Use Lockdown to Change Your Life

Hello to everyone who is self isolating. We are going through tough times; emotionally, financially and in all sorts of other ways.

Most of my clients are Chinese people living in China. They have used their self isolation to improve their English and all other interests or school subjects. They have used their time well. They have improved their own lives during their lock down.

Now we in the UK – and all across the world – are on lockdown, we need to think about how we can use this time to improve our lives.

Are you happy in your worklife? Are you achieving everything you want to achieve? Are you as skilled as you want or need to be? Are you happy with your colleagues?

If you have said “no” to any of the above, think about doing some online training while you have this opportunity. Groupon offers discounts on all sorts of online training courses, such as accounting, teaching, make up and IT. In the UK, the Open University offers degrees, masters and apprenticeships in many courses ranging from Business to Law, Tourism and Psychology. There are many other online colleges. A simple Google search will come up with a long list of options.

Bullying is rife in the UK workplace, as is discrimination. While we are currently celebrating and supporting our NHS and NHS workers, it remains true that in the NHS, 67% BAME people are passed over for promotion, harassed and have their work and careers sabotaged. One of my friends from South Africa said about her NHS colleagues, “I have been here for seven years and they still watch everything I do.” Another of my friends from Rwanda has moved from hospital to hospital, town to town. In Rwanda, she was a matron. Here in the UK, she now works night shifts in a care home.

64% lesbian and bisexual women say they have been actively discriminated against in the workplace. 83% lesbians say they find the workplace a difficult place to be. 87% bisexual women say the workplace is difficult.

My own experience is twenty years of discrimination. I am a highly qualified university graduate who had no option but care work after my work and career had been sabotaged in a number of workplaces, almost always by heterosexual women. In one workplace three years ago, I faced open homophobic and biphobic harassment, chanting when I walked into the office and threatening behaviour from the all male team (one of whom is classed by social services as a danger to women and his own children). Yet it was the female manager who said I was the bully and making up allegations against my colleagues, even though one of the men did admit to the chanting. He was not sacked as UK law says he should have been, and company policy says he should have been. Instead, I was forced out by the false allegations made up against me. Time after time, over the last twenty years, I have been forced to take up care work, the only work available where no one cares what your sexual orientation is.

On Teesside, 40% – 60% care home staff are BAME and LGBT. BAME and LGBT people do not make up 60% Teesside population. We make up less than 5% the population. Therefore, it is clear there are genuine problems with the employment of people who are not white or heterosexual.

My advice to anyone suffering is to retrain, and retrain into a job you can turn into a business. Be self employed. Be a success and be a success without any hassle from co workers.

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I was lucky a friend knew about an online company who were taking on workers. I gained my additional qualifications while working. I now have a career in which I am a success and making more money than I made working in the NHS, for local authorities or any private company. I work for a Chinese company. They do not tick boxes. They do not care if you are BAME or white, LGBT or heterosexual. They care about the quality of your work and your attitude and behaviour. Many LGBT and BAME people work for the company, and for other companies like it.

I do consider myself lucky. I was heading for the rest of my working years on sickness benefits. Care work on Teesside is very violent and often paid at less than the minimum wage. The work was making me ill. I was so lucky a friend gave me a hand up. Since I joined the Chinese company, several of my colleagues helped me increase the number of clients I have and thus my salary. I now give a hand up to new workers.

And now I want to give advice to anyone who is struggling in their workplace, for whatever reason. My advice is use the internet. Think about your strengths, your abilities, what you love doing and find a job role that sounds like something you want to do. Ask your loved ones and friends what they think you are good at and should be doing. Think about any courses you can find to get you to where you want to be. Apply for jobs. Use this time in lockdown to change your life.

Good luck!

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What COVID-19 Is and Isn’t

Hello everyone and love to everyone who is self isolating… which should be most people. Hello and best wishes to you all.

There have been some conspiracy theories going around saying that the corona virus is a hoax, it’s a way for governments to push draconian laws to control the population, and I’ve even heard someone seriously talk about the New World Order and the Cabal.

