Friday, 13 May 2022

French holiday

 I've just come back from my first holiday in over three years. Not en femme but at least wearing my clothes off the women's racks. It wasn't my first androgynous holiday, by any means, but this method of dressing in women's clothes but presenting male keeps me connected with my femininity without causing social problems or making me fret about my skin that is still a little reactive to makeup after the years of severe eczema I suffered.

It went very well; I relaxed but saw a lot of interesting things, too. 

I went to Toulon on the south coast of France. Since it's a working port I expected it would have only a certain amount of interest and I would use it as a base to explore Provence, a region I've never been to before. But it proved to be a fascinating and charming place that kept me well amused for three days.

I stayed at a pretty little hotel overlooking the sea:

 

The main harbourfront is bustling with life and endless bars, cafés and restaurants. Although badly damaged in the war, the old city centre is full of charming quiet little squares with olive trees and fountains:






 

The most impressive thing, though, was the cable car that takes you up the mountain that rises above the city. The view from the top is stunning:


 

Also at the top is a memorial and museum of the battle for the city in 1944.

I enjoyed a boat tour of the harbour. Apart from old forts, mussel and fish farms, and huge ferries to the Mediterranean islands, most of the harbour is a major naval base for warships and submarines, including the Charles de Gaulle, which is Europe's only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Charles de Gaulle on the left, helicopter carrier on the right

I did wonder if it was a good idea to stay in a naval base when the mad Russian government is threatening nuclear war! But I survived.

The city art gallery has some good paintings including this astonishing Cairo dancer by Eugène Giraud that stunned me by the way the painter has captured the sheen and translucence of her gauze blouse:

 


Best of all, though, is the naval museum with its beautiful models of ships. The most impressive have got to be these teaching models from the 18th century that were used for training officers. The one on the right is 1/10 scale and I estimate it's nearly 15 feet from the floor to the top of the mainmast. You could stand on the deck!


Even I who am not into macho stuff can appreciate the detail here, and the painstaking labour that went into making these.

I was glad to get away at last and go abroad if only for a few days. It gives a sense of normality in a world that has been anything but recently. And since it went well I hope to do a few more little trips this summer, in my soft feminine clothes of course.

Sue x


Saturday, 7 May 2022

Amazing clothes haul

 I went a bit mad in a shop yesterday and walked out with 13 items of all sorts: cute T-shirts, jeans, a skirt, shorts, tunic top, and more in a variety of colours and materials. Nothing fancy, just everyday wear. The store just seemed to have a lot I liked the look of or felt I could make regular use of. 

I didn't try any items on in the shop fitting rooms so when I got home I had time and space to try them all, which is always fun.

And do you know, all but one item fitted perfectly, and I mean perfectly. As I've said before, women's clothes are so much nicer than men's and the pair of grey skinny jeans with deep pockets are a dream come true as they work in both male and female modes. 

The only item that didn't fit properly was a black bodysuit which was too small despite being marked as my size and despite containing stretchy lycra. Never mind, I'll slim into it 😏

But 12 out of 13 items fitting perfectly is a first. So I'm very pleased with my haul.

Nothing fancy but all good


What shall I wear today? A daily decision that just got harder. Oh, it's tough being a girl, eh readers?

Sue x


Thursday, 5 May 2022

Encouraging growth

 Yesterday it felt like a proper spring day. I even put sunscreen on. I set up my garden furniture after winter and spent much of the day tidying the plant pots and planting more herbs and veggies. Last year I was delighted with a bumper crop of lettuces that had me munching salad most days, and basil grows in abundance in this region that's famous for its basil pesto sauce for pasta.

This year I still have last year's basil, sage, rosemary, parsley, two kinds of lettuce and rocket all still flourishing and I've planted chilli peppers, thyme, coriander, mint, 4 more types of lettuce, chard and chicory. I'll see if I have success with tomatoes, gherkins, radishes and aubergines/eggplant. Arnold the Olive continues to grow - obviously he's a long term project! 

Mamma, she feed-a you good!

 

I'm not a good gardener, I have to confess, and my two lemon trees didn't survive last year, sadly. But the climate here is helpful in assisting an amateur like me!

All this gardening has arisen after the local paper gave away packets of seeds last year, which proved so popular during lockdown that they've done the same this year. I've added to their freebies with other stuff. But it was a good idea and it made people happy to encourage stuff to grow when the human population was repressed by a pandemic. 

