Life as a Trans woman at the UKHO and outside.
Written by TRUK Team on October 16, 2020
I was asked to write a blog for UKHO which is something new to me and I have been asked by TRUK to share it here. My life these days is full of new things some exciting and some not so.
Firstly I must thank the UKHO and all the staff working there for just being a brilliant and support group of people, a lot of transgender people face some seriously tough challenges when they come out, work being one of them, and many are either dismissed from their employment or made to feel so uncomfortable they feel that they have no choice but to leave. The civil service does however provide a safe and inclusive environment.
Let me answer some of the questions that do cross the mind from time to time.
What is a Trans woman or Trans man? The answer to this a complex one and it varies from individual to individual, but as a rule someone who does not identify their gender as the gender they were assigned at birth. So in my case I was assigned male at birth and inside I identified as female. Sounds simple, well actually not; for many years I pursued jobs that had a very macho role, this was a form of self-denial. I was lying to myself for over 50 years. Firstly, joining the Royal Navy at the age of 16¾ I took part in what are thought to be typically male activities though not always comfortable with the environment. I then trained as an engineer in detail fitting and machining whilst serving in the RNR in Dundee before joining the Royal Air Force.
Is it just about wearing clothes of the opposite sex? No, this is a misconception as many trans women wear suits whilst some do not choose to transition to their preferred gender.
Is it a sexual thing? Again, no, it is a condition which is still not fully understood by the scientific world though we have been around longer than the bible and are mentioned in the pre-King James versions of the bible, only being removed to fit with the model of the times.
Pride and what it means to me
Pride events are a celebration and remembrance of the Stonewall riots of New York in 1969 when, after hours of police brutality conducted under the authority of Mayor John Lindsey with his desire to crackdown on “gay bars”, Detectives conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn which was often a source of shelter for the outcast trans and gay community in Greenwich Village, NYC. Martha P Johnson a young transwoman of colour is accredited with throwing the brick through the window of the Stonewall Inn during the raid which resulted in the protest becoming a riot.
This was a starting point for the Gay Liberation Movement which has fought for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, not to have special rights but to have the same basic human rights as everyone else. Pride to me means being able to hold my head up high as a human being living the life of my true self with dignity and respect. Some people who knew me prior to coming out will have noticed a significant change in my whole being and not just the outward appearance. This is because I no longer having to lie to myself and I am happier just being me.
Outside of the UKHO
My life has taken on some new and exciting challenges especially in the last few months since the Covid-19 lockdown. In an attempt to prevent the long periods of isolation affecting me on a mental level I took up a hobby. That was graphic work and, in particular, learning how to create GIFs that were effective for portraying a message, and not just a short silly video clip which we all see in social media. My target for these GIFs were for the listening audience of the radio station I listen to.
Trans Radio UK
This is a volunteer radio station created for the transgender community by the transgender community. The station, which is only 2.5 years old, broadcasts over the web, we have regular listeners in over 100 countries around the globe. It was started by Lucy Clark, who some avid football fans may know of her story. Lucy is the first FA referee to come out as trans.
Before long I was making GIFs for the radio station and the presenters. I became an unofficial member of the design team at the station specifically for this art form.
My love of the station and my close friendships with some of the existing presenters soon blossomed into my taking on the roll of a volunteer presenter. Yes! You heard right, I am now an international, world-wide radio DJ. Still makes me laugh when I say it out loud!
I started presenting just 1 show a week on a 1-hour fixed slot called a Hint of the Highlands. This show is what is called a theme show, my theme being bands and artist who have origins in Scotland, including some well-known (and some lesser known) bands and artists. I soon had the presenting bug and during periods of leave when any pop-up slots became available, I would eagerly put my hand up to fill as many as I could. These pop-up shows allowed us to play a selection of music of our choice. I have always loved dance music and I vary from club through to pop and always without a running order. The station has an active and sometimes lively chat room where listeners can chat with presenters and other listeners, and the music I play is often influenced by the topic of conversation within the chat room or from listener requests. Being an international station, I have been pushing international music which fits in with the general sound I am producing, now becoming a norm with the other presenters, too.
Pride to me is being a part of an organisation that supports members of the Trans Community. This year I have been fortunate to attend the Pride in London virtual event along with fellow presenters from Trans Radio UK.
I have found a new passion in life and that is helping with the power of music. But in addition to this I have also become a volunteer listener for our recently launched service TRUK Listens which is a support line for anyone who is dealing with trans issues. Having spent over 12 years in a customer service role providing support in various forms. It seemed the natural progression to be able to assist and advise those still coming to terms with being transgender, or living with a transgender partner, sibling, son, or daughter. Using my personal experience as being trans to help and guide them through the struggle we all face.
Pride to me is being in a position to provide what I can back to the community that has been there for me when I needed it the most (and still do from time to time) and a love for all human beings regardless of their nationality, skin colour, sexual orientation, gender assignment, religious beliefs, age, or sex. After all we all share one commonality, we are all human beings.
If you have any questions, which I am sure some of you will, I am more than happy to answer them or point you in the right direction if I am unable to. There is only one criteria, and that is:
Is this a question you would be comfortable to ask your mother? If it is not, then you should probably know it is likely to be offensive. I am sure that I will not be asked these, but I do have to make it clear I am still the same person I have always been, just much happier. Asking me a personal question which is of a private nature is not likely to be answered.
Author: Andrea Maynard