In the garden!

silk-rosesI’ll be damned, this is my 100th blog-thing. Technically, it’s 101, but my previous was a reblogging of that truly lovely Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism.

So this is me, making my 100th flourish across the cyberdancefloor.

For this blog-thing, I want to focus on something that I feel particularly passionate about at the moment.

I was recently involved in a panel discussion about how to support LGBT young people (I’m in the south west of England, by the way, but all this is relevant anywhere), and the discussion very quickly gravitated towards the education system and schools, and how they’re still really letting down the LGBT young people – and of course, as usual, the discussion gravitated also towards talk of homophobia and sexuality, and abandoned the T in LGBT.

I was “the trans person” on the panel, but was very happy to be invited, as the organisers had told me they appreciate my very inclusive approach to talking about gender diversity, and I wanted the chance to represent on behalf of as wide a community of trans* folk as possible. When I got my chance to speak, about 45 minutes into the allotted hour, I first of all said that trans* young people are very marginalised by society – but also within the LGBT arena, and I drew our collective attention to how the discussion had revolved around only LGB pretty much from the start. I also called out our most famous panellist (Peter Tatchell, a very valuable non-partisan ambassador for all gender/sexuality minorities) for repeatedly saying “…whether you’re LGBT, or straight…” since obviously some trans* people are straight. He took it well :).

But then I found myself pointing something else out that’s been building up in me for a while now, and I’m going to expand on it here now.

It is very right, proper, and vital for us as a society (and us, as a gender/sexuality minorities community) to make constant and strenuous efforts to stem the flow of bullying and undermining coming at LGBT young people from their peers – and even from some teachers, and from many corners of society too – and to educate these bullies and underminers beyond their phobic and prejudiced conditioning. But it’s not enough.

These LGBT young people, from the day they’re old enough to understand what’s going on around them, have been soaked in a constant flow of toxic nastiness and prejudice from the culture around them, perhaps even from their own families. They are poisoned. So many of these young people with nonconforming gender or sexual identities have terrible problems with low self-worth, with feelings of being damaged goods, feeling dismissed and scorned by the society they’re growing up in the middle of, with fear that their families and friends will treat them that way too (or with the reality of that).

So no, it’s not enough to just slow down the flow of toxic effluent still coursing towards them, vital though it is to do that. What we also need to be doing is directly and constantly affirming, encouraging, loving these young people out loud and to their faces, as an antitoxin. We need to be constantly telling them that they are as valuable and beautiful and worthy as everyone else, that they are not less normal, merely less common. We need to be encouraging them to love themselves, because bloody hell, they need all the encouragement they can get.

The more encouraged, and affirmed, and loved they are, the more happy they’ll be – but also the more confident and assertive they’ll become – and the more they are all that, the less they’ll get bullied, because bullies do not gravitate towards the confident and assertive, the rich in love.

If we only work on the external toxic forces, and yet do little to feed these young people from inside themselves, it’s like having an allotment where you’ve planted all kinds of beautiful plants, and you put lots of effort into weeding it and removing pests… but you forget to water the plants, and so they still all shrivel and die.

So many LGBT young people contemplate, or even attempt or succeed in suicide. They need an antidote that they can learn to brew themselves, and keep strengthening, if they’re to grow up strong and healthy and loving in this dubious environment, and to make it ultimately less dubious through their continued loving presence.

I’d like to see many more resources devoted towards their very direct support and encouragement, in as many ways as possible. Youth groups, counselling, buddying, mentoring, befriending… and all that other good stuff that’s already being done too, more of all of it.

There. That’s my say.

*****

Why In the garden! ? As a kid, I read The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It’s a pretty weird book, and there’s a lot about it that’s dubious, in terms of reinforcing gender and class stereotypes. But the central message is very much bound up with what I’ve been writing about here. The wounded father who cannot bear his son, because he reminds him of his lost wife, condemns that son to illness and bitterness. The son is finally rescued by friendship and a garden to cultivate – partly in the hope of winning his father’s love, but partly just for the love of creation and nurture (and learning in the process to bring this about in himself too).

Near the end of the book, the father is abroad on holiday, when he has a dream in which he hears his lost wife calling to him… “In the garden, in the garden!” He goes home, and finds his son well and strong and happy, the garden restored, and his own loss and bitterness break down and let go into love in the face of this.

