Protecting my femininity

“I really trust in myself and my own Blackness,” says Quinta Brunson. How liberating! Something condemned, or seen as other and inferior, feared oppressed and resisted, being Claimed. “This is who I am, and it is Good.” Beautiful. I screwed up my courage, and typed: I really trust in myself, and my own

femininity.

I have wrestled with the concept here for ten years. It feels weak, vulnerable and frightening. It seems an oppressive, Patriarchal concept: women are not always feminine, and should not be expected to be. Sometimes it appears incoherent. And I feel unworthy of it. My internalised transphobia claims I am not really feminine.

I keep coming back to the fact of my femininity. I am still resisting, but it becomes more undeniable. I fear it, and that sets up internal conflicts which paralyse me. I denounced it as weak, sick, perverted, disgusting, ridiculous and illusory. Only as I accept that I am as I am, can I become free.

I desired someone. She was dominant, and I would submit. I wanted to nurture and care for her. The term in a Domination/submission (D/s) dynamic would be “serve”, but I don’t like that word. It is not just false self-image which makes me resist: I have value and agency which the word “serve” does not properly acknowledge.

It appears that some women, like me, want to be “taken”, or “overpowered”, by a sexual partner. Not all women, of course, and sex without consent is a violation. Some would deny it, and some would whisper about it. Some would fear it. Some would see it in themselves, and take precautions: being overpowered could be damaging, unless there is love between a couple.

Most people discover sex in their teens. A lesbian blogger said she was twenty before she found her community, and sexual love. I was so damaged by my culture, society and upbringing, so bound up in the need to make a man of myself, that I could not possibly have recognised my desires then. I want to be overwhelmed, and that would have been too great a threat to my sense of self.

Others saw in me what I denied in myself. At a dance in 1994, I took Jan in a ballroom hold, and she started to lead. I got embarrassed and upset, and she said, “I thought that was what you wanted”. It was, just, not what I could admit to myself. So I was stuck in impossible internal conflicts, denial and suppression, and starved for connection.

I want to be overwhelmed, and wonder if it is pathological: if my mother made me that way. When a trait is disrespected and denied, we search for a cause. The cause is, natural human diversity.

If it is hard for women to accept that desire, how much harder for men! Even when you accept it, the danger of it, the possibility of exploitation, continues. I am not a man, I am more or less clear on that twenty years after transitioning. The desire to make a man of myself recedes, though it was so powerful in me that there are still echoes. And perhaps in others: if men have an inkling that they do not fit the gender stereotypes of Manliness, they might have powerful feelings which they need to deny and suppress out of consciousness just as I did. It would feel humiliating, where if there were Love and acceptance it could be fulfilling.

I have little experience of sex, and almost none satisfactory. Well, we did not evolve to be happy, we evolved to reproduce. Two years ago, I coined this phrase: I want to open up like a flower. I have done, once, with a big, gentle man. My only response to him was to open from a foetal position, curled up protecting my breasts, belly and genitals, to lying on my back with my legs apart. This took more than an hour. And there was no “relationship” beyond friendship. Possibly his care was large enough to fill the word “Love”. Possibly the friendship and trust I felt for him was sufficient.

A scenario: you, the sub, are bound, gagged, helpless, at the Mistress’ feet (apologies to anyone who finds this overly vanilla).

I feel the sub’s attraction. There is the sense of being helpless, overwhelmed, controlled. But the fantasy is humiliating, echoing the humiliation the sub feels at his desires. He realises this is not manly. If he maintains a manly façade elsewhere, it might make him more ashamed and less likely to form a loving sexual bond.

At best, the humiliation might break him open, so he can admit his desire and be his whole self. Or he can explore it, experiencing what it is like to be this part of himself with another human being. At worst, he has an occasional outlet, walled round with shame and denial. I had an occasional outlet in cross-dressing. I could only integrate a huge part of myself through transition, and am still working on it now.

What I can’t see, in the D/s scenario, is anything valuing the sub. I have value. I am not just a plaything. The conventional ways people are valued- family, job, status- do not apply to me. I was systematically devalued, so I devalued myself. The vulnerable sexual being, overwhelmed, needs to be valued. I love Cranmer’s words: “Love, protect and cherish”. Cherished, I might flourish. Devalued and humiliated, I hide away.

Humans respond to being valued. We bring forth our valued parts. We hide those parts that are devalued. I have this capacity for surrender, which I fear in myself, and have judged and seen as weak. I need to value it.

