What does it mean to be female ?

When I was asked this myself recently, I had to admit the question made me stop and think. Really think. Being Transgender you might expect my answer to reflect my dysphoria, but as a woman I know my femininity is worth more than that. I don’t think I could sum it up in a single word or an expression.

Being Transgender doesn’t invalidate my answer to the question. Sure, there are TERFs who may disagree, but so what ? Sometimes, shock horror, society (and the law) disagrees with them too and you don’t see many of them beating themselves up over it, or changing their opinion.

So what does being a woman, a Transgender woman mean to me ?

It means I know that I am more than just my gender. I’m aware of the obstacles life is going to throw my way and prejudices people will have about me. I can trust my own ability to overcome these too, even if I don’t immediately know how to. I don’t need to do it all on my own either, because I have the confidence and self-awareness to know when to ask for help.

I’m not afraid to show my feelings either, because, hey, we all have them and I’m not afraid to be true to mine. They’re my truths, which reflect my kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity, a willingness to be vulnerable, and authenticity. They help ground me and be true to myself.

As a woman, I know that my strength and value is built on these feelings which give me a kind of confident humility in all that I do. Backed up by my faith in God and passion for loving and helping others, this confident humility means I stay centred, without being arrogant.

Being a Transgender woman, I know that femininity is more than a biological or social construct. It’s about being human and recognizing the complexity of diversity that comes with being human. As a Transgender woman, I’ve had to take responsibility for my life, what I want for my life and how society will see me in a far more fundamental way than most others. I have gone beyond any fears or prejudices to define my own womanhood.

I enjoy being a woman, and I enjoy being the woman I am becoming. I especially enjoy challenging the notion that I can be put in a box. I am training to be a hair stylist and an activist for my community. I want to be married and have many children, all the while maintaining my identities as child of God, a daughter, a sister, and a good friend. But I don’t think that any of this makes me a more special kind of woman or better than any other woman; it’s just MY womanhood. And though it may need some work, for the most part, and until further notice, I love it.

What does being a woman mean to you ?

Be true to yourselves

Joanna

Transgender FAQ (The WTF ones)

Giving talks on any subject can be a difficult proposition, particularly one as potentially misunderstood (or even divisive for some people) as Transgender Equality.  Throw in having any kind of social media profile, where people can add comments to your wall, or message you directly and the opportunity for some truly jaw dropping moments seems to exponentially increase .   Here are some of my “favourites” from 2018 so far…..

Talks and Presentations

  1. Why should I believe there are more than two genders ?  Reply – What do you get from only believing there are two ?
  2. What does Trans stand for ? Reply – I don’t think its an abbreviation, but if it is I would imagine it stands for Respect, Diversity and Equality.
  3. Surely Trans women aren’t real women ? I’m with the Turds on this.  Reply – I think you mean TERFS, but I get your point.
  4. Why should you be able to use the Women’s toilet ?  Reply  – Because it will save me having to pee or poop over your shoes here.  Please excuse me, I REALLY need to go !!!!
  5. You say Trans people are statistically more likely to commit suicide than any other marginalised group, but I’ve known 5 people who’ve committed suicide and none of them were Trans what do you say about that ? Reply – I’m sorry for your statistically anomalous losses.
  6. Can you get me Paris Lees phone number ? Reply – No, sorry, maybe you could email her agent ?
  7. Do you have to buy special makeup for men ?  Reply – Not unless men want it as a present.  Otherwise I just buy and use the same as you do.
  8. So, you’re a Tranny ? Reply – No, you’re confusing me for a Ford Transit Van, but when I wear white, I can understand how you might think that.
  9. Do you watch Orange is the New Black ?  Reply – yes, but only the ones with Laverne Cox in, otherwise I find it’s not true to life for me.
  10. Turn out for tonight’s talk has been lower than we expected so we can’t afford to pay you, would you like a free row of tickets for the raffle instead ?  Reply – That’s really kind of you, but gambling is a demerit in Buddhism, so I’ll have to respectfully pass.
  11. What have LGBT people ever done for me ?  Reply – We’ve given you the word “F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S “ daghlingk and a standard for it to live up to.
  12. Are your parents disappointed with how you’ve turned out ? Reply, I don’t know, since I outed myself to them, they’ve passed away so arguing with them about it has become a lot harder.
(I do get invited back though.  Sometimes)

