(This piece will be published in the award winning Fruitcake Magazine (Issue 2))
My Mum and I used to have such a strong bond. She allowed me to create, play and explore the world in my own special way. I was supported and encouraged to always be myself even if that meant I was dressed up as a princess dancing around the living room with a t-shirt on my head pretending it was my long flowing locks, or singing bad renditions of Britney Spears classics such as (ironically) "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman".
You see my brother and I are immeasurably different. He was very boisterous and football mad. There was never any doubt of his cis and heteronormality. Whereas I, on the other hand, was too femme to function. My queerness was labelled before I even knew what being queer was. Nonetheless, I was never loved any less or forced to conform to gender stereotypes. Those early years, where I was allowed to flourish and embrace my feminity were so formative and I'm even more grateful now, knowing it was frowned upon by society and realising how much she had tried to protect me.
Although I was lucky enough to have such a supportive childhood, as I got more aware I began to be ashamed of my feminity, I couldn't understand it, I started to become introverted. I'd subtly try to hide what I was discovering and started distancing myself from my family. Embracing the world in my mind where I could be the girl I knew I was, whilst on the outside trying to hide who I was from the world. I remember asking for a David Beckham lunchbox instead of the ‘girls’ one I wanted. I knew all the other boys wanted to be just like him, whereas I only wanted to marry him. It was little things like this I used to try and trick people, but looking back the only person I was fooling was myself. My queerness was no longer a theory, it was an established fact by everyone around me. I started to feel isolated, I felt as if my mum was more focused on her new family, I felt less protected, furthermore she didn't notice the pain I was in.
This was the beginning of our relationship breakdown and me becoming an open target for people to abuse.
As I reached High school, I knew these feelings were going to intensify. I knew I needed to be honest. I knew I liked men, it was the only thing that made sense. I must be gay.
Coming out to my family was traumatic for me, I hid this by developing a bitchy persona, unapologetically gay, filled with wit, hate and shade. It was my shield, just like I'd done with the lunchbox years before except this time it had worked.
As my home life started to spiral out of control, I moved into my grandparents. I rebelled at every opportunity, I was too much and was exiled to my fathers, again I did everything I could to hide the pain, and the rejection I felt for my changing body. The next 5 years of my life were filled with drink, drugs and barebacking across my hometown looking for love and desire I didn't have for myself.
My relationship with my mum became more strained than ever before. I needed help, but I feared I was too lost to find it. My behaviour resulted in me going into care, I'd just turned 16 and was in my last year at school. It was there I finally had the ability to admit who I was, what I was denying to myself and what the repercussions of my actions were. When I came out as trans, it was the first time in my life I truly felt free. The staff where I lived were understanding and accepting but lacked knowledge. My transition was policed by social services at every turn. I told my mum via phone, I never really saw her and there was a lot of resentment from both of us. I don't know what I expected but I knew I needed to be supported and helped.
I didn't get that but more than ever I was determined. I ostracised myself even more because I needed to live my truth, I'd spent so many years undercover, I couldn't wait for other people to accept it.
There were so many pivotal moments in my transition I wished I could have shared with her, especially the silly stuff like shopping for clothes and makeup, I remember going shopping for the first time with the home manager and arguing over a see-through leopard print shirt which she said I couldn't have. The countless hospital visits alone, the figuring it all out. learning what being transgender meant to me. Over the next five years, my mum and I spoke and saw each other intermittently with it usually ending in tears. I needed her, but I also needed her to see me as her daughter.
Those times we did see each other were difficult, the silent critiques, the guilt and the overwhelming dysphoria. I'd never feel more masculine than when I saw myself in the reflection of her eyes.
It got better over time. We were able to speak a little bit about ‘it’ and we started to slowly build our relationship back up.
