Monday, 31 October 2016

Nun better

    Ooh look, it's the last day of the month, and Jenny's feeling guilty again that she's not written anything! Truth is, writing for a living consumes all of my muse, and several times I've sat down only to have my inspiration evaporate. As though I have a certain number of words within me on a given day, and once I've used them all then that's it.
    We're not supposed to enjoy wearing the clothes, are we. It's the discipline imposed upon us by the medics, scared of regretters they insist that those of us who transition must not be cross-dressers, and certainly must not be doing it because they like the clothing. It's a completely crazy distinction, because the nature of our condition means that identities are fluid. Anyway, there's nothing wrong with enjoying wearing something, as many natal women will tell you.
    So I found myself last week in the odd position of breaking that particular Golden Rule. It was a Halloween party organised by a community organisation of which I'm a member, and I'd made my own costume. As realistic as I could make it, a mediaeval nun. I had an old Army tent that had gone into holes, made from dark brown canvas, the perfect fabric. A lot of research, and raiding my mother's worn-out-sheet box for some distressed white linen, and I had made a startlingly good costume. Tunic, scapular, St. Birgita's cap, wimple, veil, outer veil, and belt and crucifix. Sorry, no pictures, but it was definitely not the fake nun costume they were expecting.
    Unsurprisingly I have never worn a wimple before. It's a tapered fabric tube that ends in a face-sized hole. You cover your hair with the St. Birgita's cap - a fabric cap that starts on your forehead and ties at the back of your head - and put your head through the wimple so the wide end of the tube covers your shoulders - mediaeval nuns didn't have the big white collars, they came later - and adjust the narrow end so it goes under your chin and pulls tight somewhere on the top of your head. There are a couple of tapes you tie behind your head to pull it taught, and there you are, forehead covered by the white fabric of the cap and cheeks and chin by the wimple. The veils then fit over the top of your head and are then either pinned in place or in my case tied by another set of tapes behind the head. This would have been standard wear for any mature woman until about the 14th or 15th centuries, though it is a garment that has only lingered on in holy orders since then.
    The surprise for me was that not only was it a very comfortable garb to wear, it also felt secure. Your hair is out of the way, your forehead's covered, no worries about gaping necklines. It's almost like the security of retreating under the bedclothes as a child, you are no longer exposed having retreated inside the veil, and your view of the world is framed by it. Quite a powerful effect, and unexpected.
    The costume is now folded up in a drawer, and will no doubt be forgotten until some random time in the future at which it will be discovered and exclaimed over. As my friend Dawn used to put it usually when referring to outlandish frilly creations sported by our more adventurous friends, you wouldn't wear it to Tesco. But I'm not ashamed to say it was something the wearing of which I found surprisingly pleasant, even if it does stray close to that Golden Rule.
    The really amusing part is that also present was another friend who I also know through my church. an LGBT outreach that crosses denominations. Now all of them will know of my moonlighting in a habit, and I'll have to patiently explain that low-church rural Anglicans don't do that kind of thing.
    At least, not on Sundays.


  1. Sounds like another amazing creation - and always so well thought out!

    My Halloween costume was 80's make-up, a witches hat (with spiders and feathers) and clothes that I had that fitted the idea best!

    As for enjoying wearing the clothes, if you don't enjoy wearing the clothes you are wearing then you are going to get so depressed (weather the clothes you like are sweatpants, cocktail dresses, baggy jeans or whatever!). The more I hear about the process in the UK, the more I am pleased that I did it over here - my therapist actively helped me find what I am comfortable wearing so that I could get comfortable being me. I feel great in all of my clothes (most of the time), and if I don't then I don't wear them a second time (except for lying on the pavement polishing exhausts - but hey that would so not be practical in a petticoat, and I would rather ruin clothes I hate than ones I love!).

    It's even something I use to try and help me in daily life. With my dad's illness I have had to overcome my fear of flying. Or at least tame it enough to get in a plane to go and visit. Now, I know most people go for loose, baggy, comfortable clothes when they fly. Me? I go for my favorite fitted 50s swing dress, petticoat, seamed tights and most unsuitable heels. Why? Because I feel a million dollars in that outfit and that helps keep me sane when I am trembling from fear of getting on a plane.

    (And, yes, I do go to Tesco in the same outfit :) )


    1. It's not all bad here :) Yes there are some archaic attitudes, but you just give the right answers and go on your way. The thing that's most annoyed me has been that i've had amuch easier ride than some I've known because of my background & occupation.

      I suspect the '50s look ain't never gonna work on me, no matter how much I want it to :(

  2. My favourite relation when I was growing up was an anglican nun. I would only see her once a year when we were returning from our annual holiday, she would take me round the woodland grounds testing out mu knowledge as I recognise now. Hers was the life I felt would best suit me! Can you imagine the utter shock the year that my sisters were ushered into the priory and I had the door closed in my face...?

    With the shorter days I must get out the sewing machine again and repair a few of my favourite thing...

    1. It's funny, I have never quite understood the "call" because it's never come my way. But I do envy those who have it their devotion and certainty.

      Yes, those moments when you got forced down the "boy" route were never good, were they :(

  3. And, of course you WILL be posting pictures?