Bit s and pieces
Updates : Sept. 2005
My day at the high court in London
If you read my biography I told you that my previous career was as an optometrist. I was one of the pioneers in developing the soft contact lens. I'm holding several patents on contact lenses. Among thesen I was the first to develop a contactlens that changes the colour of the eye.
In January of 2005 I received a phone call from London, asking me if I would help defend Cooper Vision against Novartis Corp. Since I was the holder of the original patent they wanted me as an expert witness. The trial was to be held in August at the high court in London. I agreed. The closer the trial date came the more I was concerned about the fact that the patent was issued to my male name Jacques. Now living as a fulltime woman, would that be a problem? In my correspondence to the attorneys I signed as Jacqueline, but all there replies always addressed me as Jacques.
By now I had faced many embarrassing moments in my life and had mastered them, yet the closer the day of my visit to London came, the more nervous I was. I was to meet my attorney in the Lobby of the Brown Hotel, the first day of the trial for a first briefing.
I waited and waited till exactly at 10 AM a young lady appeared. I instinctively realised that this must be my visitor and went to her. "You must be looking for me" I said. ĄOh Mrs. U......." she said, "so nice to meet you" Wow what a relieve. I was ready for my next encounter.
One of the other witnesses was a former customer of mine. He had only known me as a man. Again the same apprehension. We arrived at the court building and the first person I saw at the pre court chamber was my former customer. He moved to me, his hand outstretched," How are you Jacqueline, you look great!" where the first words he uttered. We talked for quite a while about everything, except my transsion. Also during the following days, it was never a topic.
However the biggest test was yet to come. My appearance in front of the high court. As the assistant attorney opened the door for me, the proceedings where already underway. The court was packed, with witnesses, attorneys and spectators and of course the judge in his robe and wig. A scene I had only seen in films or TV. I must admit I was very nervous, not only because of the coming cross-examination, but mostly because of the unknown fact, on how I would be received by the judge and the other attorneys. All had the patent papers with my male name in front of them.
When the moment of truth came, the clerk called very loud:" We call MRS. U..........., to the witness stand! My beating hart, slowed to a normal pulse. What a relieve. To make a long story short. Whenever the judge referred or addressed me, he said Mrs. U........... My fears where unfounded. I felt like a winner not only because of my appearance as a woman, but also because my party won the case, mostly because of my testimony.
The great worry of every transgender person comes when he/she dares to go into the public. Will people read me, is a constant fear, that accompanies every excursion into the ďnormalĒ world. Iím no exception and I have to admit that it took years to shed that uncomfortable feeling that everybody is staring at you. That people turn there head, as you walk by them, that they whisper behind your back or worse make unkind remarks you cant help to overhear. H.Brierley writes in his handbook for Transvestism: ĒIt is likely that the imponderables such as confidence, composure, and openness are overwhelmingly important. For no transvestite is more likely to be detected than the shifty-eyed, tense, furtive person, with a gaze half obscured, scurrying along avoiding everybodyís gazeĒ
The more confidence I gained through the years, the less I found people starring at me. Entering a restaurant for example I used to think it was my male background that made them look up from there dinner plates or conversations, till I realized that in every restaurant, people interrupt whatever they are doing, whenever a new guest makes his or her entrance.
I found that the longer you live as a women and the less you attempt to be another person, the more likely will you be accepted as a ďnormalĒ women. To talk freely, naturally, move normally, donít overdress (except on those very special occasions!), is halve the battle. Since I established myself as an artist, I allow myself occasionally some extravagant clothing, but even that privilege I use very sparingly.
One of my guests at a show once asked me how I came to be an artist. If it was my inner drive or my compulsion to create. I answered: ĒNo I have to disappoint you, the real reason I chose to be an artist is simply because I always was a crazy chick and I simply needed a profession to fit my crazy habits of dressing and behaviorĒ Everybody laughed and said how witty and pointed an answer I had given. Little did they realize how true and honest I really meant what I had said.
