The C Word


On the way home from Chams last week, BBC Radio 4 had a large night edition of Woman’s Hour. It’s not a programme I usually listen to, as I’m at work, but if it’s on; I’ll listen. Not from some faux woman within malarkey (well, false for me – it may be very true for others).

Moreover, you get to hear different topics of conversation.

The Late Night Edition covered fanfic, cosplay and sci-fi & fantasy, albeit with a view of what it means to women today. If any of the above are your bag, there’s a podcast you can download here.

So what’s this got to do with being trans? Well, it wasn’t discussed directly, although there was talk about identity and how different on-line communities allow people to experiment. Change who they are, how they wish to be perceived, etc. In the final segment of the show, one of the experts was talking about the drop of organised religion’s hold over the UK, since the 80s. She went on to say that people have filled (or maybe, replaced) that community with their own.

What struck me, was the talk about religions and fan communities allowing people to be different from their usual life. A sense of belonging and a place where you can be who you want, without the binaries if everyday life. Hmmm. What does that remind me of? 🙂

Part timers, full timers, partners, F2M, M2F and the undecided

So is Chams – or indeed any trans support group – effectively a church? It’s not like we have worship, although do we have rituals. The getting ready, photos, parties and the return to drab, at the end of the evening.

All tortured similarities aside, the sense of community is fantastic. A mix of short, medium and long term visitors. You don’t really know who will stay and who will drift away, or move on. All part of the variety of life.

Take care,


  1. Yes, L and I listened to this the other night. It's actually the interest we both share, and have been part of since the late 1980s. (Whoops, I've just outed myself as a sf fan. The shame.)
    It's also, incidentally, one of the most LGBT friendly communities I know of. That acceptance to be who you were or wanted to be among friends was a large part of its appeal. There are a surprising number of trans fans and writers. When I first discovered your blog, Lynn, a couple of months ago, and the ones it led me to, it did feel very familiar. I wonder just how much crossover there is.
    While we never really got into the costuming side of it, in anime fandom particularly there's a whole sub-genre of cross-dressing cosplay known as crossplay, some of whom are astonishing.

    1. Oh the tragic shame of it all eh? The strange terminology, the labels, weird looks from those who don't get it, the funny costumes and weekends away….. and then, there's being trans 🙂

      How much cross-over, I couldn't say. Sci-Fi seems to have a rich vein of difference. Someone once said to me, that it's more about what's going on right now, than what's happening in the future.

  2. Yup, I heard the prog too. It did seem to me that they were over-egging how fluid things really are. Though the point was well made that to some extent we all create our own 'profile' in the real world. It's not just Penny that is a construct. Her bloke alter ego is likewise a construct, part history, part biological accident and part deliberate choices.
    Interesting post.
    Penny 😎

    1. It very much depends on how open you want to be, either in person or in writing. I could be far more outgoing and less guarded at sf conventions where I felt I was among friends than I would be with either my family or work.To a certain extent, yes, my fan persona is probably another construct apart to the one(s) I present to the mundane world.

    2. "You're born naked. Everything is drag." ~ RuPaul. 🙂

      If we're going to have a discussion about identity, we could be here some time. Oh, and we'll need some experts. I'm just winging it. 🙂

  3. There's an equally fascinating and thought-provoking program in Radio 4's Future Proofing series on identity – first broadcast last Wednesday and repeated tonight (Sat 22Aug) at 10:15. Also available on iPlayer. It discusses whether and how far, now and in the future, our identities – in terms of gender, sexuality and even, controversially, race – will be elective and performative. We get to choose who we want to be rather than have it socially or biologically imposed on us. There was some intriguing stuff in this. Did anyone else catch it?

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