A sex worker can get people to pay for that humiliation. And if she enjoys it, and he asks for it, why wouldn’t she?

Possibly, it’s just me, and everyone else has come to terms with all this…

I had initially called this “Fearful femininity” in the sense of “fearful symmetry”. I am in the embrace of unyielding reality, holding me as I struggle. If I reject my femininity I cannot protect those vulnerabilities in myself. I must value and protect my femininity.

Being liberated

This is who I am. This is what I want. No experience “made me like this”. No-one investigates what made someone heterosexual, and gay people strongly object to, mock and ridicule, and have managed to drive to the margins questions of what made them gay. Nevertheless there is widespread certainty on social media of what makes us trans, as if anyone who is not normal must explain themselves and find a cure.

Nothing made me submissive. I just am. But, being submissive, my experiences have profoundly affected me.

I was going to write a post about how my mother controlled me, except I have written it already– with many of the same stories I was thinking of including now. I do not have many stories, or memories. It just was. I noticed it was different from how other people appeared, but did not rebel until years after my mother died. There was love between us.

Part of my self-liberation was meeting this mother in a Citizens Advice Bureau. I told that story repeatedly, of how she controlled her son, and how it drained him of all motivation, and thought, mine was worse.

I had a line I had practiced, to end incapacity benefit interviews. I said to the son how I know it is stressful to lose your benefits, but we will appeal, I will be with you, and we have a good chance of success at the tribunal. And she repeated it to him, as if he needed a translation, draining it of all the respect and reassurance I put into it. “Mr Languish knows how stressed and upset you are, and knows how stressful you will find the appeal…”

I lost my own desires in my mother’s expectations, and so I drifted through life, stressed, miserable, distanced from my emotions. The Monster lurked in my unconscious, motivating me through fear, so that when I worked at something I pushed myself to exhaustion yet never acknowledged how hard I was working. So I broke and remain broken. But I clung to the thought, my mother was worse, though it made no sense, as I had been well-cared for as a child, with no cause to complain– and so started on a journey leading to meeting my inner Light, the Real Me. More and more, I manifest her, and still after doing all that work on myself around being controlled, I am nearly in tears of horror writing about it now.

And now I meet someone, who understands my kind of submissive. “I love how you soften,” she says, and sensations ripple through my body, which feels as if it is not my own. This is who I am. It is better to find out at 55 than not at all. She has shown me my capacity for submission and surrender more clearly than I ever saw it before, and shown it might bring me joy.

It frightens me. I think of the dominant man Andrew Griffiths. Why did his wife, Kate, not leave him earlier? Well, often women don’t. Possibly he broke her spirit. Possibly, she loved him, or could not imagine a life without him.

Nancy loved Bill Sikes, and he killed her. Kate Griffiths escaped, and has a burgeoning career. It seems better to me to be alone than to be made into Andrew Griffiths’ servant, but I would feel differently about particular strong women. It is much harder to be objective when it’s you. A friend told me, as an empathetic person she could be subsumed by a man, and needed a partner who would affirm her in her selfhood, rather than take control. She was warning me. She saw it in me. Uli dropped me, as D suited her purposes better.

This is who I am. It makes me vulnerable. “Though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,” I cannot be other than I am. It is so difficult to be human!

Andrew Griffiths- The Sunscreen Incident

Content: rape, coercive control, male entitlement. Andrew Griffiths was a Conservative MP from 2010 to 2019, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, a junior minister, from January to July 2018, when he resigned because it was revealed he had sent 2000 sexts to two female constituents. In June 2019 Andrew Griffiths MP applied to court for contact with his child. His wife opposed the application, claiming he had been abusive.

They got together in 2008. She found out about the sexting in 2011, and also about an affair when the other woman turned up at the Conservative Party conference. She stayed with him until the sexting, which had continued, was reported, when their child was only a few months old. The judgment on the facts of the abuse was only issued on 26 November 2020 because of difficulties arranging the hearing.

Her barrister, Dr Charlotte Proudman, reports that the sexts included “I want to be able to lift your skirts over dinner and show my friends”. Griffiths paid for this service, and could not accept the impact on the women of such texts, or that they were in any way victims. He said he was addicted to pornography.

So it is not true to say that a powerful man has been held to account, as the Court of Appeal summary does. He was powerful when he raised the action, and told his wife she would not be believed because he was an MP, but disgraced by the time of the hearing, when Kate Griffiths had replaced him as MP for Burton. He claimed in court that he had had a hundred hours of psychotherapy, considering the impact on him of childhood sexual abuse and the death of his mother, but that he was now mentally well- being well might be necessary to get contact, and being ill might explain some of his behaviour. He was in considerable debt, and living with relatives. The judgment on the facts shows the kind of abuse he subjected his wife to, over their ten year relationship.

