Hey Readers Merry Christmas to one and all. Now it may surprise some of you that Christmas eve is one of my favourite days of the year not for the late night shopping or the panic of buying last minute presents, I love it for a very different reason. As I’m sure regular readers of tartan tights will know, it was on Christmas eve seven years ago that I got my name legally changed from the male name my parents gave me to something more suitable to reflect the female identity I’ve always had and the woman I had always known myself to be. I can’t believe it’s been seven years since that cold wet winters morning when I went to the city chambers and in the presence of the former councillor for Carlton Alison Thewliss (pictured below with Glasgow East MP Natalie McGarry, signed my statutory declaration which legally changed both my name and my gender. Yes I know that only a gender recognition certificate can change my birth certificate but to all intents and purposes this does 90 per cent of the job.
You know sometimes, particularly at this time of year I really do have ask myself where has the time gone? Honestly it’s flown by so quickly I can hardly believe it and believe me I’ve learned a lot about myself since I slipped in to the wee gold metallic dress to attend my then work’s Christmas night out just a few days before I made this momentous life affirming change.
As with any trans woman my journey has been a gradual one but I feel the pace of change has quickened both physically and emotionally in the last 12 months. This is a year when I have found out who my true friends really are and who won’t be there for the haul with though I will name no names some surprising results on both sides. There are certain people whom I would never expected to become friends who have become really good sources of support and there are others I have known for years with whom I have been very disappointed.
In a momentous year for my party It is fair to say I was busy with political activity as well being kept busy with my real obsession spoken word poetry. In other developments the growth of my blog has kept me far busier than I would have an anticipated in this new post referendum Scotland. Part of the reason for this is that I have joined a great community of blogger chat groups and since this this community is both predominantly female and UK wide I have yet another group of teens and twenty something in which I can be mother hen. Believe me this group of talented and creative women have inspired me much more than they know. The result of this is that I have at least to some extent
feminised my blog and have written far more posts on women’s and trans related issues and it’s young women with blogger names like All Things Beautiful, Becky Bedbug, Blogs All Beauty,
Colours Of A Rose, Colorful Stuff, Dorkface , Dungarees And Donuts Frankly Ms Shankly, Last Year’s Girl, and Luxury Blush who though we have become friends through cyberspace are more important to me than they will ever realise as they have given me the confidence to truly embrace my womanhood for the wonderful chaotic rollercoaster ride that it is and probably know more of the secrets that could make me blush than just about anyone outside my closest inner circle.
To me this year has been filled with challenges it has also given me room to grow and develop both as a performer but more importantly as a woman, I have if you like begun to walk with a more confident air. I feel equally at ease at the Girls Brigade prize giving or a night with the Ladies of the Guild as I do at Women For Independence meetings or on wonderful all female social occasions such as Girls Day Out.
As time has past I think it is fair to say I have grown more confident in my skin and I am no longer worried about what others think of me. I have spent far too long both pre and early post transition seeking the approval of others most people of whom have only and will only be bit part players in my life As a woman in the early part of her mid fifties I have all of sudden realised this life is mine and mine alone and I intend to live it my way for those who can’t deal with that then they’ll be no loss when I evict them from my life once and for all.
There are of course what some would say are delicate issues such as sexism and misgendering which need careful handling. Well some might say that but I don’t and I’ll tell you why. You see sexism and misgendering really get on my tits. No excuses this is discrimination pure and simple. Now whilst everyone knows about the everyday sexism that girls and women face in our daily lives, I suspect misgendering is slightly less well known. This occurs when someone knowingly or unknowingly calls someone by an inappropriate pronoun like son or Mr for a transsexual woman or lady for a trans man. There is a school of thought that says I should accept this with good grace and move on but I’ve walked this road and it doesn’t work
all it does is give your abuser the green light to do it again and not for one moment do I let people away with the but I’m getting tired and bored of old excuse that some of our senior citizens seem to think they can get away with. The other excuse that this generation and also male chauvinists attempt to use but I knew you when you were (insert other name ). This doesn’t work with me either as it shows total contempt for the trans person concerned and this year I decided to take no more of it.
This new assertive me is due to a combination of three factors. The first is an increase in confidence, this comes not only from knowing who I am but accepting it. The second is when you move on from acceptance to comfort. This is important because you are making a bold political statement in the most ordinary way by saying this is who I am every day of my life
and more comfortable I am with myself the more comfortable other people will be around me. The third and most important factor is that I am much more open with people than I was previously it is almost as if showing the real woman I know I am has removed the fear of being
outed. This is a burden the trans community have to carry around with us until the day we take the leap of faith which says this is me take it or leave it and the change of name plays a really important part in that.
You see changing your name means a lot more than some people may think. For a start , it says this is who I really am and it is how I want to be known from now on. This is how I want to the world to see me on everything from the electoral register to store cards from my organisational cards (in my case Trade Union SNP, Glasgow Libraries), to my council tax bill. Bearing this in mind, I think Gayle was a sensible choice. I mean let’s be honest I couldn’t have called myself Kylie as no-one had heard the name Kylie in the year I was born (1961) This is important because I think your choice has to say something about you and who you are.
You know some people usually those with no imagination who are usually male and quite often gay think my given name must have been Dale which I’m sure must have been a very popular name I’m the early 1960’s and I don’t think. There are others who think that I must have chosen my name after the Coronation Street character Gail Platt. Now I hate to inform them but though is my favourite soap I think I have more imagination than to name myself after fictional character in a television drama and the way character spells her name is the shortened version of Abigail
As for reason behind my choice it was to reflect my
Irish-Scots identity as Scotland and Ireland are known as the lands of the Gaels. Given not only my roots but also but my cultural and political leanings perhaps this isn’t going to go down as shock of the century. It will therefore come as no great surprise that I also considered Catriona, Fiona, and Mhairi along with Claire, Donna, and Grace. So as you can see I had a few ideas before settling on Gayle in 1993 a full 15 years before my eventual transition would begin.
This did however coincide with my first forays on the Glasgow LGBT scene in when the scene was much smaller than now and I also have to say a lot more small minded and though these were only fledgling steps it has to be said that the rainbow was not always trans inclusive and I often got the impression that we were distinctly unwelcome. I though was not going anywhere and it was around this time I decided that Gayle was definitely the most appropriate choice as a
gale has the power to decimate anything in its path and it was this message of being a life affirming force that I wanted convey. I wanted the world to see that I was not only a woman but a strong confident assertive women and on Christmas Eve seven years ago I made a start on that road. Believe me, there is more to selecting a name than you might at first think and that is why this Gayle is a fighting female force with faith in the future.
Love And Best Wishes