Sunday, 11 August 2013

Girls, Guys, Shades of Gender, Suspender Belts and Pay Cuts

A little while ago I was involved in conversation with a transvestite that raised some thought provoking ideas.

She seemed to feel that all transvestites are on a path that leads to a need for more and more time to be spent as a girl. Less and less as a guy.

That as time passes there’s a need to be more and more girl-like and less and less guy-like.

And that there’s an inevitability in all of this for all concerned.

As we talked I expressed my disagreement.

For myself I feel at peace with where I am at. My life is a mix of guy and girl, masculine and feminine. I don’t feel a need for the balance that there is at the moment to change.

I know that different people have different feelings and experiences. But I also know what my own are.

Actually at times all these kind of terms can get surprisingly confusing.

Girl, guy. Man, woman.Male, female.Masculine, feminine.Gender, sex. And I think that we (including myself) sometimes use some of these words interchangeably when they aren’t always quite so interchangeable.

However, having spent a little time looking around the WEB at definitions of some of these terms, there seems to be some confusion there as well.

There’s an interesting article here: Sex Difference vs. Gender Difference? Oh, I'm So Confused! – but it isn’t easy reading.

There’s an article on the UK National Health Service WEB site entitled : Gender dysphoria which also seems a little odd. It says:

Biological sex is assigned at birth, depending on the appearance of the infant. Gender identity is the gender that a person “identifies” with, or feels themselves to be.

and also says:

Gender can be defined using very narrow medical terms such as what types of chromosomes you have, or what types of genitals you were born with. However, many transsexuals (and also many experts in the treatment of gender dysphoria) find this type of narrow definition both unhelpful and offensive.

Whilst the World Health Organisation says:

"Sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

"Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women

My own feeling is that there is more to gender than the World Health Organisation gives credit to. And they definitely have a different understanding of the word sex than do most of the people that I know.

I have a feeling that somewhere in all of this the word psychology should also appear.

I’ve heard it said, and I think that I’ve mentioned it previously in other blog posts, that there’s a view that gender is a line that joins masculine to feminine and that different people are at different places along the line.

There are times when people feel compelled to live their lives as though they were at a position on this line that they don’t really feel that they are really at.

Sometimes even at entirely the wrong end of the line.

Also, for many, the pressure to conform to a role that is either purely masculine or purely feminine has been intense and damaging.

The good news is that the pressure is, in some places at least, lessening. People are being allowed to be themselves. There’s still a long, long way to go, but at least things are moving.

I have this feeling that there are many more than 50 shades of gender, and that they aren’t all grey.

Over the years I’ve grown to accept and, in a way, celebrate, my own gender and have been fortunate enough to have family and friends that are able to accept it as well.

I feel that my position isn’t at either end of the gender line and I’m OK with that. The makeup and feminine clothing that I wear at times is an expression of this.

Actually it’s not just about gender in the sense of socially constructed roles. Nor is it just about sex or genital surgery. It’s more about who I feel that I am. It’s an expression of myself.

I think that different people are in different places when it comes to gender.

That there are lots of people that are in the process of still discovering who they are and where they are.

In a way, perhaps we all are still learning and still making discoveries about ourselves. And if we’re not then maybe we should be?

And I’m sure that the world is always a nicer place when people are allowed to be themselves when the way that  they are and the things that they do are of no harm to anyone.

And then … here’s a list of a few gender characteristics taken from the World Health Organisation:

  • In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work
  • In Viet Nam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate
  • In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not
  • In most of the world, women do more housework than men

There’s no mention of makeup, nylon stockings, suspender belts, skirts, blouses, dresses or high-heeled shoes.

Instead it’s a list of things that seem to be a result of men exercising unfair and unreasonable control over women. Although, I guess the smoking in Viet Nam represents something of an own-goal scored by the men.

And, ok, to be honest, I’ve heard is said that the history of high heeled shoes fall into that category as well. And there are perhaps people that would say the same of stockings and suspender belts.

As I said earlier. It’s a complex business.

But, for myself, I’d definitely rather have the suspender belt and stockings than a pay cut. Though immeasurably better would be the suspender belt, stockings and equal pay for equal work.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Andrea and Tina at Kay’s Harrogate Weekend

Last weekend Tina and I went along to Kay’s Harrogate Weekend there are additional details here.

We hadn’t been able to get along to Sparkle back in January, so Tina came up with the idea of Harrogate.

We had a great time there.

For me preparations begin early Thursday evening with nail polish. A nice shade of red. Three coats. A day before it’s needed, but it’s nice to know that it’ll be dry and pretty scratch resistant by the time I need to use my hands again.


