Come into my World
Kylie Minogue, Fever, 2001
Today Stephanie Ashton is the Danish Party Princess. I’m not Danish at all really but I do live in Denmark. I am definitely a party princess. But who is Stephanie? Why bother reading what she thinks? And how did she get from deepest darkest bum hole in North of England to where she is today?
Well this page provides the answers to your questions on all things Stephanie Ashton. I have arranged my back history into different threads under broad categories that made sense to me as will be explained below. Due to my love for music I decided to use appropriate song titles as links in the various threads. Apologies if you think this is odd or pretentious but seemed like a fun idea and I went with it.
Born a genetic boy in Northern Ireland, my family relocated to an ex-coal mining town in Northwest England in the late 1970s. There was a huge depression over the area, and I am not just talking about the weather. It was in this run-down seaside town with black beaches and foam from the nearby chemical plant rolling onto the shore that my first thoughts of being a girl entered my head. From an early age watching Top of the Pops with my older sister I realized I was far more interested in all thing’s females. Throughout my teens the idea of being a girl occupied me and after much resistance and attempts to be a boy, I gave up and started to cross dress in my teens. More details of my cross-dressing origins and path since can be found in the thread starting with Atomic.
Like so many newbie cross dressers I suffered from uncertainty about who and what I was. I had a desire, but what was it all about? The environment in which we are raised as children sets deep ideas of what is right and wrong that can sometimes be hard to manage when going ‘alternative.’ In my case, I had been raised in a hard-working class town and so I worried about acceptance and if I was actually turning to the dark side, whatever that meant. And then there was the fact that even when I got to freedom of University in the 90's there was not enough time, money or space to live one life never mind two. However, I put all these things aside and simply enjoyed dressing whenever I got the opportunity.
Then two really groovy things happened that changed my world. When I finished University in the mid 90s, I got my first proper job and moved to Manchester. This was a great result because outside of London it was possibly the city in the UK that was most accepting of LGBTQ+ peeps. Being a social sort of person, I immediately got in with a group of genetic girls who I met out on the town and it was them that first welcomed me into the sisterhood. I am no longer in touch with many of those girls, but they were a lively bunch who taught me about the trials and tribulations of being a young woman in a big city. And it was not just how-to put-on make-up and what to wear that I learned from them either. I would later discover that I had adopted many of their female characteristics, views, opinions, and *cough*…. behaviours. People often talk about how nervous it is going out for the first time dressed however for myself, it was less frightening as a section of the sisterhood had already accepted me and was actively looking out for me. Thoughts on stepping out from the first night to last weekend can be found in the thread What You Waiting For?
So, the second groovy thing that happened? Oh yes! So, sitting in a university lecture in 1992 I remember how I scoffed at the notion of a global "internet" and the ludicrous idea that it would connect us all. I mean as if? And then it did...exactly that. Amazing! Suddenly lots of tgirl started to pop out of the woodwork everywhere and ridiculously one tgirl just 2 doors away on my street who would become a great friend.
For some reason that is not entirely clear to me now, the main focus of my life for the next 10-15 years would move progressively towards work. There was no work life balance – only work. Yet at the time I seemed happy enough. Having originated from a bumhole of a town I was determined to work hard and never end up back in that place where 2 generations of unemployed was a common reality. And so, life progressed in a manner of work, work, work, dress. Hunt the internet day and night for friends and even more dresses.
It was during this time that I started the mental journey towards genuinely understanding I wanted to live and be a woman. For some time, I had been quite confident and sure in my dressing but always had an underlying thought that I might change my mind in the future. Oddly it was the workplace that generated the seed for my progression but also the inspiration that womanhood was the way forward, as described in this thread Work is a Four-Letter Word.
The early 2000s proved to be a lot of fun for me as another big change occurred...really good cross-dressing services started to spring up everywhere. As it is for so many, it was at my first dressing service appointment when I saw my full potential for the first time. Of course, there had always been services in the UK from shops like Transformations, but for me these places always felt furtive, seedy and for the men in dresses. It just wasn't the environment I imagined myself in as a woman. But now there were many wonderful dressing services and I was never away from them! My thoughts and feeling on the dressing service experience from that day to this one can be read in the thread Oh You Pretty Thing!
The Naughties were a great time for me but sadly all good things come to an end. It all started to go wrong with the persistent harassment by a deeply unpleasant individual around 2007. Stalkers are no joking matter regardless of your situation and the one I attracted, and who eventually threatened to kill me, definitely gets a 5 gold chainsaws rating from this reviewer. Please note I am not making a broad-brush attack on men as I have met many lovely and genuine guys in trans mode...oh yeah. However, sadly there are undesirables in all walks of life who pray on anyone they view as vulnerable and tgirls can fall into that category. Thoughts on dates, admirers and pests can be found in this thread Oops I Did It Again.
