Nov 20, 2010

Transgender Day of Remembrance

I will join late, the long parade of bloggers, journalists and seekers-after-justice in general who have been promoting awareness of and participation in a global day of thought and action about some of the harder truths that many in the TG community face. Today, Saturday November 20, is the 12th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Many of my online and real world friends are people who work through the ups and downs of their lives on blogs and in support groups. For many, the life of the gender explorer is more thorn than rose. Writing for an unseen audience, or circling the chairs and having a chat with like minded people is good therapy. In these gatherings, the rose comes in to better focus, and the barbed thorns are clipped. We prune and grow, and sometimes flourish.

Continuing sadly on this metaphor though, flowers of all varieties are too often seen at memorial services for T-People cut down too soon in life, in shocking, out of proportion numbers, gravely by their own hands, or brutally at the hands of others.

These people often lack the support, sense of community, and relief that is attended upon those of us who live parts of our lives out loud, or mutedly so here on line. Even with the benefit of such support some will see no better option than the irreversible option of suicide. Even with the benefit of such support, determined and happily liberated innocents will become victims of violence.

I am happy to see a well provisioned umbrella group publicizing events in so many cities and small towns in so many diverse countries around the world. I remain not so surprised to know that a need exists.

Cheerful an outlook as I have, I must say that I expect there will be a 13th, 14th, and years more to come of Transgender Days of Remembrance.

If you have the time to visit an event, show the flag, stand tall and quiet, that would be a nice thing. If not, take a moment to count your own blessings, or to measure your own relative trouble against the more acute sense of pain that somebody, somewhere, just now, this minute, is enduring.

Someday, surely, there will be less to remember, and more to look forward to.

You can find an event near you by visiting

Thank you.

Nov 18, 2010


A mere couple of posts ago I mentioned that the focus of Voyages en Rose would be changing just a tad to better reflect what passes for reality for me. There has been a slightly schizophrenic aspect to content here. I flail wildly between 3 broad themes:

- pensive, sometimes even bordeline trenchant explorations of the inner workings of this Cross Dresser's mind
- reportage on my various Voyages en Femme and general infiltration of a bigger, unsuspecting, sometimes curious and often blithely unaware or unalarmed world, and
- perky, insouciant reviews of lingerie and hosiery that can be found under the tag “Petra’s Pantyhose Parade”.

Three is a crowd as they say. Time for the lingerie to move out of the basement and find a new home.

I started writing about lingerie for a couple of reasons that did not take much thought at the time. Much of it had to do with not really having a clue about what my then recent, open and honest embrace of Cross Dressing would mean to me. I felt that a blog could be a great venue for figuring a lot of things out, but knew that if I did not have an editorial calendar to attend to I might let the effort rust. I knew that I required a structure around which I might better develop a discipline of writing. I therefore committed myself to a weekly product review, and built a complex, multi-variant grading algorithm that would enable me to develop a scientific, stacked ranking of my hosiery stash.

It was a bit of a lark at the time I must confess, but with time it has been a real pleasure, and a minor achievement to develop a body of knowledge and a reasonably well informed voice on these matters. I actually know my stuff, and take pleasure in the connoisseurship.

Today therefore, I am pleased to announce to you, dear friends, that such posts will be found periodically on a much more popular lingerie blog and overall hub for all things under it all,
Guilty Pleasures. I have joined a terrific team of lingerie and style enthusiasts as a periodic contributor of views on and reviews of hosiery. My first post there is timed right for the onset of chilly winter temperatures, a comparative review of opaques from Hue and Berkshire.

In my posts for GP I will be assuming the voice of someone who simply knows and loves the subject matter. People visit Guilty Pleasures for lingerie know-how and shopping know-where. Therefore, my gender is a non-factor, and won’t be raised or alluded to there. There is only one Petra Bellejambes though, our internet is rich with bread crumbs, and readers will follow links back here from there, perhaps to be surprised, perhaps not. I hope that my gender will not matter, and the quality of thinking and writing will.

Certainly, it seems that my gender does not matter at all to Ally and Miss Tique at GP with whom I now periodically labor. I take this as a signal of a couple of good things:

First, that the iceberg of hostility that the Trans community needs to navigate around every day is melting, and can only, with time, get smaller, less threatening, drip by sure drip. People with accepting postures and open minds are out there. Clearly, my new friends are such people. Hooray for progress!

Second, this shows that people like me who love to write and are prone to swooning in the face of flattery are easy to motivate. Much in life comes down to time and money. There is no money in this stuff. But if my writing is useful or entertaining to others, I will think it a great use of time.

Team GP is well plugged in to a pretty network of designers, brands and vendors. We get the odd assignment from the network. My first essay for a Guilty Pleasures partner went up last night on Layla L’Obatti’s blog. Layla is a young, talented and determined intimate designer in the early days of the heroic struggle to build a beautiful business, Between the Sheets Lingerie, from scratch. Her stuff is made with love, and made here in America. I would love to see her thrive, and really hope that my Gift Giving Guide there helps shift some gorgeous product.

