I’m Lisa, and I am two and a half years into my transition, it’s a long drawn out process for anyone to transition either MTF or FTM, I still have approximately two more years to go before I leave NHS care and my place is taken by somebody else who is just starting out on their own journey.
I started my transition later in life than most people and this was mainly due to the fact I spent most of my adult life living in a small town.
Allow me to explain…
Like most transgender people, I knew from an early age that I was different to other people, but living in a small town where most people know you, or know of you through your family or friends, doing something about my ‘problem’ was practically impossible because back in the 80’s and indeed most of the 90’s, legislation in the UK was still pretty much non-existent or at best left far too many loopholes that people could exploit to discriminate against a transgender person.
Times and attitudes change though, and although massive hurdles and obstacles have been negated throughout the late 90’s and into the 21st century, for as long as I lived in that small town I could not feel comfortable nor safe and so a move to a city was needed in order for me to begin my own transition.
Why is it so hard for a person living in a village or town to transition into their correct gender?
Well, although attitudes and legislation have changed, and people like myself are afforded much greater protection, there is still an awful long way to go before a transgender person will always feel safe and protected enough to transition whilst living in a small community like a town or village. There is still a massive need for education among the general public, There is still a need for more public places where the trans community can venture out and be safe from the strange looks, the offensive comments, the mocking and the violence that can occur and indeed does occur.
Lots of cities in the UK have a recognised ‘pink zone’ or gay village, like canal street in Manchester, or the Briggate area of Leeds, but a town or village is never going to house a ‘pink zone’. York at present does not have a ‘pink zone’ despite several LGBT venues, and at present a lot of these safer places to socialise in are in very close proximity to routes and establishments frequently used by race goers, hen parties, stag nights and general nights out where drunkenness is common place and with drunkenness also comes the greater prospect of verbal or physical abuse, especially towards people who may just ‘look different’ like a transgender person.
You see, a gay, lesbian or bisexual person is not easy to spot in a crowd, sexuality is not a physical appearance, but transgender is, and is not something that is easily hidden among a crowd, and this makes transitioning that much harder when you live within a small community, it is hard enough within a city where less people know who you are, but near on impossible in a town or village without a lot of help and support.
So, how can you help?
One voice in a crowd will not be heard, many voices in a crowd and the noise becomes too much to ignore.
If you are transgender, know somebody who is, or are just happy to help a worthy cause, then I need you among my Trans sub group for the York LGBT Forum.
I aim to target those towns and villages by way of educating people about why a transgender person will not be any more harmful to them than the person who is standing next to them, that a transgender person is just a normal human being just like they are, that a transgender person is going through an awfully tough time in order to live their life in the gender that they choose and that a transgender person is not their enemy but their friend, a friend who may need support, just as a transgender person can offer that support to someone who is not transgender.
I also aim to try and make York itself a place where the transgender community can feel safe enough to go out and have fun, socialise and go about everyday life without fear or trepidation.
Part of that second aim is already in progress with York’s own equivalent to Leeds’ LFF, YTS (York Third Saturday) is a night out organised primarily for the Trans community, but also integrating the L,G & B community as well as anyone else who doesn’t care what sexuality, gender, colour or creed a person is.
YTS takes place on the 3rd Saturday of each month and is a social night, commencing at Thomas’s Bar 8pm, moving on to the Corner Pin at 10pm and finally into Flares, for which there is a small entrance fee, at around midnight.
If you think you can offer any help, or would like to join the Trans sub group for York LGBT Forum, then please get in touch via the York LGBT Forum website.
Thank you for reading, listening and understanding,
York LGBT Forum, Trans sub group leader.