Teenage me


I’ve been reading (well, listening to audiobooks of) Stephen Fry’s autobiographies; Moab is My Washpot was wonderful, and I’ve nearly finished The Fry Chronicles. At some point (in the latter, I think), Fry talks about finding a teenage diary in which he had poured scorn on his future, grown-up self, condemning the adult that he thought he was doomed to become as a stuffy, emotionless conformist. This reminded me of a discussion on Russell Brand’s radio show of Richard Madeley’s comment to Morrissey on what would happen if present-day Morrissey could meet his younger self: ‘You’d strangle you, wouldn’t you?’ While Brand and his co-host, Matt Morgan, delighted in the absurd proliferation of the second person singular pronoun, I was wondering which ‘you’ was which. Would old Morrissey strangle young Morrissey for being so consciously odd and flamboyant? Or would young Morrissey strangle old Morrissey for having become such a staid old fart? I’m not sure if teenagers feel things more acutely than adults do, but I recently found something I wrote seven years ago, when I was nineteen. I don’t know if I recognise myself in this pretentious detonation of emotion; the person portrayed here seems like someone else, yet I remember some of the intensity of feeling. I’ve published it here unchanged: a museum piece, a memorial to another one of ‘me’s that I no longer am.

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Thanks, past. Thast.

My transition so far has involved a lot of looking forward: When will I? When can I? When will I be? At the end of 2014 I represented how I felt by drawing myself hanging from monkey bars, not moving, just hanging on. I can see what is ahead and I want to move forward but for now I have to wait. The steps ahead are big, and they are both exciting and terrifying: how will I change? Who will I be? Will I be me? Who am I?

When I started changing my gender presentation I remember a friend telling me she thought I was brave. I didn’t agree; what I was doing might have been nerve-wracking sometimes, but it wasn’t brave. I needed to move forward because it was better than staying still. Staying still would have been harder.

Now I’m doing a different kind of staying still. I can see the path I want to take and I’m waiting for it to be possible. This gives me time to consider the steps I have taken so far. I might not want to think of myself as the person with the name I had before I was called Blake, but I have to be grateful to that person for getting me to where I am now. Looking back, realising who I was and what I needed to do and then beginning to make it happen seem like enormous steps. It does seem brave. Not a brave thing I did, but a brave thing someone else did, someone I used to call ‘me’.

Some common transition narratives seem to involve wiping out the past. I’m keeping on looking forward, but sometimes it helps to look back too, and be grateful to the past for making the present and the future possible. So thanks, past. Thast.

The authenticity gap: Are trans people really ‘real’?

A wonderful piece by CN Lester: “Truth is not a finite resource. Neither is empathy.”

a gentleman and a scholar

It’s far enough into January that most of us have had time to break the usual New Year’s resolutions, if we bother to make them at all. But for all the cis (non-trans) people reading this, I have a challenge for you – one that would actually make a real difference.

Do you genuinely believe that trans people are as authentic, as real, as you are?

Maybe that seems like an odd question to ask. I’m not the first trans person to say that 2014 felt like a transformative year for trans rights: greater public awareness, more mainstream support, a broader understanding of what it is to be trans, and of why it’s wrong to discriminate against us. Laverne Cox was all the rage, Janet Mock’s debut book achieved critical and commercial success, and here in the UK our most prominent children’s channel broadcast a programme made by trans kids…

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