As a story, it either gets to you or it doesn’t. For me, there has always been something magical, incantation-like about this In the garden! – yes, you can do all this urban renewal and education, but you have to go to people’s source, their root, and water and feed it with love and appreciation. We each need to learn to do this for ourselves, but it’s that much harder if those around us when we’re growing do not show us how by their very direct example of demonstrating love for us. So anything that we can each do to help anyone learn this for themselves, no matter how young or old they are, is a gift – but the younger people are when they receive this gift, the more they can make it their own, and then cultivate it and share it.

*****

One more thing to add: I was reading a document sent to me by one of the other panellists, the one I got on with best, which was about the prevalence of mental health issues among young people in this country. There was a term in this document I hadn’t heard before: looked after children. This is apparently what has replaced the older term children in care, to describe children who are looked after by the state, in children’s homes or placed with foster families, rather than living with their own family. And reading some of the facts and figures about these children (and what happens to many of them when they grow up), it was obvious to me that everything I’ve said above applies equally to these children – as it does also to adopted children. They, as well as LGBT children (and some of them are both, of course) all suffer from a deeply ingrained message that they’re not as valuable as other people, and we need to counter that with a constant nourishing diet of love.

Thanks for listening. 100. Bloody hell. Sorry, I lack middle gears.

Cherry_Blossom

Advertisements

Pishapaisha

beechwoodMy grandfather Saba (who was in a sense my only real parent) used to play a card game he called pishapaisha, which it took me years to realise was his Ukrainian way of saying peace & patience. I don’t remember how you play it, and that’s not the point anyway – just that as a kid, I loved the name of this game. As a younger kid, because it sounded funny, and similar to pischer, someone who pisses themselves – and then as an older kid, because peace & patience is a magical incantation, a wish.

I’m in need of both, at the moment. Peace within a jangling mind, and patience with myself.

I have, I am reliably semi-informed, Complex Long-Term PTSD. I say semi- because I await what is apparently a necessary full diagnosis at the hands of a Proper Psychiatrist, to validate the experienced observation of a number of psychotherapists who have known me very well. Anyway, lately, I’ve been feeling as though I’d learned to manage this condition well, and had probably unconsciously started to feel as though I’d somehow “overcome” it. Ah, context is everything…

Over the last few days, I’ve found myself dealing with contention on a couple of online forums, on one of which I’m one of the moderators. It’s all blown over now, and people are getting on better with themselves, and each other, and all that, and I feel like I responded as well as I could. But for the first time in a while, my Inner Meerkat has kicked off in a way that doesn’t fade after a short while. So here I am, a couple of days later, feeling like I’m trapped within a hyperalert and anxious body/mind.

My experience as a Buddhist teaches me… what? Well, that how I got here is not as important as how I respond to now. I’m trying to sort out the layers: I feel angry, once again, with the people who landed me with my PTSD through their violent actions; I feel scared and overwhelmed and exhausted, because my system is flooded with adrenaline; I see myself looking for things to be anxious about, and conveniently finding them; I feel sad and despondent, and wish to be different from how I am.

peace & patience

Fuck the cards I was dealt. Being like this is not my fault. Being like this deserves my compassion. Though I long to be someone who makes a positive impact on the world, I need to remember that I am part of that world, and that if all I can do today is make a positive impact on myself, then I am succeeding. Craving for a state that’s different from the one I’m in just sets me at odds with my own self, which is painful and unnecessary. So let’s stop doing this, and sit down in this experience, be with it in the forest. If that’s all I’ve got, that’s a fuck of a lot.

I’m sorry if this all sounds a bit encounter-group or Californian (well, apart from the expletives) to you who aren’t me. I’m just trying to be honest. Minds are efficient things, sometimes to their own detriment. Someone who is abused when young will work out for themselves why they deserved that, and then base their life, to some extent, around that created belief… until they get to let go of it. And you don’t let go of a lifetime’s habit just like that. So here I am again, reminding myself that I deserve to feel better than this, and that if I don’t feel better, I’m deserving of my own love, not my own impatience and disapproval.

peace-rainbowI’m writing this for me, but also for you, if this is something you ever go through:

Nobody deserves to suffer.

Here, may there be love.

*

*****

*********

Actually, now that I’ve posted this and had time to think a bit more, I want to add something to it – the real reason why my hypervigilance got kicked off in the first place. It’s been exacerbated by the online contention thing, but what stirred it up in the first place was a big affirmation. I got invited to participate in a panel discussion next month on the subject of “How can we best support LGBT young people?” with some people on the panel who are much more important than I am.