Most of my clients are in Chinese people living in China. I have British colleagues who are still in China. The corona virus is not a hoax, it was not designed by America to control the American people and I shouldn’t have to say that the New World Order and the Cabal are utter nonsense.

My British colleagues in China have spoken about seeing their neighbours put into ambulances and entire blocks of flats nailed or welded shut. However, the poise and grace with which Chinese children and adults have dealt with this crisis is a real testament to their character and inner strength. It has been embarrassing to see some of the hysterical reactions of people in the UK. Now is not the time to panic buy or hate on people or spread conspiracy theories. Our countries need us and we should be ready to respond. One meme says, “Our grandparents were called upon to go to war. We are being asked to sit on the sofa and wash our hands. Don’t fuck this up.”

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Already, we are seeing people and organisations trying to score political points. One transwoman claimed that corona was discovered by a transwoman and that transwomen are always protecting society. No, COVID-19 was discovered by a male Chinese doctor who is now dead. Transwomen tend to not work in the emergency services, although some do work in social care alongside other men and women.

Some LGBT organisations have said that corona disproportionately affect LGBT people. No it does not. Corona disproportionately affects elderly people and disabled people.

The claim that corona affects more LGBT people comes from the fact that complications with corona affects people with HIV and lung cancer, and more LGBT people smoke than heterosexual people, and in recent years HIV has been transmitted to LGBT people more than to heterosexual people. So it is not being attracted to the same sex or having gender dysphoria that makes a person vulnerable to corona, but lifestyle choices; smoking and unprotected sex.

To American and British conspiracy theorists I want to say the world does not revolve around you. Thousands of people have died across the world of the corona virus. They did not die just so that you can’t go shopping. It’s incredibly self-centred to think in this way and disrespectful to the people who have died and the tens of thousands of others who are ill in hospital or at home.

While some people’s selfishness is being revealed, we are seeing doctors and nurses and care workers putting their lives at risk to care for those who are ill with the corona virus. Several medical staff in the UK have died already as a result. We are seeing celebs and musicians doing fun things to cheer people up. We have bands live streaming performances and asking that fans give however much money they can. Local people are organising to pick up people’s food shopping and medication for them. In the coming weeks, we are going to see the worst but also the best of humanity.

So, while we are self isolating, my advice is to use this time wisely. Find a hobby, return to hobbies you haven’t had time for recently, exercise every day, while we still can go for walks in green spaces while social distancing and take some time to look at your life. Where do you want to be in your life when we come out of isolation? Do you want a different job? There are many online courses, and you can look on Groupon for huge discounts on online courses. Do you want to be happier? Look at self help books and religion. Use this time wisely to make your life better.

Take care everyone x

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I Am Not Queer

Recently, a TV presenter, Jameela Jamil, came out as queer. This caused quite a bit of confusion and it caused a lot of people to ask what “queer” actually means. I am pretty sure I still don’t have a real handle on what some people mean when they call themselves “queer”, but I’m going to have a bash at explaining what I have understood so far.

The first time I asked a queer- identified person what queer means, he told me that when a person calls themselves “queer”, it shows there is something wrong with The System. …  Yes, that made no sense to me neither.

Three years ago, I was lucky enough to perform alongside some wonderful and talented LGBT people – musicians, actors, comedians… who all called themselves “queer”. In fact, the event was labelled a “queer” event, not an LGBT event. I was the only person in the room who did not use the word “queer” to describe myself. As I said at the time, if other people want to call themselves queer, that’s fine, but I don’t. “Queer” is what genuine fascists (people who genuinely worshipped Hitler) used to shout when they physically attacked LGBT people in the 1980s and 1990s.

Queer was an insult. Queer means “odd, strange, not normal”. Why would I call myself “queer”? OK, yes I am a bit odd and strange, but not because of my sexual orientation. My gayness is normal; it isn’t strange and it isn’t odd.

