Tag Archive | Assumptions

The Wrong Diagnosis 

  

In my latest poem I recall a recent incident as I take a look at arrogance, and assumptions based on stereotypical attitudes. The event in question happened a few weeks ago as I made my way to Katie’s Bar when a stranger attempted to bark orders at me and in typical Ruth Davidson fashion ordered me to sit down. Naturally I refused to entertain this attention seeker and made my way to my destination where I enjoyed a very pleasant evening in good company. However I decided to write this poem to illustrate that there are just as many ill mannered attention seekers in the LGBT community as there are anywhere else. I have given it the title The Wrong Diagnosis. I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Wrong Diagnosis 

On a quiet autumn evening

I am singing contentedly to myself 

as I walk to my pub of choice 

as it comes in to view 

a stranger shrieks at the top of his voice 

barks orders telling me to sit down 

says he’s seen me around 

really I reply

 walking on I ignore him 

he seems aggitated

 that I pay no attention to his demands 

but what he fails to understand 

is that while his scouse accent may be fine 

his Ruth Davidson style charm is something I can do without 

my world has borders 

and he’s just made the mistake of crossing them 

without my permission 

the line of respectability

has been violated

and history will show he was on the wrong side of it 

you don’t cross boundaries without permission

that doesn’t work it never has and never will

trust me I am not the kind of girl

who likes her world invaded by unwanted intruders

I don’t like the assumption  it implies 

you know boys will be boys 

and claim women as their prize 

this is male privilege of a very British kind 

which states if you ignore me

 I will diagnose you and give you a label

to which I think ‘it will be nothing to one I give you 

and trust me it will take you on a journey 

for which you wish you had never volunteered’  

but the moment he sneered at me 

I smiled knowing I held every ace in the pack 

and he could do union jack to stop me 

I played a tactical game 

because I checked his privilege 

and called him out for his arrogance 

I’d met his type before 

he had plenty to say for himself 

but nothing worth my time 

his crime was barking orders 

believing dog whistles work at his command 

and failing to understand 

a poet will always defeat 

a conservative charm school graduate 

especially one who gave her

the wrong diagnosis 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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A Warrior Wordsmith Who Speaks For The People ( A Review Of Door To Door Poet By Rowan McCabe)

Imagine the scenario. You get a knock on the door, you answer the door, and you see someone standing there with a clipboard and pen. Your imediate reaction is to ask the person concerned what they are selling and inform them as politely as possible that whatever it is you are not interested.  What happens however when far from being the predictable insurance , or double glazing salesperson you are met with reply I’m a poet would you like to tell me about yourself and what concerns you and I’ll write you your very own poem. 

My imediate reaction and i speak as a poet would be aye right so you are. So if i would be sceptical imagine the reaction Newcastle poet Rowan McCabe (pictured below) faced as he took his door to door poetry challenge round some of the roughest places  in the North East of England. 

During his year long mission Stockton born Rowan encountered a number of interesting characters and a significant number of  issues in his attempts to bring poetry to the people. Undetered our warrior wordsmith soldiered on in his quest to make poetry matter by making it relevant to the kind of audience who were put off by the poetry they were taught at school. 

As he begins the story of his poetic journey through the wildest parts of the north east, including the street once dubbed the roughest street in Stockton after being featured on the TV documentary show Benefit Street,  Rowan shares his poem on being a door to door poet and how he got the idea to do it which he says was due to boredom and wanting to do something different with his talent. As he takes us on his journey, he  tells us the story of Kyle a young man he met in a Newcastle housing scheme who would be the type of lad that polite society would cross the road to avoid. On meeting him Rowan explained his mission to be greeted by the expression what do i want with poetry ? Undaunted our door to door poet told Kyle that this poem would be his poem and be about the issues that mattered to him and he would receive a copy of his own customised poem . Gradually the man warmed  to the idea and challenged Rowan to write a poem about his girlfriend and how much he loved her .

 After finding out the information he needed Rowan wrote the poem First Date about Kyle’s first date in which he took his girlfriend to Greggs and they bonded over a steak bake. This claim was later disputed by his girlfriend who said that as she recalled it their first date was at the cinema . 

As our intrepid wordsmith continued on his journey he met a man who was concerned about immigration and had confessed to voting for Brexit , and a woman who had a passion for horses with a particular fondness for the three times grand national winner Red Rum.