I’ll keep you all up to date about where and when these posts can be found. I will be back here over the weekend with a signature post on my acute need for a new signature. I found myself cursing my cursive style at a Macy’s counter the other day. This dizzying merry-go-round just never stops it seems.

Before signing off, I want to say a last little something to the amazing women who visit Voyages en Rose. I was not expecting you to gather here in such big, happy and beautiful numbers. Many of you are in the fashion business, or deep in the arts and letters. I would not be striding out in to your world without the superb encouragement you have tendered.

Thank you.

Always happy to see you here, and I hope you will join me in my new venues too.

Nov 14, 2010

The Panting Cross Dresser

A little over a year ago, I promised myself and you, dear reader, that I was on the breathless threshold of a daring new fashion statement.

Pants. Slacks. Trousers. The lovely and troubling staple of the wardrobe that takes so much of the cross out of Cross Dressing.

Sorry to take so long. I have been a little busy.

I had steered away from pants in my wardrobe building exercises principally because I had been wearing them for, well, forever. It took me an awful long time to get to the place where I was able to say yes to the dress. All that struggle and now I was proposing to climb, by choice, back into pants. I am not an entirely normal individual, yes, but this seemed to me to be piling perversity on top of perversity.

There is more, of course. I had very real non-pant gaps in my wardrobe. I have been pretty diligent in filling in those gaps, covering the staples. A year later now, and the closet is fairly brimming over with hems at the knee and north thereof. Nowadays, often in the shops I find myself admiring a skirt on a hanger or a dress on a mannequin and hear an inner voice " … down girl… you already have that one…”

Yes, my dressing is starting to take on the air of a fad diet. All protein, no carbs. Not balanced or indeed practical. There isn’t a stylist on the planet who would willingly let me continue to live a pant-free life. I know this. I know furthermore that life is too short to have nothing to wear on a Saturday afternoon.

Damn daunting thing though. Every women I have even known has a love / hate relationship with pants. Typically they love 2 pairs and hate about 17. I cannot afford to hate that much of my wardrobe.

There are so many more variables to get right relative to the typical skirt fit: leg shape and length, thigh circumference, crotch-to-waist rise height, waist-to-hip aspect ratio and etc. Do the pockets flatter the figure or feature the faults? Too skinny for pleats, too short for flares, too much of this, too little of that. Torture.

Add the Cross Dresser to the mix, and things are ready to completely fall apart. With the exception of a nice bra, there is no garment that so dramatically features the lovely differences in body shape between men and women as a pair of pants. All of this looks to me like a recipe for failure, or on a good day, mediocrity. The odds of finding a truly epic pair of pants? A total cosmic crap-shoot.

Like so much in life, try we must, and try I did. On a recent drab shopping excursion through always reliable Macy’s Lennox Mall, I was both able to keep the First Shopping Commandment (Pay Ye Not Retail Unless Not Buying It Brings You Damnation), and managed to go 2 for 2 on my first two-legged at bats. Not just little singles either. Out of the park and way the hell down the street, grand slams.

First up, a stretchy, fitted black pull-on number from
I.N.C. They are quite high waisted, non pocketed and smooth throughout the midriff. They are clingy, true, but they are more substantial than a pair of leggings. There is enough structure and tailoring in them that one does not feel like one is walking around exposed in one's underwear. With the faux-leather panels inside the leg they give off a very Bridle Path / Jodhpur feel, an Urbane Cowgirl vibe. I immediately felt a desire to own a riding quirt and a smart new pair of boots.

The high pink, cropped jacket they are paired with has been unused, looking for an ensemble for the better part of 9 months now. I think they are made for each other. I have been dying to find a way to get a screaming loud color or two into my admittedly dark palette, and I love the way it flares out at the tail. The jacket set me back $23.00 (down from $100.00). The pants, my pants, my first pants ran for a mere $12.70 (down from $50.00) after all the coupons and etc. Tally Ho!

Next up the Alpha Challenge of the Pant Universe, the 5 pocket, low-rise classic denim style, skinny leg. Form fitting and unforgiving, the Halley’s Comet of the fashion world: if you live long enough and look hard enough, you may find the perfect pair once in your life.

I honestly do not mean to gloat, but I got them. On my first attempt. This is not at all fair. I know women who view the perfect fitting classic jean style pant as an imaginary thing, the Unicorn of the closet. Spoken of yes, perhaps even seen by someone in the dark mists of time or in a booze fueled hallucination. But not to be had by mere mortals. If I was not so damn happy, I would feel sad for all the women who still dream of perfect pants.

A lovely versatile Café au Lait shade, cotton/modal and a dash of Lycra, slung gun-belt low on the hip and gorgeously, determinedly clinging to every inch of me all the way down to the nice eye catching exposed zipper at the ankle. The ruffled olive jacket and these pants supreme fell into my clutches for a mere $14.70 each or roughly 80% off retail. At this price, I could afford a failure of fit. This however seems to not be my lot. Perfect fit, throwaway price.

There is more though, something entirely unexpected.

Something captivating in fact.

