The great thing about being trans is that fairly ordinary things can become a little more adventurous when you are dressed. The recent open house evening at the V&A was a good example of how going girlie makes the evening just that little bit more interesting, and it also gets people talking to you in a way which wouldn't happen if you were going in drab.
However my recent sojourn to a small town in Sweden for a conference was definitely a little more adventurous. Linkoping is a small town about 70 miles south-west of Stockholm and it is where they make Saabs. Small provincial industrial town, kinda like Derby...
Fashion note; For the outward journey I wore a denim mini skirt, blue T-shirt and a dark grey angora jumper over the top with 3" heeled boots and black tights. Pretty passable until you got very close.
I flew there on Ryanair to Stockholm Skavsta airport, and decided that, since the conference was about trans issues I would go as Natacha all the way there and back. It didn't start well, Ryanair at Stansted were chaotic and I barely made the check-in time, then I forgot to take off my bangles when going through the metal detector and had to be searched. But by who?! The female searcher was coming towards me and I didn't want any trouble so I decided, on the spur of the moment to turn to the male one instead. A little surprised, he realised I was trans when I got close and searched me, taking my bangles from me and giving the once-over with his magic detector wand thingy. After that however, everything went swimmingly. The flight was comfortable and arrived on time. I spent about an hour of it talking to a lovely young Swedish girl in the seat next to me. She came from the north of Sweden and wasn't looking forward to the 8-hour bus journey ahead of her.
When I got to Skavsta (which is actually a hut with a runway) getting through customs/immigration was achieved with a smile and a "Welcome to Sweden". I had brought a big puffy jacket with me in the expectation that it was going to be cold there but it was no different from London, quite warm for November. The bus ride to Linkoping was about an hour and a half and very pleasant, but it dumped me at the Fjarrbusterminal, the long-distance bus terminal, which entailed walking through a small industrial estate to get to the town centre. I thought this must be a bit scary but it wasn't as there were plenty of other airport bus passengers walking through it as well. I found my hotel easily; a lively traditional Swedish house painted...wait for it...bright pink!
The owner was there and was happy to speak to me in Swedish, which I urgently needed to practice, but eventually I ended up needing to ask for stuff I didn't know the word for such as an iron and the wifi code. His English was excellent of course and he was very helpful and welcoming, as was everyone that I met there.
The people I met in the conference were fantastic and it was great to be able to discuss trans issues in a context with others who were interested in trans issues. Loads of people were interested in the paper I presented about transgender children. There were some very interesting people there, including Stephen Whittle, Maria Sundin, a Lawyer called Lukas Romson, a transman from Denmark called Tobias, Del LaGrace Volcano and many more, Del gave an amazing presentation about intersex people. Linkoping was a great place, the university was wonderful and the conference has set up a new network of people interested in gender issues and I am looking forward to collaborating with people from all over Europe on research in trans issues.
Again, there were no probs on the way back despite the fact that I had been up all day and was coming back late, so my make-up wasn't as fresh as it might have been. The only downside was that I heard an English woman saying, as I passed, "Look at that..." If I hadn't been in a departure lounge, she would have got a very large dose of pure unadulterated vitriol. The whole time I spent in Linkoping, a provincial town in Sweden, near Stockholm, I had no hassle or harrassment at all. A couple of days ago I was hassled by some religious nutter here on the tube in London, he followed me all the way from West Hampstead to Green Park muttering some religious mumbo-jumbo, and came close to getting a stiletto in the face (in the end I ignored him so much that it really pissed him off).
Just goes to show what an inclusive, tolerant society we have here.