This long preamble introduces my main topic, that many of my TGirlfriends, having been in hibernation for over two years, are now asking if they have the stamina and desire to go out as girls again. As in my last post, I'm not feeling in the mood much either, not even for a photo. The pandemic and its social and psychological effects has deflated our enthusiasm and taken a considerable mental toll. 

It's hard to encourage others when one feels a bit down oneself. I know, though, that this general mood is temporary. We will get out of this residual period of pandemic, this recession, this war situation and all the other grim things happening right now. Maybe next year it will all seem that it was just a bad dream that we once had and it will be as if little had ever changed. 

But as I've said so often, trans is what you are. It's not a mood or something that switches off just because you feel you want it off. The intensity varies and circumstances may make us more cautious about presenting authentically, but we know deep down that we'll be back one day, that purging never works.

I've booked a short trip to France next week. Not very far from home, but it will get me back to the idea of international travel again after so long. I have been chatting to friends over the last few days about their plans to visit Italy and the possibility of meeting up when they do. This will reintroduce face-to-face contact again with all the body language and hugs you can't get on Zoom or social media. And so we relearn to be ourselves again. 

So I've been feeling the effects, too, but I will say that we'll get back to an authentic trans life again eventually. I look forward to that. 

Sue x


Thursday, 28 April 2022

Sometimes one feels a bit ugly

 I have been living pretty much in my authentic gender for a long time. My clothes reflect that, but my face doesn't really tag along. And, even with my hair and makeup done well, I haven't felt like taking any photos recently. Trans girls have a symbiotic relationship with their cameras so something's wrong!

How many women feel ugly or inappropriate at times? Probably all at some point, and many do regularly. So I'm in good company. Even though ugly is subjective, and I've never met a woman who was ugly. I know I'm not really ugly either, although I have challenges.

I've said before that although being trans is lifelong, something you are not something you do, the intensity varies, like the ebb and flow of the tide. I have often found my femininity less intense in the spring, but then I always feel sluggish and in lowered mood after the winter. At present, after two years of pandemic and its isolation, a worrying war going on, heightened transphobia and other troubles, I'm really not feeling like posing for the camera or being seen as markedly female in public. I'm finding it harder to smile and feel authentic right now. I suspect I'm not alone.

The feeling will pass - it always does - and normal existence will resume. I know I like being a girl really.


 

A dip in the archives

By contrast, here's a post from 9 years ago explaining how a potentially bad situation (work redundancy) led to better things, including my emergence into public life as a transwoman. 

Big anniversaries, big evaluations

Let's hope the world's current difficulties lead to a better world soon.

Sue x



Monday, 25 April 2022

Cute bunny in a dress

 The cute bunny of the title is not me (sadly!) but this adorable toy that came in an easter egg. She has a pretty floral dress with a matching bow and I love her!


She is so cute. I wish I'd been allowed toys like this when a child. Don't get me wrong, I was happy enough with toy cars and soldiers and footballs and all the stuff boys are deemed to like, but I also liked playing with dollies, but it was clear that they were not for the likes of me so I had to play with them in secret.

Being a trans girl is not just about the clothes but about all the things and outlook that go with it. I love my cute little bunny and I love the pretty chocolate egg painted with candy flowers that it came in, too.


(In case you're wondering, I had two easter eggs and I saved this one till this weekend so have only just discovered the bunny!)

As a transwoman, I can love not only the nice clothes women can wear but all the prettier, less masculine things too.


The Home Front

Today is a public holiday in Italy as it's Liberation Day, which marks the capitulation of Axis forces in Italy in World War 2. I joined the local commemorations since little feels more important to me at the moment than resisting the sort of xenophobic aggression that has led to so much misery in the past and is still causing misery now in places like Ukraine.

 

Xenophobia is any hatred of outsiders, and so often racism, supremacism and other forms of discrimination go hand in hand with transphobia. There is too much of all this at present.

Sue x

Monday, 18 April 2022

Oh, but the children!

 Given the success of Pride last weekend there was an annoying incident at the offices of the local LGBT group today. A stranger walked in and asked them to remove the rainbow flag that hangs from their window "because children might see it".

They asked him politely to leave and the police confirmed there was no problem. "Just keep flying your flag," they said.

I would hope that children would see it so that any who were questioning their gender or sexuality would know that there was help and community out there and they would have less of a scared, lonely and unresourced youth than my generation. And all children might get to know that LGBT people exist among them.


