Sunday, 27 November 2022

Pests

 So there I was, sitting at the bar, when a man came up and said, "Hi, I'm bisexual. Let me 'bi' you a drink and then we can get sexual."

"I think you're actually bi-curious," I replied. "So why don't you buy me a drink ... and then wonder where I've gone."

This little joke sums up what I think about most admirers and men with terrible chat-up lines, attitudes and behaviours. They're a pest (sometimes worse).

And so are people who ask you intimate questions about being trans. No, I'm not going to tell you my "real" name. Nor tell you whether I've had "the op". Both questions have been put to me. Some people have zero manners and no idea how to express healthy interest. Even a normally empathetic and socially adjusted female friend of mine, on meeting me as Sue for the first time, asked whether my breasts were all-natural. "Well," I said to her, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours". She did get the message and we carried on with our day just as two women. Yes, I know women talk about intimate things much more often than men do, but maybe save such a question for later in our acquaintance, not first thing.

I've been away for a few days in Milan for sightseeing. Milan has always been an architect's playground and one grand house you can visit is full of staff who insist on telling you details that they think you want to know but, truthfully, I'm not interested in photos of the former owners or knowing where the wallpaper was made. Custodians like this are a pest as they waylay you with trivia. You have to exit via the gift shop, where some reproduction art-deco style jewellery caught my eye, but the old woman in the shop went on and on about how I should buy a pot of their fancy overpriced home-made jam. If she'd been intelligent she'd have realised that I was interested in jewels not jam and might have made money off me but her well-practised jam harangue was the only thing on her mind. What a pest! In the end I got fed up with being lectured about the merits of jam and left. 

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Milan, 1932-35. A move from art-deco (Liberty) style to fascist realism. Both a museum and a place for jam diatribe. Fascists!


Am I some kind of brooding antisocial bitch whose willful ways won't be swayed by posh jam, the advances of leering drunks, or the intimate queries of the overcurious? I don't think so. Let people browse in peace and leave them free to ask if they want to. Mind your own business about what's in my underwear - I don't ask you about your wobbly bits, do I? Never deadname a trans person or try to find it out. And, guys, just don't be a pain if you want a date. Be friendly, polite and don't pressurise and we'll see if we can have a nice chat and if that goes anywhere. At worst, we'll have had a pleasant enough evening.

These things do seem to need spelling out to a lot of people, though!


Coming up on Sue's News and Views...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was reading Frans Waal's book on human and ape gender. A good book by an expert who's made some positive discoveries about being trans (and some worrying ones about being human). More on that later, as there will be on Chelsea Manning's just published memoir Readme.txt, which I have just bought and am very curious to read. Also, more on Milan sightseeing including frocks like these ...


... and like this!...


 Sue x

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

The public don't buy hate

 What is one to say about the murders at Colorado Springs? Not enough information has emerged on motives, but killing people in an LGBT club does smack of hatred. I am devastated at the news of this attack on Transgender Day of Remembrance. Yet I still believe that the public at large are not buying into the anti-trans narrative. I'd like to illustrate this with two tales from Britain this month. 

The first is the attempt by a group of J K Rowling supporters who wanted to unseat Joanne Harris (a novelist known for works such as Chocolat) as chair of the Society of Authors' management committee. The Society of Authors is a trade union for published writers and I was a member for several years till I left the UK. The reasons for the attack are complex but Harris's support for the trans community is, she believes, the main one. The resolution was resoundingly defeated by over 80% of members and an open letter by many authors praised her as chairman and condemned the “seemingly coordinated attacks against her by a small, but vocal, minority, who have become known to many of us who use Twitter as persons who regularly use their own platforms to intimidate and bully those who do not agree with their ideologies regarding trans and non-binary people.”

The second is a similar attempt to change the National Trust. This is a charitable organisation that, since the 1890s, has bought up land and historic buildings for preservation. The many gripes of the takeover group included criticism of the trust's inclusivity policy and attendance at Pride events. These are apparently "divisive" and a waste of money. The resolution was defeated by twice as many as voted for it. None of the takeover groups candidates were elected. 

Both organisations are predominantly middle class and therefore represent only a portion of the British population. Neverthless they are both influential: the National Trust has over 5 million members and the Society of Authors represents people of considerable public influence.

I remain convinced that the transphobes are getting more vocal only because they are shrinking to an ever diminishing minority. And a pretty lunatic one at that. I think the trans community and its allies will prevail in the end, though we are going through dark times now.


Sue x

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Remembrance day for trans people

 In memory of all the people who have died as victims of transphobia.