It was when we sat over a coffee and she explained how she felt I finally got it. The five years I was blossoming into the woman I truly was, she was grieving the loss of her son, the dreams she had for him, the fear and guilt for not being able to look past all that. I was wrapped up in living my truth I hadn’t stopped to think that she might be suffering and what she has had to sacrifice while overcoming the grief. Our relationship today is a lot better, It took a couple more years to receive that "Happy Birthday Daughter" card but I knew she loved me, I know she is proud of me and nothing else matters. I've been fortunate to have people around me to love and support me, help me grow and become the person I am today. I admire my mum for allowing me to do what I needed to do, and although she couldn't do it with me I now know she was always with me.
What I'm trying to say, is sometimes the relationship you want to have with someone isn't always what you get but it doesn't mean it's not worth having.
My transition has taught me many things over the years but the most important lesson I've learnt is that occasionally people have to love each other from a distance in order for each of them to blossom. But being true to yourself should always come first. Parents don't always get it right straight away, some might never, everybody is different, but you should never allow someone else to dictate your truth.
Love comes from within.
If you are a young person that feels at odds with their assigned gender, or you are a parent with a child who feels this way, don't despair there's support I wish I knew about back then.
Check out the charity Mermaids UK.
MERMAIDS HELPLINE: 0344 334 0550
Disclaimer: This post contains slight themes of a sexual nature, so if you're underage or related to me please Do NOT read. However, feel free to check out some of my other work.
ROMANCE is dead. OFFICIALLY! You may wonder how I know this?
Is it from the string of Grindr messages I rise to each morning or my nightly invites for secret rendezvous with boys in junk-filled Vauxhall Corsas.
Well, yes, you're ABSOLUTELY right!
I like to imagine my dating life as a modern-day Jane Austen novel, just like Pride and Prejudice except there's hardly any pride, a hell of a lot of prejudice and instead of Mr Darcy I'm stuck with "DL ST8 Guy 4 TS BTM SLUT". Elizabeth Bennet didn't have it half as hard (pun intended).
Not that I'm complaining. It's not all dick pics and cheap thrills, I've had some serious emotional connections with lovers over the years and have gained some invaluable anecdotes for dinner parties. it's just I've never really liked the idea of being someone's Pornhub fantasy.
Now don't get me wrong I'm not totally opposed to dating "chasers", In fact, the majority of cis men who date trans women are extremely open, their views on gender and expression are far more profound than how they appear, I can envision it being quite an isolating experience, having these thoughts and not being able to share them with world. However, this post isn't about the good ones, it's about the fuck boys.
When I started dating, and I say dating because we are in polite society I was young, around 12/13. It was how I found the desire I didn't have for myself and my body. I thought I was in control when in reality I was being taken advantage off by people who should've known better.
However, now that I'm grown and more in touch with myself, I feel more in control when I'm dealing with trade.
" I know what I bring to the table and I'm not afraid to eat alone. "
Way back in the autumn of 2012, when I was an 18-year-old babe, a video of me was threatening to circulate ALL over social media. The video was of me performing a sexual act. I was distraught. I'd never even heard of revenge porn before, I thought I'd lose my job and that my whole life was going to be over. It occurred to me that I wasn't even sure there was a video, I mean I'd of noticed right? I stayed silent and stopped replying to the abusive messages while I sought advice from an old pro.
I decided to call their bluff! I was SO nonchalant about the whole thing, I think it freaked them out "You couldve told me, I'd of told you how to get a better angle" I typed nervously. They abused me again, I remember thinking right, well if they post, I'll just have to deal with it. Although I did have one last card to play, for it to work I was counting on their toxic masculinity. I suggested that they post it, I was aware of the abuse I'd get but I made them aware of the backlash they'd receive because I was a transwoman and I'd kept the ALL the receipts. I was blocked shortly after and fortunately, the video never saw the light of day. I learnt some valuable life lessons that day, own your promiscuity, NEVER let someone threaten or slut shame you and always keep the goddamn receipts.
This wasn't the last time someone tried to do this.
Over Christmas last year, a guy I'd seen a couple of times threatened to release nudes of me and said he'd give some cock and bull story of how I sent them without disclosing my past if I refuse to let him pick me up.
