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Three photos of Andi - left Andi in medieval armour fighting a knight in plate harness; middle Andi crouched down in a dance move with three drag artists behind them and a man to their right in shorts Brighton seafront flats behind, Andi wearing progress pride facemask in head and shoulders portrait shot
December 7, 2020
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Callum’s on holiday and we appear to be starting this second week of December with a bit of quiet. Ssssh! Whatever is resting we don’t want to wake it. I feel like I should be trying to type quietly as the mist draws closer to the office window and those people who live [literally anywhere] outside Southampton report snow and show pictures of snow hominid construction with their small and joyfully home bound offspring. It’s OK, this is Southampton, there won’t be any real weather here, it’ll just get a bit colder!

I’m feeling introspective today, perhaps it’s those snow posts and flake celebrations, perhaps it is memories of an incredible board meeting on Friday. What an afternoon. My diary only has a two hour slot booked but I feel like we covered enough ground to call it a full day. Billed as a getting to know each other session I’m pleased that I wasn’t the only person who spent time preparing, and I envy those of you who have the confidence to do such talks off the cuff. I note that the perfectionist in me needs a timer so that I know when I’ve exceeded my limit.

We had to talk about ourselves, our authentic selves and why we’ve ended up at Chrysalis and since I’ve told the story of my gender identity more than a few times I went back further and drew on my old ways of introducing myself instead. You know the old chestnut “tell us something interesting about yourself”, well new crowd and it’s been a while so I thought I’d try to sum myself up in three words and three pictures – preempting the requirement to sum myself up in one song. So here I am, in full technicolour busy being authentic.

There’s nothing like a good SWOT to get the creative sparks flying, how well we have adapted to this video way of working, there seemed no barriers to our communications. I love hearing others describe the strengths of Chrysalis, reflecting back to me how they perceive all that we are doing well and in so doing strengthening that culture that is uniquely ours. One theme stuck out for me: “safe space“, that’s what everyone at Chrysalis aims to create and to maintain. We make space safe with our honesty, our openness, our ability to question and be questioned and our desire to always better ourselves. I believe that when someone wants to know why we act or think the way we do then they should be empowered to ask and to expect a respectful, reasoned response. It was beautiful to watch that playing out in the board meeting in the same way it plays out in our group meetings and our team meetings. Chrysalis is a safe space, a space to be your authentic self.

Now I said it was a quiet week but really it’s the most exciting week I’ve had in months. I’m actually getting to leave the office! To meet real people! To actually be in company! All socially distanced and safe of course but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited about it all. Yes tomorrow I get to meet up with Naomi from One Community to talk to her about Chrysalis and the new year and to meet with some other local charity representatives, a time to reconnect with everything that is going on in and around our fair region. Thanks so much Naomi for inviting me back.

In uploading the pictures for this post I notice our Hanukkah image and that reminds me to spend a few moments reflecting on serendipity. Part of my morning’s routine is to scan social media and on Thursday I saw a trans ally post on her wall one of those nice little memes that gives people a few more respectful words to use and highlights how language has changed, she had tagged me in the post to ask a few questions about respectful and inclusive language. I then came into work and saw a question from the team about Hanukkah as they wanted to make sure we were being respectful and inclusive in our language and indeed in our posting to recognise the festival. Well talk about coincidence! My ally friend on Facebook also happens to be more than happy to talk to allies about her Jewish faith. Several exchanges later and not only do we have lots of resource to share with our readers about being trans and Jewish but we also potentially have ourselves a Jewish consultant and Chrysalis ally. All because I wasn’t afraid to ask someone about something they are passionate about and happy to share. We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that Chrysalis is a safe space for everyone, improving our understanding of all aspects of diversity and recognising trans people are people first and foremost. Like my three photos above authenticity is about bringing your whole self into focus and so Chrysalis needs to continue to grow and develop and listen to our allies to keep making sure we can be the best trans support charity we can be (and we are pretty darn awesome already if you believe the words of the board).

And finally, to encourage Callum back after his annual leave I will leave you with three kitten shots – he suggested I kept kitten pictures for slow news weeks and so here you are

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