The Open Cage

Emotional outpouring in a series of tweets. Excerpt from my locked twitter account.

  1. I just feel conditioned to fill the mould of expectations but I just don’t fit it. Worse when “at home” with parents. Need to get out of it
  2. It’s weird. Feels like, “sure, you can be whoever you want! So long as you do it in this way”
  3. It’s stifling.
  4. only concrete example I have is hair dying. parents all supportive, and help arrange for someone to dye my hair… a “natural” colour only.
  5. I wanted and tried bright purple on my own but it just did not work. Wrong colour and patchy and didn’t take. Now it’s reddish brown
  6. and has been ever since. There’s no concrete “you can’t do that!” but something is making me unable to represent myself in the situation.
  7. I’m not trying to blame my parents in this; there’s just some frustrating imperative conditioned into my brain. “has to be parent-approved”
  8. I need to get out
  9. (of the situation), not like “I need to get out more” :P
  10. I need to find a job away from home so I can be my own person more. But I don’t even know how to do be my own person.
  11. This is one of the reasons I love you so much <friend’s name here> . That you can be your own person so well is amazing to me.
  12. And you help me do it too, but I’m still worried that I’ll just substitute you in, have the mould become “<friend’s name here> must approve”
  13. Out of all the shit that has happened to me, the conditioning for conformity has to be the second-worst.

My Trans Voice

Trans Voices, a poetry and spoken word night by trans people, was amazing. I don’t think I can put words to how I feel about it just yet; I’m still overwhelmed and slightly shaking.

I’ll review it and the other speakers later when I am actually capable, but for now I’ll just say that it was so emotional and overwhelming to listen to them, and their experiences shared through their poetry.

I was not a scheduled performer, but I just had to have an outlet during the other performances, so I jotted some notes down and performed two of those poems as the penultimate performance. This post is for those who weren’t there, whom I wish to share my experiences with:

Losing yourself

—-

Sometimes I need people. I need people so they can be real instead of me.

I need to be unreal; I need to be fiction. I lose myself.

—-

I do not need someone else to be. I do not need to be “the old me”. I do not need to be “Jake” and “he” and the perfect grandson.

I am not your thing: I am mine. Even if I don’t always exist.

—-

I am unreal. Iris is not here. She walks through the door, exits the kitchen, and he is back. Jake. The one who never exists, who never existed.

That’s who they want.

Is that why I don’t want to be? Is it unexpected to lose myself, if you lose me first, Dad?


Begging, wheedling, pleading

Begging, wheedling, pleading

I am the denier, the gatekeeper
It is my duty to hold the line against
the hordes grappling and groping,
desperate to reach inside

He was a comrade in arms. He was
the first comrade in arms. She
showed me the place I didn’t know
existed so near; she showed me the
genderfluidity I did not know existed
at home

They were sweet and gentle; she was
a rock and my shield. Together we
repelled them.

What happened? What changed
hir? Why is she now one of
them?

Begging, wheedling, pleading
Ze is among the hordes
Grappling, groping, desperate to
reach inside

I am the denier, the gatekeeper
I force him out
The door is locked

He is the hordes
Discriminated against,
Kept away

Why am I now the villain?

Leave of Absence

Hi. I’m still alive.

Since returning to study after a year out, I’ve been preoccupied with that. It took up most of my time until I got to meet a wonderful group of trans* people and spend pretty much any chance I get socialising with them.

I’m also now a sub-editor for Get Real, the awesome CUSU LGBT+ magazine; I also plan to write things for them. I imagine that when I start doing that more, this blog will also have more filling it, mostly ideas of articles I have that I feel aren’t strong enough to submit.

I imagine that I’ll be back at some point relatively soon!

Disproportionality

It has been far too long since I wrote a post, but the UK general election results really warrant my silence to be broken.

First of all, my congratulations to the Conservative party for their runaway and completely unexpected election result. They seem to have more support than ever before! In fact, their vote share is roughly the same as their loss to Labour in the 1974 October election (ukpolitical.info). But let’s not get carried away. Perhaps their vote share was proportionally more than any other party this time, with more political parties diffusing the other votes. Let’s have a look at the actual figures this time (taken from The Guardian)

Party Seats Seat % Votes Vote %
Conservative 331 50.9 11.3m 36.9
Labour 232 35.7 9.3m 30.4
UKIP 1 0.15 3.9m 12.6
Lib Dem 8 1.23 2.4m 7.9
SNP 56 8.62 1.5m 4.7
Green 1 0.15 1.2m 3.8

I really do think these figures speak for themselves. Nevertheless, let’s look further. Conservatives have a majority of seats with the most votes, fair enough. Labour are trailing with fewer seats and fewer votes, but still doing well, at least compared to UKIP.

