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Friday, 18 December 2015


For this of us who are accepted by our friends and family, Christmas can be a wonderful time.

For others of us who are still in hiding, and who dare not ask for what we really want for Christmas, it can be just another nail in the coffin as we unwrap another sensible jumper when what we really wanted was a gold sequin top.

If I manage to get any free time between now and Christmas this year, I would like Susie to  wrap some of the presents, so she will at least be there in spirit on the day, even if no one else knows.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Though the Wardrobe: The Belle Dress

I was lying in bed last night listening to the radio and I caught the last part of The Belle Dress, a short story by novelist and playwright Lucy Caldwell, read by Kerr Logan.
It's a really beautifully observed story and I suspect many of us would recognize our early selves in that same mixture of longing, confusion, desire and shame.

You can find it here on BBC RadioPlayer  and also on the Radio Player pop-up app.
It starts about 2 minutes in  and is available for the next 29 days.


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Off switch

Sometimes I wish there was an off switch for Susie.

As much as I enjoy being her when I'm able to (though even that's variable, depending on the outcome), I don't enjoy *wanting* to be her when I can't. It feels like a constant nagging distraction, like a low-level tooth or ear ache that flares and ebbs constantly  in the background, and too often stops me paying full attention to what I ought to be doing.
That isn't a good state of mind to be in. Being preoccupied, distracted and moody, if not actually depressed, can affect both work and relationships and that not something I need right now. Somehow I need to be able to put Susie back in the box and forget about her until the days grow longer. It's going to be particularly hard this year, given she's only recently come out online. Not sure how I'm going to cope with that.

The other question that occurs to me is: If I really had an off switch for Susie, given the confusion and angst  that goes with her, would I ever want to turn her back on again?

Hope you all had a more fun and fulfilling Halloween..

Friday, 23 October 2015

Dressing up or dressing down?

In a recent post (Oct 22) Hannah asks an interesting question,
"When I dress up, I dress really up. I love wearing heels, a nice dress, jewelry and well done makeup... If I were female, I do wonder if I would dress up all the time or if I would have lazy days and be casual at times."
I suspect that a lot of us, especially those who only get to to dress on rare occasions or in private, tend to go a bit overboard  on the glam. After all, what the point of buying that nice party dress if you are never going to wear it, even if it is 11 in the morning. 

For us, those occasions are a rare treat, a chance to express something that is normally buried, hidden or actively denied the rest of the time. Others, with more courage and support, or accepting partners, may find a better balance than swinging between extremes of masculine and feminine behavior and appearance.

Given that, and that women have more clothing and style options available to them, I think that if I were female, or even androgynous enough looking  to pass for female,  then I wouldn't feel the need to dress up all the time. It would be something to look forward to for a party or a night out, but most of the time it would be casual. Maybe not the the extent that I adopt in male mode when not at work where casual verges into scruffy. As a male, I have almost no interest in clothes or sense of fashion and no real interest in my appearance. I exist in a monochrome world of  blacks, greys and dark blues as if I'm trying to fade into the background and not draw attention to myself. I wouldn't dream or dare to wear some of the colors Susie has in her closet.

But - to get back to the point - those are also Susie's 'dress up' clothes. It's just that she dresses up more frequently because she has so much less time available to her. [A psychologist is going to have a field day with this quasi-schizophrenic third  person stuff...]  

 If I were female, as Hannah posited, or able to be Susie full time or without the hour of preparation needed to realize her, I think I'd definitely settle more for comfort and casual over dressy most of the time. Some CDs say they feel more comfortable when dressed. I must be doing it wrong. I feel better about myself, but comfort isn't part of that equation. Heels hurt after a while, as do bra straps. Being tucked in isn't exactly comfortable. And if you blow your nose or wipe your eyes, it's back to the mirror to repair the damage. No, given the opportunity, I'd definitely go for a far more understated look. Slacks or jeans with a tunic top or sweater and ballet flats. However, unless Susie develops a more active social life than I currently have, she might never have the opportunity to wear a posh frock again.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A little something for the weekend..

I've been neglecting this blog. It's been a long time since I posted anything.

Susie seems to have kicked me back into drawing mode, but rather than clog up this blog with my scribblings, I've set up a Pinterest board for anyone who's interested in what I've been up to.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Crowing glory

In  her blog A Girl in Disguise Stefani writes movingly and affectingly in  The transformation  about her ambivalence in the process of getting ready and the results that stare back from the mirror, right up to the point the wig goes on and completes the transformation from male to female.
"In that moment when I slip on my wig, I’m transformed, and I’m aware of the transformation. It washes over me and I become a new person, a happier person."
I know the feeling. For me it's two-fold. As much as the transformation to Susie, it's the joy of having long hair again. As  I wrote in an email to Abigale recently,
"In those days [we're talking 15-20  years ago ] I didn't need a wig. I had long hair, almost to the middle of my back. It was the one thing about my male self I felt good about (even, perhaps especially, when I sometimes got confused - though only from behind - for a girl*), and I was devastated when it started to thin and recede in my 50s, and I faced reality and had it cut short."
 *This happened twice that I'm aware of.  The first was when I was 20, in my second year at uni. I was lying on the grass outside one of the halls with a friend, wearing just a pair of shorts and a singlet. A friend, looking out the window, told me later she'd asked herself who that girl was chatting with her friend before she realised it was me.
The other time was when I was working in a care home in the summer. I had to wear a tabard thing (I was promised it was unisex, but it probably wasn't) and tie my hair back in a pony tail, leading  one of the residents to ask me if I was a boy or a girl. 

