Sunday, 28 August 2011

Dressing up

    We're all so damned serious about all this, aren't we. Sometimes I think so to the extent that we lose some of the fun along the way. Take dressing in silly clothes, for example. I have an acquaintance who wears daft outfits and posts photographs of herself doing so. I mean really daft like her latest, the full-on showgirl lingerie look with beehive hair, while doing mundane household chores. Every time she posts one of her pictures I hear mutterings of disapproval, as though she's gone too far this time, she's not taking this seriously. 'Cos Real Transsexuals, it seems, never dress up in silly clothes.
    It's true, there is no sight quite like a middle aged bloke dressed up in the showgirl lingerie look. Probably about as bizarre as a giant-sized bloke like me in a summer dress at Sparkle, I'm guessing. But that's the point, that's her way of dealing with this mess, of letting it out so she can hang in there for her wife. Others go for maid outfits or bridal gowns, name your poison. A lot less self-destructive than my attempt to bottle it all up, by my estimation.
    I was set thinking along these lines by a post somewhere else asking "When did you first know?". Because from that question I started thinking about what happened after my childhood crossdressing. What did I wish I was doing, as a deeply closeted teenager?
    I remember being heavily influenced by costumes on the telly and in films. A teenage me swooned over the nurses outfits the likes of Barbara Windsor and Hattie Jacques were shoehorned into for the Carry On films (Google it!) and would have given anything to swan around in the lavish ballgowns so beloved of period costume drama producers.
    So have I just shot myself in the foot, destroyed my credibility to Serious Transsexual eyes as surely as if I had changed my avatar to a picture featuring myself in a rubber French Maid outfit? I don't think so, because I'm sure I'm not the only confused and closeted trans teenager to have had such thoughts. A mind under the malign influence of huge amounts of testosterone can do funny things. I know I'm not the only person to have watched Titanic for the female costumes, hell I'm pretty sure I can name natal women acquaintances to whom that applies.
    Given that I now have the money and the acceptance to indulge myself in the wardrobe department I suppose I could go nuts on silly clothes. And believe me, someone my height could make a very imposing Victorian lady. But I haven't, even though I might enjoy it. I guess that once I'd got over the Wow! factor, I'd just feel rather embarrassed. You wouldn't after all wear such an outfit to Tesco.
    Equally though I can't find fault with my showgirl acquaintance. Her path is a little more flamboyant than mine, but no less valid. And since I've just revealed my past costume propensities I guess let she who is without crossdressing sartorial sin cast the first stone!


  1. Well it takes all sorts I suppose Jenny. I guess your aquaintance isn't taking herself too seriously and is secretly having a laugh at those who are laughing at her. Mind you, I have seen many a funny sight myself, those who think they are being serious but simply haven't the dress sense to carry it off. I often wondered what they thought a typical woman was supposed to look like.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. I dress up in sexy costumes from time to time. I doesn't really do much for me, but I love the effect it has on my husband!

  3. Being too serious is definitely a problem. Having fun is an important part of being human IMHO.

    Youngsters play dress up don't they? I have a daughter, and she went through several stages of clothing 'looks' right into her mid twenties. Young men and women get to do that these days. Drive by a school some time and check out the outfits.

    Your what to wear to Tesco comment really says it all. There is a time for flamboyance.

  4. A lot of people seem to get caught up in trying to please everyone else, or maybe it's just a few people of whom we like to treat with respect. Point is; Do what you want to do and be what you want to be.
    People don't act like this, judging themselves on a constant basis to try and please others because they feel different. Just look around you they are not hard to find. Cher, for example, she has lived her whole life differently from the norm, so has Dolly Parton, and many others. Out on the street, you see kids of all ages being different, they are the ones that have pink or purple hair, some times both, make up so thick you would think they just walked off a movie set, and piercings in places I would never dream of. They are women, girls, men and boys. Dressing they way they want and living their life outside the box. Or, what some refer to as a comfort zone.
    In my opinion? I think too many TG's try too hard to please others whom feel that what they 'think' they now is the rule. Only because these people have the loudest voice or life's experience or what ever else. I'm calling BS on that one. Be who or what you are cause what others think of you is none of your business. Live! Enjoy life! That's what every one else is doing.
    Here in the states, tall women abound every where, Jenny. They are the ones whom carry themselves more confidently, almost demanding others to respect them because of their towering stature. And they look bloody good in doing so.

    Just be yourself

  5. Costume is so important, it gives everyone, including natal women the opportunity to show aspects of themselves which they often keep hidden. I tap dance and do cabaret with a group of other natal women who love not only dressing up as show girls, cabaret artistes or whatever else we fancy but perform on stage as well. We all have boring jobs in education or local government but we desperately need to have fun sometime, we're all way beyond our teenage years and ought to be embarrassed, no way! Dressing up is fun and always should be.

  6. Dress as you will shall be the whole (well, some) of the law.... it's a bit prob when there's a disjunct between intention and the perception of others: I met a trans woman a while back who lamented her visibility and the lewd comments she got; but she also wore heavy makeup, killah heels and a hemline that hovered somewhere just below the navel. At lunchtime. In a rather Anglican setting. And I was torn between gently suggesting that she could modify her appearance to fit in, or.... I said nothing in the end, of course. And feel slightly bad about talking about it here. In the unlikely event that you read this and recognise yourself, then *waves* *shrugs ruefully*

  7. Dru really has it. We need to understand audience reaction. As Angel suggests, dressing in a sexy costume should have a target audience. If lewd comments really bother you, don't draw attention to yourself. If you are making a point, then make your point and as LeAnne says, call BS on the naysayers and enjoy life!

