Someone sent me a link to this short TED talk by Paula Stone Williams
It’s very good.
The key quote I took from it was “What do any of us really know about the shoes in which we have never walked?”
It was the Monthly Market at Farnham Maltings on Saturday, and as regular readers will know it’s something I like to go to regularly.
I started to put together a skirt & leggings type outfit, but it just wasn’t working, so in the end I went for jeans, boots, and a top. I chose a nice striped top by Phase 8 that I like, along with a Per Una cardigan and a jacket, and overall I think the outfit worked pretty well.
I wore one of my favourite necklaces – a 1920’s/1930’s oriental style necklace in gold or gilt silver (not sure which) with black enamel inlay and 24K gold engraving that I bought a couple of years back. I have a matching bracelet for it but since it lacks a chain I am always nervous about wearing it in case it comes undone and I lose it. But I decided to risk it.
Partway into the journey and I realised that I had lost the bracelet already. Oh no! But at least that meant that I had either lost it in the house or in the car, so there was a chance I would find it again.
I arrived at The Maltings just before midday, and started having a look around. It was quite busy!
I got talking to a seller who spotted my necklace and showed me two bracelets she had that were similar. They were gold, and very good quality, and so unblemished that they looked almost new. One was too small for me, and the other, which fitted me, was £45 which was far more than I wanted to pay. I told her that I had no doubt that it was a fair price but it was too much for me, and she asked what I would pay. I stressed that I wasn’t trying to beat her down to this price, but that I generally didn’t pay more than £25 for a bracelet. She looked rather shocked, but I went on to say that I’d spent under £30 on the necklace. She semi-seriously offered me that on the spot for it because she said it was worth far more, but I declined explaining that this was one of my favourite necklaces and I simply couldn’t part with it. After chatting a little more, I moved on.
Imagine my surprise when, in another part of the rabbit warren that is The Maltings, I found a seller with a very similar bracelet priced at £25. It fit, it had a chain, and it complimented my necklace. It also had more of a patina to it, which I liked. I don’t see this style for sale very often, so it was quite a surprise to see a total of three bracelets in this style for sale at one event.
I asked the seller if she had any movement on price, but she said she did not. So I just paid her the £25 asking price as I really wanted it and it was within budget. She even threw in a box for it, which was a nice bonus.
I also picked up a pair of tiny little silver heart stud earrings that will be ideal for work, for a very reasonable £4
After I had finished at The Maltings, I decided to go home via Fleet High Street, and parked up in the Council car park. I was pleasantly surprised to find that parking was free due to a “Small Business Saturday” initiative by Hart District Council. I think this is a great idea as I have long been of the opinion that one of the things contributing to the death of High Street shopping throughout the country is the cost of parking. Let’s hope that this initiative was a huge success and encourages it to become a regular thing.
My main reason for visiting the High Street was to call into Serendipity. If you’re not familiar with this shop, it’s a small unassuming shop front on the Fleet High Street that belies a large Tardis-like rabbit warren that seems to go on forever, culminating with Daisy’s Tea Room at the very back.
I didn’t find a huge amount there, but I was drawn to a cute & cheeky laundry sign. It was brand new and made in China, but at £12.50 I thought it was just about cheap enough to justify buying. I tried to get it for a tenner but unfortunately the ticket price was fixed. Oh well.
I didn’t find anything else I wanted there, so walked up the High Street popping into the various charity shops, but didn’t get anything other than a DVD. I did get a new scarlet matte lipstick by Maybelline in Superdrug though, which I think will look nice.
When I got home, I hung the new sign on the mirror in my bedroom, which is above (but to one side of) my laundry basket. I think it fits in there quite well.
I then went looking for my bracelet. It wasn’t in the car, or on the driveway, and it wasn’t in my bedroom where I had put on my cardigan (I thought perhaps this is when it might have fallen off), and wasn’t any of the places in the house that I had been that morning.
I was scratching my head by this point, and then I remembered that I had transferred the contents of my old hand bag to my new Radley one. And there, inside my old handbag, was the bracelet; it must have fallen off whilst I was moving stuff across. So that was a relief.
Clearly I needed to put a chain onto the bracelet if I was to wear it again with confidence.
I’ve been collecting this style of jewellery ever since I bought the necklace, and now have the aforementioned necklace, the two bracelets, a broach, two pairs of clip-on earrings, and another necklace which is rather clunky and has some damage and which I have never worn.
As luck would have it, the broach has a small security chain on it with a spring clip at one end and a safety pin at the other. Since I don’t really wear broaches, the chain looked ideal for use on the bracelet.
I very carefully opened up the ring securing the chain to the safety pin, removed the safety pin, and then attached the ring to the bracelet. It was a very fiddly job and took me a while, especially closing the ring up again satisfactorily, but I got there in the end. I’m quite pleased with myself for achieving it, even though I say so myself.
Before I got my makeup off, I also managed a quick photo shoot in the outfit I was wearing. I chose the spare room for this, with me sitting in the window. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, although the end of the bed does rather distract from the picture. I could have digitally removed it, but I thought it was far funnier to leave it in and lampshade it with a knob gag. 😀
I’m wearing my new lipstick in this pic, but you can’t really see it very well.
