Unlike last year, the sun was shining…

Unlike last year, the sun was shining for us this year at Herts pride 🙂 It was an early start for all of us, helping to set up the WnW stall ready for the day. The morning also gave us a chance to look around and see the amazing variety of stalls. I never knew there were so many organisations dedicated to helping LGBTQ people in Herts! From Herts Aid, to Healthwatch and Hertfordshire police and of course YC Hertfordshire and Who not What 😉 As 11am hit, the people came flooding in. It was so cool to see so many groups of young people, wearing glitter and flags and representing their community. We spent the morning applying rainbow facepaints, chatting, advertising our support groups and recruiting new members for Who not What. We also met up with young people who attend our support groups throughout Hertfordshire which was really cool as we aren’t often all in one place at one time! One thing that really stood out to me from pride was the representation of the Trans community. I saw more Transgender flags around than any other flag. To me this was a pretty amazing thing. It’s not often that the Trans community is represented at pride, let alone as a majority! It allowed me to meet some really inspirational people and realize that I’m not alone as a trans person in Herts. Bearing a trans flag also brought up some interesting conversations and allowed me to educate people which was awesome. I spent the afternoon relaxing, listening to live music and chatting with friends, both old and new. Overall, Herts Pride was an amazing and humbling experience. I will definitely be back next year!

 

Asher, 18, WnW member

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Herts Pride 2017

Herts Pride was a genuinely enjoyable experience with a good supply of dogs and pride. There were lots of stalls and I bought a small Quartz and rainbow hat which I wore throughout the event after attaining it. The music was good and there was a pleasant atmosphere. I was very happy that it didn’t rain like last year and I had a great time with my friends and hanging out near our stool where they offered face painting. I hope everyone else had a great time as well.

 

Ellen, 18, WnW member

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The Power of the right pronoun …

Before you go making assumptions, bear this in mind:

You don’t know what it’s like to live every single day feeling like you were born in the wrong body, to have to fight every day, even just to find the strength to get out of bed knowing that today is another day that you will spend trapped in a body that you loathe, in a body that you feel doesn’t and shouldn’t belong to you.

You don’t understand the battles faced every day just to be addressed with the correct pronoun; or how powerless it makes you feel, to know that you had no choice or control over the gender that was created when you were conceived, yet somehow people are still naive enough to think that being trans* is a choice?

In order for you to be able to live life, even just the slightest bit more as the gender that you really are, you spend your life correcting people and explaining yourself, just to try and be accepted that little bit more.

Every day that you can’t be the real you and live your life as the person that you are inside, is another day of hell, another night where you dread waking up the next morning and having to face it all again.

Avoiding mirrors constantly is proving even harder than it was to begin with and you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere, it’s hard to focus on anything when your whole mind and body are totally consumed by knowing that this isn’t you.

Making friends, falling in love, creating memories, it all feels like a lie when you can’t be who you really are, it feels like a betrayal, not only to your loved ones, but to you, your life feels like a facade.

You’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve had to explain that your actual gender and birth gender don’t match and to feel like you constantly have to take measures to hide any trace that you were born as someone you despise, someone you hate more than anything in the world, because in the moment when you are mis-gendered you feel a complete disassociation with that pronoun, with everything that that one word encompasses.

Every time you go on holiday or apply for jobs you see your birth certificate saying the opposing gender and it kills you inside, wondering why you, why does nobody understand?

With every waking moment you feel that you have to prove every single day that you’re strong enough to fight this, and when the dreaded day comes when you decide you are ready to come out, having to explain to your parents that you’re not their little girl or little boy, and to have to deal with their reactions, their emotions, on top of your own, is like the pressure building in a volcano until the lava begins to trickle out, to try and save an eruption in your mind.

You feel you have to have to explain and justify who you are in every breath that you take, with every movement you make; and you dread each day because with each new person that you meet, you find yourself once again coming out.

One little thing like calling someone by their chose pronoun can make their life so much easier.

