Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Bath Time Bathos

Walking to IKEA for my free coffee.

I was worried it might rain, I was wrong.
Writing this, sat in my new maxi-skirt from Lidl, acquired on the day I got back from the holiday referred to last time, after having read another article on the historical Jesus and the way the Gospels work, before lunch; I am thinking over and mulling on various things from the last few weeks. Firstly, I am dressed, obviously I hope. After spending most of yesterday dressed I went out to IKEA in the afternoon for a free coffee and to look over a potential desk purchase. It is my hope to buy that desk (with another free coffee) after lunch today, necessitating a change of clothing I suspect. I mean, part of me does rather want to stay as I am as I feel so free and comfortable: snag mustard tights, mustard t-shirt, maxi-skirt, stuffed bra. It's nice. Oh, and glasses. I even shaved legs, chest, pits and face this morning.

My hair is long enough to reliably be held back by a hair bobble for baths now, and I like that this is the case. Today I simply wearing an alice band and it's keeping my face free of errant strands, so I call this a success and think on what I'm going to do when I go back to work. Simple hair grips probably aren't going to be enough so... hmm. I'm digressing, stay on topic!


It was cooller than of late, I wore this
rather fetching jacket I picked up last week
to prepare and eat lunch.

It was really comfortable.
This blog has spoken before, quite a lot, about The Fear. This is the irrational worry that I shall be ostracised and punished for showing anything of myself. I say 'irrational,' but actually it's based on experience. Any time I have shared a bit of my inner self with people IRL whom I care about and trust I have usually found that turned against me in relatively short order. From my bosses back in the Old Place (and the Years of Hell) to, increasingly, my wife. That is, not always, but often enough that I grew careful.

Starting from admiring Toby from afar and then dating her around 2003-05 I began to realise that there was something about me that I could no longer deny. I had toyed with it since 1991 and realising that there was a name (or, rather, several) meant that I eventually caved to actually embracing wearing knickers briefly in the summer of 2004 (yes, this step actually took 13 years) and thence to dressing (December 2004) and thence to dressing in public (a birthday party, February 2005) over the next six months or so. It was in the summer of 2005 that I reached a decision that this was probably something I should think more on - I shaved my legs that August for the first time and built a wardrobe of sorts that would be used increasingly until buying a house where I specifically planned in the access to my small but growing feminine (for want of a better term) wardrobe.

Then that was all interrupted. This blog picks up in 2011 when I kind of threw caution to the wind and, unknowingly, my marriage along with it. Well, not entirely unknowingly, there had been the Summer that year...

Looking forward to the day when my actual
hair really is this long.

But I cannot deny, sitting here right now, that I feel most comfortable when embracing that part of my nature that seeks gender expression in this rather particular way. I cannot deny that, were I to have been assigned female at birth, I would have been a tomboy. I like dresses, this blog attests to that, and I enjoy skirts. I like tights and knickers and bras. But, recently, I have rediscovered a fascination for and love of female flared jeans. Allow me to explain a bit: back at University I noticed a student I would see about the pace who had flared jeans that looked as though she had modified with an extra red velvet panel in a triangle at the base - when she walked this panel would unfurl and take already flared jeans into new flared heights. I was so jealous of her owning those jeans. Apart from that she wore a velvet-effect jacket (male tailored, but taken in above the hips in feminine style), trainers and a t-shirt. All the women's styles I have looked at over the years, I have been drawn to the more masculine expressions of femininity (if there is such a thing).

In short, I think there's something about trousers made for women that appeals to me a great deal - clothes with pockets if you will - and were I born female I would be wearing men's clothes along with utilitarian women's clothing. I would still wear a dress from time to time, I like dresses, but for work I would likely wear trousers and a suit jacket with a plain blouse - almost as I do now. In  my leisure time I would wear jeans, t-shirt and some form of leisure jacket.

Today's 'look'.
Which is probably why labels have held such a fascination for me. For the longest time (well, okay, from 1991, the first reliable documented mention I have of me having specifically the feelings I try to explain here, to 2004) I didn't have much of a vocabulary to express myself. I have written before that I knew the terms transvestite and transsexual and didn't think I easily fitted into them. Other people always seemed able to express themselves with descriptive nouns like 'gay' or 'straight' or 'lesbian' - always more than just who they were. I was mostly comfortable with 'straight' but I have been making jokes about that in real life for as long as I have used the term to describe myself in much the same manner as Mae Dean made jokes about masculinity and being male. That is, I never felt entirely straight at all. I didn't find men in any way attractive (still don't, sorry) but I recognised that there were women to whom I was atrracted and women that...

There was, and remains, a large sub-set of women that I don't feel attraction towards. It is something else akin to respect and reverence but also longing. I now refer to that as wanting to be them. But that isn't quite right. Their personalities did not interest me so much (though obviously a little bit as style is often tied up with pwersonality). This manifested, very autistically, in me being able to use style as a means of short-hand to understand how people would react to cerrain social stimuli and what sort of things they may be interested in. But, and this is crucial, I wanted to be them insomuch as I would replace their inner selves with my own. I didn't want their lives so much as I wanted their position and the style that came with that.

