as memos, emails and so forth.

As well as employment or safety laws that are supposed to protect you, your employer or contractors or clients will have contractual arrangements that might go above and beyond the law. They might, for instance, award sick pay that is higher than the legal minimum, or provide a safer environment than specified by health and safety law. Your employer may have additional personnel policies that promise non-discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnicity, orientation, etc.

But, as you can see from my own experiences, and quite likely from your own, the reality is that things frequently fall short because personal issues such as prejudice, jealousy, ambition, aggression, mental illness, etc. get in the way of staff behaving perfectly. It's how your employer responds that counts. If their grievance mechanism works well then you will simply have had an upsetting experience but it will have been remedied; if their procedures are poor or are corrupted, then dealing with issues can be almost as bad as the issue itself.

If you have to make a complaint involving another member of staff then you can expect the situation to worsen for a while as they defend themselves. This is the chief reason people don't complain when they should - it poisons an already poisoned situation still further. The fear of recrimination is a very real one and is often not unfounded. Mad sex boss was less than pleased at my complaints, I can tell you! Beware also of managers and teams closing ranks when a complaint is afoot. Victimising an employee who complains can also be against the law. This does set up a vicious circle of complaint and recrimination. After all, if your colleagues were decent people, the original situation wouldn't have arisen in the first place. You can expect malign people to act badly throughout. 

I cannot tell you how to develop courage, but I do know that everyone has some point beyond which abuse becomes intolerable. Ideally, start expressing concerns about a situation early on rather than waiting till it has become intolerable. The problem is that so many people prefer to put up with or remove themselves from a situation rather than combating it, and that creates a harsher environment for subsequent staff once bullies learn they can get away with bad behaviour.

It may be tempting to resign. Do not do so if you have no other job lined up as you simply end up out of work with no money coming in. Proving discrimination or constructive dismissal in a tribunal is not easy. If the situation is threatening, you can make a statement to the police. If you are getting stressed, you can ask your doctor to sign you off work, and this should actually make it easier to focus on the problem and tackle it from the security of your home. It's what one friend of mine did, and negotiated an exit package; it's what I wish I had done when my troubles first started. If you need to hold a meeting on the subject of workplace problems, you will normally be able to have a legal or union representative with you, or a colleague, or maybe even just a friend.

If anyone has witnessed the behaviour you are complaining of then note their presence in the diary I suggested you maintain. If they are likely to be loyal or sympathetic to you then that's good; but beware of just assuming that a witness will tell the truth when asked to - people have all sorts of reasons for not being honest when needed.

Bullying at work is pretty rife these days, and mobbing where a gang of colleagues go at you. Bullying is not usually legally defined or even easy to pinpoint precisely but there comes a point when you know instinctively that things aren't right. Harassment is usually legally defined and if you are working as a trans person it would be a good idea to acquaint yourself with the law of your country in this area. 

In these days of electronic working, more opportunities for trouble arise. People can be indiscreet, as if email or work forums are like the consequence-free environment of socal media. As Lynn pointed out in her comment on my recent post about subtle transphobia in the workplace, these days it is becoming more common for people to make requests under privacy or information law for sight of what has been recorded about them in electronic form, whether written or on video. This may be useful - and even excellent - evidence in case of a dispute. But conversely, be wary of what you say about others. That casual verbal remark by the water cooler was how office gossip worked once; now it's more on record.

This talk of legal rights is all very well but what you really need above all else at these times is emotional support. If you need comfort and support beyond what friends and family can offer that is more targeted on the problem then there are a number of emotional support charities and organisations in most countries, some of which particularly help with workplace problems and can help you see through the fog of distress to discern what the situation actually entails. A trade union or professional body can often recommend or help find such organisations. 

On the emotional front, always remember this: you are OK, it's the situation that's messed up. You are not mad or mentally ill, though your psychological functioning may be impaired by distress or trauma. That's normal in these circumstances.