Social Media

  1. Do you like Dick ? Reply – I don’t know anyone called Richard, sorry.  I’m sure if I met him and got to know him, I might.
  2. Are you gay ? Reply- Yes, In England gay is just another word for happy though.  Are you ?
  3. Will you marry me ? Reply – No. Never in a million years, because I’m a once in a lifetime woman.
  4. Do you do Cam work ? Reply -No, I am a makeup artist and cannot manufacture any form of mechanical timing or actuation device.
  5. Are you flirting with me ? Reply – No.  Just NO
  6. Can I have your number ? Reply – yes 5.
  7. Do you know Farrah Mills, can you get me her number ? Reply, no, we’re friends and I couldn’t do that to her.
  8. Can I call you Cindy ? Reply – no, I like my name just fine thankyou.
  9. Do you like S&M ? Reply, Yes, their bras aren’t just any bras, they’re M&S Bras.  I wouldn’t buy any others.
  10. Didn’t I hire you as an escort once in London ? Reply – Probably not, I don’t do impersonations of cars from the 1980s.
  11. Would you like to see my cock ? Reply, no, I’m a vegetarian, Poultry has no interest for me.
  12. If I sent you underwear would you wear it and then return it unwashed ?  Reply, no No NO NO NO !!!! Ewwww !!!
  13. Show me your tits.  Reply – Sorry, I don’t have any pets, feathered or otherwise.
  14. How much for sex ?  Reply – more than you can afford since it would cost me my dignity.
  15. Can I cum round ?  Reply – Corners ?!??!?
(funny how when you report these, they are seen not to violate “Community Standards” – what community ?!!?!!)
Would love to know what your own experiences have been !! Drop a comment and join in !!!
Love always

Prison visits

Occasionally, as part of the talks that i give, I get asked what we do as part of the Beaumont Trust Trans prisoners project that i run.

As you’ll probably expect, i can’t go into specifics of prisoner details, but i thought I’d share with you some general details about what a visit is like.

Using the Prisoner Voicemail system, prisoners will usually reach out to us regularly asking for help, information, or maybe just as someone to listen to their general routine and progress on classes or rehabilitation programmes they are working on. We can then listen to these messages and respond to them, keeping an exchange of info going between the prisoner and Trust, which on it’s own might not seem like much, but, when you’re inside and abandoned by your family and subject to abuse, can make a real powerful difference.

About once a month, prisoners will reach out for an arranged visit. Usually on a weekend, when there isn’t much going on, or when it’s mutually convenient. At this point I’ll ring the prison to let them know I’m coming (experience shows this is a good idea) and then arrange the specifics of any visits. Some of those I’ve done up until now have been

  • Makeovers
    Training
    Book reading
    Meditation class
    Pride and scene updates

Talking about each in turn briefly

Makeovers. In these sessions, (which require a lot of pre planning and willingness from the prison director) I’ll take in a range of samples and sponges and makeover a prisoner, while other transwomen look through the makeup and any books i bring in while they’re waiting. We’ll then chat about looks they may want to try the next time I come visit. It’s a pretty fraught hour and hard work !!!

Training. Sometimes the prisoner will want to arrange training for the staff of the prison as part of a coaching or mentoring activity. These visits tend to be a lot more straightforward than any sessions which require you to bring in physical items and usually take the form of a TED talk around a table with whatever officers are able to attend.

Book ReadingWhere we do book readings ill being in a number of copies of a book and, w we’ll take roles and sit around a table, acting out the story. These are great fun, as the inmates get to express themselves, practice their feminine voices and thespian skills.

It’s great fun and quite a scene. (I wholeheartedly apologise to some of the authors we might have offended !!)

Meditation
Meditation classes help with improving prisoners mental health. Something which is particularly important for trans prisoners who will often experience feelings of isolation and abuse while inside. Reactions to these conditions vary, but will usually include self harm, or violence against others and in the worst cases attempts of suicide.

On top of these activities, I also try to collect magazines to send in to prisoners, particularly trans magazines like Transliving, which help inform prisoners of the trans scene outside of their prison and help make them feel part of something. We’ve also historically sent in clothes, by special arrangement, but this is type of activity is reducing because many prisons are now actively preventing this.

