Sunday, 30 October 2022

Still summer

 It's been a beautiful autumn with warm, sunny weather. People are on the beach, you can eat outdoors and I've been wearing cute little tops, girly shorts and summer shoes. It's bliss.

Now, this isn't good from the point of view of climate change as it should be cooler, and the drought has doubled the price of things like rice. However, it means we don't have to use so much pricey gas and electricity right now, and summer weather keeps Covid at bay. So I'm enjoying the moment, especially as it's a long public holiday weekend. 

Last year I went to Ventimiglia and enjoyed seeing the old medieval city on its hill. This year I went there again to see the Roman remains  (Albintimilium, as it was called), including an open-air theatre that's still in use for shows and concerts.


Those Romans, what have they ever done for us, eh?

The archaeological museum in an old fort has stunning views up and down the coast. 

This is looking towards France in the background. The frontier is behind the first headland and that pale blob on the second headland is Monaco.

The best thing in the museum was Roman glassware, including some very pretty scent bottles, all hand-blown in shades of blue. 

(c) Sanremo News

Pretty perfume bottles get me every time! They're so delicate, too. I can just see a beautiful Roman lady sitting at her dressing table, her maid doing her hair as she dabs on some delicious sweet-smelling perfume from her dainty bottle.

(I borrowed this photo, which doesn't do them proper justice, but my photos were worse.)

PS Slave wanted. Must be able to do hair and makeup. Apply below.

I've enjoyed plenty of time out in the sun at home and elsewhere. This palm-lined promenade is my favourite place these days. (The fact that there happens to be a restaurant just here that won a place among the 50 Top Pizza Restaurants in Italy has nothing to do with it!)

There have been quite a lot of events this week, including a music festival, fireworks over the sea and a sailing regatta that floated past home. 

Despite everything going on in the world, fine warm weather always cheers me up. It's one reason why I moved to the Mediterranean.


A dip in the archives

I'll end this month with a look back at my blog's most popular post, all about the TGirl Bar in October 2013. Of course it's a popular post: who can resist all those gorgeous trans barmaids and burlesque dancers?

TGirl Bar, London 2013 


Sue x

Thursday, 27 October 2022

Cackle cackle

 So here I sit, rubbing my hands in their tatty fingerless gloves, my cat hissing by the bubbling cauldron, and all the while cackling as my evil plan to transgenderify innocent youth takes shape. Another sweet-faced youngster appears in my crystal ball, his trusting eyes and placid demeanour signalling like a beacon that here is one who will be easy to corrupt, and, with a bound, I am on my broomstick and away to transform him into a girl ... hee hee hee! ha ha ha! cackle cackle - up away into the night where bats flap and owls hoot their complicit glee. And, as midnight chimes a new transgender emerges (...and scurries in high heels to the postbox and back!)

Well, as transphobes would have it, that's what I and all my trans friends do all the time. Because, you know, it's so easy to turn someone trans, you just pressurise them into it and then they're caught in a deliberately set trap of confusion and lies. Oh how wicked the transgender agenda is! 

Being wicked is fun! (Where's my pointy hat gone, though?)


But seriously, folks! Gimme a break! This age-old need for nasty people to find a target for their malice has now latched onto the trans community. It won't last and the public is actually more focused on rather more pressing matters, like how to pay the bills, and not get nuked. 

I guess the idea of witches is on my mind as we approach Halloween. There's a village not so far from where I live called Triora (pop. 369) where 'witches' were put on trial in the 1580s accused of having caused a famine. The priest asked his parishioners to denounce any wicked witches who might be bringing down the famine and eventually thirty women (and just one male, a boy) were imprisoned in local barns and cellars. An increasingly farcical series of trials with ever more senior magistrates ensued, especially as women of higher social status started to be implicated, resulting in the women - at least the ones who hadn't died of torture or suicide - being eventually taken to the capital, Genoa, where their fate is uncertain but it's more likely than not that they were quietly released, the local lynch-mob hysteria not being compatible with the rather better managed legal system of the capital and the more enlightened ideas of the High Renaissance. Modern scholarship suggests the food scarcity that brought about the accusations was probably caused by mismanagement of harvests and general meanness on the part of local landowners. Nevertheless, the witch trials have given this village a reputation rather like that which Salem, Massachusetts, got a century later. Triora is gearing up for its annual witch spectacular this weekend. Maybe I should go along and transform a few kids into transgender youth. Hey, it's the modern legend.

