Monday, 30 August 2021


 This week I came across a blog that I found not only amazing and inspiring but a wonderful resource, too: Monika Kowalska's "The Heroines of my Life".

She describes it thus: "This blog is about transgender women that are my everyday inspirations. I interviewed almost 600 transgender women that radiate with wisdom, beauty, intelligence and love. The blog is about transgender women that proved to me that there is hope for me and it is better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you are not."

The interviews - from all over the world - show the diversity, stuggles to be recognised and successes of hundreds of transwomen and Monika is to be commended for her diligence in compiling it.

I find a random click on a name or country never fails to bring up a fascinating, encouraging, beautiful, and above all heroic story of trans women who have determined to live their lives.

There is also a lengthy list of published transgender biographies and autobiographies.

I have added it to my blogroll on the right, and here's a link: The Heroines of my Life

I'd say trans people are all heroes and heroines as they struggle to come to terms with this unusual existence. Being trans makes life more exhausting, especially for those in genuine danger, and creates a set of experiences that only we can know. On the other hand, those experiences can be exhilarating.

A dip in the archives

 Over the last year I have described the adventures I had between first getting out as Sue and starting this blog. Emma Walkey featured a lot in that first year. Instead here's a look back to the last time the two of us were out together, in London in August 2018: 

A day out with Emma

Champagne Charlies with Emma in August 2018

Sue x

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Lingerie for TGirls and men

 Somewhat related to my last post about finding suitable swimwear is the question of how many TGirls choose lingerie for men or lingerie specifically designed for MtF trans people. 

There are several firms that make lingerie specifically for TGirls, i.e. lingerie that takes into consideration the usually flatter, broader chests for bras or the slimmer hips and rears and fuller fronts for panties/knickers that are often characteristic of MtF trans people who haven't had the op or hormones. Some of these items seems very pretty. I have never ordered from firms like En Femme (US) or Carmen Liu Lingerie (UK) or Petit Cyclone (France) myself but specialists like these and many others seem to have a good following.

A long time ago I came across a company called Homme Mystère from Australia and I was curious about how many men choose specially made male lingerie. I am delighted that they do - let's face it, men's standard underwear is horrible: nasty to look at and unpleasant to wear. At least, I have always thought so. A firm like this gives men the chance to wear something pretty, soft, flattering and, in my view, much more suitable than men's official underwear styles. And now men can complement their wives'/girlfriends' choices, too.

I have never bought any of these specialist products myself, either those designed for MtF transgender people or those designed for men. And the reason for this is simply that I feel my femininity is such a strong part of my trans nature that I am keen to have only clothing specifically labelled for women. So even when presenting as male (more usually androgynously) it is still clothes from the womenswear department that I am in. This may seem excessive or obsessive but after years of being forced to suppress my trans nature I am just keen to emphasise my femininity as much as possible! Yes, I dare say I have been losing out on some good, more comfortable, enhancing underwear, but being a woman among women has been my lifelong need. 

But never say never. Maybe I'll try out, say, a pushup bra from a made-to-measure trans-specific company soon just to see if there is a clear improvement. I doubt I will ever go for lingerie for men, though. I am just not masculine enough!

I am still compiling a resources page which will include links to suppliers. Here are a few up-to-date reviews of specialist suppliers:

Byrdie: 5 inclusive and empowering lingerie brands for the trans community

Pink News: the best, cutest and most popular trans lingerie ... 

Hannah McKnight: Lingerie for men - does it matter? 

On a related note, here's news from the BBC about creating a universal sizing guide for trans women, which is currently lacking:

BBC: Trans clothing - designer works to create standard sizes


A fig tree and two agaves growing close to home. Figleaves were the first undergarments ever, according to the Bible, but some modern styles feel more like the hard, chunky, scratchy agave. Ouch! Choose wisely.