And as often seems to happen when I receive affirmation or praise, my Inner Dad kicks in and engages the Self-Sabotage Device. I have a visceral fear that I will be publicly exposed for the <insert whatever the fuck it is here> that I “know I am”. I will not be good enough. I will let the side down. And so forth.

I’m so fed up with this Device – every time I feel like I have a positive place in the world, this Inner Dad tells me to self-destruct. Go fuck yourself, Inner Dad. I am not who you wish me to think myself. I belong here, happy.

Romanception

fractalBy the gods… Romans everywhere! Legions within legions… We are doomed!!

Um, no, seriously, this isn’t about Romans.

[Trigger alert: this blog-thing will be about sexual abuse, amongst other things]

Hello. It’s been a little while, as I’ve been busy sorting some things out. So… no Romans, I’m afraid, though that would have been fun, in a bronzy, leathery sort of way. No, this is about romance. Specifically, it’s about (cutting to the chase) me trying to work out why I seem to be in love with being in love (hence the memeish title… for which pandering to modernity I deeply apologise…)

Yes, this is going to be pretty personal, but I’m really onto something here, and it helps to write these things out, and well, here we are. What is it that makes me think I’m in love with being in love? Well, a comprehensive list of the people I’ve been properly in love with over the last, erm, lots of years, comes to 80. To be fair, only about half a dozen of those were the true, full-on, this is going to make me die! kind of being in love. But the rest weren’t just “people I fancied”, they were pretty full-on experiences in their own right.

And most of these were unrequited, too, of course. In fact, only 8 of them have been requited, and they were all women (iiiinterestingggg…). Oh, did I mention that the figures come down pretty much even between women and men? They do. And there was actually one perhaps-requited on the men side of the list, since I think we were both too scared to tell each other. And of course, there are a number of people on both sides of the list whom I never told, so maybe it was requited after all, since they never told me anything either. And only one of those Death-Or-Glory Half-Dozen was ever requited.

I’m aware, by the way, of using very gender-binary language here. There are more recent people on this list who are only nominally on one side or the other – or are in fact neither. And I have no actual idea what a lot of these people’s gender identities were in my more distant past. Hence I think of myself these days as polyromantic, as well as polysensual.

Okay then, that’s the embarrassing part of the disclosure out of the way (really 80? really 80). What I’ve been asking myself is: Why do I keep falling for people in this way, and why is it so rarely requited? Well, the thing is…

I think that as a consequence of being sexual abused by my parents, I’ve spent my life very carefully falling for people who are not available, or not mutually attracted. Because it’s safest that way. The few times I’ve ended up in sexual relationships (because that’s what I thought I was looking for), it’s been terrible, because I get scared and angry when I’m sexual.

That explains some of it, but there’s more going on. While I’ve been trying to figure all this out, my teens have been very much on my mind. I spent almost my entire teenage years without having physical contact with anyone, and I think I did that on purpose, because it didn’t feel safe. Then when I was 17, my life changed as a result of meeting someone who’s now my oldest friend, and through him. a crowd of local hippy types that I fell in with – and all of a sudden I had a social life, and friends, and was (within that particular subculture, at least) for the first time in my life, somehow cool.

And then the bomb dropped. My friend’s sister gave me a hug, and I immediately fell in love with her, and I added to the hardship in her life for several months (she was busy dealing with anorexia) until I let go of the infatuation part, and we managed to become proper, loving friends. She was the first person I ever really loved, and she died in a fire, aged 17, three years after we met.

I think I keep on looking for that safe love. And it’s possible, now that I’ve realised I’m essentially asexual, that I’ll eventually find it with somebody similarly asexual – because that’s what it would take.

I started writing this a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still unsure about posting it; but it feels significant to me, for other people living with the consequences of abuse, to tell this story.

Since I’ve come to terms with my asexuality, and more recently since I’ve begun making more sense of this romantic compulsion I seem to have, I’ve been able to sit more lightly to it. It’s not like the habit of a lifetime is going to stop all of a sudden. It happened to me only yesterday, and that after I’d been joking that it was one of the things I’d have to watch out for yesterday… I spent the afternoon doing improvisational harmony singing with some other women in a house in the country, and I fell for one of them. Gorgeous, Canadian, musical, lesbian, happily committed to someone already. So it goes.

