The Photoshoot

 

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For a couple of months now, still in a bid to discover myself I have been looking into doing a more professional makeover and a photoshoot. After a bit of research I went for Girls are Us situated in Bristol, run by Jenny Wave, a qualified make-up artist.
As she offers both make up lessons or a makeover and photoshoot I was unsure which option to go for. I really need some more help with doing make up but the chance to have a proper makeover to see what was possible was too big to miss and I definitely wanted photos of the day so with a quick conversation with Jenny we went for the latter option. I figured if all went well I could book lessons in the future.
As this was my first time I had no idea what to expect and I admit to being nervous. Jenny however was very friendly and as we chatted over a cup of tea I felt my nervousness quickly dissipating. She was very good at putting me at ease. Jenny is really friendly with a good sense of humour. The tea wasn’t bad either. She gave me a quick tour and then allowed me some time to change into some of the clothes she has. After choosing a nice dress and a pair of shows I fell in love with, and that she was lucky to get back at the end, I was ready. A complement from Jenny on my choice of style really boosted my confidence.
With this done Jenny began on the make-up. This was understandingly a long process which much more time and effort going into it then I had ever done myself. Jenny explained the different processes as she went on. At times there was moments where I had to stay still, something I was very bad at but Jenny has plenty of patience. The worse part was when she had to apply the eyeliner. I have never been able to do this bit myself and am very sensitive around that area. All the time I was sat there I was not allowed to look in the mirror. This was left until the very end.
The result was a bit of a shock as well as amazing. I had an image in my mind on how I look after doing my own makeup. What I saw in that mirror was a completely different person. I was totally lost for words and it was a moment I’ll never forget.

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After this it was time for the photoshoot. That was a lot of fun. Jenny has a room set up for this complete with backdrop and lighting. Several shots were taking from different angles. I also, under direction, was able to try and different poses with Jenny being able to give me tips on what works and what doesn’t. Time flew by with a costume and wig change during the shoot. It just didn’t seem like two hours had really past. We had a quick look at the photos at the end of the session, after I had changed back to my own clothes, and I was pleased with the results. To have more time for photos I elected to travel home without removing the makeup. That in itself was a nervous but freeing experience. It’s not the first time I’ve driven in full make up but not that early in the day and in busy traffic.

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All in all it was not only fun but very eye opening and certainly something I was glad I went through with despite my nervousness. I picked up a lot of tips as well as learnt more about myself. It is an experience I would recommend to anyone thinking about it and I would certainly recommend Jenny.
A few tips then for anyone thinking of booking a session with Jenny.
1) Communication. Make sure she knows what you are after so that the session can be tailored to suit your needs.
2) Enjoyment. You are going to get out what you put in. You’re paying for this time so use it. So remember to enjoy yourself.
3) Deodorant. Use some or take some with you. Jenny does have some on hand but you may prefer your own. It gets warm during the makeover and Jenny has to work very close to you.
4) Anticipation. Definitely don’t be tempted to take a sneak peek during the make-up session. That reveal at the end is an amazing experience by itself.
5) Above all preparation. Make sure you are ready for this. Being clean shaven on the morning of the session is a must. As is taking a memory stick with you in order for Jenny to send you the photos (luckily I had one spare in the car) Taking your own clothes is allowed so make sure you take anything you wish to wear if you have an outfit in mind.

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So after all this did I find what I was looking for? Not quite. As amazing a job Jenny did when I looked in the mirror it didn’t feel like me. I think however this was more down to the wigs, when I wore my short red wig home I felt more like me. But I do want to go back again. I still want the lessons and I do want another photoshoot now I know what to expect. If Jenny is willing I’d love to try out an eighties style look and maybe a bit more on the drag side.

 

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Trans Matters II – The Wrath of Twitter

 

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So recently I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog. Mainly because I’ve been caught up with other things. I revisited my old Twitter account. I’d started one years ago but didn’t get on with it and left it. Now I have several people I’m following and it’s been a good platform for me to interact with trans people and to come a bit more out. My profile pic is my Supergirl one.

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Of course by doing this I have got caught up with much of the ‘debate’ surrounding Trans issues especially in light of the consultation of reforms to the Gender Reform Act regarding self I.D. A move I am in favour of. To be honest I was a bit unprepared for the amount of hate coming from those who not only oppose it but in some cases even oppose Trans women. It is truly horrifying. That is to say that some people opposed to self I.D don’t have reasonable concerns but in many cases are ill informed on the subject.
My own reaction to any attack levelled toward myself is to talk back. Not shout and argue or get into arguments but just to answer back and in many ways in an unexpected and possibly weird way. A trick I learnt from the comedian Joe Lycett. For an example:
Recently I was embroiled on a thread mainly talking about Labour. Of course it wasn’t long before some people who didn’t agree with me changed from bashing Labour to bashing me, attacking me simply from my profile photo. One such individual actually posted ‘Does he really think he’s Supergirl. I want to vomit.’ Now despite my powers of being able to make a woman I’ve never met or spoken to apparently physically sick I know I’m not Supergirl. Now I could have simply told her where to go but I didn’t. Instead I wrote back ‘Of course I don’t think I’m Supergirl’. Followed by this gif.

