Tag Archive | Women for Independence

I Wore My Seasonal Colours With Just A Touch Of Satin And My Forever Autumn Look Showed A Woman At Ease With Myself 

Hey Readers

As we approach the end of autumn it’s time to look back on my favourite seasonal outfit and tell you why I loved putting this outfit together.

I wore this ensemble to the Paisley Women For Independence spoken word event in Mid September and since it was a women only event I decided to dress to impress and I think this outfit shows me at my best an independent woman with purpose and power making a statement that fashion doesn’t have to be about the latest in little black dresses and that you can mix and match what you have in your wardrobe and look good on a budget.

Trust me girls some of us have no choice.

As you can see I selected seasonal colours for this occasion and I think they worked a treat.

I start with the top and for this occasion I went for a layered approach. I decided on this light green number from River Island which I bought for about £7.00 in River Island in September 2008 just as I was preparing my wardrobe for transition which would go live in the run up to Christmas that year. The fact it fits me now even better than it did when I bought it is I have to say a source of great joy and illustrates not only the value of investment pieces but the fact that if like me you are missy Queen of the sales they don’t have to cost the earth.

Underneath my main top you may  be able to see a kind of peachy vest top I got from the bargain rail at Top shop. This wee top is another fail safe wardrobe staple and though you will only see it if you look closely I think it’s important to mention it.

Now I move on to the skirt.This light pink number from Top Shop is another piece I’ve had for a long time. Yes I really get value for money from my fashion collection and this is no exception I think bought it around 2012/2013 and it’s a comfortable fit and could even be described as a bit on the roomy side. I think the colour was perfect for the autumnal atmosphere I was trying to and hopefully managed to create.

The last thing I want to talk about are the tights. Everyone who knows me knows that when it comes to hoisery I am a massive fan of Wolford. They may be more expensive than other brands but believe me they are worth every penny and you get what you pay for. They are quite simply luxary for legs and its amazing how good I feel when I’m wearing them. This particular pair are from the Satin Touch range. Individually a pair of Satin Touch which come in the 20 denier range would cost anywhere from £11 to £14 depending on where you bought them and whether or not their was a sale on at the time of purchase.

Now I know some of my younger girl friends would never even think about paying this amount of money for tights let alone buy a three pack for £32-£34 but hey my legs are my best feature and I want them to look as good as possible and Satin Touch really do the job for me and are excellent for giving me the shapely legs I’ve craved since my teens.

Well I think that’s me said all I’ve got to say for this post and I have to admit I’ve really enjoyed writing it. I hope and believe this is my best outfit of the day post so far and that may be because I really love the outfit I wore on this occasion. Don’t get me wrong I love my all my outfits but this one is just so me. You see I  love this time of year and I particularly love the colours of the season which on this occasion I blended with just a touch of satin and I think in my doing so I illustrated that my forever Autumn look showed a woman at ease with myself.

Love And Best Wishes.

Gayle X 

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Since Life Began At 50 I Haven’t Had Time To Get Bored.

Hey Readers

Five years ago today I lost my job. I was made redundant I was told after almost 9 years of work that my services were no longer required.  Of course I was told that it was just the luck of the draw and it was due to the economic recession. Whether I believed that or for that matter ever will believe it is another matter entirely.  

So why am I the mood to celebrate rather than mourn? Why do I smile on this day rather than weep tears of anger, or at very least sorrow ? Well I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, and in this case my redundancy was no different. In a way I believe it needed to happen to allow me to move on to the next stage of my life.

Looking back on what was my final day, I arrived early and  I was given time to make phone calls to colleagues from partner organisations with whom I had built up a close working relationship. Trust me some of those phone calls were not easy to make and some got quite emotional especially with those colleagues I had known for a number of years.

After the phone calls were made I got on with the mundanities of what had been my daily grind such as data input and analysis and preparing packs for training courses I wouldn’t be delivering. This later activity, was especially difficult as delivering training courses had been my bread and butter and what put food on my table for the greater part of my time in the job I was now preparing to leave.

At lunchtime my bosses made the usual presentation you do when people move on and the gifts of gifts of a watches, handbags and jewellery were gratefully received. My manager gave me the opportunity to leave as soon as the presentation was over but I think he was glad when I stayed for the rest of the afternoon and finish what jobs I needed to complete before making my final exit at the end of the day.

So how do I look back my 9 years in what was an enjoyable but also stressful job? Well like any job it had it’s share of up’s and downs but I would like to think I was a good team player who did what needed done to assist my colleagues whenever I could.

Of course like all workplaces there were the odd clashes of personality over the years however I always managed to resolve any differences in a professional manner. Like everyone else it is safe to say I got on better with some people than I did with others, and it is only natural to say that there were colleagues I liked and others I couldn’t stand. Though to be fair, the vast majority of those I worked with were decent people I would always help if I was in the  position to do so.

As my boss said on my first day in post, working as a trainer is a thankless task as many people who attend courses particularly if those are mandatory do not want to be there  and it’s your job to deal with that hostility. Overall I was reasonably successful in this and had a 96-98 percent approval rate when my feedback forms were evaluated. So it’s safe to say this was my favourite part of the job. Well as a spoken word poet who has occasionally dabbled in stand up I have always had good communication skills and made good connections with many participants on the courses I delivered.  Indeed  there were more than a few over the years who have gone on to become valued friends on a personal level and three of them attend or have attended the same church as me.