A dip in the archives

Well done to Femulate for making available its huge collection of photos from US college yearbooks with 'boys' who preferred to present as female:

Flickr: yearbooks 

As I mentioned in my dip in the archives on 28 June, events such as school proms, plays, Hallowe'en parties, womanless beauty pageants and such events have often been a lifeline for trans or just gender curious people to express themselves in an environment that is less judgmental than home or the local community. It is an interesting collection and quite a cultural phenomenon.

Sue x

Monday, 23 August 2021

Swimwear for TGirls

 It's the height of the holiday season and beachwear is the norm here on the coast. Here life is relaxed and quite family-oriented and it's acceptable to walk in town or shops in your swimwear with just a light top or wrap.


Each year has its fashions, of course, and bikinis in pastel shades with a sequin top are all the rage here this year. 


A common sight this summer. This is Yamamay's brazilian brief and triangle top with sequins. The sequins are plastic - metal ones would really toast your buns in the sun! (c)

Fundamentally, though, it's a choice between bikini or a swimsuit for us women. These are the kinds of garments that epitomise femininity, aren't they? They are also the hardest for TGirls to wear convincingly if they haven't had the operation. 

A few thoughts, then, on getting that lovely summer item if your body is not as feminine as you'd like.

If you tuck, no matter how well you do so, a bikini will never look quite right. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't wear a bikini even with a bulge if you're happy to. My solution is my four-piece bikini set. Although it's made of unforgiving mould-to-your-body microfibre, it comes with a short skirt and a top in matching material and style. Therefore, you can cover any telltale differences and look very cute in the process. I wish I had it here so I could put up a photograph, but like so much else it's in storage in another country that Covid restrictions prevent my reaching right now. But you can get any number of sets with bikini + skirt or - and these are becoming popular - a two-piece bikini skirt, like this really cute number from Dolls Kill:

(c) Dolls Kill

Of course, a sarong is a similar way of providing discretion.

These days there are quite a number of ladies' swim shorts around and, coupled with a gaff or your usual control briefs these may be a good alternative.

Shorts bikini by Venus. (c) Venus

The one-piece swimsuit is a more forgiving item, of course. My latest one has removable breast inserts, and full breast forms can be put in place, so I'm quite pleased with it. Black, of course, hides a lot of sins! I've removed one of the inserts for the photo below.

That one's practical but is not as cute or comfortable as my favourite one which I bought two years ago and is so pretty, so soft and has a  bias cut with a cute frill. But being too figure-hugging with no hiding anything top or bottom, I'd not wear it to the beach.

When I'm happier with my weight, and the builders opposite have gone, I may model these properly. 

Like the comments above on bikini bottoms, the one kind of one-piece swimsuit that really works for TGirls is the swimdress. So cute, if old-fashioned, it has been making a comeback in recent years.

(c) Cotton Traders

Obviously, in all this, my advice is limited to the body parts covered by the item. If you are MtF with, say, wide shoulders, or are very tall, then there are further considerations, but the sort of swimwear preferences of professional swimmers might be worth considering. However, world swimming champion Federica Pellegrini is tall and has a large, powerful upper body but insists on wearing what she likes and has called for freer choices of competition wear for athletes. So do what feels right for you.

Federica Pellegrini. Photo by Michiel Jelijs

The one advantage swimwear has over lingerie is that it's stretchier anyway. I'd also recommend, if you're body conscious but want to be seen on a beach or by the pool, that you go (Covid permitting) to somewhere like Spain where nobody cares if your body is not supermodel perfect. Not every resort is snooty like St Tropez! 

Here are some thoughts on MtF beachwear from other sites and bloggers which I found worthwhile and have links to suppliers and recommended items:

Trans Café: MtF swimsuit guide

Autostraddle: perfect swimsuits for trans women 

The Lingerie Addict: trans swimwear

Feminization Secrets: how to look hot in swimwear 

There are now several firms that offer lingerie and swimwear for MtF trans people, for example

En Femme

The inimitable Hannah McKnight has a lovely review of En Femme's swimwear here: Hannah McKnight: the swimsuit issue

Trans Missie 


Most importantly, though, be happy in your pretty beachwear.

