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All posts for the month July, 2015

Week 75 – Day 4 : ‘Hearts not Parts’

Published July 23, 2015 by Katier Scott

You might recall, back in April, me talking about the loss of a 15 year old, young Roller Derby player, Sam Taub, a loss that effected me quite strongly simply because I connected with him in a way I never expected. More recently the Roller Derby community lost another of their youngsters when a 14 year old skater lost her fight with Depression – both these incidents saddened me, we shouldn’t be loosing young people with bright futures, at this age. We shouldn’t have to be fighting against discrimination and we need to look after our young people – when I qualify as a Mental Health Nurse in around 3-4 years time, I most definitely would like to work to help these people who should be getting every bit of support they need.

But the reason Sam’s story has resurfaced was a fantastic speech by Caitlyn Jenner. Now I’m not someone who particularly follows celebrities, especially when it comes to their lifes especially, let them live them. But Jenner has come out very publicly, and, having listened to her speech I realise she’s using her celebrity to raise awareness, she’s clearly someone who’s grounded and understands the problems people with GD and/or GID face, alongside those who identify somewhere under the Transgender umbrella. During her speech, which was for a well deserved courage award, Jenner mentioned three people, two by name, one of whom was Sam.

This unsurprisingly raised awareness of what happened back in April as many news outlet’s who may have missed the initial story, or ran it at a low profile, suddenly started digging and the result has been a series of fantastically supportive articles in which the result is I so want to fly to Detroit and give Sam’s Dad, Geoff Taub a huge hug. For someone who must be still struggling with the loss of his son, the quotes have been from a very brave and tough person. I already had a lot of respect for Geoff after comments he’d made in response to articles in the Roller Derby community, but his recent quotes are of a very brave person.

One quote really hit home, however. I’d seen Geoff mention it before, but in light of conversations I’ve had with people recently the quote, which was made by Sam Taub when he first told his dad who he really was. Sam said, Dad, “it’s Hearts not Parts” and today really hit home for me.

I am having my little battle with the Gender Clinic to sort out surgery, it’s a battle that appears to be on the home stretch but it’s unlikely I’ll have surgery for another year.. but while I was there chatting to the receptionist I told her how, for me, this whole GIC journey was purely about fixing the ‘parts’ – but ultimately for me it’s what my Heart (well brain) said, I didn’t feel I was transitioning, I transitioned the day I moved into my new flat after splitting with my ex. From that day on my life has been lived as ‘hearts, not parts’ – the parts cause me issues, things like changing rooms primarily are still an issue, however ultimately it’s sorting a few minor things – I live my life as me, what my heart says, not what my ‘parts’ are.

What really moved me, and it’s so sad to hear it still happening, is the story of another trans person who recently mentioned they were having to live as their wrong gender. Speaking to them, despite the trans-person being an adult (gender withheld for maximum anonymity), their parents were clearly not from the Geoff Taub mould of parenting. They can’t seperate the ‘parts’ from the ‘heart’ and worse, are worried about the ‘appearance’ of having a trans-person as their child. I’ve been fortunate, my parents, and family, have all been hugely supportive, heart is what matters, and the fact I’m much more happy, living a much more fulfilling life, and am hugely fortunate – means they are very happy for me.. it’s about Hearts, not Parts, folks.

Which brings me to this blog and my book, I really hope people who might not understand, read it and realise that life is very much about heart, about loving your kids, helping them and supporting them – not about the parts. It’s tough, many supportive parents have mentioned how they went through a grieving process, it needs patience on the part of the person who is living as their correct gender, and sadly as Sam shows, it’s not always enough – but we need to love and care for our kids, show it doesn’t matter what Gender they really are, what their sexuality they are and that they need to be taken seriously and given the treatment and support they need. They don’t need to be forced to live as the wrong gender, have their things thrown out, be forced to undergo degrading and pointless ‘curative therapy’ as happened to  Leelah Alcorn.

All our young people need love, support, and access to the right services in a supportive environment, we are losing too many of our young people, and it shouldn’t be happening. Remember folks, it’s Hearts not Parts, give all your kids all the support they need, be compassionate, caring and supportive – and allow them access to all the services they need and deserve. It’s not their fault they are GD/GID, Depressed, Gay, or whatever else, give them all the love and support they deserve.

