Bristol Pride 2019

Yesterday was Bristol Pride, and it’s the day in the year that I always look forward to! I had a lovely day filled with lots of flags and good people (and walking). I first went to Pride in 2017 – and that was my first official Pride event. I couldn’t go last year because I was on holiday with family and we didn’t get back until the day after (woe is me). But this made me more excited about Bristol Pride this year – and I had a lovely day! 

Here are some things I loved about this years Pride: 

  • The atmosphere: Bristol Pride had a lovely atmosphere, and I felt so safe during Pride because I had a whole community behind me (plus I was marching with my youth group, so I know they would have my back if anything bad happened to me).
  • All the flags: What I love about Pride is seeing all the flags, and that’s mostly because I’m a massive flag nerd. 
  • The people: All the people I saw / met / interacted with at Pride were lovely, so it added to my enjoyment of the event, because I love seeing complete strangers and friends showing pride. 
  • Togetherness: Pride is about supporting all members of the LGBTQ+ – not just during Pride season, but all year – because pride is all year round.  The chance to be my authentic, queer self around other members of the LGBTQ+ community added to my sense of Pride, which I also try and practice everyday. 
  • The signs / chants: I did see some signs and partake in some chants, because we still have a long way to go in terms of having rights. Because by equality takes standing up to people who are actively and openly homophobic / transphobic etc, we are reminding ourselves that Pride was originally a riot. The chants I did at Bristol Pride created a real sense of togetherness and community, which is a nice reminder given the current political climate surrounding our community.  
  • The Location: To celebrate 10 years of Bristol Pride (and 50 years since the Stonewall Riots), Bristol Pride was located at The Downs. Besides being a convenient spot for leaving (for me at least, since I can walk home from there), it is just a lovely location – and it really added to the overall atmosphere. 

What I’m trying to say is that Bristol Pride was a blast, and it’ll continue to be my favourite event of the year. It’s such a great event for the reason listed above – but the biggest reason for my enjoyment was the people I spent time with. I’m already looking forward to the next Bristol Pride event because I really enjoyed this year, and I’ve already planned for what I’m doing next year for Pride season. Here’s to the next season of Pride!

Happy #InternationalNonBinaryDay!

I am a proud bisexual nonbinary person who uses they / them pronouns – I’m lucky to be allowed to be my authentic self, but I’m aware that some people may not be able to be out and proud, so it’s crucial for those of us who can be out to talk about our experiences (if you want to, of course). But if you want to take a small step and support trans / binary people, you can start by putting your pronouns in your social media bios

In addition, please take the time to be proud of your nonbinary identity today, and everyday by using their pronouns and remind them of their validity – this could be by correcting people who misgender them, or by complimenting their outfit.  

May your outfits continue to be awesome (both today and everyday) and remember that I’ve written a piece on the brief history of the nonbinary flag here. But for my cisgender / binary trans readers, you can read about how to be a good trans ally here – you can also read my post on pronouns here.

 

My Pride Plans for 2020 (yes, I’m already planning ahead..)

Pride, as many of you may be aware, is my favourite time of the year – so I wanted to write about my plans for next Pride season. It’s a time where you can hopefully celebrate your identity (though you can do that throughout the year if you can). So I wanted to write about what I want to do for next Pride season, because it’s fun to think about – and because why not?

In terms of pride parades, I’ll obviously be attending Bristol Pride because I live in Bristol – so it seems like a no brainer. I also might go to Trans Pride Brighton (but it’ll depend on how my first one goes – more on that when I actually attend my first trans pride event!) – and as much I would like to go to London Pride, I’ll have to sit it out due to expenses. In terms of other events, it’ll heavily depend on what’s on and when I’m aviable, so I’ll have to see! 

I also want to try and support more LGBTQ+ artists etc – since I’m currently unemployed (finding a job is proving to be difficult), I’m worried about spending all my money. But if I do get a job (anything within reason will do), I’ll hopefully have a bit to spend on patches and pins, as well as other pride related things. I also want to support more LGBTQ+ creators, especially those in other minority groups (e.g. disabled people within the LGBTQ+ community) so that I can help them get their work out there. 

But I’ve still got some Pride events to go to (e.g. Bristol Pride this weekend and Trans Pride Brighton next weekend) – and even then, I’ll be doing lots of things at those pride events! So here’s to next Pride season! 

 

Pride Is All Year Round, not just June

Since Pride month has come to an end, I wanted to remind you that you should (if you are able), to be proud of yourself during the rest of the year. But don’t get me wrong, I look forward to Pride month every year as much the next queer person – its the one month of the year where you can celebrate diversity, self-acceptance, and inclusivity within the community (hopefully in spite of all the discourse). But Pride means lots of different things to lots of different people – and you don’t even have to celebrate that during Pride month. For some, it might be a time to celebrate how far they’ve come (for example, in terms of their transition), or it might be a time to reflect on how to support more marginalised members of the LGBTQ+ community – but no matter how you choose to celebrate, its correct.

