I would have loved this post about my big trip to London to be full of things like: "it was amazing to be out in public as me", "ive never felt free-er", or anything else I usually read elsewhere when they write about this sort of thing, but to be honest the truth was miles away from this. The outcome was not what I expected, and im not sure it is an experience I would want to repeat anytime soon.
This was not the fault of my wonderful companions, J (who came with me to my first night out at BNO) and SH were awesome. Im really glad they made the trip with me, both were very patient and were great company. But, on a personal level I dont feel that putting myself through this weekend was a positive experience, and if anything has left me with more uncertainty than I set out with. The thing is, when I went to Sparkle last year it was out in public, and was something that for its faults I really enjoyed. I was comfortable and happy with being out and about, but this was not the same at all.
Anyway, first here is a rough retelling of the events leading up to and over the weekend, then ill go over the mental gymnastics afterwards.
(This post is likely to be full of contradictions and will probably have a few rambling moments too, please bear with me)
The Lead Up
It was difficult trying to get prepared for the weekend, my shifts at work were pretty solid during the few weeks leading up to it so I had no real time to get organised. I ended up having to book off one more days leave than I wanted to use for the day before I was due to go, just to make sure I had time to at least get some preparation done.
I spent this day getting my upper body waxed, quickly dragging my gf around some shops frantically trying to get some outfits together, going through my clothes trying to find stuff to wear, and packing followed by repacking because of course I couldnt fit everything I wanted to take in my case. As it turns out, the waxing was a waste of time since once again my chest came up in a mass of spots which meant I ended up having to wear high necked clothes anyway. Grrrr.
I got into London at about 1230 and SH met me at the station. We then tried to make our way across London to our hotel near Oxford St, but got a bit confused by the tube maps! We ended up taking quite a long way around, and had to walk quite a way to get to our destination which considering I had a large backpack and also a case, was no mean feat! J met us at the hotel, and after dropping our stuff off and doing a little unpacking we made our way back towards Oxford St.
Because I was in such a rush I still needed to do a few things before dressing up. So even though they didnt need to do anything, J and SH very patiently came around a few shops with me. I went to boots and used their colour match service to get some new foundation (which is really nice by the way) since my current foundation works very well, but im not sure the skin tone is quite right since the colour always looks a little off. I also picked up some new flats from H&M to wear with my Saturday day outfit, and also went to get my eyebrows threaded at Blinks in John Lewis. Ive never had them done before so this was a new experience for me, also the girl doing it unexpectedly gave me a little head massage at the end which was really, really nice!
We had food out (although I also ended up running back around to boots since I forgot I needed to pick up some mascara) and then we went back to the hotel to change. The plan was to go out into Soho, in particular to a place called Madame Jojo's that someone recommended from Angels forum. We had looked around for other places to go but since we didnt know the area, and from a lack of advertising online, we couldnt really find other places to go.
It was already dark by the time we left the hotel, and it was a colder night than what I was prepared for. We crossed Covent Garden and Soho on foot and made our way towards Madame Jojo's. SH was striding out ahead of us as we made our way across London, this meant that I was able see the occasional double takes and sideways glances that she was attracting. There were not as many as I thought there would be, although SH did mention during the walk that she was getting fed up of people looking at her so maybe I wasnt seeing as many people as she was. For the most part though people were just getting on with whatever they were doing. There were however a lot of people out in various states of rowdiness and this was a little intimidating, however I think this would have been equally as intimidated if I was dressed as a man.
So we got to Madame Jojo's, supposedly this place is T friendly and even has a regular T event there. However, we got to the door only for the bouncer to say "private party tonight" and as we turned away his friend on the door laughed. On their website for that night they advertised a magic show and also a regular music night they do there, there was nothing mentioned about it being a private party that night. As far as we are concerned we were turned away because of how we were dressed, which was bitterly disappointing considering their supposed T credentials. So instead we went to a little gay bar which was next door, and we were the only T girls in there. It was ok, the music swayed from tolerable to cheese to back again fairly quickly, and we just had a few drinks in there and then decided to make our way back to the hotel.