Shortly after the harassment saga my account on Myspace got hacked in 2010 and I lost nearly all my pictures and friends contacts around the world. It is ironic that to this very day, the way I know some friend requests on social media are fake is because they are using very small versions of my old pictures. Lord knows where they find them because I can’t. There is an important lesson from this experience, but it is dull. My thoughts on IT security, information management, the disease that is "likes", and other nerd stuff please get a coffee and read the thread The Audience is Listening.
The Myspace debacle made me sad, but there was more to the sadness and weariness that now took hold. Looking back, I now understand that I had become burnt out and depressed because I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel for girl-me. At that time, I did not see myself transitioning fully so what was the point of dressing? Take more pictures and have another night out drinking in a club? Really? Was that all the future had in store? So, I came up with the bizarre conclusion that the dressing and femme life was not making me happy so I would have a ‘fresh start.’ Yes, I did the dreaded purge, moved to the other end of the country to escape all the ‘bad influences’, and then sat there with a long face. I was grumpier than my cat when I don’t feed him roast chicken. My thoughts on purging and the very real mental risks it poses for some trans peeps is discussed in this thread Going Blank Again.
So, having secured myself in the comforting blanket of total misery, somehow against the run of play I managed to land a wonderful genetic girlfriend. Result! Answers on a postcard how that happened because to this day I still have no clue. Regardless, the world suddenly was fun and full of colour again. Iona would go on to have a major influence in my life both when she was physically with me, and the imprint of her girl-self that she left on me after she was gone. It would be presumption to assume her feelings towards me, but I was madly in love with her. Sadly, that all ended in a big pile of phoo. Why? Because I started dressing again. And not in a secretive way, but more in the style of someone diving headfirst into a bucket of make-up and then announcing it to the world. Sadly, she could not cope with this apparent new aspect of my personality. Other relationships had other issues and I have written more about my experiences of relationships as a trans girl in the thread If you Wanna Leave Me, Can I Come Too? It may resonate with some in terms of what happens to loving relationships when you come out. It is a fun read…if you like horror stories.
The good news was that despite losing the love of my life against the run of play I somehow righted myself quickly and kind of felt okay. How did I manage this feat? There is no doubt that Iona re-energized my flat batteries but more importantly, within myself I felt good because despite the sad loss of my best friend I had been true to myself and had my self respect back. I felt good inside and strong enough to say, “yes I am transgender, and I am not going to hide it, not for anyone.”
Since that time, I have reached a really cool place in terms of knowing who I am and what I want out of this whole deal. This I largely attribute to the self-respect I gained from having had the courage to tell people important in my life exactly what I wanted. The consequences have not always been good and have lost some people along the way. However, people who cannot accept you or add to your overall quality of life don’t belong in it anyway. And in choosing my own happiness over what others expected of me it ignited my self-confidence and sense of control in my life. So being en femme is not a secret or furtive activity that I am embarrassed about, quite the opposite. I am proud about who and what I am, and this simple fact contributes massively to my current state of happiness - Walking on a Dream.
So today Stephanie is a more sophisticated version of earlier re-incarnations and these days I simply love nothing more than to live as much of my life as I can in the female domain. Dressing and passing as a woman is my art and passion. It is a portal to a better me, unlocking my creative side and enhancing my social skills and personality in ways that are simply unimaginable to people who only know boy-me. I dress as a woman pretty much full time socially and only go into drab for work, long distance travel, or when I am feeling spectacularly lazy.
Having been taught to dress and behave age appropriate, these days I aspire to an elegant and classic style and try to be more reserved and discrete in public. And that is important because I LOVE dining out and shopping. I really should join shopaholics but on the basis that I am not in denial I think I’m okay just now. Instead, I will seek therapy through writing about my obsession as you will discover in my thread, She’s in Fashion.
These days I consider my gender alignment to be feminine. There are still some boy things I like to do but as time goes on these are becoming fewer and fewer. My views on sexuality are very open and I have a strong dislike for labels of any sort. We are all just humans and the ability to fall in love should be based on a person’s qualities rather than being a slave to gender or any other label. More on that elsewhere in the thread The Chemistry Between Us.
But what is the Masterplan for Stephanie? That is the big question. There is no doubt in my mind I would love to transition but as with all things, there are constraints. In the meantime, I fill the void with ever increasingly ambitious themed costume and photoshoot projects to express my feminine and creative side. More on all of that here and with the very appropriate thread title, Just Can’t Get Enough.
So that is a potted summary of Stephanie. The bucket list of things I want to do in girl mode is still long but I have had many incredible, memorable, and at times ridiculous experiences, all of which have been a blast and hope are of interest to someone other than me. More on that to come…