Would you like to be involved in this ? Maybe you have an idea of somethig you would like to share that would help us improve the lives of transwomen in prison ? I’d love to hear from you ! Drop me a message with your details and I’ll be happy to get in touch.

Press Release – YNotbU Angel Investment in Transortium

Transortium

We were delighted to hear about Heather Flanagan’s work in establishing a new organisation in the United States called Transortium. Speaking to Heather it quickly became clear that not only did she share a lot of the same values we do, but also had a compelling vision for improving the issues Transgender people face when it comes to integrating into society, pre, during and post transition.

Heathers goal for Transortium is that it should be a hub for bridging the gap between the Trans community and wider society. This bridge is not only made up of information and resources, but training for organisations and the trans community as well.  Through these initiatives they hope to be able to facilitate and ease integration between the transgender community and the wider society.

Because we share in Transortums values and mission, we were only too pleased to be become not only a founding Angel investor in the organisation, but also their partner in the United Kingdom.

You can find out about the Transortium organisation by clicking on any of the following links, or by dropping us a message.  We’ll be only to pleased to help you.

Website

Facebook

2017 UK Pride dates

WP2017_03_17_093

Eleanor popped us a message on Saturday, asking if we knew when a pride event was happening in her area, so we created this little list of the main 2017 events to share with you – if you’d like some help looking fabulous for your big weekend – be sure to let us know !!  You can contact us through our main page at 

https://www.facebook.com/TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice/

 

This years pride events !!

  •  Belfast Gay Pride                              2017-07-28 to 2017-08-06
  • Website :-                                           http://www.belfastpride.com/
  • Birmingham Gay Pride                   2017-05-27 and 2017-05-28
  • Website :-                                           http://www.birminghampride.com/
  • Blackpool Pride                                 2017-06-11 and 2017-06-12
  • Website :-                                           http://www.blackpoolpridefest.com/
  • Brighton Pride                                   2017-08-04 to 2017-08-06
  • Website :-                                           http://www.brighton-pride.org/
  • Brighton Trans Pride                       2017-07-21
  • Website :-                                           http://www.brighton-pride.org/transpride-brighton/
  • Bristol Pride                                       2017-06-30 to 2017-07-09
  • Website :-                                           http://bristolpride.co.uk/
  • Burnley Pride                                     2017-05-26
  • Website :-                                           http://www.burnleypride.co.uk/
  • Canterbury Pride                              2017-06-10
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/events/719463241551943
  • Chester Pride                                     2017-08-19
  • Website :-                                           http://chesterpride.co.uk/#main-event
  • Coventry Pride                                  2017-06-10 to 2017-06-11
  • Website :-                                           http://www.coventrypride.org.uk/
  • Cymru Pride                                       2017-08-25 to 2017-08-27
  • Website :-                                           http://www.pridecymru.co.uk/
  • Doncaster Pride                                2017-08-19
  • Website :-                                           http://www.doncasterpride.co.uk/
  • Dublin Pride                                       2017-06-24
  • Website :-                                           http://www.dublinpride.ie/
  • Durham Pride                                    2017-05-29
  • Website :-                                           http://www.pridedurham.com/
  • Eastbourne Gay Pride                     2017-07-22
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/events/218400055237592/
  • Essex Pride                                         2017-06-24
  • Website :-                                           http://www.essexpride.org/
  • Exeter Pride                                       2017-05-13
  • Website :-                                           http://www.exeterpride.co.uk/
  • Exmouth Pride                                  2017-07-01
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/prideexmouth
  • Flintshire Pride                                  2017-05-27
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/FlintshirePride/
  • Gloucestershire Gay Pride            2017-06-10
  • Website :-                                           http://glospride.org.uk/
  • Hampshire Pride                               2017-02-25
  • Website :-                                           https://hampshirepride.com/
  • Hereford Pride                                  2017-07-29
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/events/188128131631829/
  • Herts Pride                                         2017-09-02
  • Website :-                                           http://www.hertspride.co.uk/
  • Hull Pride                                            2017-07-22
  • Website :-                                           http://prideinhull.co.uk/pih/
  • Lancaster Pride                                 2017-05-20
  • Website :-                                           http://www.lancasterpride.uk/
  • Leeds Gay Pride                                2017-08-05
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/lgbtleedspride
  • Liverpool Pride                                  2017-07-29
  • Website :-                                           http://liverpoolpride.co.uk/
  • London Pride                                     2017-06-24 to 2017-07-09
  • Website :-                                           http://prideinlondon.org/
  • Manchester Pride                            2017-08-25
  • Website :-                                           http://www.manchesterpride.com/
  • Newcastle Pride                               2017-07-21
  • Website :-                                           http://www.northern-pride.com/
  • Norwich Pride                                    2017-07-29
  • Website :-                                           http://www.norwichpride.org.uk/
  • Oxford Pride                                      2017-06-03
  • Website :-                                           http://www.oxfordpride.uk/
  • Plymouth Pride                                 2017-08-05
  • Website :-                                           http://prideinplymouth.org.uk/
  • Pride Cymru                                       2017-08-25 to 2017-08-27
  • Website :-                                           http://www.pridecymru.co.uk/
  • Pride Sheffield                                  2017-07-29
  • Wesbite :-                                           http://www.pridesheffield.org/
  • Reading Pride                                    2017-09-02
  • Website :-                                           https://readingpride.co.uk/pride
  • Rotherham Pride                              2017-07-15
  • Website :-                                           http://prideof-rotherham.webs.com/
  • Sheffield Pride                                  2017-07-29
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/SheffieldPride
  • Southampton Pride                         2017-08-26
  • Website :-                                           http://southamptonpride.org/
  • Sparkle                                                 2017-07-07
  • Website :-                                           http://www.sparkle.org.uk/
  • Totnes Pride                                       2017-09-02
  • Website :-                                           https://www.facebook.com/events/1710972252528016/
  • Walsall Gay Pride                             2017-08-26
  • Website :-                                           http://www.walsallpride.org/
  • Warwickshire Pride                         2017-08-19
  • Website :-                                           http://www.warwickshirepride.co.uk/
  • Weston Super Mare Pride            2017-07-29
  • Website :-                                           https://www.wsmpride.com/
  • York Pride                                           2017-06-10
  • Website :-                                           http://yorkpride.org.uk/

