10

And Now For Something Completely Off-Topic…

Creative hobbies are one of my best tactics for fending off depression, and it is not unknown (albeit rare) for them to occasionally produce fruit. On this occasion, after a lot of hair-tearing and false starts, I have a completed a game for the Commodore 64 8-bit computer (or emulator of). I have entered this into a competition running throughout this year until November on the site The New Dimension, hosted by C64 programmer and enthusiast Richard Bayliss, who also added the wonderful title music. The game also features my own tentative efforts at some reprogramming, since it was designed using a tool and engine which are, in and of themselves, rather constrained unless one takes the trouble to modify them. For those curious about such things, my extra subroutine is this…

fullprog

…and what this does is continuously roll a couple of background chars (4*8 pixel blocks), one up (for layered scrolling effect), one down (for waterfall effect); lock player 2’s vertical position to player 1’s; and end the game instantly if either player reaches zero lives. Since I am using player 2 for the final boss level, the code allows both players to be present without interfering with each other.

This was a new type of programming for me, very low-level and seemingly all based around shifting single values from one register / location to another. It was interesting, but rather fiddly and frustrating until I had gotten my head around it a bit. By contrast, writing the story of the game was an easy and fun task, not that I dare boast of it being any good. Thou mayest judge for thyselves…


valshot

Night of the Valkyrie

Transylvania, 1492

Fearing an imminent Ottoman invasion, the Voivode of Transylvania decides to forge a military alliance by marrying his daughter to some powerful house. “It will do her good, anyway,” he thought, as he wrote the letters to the nobles, inviting them to a grand feast. “Mariska is far too headstrong at the best of times. Better to marry her off now while I can still control the girl at all.”

On the night of the feast, however, although the princess was obedient to her father’s wishes, inwardly she was cursing her fate. The thought of a life spent married to any of these grim, ageing warlords, all of them caring more for the prestige and wealth they would gain from the alliance then for her, was such a miserable prospect that she half considered gathering up her books, saddling her palfrey, and riding away in secret. “But to where?” she thought. “Even if I could, my father would be dishonoured, and then defeated by his enemies. I could never do that to him.” So she remained, a picture of courtly misery, until she was approached by a mysterious noblewoman, dressed all in black and flashing her an enigmatic smile.

“I know what ails thee, child,” she greeted her, “and I believe I know the way to help. If you had power in your own right, then would your father need to pair you off with any of these decorated barbarians? Come, take a turn of the castle grounds with me, and I will show you a much better alternative.”

The feast was in full swing, and the two women were gone for several minutes before their absence was noted. Urgent shouts from the guards finally drew the voivode’s attention, and he rushed out into the grounds only to find the princess… dead.

She lay upon a stone bench, pale and staring, her neck pierced with a gruesome bite-mark, and an elegantly handwritten note pinned to her bloodstained dress. Distraught, the voivode took the note and read it, but it gave him very little reassurance:

My Lord,

I cannot count the friends, sisters, brothers, lovers, and children whom I have lost to the savagery of you and your priests. Since you invited the Holy Inquisition into this country, they have massacred my people, although we were keeping peacefully enough to ourselves. No more. I return your daughter to you, and perhaps when you see that she is no soulless vermin, you might think twice before exterminating any more of my kin. Or, you could be true to your convictions and decapitate her before she is able to revive, although I somehow doubt you will have the stomach for it.

My compliments, by the way: she put up quite a fight for a spoiled brat of mortal nobility. I don’t suppose you’ll have much luck marrying her off now, but you could always just loose her on the Turks as she is. I wouldn’t envy them.

Your servant,

Countess Carmilla Zaleska, c/o the Vampire Underground.