It’s now been over 3 years since I last had laser hair removal treatment.
Mostly, things have stayed pretty much static on my body. As I mentioned in my last post on the subject, regrowth on my arms and legs has been minimal – I still have individual hairs here and there; nothing that a couple of minutes with a razor can’t sort out. My underarms have developed a soft downy hair, but it’s very easy to take off with a razor. The regrowth on my tummy hasn’t got a whole lot worse, but is still very evident. Likewise my bikini line. The sparse regrowth on my chest and bewbs has come back a little but not unacceptably so – a few moments with a razor sorts it out.
However, the regrowth on my face has been extensive, to the point at which I am struggling to hide beard shadow even with high coverage foundation.
As I result, I have decided it’s time to recommence laser hair removal.
The ProSkin clinic that I used previously is no more. The company behind ProSkin went into administration in 2016, and then were bought out. Looking at their website, it seems that the only clinics now operating are in London.
I contacted them, and got a phone call response, where I talked with AnneMarie who is keen to see me for an initial consultation next week where she can do a quick patch test (largely unnecessary considering how much laser I have already had, but necessary for them as they don’t have access to my ProSkin records of course) and also discuss with me what my requirements are.
The plan is to do some maintenance on my body regrowth and to attack my face in earnest with a view to completely eradicating my facial hair. I would imagine that is going to involve another whole course of laser for my face, and also a fair bit of electrolysis too. Due to my age, my facial hair is rather “salt and pepper” these days, and laser will only address the pepper. For the salt, we’ll have to use other methods like electrolysis.
I’m quite excited by this, as I have never been happy with having to trowel on foundation and would like a more natural look, but that is currently impossible with my beard shadow. Also, every time I blow my nose I have to touch up my upper lip to replace the foundation wiped away, and this is a constant source of annoyance and worry for me. As is getting foundation on people when I hug or kiss them. It would be nice to never have to worry about that again.
More news as it happens.
Update: You can read a follow-up post here.
Just over two years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “Does a rose by 58 other names smell as sweet?” where I talked about Facebook’s attempt to allow users to specify more than just a gender binary of male or female. I also mentioned how I wouldn’t be using it as I had already subverted the system to force Facebook to use the singular “they”, “them” and “their” for me by recording a null value for my gender.
At that time, Facebook were proposing an enormous drop-list of every conceivable variation, seemingly having taken on board every suggestion from every focus group they had done. It sounded like an unwieldy mess to me.
Today I decided to revisit my unspecified gender on Facebook, and made rather a pleasant discovery – what is now on offer is actually pretty good!
At the simplest level, your choices for gender are initially presented as a drop-list of “Female”, “Male” and “Custom”. This doesn’t alienate all the cis-gender people who just want to choose from a simple list. This is good User Interface design.
Selecting Custom is where it gets interesting, as the options then expand to let you choose your gender and also the gender pronoun you wish to use.
Choosing your gender is via a free text field that also accepts tags. In other words you can type what you want, but if what you are typing matches something that already exists then you can select it and it becomes a tagged value instead . If not, it stays as free text. Very flexible. This is very similar to when you tag someone in a post.
You can also specify who can see your gender on your profile. You can leave it as public, or limit its visibility. This uses the standard privacy menu that is used throughout Facebook, so you can choose from the standard options or go full custom. I chose to limit it so that only Friends can see it.
You can then specify your preferred pronoun. Currently this drop-list only has the options of Female, Male or Neutral, the latter being the singular “they”, “them” and “their” that I mentioned earlier. Facebook does not allow the use of the various gender-neutral pronouns that have been proposed and adopted, with varying degrees of success, by some. See the links below for more details on this, if you are interested.
This will be a huge shortcoming for some people but it’s a balancing act between complexity and usability and, although it is fairly limiting, I think it will be sufficient for many people. It is for me. Although, having said that, the singular “they” is rather clumsy for personal pronouns and for that I would have a preference for the Germanic hir for her/his, and zie for he/she.
So, in summary, Facebook seem to have found a good balance between User Interface simplicity, and the flexibility to let people express their gender identity. From a Design perspective, going down the route of “Female”, “Male” or “Custom” was absolutely the right thing to do.
I hate to say it, but it looks like Facebook got something right for once.
It’s been said that trying to ‘pass’ as other than your birth gender is like playing a game where the moment someone becomes aware that you are succeeding, then you have just failed.
On Saturday I played just such a game, as I do every time I go out in public in girl mode.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel like there is a fine line to be walked when going out shopping in girl mode. If you dress up too much then you will stick out like a sore thumb as many women don’t bother when just going shopping. Some appear to make no effort whatsoever, in fact. But at the other end of the extreme, if you emulate them and also dress down then you won’t have a hope of passing. You often have to over-feminise to compensate, which means paying particular attention to your makeup and wardrobe.
