Thursday, 30 December 2021

Ending 2021 positively

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

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

So that was easy. Bye!

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

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

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

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

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


The Matrix

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

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


April Ashley

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

Pink News tributes here: April Ashley tributes

Guardian obituary here: April Ashley obit

BBC obituary here: April Ashley obit 2 (photos)

Just to feel good...

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


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

Sue x

Monday, 27 December 2021

Christmas support

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Sue x

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Happy holiday wishes

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

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

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

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

Sue x

Monday, 20 December 2021

My tribute to supportive partners

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

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

Comments glitch

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

Christmas weigh-in

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

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

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

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

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

Getting there


Sue x

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Thanks for the recognition

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading and for your support.

A dip in the archives

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

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

A lovely Christmas

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

Sue x

Monday, 13 December 2021

Educating the older ones

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

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

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

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


Not a man

Sue x

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Liberation from stupidity

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

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

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

Who are they and what did they observe?

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

1: the number of stupid people around is always underestimated

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

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

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

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

These laws are reflected in 4 types of person:

- Intelligent people, who benefit both themselves and others

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

- Bandits, who harm others to gain something for themselves

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

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

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


Sue x


Monday, 6 December 2021

Authorities: the good, the bad and the fabulous

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

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

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

Pink News has more warnings here: 4 huge red flags

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

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

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

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

Petra de Sutter


Sue x