And Then, The Strings Kick In

I don’t often comment on the music for the blog that I use. But today is different. The tune I chose for this post is both discordant and cacophonous at times. And then, the strings kick in. And it becomes a thing of heart achingly tremendous beauty. Serge Gainsbourg via David Holmes, if you’re interested. But I have always returned to this song at times of reflection and it instantly takes me back to the first place I heard it. In a flat I shared with two of my best friends. Which they are still are to this day. And they were pretty much first amongst the people who gave me back a sense of family while most of my own were washing their hands. Something I am impossibly grateful for. But equally importantly it transports me back to a time everything was well with the world.

Since you are reading this then my good news is my week has been pretty amazing. I had my first interview as a Transsexual female yesterday for a position to develop a Transgender Support Programme. I may or may not get the job but just interviewing has left me full of promise for a future I scarcely believed was possible two years ago. But whether I get the job or not, I’m reasonably confident that everything will be fine. Because of the things I already have. I’m up for a change of pace but equally content with my lot in life. It’s not a bad place to find yourself.

To echo the start of this post though, life is both discordant and cacophonous and you generally have absolutely no idea exactly where it’s headed. But sometimes, all you can do is sit back, let the strings kick in and just really allow all to be well with the world. And that’s where I’m at.

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Not In Kansas Anymore

Late October 2015 and I find myself nearing the end of my 2 year Real Life Experience stage of transition. Been doing a lot of looking back to when I started but also a lot of looking forward to where I am going. For starters, I’m a great deal more confident and just generally more comfortable in my own skin these days. This cannot be a bad thing. The confidence thing crept up on me really and I can’t claim to have had any kind of a plan which got me here. But things are not the same as the place I came from.

In the 2 years I’ve been a full-time female, I’ve learned how to brazen it out under public scrutiny, delivered presentations and training on welfare and benefits issues and grown very relaxed about how my gender is perceived in general. It is what it is. I’ve learned to be grateful for what you have and not to obsess over what you have not. Some of this I didn’t realise until I was asked to do an exercise at work. The sort of thing where you rate areas of your life from 1-10. Pretty surprised to find that there is nothing I can score at less than 8. Which is less than helpful in an exercise about how you can improve things but unfortunately it turns out my life is pretty satisfactory. Damn it!

Armed with this new found confidence and the knowledge that things are actually pretty good, I’ve decided to up the ante. I have my first ever job interview as a female next week. And although every other interview I’ve ever had caused me considerable anxiety, this time I’m ready for a challenge and to hopefully change things up a bit. Without fear. The rest of my weekend will be spent preparing something towards that but another first is that this time it’s 95% written before I even start to type. Definitely feeling that I’ve come a long way in a relatively short time.

So there you go, turns out didn’t need a wizard or a yellow brick road to find some courage.

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Lonesome Town

If you happen to be transsexual and you’ve happened across this blog then the chances are you know what it is to feel alone. In all it’s terrible emptiness. The bad news is I’m probably going to rain on that particular pity parade today. A little bit.

For example, I’ve often found it a struggle to adjust to being without brothers. Or nephews. And yet life goes on. For everybody. And it isn’t a solitary experience for any of us. Voids are somehow filled by the good things in life though and I’ve come to think that surely nobody will be able to stay angry with me forever. All that’s really left for me to do is to be ready if they ever want to talk. And the choice is that easy. If you want it to be.

You might feel you have lost friends because of your transition. Pretty sure I have or at least some have evaporated so far that they are purely spectral at this point. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You could either be better off without them or you could consider it a temporary separation while life has gotten in the way. You’d be surprised who might come out of the woodwork when the chips are down though. Just be pleasantly surprised. And thankful for the friends that did stick around anyway. They are Keepers.

You might think you are so alone and that you have nobody to talk to. I’m sorry to have to break it to you but the Internet changed that scenario for ever. Somebody out there knows exactly how you feel. And wants to talk too. Considerably before I uttered a single word out loud, I’d “talked” a lot of it out online with the world’s greatest “random”. A girl I simply met on a night out and stayed in contact with ever since. Years now. Contact with another person is at worst a Google search away. Or sometimes just sharing a drunken taxi pays dividends later.

You might think this post is overly optimistic or that this is not how life is for you. If it isn’t then change it. Mostly by how you think. You’re not alone, there are gazillions of others out there. All of whom have felt like that at some point. Start a conversation, attend a group, whatever floats your boat. Someone will meet you halfway. If you let them.

And that’s the happiest little rant I’ve had in a while. Good day to you!

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“Come Out” Fighting

Fresh off the back of the Icon Awards I’ve come over all empowered. Which I think might be a good thing. Seeing people who literally are the change they want to see has had a positive impact on me.

Quite a nice week for the marginalised in society as well, we’ve had World Mental Health Day, some awards ceremonies and the Equality Network launched a 3rd party reporting site, http://www.lgbthatecrime.org.uk . To be clear, I’m not equating mental health and LGBT together. But any category that still carries stigma and attracts persecution deserves better treatment. That much I am sure about. People should not be being singled out for being different in 2015. But they are, every damned day.