Of course training wasn’t without its challenges and I had to do a lot of reading to keep up to speed with the latest developments on all forms of equalities. I also faced more than the occasional challenge to my authority in the training room usually from egocentric males who had far too high an opinion of themselves. Believe me this tested my diplomatic skills to the limit but gradually as I learned the job I would find techniques I could use to isolate them from the rest of the group.  Also as I got better known in the field participants who enjoyed the day would often warn me if someone from their work had any previous for trying to annoy or undermine the trainer. Believe me I had more informal informers than her majesty’s secret service and there was always someone in every training room who was ready to cover my back as and when required. 

It was during my time as a trainer that I started gender transition. It has to be said that transitioning at  work was a rewarding if challenging experience and I believe, though they would try to claim otherwise, some of my colleagues just didn’t get it and there were a few who complained about my dress sense even though I was smart and professional at all times.

This made me angry beyond all measure especially when you consider the fact that they received training on the issues around transition from the Scottish Transgender Alliance. However what disappointed me more than anything was that on receiving feedback from the trainer who delivered the sessions some of those who should have got it in terms of the equality agenda were actually amongst the least cooperative and least enthusiastic members of their groups.  Like I said I have my spies. 

That said however annoying as it was, this wasn’t the most annoying issue I had to deal with during my time with this employer that was but a minor detail when compared to the relentless quest for perfection. Being good at your job was never good enough for an organisation where everything had to be excellent.

This to me was madness especially for an organisation whose profile is nowhere near as high as they seem to think. It was this constant striving for perfection which caused me more stress than any member of the awkward squad ever did. I believe it was unrealistic to place such targets on the staff and I know I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Don’t get me wrong , there is nothing wrong with ambition but you have to set that ambition in context. No matter what your mammy might say to sooth your ego you’ll never play for Barcelona if you can’t get a game for Berwick Rangers, and you’ll never be part of the new Spice Girls if the only place you ever sing is with your pals in front of the bedroom mirror with hairbrushes for mics.

It is this attitude of having to be best and be on top form every day which makes me glad I am no longer working in this environment. There is nothing wrong with being good at your job in fact for most people that would be more than enough but the idea of striving for relentless excellence is enough to put people under so much pressure it could have a serious detrimental impact on the person’s mental well being. It is for this reason I’m glad to be out of my former place of employment.

It is ironic that my redundancy came just 15 days after my 50th birthday and hard as it was to take at the time I bear no malice to my former colleagues or the excellent organisation I was lucky enough to work for.

Of course being made redundant meant a few financial issues and at least until I got used to living with more cuts than your average Tory budget. Now I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss the money of course I do but believe me I don’t miss the stress and when you get to your mid fifties it’s good to be a lady of leisure. Well being able to have woman time has meant I have been able to become more involved in my local community. It means I have been able to devote more time to my poetry and to my political activities be they in the SNP, Women For Independence, or the many other campaigns and causes with which I’m involved. Most of all of course being a lady of leisure has enabled me to start this blog. Yes it’s true being made redundant from my job as a trainer meant I had to look for new ways to occupy my time and that was how 9 months on from redundancy tartantights was born and believe me I’m glad it was.

Indeed it’s true to say there have been times particularly during the independence referendum when having this blog saved my sanity. Well you see I’m a gabby wee madam with opinions on everything and none of my opinions were being represented in the print or visual versions of the mainstream media and me being me I thought to myself if they won’t represent me then I’ll damn well represent myself so that is exactly what I decided to do and I have done ever since.

Now to those of you who may not be aware, I have to inform you that blogging is a very time consuming activity. At least it is if you want to do it to the standard I do and believe me I will never give it anything less than my best. It is therefore safe to say that had I still been working as a trainer this blog which has now become my passion would never have seen the light of day.

Believe me when I say that this has been a difficult post to write, However I would say that for me at least losing my job as a trainer opened other doors in the most unexpected of ways. I discovered that life began at 50 and as I started on the next stage of my journey I realised the real difference between men and women and it’s this. It has been said that a man who loses his job loses part of his identity and given the chance he will complain to the world that he hasn’t much to do.
This is in complete contrast to what happens when a woman who loses her employment you see no woman I know has ever been redundant we have far too much to do for that to happen.

Don’t get me wrong losing our job may impact on a woman in the economic sense and it will impose some financial limitations on her until she adjusts her budget but if there is one thing she will never be or allow herself to be it is bored. Even a lady of leisure will say she hasn’t the time to get bored in fact she may be busier than ever and complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything that needs doing done to her satisfaction. Being a trans woman I can speak with authority on this as I’m more active now than I was when I was working and a lot more active than I was before transitioning and you know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

What A Difference A Year Makes (A Personal Style Review Of 2015)

Hey Readers As I look back on the year we are just about to consign to the history books I honestly believe I leave this year a different woman than the one who welcomed it in. I think I can trace a significant number of the changes back to late spring/early summer as my life became a lot more female focused. By this I mean I became a lot more involved in women’s campaigns and attending the launch of the SNP women’s manifesto was one of the highlights of what was a great election campaign for Scotland’s women.

