Fluffles. It’s a feeling – one I recently enjoyed after helping an isolated young trans woman connect with a local support group.
I was sceptical about internet activism at first: I wanted to blog, but I didn’t see how this would improve the world. Nevertheless, I carried on, building up a following for the Gender Trust and giving a few trans folks 5 minutes’ distraction from the daily grind. But it was cathartic too, helping me more than anyone.
Then I started looking after the Trans Media Watch twitter feed. I didn’t appreciate how important a tool this could be at first, and was unimpressed by the format. Could anything useful be said in 160 characters, really?
Well, last week a trans woman contacted me after reading my blogs on Facebook. A young parent in pre-transition, she was feeling miserable and trapped by a marriage that prevents her expressing her true gender identity. She loves her family, but knows there is upheaval ahead, and hadn’t had much luck finding anyone trans in her area to connect with. She’d tried one group for trans students, but struggled to fit in and didn’t know where else to turn. (I should point out that I sought her permission to talk about this.)
After contacting me for help, I did a call out on Facebook and Twitter, asking about support groups in Berkshire. Some general suggestions were made, but they were either too far away or not trans-specific, and I started to feel a bit shitty and useless.
Then someone messaged me on Twitter with details about a really low-profile support group she organised – basically around 15 local trans women meeting up fortnightly for drinks and food. Sometimes they go in boy mode, sometimes girl, and for someone isolated, this sort of face-to-face contact can be a lifeline.
3 days later, and my married friend had met the girls and had a great night out, (according to Twitter). Which got me thinking about something I learned at the Trans Media Watch social media course in January: online activity should facilitate and enhance actions in the real world. Obvious, perhaps, when you put it like that, but I hadn’t previously thought of it in those terms.
Yet it’s not the first time that my online networking had influenced the outer world. That very training course in January was held in Kings College following a request made on Twitter for a venue. And last month I picked up on a tweet by Stan Collymore, who was looking for transsexual people to discuss prejudice on BBC Talk Sport following the Andy Gray and Richard Keys sexism row. Naturally, I thought of football enthusiast and trans woman Juliet Jacques.
Juliet seemed the perfect person to thrust on radio and I personally thought she made a great ambassador for the community. Of course, she’s had some practise in the Guardian, but writing skills don’t always translate into articulate speech. It helped that the woman on before her was an idiot who had no problem with the men’s game being so dominant. I thought this comment was particularly stupid: “I wish I was a man sometimes just so I could play. Ha ha!”
Every story has a moral kids (don’t eat giant peaches; oranges are not the only fruit; a man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife) – and this one is no different. Go forth, I tell you, and let your tweets and status updates effect change in the physical world. As well as the virtual one we’ve all come to love so dearly.
SONG IN HEAD WHILST WRITING: Read the title. I repeat the most recurrent lyrics:
“Now everyday, on a dead end street, is where I spend my time,
The dust has been collecting, on the corners of my mind,
But I shed my tears, in bitter drops, until the thorn trees bloom,
To take the spiky fruit, to crown myself the Queen of Doom.”
LAST MEAL: Cheese and bacon sandwiches, with brown sauce, consumed around 6.30am, after staying up all night.
LAST EYE CANDY: Derek Jarman’s Jubilee