Trans – a memoir by Juliet Jacques

TransI bought this book recently and was so pleased it came just before my short break in the lake district. I’ve been a fan of Juliet’s for ages and was absolutely thrilled when I heard she was working on a book and even more excited to get my hands on it.

For me, Juliet is one of the unsung heroes of the trans community here in the UK. Just one of those people who have moved beyond the label of transgender and lives her life. Intelligent, well written and insightful, I got through the paper copy in just under a week of night time reading and then bought the kindle copy so that I could conveniently take it around with me and return to it often, which I look forward to !!! (There’s even an audiobook now !!)

With the mainstream media adopting an increasing number of transgender personalities and their stories into their regular broadcasting, it would be easy to lose sight of  something as special as this book.  But what makes it so good ?  Well, firstly, it’s written in such a personal, enjoyable style, but if you knew her, you’d expect that.  She is a talented journalist and writer, regularly appearing in UK national newspapers and magazines.  Even with that expectation though, you still aren’t prepared for how good it is, which is for the second reason.  “Trans – a memoir” is Juliet’s own personal and very detailed account of what it’s like to be transgender.  Even being trans myself,  I learnt a huge amount from reading it, not least of which was once you pick it up, you can’t put it back down again !!!  A definite must read for anyone interested in learning about transgender issues.

I would describe it as an honest, funny, brave and moving story through gender expression and maybe even feminism.  More than that, it’s about gender variance and it’s difficult interaction with social acceptance. It beautifully describes Juliet’s experiences in such a moving way, you’re struck by not just how likeable and brave she is, but also how much you want her to be her friend (seriously – she’s SO nice !!!)  She deals with really difficult situations through her transition with an inner calm and voice which should act an inspiration and model for people going through their own transition.  It’s all in here, self acceptance, the frustration with the NHS, recognition from family and friends, feeling good in your own skin afterwards, it’s all in here.  Intimately told, it’s a fascinating personal stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after you’ve archived it back to your library shelf to look at with happy memories.