I sat there a couple of gins in and was feeling brave. I told him to do it, in fact, I said I'd do it myself and took his power away.
I wasn't going to be made to feel ashamed about my body or who I was.
We live in the age of dating apps and social media, you just don't meet lovers in bars, coffee shops or anywhere else Meg Ryan could've filmed a rom-com. In fact, we could possibly blame Tinder for the demise of her movie career.
It would be unrealistic to not use these apps, especially for trans women, and nudes can be an unfortunate byproduct of this. Using apps to find love or a sexual partner can be dangerous, these fuckboys and serial chasers can be spiteful and vindictive. They can even cause serious damage, not just to one's reputation but to your safety. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from using these apps or sites because frankly, it'd be unrealistic but be safe, find your own way to control the situation and make sure you know the person before you arrange to meet or before you exchange images.
Now I'm 23, I've gotten smarter, I respond to every unsolicited dick pic with a bigger one (usually a picture of Donald Trump or Theresa May).
I try to be more careful and minimise the risks where I can, I want to be stimulated intellectually, I want to know what they've read, what their opinions are and their stories before I jump in head first.
On the occasions that I don't and I'm seduced by a fuckboy's spell,
I remember these simple rules.
1. ALWAYS tell a friend who you're meeting and where.
2. send them pictures and their contact information
3. Take a picture of their registration and make sure that they see and send it to someone you can trust.
& most importantly
4. Keep in contact and let people know when your back home.
The risks are always there and although they're probably my favourite part I wanna know that it's as safe as it can be.
Own your promiscuity and stay safe when swiping!
Love Chrissie x
If you find yourself being a victim of a hate crime or of revenge porn remember you're not alone. Don't be stupid like me, contact the authorities or the revenge porn helpline.
Revenge porn is a grotesque crime and is a serious form of abuse.
Revenge Porn Helpline
0345 6000 459
Since the first episode, I've been obsessed. I've laughed A LOT, cried EVEN MORE and literally attempted to vogue the house down more times than I'd like to admit (I have an attic room, it's actually quite possible).
I'm always sceptical when I hear about shows which includes trans and queer characters and rightly so, there have been some disasters over the years. Cis people have been in control of the narrative of how trans and queer people are portrayed for far too long and I've often wondered whether that would ever change, transploitation pays, it just never pays the community it's exploiting.
However, when I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong! That sneaky little genius, Ryan Murphy has done just that.
It's really commendable to see him reach out in order to bring Steven Canals creation to life especially when it's a show predominantly about trans women and queer people of colour.
Steven Canals has created a modern-day masterpiece, the show is so beautifully authentic it hurts and although it's set in the 80's it's completely transferable to the world we live in today. The stigmatization faced with being diagnosed with HIV or identifying as queer or trans is still very much present and it's even more poignant if you're a person of colour. it's truly exceptional to watch a show which is able to acknowledge this.
The iconic Janet Mock has written and directed a couple of the episodes thus far, the difference it makes to a show when the people it's representing are given a seat at the table is astronomical.
Where the rest of Hollywood has failed, FX's Pose excels.
Casting trans actors to play trans roles might seem like an obvious thing to do, but it's something the majority of shows and films have struggled to get their head around and please don't get me started on when they feel compelled invent a white cis, heteronormative character to make it more watchable *cough* Stonewall, 2015 *cough*.
Dominique Jackon's fierce portrayal of Elektra Abundance is outstanding, She plays the mother of NYC ball scene champions The House of Abundance, and though she could read you to filth deep down she has a heart of gold. MJ Rodriguez character, Blanca Evangelista is the mother of the upstart house Evangelista. MJ's depiction Blanca is incredibly emotive, Her maternal instinct and her desire to change the world is truly powerful. Indya Moore is captivating as Angel, she's definitely the character I relate the most too, her struggle with finding love and the longing not to been seen as fetish is so real to me. Dating openly as a trans woman is a struggle in which most trans girls face. I for one have questioned countless guy's motives for desiring me.