People say they have reclaimed the word “queer”. Back in 2002, on one shift I worked with a straight woman who used the word “dyke”. I objected to her using that word, which is always a slur when used by heterosexual people. She assumed I was straight (how?!) and said, “Gay women have reclaimed the word dyke”. She was clueless. Gay women do use the word “dyke” but we mean a certain type of gay woman when we use the word “dyke”.

Over 15 years ago, LGBT Christians I knew used the word “queer” to describe LGBT Christians who stopped following the Bible’s teaching on relationships and began to follow other ways of living. Throughout different demographics, the word “queer” has negative connotations with anyone who is old enough to remember being physically attacked in the street. It seems to be millennials and the generation below them who seem comfortable with calling themselves “queer”.

Among the younger generation, and a few  people from the older generation, their use of the word “queer” to describe more than their sexual orientation. Queer indicates left wing politics, including hard left. LGBT people are free to hold whatever political views they wish. Being attracted to the same sex or feeling you are a different gender does not dictate any other part of your life. I’m a centrist. I see positives and negatives on both sides of the political spectrum and I try to take the good from both sides. The same with most parts of life. People who identify as queer are saying much more about themselves than simply being LGBT.

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Some people who identify as queer say that they are othered, they are excluded by social norms and gender norms. Many seem to be intersectionalists, using many words to describe “identities”, saying that “queer” brings together all their identities, including racial or ethnic identities. It has been said that the word “queer” is more inclusive than the alphabet soup LGBTQA etcetera acronym. Indeed, I say “LGBT” because I feel that covers most people. Also, the Gay Liberation Front was set up to tackle specific prejudices against people who were same sex attracted. Asexual, intersex and even trans people have different issues to people with same sex attraction. There are some similarities and many differences.

It does seem that “queer” is replacing LGB, but “lesbian” in particular. Gay women have said on dating apps, most young women now call themselves “queer”. With so much lesbophobia normalised in how people think, eg lesbians are ugly, mad, angry, it is not a surprise that some gay women will reject the word “lesbian”. The word “queer” also seems to have replaced “bi” for many people, too. This is not cool!

Something else I have heard, which ties in with the man I spoke about at the beginning is that “queer” is a word and identity that challenges. It challenges gender norms, body standards and the norms of desire. Some heterosexual people who have a kink or are polyamorous say they are queer. They are heterosexual but have what most people see as abnormal love and sex lives. Personally, I do not want to be associated with kinks or polygamous relationships. I am bi. I am attracted to men and women, and that does not dictate in the slightest how I live my life. My sexual orientation is just a sexual orientation.

As far as I am concerned, the descriptions of “queer” I have heard seem to come from people who put far too much time and energy into defining themselves by labels. They also seem to be people who talk like they have swallowed a thesaurus.  I have said in a previous post that there is too much naval gazing going on and not enough action. There are mountains to be climbed and cancers to be cured. There are images to be painted and medications to be created. People who describe themselves as “queer” are often very nice people, like the queer people I performed alongside. However, some do seem unable to get along with people in normal settings and seem unable to do anything that doesn’t involve the activity being “queered”.

I am a fan of Dave Rubin and I am a fan of Douglas Murray; two gay men who have independent thought. There is a fantastic Youtube of them talking together about various issues. I recommend anyone to watch it. The conversation on the difference between gay and queer went like this:

Rubin: What do you call the gays who are not trying to destroy western culture and the patriarchy?

Murray: We’re just “gay”.

Rubin: We’re just “gay”? That’s so boring. Could you come up with a better word?

Murray: No, I’m sticking with gay…  We should spend some time on the heterosexuals.

Rubin: They’re still out there, God bless them.

Murray: They need our help.

 

I agree. Heterosexuals are just getting lost, especially working class heterosexuals who are not able to keep up with the chattering classes and understand what is going on. They are being battered from all sides, accused of racism, transphobia, homophobia – and in plain language being thick – simply because they cannot keep up. In the UK, many people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Most of these people honestly do not care what someone identifies as. They just hope they are not accused of being a bigot.