On several occasions he penetrated her while she was sleeping, and “The sunscreen incident” shows he thought he owned her. After his disgrace, he gave evidence in court that he had paid for everything on an expensive holiday, and so was very cross when his wife had not packed enough sunscreen for him: she should look after him. His exposure in the Press has not taken his sense of entitlement.

He admitted that he went to the safe in the hotel room, got out his wife’s passport and Euros and threw them at her, telling her to “fuck off out of my sight and get the next plane home”. He claimed this was “such an inconsequential row” because “I was just a bit pissed off”. He accepted that he pushed her onto the bed, and even that “putting hand on someone is assault”, but still said that she had reacted “theatrically” because his push was “not violent or forceful”.

In court, he said that he thought he had apologised afterwards. He said he loved his beautiful wife, and the judge took him to mean that he could not have behaved as he said, because of that Love. However, there were other assaults, including when his wife was eight months pregnant, and of a 74 year old man.

With the press about to reveal the sexting, he sent her a message begging her to stay with him in an apparent relationship to save his career. He said it could be without “sexual or touching rights”, but a relationship based on consent has no such rights.

On 30 April 2018 Griffiths came home from work to hear the child crying. He shouted at the child, whose name and sex cannot be given in the judgment, though I found it instantly through Wikipedia. He shouted, “Shut the fuck up, [name]”. I have great sympathy for parents worn out by their child’s crying. One or two have told me how they came so close to harming the child, and how glad they are they did not. He claimed in court that such anger was normal and ordinary, and it was said in a quiet voice. The judge did not believe him. The child was not yet three weeks old.

The judge considered Griffiths’ attempt to blame his second suicide attempt on the mother’s refusal of Christmas contact an example of continuing coercive behaviour. The Court of Appeal said that his attempts to prevent publication of the details was a further attempt at control. Even in the last few weeks, he was still at it: his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was late, and would represent a misuse of the court process.

He continued his mad flailing to the bitter end. This is her official portrait from 2019 as a new MP (Wikimedia).

Surrendering

“My husband dominated me,” she said, simply. That would be exciting. He is a strong man, a bit of a pain sometimes. I think of her playing her cello to him, in the evenings. The dominant man, and the wannabe, can be a curse, negging, gaslighting, hitting women. I knew two woman broken by their sons hitting them. One recovered, one did not. One of the most exciting, spirited, forceful and intelligent women I know, her husband attacked her, and the iron entered her soul. Continue reading

Cross-dressing in James Joyce’s Ulysses

All is changed by woman’s will… with this ring I thee own.

Leopold Bloom, drunk in the brothel at midnight, is effortlessly dominated by Bella Cohen. The massive whoremistress is dressed in a three quarter ivory gown, and cools herself with a black horn fan.

-Married, I see. And the Missus is master. Petticoat government.

He confesses it is so.

-You are mine. It is fate.

He begs her to dominate him. She lets him retie the knot in her boot. She places her heel on his neck, and grinds it in.

-Bow, bondslave, before the throne of your despot’s glorious heels.

Having dominated, Bella is coaxing: “Come, ducky dear, darling, there’s a good girly now. Oh, ever so gently, pet, get ready, I want to administer correction.”

“No more blow hot and cold. What you longed for has come to pass. You will shed your male garments, you understand? and don the shot silk luxuriously rustling over head and shoulders and quickly too.”

“You will be laced with cruel force into vicelike corsets of soft dove coutille, with whalebone busk, to the diamond-trimmeÄŹ pelvis, restrained in nettight frocks, pretty two ounce petticoats and fringes stamped, of course, with my hoseflag, wigged, perfumesprayed, with smoothshaven armpits. The frilly flimsiness of lace round your bare knees… ”

He confesses again. “I tried her things on only once, to save the laundry bill… ”

“It was Gerald who converted me to be a true corsetlover when I was female impersonator in the high school play.”

She will make him work as housemaid, emptying the chamber pots. She auctions him off to the Cailiph Haroun Al Raschid. “The scanty, daringly short skirt, riding up at the knee to show a peep of white pantalette, is a potent weaponand transparent stockings, emerald gartered, with the long straight seam trailing up beyond the knee, appeal to men about town.”

Bloom, broken, closely veiled for the sacrifice, sobs, his face to the earth.