UKIP really do deserve more seats. I may disagree entirely with their policies, but everyone in the UK has a right to fair representation in parliament. It is entirely unfair for more than 1 in 8 of the British population to have their views effectively disregarded. Even the Liberal Democrats and Liberals had more seats with not that much more of the popular vote in both this election and 1974 October respectively.

And now there are just two parties in my brief analysis: the SNP and the Greens. I don’t think I even need to talk about these here. The SNP had 25% more of the national vote than the Greens, and 5500% more representation in Westminster.


I find these results extremely worrying, particularly the way the votes have gone. Time after time during the results, it was suggested that people voted against the party who represents the opposite of their views rather than the party who does represent their views. In a two party system, these were one and the same, but no longer, and I fear that the swing towards Conservatives was a reaction by the opponents of UKIP.

Secondly, I think that UKIP’s success is representative of the success that could be enjoyed by the other small parties in the absence of tactical voting. I have spoken to several Green supporters, for example, that voted Conservative to form a stronger wall against UKIP, or that voted Labour as a stronger wall against Conservatives.

In all this, I call for Proportional Representation as an end to tactical voting, and an end to the unfairness inherent in the current First Past The Post system. Naturally it has its problems, as will any system, but I feel that it’s the best system for us in the current political climate, especially in this age of Chief Whips and Party Lines^(TM) where unfortunately many of us are misrepresented by an MP voting for the party rather than their people.

To those (like my parents) who are cheering for FPTP for preventing the rise of UKIP, I’d just like to remind them that UKIP this election under proportional representation would only have 82 MPs, a significant number, but not enough for undue influence.

If any reader agrees with me, I encourage them to sign this petition on Change.org, asking for a referendum for proportional representation: Reform our voting system to make it fair and representative

Appendix: MPs under Proportional Representation

Party Vote % Seats (650) Seats (1000)
Conservative 36.9 240 369
Labour 30.4 198 304
UKIP 12.6 82 126
Lib Dem 7.9 51 79
SNP 4.7 31 47
Green 3.8 25 38

Trans*Code & TransFlare

(Part of) the twitter sentiment analysis team during planning
(Part of) the twitter sentiment analysis team during planning

Yesterday was Trans*Code, a hackday for trans* people and allies. I am transgender, though not out as such in real life; I was one of several for whom Trans*Code was their first social experience in their preferred gender role.

But before I wax lyrical about my experiences (very positive, by-the-by), I would just like to talk about my team’s project from the hackday.

Transflare

In short, Transflare is/will be1 a “bat-signal” for trans* people in the form of a phone app. The core idea is to send out a Flare with a short message attached to verified Helpers2 nearby. As the project is pretty much @cmantito‘s baby, I should probably leave it to them to do the full announcement, but I think it is a great example of the creative and useful projects to come from this hackday.

Transflare is open-source on github: cmantito/transflare. Contributions are welcome and much desired!

Trans*Code

As I said in the introduction, Trans*Code was my first event I’ve ever attended openly not as cis. I was still cross-dressing, though (as in dressing like my birth sex, bleh). I need new clothes! And a sense of fashion!

But anyway, back on track, it was an incredibly comfortable and very welcoming safe space. As a topic-focused hack day, I feel that it was possibly more productive than others: rather than inventing a target audience, we were that audience. So from fashion advice for non-traditional body types and gender expression, through a listing of non-gender-exclusive public toilets, I could see myself using every single one (well, maybe not the tweet sentiment analysis, no matter how cool!).

I especially appreciated the way that the teams were organised. @NaomiCeder wrote the proposals up on a whiteboard, each proposer pitched the project, and attendees were left to choose projects we found interesting; mercifully, the teams ended up pretty balanced.

Besides the hackday, the BBC Microbit was demoed and looks damn cool. I pity the primary-age children now required to make Conway’s Game of Life on its LED matrix3.

I just wish I had had more time at the hackday to talk to everyone! But every single person I talked to was so lovely, and actually inspirational. I now feel confident about “coming out” to everyone, and certain that it is indeed what I want to do.

Thank you all – attendees, volunteers and organisers alike – for the most wonderful couple of days. I look forward to seeing more of you in future!



  1. As of time of writing, it is still in the early stages of development 
  2. Helpers are trusted members of the community whose identity is verified. The current plan is an in-person web of trust model, but this is subject to change. 
  3. This isn’t official or anything. But it is inevitable. 

Trans*Code

Trans*code aims to help draw attention to transgender issues through a topic focused hackday

I just discovered Trans*Code, and am now really exciting to be attending. In fact, this could well be the first social event I attend where I’m openly trans! Now I just need to come up with a good name to use, rather than my birth name… hmm…

This Trans*Code takes place in central London from the 27^th to the 28^th of March. You can get tickets via Eventbrite

trans-code.org: Trans*Code