However, I wanted to acknowledge about the fact that we’ve still got a long way to go, and that we should be celebrating our complex identities all year round – because pride is still crucial. Now, I’m very vocal about being  visibly queer, because by being yourself is the most radical thing you can do, and it is a way that you can be an activist. By being yourself, you may allow someone to come out, or at least give them the courage to be comfortable in their identity. Now I’ve been out and proud for a while, so I’m aware of the process, but I understand that not everyone can come out, so I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. 

We still have a long way to go however. It’s crucial that we support the trans community (especially since Pride was started by two trans women of colour) – but it’s still stands that we support the trans community because a). the media isn’t great on reporting on trans issues (at least in the UK)  and b). trans people still face a lot of discrimination. It’s also crucial that we support transfeminie people of colour, because they are the most marginalised members of our community – so it would be a massive disservice if we don’t support and raise up their voices. I’d recommend finding LGBTQ+ people in other minority groups and listening to them and raising their voices – because they know best about their experiences, so by sharing a thread on Twitter of theirs, or a blog of theirs for example,  you are using your privilege to give a voice to less privileged members of the LGBTQ+ people. 

Thirdly, and simple put, we still need to fight for our rights – even in 2019. Though we have made great strides in the UK for example (e.g. marriage between same sex in the UK has been legalised) – we still have a lot of rights to fight for (e.g. its still illegal to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community in many parts of the world). Even if you can’t help directly, you are not powerless – you can use your voice to share about it on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. 

You can continue to support queer creators year round, not just during Pride Month – especially since rainbow capitalism  unfortunately exists – so support actual LGBTQ+ creators, bloggers, film makers etc, rather than big corporations who take advantage of Pride month. 

Finally, try and balance partying and protesting – because whether you believe pride is a protest or a party– find a balance. I personally believe both can coexist, because it’s important to celebrate how far we’ve come,  but I also understand that we still have a long way to go.

I hope you’ve had a fabulous pride month, and remember that you should be proud to be yourself throughout the year, and not just June. 

My Identity: An Intersectional Look

Recently, I’ve been thinking about intersectionality. In summary, this is a branch of feminism which takes into account ones overlapping identities and aspects of , social and politicadiscrimination and how it relates to gender identity – and most interestingly, the term was coined by the black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989. Now, I’ve already written about  identity scholar labels before, but I want to take a closer look at how this affects how I view my oppression – though I am NOT trying to play the ‘oppression olympics, I’m trying to share my experiences of how I experience oppression. 

How I identify (in a political sense, not overall): 

  • White: which means that I can’t experience racism, unlike my black and other ethnic minority counterparts. However, it also means that I can use my white privilege to lift up voices of black and ethnic members of the LGBTQ+ community, which will allow their experiences / stories to be heard. 
  • Able-bodied: which means I can’t experience ableism based on my physical limitations, unlike people who are physically disabled. Again, I can use my able bodied privilege to lift up physically disabled members of the LGBTQ+ community. 
  • Middle Class: this means that my family is pretty well off, and it also means that I can afford to buy myself a chest binder, which helps me to alleviate some of my chest dysphoria.  It also means that I have to be aware that not every trans person that wants to bind can afford to, as chest binders are quite expensive. 
  • A young person: this means that I will gain a lot of what the media shows of nonbinary people, as it likes to paint certain topics with one colour. This means that I will have to raise the voices of perhaps older trans and nonbinary people, as a good majority of nonbinary individuals are young people. 
  •  Non-binary (masculine): combined with my able body and white skin colour, I experience privilege with being nonbinary because I am white, masculine, and able bodied. I am also AFAB (assigned female at birth), which means, from my perspective, I get a majority of the nonbinary representation – this is an obvious problem, because, for example, black nonbinary and femme nonbinary people exist (as well as black fem nonbinary people).  However, I can also experience discrimination based on my gender identity because I can fall victim to binarism and erasure. 
  • And Bisexual: due to my sexuality, I may also be discriminated against because I can experience bipbobia (be it subtle or not). But I’m also nonbinary, which means that I am twice as likely to experience both bi and nonbinary erasure, be it from within the community or not. 

I’m not really sure where this’ll lead, but it’s something that I have been thinking about from time to time quite recently, as it is important to understand not only ourselves, but where we fit into the world – which means acknowledging certain advantages and disadvantages that we have. I know this wasn’t super analytical, but I just wanted to get some of these thoughts down. 

