Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Claire's Review Of 2014

Hello and welcome to Claire's Review Of 2014!
<cue lots of cheering. Shoot anyone looking sad or bemused>
In the next half hour (or however long it takes you to read it) I will reveal the awards for the most outstanding contributions to the last 12 months of my life!
<cue lots of cheering. Shoot anyone leaving their seats for any reason whatsoever - even if it's to go to the toilet>
But, first of all, I have to thank Mark Zuckerberg for inventing Facebook without which this review would not have been possible!
<shoot Mark Zuckerberg just because>
Then I have to thank all my friends who kept in touch with me, supported me and kept me sane.
<Put armed guard around my friends just in case anyone tries to get at them for keeping in touch with me, supporting me and keeping me sane>
So now, without further ado, lets start giving out the awards!
<Light fuse on bomb and retreat discreetly. Shoot anyone who follows you>

Album Of The Year - Angélique Kidjo's Eve

In the running were also Future Islands's Singles and Robert Plant's Lullaby And The Ceaseless Roar but Angélique Kidjo's album won out because it just made my jaw drop and my body jiggle - even though I don't understand a word of it!

Film Of The Year - 12 Years A Slave 

In the running were also Paddington and Pride but 12 Years A Slave won out because it was the only film that made me go vegan this year (it's all to do with slavery!). Sadly, my morals weren't up to much and I quit the vegan diet after only one month!

Walk Of The Year - Wirral Coastal Walk

In the running were also Europe's First Ever Trans Pride March and The Walk To Work Everyday but the Wirral Coastal Walk won out because, between myself and Pauline and the generosity of our friends and family, we raised approximately £500 for the British Lung Foundation which is just amazing!

Pride Of The Year - Trans Pride Brighton

In the running were also Manchester Pride, Liverpool Pride and Sparkle but Trans Pride Brighton was the clear runner because, unlike the others, it made me feel extremely proud to be part of it and, after all, Pride should make you feel proud, shouldn't it?

Most Ridiculous Personal Accusation Of The Year - 'Claire Is A White Supremacist'

Also in the running were 'Claire Is A Hero' and 'Claire Made My Birthday Party A Spectacle' but 'Claire Is A White Supremacist' won out because it had absolutely no basis in truth! To my mind, a white supremacist is a member of the BNP or Ku Klux Klan not someone who stands against them and other racist organisations like Britain First and UKIP. The accusation still bloody hurt though - largely because it was so unjustified!

Saddest Day Of The Year - 17th February 

Also in the running were 5th April and 3rd August but 17th February won out because I didn't see it coming. I expected to be upset on the anniversary of John's death (5th April) and our anniversary (3rd August) but not the anniversary of when John was taken into hospital for the last time (17th February). I managed to hold it together whilst at work but was in floods of tears by the time I got home. Next year I will be prepared.

Medicine Of The Year - Progynova

Also in the running were Decapeptyl and Co-Amoxiclav but Progynova won out because of the changes it brought about within me. It has been a much happier ride this time, (but, frankly, is it any wonder I found trying to cope with unemployment, hormones and a dying husband all at the same time a bit too much last time?!!), even if it has, in all likelihood, been the cause of me passing out twice this last year! And the boobs still have some room for improvement too but maybe that'll come with the increased dosage.  

Holiday Of The Year - Rhodes 

In the running were also Scotland (Glasgow, Glencoe, Edinburgh) and Brighton but Rhodes won out because it was exactly what I needed at the right time! My house was being redecorated, I was still shell-shocked by the Most Ridiculous Personal Accusation Of The Year and I just couldn't relax so thank fuck I saw sense and took myself away from it all to relax and chill out (in 84 degrees!) for a week! It meant confronting my fear of flying but it was totally worth it! 

Social Group Of The Year - Merseyside Non-Scene LGBT Social Group

Also in the running were the Wirral LGBT Friday Afternoon Drop-In and The Merseyside LGBT Book Group but the Merseyside Non-Scene LGBT Social Group won out because it introduced me to Steve who is a lovely, caring, man who also introduced me to several other groups in the area and I also got to meet lots of other lovely people in a relaxed, non-threatening, atmosphere. 

Workplace Of The Year - (Voluntary) Community Action Wirral

Also in the running were Intact and Tomorrow's Women but (Voluntary) Community Action Wirral was the clear winner because they paid me! No, really it's because I feel like the luckiest person on earth living within 10 minutes walking distance of my place of employment, working with the loveliest bunch of people I've ever worked with in the most satisfying job I've ever had! Every (working) day I get to feel valued and loved and come home knowing I've made a difference to the community! It's just awesome! 

Most Pivotal Moment Of The Year - Being Introduced To Clare Campbell

Clare Campbell is CEO of Big Love Sista. She is also a whirlwind of positivity and it is my utmost joy that I got sucked into that whirlwind this year! I was introduced to Clare by Tony Griffin at the Navajo awards and I was initially scared by her bubbliness (bubbly people make me wary) but she handed me a pack of Goddess cards and invited me to the next meeting of the women's circle groups she ran in Huyton. I went to the meeting and it was a very empowering experience but, for one reason or another, I didn't go to any other. Then I heard about the Big Love Sista Choir and I went along and it was such a joy. Then there was the Big Love Little Sista Festival that the choir performed at and that is probably the most awesome day of my life to date! And next year I'm gonna get to paint my own Goddess in one of Clare's painting courses! So I am absolutely delighted that I now know Clare Campbell! (Also in the running were Starting Volunteering At (V)CAW and Starting Aqua Zumba Lessons) 

Most Pivotal Decision Of The Year - Taking Courses In Mindfulness At Wirral Mind

The first half of the year was tough and by May I was heading rapidly down a spiral of self-loathing and depression. So thank fuck Tony and Julie Griffin encouraged me to look at the courses that Wirral Mind run! I chose three that were run by Graeme Waterfield and they all turned out, in one way or another, to be about Mindfulness. My life significantly improved after taking those courses - I finally accepted John's death and I managed to equip myself to cope with further attacks of depression so that when they hit, as they did in August and December, I was able to handle it and stop myself from descending down that spiral of self-loathing. And, when I think that I was able to ride through them in a matter of days rather than months or years, taking those courses is without doubt the best decision I've made all year if not, in fact, my life! (Also in the running were Reaching Out To Friends and Coming Out As Trans Again) 

Most Fun Of The Year - Big Love Sista Choir

Also in the running were Claire Day 4 and my birthday celebrations but the Big Love Sista Choir won out because every week I have the most fun with a bunch of amazing women even though I can't sing! Being part of the choir also lead to being involved with the Big Love Little Sista Festival and performing on stage and actually enjoying it! I've really missed it this Christmas break and I can't wait for it to start again! 

