I want to be pretty

I love wearing nail varnish, it makes me happy.  Weirdly I can’t stop looking at my nails, how shiny and pretty they look.

And I like the way I look in the mirror when I am wearing make-up.  Eye make-up and lipstick are the best but foundation is important too, even more so because I am male physically and have stubble to cover.

When I wear make-up I find myself pouting and flouncing in front of the mirror.  It is not because of some ridiculous stereotype of how women are.  It’s simply because I love to look pretty.  It is because I have felt trapped in my maleness all my life and looking pretty fits the way I actually am inside.  To see myself looking pretty and feminine – it is such a joy and such a relief.

I hate my hair by the way.  I do not mean the hair on my head.  I mean the hair on my chin, the hair on my legs, the hair on my belly.  Even the hair on my arms bugs me these days.  I shave my face, shave my belly, use hair removal cream on my legs and arms.  But still it grows, relentlessly, as if mocking me in my inescapable maleness.

I would take hormones to better enable my looking feminine and pretty.  But I like to masturbate and worry that hormones would make that pleasant, comforting pastime less enjoyable.  I might be wrong about that – or I might be right.  I do not know.

But femininity fits me better than masculinity.  And I need to look feminine and pretty all the time, even if that is not currently possible for me.  Something dies inside every time  I see myself looking conventionally male in the mirror.  Something cries with joy whenever I look pretty.  I want to look pretty.  I need to look pretty.  It fits who I am inside.

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The magic of the original Star Wars trilogy

Things that were truly great about the original Star Wars trilogy.

A New Hope:

The droids stranded seemingly in the middle of nowhere, on a desert planet and the innovative storytelling of seeing things through the droids eyes

The weirdness and variety of the strange robots on the Jawa vehicle, and the weirdness and variety of strange aliens in Mos Eisley.  The mystery and WTFness of this really makes the Star Wars Universe seem like a real place – like there’s a lot more going on than we know about.

Han Solo is cool.

The sneaking around inside the Death Star disguised as stormtroopers.  Not exactly original, Sam and Frodo disguised themselves as orcs inside Mordor.  But it’s still cool.

The garbage disposal – both monster and walls closing in are truly tense moments that are pretty cool.

Empire Strikes Back:

The whole film is awesome.  Unlike A New Hope (which has moments of true magic but is overall quite a hackneyed good v. evil, sword and sorcery in space kind of tale) and Return of the Jedi (which has moments of magic but a lot of very cheesy padding around it).  Empire Strikes Back however is total Star Wars magic from beginning to end.  There is literally nothing bad about the film.  But here are some of the best things about it:

  1. Ice and snow.  I don’t know why but the whole Hoth setting is pretty awesome in itself.
  2. AT-ATs!
  3. Mysterious, weird and varied bounty hunters.  Again, signs that there is a lot more to this universe than what we see in the films.
  4. The cool, enigmatic, silent but deadly, uncaring business-like, totally kick-ass, man of few words, absolute awesomeness that is Boba Fett.
  5. Betrayal
  6. Han Solo put into carbonite – tragic and dark
  7. “I am your father”
  8. The absolute peril of Luke falling, falling, falling and then hanging off that weather vein underneath Cloud City
  9. The melancholy ending

Return of the Jedi:

The weirdness and variety of creatures in Jabba’s Palace  – do I need to explain why again?

The Raancor.  OMG the Raancor!

The Emperor is pure evil.  He’s like the Devil or something

The scene when Luke is captured and talks with Darth Vader.  There are so many undercurrents going on.

Everything that happens between Luke, The Emperor and Darth Vader, but especially:

  1. That wonderful cathartic moment when Luke loses it and chops off Vader’s hand
  2. The moment of declaration when Luke says “I’ll never turn to the dark side, I am a jedi, like my father before me”
  3. Vader looking back and forth between The Emperor and Luke when the Emperor is killing Luke.  You can almost see the cogs working in his mind as he weighs up where his loyalties lie.  (remember that Vader offered that Luke could destroy the Emperor and they could “rule the galaxy as father and son”)

And I quite like the reconciliation between Luke and Anakin/Vader too.  We’ve been built up to it, it hasn’t come out of the blue.  Possibly his ambition to topple the Emperor led him in that final moment to realise he loved his son after all.  It’s entirely plausible and it reminds us that good and evil aren’t absolutes and that people can change.  Probably that’s why you shouldn’t “give into your hate” and why the dark side is wrong.  A spiritual, moral lesson for all of us.

Yes, Star Wars was pretty  magical in the old days.  I do feel some of that was lost in the prequels.  Hopefully the new films will bring that magic back.

I hate my face

I want a feminine face, a beautiful face.  But years of testosterone and poor hygiene have given me a red and rugged complexion with open pores, and a square, boxy (and these days fat) looking face.

