Friday, 27 April 2012

The fanny-wavers

(I deleted this post by mistake, this is a copy retrieved from Google Cache. Unfortunately I lost the comments that came with the post, sorry commenters!)

    An acquaintance of mine surprised me a few months ago, she disappeared off to London to have her GRS. Why a surprise? She'd never said anything about her medical history and I'd never asked her, so from her demeanour I just assumed she'd transitioned much longer ago than in fact she had.

    Good luck to her, as far as I am aware her recovery has gone very well.

    There is a significant group of transwomen though who leave you in no doubt by referring to their GRS in practically their first breath on meeting you. Whether they are fresh off the plane from Thailand or twenty years down the line, it's their only opening topic of conversation.
    I have to say, I find this to be rather wearing. It's Too Much Information, I simply don't want to know unless the conversation turns to GRS independently, in which case it's valuable to have another first-hand view. If I meet a woman it's usually safe for me to assume she has a vagina by myself, nothing needs to be said, it's unimportant. Natal women don't tell you they have a vagina on first meeting, at least if they are not the kind of natal woman who stands on street corners wearing little more than their underwear.
    I wonder sometimes whether I'm not reading the situation properly. On many such occasions the chances are I'm presenting as the scruffy bloke, so am I in fact being propositioned? After all, why else would a woman want to remind a bloke she has a (presumably available) vagina on first meeting? I was always very poor at picking up on such cues when I was younger, so maybe nothing seems to have changed. Since I'm happily married and in general the people who tell me they have a vagina are not my type anyway, perhaps I should prepare answers that let these ladies down gently while making it clear that I'm not available for sex.
    Sometimes though the conversation descends into the farcical. One such lady felt it necessary to inform me unprompted that she experienced ejaculation, something of which she seemed inordinately proud. I felt that saying "Why what a coincidence, so do I!" would not be appropriate under the circumstances.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Excitement in a car

    Every now and then I see a car review, either on TV or in print, and I get rather annoyed. You see, the journalist has to find something to say about the machine and if it hasn't immediately impressed them they start finding the most ludicrous faults. Disliking the black plastic interior, some minor niggle in the handling under extreme pressure, or some little noise that sometimes penetrates their self-absorbed halo.
    I wish I was In Charge, I really do. When I am dictator, such journalists will be required to undergo a punishment regime involving being made to drive nothing but everyday cars made in the 1950s. The aim of this exercise will be to forcibly remind them that all modern cars are pretty damn amazing.
   They stick to the road in corners like glue in all weathers, they're quiet and spacious to drive, they've got bucket loads of power and the brakes stop them almost instantly and without drama. Even the cheapest modern car made by the direst Pacific-rim carmaker from a cast-off 20-year-old Japanese design has these features, in short motoring journalists these days are so lucky they don't know they've been born!
    You can probably guess I've been pursuing my personal automotive folly again. The Wreck has an MOT this week and I took it out to ensure all was in order. I was caught in an intense April shower, suddenly the car was being assaulted by huge drops of mixed rain and hail, the road covered in a sheet of water as it was coming down too fast to drain away.
    I pulled the knob marked "wiper". No fancy stalks on the column for multi-speed clearance in those days! The little archaic chromed wipers wheezed into life, sweeping the water from side to side. Couldn't really see much, but it was better than nothing.
    A corner complex I breeze through in the Rollerskate could have been made to show up the Wreck's handling flaws in the wet. Wahey, we're all over the place!! The phrase 'Dab of oppo' springs to mind, but let's just say when it happens to a Wreck it's not as predictable as with some cars.
    Then the window started steaming up. No problem, throw the toggle switch marked "Fan". Not a lot happens. OK, warm air was coming into the cabin. It blew out a sleepy queen wasp who'd obviously been hibernating there. Great, I'm in a car with hardly any visibility on a slippery road, and I'm in a confined space with a disoriented wasp. I pulled into a gateway to shoo the unfortunate wasp out of the car and to wait for the window to clear.
    The shower passed, ushering in bright sunlight on the freshly-washed countryside. I made my way home deafened and smelling of hot multigrade oil, cursing the wet that would have spread mud everywhere underneath the car just before its MOT.
    Any journalist who dares to criticise a modern car whose only fault is to be merely unexciting should drive a Wreck in an April shower. That should educate them as to what 'excitement' in a car *really* is!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Discomfort is part of the game

    I've been in some messy places in search of a good photograph, in my time. There doesn't seem to be a bog or piece of undergrowth in my county I haven't squelched or crawled through. I've been bitten by all kinds of nasty insects, narrowly escaped leeches and in one memorable case been hospitalised with an iris infection after stabbing my eye on a hawthorn branch.
    It's the inevitable product of a lifelong enthusiasm for the countryside I grew up in coupled with an insatiable curiosity for the out-of-sight, the invisible, the forgotten and the abandoned.
    Yesterday's destination was pretty mundane, a nature reserve within the boundaries of the city, an ancient river meadow that is home to an amazing display of rare snakes-head fritillaries at this time of year. It's a well-known local nature highlight, well worth a visit for my photo blog.
    The unseasonable warm and dry weather we've had through early spring came to an end at the start of the week. More like a typical British April now, overcast with showers. Or to be more accurate yesterday, a prolonged downpour.
    If you've walked for half an hour, you don't want to turn back empty-handed. So when I'd tramped through enough sodden grass to make my trainers and socks absolutely soaking wet and still hadn't found the damn flowers, I wasn't going to give up.
    I guess it's a law or something, the plant, animal or bird you seek will always be at the opposite corner of the nature reserve from that at which you enter. I hope the picture's worth the cold feet, anyway.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Wardrobe malfunction

    There are times when you realise how little can separate presenting as male and presenting as female.

