Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Daring deeds and simple assertions

Right at the very start of my transition, four years ago in early 2009, I was keeping an event diary that I've continued with to this day. This diary has always been much more than a collection of brief notes. I have wanted to record important happenings in detail, as a narrative, so that I can return to what I wrote later on, and see how my attitudes and thinking might have developed.

Of course, the diary has faithfully recorded the highs and lows of transition! Here for instance is a description of what I did in London on 13 March 2009:
 
Despite being another Friday the Thirteenth, 2009 0313 turned out to be a very satisfying day indeed. I went up to London by train, and I went dressed: tan leather jacket, black top, blue jeans, black heeled boots, with my Lilliput canvas shopping bag and a black handbag. Nobody batted an eyelid - actually I noticed very few people giving me any kind of glance. Arriving at Victoria, I needed to go to the loo: ladies or gents? The heels and bags would make it odd going into the gents, so, taking the plunge into the unknown, I went down to the ladies. No problemo. I emerged very relieved not to be challenged, but then, dressed as I was, with the hair pretty girly, and walking crisply and confidently in the heels, why should I be? And there was no need to speak, either - I could pretend to be a foreign tourist who knew no English. [I then met up with a ‘finished’ trans woman - we had arrange to meet for a tapas lunch]

Afterwards I went shopping. I took the tube to Knightsbridge station, and first went to the ladies loo in Harvey Nicholls. Pretty bold! It was much smaller than the Victoria station loo, of course, but thankfully there was no queue, and it was even easier to pretend I was just another tourist. It was very well appointed. Then I walked down Sloane Street, looking into the shop windows of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, Chanel, and others. I was after a really good designer handbag, and saw what I wanted in Prada. I spent a long time in there, discussing the merits of two expensive black leather bags with a nice Italian girl called Christiana. She modelled the bags for me, and I eventually decided on the one she liked better. It certainly was an impressive bag! She was delighted to find I had my Venice street map with me, and told me her favourite palace to visit (Palazzo Grassi), her favourite church (Santa Maria del Miracoli), and recommended the seafront walk from the Piazza San Marco eastwards to the gardens around the Quartiere Sant'Elena. Buying and paying for the Prada bag was definitely a pleasant way to spend time!

Finally I went back to Oxford Street and into Boots. I needed some proper makeup for the Transister event on the following evening. I asked for help, and another nice girl called Julie then spent an hour with me making me up with various Yves Saint Laurent products. I absorbed her advice and how to do it all, and bought nearly everything I'd need. Another nice experience.

Clearly that was a landmark day - my first foray into a Ladies' public toilet, and then all the high-spending thrill of buying a designer handbag!

Four years on, any sense of novelty from using a ladies' loo has long become unconscious routine, especially since my op in March 2011. And I haven't the money any more for designer handbags and posh cosmetics. But I'm staggered how bold and daring I was back then, when I really didn't look too good.

Three days later, on 16 March 2009, I made another trip to London:

On 2009 0316 it was up to London again, dressed up and lightly made up as well. This was to see Dr Richard Curtis. It was quite warm, so I was walking around in a dark pink girly top, jeans and my heeled boots, carrying the Prada handbag and the Lilliput canvas shopping bag. Nothing covered-up or reticent about that look! And it helped - in the main I passed completely unnoticed. I went into the ladies loo at Victoria station twice, travelled in very close proximity with all and sundry on the tube, walked crowded streets, and had afternoon tea at the Brasserie in John Lewis, and it all seemed natural and problem-free. There were a few glances, but, who knows, I just might have been worth an admiring glance. It didn't have to mean I'd been clocked, though I didn't mind if I had been - nobody said anything or made an issue of it. Not even on the train going home, when I was starting to feel a bit tired and less well groomed. It was all a big boost to confidence. I really must now do something about my voice and my hair. 

It's good to read that, and remember that despite a dodgy appearance I was all super-cool self-confidence. Perhaps I was in fact way too confident for my own good, and was tempting the gods, but it shows that a certain nonchalance can let you get away with almost anything.

On 21 March 2009, M--- and I went to the home of the trans woman (let's call her Y---), whom I'd shared lunch with in London on 13 March. It was a foursome that included Y---'s wife. They had found a way to share an ongoing life together. I hoped that M--- would be able to see that an ongoing life was a possibility, and that our own relationship need not be doomed. Well, that turned out to be a forlorn hope; but Y--- said something very significant in conversation while we ate. I noted her very words in my diary:

Y--- did not say that she'd always wanted to be a woman.  Her words were: 'I only ever wanted to be Y---' - an important difference. 

And I added: 

That was more-or-less how I felt: I wanted to be female, and would necessarily look like a woman, but I wasn't trying to conform to some conventional female image. I wanted to be distinctively myself: the transsexual known as Lucy Melford, and not the woman known as Lucy Melford. I didn't mind fooling strangers and officialdom with my name and outward appearance: that just made life easier. but I'd prefer people close to me, or in regular contact with me, to know exactly what I was.

Well: my words of four years ago. Has anything fundamental changed? I don't think so. I've done my spell of pondering on what gender is, why I might be different, whether I'm the same as a natal woman, and what it takes to be a woman. But I come back to the same basic position: I simply wanted to stop living a false life that had been imposed on me, and lead a new life as the true person, the one with a name that I'd chosen myself. So that I could say the same as Y--- had: 'I only ever wanted to be Lucy Melford'.

That still begs the question of what I am. 

'Female' certainly. The government has agreed. It's fixed forever now, irrevocable. It's on my Birth Certificate. Some people might have a theoretical objection based on what they believe are the distinguishing features of a female human being, but no matter what they say I'm legally a female, and that status is beyond challenge or change for the rest of my life. 

Socially I pass as female, even close up. I'm not saying I don't get clocked, but effectively all the people I meet are prepared to treat me as a natal woman. Sometimes I'm pretty sure that they really believe I am one. 

Physically I'm male-bodied with the modifications that female hormones and surgery have brought about. That's a pity, not being quite the same as a natal female; but the external appearance is nevertheless 'psychologically authentic' both for myself and for most onlookers, and that's good enough. Mentally I consider myself female, although I won't push that too far, as it's impossible to shrug off so many decades of male conditioning - just as it's impossible to learn all the things about being female that I should have absorbed during those years. On the other hand, it's been a very different story since 2008, and I'm thinking that I will get more and more accomplished in my modern role as time goes by. The point may come when there is no difference at all.

So in a nutshell: I'm female, and I claim affinity with all women as their ally, and because I pass as one I most certainly share their social status for better or worse. But I don't claim exact equivalence in every respect. I am prepared to assert only that I am the individual called 'Miss Lucy Melford'. That's all I want to be. The 'Miss' does imply several things, and I'd like them universally recognised, but like any woman - any person indeed - there is no guarantee that my wishes will always be respected in every encounter. But so far, so good. 

I'm also a retired person, getting older, and I suspect that in future years that status, as a senior citizen, will be much more important than what kind of woman I am.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh I've always considered myself female but forced to exist as a male. I am so glad I was finally able to transition. During my transition and for a while after my op. I got clocked on many occasions but after about three years post op. all that dwindled into the background, As the years have gone by, now well past 10, I am never taken as anything else but female. After so long on hormones you will find that too Lucy.
    Nice reading about your early excursions into womanhood.
    Shirley Anne x

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