Most Generous Person Of The Year - Tony Griffin

Also in the running were Julie Griffin and Everyone Who Donated To My Wirral Coastal Walk but Tony Griffin won out because not only did he invite me to be a co-founder of the Merseyside & Cheshire Transgender Family Support Group, allow me to speak at Liverpool's Transgender Day Of Remembrance, invite me to the Navajo awards and credit me as a Navajo assessor (even though I hadn't done any assessments the preceding 12 months), introduce me to Clare Campbell, take me out to help me choose flowers for John's birthday, invite me to the most beautifully cooked roast dinners I've ever ate and lots of other things I've probably forgot (and some I haven't) but, most valuable of all, he invited me over for Christmas Day for the second year running (and sorted out a turkey dinner for Mia too!). So there really is no contest - Tony is my Most Generous Person Of The Year!

Person Of The Year - Julie Griffin

Also in the running were Tony Griffin and Clare Campbell but Julie won out because, well, she just does! There is no one like Julie! She has been a shoulder to cry on, she has been someone to ask for advice, she has been someone who made me laugh like no other, she is the person I feel the most at ease with and she doesn't take no crap from me neither! She is just the most awesome friend I could ever have hoped for and my world is infinitely brighter for having her in it! Thank you, Julie! xxx

Animal Of The Year - Mia

Also in the running were... well, nothing actually! Mia wins paws down! She has been my salvation! And also a cause for stress and tears! But that's what happens when you love someone (even if it is a cat!)! It's been mutual love at first sight - despite what she might tell you! So Mia wins the star - and one and only - prize of a handful of Dreamies! Well done, Mia! xxx

And thus concludes my Review Of 2014. If you're upset that you've been neglected in any way, take consolation in the fact that I've not put you on my ever growing list of People I Don't Ever Want To Meet Ever Again along with many others this year! And, if that doesn't do the trick, well maybe you'll have better luck next year!
Ta ta for now!

Claire xx

<After bomb has exploded, check for casualties and shoot any survivors>

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Truly, Honestly, Trans

Laura Jane Grace may not be a name familiar to you but she is lead singer of punk band, Against Me! and made headlines this year by coming out as Trans.
I admire her courage - it can't be easy for a lead singer of a punk band to confound expectation by revealing they are Trans. However, as I don't much like the music, I haven't paid much attention to her until my friend Chrissy posted a link to a documentary series Laura Jane Grace has made.
It's called True Trans and it's honest and truthful and I identified with great swathes of it! In short, it is the best series of documentaries I've seen about what it is to be Trans. You can view the documentary series here: True Trans
However, one glaring error Laura Jane Grace made was not to ask me for my opinion!! Thus I have rectified that below under the headings of the episode titles...

Growing Up
In all honesty, I don't remember much about my childhood. However, I don't really remember much about any period of my life at all - distressingly so where my life with John is concerned - (Is this normal? Do I need to see a doctor about this??) so not remembering my childhood is no different to any other period of my life! 
I certainly don't remember identifying as a girl. 
I remember certain things like going to nursery and wearing a lady's hat from the dressing-up box and being told off because 'boys don't do that kind of thing!'. I remember wanting to wear make-up and be pretty from a fairly young age and that materialised in asking to be a clown at a fancy dress party as I didn't have the guts to ask for what I really wanted! I remember tearing the head off my Action Man and swapping it for the head on my sister's Sindy doll on numerous occasions. As a teenager, I remember dreaming of the day when I would be able to live as a woman. When I was about 13, I remember catching an episode of an American chat show late at night called Donahue which was about, and finally gave me a word for, people like me - transvestites.
There was no internet in the 1980s and not even for most of the 1990s. So there was no way for me research or connect with others like me. So I felt very lonely. 
Looking back, the way I dealt with how I felt was to hide who I was and shut out the rest of the world for fear they look too closely and recognise the freak I believed I was. So not only did I feel lonely, I made myself lonely as well. 
I was miserable and it showed. I was regularly told to "cheer up, it may never happen". The truth was it had already happened the day I was born and labelled a boy.

Gender Dysphoria
As I said above, I never identified as a girl but I was unhappy with my gender. I hated the straightjacket I wore as a bloke. I wanted the freedom to be a girl! 
But, as much as I hated it, I recognised that I was a bloke and that was that. I certainly didn't want to be labelled as one of those freaks they called "Transsexuals"! So I felt ashamed of my crossdressing and feelings and suppressed my desires because 'boys don't do that kind of thing!' and it did me great psychological damage and, yes, I considered suicide several times such was my unhappiness.
At times my life felt like a see-saw that I had no real control of. I was happy when I crossdressed and then I would go a few months without wanting to do it again and then the desire would come back as strong as ever. I wanted to live a life without all these highs and lows and trying to live as a bloke wasn't bringing it me. In fact, it got to a point where I seemed to have no control over my gender dysphoria at all and in 2009, coming home from work in tears one day - a day I had spent feeling like I wanted to tear my skin off! (not the first and not the last) - I finally decided I had to confront my fear of living as a woman.

Finding Trans
As mentioned above, I discovered the word "transvestite" and people like me on an American chat show in the 1980s. Sadly, that chat show was typically transphobic and presented these transvestites as freaks. So I grew up believing I was one. (Transvestite = Freak. I = Transvestite, thus I = Freak)
Whilst I lived at home, I discovered stories about Transsexuals in the magazines and newspapers my parents read. Sadly, these were also typically transphobic. 
It wasn't until I started looking online - a good 10-20 years later - that I began to learn that I wasn't a freak. 
The best website I found was called UK Angels - a good many of my friends now were made via the site - and I was inspired and encouraged to stop hiding and start living as the Trans person I am.
Honourable mention must go to Emma Walkey at this point. If not for seeing her photos of wandering around Cheshire Oaks, I might never have had the guts to do the same myself and discover that the public didn't want to lynch me but treated me much the same as anyone else.
It also had to be the internet that I learned about a Trans swimming group and met Alexandra and Sam who told me about TREC (Trans Resource & Educational Centre) in Manchester, as I can't think where else I would've learned about it. At my first meeting at TREC I was accosted by this lunatic called Jayne and dragged kicking and screaming to a Japanese restaurant/takeaway called Samsi and we have been firm friends ever since. Without her I may never have been persuaded to go to Transforum - a social/support group for those 'investigating their gender' - and learned that Transsexuals weren't freaks. They were real, live, breathing people with fears and ambitions much the same as mine. Without Jayne, I may never have been persuaded to go to InTrust either, meet Tony and from there find my way to living in the Wirral. Without Jayne in my life, my life would almost certainly not be the life I am living now. The cow!!