Hadley Freeman

Currently, anyone who wants to change gender needs to have lived in their chosen gender for two years and been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. If the changes go through, anyone will be able to declare they are a man or woman, regardless of whether they have made any actual changes to their lifestyle or body. This is known as “self-identification” … a lot of women have argued that predatory men could now come into female-only spaces unchallenged.

“A lot of women have argued.” That is like “People are saying”, the phrase Trump uses with his most outrageous lies. Possibly no-one will swallow it, and he will roll back from it. A journalist, even a columnist, ought to know the truth of the matter, which in this case is that self-ID will make no difference at all.

“A lot of women” claim that all trans women are “predatory men”. That does not make it true. Hadley Freeman’s article does not make it clear what she thinks, though men pretending to be trans women and dressing as women to get into women’s spaces are unlikely, as there are so many other easier options for predatory men. And men with beards pretending to “self-identify” enter women’s spaces only in diseased imaginations. Hadley Freeman praised the “feminists” who went to a men’s swimming session claiming to self-identify as men, but their stunt shows that self-id in law will make no difference. What matters is what people do.

So it seems that the “predatory men” Freeman fears are actually trans women, who are often terrified of being confronted. Before I went full time I had to investigate whether I could make a go of transition. That involved going out dressed female and using women’s facilities, before I made definitive changes to my lifestyle or body. I never asked permission of women as a class- I just did it, as other trans women always have. I had the support of women friends, then and now.

A feminist might argue that not asking women, just encroaching and presuming, was typical male behaviour. I don’t see an option. I was never challenged. I now feel that women learning to challenge encroachment is a good thing. Kasia Urbaniak, a former dominatrix interviewed in the Guardian, said women go speechless and self-conscious of how they are coming across, then acquiesce, shut down, minimise themselves and their concerns. Rather they should change the power dynamic by turning the attention back outwards, on the encroaching man. What are you doing here? What right do you think you have to come here? This involves breaking hardened social conventions where the “deck is stacked against her”- Patriarchy, in other words. Urbaniak observes men relaxing and deferring when they find she is the one with authority.

Justine Greening, then the Minister for Women and Equalities, announced a consultation on self-ID on 23 July, to be published “in the autumn”. Theresa May plugged it at the Pink News awards on 18 October. Since then a lot of women have argued that self-ID is the end of feminism and the ultimate triumph of Patriarchy. They seek to enflame hatred and fear against me, and people like me. When people pretend I am a threat, they licence themselves to attack me. I fear the Tory delay actively seeks to inflame tensions.

The refusal to make it clear whether the “predatory men” are men pretending to be trans women, or actual trans women, makes the anger and fear seem slightly more reasonable. It opens the door for hatred which can then be directed at us.

Freeman writes that “women and trans women” will have to work out a solution. Sometimes we will share space, sometimes not. This will be difficult, especially for my lot, if trans women in women’s space are the first lesson women have in confronting ~male~ encroachment. I went to see my friend Marysia, who pointed out a male among the females. She said it was malnourished and underdeveloped, and proposed a cull. It was a deer, she was working on the Balmoral estate, and still the story runs in my mind…

Integrating the self

I have not spoken to my counsellor for over a month, so have a lot of material to work with. I tell her of my dispute with Quakers, lunch with my friend, my holiday.

-I did a little light bullying.
-I don’t think anyone has ever said something like that to me. “How was your holiday?” “Oh, I did a little light bullying.”

I worked quite hard to make sure my friend had as good a holiday as possible, and when I could not find a way threw my weight around to make sure I got what I wanted from it. In particular I was not going to do boring things because conventionally they are supposed to be fun, especially as my companions had such limited ideas of what those were. And because he values my company so much, my friend has to take a certain amount of shit from me.

-You are very hard on yourself.

Yes. “Bullying” and “giving shit” are harsh words for me. I was kind. I was reasonably self-assertive. I was as creative as I could be. My judgment of myself is harsh, and I am allowing the judgment and trying to stop it preventing me doing what I want. Bullying is wrong. My inner critic calls my action bullying, yet I do it anyway. In unsatisfactory circumstances I am happy enough with my conduct.

At one point we reach a stop, and she says she has a question. Fire away.

-You said your internal policeman tasered you for not being sufficiently manly. Did he not get the memo?

We laugh. Apparently not. It is good to be conscious of him, though, rather than just being paralysed. I love the way I make her laugh. I am telling my stories as elegantly and quickly as I can, wanting to get the meaning over, but enjoying how I word them well.