And this is an important difference between LGBT people and people who identify as queer: most LGBT people can give and take and understand where other people are coming from. We try to operate with grace, mercy and kindness. We try to live whole lives in which we work, we volunteer, we socialise with heterosexuals and we don’t make our sexual orientation or gender orientation a big deal. It’s merely a detail. This is what the Gay Liberation Front wanted, and it is what I have always hoped people who meet me would think.

I am definitely not queer.

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Fit, Fat Gay Girrls

The majority of LGBT media outlets, when covering the subject of health, focus on sexual health and STIs (which I think it pretty insulting to LGBT people), and they give lip service to covering mental health. Hardly any work at all goes into talking about physical health of LGBT people. Today, I will talk about physical health issues that affect lesbians and bisexual women.

Gay women have what seems to be a contradictory stereotype of being fat but also sporty. Stereotypes are not formed in a vacuum. This stereotype has a firm basis in reality. Let me explain.

Gay women are more likely to be overweight and obese than heterosexual women. 57% heterosexual women are obese and 59% LB women are obese. 2% is not a huge difference, but it does put LB women at a higher risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke and diabetes. On top of that, LB women are more likely to smoke than heterosexual women, putting LB women at a higher risk of lung cancer.

Overweight gay women tend to not see themselves as overweight, and when gay women look for a female partner, body fat is not a consideration in a prospective partner. Gay women tend to see themselves as more accepting of diverse body shapes. Gay women who are overweight report having better self esteem and better body image than the average woman.

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Now to the fitness part of this conundrum. A lot of gay women want to be fit and active, and feel that they are fit and active. However, for many gay women, weight loss and the Hollywood stereotype of a slender, small woman is not something many gay women are aiming to replicate in themselves. Therefore, many gay women do sport, hit the gym and are physically fit without losing weight.

I am definitely in that category! I do hope to lose some fat because the fat is now taking over. However, I am middle aged, so I have to accept reality. I go to the gym most days, I go to spinning classes, bodypump classes and I lift several times per week. I also hope to walk the Northumberland coast this spring. But will I give up the chocolate?!

As gay women, we do need to get a handle on binge eating and over eating, as well as smoking and drinking too much alcohol. There are things we can do to bring down out fat levels and vices to lessen our  chances of disability, longterm illness and an early grave.

Several weeks ago, I read a blog post by a “queer” woman in London who said she goes to fitness classes once per week as part of a “queer group”. She cited gyms and fitness groups being full of heterosexuals as her reason for avoiding all other sporting activities. Reading her post reminded me of Dafydd in Little Britain. “I can’t possibly get on a bus. I’m gay you see?” Apart from London being one of the most diverse and accepting places on the planet, most gyms are very diverse places. In most gyms, no one cares about who the person on the equipment next to them is; everyone is far too busy concentrating on their own progress while not giving themselves a hernia. If a gym you have been to was posey and nosey, just go to another. Local authority/council gyms in the UK tend to have professional but easy going staff and diverse attendees with diverse levels of ability.

When a person first goes to a gym, it can be daunting; all that equipment, and everyone else looks like they know what they are doing. Everyone else knows what they are doing because an instructor has shown them. Instructors tend to be friendly people who don’t judge a person on their size or fitness. Their job is to help. Other gym users tend to be friendly and will give advice if someone asks for it.

With more and more out women in sports, it is easier than ever to find sporty gay female role models. Meghan Rapinoe, Casey Stone and Nicola Adams have spoken openly about who they love while winning title after title, game after game, gold medal after gold medal.

On Instagram and Youtube, LB female sports and fitness coaches can be found easily. Lacey Stone, Kristan Clever and Emily Schromm to name but three.

