Here we go you gorgeous people!!!
Category Archives: Transgender
Hey everybody. First off… yeah, I haven’t blogged properly in ages. Sorry about that. My usual Winter funk started early, triggered by western society’s increasing resemblance to pretty much every dystopian science fiction future in every dystopian science fiction movie ever. As a result, I have been just drifting around in some kind of semi-fugue state, fueled by very strong painkillers and an immersion in the ‘grim darkness’ of the Warhammer 40,000 universe because, fuck it, it’s a brighter future than ours looks right now.
This is of course all hyperbolic for comedic effect, but what I wouldn’t give for a few power armoured, 9-foot tall warrior monks wandering around, purging would-be dictators with guns as big as a car.
Now, this post is more of a ‘She’s Baaaaaack’ thing (although consistency remains to be seen), rather than a scathing, withering yet amusing analysis of anything in particular. In all honesty, who needs satire when global events efficiently take the piss out of themselves? MRAs, the Alt-Right, ‘Alternative Facts’, ‘Fake News’, Rapey reality TV stars being elected President of the US, Brexit (Or how do we enact this thing without dry-fucking ourselves in the arse), some twat called Milo speaking in support of Paedophilia (he’s fallen a long way since he was in ‘The Tweenies’) and the Political Left in the UK refusing to get behind an actual Left Wing leader. All the while, our government has been systematically shagging the disabled and selling off the silverware… business as usual then.
However, yesterday I saw (without actually intending to, may I hasten to add) a 42 year old Transwoman in Brazil, dragged screaming from her home, begging for her life before being beaten to death in an alleyway. I shan’t link to it, it isn’t hard to find. This is the fifth reported Trans Murder from Brazil alone this year.
Now it’s easy to say “Oh well, Brazil is a backwards, Third-World Country.” Well it isn’t. It adopted equal marriage before we did, and supports Trans people with its public healthcare system. Poverty, Prejudice and Police corruption are prevalent in a large amount of countries we see through our Western perspective as ‘Developed’. Indeed, most of South America is coming on by leaps and bounds in terms of equality and social enlightenment from where they were a few dark decades ago.
No, this isn’t about Brazil. It is about all of us. It’s about everyone just laughing at the bigotted whilst they terrorise, intimidate, harass, assault and abuse the people who aren’t them.
People sit and laugh at Trump, but hate crimes have massively increased in the US, whilst he has personally signed away the rights of millions of US citizens. “Oh it’ll be interesting to see what he does…” are words one only hears from a straight, white, cisgender man (of course, not ALL straight, white, cisgender men 😉 ).
The Brexit Vote… guess what? A significant rise in hate crimes in the UK. I don’t really care what side of the fence you are on there, but the result gave a massive boost of self-righteousness to those whose idea of a good time is punching queers or battering brown people. So yeah, I’m now more likely to be attacked in the street. GO TEAM!
This oppressive fog of negativity has left me in a situation where I have a hard time motivating myself to chew through the restraints every morning. It is hard to see the goodness in the world right now, even though it is right there in so many of you. One of the things about strong pain medication is that everything looks so bleak, and yet so distant that you feel powerless to change anything (except pants… always change your pants. I cannot stress the importance of this enough).
But hey, every now and then someone puts a motivational poster up on Facebook so that makes it all okay, doesn’t it?
Ah well, at least the sun is shining. The bells of St Stephens are tolling and the primary school down the road is full of children screaming like someone’s chasing them with a chainsaw. Best of all, that hooty bastard Tawny Owl appears to have fucked off for the spring again so he can go and lure some other miserable bitch to the Underworld. Oh, and people are actively punching Nazis now, which is apparently something nobody thought of in the 1930s.
I fancy some toast.
I think I’ll go make some toast.
Peace out, love ya lots, and don’t forget to punch a Nazi.
Make Me New
by Tamlyn Ailsa MacPherson
Take my deformity, throw down the clay.
Push me and pinch me, and mould me this way.
Take what was unsightly and cast away;
Turn white to black and night to day.
For I am the living, I am the dead.
I am the spider and the fly.
I am the block and, upon it, the head.
I am the killer and I die.
Cut me up, a traitor’s fate;
so the poison will drain from me.
Guide me here from traitor’s gate
and may your blade fall sharply.
