New year, new you?

The end of 2016 is fast approaching and what a year it has been. On a global level we have grieved over the loss of many icons, we’ve watched in horror at the atrocities happening in Syria and we’ve stared in disbelief at the USA election results. For me, and I suspect for many in the LGBT* minority groups, it has been blow after blow, losing icons, losing fights for equality and feeling the ground tilting underneath us.

It may seem that we live in a world of wide open eyes, of acceptance and equality. We have, after all, got equal marriage rights in the whole USA and UK now. (Steady there…I know it’s a shocker but it really has happened!). However 2016 has been the year to prove us wrong. It has been the year of the so-called “bathroom bill” which calls for transgender people to be forced to use the toilets of their assigned-at-birth gender.

2016 was a year of changes for me too. Mostly in the right direction, I have come out more fully, begun the process of transitioning (though I still don’t fully know what that will mean for me) and I now sit here with some smarting scars in the place of my unwanted breasts. I am becoming myself. So what will next year hold?

I don’t make resolutions, I have found too often the pressure to execute them perfectly have driven me to anxiety and illness. In my mind I imagine I will sit here in a year’s time with a buff body, slim hips, a face that passes more as a man than not. I will have aced my second year at uni and be breezing through my third. I will be married to my beautiful wife, it will be perfect. And yet, in reality, I know that only the last in that list will really happen. So you see why resolutions are unrealistic.

Instead the new year will bring a different kind of new me. I will fashion a new me from actions and words, a new form sewn out of relationships and strengthened with self confidence. I will endeavor to look in the mirror and like what I see, or find something each day to like. I will try my best to love more, to love stronger, to be kinder. And I will continue my fight to make a place in this world for me. For us. For those of us who fall between the lines, who slip between the cracks. I will shout louder and shine brighter so I cannot be ignored. This time next year I hope that I can sit here and say that, somehow, I made a difference. I brought freedom. I brought hope.

Happy New Year everybody. May the next one be even better.


Post Op Post

So here I lie, 3 days before Christmas and 3 days post top surgery. It seems both a long time coming and no time at all… I know for some people the time I waited will be nothing compared to how long they wait for surgery. People around the world wait years and years just to have their gender identity confirmed by a couple of strangers (doctors). I recognize the enormous privilege I have that I was able to have the surgery privately, though the fact I did have to go private angers me. Though it is technically elective and cosmetic, this is life saving surgery for me and others. From puberty to now I have tried to take my life too many times, I have hurt myself and neglected myself in order to inflict injury and pain. I have punished myself for not being the right thing. 

Heading down to be drawn on, then waiting for the op, walking to the anesthetic room…people commented on how chilled out I was, was I not nervous? No. Not in the slightest. Not even a tiny bit. Because I was going to wake up with the body that I should have. 

And I did. I woke up sore and groggy but smiling. My worst fear was that I lose the person I love by becoming myself, but she was there waiting for me. She hadn’t run away. And when the surgeon came in to have a look I cried. In fact, I cried about 3 times that evening each time the blanket was pulled back and I saw my chest. I cried tears of relief and joy. 

I am finally post top surgery. I am finally my authentic self, and apart from some excess fat from my front, I have lost nothing worthwhile in finding myself. 

Dear Colleagues of Trans* People….

Dear Colleagues,

It has now been three months since I, the trans* person, entered your midst and there are a few things I’d like to get off my chest.

  • No matter how “well intentioned” it is never, NEVER appropriate to ask me what surgery/hormones/interventions I have had and will have. My body does not equal my gender, and the parts I was born with don’t matter. Facial hair doesn’t matter. My voice doesn’t matter. I have told you my pronouns and how to refer to me, that is all that matters.
  • There’s not excuse for excuses. You tell me it’s tough for you, hard to get your head around, it will take time to get used to…But it’s been 3 months, you’ve had time. You never knew me by any other name or gender, so what’s to get used to? However hard it is for you I can GUARANTEE it is much harder for me to be constantly misgendered and subject to indirect (or direct) transphobia.
  • Remember when you were discussing that Doctor and you said he worked on this ward…then someone said “oh she’s female actual” and you switched to female pronouns? Yes? It is simply THAT easy to gender someone correctly. It is that easy to gender me correctly.
  • You have invited all the blokes to join in groups and sports, except me. I have come to you as a guy, all be it a trans guy. But a guy. And if you exclude me from the male spaces you are essentially saying you do not see me as a man. You are erasing my identity and invalidating me. It may seem like a  small thing, but it makes the world of difference.
  • Your tomboy daughter or drag queen nephew do not mean you have “experience” with and knowledge of the trans* community. Just. NO. Once again, this invalidates the identity and experience of trans* people by likening the gender of somebody to the dress style of another person. Clothes do NOT equal gender, a drag queen is NOT a trans* woman.

And to those of you who have accepted me, thank you. To the colleague who discreetly bought my tampons when my period started whilst at work, when I was distressed and panicked about what to do, thank you. To the colleague who quietly but persistently corrected herself and others with my pronouns, thank you. To the people who have quietly changed from “love/pet” to “mate/bro”, thank you.