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Weather it was meant sarcastically of because she was confused or simply she wanted to still try and get a rise out of me her response was. ‘But I guess you want everyone to think you’re a woman.’ Now there is nothing on my Twitter profile that mentions I’m Trans or questioning. I believe I mention that I’m questioning somewhere in the thread but I’m guessing that she hadn’t read this. And at the moment as I am only questioning and that I may only wish to do this in an artist way my response was ‘Personally I don’t give a shit’ followed by how I do want to get better at passing. This was then followed by her giving me make up tips and advice on how to get a better look to pass better as a natural woman. She’d gone from vomiting at the thought of me to trying to help me pass better.
While I take great delight that I managed to turn this women’s viewpoint around and count it as a victory I’m aware that I wasn’t really standing up for Trans rights in this way. It is something I try to do though. Not long after this incident the news came out about Trump trying to effectively erase Trans people. Its timing was also coincidently with the airing of episode three of the new series of Doctor Who, Rosa. (Look if you don’t know about Rosa Parks, go look her up and then come back) One reviewer of the show, who is also genderqueer, mentions that one problem with the episode is it shows no one else standing up for Rosa on the bus. It’s a valid point. Of course the Doctor and friends can’t interfere on this occasion no matter how hard it is for them. But now there is a comparison between then and now and quite rightly as this You Tuber says people do need to stand up for those being discriminated against. It can’t just be down to the victims.

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I had to remind myself of this very recently as some of the hate on Twitter nearly made me give up. A report on a woman, a mother, who abused a twelve year old in America came to light and immediately comments were made on why there was no mention of her being trans, on how it was obvious a male. The usual transphobic crap and do you know what. There was no official mention of this person being trans. Nothing mentioned in reports, just transphobic people deciding that a woman let alone a mother could do this so they changed the facts to fit their narrow minded views. And they say they can always tell. Huh.
Right deep breath.
In many ways the whole Trans thing has reminded me of the X-men graphic novel. God loves, Man kills. I recently dug it out of storage to re-read as events sparked memories of the story line. A story line where there is a movement out to eradicate mutants, such is the hate towards them. There is no attempt to try and understand mutants and the leader of the movement even turns on his most loyal follower when it’s indicated she too might have mutant genes. In the end it’s not only the X-men that stand up for their rights but one solitary police officer doing what is right, protecting one young mutant when she is threatened.

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It’s not the only X-men comparison I’ve made. Two weeks previous to writing this I tweeted about how maybe there should be a registration of Trans people so they can be policed before pointing out this was a plot of the X-men which didn’t work out so well in the end. It was a joke showing how absurd the idea is and yet this week the idea of a register was suggested. It is truly scary times we live in and I fear for those people across the pond. Certainly the X-men comics contains at its core the issues of hate against a minority. Currently the new season of Supergirl is also dealing with these kinds of issues, using aliens as its metaphor. They have also added a new transgender character. Hopefully a positive step in the right direction.
So regardless of what I decided about myself. Regardless of how I ‘protect’ myself on Twitter I will continue to stand up and fight for people’s right to be accepted for who they are. Rosa reinforced that in me and indeed the Doctor in general. In doing so I rewatched the twelfth Doctor’s speech to the Master and Missy. Because fighting a battle (even on Twitter) is not about winning, it’s not about beating somebody. It’s definitely not because it’s easy. It’s because it’s right and above all its kind. It’s just kind.

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Trans Matters

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No not that kind!

 

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Ok this following piece is going to be a very personal one and will deal with issues of Trans Gender and cross dressing. If this is not your cup of tea (or you know me personally and think that this may be too much information, yes you!) then I would recommend going no further……..

Ok. Are you sure? Then we’ll begin….

There is four things that have always fascinated me. Doctor Who, the supernatural, exploration of the self (both psychological and philosophical) and fetishes. I really don’t know where the fascination for fetishes has come from. I remember reading a book in uni on it and just got engrossed in learning why certain fetishes appealed to people as they did. But my interested started a long time before that and maybe it was because of some of the fetishes that I enjoyed myself. Ones that I would often feel guilty about, as if it wasn’t normal. I’m not going to go into details about which fetishes I like or don’t like except one of them was cross dressing. I began to want to understand what made such things fetishes. Was it something inherent or caused by something in our childhood? Maybe it’s just my interest in psychology and philosophy wanting to know how people and the world think and work. Or maybe I just wanted to know I’m not the only one out there. That what I like does not make me abnormal.

