Sunday, 1 March 2009

Recognition, but the wrong sort

I was seen in the centre of Brighton three days ago. It was daytime. I was with a trans friend, and we were both dressed up. In my case it was nothing startling: a light tan leather jacket, blue-green scarf, blue jeans, black pumps, black handbag, and a big canvas shopping bag. Female stuff from top to toe, but not exactly Priscilla Queen of the Desert. However, the person who saw me wasn't prepared for the sight of me in garb like this. She hadn't been told about me yet. She was shocked. She phoned her mother, the only person (apart from Dad) now left from my 'old life', and she in turn related it all to me.

At first it didn't seem such a big deal. Wasn't this was just one more little widening in the circle of disclosure?

Then it struck both of us like the proverbial train that the world did not consist only of family members and friends. What about neighbours and local tradespeople? Practically everyone we knew locally visited Brighton, our nearest big town and shopping centre. Any of them could bump into me. Very few of them knew I was transsexual. Some would be similarly shocked. The same for any of Dad's neighbours. Some of these people were our discreet allies, others were gossips of the worst sort. I could personally escape tittle-tattle by retreating to another property half an hour away. But my friend couldn't, and would have to endure all the fallout.

We'd been thinking in watertight compartments. But other people in the village had lives that took them here, there and everywhere. Sooner or later I’d be spotted in female clothing, and the cry would then go up. The hounds would be set on me. I’d try to escape, but I'd be run to earth somewhere in the grounds of the Royal Pavilion. I'd put up a brave stand, and die hard, but I’d be exhausted and cornered. Torn to pieces by baying, slavering dogs, while mounted men in pink coats tooted their hunting horns and drank each others’ health. Another tranny humanely dealt with, town and countryside that much safer, the best way to keep 'em down, they love it really, the thrill of the chase and all that. Perhaps it would get a spot on the Meridian TV News, and the Brighton Argus could run a two-page spread on the Evil In Our Midst. (Bitter and paranoid stuff this, but I've had a trying week)

Actually the places of really high risk are few. I suppose it is probably OK to be Lucy at any time in outlying places like Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Chichester, Portsmouth and Southampton. Maybe Eastbourne as well. But clearly - for me - Brighton is a hot spot for embarrassing confrontations at most times during the day.

Well, I can wear dark glasses. And when the hair grows really long it might disguise me enough. And a nose job could help. But the only real solution may be to move far away where nobody knows me. How drastic is that?

SEQUEL
My therapist probed how I had reacted. She established that I wasn't personally embarrassed or abashed by the encounter, nor would be if I happened to met anybody else. She suggested that it wasn't reasonable to avoid walking about a place - or indeed to avoid any situation - just because there might be an accidental encounter that the other person might find awkward or difficult to handle. I shouldn't have my life restricted in this way unless there was a sensible reason. I've been thinking about this. I still don't want to create difficulties for the two 'pre-Lucy' people still in my life, whose feelings are very important to me, but I think that we all need to stop fearing what other people will say. And if it's somehow 'all right' for me to have a transsexual mindset but keep it hidden, surely it's even better to be honest with people and clearly reveal who or what I really am through my appearance? And indeed the same for them, if they have something they keep repressed? (I am, after all, often being told that honesty is the best policy)

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