Unable, however, to destroy his own child, the miserable voivode quickly crumpled up the note and ordered the guards to carry the princess’s body to the castle crypt. When the nobles had left, greatly confused, he visited the crypt to find Mariska alive again… after a fashion. Her skin was still as pale as chalk, her tearful eyes were as red as garnets, and her long, sharp canine teeth erased any doubt as to her fate. “My own daughter… a strigoi,” he thought, bitterly, and wondered if he should have destroyed her to spare her tainted soul and to save his family name from dishonour, but before he could take any action she spoke, her voice full of remorse:

“Kill me, father,” pleaded Mariska. “I have failed you, and brought shame on our house. If the people learn what has become of me, they’ll rise up, and the church will desert you. My foolishness has cost you your alliance, but I will not be the cause of your total downfall. Please, kill me before they start to suspect the truth.”

“Never,” declared the voivode, now unable to repress his own tears. “Not now that I see and hear you. You are my daughter still, and innocent. We will keep you here in secret for now, and think of a way to persuade the people to accept you.” But even as he left the crypt, he dreaded to think how that could ever be.

Over the next few nights, Mariska adjusted to her new existence, and found that it had its advantages. Shape-shifting, flying, and pyrokinesis were all fascinating distractions from the sad fact of being a social pariah. Unfortunately, her father’s regular requests to the castle butcher to supply fresh blood quickly started the rumours flying, the peasants started gossiping, and after the incident at the feast became common knowledge, it was not long before the church took an interest.

“We know the truth, Your Highness,” declared the officers of the Inquisition to the fearful voivode, “and you cannot hope to cover it up indefinitely. But entrust your daughter to us, and we vow that we will cure her of this demonic contamination. We will return her to you in purity. If you do not, we cannot be held responsible should the common folk learn what she has become, and take matters into their own hands… and it may even be our sacred duty to help them, if you turn away from God.”

The threat greatly disturbed the voivode, but before he could come to a decision Mariska walked into the midst of the court. The priests, nobles, and servants all gasped at the sight of her, protected themselves with crosses and icons, and in a few cases ran for the doors, but the princess just walked through the commotion with sombre dignity, until she reached her father’s throne.

“I will agree to this ordeal, father,” she declared, sadly but firmly. “I am no ravening demon, but nor am I any kind of daughter to you if I leave you to be excommunicated and lynched… as these ‘holy’ men seem to be suggesting. If they believe they can purge me of this, however, then I will brave their trials.”

The voivode nodded, dejectedly. What else could he do? The whole court had now seen his vampire daughter, and although a few of them had been impressed at her conduct, he knew that would not be enough to save either of them. “Very well,” he agreed. “Cure her, then, but you had better do just that. Priests or not, play me false and I will make you look forward to Hell as a welcome relief.”

Begrudgingly, the inquisitors bowed their assent, then escorted the princess from the throne room and back down into her crypt. For several minutes faint noises could be heard issuing up the stairway: the echoes of chanted prayers and hymns, the ringing of bells… and then a horrible, high-pitched scream. The voivode immediately ordered his guards to intervene, but by the time they returned, dragging the blood-spattered inquisitors along with them, he knew from their faces that it was too late.

“My condolences, Your Highness,” said the lead inquisitor, with badly feigned sympathy. “The monster was uncontrollable and had to be put down, but her soul is now pure and at peace, as we promised. I might also add that any violence inflicted upon us could well be taken as an act of war by His Holiness in Rome, and thus by the whole of Christendom.”

Unable to deny this, the voivode was forced to release them. A few days later, while he was deep in mourning, a letter arrived for him written in an elegant and disturbingly familiar hand:

My Lord,

Apparently I misjudged your stomach as well as your hatred of my kind, but do not delude yourself that your daughter is now at peace. Her soul screams in Limbo, and you are not the one to release her. If we are bloodthirsty, I know not what to call you, but your reign is cursed by the death of an innocent, and your sordid pact with the holy butchers will not save you from your enemies. I do hope the Turks enjoy playing catch with your severed head, and cat’s cradle with your bowels.

Cordially Yours,

Countess CZ.


