You are currently browsing the archives for November 2014.
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Futures aren’t found in harbours

  • Posted on November 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm

For a number of weeks I have been going along to a weekly evening workshop entitled ‘Future You’. My motivation is the need to do more than put up with where I am. Its focus isn’t entirely employment-oriented, so whilst that’s what I wanted it for initially, I can use its techniques for other things. I speak of two last pieces in my jigsaw: employment where I can maximise my gifts and abilities, and finding someone I can share my life with (as open-ended as that). The rest of my picture feels complete, or at least malleable and growing.

This next year needs to be a year of change, and I feel that I have at least found my starting blocks with what I have achieved this past year. Underlying my missing jigsaw pieces (or the piece that is missing and the piece that doesn’t fit) is the idea in common of giving as much of myself as I can to connect with my world in an authentic way. If you happen to be reading this and know where I am, work, or who I know, yes, I am saying I need change, not that I am unhappy with the way that I work, or the way that I relate to others.

The Future You series is about happiness, in this sense: of meeting my values, understanding my needs, finding my dreams and living as completely as possible. As things are, my happiness quotient surges and falls to an unknown tidal pull. This week I have risen on emotionally moving moments and completely collapsed on griefs and uncertainties. My ship feels unanchorable sometimes. Was the moon in the wrong phase, or the planets out of alignment? Or is it just Christmas bringing home the isolation I feel at this time? To find myself in silent tears at the end of the day, and waking with them, isn’t something I expected. I feel a new horizon is coming into sight on winds of change. It isn’t just a cliché, I really am hoping for a fresh wind out of this year’s safe harbour.

What stops me just doing something brilliant, is simply that I have no idea what this future me is. In fact, logically speaking, my future me is always some way ahead of now. My future me is what I shall become, but setting my sails with some intention requires a little more than happy accident, and I do have fears. I am afraid of speaking out: ah, so I’m no longer committed to my employer? No; it’s just that I am not discovering myself or doing all that I could do in my working hours. 300 miles a week, 11 hours in a car, needs a good reason, and a better one than just to pay my mortgage. It’s the same with relationships. My heart really aches for affection and to be loved, but to say this is tantamount to being desperate – and we all know that you don’t find love by saying you’re looking for it. Just be happy, even though you aren’t happy not to be loved and have someone to love. Just be happy in your job, in case opportunities may be withdrawn because you’re not happy.

By going to this series of workshops, I am quietly making resolutions. I don’t think I shall have a Christmas this year, but my gift to myself can be generosity to my own needs, in starting to work out what practical things I need to do. I won’t be making new year’s resolutions either; by then I shall have resolved that I have a future that will be different.

There is nothing about this future me that is not of my own making, any more than that was true this past year. 2014 was not done to me. I did 2014! Some decisions will simply have to be made, and more ties may need to be severed that I have hung onto for too long. I have to be happy to be sailing, not happy to be where I am.

I have used the ship analogy along my journey through transition, including crossing the turbulent reef, losing crew, and arriving in calm waters with tattered sails and a broken mast. Since then I have new friends and feel thoroughly repaired and seaworthy again. Maybe the lesson I have needed to remind myself of, is that the first step to change and to being in the right place is to pull up your anchor.

Goodness, I should know!

TDOR 2014, and more

  • Posted on November 22, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I hesitate.

There is an article about transgender murders that I feel like sharing on Facebook, and since I read a fair few articles others have shared, and feel I learn from, I like to pass things along. But I hesitate. The article is informative, well-written, and speaks for me and many others.

And I hesitate, and start thinking about caveats, explanations, warnings. I write something to encourage the next reader and explain, and then share.

With doubts.

It is an otherwise ordinary day, halfway between 20 November and tomorrow, when I shall go down into Brighton for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Worldwide, this is the 16th year of remembrance, and around the world the names of transgender people whose murders have been recorded as being transgender identity-related are read out. It’s a list of between about 220 and 250 each year, which seems like a drop in humanity’s ocean. Trans women of colour are disproportionately represented, as is Brazil as a country, though not as a percentage of population. There are a number of sources for names, lists, numbers and charts online under the TDOR or ITDOR name, and you can even read the means of murder, which can be horrific.

So that’s about 5 people in the world per week. Pretty small isn’t it? So why the fuss? There are other minority groups with worse statistics, equally demonstrating how vile human beings can be to each other, and they may have their protests and remembrances too. You could even pick out those whose gender identity placed them in danger, such as in sex work, not because they were fetishists or immoral, but because it was a means of survival. For some clients, being trans* is the reason for the transaction. For others there is self-disgust, deceit and violence. Or you could pick out those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like anyone can be, when alcoholic bravado creates antagonists in a situation where hate can be enacted. And hey, you don’t get many actual murders in the UK, do you, so why should we join in on such a minority, and perhaps predictable, state of affairs?

I hesitated, not because it seems like such minority interest, but because of the comments posted under the article in the 24 hours since it went online. This too is a predictable state of affairs, and the tone, content and quantity is never a surprise. Yes, there are also always trans* people on there either lamenting an incident, or praising some brave soul, perhaps relating their own experience. They are back on later with facts and explanations, because sooner or later, we are being discussed:

  • how many transgenders [sic] are there? (that’s not many, is it?)
  • yes, but it isn’t true, is it?
  • nobody is transgender, God made men and women
  • these transsexuals are just deluded, they can never make their bodies different
  • they need curing / putting away / executing
  • if you’re born XY that makes you a man, forever
  • comment removed by moderator as not abiding by the rules
  • and so on.