Not Alone
This episode of True Trans deals with suicide. The fact is that far too many Trans people feel they are without a friend in the world, that life is not worth living, that suicide is the only way out. I was one of them. 
I was, and made myself, lonely. It was how I tried to cope with who I was. Because I was lonely I was miserable. Because I was miserable I considered suicide. Because I kept on living a miserable life, I kept on considering suicide. 
The earliest attempt was when I was approximately 14. The last attempt (because of my gender dysphoria) was when I was 37. Then I transitioned and my gender dysphoria has not driven me to the edge of suicide since.
But, of course, it wasn't quite as easy as all that. I had to change from someone who believed they were a freak and that living as a woman meant a life of misery to someone who accepted that I wasn't a freak and that living as a woman was my best shot at happiness.
That journey to self-acceptance started with looking in the mirror one day when I was crossdressed and recognising that was a truer reflection of who I was than when I was dressed as a man. I was terrified! So, of course, I buried it but I could not deny the truth and it pecked away at me day and night until I was forced to confront and accept it and only then was I prepared to do something about it. 
If only Trans people like myself weren't fed this constant myth that being Trans is shameful and/or an abomination then surely the suicide rate of Trans people would plummet!
I don't believe we want to die. We just don't want to live a miserable existence.

Coming Out
I came out as a transvestite in 1999 - the same year I came out as bisexual (then, a little later on, gay). I told my best friend, Lyn, and she was really excited for me which was rather odd! It was definitely not the reaction I was expecting! We went on shopping trips together, and I got advice and support from her on how to perfect my look. She was the first person ever to do my make-up. I loved that time of my life. Then she moved to Australia and I never heard from her again.
Because of her I was confident enough to be out about my crossdressing online and so John knew about my crossdressing before we ever met. He didn't seem to mind me being a transvestite and even encouraged and supported me.
Then maybe about 2006 I told my parents in an email that I was Trans. John asked me if I was sure I was ready to tell them and I replied that I would probably never be ready but now was the time to tell them anyway. 
My parents replied that I told them I liked to wear make-up when I came out to them as bisexual - thereby showing they didn't understand the difference between crossdressing and being Trans (they're not unique in this by any means!) - and that 'it didn't matter what I did, I would always be their child' which was rather lovely of them.
Then a few years after that I had to tell them and John that I wasn't a transvestite as previously thought but a transsexual. 
John's reply was that he'd been expecting it and may have to 'reconsider things' which worried me greatly. I don't recall what my parents reply was other than for a while my dad didn't seem to be able to decide whether I was a "him" or a "her" so settled on "it". Even now they still sometimes get the pronouns wrong and it still hurts every single time. 
Then in 2010 I had to tell my workmates I was transitioning. They responded much more positively to it than I expected. There were awkward moments and one fuckwit told me to my face that he preferred me before I transitioned. I replied I didn't care who he preferred, I'd transitioned and that was it so he'd better just get used to it!
However, coming out is a continual process. This year alone I've come out twice - to the women's choir I'm a member of and to my workmates. Their response was as affirming as I could ever have hoped for and I feel empowered by their love!

I started to transition in 2009. It started with a visit to my GP, then a visit to a local psychologist who pronounced me gender dysphoric (even though he had no remit to do so), then appointments at Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic in London where, after three appointments 6 months apart, I finally got officially diagnosed as perfectly sane but gender dysphoric. 
In May 2012 I got prescribed hormones and 3 months later I stopped taking them as my head was doing cartwheels. So, in November 2012, I asked Charing Cross to remove me as a patient. 
Looking back, dealing with transition, hormones, and my husband dying all together at once was just too much to handle. 
Then in April of last year, 2 days before his 65th birthday, John died and a month later I decided to find my way back into the system. As a result, I ended up as a patient of both Leeds' and Charing Cross's Gender Identity Clinics! Perhaps uniquely so??
As it turned out, Charing Cross saw me before Leeds and I re-entered the "Gender Reassignment Pathway" at the tail end of 2013 and started hormones again in January 2014. 
So far, the emotional turmoil that occurred the first time around has not re-occurred the second time around and I have no intention of quitting the pathway this time either despite the fact I have to have an injection in my bottom every three months! 
However, being on both Leeds' and Charing Cross's books, I did have to tell Leeds to remove me. So perhaps, again, I'm unique in having now told two Gender Identity Clinics to remove me as a patient!

To be openly Trans you have to have resilience. No one thinks that what they really need in their lives is to be perceived as a lunatic and get called names in the street! They certainly don't wish to join a group of people who statistically have higher levels of unemployment, homelessness and poverty than almost any other! Nor do they wish to join a group of people who are killed in their hundreds year after year!
Yet, if you are Trans, this is the reality of our lives. 
I have gone to job interviews and had people roll their eyes at me as soon as they saw me. In those same interviews I've had people openly state that they could not employ me for fear of what the rest of their staff would think of it - despite such discrimination being against the law!
I have had people shout at me in the street and some of my friends have been beaten up and worse. One lady I used to socialise with ended up dead in the Leeds to Manchester Canal.
The truth is all too apparent - society doesn't want us amongst their number. Which is why so many of us exist outside of society. And why I am always nervous when I decide the time has come to out myself as Trans. I can never be confident that the response will be as I want.

Undoubtedly my relationships with people have changed since I transitioned. My parents have had to get used to the fact that I am now their daughter and my brother has had to get used to the fact that I am now his sister. It can't be easy. In fact my brother has said as much. But they've been a lot better than many families of Trans people for the mere fact that they still want me in their family.
My relationship with my husband also changed. For one, he had to get his head around his sexual identity. For a man who didn't feel confident to come out as gay until he was in his 50s this can't have been easy! All that hurt and turmoil of living in the closet and for what? To end up having to question whether he really was gay after all?!! So it is to his total credit that whatever he went through, he never took out on me. As far as I'm concerned, he seemed to take my transition in his stride. So it is a great tragedy that he was dying just as I was beginning to really live. It feels like our relationship was cut down just as it was beginning to take off.
As for the rest of the world, I feel my relationships have become much richer now that I am able to be myself. Unlike all those years when I didn't want people to get too close for fear of what they'd discover, now I relish close relationships with people. Despite being a widow, I am happier than I've ever been and laugh more than I ever have. I'm glad I hung on through all those years of misery to experience this. Life really did get better.

Since I have no kids, I have no idea what it's like to be a parent. However, I am mummy to my cat, Mia, who doesn't care whether I am Trans or not! 
Similarly, it's my belief that kids don't mind whether people are Trans either - unless they're taught to mind!
So parents ought to be more mindful that who they pass judgement on might be just like their own kids. 
It cannot be good for a kid's self-esteem to learn their parent(s) doesn't like people who are just like them! 
So the best thing is surely not to pass judgement on people and, instead, appreciate them for who they are.

