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I have been accepted to do MLitt Creative Writing at Glasgow University, but all of my funding applications so far have fallen through. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to have to raise the fees by crowdfunding.

I have a Patreon here -

https://www.patreon.com/elainegallagher

- please consider sponsoring me. You will receive early access to the videos that I make, and I will produce an ebook and a paper book of the pieces I perform for the sponsors with higher pledges.

If you can't sponsor me, then please spread the word. If you share the following facebook page then it will also link to my Patreon.

https://www.facebook.com/elainegallagherwriter/

If I can make £200 per month through sponsorship, then I can pay the part-time fees of £772 per 20 credits on the course.
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I have set up a Patreon to help raise funds, get to workshops, fund my studies next year and pay for cat food. The page is live today at patreon.com/elainegallagher. Look for links in the next week to existing readings, poetry and prose as I work on the first pieces for patrons.

The plan will be:

$1 patrons will have access to the patron-only content on the page, including new poems and readings once a month.
$2 patrons will have downloadable MP3s of my readings.
$5 patrons will receive a collected ebook of my new pieces at the end of the year
$10 patrons will receive a printed chapbook of the collection.

This is a long-term plan: I would be writing these pieces as and when I can, in between trying to pay the bills. With your support I will be able to produce more consistent work and fund access to workshops and the creative writing degree which I am starting in September.

I will also be able to work on a wider range of projects, including films of performances, new screenplays that I am developing, and I plan to produce a stage show. Look for further developments here and on the Patreon page.
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It was TDoR in 2009 when I realised that I had been playing and negotiating with the possibility of transition for more than long enough, and it was time to do something real. I contacted all of my friends, some of whom had met me as Elaine once or twice over the previous couple of years, and told them that I was going to be female full-time for a few months, to see how it fit.

Four years on, it fits very well, thank you.

In that time, I have been asked the same questions, many times. Here are some of them.

Questions

- What are you?
- Are you a guy?
- No, really, you're a guy, aren't you?
Why does it matter?
What difference does it make to you?
I bleed like you,
laugh like you,
love like you.
I don't fancy you,
so you can rest easy.

- But why?
- Can't you just...?
- Haven't you tried...?
I wouldn't, if I'd ever had a choice.
Have you ever wished,
day in, day out,
to be someone else?
To have been born different?
To not have been born?
Try that for thirty years;
see if you don't
do something about it.

- What's it like?
It's looking in the mirror,
seeing my face and body,
knowing that they're wrong
and knowing
that there's no way
to be right.
Knowing
that if I dress, walk, act
the way I ought to,
I'll lose my family, friends, job.
Maybe my life.

- How could you?
I could ask the same.
How could you demand
that I live in misery
so you can be happy?
How can you tell me
that you love me
in the same breath as goodbye?
Say "keep in touch",
but "I don't want to know"?
How could you give me up
so easily?

- How does it feel?
Now that I've finally,
finally made a stand,
said who I really am,
now I see my face in the mirror,
my name on the door,
now I wear clothes
that make me comfortable,
now I can walk right, stand right,
feel right,
the fears and jeers,
the what-are-you's, why-can't-you's,
the sacrifices
fall away
and the freedom
to fit properly in my skin
is breathtaking.
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(another trans woman was found murdered and dumped in a bin yesterday)

The cold November morning dawns too bright;
a day like this one should have leaden skies,
be raining with the tears that blind our eyes,
our grief and anger darkening our sight.

The leaves lie at our feet, while those unshed
but golden, catch the sunlight like the flames
of candles lit as we recite the names,
in memory, of our loved and honoured dead.

Our fallen, as the leaves, though not in war
but murdered and discarded with the trash
they are regarded as; or burned to ash
with loved ones; shot, stabbed, beaten; many more

who met their deaths in agony and fear.
We mourn them, in their hundreds, every year.

(edited to fix the final couplet.)
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At a counselling session today, and we were talking about loneliness and partners and I went through the romantic (mis-)adventures I've had in recent months. When I'd got through the list (seriously, seven so far; I normally meet one woman I like in a year), the counsellor said, "That's all for Michael, I haven't heard anything for Elaine yet."

Sorry, what?

So I had to correct her misapprehensions about gender expression vs. sexual orientation and that while they often correlate, neither causes the other. Just look at every gay and lesbian person on the planet. And I fancy women, therefore while Michael is straight, Elaine isn't.