Transylvania, 1942

Deep within Axis-held territory, SS Panzer Division 6 have set up a dedicated prisoner-of-war camp to interrogate Allied commandos. It is guarded by stormtroopers, artillery pillboxes, motorcycle patrols, and armoured units. To mount a one-man-charge against such a place would be suicide, but this glaring fact was of no deterrence to Sergeant Joe Harker (Royal Marines).

“It’s the last thing they’ll be expecting,” he insisted. “I storm in, machine gun blazing, chucking grenades all over the shop, and I can always pick up more of those if I run out. No doubt they’ll have left grenade caches everywhere, the lazy, careless Fritzes. I’ll break their lines before they even know what’s hit ‘em and set our lads free.” Impressed by the sergeant’s courage, his CO approves this “plan” of attack, such as it is.

It does not go very well…

Five minutes into the battle, out of both bullets and grenades, and badly wounded, the sergeant takes refuge in the only hiding-place he can find: an ancient crypt, beneath the crumbling ruins of a castle. He makes his way to the deepest chamber and crawls up against a stone sarcophagus, sculpted with the worn image of a young woman and bearing the letter “M” in Gothic script. His blood trickles into the earth as he lies there, exhausted, and for awhile he loses all sense of his surroundings. Suddenly, harsh voices and the click of machine gun bolts rouses him to a very troubled awareness. He feels the cold barrel of a gun pressed into his head, but in a last act of desperate defiance, he seizes a rock from the ground, swings around, and clubs the stormtrooper in the face. The soldier falls to the ground, bleeding and cursing, but this small success does Harker no good, as a second soldier slams the butt of his gun into the sergeant’s back, leaving him with no realistic option but to keel over in agony.

“Get this scum out of here,” the SS-scharführer orders to his men, “and get the medic to patch him up. Kommandant Reinhardt will want him fit and healthy… at first, anyway, although after his interrogation he might wish we’d just left him to rot. The rest of you men, search this old bone-house. We might find something worth looting. Move it, at the double.”

As the stormtroopers drag the wounded commando away, none of them notice as a weird red mist starts to rise from the earth where the sergeant’s blood had fallen. When they have all left the chamber, the mist gathers into a solid form…

Princess Mariska looks around at the desolation, both afraid and excited. The time she spent in Limbo, dark and senseless, seems like a hideous eternity to her, and the simple freedom to move and feel again is a blessed salvation, but the castle she knew of old is now dank, lifeless, and ruined. She knows in her heart that everything she once knew has passed away, probably even including the treacherous woman who made her this way. “So I live again, but what is left for me?” she thinks, then she looks at the blood that still clings to the side of her tomb. “Unless…”

She takes a drop on her finger and tastes it. “A warrior’s blood… young… not very clever, perhaps, but brave and true,” she senses, with revived hope. “Some knight errant must have heard my sad story, and has taken pity on me. He has sought out my grave, and spilled his own blood to resurrect me. Surely, then, he will not refuse to share this strange existence with me. At least I shall not be alone… but where is he?” As she looks around, confused, her gaze falls upon another patch of blood on the ground near her tomb. She tastes it, and her face twists in disgust as its character hits her: cruelty, hatred, and slavishness, accompanied by horrible images of brutality, torture, and murder. Among the images, however, she sees a young man wearing strange green clothes, along with a metal helmet covered in netting and leaves, and she feels a deep connection, as well as an inhuman rage. “My knight… captured by these barbarians,” she realises, horrified and incensed. “They mean to take him to their castle and torture him. Not while I live and… Well, not while I have anything to do with it, anyway.”