During the course of his travels Rowan learned not only of the value of having good communication skills but also about being aware of the impact of The Data Protection Act when it comes to sharing online information and how even unwittingly a lack of knowledge on this topic can land you in some very tricky situations. 

Talking of tricky situtions our poet who dared to venture in to what the chsttering classes  would uncharted cultural waters learned a bitter lesson when it comes to  organisational cultute and the way it can make promises and then proceed to break them at the shortest possible notice. This through no fault of yours lead to cancel arrangements you made with others which were based on those promises and this can and did lead to a loss of trust all because someone else let him down on more than one occasion and this for Rowan meant losing relationships with potential participants he had worked really hard to build. 

Heartbreaking though it was Rowan ploughed on with his pioneering work and on meeting Alan an older man whose mother was German he discovered a man who was deeply concerned about the potential rise in far right racism in a post Brexit UK but was determined he would not be silenced despite having Swastikas daubed on his door by exactly the type of people he fears will grow in number. It was this meeting which  produced the inspiration for one of my favourite poems from the show , and Speak was a powerful poetic portrayal of why we need to be stronger than ever in our fight against this narrow kind of imperial , insular, xenophobic nationalism which in Scotland we call the worst kind of unionism.  Alan was featured on the BBC when their breakfast did a feature on Rowan’s ground breaking arts project and Rowan talked with warmth on his poem Speak which illustrates both Alan’s committment to speaking up for those people whose voices are being marginalised or ignored and Rowan’s passionate belief that door to door poetry can give them not only that voice but the belief that in 21st century Britain there opinions matter. 

This to me was the most heartwarming aspect of a show which I could very easily have overlooked had it not been for the glowing recommendations of two fellow poets whose opinions i rate highly enough to trust and Gemma Baker and Jenni Pascoe were totally right to tell me that this was a show i had to see. After an hour of poetry which was entertaining and thought ptovoking in equal measure i left raving about the talents of someone who is not only a door to door poet but a warrior wordsmith who speaks for the people. That someone is Rowan McCabe. 

Till next time

Gayle X

Speak To The Night

On day 26 of NaPoWriMo my poem looks at women’s safety and is based on the story of what  happened as I waited for a bus on my road from an enjoyable Last Monday at Waterston’s and why I was grateful to have the companionship of another woman at the bus stop as drunks and beggars stopped to give us their chat. Like it or not I do feel vulnerable in this situation and if there is one thing I’ve noticed since I started living as a woman it’s the fact that  you never see men get this kind of unwanted attention. This is as every woman knows one of the perils of living in a blatantly patriarchal society. Believe me the need for feminism in 21st  Century Scotland/ Britain is as strong or maybe even stronger than it’s ever been, I wish it wasn’t but it is. 

 As you can imagine thinking of a title for this poem wasn’t easy which is why I called on the services of my friend and National columnist Nadine McBay who suggested the title should be Speak To The Night which I think describes perfectly how my companion and I felt as the drunk guy approached us, so that is the title I’m running with. 
Trust me when I say that this is a very difficult topic to talk about as no woman should ever feel vulnerable on any streets in a so-called civilised society but the fact is many of us do and that’s why I had to write this poem.   I hope you find it  a challenging and thought provoking read.  

Speak To The Night 

At a bus stop, two women wait 

for different buses to take us

on homeward journies 

in the distance a drunk man appears 

we show no fear 

but hope he won’t stop for a chat 

unfortunately, he does exactly that 

evening girls he says you alright 

the silence broken he speaks to the night 

I worry my tartan tights may attract attention 

he slurs words beyond my comprehension 

my younger companion assures him we are fine 

 eventually he gives up  taking the hint 

we just want to be left alone 

he staggers on convinced we are either lesbians 

or a mother and daughter out for some women time 

as he goes in whatever direction

the wind blows him 

a begger approaches asking if we have any change 

we politely say we have none 

he shuffles on his way 

as we both complain about the unseasonably cold weather

we enjoy a blether 

 about what men would call women’s stuff 

finally a bus arrives 

I feel  guilty on leaving 

a girl I don’t know 

to face the night alone 

and like a mother I pray 

she gets home safe 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

A Trans Woman Answers Her Most Common Questions 

​As you know I live my life permanently in my acquired gender in other words I’m a transsexual  woman.  Now I’m not going to lie and say  everything is a bed of roses but I will say that it is a  hell of a lot better than it was before I made the decision to transition. 