    Last night saw the regular Swindon TG Group meeting. I was traveling from my parents place and picking someone up, so I had to get as ready as I could while still retaining a male presentation, then throw on the final touches before the final leg to Swindon.
   So, wash and blow-dry my hair, put on a pair of girly jeans, a pair of Boxfresh shoes which are pretty unisex, and stick with a bloke T-shirt advertising a well-known British online forum for owners of dodgy old cars. Hey Presto! Bloke.

    Bloke, that is, with a hairstyle that I'm amazed people register as male when blow-dried, and whose complete absence of beard now makes a lot of the make-up I used to wear unnecessary.

    So when the time came to change, I found I'd left my girly top at home. Damn. Girl in a dodgy old car T-shirt ain't gonna work. I'm not a 5'4" natal girl capable of wearing her boyfriend's T-shirt as a dress with a belt over leggings. So off to Swindon I went as the scruffy bloke. Annoying, but not insurmountable.
    But there it was, the difference between boy and girl distilled down to a slightly different top, a mildly padded bra, and a little bit of make-up. OK, and a necklace.
    I never thought this would happen. And now it has, I rather wish it hadn't. Somehow this has all become a little too easy, which in its own way makes things a little difficult.

    Never mind. On a lighter note, I dug out my old Nokia cameraphone earlier in the day, because it has a far better camera than my regular Motorola. One of the first pictures I took with it was one of an ant receiving a free lunch. I didn't realise how much I'd missed it, so seduced had I been by apps.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

It's all about the looks, innit.

    It's very unfortunate, but we live in a society obsessed with beauty. The goldfish-like attention spans of the media-sated are directly proportional to the bimbo-esque qualities of the dolly-birds piped into their living-rooms. The only place for the less beautiful lies in freak-show programmes, the Undateables, My big fat gypsy wedding, Super-size vs. Super-skinny. Or My transsexual summer.
    It was very interesting last year to listen to reactions from people outside the trans bubble to the MtF participants in MTS based on their looks. There were four MtFs on the programme, and to paraphrase the unflattering descriptions from outside the bubble: one was seen as pretty, another pretty but used far too much makeup, the next had a disastrous wig and the last was seen as still having something of the bloke about her. The last woman was furthest along the path of transition, yet it was sobering to hear people unconsciously refer to her as "him". Not through malice, just thoughtlessness and ignorance.
    Pretty strong stuff. And I think it's time we all admitted it, we all looked at their appearances too, whether we judged them by it or not. The phrase beloved of comedians "You were all thinking it, weren't you!" springs to mind.
    I'm writing this because I've observed a reaction somewhere else in the trans community to one of our number. I'm not going to go into detail because it would be unfair on her, but she's very talented at what she does. She's also pretty, I believe she was lucky enough to be able to transition young. I find it unfortunate that I am seeing praise being heaped on her from within the bubble for being pretty, rather than being clever or doing what she does.
    If we don't liberate ourselves from the beauty obsession, what hope have we for those outside the bubble?   

Sunday, 8 April 2012

On loose hairs

    One of my perpetual annoyances when I was much younger, still living at home with my parents and my sisters, was finding my eldest sister's hair.She has enviable hair and she wore it long at the time, so long reddish hairs would attach themselves to furniture, clothing and a multitude of other surfaces. Because I was a teenage spotty young oik at the time and very deep in the closet, I decided that this was icky, pertaining as it did to girls.

    Teenagers ain't the sharpest tools in the box, are they.

    I guess it's my sister's turn for a laugh at my expense now, because as my hair has grown out to a rather unambiguously female style, I'm finding my hairs everywhere. In fact, it's my wife who seems to find them more than me, and she's not entirely happy about them. Oops.
    When I say my hair is unambiguously female now, I'm not joking. My hairdresser has done an amazing job. I get away with it when presenting as the scruffy bloke by letting it air dry so it looks a bit lank and tousled, and because those not in the know see what they expect to see. But even in that lank bloke look it's got body and a wave that some women would kill for. If I blow dry it I get that curl at the bottom that would have made me very fashionable in the 1960s, shame I can't see the Mad Men look working on me.
    So with long hair, and beard in remission, I'm starting to blur the edges of gender presentation. If I look in the mirror when being the scruffy bloke, I can make the girl appear simply by changing my expression. And if I present as female it doesn't take much makeup for the bloke to go away completely.

    I never expected to reach this position. Especially not while still living most of my life as a scruffy bloke.

    A few years ago one of the biggest walls keeping me in the closet was the thought that I would never be able to present as female with any pretence of looking female. There is nothing more depressing than putting on female clothing and seeing a man wearing a dress in the mirror. I have a feeling one or two of my more whiny and depressive early posts on this blog explored that theme.
    The trouble is, with this evolving female presentation comes fresh stress. As if I needed that. It's better by far than the crushing depression I had in the closet, but it's a fresh reminder that this is a downward slope.
    With the stress of seeing the downward slope I have a lot to talk about in my counselling sessions. They are uncomfortable in themselves, forcing me as they do to confront things I might wish to ignore.
    It's funny, I have a sense I've never had before, that of leaving the bloke behind. I used to be a bloke who had rather a lot of the girl about him, now I have this feeling of having to make something of an effort to be the bloke. How on earth did that happen!
    Still, even if I ain't exactly winning I have to keep trying.
    Keen followers will have noticed that I've been away from here for a while. Work has been busy and I've been burying myself in some other things to try to keep my mind occupied and away from annoying thoughts. You know you're spending too much time with your Wreck when you start double-declutching your modern car.