About Shopping (for clothes)

We had loads of really good advice recently on our Facebook group. Shopping can be a difficult experience for anyone who doesn’t identify as the gender they were assigned, and we live in a society with really strict dress codes.  Here is a selection of the best comments for someone struggling to buy clothes…

“Start off with androgynous jeans, shoes and plain tops and slowly build up a wardrobe/ why go local ?/ get to a big city shopping centre where no one knows you/ do not be ashamed or guilty/ because you know this is right and all ok… It may be an effort but you have to start somehow somewhere …”


Primark if you can get to one….cheap so you can find a style that suits you and populate a decent wardrobe without breaking the bank, there are loads of people through there so it’s basically anonymous and the staff really don’t care. Same goes for any larger store, really. And eBay/any online clothes shop. As for sizes, just measure yourself, find out what you areShopping1 in ‘women’ sizing, remember that all shops define the sizes differently (nightmare!) and get out there.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, if they’re staring then it’s their issue, not yours. Don’t let their inability to step outside the box they live in weigh on your life and what you want to do. You’ll find, if you act confidently then you’ll get less attention, but if you act like you’re doing something wrong (which you definitely aren’t) it’ll attract people’s attention.”


“It is tough and the world is not always nice and caring for any girls and transgender girls in particular, especially, in the beginning of their journey. You have to brace yourself and learn to focus on your aims in life, one day at a time, and ignore the outside world when it actively negatively affects you. Shopping can and should be enjoyable for any lady. Relax! Other shoppers aren’t there to identify any strange (from their point of view) characters, they are (surprise! surprise!) only shopping too! Shopping assistants are only interested in their sales. so even if you were an alien or a mythical creature – they’d take your cash! Go to whichever dressing room you feel comfortable in – even if they call you a mate or anything else (that’s from my personal experience). the more relaxed you are – the more natural you are – the less unwanted attention/stares you will get! Remember that! I was walking the other day on a friday night in a fairly short little black dress to a railway station from which a crowd of drunken football fans was coming out – would you panic in such a scenario? if you would, they’d see you as a sport! the right approach is to walk right through them proudly ‘wearing your invisible crown’ and paying no attention to them chin up, nose up, smile, straighten your figure and go ahead! Conquer the world! you can do it! … xxx”


“Every stare, every comment, is them trying to stop you.
What you are doing in being who you actually are, instead of what everyone wants you to be, causes most to rethink their ideas on gender and people.
They look, because you are breaking the code.
All you are doing is being a person.
And you deserve so much better.
What you are doing should be celebrated.
It is horrible that it isn’t.
But you have the right to go into any shop, buy anything you want and be whoever you want to be.
Please know that. You are not asking for anything special.
Please keep going. You deserve the life you want. The best thing you can do to fight is keep going.
Don’t let them win.
They want you to feel like this so you can go away.
For now, listen to headphones when you are in shops.
Don’t stop. Don’t look at them. Concentrate on being you.
Eventually (and I know you won’t believe this) you will be OK.”


Rebecca x

A Brief Roller Derby Story – by Kit.

A roller derby story

I’ve been involved in Roller Derby for longer than I’ve considered myself trans. I developed some close relationships with my team-mates and made some brilliant friends, whilst keeping fit and being badass. We had socials and parties, meetings and votes. We raised money for charities, put on huge events and helped our local communities. When I became too physically ill to play and train regularly, my team supported me. When I realised that I was a trans person, I became really scared that my female team wouldn’t want me anymore and that I would lose a whole support network. What actually happened was that I came out to my team privately. They rallied around me, sent me messages saying how much they love me and are behind me 100% of the way in whatever I choose to do and now they are even arguing over what my new name will be (the leaders are now ‘Jussi’ and ‘Finn’). I think they might even be planning me a “born again” party on the sly.

I have met many trans people whilst being involved in roller derby, many wonderful people who have really suffered. Some people are just involved for the sense of community and don’t skate. Some people skate for their teams and are brilliant at it, valued and celebrated. Any transphobia in the community is instantly quashed, and it’s rare. For every transphobic voice, there will be 10 more trans-positive voices drowning that person out.

If anyone here is interes10547923_929221099174_2020165724913674527_oted in roller derby, my league has a male team (The Bomb S’quad) as well as a female team. I have checked with their policies and we use the UKRDA (UKRoller Derby Association) rules set/policies. This means that anyone attending, whatever their birth gender and place on their transition journey, can compete as the gender they identify as, no questions asked. For people who are non-binary, the UKRDA have this to say: “If individuals with these identities have joined a female team, presumably it’s because they are happy to be seen as female in the context of roller derby. Similarly with someone who joins a male team. It’s good manner to note the pronouns that individuals with a genderqueer/fluid/neutral or bigendered identity may prefer, and not to make assumptions about this.”