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Don’t let self doubt or nerves get the better of you. Go and check out your local gyms, join that netball team, go for a run or a walk. I’m slowly gearing myself up to go bouldering and rock climbing for the first time – a challenge set to me by a good friend to break out of my current pattern. Me going bouldering is not going to be pretty, but pretty is not my aim. My aim is to try something new. Wish me luck!

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Why We Sweat The Small Stuff: Disability Rights

Under the UK’s Equality Act 2010 there are nine protected characteristics; age, race, sex, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership, gender reassignment and disability.

Countries such as Canada have similar legislation with more protected characteristics.

Intersectionality and woke culture hopes to make society a better place, but instead the result is naval gazing and Twitter spats with very little or no change in the real world. Moreover, the people at the forefront of woke culture tend to be people from wealthy or comfortable middle class backgrounds. They are not coal miners or care workers. Intersectionalists claim to fight for the most vulnerable in society, yet the the one protected characteristic we hear almost nothing about is disability.

Some disabled people are included in society. The Secret Millionaire on UK television featured a millionaire with complete sight loss. She went to a day centre for blind people and was in tears at how patronisingly low the bar for the day centre’s activities were. She knew that the day centre was keeping its service users disabled and cut off from society.

In 2014, 180 disability hate crimes were reported to the police every day. Where was the outcry?

In the UK, 13.9 million people (22% the population) are disabled. On Teesside, we have a higher rate of disability due to industrial injuries and the impact of lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking and drug misuse, as well as learning disabilities and mental health disorders. Yet no church in the area has a ministry to disabled people. There are many churches with a mission to asylum seekers (many of whom are economic migrants, not asylum seekers and have no material, financial, physical, mental or emotional needs). A high rate of disability and the churches do nothing for disabled people.

On Teesside, there are a small number of secular organisations – perhaps five – who give respite to carers or who help people in need of carers or Personal Assistants to find suitable matches. However, disability benefits are low and only allow disabled people in receipt of them to pay for a PA or carer for several hours per week. Disabled people in high paid employment have a wider choice.

However, it was found in 2019 that employers are more likely to employ a non disabled person with a GCSE level education than employ a disabled person with an A-Level education. On average, people with a physical disability earn 15.2% less per year than similarly qualified and skilled workers. That jumps to 29.8% for people with an enduring mental health condition.

Nearly half of UK people do not know a disabled person.

Why is full inclusion of disabled people into UK life not the next big civil rights movement?

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For every disabled person, from a wheelchair using child to a grandmother with dementia, to get the care and support they need billions more pounds must be poured into the social care budget. Carers are generally good people who do their best and genuinely do care. Most go the extra mile, staying long after the allotted times given to care for their clients. Yet they are paid the minimum wage or less for what can be an extremely demanding job in which knowledge of several laws and regulations is mandatory as well as specialised training on medical conditions and the administration of medications.

In recent years, intersectionality has concentrated on race and LGBT issues. This is good. However, disabled people have been left behind. Why?

I agree with the theory put forward by Lawrence Fox. He spoke on Triggernometry about the housing crisis in the UK. We have 138000 homeless children, parents and single adults. We have families living in over crowded conditions and homes that legally are unfit for human habitation. Yet all we see on social media is we must get people’s pronouns right. Yes, pronouns are a nice thing to get right. We want people to feel valid and valued. In reality, no one is going to die if someone misgenders them. However, we have people dying on the streets of England.

Fox asserted that people in general cannot cope with thinking about big problems. Big problems are daunting and take a lot of time, effort and money to solve, as well as national unity on the issue. So it is easier to sweat the small stuff – things that are very easy to fix – such as pronouns -rather than fix the housing crisis.

I believe this is the case with disability rights. Many disabled people need a much better quality of care and a longer session of care afforded to them through social services. With finances stretched in the UK, many disabled service users have had their care reduced or cut completely, despite their need. In 2018, all 1:1 service users were re-assessed to see if they still needed 1:1 care, and if so for how many hours per day. This included service users at high risk of choking and severe mental health instability. Home care services are stretched, with carers given less time per client than they need to even cover the basic personal care tasks, let alone provide warmth and social contact. Everything is being done on the cheap, and it is disabled people who suffer.