I'm just a big kid

I always insist on an easter egg even though I'm supposed to be way too old for that sort of frivolity! In fact, this year I have two eggs! I'm saving one, but the other, being a posh egg, did have a pair of silver-plated earrings inside that are pretty little owls. Nice.


Chocolate and shiny things. I'm easily pleased!


A dip in the archives

I was reminded that it was five years ago this week that I joined Gina in London as she was taking a few days' break there. We had a good day out in Greenwich. But I was so busy with work at the time that I wasn't able to write it up till the end of the year! But if you want to read about my encounter with R2D2, tall ships and astronomers, it's in the post here: Greenwich with Gina


 Sue x

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Pride Week conclusion

 A short post to say that overall the first Sanremo Pride Week was deemed a success by the organisers and they plan to hold another next year. I hope this will be a regular event ... until the day such events are no longer deemed necessary. 

As well as the pro-LGBT Countercongress last Tuesday, there was a photographic exhibition in the civic centre over the weekend and a dedicated comedy show in the casino on Saturday evening. Police estimate about 1500 people showed up for the march, which is more than was expected in this relatively small centre.

Another photo released by the organisers
 

The mayor signed the council up to improving LGBT rights in the area, as did other official bodies. There's a way to go here as anywhere else, but when my old country, the United Kingdom, has this very same week agreed to ban conversion therapy for gay people but not for trans people, I know where I am better off. Patria est, ubicumque est bene*.

Here, therefore, is a classic ethical thought experiment for my UK friends ...


Maybe next year I'll feel a bit more confident and glam again and will be more prominent at Pride.

* One's homeland is where one feels right (Cicero, Tusculan Disputations V, 37, 108, quoting a line from Teucer, a play by Pacuvius)

 

Life after Covid

Just for the record, the weekend also saw the revival of the antiques fair, a pro-Ukraine rally and my first breakfast in a café for two years. 

 

Antiques fair

Life feels different now - not what it was before Covid, but it's beginning to approach it.

I don't like Russian dolls - they're just so into themselves!


Sue x


Sunday, 10 April 2022

Pride Week part 2

 Yesterday was Sanremo Pride, the first ever in this area. Sanremo has a population of just over 50,000, so not a large place, but it's lively and is famous for its music festival and for being the City of Flowers since much of the cut flower market is supplied from here. So when estimates of 1000-3000 people turn up for Pride, that's quite a success. So much so that the march was halted part way as all those people wouldn't have fitted into the main square, which was supposed to be the final destination. I suspect the car rally going on and the Palm Sunday preparations (little old ladies wandering about with sacks of palm fronds*) probably made the police feel there was enough chaos going on for one weekend!

My photos are not that great (it's hard to capture crowds from within) but here's one from the start of the event by the old fort.


There are people from all hues of the LGBT spectrum. The organisers posted this last night. (Presumably their photographer is 12 feet tall!)


This photo reminds me of Canal Street in Manchester, UK, during the annual Sparkle trans event.

I tried taking an 'atmospheric' photo of the event from across the harbour but the flags are a bit lost in the distance. Still, it places it in context.


There are no photos of me as I wasn't properly 'me'. I dress androgynously these days but, after some years of health problems, isolation and pandemic chaos, I have lost a lot of confidence, as I said last week when talking of Transgender Day of Visibility. I need to feel less 'ugly', regain some mojo, if you know what I mean. So I felt a bit on the periphery. Still, it was right to go and I'm glad I did.

My way home happened to pass the prize giving for the Sanremo Rally, so here are some photos that have nothing to do with Pride!


As well as trophies, winners (male and female) get a bunch of fresh local cut flowers (which they've placed on the roofs of their vehicles here). Nice to see the car at the front (3rd place) has a female navigator (Giorgia Ascalone) - it's not just a sport for boys. Who says girls can't navigate?


And the prize for the most glamorous TGirl goes to ...
 

All in all, it was a good afternoon.

 

*Palm Sunday - a bit of history

Palm Sunday is important in the area, too, as the palms for the Vatican are grown here. Down the road at Bordighera there is date palm grove, the northenmost naturally seeded stand of them. They grow this far north because of the unusually mild climate. The Vatican gets its palm fronds from here because of an incident in Rome in the sixteenth century.