Also, making a distinction between Michael and Elaine is a big mistake. There isn't one.

I know that trans* issues are a specialist interest, but I'd have thought that a professional counsellor would know better than to impose any assumptions on a client. Still, she took the correction well.

Clinic as well, this morning; I asked once again to schedule surgery, they once again gave me a delay. I should go back a couple more times before they'll even start applying for funding "to see how you're doing." Last time it was that I needed the sign-off of two doctors. I'm contemplating making a pest of myself.
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In the light of what happened to Lucy Meadows, and the Julie Burchill article, and other more personal incidents, I have been studying the Equality Act 2010 (EA10). Now, I am not a lawyer, however I am an environmental manager and you don't go far or last long in that game without being able to read and comply with legislation.

working below the cut… )

I repeat, I am not a lawyer, however I would say that the treatment of Lucy Meadows was harassment as defined in EA10, in that it was "unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic [i.e. gender reassignment]" with the purpose or effect of "violating [Lucy]'s dignity, or … creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for [Lucy].

I would also say by the same language that Julie Burchill's article was also harassment. Note that unlike Section 27, Victimisation, the above section does not contain any language limiting the offence to being against a single person, not a group.

I am going to take this argument to my MP next week. If I'm wrong, please point out where, so that I can point out the lack of protection, otherwise I'm going to ask her to address the lack of enforcement.

For some reason LJ won't let me make the post open reading, so refer anyone who isn't a friend to comment on my DW account.

Also, since I'm leaving this open and may attract trolls, I am going to delete any and all comments that are inflammatory or offensive (my judgement). Let's play nice.
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The last one to have been edited - Azkaban.[Error: unknown template qotd]
mschatelaine: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] psychochicken was surprised at the tone of my last post: he thought that earlier, discussing the new Trek in the pub, I'd been more positive about it.

Which leads me to wonder, just why is my praise so damningly faint for the new Star Trek movie? ... )To me, this is another visual-effects blockbuster; good as far as such things go, but no better. Comparable to the Star Wars prequels, say.
mschatelaine: (Default)
I saw the new JJ Abrams Star Trek in the IMAX cinema this afternoon. Here are my impressions. )
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The doctor even apologised to me for making me feel I was being pressured.

The new administration appears to have calmed down from their strict interpretation of the letter of the rules and are agreeing that some people have different circumstances and needs than others. I have to be examined by their new resident psychiatrist by way of checking up on my counsellor, but I am not to feel that it is a test, that they'll take me off the hormones if they decide I am in some way doing it wrong.

The counsellor was actually quite nervous, as if he was afraid that I'd make a complaint, which I was actually ready to do if he pushed me.

And I got waxed this morning and I got my nails done this afternoon. I'm actually enjoying going out and about as me, less nervous than I have been. Should do it more. Walking around Queen Street, even in the rain, was fun.
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[this isn't my idea originally, a lady on a dating site put up a description of herself that was listed alphabetically and I thought it was only appropriate to reply in kind. Here's what I sent ... ]

Alphabetically , I am ...

Appreciative of alliterative allusions
Barely begun
Currently consulting a compendium of characteristics (looking up a dictionary; cheat? who, me?)
Delighted to make your acquaintance
Enjoying the exercise so far
Flippant frequently
Gently good-
Humoured (couldn't resist)
Infrequently impulsive (but 'what the hell' is always the right decision)
Just, joyous and with joie de vivre
Kindly
Literate, and I take myself lightly
Mike by name, hello
Not afraid of hard work if it's worth it
Observant
Phlegmatic and philosophical
Quebecois originally, but now with a Scottish accent
Romantic? sometimes - remember about 'what the hell'
Sceptical and scientific, but also ...
Tolerant (and typically Taurean, but it doesn't matter to me)
Unwise at times
Vocal on subjects that I care about
Wry
eXcellently bad at atrocious wordplay (you already got in xenophilic)
Yarn-spinning
Zestful

[I liked it, I thought I'd save it here.]

Touched

Apr. 24th, 2009 09:52 pm
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I used the LinkedIn system today to grab a bunch of contacts for business purposes and took the opportunity to go looking for some old friends that I'd lost touch with. One emailed me back immediately that it was so nice to hear from me. I worked it out, I knew this lady for about six months, six and a half years ago.

