Thursday, 26 January 2012

Deadly serious

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!

11 comments:

  1. One of my biggest "give aways" is when I express myself especially when I'm relaxed and chatting, all those girlie expressions and head titling happen. So as you work hard to gain them, I have to work hard to lose them.

    Slouching has never been a problem for me though, or sitting with my legs wide open. :D

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  2. And isn't it hard work?

    Glad that some old 'faults' are now natural assets for you!

    Lucy

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  3. Very hard work! The hardest thing is appearing natural and "myself" when I'm constantly thinking "Okay lower your voice, stop grinning, stop getting over expressive."

    I feel a bit like a zombie by the end of it all. :D

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  4. Apart from attached, inadequate means, and no home help, we could almost be twins!

    Changing is a full time job...

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  5. I don't know what to make of this post Lucy. My first reaction was 'Gosh, I think she is having feelings of insecurity and perhaps she's thinking that unless she gets it absolutely perfect life is going to be a disaster'. Then I thought 'Well we all have to make adjustments as best we can even if we cannot get everything right, starting with the basics and gradually improving in all areas'. There is one snag with this though because natal females of our age have had a lifetime to get it right and we, if we were not already effeminate to some extent before we embarked on our journey, are surely not going to have the time required left to do so. If we had any 'bad habits' relating to our former alter egos then of course these are the things to concentrate upon. I feel the rest will have to be learned slowly. Perfection is not reachable for anyone and it isn't really necessary. As we go through our lives, especially if we have transitioned we do find that the correct behaviour befitting our assumed gender comes almost naturally, especially if we mix with those of the same gender. Subtle changes take place sometimes and we are not aware of it. When I first transitioned I was very conscious of my mannerisms and demeanour and made every effort to keep myself in check but as I matured in my new role I found that I had to do so less and less. Keep your guard up and make every effort to accomplish your goals but you will find it becoming more and more unecessary as time goes by as new 'bad habits' start to form.

    Shirley Anne xxx

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  6. I'm honestly not insecure. But nor am I complacent.

    One reason why I've so far avoided embarrassing public encounters with malevolent tranny-spotters is that I've paid attention to details. The Golden Rule is to look and behave as other women do. Be like them and you will blend in. If this runs contrary to your personal notions of how to express womanhood, then you run the risk of looking odd and behaving strangely - with perhaps unpleasant consequences.

    My ten-year aim is to refine my current presentation. It's good enough for most purposes already, but that's not enough. It can't ever be perfect, but I know I can work on it to achieve something close to perfection.

    Lucy

    I feel

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  7. I've found short stories are good to read aloud both for voice and for storytelling gestures.
    There's still a couple of times a day of 'reminders to self' but basically I'm generally too immersed in conversations to be that observant of my own behaviour. Not absolutely sure why this aim is so important to you,though. But then, being out, my aim would be to have Higgins and Holmes treating me as a woman despite that knowledge.

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  8. No, it's not hard work. At least not for me. I made a certain amount of conscious effort when I first started, but mostly I have just been me. That's my cardinal rule -- be yourself. Otherwise, it's one big performance, and people will see through that.

    One reason I became better as a counsellor was because I was finally congruent. What people saw was truly me, as opposed to what I used to try to be. Clients can see through incongruity very quickly.

    Maybe I was lucky because I've always been effeminate and never did "guy" very well. I suffered for it them, but it's probably helpful now. I feel like I'm just a better version of me -- without pretence. I could never not be me. I know how to act on stage, but in real life, I'm just me, the real me, for better or worse.

    YYMV.

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  9. Professional sportsmen and sportswomen, golfers, and boxers all give performances. They study video and such to give a better performance the next go-round. You're not giving a performance, right?

    Right?

    Perhaps you need to go a little easier on yourself. For example, what would happen if one of your movements wasn't smooth, light, quick, graceful, and deft? I suspect nothing. Sometimes we're anything but "light, quick, and graceful." There are all kinds of women.

    I feel that the more you tell yourself how difficult this stuff is, the more difficult it will be. As opposed to just living and being yourself, for better or for worse.

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  10. Quite a range of responses here. But I am disinclined to listen to any advice that steers me away from the best I can do.

    Yes, it is most certainly a practiced and polished performance for the world at large. (Is 'performance' a dirty word?)

    As for it all being 'hard work', I think that's true, but only in the sense that an athlete might train hard to win the top prize, or a scholar might study hard to get a brilliant pass at an important exam. And hard work can be satisfying and enjoyable. I see myself very much in the same position as the athlete or scholar.

    Lucy

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  11. As you know, Lucy, I have a very close friend who is TS. She doesn't seem to have to work at being a woman; it all comes very naturally... except in one thing. Behind the wheel of a car she's anything but feminine! Now I can't see you and Fiona being anything like that. Perhaps some things already come naturally.

    Angie xx

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Lucy Melford