This brings me to the powerhouse Evan Peters who stars as Stan, Angel's married love interest who works for the infamous Trump.
Peter's performance is so genuineness. There's a scene in which Angel asks Stan whether he sees her as a real woman? and he replies "You’d be crazy to choose this life if you didn’t have to.” as he said those words, I literally had tears rolling down my face. Where in the hell is my Stan? (& if you're reading this... Please slide into my DM's).
Throughout the last 5 episodes, Pose has shown every struggle that trans and queer people face. There is a literally a character everyone can relate too but Pose for me is more than an entertaining show on some deeply sensitive subjects.
Pose has opened my eyes to my own privilege as a white trans woman further than ever before. There's this scene with Blanca and Lulu in which Lulu says "Everybody needs somebody to make themselves feel superior. That line ends with us though. This shit runs downhill, past the women, the blacks, latinx, gays, until it reaches the bottom and lands on our kind." This has a profound effect on me, my experience as a trans woman is different from my sisters of colour. They're more marginalised, face more hardship, are more likely to be killed for living their truth.
Trans women of colour have a life expectancy of 35 and I'm not okay with that. It's my belief that shows like this and true honest representation like this will help see us as real people. It's one thing to be aware of your privilege but it's another to actively dismantle it! and that's what I'm going to do. Queer and trans people of colour matter and if this blog or this show can help people see that then I'd be satisfied.
White people should be using their privilege to promote people of colour, support black pride events, share voices of POC and dismantle any discrimination they see.
WE ALL HAVE RESPONSIBILITY TO END THIS HATE.
Yesterday, I had a truly awakening experience. It was one of those pivotal moments which will stay with me forever. In fact, it's also resulted in me starting this terrible blog (My apologies). Essentially it's allowing me to throw words into cyberspace because it's much cheaper than a therapist and the NHS waiting list is longer than my ratty Lady Godiva wig.
Anyway, I digress! Yesterday, I travelled to Manchester on a rickety old train which Northern Rail should have retired 20 years ago, in the midst of an unbearable heatwave to attend Trans Creative's Art Festival "Trans Vegas". The plan was to go and support my sisters Kuchenga and Charlie, where Kuchenga was interviewing Charlie about her incredible book "To My Trans Sisters" (Which if you've not read, I highly suggest you do, Now!). Now the event was UH-Mazing, emotional, informative and better yet INSPIRING.
. The book itself is an ode to sisterhood, it's like every trans women's fantasy support group, filled with scholars, scientist, activists, models, writers etc. There is literally a letter for every girl, no matter what race, age, or views which makes it even more special.
During the event some of the contributors from the book read their letters it was like being transported into the lives of these sensational women.
However, my favourite part of the whole event was the Q/A portion, A woman at the start of her transition asked: "How do you know what type of woman you are?" The reply was simple "You just are." because she was, she was already a woman, the only thing that changes is the exterior. Kuchenga and Charlie are so articulate and were able to answer every question perfectly.
The whole time I was there I couldn't stop thinking about sisterhood, how we support each other and what it means to me. I think I discovered this after the event, some of us went to eat at the flavour factory named Bundobust, which literally gave me a Meg Ryan moment.
We discussed the event, social politics, passing and our own experiences.
There was something so validating about being around a bunch of trans women (Plus one cute AF cis male) and us discussing thing's I'd be uncomfortable talking to my cis friends about as they'd normally tell me to get off my soapbox. My idea of sisterhood is just that, to pick each other up, empower each other to be our best, most authentic selves.
I learnt so much and gained so much REAL confidence in such a short space of time. This meeting has made me realise that I am in control of my life, who I surround myself with, and aware of the energy I give to people and what I've truly had to sacrifice in order to survive in my hometown. Well no more!
So taking inspiration from Trans Creative's motto "Telling our own stories"
I give you my first blog post which I dedicate to All My Trans Sisters.
'To My Trans Sisters"
Bundobust Restraunt Manchester: