Hey everyone As I grow another year older I realise that I have now reached the stage where the press refer women by our attributes rather than our looks and I must admit I’m comfortable with that. I am especially comfortable with terms such as cultured, stylish, and sophisticated. I mean the descriptions fit me better than my favourite dress.
If I am honest I think the fifties is a far better decade for a woman these days than was the case for previous generations.
For those are now hitting the fifty somethings or like myself have done so within the last couple of years, life is far better than was the case for our mothers and grandmothers. We are not tied to the kitchen sink and are quite possibly the first generation who have had not only financial independence but also enjoy levels of cultural and social freedom our mothers and grandmothers could only dream of in times less enlightened than now.
These social and cultural freedoms are especially important for women like me. I say this because. I speak not as a biological women though my hormones are assisting me greatly in gaining a more womanly shape before I eventually go for surgery but as a self identified transsexual women who lives in my acquired gender 24/7.
It is these freedoms and greater understanding of the issues I face which will make my fifties a far happier decade than my twenties.
I feel I have to make this point as I have been asked on a few occasions usually but not always by men as to why I never decided to ‘come out’ in my twenties. Let me to put it in context for those who ask me this question. The 1980’s may have given me cultural icons such as Princess Diana Madonna and Kylie but it didn’t give me any role models.
This was a decade in which homophobia was rife and in the working class housing schemes of Glasgow few if any people were willing to admit that transsexuals even existed. This meant the issue was never discussed and any time I tried to raise it with my mother or others it was swept under the nearest available carpet.
My freedom years were anything but free for me. They were hostile times for trans people and those of us who knew that something wasn’t quite right were dismissed as ‘Jessie’s. So it is fair to say they were less than tolerant days and the idea that I could walk down the streets in a party dress or a pencil skirt just wasn’t on for those of us who valued our personal safety.
Also, it has to be said that though sexism still exists it is nowhere near at the same level as it was back in the day. When a tabloid culture of page 3 girls meant that many men were culturally indoctrinated in to superficial culture which placed the male construction of women’s good looks above other attributes such as confidence, intelligence, and humour which are at least in book far more desirable qualities.
Slowly but surely this attitude is changing and women are gaining greater respect for our abilities rather than whether or not we may look like a Holywood movie star. However let us not be fooled sexism is still alive and well even in post millenium Britain.
The most recent example was made by BBC commentator John Inverdale who the day before Andy Murray won the men’s singles championship described the new Wimbledon Ladies Champion Marion Bartoli as no looker. In another incident, political reporters criticised the style of Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont. Both of these incidents were reported almost as if they were trivial and indeed had it not been for the virtual villages of the internet the incident involving Ms Lamont could easily have passed me by.
Both incidents were disgusting both incidents were wrong so why you may ask do I even bother to mention them.
I mention them only to highlight the fact that sexism and stereotyping are still happening in Scotland and Britain today. I make the point that I know what it’s like to be judged on appearance.
You may think and I would certainly forgive you for doing so oh it’s another transwoman on the moan but believe me you couldn’t be more wrong. My life far from getting harder, is actually better now that it was before my decision to transition. Yes I know this may come as a shock to some people but life has actually improved for me and it continues to get better.
I think one of the reasons for this is that far from being a
barrier the fact that I am not the tallest girl on earth works to my advantage. I say this as at 5 foot 1 I am only around 5 inches shorter than the average women. Therefore I don’t stand out as much as I did in the past as the average male is between 8 to 11 inches taller than I am. So once people get over the shock seeing of a transsexual women I just to blend in the background rather than stand out from the crowd. Well it is far more common and socially acceptable to see a woman
of my height than a male of similar stature. After all, when she takes off her heels Kylie is smaller than I am.
This makes it far easier to fit in to society in my acquired gender than ever i could before transition when I was openly mocked and told that nobody made clothes for males of my height. This is have to say not a problem I face now, in fact buying clothes has never been easier or more enjoyable and I can spend hours going round the shops on a Thursday night or at weekends. Life is good and I am a happy women
I think one of the key reasons for this is the fact that despite my late mother’s misgivings and some people’s outright hostility I have been told by a significant number of people 90% of whom are women that I suit being a woman far more than I ever suited my birth gender and it’s not just because I can finally wear clothes which actually fit.
I say this because there are many people out there and yes they are mainly men who can’t seem to tell the difference between a transsexual women and a drag queen.
I have to say I find this attitude very insulting and you would be surprised to know how many of these men are actually gay. Shocked I thought you might be, but though I have many gay friends I have been stunned at the levels of ignorance from a section of a community which I believe should know a lot more than it does.
This ignorance is usually based on lack of awareness rather than rudeness and assumptions are often made about how I should dress by people who if they were honest do not have a clue what I’m going through. A classic example of this came from what I would refer to as a Man-Child who asked me how long I had been to use his words ‘dressing up’ Despite my repeated attempts to explain that l had at that time been living as a woman for over a year he still couldn’t get his head or perhaps if I’m more honest his rather inflated ego round the idea. It is I think sufficient to say that such is his level of brightness it would be no use whatsoever in a power cut.
In another example of this kind of stupidity another gay male Man-Child asked me if I went out like this, a question made all the dafter as I was standing in a pub at the time. Not content with exposing his lack of genius to the world he then further enhanced his glowing intellectual reputation by saying ‘well for all I know you could get changed in a telephone box. Now some of you may be shocked at this but I didn’t give him the dignity of an answer. Instead I just walked away glancing in his direction as I did so and doing what Glasgow girls are famous for giving him ‘the look’, you know that lets people know not to cross us. Well I have to be honest any say that you wouldn’t like a transwoman when she’s angry, and if there are anything which makes me angry it’s assumptions
I have never believed in sweeping generalisations and there are some I find very offensive like the idea that being trans is just about dressing in glamorous clothes. This does a disservice to transwoman. Identifying as the opposite gender to the one assigned at birth is not easy and the decision is never taken lightly. In fact the very fact that transwomen often come out far later than lesbians and gay men due to the societal pressure on us to conform actually stops this juvenile argument in it’s tracks.
Being female is about far more than looking good in designer outfits should we be lucky enough to afford them. It is about the right to take ownership of our feelings and emotions and express them in whatever way we must. It is about being who we have always believed ourselves to be and most of all it is about the right to celebrate ourselves and be proud of our acquired gender identity. We have the right to be who we are and that is a fundamental right which nobody can take away from us.
So the fact that I feel good in a white blouse and pencil skirt and have been told I look like a librarian is something I will take as a compliment. I don’t do glamour 24/7 no woman does, the pressure to look good would be far too much for Cheryl Cole, and Kylie let alone a girl from the schemes so I’m glad I don’t have to live under that kind of scrutiny. I’m glad that as I reach what some may call my more mature years that I will be judged on my attributes rather than my looks because as we all know looks eventually fade with time but quality lasts forever and trust me when I say I am a woman of quality.
Love And Best Wishes