My league also had this to say: “I think if someone really doesn’t not feel comfortable ‘picking a side’ as it were…there are plenty of co-ed opportunities available and they can continue to train with both teams (a lot of people train with both anyway)” and “Everyone is welcome, we wouldn’t stand for anything less.”.

In the next couple of weeks my team are starting their new fresh meat season, and I will be there as a general tutor/support for the first couple of sessions (although I haven’t skated in a while so that will be interesting!!). If anyone is interested in trying out for this high-powered sport which is great for fitness and in a lovely supportive team, please let me know and I will hook you up with the right people! Word of warning, my league is based in Eastbourne. It seems like a long way away, but much of the team is Brighton based anyway. There aren’t as many male roller derby (merby) teams as female teams at the moment, but there are rapidly becoming more and more and the sport in general is quite exciting to watch.

Any team that abides by the UKRDA policies are required to be trans-inclusive, and there are plenty of them registered in the UK, not just my team in Eastbourne. Teams have to jump through several hoops to become UKRDA registered so not all teams are. If in doubt, enquire with your local league and see- there’s sure to be one near you.

Also, if you’re under 18, my league has a kid’s team (The New Bournes). Though small at the moment, it’s co-ed and run by some of the most wonderful people and including some of the most rebellious cool kids I’ve ever met .

Here is a flyer for my team’s Fresh Meat event, if you’re interested. Please ignore the “women only, 18+”. The event is open to all, regardless of gender.

If you have any questions, please contact someone through the group or try these links: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
http://bombsquadrollerderby.wordpress.com/
http://thebbcd.com/
https://www.facebook.com/NewBournes
http://ukrda.org.uk/?p=727 (copy of the UKRDA transgender policy)

Kit.

QueenSpark books launches an historic book!

I was really honored to take part in an historic book about trans*  people in Brighton, which was launched yesterday. It includes a broad spectrum of trans identities and features:

Sab Ah, Alice, Nick, Ludovic, Fox, Sam, Darcy, Cass, Ben, Ruth, Joanna, Sarah, E-j Scott, Stephanie, Rory, Edward, Gloria, Maeve, Luc, Reuben, Ezekiel, Eli, Michelle and Kim.

In it you’ll discover a little about how we all navigate our identities within Brighton’s vibrant culture.  It was written by recording oral interviews of trans people by trans people and is a milestone in not only making trans history but preventing trans erasure that is so prevelant in a culture which is still struggling to see the beauty and diversity that trans* people offer.

Brighton & Hove is a place where trans people are increasingly seen and heard, understood and respected, and Brighton Trans*formed shows how far we’ve come, and how far there is to go. – Juliet Jacques”

transformed“Trans identities are often neglected, re-written or even erased from formal histories. Brighton Trans*formed features, in their own words, the rich variety of Trans lives in Brighton & Hove today; it preserves previously untold stories for future generations, and is a much-needed exploration into the diversity of gender expression within the city.”

 

A big thank-you to all the production team for all their hard work to make it happen.   It’s a beautiful book.

You can buy a copy here, direct from the website – and a portion of all the profits go to the trans alliance.

 Rebecca x

IDAHOBIT Brighton 2014

SONY DSCOn Saturday the 17th May Brighton marked international day against homophobia, Biphobia and transphobia – May 17th being the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of “mental diseases”.  Brighton and Hove community safety forum are an established independent LGBT forum of volunteers working with the LGBT Community to address and improve safety issues throughout Brighton & Hove.  To mark IDAHOBIT a whole range of speakers came and shared their experiences about being LGBT and their experiences in the community.  It’s always great to see how a very diverse range of people can come together and accept their differences to listen to each others issues relating to how they are treated by society.  I was talking with one of the organisers who was proud to include separate flags for gay bisexual and transgender people as a united community.
SONY DSC
It’s difficult to imagine in the UK today how homosexuality was so outlawed that it was considered a “mental illness” to society, a danger and a threat, and something considered illegal and something to be legislated against. How far we have come in terms of acceptance of people with different sexual orientations is testimony to a diverse and caring society – and as a society we have benefited enormously for that compassion. It was encouraging to hear from Brighton Allsorts, whose work in the schools and the local community is providing direct support and advice where it is needed the most.  They produce information for schools and have recently produced a booklet explaining transgender identities and how best to support their transgender population.  There were a number of political parties there including the green party who are very much bringing LGBTI rights forward into the public domain.  In the UK we’re not yet in a position to free transgender people from the burden of “wrongness” – the stigma of a mental health diagnosis and a reason for persecutory and inhumane treatment to be considered “normal”.

