September the 22nd was a busy day for the Government with a lot of noise being made about Covid19. So you would have been forgiven if you missed the Minister for Women and Equalities (Liz Truss) announcement in the House of Commons give the Governments response to the 2017 GRA consultation. No surprises in the announcement, given the recent Tory press ‘leaks’, that a proper and full reform of the GRA has been effectively kicked into the long grass. There were however some positives to come out of the announcement and indeed relief that the Government was still generally supportive of the transgender population.
What were the positives?
There was recognition that the overall GRA process was overly bureaucratic and that it needed to be kinder and more straightforward, the Government is also committing to placing the whole process on-line.
There was a recognition that the process was overly expensive and the Government is committing to reduce the current fee of £140.00 to a nominal amount. However this fails to recognise the costs associated with the gathering of acceptable evidence.
There is a commitment by the Government to continue the support of the transgender population through the Equality Act 2010.
Finally the Government has committed to opening at least three new Gender Clinics (GIC’s) in this current year. It does remain to be seen if Covid19 and the impending 2nd wave of infections will have a negative impact on this commitment. Of course it’s also not clear which year we are talking about, calendar or Government/NHS/Financial.
While the Government has not caved into the anti-trans rhetoric from the media and other anti-trans forces, it hasn’t reformed the GRA in the way many in the transgender population wanted i.e. by de-medicalising the process and the introduction of a legal self-declaration (cf: Deed Poll). Regarding the reforms identified such as the introduction of a simpler online based process, the devil will be in the detail, and we don’t as yet have sight of the detail.
For those interested in reading the actual statement made in the House of Commons by Liz Truss, here is the Internet link:
Here is a link that will take you to the Government publications website where you can download the full analysis of the 2017 GRA consultation. It does make for interesting reading though, like me, you will probably dip and delve rather than read it cover to cover (nearly 8 MB of PDF):
In the Deep South of Norfolk sits Bressingham Gardens, this was the venue chosen for the October Oasis Covid safe outing.
So on Friday 9th October Beccie, Serena, Lorraine and myself, Theresa, decided to chance the weather and meet for a day out, the weather forecast was dire but hey just go for it we all thought.
We made the right decision, arriving at the cafe area we found Serena basking in the glorious sunshine, I felt quite overdressed in trousers and padded coat. The four of us sat for a while in the sunshine with teas and coffees to set us up for the day ahead.
We studied the map and set off in search of the gardens, after a short walk we seemed lost so asked for directions from a passing train driver, who pointed in the opposite direction, I’ll stick to Google Maps from now on, perhaps I had the paper map upside down!😁
The gardens were a lush green, the grass so well manicured and flower beds still providing a colour contrast surprising this late in the year. Couldn’t help thinking what a wonderful summer setting this would be.
We didn’t make it around the entire gardens, Foggy Bottom was to be found somewhere at the edge of the grounds but more tea and coffee beckoned.
As soon as we sat in the covered outdoor cafe area it rained, for a whole two minutes, ok we thought, the forecast was right it did rain but didn’t catch us 😁.
With the lack of warming sunshine we next set off to the indoor steam museum and Dads Army museum. Donning face masks and steaming up glasses we wandered around the exhibits and made comparisons to other steam and train museums around the country, this one for me was certainly not awe inspiring. Nice train sets though, I’m sure would enthuse some.
Right we said, time for more tea and coffee we said, and another trip to the Ladies on the way.
Something positive from the fact there were only four of us was a round of drinks cost under a tenner, just.
Sitting around in the café chatting about all things trans we were also watching the passing steam train and the nearby Gallopers. “The Gallopers, we need to ride” somebody said, but we had no ride tickets, the Site Manager just happened to be passing, we thought nothing to lose by asking for a free ride, he said YES.
Now to my complete surprise Lorraine leapt out of her seat and nearly ran to the ride regardless of who else was going or how she would actually mount a horse, I just stood back with a camera at the ready thinking this will be good.
Beccie and Serena also approached the ride just as Lorraine stumbled trying to get up the first step, with a bit of help and determination the horse was mounted. The ride began and Serena was delighted the music being played was ABBA, really made her day.
Smiles all round, well under masks anyway.
So now how does Lorraine get off the ride, it took her several attempts and with the help of gravity dismounted, Beccie and Serena helped her back to terra firma. Lorraine gives her thanks to them both for making such an experience possible but says it was certainly a one off.
Sadly we ran out of time, the park was closing but we certainly finished on a high, it was a great day, great fun with great company.
It seemed the rain gods were kind to us that day creating an Oasis of fine weather at our location, just a minute down the road in the car was a deluge and flooded roads.
I have just had a wonderful three days and it would be easy to forget we are all still in a precarious position (apart from the need to wear a mask from time to time!). On Friday, I along with Beccie, Theresa and Lorraine, enjoyed a truly great day out at Bressingham Gardens in beautiful October sunshine. Post to follow from Theresa. Over the weekend, Venetia and I travelled first to Stretham and then to Sussex to catch up with our family before we are all put into complete lock down again. I wonder what Christmas will look like this year? Probably rectangular on a computer screen as we communicate through cyberspace with our loved ones!
Talking of zooming, Beccie was really looking forward to the Hallowe’en Spooky night on Saturday 17th October. It was her chance to be a Dracula bride and go to town on the makeup. There would have been a prize for the best and most gory outfit. I look forward to seeing some of you on Saturday. I must apologise for appearing to be asleep in the picture Beccie posted of our last zoom meeting. It has nothing to do with the fact that Beccie was speaking – just a blink caught on camera! Lets try and make the meeting interesting by presenting yourself in sometime Hallowe’en. A pointed hat, some gruesome fangs, spider makeup or all 3!
Each time I write a post I try to be upbeat and positive but our return to St George’s Hall sees to move further and further away. However, I shall be booking the hall for the third Saturday of every month in 2021 in the hope that, as soon as we are able to return, we have a venue to go to. I have decided not to think about the themes for 2021 until such time as we know firm dates. But rest assured, our first meeting after lockdown will be special. We’ll glam up, splash the cash and have a ball.
We are now heading into winter and I am mindful that this can be a difficult time for some people at the best of times, but even more so now. If you need a phone chat or to meet up (abiding by the covid rules in place at the time) remember we already have volunteers in place. Contact us through the website and we will put you in touch.
I wake up with a start, ‘what’s happened’ I say, ‘don’t be alarmed sweetie, we are taking good care of you; you’ve had a very long sleep, that’s all. It’s such a shame you missed the summer’. ‘What!’ I exclaim. ‘Yes, it’s October and you’ve been asleep since the March, you fainted at the Oasis meeting. Don’t you remember? Just after you won the parade’. Now that makes sense, I always win the parade, this time wearing my little green dress, with white polka dots and an orange petticoat. The nurse went on, ‘it was such a fab summer, beautifully hot, England won the football, we won so many golds in the Olympics, Trump was impeached and is now in St Quentin, Putin has come out as gay, JK Rawlings has admitted that she is a silly sausage, GRA reform was passed by Parliament, and of course there was the military coup, that replaced silly old Bozza, with Major Captain Sir Tom Moore. Everyone is so much happier now’. ‘What! ` is all I could blither, ‘where am I?’. ‘In the Suffolk Hospital, for respectable ladies of a certain age’. I just can’t take it all in; protesting I say ‘But but I’m in the wrong place’. ‘No you’re not Lilly, you are respectable! Oh by the way, whilst you were asleep, we fixed you down there’. My head was spinning, ‘what about the virus? ‘I ask, `What virus? ` came the reply……..
What is the nature of time? Is it a linear entity ticking away with a regular beat or does it stretch out and squeeze up as events dictate?
Well apparently E=MC2, so that clears up that mystery, thanks Albert. Regardless of the conundrum of time, it does seem amazing that I’m still in France and despite my nice dream, the virus lives on, it’s not so much lockdown but locked in! Life is in stasis yet still the days of week just tick on by, Monday housework, Wednesday shopping and that tradition French favourite, les fish and les chips (yes they really are gender neutral) on Friday. Pickled onions, comment ça s’appelle en français?
So the question most people ask is how are Mum and Lilly getting along? Mum has been brilliant and really likes what I’m wearing and the way I dress. Fortunately, there has been no ‘you’re not going out dressed like that young lady! But similar to most people who have never questioned their gender, or gender identity full stop, Mum doesn’t really get it. Thus far she tolerates this’ whim’ of mine.
Mum told me that she hasn’t ever yearned for a daughter, but in her hour of need, she doesn’t mind me doing the girly things, you know, popping on the rubber gloves (sometimes pink, sometimes blue, occasionally one of each, I like to subvert the gender rules) and sticking my hands down on loo. Like a little Cinders, I’ve done the cooking, washing and cleaning since I’ve been here, like a good daughter would, which I’ve done with love. But, will I ever make it to the ‘Covid Is Over Ball?
As I realised some time ago; Mum now has discovered that Lilly is an unstoppable force. I guess you could call it fait accompli.
How about you Lilly, how are you? Well merci beaucoups thanks for asking. I’m bona darlings. Naturally I miss home terribly, especially as home contains my Lesley, my most amazing wife and life partner.
The hot summer has been brilliant, allowing me to pad around barefoot, wearing the shortest of shorts and a vest top, with my toe nails a pretty peach colour and showing off my gold brown legs. It been fun to experience ‘everyday Lilly’, I could really get use to this.
We remain very serious ‘lockdowners’, only really going out to do the weekly shop and making hospital visits. ‘It’ is still lurking out there and we are still not keen to meet ‘it’. Naturally we are armed to the teeth with masks and sanitiser. Though on several occasions, ‘locked in’ has got to me, and I have broken all my rules and escaped to make a full frontal attack on French clothes shops!
