I'm middle class, middle aged,
Caucasian, English male, married with two older teenage children. I
was a teacher until middle age when I managed to switch to being a freelance
writer, which I continue to be.
What is your name and what is your background?
Real name: Tony. Tranny name: Toni,
if you insist. I don't really need to make the distinction, but when
out in tranny world I find that I'm sometimes pressured to 'play the
game'. I'm middle class, middle aged, Caucasian, English, biologically
male, married with two older teenage children. I was a teacher until
middle age when I managed to switch to being a freelance writer, which
I continue to be.
Is your name an alter ego
"femme" name - why did you choose that name?
I like the way my real name goes both
ways. If it were more unequivocally masculine I might shorten it to
fit with my tranny persona (eg Jason to Jay, or Jacey etc). But I don't
have to bother, which is nice. I sometimes playfully refer to my tranny
self as Antoinette, but that tends to be in the third person. I think
it was my wife, or a gay male friend of hers, that came up with that.
But I like the way it fondly conjures a festive, playful creature such
as my tranny self can be.
How old are you and how young
were you when you first thought about or actually cross-dressed?
I'm in my early fifties (though, amazingly, I get read as thirties when
I'm all trannied up and out there! Which helps ....). I remember, let's
see, dressing up and swirling about in a long, blue, silky skirt I found
in a trunk under a bed in a spare room of our house - maybe it was my
dad's! I must have been 4 or 5. Then later, aged about 7 or 8 I used
to strip off (again in a spare room) and pull on a very silky slip of
my mother's. I recall that this often gave me an erection and already
I was in some sense role playing being a pretty girl. So this activity
had quite a fetishised, erotic quality. There was a mixture of excitement
and doing something forbidden, something I shouldn't show or share to
others, not even family members.
Where do you buy your clothes?
Anywhere there's something I feel I
need in order to get an outfit together. Shoes are hardest as I'm male
size 10. I once found a nice shoe in an Oxford Street shop my size.
But the tranny shops are easiest for shoes and wigs. The rest can come
from department stores or charity shops. I tend to get underwear and
stockings from shops like BHS, Debenhams, M&S. I get frocks from charity
shops which can often yield discarded glam wear in sizes 16/18 which
is me. I bought my oriental cheong-samhs from a Chinese shop near China
Town, London. When I asked for size equivalents, I said to the shop
assistant that I was putting together a drag outfit (everyone understands
that) and then I tried them on in their little booth. I'm actually not
a keen shopper though. And, provided I've one or two good enough tranny
outfits for getting out in, I'm happy with that.
What leads you to choose the
styles you wear?
I only ever dress to go to a club or bar or such. So my tranny look
is always a kind of fairly chic, glam evening wear look. Sexy but not
over the top. I want people who see me to read me as interesting, alluring,
attractive, with a bit of wow! but nothing too shocking. Posh tart,
you might say.
Do you have one look or many
Really just one. Shoulder length dark bob wig (Louise Brooks, but a
bit longer), pale face, very full red lips, eyeliner below the eye,
lots of mascara - lucky me, I've long cow-lashes, oh, and a long fringe
so I don't have to do more than trim my eyebrows and pluck them a bit
to look right in girly mode).
Is make-up and hair important
to you and if so how do you achieve your look?
I covered some of that in the last question. If I'm going out properly
I do a careful double shave, the second shave against the grain to get
the face really smooth -- it usually lasts till the following midday,
which is handy. Then I use a 3 in one cover all of an appropriate tone
for my type. I carry the stick in my bag for patching up during the
evening. Then just the other stuff I mentioned in the last question.
To what degree do you practice
hair removal, and other body feminisation?
When going out in tranny mode I usually body shave (except pubes, and
I leave out my arms which have only a passable dark down on them). I'm
never trying to 'pass' as a woman, but I am trying to look my best as
a tranny. So I shave parts where hair is starting to grow in middle
age. I'm lucky to have quite smooth silky, white skin and I like to
look good in my underwear, or where my arms and upper chest show in
a cocktail frock.
Who knows you dress?
I've kind of lost track of this. My
wife has known since just after we first met. Though back then I didn't
know quite what it all amounted to, let alone her. Quite a few family
friends, some colleagues, some other people in tranny world, of course.