I have described before in this journal how I was unemployed for a long time prior to my current state. Before that, I worked in the Netherlands, and my social life was an ex-pats' organisation (called SMILE, I can't remember what it stood for and it hardly matters). We would meet for dinner and beer around a table in a central Eindhoven pub every Friday and I was one of the more regular attendees.

So much so that when the then organiser retired and moved away, I got landed with being his successor. I decided bugger that, quite apart from the fact that my own job was precarious at the time. I organised a Yahoo group and a rota of regular greeters / table-holders, who formed a committee of people who would take charge of projects. When I finally had to cut and run I left it in good shape.

What I didn't realise and I only found out today was that the few people I stayed in contact with were reporting back to the SMILE table about how I was getting on, and that the club had been cheered that I'd sorted myself out.

People make an impression on me; I never consider that I might make a good impression on them. I'm guilty, as my (best) friend has said of himself, of travelling light. When I had a cat, where I left her was home. Most of the time my social life has been around a place, not necessarily people. I'd be a stranger in town so I'd go to a club like SMILE and I'd form my social life around going to that place and seeing who was there. I've never been good at forming or keeping relationships outside of a framework like that.

So I am totally gobsmacked to find that an entire club of people had been pleased to hear the report that I was doing all right, and that someone I expected to barely remember me was so pleased to hear from me after more than six years.

(She's also doing fine, by the way; private practice as a patent attorney in Munich and married last month, Yay her:)

Empanelled

Apr. 18th, 2009 04:40 pm
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Most readers here will be aware of Satellite 2; a convention in Glasgow on the 25th-26th of July, marking the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing. In case anyone isn't aware, Iain M Banks will be guest of honour.

And I've been roped in to a panel, discussing the moon in literature. Apparently there's homework to do beforehand. Should be fun.

Elated

Apr. 16th, 2009 10:36 pm
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Today my office passed its ISO14001 audit!

... And? you say.

And? And! I wrote the management system. I managed it into existence. I'm responsible for it. It's a thing that I've made. Truth to tell, I cobbled it together from parts from other jobs, but it's my baby, all of it.

Here's the thing. I've been doing management systems for clients for about a year and a half, since I had the job dropped on me because our principal consultant quit rather than go with the new masters (whom I for one still wholeheartedly welcome, except when they piss me off). I've had some successes, and some of them have been spectacular achievements for major clients or spectacular saves from the hands of incompetents. But I've never before from beginning to end put a system in place and seen it through to certification.

And I've never been the one being audited. And ISO14001 is the environmental management standard, and me being an environmental management consultant it's something that I'm supposed to actually know something about.

So today was a major professional vindication; I'm actually good at the job that I do (not just competent, that was a glowing audit report), as verified by an external assessor, and it's not a result of taking over the job of someone more qualified and taking the credit for seeing it to completion.

And I did it for my own office. I was mentioned in despatches to the MD and the chairman (whose name is on the company), both of whom got a copy of the audit report, and various other directors.

So, I've got a major confidence boost, a major professional credit and two significant learning experiences all in the one day.

Then I went out for a steak and several beers and came up with a new story. Today has been a good day.
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So I told them. I have never been comfortable male, I have been in gender counselling for the last two years, I have been on hormones for a year, I am considering the possibility of transitioning.

Their reaction - shock of course, and speechlessness, and then a fairly reasonable discussion for about an hour. They are, predictably, not in favour. Neither of them would be able to accept me as female. They wouldn't be able to tell anyone else in the family, or anyone else for that matter. I didn't discuss what other family members already know. I would effectively lose my family life though not my family.

They did say that they would respect my position if I were to go ahead even though there was no way they could support or condone it and they entreated me to consider the things that I would be throwing away. They were dubious about the counselling system, that some people involved were too ... they didn't say 'liberal' and I didn't fill it in for them, although I called them on a couple of manipulations that they tried setting up, including a couple of nasty guilt trips that I was ready for.

Selfishness. Think of the big picture and not just yourself. Quote - "it's an 'Icky Me' position" - truly. Answer - yes it's selfish to say 'it's my life', but that remains the case, and is it not selfish to insist that I remain unhappy for the remainder of it? I wasn't as blunt as my mother, but that was the gist that I got across. Honestly that was the one that I expected them to trot out.