Picture 1 Women With A Message.
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It was at this event more than other I have ever attended I realised that when women fight together we really are unstoppable. After the election, I made two decisions which would impact on me to a far greater extent than I realised at the time. The first of these was to become an active member of Women For Independence I had been a virtual member since the groups formation during the early days of the independence referendum campaign and in the aftermath of post election success of the SNP was I thought the right time to get involved in my local branch of the movement.

Being involved with such an empowering group did wonders for my self confidence and after a few quiet months we are ready to go in to the Scottish Elections making sure that all political parties will know what Scotland’s women want us to raise as issues of importance in the fight for a more equal fair and socially just society which we demand for the women and children of our nation.

The other decision which changed me for the better was to participate in as many blogger chat groups as possible. This was a very positive step for me as it tended to bring out the maternal side of my nature and having friends and contacts from the other nations of the British isles many of whom were young enough to be daughters brought my gentle side which was especially handy was some hard-line unionist was expounding their theories on how Scotland was in their opinion too wee, too poor, or too stupid to run our own country. Personally, I think these people if I have to call them that, have such a deep seated self loathing and inferiority complex that their real problems lie not with Scotland’s abilities but their own and the too wee, too poor, too stupid syndrome isn’t what they think about Scotland but rather what they think of themselves. Honestly there are times when these people would, but for my naturally kind hearted disposition send me in to a full blown virtual rant. Fortunately however my blogging bairns know me well and know when to step in and get me out of these potentially difficult situations.

Indeed it is through my involvement with the blogging community that I have gained not only new friends but also style advisors and a deeper understanding of the hopes, fears, and concerns of both individuals I lucky enough to know and their communities and localities.

With regards to my poetry 2015 has been a year of both progress and changes. At the start of 2015 you could predict with a fair degree of accuracy that I would be spending most Thursday afternoon’s leading The Tollcross Writers Group and I would spend my Thursday evenings at Glasgow Writers Group at the Gallery of Modern Art. Now Tollcross no longer exists and and my visits to GoMA have become a lot less frequent than used to be the case.

In what was an easier decision than I thought it would be I decided to pull Tollcross because someone who did not have the authority to make such decisions was going about telling their friends that the group was moving to another venue and that I had better tell them when the group was starting back after the summer break. To say I was furious at this petulant attitude would be putting it mildly so I decided to cancel the group for the foreseeable future as a lesson to certain people not to get above themselves. This decision tough as it was to make shows the difference between the woman who saw in 2015 and the women who is getting ready to embrace whatever challenges 2016 may bring. You see last year I would have procrastinated over such a tough choice and probably soldiered on but this was the year I took action to show that if you tramp on my toes or seek to undermine me in any way there will be consequences and they will be entirely of your own making.

In another change to the poetic landscape of the city it was time to say goodbye to Bards in the Park which died of natural causes as nobody seemed to want to turn up anymore. This was also a year of change for Words and Music. Little did we know as we celebrated 25 years in the wee back room and that by July the Sammy’s we knew and loved would become Lebowskis but fortunately as we get ready to bring in the bells the event is still going strong at least it is for now.

However, as one door closes another two or three open to take their place. My Saturday afternoons which were once the preserve of Bards, have now been taken over by T-Time a trans related event which I find to be a great source of peer support. Thursday afternoons at Tollcross have now been replaced by Wednesday nights at the Blue Chair cabaret.

Picture 2 Some Of The Girls At T-Time
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Picture 3 The Team At The Blue Chair
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As for my greatest achievement in the year just passed I would have to say it was taking and successfully completing the NaPoWriMo challenge in April where I had to write 30 poems in 30 days. This and I have to say it was a challenge and a half but the reward I got from attempting it was a fantastic buzz and that made it all worthwhile. Still on poetry I let some valued friends suggest a topic for me to write about or suggest a title for an already written poem to assist me in the creative process. This idea was spread throughout the year and not just used for NaPiWriMo Particular thanks in this endeavor goes to Audrey Marshall, Becky Bedbug, Bob Leslie, Caron Lindsay, Jenny Lindsay, Jenni Pascoe , Jodi McKenna, Kirsty Nicolson, Margaret MacMillan, Morgan Horn, Samantha Hands, Saffron Dickson, and Stephen Watt for their help and support

It goes without saying that Election night was also a highlight for me with my party doing not too badly in Scotland but for me despite my party’s successes the real highlights of 2015 were not political nor indeed were they poetic. No on this occasion my favourite moments of the just ended were actually very personal and the last ten days in November summed my 2015 brilliantly as I attended trans women’s cultural event in Glasgow Women’s Library, the reclaim the night march protesting at male violence against women, and Girls Day Out Show at which I enjoyed one of the best days
of my life. So as I look back on 2015 I really believe its a stronger more confident woman who faces the future than was case last year or at any time in my life. So here’s to 2016 and whatever it may bring us. I hope it’s a good one for you and those who matter most to you and you continue to read tartan tights throughout the coming year.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Why The New Assertive Me Is A Fighting Female Force Who Gave A Christmas Present To Myself

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
Gayle X

The Tale Of Three Scotland’s (The Civic The Radical And The Missing) Part 1 Of A Review Of Caladonian Dreaming, The Quest For A Different Scotland By Gerry Hassan

Hey everyone One of the legacies of the independence referendum apart from the birth and growth of this blog is the fact that it has introduced me to many voices whose writings I may not have had the chance to explore had this event not taken place. One such voice is the political commentator Gerry Hassan whose columns on the way forward for Scotland for both Bella Caledonia, and Scottish Review I have found and enlightening and entertaining. Hassan writes with a clarity which makes his work both intellectually rigorous and easy to understand and by doing so articulates a message with which his readership can connect. In this first part of my review of his book Caladonian Dreaming The Quest For A Different Scotland I will seek to explain why I believe the thoughts and arguments contained within these pages will be of value to supporters of an independent Scotland at the time of next referendum whenever it may be. It is at this stage I would like to thank Gerry Hassan for his generosity in sending me a complimentary copy of this book.