Before lunch, H told me a coat would look good on me. I am playing control games. I like them. If that is her controlling me- what does that do for me? It is what I want. It gives me a sense of connection.

-Would you have bought the coat yourself?
-No. Never. But I love it.
-So she is appreciating a part of you which is usually silent, and giving it a voice.

I am addicted to attention. Or at least that is approaching the truth, one facet of it.
-You are being attractive, and valuing that.
-Crying in public could be that addiction. Yet it seems to me that when I cry my unconscious communicates to my conscious how strong my feeling is, and if I can fully accept my depth of feeling I need not show external symptoms. That can be useful.

She does not demur to that.

I have known I am screwed up and at war with myself all my adult life. I am closer to finding the cause of that than I have ever been, and to finding ways round it. My father was feminine, my mother liked that, they both knew it was utterly shameful and no-one must ever find out. I had one honest conversation with my father about it, three months before he died.

This is my work. It is intensely valuable, because I am valuable.

Being controlled, and passive. My best experience of sex so far was with a man who let me lie back, doing nothing, and with gentleness, empathy and generosity opened me up. I was curled up and self-protective, and he got me to open myself to him. He licked me out. “You taste Goood,” he said. I want to do none of the work, and be accepted.

Bullying. It is a harsh judgment. I am crying.

She says it is difficult to integrate the self when it is so repressed. At her request, I show her my yellow coat. It is very yellow.

We arrange another appointment, and then I watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine. I like it. It is decades-old SF entertainment for teenagers, and I still like it. It is beautifully done. I pause it to think.

Do I need it to be in some way objectively good, before I am allowed- can allow myself- to like it? Now I am weeping hard. NO! I like it! Yet this is an exceptionally good episode, ep 3/7, “Civil Defense”. I love the clever ways they come up with to reduce the threat, always making it worse until the end. I love the way the characters respond in ways like themselves: Quark and Odo flirt together beautifully, subtly showing their regard and care for each other as they bicker. It is funny. At the end, there is surely the tiredest clichĂ©- the computer counts down the seconds to Self Destruct- and the tension of it grips me. I love their heroism: continually knocked back, everyone keeps buggering on. I loved the sense of the characters, and see it is the only DS9 writing credit of Mike Krohn- his only other credit is one TV movie, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct: Lightning. I may watch that episode again, however ridiculous the whole world might find such a complete waste of time.

Feminine male, dominant woman

Femdom pictures and real life

I do not speak for other gynephile trans people assigned male at birth, far less the androphiles, but mine is a male experience of the world, and a male response. I claim the word “feminine”. It is rarely used to mean simply female, and normally used to mean “characteristic or regarded as characteristic of women; womanly” (OED). I claim that no response is truly characteristic of women alone, and want to divorce it from the much clearer concept of “female”. I am a feminine male. I am submissive.

The Urban Dictionary goes the other way: Feminine means “What pertains to a woman”. There are no qualifications. Whatever a woman does is feminine, because they are a woman, but that is not yet the standard use. My former colleague was often mistaken for a lesbian, because she was “masculine”, and I want a word for that. Rather than make the words mean “female” or “male”, I want to get rid of the prescriptive part- feminine or masculine are both Good, whichever sex one is.

A lesbian blogger wrote  that the straights found out about sex before completing puberty, but she had to wait for university to discover LGBT societies and gay bars. My father was similarly feminine, referring to my mother as “The Boss”, yet if we had in any way subverted patriarchy, I would not have grown up so certain of the importance of being Masculine. I got my shame from my parents, like the rabbit parasite which passes down the nose of the mother as she licks her young.

At the country dancing, there are more women than men, so women dance together. S was happy to dance “as a man” with me, and in the promenade hold pulled my right hand back just a fraction. I felt exposed, vulnerable, feminine, wanting to dance with her, and also frightened and ashamed. So I stopped going, before I smashed my car up which would have stopped me going anyway.

A woman told me, simply, “my husband dominated me”. That is quite acceptable for her, under patriarchy, but I don’t know what that would look like mutatis mutandis for me. I might manage to avoid overwhelming shame, but would still feel vulnerable.

Not entirely in a spirit of disinterested enquiry, I had a look at some female dominance porn, commonly abbreviated to “femdom”. I used it to help me consider what I want, and how that relates to sexuality. However the straight, dominant male might respond to these, the metaphors and symbols of female dominance are there: the frown and sneer of cold command, the camera’s perspective grovelling at her feet. It all seems so much hard work: normal straight people get away with just bodies, but there are so many props in the other photographs I saw. Though I understand no porn is a close portrayal of real life.