The obelisk in St Peter's Square, originally from Egypt and then set up in ancient Rome, was placed as the centrepiece of the square in 1586. The occasion was deemed by the pope to be so solemn that he forbade any of the workmen to talk whilst it was hoisted into position, on pain of death. As the lifting progressed, one of the foremen, Benedetto Bresca, a ship's captain from Sanremo, noticed the ropes overheating from friction and cried out "water on the ropes!" He was arrested but the architect acknowledged that it was only his intervention that had saved the obelisk from falling and smashing because the ropes were on the point of burning. So the pope, instead of executing him as threatened, rewarded him with the right to supply palms for Palm Sunday from his local area.

There is a pretty little square in the centre of Sanremo named after him (Piazza Bresca). It's free of traffic and has a fountain in the middle with an obelisk recalling the event.

 

Today, then, the Bishop of Sanremo-Ventimiglia, who is a real homophobe, was thankfully too busy overseeing palm distribution to disturb the Pride event.


A dip in the archives

My last pride event was in London back in 2018, quite a while ago now (thanks Covid!). Here's my write-up of the day, which I went to with a gay friend and another transwoman.

Link: London Pride 2018

 

Sue x



Friday, 8 April 2022

Pride Week part 1

 Fifty years ago this week the International Congress on Sexual Deviancy was arranged in the casino in Sanremo, Italy, where psychiatrists and doctors met to try to make out that LGBT people were freaks. A small but vocal protest by the gay community saw the first clear Out and Proud banners and slogans, and was instrumental in changing attitudes. 

 

Funky 1972

On Tuesday, the same venue hosted a Countercongress celebrating LGBT life and showing how much progress there has been in improving rights since. There's quite a way to go yet but what improvements there have been! 

This event opened this celebratory pride week. Tomorrow an LGBT photographic exhibition will be unveiled in the Sanremo civic centre and there will be a pride parade in town. As far as I know this is the first one in Sanremo, not a large city but certainly a lively one. 

It also happens to be the same weekend as the Sanremo Rally. How pride paraders and racing cars will get round each other, I'm not sure. A gay rally meets a gay rally!

Outside the casino today

More news in part 2 after the weekend's events.

Sue x


Sunday, 3 April 2022

The battle of the hair

 Not the hair on my head, which is a lost cause, but the hair on my body. It's definitely male pattern (in both cases), and this is one thing that does distress me, especially as I feel a lot of my other physical features are feminine.

I got a new trimmer for brows and nose hair the other day as my pretty little BaByliss kit is, sadly, wearing out after some years of good service. For legs and body I am currently using a razor, which is fine but needs constant reuse, ideally every day. Epilation lasts longer, I know, but my epilator is currently in storage. Waxing is best of all for smoothness and a look that lasts 2-3 weeks. 

Many people have said that body hair weakens over time the more you remove it. Although I have noted that the pain from waxing and epilating reduces the more one does it, I have never really noticed any reduction in growth, thickness, coverage or strength of hair in all these years. Am I just unlucky? This winter, I didn't take much care over my unloved hairs with the result that my brows looked like the processionary moth caterpillars that are a curse in these regions at this time of year. This despite 20 years of threading, plucking, waxing, trimming and any number of other applications.

Does Madame need a trim?

 

As I said, it distresses me. Nothing screams "man in a dress" more than unsuitable hair. 


The Home Front

I was upset to hear of Judis Andersen from Ukraine who, despite having F on her passport under Ukraine's gender recognition laws (available since 2017), was detained by the authorities who require every man under 60 to remain to fight. Judis is not a man; she even has the right documents to prove it. This has happened to other transwomen, it seems, and she claims it is simply the transphobic attitude of border guards rather than any actual legal problem.

Some transwomen might wish to stay and fight but Judis does not and as she is legally female she should be entitled to leave if she wishes. 

 

Maybe one shouldn't grumble too much about how Ukraine is conducting its war given the violent inhumanity of the enemy it faces. But I hope Judis will be recognised as exempt shortly.

Ukrainian Angel. This photo is so sweet, even in such upsetting circumstances. I wish I knew who to credit for it.


Sue x


Thursday, 31 March 2022

Visible

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility.

It is also the last day of the State of Emergency that was declared two years ago when Covid first erupted in Italy.

So here's me visibly en femme in my new location for the first time and wearing my mask out for the last time.
 


I confess that it's often hard to perform to order and I am still nervous of living visibly as a woman in my new location so I am usually somewhat androgynous. Today, though, I felt so ugly that I have deleted all the unmasked selfies. So I remained close to home rather than hitting the bright lights of the town centre, but it's a start. Maybe I should go out again at midnight to post a letter. That's another trans tradition, after all 😏.