 

Why You Should put Your Pronouns in Your Social Media Bios / Name Handle

Social media bios (e.g. what we choose to put in our Instagram or Twitter) – we all have the power to choose what to put, as this will give our followers a vague idea of what type of person we are (though this is also factored in by what we, for example, choose to retweet or post on our Instagram page). It’s not hard now a days to stumble across a social media profile and  can  instantly see some aspects of the owners (carefully curated) online personality and identity. For example, I choose to retweet a lot of LGBTQ+ related stuff because thats something I’m passionate about – so someone may guess that I’m very passionate about the LGBTQ+ community. 

But I’m getting sidetracked (as a media student and lover of the concept of identity, I could probably go on for ages about how people use social media to construct their identity, as well as identity and labels as a whole). Today I wanted to write about people, regardless of gender identity – putting their preferred gender pronouns in either their bios or, like I have, in their name handle. Before I get started, I have written a guide for cisgender people on how to be a good trans ally, which you can read here– so if you would like to go a step further, which I highly recommend you do, then please take the time to read it. I would also urge you to read my guide on how to use someones pronouns, for some extra added context surrounding pronouns.  

Now, what’s the point of using someones preferred pronouns? Well, firstly, then you know how to properly address them. The act of misgendering someone means that you are not using the pronouns that they have told you (for example, if someone were to use ‘she/her’ pronouns for me instead of ‘they/them’ pronouns, that would be misgendering). This can obviously make social interactions very stressful, and if happens over a period of time, can lead to gender dysphoria (specifically a sense of social dysphoria). 

Additionally, though it may be awkward to put your pronouns in your social media bio or name handle (afterall, you did spend a LOT of time carefully constructing your social media and internet identity and personality) – it normalises the process if its done enough. It also lessens the marginalisation of trans people. 

Though it’s a small, inconsequential action, it can have a big impact. Though it isn’t the same as showing up for trans people in the streets, fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, it is a nice gesture and I would even say it’s a nice start if you are thinking of getting into LGBTQ+ activism. 

Mental Health, Body Image & Me: A General & Nonbinary Perspective

This week, I have been feeling lots of ‘negative’ emotions (stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, useless, and worthless) – because the little voice in my head has suddenly gotten louder to the point where I feel alone and don’t know where to turn to. Normally, I can brush this voice off and continue and appear my normal self – happy, positive, confident and fun. But since Monday this week, I haven’t been feeling my usual self – both in terms of my mental health and body image (relating to how I view both my gender identity and expression, as well as my overall sense of how I identify on the gender spectrum). 

Let’s start with mental health. Lately, I have been feeling the negative emotions because I’m going to start my foundation year at University s (the course I’m studying is Media Culture and Communication (with a Foundation Year) this September – and whilst I’ve got a good chunk of what I need for studying, I still need to buy all the stuff I need for my accommodation, as well as few bits and bobs. Which will cost a lot of money. 

This leads me to my second reason for feeling this way – I’m unemployed, and while I’m searching for work, all of my job applications have either been declined, or I haven’t even gotten a response from them.  Thus, I have been feeling a sense of worthlessness and guilt for not working. 

Secondly, I’ve allowed the voice in my head to override my normally positive demeanor. Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is something I can normally brush off, but now it feels like I can’t- I’m being constantly told that all my friends actually hate me, and that I’m actually a horrible / terrible friend and overall person. I’m also finding it hard to believe all these positive affirmations from my friends (both online and in real life), because my brain keeps telling me that they don’t mean it, and that I’m actually an attention seeking person who is a burden to everyone. 

Moving forward, I want to talk about my body image, though I’ve already disclosed what makes me dysphoric here. But it has not been until this week that I’ve really been feeling negative feelings of guilt, shame, and overall anxiousness surrounding my gender identity and expression. This is because the media likes to paint AFAB nonbinary in one colour – tall, vaguely masculine, white, skinny, able bodied etc. This has a negative effect overall because it erases all the different ways that one can identify outside the gender binary (e.g. the intersections of being black and nonbinary, or a poor nonbinary person).  

So in terms of how this has affected my mental health, I feel guilty about identifying as a stereotypical nonbinary person to some degree – I’m white, AFAB, abled bodied and I consider myself to be somewhat masculine in my gender expression. But – I don’t see myself as being skinny. See, I’ve always been pretty neutral surrounding my body image, but I’ve only really been struggling since I came out as nonbinary in late August 2018. Though this feeling of not 100% fitting the nonbinary look has only really taken shape in a negative way recently (i.e. this week). Now, to get a bit serious, I have scratched parts of my body that I deem ‘unattractive’ (e.g. my tummy, thighs, hips, and arms for convenience). It’s because I don’t see myself as ‘skinny enough’ to be considered nonbinary, and I wish that I could feel somewhat body positive again. I also wish I could feel a sense of what gender euphoria feels like. Though  has helped a lot with my chest dysphoria, I still feel as though I am playing into this stereotype of what an AFAB nonbinary person should look like. 