Despite this improvement in my quality of life I do still get the odd negative comment and from time to time I  am asked some very challenging  questions. These questions can come in every situation from all demographics from children to pensioners. It is  with these  questions in my mind,  I have  decided to take  what I hope  will be a lighthearted look at some of the most commonly asked questions in the hope it may raise awareness the issues faced by trans women in 21st century Scotland/ UK. So  fasten your seat belt and get ready for what I think will be an interesting journey.

(1) Why Do You Dress As A Women?

 This is by far the most common question and it’s usually though not exclusively asked by men most of whom are and I want to be kind here not the brightest stars in the sky. I try to be both polite and firm when answering this question informing the questioner that I am not dressing as a women I am living as a woman because that is what I believe myself to be.

(2) When Did You Know You Were Trans?

Unlike the last question, this one is usually asked by women the vast majority of whom want to understand your issue and see how they can support you. 

When replying to this question I tell the questioner that I’ve known since my primary school years when I was about six or seven and that was back in the  late 1960’s when all I really wanted was barbie dolls , party dresses , and to get my nails painted. So you could say that I knew I was trans long before I ever knew the term for it.

(3) Have You Changed Your Name Yet ?

 Sometimes I am genuinely shocked that  over eight years in to my transition I am still asked this question. It also surprises me that people think that it’s done by deed poll and assume that it must be expensive when neither of these ‘facts’ are actually true. They may be true for trans people in England and the other nations of the United Kingdom, in Scotland however the situation is somewhat different and dare I say it easier for our trans population. Many of those who ask this question are generally supportive of my transition and just curious to what I’ve been through and what I’ve still to go through.

(4)  What’s Your Real Name ?  

As soon as I hear this I tell the person that  Gayle is my real name and if they insist on asking the question again I call them out as a transphobic  bigot and tell them to get over themselves.  I try where possible to  be polite in  doing this but if they still refuse to back off I have a two word Glaswegian reply and the second word is off 

(5) Is It Not All About Glamour? 

This is usually asked by one very particular demographic and that is gay men who believe they are far better looking than they actually are.However when I tell them there is nothing remotely glamorous about the sexism, prejudice , and discrimination women face on a daily basis or the fact and that we are still paid less than men for doing the same job almost 50 years after the first Equal Pay Act it tends to shut them up. 

Picture (1) This picture taken on Edinburgh’s North Bridge as I leave the capital to return home to Baillieston after a great day at the fringe shows that no woman does the glamour thing every day and to think trans women are any different from other women in this respect is to be completely and totally deluded. 


(6) What Toilets Do You Use ?

I have to  say if anyone is actually stupid enough to ask this question they should still be in primary 1. To me the fact I’m living as a woman makes it obvious I should use the  Ladies Room.  I am however mistified as to why people are so bothered as where I should go for a comfort break or to check my make up. 

(7) Do You Still Like Football ?

 Yes, unbelievable as it sounds, I have actually been asked this question usually by men of certain age who have still to visit the 19th century let alone live in the 21st.  On  hearing this I gently but firmly  inform my inquisitor that it’s my gender that’s changed not my lifelong loyalties. 

(8) Are Your Boobs Real ?

This is amongst the rudest and most offensive questions you could ever ask a trans woman 90 percent of the time this question is asked by drunk men at bus stops , of the other 10 percent of inquisitors are  99.9 young guys trying to be wide when the only thing that’s wide about them are their ever expanding waistlines. 

(9) Do You Fancy Men Or Women ? 

To me my sexuality is a private matter and when I am asked this question I respond by patronising the crap out of the questioner by very carefully and laboriously explaining why Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are not biologically linked in any way. Since this question is usually asked by men who are neither bright nor eye candy, I inform them that my primary sexual attraction is towards men but they can relax because like any other woman I happen to have standards and they come nowhere near to meeting them. 

 (10) How Did Your Family/Friends/ Colleges Take The News When You Told Them You Were Going To Be Living As A Woman ? 

To be fair most of my friends just ran with it and got used to the idea pretty quickly and I’m not really in touch with any family members so I didn’t lose sleep over opinions of people I don’t see. It was at work that I faced my biggest challenge as many of my colleges had known me for years by the time  of my transition and whilst most of them  were supportive there were a few whose attitudes belonged in the dark ages and who went out of their way to make it as difficult as possible often imposing standards on me that they wouldn’t have dared to put on any other female members of staff.  

(11) What Changes Have The Hormones Made To Your Body ? 

