You are currently browsing the archives for April 2012.
Displaying 6 - 10 of 11 entries.

Je ne regrette rien

  • Posted on April 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm

We all regret a lot, but today’s Guardian (UK) listed Top five regrets of the dying, and these should be our regrets before it’s too late. Why not regret them now, while we can do something about it? The five included ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’, which meant a lot to me.

So what did people expect that held me back? None of us knew, actually. It’s mostly in retrospect, as I looked at the pieces and put the jigsaw together, that I realised that I had done everything ‘right’ in the wrong way. I have been a breadwinner – and a successful one, I was a father figure – albeit a gentle one, and a good and faithful husband – albeit a feminine one inside. But I wore the clothes and presented myself in a way that I now know was uncomfortable because it made me look right to everyone else, but meant I never felt I really fitted in like that. Square pegs do fit in round holes, so long as the diagonal is the diameter. But after a while, either the corners start to wear, or the circle starts to catch. The friction got too much, and everyone else got confused, except for me, because I understood at last.

Yesterday I wasted a lot of time in great anxiety (I am a bit of a perfectionist) because my wife remarked that this blog site ‘didn’t look like that᾿ to her. Oh no! It’s been looking wrong all this time! I live on Firefox, Safari, Chrome – any browser except Internet Explorer (IE). Now Microsoft may be big, but it does sometimes live in a world of its own, and when it comes to certain standards (CSS if you know what that means) it likes to do something different. My beautiful orchids were obscured, the page ranged left, pictures pushed out of place, simply because one little instruction that means everything to everyone doesn’t to Internet Explorer. I tracked it all down, fixed it, learned something new, and now everyone can see my pages as they are supposed to look. Microsoft had been expecting me to absorb all their quirks, and I had been beautifully doing my own thing. There was no real gain, and I didn’t write anything useful all day, all that happened was that I was looking right to everyone at last.

Sometimes you think from the inside that you are doing everything right. Others see something different and think that is how you are supposed to look. Sometimes you give up: you could read my blog before on IE and ignore things being in the wrong place, or just think I wasn’t very good at web design! In the same way, you could look at me as a man before, and think I was just a bit unconventional or not good at having friends. Now I am as I should be (or on the way) people are confused. They got to live with the square peg because it fitted, or the skewed page because it could be read, or the bloke because he worked OK like that. I realise I wasn’t doing anything the way I was because I was a man, I was just being me, and if was doing things from a female perspective I thought it was normal. It was being seen and expected to be male that fitted everyone else’s expectations – except mine. And that’s why I keep saying: ‘but I’m still here! I am still just being me, just filling a bigger space differently!’ and everyone else says I am not fitting their expectations any more.

A little while ago a trans friend said to me with utter conviction: ‘I just don’t want to die a man!’

Back to the top. I have to be true to myself, because the cost of not doing so will be that regret on my dying breath, and I have a life to live that doesn’t belong to anyone else.

It kinda makes sense of my obscure Eostre poem on here. I don’t have to deny my life to date, it doesn’t have to die, and I am not ashamed of any of it. There is no dying and rising for my male life here to rescue me from evil – just a coming to life, a dawning, of my female life as a just fulfilment.

Eostre, I am at one with you

  • Posted on April 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm
Beginning transitioning at Easter seemed symbolic. But which Easter? Lots of allusions to both Easters here, and I felt much more at home in the Easter of the originating name, where nothing of me dies, yet I come to new life. No disrespect to the religious intended, and a certain positive playfulness.

Easter, as old as the realisation of Spring –
that the sun never dies, that ground revives and

March hares box into an Osterhase that bounds
into daffodils, juggling expertly with eggs

boxed, around chocolate indulgences for sins
half-remembered by a half-forgotten Lent –

borrowed Easter symbols for a dying rising Christ
all named for the goddess of fertility and the dawn.

With a passion Eostre calls, new life in her flight
all light and love and no regrets, nothing to forgive.

I follow, as I must – this Friday, Good without dying,
branch and stock holding new blossoms, leaves

proud and high and bright as any ascension,
nothing crossed out or buried, nothing lost in celebration

of simply living, extravagantly becoming, singing
strong, vibrant – all affirmation in her passing over.

For me, this Easter, a man does not die, though
a woman lives with all the joy of Spring

and requires no forgiveness for long Winter –
only smiles of a goddess returning, bringing

colour, completeness, fullness of purpose
not rising from death, but waking, with a sun ready

to make fruit before she departs again to sleep,
and to play with hares, break eggs and share –

take, eat – she says. This is my body, and I am
indulged and free, at one with Eostre.

2012 © Andie Davidson

What’s dis for ’ere?

  • Posted on April 6, 2012 at 9:32 am
Even early on in realising that being trans was just the way things were, I never had a problem telling people and trying to explain. For all the rudeness it will never get better unless we also inform.

He wasn’t stupid.
He just misheard in innocence.
I tried to explain my skirt but he stared
at my handbag beside his beer.
What’s dis for, ’ere?
That’s my handbag, I said.
It goes with my gender.
But you’re a bloke, yeah?
Well, yes and no.
(Do I look like one, I mean, really?)
It’s just that when you say man or woman
you leave no space in between.
And that’s where I am.
Yeah, but I could tell,
so why do you do it?