Samaya, 22, Herts                                                                               Powered by Youth Connexions

If you are reading this as a young trans* in Herts, or are questioning your gender identity, please come along to our get together that runs on the first Wednesday of every month.  You can find all the information here  http://www.mogolistings.org/Activity/Details/Gendered-Intelligence-Youth-Group-for-the-Young-Transgender-Community-Hertfordshire

 

 

 

The person in the mirror ….

I’m not like everyone else. When I look in the mirror I don’t see myself. I see a body, and it mirrors my movement. logically I know it’s me…but it’s not me. When I picture myself I don’t look or sound anything like that person. But everyone else sees that person in the mirror. It feels like I can’t escape that person.

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When I lie in bed trying to fall asleep I get a feeling of discomfort throughout my body. I am aware of how certain areas of my body feel and it makes me uncomfortable. I feel gross.

When I’m out, I feel the way my body rubs against my clothes. I feel a wave of anxiety every time I go to the ‘ladies’ bathroom or when the cashier refers to me as ‘young lady.’

When I’m at college I can’t help but cringe every time a classmate greets me with ‘hey, girl’. Every time I hear my name in the register, every time I’m referred to as ‘she’ by tutors I feel a sudden sense of internal confusion. 

I am endlessly putting on a show. Every day, every conversation I have, every time I think I’m being watched. I’m constantly studying the situation, grasping for clues of what behavior is expected of me to try to fit in. I keep feeding society the ‘lesbian’ they want to see. I’m not doing it because I want to. I’m doing it to avoid that awkward silence. To avoid that mockery and humiliation. This has led to a deeply ingrained sense that I can never be myself around other people. And so my life is an endless and exhausting acting job. 

The problem is, the act never stops. There is a distance between me and everyone in my life. Friends, parents, siblings. No one knows the person behind the act. Not truly. If anyone gets too close they might see behind the curtain…they might see the inner me, the cause of awkward silences, stares and mockery. So no matter how many relationships I have, they are not with me but with the character I play, the person in the mirror. This leaves me intensely lonely. 

I don’t hide in the closet because I want to, no one does. I hide because I’m so scared of being found out. I’m hiding the whole sense of who I am- my real personality, opinions and thoughts. Hiding that makes me hate that person even more. It makes me feel like my true self is terrible and unworthy.

Anon, 17, Herts                                                                             Youth Connexions Hertfordshire

 

Rainbows and music, stickers and face paints …

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Hertfordshire Pride wasn’t too long ago, and I still can’t get the rainbows, music and amazing stalls out of my head! This blog post is dedicated to those who didn’t go.

Walking into the tent of stalls was incredible.  Left and right were people working busily at their charity stall, setting up posters, hand outs and stickers. I didn’t know there was so many LGBT+ dedicated charities. I was helping at the Youth Connexions stall and we had so many stickers, badges etc. I brought my own face paints- why not! 

10am struck and people began piling through the door. It was so wonderful to be able to see such diversity! It was so easy to talk to everyone as we all had something in common. Anyway, it turns out bringing face paints was a good idea as everyone wanted it done! I spent most of my morning just applying rainbow face paint.

Later on I went outside to see the outside stalls. There was a large tent on the far side of the field full of people dancing and a stage for singers. There was also some carnival rides to the other corner of the field playing loud music too. Scattered around were little desks with people behind them, advertising stuff like Healthwatch Hertfordshire (by the way, I won a free portable phone charger from them somehow) and stalls selling shirts and food.

Near the end of the afternoon it started to rain so everyone ended up packing up even though we were planning to stay until 10pm. It was a really lovely day and I recommend going next year to anyone!

Emi, 14, Who not What member

Tattoo Fixers on Holiday

With a large rise, in body modifications and body art, E4’s Tattoo Fixer’s were clever in jumping on the bandwagon and designing a show in which three tattoo artists; Sketch, Jay and Alice correct some of the UK’s worst tattoos, and on occasion, create original designs for their clients. 

The show has been widely critiqued for its originality and honesty, relating to the artists and designs however in the most recent series that has just ended the final episode featured a lesbian couple.

The couple, Amy and Chantelle, walked in having booked an appointment with Sketch for an original piece to represent their love for eachother, as they were due to be married in a number of days. 

