Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Trans Visibility in the Lockdown Era


I’ve written so many blogs for Transgender Day of Visibility - TDOV. They were penned when obstacles to visibility were personal fears. This year obstacles are Covid-related.  I’m writing in an era of sweat pants or PJs all day; not bothering with make-up; no social gatherings; a time of home and office involuntarily coalescing. Is there visibility in a time of lockdown?  Being out and proud with gender identity seems impossible when the official directive is ‘Stay at Home’.  Suddenly there’s no choice, we are all ‘invisible,’ locked down before screens at home whether we like it or not.

I have polled others in the Trans community about their experiences.  Many are gloomy and depressed.  Those struggling to come out have suddenly found lifelines cut.  The support groups and gatherings offering safety in their target gender, have gone.  Those stuck at home in abusive relationships face pressure; conforming to someone else’s idea of who they ‘should be’. Those needing hormones and surgery face indefinite waits while health staff focus on the pandemic.  Hope disappears and, one by one, the lights that gave hope, go out. I have comforted friends expressing suicidal thoughts and wondered about the seeming cruelty of it all.

Into all of this came Channel 4’s ‘It’s a Sin’ with its exploration of AIDS in 1980’s Britain.  For me, it came like a stone pitched into a pool, each episode setting off ripples of painful memories.  I was a gender-queer 20 something in 80’s Newcastle-upon-Tyne; out on the scene but very vulnerable.  Exploring my gender presentation and sexuality meant intimate involvement with others, yet my relationship was deeply conventional. My then partner knew nothing about the secret life I led.  As the poorly understood means of transmission got clearer, I suspected I might be HIV+ but didn’t dare get tested. Many Trans and Non-Binary people refused because testing meant revealing secret gender identities.  Being outed as Gay looked bad enough; being outed as a Trans meant losing my job, my home; maybe living on the street.  As the scenes of It’s a Sin rolled on screen, I felt a deep shame about it all. My previous actions seemed so selfish and at times I didn’t want to see any more.

I completed my transition many years ago.  My current birth certificate records my birth as female. I’m someone’s wife. I had the longed for big white wedding. I became a Mum with two kids and later two step children. I had the awful shock of understanding I was heterosexual.  These days I work and volunteer for George House Trust and yes, before I had Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) I got tested and found out my status. Now I consider it my responsibility. Others tell me I pass well (something I still find hard to believe). Ironically, ‘passing’ hands you the option of invisibility:  In the Trans community, we call it ‘Going stealth’.

In the end I chose NOT to go stealth.  How could I? Winning the Trans genetic lottery and having a winning photographic smile doesn’t entitle you to turn your back on sisters and brothers. By the same token knowing your HIV status doesn’t take away the responsibility of managing relationships. I had the option to hide my past and to fit into normative cisgender society. It was tempting. In an earlier, less affluent time, like many transsexual women, I worked the sex industry to pay transition related bills. I could feel shame and hide but who would that help? Visibility is not just about physical presence, it is about being counted when it comes to trans-activism and upholding the rights of all trans and non-binary people. You can do that whether you are Trans, Gender-queer or even a Cis-gender Ally. It is about joining the debate, whether you are stuck ‘invisible’ at home or not. It is also about getting tested and encouraging Trans friends to do the same; to test despite their fears. Visibility is not just for you, it’s for all of us.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Typescripts, Peace and Emotional Memories

Hi,

How are you? It has been a long time since I last wrote. Here in Manchester UK, things are still locked down at the moment but we have a timetable for normalcy to return. It has been so long coming, hasn't it? Up until the end of 2020 I was still been behind a desk in an office, just. In late November two days went down to just one day, the barest minimum essential. It seemed to echo the foggy, closed down zeitgeist of late Autumn and increasing Covid 19 mandated closures. Since January, all work has all been done at home. I work in finance, some things like cash payments can only be done from the office, it has been tough; tough for all of us. 

Since I wrote last, I have taken on the challenge of a second coming out. I'm a Jew, I never told you did I? As anti-semitism began to ramp up here in the UK and the shootings of Pittsburgh and Poway hit the headlines, I began to fear. One friend I shared my anxieties with, gave a startling response. In the face of oppression, she suggested, do not hide, it only makes it worse.  Live boldly, get out there, own who you are and be proud. Haven't I heard that one somewhere before?

Those of you who have read this blog from the beginning know I came out over 16 years ago. I learned to own my identity as a woman. Why couldn't I own my faith and heritage.