A dip in the archives

I do a lot of historic research, partly for work and partly for pleasure. I recently read The Life of Mary Read, a short biography by Daniel Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders) and I thought it would make a suitable introduction to transgender military figures. But I see I have been pipped to the post by this article on her and her companion Ann Bonny on A Gender Variance Who's Who

Who doesn't love a crossdressing pirate?! (Talking style, that is. You'd disagree if you'd lost your ship, I'm sure!)

Mary Read

So instead of a historical post, here's a suitably nautical picture of me, recently rediscovered. This was in 2013 aboard the Cutty Sark museum ship in London.

Sue x

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Lazy summer

I am between periods during which I need to do stuff so I am "aestivating". It's like hibernating, but done in the summer. 

This word was new to me and here's how I found out about it. I'd noticed a line of fence posts near home and the top of each was covered in tiny snails, apparently basking in the heat. 

This puzzled me as I assumed they would be roasting up there in the hot air, which last week was as high as 36C (97F), especially as the posts are made of metal, which also gets hot.

So I asked on Facebook. My agronomist friend Amanda explained that the snails are aestivating. The dry heat is no good for them so, in a similar way to animals who hibernate to escape winter's cold and lean fare, they climb above the warm ground and stick to a post like this for the opposite reason, till the weather gets cool and wet again, just how they like it, and they wake from their torpor. The pale shell colour helps reflect the heat.

Aestivating is similar to what I'm doing to beat the scorching summer I wrote about last week. I'm just taking it easy in the shade, a lazy staycation. 

Green pass

I have just downloaded my Green Pass since it's over 15 days since my first Covid vaccination. This is the document needed here in Italy and in much of the European Union to do anything more than just your shopping. I was steeling myself for a battle with the ministry website but instead it took just five minutes, which is a huge relief! 

Now I can go to the cinema, eat out, take a train, go to the gym, visit a museum, drink in some low dive... 

Actually, that sounds too active right now so I think I'll carry on aestivating for a bit.


Sean Lock

For British readers. I was sorry to hear of the death at only 58 of comedian Sean Lock. His brilliantly dark and surreal radio comedy Fifteen Storeys High caught my attention in the late 1990s and his  acerbic wit on panel shows since was often screamingly funny. I find laughing at life is one of the best ways to get by and people like this show us how it's done.

A dip in the archives

Here's a post from five years ago when I had an altogether different summer experience, in the far north of Scotland. No chance of overheating as it was 15 - 20 C (60-68 F). Fascinating 3000-5000 year-old villages, oil rigs, warships, lighthouses and Britain's most beautiful cathedral.

Andro in Orkney


Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Non ho ancora avuto una reazione dai lettori italiani a questo blog e dunque non sono convinta che valga la pena di scrivere un paragrafo in italiano ogni volta che creo un nuovo post qui. 

Oggi ho scaricato il Green Pass e la vita dovrebbe diventare più facile da questo punto.

Cinque anni fa ho scritto del viaggio che ho fatto alle Orcadi. Qui c'è una foto della cappella italiana lì che e stata costruita da prigionieri italiani durante la seconda guerra mondiale. Costruita con pochissimo, è un testamento alla resilienza dello spirito umano. Ecco la pagina da Wikipedia:


Sue x

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Ten year blog anniversary

 I had little thought of where this blog might go when I first started writing it this day ten years ago. It just seemed like a weblog was another essential part of one's social media kit. And, after all, if everybody's doing it, one can't be left out, right?

410 posts later I look back over this seemingly random collection of thoughts and adventures and, if there's one overarching theme, it's that this blog is a testament to the lived experience of being transgender, the fun and the pain, the highs and lows, the realities and the dreams, the acceptance by many and the opposition by some. I hope it's interesting, readable and useful. And I hope it serves a small part in making transgender realities known more widely, helps create greater acceptance that gender variance is a real thing and reduces prejudice and ignorance.