I believe seeking acceptance can be a curse. After all, it was my craving of acceptance that forced me to live as a male for 37 years. 
Thus I believe, whilst there is nothing wrong in wanting acceptance - it's infinitely preferable to being rejected! - we should not make it a condition of our relationships with people.
I try not to restrict myself to what I believe will be acceptable to others and nor do I demand that others accept who I am or what I do. I would much rather have honesty than acceptance.
But I do have standards! Thus, self-acceptance is a condition of my relationship with myself. After all, if I don't accept who I am and what I do, just what is the bloody point?!! 
That is why I transitioned - because I could no longer live with myself - and, since I transitioned, my acceptance of who I am has grown and grown; which also seems to have had a knock on effect in that I find more and more people appreciating and accepting who I am.
I now live in a world of mutual inspiration - I'm inspired by others and I'm told I inspire them too - and that can only be a good thing.

So there we have it and my conclusion is that honesty and truthfulness is nearly always the best policy. It is what I appreciate most about the True Trans documentaries and it is certainly what I aim to be in my life. 
It means I sometimes find myself surrounded by a wall of criticism and that is indeed stressful but I would far rather be hated for being truthful than be loved for being a liar.

Friday, 14 November 2014

What's Black, White And Furry?

On the first of November I took from the RSPCA a most adorable and beautiful cat, whom I have named Mia.
People said my life would be changed but I didn't understand to what extent. After all, it's only a cat!
But, first, was my allergy - cats have been known to make me itch like crazy!
So I went down to the centre and explained my predicament and they let me stay with the cats to see if I started itching. I spent half an hour with Mia but it felt like 5 and I didn't start itching - instead I fell in love. In fact, it felt like mutual love at first sight!
She is the most affectionate and adorable cat I've ever had the pleasure to know. And, unlike a dog, she's not needy and doesn't slobber everywhere!
But the reason why she is my salvation is because I feel I've finally, without really noticing it, closed the chapter called My Life With John and started on a new chapter called My Life With Mia. Instead of looking backwards, I'm looking forwards.
And the best thing about it is that John, being a cat lover himself, would approve thoroughly. :)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Radical Idea

This week Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) gave a speech to the UN calling for gender equality. Very soon after she was met with threats to cease and desist or have photos of herself naked plastered over the internet.
This week also saw an exhibition at The Barbican entitled Exhibit B closed down amidst protests that it was racist.
Is there a commonality between these two events?
I believe there is. It's called bullying...

  • They sought to bully Emma Watson into silence
  • They bullied The Barbican into cancelling an exhibition

And, in my heart of hearts, I can't bring myself to support bullying even when I sympathise with the motives for it (I too loathe racism). 
Some may say these actions against Emma Watson and The Barbican are the work of "radicals" but what is "radical" about a methodology that has been existent since the beginnings of civilisation? A methodology that isn't just used by the man/woman/other on the street/behind a computer screen but by our leaders too? 
For example, just this week various world leaders decided to start bombing Syria in order to (simplistically put) bully Islamic State into ceasing to behead innocent citizens.
No, bullying is definitely not the work of "radicals"! Sadly, it is the work of everybody - we all use threat and violence to get our way at least once in our lives! 
Now, it doesn't take a genius to deduce that bullying has existed since the beginnings of civilisation - and will continue to exist in the future - for one simple reason: it is effective. 
But there is one major drawback to bullying - even when it doesn't claim lives - and that is that, as well as being effective, it is also affective: it radicalises people.
As a result of fighting a conflict by means of threat and violence, you push 'wavering voters' onto the side of the opposition - even if you win!
Thus feminists will not reduce in number; no more than racists will; no more than Islamic terrorists will; just because you use the tools of the bully against them. No, rather, they will grow in number.
As a result, you move further away from that peaceful day when there is no opposition to your way of doing things (which, presumably, is why you resorted to bullying in the first place??).
We've had billions of years now of trying to solve conflict by threat and violence and what lasting peace has it ever achieved?!! 
No, we need to try something different. Something truly radical...
Like winning hearts and minds instead of destroying them!
If you can convince your opponent that your way of doing things is correct by means of irrefutable argument then what opposition can they have to it? Surely, that peaceful day will be yours!
Ah, but, undoubtedly, that irrefutable argument is hard to come by! Everyone has an opinion on everything! 
Well, then maybe we have to try harder!
After all, if we know one way claims lives and the other doesn't (but claims hearts and minds instead) is it such a hard thing to decide which way is worth the effort? Which way is worth fighting... er... arguing(!) for?
Then why does it feel like the great and the good disagree with me?

I obviously haven't put together my irrefutable argument yet. 
I must try harder!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Walking Away

This summer has been a catalyst for making me do something I never thought I would - turning my back on LGBT activism.
It started with Sparkle, continued with the Liverpool and Manchester Prides, the meeting between Stonewall and Trans activists and now the vilification of Trans Pride.
If the attacks on LGBT activism were coming from the outside, I would be willing to defend what I believe to be right. The horrific fact is, though, that the attacks are coming from within and I will not stay to watch what I cherish being torn apart by ignorance and stupidity, especially when I know I am powerless to stop it. Why expend all that emotional energy on such a pointless quest?
My experience this summer indicates overwhelmingly to me that the vast majority of LGBT activists cannot respond to criticism or advice without bile and vitriol, that they are only too willing to see the LGBT community become nothing but a tourist attraction, that they think to impose and conspire with exclusionary policies somehow makes the LGBT community more inclusive, that they have such low self-esteem that they will accept assistance from an organisation that has no interest in letting them set their own agenda, and that they will champion uneducated and extremist views in some warped vision that they somehow make the world more fair and equal.
In short, I see the world that LGBT activists are currently shaping one that will have absolutely nothing to do with equality and everything to do with power politics and personal privilege.
To see this in action you might be forgiven for not being aware that LGBT people are amongst the most impoverished people in the world; that homelessness is rife amongst them; that they are almost certainly the most disadvantaged group on the planet; and that millions are beaten up and thousands murdered every single year.
Certainly, when you see the campaigns of the major LGBT organisations, you might think all is rosy in LGBT land and all we need now is the cherry on the top instead of basic human rights.
You perhaps may also feel that the rise to power and influence of "The Far Right" across the world is no threat to LGBT people.
But none of this is the case.
The very existence of LGBT people is debated upon - let alone our right to anything!
Just how on earth debating LGBT life is the route to equality is beyond me and, yet, this is what we do - even in the LGBT community.
It is sickening to see equality take a back seat to personal power and privilege and the tragedy is that this is tearing the LGBT community apart; leaving us with less power to tackle those that oppose us.
Yet I am powerless to stop it as I can not help those that do not want and will not accept my help; and, if I argue and fight for my beliefs, I simply contribute to the infighting that is tearing the LGBT community apart.
Thus, I feel that I am left with no other course of action than to walk away from LGBT activism.
I will obviously always be Queer and Trans - nothing will ever change that - but I can not, in good faith, fight for something I feel is in direct opposition to what I believe in.
All that there is left for me to do now is to be true to myself and, if I can, help those that ask for it.
That is all.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Claire's Holiday - A Review