Right from the first page this is a book that challenges the reader to think big. It makes you ask questions about our nations past, about where we want Scotland go in the future and most importantly it asks us to consider where we are today and what has brought about the circumstances which make this such an exciting time to be Scottish.

In the opening chapter of the book Gerry Hassan argues that Scotland is a nation in a state of flux. the old certainties of our past are not as relevant to our lives as once was the case. Yet despite this the socially conservative forces of unionist Scotland tries to camouflage any evidence of it by claiming that events such as the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland and Rangers Football Club were one offs which were due to individual weaknesses at the top of the house rather than viewing them as the result of greater cultural forces. This as Hassan states is ‘a culture of restoration the kind of keep calm and carry on approach so favoured by David Cameron and the Conservative British establishment. This is an establishment favoured by all parties of the union and their friends in the press and media an establishment they will do whatever they must to protect.

This I would argue includes the demonisation through the press and media of both the Scottish National Party and their allies in the independence movement. This was quite clearly seen in the way the independence debate was viewed by those with vested interests in preserving the union. As Hassan states ‘It was presented ‘as a set of narrow set of constitutional changes unrelated to the kind of society we want to live in. This was in my both disingenuous and indeed fraudulent as to me as a yes supporter that was exactly what the debate was about that and nothing else. To claim otherwise was a deliberate distortion of the truth and the unionists know it all too clearly.

As if to prove my point Hassan questions how unionists can disassociate the circumstances which brought about the referendum and pretend that everything is still the same as it ever was. To be honest many of them know this can’t continue and there are harsh realities which need to be faced if the union is to survive in the long term. One of those realities is that they need to realise that many of their supporters were primarily responsible for the negative tone of the debate. Indeed far from the bullying cybernats that the unionist political class would have you believe were the main culprits in this, Hassan provides evidence of that they themselves are far from perfect. Citing the words of Gordon Brown, Alastair Darling and Ian Davidson not to mention the reckless threats from the late Tory grandee Lord Fraser he illustrates that career unionists were no angels in the debate. Indeed I would go as far as to suggest that given their prominent positions in Scottish society they were actually by far the greater aggressors.

The author also says that one of the key reasons for this combative behaviour was the lack of women in the discussion. As a member of women for independence I have to say I agree with this assessment. One only needs to look at the TV debates not just on independence but on other more civic matters to see that what Hassan refers to as ‘Male Only Scotland is still very much alive and well and this institutionalised sexism needs to be tackled now to create a more creative political dynamic. Hopefully the fact we now have a woman First Minister in SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and women leaders of both main opposition parties Kezia Dugdale (Labour) and Ruth Davidson (Conservative) and there are a significant number of woman amongst the newly elected SNP MP’s such as Mhairi Black, Anne McLaughlin, Alison Thewliss, Angela Crawley, Carol Monaghan, Kirsteen Oswald, and my own MP Natalie McGarry, this will help to change this ingrained macho attitude.Hassan however argues that until we tackle the six myths of modern Scotland creating this dynamic will be almost impossible.

The six myths which Hassan wants us to examine have been embedded in to the fabric of our national culture for so long that challenging them will not be easy. It will be no doubt seen by some on all sides of the political debate as an attack on our national identity but tackling the idea that Scotland is a democratic egalitarian land where we all enjoy access to educational opportunity where we hold authority to account have a social democratic tradition and live in an open society is essential if we want to bring about a better more equal nation so many of us claim we’d like to see. To do this Gerry Hassan argues that we need rid ourselves of this cosy comforting image of ourselves and face some uncomfortable truths about our past and indeed our present.

One such fact is the our country has been throughout our history has been run by elites and that for all the claims to contrary our people are not active citizens in the public realm of our nation. I back up with my own personal experience as an active political campaigner for the SNP and various equality based causes over the years. No matter how I’ve tried to explain the importance of involvement at personal, community, and national level I have more often than not been met with a leave it to others mentality in what was until the referendum this passive land I call home. Too often I heard the mind numbing refrain it’s not for the likes for us and it makes no difference to me or the even worse there only in it for themselves kind of argument which I quite frankly find distasteful to all of us on all sides of the political debate. As I said to a woman earlier this year I always attend my party meetings because without the likes of me and others like me none of those you call them would ever be elected to office.

The fact I am educated to honours degree level and my joint honours degree is in Geography and Politics is I find often used against me by small minded people who no doubt wish to live in the comfort of the cosy myths Gerry Hassan correctly identifies as holding Scotland back from realising our potential. This is unfair not only to me but to many others like me who came from working class families like mine and indeed our author’s who put a value on education and lifelong learning long before it was a buzz phrase for governments and the civil servants who work for them.