Thank you to subscribers, readers and those who comment. Without your constant reaction and input I wouldn't feel like writing it. I should thank Google for providing this platform, though the quirks in the system are a little like the mild eccentricities of an old aunt. Thank you also for the people and organisations who have given me awards for the blog and linked to it in one way or another. This is all much appreciated.

The most popular posts remain the ones listed in last year's anniversary post so I won't repeat them here. Just click the greyed text to go back to it. Since this time last year I've been labelling posts to try to help bring subjects together (though the search facility one the right is good - just type in a word and it brings up all the posts containing it). And I've added "a dip in the archives" to each post to look back at trans history, my old photos, adventures not previously recorded, or previous blog posts. People seem to find these interesting. Suggestions for improvements or features are always welcome. I'm also blogging more regularly, twice a week now.

The complete unpredictability of the last ten years makes me reluctant to speculate on what I might be writing about in future. But as I have been conscious of being transgender from a very early age and as I know that being trans is the unshakeable, innate and defining part of me, anything I write about here will always be related to that. 

Thanks for reading and for all your support over all these years. Stay safe and beautiful.


Sue x

Thursday, 12 August 2021


 A brief post as I'll be writing more extensively on Saturday but just to say that it's very hot! Relatively speaking, it's not too bad where I live, where temperatures in the shade today are a mere 32°C (90° F), but elsewhere in the Mediterranean it's been reaching 48+°C (120°F) and fires are raging after a month of exceptional heat creating tinder-dry forests. It's a worry.

A couple of months back I wrote some ideas about how to cope with summer's heat if you are a TGirl needing wig and makeup. Much as I love the heat, I'm finding even just a swimsuit or bikini a bit oppressive. 

This weekend represents the height of the holiday season and I'm planning to stay cool and quiet till it's less crowded and not quite so tropical. 

They love it!


A dip in the archives

I recall the Sparkle 2013 transgender festival very well as that summer was very hot, and incredibly so for Manchester, which is renowned for it's cool, wet climate. We survived, though, but a lot of girls from the more northern parts of Britain couldn't believe it!

Sparkle 2013


I do miss Sparkle!

Sue x

Cari lettori italiani

Oggi fa caldo, anche qui in Liguria. Le notizie che provvengono dalla Sicilia e dalla Sardegna sugli incendi mi rendono molto triste. Dobbiamo agire prestissimo sui problemi del clima provocati dal nostro stile di vita. Ho paura che sia troppo tardi, però.

Sue x

Monday, 9 August 2021

Jeans, the garment that made the modern world

 I live not far from Genoa (known locally as Genova). It's Italy's largest port and handles all kinds of ships - containers, tankers, cruise liners, fishing craft ... Very powerful as an independent state in the Middle Ages, it let English ships in the Mediterranean fly its flag (a red cross on a white field) as a good guarantee of protection from enemies, and the English have kept it ever since. Christopher Columbus is undoubtedely the best-known Genoese.

Main square in modern Genoa

The Lanterna, or lighthouse, built in 1543 and very much the symbol of the city. The coat of arms has the cross of St George, red on white

It's also the city that originated jeans, the name of the garment most likely deriving from the French name of the city, Gênes. Jeans as we know them were designed in the late nineteenth century and were originally worn by men doing heavy outdoor work: dockers, sailors and, of course, cowboys, who needed hard-wearing cloth that survived getting wet and dirty.

Jeanscloth in Genoa, though, goes back many centuries more and was common wear for working people in the city and the hinterland. The once-powerful Genoese navy had jeans as standard uniform in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Women wore jeanscloth skirts. 

"Beggar woman and her two children", one of many paintings by a seventeenth-century artist known only as the Master of the Blue Jeans. The jeans skirt is almost the main feature here.


It was also a cloth that could be dyed and hung almost like a decorative tapestry in commercial buildings or, like these images of the life of Christ on blue jeanscloth, in a monastery.

Jeanscloth hangings from the abbey of San Nicolò del Boschetto outside the city. They are now in Genoa's diocesan museum.