I know that singing makes me very open emotionally, so I was prepared for the possibility of falling for someone (it’s happened this way before – I met my friend-belovèd at a singing workshop, and fell for her in exactly the same way, though way worse… and now we’re great friends). So I’m feeling the sadness of this, but at the same time I’m able to feel a gentle smiling compassion for this part of me that just wants safe intimacy with someone, and has been too scared to ask for it in the past, and has ended up with unsafe intimacy (or none) instead.

The one thing that gives me more satisfaction than almost anything, lately, is the knowledge that I’m now someone who knows what she wants, and is able to say it out loud, and even to ask for it. I don’t always get what I want, but it’s very satisfying nevertheless to ask. And often, I do get what I want. Or I get what I need. Often enough. Everything the collective that is me has done in this life has been worth it, just to get to this point.

Oh, what the fuck, we all deserve this to end with…

rory-roman

Ex uno plures

Red-MoonOut of one, many… Out of one, many… Out of one, many…

It’s the middle of the night, the moon is full, and my mind and heart are full also. So this will be a weird moon-tale.

Making connexions, as I do, all the time – because my mind is acutely associative. I’m thinking about Love, about Gender, and, well, other things (because it’s all intertwined) but those will do to begin with.

I’m thinking about how you can say “woman” or “man” or some other such gender label, and each person so named is so different from the next one, the differences always outweighing the similarities, in spite of the oneness of the word.

About how I’m willing to be called “woman” because it’s so much closer an approximation to what I am than “man” or any other familiar gender-label, but it doesn’t describe me very well at all. Hence Womandrogyne, which is still a sticky label stuck over a peephole looking out on a broad ocean.

But this isn’t really the subject of tonight’s goat-footed reflections. Love is on my mind, and Love is just such a label, one word for a peacock’s-tail of feathering meanings, blossoming out like a bursting firework – or like the absurd but glossy array of metaphors in that last phrase. Bird, flower, beautiful bomb.

Love is so many different things at once, isn’t it? I have this friend. We’ve known each other for around 3 years, but anyone who sees us together assumes we go back, and back, way back.  I think of her as my friend-belovèd. Let me count the ways. I love her like a friend I’ve known since school. Yes. I love her like a sister, not having a sister. I love her like a fellow artist. I love her like someone whose lover I want to be, somehow. She knows all this, and she feels all that, except the last one. This has never been easy.

It just got harder, because for the first time since I’ve known her, she’s seeing someone. And this is how I know I have all these loves, because I’m feeling them all at once, and most of them are making me feel happy for her, because she’s happy. And then alongside of all that sympathetic joy, a great sorrow I don’t know what to do with. I don’t know what it is I want from her, I just know I don’t get to get it. And then alongside all that sorrow, a great joy I don’t know what to do with. I know what it is I’m getting from her, and with her, the thing that isn’t that other thing, and it’s so lovely, and I’m so enriched.

This is one of those key moments. If I can be with all of this at once, not try to clasp or kick away, not try to change, something new will be born, instead of something old.

See, I’m feeling something, thinking something, it is unfashionable to feel, to think. It’s somehow connected with what I want from my friend-belovèd that I’m not getting, that’s nothing to do with her at all. The Approved Edition™ says thus: the love that you didn’t get from your parents, that you look for from other people, you can’t get from other people; you have to get it from within yourself. Everyone says this.

But I feel, I think, something else. I feel, I think, that the love that you get from parents, as a child, you either get, or you don’t. And if you don’t… you don’t find that within yourself, you mourn its absence, because it’s not something you can get except when you’re supposed to get it. You mourn, and then you step beyond and find different love, within, without.

My intuition, which I have of late learned to pay great attention to, tells me that this is Very, Very True. That I could, if I am able, stop looking within or without for this love I missed out on… could find something else instead.

I don’t know how to do that yet, and I don’t know what happens if I do that, but imagining it doesn’t make me feel sad, it makes me feel unbound. It’s like clambering out of a mineshaft and finding a pungent forest. Meanwhile, there is love between me and my friend-belovèd, of some kinds, many kinds, and that’s very, very true too. So it is.

ramson
[a red moon rising, and ramson – one, many…]

Iatrogenie

djinnIatrogenic. Yes, it is a thing.

Be careful what you wish for. Getting help for medical conditions can quite often cause or exacerbate others, since there’s always some kind of equilibrium, and medication is more or less explicitly designed to disturb that.