Triora today

If you are having some party time this Halloweentide, have fun. You're even allowed to crossdress and nobody minds. See, that's the wicked witches at work again!

Sue x

Monday, 24 October 2022

Queers in space

 If you remember the Muppet Show you may also recall a regular feature boomingly announced as PI-I-I-GS IN SPA-A-A-CE!!! In which various muppet pigs have adventures in space. This post, Queers in Space, is more sane (!) as I'm revisiting last weeks' post about pizza, apes and aliens since Susie very helpfully pointed out a blog that lists many science fiction (and fantasy) books that involve gender flexibility and other LGBT scenarios. Thanks to Mary Anne Mohanraj for compiling this list: 

Alternative Sexualities and Identities in Fantasy and SF Booklist

The reason for my recently getting back into sci-fi was mainly that the dystopian present is bugging me a lot. The twisted realities of Philip K Dick's novels seem especially apt!

As a kid there was a lot of sci-fi on TV and in libraries, especially for kids: Star Trek, Star Wars, Space 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Thunderbirds, Logan's Run, UFO, Doctor Who, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space... even James Bond went into space (1979's Moonraker - the most far-fetched Bond film of all time). But with the Cold War and its Space Race in full swing - Apollo, Salyut, Skylab, Space Shuttles ... - space stuff was everywhere, in reality and in the mind. But I notice from the above list that LGBT themes in science fiction seem to be an innovation that really got going from the '80s. Princess Leia kissing her brother is about as weird as it got before then. (Actually, that was very weird, Mr Lucas!) The Rocky Horror Picture Show was not for kids so I missed out on that blend of campy horror and sci-fi - I think it would have made a difference to my life if I had seen it then). And it was only years later that we were told that Lambert from Alien was transgender or intersex (there seems to be some confusion as to which). A 21st-century afterthought, maybe? 


I then got a bit bored with the sci-fi genre - maybe there was too much of it - so I'm catching up now. Arrested development or something.

Incidentally, Philip K Dick isn't mentioned in Mohanraj's list, but in his well-known novel Ubik, the men wear clothes that would be deemed women's clothes now. Dick doesn't seem to go anywhere with this concept, it's just one in the mix of themes he happens to have chucked into this book, as he did with most of his books.

So thank you to Susie Jay for alerting me to this trend in recent SF. 

And if you've never seen Pigs in Space, here's an episode (not really for kids!) containing the following classic exchange:

    Miss Piggy: Are you a boy or a girl?

    Alien Baby: Er, I'm flexible

Blogger and Wordpress comments: the solution?

Many thanks also to Lynn, who migrated to Planet Wordpress a few years ago, for her helpful comment on my last post where I pointed out that many readers still find it hard to comment on either platform. I think it's easiest if I quote her reply in full:

As to comments on Blogger and WordPress, I think it may be linked to a web browser's security settings. In the summer, Google released a change to their Chrome browser that blocked something called third party cookies. The aim was to improve privacy (although Google are also working on a different ad system).

Chrome is also available as something called 'Chromium': a browser that didn't have full Google integration and it's for computers and smartphones. Chromium is used by a number of web browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, Dolphin, etc. Firefox is not part of this, BTW.

With the default settings blocking third party cookies, this seems to break the AntiSpam systems in Blogger and WordPress.

Readers may need to rummage in their web browser settings and enable third party cookies again. Yes, this'll reduce your privacy, but it should fix the comment issue.