The classic indigo dye, imported from India, was in some ways a symbol of the far reach of Genoa's trade, although its inability to get round the Turkish middlemen was largely the city state's downfall, a problem that Columbus had tried to circumvent by trying to sail to India the other way.

This cloth has exploded in popularity since the 1950s - a staple of anyone's wardrobe. So we all have some Genoa style at home!  

Some trans friends grumble at me because I'm not always wearing a twin set and pearls. But the fact is, I like to blend in, be like any other woman around and jeans are what women wear. 

Wearing jeans in London, 2012


Which is the more important historical contribution of the Genoese, then: inventing jeans or discovering America? (Or did they invent America and discover jeans? I get confused!)

A dip in the archives

Earlier this year I commented in more detail on women's preference today being for trousers/jeans/leggings rather than skirts or dresses:

One tube or two?

The fact is, this is now the female look. So if someone admonishes you for your choice, then wear it all the more! I always remember this episode in 2015 when a cleric in Pakistan blamed increasing natural disasters on the preference modern women have for jeans:

There's silly, and then there's silly 

I like my jeans. So there!

At home in my jeans earlier this year

Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Rimango in Liguria per il resto del mese anche se ci vengono tutti per le ferie. Non ho mai sopportato il freddo e un bel sole scottante mi fa star bene! 

Oggi ho raccontato un po' di storia culturale sull'origine dei blue jeans per i lettori inglesi.

Sue x

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Facebook and other narcissists' playgrounds

 I've seen a few bloggers write about Facebook this year. So it's my turn.

I have a few social media accounts, opened 10-12 years ago. I guess this Blogger account counts as one, too. Like many, I felt a lot of pressure to communicate via these new tools. But I've always felt uncomfortable for various reasons. The first is a loss of privacy - not just by sharing your life with the 'online community' (i.e. almost anyone) but, more insidiously, by the manner in which the hosting companies trawl through your emails, browsing history and who knows what else to find your connections, interests, choices and so on. The Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal that broke in 2018 should alert anyone to the dangers of these sites. Several friends (older ones, as it happens) have recently asked me to install WhatsApp on my phone. I looked at WhatsApp's terms and conditions and didn't like them so I haven't installed it. If that somehow curtails their friendship for me then maybe their values are slipping! I have never used Facebook on my phone for similar reasons.

This is the problem. The whole social media revolution is a haven for narcissism. The extroverts and exhibitionists love it as they get to show off their selected and carefully crafted public persona and obtain those necessary Likes and comments; the insecure need validation and those same Likes and comments. And, of course, the same extroversion and insecurities have their dark side: the relative anonymity and lack of direct contact with others creates a perfect environment for trolls and abusers to spout hate in a way that they would never be able to do when in the same physical space as those they are attacking. It is thus a coward's paradise, too. 

Controversial topics were once discussed in debates and by panels - we had debating clubs at school and university. These are the best way of airing thoughts in a controlled environment with a chairman guiding and guarding the process and civility of the discussion: point, counter point, summation, questions from the floor, vote. Controversy and difference can be civilized. Not some polemicist staring maniacally into camera on YouTube aggressively spouting his beliefs with no counterweight other than a comments section that can be controlled by the account holder. There is moderation, albeit imperfect and ill-considered, from hosting platforms; but since it is largely algorithms making the decisions, the right of appeal is limited. 

The banning of Donald Trump by Twitter (very late in the day) of course opens up a whole polemic on the power of these platforms. Their acceptance or rejection of users or their posts may be entirely arbitrary. The refusal to contain fake news, falsehoods, libel and malicious posting in any effective or consistent manner is very detrimental to society. The case of politicians who are elected being overridden by a company that is privately or shareholder owned and is answerable to no-one is not acceptable as it stands. These companies, as we have been becoming only too aware of during this pandemic, have become very potent supranational powers controlling public discussion, gathering data far better than governments do, and yet dodging taxes very effectively. 

Of course, the polarisation of people is becoming more acute as you yourself weed out the people you dislike and the algorithms select people, services, posts, advertising and groups that are already attuned to you. A recent article in Le Scienze (the Italian edition of Scientific American) had a graphic of the polarisation of people on the main social media platforms. We have come to expect toxic exchanges and violent differences of view on Twitter, but the even more severe breaks between people with differing viewpoints on Facebook was alarming.

I don't like the gathering of data on myself. I opened a Flickr account not because I wanted to show off my photos (indeed, my favourite photos have never been put online) but to monitor what other people were putting out there with me in. More seriously, YouTube recently stopped me from viewing some videos by trans people on the grounds that they were age-limited and I would (after how many years with them?) have to prove that I was over 18. This was to be done by sending them my passport details or a credit card. Nice try, guys... I don't think so. Neither item being in my girl name is one point, no certainty or security about what they'll do with the info is another. This sort of increasing limitation on use until more personal data is supplied is becoming commonplace. And don't get me started on all those sites that tell you they use cookies and select which you agree to ... some days I wade through dozens of these. You select what you disagree with, then find you can't proceed unless you accept the whole gamut in the first place. Legitimate interest? It's just a legal override.

As far as Facebook goes, with just a couple of exceptions, I have no Facebook friends who are not friends in real life, for whom I do not also have a phone number and/or email or home address or other physical means of communication. So Facebook just becomes a tool for keeping up to date with real friends. I've never filled in the stuff about school, job, favourite films, etc., not even comedically. I have a Facebook filter on my browser which is intended to reduce their snooping. I am wondering, though, if I am going to use it much longer. One thing lockdown has given me is a renewed interest in what I used to do previously in down time alone: read, listen to music, watch good movies, do creative things like paint, write and cook. It's nice to read the stuff my friends post on Facebook - like a slightly zany news magazine edited by people I know - but the sort of desperate need to include validation for everything is not doing anyone's self-esteem any good. 

Social media pose serious social cohesion problems and lack of accountability that democratic governments must now get to grips with urgently. We're losing the ability to communicate and socialise naturally, encouraging narcissism and abuse and being spied on in a way that Orwell never dreamed of. To anyone with some social media account - and that's pretty certainly everyone reading this - please be responsible with the technology and don't give up on real encounters with people now that we gradually move on from this pandemic.

A dip in the archives

This time last year I posted a link to two articles about TGirls in the 1960s in Genoa and Paris. I was looking through them again today and was again struck by how beautiful so many of them were, as art, as fashion, as history, as human life.

Link: Trans lives in the 1960s

Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Continuo ad aggiungere qualche parola in italiano in ogni post che faccio, però vedo dalle statistiche che ci sono pochi visitatori italiani qui. Spero che con l'avvento del green pass potrò avere una vita sociale più dinamica e trovarmi delle amiche trans in Italia.

Sue x


Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Tan lines

In the last few weeks the weather has been hot and fine and I have grown very tanned, more so than ever before. It's a bit of a contrast with the photos of me in July in England in my last post, all cardigan and thick tights!

Despite my previous experiments with full-time living, I'm not living as female right now and, tempting though it is to sunbathe in a bikini, I worry that the paler strap lines that would result would give the game away when having to be in male mode. Only women get those telltale pale strap lines over their shoulders and backs. I so want this hallmark of femininity, though. 


A dip in the archives

What a bizarre Olympic Games. A year late with no spectators! But we have seen the highest number of openly trans participants, which is encouraging. Of course, there have been athletes who came out as trans after the event.

I did enjoy the Games when they came to London in 2012. A lousy wet summer, one of the worst on record, but the number of events that were freely open to the public to watch was excellent.

Paralympic marathon, London 2012. This was one of the most exciting things I've ever seen, a cross between Wacky Races and Ben Hur!

Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Ho fatto la prima puntura. Ho dovuto aspettare fino ad adesso perché sono considerata straniera. Che brutta storia questa del Covid.

Sue x