Party wear

I wanted to dress like a whore. Well, not quite.

I went to U’s party on 31 December, the memorable night she got together with D. Last night was her birthday party, and next week she will move in with him. At Hogmanay, I wore a mini skirt and a rather demure top. Yesterday I went shopping with my hostess S down Kilburn High St and got a lace front human hair wig for £35, (amazing) and a black thing of lace, beads and sequins loosely tied between the breasts, showing off flesh around the navel, and a lace pair of shorts. Worn without a bra, it is not something to wear on the Tube if travelling alone.  Alas, no photographs.

I wanted to be out there. I wanted to celebrate myself as a sexual being. I wanted to show off my bare legs, and my midriff, because women tell me my legs are a good feature, and women are the people I want to attract. I do not want to hide myself away. I also wanted to experiment with this: it is just not the way I have dressed, before, even at tranny dos. N thought I looked as if I were trying too hard (she really dislikes my usual wig, too). U, whose long skirt beautifully shows shifting impressions of her legs, appreciated me, and leant me a chunky silver necklace, more suited than my Moonstone to the ensemble. “The bedroom is the place to be,” she said. “No, the place to be is the room I am in,” I replied.

It is a summer party, starting about five pm, and most people are dressed fairly casually. There are about 25 of us in the flat, about half of whom I know. Bloke in shirt and slacks comes up to me and says, “Hello, I’m Tim.” I’m Clare. “So, you’re trans then.” I was astounded, and not in a good way.

Later, I am chatting to Paul, a DJ with Jazz FM. “I’m Paul, by the way.” I’m Clare. “So, why did you choose that name, then?”

I was irked at that. Second mention, and I wonder if it has something to do with my way of self-presenting. He refused to admit that he had realised I had changed my name because I am trans. He started telling me that a lot of black people of his generation had changed their names from slave owners’ names to African names. I was so irked that I did not point out I am white- he can see that, after all. He says he interviews people. Monica, his seven-year girlfriend, joins us.

Third conversation: S tells me how she had a girlfriend 16 years older, twenty years ago. After they had been together for a year, she was looking through one of her partner’s books and a photo fell out of it. They fought over the photo but she ran with it to the bathroom, and there realised that it was her partner, presenting male before transition. S had not realised until then that she was TS. S found this a dealbreaker, thinking her partner had been dishonest, but the partner explained she had been advised by her therapist to put “her male life” completely behind her and live in the present moment. S left her. This shows that passing to an amazing extent- for a year in a lesbian relationship- is possible, making me feel worse.

Paul said I should have said to Tim, “No”, or, “What do you mean by that?” Well, I was a bit surprised when he said it. “What did you say?” I could not remember. Why should it matter, anyway? Because it is loaded. It means most to me, it is my life, but it means things to others as well. And he put me in a box.

Don't define me before you have even talked to me!

The day before, someone had chosen to unburden himself to me about his cross-dressing experiences. I tried to encourage him, saying it was alright, no big deal, if that is how you want to relax you go ahead- jumping to conclusions, really. Responding too quickly out of my stuff. His tone of voice had given some indication that was appropriate, but he might have wanted to celebrate it.

Around eleven, there is a mellow late evening feel. Eva comes with her friend Michael, a musician with a keyboard, and we jam, two guitars, a flute, and some of the rest of us singing voicelessly.

Energy returns. I dance close with U, and then with Jack. I feel wide open, and weep. The weeping helps me get into the present moment. Jack sees this. I feel he is giving me something beautiful, the space to seek to dance spontaneously in his arms, following not leading, rather than play-acting, assessing and judging how I am dancing and thinking through, intellectually, what I should do. This is an animal, feeling-based activity.  I am almost there- I weep again, in frustration.

Not quite a whore- a whore would wear a skirt rather than shorts. As N pointed out. If not all of it gave me pleasure, the party certainly gave me a worthwhile challenge.

_____________________________________________________________

What do I want from such a conversation. “So, you’re trans, then?” It is not safe to assume that this is a man to whom I can unload my own angst and be comforted, or even explain so that he will understand and affirm me. It would be easier if I had really internalised that being transsexual is a blessing. I do not want a sterile verbal joust, trying to get the other to state a position and then challenging it, but I would like to make it an exploration of his Stuff: “What do you mean by that? What do you think of that?” And be prepared to withdraw if necessary.

16 thoughts on “Party wear

  1. Personally I’d tell him to F off, but that’s just me. Who in their right mind thinks that “So you’re trans then?” is a good opening line? What’s wrong with people?
    Granted, this is my American point of view and I have no factual knowledge of what’s considered proper of not across the pond but really? Who seriously thinks that’s a good line?

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    • Well, yes, it is bizarre. I disengaged, I did not prolong the conversation.