Thus, four and a half centuries after her death, Princess Mariska finally found a purpose worthy of her mettle…

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29

A Year of Existence

It was on the 8th of January 2015 that I began this blog, following the advice of my friend Jason, with no very clear idea but plenty of trepidation as to what might come out of it. Now seems as good a time as any to take stock of what I have learned and gained…

1. THE BLOG ITSELF

The Good – After a quiet start, interest and sympathy started to flow in, and rarely let up pace, from trans bloggers, from those in relationships with trans people, from non-binary activists, to supportive people in general. Particularly honourable mentions go to…

Ambivalence Girl

Anna Secret-Poet

Ariadne

Charissa Grace

Curiouser and Curiouser

Daniella Argento

Fairy Jerbear

Georgia Kevin

A Kinder Way

Kira Moore

Kit

La Quemada

Plain T

Tish Wolfsong

…among many other generous and uplifting voices who have encouraged me to keep this extended muse / rant as a going concern. My profuse thanks and love to you all. xxx

The Bad – Thankfully, little negativity has drifted this way, at least proportionally. Some critical feedback was drawn from Radical Feminists (a bit more on that later), and some downright hostile feedback from an older transperson who thought (and still thinks) me a charlatan, but not to name any names. The positives have vastly outweighed the negatives, and overall, the blog was a sound move that has helped me to keep a sense of purpose and progress, as I had dared hope that it might.

2. MEDICAL TRANSITION / THE NHS

The Good – Initially, this went unexpectedly well. It was with great fear that I came out to a new GP in January, and they proved incredibly sympathetic, totally helpful, validating of my new identity, and not at all judgemental. Although they did warn me I would need patience…

In February, I saw a local psychiatrist with a view of obtaining a gender clinic referral. This too went not only smoothly but pleasantly, with no hostile questioning, no attempts to sow doubt, and complete consideration shown to my (by then) firmly established transgender identity. The referral was quickly processed, and I was (fairly) promptly informed that I was on the waiting list for the gender clinic.

The Bad – Progress for the past few months, alas, has been non-existent. This was expected. Worse, however, since the referral my permanent GP  (sadly, not the one I initially saw) has declined to help me at all. I have, like the majority of transwomen-in-waiting, ended up self-medicating with internet-bought hormones and androgen blockers. This is not supposed to happen, but the interim NHS guidelines for Gender Dysphoria, like the Pirates’ Code, are all too rarely followed, and I may be doing this for months (or years, even) to come.

legopiratequeen

Disturbingly, I am in spite of this doing better than my husband Cal, who applied around the same time as me and still has yet to hear news of his referral. Also, we have by now encountered insensitivity from some GPs, and according to information Cal obtained from the gender clinic (which ran an informal workshop), many of the profession still do not see gender dysphoria as a genuine medical issue. Thankfully, the medical status of GD is still official NHS policy, but until we actually have our diagnoses we will continue, I fear, to fret over the outcome, and the possibility of policy changes that could leave us with no option at all.

3. FEMINISM

The Good – I had a suspicion right from the beginning, even before I had any experience in the murky world of online transpolitics, that feminists might look askance at transpeople, though I had no idea back then of the whole Liberal / Radical divide. For someone who began the year with little academic knowledge of Feminism, I have learned a lot in the course of understanding this debate, but apologies if I err in the following…

At a very basic level, and as I understand it, Liberal Feminism (such as espoused very early in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792) holds the view that sexism in society arises from custom, tradition, and ignorance rather than by preconceived malice, and can thus be effectively fought through the reform of existing structures. Radical Feminism (such as pioneered by Second-Wave feminists like Andrea Dworkin in Woman Hating, 1974) by contrast holds that gender and patriarchy are deliberate tools of oppression, constructed with the full, misogynistic intention of keeping women as second-class citizens and an exploitable resource, and can thus only be effectively fought by the complete overhaul of the existing, corrupt social order.

Given that Radical Feminism posits an intentional campaign of hatred and control with the oppressor / oppressed rigidly delineated by biology (specifically, males conspiring to control and exploit females as unpaid labour, sexual slavery, and breeding stock), it naturally has very little scope to accommodate not only transwomen but any queer gender identities, finding them irrelevant at best, or at worst a malicious attempt by men to impinge on what rights and spaces women have obtained. This notwithstanding, there is no monolithic Radfem community or party line, and I have met those who tentatively accept transwomen as women, albeit with the (perfectly logical) caveat that they are not biologically female, even post-transition, and should be respectful that Radfem issues will often be specific to natal women. There are some transwomen even active and generally welcome within this community, although they qualify themselves as “allies” rather than as feminists per se.