Week 73 – Day 3 : Stress.. Stress.. Stress..

Published July 15, 2015 by Katier Scott

Stress is a concept that for most of my life has been pretty alien.

While my married life was potted with problems, job insecurity, trying to keep family fed etc. it was generally stuff I simply just shrugged and got on with. I couldn’t control it, so didn’t stress over it. My degree was largely stress free, I asked for an extension for my final hand-ins but at the time the marriage was on it’s final legs and while it was causing problems it wasn’t causing much stress – although to say I didn’t have any isn’t true, I would on a number of occasions spend time on the phone with my parents in tears.. but I’m not sure it was strictly stress – just the result of a failing marriage.

As I’ve got involved with things the energy I put into them has increased and that has snowballed to the degree that this year has been a source of all kinds of things that can cause people to get stressed.

Money worries, Gender Clinic hassles, motorbike troubles are the ones I have little control over, but as I am a caring person.. others I have control over.. even if I don’t look after myself doing it.

Last week you’ll remember I was talking about ‘less is more’ – well I realised over the last 48 hours that one benefit of that should be my mental health.

Back in April I went to the Empire LARP event E1 as crew, I arrived with stress levels as a high level, and ended up leaving site early due to being broken.. I was broken because I cared about the people I worked with first and foremost, and worked extremely hard.. having already arrived stressed.. naturally I left.. well stressed – although superb support from my friends meant I didn’t melt down..

But it was around this time that it was highlighted to me that I needed to improve my form in Roller Derby – i.e. the way that I actually skate. As skating is something you do naturally, like walking down the street, this was never going to be easy.. but I was getting lots of great support from the rest of the league and fed off that support, my love of Derby and wish to pass assessments when they came up to push and work extremely hard.. but as what I was doing was not easy and Derby has definite mental areas.. naturally my stress levels weren’t particularly low..

When Empire E2 arrived on the door.. and I had a complete meltdown on Friday night.. but I have never been in that situation before – again felt really bad that I was having to get a LOT of support off my friends again.. which makes me feel guilty and more stress!!!

I was still working hard on Derby skills, but was starting to understand I needed to balance things.. less is more.. but unfortunately circumstances meant that didn’t happen straight away – which resulted in last weekend being a complete tear fest, for the third time in 2 months, lots of support from friends.. followed with guilt.. that finished up with a fantastic night with one of those friends at the local pub which was exactly what I needed – a chilled night with one of my best, and most supportive, friends just being friends – we went with two other friends, noodled with a guitar, had a laugh and just simply relaxed.

But I was still stressed.. because next week I was facing an itinery that would be tough for anyone. My schedule looked like :-

Saturday – Roller Derby Bout in Sheffield, NSOing as Penalty Tracker – low stress level, should be fun and enjoyable.
Sunday – was planning on partying with one of the teams on Saturday night, then practicing with them on Sunday.
Monday – Still up in Sheffield doing Voice Therapy – the therapist is very blunt and I really don’t enjoy going so do find this a bit stressful.
Tuesday – day off
Wednesday – Back up to Sheffield for GIC – this should be fairly stress free but depends on what they say about the ongoing ‘battle’ for my second referral. Then coming back home straight to Roller Derby Minimum Skills Test – I’m approaching this in as stress free an approach as possibly, but it’s a test – it’s not going to be stress free!
Thursday – Sunday – Empire E3
Sunday also working a shift.

So as you can see it wasn’t going to be a week that would do my stress levels much good, especially Empire as I care a lot about ‘my’ crew, so tend to make sure they are properly looked after and stress if we don’t have enough crew. So naturally I would worry about it – it’s my nature – and thus stress p… yeah you can see where this is going..

Anyway Sunday practice was cancelled and while talking to my team leader for E3 we decided I needed to skip Empire E3 – I would simply have level the event almost certainly broken and mentally exhausted.. so my week, while busy, is now a lot less stressful. I still have 3 trips to Sheffield and potentially two Minimum Skills Assessments to work through but I feel as I also have a week off work it’s all manageable.