For privacy minded folk, Firefox, the ublock plug-in (Chrome, Edge, and Firefox), and PrivacyBadger may help.

I think Firefox note has 'containers' that you can use to limit certain websites from accessing other web browsing history. Particularly useful for limiting Google, Facebook, and Amazon from collecting data about you.

Many thanks, Lynn. I do seem to recall fiddling with the cookies setting, though this may need to be done for every site. I hope this may help folks who are struggling to comment.

Sue x

Friday, 21 October 2022

Leggy distractions

 The advertising for autumn and winter fashion is in full swing. This is lethal ...and don't the ad agencies just know it! Frankly, the ads for dishwasher detergent, cars and home broadband leave me indifferent, but flash up an image of some chic ankle boots or pink perfume in a lush bottle and I start to pay attention. And then there are leggy models sporting this season's party tights and this is just too distracting! Calzedonia are the worst: their mix of modernity and chic gets me every time. 

I can't yet spot this year's campaign in a permanent online format yet but here's last year's. 

My legs are short and my skin is imperfect therefore my hosiery is important to me to make me look good. Although I appreciate the quality of great brands like Calzedonia and Wolford, it is not, in my experience, worth spending three times as much on posh tights as they are barely more robust than cheaper brands. You can get good, stronger, well-made items for mid-price in ranges like Gypsy and Jonathan Aston. Below I'm wearing black lace tights from quality French firm Le Bourget that I treated myself to and finally managed to find a special night out to wear them on... yet Jonathan Aston did similar items in their Sweet Roses range for half the price, which are less rigid and more stretchy than the brand I wore.

I have bought sheer tights from Calzedonia and, just like sheers from other upmarket brands like Wolford and Tabio, it takes very little to put a hole in them. The quality, greater comfort and smarter style is something that one really has to pay for, and I'm still not sure it's worth it. So the Calzedonia ads have my gender dysphoria ramping up but I feel, from experience, that they're best left for party time only. At least, that's my take on them.

Blogger and Wordpress comments

Several readers have been in touch over the last few weeks to say that Blogger still won't let them comment, and there are similar problems with Wordpress. I still have some problems myself commenting on other blogs and at best I can comment only anonymously. I'm not technically minded enough to work out what's going on and it took me enough time to work out how to comment again on my own blog after Google made various changes. Sorry about that. As before, answers welcome. But I do appreciate your reading these posts and your emails.

[Add 23/10/22: See Lynn's comment below which may offer an explanation and a solution to this.]

Sue x

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Pizza, apes and aliens

 Pretty much since starting this blog I have been trying to get my weight down. But recent visits by two friends and all the eating out that that entailed has made me balloon again. They both loved the authentic pizzas to be had round here but there is probably no food known to man that is more fattening. Now that I am in control of my meals again I have managed to get back on track but it's amazing just how much weight you can put on with just a few days of overindulgence! I have to admit, it was good, though!

I still want to get into those little black dresses I used to be able to wear. So the battle of the bulge continues.

Ape gender

I have felt for a very long time that being transgender is an inherent part of certain people's biological makeup. No matter what I or most of my trans friends have ever done to try to stamp out this tendency so as to conform better with modern Western society has ever worked. My body developed predominantly masculine traits, but my gender identity has always been feminine. But a hunch is not the same as certainty so I try to find evidence to support this feeling.

I am reading Frans de Waal's brand new book Different: Gender through the Eyes of a Primatologist. De Waal is a leading biologist who popularised the name bonobo as an alternative to pygmy chimpanzee for that species closely related to ours that, unlike the patriarchal and rather violent world of the chimpanzee, has a matriarchal society that tends to reduce conflict and increase social cohesion by maternal care and free sex throughout life. This has led male-dominated academic institutions and religious leaders to froth at the mouth since bonobo life flies in the face of centuries of belief that males are dominant in animal societies and (therefore by natural right) in human ones. This book is specifically about gender and I may comment more fully when I have finished it but what I have read so far seems encouraging. It joins an increasing number of recent publications by biologists that suggest that gender identity develops separately from one's biological sex. Whilst many trans people might say "well, yeah" at that, it's important to have evidence to support such notions, hence the worth of modern scientific methods in drawing conclusions from real-life observations of how living things actually work, rather than how we'd like them to be. 