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And as long as such things don’t affect other people then is there really any harm? What happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. But what happens when it’s something more than that?. For over a year now I have been considering my gender identity. It no longer is simply just a fetish, something I do now and again but now an impact on my everyday life. Like many times before I have done research into transgenderism. I have read articles, watched You Tube videos and am an active member on a LGTB forum. Many of the You Tube videos I’ve watched have documented the tubers transition. I feel at the moment I’m in a position where I don’t know which way, if any, I want to go. It is a very confusing time for me as I swing from one feeling to the other. Or there’ll be times when I’m out somewhere and wished I’d gone more feminine or less.

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Sometimes I think that I would just like the chance to be out there for a short time and have considered drag act. Other times I think of if I want to actually start transitioning, begin medication and look towards surgeries. I’ve swung from thinking myself as a male to thinking of myself as wanting to be female and now lie somewhere in between counting myself for now as genderfluid. It’s gone from simply just dressing in clothes to trying out make up, wigs and I love doing photoshoots (even if they aren’t the best.) That is the other big thing for me. Would I pass? Could I pull off a feminine look. And it’s not just the look. The voice, the walk. They are all little tell tale signs of what gender someone is. And for me it’s not about wearing skirts out. I have women’s jeans and tops that overall could be seen more as gender neutral. Even if I was to simple go out as a cross dresser (something that seems to be less accepted then being trans) would I look good enough to be accepted or be stared at like I’m some sort of freak.

The novel I wrote is based around many of these themes and it has to be said that it was both helpful in allowing me to express and explore my own feelings but also brought up personal questions that I have had to face. True I have to admit I don’t feel the same every day, it is something that is ever changing which is one of the things that makes it so hard to decide what to do. Although I don’t really suffer from the dysphoria that other trans people experience, there was a time where I had to shave before I’d go out even if it would make me late and even going without earrings sometimes can feel wrong.

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But a few weeks ago I decided after four months of contemplating to final go and get my hair done and to have it dyed red, something that I’ve wanted to do but have held back. It is a bold move for me. Over the last year I have been pushing little bits such as painted nails and wearing earrings. No longer is the wearing of knickers something done for quick excitement but actually worn daily just because they feel right. In fact I recently figured out that I actually own more pairs of knickers then boxers! At work there are other little signs I’m giving out.

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Reaction to my hair have ranged from people liking it to downright piss taking. I’ve taken it in my stride, rolled with the banter, none of the comments were meant in a horrible way. It has also lead to the outcome that a couple of team mates remembered the character of Jessica Rabbit. Again I rolled with it and have now accepted the name as a nickname I use when playing. In many ways this takes away the power they have of taking the mickey because I’m not biting plus it’s putting the idea of a more feminine me out there. Personally I like it. It may not be a nickname (or alternative name) I would have chosen but never mind. Plus I have recently just started watching a You Tuber cross dresser called Jessica who has helped again to give me more confidence in myself. There does seem to be a nice symmetry there.

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But I want to get more involved in the community that I now feel part of and to help others. For example I make regular donations to Mermaids. But I want to do more. I want to help not just because that’s the kind of person I am but also because maybe by getting more involved will also help me figure myself out. I haven’t had much chance to get to Pride events and hopefully this is the year I’ll get chance to go. I’m also looking at a few other events coming up. I don’t know if my home town would ever do something but it would be great to be involved.
When I started this blog I wasn’t sure where I was going to take it. I knew I wanted to look at the heroes of my past and how they had affected me and from there it’s built up into my musings and my personal journey.

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When having my hair done my hairdresser told me to be who I want to be and fuck what anyone else thinks. To do what makes me happy. It’s good advice. My friend also told me something similar on her birthday night out. But to be someone who wants to stand up for peoples rights I guess one has to be brave enough to put themselves out there. I have to take on those aspects such as Robin Hood, the Doctor, Ace Rimmer and Batman that I’ve talked about. I’ve said previously about Supergirl, how in my novel she symbolised my main character’s realising their secret self and how Supergirl herself seems to be a metaphor for coming out as you true self as she does in the pilot episode of the series. I’ve mentioned about how maybe one day I’ll have my own Supergirl moment. Something that I would never have imagined myself doing.

This month is Pride month and this is it. It’s another little step but an important one.

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Secret Identities Not just for superheroes

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I’ve been thinking a lot about secret identities recently. In my novel the main character is a guy who is a cross dresser and develops a female alter ego who slowly starts to take over. In a recently written scene where my character is having a bit of a crisis about who he is and who he wants to be he has a dream which ends with him reviling he/she is Supergirl. The dream as I wrote it is meant to represent my character embracing who they really are. It symbolises the two identities in his life.