<spoiler for clinical ick>
I have a condition known as a urethral stricture. Scar tissue builds up inside the urethra, making it harder and harder to pee. This causes pain, infections, muscle strain, potential harm to kidneys, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.

I’ve had this since I was a kid. It was caused by sexual abuse. So it goes. I was sincerely hoping it wasn’t going to flare up again before I have my Gender Confirmation Surgery later this year – because it was very likely that that surgery would remove the problem permanently. But it’s back, and it’s bad, as they say in sequels.

There is some talk of me needing “reconstructive surgery”, which may interfere with my GCS later on. So lots of discussion going on in the Corridors Of Ower, to none of which I am invited.
</ick>

Anyway, the fun part at the moment is about pain control. I can’t sit down comfortably for more than about half an hour without painkillers. So far, the only painkillers that cut the mustard are opiates such as Tramadol – but opiates such as Tramadol seem to interact with my PTSD, and make me go somewhat crazy. Paranoia, anxiety, awful nightmares, and so on. Currently I’m on the hunt for a non-opiate painkiller that won’t interfere with my sanity. Other recommended treatments for neuropathy (the kind of pain I have ) are anti-epilepsy drugs such as Gabapentin – which also make me crazy.

So this is proving to be an interesting time. I’m constantly feeling the pull between being in pain and being insane (which is another kind of pain). How to stay bigger than this? It’s not easy. My whole last year was about learning to keep company with painful states of mind, and yet here I am with body pain and just want to push it away at all costs. And also I don’t want to do that, since the cost is my state of mind. I’ve never felt as close before to what it must feel like to go surfing. Both kinds of pain bring a frightened and angry little kid to my surface, and I want to curl into a ball. But I also don’t want to be isolated, so I’m making myself open out at the same time as curling up. I’ve just begun doing some very gentle Scaravelli yoga, to help me stay in my body (sorry, I can’t think of a way to say that that sounds less Californian), help me to get confidence in opening out.

And speaking of staying with things…

<spoiler for more clinical ick>
Yesterday I had a urethrogram – where they squirt radio-opaque dye upstream through your waterworks and take x-ray pictures to see where the Tube Strike is. Once again, I had this peculiar experience I only seem to get with male medical professionals, where I say “I have this experience”, and they say “No, you don’t.” In this case, I told him “Listen, this is going to hurt me a lot, and I’m anxious. Please proceed gently” because I’ve had this done several times, and having a stricture means it bloody hurts having stuff forced the wrong way through a tight spot. He basically told me that it wouldn’t hurt, because of his magical anaesthetic gel (and that’s what they always say, and it’s never true), so he got on with it, and it hurt like bloody hell, and I started having abuse flashbacks in the middle of all this. Luckily, I’d told them already that I have PTSD in relation to the cause of my stricture (because I now know that it’s better if I don’t keep silence). The nurse could see I was in distress, and was great with me, and the doctor bloke eventually apologised when he realised how much it was hurting me. At least they got their pictures. Urethropaparazzi.
</ick>

So today I’m still recovering from this, and was forced to take a Tramadol in order to get through the day. That’s 2 in a row, and seriously pushing my luck. I’m going to see a doctor I don’t much like this afternoon (she’s kind of transphobic, but she was the only one available)*, to see if she can prescribe me something that won’t make me insane. But my biggest challenge today is not getting caught up in my anger about the whole situation. Angry about the stricture, and what caused it, and how I was treated yesterday (and by extension, rippling back to all the previous times I’ve been treated badly). So many reasons to plummet into IT’S NOT BLOODY FAIR!!! – and so many opportunities to make people around me feel worse as a result. Shan’t. Won’t.

An iatrogenic condition is one caused by the treatment of another. In this case, I don’t just mean “taking painkillers makes me crazy”, or “having exploratory investigations makes me much more sore”, I also mean that if I treat my anger in the wrong way, it causes bad conditions for myself and for others around me. So I’m invoking my Inner Fennec (a new addition to my totem family) to do protection and affection, because she is nobody’s victim. I wish to do least harm, at the very least.

Sorry, now it’s the Tramadol babbling :). But seriously, you don’t fight anger with anger, because you don’t fight anger, you don’t fight your way out of anger. You love into it. Not easy, but doable, and worth it. When I let the iatrogenie out of her bottle, my first wish is to be loving.

fennec-stretch

[*edited for accuracy: the aforementioned doctor is not, in fact, transphobic, she just lacked training in how to interact with trans people (I think I just wrote the “transphobic” thing out of grumpiness because I was anxious about seeing her again since I sent her a copy of the NHS guidelines on interacting with trans* patients). Today she was very friendly and helpful.]

