I've never been one to make plans and then do nothing, at least not if I'm in a position to forge ahead. A couple of posts back, I mentioned some goals for the next ten years. These included finishing my 'apprenticeship' as a woman. I want to get to the stage where I can function completely as an unquestioned woman in any company, in any situation. Not merely to 'pass': I mean to engage with other people in depth, in prolonged close-up conversation, and seem to them totally natural. If possible, also vivacious and fascinating - but that would be an extra!
I'm not talking about 'acting'. I don't want to be anyone else, or to be aping their mannersisms. I want my individuality to shine through. At the same time, I want to match up the wider world's perception of what would be typical and natural for a woman with my nationality, social background, education and age group. So that when Sherlock Holmes and Professor Henry Higgins start to discuss me at some dinner party, they will opine correctly that I'm an unattached independently-minded and slightly unconventional woman of adequate means; grammar-school educated, but not very clever or quick-witted; with a veneer of provincial (rather than metropolitan) culture. Higgins will place me successively in South Wales, Hampshire, London and Sussex. Holmes will deduce that I had my tonsils out when seven, employ a home help, like toasted teacakes, and watch BBC4 far more than any other TV channel.
But when I am ready for that particular dinner-party, both men will read me as a woman and nothing else.
So what does an apprentice need to do? Well, practice, practice, practice at their craft. I'm deadly serious. I see too many trans women who have paid little or no attention to eradicating their male conditioning, and are not learning female ways in a systematic and sustained manner. The right clothes amd makeup are just a foundation. Attention must also be given to such things as posture - no male slouching, head up - and all movements must be smooth, light, graceful, expressive, quick and deft. What you do with your head, especially the mouth and eyes, is crucial. Women's faces are never deadpan like a man's: they are mobile, they tilt. And when speaking, see how a woman will use her entire body to express what her meaning is, leaning forward, or twisting it, to get across not only the face value of the words themselves, but how she feels inside, where she stands on the subject under discussion. Using her arms and hands and upper body to soften the impact of her voice, or to reinforce it. And almost more importantly than the voice itself, using her eyes to signal the intensity of her interest in the discussion. So different from a man's delivery. And how difficult to master, if you have spent over five decades on another planet.
So I spend time all through my day practicing. Here, for instance, are some shots in which I'm recalling facial expressions that I've used during recent social events. I want to see how they might come across in a more demanding setting - a dinner-party hosted by the Director-General perhaps:
These pictures, supplemented by the odd movie, are study material. I use them to examine how I might appear to someone else. As you can see, some of them are not very flattering, or at any rate not at my 'best angle'. But those shots may easily be the most revealing. I am doing much the same thing as a professional sportsman or sportswoman. Such as a golfer who analyses a video of their swing, frame by frame. Or a boxer who studies their technique in the ring. All done to discover flaws, things to be corrected in order to win next time.
These shots also appear on my Flickr site, but for another reason. I want them in the public arena, as a record of progress. As mentioned before, there are those who have decided to shun me, but are still looking at my blog, or my Flickr site, to find out what I'm up to and what I look like. Let them see a proper selection of photos then. It's no great effort to upload pictures that show a gradual improvement in my appearance and social acceptability!