Good morning. And a very warm welcome not just to my regulars – but also to anyone who just happens to drop by as a result of the froth that has been going down of late in the national press and media. That’s the documentary…the morning TV…and shortly, too, yet another piece in the national press with my interview-happy – and today neatly prepped for photos – daughter.
Pull up a chair. Take a look around. The natives are mostly friendly – though i have, of late, had to moderate the occasional post. Differences of opinion are fine: more than tolerated. But (personal) abuse and vicious remarks about others, either posting here or out in the real world will not be tolerated.
From personal beginnings…
And explore. This blog started out as personal journey…and if personal stuff is what you came looking for, there is plenty of it around. Just dig a little way backward and you will find it all. The trials and tribulations of transition. Tears. Triumphs. And nail polish.
That, once upon a time was very important – albeit as metaphor for other stuff. And if you have to look up the meaning of metaphor, maybe this isn’t a good place to hang around.
…to wider bounds
Lately, the blog has grown a bit less personal, a bit more small-p political. Inevitable, really. The pace of transition cannot stay the same.
Early days – as more than a few have remarked – is a bit like a second teenagerhood, with the sole redeeming feature that having done it once one probably doesn’t make QUITE the same mistakes again. But i did my best.
Then, as things settle, the journey becomes steadier. Less event. More gradual appreciation of progress so far. Still, the occasional highly personal post about boobs. And relationships. And, inevitably, nail polish. But less frequently.
Too, there is something called “news feed”, which is where i put stories that i can’t be bothered to pitch properly but which deserve an airing to the wider national press. And there’s an events log, which is somewhat biased towards the academic.
Something, i hope, for almost everyone.
Ah, I hear you ask: why does she do it? No, not the blog. The public exposure. The self-humiliation and embarrassment in the arena of public prurience.
In the words of a wise old meerkat: “Simples!”
Telling the story
I’m a journalist by trade. Out and in the public gaze – though possibly for more modest reasons – long before all this trans lark happened. I am not afraid to hold an audience. Friday – ask nicely – and i might tell you where i will be doing my first public poetry reading in a very, very long time.
But there are a couple of other serious reasons for putting myself in the line of fire. First, because if i don’t, others will. I am a firm believer that stories are made not by people, but by the times. And right now, the times (the Times, too!) are demanding a certain sort of story about trans folk.
Those stories will be told, irrespective of whether the community co-operates or not and if they can be told well, sympathetically, that helps in the long run.
Unpicking the myth
Tonight’s documentary stemmed from one such impulse. My partner, andrea, discovered early in the process a staggering – and probably quite untrue – statistic to the effect that the vast majority of partners left within weeks…months of someone announcing plans to transition.
Is that true? Yes. No. Not exactly. The reality, as ever, is far more complex. relationships evolve when placed under pressure like this. Yet if the only story “out there” has partners upping and walking at the first sign of gender diversity…then that is bad for all concerned. For transitioners. For partners. For families.
Our first reaching out to the Mail stemmed from an impulse to present an alternative reality to the world. Tonight’s documentary builds on that. We hope.
For it shows a family – all of us – responding to stress and not shattering at the first sign of queerity.
Time for people to listen
There’s more. Some of my recent posts may look quite political. But they are less so than they might appear. Because beneath the surface runs a common thread.
It is this: crossness. Crossness at the wider world that it not only gets trans people wrong – so wrong – but having done so it then condemns trans folk by the standards of their own wrongness.
Like , f’rinstance, a non-catholic weighing in against the hypocrisy, supposed, of a catholic given to eating meat on a friday. except that such practice is now perfectly permitted. So criticism, if any, would be based on a false premise. A lie, dare i suggest it.
Stick around. Engage.
Trans reality: forget tabloid fiction
The papers have, of late, been awash with some rather more unusual trans stories. Stuff about trans men having babies. Five-year olds being diagnosed with dysphoria. Hormone blockers for teenagers.
I wince at the shock! horror! that seems to follow inevitably from each of these.
Wince too at the silliness of that shock! horror! Trans men have been having babies for years – and no-one involved think it in any way unpicks the validity of their gender identification. The press are decades late to this story…but to read some of them, you’d think they’d only just found out.
A five-year-old with dysphoria! OMG! Someone fetch the fire brigade. But wait: what is actually meant by that?
The child in the most recent report was struggling: has immense personal issues which seem to be linked to gender. For all the froth, though, nothing more is being asked right now than that other folk – pupils and teachers – respect that child’s wishes and not bully or abuse her for wishing to dress and identify other than as her birth gender.
Its a simple story about tolerance. That’s all. Yet to read some columnists, you’d think the sky was falling in.
And so it goes. Stories that are exceptional made out to be commonplace: those that are common presented as some great new discovery.
Time to end the ignorance
No. For the trans community, the biggest problem of all is ignorance, pure and simple. It is people and those who SHOULD know better, those who report the news, not really reporting at all. Rather, it is about people generally thinking they understand what its all about…not having the time or inclination to find out what is really involved…and then condemning trans men and women for not living up to non-trans expectations and narrative.
If you’re a regular reader here, chances are you knew that already. If you’re new: if you popped in today to find out what all the fuss is about; stick around. You might just find out!