In the next chapter Gerry Hassan having set out some of his core arguments as to the challenges we face and the changes we need to make to build a different Scotland fills the reader in on his own background and the circumstances that shaped him. Born to educated, well read working class parents the young Gerry grew up in Dundee with a dad who though a communist by inclination was more of an armchair activist than an active campaigner and a mother who had read the works of authors such as Orwell and Greene. Hassen says his parents believed in Britain and saw Scottishness as old fashioned. Again this chimes at least partly with my own upbringing as these were similar sentiments to those expressed by my mother and some of my aunts and uncles.

My dad however had a very different view shaped by his Dundonian-Irish ancestry he believed not that Scotland should be free but that it had to be if we were ever to change the view of other countries that Scotland was inward looking colonial backwater unfit for proper nationhood. These differences in how Scotland was perceived in the years of my youth and indeed has been viewed ever since both have powerful narratives and to understand them one has to look what the United Kingdom was and what it has become.

One of the reasons why the idea of the United Kingdom still attracts a certain kind of socially and culturally conservative Scot is due to the way its image is presented by the British establishment. Hassan supports this by stating that ‘it likes to stress its unparalleled degree of continuity’. This he says is only one view of the UK but it is a view which many people have bought in to over the years. This demographic which tends to be but is not exclusively older has doubts that Scotland could provide them with the same safety and security as mother Britain even though many will admit not having looked in to the idea. This group tend not to like what they see as change for change’s sake and may ignore their own country’s history and traditions in favour of a more anglo-centric version of events.

Changing this mindset is a challenge for those of us who want to embrace change especially when the elites whose views these people accept almost as if they were tablets of stone have such an unshakeable belief in their own superiority. This has made the road to democracy a much slower one than we would want to walk and in many ways a journey we are still a long way from completing. The fact that the UK finally gave the working class and eventually women the right to vote does not give Britain the right to call itself a democracy. The elites Hassan argues, were in charge at every stage of the political process, and that it is just the way they like it.

The implications of this for Scotland were and still remain a very significant factor in how Scotland is perceived not only by others but more importantly by ourselves. It has long been the establishment view that a good Scottish or Brit-Scot cringe as I prefer to call it is essential if you want to serve both colony and yourself at the Westminster table of imperialism. It is I think no accident that demand for independence or at very least a much stronger home rule than devolution can provide has grown significantly in the last three decades as Britain has shifted further and further to the right. We may not as the author has already pointed out be the egalitarian social democrats we like to believe we are but the fact that we believe our own self made myth has to some degree pushed this agenda forward.

The United Kingdom is however a country shaped by its past and the story of that past no matter how mythical it may be has over time had a huge impact on how we as a nation see ourselves and how we view our relationship with Britain. Not for nothing does the too wee, too poor, too stupid mantra resonate so readily with so many of our country folk. Britain we are told used to have an empire, like we didn’t know that already. For me, the key words in the sentence are used to It doesn’t anymore. The union in my opinion is an economic arrangement which has outlived its usefulness but the British elites and most especially the political classes perhaps not surprisingly do not share that view. Indeed as Gerry Hassan correctly points out they use the past as a powerful political weapon and the fact they use the monarchy in the same way is no accident. The past, the empire, the monarchy and other establishment organisations such as the press and media and armed forces are in many ways most of them subliminal are the mythical and mystic ties which bind Britain together. The fact that Scotland is not despite what we are told a fully fledged democratic state helps to maintain this status quo and makes it more difficult to challenge.

Hassan states that the myth of popular sovereignty in the sense of power lying with the people is exactly that and had it existed Scotland would have been able to stop the poll tax and other measures not to its liking. Hassen argues that had the concept existed in reality rather than just at the level and mythology Scotland would not have dominated by The Labour Party or indeed the Liberals for before them for anywhere near as was the case. The author goes on to say that Scotland has never used the idea of popular sovereignty to democratise and empower people or develop a vision of society which is in any way radically different from the status quo. Hassan says that whilst we may have the trappings of democracy such as free elections and multi party participation the fact that there is a missing Scotland which is predominately located in the poorer less affluent parts of our nation tells us much about our real democratic deficit.

This is a deficit you will seldom hear mentioned at elections where parties tend to focus on the core votes they know will turn out to support them and the floating voters who will definitely vote at elections but whose votes may be up for grabs and that makes them key voters meanwhile the voice of missing Scotland of low electoral turnouts voter apathy and political disconnection remains ignored and unheard.

Indeed as Gerry Hassan points out there is a culture of learned helplessness in Scotland and this means that people don’t see themselves in the political discussions of our nation and any conventional methods used to reach them fail. This is much to our nation’s detriment and is something which needs to be improved before people even begin to believe in the notion of Scotland ever becoming a real democracy fit for the purpose of serving our people.

To further enhance this argument let’s look at as the author does at Civic Scotland. This was a term which Gerry Hassan points out which was closely identified with the fight for devolution it was also one I never liked. Civic Scotland may have identified that Scotland is different from England one has to ask as our author does, was it too polite to fight on those matters which could and still can really change our country for the better and on many issues the answer appears have been yes.