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Now this is a novel I started years ago in university as part of my course (I took a novel writing module in my third year.) It was to write a first chapter and I got a B grade and was pleased with the piece. I always felt it was worth finishing so after a bit of a break, both in time and relationship I returned to writing early last year. Currently I’m on chapter eighteen which is where I wrote the dream sequence. Now I have a rough plan in my head where the novel is going but not specifics and the dream sequence was thought up yesterday on the spot. That said it felt that there was something familiar about it that stuck in the back of my head until suddenly at 3am this morning I remembered why. Part of the module all those years ago in uni had been to write chapter one of the novel. The other assignment had revolved around a 500 word essay about the influences on the novel. And it was in part of that assignment where I mentioned Batman as an influence. I had ‘forgotten’ it until now although the theme was still in my head.
It also got me re thinking about secret identities, something that has always fascinated me. After all the first two heroes in the role model blogs both have secret identities. There is always the thrill when I see Adam turn to He-man, something as a kid I acted out numerous times. He goes from the weak Prince Adam to the strongest man in the universe, hero of Eternal. An actual physical change. There is the whole underlying masturbation metaphor of a boy turning into a man, secret powers that were revealed when he held aloft his magic sword but we won’t got into that right now. (err just how many of my heroes actually weld swords?)
Then there is Spider-man. Of course his costume, like other costumed heroes, is to protect his secret identity and therefore keep him and their his family safe but we also notice that often Peter Parker feels freer as Spider-man swinging about town. He is metaphorically raising above his troubles. He can appear to be more confident as spider-man then Parker especially in his early high school days. So like my character the alter ego in the ‘costume’ allows them to have more freedom and to be whom they’d like to be. However in the movie Spider-man 2 we see how there is a struggle with the duel identities.

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But of course earlier I mentioned Batman. Batman is a fascinating case because even though it is Bruce Wayne starting out as Batman it can be a bit confusing to who the secret identity is. After his parents die young Bruce embarks upon a mission to train himself to fight crime. He learns martial arts, the sciences. He trains himself to be the world’s best detective. He uses his wealth to build the various gadgets and vehicles he’ll need. The only reason he uses a costume is that he needed something that would help install fear in his enemies. In the meantime he portrays Bruce Wayne as a carefree party animal. It raises the question which is really the secret identity. Batman or Bruce Wayne. There is a case to be made that the real person here is the one who goes out dressed up as a bat. It was this blurred line that I wanted to install in my novel with the male and female alter egos being blurred to who was the real person and who was the lie. Which identity hid the real person? Like in Spider-man 2 I wanted this to be a struggle between the two identities.

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I’m going to side step a minute to talk about Batman. There is something fascinating about him so much so that I had thought about doing a blog just on him. I think as kids many of us have a superhero we’d like to be mainly because they have some great power. But with Batman he becomes a hero though hard work, determination and discipline. He is (if rather unlikely) a hero that anyone could become. After all anyone could train in martial arts. Others can train their minds to solve complex crimes or become a forensic expert. And with money you could use technology to build gadgets. Batman represents the pinnacle of what mankind could achieve without the added benefits of some supernatural ability. Obviously there are many other heroes that fall into this category and Batman is simply an example of one. The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the earliest. But there is a realism to these types of hero even if the feats they perform are not and today there are some people out there that do go out as costumed heroes.
Anyway returning to the themes of my novel for a moment while the Batman/Bruce Wayne theme runs through it the dream sequence has Supergirl. Why? Well when you think about it Supergirl (and for that matter Superman) is the secret identity. It is in fact Kara (and Clark) who is the mask with which she hide behind. For my character it is telling him to discard the secret identity he is hiding under and emerge as the more powerful true alter ego.

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There are I’m guessing many people out there that have secret identities or wish they had. Some may want to be heroes. Some just may want to be a different version of themselves. And some may want to be the person they would love to be but are too scared to be that person. They have to go into the real world hiding their real selves away. For those brave enough to dare take their alter ego out into the world there is of course the real fear that their secret identity may be found out. And to those who have had their Supergirl/Superman moment I say well done even if tinted with more than a hint of jealousy.
Of course it is lucky that for my character that he can pass easily for a woman even though he carries the fear of being found out. There is of course a bit of myself woven throughout the novel. Well they say to write about what you know. For myself I’ve been pushing my boundaries a little bit. Kind of testing my abilities. Little trials hidden in darkness. No great launch of my alter ego into the world. (Although I really would like a supergirl fancy dress outfit) Rather like Bruce Wayne I would have to put in a lot of disciplined hard work first. No magical way to transform myself in a blaze of energy into someone different and I’m still not sure who I really am yet anyway. I’ll carry on for the moment living in my secret identity. Maybe one day one of the pics on here will be ‘me’.