Looking back at childhood, I belatedly realise that I was raised as a girl anyway, fully destined to become the woman I am today. In retrospect, so much of what I needed to grow was there all around me and my mother provided it. Even so, I barely understood its significance. At home, I learned to bake challah; a plaited, ritual bread,  light the Friday night candles, say Shabbat blessings, sing songs and a study a little Torah. Back in the 60's many of these were matriarchal elements in Jewish life. In many ways they still are. That I let myself forget them all amid teenage sex and gender worries seems a liitle sad, but forget them I did. Maybe it was the contrast between what I had prepared for and what hormones prepared me for that brought my world crashing down.

Last November coincided with the Hebrew months of Cheshvan and Kislev.  Kislev has the minor holiday of Chanukkah, Cheshvan has no real holidays but it is a month for rememberances. I was born on Cheshvan 19. That it is a bitter month of memories, my mother was careful to remind me. The horrific events of Kristallnacht happened that month as well as the assasination of Prime Minister Rabin. It has once again thrown me back to being with my Mum and the many discussions (and arguments) we had back when I was a young.  I have already mentioned in an earlier blogpost that my mother was a feminist.  She was also a pacifist and a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  At times we attended a local Quaker meeting where some of her fellow campaigners worshipped. She had a great respect for a church that believed so strongly in Peace. I know that she also respected their role in helping Jewish refugees.

My mother's wartime experiences made her determined that we should never see another conflict on the scale of the Second World War.  She also considered herself a Zionist. We often argued about the need for Israel to defend its borders because although my mother fervently believed in the idea of a Jewish homeland, she had trouble reconciling herself to the conflicts that ensued. When Rabin was murdered she was so sad. "When one Jew kills another, we all bleed", she remarked.

Being an impetuous teenager I felt like saying that a nation couldn't stand by peacefully if attacked, and I did.  She replied that war was never justified, no matter how strongly we believe. She used Parshat Vayeira, and the story of the Akeidah to illustrate her point.  Vayeirah is the Torah reading for the Sabbath preceding my birth. It describes Abraham's conviction that he must kill and sacrifice his son. God does not want anyone to sacrifice another for the sake of principles, my mother maintained, least of all our children and yet we perpetually send our young people to war.

How I miss those discussions and arguments.  I missed out on attending Shul as we weren't members of any synagogue and I never learned much Hebrew; what little I have learned has been self taught. I am however grateful for the way in which she challenged me to think, to justify argument and to write. They are lessons you never forget!

My husband and I had planned to go to Amsterdam for a few days on our Wedding Anniversary (October 28th last year).  We spent our honeymoon there. We like to visit the Plantage district and visit what is left of the Hollandsche Schouwburg to pay our respects to those that were transported to death camps from the theatre.  My Grandmother's family name was Salz (later changed to Salt).  I understand that some Aunts, Uncles and cousins may have made their final journeys from there.  One day I must go back and search their archives to look for details. This year and last, COVID 19 curtailed travel and we stayed home. I missed going, we had travelled there every year since we were married.

Latterly I have begun to digitally scan my mother's typescripts for her unpublished novels. They were produced on her noisy Adler typewriter. I have fond memories of arriving home from school to find my mother still typing away alongside a wastepaper basket full of discarded drafts. She had trained as a shorthand typist in the final months of wartime and worked for a while in the offices of the Hunslet Engine Company.  When I arrived home, she'd be horrified, saying: "Look at the time!" and jump up in haste, mid sentence, to put the dinner on.  There are two novels; 'A Conscience Divided', set in Holland and 'The Faded Emblem' set in Germany. There were others which I know were later destroyed. Both are set in 1944 when my mother would have been 14.  She wrote both novels in her mid twenties.  They both tell of love under difficult circumstances, families divided by belief and outlook and clandestine relationships between serving German Army personnel and Jewish women.

So I find myself in a position to work alongside my impetuous and impassioned 20 year old mother as a mature 60 year old daughter.  I am slowly editing her writing, adding where I think it is necessary and copying her style.  I have no idea what I will do with this when I have finished.  It has however been incredibly uplifting to work 'with' her even though she is not physically present.  It has given me an insight into how she thought and what she believed. Being typescript, even very little things make me smile.  I see the typescript getting fainter as the ribbon wears then suddenly becoming very black again.  Changing the ribbon was always a very messy, inky fingered business and I can see my mother doing it now and exclaiming in exasperation. It makes me smile. I'll let you know how it goes.