Later in the evening there’s packing to do. The suitcase is big enough to hold plenty of clothing for two weeks, so I hope that it will hold a couple of days of my girlie things.

Short dresses. Two black. One pink. One red.

Longer dresses.  One black with white spots. One floral. One a shade of purple. One blue.

Medium length skirts.  Blue denim. Black cotton.

Blouses. Two.

Shoes. Black heels. White heels. Black small heels. Grey small heels. Black flats. White trainers / sneakers.

Makeup and brushes. Lots.


Bras, knickers, stockings, suspenders, tights.

You know how it goes.

It fits into the suitcase. I know it’s on the extravagant side for a weekend. But you never can tell.

Friday morning sees an all over trim and shower then I drive across to Tina’s. We’re driving as guys rather than girls. If we did the makeup thing it would take an extra hour and by the time we hit Harrogate we figure we’d have to take it all off and do it all over again.

I transfer my stuff to Tina’s car … well actually to Tina’s wife’s car and prepare for the journey.

“Have you got everything?” asks Tina.

“I hope so. I’m always afraid of forgetting something important. I could manage ok if I forgot some of the makeup – or even my boobs” (yes, Andrea has detachable boobs that are currently in the suitcase), “but if I left my hair behind I’d be in big trouble.”


Tina heads back for the house explaining that her hair had been washed and hadn’t got so far as the car.

Tina and Andrea have detachable hair as well.

Tina re-appears complete with hair.


That would have been a close shave.

The miles speed by.

We meet a few of Eddies girls along the way, and stop for coffee at Leicester Forest.

Eventually the traffic stops moving. An air ambulance appears, disappears into the distance and returns. The traffic flows again.

I’m reminded of a Chris While song, A Simple Twist of Fate that I said I liked a lot here.

You can listen to a bit of it here.

We arrive at the Cairn Hotel a little later than expected, but all is well.

We makeup – without ever having fallen out.

It’s a little slower than usual. Only one usable makeup mirror between two girls is a recipe for complexity.

We dance around each other applying touches of  foundation, powder, shadow, liner, mascara, rouge, lipstick and gloss. Oh, and boobs, hair and a short black dress. Black high heels.

A trip to the bar and a meal. Lovely people. Enjoyable conversation.

Saturday begins with makeup, a patterned dress and flat shoes. Soon followed by breakfast.

The food, people and hotel staff are great.

We stroll through the hotel grounds for a little while.





Then back to the hotel entrance.



We take a look at some of the things on sale inside the hotel. Tina buys a handbag. Andrea buys a necklace and earrings.

A short walk to the town centre.

I suspect that Tina has a fetish and so we call in at the Winter Gardens, a J D Weatherspoons pub. To be fair though, it was me that suggested calling in as we passed by.

I definitely didn’t twist any arms though.

If you ever meet Tina, be sure to ask about J D Weatherspoons in Manchester.

A couple of hobgoblins keep us company for a while, but they don’t last too long.

On our way out we visit the ladies. It’s strange how a lot of Weatherspoons web sites feature pictures of washrooms. Here’s how it looks at the Winter Gardens, just in case you are interested. I’m not sure if it’s the ladies or the gents. I only visited the ladies, but my memory is unfortunately not photographic.


We drop by Debenhams and take a look at what’s on offer. Quite a lot of nice things but nothing especially takes our fancy.

I feel the after effects of the hobgoblins and discover what the ladies room at Debenhams looks like. A lot less chic than the Water Gardens version.

As we stroll through the park we hear wolf whistles. A small group of guys and girls seem to like the idea of whistling at us. I can’t make out what they are calling out, but it seems good natured.

Rather than seek the services of a policemen I wave and blow them a kiss.

We sit and chat in the shade on a bench along Montpellier Hill, the young men and ladies leave us alone.

After a while we walk slowly back towards the hotel, enjoying the afternoon sun. Stopping for pictures at Crescent Road.





At the hotel there’s time for a little drink and then we change for cocktails and the Gala dinner.


Again the food, service and company is excellent. I meet Sally and chat with her as we eat.

After dining there is a chance to dance and, for the brave or foolish, there is karaoke.

Tina and I don’t drink anywhere near enough wine to be tempted by the karaoke. But it’s fun watching the others. It ranges from the sublime to the … not-s0-sublime.

It’s a warm evening, but we do dance a bit.

At about midnight we drift back towards the bar and get a drink and sit and chat with Rita and her wife.

And then its makeup removal time, sleep, breakfast and the journey home.

As I said, we had a great time. So thanks to Kay for all the hard work that she put into it.