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 ­čśĆ.

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 caf├ę 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, M├ędecins sans Fronti├Ęres, 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