Well apart from giving me a bust and a lovely apple shaped figure I now have a bum which may look big in certain things and hips which a friend of mine described as powerful. There  is also the added bonus, that my face now looks  more feminine and I have no hair on my arms or legs and this look has been achieved without the need for any surgery. 

(12) Have You Ever Had /Do  You Ever Get Transphobic Abuse In Public Spaces ?

Much as I would love to say  everything has been perfect and I’ve never had any abuse I have had to deal with some unpleasant attitudes and though the transphobic comments have become less frequent over time they are no less hurtful when I get them.

Picture (2) Shows the shocking statistics on transphobic abuse. Since  beginning my journey in the run up to Christmas 2008 I have received a number of transphobic comments though the majority with the exception of the ones on my breasts happened before the hormones began to take effect. Most of the time the attempted insults are from fat ugly blokes or wee neds in shell suits who couldn’t get a date from a shop window dummy so I tend to leave them to their delusions of relevance by remembering the  words from former  American first lady  Eleanor Roosevelt who said ‘ Noboby  can make you feel inferior without you consent’.These are words that trans women need to hold close to our heart if we are ever to reduce the statistics in this picture.

(13) Would You Ever Change Back To Your Birth Gender ?

This question is usually asked by people who knew in my pre transitioned days and is always given a one word answer and that answer is no. Trust me I would never consider this in a million years. I waited too long before starting this journey and the last eight years have been the most rewarding of my life so when I say I won’t ever look back and regret the decision I’ve taken.Don’t get me wrong , living as a woman isn’t an easy life any woman will tell you that. Women face far  more challenges than men and the patriarchal system we have in place in western democracies means we are often seen as lesser than men  when  nothing could be further from the truth but to me being a woman isn’t about power or even glamour it’s about being myself. 

(14) Do You Try On Clothes Before You Them  Or Do You Shop Online ?

This question is usually asked by girls and women who want to understand what it’s like to be in my shoes and in answering I always explain why I always try clothes on before making my purchase as I want to make sure what I’m buying actually fits me. Well as we girls know size really does matter when it comes to fashion and there is no exact science to getting it right. This means me that trying it on is essential especially as our lovely hormones give us all the lumps and bumps that nature forgot and no matter how good something might look on hanger or a mannequin we have to make sure it looks good on us before we part with cash and in that respect a trans woman is no different from any other woman.

(15) Have You Ever Been Chatted Up Since Your Transition?

Yes I have and not just  by  men I have also much to  my surprise attracted occasional interest from women and though I am as a rule  more attracted to men I have to say that when it comes to chat up lines women do it better. 

 (16) Have You Ever Been Wolfe Whistled In The Street ? 

Yes I have and I find it  extremely annoying.  How anyone can take this a compliment when in reality it is men attempting to tell us they own us is absolutely ludicrous. This kind of behaviour is not flattering  it’s insulting  and offensive to women.

(17 ) Do You Know Any Other  Trans Women ?

Ths tends to be asked by those who have a low awareness of trans issues. When faced with a question of this nature I gently inform my inquisitor that  I attend trans support groups and I  know a number of trans women and trans men and like anyone who is part of any community of interest I get  on better with some than with others 

(18)Are Your Best Female Friends Other Trans Women ? 

This, like the last question,  is usually asked by those with awkwardness around trans and more  general equality issues and they are very often genuinely surprised when I tell  them my best  female friends are not trans just women I happen to get on with. 

(19) Do  You Ever Go To Straight Bars ?

This question is usually asked by males who have made a false connection between gender identity and sexuality. When I inform them that I am as likely if not more likely to be seen in a straight  bar than a gay one many seem genuinely shocked at this news though for the life  of me I can’t understand why.I mean to paraphrase Burns  A bar’s, a bar for a’ that.


Picture (3) In this shot I’m in what some people would see as the very straight surroundings of the Pollok Ex-Servicemens Club where I host the monthly Southside Words And Music night which relocated to make this our new home after our  former home (Sammy Dow’s) was taken over by new owners and we lost our original venue after 25  years. 

(20) How  Has Transitioning Changed Your Life ? 

I think transitioning has changed me in more ways than I ever thought possible.I am happier ,  more confident and more relaxed than ever and I am far more tolerant of people who had I met them in my pre transitioned state I would barely have given the day. I am also a lot open to expressing my emotions and showing feelings which I would previously felt that I to keep hidden. As a friend I  have known since childhood said to me becoming the woman you should always have been has given you the chance to be yourself and I’ve never heard anyone sum it up so accurately. 

