The lovely Sarah Lewis has a post here where she answers a few confrontational questions about her kinks. In the spirit of… something… I thought I’d answer the same questions.

Compare and contrast if you will. Otherwise, just judge me. See if I care.

10. Do you want to be a woman

No. I’d be rubbish at it. I’m graceless, insensitive, have poor social skills and the dress sense of a duck.

Or… no. My gender is not an issue to me. From day to day, how people percieve me does not worry me. If I were a woman I’d still slob around in jeans and t-shirt and forget to book hair appointments and treat other people exactly the way I do now.

Or… Yes, I want to be graceful, socially skilled, to care about my appearence, to be able to express my sexuality and have complete freedom in the way I dress.

I once read a long fiction about a Mistress who captures a man and slowly transforms him into a woman. At the end (s)he had full gender reassignment, and lived as a woman. It made me cry. Not because it was a happy ending I wanted for myself, but because I can’t have that happy ending.

I’m not so driven by my identity that I could successfully become a woman — I don’t fit the transsexual definition. Instead I sit somewhere on the spectrum, mildly dysphoric at times, sympathetic to the idea and desperate for the role, but ultimately still male with no ‘easy answer’, no happy ending as a beautiful Princess.

Really not a princess

It’s frustrating, and sad, but there’s nothing that would really change the situation unless someone invents a really good magic wand. My male side wins the battle and on the whole that’s Ok.

9. Just what are you, a TV, a CD, a Tranny?

Unfortunately the growth of social media as an arena to fight wars of words, and seek injustices mean that words have been politicised. I’m with Stephen Fry when he says that we should not give words power over us. We should not treat them as taboo and dangerous. We certainly shouldn’t fall for historic revisionism where my words mean what you interpret them to mean.

Yet, some people have taken words that not so long ago were common terms, particularly in the UK and said that they are now unacceptable. In the UK, they meant something different — tranny was a contraction of transvestite which is just a posh way of saying “gets off on dressing up”.

In the US though, tranny was commonly used to refer to transsexuals — specifically in the context of ‘tranny porn’. So now it’s deemed to be demeaning. And as Twitter and Facebook don’t distinguish between Brits and Yanks, the offence has travelled where no offence was meant.

So, I was a transvestite… happy with the much less public boys school term tranny… and now homeless because I feel I’m trans-something without a term.

8. Why the obsession with the submissive female role?

Short answer: because they get the best clothes.

Long answer: Initially, there was a lot of guilt about dressing up. One way to deal with that was to fantasise that it “wasn’t me” that was choosing to dress up. Maybe it was someone else forcing me… all this stuff was against my will. That’s a very common theme in trans-fiction.

Then there’s a huge amount of sexuality and sensuality that I’m tapping into as Claudia. I find it difficult to express those as a male. I’d like to have the sexual freedom and openness that others enjoy — but in boy guise that comes across as being a caveman who drags their victim back to the cave. That’s so not me. So how do you get to do all the wild sexual antics you can imagine and not act like a tool? Be the helpless little thing!

You don’t know what I’m thinking…

In our image-driven society, there are so many ways to express that, so long as you take the feminine role. Be a bimbo, attention-whore, slut… like the Eskimos having thirty words for snow, the visual language women have to play with to express a role is infinitely richer than the male equivalent.

Ultimately, the submissive female role is not only a short-hand for a whole bunch of expectations, it also represents someone who is absolutely an object of desire. Who wouldn’t want to be an object of desire?

7. Why did you (and still do) lie to your friends and family?

(This question doesn’t quite apply as close friends and family do know about Claudia. Still, I choose not to be open about this side of me to everyone.)

Simply because this is not a lifestyle. I don’t work as Claudia, I don’t go to the shops as Claudia. I have the ‘luxury’ of that choice, to avoid confrontation and challenge. Whilst it makes me sad and conflicted to do that, it’s the least worst option for me (see “I’d be rubbish at it” above).

So why should I impose a very personal thing on people around me? It seems very selfish to request that they indulge me, and to put a burden on them to deal with the conflicts. My closest friends and family do know — because in various ways it does affect those relationships. But beyond that, I choose not to tell everyone, in exactly the same way I choose not to tell them my favourite sexual position or my views on politics and religion.