Trans people exist and always have, we are real, we are visible. 

But let's hope Covid dies off. We can do without further pandemics.


A dip in the archives

My post about TDOV 3 years ago had many much better photos of me and my friends visible in public so here's a link to it:

Transgender Day of Visibility 2019

 


Sue x

Monday, 28 March 2022

Harry Potter and the Bully as Victim

 So everyone's favourite dictator is moaning that the world is being unfair to his culture that only wants what's best, right and fair. Russia doesn't deserve to be bullied by an expansionist West, just like poor JK Rowling whose adherence to the noble and just cause of transphobia leads her to face the opprobrium of so many. Poor Vladimir, poor Joanne, both oppressed by nasty 'cancel culture'.

I could write an essay but ... just gimme a break here, will you?

You can always tell the bully. Deep down they are not the confident persona they throw around but empty souls terrified of being discovered to be mediocrities living in a false reality of their own devising. The bizarre and depressingly childish lies of the Putin regime about Ukraine, democracy, NATO and all the rest of it make you wonder about the sort of people we regard as leaders. I have just read Mary Trump's biography of her uncle Donald, and it's the same thing, an utterly false narrative that drives the life of that fraud. I should know: my aggressive, supremacist father is the same.

Probably the world's best known transphobe, J K Rowling, has her narrative. Beaten by her husband and near destitute, it goes, she wrote Harry Potter in a café and it just happened to be a success. But I know authors - I have several published books myself - and it is almost impossible to earn a living from being creative. Yet she is nearly a billionaire. No writer has ever achieved this - Walter Scott and Charles Dickens, equally bestselling in their day, struggled with money. 

That's because, first and foremost, Rowling is a canny businesswoman who, despite the ferocious narcissism and moneyspinning of Hollywood, has managed to keep a firm proprietorial hand on her creation. That is not a skill normally associated with creative types as their introverted visions are not consistent with the need to market themselves. Aggressive artists have limited qualities as artists but are good at selling themselves; really skilful and genuine creatives usually fail to be known widely by virtue of that very soul-searching that makes their artistry great but leaves them with little social boldness. So much of what we see in art galleries, read on bookshelves, watch on TV, is not the best of creativity but art that has been marketed successfully. What is pop music if not music that's popular by direct reference to its position in the market in any given week, rather than music that may actually be any good? Rowling is extraordinary in combining a knack for writing books that kids want to read with promoting her very firmly controlled business that derives from them.

So her success has made her an establishment figure, a rich and famous person who is known for supporting charities, especially women's charities, and who is also known for taking on political bullies (her tweets against Trump were among the best). And yet she insists on the false narrative that male-to-female trans people are dangerous, which I have previously referred to as a racket. In so doing, she now has the support of other transphobes in churches, the ones who were only too glad in the early days to condemn her books as encouraging witchcraft and unchristian beliefs. Phobia and bullying never require consistency, merely the opportunity to find a victim and damage them, all the while claiming that the victim they have picked represents a danger to them and that they are only defending themselves. 

So Ukraine is Nazi (ah yes, the country whose president lost his uncles in the Nazi Holocaust), NATO is aggressive (it's defensive), the Russian president is elected by the Russian people (since the opposition are killed or in jail), and so on. Similarly, MtF trans people are a danger to women (MtF trans people want nothing more than to be treated as women), trans people have suddenly emerged (trans people have always existed), there is a subversive trans agenda (no agenda, nature creates us), etc.

The bully as victim: the age-old story of the delusional aggressor trying to justify their hate by accusing their target of the very aggression that the bully is perpetrating. I am so sick of it. Having largely failed in discriminating against ethnic minorities, having largely failed in bashing gays, the phobics are turning to ever smaller minorities to try to crush someone, anyone. It happens to be trans people at the moment. If we stand firm they'll eventually move on to some other group, some other bunch of harmless folks, no doubt. 

But at least Putin publicly associating himself with Rowling finally does more to discredit her transphobia than anything else, despite her robust and just response to his linking her with his mania. An own-goal for bullies and transphobes, I'd say.

(This meme is doing the rounds and I am unable to credit the creator)
 

Sue x


Friday, 25 March 2022

Things are moving

 My last post noted a sudden shift in how things appear to be opening up after two years of Covid, with a Sunday full of activities. Not to be outdone, the rest of the week has proved to be dynamic, too.