If I had to sum up Civic Scotland in a sentence or a paragraph I would say that in many ways it would be the political equivalent of my mother. Those involved would talk about the things that shocked them, angered them, or even outraged them but just like my mother it wouldn’t do too much about them for fear of holding themselves up to the light and finding they may not be as perfect as first thought. In fairness Civic Scotland did some good raising awareness amongst those of us who were already or were always going to be part of active Scotland but it did nothing to engage disaffected voters in areas of low voters it did nothing too engage apathetic Scotland, the neglected Scotland the Scotland forgotten by the political elites. It may have talked about the decimation of mining communities and other industrial areas or the impact of the poll tax but it didn’t live in those areas. Civic Scotland and what remains of it was and still is a child of Bearsden rather than Baillieston of Morningside more than Muirhouse. That to me was and remains its most fundamental problem there is a disconnection to those who don’t live in the comfort zones but who are far more in need of empowering than those who do.

From Civic Scotland Gerry Hassan moves on to the Stories of Radical Scotland. This is a story with I closely identify having learned of the radical tradition from my maternal grandmother who was a keen supporter of the Independent Labour Party and in particular of John MacLean the man who was the public face of what become known as Red Clydeside. Indeed my first political hero as a child was Jimmy Reid who I saw as a hero for fighting for people’s right to work. Jimmy Reid was if you like my own political version of Superman.

This opinion was probably formed because as Gerry Hassan states at the beginning of this chapter socialism and centre left politics have been the defining feature of Scottish politics in the last century. However as he goes on to inform us radical Scotland pre dates Socialism in Scotland and the Liberals were the dominant party for much indeed most of the 19th century but as the Liberal influence became diluted it was the Labour Party who became the new home for Scotland’s voters. Hassan however also reminds us that Scotland had a strong communist tradition particularly in mining areas which has only died out in the last 30 years or so. This evaporation of communist support parallels with the rise not only with the decline of mining and the other traditional industries such as coal, and steel, on which much of Scotland depended but also with the rise of Thatcherism and the culture of individualism which has whether we like it or not become a part of the fabric of our contemporary Scotland.

This development surely implies that Scotland is moving away from its radical roots or at least it does if you listen to unionists. I however do not pay much attention to the negative mutterings of the pro British political establishment, my grandmother’s stories captured my heart and imagination in a way no unionist has ever managed or for that matter come close to managing. The Thatcher years in which Scotland was vandalised and the Blair years in which we were patronised only served first to develop my interest in the idea of Scottish independence and then to support it by voting for and then after my gender transition eventually joining the only party I have consistently campaigned for.

Of the two most influential Prime Ministers of my lifetime it is fair to say I probably loathe Blair to a far greater degree than Thatcher and I never thought I could be detest anyone more than her. How wrong I was, you see to quote my late and very left wing granny the Tories may have hearts of darkness but at least you will know what your going to get if they get elected, they will promise you nothing and deliver exactly that. Labour on the on the other hand will patronise you with false words smiles and flattery before putting on their masks to rob you. Labour are not a radical party she once told me they are the party who want to keep the radicals in line. Remembering those words I would say that my personal radicalism is viewed through the lens of wanting to make Scotland not only a restored nation but also for the first time in our history a real democracy with genuine citizen participation.

There is however a slight stepping stone which I think with the benefit of hindsight which is always a wonderful gift to have perhaps cost yes victory in last year’s referendum. This is picked up by Hassan who says that ‘there seems to be an abiding faith among those of a pro yes persuasion Scotland could become the first democratic socialist country in the world’

This image of a socialist utopia in my view at least turned off almost as many voters as it attracted and I for one found it a problem on the doorsteps or in discussions with friends or acquaintances. The missing Scotland is it would seem not just on left

The rise of Scottish identity as a left wing identity especially from the 1980’s onwards was also important in creating among many a shared sense of Scottishness. This was partly due the rise of Thatcherism in the rest of the UK but it was also because Scotland had different core beliefs to the rest of the UK or at least that’s what as a nation we collectively began to believe. Gerry Hassan is in my view right when he says that Thatcher and Thatcherism were symptoms of the of the collapse of British post war consensus rather than the cause of it but to many Scots that didn’t matter, what mattered was the fact she and her government did not share our views, our values, or our visions either individually or collectively. To many of our people Thatcher’s Britain could never be our Britain her Scotland could never be our Scotland.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

Why I Said Yes To The Scotland I Believe In And The Scotland I Believe We Will Win. ( Referendum Reflections And Memories From An Independent Poet)

Hey everyone. As we approach the first anniversary of the referendum many of us will look back on our personal memories of the campaign which regardless of how you voted on the day invigorated and energised Scottish people like nothing I had ever seen before and got people engaged with the political process after years or possibly decades of being apathetic to the idea of any kind of political involvement. With this in mind I have decided to share some of my highlights of an enjoyable campaign even though we got the wrong result at the end of it.

My first highlight of this memorable period in our history was being accepted in to what was then an online group and has now grown the a national campaigning organisation that is Women For Independence. As a trans woman was a big deal for me and I now make sure I attend as many branch meetings as possible as we continue to campaign not only for Independence for our country but independence for our country’s women and a better fairer more equal society.

Part of the reason I enjoyed the campaign as much as I did was the fact that I was always busy and didn’t have time to get bored. As a committed yes voter I was eager to spread the word to as many people as possible and I did this not only through the traditional methods of campaigning but also by informing undecided friends as to the benefits of independence on social media outlets such as facebook and twitter and also my at that time fledgling blog tartantights as the referendum campaign gained pace my blog gained momentum and it’s some consolation to know that I was responsible for convincing some people to embark on their journeys to yes.