I assert that disability rights should be the next big civil rights movement. Whether a person is deaf, has diabetes, a mental health condition, MS, dementia or a neurological disorder, in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, they should all have equal access to society and equality of opportunity. This would be a hallmark of how civilised our society is.

*I have worked in the care and social care sectors for twenty years, working with almost every client group from street homeless to people with dementia in care homes. I myself am disabled and have been turned down for disability benefits when I was too ill to work or take care of myself and relied on the kindness of others.

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White Privilege?

I thought I would talk about racism, since it has been in the media again. The particular racism I’m talking about is white privilege.

In the 1950s, a group of American doctors proclaimed that if anyone judged another person by the amount of a chemical in their body (referring to melanin), that person must be clinically insane.

Yet today, people such as Ash Sarkar and other wokenistas are tripping over themselves to tell us how terrible white privilege is. We all remember Munroe Bergdorf’s rise to infamy and power over her comments that the “White Race” is “the most violent race”.

Let’s deal with “the White Race” first. There is no such thing. White is a skin pigmentation – a lack of melanin. Many people with white skin have Black parents or grandparents. The Brits are known as “a mongrel race” – we are mixed. Within “white” skinned people, there are huge variations of skin tone. There are also vast cultural and national differences between white peoples. A Scottish person has nothing in common culturally and linguistically with a Polish person. Both Scotland and Poland were subjected to invasions, mass murders of their peoples and all sorts of human rights abuses from invaders.

The second issue to look at is that of privilege. I understand that supporters of the view of white privilege would say that yes, I’ve had a hard life, but because of my white skin, my life was easier than if I had been born Black. How do they know? We are talking science fiction if we are saying we know what would have happened in an alternative universe. I do not possess a quantum entanglement device, so let’s leave this argument of ifs, buts and maybes in the bin where it belongs.

As my name denotes, I am half Scottish, half English. I was raised and remain an orthodox Celtic Christian. This means I follow the Bible (written by brown people), the life of Jesus (who was also brown), I look at nature to see the awesomeness and beauty of God (who placed the first humans in Africa) and I am inspired by the saints (males and females, some of whom had been slaves). How woke is my 7th century religion?!

I had friends at university who were Welsh Christians, Welsh nationals and other Celtic people. We would go out clubbing, go back to someone’s house and be talking at three o’clock in the morning about bodhráns, coracles and saints. We knew how to party.

I love modern folk and punk folk music. The Levellers mix the fiddle with a didgeridoo. Ferocious Dog mix Celtic music with two tone. Mad Dog McRea mix traditional Celtic tracks with traditional Jewish tracks. The Afro-Celt Sound System do what they say on the tin. I love hurdy gurdies. I love bagpipes. I love traditional stories from the UK, our heroes, our myths and legends, from Freeborn John to St Christopher, from Robin Hood to the Loch Ness Monster. I love The Peak District and Blue John’s Cavern. I love Cheddar Gorge and Arthur’s Seat. Yes, there have been dark times in UK history, but there is also so much to love, to cherish and to take a pride in. I am not about to let racists hijack genuine love for the UK.

Back to whiteness getting white people everywhere: It wasn’t my skin that studied from 08:00-22:00 most days for three years at university. It wasn’t my skin that did overnight volunteer shifts in homeless people’s shelters. It wasn’t my skin that sat down and listened to other people talk about their problems.

In Staffordshire Law School – one of the top law schools – in the late 90s, most students were Asian, from Pakistani and Indian families. The second biggest group were Black British, and the smallest group was white British. My skin colour did not matter in law class. No one’s did. What mattered was the quality of our work.

My white skin was not an advantage when I was an immigrant in another country. What mattered was whether or not I learned the language – I did – and if I got a job within four months – I got three. When I was in need, all the Africans in the community knew my needs, which were the same as theirs. The white skinned people who were linked to our community thought I was “swinging the lead”. That was actually said to my face when the truth was I was seriously ill and was being looked after by a Scottish family and a Rwandan family. Having white skin has stood in my way at different points in my life.