My daughter knows, but not my son. Mainly because she's older but partly
because it came up during talks about sex and things, such as can arise
with your children as they come of age. I worry about my son and how
he'd cope with it. One day it should be ok to be more open with him
about it. But it could cause trouble for him at school, and I shouldn't
want that. It probably gets around a bit though. Some people you tell
treat it like a dark secret to guard at all costs. Others like to put
the gossip about or at least think it's fine, wonderful, mildly amusing
etc. At some level I want it known, but I swing between being more open
and worrying about negative impact on my working life and family. That's
a tricky one. If I did something different it would matter less. Also
if I didn't have children. But it might not go down well with my public
image and status. Not that I'm exactly a household name.
How often do you dress and
if you go out where to?
Hardly ever, now, as it happens. I've
done my trannying in intensive spells lasting 3 to 4 months. Going down
to London once to three times a week while the flurry is on. Where do
I go? The Philbeach, where I like to stay overnight. The Wayout Club.
Ron Storme's when it was running. Ted's Place. Stunners (once). One
or two straight places in Soho (restaurant, bar, disco type places).
My favourites are The Philbeach Hotel and The WayOut Club. But there
are some new places I'd have tried if I were out on the scene more,
which I'm not at present. Which is why I've got time to write all this,
What is a man and what is a woman?
In the first instance, whether you're
a man or a woman it is biologically determined, by chromosomes. And
I know that some human beings can be born literally, physically, biologically
in a middle ground. So I think there's a biological basis in the first
instance. For purposes of scientific categorisation most of us can be
defined at birth as one or the other. But after that a whole lot of
other things kick in to do with society, family, temperament, experience,
etc which make us embrace, tolerate, resist, resent, or even reject
the initial fact of us being man or woman. I believe there is an objective,
scientific, biological distinction between man and woman, but that's
as far as it goes. The rest is cultural and conditioned, and within
either category there is an enormous scope for individual differences.
So much so that there can be a very wide overlap resulting in some men
seeming a lot more feminine (as culturally defined) than many women,
and some women seeming a lot more masculine (again as culturally defined)
than many men. I believe that many transgendered people of all types
inhabit this territory of overlap.
What is your definition of
I won't allow myself to have a definition.
It's too loaded an issue, and as a male to female tranny I don't feel
I can be a reliable judge. Ask a woman, ask a feminist. But be sure
of this. When I tranny myself up I'm NOT thinking 'How can I be like
a woman?' or 'How can I make myself feminine?' I'm more thinking, 'How
can I look as good as possible, wearing the kind of clothes I want to
wear for this kind of occasion? How can I get this kind of outfit to
work on my body?' I want to look good as a tranny, not be mistaken for
a woman. It's a very important distinction, not least for political
reasons. I know that women can find tranny statements on 'femaleness'
or 'femininity' very insulting and annoying. So I'm not stepping in
there with my 4 inch heels on.
Where do you feel you fit on the transgender
spectrum CD TV TS?
I'm mainly in the middle there, with
TV. I'm an occasional transvestite who would 'dress' far more often
if it weren't such a big issue. Curiously, I don't like to draw a lot
of attention to myself in public, so as a guy I tend to wear a very
low key neutral look which I'm very happy with. It's quite a soft, casual
style: chinos, loafers, t-shirt or roll neck with fleece + beany hat
if it's cold. When I'm tranny-clad I don't want to provoke any negative
attention, so I tend tactfully to keep the drag back for club or bar.
Ideally, I might tranny up when going to straight parties or social
occasions. But I don't because I can't face the big deal so many people
want to make of it. When younger I think I was too scared. Now I just
feel too old and too tired.
Are you happy to be called a tranny
or a drag queen or does that offend you?
Drag Queen I feel applies more to high
camp effeminate homosexuals who drag up either in the hope of attracting
straight(-ish) men, or for the sake of performance &/or exhibitionism.
But the term itself is fine by me. It just refers to a different kind
of creature. Tranny I tend to take as an affectionate reference to TVs.
In my experience TSs are quick to make the divide clear, to let you
know they're about to, or have already, had the surgery. TVs generally
have no intention of such a move. So they tend to know they're not TS.
I like the term Tranny. I apologise to radios and vans for hijacking
their nickname. I doubt they'll mind. What might offend me is how people
say the term. If it's said in an affectionate, or even matter of fact
way, that's ok. But if it's spat out with hatred or intended violence,
well, I'd rather not be there. I've sometimes told people that I'm a
bisexual transvestite, but I'm not sure if I really am bisexual as such,
in the true sense. I find 'tranny' a nice shorthand. 'Transvestite'
sounds so psychological / clinical, as if spoken by a serious man with
specs and a smart suit. If I'm being more cautious, I use the term TG,
which I feel is a really handy neutral label, short for trans-gendered.