Speaking of tartantights and more importantly of the impact blogging I was delighted to be invited to write a guest post for the wee ginger dug on why as a trans woman I would be voting yes. This was a big moment for me both politically and personally. It meant a lot to me to be asked asmy blog is not a political blog in the strictest sense of the word. It is if had to put a label on it, more of a lifestyle blog but more than that it is my personal space in virtual world for me to express my thoughts and opinions on a whole range of issues of politics is but one. I don’t have the financial resources to compete with the likes of the dug, Bella Caledonia, or Wings Over Scotland. So to be invited to post on a site I respect on an issue of importance to me was a great boost to my confidence not to mention my blog traffic which I’m delighted to say has continued ever since.

Another highlight for me was my involvement in the National Collective. This holds some very special memories for me as this non aligned group of creative artists provided our nation with a summer of hope as they staged the summer of independence festival also known as the yestival at venues all over Scotland. This dynamic group of artists made me so proud to be a part of it that I even wrote a poem to celebrate their memory entitled I Am National Collective and those tuesday night meetings and eventually Monday night sessions in Stereo gave me a sense of passion to add to my purpose.

It is also true to say that I made many good friends through my involvement at National Collective with special mentions to Del Eoin McKinnon and the wonderful Margaret McCabe who inspired me to put my poetic talents to use in the name of the cause and produce a few poems not only for Scotland but for my personal vision of Scotland. The Scotland I wanted and for that matter still want to see in a post independent nation. It was these discussions with a woman who has become a valued friend which inspired me to write Tights Before Trident. This is not only one of my favourite poems of those I wrote during the campaign it has also become a favourite of many poets on the spoken word scene even though many were and possibly still are deeply traumatised that I used examples learned at the legally blonde school of economic theory to dismantle the case for nuclear weapons. Yes the influence of my favourite movie still holds true.

As for my fondest memories of National Collective  well there were three which stand out above all others. Firstly there was the night at the July Glasgow sessions when I performed two of my poems to the gathering. The poems of choice were Twenty Four Romanians and perhaps not too surprisingly I Am National Collective. This was a really emotional night for me especially coming on Bastille Day just three days after my 53rd birthday and to be asked to bring the night to its end was a very great honour I was proud to accept.

The second memory was signing the creatives for yes declaration. Seeing my name and my talents listed alongside both contemporarys and icons of our national culture who have made such an impact on our society gave me a buzz I still can’t put in to words. Well its not every day you see your name on the same list as people such as Agnes Torok, David Greig, Des Dillon, Jenny Lindsay, Liz Lochhead, and Pat Kane, so I was privileged to sign this important historical document in support of the cause I had supported all my life and continue to support to this day and beyond.

My final memory of Natonial Collective  was that last Monday meeting in September just ten days before the vote. There was an atmosphere of optimism that night which was so tangible I swear you could actually touch it. You see we know how far we had travelled and we knew what our opponents would throw in the final few dangerous days of the campaign but we also know that we had a vision for the future they simply couldn’t match. All they could do was hope that apathy and fear the union’s only friends would triumph over hope in the name of what they call stability.

Just before that September meeting there was another cultural event which I have to mention in any look back on and that was the last pre referendum edition of Words and Music which I billed as a referendum special. Having compared the event since 2005, initially as a stand in for the man who taught me everything I know about hosting events the one and only Hughie Healy, then as his eventual successor after a death which saddened us all. To host this kind of event was I told going to be risky and of course I kinda knew that. However If there is one thing I learned from Hughie it was no-one can call themselves a poet and duck the big issues facing Scotland or the wider world. Thankfully my so-called risk paid off big time and with no voting Chris Young as featured writer we had a night of which both sides of the debate can justifiably proud. Indeed I would like to think Hughie would have smiled and said well done to both sides you showed the politicians how debate should be done. You see that in my view is exactly what we did.

Looking back over the course of the campaign, it is fair to say I feel I did as much I as possibly could to support the cause of a better Scotland . I delivered many leaflets, worked at street stalls both in the city centre and in my local constituency. I stuffed envelopes, spoke for alternative visions of my country as part of a rainbow movement, I encouraged friends to get involved in politics, I got smiles and abuse, handshakes and hatred, met old friends and made new ones across the political divide. I was in Buchanan Street on last Saturday of the campaign when I delivered so many leaflets for so many pro yes groups I thought I was Postman Pat’s glamorous assistant. I was there on the nights we turned George Square in to Freedom Square, and wrote a poetic letter to the future Scotland. However to me my proudest moments came on the day 30,000 of us marched on the streets of Edinburgh on our way to Calton Hill for what has been the biggest and best demonstration of my life and at 745 Am on referendum day when I placed my hopes in the future and voted yes for the Scotland I believe in. The Scotland I believe we can, and will still win.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

 

 

The Women Of Scotland Have Found Our Voices And We Have A Country To Change.

Hey everyone  As I look back on the election that has without doubt changed Scotland for good I have to say that my favourite memories of the campaign are memories of strong principled women who said what they meant and meant what they said. However it has to be said that though women have made progress in society at a general level. In politics particularly at the level where the real decisions are made there is still much to be done before women can say we live in the truly inclusive country we aspire to build. It is my hope that this election campaign has changed the way people think about women in politics and changed it for the better.