For this holiday I wrote detailed notes everyday. Then, this morning, I accidentally deleted them! I mean, honestly, who creates a note taking app without an undo button! Idiots!!
So this is the rewritten, uncomprehensive, version (you probably would've found the full version boring anyway!)...
I have been on holiday in Afandou, Rhodes since the beginning of the month and this is my review...
The objective of my holiday has been to relax and tune out as I have found that almost impossible to do since John died. As a result, I have seen very little of Rhodes as I have stayed in Afandou rather than venturing out.
Afandou itself is a small quiet town which I'm tempted to say is traditionally Greek in feel if not for the fact it is so clearly catered towards the tourist!
It is certainly not the kind of place I'd recommend if you wanted to party every night but it was perfect for my objectives.
The town is almost maze like in it's layout and perhaps it should be no surprise I didn't discover half of it until half way through my holiday when I ventured further than what I thought was the end of the shopping area! However, that bit was even more touristy - with prices to match! - so I didn't bother with it more than the once!
I stayed at the Sky Afandou hotel which was situated at the top of a hill - so not recommended for the infirm or unfit - and I struggled to climb it most days, what with the heat and everything!
I would say the hotel is a 2 star one (not sure of official rating) as it is in desperate need of modernisation: my room had absolutely no mod cons whatsoever (no phone, no telly/radio, no hairdryer, etc) with only two plug sockets (one of which was half falling off and located near the door so wasn't much use), no air con and my shower was falling apart (sometimes with no hot water either - although I do understand that an island as tiny as Rhodes probably doesn't have the infrastructure to guarantee the luxury of hot water every day!). Although the bed was comfortable and the hotel does also have it's own pool.
However, what made the hotel for me was the two brothers who run it who were nothing short of kind/friendly/helpful/lovely every day of my stay! :)
However, the same can not be said of the holiday firm, Holiday Gems, that I booked my holiday with.
I had bought myself a self-catering holiday but, on arrival, discovered there were no catering facilities whatsoever!
When I contacted the rep she said I'd have to contact the firm in Britain! Phone international only to be put on hold for 20 mins??? I'm not made of money, you know!
So I emailed them instead. They replied to say that they'd passed the matter over to their "emergency on resort team" and they'd be in touch with me asap. I never heard from the "emergency on resort team" and, since I had no intention of changing hotels now that I had arrived, I could not see what agreeable solution they could come up with so I decided to let the matter drop until my return home.
The hotel fiasco was also in addition to the fact that before setting off they convinced me to change my airport transfer from a private car with wifi to the speedy shuttle bus with the promised reduction in price never materialising! (Despite repeated emails requesting it) It is thus safe to say that I will never use Holiday Gems ever again!
Due to the cock-up over the accommodation, I was forced to buy fruit for breakfast, pastries for lunch (as supermarkets don't seem to do sandwiches here) and eat out every evening. It is thus just as well that the food is so cheap here! A 2 litre bottle of water costs just 30 cents and my evening meals were on average around €11 for 2 courses or more.
I tried three restaurants during my stay - two of which could easily rival any restaurant I've ever eaten at anywhere else on the planet!
The first of these was O'Mimis which was half kebab shop and half restaurant and the quality of the food was superb! I had the "Greek dish" the first night, which was a selection of Greek specialities (very few I could tell you the name of!) with things like moussaka, stuffed olive leaves and peppers, with dips and veg. The second night I ate there, I had lamb kleftiko which was not kebabs like I thought but lamb cooked in it's own juices with potato, rice and other veg. Again, it was first class and how they made the onion taste so delicious I shall never know!
The second restaurant I'd much recommend is Four Seasons which advertises itself as "Mediterranean cuisine" but, on looking at the menu, it was clearly Italian (but perhaps it's not safe to declare that on a Greek Island?).
The first night I had calzone which looked like a gigantic Cornish pasty on arrival (I'm much more used to it looking like a folded pizza) but with a ham and mushroom pizza filling rather than minced beef and veg!
It was delicious but far too much to eat it all!
The second night there I had the Mama Mia tortellini, with baklava and ice cream to follow.
The pasta was served with chicken, bacon, onion and mushroom in a creamy tomato sauce and couldn't be faulted! The baklava was served with bright yellow banana ice cream so was quite a sight and totally delicious!
The other restaurant I tried was Michalis which advertises itself as a "traditional Greek taverna" but, unlike O'Mimis, I actually found very little traditional Greek food on the menu. On the first night I tried it, I had Menu 2 which was cucumber and tomato salad to start, followed by moussaka and then ice cream to finish. The meal was pleasant but not outstanding. The second night I tried it I had chicken schnitzel which, again, was perfectly good fare but nothing to write home about.
However, a couple of things a visitor should be aware of about dining out here is that the restaurants don't start serving in the evening until 6:30pm at the earliest and, unlike Britain where the waiters are trained to be attentive, here they will leave you to eat your meal until summoned.
So now to the one major drawback of my visit not caused by Holiday Gems... Mosquitos!
I visited in September so it may very well be a different story at other times of the year but I have been eaten alive by Mosquitos whilst on this island! After my third day here, I counted 43 bites! Thus I would strongly recommend coming armed with effective mosquito repellent instead of acting retrospectively like I have done. (Incidentally, the most effective repellent I discovered is an anti-mosquito app which has kept me bite free since using it - much to my relief!).
One final note - I deliberately chose to come later in the year to avoid the worst of the heat. However, it has still been 84 degrees every day on average and it doesn't drop below 70 degrees even at night! I have thus followed local tradition of doing what sightseeing/shopping I wanted to do first thing in the morning and then hiding away from the sun for the remainder of the day until I ventured out for my evening meal.
Oh, and as far as my objectives of relaxing and tuning out go, I'd say (with the exception of the Mosquitos) it is mission accomplished! :)

Saturday, 6 September 2014


There are things you notice when 'changing gender' that perhaps cis people wouldn't.
One such example has occured to me this week whilst on my holiday in Rhodes. Two nights ago, on my return back to the hotel after my evening meal, two lads said "hello" to me as I passed. I was polite and returned the greeting but privately thought, "ooh, I hope they're not going to be trouble".
Last night they were there again and tried to strike up a conversation and I was polite in my response but kept walking.
Well, afterwards, last night I had a dream in which they attacked me which prompted me to think what steps I could take if they turned out to be the kind of lads who don't take "no" for an answer.
Now, if we reverse the roles, and a young lady says hello and tries to strike up a conversation with two lads, are those lads scared? Do they go home and have nightmares? Do they plan what to do if they are attacked? I somehow doubt it.
So, whilst I wouldn't want men to stop being nice to passing strangers, I think it might help if they appreciated that women don't generally have the capacity to impose themselves on men and threaten violence and death whereas men do generally have that capacity over women.
It leads to a situation where nothing appears to be innocent and women are continual prey. Thus no one should be surprised when the prey is nervous of being attacked.
But are there steps that can be taken to change that?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Eurovision Song Contest

There is so much wrong in the world that I feel lost and useless in the face of it all.
Is there a solution?
Let me not forget that at the end of May last year, when I had lost the one man who had truly given my life meaning and I felt in danger of falling out of the world I'd sunk to the bottom of, I recognised there was no one to give my life meaning but me anymore and I started to claw my way back.
Only when you understand the question can you stand a chance of getting the answer right.