Some of us are sensitive and tetchy, which doesn’t help. The replies are rude and direct. Another comment is deleted by a moderator.

So I hesitate; do I share, so that the comments are seen by those who will be sympathetic? Or not share, because they are hurtful? Probably no-one in my Facebook extended network is in danger of their lives, but for all I know there are some who are gender-questioning and fearful, not of being physically murdered, but socially murdered. That might sound like I’m diminishing TDOR; I am not lessening it one bit. I am saying that whilst I don’t know anyone who has been murdered, I do know people who have attempted suicide, and I have contemplated it myself.

I wonder what the statistics really are, worldwide, among people who have come out as transgender, if we counted everyone for whose death their gender identity was a material factor?

And I wonder, how many more gender diverse people we would actually see, if gender expression was not a social problem? It is a social problem in many ways, because very few trans* people completely escape discrimination, whether this is loss of job, loss of family, loss of property, loss of status or respect, or the freedom to live and move without harassment, or exclusion from the means of regaining these.

TDOR is about society’s commentary, not just murder

In the news this week have also been articles on suicide rates among young trans* people, and a particularly nasty event on 4Chan (source of the ‘gamer gate’ furore), where incitement to hatred and violence, driving transgender people to suicide is discussed heroically and enthusiastically. Just lonely teenagers in their bedrooms?

Do I feel personally threatened? No, not right here right now, but many are. The freedom to write anonymously online creates an environment that is not just online, but in the hearts and minds of the participants. If you are even ridiculing online, surely ridiculing a trans* fellow-employee is a bit easier and more natural – I mean, you have support for your attitudes out there, don’t you? Verbal abuse, tripping people up, denying their presence or credibility, or simply neglecting to uphold anti-discrimination laws, are all part of attitudes sustained by popular comment. This is the way minority groups are kept under and fearful, denied their rightful share of society, and it isn’t exclusive to transgender people. You can read it and believe it, whether that perpetuates your own fixed views, or whether you receive it and are fearful.

My hesitation to share the article was not because my non-trans friends would be upset, or because some comments are plain ugly. No, because few people actually think they are part of the problem at all. They don’t have to take part in the argument. Indeed, one friend had said this week, that she found herself talking with someone about transgender things, not because of anything, but just as something normal to talk about. My being out matters, because I am an example, in some sense, of success. But believe me, if I opened this blog up again to comments, and started getting rude or nasty comments that I had to start reading and moderating, I might feel less inclined to be open. And one defence of the nasty-commenters is always ‘what did she expect, if she’s going to be online / in the media?’

And so I hesitated, because keeping going through and beyond gender transition is a fragile thing, and just because you were born trans does not make you strong or resilient. So if you protest at this blog and say I am over-egging things ‘because I made it’ and you’re accepting of me, think again. I made it because I am strong, not because society has been completely kind. In another place, my strength would not have been enough. In another place I may be homeless. In another place I may be abused daily, outed and insulted. In another place, I may be dead, by my own hand or another’s. Whoa! Dramatic, eh, Andie? No. In another place things could be very different, for exactly the same reasons that 266 murders have been registered as transphobic hate crime. For exactly the same reasons that almost half of all trans* people have attempted suicide at least once.

Murdered trans* people. Suicidal trans* people. Unemployed trans* people. Trans* people excluded from their own families. Trans* people discriminated against, ridiculed, even simply excluded from using the right toilets, or legislated against. Or simply unable to access clinical treatments to end their gender dysphoria in a timely manner. Dead, or socially reduced, for being transgender, is a very good reason to go along to my nearest TDOR service tomorrow, and to say that I took part, and to share this blog.

I shall not hesitate.

And remember, when you hear jokes or read comments, or see discrimination and prejudice, your response is nudging society one way or the other. Even if you know me only through this blog, you know me, and if I have earned any respect, you can turn the conversation away from suspicion, misunderstanding and even hate, where you are.

Trust or trussed: where are you bound?

  • Posted on November 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm
life and dance

I write about relationships because I want to understand them better. I would very much like to be ‘in a relationship’, and it may happen, but meantime, I’m working on not getting it wrong, and working out my previous misconceptions. As I said last blog, I am OK living alone. Meanwhile, the encounters I have with people raise questions I’ve never addressed, or had to, before. I lived most of my life in a secure monogamous marital relationship. It was safe, because my wife had women friends, and whilst I could have, I didn’t have men friends. I had women…

For your message

  • Posted on November 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm

This card
is blank for your message
you may leave it unwritten
or cover it over with words and still
leave it unsaid

Be careful with your words
unsay what is best silent
unwrite your thoughts
blank any loaded message
from this card

Ink some kindness
wish some well
with elegance, eloquence
forget yourself this day
this occasion

Unknit this day
keep simple strands
imply nothing, be clear
between message and silence
sign love


2014 © Andie Davidson


  • Posted on November 9, 2014 at 11:38 am
incremental counter

It’s my birthday. The one I got awarded a new certificate for – but I wonder whether to celebrate the July one next year anyway as a second birthday. It isn’t important really, just a year comes round again, notches up the counter and it flips into a new number. The feeling made more sense in a pre-digital age, with little wheels turning on a car dashboard, or a tape recorder. They started to twitch and turn just before, clicked decisively into place and looked really settled for a long time. Age notching doesn’t just happen, it takes weeks. Do…