Transgender people are obviously one of the groups most subject to bullying and discrimination in the workplace, possibly the most subject, and that is one of the reasons why so many trans people don't come out, don't mention they are trans unless they start living and working in their proper gender. Discrimination against trans people often takes on different forms from those affecting other minorities, groups or individuals, but the same basic advice applies, which is why I've not been specific about our community here.

You may be reading this out of interest, or because it resonates with you, or because you are having a bad time at work. If either of the latter cases, then I am sorry that such a situation has arisen. The subject is so vast that I have only given outlines and basic pointers for how to act and where to get help. But always my two top tips, as above, are: don't deal with it alone - there are organisations to help with all aspects - and always gather tangible evidence. 

I'll end with one comment a colleague made to me when I was dealing with mad sex boss: you spend too much of your life at work for it to make you miserable.

A hug.

Sue x

A dip in the archives

In my trawl through old emails, as described in my last post, I found  the jokebook I'd compiled when working for the evil people described above. I'd email a joke every day to colleagues to keep them sweet. Emailing a daily joke is a habit I got into that lasted for years after. Maybe I'll create a separate page here for my jokebook. You have been warned!

Here's a photo of me taken from my desktop when I had started working for myself. I could present how I liked and everything was better than before. It shows.


Cari lettori italiani

Le leggi contro la discriminazione sono migliori in Italia che in Inghilterra. C'è strada da fare, però non mi lamento troppo in confronto a quello che ho vissuto a Londra. Oggi presento dei consigli su come affrontare il bullismo e la discriminazione al posto di lavoro.

Sue x

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Rediscovered photos - so happy!

 Rather than continuing this series of posts on serious topics, I'm writing more briefly today about my happy rediscovey of a lot of old photos.

Some of my photos are posted here or elsewhere on social media but most of them, especially the early ones, are on hard drives, discs and USB sticks that were put into storage in 2018 when I moved. With all the chaos of the last three years, and which is still ongoing, I have been wondering if I was ever going to be able to access them again!

But by revisiting obsolete email accounts I have managed to refind a lot of them, including many favourites that I had originally emailed to a web designer for a Sue Richmond website. The designer failed me on that (hence my starting this blog instead) but my emails with the photo attachments are still there. And I've found several from early photoshoots, from my early trips out as Sue, selfies taken at home and many more.

This makes me very happy and I have been going over some wonderful old memories. I need to sort them but in my Dip in the Archives today I'll post three nice ones.


A Dip in the Archives 

Home selfie (from a series)

 Relaxing in my hotel during Sparkle 2010


Photoshoot at The Boudoir dressing service

I hope to put more up as time goes by.

Sue x

Cari lettori italiani

Oggo sono contentissima perché ho ritrovato tante vecchie foto. Dei bei ricordi. Oggi ne pubblico una piccola selezione. 

Sue x


Monday, 12 April 2021

Subtle transphobia in the workplace

 A couple of responses to my last-but-one post about coming out to groups described how transphobia in the workplace can be very subtle, whatever anti-discrimination and equal-opportunity policies an employer might have in place. The transphobia displayed against me by former colleagues and "friends" who appeared supportive, as described in my last post, shows how insidious it can be. 

Mere lip-service to politically agreed norms is worthless, especially as one of the chief characteristics of most human beings is the need to domineer. Coming out as trans indicates that you, who may have been on a level with your group, now belong to a minority and have been struggling in significant aspects of life. What better way to squash you than to learn you actually had fears, weaknesses and differences, and that you were hiding them, not being 'honest' about yourself. Often, of course, they think you're some kind of sexual misfit. You can explain to your heart's content that being trans is nothing sexual. "It's kinda gay" is the popular belief and people feel better sticking with what they think they know rather than admitting they are wrong. And who likes gays anyway? "Gays (or transgenders) exist, sure, just as long as they don't encroach on my life," is the attitude. I found that attitude prevalent when coming out to lovers, too.

So, your workplace has a policy against discrimination and your personnel officer has gone through the motions of letting you know that your job is secure if you transition. Great. You tell your colleagues that you're called Brenda now, not Bob any more, and it's back to the day's tasks and all is well, right? It's true that few people, if any, are going to come and say to your face that they hate the new you, but some will be thinking it. And if that someone is a boss or an important client, what happens?

Here's what two transitioning friends wrote to me last week:

I had worked 13 years with an unblemished record, Most of my colleagues accepted me to a degree and I never faced any hostility from them. However the management of the building my company were contracted to,was homophobic, transphobic and racist and my company had to move me to a different site. Fortunately I have not had any negativity since. To be honest in hindsight it would have been better to have been moved at the beginning, fresh start and all.


There's a further fly in the ointment regarding coming out at work - the unprovable transphobia. When I first came out at work, I got masses of supportive emails, etc - only 1 of which wasn't 100% positive, and that just said "I don't want to know." Within months I was on suspension and being investigated for "expenses irregularities" - all but two of which I disproved. I still ended up fired for "reasonable belief of wrongdoing". Beware the smiling faces...


This is the point. Your employer may officially be fine with your transition. Some employees may not. The campaign orchestrated against the second person here was thoroughly dishonest, by a boss with a known reputation for sacking people purely for the buzz of feeling powerful. Transphobia probably came into his selection of my friend on this occasion, but that is unprovable as the official issue was made a financial one.

I've been asked about bullying, which I will write about in due course. In the 1990s I experienced some vile mistreatment at work - it still disgusts me - and in subsequent years read around the entire subject of bullying as it's not a problem I'd ever encontered before. I don't get my kicks from hurting people - I can't see any advantage to me - but for many people this is hugely important behaviour.

So, having warned against subtle transphobia that may be hard to fight against, keep a record of anything untoward or uncomfortable at work and you might need to bring evidence to support a discrimination claim. It's unjust to have to do so, but that is the world we unhabit. More advice on this in future. 

Do not, however, be like two LGBT people I know who were more than hypocritical about discrimination. One trans person was in disciplinary trouble for aggression and abuse in the workplace and was trying to source the transphobia she felt was behind her employer's complaint. Given that this was 18 months after she started transition with her employer's full support, it seemed unlikely (though not impossible) that transphobia was involved. She asked for my advice, which I'm pleased to say enabled her to quit with a good exit package. However, as she went on to abuse customers in her new career (I witnessed it several times) and in the end started harassing me to the point where, for the only time in my life, I had to block her number off my phones, I can say that her employer was well justified in the action they took, which I thought even at the time had acted correctly throughout. She is simply a very antisocial person! No transphobia involved. The other person was a boss of mine who was a prominent, lifelong gay rights campaigner ... and spent his workdays bullying, abusing and discriminating against: ethnic minority, male and subordinate staff. A real sociopath and hypocrite who showed that things can cut both ways.

So transphobia and discrimination can be hard to call. Converesly, some trans people can be paranoid about every nuance in their interactions. Practical advice on dealing with workplace bullying and discrimination in forthcoming posts, then. 


A dip in the archives

 My last few posts have been on serious topics so here's an entertaining post from eight years ago when I described some of the 'admirers' who beset the TGirls on the scene. Be amused and horrified in equal measure at how chivalry is not quite dead but merely intubated in intensive care...

Work hard, play hard, seduce hard


Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Mentre la situazione contro la discriminazione si migliora in Europa, racconto dei modi sottili di discriminare e dell'omotransfobia nei posti di lavoro che possono avere successo contro di noi anche quando ci sono politiche antidiscriminatorie.

Sue x

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 and needed to focus on that, 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 attacked me for not ever having formally come out to my parents, claiming that 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' to all 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 after an hour of this abuse and 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 I could 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 and intend to cause harm.

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. Apart from when I've been asked to 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 initial 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 or take time out to process the new info. 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


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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


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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


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


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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