When an attractive young woman takes a selfie on her phone with my face next to hers, I cannot help but see the two faces side by side and say “I hate my face.  I look ugly.”

I am transgender.  I accept that now.  For many years I didn’t.  But then I’m not a “typical” transgender person either.  I do not hate my penis.  And I feel non-gendered inside.

But nevertheless I do want to look feminine.  I hate my masculine face.  I love make-up and want to look pretty.

But make-up is scary, daunting for someone who was never raised as a girl; someone who never learnt how to apply make-up as a teenager or a child.  Now I am forty years old and the only make-up I wore as a teenager was the crude, gothic, black and white kind.  Ghostly white face, with black lipstick and black nail varnish.  That was as far as my teenage exploration of make-up went.  Anything more complex was applied to my face by the expert attentions of a female.  I didn’t take notes.

Later in my life I horded lipsticks of different colours.  And almost never wore any of it, except for the occasional secretive act of rebellion against gender norms… furtively, when my wife wasn’t looking.

So my skills are unformed, clumsy, confused.  And it’s all so complicated!  Primer, foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer, blusher… So many names!   What does it all mean?  And then there are the wealth of colours available for eye shadow and lipstick. But how do I know which ones will suit my complexion?

And the old familiar fear.  How can I browse the make-up section of Boots or Superdrug when dressed as and looking like a man?  How can I feel confident enough to take my time and look properly at the products I am buying when I can feel everyone’s eyes looking at me? Should I ask for help from a shop assistant or  make-up artist?  Will they criticise or ridicule me for asking about women’s make-up when I am (to their eyes at least) a man?

But I know I must master this.  I must conquer this obstacle.  I may be androgynous, non-gendered, or inbetween genders in my own mind but that is only one of my truths about gender.  The other truth about my gender, is that I wish to transition socially to being a woman: an androgynous lesbian woman to be precise.

And before I can figure out what I want to wear, or how I want to have my hair, in order to look like the woman I feel I am or could be, I first need to get my face right.  Because that ugly, masculine horror that stares back at me from the mirror is eating away my self-esteem and obscuring my eyes from seeing the real me.  Even when I’m having a good mirror day, when my face looks unusually good looking in my eyes, it still doesn’t look completely right to me.  My face is too male.  It’s a trans thing.  And it’s why, however daunting it might be at forty years of age, I need to learn to do make-up.

Public toilets and my genderqueer mind

I’ve been using public toilets for years.  And I always automatically used the men’s because, well, I’m physically male.

When I was young I never questioned it.  I mean, why would you?  But, you know, I’ve never felt especially male on the inside.  I never felt especially female either.  But as time has gone by, and I’ve become more and more aware of my true experience of gender it has started to grate on me.

I need to pee.  Must I have to gender myself every time I want to do it in public?

And is it me or have shopping centres decided to increase the size of the male and female symbols over the years? Now they are almost life size, so that I cannot pee in public without feeling like the world is screaming gender at me.  As if my genderqueer brain doesn’t struggle enough with having to constantly gender myself.

You see, genderqueer means that I do not feel especially male or female inside my own head.  Gender is an outward thing for me – I just happen to be male.  It doesn’t define me.  So over the years I have developed this funny habit of hesitating, if only mentally, as I assess the daunting prospect of having to assign gender to myself in order to urinate.  “Which one should I use?”  I ask myself.  And it’s a fair question because it’s no longer purely a matter of how I feel in my own mind.

I have started wearing knickers on a regular basis.  It helps me feel that however male I may look on a given day I still have that bit of femininity in an intimate place on my body.  Even if I’m dressed mostly male, I’m never completely masculine in my attire.  It helps me feel whole and healthy, happy and secure.  It’s a trans thing.

But this means that I have an unusual tendency to pee in the cubicles, not the urinals. I’d use the ladies, but if I am dressed mostly male then I fear that would get me into trouble.  Heck, even dressed androgynous (a mixture of masculine and feminine), I fear that using the ladies would get me in trouble.

But this “trouble” is also something I fear if I were to use the urinals in the men’s toilets while wearing a pink pair of knickers.

So I pee in the cubicles of the men’s – like that other type of trans person probably does: the trans man (someone born physically female but identifies as a man)

These are the strange kinds of things that happen to transgender and genderqueer people when it comes to public toilets.  And it is a level of discomfort that I think many non-transgender people do not really appreciate.  Because, honestly, who thinks that hard about as simple a matter as using the toilet?  Answer: trans people do.  Every day!

I pretty much always use the men’s toilets.  It’s more out of habit than anything.  But I do not feel especially male or female in my own mind.  And I even think that in the future I would rather transition to being a woman, at least socially and in appearance.  For those reasons there is one question that haunts me every time I need to pee:  “What toilet should I use again?”