When do you know for sure that you pass ? Probably never. For my part I had several occasion that helped me build my confidence and reassure me that Iím close to the top. For example when Iím together with women, discussing our children and Iím asked how normal or abnormal my pregnancy was! By the way talking about your children always helps to reinforce in others that your a real women. (Out of the wrong assumption, drag queens and transvestites are homosexuals and therefore have no children!!) When I tell somebody that Iím divorced, I learned, quickly to change the topic when asked how my husband looked or what he did for a living.
One of the nicest compliments came from a Urologist whom I consulted. He asked me if I still had my period! Another compliment would have been great if not for the circumstance that I was a patient in the emergency room of a hospital. I was not allowed to leave the bed for the bathroom and therefore the nurse gave me a bed bowl. Of course one for women. I would not admit that the construction of this bowl was not exactly made for my plumbing needs. I canít describe how difficult it was to relieve myself, especially in light of the fact, that the nurse insisted on helping me.
If today somebody really reads me, as rule it is somebody from the scene. As they say: ďIt takes someone to know someone!Ē
I adore and love women and my sexual orientaion is towards women. Does that make me a lesbian?† I donít think so. Neither am I a true a Transsexual. I had no sexual surgery. Iím not a TV or CD, because I live all the time as a woman. So what am I ? I donít know and really donít care or think about it too much. I kind of like the word Transgender, but is there such a thing as a Transgender (like a Transvestite)? Maybe some of you have thought about and have a suggestion, how we (I think the group gets bigger and bigger) should call ourselves ?
If I could dress to my hearts desire, I would dress every day like a top model at a fashion show. Sexy, colorful and extravagant. And my God, I even have the cloth to do it. (I still prefer to buy the more fancy, dressy stile. A leftover of my days as a CD)† † The reality however is quite different. I have to consider other factors. For example when I work in my workshop, it would not be practical and if I go to town, I have to wrestle with myself not to overdress. A sporty or casual outfit will have to do. I donít† like to be stared at because of my dresses. I had enough of that when I started to go public and my appearance was less than perfect. When I dress for an opening of one of my shows, I have to make sure I donít dress better, than my potential customers. It is strange, but people have very definite concepts, of how one should look. A drag-queen may look flamboyant, but as an artist Iím only allowed to look ďa little bit flamboyantĒ. The only time I dress all the way, is when Iím taken to a nightclub or a party with friends.
One of my earliest and recurring fantasies I had as a male, was to be able to go to the beautician and have her set my hair in curlers and then brush and comb it into a beautiful hairdo. Well that wish is no longer a dream. It is one of my weekly rituals to go to the beautician and have her come up with a different look week after week.† Since they also have a cosmetic salon, I get once a month a complete facial. It is one aspect of my feminine world which I would never want to miss. Of course you donít look your best when all in curls, so the pictures arenít really great, but I thought you might get a kick out of seeing me in curlers at the beauty-shop
One of† the big problems every TS/TV or TG has, is children. To tell or not tell. In my case I had no choice. It was one of the hardest and most painful experiences of my life. They wanted and needed a father. It didnít help, by telling them Iím really the same person, nothing has changed, except the way I look.† At the time I would have done anything for them, including to continue my live as a part-time CD. But one day they where just gone. My ex-wife took them one night without my knowledge, from Switzerland, back to California, where we had met and married.
It took many, years of patience, pain, accepting and maturing on both side to bring it all back to normal. Today I have an excellent relationship to my two sons and my daughter. We see each other regularly. As a matter of fact my oldest son worked with me for 8 years running my optometric practice, to which I had held on, while my art career was still in its infancy. The only thing my kids donít like today about me, is when somebody tells them how great or good looking a mother they have (meaning me !). Thatís when they have learned to bite there tongue.† They are the only people left, which still refer to me as ďHeĒ or ďDadĒ, unless we are at a public place.
It was quite a learning process, to deal with men as a man and now as a woman. As a woman I was afraid of ďnormalĒ hetero men. How would I deal with improper sexual advances, was one of my early concerns. What if he wanted to kiss me or go to bed with me, not knowing that I was not a complete woman..
