Friday, March 18, 2016

The Cat Paradox

Hello dear reader,

Today has been a gift. If you will, a bright gem within the regular mud of routine. To start off, I met with Andrea, one of the Chams Massive, who doesn't work too far from me. We met up, had a tea and a chat, then a stroll around the grounds, talking about this, that and the other. Mostly gender / trans stuff, in between trying to help with a lost dog. I think, - no, not the lost dog element - that being able to talk with someone who's on a similar wavelength, is one of the (many) good things about the trans community. You don't need to have your guard up, around what topics of conversation can, and, obviously, can't, be had.

A brief history of Slap

Afterwards, I popped in to a nearby gallery, to see the Boots Inspiring Beauty exhibit. There's been a few adverts for it here and there, and my interest was piqued, Anyhoo, today, I got the chance to pop in and have a look. There were around five, or six, display panels and a central hexagonal cabinet. There were items from yesteryear - like that launch in the 30s, the war years and changes stepping to follow how women changed.

Seeing how make-up fashions changed was one thing, but the shift from women being pegged as only demure and quiet, to This Is Me, was, for me at least, a pleasant eye opener. I think we've got a long way to go in terms of equality, but at least we are moving. There seems to be more freedom to be yourself nowadays. Okay, yes, there are still glass ceilings and beauty / conformity stereotypes, but... you can chose to walk your own path. Hell, if you write a blog about it (hint: not this one), you'll probably find some like-minded souls, or soon gather some.

Back to the exhibition; the 50s posters, while marvellously kitsch, where - according to the documentation - 'very gender prescriptive'. Perhaps that explains the use of 50s imagery as 'the enemy within' or a more glam, Stepford straitjacket (despite Stepford being set much later). Ironic in a way, that now, that 50s look has been remixed, with arm sleeve tattoos and more sass than a 40s pin-up. Not that, I mind, I think that's a great look.

In & Out

Legs san padding
I popped back to the office to show my face and charge my laptop. Lunch soon arrived and I was off to town to collect some new jeans for summer. New Look may have dropped their tall range from in store, but the Click and Collect service still services those of us with longer pins.

While I was there, I picked up some ballet pumps. My size 8 ones are a little on the snug side and hurt my toes, which isn't great - and that's with thin, or no tights on. Time for some new ones. The shop was pretty busy and despite waiting for a quiet moment, that wasn't going to happen. So, I took a deep breath and, once I'd found an illusive sales assistant, took Pat's suggestion, and asked if I could try the shoes on, away from the shop floor.

After a short pause of finding somewhere, I was whisked off to an out of use changing room, although the young lady said she had to wait nearby, 'for security reasons' and she rolled her eyes. Clearly, I looked the dodgy, shoe thieving sort ;-) I joke, because this now seems standard policy. I guess stores have lost out to some Scally's nicking the stock and walking out in it. Four pairs in and the last pair fit. Yay!

Out

In the comments about last week's post, Zosimus was kind enough to mention her coming out story, and also asked about mine. It's trick because it was a very long time ago, and memory; well, if the past is another country, memory has it's own language, laws and geography. I'm not sure you can ever visit the same place twice, when it comes to distant events. :-) But, on we go...

____________________

Put your mind back to the end of the 80s, and picture a teenager, laid flat out on his bed in a black, school uniform. He's almost face down, except his head is over the edge of the bed, while his feet are on the pillow. He's staring at the carpet. Perhaps, he is looks hard enough, the answer to what's bothering him, will surface, vision-like, from the threads. Weaveworld, this isn't....

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. The Gordian Knot of a problem about where he was headed, refused to be unpicked. Alcohol and, later, other substances, did nothing to tease the tightly bound ropes. Thinking, which usually worked, was not.

Some time in the year, perhaps the spring, or early summer, his mum enters the room, and asks what's wrong. "Nothing," replies the teenager. How can he tell his mum? He's worn her heels, tried on her dresses and his sisters. It's a violation of trust and personal space. How can that not be wrong?

She asks him and again, and she shuts the door. Is it someone at school? Is he being bullied? Is it a girl? Is it a boy? She looks worried. Worried because she sees her son's face screw up, as he begins to cry. The hold each other.

"No", says the teenager, "It's worse than that." She cries too and asks him what it is. He tells her, through tearful whispers that he doesn't know what sex he's supposed to be. He likes to dress like a girl and he's sorry, for trying on her things. She doesn't shout, or tut; for that was what he feared. Instead, she cries too and holds him. She says she doesn't understand, but she'll find help. Help, to help him understand and decide. No judgement, but there are tears. He wonders if he's let her down.

"Please, don't tell, Dad," he adds. Not because his father is an ogre. That couldn't be further from the truth: Dad is kind, gentle, funny and patient. The teenager doesn't want his father to know, because he feels ashamed. Other kids don't do this right? It's not normal. The mantra echoes around his head. It's not normal.

The door closes as mum leaves. The boy is both sad and happy that he told her. Schrödinger's outing.

