If I choose to make my New Year Resolutions, I try to always make them towards the end of January. My New Year Resolution is that I’m going to stop apologising for being me and stop hiding my true self. I did a lot of reading around gender, trans and non-binary identities at the end of 2019.
Thank-you to writers Kate Bornstein, Juno Roche, MJ Barker, Alex Iantaffi, Ben Vincent and Sally Hines. Thank-you to all attendees of Heart and Soul Group at CliniQ and my co-facilitator Martha D, the great team at CliniQ (you know who you are), the peers I have met through Pink Therapy and Loving Men. You have all played a good part in my journey of acceptance and 2020 being the year to take that journey one step further.
In honest truth, as I go in to my 16th year of living with HIV. I really did not realise I would still be here sixteen years later. World AIDS Day 2019 came and went so quickly. I really was a lonely emotional mess this year, I was mourning those I’ve loved and lost, but also trying to accept that I am still here alive and kicking (hopefully for years to come).
I am a survivor, some think of me like a warrior spirit, so there is a lot to celebrate and a need to make the most of the life and years ahead. 2020 marks my: first piece of writing, chapter 16 in Non-Binary Lives “The Chicken Soup of Identity” being released in April 2020, returning to my own tale of recovery “My Tale of Fuck It in and out of the Therapy Chair” at an Addiction Conference in Amsterdam and doing Trans 101 Training in Winchester. I am really open and excited of the prospect of taking this training to other places in London, the UK and beyond.
When you start writing it is interesting the space and energy that it opens up. I’m grateful to Jos Twist for inviting me to play my part in Non-Binary Lives. Since starting my writing, I feel I am still on a journey with no destination in sight, my gender queerness is still there, but the non in non-binary is a confusing one. The body I have been born into and the view the wider world has of it is binary. I am starting to accept Juno Roche’s words of Trans as an identity, for me that may be enough for now without any medical transition in sight.
I am starting to feel better and feel ready to experiment and step more into my trans and genderqueer community. The first step has been being voted on to the board of directors at CliniQ, the only Trans lead sexual health and wellbeing service in the UK. I am still finding my feet there and getting to know everyone, all the same I am excited about the future with CliniQ.
One thing that has helped on bad gender dysphoria days where I wish my current triggers would just leave the building, that I now have less mirrors in my home. For me there is more internal compassion needed. What does that look like? I offer myself more kindness on these days, I tell myself to do more nourishing things and to breathe. I escape into writing and making new connections to build social connection and bring people together. I have named what I need from my close friends and this has helped shift some of the burden I felt I was carrying. These are the days that I speak to closer friends that understand me and where I am in my process more. Where I may speak to my family that may be travelling at a different speed from me less. I try to remain compassionate and loving to their needs.
I do understand that my parents gave me my original name, but now I am making that name my own and not rejecting the name, only enhancing its validity. Also, in a time where Anti-Semitism is on the rise, I want to be part of the change I want to see in the world. 2020 is the time to say I’m Jewish and genderqueer and I’m not going anywhere. My Gender Identity Clinic referral is taking time, which is frustrating beyond belief, I realise this is only one part of the process and not the final destination. I also do not have a final destination in mind, yet.
For some surgery is body and life affirming, but for me personally and from my client work I know that the GIC doesn’t ask important questions like “what would you like your body to look like when you’re in 50s, 60s or 70s?” Those that don’t get it, equate hormone blockers for young people as child abuse. They need to know that this can give young people the opportunity to make decisions when they are emotionally ready. This can save lives for those young people that are really struggling with their gender identity. Starting to slowly now have role models in the media has helped me to slowly move forward. Though the media and TV often makes being trans or non-binary some sort of freak show or sensationalise us. I need to give more time and thought as to if my fantasies are real, will they be met through surgery, surgery may be the destination one day, for me it isn’t today or right now. I respectfully need to allow a bit of time for my family a bit of time to catch up with me. I also need to be absolutely sure that this is what I want in twenty or thirty years from now. Sometimes I still find it hard to believe I will be here. I also need to know I can manage the losses that may come with any changes I choose to make. Though I am not going backwards, more than half a lifetime ago I came out that closet, so with respect I would not go back into it for ANYONE.
This winter I realised in my journey of self-acceptance that I may need to find more inclusive community spaces. Before we love anyone else, we need to love ourselves, there is always more work to do and as a client recently said to me “every day is a school day”.
Welcome to a new decade hopefully one of discovery. I hope for all of us one of compassion to ourselves and of less hate in the world. I hope 2020 brings good things to one and all. Happy New Year!