Friday, 15 August 2014


If a farmer grows an apple tree and then someone comes along, picks one of the apples, throws it at someone else, hitting them in the head and leaving a painful bruise is it fair for the victim to blame the farmer for growing the apple tree?
If perhaps someone picks another apple from the tree, poisons it and feeds it to their enemy causing them to die a painful death is it fair for the victim's family to blame the farmer for growing the apple tree?
After all, without the farmer growing the apple tree there are no apples with which to cause harm to others.
But what of all the other apples that weren't used to cause harm? The ones that were used to nourish a starving family? The ones that were used to earn enough money at market for the farmer to keep his own family from starvation? Do they not weigh in the farmer's favour against the ones used to cause harm?
The truth of the matter is not in the growing of the tree or the apple but in what use the tree and the apple is put to.
It is the same with words - where the apple is the word, the tree is the language it arose from.
Just as an apple can be used for good and bad so can words.
Whether you use a word in a negative or positive way, take responsibility for your action.
Whether you interpret a word in a negative or positive way, take responsibility for your action.
Furthermore, except in the most literal sense, if you use a word in a negative way but someone else uses that same word in a positive way, do not seek to stop it's positive use for that is unjust.
And, again except in the most literal sense, if you interpret a word in a negative way but someone else interprets that same word in a positive way, do not seek to stop it's positive interpretation for that is also unjust.
Above all, take responsibility for your actions - even if they are involuntary.

Monday, 4 August 2014


This summer I have so far participated in 3 Prides (if you count Sparkle as a Pride) and I may be getting a fussy bugger as I get older but only one of them filled me with pride and mostly for the one reason: I felt all but one of them was exclusionary.
Now, I broach this with some trepidation because I have been met with some considerable hostility when I've voiced my opinion about this subject this summer. In fact, I've been bullied into (a short) silence and lost a number of friendships over it. But, anyway, let us start at the beginning...
I went to Sparkle at the beginning of July. I went on the Friday and the Sunday but not the Saturday.
On Friday, I met up with some friends and we went for a meal and, in truth, saw very little of Sparkle.
On the Sunday I arrived in the afternoon, met up with some friends and went to the Sparkle Closing Meal.
Over the weekend, having had a look at the program of events and judging from my own experience of this year's Sparkle, I concluded that Sparkle had come up short of my expectations of something that bills itself as the "National Transgender Celebration" because I felt it only gave token regard to the full Transgender spectrum and concentrated almost exclusively on the female spectrum.
In doing so, I exempted my friends from blame (knowing how hard they'd worked on things) and pointed to what I call the "Tranniati" - the clique who lord it over everyone else - as those I held responsible.
That did not stop all but one of my friends who had been involved in organising it from taking what I said very personally indeed.
I was shocked at the level of abuse I received and I ended a number of friendships because of it because, in my world, friends don't treat each other like that.
To go further, I thought it incredibly unprofessional of them.
In the professional world, if you're ill and can't fulfil your obligations, you ask for help and get someone else to take up the slack. In the professional world you don't personally abuse your customers when they complain. In the professional world, if a customer says that things aren't as they expected, you don't reply, "Well, if you think you can do any better, come and do it yourself!".
The reason why should be obvious: If you upset your customers, they tend to go elsewhere.
That is certainly the case with me - I have been upset, I am still upset, and I will not be going back to Sparkle next year.
The second of the two Prides that I felt was exclusionary was this weekend's Liverpool Pride.
The reason why can be pointed almost entirely at it's decision to charge for 99% of it.
I am certain that in some people's minds they think LGBT people are affluent (e.g. "The Pink Pound") but, actually, this is a myth. Research has shown time and time again that poverty is at higher rates amongst LGBT people than the rest of society.
To me, this is logical. Even in this country, LGBT people are likely to face prejudice on a daily basis. Prejudice that causes them to be kicked out of their homes by their families (and sometimes by their unscrupulous landlord) and prejudice that prevents them from getting a job.
In fact, poverty is at such a scale amongst LGBT people that it is being investigated by The World Bank!
And, yet, the organisers of nearly every Pride in this country are charging LGBT people to attend their own Pride - an event that should be about all LGBT people coming together in unity and celebration!
And the prices aren't cheap either!
Brighton Pride charges £17.50, Manchester Pride charges £15 (for a day ticket), and Liverpool Pride now charges £11! How are the homeless and unemployed meant to afford those prices?!! Especially if they're having to pay for the whole family!
When I asked Liverpool Pride why it was now charging for what was a free event, I got the following two answers:

  • It needs to pay the police to provide security for the event. 

Now I can understand that the police need to be paid for their work but to me this is a smokescreen because the public weren't asked to pay for the police when the Giants visited Liverpool last week and, according to the BBC (28/7/2014), millions of people lined the streets! Neither were they asked to pay for the police when tens of thousands of people turned up for the Mersey River Festival every day for the three days of it's duration! In fact, if you cast your net further afield to The Notting Hill Carnival - the largest street festival in Europe with a duration of two days - and discover that is free also, you begin to wonder why LGBT people are being singled out to pay for police stewardship of their event. Surely, it couldn't be homophobia in this day and age???

  • It needs to charge to attract the big names that come.