Make no mistake gender transitioning is a very big decision and  nobody who undertakes  it will be prepared for all the challenges it can and will  bring them. There are even in  these enlightened times a lot of myths  and misconceptions around trans issues so it was with this in mind that I decided to write this post and give honest replies to some of the most common questions  I’m asked as a trans woman I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my answers to them.  

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

Hand Me Downs.

Hey Readers

In the week Donald Trump is elected to the Whitehouse to succeed Barack Obama as the next president of the USA I write a poem not on his election but on the dangers of assumptions and the problems they can and do create. Trust me I’m speaking from experience on this issue and it’s my considered opinion that the social and cultural conservatism so beloved by the political establishments in all nations are the biggest obstacles to fairness in every country on earth. The force of this phenomenon cannot be underestimated in creating fear and by extension the concept of other. Having done this the prejudice they fuel can and does lead to discrimination and hatred which is often handed down through the generations and reinforced by a willing a complicit press and media. These attitudes if left unchallenged can have the potential to result in some very unpleasant consequences which is why this poem had to be written. I’ve given it the title Hand Me Downs I hope you enjoy the read.

Hand Me Downs

In a quiet moment
I take thinking time
to remember the journey taken
as I map the road yet to be travelled
I ask for patience with those
challenged by authenticity
who see shadows where there are none
make fun of others and assume they know more about me than they do
comment when quiet contemplation would serve them better
they will never surrender
to the calm silence can provide
desperate to be
what they see as the winning side
they can’t hide their inadequacies
talking over others
never discovering anything outside their comfort zones
they prize only what they believe be truth
never thinking fact is supported by evidence
rather than take time
to ask questions
which I know I can answer
with no degree of difficulty
those with narrow minds mock
anyone perceived to be different
I keep my dignity
moving on to tomorrow
without the chains of fear
which bind them to the values of yesterday
and convince them of certainties
worn as hand me downs.

@ Gayle Smith 2016

I Won’t Be Voting For Brexit But I’ll Fight For A Westminster Exit (Debunking The Myths Served Up As Truths By The School Of Political Assumptions)

Hey Readers

With the referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union less than a month away, it is only to be expected that it will come up as a topic of conversation with both friends and strangers between now and polling day

It is i think fair to say that some of the conversations will, like the 2014 Scottish independence referendum be focused on the the big issues or at least the issues the press and media want us to believe are big. Other chats will be heated as this is an issue which evokes strong passions on both sides of the debate but sometimes the chatter will just be bewildering and you’ll wonder how it ever got this crazy.

This last description certainly sums up the discussion I had on the issue recently with an acquaintance of mine who if truth be told isn’t actually in the political premier league when it comes to understanding the issues at the heart of the debate. In an attempt to make polite social conversation my acquaintance asked me if I would be voting to remain or leave in the referendum and said that she would be voting remain. The woman concerned said that the reason for making this decision was that she believed it was better the devil you know than to do something that involves risk.

This to me sounds like someone who doesn’t quite understand how politics actually works and hasn’t quite got to grips with the fact that every decision we ever take involves a degree of risk as nothing stays the same in our ever changing world.

I told my acquaintance I had made my mind up a long time ago as to how I voting on June 23rd and nobody could say or do anything to change my mind now.
On informing her of this news, I waited patiently for her to make her judgement call on how she believed I would be voting and let’s just say I was quietly confident she would without thinking jump in and land at the wrong conclusion. I didn’t have to wait long before I was proven to be right.

Without taking the time to mull over my thoughts or ask me any questions as to what factors influenced my decision she just rushed in and said she thought I would be voting Leave. I have to say I wasn’t surprised at this comment and it shows that the person concerned doesn’t know me half as well as they think.

When I asked my companion why would I want to leave the European Union, I was informed without a trace of irony that since I voted for independence for Scotland and wanted to leave Britain, then it followed at least it did in their world that I would want to leave Europe.

Seldom if ever, have I had to try so hard to suppress a chuckle as I did on hearing this nugget of information which I immediately classified as comedy gold. I assured my contact that under no circumstances would I ever consider voting leave as this was playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with the Scottish economy and also risking workers rights which the British government had to be dragged kicking and screaming before being forced however reluctantly to accept.

