Legs and Personality: A Transgender Woman’s Night Out in Her Hometown

A character-forming mini epic.

Fiona Evangeline Leigh
Prism & Pen
6 min readJun 13, 2023


Dysfunctional Family out n about. Photo is property of author.

I made a dash through the café with my eyes on the bathroom.

I didn’t look at anyone. I didn’t need to. The café was a regular haunt of mine last summer. It had the best sitting out area in town. Tables and stools ran parallel to the river Lee and was complimented by birdsong. It was the perfect place to go sit and practice one’s posing over a coffee on a fine day. Its clientele was the only issue.

It provided a stage area and bailiwick for the town’s self-styled artistic community. It was guarded jealously by the twisted little hierarchy that had formed in there like a wasp’s nest. God forbid the interloper who dared to make the place their local watering hole. I could feel myself being vetted with suspicious eyes, my past as a folk singer still very fresh in their minds. They were all delirious with notions of mindfulness and inclusivity, but when it came to the crunch their attitudes were as thin as the froth on their cappuccinos. Slowly I began to realize the place was grubby as a garret filled with the black mold. Once the sun shut up shop as winter loomed, I wouldn’t be caught dead in the place.

But I could make an exception that Saturday evening.

I was off out on a Staff Night out from work, an event I had thought it best not to attend initially. But I changed my tune when I began to think of it as an opportunity to unveil my authentic night-self. Once in the W.C. I kicked off my flats and rescued my high heels from my handbag, pulling them out in nervy ceremony.

The handle of the door started rattling impatiently. My hackles went right up, some poseur needed to spend a penny at this most inconvenient of times. Bags rattled, my breath racing as I placed my home pedicured feet into my new Joan Crawfords. I tied the strap around my ankle, my fingers shaking as I did up the little gilt buckles. Once I ascertained I could stand, I gathered myself and my things with visions of leaving the place with graceful disdain. I opened the door and delivered myself into the bronzed arms of a Saturday evening.

Blessed Mother of shit.

I tottered and teetered towards the front door with my femininity in jeopardy. I couldn’t bleeding walk in them, could I? I moved like there hadn’t been much lube used the night before. I’d been practicing wearing them all week, albeit on the smooth wooden floors of my gaff. My mind blazed with calculations I didn’t trust, and I had the vision of falling on my boom boom before I hit the street at all. Like a stork with hemorrhoids I was, make no mistake. Damn me and this incessant need to make myself vulnerable.

I carried myself with a wavering dignity and blessed myself when I got out of there without making an idiot of myself. Now all I had to do was walk down the quay to the bar where the gang were meeting up. The footpaths seemed thuggish and hectoring now. I could see the bar from where I lumbered, all huddled up and innocent in the rustling shade of ancient trees. But in heels and the vertigo effect, I might as well have been walking to Nepal.

I’m a trooper if nothing else.

I gingerly took the pavements at my own speed. I was on emergency saving-face mode, relieved to get to the traffic lights at the foot of Shandon Street. I took the time to cool my feet, my formerly favorite heels now carnivorous and Mommie Dearest uncomfortable and waited for the lights to turn red.

And I waited.

And waited.

They were on the blink of course. The people standing next to me made a dash for it and it looked like I would have to as well. Shit on a stick. I waited for a pause in traffic and hoofed it across the road, wincing in pain, not daring to look at anyone. I survived my Rubicon moment and carried on.

I had the look down pat, now all I had to do was muster the attitude to pull it off.

White 50’s style sunglasses, a ruched crop-top and my best Bebe hotpants and my tresses rippling golden in the warm breeze. How the hell had I walked round Beijing in heels, and moldy drunk at that, and survived its pockmarked pavements? It looked like the evening would be wiled away in flats. But on I went, alternately wincing and mouing. I met one of my friends who squealed with delight at the sight of my teetering diva-hood, as did the small group inside the joint. The place was packed and there I was, Bambi-legged going up the small set of steps in danger of falling at any second.

Once I got my bearings, my attitude and heels synched perfectly. I didn’t take them off for the entire evening. I was in and out to the smoking area and checking out the Saturday Night set. There wasn’t very much going on I must say. They were a mature and sedate lot, a far cry from the screeching, bucking demons I knew back in Beijing. The night was a small procession of firsts, and I was sober enough to appreciate them.

The last time I’d been in that beer garden, I’d have had a completely different gender identity, a completely different life.

I’d have been home from Asia for the summer, and I’d have gone there with Lana and our dog Sheba for a few bevvies and a pizza. I wondered at the passage of time as my young party animals nattered and guffawed. I’d not been happy to be back, what with it being the Summer of my Punk-Rock- Trans-Epiphany. 2014, imagine.

I’d been an unmerciful prick the entire time. That life I’d had had been lost forever in the rush and tumble of existence. My little Hairy family fell apart, Sheba died, Lana returned to Cobh, all the while I was stretched out on my bed in a fetid apartment, drunk off my tits and too numb to feel anything about anything like Lord Chatterton in the painting. What we lose and what we gain, eh?

The Death of Lord Chatterton by Henry Wallis (1830–1916) oil on canvas.

Also, I realized that I was strutting through a society that wasn’t hostile towards me.

The odd inquiring look aside, I felt relatively safe. That might have changed as the night went on but this was the perfect entree to having a social life. We did normal things like go Bowling and I realized my sense of Otherness was, in the most part, self-generated. I stood in the beer garden with the girls, just one of the girls, a kingfisher blur of hotness, a more fully rounded apparition of my Beijing night-self. I’d achieved focus, growth and maturity all whilst wearing my high-heels and hot pants combo. I have a wardrobe full of beautiful dresses, but what I really need are dresses for an ordinary day going off to work. That’s my aim for the week. To find a “normal” dress.

We went to a rock bar, and I strode past the bouncer like the resident diva. The confidence, the swagger I had. Unbelievable. We were out far too early and our bonhomie was defeated by 10pm. Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own way”, trilled over the speakers and I sang along to it beneath my breath. Relishing every word.

Finally, I was.



Fiona Evangeline Leigh
Prism & Pen

An Irish writer, transgender woman and singer currently living in the Republic. Has just completed a memoir Marabou Barbie.