Vesta Tilley. I found her in Nottingham in 2019.

I snapped this photo of a photo of her in a pub in
which I was drinking a half. She, and many like her,
fascinate me.

Here's the thing. If I had breasts and my facial hair
were removed and I were on hormones, I would likely
choose to dress in very masculine clothes. Now and
again. I can really see the appeal here.
Walking around town as a child I would look at others and wonder and how they were able to suffuse their style with who they were (or vice versa?) whereas I would look at what I was wearing and be indifferent. My clothes, I knew, did not reflect who I was on any level at all. I had been dimly aware of it before 1991, but I can find no direct references, so I can't prove anything, beyond some interesting stories written around 1988-1990 that bring in recurring female characters that seem to be an expression of myself. Sometime in the 1990s I recall having the thought that if I could dress in clothes designed for women that would be more comfortable and reflect 'me' more, I had noted that I was looking for pointers in how to appear more in passing women than I was in passing men. I was more interested in the women than I was the men, and not in your usual hormone-addled teenager style - I wasn't looking with lust but with longing and an eye for what 'worked' and didn't. Then, and for much of the decades that followed, I thought that I was simply being egalitarian: "all women are beautiful because of who they are, not how they look" - because what I was looking for was style that matched the way women held themselves. That is, there was no 'one way' to look good but there were multiple ways that women had of clearly feeling confident, comfortable and happy. I saw that and assumed I was experiencing attraction, but that didn't explain why some women I was very much attracted to and some I just... wasn't. And none of that explained why I felt so uncomfortable in calling myself 'straight' or 'a man'.

That incongruence had no name. I learned quickly that revealing even small parts of that feeling resulted in people drawing back from me or teasing until it became bullying. It was made worse, magnified, by having no easy name to describe what I felt - by having no label. Because that made it harder to explain to myself what was going on as well. When I read The Chrysalids by Wyndham I found myself nodding along in agreement to his description of 'thought-shapes' as a means of describing thought processes. Most other authors I have read who delve into the concept of telepathy (and it was a minor special interest of mine) use almost solely words to describe that kind of communication - as if people think in words and sentences. Very few attempt to share feelings or concepts the way Wyndham does. Having that concept and the vocabulary allowed me to understand the ideas better and to make better sense of my inner-workings in ways that meant I could talk about to others who hadn't read The Chrysalids. But, when coming up against my own feelings about who I was or why I didn't feel secure saying I was 'straight' I had no such terminology or analogies that made any sense. Or, rather, not ones that could be conveyed quickly and concisely.

In this post I have avoided labels (having used several nevertheless), and it has taken paragraphs of text to sum up my feelings in a way that makes sense enough to me in a community that I expect to have a passing familiarity with the concepts that I am describing. This is one of the reasons I like labels, so far and no further, and it explains, to me at least, part of The Fear. The unknown. Not knowing these fundamental parts of myself, or being unable to describe them easily, has led me to experience an awful lot of fear, anxiety and self-hatred over the years. That which I cannot define may as well not exist - something that lacks definition cannot be real or realised.

Other people can use (or not use) labels any way they wish - it is a deeply personal thing and I shan't be the one applying labels to anyone unless they tell me what labels they would like applied. I speak mainly to my own experience.

Accepting the term 'trans-woman' to describe myself, learning the term 'trans-lesbian' - these are things that have brought enormous comfort to me because now I can define things, at least to myself. I have a short-hand that I didn't even know I needed to allow me to recognise parts of myself I have long wrestled with.

I once read a book called Mealtime Habits of the Messiah. In it, Gempf has a section where he explains that many Christians wear slogan t-shirts that do not help themselves or the cause. He counsels the wearing of a slogan "Jesus would have had stern words for people like me" and then wearing that t-shirt inside out to prevent us falling into that kind of smug judgemental Christianity that is happy to accept oneself and not others. Or that seeks self-justification in the dismissal of others. In my case I suspect that Jesus would have stern words to say to me about my denial of myself in unhealthy and unhelpful ways over the years. His stern words would have included that admonishment that I was created the way I am - which includes those terms 'trans-woman' and 'trans-lesbian'.



2 comments:

  1. "Hostesses who fret about
    Who sits where will find
    That those who mind don’t matter
    And those who matter don’t mind."

    George Ludcke 🙂

    It is tricky though, navigating becoming who you are - or might be - if your immediate peer group don't write get it.

    See also musical tribes - or indeed maybe any gatekeeping - where you can't be X if you like blah, and all that tosh. 🙂

    I think labels can serve as a shorthand, but I think they're often too board to give the detail that a story or explanation might give.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No arguments here - the only way the short-hand works is to me, internally, if that makes sense. It's the precision to myself and an opening to briefly sketch something that I like about them. :)

      And absolutely on the gate-keeping part - labels do have a nasty habit of being used in exclusive rather than descriptive and inclusive ways.

      Delete

All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!