Another 10 things I have learned as a Transwoman in the UK

1)      People think you’re gay.

Not everyone of course, but the side-effect of being lumped in with the LGB lot, is that it gives the impression that being Trans is a sexual preference. It doesn’t help either, the similarity of the language… ‘Homosexual’, ‘Transsexual’…means that it is easy to infer a greater relationship between them than actually exists. As frustrating as this is, one must understand that some people don’t know better because they have never been told better. Getting stroppy with someone for not knowing something is going to have no positive effect and could easily cost you, or the community at large, an ally. Facts must be faced, it’s not an easy ride, but it’s easier than past generations of trans people had, and we need to make it easier for future generations, even if that means answering a few uncomfortable questions with grace, gentleness, generosity and a little swearing as possible.

2)      High Heels Hurt (I know, I know I say this all the time)

A no brainer here, but if you insist on wearing heels (and who doesn’t want to every now and then, they look amazing) you’ll need all sorts of foot care products to deal with aches, pains, cramps, blisters, cuts, scuffs and sprains. Also, just because you can make it to the corner shop in stiletto heels, doesn’t mean you’ll make it into town and back as easily. Carry flats in your bags.

3)      Lipstick is impractical

All those images of models and movie stars with the cherry red pristine lips that you idolise, are just LIES!!! Lipstick looks amazing, but as soon as you try to eat something or drink something, it’s bye-bye perfection, hello smudges, smears and stains. Do you bite your lip when you think too hard or when you get nervous? Congratulations, it’s all over your teeth. Do you plan to kiss anyone… anything from a peck on the cheek to a full on Parisian tongue wrestle means someone else is wearing as much of it as you are. Of course there are certain water proof or ‘kiss proof’ lipsticks available, but even then they wear off. Women constantly checking themselves in mirrors does not stem from vanity, so much as anxiety that their makeup has gone from Bardot the actress, to Bobo the clown. They say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, but that is also the price of not looking like a circus act. Keep the lippy for special occasions. Gloss makes you look just as kissable without anywhere near the amount of mess or embarrassment.

4)      Your idea of a ‘dumb question’ is not always the same as someone else’s idea of a ‘dumb question’.

Remember asking where babies come from or why it rains? It might seem a dumb question now, but at the time you didn’t know these things, they felt relevant and important. I’m not saying that we should have to justify ourselves to anyone, or allow ourselves to be put on the spot and humiliated, but we must learn to judge a question based in the spirit in which it is asked, as opposed to the content of the inquiry. Treating someone who just wants to understand something that’s never been explained to them properly, or that is completely new to them, the same as you would some leery arsehole out to embarrass and ridicule you, is a great way of alienating someone who could otherwise become an ally. The best way to identify someone’s intention is to work out who is in control of the conversation. If you do not wish to answer any questions, politely explain that it is a deeply personal thing and something you do not wish to discuss.

5)      Julie Burchill is a bitch

Julie is of course not alone in the media, but at time of writing she is the most visible critic of Trans people (Transwomen especially). Her rhetoric is not based on the politics of the Trans community, or on the behaviour of individual Trans people, but on sweeping generalisations about Trans women, and her belief that Transwomen have no right to be recognised as ‘real’ women, even to the extent of deliberately using male pronouns for trans women. Burchill is a self-described ‘Militant Feminist’ that believes that natal women suffer in a society that is heavily biased, but Trans people don’t because we are all just ‘Big white guys who’ve had our cocks cut off’. Basically she makes all feminists look like dicks, many of whom are actually strong allies of Transwomen. Her comments however, are unacceptable and so are similar comments by other writers and should always be referred to the press complaints commission with citation. She is the 20th century equivalent of an internet troll, and feeding her just makes her worse. The only way to remove such hatred is my mobilising together and going through official channels to have her access to her outlets revoked.

6)      Hormones make you fatter

There’s science and shit behind this one, but I shan’t bore you with it. Testosterone helps you build muscle, Estrogen makes you store fat. It’s why healthy women are naturally curvier and have a higher body fat percentage than men of equal fitness. It is also why women have a lower RDA of fat, calories and carbohydrates than men. You will quickly develop a female metabolism, so you will need to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. I learned the hard way.

7)      Monumental, irreversible changes sneak up on you.

I’m not talking the wait for GRS. I’m not even necessarily talking physical changes. Your relationships with people change. You can put off telling your parents or your friends but there will be a point in your transition where you have to make that change and there is no going back. One of the hardest for me, however, was in deciding whether or not to preserve stuff to have children in the future. That decision is not there to be made as you approach surgery, you have to make it before you even start HRT. Another thing about living in the UK, is that the NHS does not cover these fertility services. You will need at least £450 up front to access these services, and that gives you the initial treatment, plus a year’s storage, with storage fees being renewed on a yearly basis. That is a lot of money to suddenly realise you need.

8)      White guys are the worst for hassle.

Sorry white guys. Many of you are lovely, considerate, tender, loving and compassionate, but hear a snide remark, a mutter of ‘That’s a fucking bloke’ or Hurr-Hurr-Hurr…Tranny!’, and the vast majority of the time (We’re talking 98%-99%) it is a white British male, with a friend or group of friends, aged late teens to about mid-thirties. They are the reason we need to be PR conscious as in points 1 and 4, so that other people will pay no attention, or even possibly chastise them for their behaviour. Challenging prejudice against a minority group is always taken more seriously when the challenge is from outside the minority group itself… tragic huh?

9)      Women ask your advice about men.

“You were once a bloke right? Why do men…” Sometimes you know the answer, sometimes you don’t but that opening statement still knocks you for six. Just remember to be polite about how you tell someone that you are offended. If of course you are not offended, anything you can do to ease communication across the (mostly artificially created) gender divide will be another baby step towards global harmony.

10)   Ouch!

Lying in bed at night, unable to sleep as you feel your prostate shrinking, or your breasts growing is not a pleasant experience. Seriously, with the prostate thing, it’s like something is trying to tunnel through you. Neurofen is your friend. Anyone who is sceptical about someone’s desire to transition, should have a couple of months on HRT. I imagine that this is the point where most who are going to turn back would do so.

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Filed under bigotry, Gender transition, humour, LGBT, List, misconceptions, Trans, trans issues, Transgender, Trassexual

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