Infernal baggage


The other day, a pen friend and I were talking – well, in email – about getting out. At least, when the wintery wind and rain abate, and Spring starts. BTW, is someone you email a pen friend if you don’t actually write? 🤔 Swipe friend doesn’t quite sound right and tap friend even weirder 🙂

Post lockdown, a female friend had said to me that they were tired of jeans and trainers. They hoped to break out a dress for a change. Likewise a colleague said they’d missed their heels for work, even though she felt then at the end of a long day.

I found myself writing ‘Yes, to be out again, to feel the sun on your legs, the swish of a skirt, and the sound of your heels…‘ and then I felt the critical gremlin on my shoulder react: sounds pervy. Yeah, thanks self judgment, that’s absolutely not the case and also what I didn’t need to hear. Haven’t you got a bath of boiling water to dunk your face in? 😋

Both of those comments from female friends did not provoke any judgment or second guessing from me. Only conversational curiosity, because A) I’m a noesy parker 🙂, and B) I’m interested in what folk think about.

But for me, when I talk about wanting to wear things or be out, up comes that old devil, shame. That or it’s internalised transphobia passing as shame 😉 So, yeah, that’s some baggage I carry around with me and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the long shadow of reading and hearing statements that being trans is wrong. That it’s… well, actually I’m not going to list the negatives because I’m pretty sure you can come up with your own, and I don’t really want to walk through that tunnel of ‘unlove’ 🙂 We might save ourselves the time and just look to the debates currently running in Australian government. It seems to some, to be trans, is to be less than human and our rights should be less than others.

I think the truth of it, guilt aside, is to be able to have the chance to express all aspects of myself is a gift. Yes, perhaps unconventional for some, but that’s probably true for anything unfamiliar or outside of the mainstream.

If there’s a point to this – other than to further illustrate how odd it is in my head 😉- perhaps it’s important to remember that some of the stories we tell ourselves are unhelpful and actually unkind. Perhaps thinking on that old phrase, would I say this to a friend? is worth a lot when it comes to self care.

L x


  1. Lynn, I’m pleased to hear the Australian Government’s attempts to pass a religious discrimination bill have reached international attention!
    The whole bill is a second prize for the religious right who were so upset when same sex marriage was legalised a couple of years ago. It may well backfire on them electorally as we have elections due in about three months and there is considerable concern within the government’s own ranks as to just how much you can allow religious schools and institutions to discriminate before it looks completely odious.
    A pox on their house!
    It is purity signalling pure and simple to one part of the community.
    We are a poor nation in so many ways.

    1. I hope voters remember when the election starts and think on the effect of discrimination against their children, and their children’s children. Sometimes, it’s not about us, but those close to us.

  2. Granted I don’t actually use a pen – my handwriting has deteriorated to a point when even I have trouble reading what I’ve written a day later – but since I don’t write email on a phone or even a tablet, then I think someone you email is still a penfriend. Or even just a friend. There are many people I’ve written to for decades that I’ve not actually met but consider my friends, and in a much more real sense than the limited Facebook use of that term (although the two often overlap).
    Yeah, I had that same nagging sense of discomfort when I wrote much the same thing about wanting to go out in a dress or skirt once more without the risk of freezing to death. Though I’m frequently even more conscious of the sound of heels on a pavement and usually abandon them for less attention drawing flats. Also the longer I go without being able to get out en-femme, the stranger – and perhaps less comfortable – that desire strikes as something I should be hankering for, as if I’m settling back into the masc roleplay I have to adopt most days as a default.
    I certainly don’t think of it in terms of shame or internalised transphobia (though I admit I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at with that phase). Uncomfortable, perhaps, or inconvenient and distracting – especially when the desire becomes too insistent and won’t go back in the box. And maybe there are bits of my head I’ve rather not examine too closely (never mind confide), but that’s not something I would want to judge anyone else’s needs or wishes by, or want them to judge me in return.