 


Today is International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Thank you to friends, allies and organisations who support and protect our vulnerable and threatened community. 

Sue x

Friday, 18 November 2022

Birthday treats

 It's my birthday and so ... well, OK, it's not my actual birthday, as I've said here before but as a TGirl I have the privilege of choosing a date as to when I think I came into the world as a girl rather than officially as a boy. Some trans women choose the date they have surgery as their birthday, some when they first came out. For me it's kind of when I first felt I was a girl really, sort of. Anyway, whatever, it's my "girldom celebration" and it falls on November 18th every year (which happens to be during Trans Awareness Week). 

I was on my own today but will be seeing family next week to have bit of joint celebrations for other like events. But I treated myself to lunch at a nice restaurant and went to look for some leather trousers or jeans to replace a pair that wore out last year. They are very fashionable in this part of the world and half the women round here wear leather items, whether leggings, trousers or skirts, or jackets in winter. I couldn't find a suitable pair but instead I did find a leather skirt that fits like a dream. (Photo when I get better organised and have my face on properly.) This actually replaces a good leather skirt I had that got ruined after beer was spilled on it whilst I was working at the TGirl bar. I've missed it a lot as it was both smart and warm (as I realised one snowy night when waiting for a bus). So that was a great success today.


Awareness - or help needed?

So it's Trans Awareness Week, as I mentioned, but so many trans organisations seem to be putting out calls for help at the moment, from Mermaids charity in the UK that has suffered attacks that temporarily closed its helpline, to my local LGBT group needing help to rent its offices, to organisations like Transliving who want more members. With the squeeze on most people's costs of living this winter it's hard to heed all these calls but, if you are trans or an ally, please consider doing whatever you reasonably can in the way of support. 


Wallpaper girl!

I was looking for a dress online and instead found that this photo of me and friends in London has been officially turned into computer wallpaper!

 


I think this was an evening out in March 2013 and this would have been the Verge Bar in London's Whitechapel area. 1,762 downloads to date, which presumably means that many PCs out there have a background pic of us gorgeous TGirls. And why not? Prettier even than those azure islands and mountain sunrises the manufacturers provide as standard! Download yours now!

Sue x

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Rainbow Houses

 My daily paper has a weekly supplement that I've found to be very LGBT positive. I get the paper (Il Secolo XIX) as it's a regional daily published in Genoa which was full of all the essential information one needed during the Covid Era. The fact it's LGBT positive is a bonus, but then the whole paper represents a good example of independent journalism as it's not owned by a some billionaire with his assets in some tax haven. That's why I usually didn't buy a daily paper when I lived in Britain (UK citizens there please note).

This week I read about the two Rainbow Houses in Milan that offer accommodation and support to people, almost all young, who have been kicked out of their homes through being gay or trans. There are other similar places in other big cities and the Milan charity is about to open two more such houses, with support from the city council. Currently home to 19 people, the Rainbow Houses are a bit like student flats with independent bedrooms for one or two people, a communal area with kitchen and balcony, and with the staff of the charity available to help with counselling and emotional support, with job and study applications, and even everyday tasks such as how to cook. This helps LGBT youngsters get on their feet in a safe environment and most stay for 8-10 months. Many have arrived with only a small bag of belongings. I've borrowed this photo from their website and this communal area certainly looks nice:



I'm glad there are such places, though I'm sad there has to be the need for them. Families can be a bit 'traditional' in the West, as in any other part of the world. The prevailing family culture everywhere is still for everyone to have cisgender and straight kids who will marry and bring grandchildren. The past few decades have eaten into the notion that that is how life should be but there is a long road to go. I read only last year of the case of a man here who was looking for a hitman to break his son's fingers after his son came out as gay. His son is in his 30s and a surgeon! Some families take LGBT children as a slur, as a failure on their part. So much for love!

So thanks to the establishers of the Rainbow House. Now I know they exist, I intend to support them in any way I can. 