Both aged 21 and with their birthdays just six days apart, the couple have been together for nearly three years and already live together, so marriage seems naturally, like the next step for the pair.

They stated that they met online and clicked instantly, and it was evident to all viewers that they were completely head over heels in love with each other and were besotted with each other.

Chantelle wanted to propose on a romantic boat trip with Amy, however the inseparable duo went out the night before and in her alcohol fuelled excitement, Chantelle blurted out the question and had to improvise with a ring to ask Amy to marry her.

 The soon to be weds describe themselves as best friends and wanted a joint tattoo, to accompany the same wedding rings and “same everything” that they already have.

Paisley, the shows receptionist asked to see Amy’s ring and Sketch questioned whether they would both be wearing dresses or if one would be wearing a suit, which begs the question, why are lesbian couples still being stereotyped and categorised in to who is butch and who is femme?

On further discussion the couple disclosed that they will be getting married on a beach, and both will be wearing different dresses.

Sketch designed a tattoo combining two women kissing, with some flowers that was initially created as one design but drawn so that it could be split into two parts, so that both Amy and Chantelle had one half of the design each.

He chose to input the LGBT flag in the background of the design which was a subtle but nice touch, showing that he had thought about the design, and the pair decided to have the piece tattooed on their forearm.

Whilst tattooing the pair Sketch questioned “Are you always this cute?” as the couple quite clearly displayed their affection for each other.

Also soon to be wed and featured on the episode was couple Jodie and James; James had come in for a cover up of an awful tattoo on his leg which was covered with a casino inspired piece.

Amy and Chantelle’s tattoos were soon finished and looked really stunning, with both stating “Oh my god, we love it, it’s even better than we imagined, it’s beautiful.”

 

Samaya, 21, Herts

Long Distance Relationships ….

Entering into a long distance relationship (LDR) may be one of the best decisions of your life, but equally it may be one of the hardest choices you can make. I myself am currently in a LDR with my girlfriend, who has flown to Minnesota for 4 months so she can do Camp America. (She is literally over 4000 miles away, across the ocean and with a 6 hour time difference).

 My girlfriend and I had been together for just under 4 months before she flew out to Minnesota. She had already had the trip planned before we met, so there was nothing I could do to change it. We had multiple arguments about it before she went away, but at the end of the day it is such a fantastic opportunity for her. Honestly, letting her go was the hardest thing I think I have ever done. I went to the airport with her mum, brother and sister to drop her off. That last hug I gave her with tears falling down my face and every inch of my body not wanting to let go, was the most heart breaking experience of my life. I kept telling myself that everything was going to be okay, that I wouldn’t miss her too much and that everything would be fine.

 I was pretty much wrong about everything. I miss her every single day, she’s the first thought on my mind in the morning and the last thought on my mind before I go to sleep. Nothing has been fine since she’s been away either. Unfortunately for me, my life has turned into a series of unfortunate events and everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. The only person that I want to turn to is my girlfriend, but I can’t. It is difficult, but I would never ever let her go because of that difficulty.

We have had numerous arguments over the silliest of things, whether it’s not replying to a message, or not saying ‘I love you’ back… trust me these arguments are stupid! But at the same time, hearing her voice will make my heart race, and being able to see her on FaceTime, well that brings a smile to my face that takes hours to disappear. We are lucky enough to be able to talk daily, even if only a quick text. Despite that though, my girlfriend has sent letters home for me to read and keep (and cry over). I’m currently building her a shoebox of her favourite things to post out to her!

 I guess the point of this blog post is to explain that although a LDR is incredibly hard and lacking the physical comfort your partner can give you, doesn’t necessarily mean that an LDR isn’t worth it. So many people will end a relationship when their partner has to leave for whatever reason, but I can assure you that maintaining a LDR is incredibly rewarding. Being able to count down the days until you see your partner, or writing them love letters, it keeps the spark and the romance alive. If you genuinely love your partner, then no matter how hard a LDR may be, I can assure you will be worth it in the end.

F, Hatfield, 17                                                                              Supported by Youth Connexions