Are there primates other than man who can be trans? De Waal seems to have evidence to support the idea.

I've just noticed that Crossdreamers has been reading the book as well and that blog provides some interesting quotes from it.


Sex and gender on other worlds

As recommended by Lynn, I am also reading Iain M Banks' 1989 science fiction novel The Player of Games in which changing biological sex is an aspect of life in the Culture. And three sexes, including a dominant cross-sex, is the feature of the Empire the protagonist ends up in. This notion of additional sexes is not new in science fiction. Just for example, in Ursula Le Guin's 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, the inhabitants of Gethen are ambisexual, taking masculine or feminine roles as required. In Isaac Azimov's 1972 novel The Gods Themselves, a species with three sexes has a significant role in the plot. 

The advantage of science or fantasy fiction is that human society, assumptions and outlook can be challenged, in gender as well as in anything else, by describing worlds that operate in different ways. The current restriction on what gender roles may and may not do or be in contemporary society is still largely dictated by the Abrahamic religions; as you head further from the West and the Near and Middle East where these religions dominate, there seems to be a greater acknowledgment of the realities of transgender life. I have been reading science fiction a lot in the last four or five years as it seems to provide a way of expanding outlook in the wake of increasingly restricted views of society perpetrated by a lot of the populist leaders who seem to be cropping up in our world at present.

Sue x

Saturday, 15 October 2022

Wine, womenswear and wacky races

 It's autumn and the fountains are flowing with wine ... well, something has been put in them to celebrate the wine harvest. 

The mushroom season is at its height and if you eat out, mushrooms come with everything! I love mushrooms and these beauties are for my dinner tonight.

I'll be making a rabbit stew, with local olives and pine nuts as well.

And there are more car rallies this weekend with classic vehicles zooming around everywhere. 


Today's race went past my house so I got a free grandstand view!

I bought some warm casual items for wearing as the nights draw in and the days get cooler: leggings, fleece and puffer jacket. Because of the gas crisis, we aren't allowed to turn the central heating on till November 22nd, by government decree. I am a cold mortal and although I find the climate here on the riviera the best tonic for my health, which is why I moved here, I usually want to turn the heating on by early November. Fortunately, my last but one visitor, Roz, brought me some tights from Britain. They do, of course, sell tights here in Italy but continental tights have sizing that even a petite girl like me finds small and tight, so I prefer to stick to the sizing systems I know. So I hope to stave off the shivers in this way. For now, though, the weather is lovely.


A dip in the archives

Last year I had time to write regular articles on trans history, but as life has returned after Covid I've been more active away from the computer, hence shorter posts. But today I read an article about Archduke Ludwig Viktor (1842-1919), brother of Austrian Emperor Franz-Joseph and Mexican Emperor Maximilian. 


In this photo, Ludwig Viktor is on the far right with his brothers Karl Ludwig (far left), Franz Joseph (seated) and Maximilian. The middle two sat on important thrones, leaving young Franz Viktor little to do but ogle officers on parade and visit bathhouses.

He also seems to have enjoyed dressing as a woman (and what dresses they had in those days!), either in plays as here

or on other occasions


Whether he was really trans is a question that is unlikely to be answered but I mention him here as being another high-ranking personage who was undoubtedly within the LGBTQ spectrum. I also mention people from the past to show the transphobes that being trans or presenting as another gender has been a thing for as long as humanity has existed and that it cuts through all social tiers and nations.