On Monday I went for a long walk along the coast. It had been very windy for 10 days or so but that created dramatic whitecaps, spray bursting on the rocks and a deep turquoise colour in the sea that my camera doesn't do justice to.


On Tuesday I did another long walk, and also managed to get a new smartphone and contract that offers a decent amount of international use as my old one was becoming unusable.

Wednesday, though, was the big day as I tested the new reopened border with France and took the train to Nice. Nobody looked at my documents at all, in fact, neither my ID card that acts as a passport to other Schengen area countries, nor the Green Pass that is my Covid all-clear, so I now assume that life can normalise more and I can visit my nearest big city regularly again for shopping. The fact that my nearest big city is in a different country made it impossible to visit for much of the Covid era, and even when the border was open it was very difficult to do so. I didn't stay long in Nice, just a few hours to pop into some shops and have a bite to eat, but the main thing was to prove that travelling there is now easy to do again. Let's hope it stays that way.

After four days of marching and walking and travelling I was dog tired! What with having a badly damaged leg from late 2018 for over a year to being stuck in one place for two years because of Covid, I am not used to this sort of exercise! Still, I hope it helps get me in trim along with the dieting.

The weather has suddenly warmed up, too, and last night I was able to sit outdoors in the mild air in just a dress and sheer tights, rather than coat and thick jeans or leather trousers as has been the case for some weeks. Spring is on the way. We've had just two days of rain in three months so the chorus of frogs I enjoy at night here in early spring has been absent so far as there's no water. Let's hope the weather balances out, too.

Have a good weekend.


A dip in the archives

Here's a post from March 2013 about how I was enjoying my trans life in London. It was a different era! So much fun.


Link: Glad the fun is getting more local

Sue x

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Crowds allowed

 As if to defy my last post - which is welcome - this weekend had a lot  going on, almost as if life was normal. Having to wear a facemask indoors and in crowds and to show your Green Pass vaccination certificate when eating out is still pandemic-minded but the fact that this weekend you were allowed to attend big public events without other restrictions is a welcome step.

Yesterday, the international cycling season opened with the annual Milan to Sanremo cycle race, the Classicissima, the longest race in the calendar at around 300 km (185 miles) and unlike the past two years the public was allowed to stand along the route.

I didn't go to see it, cycling not really being my thing, but today I went into town where there were various events. I have been quite troubled by this Ukrainian war, as you'll have gathered from previous posts, so I joined the peace rally and felt comforted to be with others who feel the same.

 

Note to self: to get best photos of a crowd, it's best to be outside the crowd!

There was also the Book & Bike Fair in the main square and I love a good browse. 

 

A local author persuaded me to buy her novel about a woman who, according to the blurb, feels there's something missing in life. A postcard from a mountain village where she felt truly happy convinces here to return there and live a more authentic life. Hmm, a woman leading a more authentic life... Now why did that appeal, I wonder? I'll let you know what I think when I've read it.

There was also a band playing and it was good to hear live music in the open again. Pity they had the bus station as a backdrop but I guess these guys and gals are into sounds not sights.


I also treated myself to Sunday lunch in a cosy family-run restaurant which was quite full, a sign of the economy picking up. I love eating out (as regular readers will know only too well), and it's not just because someone else does the cooking and washing up! Frankly, I've been getting a bit bored with my own cooking these last two years!

Though sunny, it was a windy day but ideal for kitesurfing! 


(That's not me, by the way!)

So it's been a weekend that was, well, relatively exciting, at least as far as the Covid Era goes. It's a good sign of people rallying together and getting back to normal weekend activities. Fingers crossed.


A dip in the archives

I've been a bit neglectful of my dip in the archives that was a regular feature last year, but other things have been on my mind of late! But the subject of restaurants leads me to this apt post from March 2014 when I spent two days eating out with the girls in London. What fun times. And lots of photos of happy TGirls at table!

Link: Two days of what I do best 

Sue x



Thursday, 17 March 2022

Awaiting normality (as soon as we work out what that is)

 I have a lot of unfinished things to do that need me to travel abroad but it's hard to know whether to start planning anything. Despite (or because of) the steady reduction in restrictions regarding Covid, the number of cases is soaring. The Russian offensive in Ukraine seems stalled, but it could erupt into something fiercer, and the stream of refugees keeps coming. We have many displaced families in my area now. I need a new passport but I've no idea how long it will take as the backlog of Covid-delayed applications will take time for the ministry to get through.