Beyond this, it is plain rude to assume you know something about someone based on the colour of their skin. Skin colour is no indicator of family stability, childhood abuse, surviving terrorism or war or having an idyllic life.

I can also say confidently that I have never owned a slave. In fact, both my English and Scottish ancestors were poor, they were thieves and slaves. Not many people talk of the North Eastern English slave trade in which white English children were kidnapped and traffiked to the Lothian area of Scotland.

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When people critical of whiteness and Britishness complain of Empire – yes, that was terrible – and they say all of the UK’s wealth is based on slavery, they are erasing the working class men and women who dug the canals, who produced clothing and pottery and cutlery in the factories and shipped the goods across the world. Some of these people were brown, but most were white. Hard working, normal people who often died before the age of 40, had painful illnesses and diseases and a lack of decent housing and standard of living. Life was hard for most people. Yet out of hard work and love for the future generations, so much good was done. So much was created that we can all enjoy today.

I would prefer it if we all focussed on today and not hundreds of years ago in the past, and focus on achievements. We have turned our civilisations on their heads. In the past, every civilisation valued heroism. Recently, the people who complain the most and produce the least have been given the mic. I would like to focus on a person’s character and achievements. Frank Bruno was a name I grew up with. A champion boxer and all round good guy. Sally Becker aka The Angel Of Mostar who rescued hundreds of people during the 90s Balkans War. Our local heroes like youth club leaders, Duke of Edinburgh Award leaders, Prince’s Trust Leaders, LGBT community workers. There are people who work tirelessly for others. We need to hand them the mic.

I agree with Lawrence Fox: racism is boring. We are all bored of it and wish that there were no more racists nor false accusations of racism. We have a housing crisis. We have out of control knife crime. We have a terrible education system that produces functionally illiterate adults. There are real issues in the UK and real work to do. All this talk of white privilege and other related nonsenses is taking time and energy away from the issues we do need to be talking about and solving.

Yes, there are incidents of racism in the UK. There are incidents of homophobia. A lot. But we are a much better country than we were twenty years ago. I plan to keep pressing forward, like our ancestors, to create something good, permanent and beautiful for future generations.

Who is with me on this?

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Changing Rooms, Boundaries and Self-centredness

I have changed my mind on many things in the last two years. Before, I thought I knew some issues, but it turned out I didn’t. Two years ago, I had no problem with any person identifying as trans using a changing room for example in a gym. However, the more I have thought about others, the more my mind has changed.

I have known several people who have transitioned, and I based my thinking on them. I also thought about the fact many trans people are survivors of childhood sexual or physical abuse, so I was very much in the camp of thinking of trans people as victims. My thinking was flawed.

What has also changed is the widening of self ID. More and more people “identify” as the opposite sex or no sex or both sexes but do not transition. Fewer transwomen are now having full surgery and very few transmen have full surgery.

I have friends who had surgeries. I know these people to be sweet and kind people, some even more conservative with a small c than me. I knew these people were good. I did not think about others.

I have moved temporarily from a small English town to a city. The city is very multicultural. The gym I go to in the city is huge. The women’s changing room alone is bigger than the gym itself in the small town. In the women’s changing room are women of all ages, races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, abilities, everything. We have obese women, we have women with deformities and disabilities. Many walk around naked. These women have been going to this gym for many years. They see their friends there. There is a sense of trust. Introducing someone with a male body into that changing room would completely change the balance the women there have worked on and reached over years. If someone with a male body began using this space, I know many women would stop using the gym. Their cultural or religious background or their feelings over their obesity or deformity would mean they would not be able to or would not feel comfortable using the facilities any longer.