I have found Gemo, the French Primark full of beautiful schmutter, oh what joy. Shares in Primark plummeted at the news of my defection.
At the beginning of the summer, I bought my bijou cream and gold bikini from Gemo, and have been able to wear it frequently in the pool. Some very tasteful bikini shots are available in return for a 50 Franc postal order made out to Mme Newton. Whilst trolling around the shops, I received lots of Madames, which of course would have been Mademoiselle if I’d not been wearing my wedding and engagement rings. I was also very happy with my voice, so don’t be surprised to find me speaking French or affecting a French accent. A poser? Moi! As I’m sure you know by now, wearing a mask plays havoc with your makeup! But oh what fun! A small price to pay.
So what’s the future? Well the next three months I shall remain in France, caring for Mum and then at the beginning of December, we shall drive up to Suffolk and get ready for a lockdown Christmas and New Year, now that is something to really look forward to! Hopefully I will see you all very soon. Blessed are the vaccine makers.
December calendar looking a bit empty this year! Every fancied an enchanted journey of light?
Your journey will begin in the main auditorium, an all new indoor Wonderland Trail: a maze of engines, fairy-tale characters and an immersive experience of light and sound including one of the UK’s biggest kinetic light displays. Wander through an enchanted trail partitioned by magical steam engines and marvel at the vast decorations covering each corner of the building!
Interested? Your journey continues as you venture outside to a 4 acre Lantern Light Extravaganza: a beautiful, breath-taking festival of luminous sculptures, from a fantasy forest of jungle animals to the wilds of the North Pole. Let it snow!
No it’s not Theresa’s back garden! Thursford are holding the Enchanted Journey of Light as a one-off event for 2020, after sadly having to postpone the Christmas Spectacular until 2021 due to Covid-19.
The plan is to visit this event on Friday 4th December for a booked slot of 4.45pm. The tickets cost £15. Beware tickets are selling fast. If your interested in joining her you will need to book a slot on that evening(click on this link). slots can be booked every 5 minutes. Please observe the ‘rule of six‘. I’m sure there may be other groups of Oasis ladies who might happen to meet (socially distanced) during the evening at the Garden Pavilion café!
If you are considering joining her on this evening please complete the on-line interest form and get booking.
Now the nights are drawing in it’s an even better time to put your feet up and start reading. Do make sure that you have adequate lighting though. I’ve just got new spectacles which are helping. There is Macular Degeneration in my family so I am keen to have my eyes checked out at regular intervals.
The Book Worm has as always been busy through the summer. At the Library’s recommendation I read The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. It is her autobiographical story of walking the South West Coast Path after she has some catastrophic life changes. (Her husband has been diagnosed with a degenerative disease and they have lost their home of 30 years.) Raynor and husband Moth have only the barest funds to live on so where possible they `wild camp’ and walk almost the whole distance. Those who know the area will the story particularly interesting as well as admiring the grit of human endurance.
I also read Believe Me, Eddie Izzard’s autobiography. He is an amazing talented person but like many comedians likes using a lot of words. I felt a little let down: “All sound and fury signifying nothing” as the Bard once wrote (I think!). Sorry Eddie.
I’ve discovered Lisa Jewel, her book The House We Grew Up In had many a twist and turn. Family life but, thank goodness, not as I knew it! Suicide, hoarding and dark secrets fortunately almost all resolved . I’ll be borrowing Lisa again.
The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali was a fascinating read spanning the life of a young women born in Iran (formally Persia of course) before the Shah was deposed, through the advent of Ayatollah Homeni, lost love, her flight to university in the USA and subsequent life. A tale of a different culture, misunderstandings, food and love in many forms!
I’ve just finished a book called The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. Did you know there is a recessive gene which makes people blue? Yes really, it’s called Methemoglobinemia. Although the book is fiction isolated Troublesome Creek is a real place in Kentucky. Think Coal Miners Daughter! Cussy (nickname Bluet) and her family have the blue gene which as far as the locals think, makes her `coloured’ and this in the 1930s before discrimination laws came into force. There is a drug that `cures’ the blue but it has many adverse affects.
Bluet has managed to secure the job of Book Woman taking books (all donated by more affluent areas) and old magazines by mule to dirt poor folk living up in the mountains (I suppose we would call them Hillbillies but they were/are extremely proud). Her father knows he is dying and forces her to (disastrously) marry as he thinks she will be protected when he passes but it’s simply awful. Husband dies during giving her an awful beating.
Slowly Bluet builds a new life and we meet more of the mountain folk, learn of their love of and delight in the written word.
The real Book Women were astonishingly brave trekking solo in all weather to take reading matter to their `patrons’ and small schools. How folks loved those books tattered and second hand though they were.
The book worm family never went into Kentucky but did visit the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and parts of Georgia so the description of the trails really resonated with me.