Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Hunt the cocoon?

 So I joined a gym at New Year and today I plucked up the courage to attend. My new power leggings and sporty crop top made me look the part even if I didn't feel it. 

But, do you know, despite all my initial misgivings, I think I might get to like it there. This amazing looking machine really caught my eye so I asked the hunky instructor if he'd show me how to use it.

He was so helpful. "It's easy," he said, "you just select the setting, put a coin in the slot, and a snack pops out the bottom!"

Well, I thought I'd start with a little joke! So sue me! No, I haven't joined a gym, and I don't have sporty gymwear. I do have a craving for snacks right now, so don't ask how the weight loss is going! 

I do also have potent dysphoria at the moment and I will confess that one of the reasons for planning this little trip across southern France to Barcelona is to get the feel for places that are known for being LGBT havens. Where I live in Italy at the moment is lovely and the climate is ideal, but it's not obviously a place for TGirls to romp unnoticed, which is why I've not presented as Sue out here yet (aside from Covid, of course). 

I've been frustrated in finding a makeover service in Barcelona so far. There used to be several but Covid seems to have killed business to the point that they no longer operate. Research continues. It's the sort of place with an easy-going attitude to LGBT life (like London used to be) and a night out with some girls there would be fun despite that language barrier. The same goes, to an extent, for places I'll be stopping at along the way.

As I head towards formal retirement I can't help but want to spend my last years as a full-time woman. My natural caution and some medical and practical difficulties have prevented my transitioning ... so far. But it's not off the cards. For me life works as a woman, it's agreeable as a woman, but not so much as a man. I think that's because being trans is not just about clothes and makeup but about how one feels and how one interacts with the world. That macho, competitive, assured world of men is simply not for me. So I am still looking - without stressing though - for a place where a transwoman might best build her transformative cocoon if she so chose. I'll see what I find, practically and emotionally on my trip, and report back.


Sue x

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Odd coincidences, but no stress

 I put my favourite old dress on the other evening wanting to go out on the terrace ... and my next door neighbour suddenly turned up after six months away in Australia. Our terraces overlook each other a bit and, as I don't want 'the conversation' (i.e. "Hi, Bob... er, why exactly are you dressed like that?"), I swap my frock for flat-front trousers. Still feminine but not going to arouse comment, especially as darkness falls.

I start drafting a blog post about a bit of sleuthing on transgender acceptance as discovered by the Scooby-Doo gang, and a fellow blogger quotes the very line that I am to use! Jinkies! Sure is a creepy coincidence!

I set the week aside to try to finalise the last legal matter concerning my citizenship and residence in Italy and my email provider here crashes ... for the entire week!

Never mind. There are solutions. I'm trying to live as stress-free as possible as I've had my fill of that over the last few years and I've realised that I have actually been running on an empty energy tank for quite a while. I've booked a trip to Spain for the week after next, a slow panoramic journey by train stopping off at various places in France there and back. It should be relaxing. I find travelling slowly is a better experience than just zooming somewhere in a jet.

Although being trans has so many problems attached, I just try to enjoy the nice aspects of it: that lovely perfume I spray on, the pretty colours of my girl clothes in the wardrobe, the lace and cute bows and sparkly bits, the heels on my shoes giving me height, the easy-reading chick lit on my bedside table, the cerise pink font on my blog... and good friends. I've made some special friends since emerging into the world as Sue.

Superficial? I don't think so. My favourite things include sunshine, the colour green, a starry sky, a good book, soft clothes, a warm embrace, a sweeping panorama, an evening spent giggling in company. Much of that is free, yet priceless.


Have a good weekend and I hope you feel pretty.

Sue x

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

People see what they want to see

 I'm back home in the sunnier climes of the Mediterranean coast where the trees don't lose their leaves and it's ten degrees warmer than where I've been over the last week. 

This is something of a follow-on to my last post. I got by well with dressing in women's clothing but presenting as my official male persona for of all the administrative and other stuff I had to do in my official name. Nobody noticed that my shoes, legwear, tops and other items were feminine. Yesterday evening I ate out with a relative and I wore slouch pants, soft blouse, socks with gold sparkles and women's sneakers, my long fingernails nicely shaped and very much on view, and it aroused no notice at all. People see what they want to see. If they expect a guy, and that person isn't wearing a skirt, then they see a guy.