On the same day as those two decisions were made, I made a third one which I feel was absolutely right – one of the ‘heads of departments’ in the roller derby team asked for volunteers to help out. I’m already in two other departments, plus working on my NSOing – so decided straight away while I would have put my hand up straight away in the past.. that less is more and by letting others take it on I was benefitting myself and giving others a chance to get involved in the league.

I think that’s what I’ve learnt… there is absolutely nothing wrong with rewarding other peoples support and encouragement with hard work, there’s nothing wrong with being caring, supportive and considerate.. but sometimes I need to learn to put number 1 first.. I’ve learnt a huge amount about myself over the last few months, and will continue to learn, but I think as a result I’m improving myself and will hopefully take this and move on in a positive manner..

So I think in conclusion what this little story shows, that if you life – be it a transition or just life in general – is giving you opportunities to do more and more things – it has to be balanced, because if you don’t give yourself time even the calmest and most laid back individuals will get stressed.. and that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt.

I’ll still be getting involved in all sorts of stuff, overall the benefits outweight the stress, however I will try to balance it with at least some down time and try to look after myself too.

Huge thankyou to my long term friends, my new derby friends and my LARP friends – love you all to bits and wouldn’t be hopefully a better person, and be making the right decisions if it wasn’t for your support and help. Thankyou..

Less is more…

Week 72 – Day 1 : Developing a social life, Less is More.

Published July 6, 2015 by Katier Scott

This weeks post is influenced by a lovely conversation I had with one of my best friends last night. As with all my blog posts it’s being written ‘on the fly’, but unlike most of my posts I’m not sure I have an idea of what the conclusion is, so it’s going to be an interesting journey.

I expect this post to be something many people can connect with from all walks of life, not just those with Gender Dysphoria, but anyone who’s life up to a certain point resulted in a lack of development of a proper social life. In my case a number of factors, not least of which was the fact I had zero interest in stereotypically male activities at the cricket club, meant for most of my married life I was socially isolated.

This started to change when I went to University, but as I was studying from home, a 13 mile ‘commute’ social opportunities such as going out to the pub, or attending events were very limited, but I made my first true friends at this time. When I seperated from my Wife in 2010 I moved into a flat close by so I was close to my children, but 6 months later it was clear, moving to my current Flat near where those friends I had was the right decision. Four and a half years later it’s a decision I don’t regret for a second, I don’t see my children as often as would be nice, but they’re all adults so that’s not abnormal and they are always welcome to visit.

While I was now closer to friends, I was still not really developing a social life. I didn’t see my local friends very often, but a chance encounter, in early 2013 was going to change my social life for ever. I bumped into a friend who I’d only met a couple of times previously and was randomly invited to her place for cocktails, a few weeks later she was my flat mate and in July I went to my first Open Mic at the pub she worked at.

Things have snowballed from then as having a social life opens opportunity and if it hadn’t been for that chance encounter, on my way to town, I wouldn’t have the life I have now. I wouldn’t have found Roller Derby, done a race for life, started to learn Guitar, done an OCR, got involved in LARP, enjoyed many open Mic’s but most importantly for me, now have a fantastic group of friends.

But it’s socialising with those friends I struggle with most, I simply struggle with conversation – I tend to have a narrow range of things to talk about and simply don’t know how to do ‘small talk’ or general conversation. I find this immensely frustrating, I know it’ll improve – I have friends who I know will help! – but I think the reason I decided to do this blog post is to simply say “Your not alone.” – unlike many of my blog posts this is more about where I’m going, rather than actually offering solutions or past experience.

The friend who I was talking about at the start of this blog, loves telling me ‘Less is More’ and it’s a motto that probably going to stick with me for a very long time, much like ‘get lower’ in Roller Derby. I’m very much an outgoing personality type and live life very full on, but sometimes being patient and listening, being calmer and less full on is what I need to learn to do – and I think that’s what’s going to be the key, especially when I’m socialising with a group of friends.