Because it just feels right.
Do you like that t-shirt?
I pointed to the alcoholic brand.
He laughed.
Yeah, that’s why I’m ’ere!
Why am I here?
I sat with him because he jeered.
He wanted friends to know
he was the quick and clever
spotter of trannies on the street.
I could never wear a shirt like that.
Would your girlfriend?
Nah, it’s all flowers and stuff for ’er.
But you wouldn’t mind?
S’pose it would be cool.
And go with her jeans?
Well, yeah, but that’s dif’rent innit?
So we’re all a bit different really
and girls can be boys?
Yeah, but not the other way round,
I mean, it’s, well, girly.

And I don’t feel laddish;
it’s not what’s inside me, so
this is what you see.
Like I said, it’s ‘dys-phor-ia’,
gender dysphoria:
I’m just uncomfortable as a man.
Still don’t understand, mate.
No, he never will.
I take my bag and smile.
Maybe I should have given him a miss.

2011©Andie Davidson

This and other poems on transgender are in my collection from Bramley Press: Realisations.


  • Posted on April 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Identity is another word that is perhaps as hard to define as gender. I remember when ‘identify with’ was a new phrase that caused some difficulty with grammarians and any of us who couldn’t quite understand it because we never thought we’d ever done it.

Fascinating though, because identity isn’t something we spend a lot of time thinking about. I am who I am (isn’t that Yahweh’s response to Moses?). I think, therefore I am: Descartes. How could I be anything or anyone else?? I have found myself telling people recently that rather trite thing: ‘just be yourself; no-one else can do it as well as you can!’ But it is true – isn’t it?

After yesterday’s blog about the self(ish) half-life, I have been thinking more about identity. My desperately synthesizing brain hoovers up things I hear or see, and among today’s flotsam are a deed poll form on my desk saying who I am, my LinkedIn world where puzzlement reigns over the ex-colleague who doesn’t look quite the same but does all the same things, and my Facebook page which isn’t my face any more inviting people to transition to my other page. It’s also an unformed poem that will arrive one day that says ‘I᾿m still here’.

If you wear glasses you will know that feeling of the first time you could see again properly, and then got so used to them you found yourself looking for them when they were already on your nose! And yet everyone else said: ‘there’s something different about you …’ and couldn’t quite place it. The view from the inside was the same, but clearer. The appearance from the outside may have seemed quite strange. Fancy dress parties can give you very uncomfortable feelings too, and your sweet darling child in a grotesque hallowe’en mask can be very disturbing. Change your gender presentation, and all that you are is subsumed by what your identity does to someone else’s identity.

I have to admit this took me by surprise: that my identity, with which I had struggled for so long on the inside, but which I felt only found understanding rather than change, had actually shaped other people’s identities too. Perhaps that is my truth: was I was so good at being a man because I was shaped by all those identities around me? Like stress-balls packed tightly in a box, the memory of shape is only revealed when taken out. I came out and found my shape – but those I was packed in with most tightly then also found their true shape, and it didn’t always fit with mine any more! Had I really shaped their identity and stopped them being true to self? I say that about me, so perhaps I should not be surprised after all.

I feel different living now as I do, but I don’t feel that I am different. The ‘what’ of my presentation and declared identity is no more to me in some ways that the glasses I first put on to make me normal again. I am still here, looking out, and the ‘who’ is completely unchanged, except for the joy of restoration to a single identity instead of one that was increasingly split. The same eyes, the same hands, the same terrible jokes but the same gentle humour; the same concerns, attitudes and fears; the same loves, the same aspirations to live a good life, the same courage to do what’s right. The same needs. Nothing I ever did that felt best in life was because I was a man. The suit might have been impressive, the feelings of not belonging in male-dominated meetings was not. And yes, let’s be personal, sex for me is a pooling of resources, an equal sharing, never a male dominance, never done because of my apparent gender, never because of the body I was given.

And yet for all that, gender is such a powerful thing when identified, that other than for my own sense of identity, I have to the external world lost my identity and gained another that is completely different, and that needs to be assessed all over again for validity, for preference, for befriending or for unfriending. The deed poll says it, LinkedIn says it, Facebook says it, even my family says it. It must be true; there, my passes no longer work, and hang around my neck useless and irreplaceable. The pictures, the names, the codes of acceptance, the permissions to enter: all these externals, in the end are regarded as my identity, not the me that I am inside that has simply come home and finally belongs only to find some people have, well, just gone home too. But my door is always open, because it always has been. It’s part of my identity to be like that.

The poem in the adjacent post to this (Losing my touch) was a vision I had of returning to an old familiar place and finding it shut down and deserted behind a chain-link fence. You’ll get the gist, but I just thought as a poem it worked quite well too.

Losing my touch (I counted on you)

  • Posted on April 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm

the memory of hands
where fingers go
and the gates are barred

a place remembered
past fingers curled
in a mesh of wire diamonds

the space beyond silence where
fingers once danced
with jewels and laughter

if only my hands could call
receiver fingers ringing
all down the hot line to you

only sun on my hands warmer
my fingers number
because the wire is cold

if I let go, step back and
fingers become digits
I shall never count again.

2012 © Andie Davidson