I'd rather present as female, of course, with a good wig doing the work that my terrible natural hair can't do for me, and with some pretty jewellery, but I'm still not certain that my face can take makeup for extended periods without breaking into eczema, I'm still not sure of how TGirls are received in Italy where I happen to be, and I've lost a lot of courage and incentive after so many things going wrong in recent years. I'm a feminine TGirl and looking feminine is important to me as it affirms that femininity, but I'm also a practical TGirl and, when out dressed, I like to dress as other women dress in order to be seen as a normal part of society around me. Women don't tend to wear skirts much these days, especially not in winter, and so I don't feel hard done by as one can still look very feminine in leggings, skinny jeans, or leather pants. The TGirl obsession with miniskirts or twin set or stockings is a fantasy femininity that I've never been into. I'm a transgender woman and I want to be treated as a woman so I dress the part ... except when I am forced by circumstances and society, like now, to be this male avatar. Since a lot of fashion right now is pretty unisex, I'm finding this compromise style is working for me. I feel femme in myself and I get little reminders of that by what I wear: the softer material of my clothes, my bra pressing into my torso, the lesser density of my shoe soles that makes me feel the pavement more ... the smaller pockets! (aaargh! girls need pockets too!) 

It's not really how I want to live but, with all the strife and chaos I've been through these last few years, and the troubled and hostile politics of the current era, I'm in this compromise mode till things get back on some sort of even keel. I've just demonstrated to myself both this past week and during Christmas week with friends that it's working.

At present, I think it likely that I will transition fully one day. Gently, and at my own pace, not necessarily involving doctors or authorities. I say at present as the intensity of one's transness varies over time. It may be that next year I won't feel this so strongly. That's OK, I've got used to the ebb and flow of trans intensity. It comes, it goes, don't worry about it.

So, since dressing as a girl was the first obvious step when I was very little, I'm heading forward by transitioning my clothing to all female this year, as I mentioned in November. As the world comes out of pandemic, I'll be looking to find a place where a slow, gentle transition can happen, like a caterpillar finding a quiet leafy spot to spin its cocoon. 

I'm also preparing to dump completely that family I came from as I have finally had to admit to myself that violent fundamentalist cultists involved in supremacist campaigns belong in jail and it's time to stop trying to cling onto the little good in them. Several times over the years I have started to write a piece about being brought up by fundamentalists and how it impacted my girlhood and beyond, but it has been too distressing to finish them. With the help of years of counselling and advice, legal and medical, I feel stronger about telling such things as I understand the mechanisms of cultism much better now. 

I try to be kind to people, to encourage them. As much as anything, I see kindness as an act of sabotage against the world that the cruel, the abusive and the domineering want and so often seem to get. I may not always get it right, but I'm trying to act differently from the rage and cruelty that characterised my upbringing. 

There's a long journey still to go and I feel very tired as life's been pretty rudderless and stormtossed for some time. I don't know but I guess there's a chance of arriving somewhere where being fully feminine is possible again as it was when I started this blog.


Burns Night

Happy Burns Night to all friends in Scotland or of Scots descent. 

The best Burns Night I ever celebrated was as a student in Devon (almost as far from Scotland as you can get and still be in the British Isles!) when I shared a house with a postdoctoral researcher from near Glasgow who was addicted to Irn-Bru*. Not only had he managed to get haggis in that remote location but he'd even sourced a bagpiper in the guise of a student from Venezuela who, incredible as it may sound, had learnt to play the Scottish bagpipes in Caracas. The piping in of the haggis in the front room of a small cottage was deafening and not something that the locals are likely to have forgotten in many a year!

(*To all my readers outside Scotland, Irn-Bru is a soft drink / soda with an odd coppery colour and indefinable taste that has had some interesting advertising campaigns over the years. Don't worry about it!)

Sue x

Friday, 20 January 2023

Dress sense

 I'm away staying with relatives and I have various things, administrative and otherwise, to do. My suitcase is full of articles of female clothing but ones that enable me to maintain the femininity that makes me happy but deal with business in my official male capacity and not 'out' me as trans. I would prefer to be all female but the world isn't geared to that right now, and my relatives certainly aren't. (In fact, just last night I heard one scoffing to his girlfriend at a system of gender-neutral noun endings that's being increasingly used in languages like Italian that have two genders for nouns, masculine and feminine. It's the same for Spanish, French, Portuguese and such.) So my trousers, shoes, hosiery, tops and underwear are all off the female racks, but when combined don't give away that I'm trans. There are a lot of ways of dressing in the 2020s that are equally valid for either sex or anyone between. My long nails haven't aroused comment yet. I dislike the semi-stealth I'm in, but survival overrides true authenticity right now. 

Still, I feel feminine in myself and obviously much more so when I dress as a woman, which is now virtually all the time. And I don't get asked awkward questions or feel threatened or mocked.