Look upon me this last day,
then banish me from sight.
I am the dawn that finds its way
and chases clear the night.
I am sorrow, and yet joy;
I am pain and I am pleasure.
I am ornament, I am toy,
I am burden, I am treasure.
I am devout and I am heathen,
I will shout and you shall listen.
Potter, throw me upon your wheel
and pinch and push me ’til I’m real.
Cut and shape my fragile frame
then bake me strong with searing flame.
From the little slimy lump you threw,
you make me real;
You make me new.
Yes, that is right. Yesterday (the 11th of October) was ‘National Coming Out Day’.
No, I didn’t see the greetings cards on the shelves in Tesco either. Just like ‘Transgender Day of Remembrance’ and ‘Hug a Stranger Day’, it seems to be lower in people’s perception than days celebrating ‘Steak & Blowjobs’ or just talking like a Pirate.
Thing is, I am not entirely sure what the day is meant to be.
“Hey Mum, you… errr… you got any plans for ‘Coming Out Day’?
“Oh, no reason…”
Was there to be a synchronised ‘I’m…’ around the country? Are we meant to bake cakes? What is the overall theme other than just the vague ‘coming out’ aspect?
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s never an inappropriate time for cake… maybe we could play with stereotypes a bit… make jokes about how much fudge you packed into it, or how you think it’s a Victoria Sponge, but when you cut into it you realise it’s a chocolate gateau.
Also, where is the line on coming out? Gay, obviously. Lesbian, well yeah. Trans… TA DAH!!!!! Bi… well we get everywhere… but then there is this new scale of sexuality that is being pushed as we realise how much more fluid and varied sexuality and gender identity can be. Now, rather than picking one of a few well known labels, we will be listing our sexual preferences as grid references.
“Dad, I’m… E5!”
“erm… YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP!!!! HAHAHAH… seriously though, whuh?”
The communication barrier is something that is generational. We hip youngsters (Oi! Don’t you roll your eyes at me) are embracing sexuality’s great fluidity and the diversity of gender identity in our stride, whilst we still have to explain to large chunks of previous generations that there is a world of difference between Transsexuals and Transvestites. Don’t get me wrong, some of the greatest allies and most informed people I have encountered are older, but they tend to be in a minority. And ignorance, as loathsome as it is, and as great an obstacle as it presents, is down to being raised in a society where general consensus was that it was something abnormal. When something gets put out there and becomes received ‘wisdom’, people as a whole don’t even really think about it until directly confronted with it. I have often been in situations where people have used highly offensive terms around me without realising that there is anything wrong with them. That then creates an awkward situation where you start to wonder how many times you can correct someone before they start to feel insulted or frustrated at being constantly corrected. How self-righteous is TOO self-righteous? Is it worth holding your tongue for the time being in order to not alienate an ally?
But the real point of this blog was not to criticise the idea of dedicating a day to ‘coming out’. It is, I suppose, a nice idea to celebrate those who have come out in the preceding year, and it provides a focal point for those who wish to ‘come out’ themselves.
But I have a problem with the expression ‘coming out’. There is this permeating idea that it is a single moment of (sadly sometimes literally) death or glory; that our great announcement will blow a hole in the continuum through which fly glitter, sparkles and fireworks as we ride across the sky on a unicorn with rainbows flying out of its arse and all will see, and know what it means.
“Did you see Pete go past on a rainbow-farting unicorn?”
“Yeah… not really a surprise. He’s been telling us to keep October 11th free for weeks now.”
No, coming out is not like that. The default expectation in society is that we are all strictly binary, cisgender, heterosexual and monogamous. I mean, who on Earth can possibly fit into all of those categories AND still be fun at parties?
But because that is the default expectation and anything different presents a metaphorical minefield of misconceptions, toxic propaganda and absurd stereotypes, it becomes a much bigger thing than it should be… and it goes on forever!
I think the first time I ever ‘came out’ to anyone was in 1998, when I finally felt able to tell some very close friends that I was Bisexual and Transgender. However, that support group fell apart and I was left with very few people that I could be open with. This was also a time when I had no knowledge of where to even look for help or support as it was deliberately kept underground and away from anyone under the age of 18, whilst mainstream society was still wary, if not openly hostile in the wake of the HIV/AIDS outbreak of the 1980s that the Conservative government milked to great effect in pushing a septic, homophobic agenda. But I have covered that in numerous other articles.
