(Graham is from England were the word “trannie” is more lightly used. Those who are offended by that word should be advised that it is used in the following text.)
I’ve been thinking for some time about something I can contribute to the magazine, but to be honest, my life’s so mundane nowadays that there’s nothing really worth reporting. Yes, that’s right — I’ve worn skirts, dresses, tights and high heels for 12 years, while looking and acting like a man … and life’s still mundane!
But I did do something unusual last autumn — I bought a load of new clothes, partly in the shape of two tunic-top dresses and three knitted smock dresses on-line from Tesco’s F&F and BHS; they range from very short to very short indeed, with three-quarter or full-length sleeves. Add to that my very short Long Tall Sally LBD that I’ve had for many years, and I own a collection of items which few woman in their mid-50s would dare to wear in public, even with the obligatory black opaque tights and pumps that are in vogue at the moment. Yet I’ve worn my dresses to places as diverse as dinner parties, theatre concerts, a dentist’s appointment, and Sainsbury’s: there have been no abusive comments that I’ve heard (though a number of people have taken photographs covertly which they thought I didn’t see), and the overwhelming majority of people don’t even give me a second glance. In fact, I suspect most people are too busy to even notice — we all have our own lives to lead, and our own day-to-day issues to deal with and problems to solve. So while I can say that I always go out dressed, I can’t honestly claim that I’m never “read”!
But that doesn’t matter — in my view, trannies place far too much emphasis on “passing.” Oh sure, there’s a great buzz if you can pull it off — but if the success criterion for passing is based on whether you think anyone notices that you’re a man in women’s clothes, and if I can still get by when I make no attempt to pass at all, is your claim to being able to do so fooling anyone except yourself?
In my 17-year experience, trannies as a group would be far better off paying a little less attention to the line of the lipstick, and putting more work into their personal acceptance. I’ve read many accounts of a novice tranny going shopping and apparently passing . . . until a well-aimed comment sends them into a blind panic. Then they find themselves stranded in the middle of a store, dressed as a woman, suddenly the centre of attention from people they may know, with their embryonic confidence heading at high speed for the nearest window. They may not want to admit it, but their disguise was probably less effective than they thought . . . the reason they appeared to be passing was because most regular people don’t care.
In fact, I’ve often said that tranny survival (in the most general sense) isn’t about passing, but about confidence and attitude: if you think, look, or act like a victim — as many novice trannies do — then you might be expected to be treated like one. Nevertheless, I confess that I rarely venture out amongst the unwashed masses in the centre of big towns nowadays. I went into Ipswich for a job interview last summer wearing a skirt suit, and in the 300 metres that I had to walk, three people shouted abuse, someone threw gravel at me, and a van driver mounted the pavement specifically to try to hit me. Now, while I didn’t think that I looked like a victim on this occasion, there are some places where anyone who’s simply different in any way seems to be fair game; central Ipswich is one of those places, and I believe it says more about the mentality of the people who frequent it than about me — otherwise, why do I have no such issues in Stowmarket, or in any of the nearby small villages? Of course, I haven’t ruled out the possibility that I might have looked incongruous in what I was wearing not because it was a skirt suit, but because it was a business suit, and if you’re the sort of person who has nothing better to do than hang around the dingy run-down shit-hole that is 21st century Ipswich, then maybe you’re also a half-witted moron who thinks it’s funny to abuse people in the street.
And it’s not just trannies either. I know a musician who won’t walk from Ipswich’s main car park to The Wolsey Theatre wearing his dinner jacket and carrying his violin because of the abuse he suffers from the yobs, tarts, and assorted drunks who crawl out from the gutters when the sun goes down. Instead, he walks through the town dressed in jeans, a tee-shirt and a leather jacket, with his D-J and his violin in its case packed in a scruffy wooden box under his arm.
But I’ve digressed a little from my starting point. I concluded a few years ago that part of the reason my life’s so mundane is that I’ve accepted what I am — at least in major part. During my wild tranny days as Sally The Tart, while I was behaving in an outrageous and rebellious manner and being loud and obnoxious, I was on a voyage of self-discovery — although I didn’t realise it. To some extent, that voyage is still in progress — there are always new boundaries to push, new things to be experienced, new questions to philosophise over. Don’t get me wrong — I’m still outrageous, rebellious, loud, and obnoxious — but not just for the sake of it, and not indiscriminately. Some people I meet expect it, so I play along; others don’t, and I’m circumspect in their presence. Of course, everyone I meet knows what I am, and some of them know my history, but I don’t feel that I have to prove anything. Gaining their respect is more important, because I’ll probably wear short dresses and skirts until the day I’m buried, and showing that it isn’t just about shock value is a necessary part of my growth. It’s also an effective way of putting across the message that trannies aren’t some sort of mentally unstable freaks, but are just regular people under an unconventional exterior — people deserving of the same rights and respect as everyone else.
This article appeared in the MENSA enfem newsletter in the U.K.