SONY DSCThe NHS requirement for a mandatory two-year period of psychiatric assessment for trans people to access a surgical waiting list (which by 2016 may well mean another 2 year wait) means a brutal curtailing of trans peoples wellbeing.  It is very challenging to have a loving intimate relationship with someone when they are so disturbed by their own body.  It is very difficult for transitioning trans people to enjoy any of the rights of cisgender people in gendered spaces – such as going swimming, going to the beach, going on holiday somewhere hot, even going to a club or a bar.  When treatment is practical, proven effective, and cost-effective for society denying trans people treatment is tantamount to torture.  Transphobia in itself is: refusing to believe that transgender people actually exist, that their need for treatment is real and that it is OK to ignore their emotional and psychological pain.

 

Rebecca.

 

Kids camp for gender non-conformity

Linda Morris recently released some fantastic images like this one, of children free to explore and express their gender, click here to see more. Girllook“For many of these children, their perceptions of their gender are misaligned with their bodies. They may later identify as gay, transgender, or somewhere in between. This is just one way of being that has always existed, but only now are we developing the ability to say it’s OK not to put everyone in a neat little box. It will require all of us to break the habit of assigning individuals a gender label and to start thinking of gender on a broader spectrum. I know how lonely, and at times traumatic, life for an LGBT child can be. Looking over your shoulder and navigating your way through curious classmates and the occasional bully can be exhausting. That need to explain one’s self does not exist at camp. Pure freedom of expression is a compelling and emotional thing to witness.”

 

Newspapers agree to respect trans woman’s right to privacy.

I was delighted to hear today that six national newspapers have agreed that “sex swap” headlines and inclusion of transgender status were inappropriate in a landmark negotiation with the Press Complaints Commision and Dr Kate Stone.  Dr Kate stone,  was involved in a car accident where she was critically injured by a stag.  She has two children, is a research engineer in the Institute of Manufacturing at Cambridge and has set up her own technology company, Novalia.

Six newspapers had sensationalised her medical history as part of the story – however her complaints were upheld by the PCC who have since edited their online versions.

The statements from the newspapers are as follows:

The Scottish Sun

Dr Kate Stone complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complainant considered the use of the term “sex swap” in reference to her transgender status to be pejorative, in breach of Clause 12 (i) of the Code, and, furthermore, that the references to her gender status at all in the articles were irrelevant to the story, in breach of Clause 12 (ii) of the Code. She considered the reference to her former name intruded into her private life in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the references to the complainant’s transgender status from the online articles, as the newspaper acknowledged that her gender status had not been relevant to the story and that the use of the term “sex swap” in the articles had been inappropriate. (Cl 3 and 12)

The Daily Telegraph

Dr Kate Stone complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complainant considered that the reference to her transgender status in the article was irrelevant to the story, in breach of Clause 12 (ii) of the Code.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the reference to the complainant’s transgender status from the online article, as the newspaper acknowledged that it had not been relevant to the story. (Cl 12)

The Sun

Dr Kate Stone complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complainant considered the use of the term “sex swap” in reference to her transgender status to be pejorative, in breach of Clause 12 (i) of the Code, and, furthermore, that the references to her gender status at all in the articles were irrelevant to the story, in breach of Clause 12 (ii) of the Code.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the references to the complainant’s transgender status from the online articles, as the newspaper acknowledged that her gender status had not been relevant to the story and that the use of the term “sex swap” in the articles was inappropriate. (Cl 12)

Daily Mail

Dr Kate Stone complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complainant considered that the reference to her transgender status in the article was irrelevant to the story, in breach of Clause 12 (ii) of the Code.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the reference to the complainant’s transgender status from the online article, as the newspaper acknowledged that it had not been relevant to the story. (Cl 12)

Daily Record

Dr Kate Stone complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complainant considered the use of the term “sex swap” in reference to her transgender status to be pejorative, in breach of Clause 12 (i) of the Code, and, furthermore, that the references to her gender status at all in the articles were irrelevant to the story, in breach of Clause 12 (ii) of the Code.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the references to the complainant’s transgender status from the online articles, as the newspaper acknowledged that her gender status had not been relevant to the story and that the use of the term “sex swap” in the articles was inappropriate. (Cl 12)