My point is that ‘coming out’ isn’t one step; it is a marathon… in all weather… with oncoming traffic.
I have been telling people since 1998. I did not tell my immediate family until I had been in transition for nearly two years and already had my referrals to the GIC sent off and an appointment given to me by that point. Since then, I have ‘come out’ dozens more times to old friends, other relatives, colleagues and acquaintances, each time feeling like a big deal. Half of my extended family still do not know about me because it is feared it might cause upset if they were told, which annoys the living shit out of me because, once again, it shouldn’t be a big deal.
Each time feels like a time warp. For me personally, it is a new person tripping over names and pronouns, knocking my confidence right back, as if my transition was only just starting again. For others too it is knowing that there’s the gossiping as your ‘old news’ becomes their ‘breaking news’, and people trying to talk you round to being ‘normal’ by trying to reassure you that you are ‘just confused’.
Perhaps this is my issues with a ‘Coming out’ day… I have been coming out for seventeen years without an end in sight. When we make ‘coming out’ into such a momentous event in our minds, the reality makes it very hard to get on with your life… that constant nudging to explain yourself for the umpteenth time when all you want to do is go for a coffee or get the shopping in.
To make a REAL difference, we need to tackle society’s presumptions and encourage a less artificially narrow view of what, or who is, or isn’t normal.
First off, many apologies for the long absence. I have had some pretty nasty health issues these past few weeks that have kept me free of the blogosphere, for want of a better buzzword (If you have ever prolapsed a disc in your back you will know my pain). I sit here, Handel’s Sarabande Suite playing, its melancholy tones fitting the reflective mood I am in. Of all the times to return to my blog, this seemed the most fitting.
There was someone many people knew; someone who knew such sadness wiithin themselves and could never see their future. They had a name but tomorrow begins their final journey. They are about to be erased.
Tomorrow begins the legal process of getting my GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate). It is a majorly positive thing and a huge milestone, but there is that tinge of sadness to the thought of erasing the person I used to be… It was that person that met many of you, became your friend and, for some strange reason, was even loved by some of you. There are also those that hated who I was too, those who couldn’t handle the unpredictability, the self-destructiveness…and there were those that I loved who walked away from me, and those I had to let go.
I need it to be known that every time I held your hand, gave you a sympathetic ear, or my shoulder to cry on was real. Every hug, kiss and friendship was utterly me. The face may have not been me, the name didn’t truly belong to me, the voice didn’t sound like mine, but the place all that love came from is the same as where it comes from now. I did good things, and I did bad things; I said ‘I love you’ and meant it in absolute earnestness, and I have said it and not meant a word of it. I am not looking to offload my mistakes onto a construct of someone else.
Tomorrow I will start the process to officially erase that identity. There are those who have told me that the person I was felt dead to them and had been replaced with a stranger. I have looked into the eyes of people grieving my death, and suffered their resentment for it. I have been mourned in vilified in the same moment, but what you have instead of a mask, is the truth of me. The name, the face, the voice… they have had their time. My face was the lie, but my heart was the truth.
I grieve for those whom I loved, but who never got to see the real me. From beloved relatives, to friends taken too soon. I am wracked with guilt that whilst I got the best of them, I never felt I could be honest enough to give them the best of me.
In my darkest days there was one friend who was always there, and without him I would not have made it this far. To be given the news he had been killed in accident before getting to know the real me was like being shot in the heart. I firmly believe that when you love a person, it is unique; you never love someone the same way as you love anyone else, and I deeply loved him. His absence from this world leaves a gaping hole that nothing could ever fill.
This process I am going through is not optional for me, but I do not want to forget the good things that old version of me had, and not just the things I have lost. On the days when the Dysphoria is bad, when the brain turns on itself and torments me, it is hard to remain positive, which is why it is all the more important to fight. Many friendships have ended, but others have grown these past years. The best lesson I have learned is, perhaps, to know who to embrace and who needs to be let go, however close.
As for that name, that face, that voice… although they are dead to me, the beautiful times and the love that was shared in that time has not gone anywhere… and some of them were truly, truly beautiful.
