Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dressing still matters

Since I'm currently in a situation where I'm out only to my wife, my normal dress is more or less androgynous - women's Levi's, a T-shirt of some sort, girl sneakers, girl undergarments.  I work at home, so sometimes I'll switch to a more feminine blouse, but because my kids often drop by without much, if any, warning, that's the extent of my getting dolled up lately.  But I was sort of ok with that.  I'm on my hormones, feeling basically femme most of the time, though sort of in a princess-locked-in-a-tower sort of way.  It isn't ideal, but I felt like it was ok enough.

But then today, with my wife out of town on business, one kid out of town on spring break, and the other one at work for sure, I decided to doll up a bit.  Went to the trouble of putting on a little bit of makeup, put on a bra that pushed my little boobs up rather than squishing them flat, and a nice spring-ish dress and sandals.  I've been working in this outfit most of today now, though I'm going to have to change soon to go coach.  What's surprised me is how much more comfortable and happy I feel.  Sure, it could be coincidence, but even though I'm basically in girl clothes every day, there's something about letting my femininity really open up that makes me almost giddy.  Not totally unexpected, but still somewhat unexpected.  I had thought that when I finally transitioned, I'd probably mostly wear my usual jeans and T's but with a real bra instead of a too-small sports bra.  Now, I'm wondering if maybe I'm more likely to be one of those women who always dress smartly and look like they're going to work or coming from work, even if they're in the grocery store at 11pm.

Kind of fun to think about.

(picture is not me)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Eon by Alison Goodman

This is actually a review of both Eon, by Alison Goodman, and its sequel, Eona.  Realistically, reading just the first would feel incomplete, and I feel fortunate that I didn't come across these books until both had been released.  But that's just a minor pet peeve of mine: I like series of books just fine, but please make each book a self-contained tale that doesn't absolutely require further reading for a satisfactory story.  I realize that is probably exactly what publishers want in order to get us to buy the next book, but authors, please stand up for your artistic integrity and either wait and release a longer novel or figure out a way to bring your story to a close while leaving your story world open to further elaboration.  OK, getting off my soapbox now. :-)

So, Eon and Eona, which were first published in Australia as The Two Pearls of Wisdom and The Necklace of the Gods, are set in a pseudo-ancient-Chinese fantasy world in which the country is led and protected by the Emperor and a group of men known as the Dragoneyes.  The Dragoneyes have magical powers given to them by one of the 12 dragons (each named for a Chinese zodiac animal) in exchange for some of their own life force.  Every year, a new dragon and Dragoneye becomes the leader of the group, and the dragon chooses a new apprentice.

This year, one of the potential apprentices is a lame boy called Eon.  By the way, the names of the characters are all over the place - Eon, Dillon, Lord Ido, Baret - maybe the author was trying to make the point that despite the general setting, this is not a straight-on version of historical China with magic added.  For me, it was slightly annoying.  Back to the story though, Eon is lame, and as we very quickly gather, also happens to be a girl.  Dragoneyes have always been men, but Eon's master saw that she had a remarkable ability to commune with the Dragon spirits, and decided to try, despite the likelihood of death should their deception be discovered.  There is an awkward romance story woven into an overarching palace intrigue/usurpation plot, and a bit of self-discovery along the way.  About par for the course in young adult fantasy.  That's about all the plot I really want to give away so as not to hinder your enjoyment of the book.

So, as far as transgender themes go, the title character, Eon, is a girl who has been trying very hard to act like a boy and hide her "feminine problems" from everyone else.  There is a hint of the inner conflict, but with so much invested (i.e. her very life) in trying to be a boy, she sees the feminine in herself as a weakness.  Those of us who are TG but still in the closet can certainly understand the constant stress of hiding one's true self.  Interestingly, a supporting character in the books, Lady Dela, is a out transwoman, who is a member of the imperial court, and came as part of a tribute or gift from the leader of her lands.  Although the author is Australian, Lady Dela seems to be modeled after the Native American "two-spirit" transwomen who in some tribes were considered magical, like medicine men.  I found her form of transgendered living interesting.  She obviously identified as a woman and preferred to be seen as such, but when needed, she "disguised" herself as a man, and used her male strengths to her advantage.  The complications her gender brings to matters of love is written with a poignant authenticity.

The story is not particularly original for Asian fantasy world adventures, but it is mostly an interesting and pretty quick read.  The quality of the writing isn't great, but it's ok for the Young Adult category.  There's a surprising amount of graphic violence for the category, but maybe I'm just out of touch with current standards.  It didn't seem particularly gratuitous, so I wasn't particularly bothered, just surprised in places.

My overall recommendation is to get it if you are into asian-inflected fantasy.  If you aren't sure, it's at least worth a trip to the library to read through a little bit before deciding.


Thanks to Sally at Bibrary Book Lust for bringing this series to my attention!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fashion weeks

Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2012 via Fashionista.com
I think it is currently Paris Fashion Week, following New York, London, and Milan recently, and as someone with a mild interest in fashion, I've been following some of the fashion blogs' pictures from all the different runways.  One of the things that has struck me is how many of the fashions almost require the female wearer to be quite flat in the bosom.  Now of course, other styles are just the opposite, but I have to admit that it makes me happy to know that if the hormones don't make me any bigger (I'm barely an A cup), I can still feel perfectly feminine.  Obviously this isn't news to the millions of smaller-chested cis-women out there, but to us transwomen, breasts tend to be one of the things we think of as necessary mental pointers to the casual observer that we are "plain ol' women" and not something else.  Now, I personally would love to have larger breasts (despite my wife's complaints that big ones are a huge pain in the .. well... back, actually).  But I guess what I'm saying in a jumbled poorly-edited way here, is that my desire for bigger breasts doesn't quite balance out the discomfort with medical procedures and doctors.  Maybe that will change as I get closer to transitioning and if I am frequently misread as male.  I don't know.