Yesterday, I had to be in Switzerland. It was cold all right and I was rather missing the palm trees on the coast where I live! I'm glad I wore warm tights under my girl trousers. Here's Switzerland in winter, then. This is Lugano on the lake of the same name:


Today I had a Covid booster at a pharmacy in Milan. Nice young lady doctor, very efficient and friendly with all customers, old and young. My jeans, sneakers and blouse were not all that dissimilar to hers. Except she had a white tunic on too, which is just not my style!

I'm going to take it easy this weekend and tackle more bureaucracy and administrative stuff on Monday. In my girl clothes, of course. I hate boy clothes and always have. One day my legal status, my face and my clothes will all match, but for now we deal with circumstaces in this way.

Sue x

Monday, 16 January 2023


 Gina Lollobrigida passed away today. She was one of the all-time screen idols, once described as the most beautiful woman in the world. That's if you ignore the other most beautiful women in the world on screen: Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly, Snow White, the fairest of them all ... OK, maybe not Snow, but you know what I mean. We have our idols. 

Of course, you may prefer male matinée idols, but that fact is that the acting profession has set up standards of beauty for every generation and TGirls can be greatly influenced by them. It's an aspirational thing for trans people, I'd say, whereas for a cis person, the screen goddess (or male idol) is usually a rival and therefore much more suspect. 

The other thing I'd say is that we TGirls can sometimes be a little bit old-fashioned in our valuations of feminine beauty and can look back to past idols mainly because they are highly feminine - or feminised - from the days, especially the golden years of cinema, when femininity was emphasised with big hair, bold lipstick, glamorous dresses, skyscraper heels... This nostalgia for the glory days of femininity does sometimes lead us to be old-fashioned in the way we dress. That's the joke in the Emily Howard the Rubbish Transvestite sketches, which infuriate so many although there's a lot of truth in them. I just feel that women don't - and never actually did - dress like screen goddesses and, as I prefer to blend in and be treated as a woman, I tend to wear what women in the street are actually wearing now. That's my preferred style.

I'm not saying we should hold ourselves back. Of course you can dress like a star, especially at a glam party. Being trans is also about reaching your full potential in your real gender, so absolutely be Marilyn if you really want. It's probably a bit over the top for a trip to the supermarket, is what I'm saying, but hey, maybe the frozen veg section needs a touch of glamour... Boo boo bee doo!

Rest in peace, Gina.


Sue x

Monday, 9 January 2023

Cute winter fashions

 It's the January sales and that perfect opportunity to buy stuff at reduced prices. Well, realistically, all the junk they couldn't shift before Christmas is reduced and the decent new lines are at full price. Pardon my cynicism, but we do go through this pantomime every year and often there's little that's worthwhile that's actually reduced. However, I'm pleased that I did get a bit off one item today. 

So I went to the shops and there were some rather nice new lines, including some lovely coloured and patterned satin blouses and an adorable short leather skirt and matching jacket in pink or white, in a rather 1960s style that seems to be very fashionable round the riviera this year (yay for supercute Sixties outfits!) Very tempting, but I would have to slim a lot to fit into those. 

I do love my casual styles - leggings usually, or a plain dress - but this sudden throwback to a more elegant age is lovely to see.

I almost bought a handbag and some cute black patent pumps, although if you want leather goods in these parts it's better to get them from a stall on market day. Better quality and lower prices than the shops. I decided to limit myself to two discreet silk blouses today and return to the shops for another rummage another day.



Talking of slimming into skirts (or anything else for that matter), I have lost 2 kg (4 1/2 lb) in my first week of watching my weight. I'm pleased with that, especially as not everything went to plan. The Christmas excess is coming off!

City of Lemons

I went to Menton, a town on the French border with Italy. It has a brash seafront, a curious market house, some beautiful old streets and shops, pretty architecture and amazing views along the coast. Lemons are its main product as the climate is perfect for them, but there are many other types of citrus tree, too.

I also went there as to find the tomb of William Webb Ellis who is credited with having defined the game of rugby football. As a former resident of Twickenham, I felt it would be appropriate to climb up the hill to the castle cemetery to see his resting place in this bicentennial year of the game.

Here's a typical stepped street of pastel-coloured houses so characteristic of this coast:


It's a steep climb to the magnificent church:

The view along the coast is stunning. In the centre of the photo, the yawning chasm in the mountain marks the border with Italy.

I'd never seen a grapefruit tree before:

The tomb, with tributes!


A dip in the archives

I was a bit cynical about January sales at the start of this post, so here's a look back to 2012 when I had a successful rummage in the racks and enjoyed a good evening afterwards:

First Outing of the Year

Sue x

Friday, 6 January 2023

Holidays coming to a close

 In quite a number of countries, January 6th is a public holiday, and it marks the end of the Christmas festivities. Here in Italy, a tatty if kindly witch called Befana brings kids little gifts. I've mentioned her before and here's my Befana doll who had chocolates hidden in her skirts. 

