Fast forward to now and the news is not good. As I write, President Donald Trump is executing his first order to curtail the rights of Transgender citizens. My friends have all taken to social media to protest it. One Trans ally commented that years of improvement were being wound backwards. She is right but these assaults on #girlslikeus have never gone away. Through the noughties there was a new atmosphere of tolerance. Tolerance however is like whitewash or veneer. It looks fine to the eye but it hides so much. Scrape a little and it falls away to show something very different. Tolerance can hide so much covert transphobia. It masquerades as acceptance but is nothing of the kind. Acceptance on the other hand is solid. Scrape a little and underneath is love.
I spent a lifetime looking for love. I found it in my husband Mart. On October 28 2015, he made me his wife. Mart was the first man to love and accept me simply for being a woman. I found my Trans Lottery win. I'm happy now. Previously I had dated men who liked me as a novelty; exotic and different; something new to try. I was little more than a sexual fetish. Trans women can lie on the fringe of acceptable society for many people. They see an association with sex, porn videos, prostitution, deviance and perversion. As Europe moved forward into an age of better Trans rights those views went underground. Even a few months of dating men showed me that they never disappeared. Now I see a new confidence in their expression as Britain prepares to leave Europe and Donald Trump begins his presidential term.
I was raised in the city. I have lived most of my adult life so far in the country. My ex, now my sister, led me to relocate there. The transition from city to village was deeply traumatic. Used to trams, busy traffic, theatres and masses of people, I had revelled in anonymity. Anonymity gives you freedom to become yourself, as alternative as you wish to be. For a transgender girl that is important. Most people live too fast and furiously to heed you, a few like minded individuals embrace you. Life can be challenging but also progressive and radical.
The North Wales Coast I am about to leave is very different. Puritanical, regressive and reactionary, provincial coastal towns like Llandudno can be stiflingly restrictive. It is symptomatic that Llandudno hosts no Gay or Trans Pride like its distant cousin, Brighton: The town has a Victorian Festival instead. It is peopled with wooden statues from Lewis Carroll's classic stories. Alice Liddell who inspired those tales spent her summers there. I transitioned there: Transition in a town that likes Alice. On April 10 2013 I finally matched the gender on my new birth certificate. So many around me here in North Wales made it clear they didn't like it. Now it's time to transition in a different way.
On 26th February, in just a few more days, I get to shake the sand of Llandudno from my shoes and change it for city pavement grit. It is the end of an era. It closes off my first 13 years as a woman. Moving from flat to canal barge is going to mean downsizing. I'm aware that my new home, Empress has all I need. I've lived there almost seven months now and missed nothing from the pile of material possessions left back in North Wales. I'm glad. They seem like the remnants of a past life. Some of my things will go to friends and family, others to charity shops. In a week's time there will be empty walls and a potential home for a new family. I will be back in Manchester for good, revelling in acceptance. Is that the end of hate? I thought it was.
The flats that have been my home often house women on the fringe. There are Mums fleeing domestic violence, those with disabilities, addictions, single parents and much more. They too live on the fringe. Some are already suffering cuts to their income, their health benefits and their living standards. They also endure intolerance and prejudice plus it is getting worse. Their stories are not so different to mine. I got out, they remain. It has left me wondering. Across the Atlantic there is a chill associated with a new President and we shiver in Europe. The pussyhat I knitted recently has led to requests from diverse women friends to have one too. We live in an interconnected society and Intersectional Feminism teaches us that our struggles are linked. Lack of acceptance affects everyone on the fringes, not just #girlslikeus. I may be heading back to the city and but unless we protest current events it may not be a safe haven for long.