      Part of what concerns me is that you get it, and other people there did not. A party, in the house of a bisexual woman, with among the guests one trans woman (me) an out lesbian couple, an amateur domina who hangs her whip on the stairs as a decoration, most or all of us on the new age/ spiritual/ whatever spectrum, and I get told “Tim is a decent bloke, what’s your problem?” Perhaps I should find better friends, but am not sure where, and would they be any better?

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      • Certainly Tim is not one of your close friends, otherwise he either would have A) know about you being Trans or B) not known and liked you as a person. So I don’t know that it’s necessary to find better friends as you say, maybe it’s just a matter of not associating with Tim other than at this party when you’re stuck together in what seems to be a rather small room.

        I totally get the feeling of being tired of dealing with awkward questions/unwanted observations from strangers. Sometimes I engage and try my best to make them the awkward/uncomfortable one (ie. “So, you’re a lesbian then?” My response would be “yep.” They’re left to deal with the awkward silence they’ve caused). Other times I disengage and find someone less idiotic to talk with. All depends on my mood/level of energy really.

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        • Actually I meant the others. They could not see the issue. I would have thought they would. I had never met Tim before, and “So you’re trans, then?” was actually his opening line. I wondered whether it was the clothes. That remains a possibility. Middle-aged frumpishness is tolerable, but if I show a bit of skin, I am fair game. Skirts are very short at the moment, over here, people wear shorts and black tights in the changeable weather, we show off our shape, why should not I? Because I am a threat to certain insecure folks.

          I do not encounter many such questions. I have already mentioned Richard here- he said, Hello Susan, this is Clare who has had similar experiences to Sandra- Sandra being Susan’s partner, a trans woman. He just does not get that such a comment is dickish.

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  2. Perhaps he used the wrong words but had good intentions.. Some people mean well, they just get nervous or are un-educated and flub their lines..I hope you were able to enjoy yourself regardless..

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    • Beryl certainly was. “I think you’re so brave, having the operation”. Trying to understand, trying to relate. So, not crass, not objectionable at all, and I had come out by inviting the Karate class to my tenth anniversary of Transition party. But Tim- it felt instantly like being stuck under a microscope.

      I am getting stuck in your Spam filter. Please, Release me!

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  3. Dear Clare

    You say, “Don’t define me before you have even talked to me” – but people do, all the time, which is one reason why we isolate ourselves. I would rather be alone, because being misunderstood so often makes me so dog tired. But I have stopped trying to make others understand me. They see what I am and wil always make of it what they choose in any case, and I am not responsible for their prejudices unless they are my intimates, in which case the problem rarely arises.

    I am sick to death of people who say, “Oh, so you’re a SPASTIC” and then “Oh, I SEE!” No, of course they don’t! But what should I do? I certainly will not engage with them, dispute it, try to change them – chances are, I don’t even like them, so why waste my breath? It is my personal challenge to say, “Yes”, smile and go straight onto something else. Rather harder to avoid them if they are at the same party, and oh so tempting to argue, but what would be the point??

    Lots of love and hugs! XXX :-)) ♥

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    • I do not socialise a lot.

      On the Friday, I had someone’s trans story. On the Saturday, I had “So you’re trans, then?”, “Why did you choose that name?” and another trans story. Walk away- but the room was only five yards by three, and I walked away only to be asked “Why did you choose that name?”

      I stick other people in boxes, but the boxes prevent the encounter. And- your walk is such a small part of you.

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      • Yes, indeed, when the room is only five yards by three, that is a pain, as is bumping into all that stupidity – the contunual prurience of those who are not really interested, actually, but who think they are being awfully clever/funny/daring/honest/down to earth/ grown up.

        I do stick others in boxes, feel a bit at a loss until I “know” but increasing recognise that I don’t know and don’t care to know. I just want us both to be happy, sometimes…

        Bless you, darling! 🙂

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  4. I bet you looked amazing. I really don’t know what’s wrong with people, they seem to think that it’s acceptable to ask unbelievably personal, presumptuous questions when they don’t even know you, as if you’re an object to be commented on. I’ve heard this complaint from a lot of people: “So you’re gay, right?” “Oh, so you’re the one who’s crippled” and so on. And they don’t see how unbearably RUDE that is?

    The only real acceptable thing to say is “Hi Clare, nice to meet you.” Or “Hi Clare, I love your outfit.”

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    • The video has other people in it, but I have hopes that there will be the consent to make it public. And- I want people to understand, so I am happy to explain, even for apparently crass questions: the issue is, does this person have respect for me? It was not the words, it was the non-verbal communication. He just didn’t.

      And thank you. Well, yes, I am not bad looking. For my age, etc, etc. Loads of photos here. Full of confidence, buzzing, happy, and those two “decent blokes” just drained it all away.

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  5. Hmm the first thing that popped into my head would be to humor the situation and simply smile and say…”so your male then.” blow him a kiss and wiggle your hips as you walk away smiling. 🙂

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