    1. Thanks Susie. The ‘friend’ term seems to have changed over the years. Perhaps it was always thus. It’s a good idea that we email/type, as my handwriting is awful. Luckily the modern world seems only to need it for cards and signing for things.

      What did I mean about ‘internalised transphobia’? Well, if we take transphobia as a term to describe very negative views or statements of anyone who is trans, that’s a start. The internalised bit means that a trans person has taken on those negative remarks and they play out to them as self criticism or internal dialogue.

      As a teen during the Section 28 years on the 80s, to hear voices in authority – government, religion, the media, etc – condemning LGB+ people and very rarely hearing supportive voices, well, that sh** sticks to you.

      Positive representation matters as it helps push back against that tide. I think this is vital for young folk who are trying to come to terms with who they are. Stopping that representation doesn’t stop people from finding out who they are, it just makes it harder and increases the risk to mental health…. and trans teen suicide risk is way too high. We need to do better as a society.

  3. Lynn, further to my earlier comment on this post, the the Australian Parliament has this day withdrawn its religious discrimination bill from debate by the Upper House after it was savaged in the lower house during the night, with five government members crossing the floor to vote with the opposition against the bill.
    The most embarrassing outcome has been the public outcry over the plight of trans students and staff at religious schools and institutions.
    A small win for humanity but there are obviously a lot of ordinary, good hearted people who don’t believe religious institutions should be able to treat trans people so offensively. The Government wishes to limit its embarrassment in the light of such consternation by this sizeable part of the electorate.
    I hope they remember such a lack of the Australian “fair go” in this proposed legislation, at our upcoming elections.

    1. That is good news, particularly around the public coming forward to express their objection to the bill. It seems there’s a wide, yet quiet, section of society who disagree with discrimination. However, that seems overlooked by the shouty people who want to reduce rights for others.

      Could explain what ‘fair go’ means culturally? 🙂

      1. We believe almost fundamentally that everyone is equal. Now immediately we can see that not everyone is equal, yet there is still this (wonderful) sense that we are or we should be equal, gender be damned, race be damned, religion or age or whatever be damned. You deserve a fair go. We all deserve a fair go. It implies that we have each other’s backs.
        It shows itself a little in the common use of the word “mate”. Still common. Still appropriate to use when speaking to a friend or a stranger. More often used to a male but not exclusively. My two doctor daughters often call older and younger male patients mate. It is a great equaliser. Class and predicament and age disappear.
        And at the moment, treating trans kids poorly, even if I don’t know them or fully understand them isn’t giving them a fair go mate.
        Sometimes I’m quietly proud of being Australian.

  4. Is a pen friend still a pen friend if they use a pencil? Does your youngster have a Crayon Friend? It’s a minefield! Just as well we don’t have drawing rooms any more – you’d be too confused to write in one!

    Confusion in all our heads is the result of the complex and constant push and pull of other people’s demands, and not a little nastiness from many quarters. It takes a lot of time and effort to purge the nonsense. So I guess your regular mantra of being kind, including to yourself, holds true.

    Hope your health is improving.

    Sue x

    1. Sitting room or lounge? Ah, the frustration and shame of realising you’ve been lounging in a room made for sitting, and indeed, vice versa. Oh the humanity! 🙂

      Yes, health wise, feeling much better. I seem to have my energy back and the brain fog seems to have lifted as well. Yay!

  5. A drawing room, just for drawing in? That would be nice, but would you also be allowed to paint, or would you need to have a separate room for that as well, along with a music room for listening to or playing music? No wonder wealthy Victorian families built themselves such big houses. (Though I think drawing room is actually a contraction of withdrawing room, somewhere you retire with guests after dinner – so the staff can clear the table in peace, or at least unseen.)
    I have a vision of Lewis Carroll having to rush between one room and another as he composes one of his illustrated letters to young Alice Liddell.

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