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Red rag to a bull (in a skirt)

When 'transitioning' goes wrong

By Sacha Jones

I feel rather naive now thinking back to 2017 when I was a 50yo stand-up rookie and hooked up with another, similarly, if less rare, rookie stand-up: a middle-aged man. Only this man wore a skirt and called himself ‘Jenny’, which was quite rare on the stand-up circuit at the time. He had been in the game for a year at that point.

He had also recently started on oestrogen - as had I. About six months into my stand-up experience I decided this coincidence had comedic potential and proposed to ‘her’, as I addressed him then, that we pitch a show together to the NZ Comedy Festival called ‘Transitioning’. He liked the idea and together we worked on our show pitch, mostly online but a couple of physical meetings too.

This seemed to be progressing quite well, though what I found funny about our common, but also very different experiences was not always what he found funny, with his sensitivities around his ‘transitioning’ being that much more extreme than mine were about my approaching menopause, I guess with some good reason.

But one example of how these sensitivities undermined our project came when ‘Jenny’ shared with me his frustrations with weight gain since he’d started on oestrogen and I, without thinking, and seeing the joke, replied ‘Welcome to womanhood!’

Well, Jenny did NOT think that was funny at all, firing back at me: ‘Sacha [that’s my name], I AM a woman! – hence no need to welcome him. I hurried to apologise, and meant it.

I regret that apology now, though. He will never be any kind of woman having lived as a man for 55 years and being male in every cell of his body whatever changes he makes for the remainder of his life. And I now know that if you pay even lip service to the idea that a man can be any kind of woman, these extra sensitive men will only demand more and more and more, such as being treated as if he is was a woman born, with everyone around him, especially the women, being strictly policed to never say otherwise; to never speak the truth about his sex.

My truth about this particular oversensitive, narcissistic man in a woman’s name and dress, is that he began to make my skin crawl after he came into the Ladies at the comedy club one night when I was in there alone in the only other cubicle, and seeing his unmistakeable and by now familiar man-in-women’s-shoes feet under the cubicle door I froze – mid-pee – and tried to pretend I wasn’t there till he left. But he took his time. So in the end I had to finish what I was doing, a thousand times more self-conscious about him listening than I would have been if he were a she, then exit the cubicle in a hurry, to speed wash my hands, hoping he wouldn’t come out of his cubicle before I’d finished. But he did exit his cubicle, perhaps having waited for me, and my stomach turned with a mixture of fear and rage, and a physical skin-crawl shiver to have this six-foot man so near to me in the Ladies with no one else around.

I am one of those women who generally doesn’t like to show men how much they disturb or indeed frighten me, perhaps feeling that any sign of fear would only empower them to believe they are in charge and can do what they want to me, just as it can be with dogs with respect to female fear especially.

Fortunately, another woman – a real one, in trousers not a skirt, as most female comics I mixed with preferred to wear, as I was wearing, indeed – came into the Ladies then and I left in a hurry of relief without saying more than a ‘hi’ to ‘Jenny’, my show partner.

Our ‘Transitioning’ festival show application had at that point already been submitted, and shortly afterwards, when we found out the application had been unsuccessful, I was not disappointed. What he and I were going through was nothing the same at all, and not so funny after all, indeed.

Our working ‘relationship’, such as it was, ended at that point, though I still saw him on the open mic circuit and I recently heard that he, as a ‘she’ still, is doing a solo comedy festival show this year. Of course he is. He’s ‘trans’, and new and improved without a pesky TERF partner to hold him back – and expose his truth.

I have left the stand-up circuit for a while now, due in large part to this trans-queer takeover and the general culture of pandering to men in or out of dresses, as well as its’ sexualising of young female comics, and the inevitable harassing of them too.

But I miss it and hope to get back to it at some point. But as a known TERF now – I came out as a TERF on Facebook in early 2020, causing ‘Jenny’ to immediately ‘unfriend’ me, without comment, and various other comedy ‘friends’ to do the same, some with vicious comments about my ‘bigotry’ and ‘ignorance about sexuality’ – that seems rather unlikely. For now I am writing instead, a few different projects, one of them being my comedy story…

Don’t worry, this is not him. It’s me! On a rare occasion performing stand-up in a skirt, in early 2020, pre outing myself as a TERF, and pre-Covid – just.

But you TERFs knew that, right? Of course you did. Even the gremlin guy in the tree knows that I’m not a bull in a skirt, and he doesn’t seem too happy about it in fact. He’s probably a TRA.


This was originally posted on the Til Sex Do Us Part Substack and is shared with permission.



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