Thursday, 16 October 2014

Signifiers.

I have been away visiting friends and enjoying myself in ways I could never have imagined possible just a few years ago.

Finally being able to live an open and honest life presenting the personality kept buried for countless decades is a joy that is hard to explain. Few ever have to hide their true selves in their personal witness protection scheme worried that a single slip will bring the world crashing round about their head. During those early days of finally showing my true self I was often asked how I knew that I should really have been a woman all along. Nobody saw the absurd irony in their questions, did they not all wake each day and take for granted knowing exactly who and what they were?

In preparation for my trip I needed to glam up a bit from my usual more casual look. For as long as I can remember I loved to have colourful painted nails, every glimpse from the corner of my vision giving me little bursts of joy. I have dozens of the little magic bottles and never thought twice about paying the asking price for a classy few cc of Chanel, a fact brought home to me when grumbling about the cost of household paint to cheer this place up where a litre costs about the same as I used to happily pay for those tiny drops of nail magic...

In those early years of transformation little signifiers like painted nails, pierced ears and personal jewellery helped boost personal confidence and divert gender radar when out in public. Freedom to indulge in these long forbidden embellishments to our new wardrobe can at first feel essential for acceptance but with time I found myself less addicted to the need to try so hard.

It was fun to be away and more colourful than my more toned down usual self. Even more fun now that I never feel anything but a natural unquestioned acceptance. Along side my transition there has been a transition within much of UK society to try a more loosened attitude to greetings. Long gone is the cold maintenance of arms length no go zone and limp handshake replaced with attempts to emulate our european cousins that we see embracing and kissing at every opportunity.

Just as we have decades of life learning to catch up with little help, the whole country is going through a slightly chaotic revolution. At the moment I am not sure if the experiment will work or we will return to the old cold safety of distance. Nobody knows the rules of engagement! Perhaps we need a TV series to show us the way or we should wear something to show our preference, the possibilities are almost too numerous to calculate. Handshake firm or weak, to hug or not to hug, to kiss, lip to lip, lip to cheek, lip to air, one two or three kisses and starting on which side!?

As a country we are at least giving it a go and local traditions may form, in the meantime it is fun finally getting to join in. My greatest surprise is the number of guys who want a kiss and hug and how I no longer have a horror of facial hair and can even enjoy a moment of cheek to cheek contact. I once hated male kind and the absurdity that anyone could imagine that I had anything to do with it but from my new position of personal comfort I find many of them to be charming though that is still  as far as it will ever go...

2 comments:

  1. Ah, modern social customs are an undeveloped area for posts. I've also noticed these half-clumsy attempts at Gallic kissing, and all the hugging that goes on. Handshaking is indeed becoming much less usual, and may become confined eventually to very formal occasions - two world leaders shaking on a treaty, that sort of thing - while the rest of us embrace and smooch.

    Every time I see friends now, at least a kiss is required. In trans company a hug is often required too. Some of this may be the consequence of finding emotional freedom, and the discarding of old male inhibitions. But I frequently detect something extra, as if every embrace and kiss is a celebration of being female. No harm in that, of course! But it can get overdone. And I for one am not very touchy-feely, even as my female self.

    Some kind of guidance is certainly needed. For instance, one kiss or two? And how, and where? Quite a lot of people seem surprised if you want to kiss both cheeks. Some expect lips-to-lips. We need a few rules!

    (I'm going to think a bit more on this general topic, and write about it)

    Lucy

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    1. Hi Lucy, I look forward to your deeper thoughts on the modern greeting ritual as i look forward to the day that words flow as smoothly in my writing as they do in yours.

      From my perspective the hardest to deal with is reading what is going on with lip to lip contact and the horror of realising that you have forgotten to respond to a past lip to lipped and probably wounded their feeling of closeness, how do you set this back on track, they may read your avoidance as a negative response when all along you were looking forward to a closer relationship.

      All those lost decades of human interaction and learning can be a challenge to us reborn fifty years too late...

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