Daily Mirror

Dr Kate Stone complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complainant considered that the references to her transgender status in the articles were irrelevant to the story, in breach of Clause 12 (ii) of the Code. She also considered the reference to her former name intruded into her private life in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the references to the complainant’s transgender status from the online articles, as the newspaper acknowledged that her gender status had not been relevant to the story. In light of the above, the newspaper also acknowledged that in these circumstances (Cl 3 and 12)

This is a brilliant step forward for respecting trans people’s right to privacy and dignity. Thank-you Kate for moving things forward.  You can read more about it here.

Rebecca.

Mina: Heart, Dreams & Pursuit: April/May Column

April/May 2014

This column is a brief discussion of the social context with transitioning, what to expect, dealing with judgement and healthy ways of releasing emotions. This column is in two parts, with the second part being released mid-May.

The inner release of coming out can and for most people, be a very cathartic, therapeutic expereience, but also one of a very terrifying and uncertain nature. The relationships held with family, friends, work colleagues and the rest in an ideal world, would not become jaded or dysfunctional, but unfortunately we all have our own inner built belief systems and experiences, so the process of a loved one transitioning from what they knew them as can be a difficult time for them. Nevertheless, if transitioning is something you really want to do, and you feel it would enhance your quality of life and happiness, then you must follow your instinct and do what you feel is best.

The process of coming out can leave one feeling very vulnerable regarding transition, as whilst some individuals may pass easily or without great difficulty, there are also many who in the beginning stages may struggle with passing. This is not an obstacle, but more of a learning process. It can take a great deal of time to find your inner identity, through cosmetics, fashion, body language, voice training, confidence, and style. For me, I look back on my early stages of transition with unease on how I approached it visually, however it is all a learning experiece, and what we feel are mistakes are in place to be learned from, and allow us to evolve into who we feel we are.

The social aspect of transitioning and having to deal with the public can be a soul destroying process, and for me there were many times where I could not believe the sheer ignorance, rudeness and spiteful nature of some of the people that crossed my path. On the same token, there were many occasions where I was met with support and encouragement, and the transition process in a social context requires a lot of give and take, patience, resilience and a thick skin to be able to continue to pursue your transition regardless of any adversity you may find yourself facing. I am aware that certain places can be very dangerous for your safety to transition, so you must stay safe as best as you can.

The realistic experiences you may find yourself having is being stared at, perhaps talked about amongst people who a lot of the time, are not very discreet about it, and being questioned about your gender. With questioning, be vigilant with it, as some of the time people do not have malicious intent and are just merely curious, but nevertheless, stay aware. Telling someone you are in the process of transitioning is entirely at your discretion, however be prepared for a lot of questions, because in current modern society, whilst transgender issues are gaining more exposure, there is still a lack of understanding of the implications of the topic so to an unknowing member of the public, you would become their source of answers. Some of the time I would disclose I was undergoing gender reassignment however for me, I am generally able to tell who is being curious, and who is trying to attack my emotional state, and this is definitely an ability that develops during your transition process. If you consider yourself a very shy individual, perhaps not broadcasting it openly in a social context is a healthy thing to do, and it may be best for your confidence to build before doing this. If you are not shy and very proud and quite open about it just be mindful of your social behaviour, as this can perhaps make you stand out in the crowd, which may be something you do not wish to happen. Be mindful of how much you discuss about yourself and your transition because it is within our human nature to talk. As I have said, this is entirely up to you as an individual on how far you want to be open about it, at any stage of the journey.

If your an individual who likes going to pubs and clubs, then you must be even more vigilant and aware, as alcohol can hinder our inhibitions and make us act and behave in ways that is not within our usual persona, and I would say the majority of the negative experiences I have had during my transition have involved an environment where alcohol was involved. Many people choose not to go out in this way during their transition until they feel ‘fully done’, however this is down to you as to whether you wish to. Just be aware that dealing with intoxicated people questioning your gender or transition (if you have mentioned it) can feel a very intrusive experience, especially when alcohol is involved.

You may find yourself in the firing line of verbal insults and being made fun of in a social context, however use these experiences to drive you. For me, the more people that mocked me and put me down, the more I was determined to push myself and my boundaries to transition and find happiness. I percieve this negative energy engulfing me as standing in the way of my happiness, and for me inner happiness is one of the most important emotions and spiritual states to experience during a lifetime, so I used all of the negative energy I faced to push myself and carry on.