Huggs,

Jane



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Monday, July 30, 2018

Dear Youngest Daughter


When we transition, so many #girlslikeus can lose family.  The reasons are not always straightforward.  Family might do their best to stand by us.  My family did.  My youngest daughter most of all.

Transition, like teenage can be a very selfish time in our lives. Hormones are raging, we are growing and developing.  We are often catapulted into a world of love and sex unprepared for the way it will affect us and how it will change our lives.

Those of you who have also been single parents will know how difficult it is too to start dating someone.  All the time you are haunted by a fear of what a new relationship might do to strong bonds and family relationships.  You find new love with joy but also that fear in the back of your mind.

Only later, when perhaps it is too late, do we take stock and realise that maybe we could have managed things differently.

I'm posting this letter to my youngest here in the hope she might somehow see it.  I have no address or phone number, so here's hoping dear daughter, that one day, you will read this and know I'm sorry.

Dear Youngest Daughter,

How are you. I hope that you and your love are well.  I’m writing a short letter in an attempt to build bridges and to say sorry for letting you down. I really mean that.

Four years ago, you too wrote a blog for your friend who you felt you had hurt.  It was a brave attempt at an apology and one of the most sincere things I've ever read.  You wrote from the heart. That is what I'm doing now too.

In your own blog, you wrote prophetically:
"And by the way to eny won out ther who dose have a best friend/love one/family memberDon't take them fore granted.appreciate every thing they do and make shore they no it. Be mindful full of how they feel and never let your insecurities get the best of you it a think can brake friendship if your not careful."
Here is my public apology to you. I am so very sorry. I too was insecure. I needed a man's love in my life but I let the pursuit of that love come between you and me.  That should never have been the case.

So much in my life has changed in the last 2 years.  It’s helped me realise how isolated you must have felt in Llandudno and how badly I let you down. Looking back, I know now that I failed to support you.  It’s not easy for me to write and admit that but I need to say it. I’m not giving excuses: I don’t have any  Beth.  I take full responsibility for what I did and quite understand if you feel angry with me. You have every right to be.  I can’t change that but I can at least say sorry and mean it.

More than any other person (and that includes my husband), you helped me through the very worst of times. You supported me and were my friend when I had no other friends at all.  That must have been tough, not something a daughter should have to do but you did it.  I’m so thankful. You, more than anybody, know how difficult my life has been. You were the best.  You listened with a kindness and wisdom beyond your years.  I will always say that kindness, compassion, the ability to listen and empathise seem to come naturally to you. They do it in a way that is seldom true for others.  As a counsellor I know that. You have a rare and precious gift, don’t lose it.  It helps so much in relationships.

You had nobody apart from your wonderful Grandpa, your Mum, Lucy and also me.  When Grandpa died and you hit so many bumps in the road, you had a right to rely on both me and Pauline to support you and see you through.  Though you still had your Mum, I realise that I personally failed you totally at that point.  You had a right to expect support and help from me too. Instead, I fell so deeply in love with someone that he became my whole world. He still is, that’s why we married. But I should never have allowed that to shut you out.  You deserved better from me, way better.  You had a right to feel included and I should have made clear to my him from the very start that we were a family. In a family, no one should get left behind. During those times in Llandudno, you must have cried so very much, felt so hurt at my unkindness and felt incredibly alone.  I am so sorry for what I did and how I wasn't there for you. My partner has deep regrets too but that would be for him to explain if you ever feel able to talk to him.

Meeting your wonderfully supportive partner and girlfriend was good for you; the best thing, and I’m glad that you both did.  It came at the right time when you needed someone. I realise a little of what your love for each other means and how close you both are.  I’m glad, so glad for both of you. Always remember that love is simply love. Those who make out differences between same sex and heterosexual relationships, miss that point. One day it will not be important any more.

People were unbelievably horrid to me in Llandudno before I left, particularly at work.  There was no excuse for their hate and transphobia but it made my life intolerable. I had few friends willing to stick up for me. Llandudno is still full of frightening and unpleasant memories.  I had to get away.  You will recognise the feeling more than anyone. You probably know now that I run a small coffee business here and love it. You will find us at most of the Prides here this summer. There have been lots of good times including making coffee for the mayor of Manchester. I’ve found new Gay, Trans and Lesbian friends that I’ve become really fond of.

Most of all though, I’m happy where I live in now Manchester. It is a place where I’m accepted and it’s changed me a good deal as a person.  I hope in a much better way.  People say that I’m happy, less uptight and relax, more zen.  In New Islington I live in a very accepting community where I’ve come to realise that friendship and genuineness are more important than other things. 

People who’ve known me a long time have said kindly that I’m more like the person they used to know (but very much a woman). I guess this is another thing prompting me to write this letter.

If you ever want to write you can email me on here. My phone number remains the same.  I’m seldom on Facebook now, I do Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/retroba57girl/. I’m also on WhatsApp.  If you want to follow my life on there, feel free.

Please however don’t feel any need to reply to this.  You too have made a fresh start somewhere new.  That’s enough. Good for you.  You deserve good times and I hope that you’ve found them.  I run a business however, I have contacts in Manchester. If there is anything I can do to help, please ask.  If the two of you fancy a visit to the Cat Cafe and you want a lift over I’d be more than happy to treat you and give you a lift.



I’ve put pics of my new kitten on here. It took me a long while to get over losing Star.  I know we both still miss him but I couldn't be without a cat, I always had them when I was little and Star left a big gap in my life. In June last year, a friend asked me if I would re-home one of her cat’s kittens.  He came with a name, Binx, (you know like Thackeray Binx in Hocus Pocus).  His Mum is a little cat called Tico. I’m posting some photos of him so you can see what he is like. Binx has such soft fur.  He was born on April 19th last year; your Grandpa’s birthday so he’s really special to me.  He is so affectionate, much more so than any other cat I’ve ever known. He sleeps on my bed at night and wakes me up so very very gently by pawing at me about 6.30am. If you ever visit, you can come and see him.




As well as my pop-up coffee stall, I am also a volunteer counsellor within the LGBT community here in Manchester.  So many people have helped me start a new life that I wanted to give something back by using my training and qualifications.  I work with people who are HIV+, helping them to adjust to their diagnosis and to cope with stigmatisation.

Where I live in New Islington, there are a high proportion of LGBT people, generally the less well off ones.  Most of us live here because it is one of the most affordable places to live.  It is also a community who stick together and always help each other.  They are my Urban Family. I don’t think I’ve ever had such lovely neighbours or done so much for other people my whole life.  It’s a world away from narrow minded Llandudno and Colwyn Bay.

I hope that one day you will read this dear daughter and know that I never intentionally set out to make you feel lonely and shut out.  We all need family. We all need friends. You will always be friend and my family both in my thoughts and heart,

Lots of love,

Jane xx







Thursday, July 5, 2018

Processions 2018 - Why Trans Sisters Need to March Alongside Their Sisters

My Partner and I at Processions 2018 - Credit: Tina Williams

I am my grandmother’s granddaughter. She fought for my right to vote and I wanted to honour that. On June the 10th this year my partner and I (pictured above) travelled to London to participate in Processions with thousands of other women. We were paying homage to the women of suffrage but also making our voices heard about current issues. I was nervous: Both myself and my partner Tina are Trans. We marched with friends from Sparkle; the National Transgender Charity. I’m a transexual woman, my partner is bi-gender. we were aware that the debate about trans women in women only spaces is highly charged. Might some deny our right to be considered women and to participate in such an event?

In the end we had a lovely day.  We were fortunate to walk alongside other women who praised our involvement and welcomed us.  We felt included and accepted. I know that I did my grandmother proud yet I’m concerned that we have still so much to fight for. For trans women, equality is not just a fight to end the gender pay gap, oppression in the workplace, sexual objectification and unequal rights. As a lifelong feminist, I care deeply about those things. Trans women like myself however are now forced to defend our right to be considered women. 

Both my partner and I are no strangers to the visual disapproval and comments of others women as we seek to do everyday things like using the loo, try on clothes, or hold hands in public. In North Wales, while working as a teaching assistant, female colleagues made complaints to management, forbidding me from using female toilets and changing rooms. Earlier, as a single Mum taking my 11 year old daughter to A&E, I was repeatedly questioned by a staff nurse about my right to be identified as her parent and go with her into the examination room.  A later FOI request revealed she had reported concerns to Social Workers about a child accompanied by ‘a man dressed as a woman’. At work I was called ‘a freak’ and ‘an offence against nature’. My locker was defaced with sentiments suggesting I should die. Last year, on our way to a Pride event, a van was driven at my partner and I, forcing us to scatter while the driver hurled abuse from his window.