Trouble is, most people don't know the term, so I use 'tranny' which
is more received. Most people's knowledge of the transgendered world
is very limited, so the distinctions between different terms are lost
on them. We're still at the stage where many people just think of us
as 'faggots in frocks'. FFs! So 'tranny' is a good catch-all term. Not
offensive to me.
To what degree do you feel gender
dysphoric (i.e. that your brain is feminine)?
I don't feel that
my brain is 'feminine'. How could I know? But I have friends who are
heterosexual men, and friends who are homosexual men. And I know I don't
belong to either category. So I now consider myself to be TG or transgendered.
I can't say whether this is part of my essential genetic coding or the
result of conditioning and experience, but I believe myself to be in
a category of men who are in some sense in-between, with the basic physical
attributes of men but with a disposition to identify with the observed
demeanours and behaviours associated with the broad category of women.
I will admit to feeling 'feminine' or 'womanlike' in some respects so
long as this is not construed as putting pressure on biological women
to behave in any particular way not natural to them or desired by them.
I have often caught myself wishing I had been born a woman, wanting
to be genuinely the other sex. But I know there's no way that can be
truly achieved, so it's an unrealistic wish. April Ashley once advised
a young man considering surgery not to go ahead with it, on the grounds
that he wouldn't become a woman. He'd just be a mutilated man. Maybe
for some people that's enough. But for me I know it would be a big mistake.
I sometimes suspect that the so-called sex-change option has caused
more misery than happiness. I wish we could have a 3rd sex, TG, formally
recognised, so we could just work toward being the best way for ourselves.
There'd be so much to work through. Lots of stuff to do with self-presentation
and identity. It would all need to be milled through in the way that
feminist women had to work out so many things about themselves across
the 20th century.
To what degree would you consider
permanent hair removal, hormones, surgery?
For me surgery
would be a big mistake. And I don't trust the kind of chemical change
that hormones might result in. Dodgy interference with Mother Nature.
But permanent hair removal I'd love. Why haven't I gone for it already?
Big story. To be beard free and only to have to shave my armpits and
pluck my eyebrows would be wonderfully liberating for me. Maybe I'll
try it. But it's very laborious, expensive, etc and I go out so rarely
as a tranny that the old razor may be good enough for me in the end.
Hmm... surgery. I think that would be terribly misguided for me. I actually
quite like my body, just as I quite like my neutral self in a roll neck,
chinos and soft flat shoes, and fleece. Genderless clothes, I suppose?.
What individual has inspired
you most in relation to your TG inclinations?
Over the years,
a number of people in different ways. And I love them all for it. Though
I don't always agree on everything, or want to live their life or be
like them. I'm grateful for them helping me to be a me that works for
me. They're not all trannies, necessarily. Let's see: Danny La Rue for
just being there as a visible form of feminised male back in the 60s.
Quentin Crisp for showing how you can just brazen it out if you really
want to, whatever you are. Vicky Lee for making it seem possible to
come out into the world as Antoinette and give my tranny self a reallygood
canter round the big city. Ditto Ron Storme, though I never met him.
Charlie (ex Charles) Anders, who wrote 'The Lazy Cross Dresser' for
voicing so much of what I was coming to myself vis a vis being a tranny.
There are many others. Oh, yes. Miss Renee, or Renee Hall as she now
calls herself. I liked her attitude to looking good and getting out
there into the straight world to claim her space. I ought to mention
Vern & Bonnie Bullough who wrote that immense tome, 'Cross dressing,
sex and gender', which is probably the most up to date available book
on the whole subject. I think it informed me rather than inspired me.
Packed with data though. It all helps.
Do you feel you have any choice
in your TG thoughts and actions?
I know I have absolutely
no choice in being, in some sense, TG. I can't change what I was born,
or became, in that respect. That really is me. I've spent two thirds
of a life resisting it, and it really would be easier not to be that
kind of thing. But I can to some extent moderate both thought and action.