I called this piece ‘The Story of How I Died’. As a writer, I feel that there are many forms of death… the kind that fundamentally change you, the ones that grow new life, and the ones that just end everything. I have never been so full of life as I am now. So many deaths in our community are of the kind that just end, but if we all tell our stories, we may help towards making that number go down.
I remember my first pride event – it was 1998 in London and we all gathered at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park. I was fifteen and bouncing around in black leggings and hi-tops, rocking a pink hoodie and matching lipstick with a little too much schnapps in my system than was advisable, and we marched together, proud of who we were, facing down anyone from the sidelines who would turn their noses up at us.
This was a different Britain. We had just come out of eighteen years of Tory rule – of government led fearmongering over HIV/AIDS and section 28. The media were still utterly hostile towards anything LGBT and the main issues of the day were an end to Section 28 and equalising the age of consent. As it stood, it was 18 for gay men, 16 for heterosexual couples and for lesbians… well, the law didn’t even recognise that they were capable of even having sex, let alone forming a legitimate relationship.
It is hard to admit to myself how long ago this was; over half a lifetime for me now, and yet each new challenge to the regressive status-quo that is victorious gives way to another challenge… another equality we must fight and campaign for, be it Civil Partnerships, Adoption rights, Same-Sex Marriage, Pressuring foreign countries to end their persecution of LGBT people… Pride Marches say ‘Look how far we have come, but look how far we have to go’.
The LGBT wing of UKIP wish to participate in London Pride this year. They want to join the parade, waving their great big UKIP banner and stand beside us as we march to remember those who fought for our rights, and those who continue to do so, and I would welcome them as individuals to stand against discrimination and second-class citizenship for LGBT people in this country and around the world.
But there is a problem, and the problem is UKIP.
This is a party that published more than one manifesto at the last general election, and that says something about the party as a whole; that it will commit to any course of action that would engender it to a specific group. In this case, it released its ‘Christian Manifesto’ which it was freely distributing at the UKIP Party conference this year. This manifesto described LGBT people and the LGBT rights movement as a danger to children… that LGBT rights was a way of pushing an agenda into schools that would see us grooming and recruiting children.
I am old enough to remember the days when being gay and being a sex offender were regarded, in public consciousness, as one and the same. When I got back to school the Monday after my Pride March, that attitude was behind every kicking I got for being ‘so digusting’ just because of my attendance at the event… I don’t know to this day who told them about it.
UKIP have also stated that they wish to introduce a conscience clause into the equality act which would allow people with certain religious beliefs to refuse goods or services to members of the public based upon their sexuality… An action that would ultimately make the equality act a joke, as it would enshrine inequality into British law.
We are living in a time where, although there are still legal battles for the LGBT community to fight in Britain, it is now more based on changing social attitudes. UKIP’s policies actively seek to curtail and even reverse this. Even ignoring the daft homophobic things their candidates say or do on a seemingly daily basis, these actions, in black and white and from the mouths of their policy makers ensure that UKIP is absolutely NOT a party that believes in LGBT equality.
Now, UKIP, for some reason I find hard to fathom given the party’s record, has a small but loyal LGBT contingent, who wish to be part of London Pride. I would not condone any action that leads to any LGBT person or ally being banned from the event, but the UKIP banner is just not welcome.
To all LGBT UKIPPERS… petition your party leadership. Make sure they commit to supporting LGBT rights and full equality for LGBT people in the law. Push them to recognise LGBT people as worthy of the same dignity and respect from everyone as any non-LGBT member of the public, and when you have done that… when you have a party that will renounce its policies to enshrine the religious choices of some over the fair and equal treatment of the LGBT community… when you have a party that sheds its utterly disgusting rhetoric about LGBT people trying to recruit school children in to what I can only imagine they believe to be some kind of pit of perpetual abuse and sexual degradation, then… THEN you will have a party whose banner has a place in the parade.
The organisations who march do so because they stand for equality. UKIP, as it stands right now, does not.
March with us, but march in the name of equality, not in the name of UKIP.
First off, congratulations to Caitlyn on her Transition. The support she has been getting from around the world shows just how much the world has changed these past few years. She will have grown up in a time where LGBT people were imprisoned and subjected to electroshock treatment, where coming out as anything vaguely queer was the end of your career. When you are in a marginalised group, you are more aware than the average ‘normie’ of every piece of abuse, misinformation, scapegoating, violence or condemnation aimed at those like you. Why do the older generations still sit in the closets when the world is moving on?