I understand that behind all of this lies fear, fear of men masquerading as women to prey on women and girls; fears about personal safety and the safety of children. I can empathise with that fear but it is nonetheless completely irrational.

There is no credible evidence to support the idea that trans women pose a threat to their cisgender counterparts. Women like my partner and I have been using women’s facilities for many years. We get changed, pee, touch up our make up and go about our business. To focus on supposed threats to safety emphasises differences rather than similarities and ignores a commonality of experience that all women, trans and cis, share together.

I’m fortunate and honoured to share that experience. Trans women worry about ‘passing’; the privilege of being accepted without question as woman. Friends tell me I pass well.  ‘I wouldn’t have known’ is the response if I choose to out myself.  It is a dubious privilege. I get wolf-whistled and cat called, chatted up, kissed by strangers and propositioned. I’ve been mansplained at and condescended to. I have lower pay than my male colleagues and I have to queue for the loo. 

Processions 2018 was a hot day, I kept well hydrated and drank lots of water. It was a mistake. With thousands of women wanting to pee on route, both myself and others were soon frustrated to discover many premises had closed their toilets. I know that feeling too well. That day, both trans and natal women felt the same.  We learned that using the loos and freshening up isn’t a threat to anyone, no matter how you identify.  It is about basic need, comfort and safety. Being excluded just makes you feel desperate leaves you in pain.

My grandmother, Jenny Spencer, chained herself to railings in Dewsbury to win me the political franchise. I  intend to use tha rights to win equality for all women, not just a few. So please let’s sink our differences. Let’s talk to each other rationally and fight for the things that matter; ones that affect us all.


Huggs, Jane xx

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Why Rainbow Coffee Cups Might Not Be So LGBT Supportive As You Think

Source: Whitbread Plc 2018

Here in the UK COSTA are celebrating Pride in some locations this year with a new line of rainbow coffee cups. So supportive of LGBTQ Rights, right? 

Err not exactly. As it happens, COSTA recently rolled out its stores in some of the most oppressive regimes in the world. In some of these countries you will receive the death penalty for being Gay...goodness knows what would happen if you were a Trans barista like me.
Source: Whitbread Plc 2018

Source: www.independent.co.uk
Why am I interested? Well I happen to be a Trans Woman and also the founder of a mobile coffee business. I run a business that routinely gives up to a third of its profits to LGBT causes and always buys fair-trade. I run a pink business and am proud to be serving coffee at most of Greater Manchester's Prides this year.
Photo credit: Martin Williams
So, this Pride, BEFORE you walk out of COSTA bearing one of their delightfully attractive rainbow cups, think again. 

Support Pink businesses that really care about your community rather than using the rainbow as a cynical marketing ploy.

Huggs, Jane xx

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Celebrating Shavuot as a Trans Woman

Ruth and Naomi (Buehring)
In the UK it is Saturday and a long awaited special event. Two people declare their love for each other and marry. At sundown today some of us will also begin to celebrate Shavuot; the feast of weeks.

Shavuot is one of the most significant of Jewish festivals. It celebrates the gift of the Torah to all Jewish people on Mount Sinai 3,000 years ago. It is also associated with acceptance of marginalised people through it’s association with Ruth and her story.

Ruth was a pagan woman, daughter in law to Naomi. She was an outsider from the Moabite nation.  But Naomi lost both her husband and her two sons. Ruth lost her husband.  In a time when widows starved and died with no man to support them, Ruth demonstrated enduring love and commitment to Naomi, refusing to leave her side:

“Don’t ask me to leave you! Let me go with you. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and that is where I will be buried. May the Lord’s worst punishment come upon me if I let anything but death separate me from you!”.

Ruth’s heartfelt vow to Naomi was a commitment of true love.  She returned at Naomi’s side to Bethlehem and was accepted as Jewish. These words are frequently used as a vow in heterosexual marriage ceremony yet they were shared between one woman and another.


Make up your own mind on this one.  The same word is used in Hebrew to describe the love between Adam and Eve as between Ruth and Naomi. Was this a devoted mother daughter relationship, a lesbian one or simply two incredibly loyal and devoted women, does it even matter?

The message of Shavuot has always been one of love, transition and acceptance of outcasts. I am a trans woman born of a mixed faith marriage. Trans women are outcasts.  We’re continually reminded that we are not worthy to be called women and can never be women. If we love a man some contest whether we should be allowed to marry as a woman and become a wife.  If we become mothers there will be those who invalidate our right to be considered good parents. Can we not just love accept instead of throwing up barriers and reasons not to?