I went on to say that though I didn’t particularly like being on the same side as unprincipled charlatans like David Cameron, and Gordon Brown, I could live with the fact just this once. Well, the way I see it is that they are agreeing with me rather than the other way round. Now difficult as it is to have these two as fellow travellers, it is still a damn sight bearable than the Brexit gang of Nigel Farage , George Galloway, and Boris Johnson. Honestly having to rely on this lot as the three wise men of your campaign then believe me you are in really serious trouble.

As for the Scottish leadership of
the leave campaign, well if there was any doubt about me voting remain then appointing the world’s most lethal double act aka former Labour MP’s Tom Harris (Glasgow South) who seems to have a problem with immigrants, and Ian Davidson (Glasgow South West) who has an issue with SNP members, to lead Scotland’s leave campaign would surely have sealed the deal. I didn’t raise this with my acquaintance as I doubt if she would have known who I was talking about.

What I did say however was that though my reasons for voting remain were many and varied but my main one is not to make Britain stronger in Europe but actually to weaken British identity by keeping the UK in Europe. You see I’m not just scared of the idea Britain leaving Europe I’m absolutely terrified of it. Make no mistake the British establishment needs the civilising influence of Europe to reign them in and keep the lid on shall we say the more imperialist amongst out number as left it’s own devices it could become a very cold, insular, and unkind place to live in for the reason stated in the picture below.

image

Imagine if you will, an untrained stray bulldog with anti social tendencies left unleashed to wander the streets of Britain. This is not a picture I ever want to see. The thought of such an image gives me nightmares but this is the image of Britain I have post Brexit. This would be a Britain which repeals the Human Rights Act it would be a Britain less inclusive and less understanding of difference where those seen as other would be labelled rather than loved and reviled rather than respected. How anyone could assume I would want to risk such a Britain just because I voted yes in the independence referendum leaves beyond incredulity with rage.

This judgement on my character shows someone who believes they know me a lot better they actually do. It is based on a set of causal assumptions about me based on one particular choice I happen to have made in September 2014 which was on my long standing belief that Scotland should be an independent country.

To make this judgement on such limited information is both a misleading and inaccurate representation of my wider political values and the circumstances that shaped them. It is based not on knowledge of me or my background but the lazy politics of assumption. Now if there is one thing I don’t do it’s make assumptions because to assume is to make an ass of you and me and that is something I don’t do.

With only three weeks to go until the vote I take nothing for granted and I certainly won’t be claiming victory before the votes are counted. As I said I don’t do the politics of assumption and why I will be campaigning hard to win every vote to stay in the European Union and make sure Scotland and for as long as I’m a part of it Britain, will get the best deal for the citizens of our collective of countries. So it is in the spirit of friendship that I hope you would expect from a supporter of the British And Irish Lions that I will vote to remain in the European Union not because I have suddenly converted to unionism but because I have always believed that to truly love your own country you must also love all countries accepting their cultures and learning from them in the respect of what they do differently from us and why what works for them may not be applicable for us.

To me it is by taking these steps that you illustrate the vision of an internationalist and prove to the world that real independence is not based on the isolationist tendencies of right wing conservatives but the very real choice of genuine co-operation with others and that is how politics should be conducted in a forward thinking society. It is this kind society that I seek to build locally, nationally, and globally.

It is with this very much on my mind I say that though I voted for a different constitutional settlement for Scotland with the full powers of independence I won’t be voting Brexit. Well that would be akin to slamming the door on our friends in Europe and giving the Tories cart blanch to destroy Scotland and that is something I will never ever do. Well I am reliability informed that no turkey has ever be known to vote for Christmas and I would never contemplate any move which could or would damage my county in any way, shape, or form.

Looking to the future should we decide to hold an another independence referendum I can say now it will be same again for me and I will voting yes. Well I may want to remain in Europe but as for the possibility of a Westminster exit, that is they say is a completely different story.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

If Too Many Cooks End Up Scotching The Broth With Too Much Information It Could Be A Recipe For Chaos.

Hey everyone This afternoon the Scottish Parliament debated draft Scottish Government proposals for the introduction of shared super database. Whilst I have no doubt that the intentions behind this idea are entirely honourable I have to say I have some serious misgivings about it.
I say this not as a member of the party who are leading the opposition the Liberal Democrats, nor I am a member of those two sets of glory hunters who will seek to use the debate as a points scoring exercise in which they can fire some cheap shots at the Scottish Government also known as the Conservative and Unionist Party or alternatively the Loyal British Labour and Unionist Party. You see these two have no room whatsoever to talk on this issue. It was the Labour Party who attempted under the narcissistic leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to introduce identity cards in the UK. Then not to be outdone the Tories tried to introduce the obnoxious snooper’s charter. Having opposed these attacks on the democratic rights and freedoms we call our civil liberties, then consistency demanded that I oppose the creation of this super database even though it is the SNP of which I am proud to be a member who are considering this course of action.