I was not expecting to feel very immersed in the feminine, but once I buckled the belt and stood tall in my pumps, something happened. Ones walk changes, the stride a little longer, a little more hips out and feet forward. The walk is louder too, more certain on the ground, and it drives back up too, through hips, through back and shoulders. The change is there while standing still too, a different aspect, a different posture, everything different. I felt confident, and I could feel the very direct line between confidence and sexiness.

I honestly do not think that I have ever felt quite so convincingly feminine. I was so entirely not expecting this. For a moment I regretted having put this purchase off for quite so long, but I am rather more inclined to looking forward, and so I am looking forward to pulling more pants on.

And you, my friends? Diverse views on pants most welcomed here.

Nov 7, 2010

Reality TV

A couple of posts back I advised readers that I was planning a nice outing for 9 November. The idea was to share some of my pre-Voyage staging notes on my happy path to being a non-credentialed journalist at a big rally headlined by media curiosity, and arguably the most stylishly turned-out American ex-Governor Sarah Palin.

The only potential run in the fabric of my scheme was stated thusly:

“ …Presuming that my planning comes together and clients do not rain down crises on or about the 9th …”

Well, hells bells, so it has happened. I am pretty well stuck into a big heap of demanding things. Things I caused to happen myself by flapping my gums and making a terrific suggestion. I opened a bit of a Pandora's Box, and for my troubles will be enjoying a Pandora’s Boxed Lunch, and talking about possible futures that include me taking a staff position, yes a day job with my principal client on Tuesday. These are people I genuinely like, the work is challenging, I am capable of doing it well, and pocketing a few more shekels doing it well than I do today. All good things.

This decision is being weighed against pretty late stage negotiations on a book contract. Some of you have said nice things about my writing in the past. There are others who agree with you. Different subject matter than what I dwell upon and within here altogether. Rather butchy business-y stuff in fact, but there are all sorts of settings that I can pass in.

In short, there is much occupying my mind and much threatening to occupy my time too.

It is a shame to not find myself in the same room as Ms. Palin and so many of her ardent and vocal admirers. We, Sarah and I, are members of different "T" parties, but proud sisters of the Size 4 Party. There may be much that Ms. Palin and I do not agree on, but I do believe we could mount a furious shopping expedition together. That is change that both of us I am sure, could believe in.

On a more serious note, there are of course other not-so-good things, different and indifferent things associated with these new possibilities too, and some of these things would trim my ability to explore and tend to my Petra-ness, and to paint the walls of Voyages en Rose as frequently and colorfully as I do today. All happiness at a price, yes? Much to think on. I will keep you posted.

At the very least, I expect that I will be posting here on a slightly slower cadence.

You know, my dear friends, I had been planning on a few tweaks to the blog in any event. Voyages en Rose is approaching 2 years in age, and the word-o-meter is damnably close to clicking past 200,000. A little routine maintenance is in order and some of them are underway as of today.

Those changes are going to be very hosiery-centric.

The very alert amongst you will have noticed a change in the header graphic at the top of the page. Where there was a montage of artful and beautifully lit figures clad in filmy things from Wolford, there is a new montage of, well me, poorly lit, clad in clingy things, some of them from Wolford.

Hosiery was the proto-lure, the enabler, the sizzling flame to my fluttering moth yes, and will always be very near to my heart (and often times near to parts south thereof). I just don’t want to mislead visitors. I love lingerie, and lingerie for the legs especially, but visitors here should know right off the bat that Voyages en Rose is not built to cater to the interests of dedicated hosiery enthusiasts.

Voyages en Rose is rather more about gender generally. It is about sometimes glimpsed, never reached, always receding horizons of understanding or clarity. It is about living with and enjoying fuller dimensions of human experience. A very important part of this journey does have to do with fashion, style and shopping and I will continue to share posts of that variety with you. Just not so much in the way of words or pics of the nylon/lycra variety. If your interests clatter in that direction, check out any of the sites listed in the “Fashion, Foundations and Femininity Links” section in the right sidebar below.

If you think for even a frozen moment that I could simply close the book on the whole hosiery thing and not burst a blood vessel, well you would have been wrong. Petra’s Pantyhose Parade is something I am proud of. I have studiously reviewed and scientifically ranked roughly 40 distinct brands of sheers over the last couple of years. I have, to my surprise and delight, become something of an amusing voice, and perhaps even an authority on leg wear. I will continue to cultivate this work. Just not here.

I have in fact found a new home, and really, a better place for my hosiery related posts. A place with a much larger readership than Voyages en Rose, a largely female readership whose blog-hopping has little or nothing to do with matters of interest to the CD/TG community. It is a matter of real delight to me that my writing and learning has earned me a chance to write for a new audience. My product reviews at my new home are going to be entirely neutral of the things that identify Voyages en Rose as a Cross Dressers blog. In my new home, I will simply be someone who knows hose.

So there.

I will share all the particulars when the inaugural review goes up a little later this month.

I will also share news on how all the business shenanigans impact my realities, TV and otherwise. Wish me luck.

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