Well, I'm a big kid!

As mentioned before, I spent last week on one of my androgynous holidays where I feel it better, easier or safer to present as male despite being dressed in female clothes, albeit ones that have a unisex look. Only one of my friends there knows I am trans and has been hugely supportive and was complimentary about how I chose to dress.

There were ten of us in a large but spacious house in the town of Lorgues in the wine country of Provence in France. 



The weather was mild and sunny by day and it was nice to sit out, either at the many cafés and bars or in the sunny garden. 

The town is medieval with traces of city walls and gateways.

There are lots of monumental fountains.

And vineyards, albeit dormant in winter.


The colour of the houses reminds me of Liguria where I live, except here the shutters are traditionally dark green only, whereas in Provence they can be any colour as long as it contrasts with the walls. 


We enjoyed feeding the neighbours's chickens, who love cheese (who knew chickens like cheese?). They complained loudly when they'd eaten all the cheese and had nothing but healthy veggies left!


One morning we drove out along roads that wound up and around rocky outcrops, lined with olives, poplars, limes and vines, and arrived, amid tranquil beech woods, at the Abbey of Le Thoronet, built over 800 years ago, one of the best preserved complexes of medieval buildings anywhere. 

Windows through windows: looking into the cloister from the chapter house

The dormitory. The door at the far end leads straight into the church.

I calculate you can wash 15 monks at once here!

Wine press. It's not all work and prayer!

So it was a relaxing and welcome break in good company, with good food, too, and I felt very refreshed by it and energised to do more travelling in 2023 (assuming the world doesn't blow up or something - anything seems possible these days).


I can't believe how many of my friends are sick. And I don't just mean colds or flu or even Covid (although there are several feeling very bad with that, I'm sad to report). One fighting prostate cancer and pneumonia simultaneously, another has myeloma, and another has a horrific thing called Fournier's gangrene (don't look it up unless you have a strong stomach). I'm so upset at all their pain and suffering.

It's hard to be nurse at this distance except by sending such cheerful messages as I can. Just to warn you, though: I learnt my nursing entirely from the Benny Hill Show, Doctor in the House and the Carry On Films, so I'd get well quick all of you if I were you!

Sue x

Monday, 2 January 2023

New year, new me?


New Year, new me? Or is it just identity theft again?

Might as well start the year with a joke! Or with this one, a hangover from the New Year festivities that will make you groan:

Anyway, happy New Year to you. I hope 2023 will be kind and gentle to you.

Do I have any resolutions? Apart from remembering to write 2023, just when I'd got used to writing 2022!

Not really. One thing life's taught me is that resolutions are hard to keep. The one I have kept since 1997, though, is to accept that I am trans and never try to purge, deny it to myself or escape the reality again. I often muse on when or if I will ever live full-time female. I want to, but that will involve my feeling safer in an environment that is more relaxed about trans lives. There's been a bit too much trauma in recent years for me to add more by transitioning now. One problem at a time: that's how I'm dealing with things now. I've spent my life playing the role of a male, much as I hate it; but I'll tolerate it a bit longer as we get out of this pandemicy, transphobicy era. My clothes are all from the women's racks now and that keeps me grounded.

I'm getting back on track with weight loss after the compulsory Christmas indulgence. Sadly, last year, after a great start, I ended up putting weight on. I'm repeating to myself the old Slimming World adage: nothing tastes as good as being slim feels. When I look back at the cute little dresses I used to be able to wear, I feel that that is true. It was also better being fitter (and being able to bend and adjust the ankle straps of my shoes without panting). I'm also doing Dry January as wine is the most fattening thing of all. I got my weight reduction off to a good start today by carrying two heavy bags of shopping up the steep mountain lane behind the house rather than taking the gentler slope home along the main road. Here's the lovely view from the top:


Incidentally, the photo that opens this post is a tall ship that floated by earlier today. Maybe one could find hopeful new year symbolism in it: life's journey moving slowly to where sunlight is just breaking through cloud? Or just a boat on its business? You choose your interpretation if you wish: symbolic, prosaic, romantic or other.

As mentioned before, I feel a strong urge to travel after four years of either being lame or locked down. I've just got back from France, and more on that androgynous holiday in another post. But I'm being cautious since flu, Covid and other bugs are flying around at present. So many people I know have Covid right now or are still experiencing symptoms months later. Stay safe and well. I intend to.

Sue x