Unless they ask, that is…

6. Do you feel less of a man or ashamed at what you do?

Not at all. It’s a creative act for me, and also feels an act of bravery to expose such raw feelings to the world. The childhood guilt is still there in the background, but it’s tempered by the knowledge that I can choose to make this what I will, to present myself as well as possible and to set a positive example to the people I meet.

I don’t set store by being ‘more of a man’ than others, so that’s not a problem. Nor am I particularly ashamed. In fact, when I produce a good picture, or bring together a coherent look, I’m very proud indeed. Look! I’m someone who has my shit together, I’m fashionable, I’m photogenic! Actually, the pressure to still be able to fit in a dress, and to look half way decent in makeup pressures me to keep on top of my health and fitness — and again, that’s a positive thing.

5. Are you a pervert?

Picture of innocence

I had to look up the definition of ‘pervert’ to answer this! It says “to lead astray morally”. Am I immoral? No. I don’t think so. I don’t force anyone to do anything, I don’t ask anyone to act immoraly to me or others. I am sexually more open, but I strongly believe that others should own how they react to that. I have a moral code, that involves not harming others, and respecting their rights and wants.

Do I like things that are not ‘vanilla’, that the average person on the street would find shocking? Yes. None of their business though, and as a consenting adult, it is my choice what I do with my body or with other people.

4. Don’t you think you’re being very sexist?

Sometimes I dress in very stereotypical ways. Does that mean I think all women — or even any women — fit that stereotype? Hell no!

Whilst a French Maid costume is a convenient shorthand for ‘please spank me’, I don’t believe that you can assume what someone wants just because they’re dressed a particular way. Nor do I think that women can be put into roles based on their gender or appearance. Not just women — anybody.

One strange thing I’ve come to realise as a consequence of this is that I can dress as Little Bo-Peep and feel completely helpless and effeminate, but a woman choosing of her own free will to dress the same way is (to me at least) empowered and in control. Yes, Little Bo-Peep can kick my ass. I said that.

The big point here is that it’s not up to someone else to interpret how I feel or what I want based on their prejudices. (So called ‘slut shaming’). In turn I extend that courtesy to those around me. Your gender (and your appearance) does not dictate how I feel about you — your actions and words do.

3. What if your friends/co-workers find out about your ‘little hobby’?


When I first ‘came out’ — to friends, and on the internet, I took great care to keep it all positive and genuine. Yes, this is a sexual thing, but I don’t show my bits, I don’t hide and skulk around, I don’t screw anything that moves and I advocate consent and self-awareness. I’m a good girl, honest!

So, should someone find out about me, I’d hope there is nothing to be embarassed about. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop people from feeling uncomfortable about it, nor does it stop people wanting to make you feel uncomfortable about it. To be honest though, I refuse to be made to feel bad about other people’s prejudices, so in the main I’d brazen it out.

The devil in me would be tempted to go to work the next day in full drag. I’ve wondered about going to the school reunion fully made over just to mess with their minds. But that would just pander to the views of the intolerant few. This isn’t about shock tactics, and I do have (just) enough social awareness to understand when people might feel weirded out by a bloke in a dress.

If you dig deeper on the net, in the right circles I’m more open about the sexual side of things — still in a positive way (I hope) and advocating for creativity, consent and honesty. There’s more juice there for people who want to cause controversy — but then you have to ask how they found it in the first place? Ultimately it says more about them than it does about me.

2. Have you been intimate with a man?

Nope. And I have no desire to. I understand that some trans-folk find that their sexual preference is changed when they dress differently. For them, feeling feminine is associated with how they should feel towards men, and how they should act.

In my case though, how I look and how feminine I feel doesn’t change ‘me’ being ‘me’. I’m still attracted to the same people, and still want to do the same things I’d want to do in drab. Some people define that as being ‘trans-lesbian’, but essentially, I’m just a girl’s girl however I dress.

1. Are you gay?

No. I have some lovely gay friends, have joined Pride marches and had a few offers over the years (should have gone to Specsavers), but it’s not something that works for me.



Claudia Tyler-Mae

Gender warrior, so long as the fight involves staying at home and comfortable undies.