Weeks later, the teenager sees the family doctor and tells him, perhaps in not the best of words, "I'm a screaming transvestite."

The doctor doesn't react, but nods, sage-like and says, "I think I know someone who can help you, with your feelings. Help you find out, who you are."

____________________

Or at least, that's what plays in my head. Let's face it, it's pretty crowded in there and I do like to spin a story. The truth, may be far less like that, but it's a start. If you feel like sharing yours, the comment box awaits. :-)

Take care,
Lynn


8 comments:

  1. That was beautifully put Lynn. Your mum's reaction was so amazing. Thank you for sharing x

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    1. Thanks Rhiannon. Mum did hope that I'd 'go straight', in the Norman Stanley Fletcher sense of the phrase.

      I had a purge in my early 20s and when I mentioned this, she seemed so happy. I still think she felt being trans - not that i knew that word then - was a step from being gay. For the record, I don't think it is. Gender isn't about your sexuality - IMHO - and again, I didn't know that either back then.

      Not only am I 'off the wagon', I waved it goodbye with a cheery smile and watched it trundle off, to a destination that wasn't for me. Okay, I think that's that idea tortured enough ;-)

      Now... What about you?

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    2. I typed up a very long explanation of my journey which I should probably post on my blog rather than filling yours with a very long story! But specifically with my mum, I only told her a few years ago. I worried, when I was younger that I was going to get completely rejected by my family. They had gay friends, but I never really gave them the credit due for being probably quite open people for the mid-1980s. When I did tell her though, it was the best thing ever and her acceptance was warm, loving and complete. Privately, she even refers to me as her daughter. She has met Rhiannon several times and we get on very well. Its brought me a lot of happiness.

      To play with the analogy a little, I tried much harder than you to straddle two wagons. The trans wagon and the 'trying to please everyone' wagon. I'm firmly on the trans wagon now, but I can still wistfully see the other one on the horizon. Sometimes wishing that I could still try to keep everyone thinking I'm vanilla.

      I'm looking at the wagon trundling off and I'm singing, in the words of Gracie Fields:

      "Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
      Cheerio, here I go, on my way
      Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
      Not a tear, but a cheer, make it gay" :o)

      I'm thinking that I've now tortured the analogy too... x

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    3. Glad to hear it went so well, with your mum. I wonder where these lost waggons end up?

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  2. Cheers for the shout-out, and thanks for sharing your story (Rhiannon too, if you're reading this). Accepting parents are a wonderful thing; sadly, not everyone has them (as far too many horror stories about LGBT kids being disowned by theirs can attest). Both of mine ended up being more or less cool with my CDing and androgynous dressing, though each probably had their own list of things from my wardrobe that they absolutely hated (somewhat confusingly, there were also a bunch of things from my wardrobe they really liked!). One somewhat tragicomic memory I have from the time I was still living at home was going to the occasional rave (they were really good places for dressing however the hell you liked, I found), and having to warn my folks when I was about to head off, so they could suddenly become very interested in whatever was on TV and not have to see what I was going out in!

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    1. Credit where credit is due :-) Glad to hear you made it mostly unscathed.

      Oddly, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I were discussing the behaviour of our youngest. Mrs J said - and with no malice - that she wouldn't want the kids to struggle. Something I agreed with. Neither of us would 'pick' if that makes sense, how Wee Man, or Little Miss, behave. All we want is for them to go up loved, well rounded and confident. What we don't want, is for them to really struggle with who they are. I suppose they could rebel and become - oh the shame! - ultra ring wing voters ;-)

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  3. Re the exhibit you went to, that sounds as if it'd be interesting. On the subject of the '50s, I've noticed a bit of nostalgia for that decade here too - for example, I know of a few local shops selling '50s-inspired fashions, and we even have some rockabilly bands here as well*. I have to admit it's a decade that's long fascinated me myself; while it had its obvious downsides, such as the culture of conformity that existed then (though I sometimes think this has been exaggerated in the popular imagination), and the ever-present threat of nuclear war (which, if '50s sci-fi movies have taught us anything, would be followed by such horrors as giant ants), I gather there were a lot of good things about it too. Economically, for example, it was apparently quite progressive by modern standards - governments hadn't yet been sold on the pernicious idea that the path to prosperity lies in privatizing and deregulating everything - and there's a lot to like about '50s popular culture too (I've long been a fan of the aforementioned sci-fi flicks, for example). Also, much of the women's fashion back then fascinates me because of how girly it was by modern standards. I can't deny that the older I've got, the more that kind of thing appeals to me.

    *I once saw one of these - a group called Hellbound and Proud - live. While their music may have been '50s-inspired, though, their lyrics certainly weren't (though, given their name, that's probably no surprise!).

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    1. I guess it's a highly stylised / idealised version of the 50s. Pretty sure today is a lot better, despite what certain newspapers tell us :-P

      I wonder if the fashion was more singular, in that there was One Image, rather than now, where there's lots of choice. Not that that's a bad thing. Variance can be a good thing, especially when you don't fit a very narrow ideal.

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