One woman whom I thought, wrongly, might be masculine with me told me that men who read her that way “want to be dominated”, which is a faff, except in matters of real life decision making. She was very pleased to get off with an army officer, at one point, but I have heard no more about that. I dislike the words dominant and submissive, anyway, they are too strong: perhaps assertive and assenting are better.

I tagged this “autogynephilia” because I am so “feminine” that only transition made sense for me. That refutes Blanchard’s, and other, theories. Wxhluyp, if he is still about, may have something to say.

This continues: women are attracted to feminine men; but- what might feminine mean? For me, it means this.

Amy Whitehouse wants to be the feminine one. I sympathise, I really do.

Strap-on Femdom, or human relationship

Ah. That is what I want. The pictures make it clearer. They show the women beating men, caging men, or having their feet kissed. All that foot worship would be such a bore: the woman “dominates” the man into doing exactly what he wants to do. The viewer fantasises about doing it, and is completely in control of his fantasy.

But all the women seem to despise the male onlooker, and act contempt for the males in the pictures and videos. I want to escape that bit, which is no necessary part of female dominance or assertiveness, just of Femdom porn. Either the pornographers cannot imagine such men not being contemptible, or believe that men will be more addicted to their wares if they feel themselves contemptible. The addict despises himself for getting turned on, and that self-disgust is itself addictive.

I want something else in a partner. I want to be assenting to her assertiveness, but I want affection. I can’t imagine any porn showing affection. If you know of any please let me know.

Past issues

Colin, a transvestite who may still go by the “femme name” Fiona, was very good to me. He had a boat on the Norfolk Broads, and I spent many happy long weekends on it, driving up and down the rivers, visiting Norwich and the pretty little towns, country churches, pubs and restaurants, in an alcoholic haze. He came to stay with me in Oldham, and we went out together to the Village (the gay area of Manchester) and the Northern Concord weekends, taking lots of tranny photos of each other. Several on my page Snap Snap Grin Grin were taken by Colin.

He did not think I was sensible to transition. He told me of a friend of his, an accountant, who had transitioned and gone to college to learn to be a hairdresser, but reverted after nine months. He portrayed this as a ridiculous mid-life crisis, and the reversion a return to common sense. I felt at the time that if someone was uncomfortable in the presence of a tranny, they would find a TS accountant less disturbing than a TS hairdresser- imagine, one of them touching your hair! Now, I sympathise with the woman, I might have wanted a complete break from accountancy too.

Colin had other friends who tolerated his habit of dressing up in “little girl” costumes, which he had hand-made. Once we drove to the south of England to a company which made disgusting false breasts aimed at the TV market, including a model with a reservoir so that liquid could ooze out of the nipples. I loathed “dominating” him, as he was in control: I got him to kneel in the porch once, in winter, to cure him of it, and sat reading, but felt miserable doing that, and called him in.

Our friendship ended after I transitioned. He promised to take me to the theatre dressed male, but when he arrived he insisted on wearing drag. I drove him there, and strode off in my sensible flats while he tottered after in his far-too-pale foundation, laid on with a trowel, and a mutton dressed as fetus minidress, but just before we left his daughter had phoned and I had snapped at her, and that was the breach of our friendship.

Oh, I am angry and hurt. Now. I hardly know how much I am angry with him, and how much with the situation. His wife tolerated his cross-dressing as long as he did not do it too much, but sometimes she felt threatened by it: his freedom to cross-dress varied.

I hate the queerness of it, the restrictedness of it. I felt I could dress female in the Village when I was terrified dressing in the shopping centre and the supermarket. With some reason: I went with colleagues to a night club in Oldham once, and a bloke tried to snatch my wig. I loathe the transvestite scene, with its jargon- GG for the few wives and girlfriends who turned up stands for “Genuine girl”- and, I am genuine. Yes, yes, tolerance in all things, and if I find them disgusting how may I respond to someone who is revolted by me, and- Oh, the fear, and the unnaturalness, and the fetishism!

I dressed there when I was too frightened to dress anywhere else. And, dressing there, I had an acute sense of my own unnaturalness and wrongness which I have not entirely shaken off. Miserable thinking of it, I lash out here at the mostly inoffensive Colin- my first draft had his surname and the name of the town he lived in, and I thought of putting in a photograph of him, which would be unkind.

I have a right to exist. I have a right to be me, and not to pretend, and it is still hard to accept that.