Sue x

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

A gift of photos

 A friend was clearing her photo archives and sent me nearly 60 pics of me and my friends, which I'm very grateful for. Some I had totally forgotten about so it was a pleasant treat to look through them. Here are some of my favourite forgotten solo ones from this batch.

Say hi.

They name streets after celebrities.

Piccadilly Circus, London, 2013.

Sparkle, Manchester, UK, 2015.

Many thanks to KD who kindly sent me these.

KD and Sue

Sue x

Monday, 10 October 2022

The bullying bishop

 I live in a fairly cosmopolitan part of the world and over the centuries many foreigners have settled here, from wounded crusaders to holidaying emperors, and whole national communities too: British, Russian, French, you name it. Prior to Covid there was still a weekly train all the way to Moscow! There are lots of places of worship for each community: a pretty Russian orthodox church (that is firmly pro-Ukraine at present), an Anglican church, a Romanian church, a synagogue, a mosque, etc. But this being Italy the dominant religion here is Roman Catholicism and the local bishop is a super transphobe (despite his regular appearances in an ankle-length frock, matching bolero and lacy sleeves). 

There's more than a little controversy resulting from his fairly clear admonitions to his flock to vote for the extreme right, and his expressed delight at its success in the recent election. More than a few of his flock have written open letters about that. I commented last year on his condemnation of the national song contest as being too camp and this year he instituted a religious song festival to contrast it. I'm not sure that garnered quite the same following! Everyone loves a bit of camp, really.

At the same time a parish priest in a different diocese down the road has been suspended for blessing gay unions and feeling that dialogue needs to be opened on issues like LGBT rights, assisted suicide, abortion and so on. He had 500 parishioners and supporters turn out yesterday to ask his bishop to reverse the suspension and this has made the national headlines.

Given that only one third of Italians turn up to church at all these days, and in the rest of Europe it's less, I feel its time that churches turned to rather more significant issues than trans and gay bashing. There's a serious cost of living crisis now, as well as rises in unemployment and bankruptcy, with war and pandemic ongoing and a massive refugee influx. Maybe churches could deal with some issues in their own back yards, too: in France a recent investigation into the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy has uncovered abuse so extensive, even in a country where the church has little influence after three centuries of decline, that that church has decided to sell property to compensate the victims. Were the same sort of investigation to be held in Spain or Italy, where the Catholic church is stronger, it is believed that what would be uncovered would be truly scandalous.

Of course, trans bashing makes a diversion from all this. I note how clergymen have recently been all too happy to snuggle into a political bed with trans-excluding feminists who have until now been among churches' most vocal critics. The old adage that my enemy's enemy is my friend seems to apply. It's very hard to scapegoat Jews after the experience of World War II, and the gay community has made so much progress in fifty years that it's almost impossible to suppress them now, so the small trans community - most of whose members are invisible in any case through fear - is now the target of all this bullying and abuse. I still think the public isn't buying it, that most people support gay and trans rights and have a lot more important things to worry about right now than that there might be someone with different genitals in the public restroom. But the current target of community scapegoating is us, plus wretches escaping civil war in open boats. 

It's the cowardice behind bullying that always bugs me most - find the most vulnerable in society and stomp on them because, let's face it, trying to tear down the rights of those who've already gained them is much harder, not to mention the near impossibility of taking on those who are in a strong position.

I have a feeling that this current climate of transphobia won't last long since this spate of populism, fascism and nationalism are proving fairly catastrophic in the public mind. Hang on in there.

Sue x

Friday, 7 October 2022

Another visitor

 I've spent the week hosting a very old friend of mine ... I mean, he's not old but I've known him a long time, since my teens in fact. 

I went to Berlin in 2018 with him, my first time abroad as Sue. This time I was just showing him round my new area. In fact, a lot of our travels were repeats of what I took Roz to see last week. But as the weather was better, there are more worthwhile photos.

Both Roz and I had encountered folk dancers from various countries in Sanremo last week, including some very colourful people from Panama, morris dancers from England and other groups from Switzerland, Austria and more. This week we bumped into various folk dance groups from central Europe.