Ironically, though, I've found that by going out and doing, as fully
as possible, everything I've ever fantasised about in 'trannysphere',
it's somehow made it easier to control what I actually do now. I mean
that now that I've done most things I used to fantasise about, I have
much more control over the fantasies. And I'm much more sensible about
what I do and where. It's as if, as a tranny, I've grown up and gotten
real. So instead of being the victim of intense whims and urges, I now
plan and control what I do far more effectively. There's more fun now,
but more safety too. I often use memory these days to satisfy tranny
urges. I just play back what's taken place. But, I'll be back out there
soon, I expect, for a little trot round.
Have you ever suffered harassment
Got jeered at once by two lads, walking from Gloucester Road area to
Earls Court, en route to the Philbeach Hotel. Late at night, 2am, "Ere,
it's a geezer, ain't it? Yay, it's a geezer." I ignored them, crossed
the road briskly between cars and walked on. Could have been a lot worse,
as any girl knows.
Have you tried to stop?
Of course. A man
of my generation who fancies women, predominantly, and wanted a female
partner -- what do you think? Back then in the 60s there wasn't much
info about it all. And of course I sniffed out what I could. But things
were pretty primitive back then, with regard to trans gender issues.
I tried to explore it more fully in my thirties (the 80s) and went quite
far with dressing, going to a party in full kit, walking out at night,
all the stuff we do. But there seemed no place for it back then, unless
one was going to have a full time life as a drag artist or tranny whore.
And I wanted to be a teacher and a writer. I didn't want to have to
be a tranny first and above all else, which is what it would have become.
So I kept putting it away, pushing it to the back of the cupboard so
to speak. I knew I wasn't a straight homosexual, and I felt it seriously
jeopardised my relationship with my female partner. I feared becoming
a poor sad, solo tranny in a frightful flat. So, yes, I tried to pack
it in, got rid of the gear, sometimes went for years with nothing but
the odd fantasy. Most trannies of my generation know the story. A bit
like being gay before legalisation.
Are your sexual preferences
changed by your TG experiences (even temporarily)?
No, but they're
pretty broad, generally. When I'm dressed I really like the sexual attention
of men. I don't especially fancy them, but I love them fancying me.
And since learning to dress effectively as a tranny and going out to
tranny hotspots, I've done a lot of sex with a lot of men. Just about
every kind of thing with every kind of person. To the level of whoring
but without demanding money. The fact remains that the best real sex
I have is with my wife, a heterosexual woman who relates to me as her
heterosexual man. And for me, the object of desire is a woman rather
than a man. It's women that light my fire and arouse my interest, curiosity
and desire. But, as a tranny, I really enjoy acting out the sexual encounter.
It's like role playing sex, in a way. But the sex really happens. It's
not just pretence & cockteasing. I've put this bluntly because I've
observed quite a few trannies seeming to be rather confused by issues
to do with admirers, tranny fanciers & male punters. I think every tranny
needs to work this one out. I'm not suggesting all trannies are really
like me and they should admit it. I've observed there to be at least
3 types of tranny in terms of sexual leaning: trannies who go with punters
(tranny tarts), trannies who go with other trannies (lesbi-trannies)
and trannies who just tranny (tranny posers, teasers, whatever). We'd
need a survey to cover this properly.
Have you suffered illness, depression,
relationship break ups because of being TG?
It's been a big
issue in my life in all respects, whether while I've been in resistance
to it or running with it. I was never in denial once I'd identified
it, but I was often in resistance. Even now I'd say I 'manage' it, which
it most certainly needs. I had an early breakdown of an obsessive-compulsive
style while at university. There were many factors, but I think trying
to accommodate being TG back then, along with other pressures, caused
me a lot of trouble. I also think that my sense of self-worth continues
to be compromised by being TG, especially in respect of marriage and
friendship. I still feel emotionally devalued in some sense, as a result
of being TG. I can't just let it be an accepted part of my life, as
there are still issues to do with being open and public about it that
get compromised by other things in my life. So I live half-out and half-in
as a tranny and it weighs negatively, quite often and quite deeply.
So much so that I keep the problems to myself these days and don't even
talk to my partner about them, for fear of being a drag (yeah!). Having
said that, I can't fault her as a listener. And she's been amazingly
open minded and intelligent about the whole thing. Always. So compared
to some I've been lucky in having a tolerant partner. There's another
issue under this heading that needs addressing, which is sexual health
and safety. I'm middle aged and educated so you'd think I would know
the score. Moreover I don't do drugs of any kind and am a very moderate
drinker, even on festive occasions. So I'm never technically out of
control. However there've been two periods of my tranny activity during
which I've behaved very promiscuously. And I've tipped over, once or
twice, into doing 'unsafe' sex, to the extent that I've later had to
do the whole drawn-out clinic thing: the tests, the waiting, the worry.
