Thursday, 31 March 2016


   It came rather unexpectedly, in a comment from a troll on an online article I wrote for a technical publication. My name, but in inverted commas. Oh here we go, someone's figured out I'm trans. Wake up at the back there, no doubt next we'll be treated to the earth-shattering news that Elton John is gay, or that Barack Obama is black.

    It's difficult to be outed when you are already out.

   With a withering riposte at the ready I waited for the chorus that never came. perhaps I was imagining too much in it. Was I being too sensitive, had the troll meant it that way? Not that it bothered me significantly.
    It's not been a good few weeks for we transgender people on the other side of the Atlantic, what with the far-right nutters that have taken over the discourse in their presidential race and the rash of "bathroom bills" that are in reality thinly disguised hate-speech designed to criminalise us for simply being who we are. Face it America, it doesn't look good when Iran is more liberal than you on an issue. My troll sitting in the gloom of his parents' basement probably thought his angle would be a profitable one, perhaps he should see some of the world.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

On the nature of activism

    A few weeks ago I gave a presentation to a course run by my trade union. It was a diversity course, and I was there to tell them something about transgender people.

   Groan. The dreaded diversity lecture, we must all be nice to trans people, box ticked, move on.

   I was particularly anxious not to do the tick-box diversity lecture, I believe it does little to help the cause of minorities. So instead I spent an hour talking about intersectionality and a wholistic approach to diversity, with some reference to the experience of transgender people because as I said it was the only reference on which I could talk with authority. Heaven knows there are enough people who will presume to talk for other groups.
    The lady running the course introduced me as an activist. It jarred with me somewhat, for as I explained I seem myself in that context as a rank-and-file member who has been radicalised by her experiences. There are plenty of real activists to be found in that environment, but theirs is a much more political zeal than mine.
    But what is activism? In the context of working for fairer workplace rights or complaining about a bank it's not a case of choosing to be an activist but one of doing what is right. Activists in my book go looking for causes, in my case the cause came to me.
    The world has a dramatic oversupply of self-declared activists - particularly of the armchair variety - and I have no desire to be one of them.