My gym in the small town is multicultural but mostly white. Most of the men who use the gym and men’s changing room are wonderful men, who are married or have  longterm girlfriends. They walk around naked and they have friendships and trust with each other that they have built up over years. If someone with a female body walked into this changing room, the guys would assume the person had walked in by mistake. They would be kind, but gently tell the person they were in the wrong changing room and ask them to leave.

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In the USA, a school girl who competes in swimming competitions, meaning she has very quick changes in which she must be naked while quickly changing from one swimming costume to another, tried to stop her school from allowing students who identified as transwomen from using the changing facilities. She lost her case. The one trans student was triumphant and cheering. The swimmer was left crying and distressed. Pro trans activists ridiculed this girl, saying she has a problem with “cisgender men”. Maybe she has. And she has the right to have her feelings. I personally thought she came across as a sweet and intelligent girl who simply wanted her boundaries respected by her school. She has the right to have her personal boundaries – the very personal boundaries that schools have been teaching girls to have for decades.

Again, I return to the fact that trans people are encouraged by the trans charities and pro trans movements to think solely of themselves. Their rights matter. Everyone must change to accommodate them. It’s a selfish way of living.

We also have to think about where people are in their transition. At the start of a transition, a person will look a lot like their birth sex. This will especially affect schools and young people’s sports. The boys will still have a fully functioning penis. This means erections will happen as part of nature, jostling of the body during sporting activity and, yes, attraction.

Self ID would mean more people with no physical changes to their body could use the facilities of the opposite sex.

There are many reasons why for thousands of years, there has been segregations between the sexes. I would be OK with any of my friends changing next to me, but Michelle from the market who is about to do a zumba class doesn’t know my friends and so would probably not feel comfortable. Just like when I had gender dysphoria and wanted to be around my male friends rather than female friends in most situations including sleeping spaces, they did put some restrictions in place because they needed their space and their emotional comfort. They didn’t want me around when they had their early morning erections. At the time, I did not understand why I couldn’t sleep in the same dormitories as my male friends who preferred men’s bodies because I simply was not thinking on any level deeper than I wanted to spend time with my friends, but now I do understand.

Some people point to the fact LGB people use changing rooms, so why not trans folk? 

As a bisexual person, when I am in a changing room, I am very aware that there are women changing or walking around naked, and I do certain things to ensure I make no one feel uncomfortable or perved on, and I make sure there can be no way a woman can be inappropriate with me in a changing room.

First, I keep my eyes to the floor. Second, I  am careful about conversations I have in changing areas, the topic of conversation and again I make sure my eyes are looking at the floor if the woman I am talking with is changing. Third, if there is a woman who has behaved oddly towards me in any way, I do not use a changing room with her unless there is at least one other person there. I only change clothes. I never shower in gyms, simply because I prefer my privacy and I prefer a bath to a shower.

Two of my male friends who are gay do not use the changing facilities at all. They change and shower at home.

What would help is cubicles. I don’t do full changes in front of others, so I use the toilet cubicles. Having a number of changing cubicles in gym changing rooms would be beneficial to people of different backgrounds who need different levels of privacy. It would also give people transitioning their privacy instead of the risk of being stared at in a changing room. Many people transitioning feel uncomfortable with their body, so again changing cubicles would be helpful.

There are reasons why there has been separation between the sexes for thousands of years in every culture and country. Some of it has been paranoid, agreed, but some of it has been for good reasons. We need to listen to human history. We also need to listen to others.

If we believe all people are equal, then that means all people’s feelings about their personal boundaries are valid. A lot of pro trans rhetoric is self centred and encourages selfishness and even aggression. When we live in society, we need to compromise. We all give up small parts of ourselves when we leave our homes and interact with the world. We might tone down our language or tone down a dress sense so that other people will react positively towards us. When we live as equals with others in society, we make compromises so that we get along with others. When it comes to sharing changing rooms, sleeping spaces and even rape crisis centres, we need to be aware of the needs of others, and be prepared to understand others, appreciate others and do our best to honour the feelings and personal needs of others.

Who wants to be known as a selfish type?

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