On Saturday, I didn’t heed my own advice and went out in jeans, unisex Merrell sandals, and a top. On reflection, although very comfortable, the sandals were a bad idea. I find that wearing a heel encourages me, and constantly reminds me, to walk in a feminine way. Flat shoes do not and you often forget. I also have bad posture in guy mode, and again heels encourage me into better posture as they affect the way you stand as well as the way you walk – in short, it’s much harder to slouch when you’re in heels.
Anyway, that all said, into Camberley I went like this.
I parked up in the multi-storey car park and even in my little super-mini class car, I found the parking bay very tight indeed. I had to reposition several times so as to leave enough space for the driver of the car next to me to get in, whilst leaving enough space on my side to get out. It was very tight indeed. (There is a reason for me telling you this and I will come back to it later).
I was primarily shopping for a short sleeve office or school uniform type white blouse for an upcoming photo shoot. After trying BHS, Primark, several charity shops, and (earlier in the week) M&S, I found what I wanted in New Look. And best of all it was in the sale, reduced from £12.99 to £7. Bargain.
Things had been going well, and nobody had given me so much as a second glance (which is what usually happens) apart from one point where an older man accidentally bumped into me and said “oh, I’m so sorry my dear”. However, all that was about to change as I headed back to the car to leave.
I joined the queue to pay for my parking at the pay station. In front of me was a lady and her friend, and the lady was having trouble with the machine. On these ones there is no ticket – you have to type your car registration number in, and the lady had several failed attempts and her friend explained to everyone that it was a new car and her friend couldn’t remember the number. Or, rather, she thought she could but evidently couldn’t.
The lady started rummaged in her handbag saying she had it written down, but then half turned and said “Oh, I’ll let this gentleman… lady… go first”.
I had hoped that I was doing an ok job of passing but clearly not. But it was said without rancour or making a big deal about it. It was all very matter-of-fact, and that’s probably the best way to handle a situation like this, I think. I know some people might have apologised or something, which would have ironically drawn far more attention to it and made things worse. So credit to her for this.
After I had paid and returned to the car, I was faced with the owner of the car parked next to mine, on the driver’s side. He had a small boy who was trying to let himself into the passenger side, and I just stood and watched, sure that I was about to witness a massive car park ding happen to my car. The father must have had the same idea and said to the boy “Wait. Let the man into… um… their car first”. The little boy, in keeping with a lot of kids that age adopted an “I can do it” stubborn determination and, to his credit, did get in without dinging my car. Amazingly.
So, again, it was just a little slip up and no big deal was made of it. Although it was also clear that I had failed to pass again. In fairness, the car park was dimly lit so it’s possible that the bloke didn’t notice my female top, makeup and, indeed, tits. After all, some blokes do wear their hair long. And he did have other things to think about – like the owner of a car his son showed every likelihood of damaging standing right there watching.
It has, however, made me ponder as to what are the key indicators to gender that these people were picking up on? In neither case was it my voice as I hadn’t spoken. It wasn’t necessarily height as although 5’8″ is reasonably tall for a woman, it’s not excessively so. It might be build. Or could have been the way I was standing – as I mentioned previously, flat shoes don’t encourage me to pay attention to my posture.
In both cases, the person didn’t make a big deal of it and for that I should be grateful. Although it would have been even nicer if they hadn’t noticed at all.
As I mentioned a few days ago, transgender issues do seem to be appearing in the mainstream news a lot more than they used to.
Is it actually (gasp!) becoming socially acceptable to acknowledge that we exist and that it’s a real and legitimate issue?
Today story was about Hannah Winterbourne, the UK’s first transgender officer in the British Army.
I don’t know if it’s just because I am more aware of it, but there does seem to be a lot more media coverage about transgender issues and Gender Identity in the mainstream media at the moment.
Meanwhile, there are several articles published today on Conversion Therapy – the idea that you can “cure” people of homosexuality or transgenderism.
BBC Newsbeat reports that “NHS staff [have been] told to stop helping patients get gay conversion therapy” (for non-UK readers, the NHS is the National Health Service), whilst the Huffington Post has an article today entitled “It’s Time to Ban ‘Reparative Therapy’”
Last week the Daily Telegraph published an article about Voice Therapy entitled “Transgender women often want to sound like Fiona Bruce“, which is about the work of Christella Antoni. Christella is the Voice Coach that I have been using – in fact I’m seeing her this Saturday.
You’re probably aware that Russia recently passed a law that effectively bans all transgender and transsexual people from driving, on the grounds that it is a ‘mental disorder’. Also affected, amongst many others, are amputees – even those with “prophetic limbs” (sic), according to the Daily Telegraph (one would assume that a limb that can predict the future would make you a safer driver? 🙂 )
Things are changing for the better for genderqueer people – albeit not in Russia – with society generally becoming more tolerant towards people (and less tolerant of prejudice against them). It happened with racism, it happened with homophobia, and it’s happening with transphobia too. Slowly, anyway.
Who knows, maybe in a few generations we will finally reach enlightenment? Although whilst religious intolerance and the hate, war and terrorism associated with it continue, I very much doubt it.