Regarding the two schools of Feminism, I am still very much a learner. I have been fortunate enough to make friends in both quarters. However…

The Bad – I have, alas, read some strikingly inept journalism from trans Libfems including inappropriate comparisons between deficient trans rights and deliberate human rights atrocities, ironic attempts to shame confused allies for not being quite sensitive enough (in the journalist’s view), and accusations of really quite moderate, even reconciliationist feminists as “TERFs” (such as Helen Lewis and Penny White). This makes me hugely sceptical of the value of lending my weight, such as it is, to trans Liberal Feminism (or Liberal Transfeminism).

However, whilst there is no particular value in harping on with the “TERF” line (it is construed as an insult, and for me to disrespect anyone else’s chosen or rejected identification seems too ironic), I would strongly advise any transwoman to be very wary of most Radfem circles, even if invited to comment. If you do, expect hostility sooner or later, and do not expect to sway any perceptions or allay any scepticism, even if your intention is allyship. For everyone who appreciates such gestures of support, there will be others who construe them as patronising or hypocritical. I have had to watch two dear friends in the course of this year being slandered and grotesquely insulted in Radfem social media circles, one of whom was broadly sympathetic (at first) and one of whom was actually a long-standing ally (but has since disavowed that role). The hatred is there, make no mistake. As one of the commenters on the previously linked article by Penny White (who, incidentally, has always been very kind to me on Twitter) felt the need to put it…

“You should be listening to what WOMEN say, and not cowardly men who would rather claim womanhood and redefine the language we use for ourselves rather than break away from the patriarchal system they benefit from and embrace their gender non-conformity AS MEN. Trans “women” are not women, they are not female, they are not her or she, they are gender non-conforming men, and if they were brave enough to face that fact, they might actually be strong allies. Instead they’re men who reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, that help maintain the patriarchal oppression of women.”

Not for me to state my own courage, or lack of… but suffice it to say that this view is representative enough. Engage with these politics at your peril.

4. FAMILY

The Good – Our respective families, with understandable concern, have been quick to offer their support, and given that many transpeople face rejection, this is something to be hugely grateful for. Also, I feel easier in my conscience now, as the weight of my dishonesty all of these years is finally lifted, and has not been held against me. Cal’s family have also accepted me as their daughter-in-law, which is a tremendous relief. Any fears we might have had of being isolated as a couple, with only ourselves to rely upon, have been beautifully dispelled.

The Bad – Sadly, the timing of our coming-out did prove embarrassing enough that we were required to attend a family wedding as our old selves, in order to avoid a scene. Hashtag awkward… Thankfully, it is understood that this will not be happening again, whatever the occasion.

5. ODDS AND ENDS…

The Good – Rediscovering modelling was a joy this year, and one that helped me to raise my public confidence. The main project has been a short film (which is finally in post-production) called “Imago,” and when it eventually became necessary for me to do a shoot in “boy mode,” I felt so awkward and unnatural that it was wholly unnecessary to act up my melancholy for the scene… I am very pleased with the results, at least, so we shan’t be needing to revisit that concept. I also had studio and location shoots to rebuild my portfolio (having junked all of my male-model shots), and have shamelessly ripped off the most iconic trans editorial shot of 2015 (and probably of ever). Take a wild guess whose…

_MG_2630

…although I wanted to Goth it up a whole lot more. The photographer (Alan) talked me out of that, his philosophy of plagiarism being to do it as faithfully as one can.

Coming out in work was unexpectedly easy. The Royal Mail policy has proven cast-iron to the extent that I have even been included on a women’s workplace development program. There has been no outspoken discrimination since (although I gather some unkind gossip).