Broken nails

From the inspiring to the trivial ... no! not trivial! I broke two fingernails yesterday. Aargh! I hate that. I keep my nails quite long and neat and usually painted with clear varnish. As my nails are so often in view (hello fingers on keyboard!), it makes me happy to see their feminine appearance as that affirms my femininity. So when they break it's oddly distressing! You understand, right? 😉

Sue x


Friday, 11 November 2022

Thanks when due

 I had a lovely time with Roz who came to visit a few weeks ago (read our adventures here). Sadly, her suitcase didn't accompany her home. It contained her main makeup bag, some favourite dresses and jewellery of sentimental value. Fortunately her precious toy beaver had been put in her carry bag so he was around to console her! Happily, the airline identified her case in the end and it arrived at her home several weeks later. Indeed, the case sat in the courier's van for a fortnight after having been located! The wheels were broken right off it, though, and it can't be used again because of the ragged holes left because of that. And some of her jewellery was missing. Obviously, this is not good service. In addition, the rigmarole involved on these occasions is distressing. It's just as well that she was home and it didn't happen on the way out. But a compensation claim has gone in to the airline and both she and I intend to see that she gets it. OK, these things happen, but the handling of the problem, let alone the handling of the item, wasn't great.

We always remember lousy events - a lovely day out can be marred by just one transphobe shouting abuse. Roz assures me her holiday wasn't spoilt by the suitcase saga. But when things go really well, or we get great service, it's important to express our gratitude. I was heartened by this story on another blog (My Life by Andrea Raven) about a TGirl who went for a bra fitting, was delighted by the kind service she received and wrote a thank-you letter that really made waves. Her gratitude has made an employee's whole week, it's vindicated the company's diversity policy, and the shop and its staff are happy. We often take service for granted - after all, we're paying for it! - but when someone deals with you above and beyond pure duty then remembering to thank them can really change everything. It means any other TGirls who go to that store know that they will get the right attention and that the company is keen to tailor its services to their needs. 

I recall years ago being on a work trip and having to meet a client whose premises were on a trading estate on the edge of London. The meeting went on a long time and, as food wasn't offered, I came out into a cold, grey, snowy afternoon feeling tired and hungry. The only place anywhere near was an out-of-town supermarket's cafĂ©. I ordered straightforward fish and chips, nothing glamorous, just something hot and filling. And it wasn't that I was cold and hungry - it really was probably the best fish and chips ever: crispy batter, decent fish, chips that were fluffy on the inside and crisp outside and all piping hot and quickly delivered. I dashed off a quick thank-you letter to the catering manager. Presumably an everyday supermarket cafĂ© is not used to praise but I got a thank-you-for-your-thank-you letter in reply saying that the relevant staff were getting a commendation! The Order of the Chip Fryer, First Class, perhaps. So several people were happy and will probably feel their job is a little more worthwhile and further customers may benefit from that. 

It's not dissimilar with services to the trans community specifically, or places that have hosted me and my friends. Restaurants need and rely on recommendations. It cuts both ways: you commend them to friends or online and, once a gaggle of TGirls become regulars, your average restaurant will offer discounts. A free pudding always goes down well, doesn't it?! If your dressing service, photographer, makeup artist, personal shopper or whoever has given you memorable service or excellent goods, then do give them some positive feedback. In a world that is often cruel, a little bit of thought, care and kindness can go a long way, and also helps the trans community become more welcome around the place even in times that are more hostile.

Lunch at Salieri in the Strand. London Angels went here so regularly that Sami the manager would get worried about us if we hadn't turned up for a while! We were always well looked after.


Sue x


Monday, 7 November 2022

Is it crossdressing if it was male fashion once?

 As a kid I tried to justify my wearing girls' clothes by claiming that men in the past used to wear the sorts of things I liked to wear: silk shirts with lace, stockings and suspenders, high heels, etc.; or else that certain men wear certain things that are more usually associated with women such as Scottish kilts or dancers' tights. This was a kind of legalistic interpretation of the notion that boys mustn't dress like girls - kids are all barrack-room lawyers, aren't they? - and that therefore I wasn't really dressing like a girl (even though I was), just in case I got caught and interrogated. This was also before I knew that being transgender doesn't equate to being a boy who wants to be a girl. 

Things seem to have become more fluid, clothing wise, and a lot of clothes are essentially unisex or not obviously gendered now. This partly explains my last post about soon replacing any remaining menswear in my wardrobe with womenswear. A lot of the time, as with jeans, say, who can tell any difference? Apart from looking at the label. 

But there is also a trend towards people selecting clothing that is more obviously associated with the other gender. I have seen many men in skirts in recent years for presumably no reason other than that they prefer to wear them. And who doesn't? 

My motives for wearing skirts are different - I want to look and feel feminine and be treated as a woman, not a guy in a skirt. But going back to my younger years, how could I justify why I wore skirts in an age and culture that still thought trans people were weird? (OK, it's not that we're not deemed weird now, but nothing like to the same degree.)

Hence my legalistic interpretation of whether or not each and every item of clothing was or was not for women. The whole ensemble was never examined in this way and, yes, I was dressed as a girl all right, no doubt about it, and that's what I wanted to look like. 