I genuinely hope you don’t just read this review, either here or on Amazon, I wish that you go out and buy it.  It’s a great addition to the increasing library of meaningful trans literature and manages to explain the intricacies of a huge variety of genders and sexualities, the history of feminism and transgender, ethical dilemmas of confessional journalism, and a lot of Trans film and culture while weaving it all through her own story. Personal and political and incredibly well executed. Her writing on depression is incredibly sensitive and eloquent.  This is written so well. Gives a very detailed experience of what it’s like to be transgender – I learnt a huge amount from reading it, and could not put it down. A definite read for everyone.

Would happily recommend this as a worthwhile addition to the libraries of trans people out there from an important woman. Read it, treasure it and celebrate it.

You can buy “Trans – a memoir” at the following link – as I said, it’s available in a variety of formats – pick your favourite and dive in !!!

Care of elderly trans people

elderly care

Picture the scene.  You look into a room and see a care worker struggling to help an elderly woman out of bed and dressed.  The woman is scared, and actively trying to stop the care worker helping.

The scene is punctuated with increasingly vocal protestations from the woman “Get off me !!”, “They’re not mine !!”, “Leave me alone !!”  Frustrated, the care worker eventually gives up, at a loss to know what to do and instead turns her attention to trying to calm the situation down.  Eventually, some 10 minutes later, the woman is back in bed rigid and tense beneath the covers and the care worker has retreated to the relative safety of her other residents and her colleagues.

You’re probably thinking the elderly woman is suffering with something like dementia or maybe altzheimers. And in truth, you’re partly right.  But the reality is a little more complicated.  The elderly woman is transgender, she transitioned some time ago, but now, because of failing mental health, no longer remembers a thing about it.  “It happens quite a bit with Mrs Cairson” (Not her real name) when I ask the nurse.  “It’s very unsettling for the staff and the other residents here.  So we try to give her some time and talk to her when it happens and let her calm down.  But it’s not always easy.  We’re struggling to balance her needs with others who have similar issues” .  “Although we want to try and integrate her into the home, she regularly gets upset or confused and it affects our other residents.  We’re finding that to keep her separate makes it easier for us to manage the peace in the facility.  We know it’s not the best answer for her, but, it’s the most practical solution we have at the moment”

Here in the UK many residential care facilities are ill-equipped and poorly trained to manage the needs of elderly transgender people, who fear that a move to assisted living may leave them vulnerable to discrimination and harassment.  Worse still, because of issues with her family and friends when Mrs Cairson transitioned, she is isolated and alone.  When I ask, the staff nurse tells me “You’re the first person who has visited her this year”.  Think about that for a moment.  She has family. It’s now June. That’s a long time to be alone and for anyone to hold onto hate.

“Ruby’s” (Mrs Cairson to you and me) situation is only one aspect of the problems facing Trans people in care.  She at least transitioned and is congruent with her gender identity.  A considerable number of trans people actually don’t complete their transition with surgery, either because of the cost, or other difficulties (such as decreased sexual function).  This is particularly true for Female to Male (FTM) transgender people.  When these people disrobe in a care home setting, they’re automatically “outed” which creates problems supporting trans people in residential care. As Kyle told me

I think women would have a problem with me sharing with them and I’d have a problem with a men unless I transitioned.  In truth, I don’t think I would want anyone to know about me, but with what I expect to be the level of gossip in such a confined space, I wouldn’t expect my “secret” would last a minute.

Bi-gendered people also struggle to thrive in care homes too.  They often fear that the homes policy will force them to be totally one gender or the other and exiled from the gender identity bringing them more distress.  As an attempt to appease the situation, one care home I went to told me “we allow trans residents to dress in appropriate clothes in their own rooms.  That is, when their room-mate is agreeable”.  Does this really sound like a solution ?

Many people I have spoken to have said “they would prefer to be left to die at home rather than be in a residential care home facility”.  When I asked why, the most common concern is the type of care they think they would receive, as well as if their gender identities be respected, allowing them to live their last moments with grace and dignity.

Past research has found that many transgender people avoid seeing a doctor for fear of being ostracized. Of those who do seek health care, a survey of transgender people found that 22 percent had suffered harassment in medical settings, including ridicule or rough treatment. 15 percent said that they had been denied care altogether by doctors and other providers, and 50 percent reported having to educate their medical providers on transgender care.

Isn’t it time for a better solution ?