At Shavuot we celebrate an outsider’s acceptance into the Jewish faith in spite of laws to the contrary, we remember the devotion two women felt for each other and we give thanks for an event which transitioned the Hebrews into the Jewish People. 

You do not have to be religious to understand and appreciate the significance of this day. Love is love, acceptance is acceptance, no matter what faith or language is involved. Trans women are women, worthy to love men or other women as they wish.  Worthy to choose a faith or not to, to be called Jewish, Muslim or Christian.

Chad Shavuot Sameach, 

Huggs,

Jane xx


Friday, March 30, 2018

This Year We Need Transgender Visibility More Than Ever


Trans Invisibility allows others to pretend there is bland homogeneity and that diversity in sex or gender is deviance.

Saturday March 31st marks Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). TDOV aims to promote acceptance of trans people, safeguarding their rights and combating hatred. Hatred relies on stereotyping groups of people and on self-limiting mindsets. Too often these are fuelled by a press whose prevalent view mi of a trans person is ‘a man in a dress’. The person inside is cruelly willed into forced invisibility.

I grew up with a secret, imaginary group of playmates. So many kids have imaginary friends. They provide a platform for rehearsing and exploring experiences outside the child’s own. Lonely children find a companion that comforts them whether it be a friend or an animal. It’s all in your head. When you’re a trans child, you tend live like that continually. The life you lead bears no resemblance to the one you need in order to help you thrive. Little girls crave other girls to play with, I did too. Until I went to school it was J, the girl across the road. When I started school, that had to change. Boys are supposed to play ball with other boys, not skipping with girls. J and I didn’t play together after that. I made friends with A, another lonely soul in the playground but her family moved away. Then I too became a loner, living inside my head with J & A, as my imaginary playmates. Teachers told my mum, with concern, that I was withdrawn and unsociable. Unknown to them, my imaginary life, though invisible to others, sustained me and held me up. Looking back, the imaginary experiences are the ones I cherish most. They helped me keep the faith in who I was.
Growing up I longed to be an ordinary girl like everyone else, blend in and be unexceptional. I was the boy who wanted to grow up and be a mum and a wife, not a dad or a husband. I viewed the bullying and hatred I received as my fault. Becoming invisible seemed the way forward.

Even though I craved it so strongly as a child, I see now what a dangerous place it is. You are benignly invisible if you stick to the rules. As an adult living in a conservative rural area, I rapidly discovered those rules were very restrictive indeed. Step outside them, dare to be visible and you are a target. Worse of all if others discover your secret they can threaten to out you. ‘Outing’ is forced visibility; their choice not yours. Invisibility becomes a trap not a refuge.

Being invisible with gender identity issues involves hiding your true self. When we hide we get smaller, shrink into ourselves and lose confidence. It is a dismal place to be. More importantly, invisibility breeds ignorance in others. Trans invisibility allows others to pretend there is bland homogeneity and that diversity in sex or gender is deviance. It also prevents others seeing they are not alone. Growing up a trans child, I wish there had been visible role models to give me hope for the future. I had none and the loneliness quite literally nearly killed me when I tried to take my own life.

Ironically, more often than not I seem to be invisible these days. I pass well. Others are doubting or incredulous if I ‘out’ myself. I’m invisible in plain sight, a business woman working alongside her husband. I’m simply a woman. Others are not so fortunate and stand out. At times I’ve felt almost guilty. Passing well is the dream of most Trans people, yet achieving it makes you invisible again. Invariably, I end up being deliberately open about my gender history. In doing so I hope to challenge attitudes. ‘You didn’t know I was trans before I told you. Will you really treat me differently now you know?’

Treating us differently is all too likely. Only a few days ago, The Sun covered the wedding of a young couple, both with trans histories. The front page story ran with the hateful and sensational headline: ‘Tran and Wife’. A happy, smiling wedding photo was accompanied by shots of them both before transition. It typifies the attitude of many that being trans is a joke to be laughed at. Having your ‘big day’ ridiculed isn’t how most of us start married life. Trans visibility is tough.

Today, visibility for gender identity is more needed than ever, it needs to be encouraged not ridiculed. Please give trans role models a chance.

Happy TDOV, 

Huggs, Jane xx