Think of what you'll be throwing away. Answer - it's an incredibly hard step and one would have to be desperately unhappy to consider throwing away all I have, job, family, male privilege, safety from neds. Implication - see me consider it.

God made you male. Answer - And God made me such that I'm not happy being male. That line of argument didn't go any further. It amounted to 'put up and shut up,' anyway, which isn't an argument I've ever stood for.

It's guaranteed to end in disaster, possibly even suicide. Answer - yes, I know of several cases where it has ended in death either at their own hand or at the hands of others. This is why there are rules, and psychiatrists, but see also argument re. 'desperately unhappy'.

I pointed out that I am happier and more capable now than I have been in several years; that the psychiatric evaluation that I have already gone through shows that my anxieties are coming from my gender problem and not vice versa. I will sleep tonight a lot better than I would have if I hadn't screwed my courage to the sticking place and driven over to see them.

They remain gobmacked, but also to an extent grateful that I had told them of my trouble. They consider that whatever I do in the privacy of my own home is up to me and may be good for my troubles, but taking the change would be a supremely bad idea. I assured them that the decision is in no way made.

Then they gave me the book that had arrived for me as the last part of my Christmas present and told me of the shenanigans with the local cats and that I'm expected to come to my niece's birthday in two weeks and to bring something pink. (She'll be five, going on about fourteen.)

Now I have a ragu cooking and a glass of red wine.
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... and anyone who's ever been waxed is now saying ... What?!?

And I'd prefer that the stripping of hair from my body would not be necessary and I accept that it's incredibly painful.

But I end up free of hair. And it really makes a difference when you put on a pair of tights. And the shaving the chest thing, well really.

And here's the thing, I'm going in for this painful procedure that I'll have to get done next month and the month after that and the month after that. And I'll hopefully have tea with my friends after. Because I want femininity. I would be happiest being female.

But I don't have the courage to take it.

Between the above and now has been quite a while. it's nearly morning. I don't know what I want from being female and I don't know what kind of female I want to be but I'm sure that I want to be female.

I've just spent the last few hours rehearsing the scene where I tell my parents I haven't ever been comfortable as a male and I'm changing sex. And one of the things I have just realised is that the only person in my visualisations is myself. I'm making up my objections.

I'm still terrified. I'm going to tell them. I won't handle it well and neither will they, but I've got to. It's one of those things, I've made the decision that it's going to happen. I'll be really fucked up until I do, so it's going to have to be as soon as possible.

I'm getting over being very drunk, but I just scrawled 'Going to be a Woman' on my mirror in lipstick and took a photo of it. It's getting on for morning.
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I'm finding myself doing, or more properly failing to do, things that are self-destructive. Last week I couldn't move all of Sunday, when I had a flat inspection the next day. This week I'm having to retrieve a situation with my car insurance. There are many things to do with work that I am being hit with but for the most part that's working out all right. But still I'm falling into the pattern of, for example, spending money that I shouldn't on things I want but don't need. This kind of comfort spending has led me before into debt situations that I'm only now digging myself out of.

I would be better to find out what is the thing or things that are worrying me and deal with them, but I suspect that what I really need is a hug. An actual, physical, being able to put my head on someone's shoulder and relax because for just that moment, it's all right and nothing else matters.

I'm not able to relax in hugs, normally. I find myself always in the masculine situation of being the one who should make it all right. And I do my best, but I have a combination of low self-esteem and a history of hooking up with women who really need for it to be made all right. And I can do that. But a hug, to me, is work. I'm always the comforter. I have talked some people down from some really horrible positions, and I have become good at it, but what about me?

Culturally, that isn't a thing that a man should be looking for in a relationship. It's fine for a woman to be looking for someone who will look after her or to put her together after a bad experience (done that more than once, been trying to avoid that kind of woman for at least fifteen years, not being so successful at it). For a man to even admit to needing a break or a hug or to be comforted is somehow wrong.

I've been more stable than I am right now. I need a break or a hug or to be comforted. What I need is a good cry, and here comes 'Halleluja' to set me off. Excuse me.

In better news, thanks to the advice of [livejournal.com profile] helenex and [livejournal.com profile] psychochicken, I'm managing to get rid of the weight I put on over the last couple of months, next target the weight I put on over the last year. I know how to do it right, now.
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One of my favourite web-comic makers has just been burned out of her flat. There are links on her site to a fund-raiser that her publishers are running, and also some amazingly poignant art.