In bone, marrow

bone marrow transplantThis is going to be about love.

I wrote a love poem, once, to someone I was in love with who was in love with me, and the first line of that poem was In bone, marrow – the poem was about how we might have a hard, safe shell, but without the soft, live core it’s there to protect, that produces the red, red blood, it’s just a dead skeleton.

I don’t have this poem, because I gave it to her without making a copy, and then we broke up, and then she threw it away.

Funny how these things keep coming back to mind. Funny how you can write something one day that is an aside to something else that seems very important, and then that aside moves to the centre. I wrote in my last blog-thing, For me, love without fear means love without sex (for the foreseeable future); for some reason, that’s ringing in my head now, and the semicolon feels important (because nothing’s written in stone – well, okay, but even things that are written in stone eventually weather away).

What I want to write about here is a connexion I’m making in my mind-heart between asexuality and love.

I’m still settling into this awareness that I am in some way asexual. By asexual, I mean that I don’t really like sex, and would prefer not to have any. I still (definitely) experience attraction, but though I want everything that surrounds sex – affection, intimacy, sensuality, touch – I don’t want the sex itself. This is definitely partly because I’m afraid of it (abuse has made sure of that) but it’s there in its own right too. We’re so bombarded by the Cultural Certainty that anyone who’s normal and healthy wants sex, it’s very hard to see around that. And since abuse led me to mistake being abused for being loved, my compulsion-fear has made seeing clearly pretty much out of the question until now.

But since I began realising that I don’t actually want sex, I’ve been feeling increasingly freed up and, I don’t know, somehow “able to move” in a way I’ve never felt before. And the space I’m able to move in has something very intimately to do with love.

I’ve always had this intuition that we all have soulmates – but that we all have many more than one, no matter what the Romantic Myth tries to sell us. There are a few people in my life with whom I’m very strongly, warmly, passionately connected, who are my loves, but not my lovers. And there’s something about stepping out into this thing I’m calling asexuality that makes me free to release love hidden away in myself (protected by way too much bone) and it’s spreading out in waves.

I don’t know what more to say about this than that it feels as though there’s a slow, quiet, gorgeous bomb going off in me, that’s shattering barriers to being able to love people more generally. As I write that, I can feel myself in danger of spiritualising the experience – but I think it’s a very ordinary extraordinary, to be freer to love.

Buddhism has a strong tradition of celibacy, but I’m not assuming that’s where I’m heading. It does, though, for the first time, seem something possible in a way that’s not an austerity or a fleeing from the fearsome, but a blossoming forth of something else.

This is another of those “ah well, this is how I’m feeling right now, no matter what comes next” celebrations.

*****

It’s interesting to me that many of the people I’ve talked about this with so far have come back at me with variations on “don’t worry, one day you’ll be able to enjoy sex”, as though being asexual were some kind of treatable condition. And it’s interesting (and wholly unsurprising) to me that I can feel the pull towards assuming This Is How It’s Going To Be, because certainty and labels are very comforting badges of office. So no, I don’t know where this is going. I just feel it’s something growing, rather than something being built.

maples-leaves

A call to mind

Today, 20th November, is Transgender Day of Remembrance, in many countries around the world.

The purpose of this day, since its inception 15 years ago, is to remember all those trans people who have died as a consequence of being trans – either by their own hand, or by being murdered.

The figures go up each year – perhaps because more cases are properly reported (though many trans murders and suicides are still recorded as gay- rather than trans-related by recidivist police and press), and perhaps because there are more and more out trans people around the world as time goes on.

But when I say “because”, I don’t mean that people are dying because they’re trans – I mean that people are taking their own lives because being trans in unsupportive conditions can be such a huge burden; people are being murdered because there are transphobic people out there who wish to do us harm.

I’d like us not just to call to mind the dead, but also the struggling living, who are with us (who may be us) and need our love and support, and encouragement, who need us to educate and open the minds of those who hate or fear us.

And the best tribute we can pay to the dead among us is to live well. In spite of all that persuasion to think of ourselves as unworthy of care and love, we can love and care for ourselves, for each other, for everyone we encounter.

Revenge is a dish best unmade, uneaten – but the best revenge against hatred is to live as better people than those who hate.