Administrative changes proved easier than I dared to anticipate. I have now amended my NHS details, my bank details, changed my name by deed poll, changed my PhD certificate, and best of all obtained a new passport marked with an “F” in the gender box. I feel this part of transition is, to all practical intents and purposes, completed.

Also surprisingly, my church participation increased a lot this year with extremely positive outcomes, including my invitation to speak on being a trans Christian at Pride Cymru 2015 (at around the 13:50 mark for anyone wishing to hear my weird voice again…).

The Bad – Chavs making abusive comments on the street, white van men doing the same, misogynistic creeps messaging me on Facebook, elderly gentleman insisting on knowing my old name prior to lecturing me on why I am an ungodly rebel, the person who started the “dirty freak eleanor antony burns” Facebook group… oh, and electrolysis really hurts and I have many months of it to look forward to.

REGRETS

None.

Thank you for helping me through a tumultuous but overall wonderful year. xxx

15

Little Miss Morbid

Owing to the recent extreme quietness of news on the transition front, which tends to test the morale, I dug out an old vampire novel Wolves of Dacia (nothing to do with cars) that I wrote around 2008, hoping to keep myself busy for awhile with editing and maybe see if I could make something of it. That has somehow now turned into a near-total rewrite of the thing. On the plus side, I am feeling very motivated and excited about this new project, but on the negative side this means everything else is going to slide for probably months on end (me being the obsessive type), so I beg all of your pardons in advance for being a very unreliable blogger and reader for the foreseeable.

Having said that, this week turned up a couple of bits of trans news. Natasha Hinde of Huffington Post contacted me to canvass an opinion for an article she was writing, “Uterus Transplant Surgery Could Help Trans Women To Become Pregnant.” I gave what I thought at the time was a careful and balanced answer (partially quoted in the article), which I subsequently feared might have been a boring and non-committal one, and which I now discover to have been an offensively controversial one to judge from the drubbing it has received in radfem / gender-critical quarters. Politically, I do seem unable to please any of the people any of the time… I suspect it is long past time I took my husband’s oft-repeated advice and forced myself to stop even visiting trans-political type sites. Since my diplomatic skills are conspicuous by their absence, I don’t expect to achieve much on that battlefield other than flirting with depression, unless regular practice in morbid thinking makes me a better Gothic novelist in the future and thus saves on further rewrites.

Also, today I have just returned from my first day-long course on the Royal Mail women’s development program “Springboard” (on which, I think it might be as well to state, I was specifically invited by female RM executives in full knowledge of my trans status). I cannot say much on that as participants are sworn to confidentiality, but as tends to be the case in real life, the day passed completely positively and courteously, I was made to feel welcome, encouraged to participate, and not once judged or cross-questioned.

Sometimes, I do wonder what if any good the Internet actually is.

springboard

8

I LOVE MY BRICK!

Explanation of bizarre allusion below…

The occasion for this insanity? My last photoshoot with the amazing Alan Moss, for which the only completely new outfit I had to sport was a vintage 1980s Nicki Ferrari dress. Fortunately, a dirty great brick of an obsolete not-so-mobile phone I picked up at a car boot sale made for the perfect accessory…

_K3_1567 _K3_1597 _K3_1670 _K3_1737 _K3_1749 _K3_1781

On the subject of accessories, it would be remiss of me not to add that the compact, the lipstick, and the lipstick holder were all presents from my mother-in-law, and in other family news, my folks have offered to help with the costs of my permanent hair removal. Did I ever mention I have the coolest relatives?