A trans friend used to be in a rock tribute band and therefore was justified in wearing a long wig, fitted top and leggings as it was part of the act, and even at home the odd clothes were deemed acceptable by the wife. Rock and roll yeah! Until my friend forgot some panties drying on the radiator and the wife realised that the rock band excuse was not the real justification for the feminine clothes. Sadly, they have split up and I suspect, as is often the case in these scenarios, that the bogus justification upset her more than the fact her husband was trans.

Finally, I don't pretend to understand anything about manga/animé and the whole graphic and games culture associated with these art styles but time and again I come across mention of the character Astolfo, who is a guy who dresses girly because he likes it. Originally a warrior in Renaissance epic poems, notably Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (a piece of literature that, for my part, I found excruciating in my student days), Astolfo has become a crossdresser in his modern animé reincarnation, which is fine in my book. But the justifications for men wearing softer, prettier garments, using Astolfo in this meme that has been doing the rounds, do remind me a lot of my own justifications as a youngster, which were exactly along these lines:


Being cutesy is very fun and it's good that non-trans guys increasingly seem to be choosing to wear something frilly, pink or soft again, as men used to do. If you like it, go for it. After all, some great men have indeed gone for part of this look, though none of them for all of it. More's the pity!


Not what they meant?

Talking of interpretation, this recent item from the Church Times probably doesn't mean what it seems to be saying.


It made me chuckle, though.


A dip in the archives

Here's another one of the photos recently sent to me. This is me with my lovely friend Kate at the Sparkle transgender festival in Manchester in 2015.


I'm putting this one up as Kate is very sick at the moment and I'm thinking of her a lot and hoping she will pull through.

Sue x


Friday, 4 November 2022

Throwing out the boy clothes

 I was out of sorts earlier this week and I'm not sure why but I remedied that today with a shopping trip that's finally convinced me that I really neither want nor need any more boy clothes in my wardrobe. 

All the trousers in menswear departments do not fit me. They are all way too long and as I have feminine hips (yes, I do ☺) they are too tight. Ridiculous! I mean, when trousers were an inch or two too long you could take them in, but when they are 6-12 inches too long, as they all seem to be these days (I'm looking at you, Giraffeman!), you can't alter them without their looking weird. But women's trousers/jeans/legwear fit me perfectly and since manufacturers have now realised that women would like pockets, too - and deep ones at that - then suddenly there is no need to go for horrid ill-fitting boywear any more, even if I have to present in male mode. Yay! Finally, all my needs really start to converge. 

You may say that if you're wearing trousers, can you really tell if they are boy trousers or girl trousers? And the answer is: not always physically but always psychologically. I know my clothes are girl clothes, even if that may not be obvious to others, and that makes me happy. 

 

In the pink

Now, I know I've said how much I like the colour cerise, which is trending again this year, and is the colour of the font on my blog, but is this perhaps a little too much of a good thing?


Ceasefire

Today, November 4th, is Armistice Day in Italy. It's a week before everyone else's commemoration on November 11th because Austria-Hungary surrendered to Italian forces this day in 1918. 

To commemorate it, the Bersaglieri band were in town. Bersaglieri ("sharpshooters") are light infantry founded by the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1836. So light, in fact, that the cash-strapped royal treasury couldn't afford any transport for them, not even horses for officers, and they have therefore traditionally run everywhere. The traditional march they play is therefore not something they march to but run to:


The other thing that they are famous for is their hats with a spray of capercaillie feathers on. The feathers look black at first sight but have lovely iridescent green streaks in them, as you can see in this closeup of a hat worn by a lady next to me. 


 

I think I'd look quite striking in a hat with capercaillie feathers in, too! Although I'd feel a bit guilty. After all, Mr Capercaillie wants his feathers so he can impress Miss Capercaillie. I'm all for romance!


 

Apart from music and decorative uniforms, Armistice Day reminds us of the awful business of war. Although Italy was the only belligerent in World War I to achieve its war aims, this came at the cost of over half a million dead, not to mention those permanently crippled, all the civilian casualties, people who went mad, committed suicide or were executed, lost their loved ones or were otherwise traumatised. All for territory that ought to have been obtainable under existing treaty arrangements between Italy and Austria. I see the slaughter in Eastern Europe right now and that disgusts me. How do we contain men's violence and the rapacious brutality of psycopathic leaders? 

If we all wore pretty frocks, would that improve things? I can't help feeling it might. 

Sue x