One of my sisters is getting married in a few weeks but I really have no idea if I'll be able to attend the wedding. Best to assume nothing as speculation only causes stress. I need to collect my belongings in a deposit in London, including two dozen crates of clothes, and I still have an open insurance claim in respect of the flooding there in August 2020! Again, I've no idea when I'll be able to get there to sort it all out. 

There's the possibility of a friend visiting me in a few weeks' time, which would be wonderful but is not guaranteed. And maybe I'll try crossing the border into France for a day out there soon, just to see if the Covid travel arrangements work as they should. I shouldn't need a passport for that, just my European ID card and Green Pass. Some chic fashion for my wardrobe maybe? But again, I don't know if things will change in a few days to make that impossible.

There has never been this degree of chaos in our lives before. Maybe we have been uniquely lucky in history, more likely we have worked hard at making the world a healthier and more peaceful place and this is just a blip. 

So I am simply waiting for things to return to normal. Not a 'new normal', just normal. Rather than battling this fate that's befallen us and getting stressed, I am just sitting it all out.


The Home Front

As mentioned, we have young families arriving from Ukraine, mothers and children mainly, usually staying with Italian relatives or with Ukrainians already resident here, but some with no connections who are being taken in by foster families but all within the same close area so the Ukrainians are not too dispersed, and this is a good policy. The welcome that Ukrainian children have been getting at Italian schools has been really heartwarming. See this video just as an example.


Italians are very welcoming even though their authorities are not. Refugees from civil wars in Libya and Syria land exhausted after days at sea and are taken in by families despite some politicians wishing to turn them away. I see much humanity here.

Last week I wrote about Raimonda the Ray, a cuddly toy I bought myself. She was the one I kept, in fact, as I've been getting toys for the refugee effort here as these afford comfort to kids in the trauma of displacement. A furry friend you can hold is always loving in a hostile world. 

Stay safe and try not to get stressed. In most ways, this is out of our hands. As far as war reporting goes, try to listen to more reputable news sources like CNN who at least interview people with genuine expertise. Proper strategy think tanks such as Harvard's Kennedy School, the US Centre for Naval Analyses, the Rand Corporation, etc. are cautious and therefore competent in analysing the situation, rather than gossipy journalists. The ORYX blog has a balance of losses that have been verified rather than the propaganda from either side. 

I feel at this point that wider war is unlikely now, which is good. 



Sue x


Friday, 11 March 2022

Fluffy things

 I had a lovely sprig of mimosa for International Women's Day earlier this week, which is the traditional gift where I live. It's cheerful yellow fluffballs were so pretty and a nice feminine tonic in the midst of the macho warmongering of the week.


As I've said before, being trans, being a woman, is not just about the clothes. It's everything. I like nail varnish and chick lit and cute things. I am not quite so worried as I was a fortnight ago about this war as there is a sudden sense of purpose in the rest of the world and suitable action being taken, but I know that the next few weeks and months are going to be horrific to hear about. Confirmation bias is largely contributing to this Western sense that the Ukrainians are the plucky underdog who will defeat the bully based on their early successes, but those of us who've worked in international affairs know that the Russian war machine has always been incompetent, yes, but also big and brutal. 

So I bought a soft toy, just something to look friendly and for cuddling if need be. OK, so Raimonda the Ray here also matches the cushions (that's not coincidence!) but she's for comfort, too.

 

I wonder if, like Morgan Freeman seeing Black History Month as ridiculous, I don't perhaps see International Women's Day as a sop to women from the men who actually run the world. Look at this body language from everyone's favourite tyrant last week. Putin keeping aloof from his generals and advisors, like a Renaissance prince, but sitting within cuddling distance of pretty air hostesses. 

 



This is macho culture writ large and I hate it. We know what a world run by men is like: horrible. It's not the body or the clothes that really make a woman but outlook and attitudes and behaviours. 

And Raimonda thinks so, too.

Sue x



Monday, 7 March 2022

Superficial yet supportive

 I notice a lot of other trans bloggers are keeping it light at the moment and some (e.g. Hannah, Stana) are putting such questions as what little things make you feel good about yourself as a trans person.

For me it is often the last little touches:-

- I love a squirt of a nice perfume so that the air about me is feminine too, like an aura.

- The most feminine garment is always (for me) a bra, like an embrace.

- I love to have painted nails. Today my fingers have clear varnish and I am about to paint my toenails a warm red. 