I can understand that in this day and age celebrities don't tend to work for free but, again, this is a smokescreen because they also say that Pride needs to have the big names on the bill to get people to come.
That is palpable nonsense! I know of no Pride that was boycotted because there weren't any celebrities on the bill... but I do know plenty of Prides that have been boycotted because they charged for the event!
It also conveniently overlooks the fact that the Mersey River Festival provided three days of named entertainment for free and, again if we look at The Notting Hill Carnival, that provides two days with the world's biggest names on the bill every year for free!
So the excuses offered for why Liverpool Pride had to charge this year just don't add up.
Instead, perhaps we need to ask why, as reported to me, Liverpool City Council cut it's funding for Pride this year if it is supposedly proud to have a Pride in it's city? Why are they happy to dish out money to other events but not Pride?
Another factor to consider is that charging for Pride also leads to segregation.
This was all too palpable at this year's Liverpool Pride. The community area was in the free zone and everything else was behind barriers in the paid for zone. That was segregation in action. In fact, the segregation was intensified this year by splitting the Trans stuff off into a "Genderbread Tent", so that the end result, it felt like to me and others, was that the T was effectively lopped off from the LGB at what was supposed to be a LGBT Pride!
As mentioned before, Pride should be about all LGBT people coming together in unity and celebration - not split up into various factions depending on their finances and gender identity!
Charging for Pride also leads to "otherism".
Pride should be an opportunity for us to further relationships with the society we live in, thereby increasing understanding of one another and removing whatever stigmas there may be.
Whereas charging for Pride and putting it behind barriers and eight foot fences makes people think Pride is a private event for LGBT people only; they feel unwelcome and decide not to come. And the end result of that is that they don't see that we're much the same as them, celebrate in the same way and whatever stereotype has formed in their minds is not challenged or eradicated.
By charging for Prides we are missing a golden opportunity to further LGBT rights and instead pushing LGBT people back into the closet! It is nothing at all to gloat about!!
So to the Pride that I was proud to be part of...
Two weekends ago I went to Trans Pride in Brighton. It was the country's second Trans Pride (the first being the year before) and Europe's first ever Trans Pride march!
I attended on the Saturday and the Sunday. On Saturday we had the march, which had 450 people attend it and was awesome, and then the main event was a festival (with 1900 attendees) in one of the city's parks with community tents in the same area as the entertainment. Afterwards, there was an after Pride party at a community arts venue which got so busy we spilled out onto the streets!
Then on the Sunday we had a beach party and a pool party...
None of the events were hidden away from the public behind eight foot fences and all of it was free or donation based (aka free if you couldn't afford anything).
We were out in the community at community venues and I really don't understand why all Prides aren't like this.
If you want LGBT people to be accepted into society then you don't exclude society from LGBT events!
And if you want Pride to be an event for all LGBT people to come together in unity and celebration, as I do, then you make the events inclusive and do nothing to exclude anyone!
What, exactly, is so hard to grasp?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Harmless Words

On Facebook I often see a caption that states, "I am a freak and I don't care. Share if you agree".
I will never share this.
As someone who grew up with disabilities, I was often called names and one of those was "Freak".
Homophobia and Transphobia also contributed to my sense of isolation - to the extent that I took the side of the bullies and also considered myself a "Freak".
Thus this caption disturbs me as I can't help but interpret it as others falling into the same trap I did of siding with the bullies of this world.
I guess it is supposed to be empowering - a "We're all different. So why worry about being different?" kind of message - except I don't find the language at all empowering. Why use the word "Freak"? Why label ourselves in such a way?
To me, it would be the same as stating, "I am a tranny and I don't care".
The word "Tranny" is as loaded with hate as the word "Freak", so I would very much care if I or others saw myself as a "Tranny"!
I suppose, though, that there is an argument of trying to claim back these words of hate.
People point to the word "Nigger" and say that word has been claimed back. I disagree.
For, even though the black community now use that word amongst themselves, if I were to call someone "Nigger" I would cause just as much offense as ever. And I don't refuse to use that word because the black community now use it but because I have been educated as to how offensive that word is.
So what claiming back has actually taken place? The black community have not claimed that word back from anyone. It still exists with all it's potency but people now choose not to use it.
And that I believe is the key to all this: We need to be making better choices.
You can't force people not to use words. No matter which word you ban, another will arrive to take it's place.
Instead we need better education and kinder hearts so that the desire to use words as weapons is no longer there.
After all, it is not the weapon that causes the harm but the person who uses it.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Why I'll Be Voting Labour At The 2015 General Election

I have been able to vote for the last 23 years and never in those 23 years have I ever voted Labour at a General Election.
Not in 1992 when the Tories were in disarray and another 5 years of their governence seemed a disaster in waiting. Not in 1997 when the disaster had materialised and Tony Blair swept 'New' Labour to a landslide victory. Not in 2001 when Blair returned 'New' Labour for another turbulent 4 years. Not in 2005 when Blair was persona non grata and Gordon Brown was impatiently waiting in the wings. And definitely not in 2010 after Brown had lead the country through the worst disaster in memory!
No, I grew up in a family where Liberal policies were promoted and, thus, my inclination has always been to vote Lib Dem.
But now, having had 4 years in a pact with the Tories where they have proved themselves to be toothless/clueless, the Lib Dems have proven themselves to be a very undesirable prospect. I would not want them in government with Clegg as their leader even if they paid me a million pounds for my vote (regardless of the illegality of that prospect)!
Thus, being the realist I am (or like to think I am), I have two choices come the next election: The Tories or Labour.
Well, similarly to Labour, I have never voted Conservative either and I definitely would not volunteer next year to give them another 5 years in government!
I know Labour put this country in an awful mess but during the last 4 years I have seen things get worse not better!
I have seen the homeless kicked around from pillar to post and illogically blamed for the country's poverty. I have seen all measures to bring cultural prosperity to this country attacked and curtailed. I have seen migrants blamed for people being out of work even whilst the unemployment figures plummet. I have seen the sick and disabled demonised and treated appallingly by people totally unqualified to 'judge' their ailments. I have seen Job Centres turn from helping people into work to actively discouraging people to seek employment and, hand in hand with that, punish the job seekers whenever they don't play the Job Centre's games. I have seen teachers quit teaching kids in despair at the government's constant meddling with standards. I have seen workers have more and more of their rights taken away to the extent that we effectively now have a slave workforce. I have seen the cost of living rise and the gap between the haves and have nots widen until it is now positively gaping. And, just last week, the government gave companies the power to frack without informing the residents of the houses under which they will lay their pipelines! 
If this doesn't add up to a total disregard for the voting population as a whole (with the obvious exception of bankers and big business) I don't know what does! And, by God and every other power going, I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER FIVE YEARS OF THIS!!
No, what I would much rather is the brake applied to this runaway train and, as things stand, Labour are the only ones with any realistic opportunity to do so.
As I say, I know Labour put this country in an awful mess and they may very well continue what they started (and the coalition also continued) but, at this moment in time, I can only live in hope.
I can only hope that the general population will be eased out of the many forms of poverty enveloping them. I can only hope that the general population will be freed from the new slavehood they're being shovelled towards. I can only hope that Labour will return to their traditions of siding with the general population against their cruel and uncaring masters. And it is this hope that I choose to invest in Labour at the next General Election.
As I say, I live in hope.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