Dancers from Romania

Dancers from Slovakia

We also visited Villa Nobel, which was the final home of chemist Alfred Nobel, originator of dynamite, peace prizes and the like. Some of his lab equipment can be seen, as well as the naval gun he had brought over from Sweden to test his products. 

Rather a nice house, which is now a museum and conference centre, with a pretty garden.

The thing that tickled me most was this Fiat 500 railcar:

You can drive it from either end!

Nearby is Villa Ormond which houses the International Institute for Humanitarian Law and the beautiful grounds around it double as a botanic garden full of subtropical plants.

The best bit is the Japanese garden with its waterfall and turtle pool:

I thought I'd also share this last photo from Ventimiglia, which I described last year, as I found this stand of umbrella pines very beautiful, especially with the city on the hill beyond, a hint of the Alps and the war memorial on the right.

It's been good to have close friends to stay as these years of Covid have left me unusually isolated. I may manage to go to Britain before the end of the year, and I've been invited to France for Christmas, so I'm hoping that life can get back to some kind of normality.

Sue x


Sunday, 2 October 2022

I hate housework and so does my maid

 Sometimes I feel like a fraud, that I'm somehow not an authentic trans woman. The reason is that I've never owned a French maid uniform. (You know me, there couldn't be a serious reason!) Being a French maid seems to be a rite of passage in so many trans lives and is a stage I've missed out on. 

Here I am today doing the housework in what for me seems an ideal outfit of old leggings and a T-shirt, which is pretty much what any cleaner these days actually wears, and I barely even thought about what I was going to wear. 25 years after finally accepting I was trans it's no longer a case of "shall I dress today?" but "what am I doing today and what clothes would suit?" I feel naturally drawn to wear what other women are actually wearing. I've arrived at the trans terminus!

But there's a niggle that somehow I haven't done the development to trans living quite correctly as I've missed out on the phases that so many seem to go through. The French maid is just the classic example of such a thing. Would doing my housework in a short dress, apron, heels and stockings enhance my cleaning? I can't see cleaning the shower or standing on a stool in heels like a very good idea and the risk of laddering stockings or dirtying the dress is very high. Am I just being really boring and practical? Or maybe I just hate housework and want it done quickly so never mind the flouncing about in an impractical outfit. Maybe working in a silly dress would make it more enjoyable but, truth be told, I dress as a woman not for the sake of the dresses or to look ultra feminine but because I live essentially as a woman and therefore it seems logical to look the part. I appreciate that the fetishy or submissive or ultra-feminising aspects of the maid role is a big part of the appeal to many, as it is for many such roles, but I guess my femininity has been so strong that that aspect of dressing has never come to the fore. Maybe I'm just dull but I don't see being feminine as a game. Don't get me wrong, being a TGirl can be a lot of fun, but I don't see it as roleplay. So I guess I'll just get on with my boring cleaning in my boring if practical weekend clothes. I still feel feminine, though, and how you manage to do so is up to you. 

PS Maid wanted.


Antiques fair

I am still on a high after Roz's visit last weekend, which was wonderful fun, if bad for the waistline. Yesterday I had things to do and buy and I revisted some of the haunts that Roz and I had been to, only this time on a dry day. On Saturdays there's a general market in Sanremo, and an antiques fair outside the cathedral. Although I think the word 'antiques' is a generous term for 'old stuff'. Some jewellery did appeal but I've decided to think about it. They'll still be there next Saturday.


I also saw a handbag in a shop that might pass muster, at last. But the price tag is something to think about also!


This German women's shoe manufacturer is definitely giving off a strong LGBT vibe in its advertising these days. Lesbian kisses (in trendy shoes), crossdressing dancers (in trendy shoes), coming out (in trendy shoes)... Focusing on non-normative lives is a brave advertising slant but it has certainly piqued my interest. Try this one, and there are more on their YouTube channel.

Sue x