  8. Now, I wonder how many readers were reminded of a daffodil by this post... :)

    Funnily I see I've lost a couple of followers, one from the T-word post and one from this one. Maybe I should borrow that rubber number to go for the hat-trick!

    I like to think I'd get my look right on my own, but I have to admit to being greatly indebted to my wife for her style critique. I hope i've avoided the trowelled-on makeup look or the ever-rising hemline. Hell, that's enough of a problem for someone my height without even trying!

    I'm sure we've all had times at which we've wished we could have had a Quiet Word. I was immediately taken to my last GIC appointment at which there were two cookie-cutter transwomen in the waiting room, both in way-too-high heels, shiny skirts and frilly blouses on a weekday afternoon.

    I guess I was lamenting the disapproval of someone simply having fun at home with gloriously silly outfits. It edges too close to the insecurities of people who see themselves as having left all that behind in a way that doesn't seem to bother natal women when they see it in one of their own.

    Meanwhile my Hattie Jacques will never escape my teenaged imagination, but I might permit myself an outing to the Enigma Ball. Just don't expect photographs of me in my kitchen.

  9. That's it, isn't it? It isn't our place to police the appearance of others unless requested to do so. My self-policing is bad enough.... almost didn't go on Slutwalk because I was afraid that I would be perceived as parodying either women or trans women, or, worse, being seen as a figure of fun.... bloody glad I did go cos it was not like that at all... insecurities? Moi?

  10. Interesting post, Jenny. I liked the droll humor. :-)

    Life is too short to not have fun. Where and how we have it - as long as you're legal (as Dru observes!) - isn't that important in the long run. It's not fun if you're not comfortable wearing that in that situation. Those fun-killing safety concerns notwithstanding, life is just too damn short to not have fun.

  11. In the USA, Halloween has become a huge holiday, the second biggest money making one for stores. Why? Because clearly there is a large demand for people to let loose and be something they are not (at least for a night), inject fun into their lives. It is the one time of the year that bascially anything goes. Many TG refer to it as a TG national holiday, since often it is the only time of the year when many communities are accepting to TG dress at all in America (outside of major cities). Standing out is actually rewarded and as a result it is a great time for anyone to let loose and have fun. To tie to comments above, there is a proper time and place and Halloween is it for everyone to let loose and just have fun. And sometimes, that is just what it is about, having fun and not focusing on greater issues of the world. It sometimes seems that the TG community forgets about simply having fun, not everything has to build to a higher purpose.

  12. Well Lisa, you have just invited a lecture on the difference between TG and TS. I will defer now to others who may want to jump in (or not).

  13. I remember one Halloween years ago, Lisa, when I suggested that my GF dress up as a French maid, me as a butler. She suggested that I dress up as a French maid and she dress up like the butler. I went along with it, but I hated the way I looked. I remember thinking that I looked like a caricature of a woman. I felt ridiculous and I did not enjoy the way in which I stood out.

    So anyway, it's not necessarily "fun" for all trans people. I don't know that I'd necessarily say that it's an absolute difference between TG and TS, as mentioned in the comment above, but it's a difference with this particular transsexual woman.

  14. Morning all,

    Self-policing is probably our worst enemy in all this isn't it. I'm thinking of my years and years in the closet here. Not restricted to trans people, natal teenage girls hunt in packs.

    Having fun has been one of the best things about emerging from the closet.

    Halloween isn't as big a festival here, so there is no tradition of dressing up for it. Perhaps it would help us to unwind once in a while.

    Given the tools I have at my professional fingertips which sometimes appear here in posts about language, I could enter the fray once more on the definition front, but maybe not. TG, TV and TS are all accurate descriptions of me in British English, the first as an umbrella term, the second as a literal description and the third because I am that way and have a bit of paper from a bloke with lots of letters that says so. As long as it is recognised that the terms are not mutually exclusive I ain't that fussed.

    I think I would look like a caricature of a woman too in a French Maid outfit. TBH I've never 'got' the maid thing though I've had more than one proponent explain to me why they like it. But fun in dressing up is not limited to unusual costume. I don't think for instance there is anything of a caricature of a woman about going to a ball for instance and I'm sure there is a lot of fun to be had there.

  15. It's funny that you mention a ball. The first time I got my hair done, the well-intentioned hairdresser told me that she was thinking of starting a "Tranny Charm School" at which she'd do things like teach us how to sit properly in ballgowns and apply evening makeup.

    I tried to be polite, so I just kind of nodded my head and said, "Oh."

  16. That's so funny :) No doubt you would have been required to walk with a pile of books on your head too! (Though such offerings are not only directed at the trans community.)

    Fortunately my hairdresser is much more down-to-earth. She's cut my hair for years, and now as she's slowly working it towards a more dual-purpose style, we still talk about normal things like the performance of her son's under-11s football team or the failings of our local council.

  17. I don't think the world is ready for me to appear in a pvc catsuit :)

    I guess the lesson is one can be serious but not because you're transsexual

  18. Absolutely. There is room for frivolity in all of us.

    (Though you're right, maybe not *that* much... )