Sunday, 15 September 2013

No Woman would do that!

    "No Woman would do that!"

    They mean well, they really do.
    Natal women, that is. Or more accurately,  some natal women, when faced with a trans woman friend, family member or acquaintance.
    They think they're helping you escape some unimaginable faux pas of either clothing or appearance. Sometimes they're right in that a little of the bloke has shone through, mostly though it's simply a shorthand for "I wouldn't do that!".
    'Cos here's the thing: women are not an army of clones, they dress and behave in a huge diversity of ways. So the chances are that whatever the behaviour or look, many women do it.
    It's indicative of an acceptance crisis in the mind of the originator, by saying that no woman would do what you are doing they are in effect saying that you are not a woman. Fair enough, it they've known the scruffy bloke for a decade that's a tough ask for some people. Give it time. And I don't need to be told I'll never be a natal woman, I have the lived experience to prove it. But the upsetting thing isn't that. Instead it's the suspension of the normal rules of commenting on female appearance.
    Consider this, your friend asks whether her bum looks big in that skirt. Do you say "It's nice, but maybe the other one has the edge", or do you tell the truth and say "Your bum looks like a continental shelf and your legs look like tree trunks, make it go away!". Of course you say the former. Gently passing comment on appearance disasters is something all women have hard-coded, the latter is definitely something no woman would say to another.
    Perhaps "No Woman would say that!" is an appropriate response.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Very abruptly growing up

    My mother is not well. After a few weeks of feeling weak and having muscle pain she went to the doctor, only to be told that she has something serious. Terminal, in fact. They can do things to make her life a lot easier and put off the inevitable, but at some time in the next year or two it will claim her. It could be sooner rather than later, we just don't know.
    She's in our local teaching hospital for a few nights at the moment for some tests, fortunately in good spirits due to feeling better after treatment. With luck we'll bring her home this evening, at which point she'll email my sisters. The last thing she or my dad wanted this week was them descending on the house as self-appointed angels of mercy to organise things that didn't need it.
    It's important to put this into perspective. My mother is in her late 80s. At that age though you hope there could be many years to go the fact is that the probability of something serious cropping up gets higher with every year. And having seen my grandmother slip into dementia in her 90s several decades ago I'm acutely aware there are far worse ways to go. At least this way she retains her faculties and receives proper care right up to the end. It's a sad indictment of our society that the quality of your end-of-life care depends on the trigger words in your medical file.
    My dad is his usual self, not really opening up. As luck would have it I've been at home this week, I can see I must make the effort to spend more time there from now on. Maybe a few nights every week.
    It's something of an abrupt exercise in growing up.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


    So, it's been a week now. Since going full-time female, that is.

    How's it gone? Very well. Beautifully normal.

    If you're full-time, you have no alternative but to just seize the role and go with it. All those worries and uncertainties have to be faced up to and overcome, for the alternative is that the boundaries of your world shrink to almost nothing and you can't get anything done. Hardly the point of Real Life Experience, is it.
    So that's what I did. Just got on with it. Four days in the office, one in London going to the GIC, and two days back at my parents place doing farm stuff.
    I like my office. My colleagues wear everything from the catwalk look to the dishevelled academic look so as long as what I wear is appropriate for someone of my age and height I can wear the widest variety of outfits without looking out of place. I wore the dress in the picture on Monday because I could for the first time in my working life, but I could get away with everything from comfy jeans to million-dollar-meeting power dressing. Somehow I suspect the former will become my norm though.
    London was fun. A lot of firsts: trains, the Tube, London shopping, walking through Hyde Park. Which all seemed as natural as anything  as of course it should, as all those things were hardly new to the old me. It was too hot though. I didn't get my outfit half as wrong as the other GIC patient in her black suit and heavy makeup, but despite my summery top I wished I'd worn some lightweight trousers instead of jeans. Still, at least half of London's natal women were in the same position.
    To be honest, the surprise was my invisibility. I can't believe nobody saw me or that nobody clocked me, but despite my lingering worries nobody took any notice of me. Except for one group, the few women of similar height to me I passed in the street. Without exception they noticed me, checked me out and made eye contact.
    Women do not make eye contact with unknown men in the street, so this was entirely new to me. I have it seems effortlessly joined the Very Tall Women's Club.
    The GIC appointment was routine. See the doc, hand over the paperwork, ask for a voice and fertility clinic referral, get appointment for February.
    So that's me set then. I never thought this would happen.