Planet Karen
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I don't fit in the box. That's fine with me, but the medical powers that be apparently don't approve. Apparently they will come down with a heavy hand on any doctor who doesn't follow a rigid set of guidelines in dealing with transgender patients.

Apparently the Charing Cross Centre (I think) in London is very prescriptive about what a transgender patient should do and how they should behave, and their view of gender roles and behaviour is narrow and conservative. Patients can get treatment denied for turning up wearing trousers rather than a skirt, for example.

More importantly, this big important clinic says that hormones should not be prescribed until after a patient has been living at least three months in their transgender role, and is going by their transgender name full-time. And they must supply proof of this. This role having been conservatively defined by the clinic as noted above.

They also have a tendency to accuse doctors who don't toe their line of malpractice and one has been struck off recently for not following these guidelines exactly.

I mention all this because my counsellor informed me of it all this afternoon, as well as informing me that there is a change in the management of the gender unit that I go to and the head of the unit is much more inclined than the previous one to this clinic's views.

Now I don't argue with the existence of guidelines and oversight. They are there to prevent errors and there are people who really shouldn't be allowed in their current state of mind to make the kind of irreversible decisions that gender reassignment requires. But I have had a psych evaluation and I'm fine and in command of my own decisions.

There is also a fear of the gutter press in the NHS establishment and this is another consideration that my doctor has mentioned to me more than once, and intimated that it is more of a concern to his bosses. I personally view that attitude as caving in to an attack on my civil rights of privacy and freedom from discrimination, but that's an argument for another time.

I'm allowed to stay on the level of hormones that I am currently following, but I predict that I will have this 'discussion' at every session. If that is the case I am going to have to figure out what to do. I am tending to consider all of this information as unfair pressure to follow a path that I'm not currently and for good reasons prepared to follow.

I don't want to live full-time as a woman. I don't feel desperately enough out of place in my current life that I would wreck it to change sex. And that is what I would have to do. I'd lose my career, and a large part of my family, both of which are important to me. I'd keep some family contacts and most of my friends, for which I'm eternally grateful, but still.

But the British medical establishment doesn't have a box labelled with what I need: you can be a man or a woman, and by their rules or don't play. I told the doctor that most of my female friends would consider that clinic's view of their gender role as an affront, and he agreed, but he has been going out on a limb to allow me to go as far as I have.

I'm not going to be railroaded. I'm not. But I'm not sure how to make the system fulfil my needs, and just as importantly how to get it to stop putting pressure on me that could become damaging. It's clearly only set up to cater for cases that require the full gender reassignment intervention. It isn't set up to consider any kind of flexibility outside that, for fear of accusations of malpractice.

But I have been made more happy than I was by being allowed to grow breasts. My hips and thighs are widening too, which pleases me. My blood pressure is significantly lower when I am cross-dressed, and that is now my normal mode in the house; I change when I get home from work. I intend to continue with hormone treatments but I may never transition; be transgendered, either gender at need or in between. I may have to find support outside the NHS - does anyone have any information about where to ask?

Apart from that everything's going swimmingly. I'm going to start going out more often, which will go some way to making the doctor happier too. It's extra work to do makeup and put on a wig and padding and corsetry, but when I do it nobody bats an eye in the shops which is exactly what I'm after. I couldn't get away with going out the way I am in the house, which is still all female clothes including underwear, because I still have too masculine a shape, and I have to wear makeup to feminise my face. And of course the wig.

But my bust is still growing to reasonably fill a 38A in fact rather than by wishful thinking. If you know to look when I'm not wearing a bra it's noticeable and a padded bra does wonders. I'm dieting and exercising to reduce the masculine belly and hoping it won't retard my hips too much.

In the rest of my life, I went back to fiddle lessons this evening and got on fine. And I'm getting a consistent note out of the wooden flute I bought a couple of weeks ago. I'm planning to build a harp this year too - it's like a kit car: you buy a kit of parts pre-cut and finish and assemble them yourself. Later on I might start building them from scratch, but I'd need a workshop space to cut and drill the wood.

There, now, woodwork, that's hardly a typical feminine activity, is it? In the words of Amanda Palmer, fuck that shit.
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