Both times I've been lucky (clear on all counts), but both times there
was a chance I might have gotten the Big One (HIV). It's seriously affected
my behaviour now. I'm far more restrained and inhibited, far more cautious.
I hope I've learned my lesson. But I feel my carelessness was something
that wouldn't have happened to me in the heterosexual world. It was
a lot to do with the intense intoxication of being out there, being
flattered, being found beautiful and sexy, the sheer pleasure of being
able to give pleasure of that kind as an 'effective' tranny. That kind
of excitement, exhilaration, after half a lifetime of restraint and
non-indulgence, well, I can only say it led me at times to lose my head
and behave stupidly. Of course someone may insist that they're clean,
in the heat of the moment. Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?
But afterwards, when you think about it, you know you can't trace them
and that you know nothing about them. So off you must go to the clinic.
I can't be the only Tgirl in tranny world who's had this kind of problem,
the business of being in a position to act out the fantasy of being
a tart, and then getting into serious trouble over it. It can be like
being a child who's never had sweets (but known and dreamed about them)
finding them self in a sweetshop with no-one there to help them control
what they do.
If you could relive your life
without the TG experience would you choose to?
A bit of me wants
to shout, 'YES!' In times of difficulty I've envied straight gays for
the clarity of what they are, and the way they can now move in the world
relatively freely. And if I could have had free choice I'd have been
a straight woman. But, on reflection, there's a deep bit of me that
just doesn't want to be a standard, straight man, and that's what I'd
be without the TG strand in my twine. If I could have a wish, it would
be to have been allowed to have been a tranny with my own place in the
field, allowed to be and do as that kind of creature, accepted along
with all the others. Somewhere in me there is a kind of self-acceptance
and pride growing these days. I kind of love my tranny self and identify
deeply with it. It's me and I'm not changing. I can't, anyway. So I'm
learning to love myself as a tranny, even if no-one else can.
Do you feel that releasing your
"gender gift" has released creativity (poetry, music, art) that may
otherwise have remained repressed?
Well, I'm a writer
and quite successful as such. I think my writing is a part of my person,
but I can't claim that embracing my tranny self has exactly 'released'
creativity in me. It's possible that I have a determined and inquiring
spirit that has taken me doggedly (bitchedly?) into tranny world as
it has into writing. You certainly need nerve to get out there at first.
There's a leap that needs to be made, when you first walk out 'en femme'.
Have you ever performed and
if so how did you get into performing and what have you done?
I perform as a
writer, quite a bit. But this has no obvious connection with TG. If
I did my events in drag it could prove tricky in a number of ways. I
am sometimes tempted to do like our friend of the Turner prize and make
a public appearance. But not just yet. When my son's older. And I'll
be a bit over the hill by then... Perhaps...? Maybe not. What does grow
in me is an interest to go public, but in a more modest way, as I get
older. Maybe by writing some form of auto-bio-sketch about the whole
tranny experience, which might help to educate the public more widely
about the whole thing. Or maybe by getting more involved in some kind
of tranny support system, to do with helping other trannies come to
terms with themselves. Ideally both. But just now my life doesn't afford
the time. And I have a fair bit of work to do on myself, I think, before
being able to face the world like that.
What outstanding TG experiences
stand out in your mind?
The day I went
down to the lounge of the Philbeach Hotel for the first time ever. I
had on a full length red sleeveless dress, a black velvet bolero jacket,
black stockings and strappy 4 inch heel sandals. I had my full slap
worked out and my dark bob wig. I knew I looked ok, but worried I was
getting a little old to be doing this. There was a young handsome man
just getting up from the computer there. He was big, with long dark
hair in a pony tail. Just the sort of person I expected to have no sort
of interest in the kind of thing I was. He looked at me and just said,
'You look fantastic!' It was the nicest kind of compliment, said with
evident sincerity. I glanced across at the wall mirror and thought,
'Yes, actually. He's right. You do. Let's see what they think down in
Jimmy's famous bar.....' I did thank him for the compliment. And still
do. I have stacks more stories I could tell, but Vicky would have to
censor half of them.
What one piece of advice would
you give to someone that has just found they are not the only tranny
in the world?
Go to the WayOut Website & follow up
its leads. You'll soon have friends in tranny world. Or places to find