I’m loving life at the moment, but also appreciating how much I’m behind with life experiences and knowledge, but I think the big thing is that I’m at the beginning to develop these memories.. and just have to be patient.

I like filling time with ‘stuff’ but that can definitely be inappropriate at times and sometimes just enjoying company and listening to a band playing, or watching the world go by, is entirely appropriate – Less is More.

Week 71 – Day 3 : Going back to basics.

Published July 2, 2015 by Katier Scott

A friend of mine recently put someone in contact with me to see if I could help her as she was just starting her real life and they felt that talking to someone who had been through it all before might help. The whole ethos behind this blog has been one of education and helping, so the idea of people actually contacting me directly is something I’ve always been happy to do and I’ve spent time chatting and advising a few people who were just starting living as themselves.

In this case the person I spoke to told me they were lacking in confidence and I know this is far from uncommon and while writing my reply, I realised my blog probably needed a ‘refresher’ post. A repost along the lines of something done before but when a blog it well over a year old and contains getting on for 100 posts, I think it’s fair to occasionally re-examine subjects.

In this case it’s my thoughts and advice for any of you who may be going out as your correct gender for the first time. As I am female, it’s from a female perspective, however some of the advice will work with all genders and I know men have their own level of challenges. To that end if any men with GID do want to write a guest blog in a similar vein to this blog entry I’d more than welcome it.

The following represents the advice I gave, rather than edit it I think it works as a ‘reply’ and will hopefully help more people who are finding confidence a problem when starting their journey.

Occasionally you might get ‘read’ and get a disparaging comment “Is that a man?” but in day to day life that’s the worst that’s happened to me and I can’t remember the last time I had that kind of response.

I think the key is understanding how to make co-ordinated outfits, how to do basic make-up (which is simple – a lot of the time I just wear foundation, sometimes with a bit of eyeshadow, unless going out of course) – and trying to judge what to wear when.

If you wear something that stands out it automatically attracts attention, which can cause negative reactions – BUT – it doesn’t mean you have been ‘read’ – Recently in a 1940/50’s group a lady posted about a reaction she got in a supermarket, a couple of ‘chav’s’ spotted her in a beautiful vintage style dress, beautifully dressed and she got a negative comment. The comment shouldn’t have happened, but she sadly got it because she stood out from the crowd.

It’s not ‘just’ a ‘trans’ problem, can happen to anyone, but a lot of transwomen early in their lives make the mistake of trying to ‘dress like a woman’ and make the mistake of over doing it. A woman is most likely to go to a supermarket wearing jeans, t-shirt and flat shoes – not a short skirt and heels!!

If your walking down the street with confidence in a ‘typical’ outfit then honestly your likely to be as safe as any other woman.

Confidence is a huge thing, I have always just walked down the street the same as I always have, with confidence and purpose. Some areas even now I’m a little nervy – loos for instance – but never had an issue in them!! Quite the opposite, especially in night clubs and similar places I’ve just been treated like one of the girls – which is exactly what you want, however it’s by no means guaranteed.

In my experience such fears are unfounded and the truth of the matter is that most people are accepting without issues. Just remember that if you dress in a manner that stands out the chances of someone making a comment go up, but also remember that getting comments may just mean they are treating you like any other woman. It’s a sad, and definitely unwanted, fact that woman do receive cat calls, wolf whistles and other inappropriate calls, and as such don’t assume that anything shouted in your direction is ‘trans related’ – if your dressed in a manner that clearly identifies you as female (which could just be a nice skirt and top) men WILL on occasion act inappropriately around you.

It’s sad, it shouldn’t happen, but I firmly believe that many ‘trans’ women don’t realise so take any calling as transphobic.. often they aren’t. Indeed I remember once walking to a local bar which, unfortunately took me through the red light district, one guy took a fancy to me and crossed the road – it was only when I spoke to tell him I wasn’t interested, that he realised I had GID.. unfortunately that just made things worse as he had a fantasy about going with a ‘transperson’, and it was definitely a hugely uncomfortable experience.. but it was made uncomfortable because I was a woman.. simple as that.

Anyway that’s it for this week, I hope some of you found this weeks blog useful.