It didn’t matter where they came from or what party they supported, this was election when women’s voices were heard louder, prouder, and clearer than ever before. Whether it was the battles at First Minister’s Questions between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her opponents Labour’s Kezia Dugdale who was and is a far better ambassador for her party than her hapless, helpless, hopeless and now former leader Jim Murphy, or Conversative leader Ruth Davidson. Or the words of wit and wisdom from women like Elaine C Smith who I think I have seen more often than my own flatmate in the last three months it has been women’s voices which have been to the forefront of this election and that is the way it should stay.

I say this as a trans woman who has a very clear idea of the direction in which I want my country to travel. I am proud to be a member of the SNP and very proud to be a member of a great campaign team in which we gained a new member of parliament in Natalie McGarry who defeated one of the Labour Party’s most formidable members in Margaret Curran.

Ours was a campaign in which women featured prominantly. Our office manager Alexis Deans had a no-nonsense approach which helped get things done and May Findlay worked every hour god sent and a fair few more as well for the cause of our party and the election of our candidate. There were also fantastic contributions from two our younger members Laura Doherty and the force of nature that is the irrepresible and highly likable Morgan Horn. 

The fact that Glasgow now has four female MP’s can only be positive for the cause of women’s equality and Carol Monaghan, Alison Thewliss and Anne McLaughlin will join Natalie as powerful advocates for progress as part of a powerful team of SNP Women.

Geographically this team of women cover the whole of Scotland. From Doctor Eilidh Whiteford and Kirsty Blackman in the North East, to Angela Crawley In the heart of Lanarkshire in Lanark And Hamilton East. From Hannah Bardell In Livingston to Philipa Whiteford in Irvine And Ayrshire Central. We could add any number of names such as Doctor Lisa Cameron in East Kilbride, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik In Ochil And South Perthshire, Derdrie Brock in Edinburgh North And Leith, Margaret Ferrier in Rutherglen And Hamilton West, Cori Wilson in Ayr, Patricia Gibson in North Ayrshire And Arran Kirsten Oswald in East Renfrewshire and Mhairi Black in Paisley and Renfrewshire South. The SNP have sent a strong group of women to be stronger for Scotland than those they replaced.

Also there are more female voices in the press than was previously the case. This is particularly true since the birth of The National last November which has given a column not just to established names such as Lesley Riddoch but has also given voices to the best blogger in Scotland in Kate Higgins, and provided space for Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik and Carolyn Leckie to air their fresh voices to the world. It should also be noted that this is the newspaper which has reported on issues such as women’s football to femicide in ways no other paper has dared.

There is no doubt that the independence referendum gave women on both sides of the yes/no debate the chance to air our views in a way unheard of in the past. This was a refreshing change from the old boys network which for so long had been as much a dominant factor in Scottish political life as it the broader UK context. The old boys network was not just confined to the corridors or indeed voting lobbies of Westminster and Scotland both yes and no,  or for those who like to over simplify the issue nationalist and unionist was being forced to recognise this fact and indeed to address it and change the face of Scotland. Women’s voices would from now on be heard and they would be heard loudly, proudly, and clearly.

On the pro independence side of the debate one of the most vigorous groups to emerge during this period was Women for Independence. This group who comprised of members of all political groups  and none  showed what could, can, and will be achieved when women’s voices are heard in the cause of a common goal This group which started  life on Facebook had long before September’s vote transcended into a national campaigning organisation which had and still has branches in every major city, town and geographic area in the country. It is a group of which I am very proud to be a member. A group which has vision of a fairer, more equal society where women and girls are given the same respect and value as their male friends, colleagues, and family members.

Having found our voice during the referendum campaign It was only natural that this would result in more women putting themselves  forward as candidates at this election and that at least within the Scottish National Party is exactly what happened. I am delighted to say that due to the great result gained by my party that Scotland now has an army of  talented women committed to fighting for fairness not only for Scotland but for our neighbours and friends throughout these islands. Among these women are three of my closest political allies, my local MP for Glasgow East Natalie McGarry, a women who will fight for my area and my rights with all she has and more, Alison Thewliss who won the Glasgow Central seat unseating the man who was once tipped as a future leader of the Labour Party Anas Sarwar , Anne McLaughlin who won the so-called unwinnable seat of Glasgow North East from Labour’s  Willie Bain  with one of the biggest swings of the night.

This election was as Kevin McKenna correctly said in his article for the Guardian just a few days before the vote an election where women were the real winners. This i believe is true  no matter what side of the debate you happen to  be on  nor which party colours represent your values, views, and visions.

You see unlike the victory for Tony Blair  and New Labour  in 1997 in the class of women were not sexualised or objectified as the SNP won the landslide victory our party members worked so hard for Our women MP’s have not been labelled in the same way as the so-called Blair Babes  The world has moved on since the days of the mythologised Cool Britainia as a trans woman I know this better than most. It is almost two decades since Blair’s first election victory and if you look at the narrative used to tell Blair’s story it was almost exclusively male and in my opinion incrediblely if unintentionally sexist based as it was on the story of Camelot and the legend of King Arthur. In the 18 years between the two elections women have made many social and economic gains however there is much more work to do to create a society fit for purpose for our daughters, nieces, and their friends.

As I said earlier in this post it was the independence referendum which gave the woman of our country the opportunity to express our opinions on the way forward for Scotland. Believe me when I say  the woman elected to this the first post referendum  parliament will not be afraid to voice those opinions. We have a country to change and we are going to do it. 

Love And Best Wishes.   Gayle X