You see, unlike Jim Murphy who has a chameleon like ability to change his opinions more often than the Scottish weather I believe that consistency is important in politics and that is why I have no problems in putting aside other political differences I may have with the Liberal Democrats to support them on this issue.

As a transsexual woman I have grave reservations about this idea as it could impinge on my privacy, and the right to a private life is something I value very highly. I am therefore very concerned that 120 companies could have access to my personal information without my consent. This point was raised by Conservative MSP Liz Smith and who raised the issue of individual consent. This is something I refuse to grant. It is my opinion that this kind of potential intrusion is and always will be completely unacceptable as my records like everyone else’s contain highly sensitive information on a whole range of issues relating to my health conditions. The idea of such a database is riven with pitfalls and could be used to discriminate against me in any number of ways. This discrimination would be based value judgement of others due to negative perceptions on what I may or may not be able to achieve. These assumptions will be made by people who have never met me and have no idea as to my capabilities.

No doubt supporters of this database will argue their case on the grounds of making Scotland safer but I don’t believe it will. To me this is a civil liberties issue and this smacks just too much of big brother. Someone needs to tell all parties that 1984 has come and gone and so has the cold war and cruelty of Thatcherism which was the driving force in pushing me away from the federalism of the Liberal Democrats or the more cynical devolution offered by the Labour Party as a bribe to keep Scotland sweet in the their own electoral interests, in to supporting the SNP which I have done ever since.

However, I am not, nor can I ever be an uncritical or unthinking nationalist. Anyone who has an active interest in politics,but particularly those of us who are party members no matter of what party who agree with everything their party of choice say just for the sake of doing so are doing themselves or their party no favours. If democracy is about anything it is about a system of checks and balances to make sure our government governs in the interests of our people rather than themselves and a small elite group of friends and contacts. This to me is what representative democracy is all about. It is for this reason I had no hesitation in signing the Liberal Democrats petition on this database. It genuinely saddens me that my party which has done and will continue to do so much for Scotland in what will soon be 8 years in office including taking us to the brink of our destiny and almost regaining our national independence has taken such an unfortunate stance on this issue and I suspect I am not alone within the party when I express what I believe are legitimate concerns.

I find it strange that a party in which the vast majority of the membership come from what I would term a liberal left perspective would support such a socially and culturally conservative move and this is not the first time we have made mistakes in the area of data collective There were some voices raised at the creation of a single police force in Scotland but I wasn’t among them and there was a reason for that.
The reason is that crime is a different ball game from ordinary data collection and when it comes to catching criminals information should be shared as widely as possible. This is especially true when the crime committed involves any form of violence. Yes I know that this may upset some civil liberties groups, but as far as I’m concerned when it comes to violent crime you give up your civil liberties on the day of your conviction. This however does not apply to decent ordinary members of our society and it should never be allowed to do so.

Today Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said of the government’s proposals that it was an attempt to introduce an identity card by the back door. I sincerely hope he is wrong but as I’ve said I have my concerns. In his address to parliament Mr Rennie said ‘we all know the problems with putting all your eggs in one basket or all your savings in one bank or business we should be cautious when the government wants us to do the same now’. Despite our other political differences this is one area where Willie Rennie and I can agree we should proceed with caution on. This is a topic which needs to be treated with sensitivity and the government, my government needs to listen to the genuine concerns of our people.

Maybe it’s because I’m a transsexual woman, maybe I have hidden impairments and identify as a disabled person, maybe it’s because I worked in equalities, maybe it’s because we should just live and let live or maybe it’s because I am and always will be a fighter for a better fairer more inclusive Scotland that I say carpets are for decorating the rooms in our homes, they are not for sweeping our civil liberties under. This cannot be allowed to happen not today, not tomorrow, not at any price. The fact that so many people could potentially gain access to what are essentially confidential records means that there is an increased potential for crime. This is something which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency before any scheme of this nature goes ahead. After all to paraphrase the old saying If too many cooks end up scotching the broth with too much information it could be a recipe for chaos.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X