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Life after My Transsexual Summer (Ch4). Gender Documenter. Film-maker. Writer. Actor. Creative. Get in touch: @salutehq on Twitter or salutehq@gmail(dot)com

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    Big Fish, Little Fish & Trans Swimming Club

    I was born in Hillingdon, near Heathrow Airport. Recently sifting through various childhood records, a certificate revealed I was actually baptised at Heathrow Airport. This would have made sense since the majority of my family worked for British Airways.

    When I was three years of age, my dad accepted a job working for Saudia Airlines, and six month later we joined him in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

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    We lived in a massive compound which had a generally friendly family vibe, with modest accommodation and noisy air conditioning installed. The engulfing humidity and relentless sun were a welcome change to the grey greater London and the compound boasted a baseball field, a creepy abandoned theatre (as I was later to discover) and recreation centres dotted along every five streets. 

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    The rec centres were usually equipped with a tennis court and a play-ground, (both of which were way too scalding to use) as well as swimming pool and a basic cafe.

    Every summer, when it was SUPER SCORCHIO, all the smart families would escape to cooler climates. Often, our family would stay on and we were enrolled in SWIMMING CLUB, which meant that my sister and I, and all the other bored kids, had an hour of grueling instruction (blowing bubbles, kicking our legs and holding onto the edge of the pool) followed by a forced 30 minute *free for all session* which entailed us swimming away, in genuine fright, from the monstrous instructor who, whenever possible, would grab hold of us and bite us. Or tickle us. Scary man…

    So I learned to swim quickly although I could never master the butterfly. After reading John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, I fancied myself a free-diver for pearls. In the compound there were two pools which were Olympic size and they seemed ENORMOUS.

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    I would chuck weighted neon sticks into the pool and dive into the warm water to collect them, holding my breath until I felt dizzy, pushing myself to the limit and thoroughly tiring myself out. 

    We would also snorkel in the epic Red Sea. My best friend’s family had a membership to beach club there and we would spend hours in the water, avoiding the strange spikey and jelly fish, and marveling at the colours and creatures in this cosmic under-water world. 

    Once puberty hit, I felt increasingly dis-connected with the shape of my changing body and no longer enjoyed swimming. Lessons during my one year at a grant-maintained boarding school felt like a chore, and I pretty much gave up swimming altogether after that.  After a childhood of swimming like a fish I really missed how great swimming feels.

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    Last week was the first session and was attended by around 10 people. Afterwards four of us guys left the Swimming centre, and we walked together for most of the journey home. The cold outside felt envigorating. Rare to have a trans social event which doesn’t revolve around the pub. 

    Not everyone opted to be in the photograph, although I hope it’s a feature every week, to document the event and share our fun with the world to perhaps inspire other initiatives like this in the UK and beyond. Swimming is a great way for us to feel better about our bodies in general and to see noticeable improvement in health and wellbeing over the weeks.

    A special swimming session for trans partners and friends would be interesting to trial. Perhaps we could sponsor an ally to attend, so everyone is vetted. Integration and variance in individuals makes for a more interesting group, and I would feel comfortable sharing the fun with like-minded, open-minded people. 

    These Trans Inclusive Swimming sessions are a direct result of Brighton Trans Scrutiny. The reduced rate (£2.55) makes it affordable for most and after the initial 10 sessions, it may be extended indefinitely, if there is enough interest. 

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    Gscene’s Info on Trans Swimming Sessions 

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    The Council’s Trans Equality Scrutiny recommended that sport and leisure activities should be made more accessible to trans people. LGBT HIP at Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard, the Council’s Sports Development Team, the Trans Alliance and a group of committed volunteers came together to set up trans inclusive swimming sessions. You can find all the details at http://bit.ly/transswimming

    I’ve enjoyed creating some ‘branding’ for the Trans* Pride Event we are organising in Brighton & Hove in late July. Shows what we can achieve with very little money and whole lot of passion. 

    BOOK TITLE SUGGESTIONS for Johnathan

    This is a post on behalf of J Septimus Geirson, who shared his teenage transition experiences on Channel 4 back in 2009 on The Boy Who Was Born A Girl.

    He’s seeking a title for his book all about himself and his transition and is stuck for a title!!

    He was shown on the documentary as being a clear cut FTM but he’s much more an advocate of the label GenderQueer as it encompasses his connection with both the masculine and the feminine.

    J states: ‘The book’s about my transition (let’s just say FtM, since that’s what I’m presenting my story as for the purposes of the book) and also my mum’s reaction and story with my transition. Didn’t want to have the same title as the documentary but really it’s the backstory and more in depth view of what’s presented in the doc. My edior suggested some really sob-story cliche ‘~mother’s love~’ like titles and it was annoying cause it’s not all depressing!’

    Any catchy titles spring to mind folks?

    Here’s a LINK to what’s happening over the next few weeks at GI.

    I’m helping out with this workshop:


    IMAGINING OUR FUTURES - SATURDAY 28TH APRIL
     
    When: 2-5pm, Saturday 28th April

    Where: Central School of Speech and Drama (near Swiss Cottage tube)

    (click here for a map)

    For April’s Saturday session, we’re discussing your future as young trans people.  We are joining forces with TRANSFORMERS - the trans youth group from Brighton.  The young trans people will gather for the first hour and then at 3pm we’ll have some visitors coming in to discuss how they have progressed with their careers, passions and interests as trans and gender variant identified people (and members of the trans community) who are older than 25.  Examples of people will be firefighters, primary school teachers, academics, bankers, pscyhologists as well as political activists and journalists.  
    You will be able to ask questions on a one-to-one basis or as part of a group about their experiences working in their chosen sector, why they enjoy it and perhaps inspire and help shape your own futures - whatever that may be.     

    Arrive at 2pm and we’ll be in the foyer to meet you, or ask for Gendered Intelligence at reception. 

    If you have any questions, or it’s your first time attending a session and you want to get in touch, send us an email: admin@genderedintelligence.co.uk

    Thank you SF & BAY AREA for relaxing times. 

    SURGERY LOOMING:

     We just got to Florida and it feels very different here. Leading up to this point I felt alarmingly calm about surgery. Excited even. Now it’s here, I feel an overwhelming sense of grief in my heart. I wish that I could have enjoyed being in my own body, without any hormones or surgery. (I don’t have that overwhelming wish to have been born a cis-male, nor do I regret my path leading up to this point.) I have pinpointed this grief as the guilt and sadness of not appreciating the way I was born. Of not appreciating my body and my chest. Of making mountains out of my molehills. At some point I began feeling ungrateful…for not just accepting the gift of two arms and legs and a regularly beating heart. But it’s more than that. I have to forgive myself for wanting to change my ‘natural self’. Wearing a binder is restricting, sweaty and makes me feel weird. And not wearing a binder gives me so much anxiety, it isn’t an option. So I have to go down this path. Expensive, disrupting and finally here.

    This is my pursuit of happiness. It is no one’s path but my own.  And there’s always that risk that I might still feel uncomfortable in my own skin; then what?