- The best moment of the day can be putting on a soft nightie and letting the day's cares fade out of your mind as you go to bed.

Follow the links above (grey text) for more detail.


 

The home front

A few more thoughts about the war, but not so heavy as before. By all means skip if the contrast with the above seems too great.

I am slightly less worried than I was ten days ago. The world has pulled together in ways I would never have imagined. 

Locally, Italian financial police have been impounding the assets of Russian oligarchs. Yesterday I took a stroll to the harbour at Sanremo to photograph the Lena, a luxury yacht belonging to Putin's friend Gennady Timchenko, which has been seized.

How the other half live, eh? Registered in the British Virgin Islands, one of the many tax havens governed by Britain. Could that explain Britain's slower than average escalation of sanctions? Oh, cynical me!

We will all be taking a hit financially but I do feel that communities are cohering in a common and just cause. Helping neighbours struggling with rising costs, or asking for help if we ourselves are feeling the pinch, is an important strategy. For instance, arranging a car pool for taking kids to school or people to work; or taking public transport instead. Or turning down the heating to save costly energy and wearing more socks instead. My winter tights collection is a godsend (hurrah for being trans!). After all, we are supposed to be combating global warming, too! This week does remind me of the inflation and energy stresses of the 1970s, but I don't think this situation will last as long. Freedom has some costs, and now is one of those payment times. It wish it wasn't, I wish things hadn't happened this way, but Putin's violent world is not one I wish to live in, so I am prepared to bear difficulties.

Sue x


Friday, 4 March 2022

An apology to readers

 I am very much aware that my posts have become angrier of late and I am sorry about that. The days of bubbling contentment when I started this blog seem very distant, I know. But these last five years have seen  much pressure on me personally, and also on the trans community from bigots and bullies in all forms, from religious fanatics to exclusionary feminists, our small group singled out following the rise corrupt, populist politicians, so many of whom have been funded and supported in one way and another by Putin, who epitomises the sickness of the brutish, domineering, exploitative masculinity that lies behind so much of the world's ills.

I feel so small fighting all this harm. I get frustrated and upset and angry. It shows. I'm sorry.

This week at least I feel something can be done, that the tide might be turning with the chain of events there has been. The world has united against Putin in spectacular fashion and the rottenness of his way of influencing the world is being dealt with remarkably fast, in my view. With so much to depress me before, I now feel galvanised into action. Here's how.

When I was three weeks old I became a refugee. When the situation is clearer I will be offering my spare room. I hope it will never be necessary but I am here if needed. There is a refugee centre near here but it is currently full of Afghans who have had to flee another repressive regime.

The Ukrainian community here has been quick to respond with minibusloads of essentials headed towards Eastern Europe. Locals are contributing basic foodstuffs, over-the-counter medicines, sleeping bags, blankets, etc. Things you may not have thought of include hand cream (for soldiers who can't use weapons with gloves but whose hands get chapped in the freezing conditions), soft toys for children, and, since Covid is ongoing, facemasks, handgel and single-use gloves.

I was brought up in the Cold War and Putin's rhetoric has taken me right back to the tensions of the '80s. I have therefore been educating my nephews on how nuclear standoff works so as to reduce any worries they may have. 

I have shares in a company that invested in Siberia. I was about to contact them to ask them to pull out but they are ahead of me.

There have been pro-Ukraine demonstrations even in the town where I live and Russian residents have spoken out against Putin's actions. The Russian orthodox church, a pretty building and a bit of a local landmark, seems to have switched allegiance to Ukraine. There will likely be another demo this weekend.

The Red Cross has bigger infrastructure than my local initiative so my contribution to them may be more effective. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also seeks donations. The same for other charities and organisations on the ground such as Save the Children, Médecins sans Frontières, etc. who all have specific Ukraine funds (not forgetting the many other wretched places on earth). Do make sure that any initiatives and charities you help are genuine - fraudsters take advantage of situations like this.

I think it imperative, as a Westerner and as a human being, to defeat Putin. But above all I think so as a trans person. A world run along his autocratic, violent lines is not one I will be able to live in. We have seen Putin's friend Trump take a repressive stance against trans people in the USA. The dim, dark corners of Putin's empire have seen LGBT people tortured. Even without that, there are no LGBT rights worth speaking of in Russia and its satellites. 

So I'm sorry I am angry these days. But maybe you can understand why. I'm trying to channel it in a way that might make a difference.


 

Sue x