This column may read quite pessimistically, however my goal with this column is to emphasise the realities of transitioning, from a bare bones perspective, regarding everyday life. It is not an easy process, and for many, will perhaps be the most difficult experience they will have during their life time. I am a mere six months in regarding medical treatment, have a long way to go and still have trouble passing most of the time but I myself, sometimes have obstacles with my own confidence which at times holds me back however it is all a gradual process. There are a lot of pro’s and con’s, give and take and the positive with the negative during transition, and it is important to take both in your stride to allow yourself to develop into who you feel you are. It may be useful to keep a diary of your experiences, noting the positive and negative occurences you face in your everyday life as this can be very therapeutic. I am a musician and writier myself outside of my main career and creative outlets have paid dividends to my strength with the transition. Activities such as creative pursuits, long walks, sightseeing, sport, other related exercise etc can not only be a healthy way of releasing your emotions, but can also be very good for you physically.

Dealing with judgemental attitudes can be a very heavy process, and for many, is not a process that can come very easily. It can leave one questioning why nobody else can see the world like they do, and why people cannot see their perspective. Unfortunately we all have our own life experiences, backgrounds and walks of life and for many, judgement is something that just happens with certain individuals and that is just the way the world is. Grasping onto judgement is not a worthwhile habit to maintain, as it’s within our nature to assess and judge a situation. For me, I just accept and know that everyone has their own way of looking at the world, and for some, who I am is not something that would fit into their perception of the world as such, and on the same note, there are individuals I have met during my lifetime that certaintly would not have fitted into my own perspective of the world. Take judgement in your stride and do not let it defeat you, embrace it and let it make you more determined to evolve with your transition. People will be people and that’s just the way it is unfortunately.

I was going to discuss the implications with gender pronouns, but during the writing process I ended up with more material than I anticipated, so I will merge this with a future column I have coming with the legal aspects of transitioning, with name change, updating financial details, identity documents etc. I was also going to discuss the situation with public toilets before and after having your legal rights papers, however this writing process also yielded more material than I thought I would obtain so this will be a column for the future.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Mina x

Snapshot_20140405_16

Six months in on HRT, still awaiting laser hair removal session dates and voice coaching dates from the hospitals.

 

Properly Suppressing Your Gender Dysphoria

'Narrate a play when you are seven.
Protest your wardrobe convincingly.
Don’t pretend the robe is a dress. 
Squirm when they let you wear lipstick and blush. 
Do not say they “let you.” 
Forget this memory.
Hate your long eyelashes. 
Avoid androgynous haircuts. 
Blush when the lunch lady thinks you are a girl. 
Do not like this, but remember this — it is embarrassing. 
Don’t watch The Jetsons. 
Don’t dream that you have a machine that showers and dresses you in the morning. 
Don’t dream that it always messes up and dresses you like a girl. Consider this “messing up.” 
Do not have this dream again.
Don’t go to water parks. 
Don’t hate your swimsuit. 
Don’t like hers. 
Don’t dream of futuristic water slides that can change your gender. Don’t always find ways to accidentally go down the girl’s slide. Consider this “accidental.” 
Stop having this dream. 
Stop having this dream. 
Stop having this dream.
Stop dreaming.
Forget that time in third grade when Kyle got to dress up as a cheerleader for Halloween. 
Don’t say that he “got to.” 
Become too old for Halloween when you are nine. Do not tell anyone why.
Don’t envy that girl’s outfit, her hair, or her body. 
Do not envy her genitals. 
This is not envy; this is attraction.
Don’t watch Mulan.
Don’t tell your sister that you wish you were a girl. 
Laugh with her when she points out your bulbous Adam’s apple and tell her that you are kidding. 
Don’t hate your Adam’s apple. 
Do not push it to the back of your throat and wish that it would stay.
Don’t ask your mom what she would’ve named you if you were a girl.

Elizabeth.

Don’t go to the Woodstock Fleece Festival. 
Don’t look at all the cute knit hats. 
Don’t cry in the car in front of your aunt. 
Do not cry over knit hats when you are twenty-three.Don’t go to The Stumble Inn with Karen. 
Don’t sit on the patio, and don’t order a drink. 
Don’t let her tell you that you have feminine features — you don’t. Don’t let it make you happy. 
Do not be happy.
Don’t pretend to be a girl online. 
Consider this “pretend.”
Pretend to be a boy in real life. 
Consider this “real.”

Wait until you are older — it will go away.
Pretend that it does.'
- Chase Harvey