10

Official Entity

Well it’s only a small victory, but I had to resist the urge not to go SQUEEEEEE!!! quite loudly when something dropped through the post today. Especially as I examined all of the small print…

2015-08-18 23.53.38

No doubt some will be horrified at the apparent ease with which one can earn that little “F” in this country, but they may be somewhat consoled by the fact that it certainly gets no easier from this point. The next step, now that my IPL course has finished, with somewhat disappointing results (very little hair loss on my lip and chin), is to return to the joys of electrolysis: totally effective, of course, but excruciatingly slow, expensive, and so nauseatingly painful I would dare to hope even Germaine Greer feels I am getting my just desserts… and still no word on when I can expect to have an appointment at the GIC, of course. Until then I continue to self medicate, albeit conservatively, and probably doing more harm to my bank balance than to my health, but I am certainly finding it hard to empathise with the cliché that the trans activist agenda has created a society in which anyone can transition quickly, on a whim.

Still, quickly or not, there is no turning back for me. In a few short months I seem to have graduated from being a vague ghost of a person into an alive and finally an official entity, and I have no intention of crawling back into the containment unit.

In other news, the adventure game I am programming on Visual Basic is coming along slowly but surely, and I have chosen to be inspired by the first survival horror game I ever played: namely “Ghost Town” on the Commodore 16. While I grant that these graphics did not particularly impress me even in the day, several umpteen repetitions of this music certainly took its toll on player morale, and the fact of only having one life, no energy, and the starkest death sequence ever (the screen just cuts to electric blue, with a curt text description of your ugly fate) made for a bloody tense experience…

4

Turkey is a Dish Best Served Cold

Today, just a brief and apologetic post to announce I shall be taking a sabbatical from this blog in order to finish the novel I have putting off for almost the entire duration of my transition. Granted, it was part of what triggered the transition, but no reason to hold that against it with only two chapters to go and my would-be publisher probably losing interest by the day…

I will, in consequence, probably miss a lot of interesting posts from my followers, and I wish I trusted myself to just be a passive participant on WordPress, but I know myself too well: one post – especially the really politically-charged ones – leads to another, then that often leads to futile debates that themselves lead nowhere, then it’s time for bed. Unless I pop the turkey into cryostasis post-haste, in will come back to haunt me in no time at all… in a manner of speaking.

Hopefully this will not be too long an absence, but it needs must be a ruthless one. It has been a long time since I had any real news in any case, and regurgitating other people’s articles, however interesting, was not the reason I started this blog, nor was it to start a new photo album. I was, of course, hopeful that my transition itself would furnish more regular updates, but there has been no word on that for weeks now, and I would do well not to live for that elusive call. My husband and I always knew that this decision, though fateful, would be anything but quick to realise, and anyone taking this course must be prepared for that long haul element (as I believe I posted ages ago, even if I did not follow my own advice too well…). This means having the capacity to forget all about it for extended periods, and the best way to do that is probably to take a strict leave of absence from the whole subject and anything pertaining to it.

Sending apologies to Ariadne, Charissa Grace, Elle Kacee, F.G.M., JerBear, Kira Moore, Nemi and other regular WordPress contributors whose creativity and insights I am very likely to miss in the interim. None of you are forgotten. In the meantime, enjoy this fascinating interpretation of the life of one of history’s most famous and inspiring gender non-conformists…

5

In a Good Light…

Today I received the fully edited pictures from my shoot on May the 8th with Springfield Photography: a studio based in Hirwaun, at the head of the Cynon Valley, at the edge of the Brecon Beacons. It is a stunning area, making it faintly ironic that this was not a location shoot, but I was very grateful for the new experience of shooting in a studio environment, and Alan (the photographer) turned out to be a real enthusiast of his craft, and a master of moody lighting. I had three hundred shots to choose from at the end of the day, and although a very few were easy candidates for deletion (thanks to me looking stoned, or smiling like the Joker) it proved a tough decision to whittle it down to a few favourites for my portfolios. Here are a few that made the shortlist:

_K3_8893 _K3_8987 _MG_2084 _MG_2104 _MG_2136 _MG_2153 _MG_2179 _MG_2204

All in all, another wonderful day spent working with a creative soul, who was also completely charming, respectful, and accepting of who I am. 🙂 ❤ And his cat (Snoopy) is adorable, though clearly getting extra meals somewhere on the side…