Because they have seen, or even experienced first hand, the risks and abuses that being of this group or that group can bring, and quite frankly I’m pretty sure they don’t trust people not to carry on that way. I don’t blame them. I myself spent several years after my traumatic experiences at school, trying to will myself Cis. Ultimately though, it never works… even if it looks like it does, inside it eats at you.
What people need to realise with regards to Caitlyn Jenner though, is the absolutely atypical nature of her transition. For months, under heavy speculation about her identity, she maintained her old name, her old identity in public and then… BANG… big reveal on a TV interview, a month later she’s Caitlyn, she’s a photoshopped covergirl with the world applauding her bravery. Good on her for using her resources to her advantage.
For the rest of us… the non-reality TV stars, transition is a very different process. Jenner had the ideal situation… millions of dollars for surgeries and treatments to ensure that when she came out of the oven she looked yummy and ready to nom upon. The hermetically sealed lifestyle of a Hollywood celebrity allowed her to transition largely in private, with very little actual public interaction. It was like a chrysalis from which she could emerge fully formed and sculpted into womanhood. The moment she came out to the world, she already looked the part.
In contrast, the reality of transition for the vast majority is crueller. We don’t uusally have private fortunes to fall back upon should our family reject us, or private security to protect us should someone choose to hurt us. We can’t sneak around getting cosmetic surgery before coming out. Even if we could afford it, we are expected to go full-time in our gender role for a set period of time without even the aid of hormone treatment until psychiatrists are satisfied that we are serious enough to warrant it.
I spent the first year after going full time spending what little money I had on self medicating with inferior products, because I could not access a prescription. I, and every other transperson I know, was expected to live full time, physically on their own, whilst their bodies went further and further down the roads that biology had laid out. For Transwomen, this meant hairlines receding, beard growth getting thicker, voices deepening, all whilst trying to live and present as female in a harsh and unforgiving climate. So many of us uproot when our transitions are nearing completion just to get away from the places that watched us go through this walking, talking, often ridiculous metamorphosis. We walked the streets we walked before but that were now unsafe. We had to leave the house, interact with random people… throw ourselves upon the mercy of their tolerance and being utterly broken by their lack of it. We have been treated with suspicion, deliberately humiliated and then ignored when we complained about it. We all lose people, some of us lose everyone. We all suffer anxiety and depression, amplified by the fact that we looked like men in dresses or stereotypical butch lesbians. None of us make it through unscathed, and many of us don’t make it through alive.
Treatment is slow to come. Surgery is even slower. Even those of us who are fortunate enough to have it covered by a nationalised health service still only receive the absolute basics of surgical necessity. Any additional work to feminise a strong jaw or heavy brow, restore a hairline or resculpt the body have to be paid for privately. With the fact that Trans people, especially in transition, struggle to find employment, such processes can take several years to complete, through scrimping and saving.
For those in countries that do not cover gender reassignment, it is common for us to fund our transitions through sex work, often in dangerous environments such as Brazil where transsexual sex workers are murdered with alarming regularity.
Caitlyn’s anguish at her gender identity is certainly not in dispute, and the challenges she has faced are massive, but they are not representative of most Transgender people. I am concerned that people’s understanding of gender transition will be influenced by Caitlyn’s narrative, and that she may become the standard to which other Transpeople are held. For all the emotional turmoil and inner conflict over her life, once her decision to transition was made, the journey was straightforward and accessible to her. For the rest of us, the decision is the start of a years long Journey in full view of everyone without the partitions of camera lenses or security gates.
My hope is that Caitlyn uses her profile to champion the cause of better recognition of Trans people, and better coverage of the treatments that are ultimately life saving. The world has a high profile Transgender person in a position to do so much good and bring dignity and respect to us all, but also in a position to make us look bad and rob us of what credibility we have clawed our way to achieve. The dangers of Reality TV make me worry which way this will ultimately go, as Jenner is ultimately just the product. It is the studios that are putting her out there that control what the public see, and the public don’t always want inspiration, dignity and acceptance… scandal, conflict and destruction are proven to be bigger money spinners.
Make us proud Caitlyn. We all have a lot riding on you and your need to carry on being amazing.