I always hoped I would grow grey and distinguished as I approached middle age. If I couldn't be Taylor Swift, I could always be Emmylou Harris, who absolutely rocks the silver grey bob.

Instead my hair started thinning alarmingly, and then receding to the point where I could no longer pretend it wasn't really happening, and had it all cut off short. At that point  I had several choices: I could try to give up dressing; continue to dress and look like a balding bloke in a frock; or take the plunge and buy my first wig.

Option A lasted barely six months. Option B lasted even less, right to the moment I saw myself reflected in a mirror and felt stupid, foolish and ashamed.
As for option C, I had no idea where to start. I bought my first wig from a joke shop and it was exactly that, a joke. Katy Perry might be able to get away with it on stage, but I certainly couldn't. Even after I cut it back into a bob, it looked shiny and horrible. The next, this time from Amazon, wasn't much better.  I also made the classic mistake of opting for strong colours, first black and then blond, and in a style that while it looked good on my sister, patently didn't suit me, and worse emphasised my jaw.

It took a while, and a few more mistakes (including a horribly tangled blonde mess when I ignored warnings about curling Kanekalon fibre) to find a style and a look that I felt happy with and could look in the mirror without wincing. Who knew Susie was a redhead? Not me. It came a surprise, but the look on her face when she first saw herself in the mirror suggested she knew all along, despite what ideas her other half might have had.

Granted, it's still rather obviously a wig. And a synthetic wig at that. But nobody else is going to see it (well, bar the thousand or so people who've looked at this blog and Susie profile pic).
If it ever come to the point that Susie plucks up the courage to go out in public, or meet people, we'll have to see about something more realistic - and comfortable. And get rid of that tell-tale grey around the temples.

A few more drawings

A few more drawings. Nothing to do with TG. Just for the hell of it ...
Who's that girl? (answers on a postcard to the address on this blog.)
Not that happy with the hair on this. Need more practice.

Small fantasy owl - technical pen

Another owl. pencil and ink
Scary chick (Cuckoo?) A scraperboard experiment. Must try this again...

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A few more drawings

As a couple of you asked, and I'm immune to everything but flattery, I've posted a few more drawings found in long-buried files while I try and get my drawing hand (the left one, if you're interested) back into practice and have another read of Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

An illustration for a revisionist fairy tale which I think was called something like The Christmas Rose although I can't remember where this was from now. I think it may have from a writers' workshop I was involved in back in the early noughties.

Darryl was the sister of a friend and work colleague and had an incredibly cute Scottish accent. She had a younger sister  with  long blonde hair and legs that went on forever who was an absolute heartbreaker, but too shy to let me draw her.
Darryl, circa 1980

Cover for an issue of Prophecy fanzine.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

if Facebook had restrooms

Struck by the idea the FB reportedly has nearly 50 different categories for gender identification.

Monday, 7 September 2015

TED Talks- on transgender identity and experience

There are a number of inspirational and thought provoking talks on the transgender identity and experience as part of the online TED Talks series at
In his talk, How I help transgender teens become who they want to be, Norman Spack outlines the importance of modern techniques early intervention to delay puberty to give teens time to decide who they want to be.

Alice Dreger asks is anatomy destiny? and discusses her work with people at the edge of anatomy, such as conjoined twins and intersexed people, and wonders why, despite the evidence, the medical profession is still fixated on binary either/or concepts of sex and gender, and for whose benefit?

Transgender pageant queen and model Geena Rocera tells why I must come out after keeping her birth-assigned sex a secret from her colleagues and even her agent for years, “not because I thought what I am is wrong,” she says, “but because of how the world treats those of us who wish to break free.”

On the TED talks blog site, a series of 7 talks on the transgender experience to celebrate International Transgender Visibility Day on March 31st features talks by speakers from across the tg spectrum, including retired ex-CIA employee Alice Miller, model Geena Rocera and documentary film-maker Fox Fisher on how his own transition helped to kickstart a mission to help tell the unique stories of gender-variant people. 
Other talks are by Valentijn De Hingh, who has rejected the idea of the binary gender divide to become comfortable with her identity, the founder of Sirius XM satellite radio, Martine Rothblatt, and a fascinating talk by scientist Kate Stone, which isn’t primarily about gender (which she considers the least interesting thing about her) but is a demonstration of the various applications and toys she builds from conductive inks. Watching this, and struck by Stone’s obvious joy and enthusiasm for her work when she demonstrates a handful of music making apps, including a full functional DJ deck on a printed card, my first thought was “I want one of those.” And the second one was “I want her job”.

Saturday, 5 September 2015


I found this in a box of my old drawings. I don't think I consciously drew it as a TG image but in hindsight I wonder what was going on my head at the time.

 I used to draw all the time. I stopped about five years ago for no apparent reason and I've hardly put pen to paper since.

Perhaps its time Susie developed a hobby that doesn't involve so much constant self-examination and doesn't take up quite so much storage space.

I also found this in the same box. There was probably more than a little "I wish" going on when I drew it.