In addition, I feel as though I’m not doing enough for the LGBTQ+ community. All across social media, I sometimes see articles about all the amazing work LGBTQ+ activists do, and feel worthless because I’m not doing the same level of work as they are – I just write stuff about LGBTQ+ topics sometimes surrounding my own experiences. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough for a community that I care so much about, and this little voice keeps reminding me of that. 

Overall, I feel lost, hopeless and that I’ll never feel like my normal self again. Nothing in particular has caused this, it’s just how I’m feeling at the moment and I hate it. I want to talk to friends and not feel like the only reason they’re being nice to me is because I’m there, and therefore it is convenient. I want to feel a sense of pride in my enby identity, and I can’t do that if the voice in my head keeps telling me that I’m a stereotype thats invalidating and taking up space for other nonbinary individuals. 

But most of all, I just want to feel like my normal self again. 

The Return of They / Them Pronouns & Normalising Gender Exploration

Since the 19th December 2018, I have been using he / they pronouns as a way of expressing my, at the time, identity as a transmasculine nonbinary person. But as of late May 2019, I have felt as though this no longer feels right – so I will be going back to using the singular pronouns they / them / theirs. 

I also wanted to write this because I wanted to look back at how far I’ve come in terms of my gender identity – since, so far, I’ve gone from being a cisgender female, to a demigirl, to a transmasculine enby, to a nonbinary person. Honestly I’m proud of how far I’ve come in terms of gender (despite all the hardships us enby folk face), and I could not be happier with all the support from friends that I’ve received, both online and in real life. 

Additionally, I just wanted to say that there is no wrong way to explore your gender – even if you end up identifying as a cisgender man / woman, the fact that you took the time to question this stuff is extremely brave, especially since cisnormativity is so ingrained into us as  from before we are even born. 

It also creates an unnecessary gender binary, both complete with rigid gender roles and expectations – which is why I think being trans is such an interesting experience – because, for example, binary trans people get to experience both ends of the gender spectrum (e.g. trans men will gain male privilege whilst trans women will lose it). However, I do understand that intersectionality plays a crucial role in one’s life, so you have to take that into consideration (e.g. the expected life span of a black, trans woman is statically 35 years.

But I do feel as though we need to allow people to explore and question their identity without the criticism of others – with all the dull discourse surrounding who and who isn’t ‘trans enough’, it honestly makes me less optimistic about the future of the trans community – we need to come together, especially at a time where we are constantly having our rights questioned and debated. It’s also crucial that we have supportive, genuine allies who will speak on our behalf when  we feel we are not able to. 

Basically, we need to come together and raise each other up – not put each other down. 

My Pride Plans 2019

Pride Month is my favourite time of the year – it’s the time where we should be proud of our identities.  So I wanted to take the time to write about what I plan to do during this fabulous season. But before reading this, you should check out my post about  what to bring to pride, if you intend on going to any Pride Parades this year. 

I kicked off pride month by performing with my choir, Sing Out Bristol which was honestly a blast and I’m so glad that the audience enjoyed it. We then went to Queenshilling – Bristols Award Winning LGBT+ Nightclub (which was a first for me because I’ve never been clubbing, let alone an LGBTQ+ friendly one with gender neutral toilet). It was also my first big concert with them. 

In terms of Pride parades, I’m going to Bristol Pride, after having a pre Bristol pride BBQ and potential sleepover with some of my friends who are in the community. I ‘m also going to Trans Pride Brighton & Hove (again, this will be a first because I didn’t know I was trans until late August 2018). I also intend to go Pride in London and  to and possibly stay with a friend overnight. Though I do understand that there is a lot of discourse surrounding whether or not pride is a protest or a party, but I think that we can’t have one without the other. 

Obviously I also intend to support LGBTQ+ creators etc if I can, as you can read my thought on Rainbow Capitalism here. I also intend to be visibly queer as I can , because that is the most radical act an LGBTQ+ person can do (but obviously don’t feel pressured to come out – you can also read my coming out story here.)

So happy pride month everyone! Remember that your identities are completely 100% valid, and that Im proud of you! 

I had a Dream that I had Top Surgery

Yesterday night, I had a dream that I somehow managed to raise enough money to afford top surgery. It was weird because I’m unsure if this is something I want or  desire – especially since I have dysphoria surrounding my chest.

I don’t know if this is a sign (for better words) that I actually want top surgery or not – but nonetheless, it was a weird dream. But maybe it’s my subconscious telling me that I actually want surgery, which will allow me to fulfill all the stuff on my post op bucket list. But I don’t know, I just wanted to put this out there, because it is something that has oddly stuck with me.