The walk back was colder than it had been earlier in the night, and instead of taking the back streets back we ended up coming out on Oxford St quite a way from the hotel. But because it was so cold we just bared it and faced walking down such a busy high street dressed up!
I was annoyed at how the night turned out, and I think its safe to say that I think J and SH felt the same.
J ended up leaving fairly early on Saturday, she was going to come out with us but decided not to in the end. So after breakfast myself and SH went back out onto Oxford St, I needed to change the shoes I bought for a smaller size (a 6!!!) and also buy a high neck tshirt to cover the spots on my chest I came to realise werent going away. And we also went to see if we could find any casual things for SH to wear on the Saturday day although I dont think her heart was in it really and she didnt end up buying anything.
Throughout our walk it was becoming apparent that the confidence SH had built up was no longer there, and she said she didnt want to dress up for the Saturday daytime. After chatting about it a few times, she agreed to at least dress up ready while I did, and if she still felt like she wasnt up for it I would wait for her to quickly get changed back into her male clothes before we headed out. By the time I was ready she decided she was going to try it. We decided to go for a coffee nearby first before going for the big outing, so we could ease into being out in the daytime.
After the coffee we walked all the way down to Trafalgar Square which
was so busy with people we decided to just skim past it and make our way
towards the Thames. Being out in the daytime was a completely different experience to the night before. Without the relative safety of nightfall to hide imperfections and also peoples ability to see clearly it makes you very aware of what you are doing, look like, and also the people around you. Like the night before, a lot of people just seemed to not notice or were too polite to look, but quite a few people did and it was a lot more 'in your face'. During out outing I saw a lot of double takes, staring, and even heard people behind me saying things like "thats definitely a bloke!".
When we got to the Thames we crossed over to the Southbank which was an experience, a funnel of people you cant avoid looking at as they pass you. Someone slyly took a photo of me as I passed them as well which I was a bit annoyed about. We stopped for a quick photo opportunity but by the time we get to the south bank I suggested we headed back to the hotel and change back. SH agreed and I think she was equally as happy to do the same. The walk back seemed to take far longer than the walk there, and by the time we got back my feet were hurting because of my new shoes. I was glad to change back.
So, the girls weekend finished early, and the lads carried it on to the end. We went to Camden Lock market, out for food again, then spent the night having one drink in a few of the pubs and bars in Covent Garden before finishing off with a nice curry. We made our way back to the hotel and since SH had to be up early in the morning to catch her train we said our goodbyes.
Whats the Point?
So there were some things I took away from this weekend, some lessons learned, and also more uncertainty about where im going with this whole T second life.
I learned I have far more confidence than I realised, I was quite happy to be out there without a care about what others thought of me. I learned that passing is a myth, unless there has been medical intervention or you were born very lucky, there is no chance at all of 'passing' and you need to be prepared to be scrutinised. I learned that wigs are uncomfortable to wear in the daytime, and also seem to make me feel more fake.
And finally, I learned that I dont think going out in broad daylight and in public is for me. The thing is that confidence is only part of the battle. It was just uncomfortable being under so much scrutiny, of being hyper aware of whats going on around you and how you appear. And apart from the coffee shop (and the lovely polite staff in there as well), I felt intimidated by going into places that were confined and busy which meant we avoided them. Bars and restaurants were off the menu.
Not only that, but to me part of the point of being T is not just wearing the clothes, its trying to get some kind of social interaction and feedback as the gender I am presenting as. But, there is no way I will get that from 'normal' people since most will just not know how to deal with me. Not only that, but I just felt like a fake. I wasnt getting anything that made me feel more connected to my female side at any point throughout the weekend, if anything the opposite was happening. The constant scrutiny was reinforcing the fact that I was definitely not female.
In the end the realisation was that it just isnt worth it.
So what is the point? Where am I going with all this T stuff? I am bored of doing it at home alone, spending hours and a lot of effort getting myself all dressed up for no real reason. I dont like the 'scene' places either, where I feel like the people there (and not only some of the T people) just seem to pander unnecessarily to the stereotypes inflicted upon then. But then it seems that going out in public is also not enjoyable either.
Maybe I was just being too ambitious. But, I cant think of any other options.