But I don’t even really know what I want to do take a stand but, fresh from a holiday, I do find myself all politicised and in need of a cause. Equality still seems a reasonable enough wagon to attach myself to. So I’m in the market for something to do about it. I know not what. But there has to be something productive out there for me to do. Armed with this much enthusiasm, I’m thinking I should go on holiday more often. It seems to agree with me. Anyone fancy Bratislava?

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To The Beat Of Just One Drum

I was exceptionally lucky to attend the first Icon Awards (http://icon-awards.co.uk)  in Glasgow on Friday. A glittery, fabulous, dressy up event celebrating local and international LGBTI community heroes. I should really thank Lisa at Keglevich for inviting me too (http://www.keglevich.co.uk). God bless her little cotton socks.

My first ever time attending such an event and it entirely surpassed my expectations. The entertainment was superb and it was joyful to see a community out in force. Marginalised is not in this group’s vocabulary.

From the get go, it was an event that managed to surprise me. Something of a rarity. First order of business was a beautiful gay wedding. Yes, a wedding, not a civil partnership. It was lovely to be an unexpectedly invited guest as two beautiful boys re-tied the knot, with full equality this time. Scotland is not doing too badly catching up to the notion that we deserve no less. Although there’s still plenty of work to be done.

In addition to some well deserved awards to local allies and champions, there was the chance to rub shoulders with some LGBTI royalty, Conchita Wurst, Rupaul (via video message) and Michelle Visage.

Michelle Visage was in Glasgow to accept an award. I have absolutely no doubt she deserved one. Her acceptance speech acknowledged her own experience of being on the outside, her finding a safe  place within the LGBTI community and the importance of speaking out to protect those without a voice. But her final words were of particular interest to me.

She quite correctly pointed out that as long as we need events like this and are still having to fight for equal rights, for any group, then the job isn’t over. And there is still a distance to travel. It just didn’t feel quite so far on Friday.

I didn’t even allow my enjoyment to be sullied by the one person who didn’t find a ticketed fundraising event worthy enough for their narrow band of LGBTI politics. For Christ’s Sake, it benefitted a charity battling the impact of HIV. What more do you require? Despite small servings of individual chips from that person, I am always going to continue to support any event that celebrates the community. I genuinely believe there’s room for every ally. You can’t police people’s opinions though but you can feel epically sorry for their inability to see it’s a collective effort. The idea that “My event is better than your event” put forward to me is facile and divisive. That kind of parochial thinking makes it easier for the mainstream to dismiss our efforts. So, thanks to that person for making the road seem much longer again. But hey, it was a beautiful 24 hours. I choose to avoid that sort of negativity in life. It is a journey, I just prefer travelling on the sunny side of that road.

#TheTimeIsNow

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Fay Wray

“Whatever happened to Fay Wray?
That delicate,  satin draped frame
As it clung to her thigh
How I started to cry
Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same”

This blog was briefly highjacked by my holiday.  But it’s primarily about transition.  So let’s get back to that with something not even my friends likely knew.

I’m not sure exactly when but I’ll hazard a guess at 10 to 12 years ago,  I found myself in a gay club in Glasgow.  There was a particularly cool cabal of drag queens occupying a well lit corner. This was way before any real public emergence of my current self.  I was both fascinated and terrified by this group. At face value,  they had everything I was just then starting to accept I wanted. But I had no concrete idea of where to begin.

It took me hours to work up the guts to approach them for advice. A haughtier bunch of Uber Bitches  I could not have encountered. Three of them did not even look at me. One, Queen Bitch if you like, glanced down regally for just a moment and spoke only three words, “Just do it”.

At the time I felt terribly wounded. I sort of hated her and her sickening air of superiority but looking back,  it was the best,  albeit shortest,  advice I may have ever had. It eventually led to the development of an alter ego, Tara DeBoomdeay,  and my first faltering steps to where I am now. So she may not have been the Fairy Godmother I dreamt of but she wasn’t the Wicked Witch either.

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Tara DeBoomdeay, if you must know

Regardless of fear of ridicule or rejection, you have to start somewhere though. But that’s not going to be easy for everyone, which I accept. I always had fantastic help along the way and I really can’t overemphasise the importance of good friends in my own journey. But just having someone to hold your hand is an immense thing. Although it didn’t prevent my early costumed attempts from being any less daunting, it gave me the confidence to start pushing a personal envelope.

Fast forward to today,   my transition is going pretty damn successfully. I’d like to hope that now it might be me being approached by someone with questions.  I already know my answer, “Where would you like to go first?”.

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Unless His Name Is Madagascar

Heading home from the beautiful island of Crete later today. Quite often I’ve blogged about the value of support and the importance of acceptance. The blanket acceptance I have enjoyed in Chania is the reason I will likely return here often until the day I pass. It’s been both encouraging and empowering to find that strangers from thousands of miles away are willing to take me as I am. No questions asked. Not that I don’t get that at home. It’s subtly different. In Glasgow I still get “Mate” from time to time, here I am never misgendered. Whether it’s Madam, lady etc, I am taken as I present. Might not seem like a big deal but it is. Not one person referred to me in the male gender the whole week. You have to warm to a people that are that fundamentally open. Still, as much as I enjoy a holiday, there is nothing that gives me as much joy as returning to Glasgow. I love to travel but to go all Wizard Of Oz on you, “There’s no place like home”. I’m looking forward to my own bed and dying to catch up with my friends before the inevitable return to work on Monday. No man is an island after all.

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