Friday 24 December 2021

The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Since Christmas is fast approaching, every shop and radio station is playing Christmas songs all the time, and one which has always stood out for me is Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I'd always thought Rudolph had started life as a song, but Wikipedia says the story was originally written in verse for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in the US in 1939, and only became a song in 1949, popularised by Gene Autry.
Rudolph leading the other eight

Before Rudolph came along, the names of Santa's other reindeer had come from the familiar poem A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore, first published in 1823. It's the one that begins 'Twas the night before Christmas. The poem gives the names as Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen. (Not Donner, although he did name the last two reindeer after thunder and lightning).

In any case, Donder has now become Donner, and the list of reindeer that every scholarly child (such as I was) commits to memory is the eight names above, plus Rudolph, who is of course the youngest.

From the famous song, here's the bit which troubled me then, and still does today, enough to want to write about it here. Everybody knows that Rudolph isn't like the other reindeer. His shiny red nose marks him out as different:
All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.
They wouldn't let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games

When I was a child, I didn't have a shiny red nose, but there was definitely something palpably different about me. I didn't fit in with the boys, no matter how I tried, and therefore I was always an outsider, yearning to be accepted. I remember being lonely and perplexed, wishing I could like football, wishing I could like rough-and-tumble play, and wondering what it was that was so intangible, and yet at the same time so inescapable. Not only were the boys unwilling to play with an atypical boy, so were the girls.

For Rudolph, the story ends happily. One foggy Christmas Eve, Santa realises that Rudolph's shiny red nose is just the thing to light the way for the sleigh. Hurrah.

All of the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee
"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history!"

As a child, I thought the other reindeer were a bunch of two-faced bastards. Santa decides Rudolph is cool, so suddenly they all change their tune? Partly I wanted Rudolph to tell the other reindeer to bugger off: partly I was pleased for Rudolph that he found the acceptance he had craved.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
You may say (and you could be right) that I'm completely overthinking all of this. It's just a children's Christmas story, after all, and therefore it requires a happy ending with a perfect resolution.

But there is, I think a deeper interpretation, which is that those people who seem to not fit in--the one that other people laugh at, and call names--not only have something valuable to contribute, but can actually lead, and become popular, and become famous. Can, in fact, "go down in history".

So if I have one Christmas wish for us all, it is this. I wish that we get recognised as being special, and wonderful, and that we are loved, not just by Santa but by everyone.

Wherever you are, I wish you a glorious, sparkly, magical Christmas.

Sunday 19 December 2021

Ten Year Anniversary, but Still Not Brave Enough...Yet!

Since I started writing this blog, almost exactly ten years ago, so much has changed.

When I first started writing, I was unhappily married, with two small children, to a woman who despised everything to do with crossdressing. We had some counselling, but nothing changed. What really made a difference was coming out to a close friend. My ex-wife was determined that nobody should ever know--I mean, what would people think?

It turns out that people wouldn't mind very much at all, as I found out when I continued to come out to close friends and family members. Then there was the divorce, which was unbearably awful, and then a period of readjustment to my life as a divorced person.

Bluestocking Blue: Ten Years On
Then I met someone, whom I call Missy on this blog. I told her very early on, and to my delight and astonishment, she was completely supportive. We moved in together, and blended our families, with the usual bumps along the way.

Since then, my life is completely transformed. We go out together when I'm dressed. Admittedly, with a bunch of kids who have swimming lessons and sports fixtures and music lessons and all that, there isn't an abundance of opportunity for us, but it's unfailingly amazing and never gets old. We were invited once to a friend's birthday party, and I turned up as Vivienne to meet a houseful of strangers--who were all lovely.

My fem clothes hang in the wardrobe, next to my drab male clothes (not hidden in the suitcase in the attic). My heels are next to my man shoes. My makeup is in the drawer. She borrows my nail polish remover; I borrow her foundation brush. She helps me pick out what to wear.

Once a month I go to a very nice beautician (recommended by Missy) who does my leg waxing. We gossip like she would with any client, and she's super lovely. And I've been getting makeup tips from a local makeup artist, who had never had a trans client before but again is super lovely.

I'd love to say that I can be Vivienne whenever I want, but this isn't true. Overall, though, I could not have envisaged the direction my life would take. Where will it lead? I do not know, of course, but I am reminded of a line from the theme song of Ally McBeal (remember that show?), which resonated with me at the time: One by one, the chains around me unwind.

I even "came out" on this blog and admitted I'm a doctor, having previously pretended to be something else. I've been exploring the situation of transgender doctors, and have now made contact with several, as well as other professionals (an artist, a statistician, a novelist).

Which box should I be ticking?
I've also seen an increase in rainbow awareness happening around me. The other day, I met a medical student who was wearing a name badge which said "<Name>, Medical Student, Pronouns she/her". Formerly I'd always assumed that people who put their pronouns up front like this were either trans themselves, or had a close friend or family member who was trans. But no. Apparently there are lots of students wearing these badges now.

Once a year, however, my hospital sends around a staff survey. It asks for lots of details, such as what your hours of work are, what mode of transport you take to get to work, whether you feel safe leaving in the dark, and so on. I assume they are trying to make sure that the requirements of staff to get safely to work are met. They also ask about ethnicity, and I'm assuming that they're trying to make sure that the ethnic makeup of the staff is a reflection of the ethnic makeup of the community.

But they also ask about gender orientation.

When that question comes up anywhere else, in online applications, or other form-filling, I click on "non-binary" or "other" or whatever third option they give other than "male" and "female". But at work, I don't. I still click on "male".

I've found myself reflecting on why I do this, but basically, it's a form of cowardice. I know other people, more out than I, who have experienced real difficulties created by their gender identity. Yet, they persist, driven by courage, or determination, or the desire perhaps to blaze a trail for those who follow. Like water on stone, eventually the stone will be worn away. Why don't I click that third box, and prepare myself for whatever follows?

Because a close friend once warned me that our city is still quite conservative. You can only come out once. There could still potentially be adverse consequences of being open. She would know; it's happened to her.

And so, for the moment, I don't click the box. It turns out, that, even ten years on, I am still worried about what people would think.


While my input to this blog has dwindled a bit since I started writing (far too much!) on Quora, I'm delighted to find that I'm still ranked at number 55 on the Feedspot Top 60 Crossdressing Blogs and Websites, updated on 11th December 2021, so I suppose I'm still allowed to have my gold medal displayed on the home page.