What Was Then And How I Got To Now Will Not Be The Future Or How I Get There

What follows is solely my view about myself...
Ever since I was a child, (I can remember as far back as 8 years old and there are memories that go even further back to when I was 4 years old but, naturally, memories from such a young age are not 100% reliable), I felt deep inside my core that I would be happier living as a female.
This was confirmed whenever I dressed as a female and proved 100% accurate when I finally transitioned 29 years later (and there was a lot of self-loathing and confusion in those 29 years!) in 2010.
Now, when I talk about transition, I don't mean that I transitioned from male to female. For I don't believe I was male before I transitioned... but neither do I believe I was female before I transitioned.
Rather I believe I had no definable gender identity before I transitioned and only discovered it afterwards.
Or, to put it another way: I didn't feel that I was male. Instead, I felt deep kinship with females and that I would probably be happier living as a female but at no point did I actually identify as female. Female was just the closest thing to what I felt I was (and this is partly why I also don't believe gender identity is binary).
Now I have transitioned, I have lived comfortably as a female for four years, the inner voice that tormented me ever since I hit puberty has gone quiet, and I have educated myself infinitely more about gender identity. As a result, I now happily identify as female (and this is partly why I also believe gender identity is fluid).
Thus, since my female identity only started 4 years ago, I do not believe I have any significant heritage as a female. After all, compared to cis (non-Trans) women of my age, I am a mere toddler in my development as a female!
So I quite understand why some people would baulk if I claimed heritage I do not have but, at the same time, I also resent any attempt to use my heritage against me for, as far as I'm concerned, that is kind of like asking someone who used to wait on tables to be a waiter even now they've now qualified as a heart surgeon (even if they do still work around tables!).
Furthermore, my heritage as an identified man is deeply regrettable to me and thus I would not seek to use it to any kind of advantage for the simple fact that I don't see it as any kind of advantage! Quite the reverse!
So I would therefore ask that everyone respects that my heritage is history and keeps it that way.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Human Being

Today you don't tend to get freak shows in the UK. We seem to think of them as in bad taste and like to think we're more enlightened than we used to be; that people shouldn't be labelled as "freaks", ridiculed and stared at.
On Saturday, Conchita Wurst - winner of Eurovision 2014 - proved that we're just kidding ourselves.
Here, as in the olden days, was a "bearded lady" performing for our entertainment. And, true to form, the media - who, lest we forget, only reflect what we, the British public, are really thinking - had a field day before and after the event.
The Daily Mail, for example, posted this article online (note the URL) detailing her "amazing transformation" "from male singer to Eurovision diva".
Another fine bastion of the UK press, The Metro, posted this article informing it's readers "Everything you need to know about Conchita Wurst".
And The Guardian posted this article by Trans Media Watch representative, Paris Lees, stating that Conchita shows us "what gender diversity really looks like".
Of course, someone like Conchita isn't going to perform to universal acclaim - despite her landslide victory at Eurovision - and you can take your pick from these articles at Pink News to see what I mean.
And when you see the media blitz as a whole, it can seem that an awful lot of time and words have been expended on... a beard!
Is a group of hairs on someone's face really that interesting?!! Of course not!
No, what this is really about is about appearances and someone who won't conform to what we consider to be male nor female.
So perhaps, instead of expending so much time and energy trying to make Conchita fit into our way of thinking, perhaps we ought to save all that time and energy and see if we can simply make our way of thinking include someone like Conchita.
In that regard, I point you to Conchita's website and these words...
it's not about appearances; it's about the human being

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Myths About Transgender People

I have just come across this list of myths about Transgender people:

Myth #1: Transgender people live crazy lives.
Myth #2: Transgender people are confused.
Myth #3: Transgender people are mentally disturbed.
Myth #4: Transgender people are gay.
Myth #5: Transgender people are radical liberals with crazy ideas.
Myth #6: Transgender people hate their bodies.
Myth #7: Transgender people perform in drag shows.
Myth #8: You can tell someone is transgender just by looking at them.
Myth #9: Transgender people aren’t “real” men or women.
Myth #10: Transgender people are weird.

I tried to read her explanations behind these myths but, frankly, it's far too wordy for me and doesn't chime with the way I'd describe things.
This is the way I'd describe things...

None of these are myths. They are all true.
Transgender people do live crazy lives, they are confused, they are mentally disturbed, they are gay, they are radical liberals with crazy ideas, they do hate their bodies, they do perform in drag shows, etc, etc...
But not all of them. 
And none of it makes them any different to a cis (non-transgender) person. Because they too live crazy lives, they too are confused, they too are mentally disturbed, they too are gay, they too are radical liberals with crazy ideas, they too hate their bodies, they too perform in drag shows, etc, etc...
So when it all comes down to it, the only thing that separates a transgender person from a cis person is that a transgender person doesn't conform to the strict gender binary where boys are boys and girls and girls and never the twain shall meet.
...except cis people don't do that either! I've often seen cis people crossdress! 
So, when Transgender is an umbrella term that incorporates Transsexuals, Transvestites, Crossdressers, Gender Queer, Gender Nonconforming, Drag Queen, Drag King and more, just what does make the difference between a cis and a transgender person exactly??? 
Does it really come down to the genitals we were born with??? Must an event we had no control over dictate how we present ourselves for the rest of our lives? Must we say "To hell with my liberty!" and "To hell with my personal well being!" because of our genitals???
Perhaps it is no surprise that I, a transsexual, feel that the personal cost is too great to go down that road.
Perhaps it is no surprise that I, a transsexual, feel that the only real myth in Anna Magdalena's list is this one:

Myth #11: Sex and gender are straightforward.

But I am constantly surprised... shocked! ...angered! ...saddened the lengths people go to enforce that myth.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

So, in case you didn't notice, today is Valentine's Day. My first since John died.
I can still kinda remember last year's. I knew it would be the last one I'd celebrate with John. I also suspected it would be the last one I'd ever celebrate! I believed John was my one and only... and I still believe that. I don't think I can be that lucky twice!
So I wanted to make our last Valentine's Day extra special.
I don't think I achieved that. I can no longer remember what card I got him or if I even got him a pressie. I do remember feeling deflated though but whether that was because John was so ill or because I was just disappointed with that day in general I no longer recall.
Then the weekend arrived and John's health nose dived and I was worried I would lose him that very weekend. Then he seemed to pick up again on the Monday only for him to be rushed into hospital at lunchtime and he never came home again.
So maybe I could be forgiven for being grumpy, resentful, forlorn or remorseful on this Valentine's Day. In fact, I half suspect people expect me to be any of those things because I get the distinct impression that people consider it too sensitive a topic to be discussing in front of me... let alone with me!
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by this. People always seem to prefer to make judgements about other people rather than ask them, in case they offend.
But, think about it, when was the last time you offended someone by asking their opinion?
In my experience, you're far more likely to offend someone by making judgements and assumptions about them than asking their opinion.
So go ahead and ask me!

But in case you never do...
I think Valentine's Day has become over commercialised and has kinda put the emphasis on spending money rather than completing the simple task of telling the object of your affection you love them.
Of course, widowhood has put a new angle on it for me this year because it bothers me even more than before when people grumble about having to do that simple task of telling someone you love them. I would love to tell John I love him! Even for just one day!
As it happens, John and I told each other we loved each other EVERY day of the 12 years we were together!
John is no longer here to tell you his side of it but, as far as I'm concerned, if you're in a loving relationship with someone why would you not tell them you love them at every opportunity you have? Why would you let those opportunities slip by?
Trust me, there will be plenty to cry over when they're gone without adding to your woes.