Today I have no problem with or in the company of men. I love there compliments, if they are sincere. As a matter of fact I consider the greatest reward of being a woman, to go out with a man who knows ďHow to treat† a ladyĒ and at the same time, accepts me for the person I am. (Quite hard to find!). As time goes on, I find myself more and more attracted to men.I love to dance, especially to soft romantic music. I dance with women or men, but if it's a slow dance, I prefer to be held by a man.
A small but important detail. It took me many years and many embarrassing moments, to change from leading, to being lead while dancing
Being a woman is not all honey and cream, ask any real woman, but here are some of the things I enjoy most:
Right after the freedom in clothing, makeup, and
hairdo, I like the compliments about my dresses, my looks and hair. As a man
nobody ever said to me: ďwow what for a beautiful suit your wearingĒ. Nobody
ever whistled after me. Nobody ever ran to open the car door and nobody ever
stood up in packed bus, to offer me seat. When my car breaks down I find most
of the time a helping hand (unless it is midnight in no-mans-land). As a man,
try to ask somebody to help you with a heavy piece of luggage.† If Iím in a bar, I rarely pay for a drink
(or only the first one). I get invited to dinners and last time when I was in
Vienna a true gentleman kissed my hand ! This never happened to me as a man. I
get asked to dance and I have the option to accept or refuse. My days at the beautycenter
are pure pleasure. Thats when I realise dreams can be true.Iím sure some more things will come to my mind in the coming
days. Let the above suffice for the beginning.
Being a woman can be quite a burden. Iím not talking about the disadvantages everybody talks about, like job discrimination, sexual abuse etc. Iím talking about† some of the disadvantages that you face as a woman with a male past. One of my earliest examples was at a bar where I had met a guy. We had an interesting conversation, when an other man a joined the conversation. Soon the topic turned to war and piece and politics. I listened till the other man had left. Then I made a follow-up remark, about what was discussed before. My new found friend turned to me and said: Look honey you are a beautiful woman, but I never discuss politics with women ! Period ! End of conversation. At the time I was so shocked and unprepared for an answer that I just accepted the verdict in silence.
When a man talks about his past accomplishments, he can do so without reservations and most of them do. As a woman, especially a blonde like me, you have to be very careful, when talking about your past. I can talk about my career as an artist, about my design awards, about my designing and sewing my own cloth, about my cooking, and my weekly tennis game. All that sounds very believable, but as soon as the conversation turns to computers beyond just typing, the mistrust starts to grow (even so there are many woman who know much more about it than me!). If you let it be known, that you know also something about the stock market, about technical charting, fundamental analyses etc. then the first cloud of suspicion begin to appear on the horizon. If you have done or know too many things, the suspicion grows, that what you say is untrue. So I would never try to talk about my male accomplishments, Iike my inventions in the field of contact-lenses (I own 7 patents), that I built machines, know how to work a lathe, a drill press and many other machine. That in my spare-time I built furniture,† that I remodeled my den, including the electrical work. That I know quite a bit about soccer (I was 10 years captain of my team) and many other sports.
I know, lots of women do many of the above things, but if I would talk about all the things I have done in my live; people would look at me in disbelieve. I had to learn to keep not only my male past, but also my accomplishments of that period a secret.
I always was very much interested in politics and one of my ambitions was to run one day for a public office. Iím pretty sure I would have been good politician and Iím somehow convinced I would have reached this goal, had I not chosen the present way of life. Sometimes I think, I still should do it, but then when I realise how dirty politics can be, I abandoned these planes. Even if I could possibly live with this dirt, I think it would be unfair to my family and immediate friends. I guess there is a price for everything.
Is it worth it ? You bet it is. For all the disadvantages I have learned to accept, the advantages outweigh everything else. For nothing in the world would I want to return to my former life, not for a day, not a minute or a second.
Many, many Moons ago.Somewhere between 1977 and 1980
Playing Tennis 2006