I’ve lots of serious things to talk about today but I wouldn’t be a denizen of these fair isles if I didn’t take a moment to say
I’m sure that for those like our trustee Jenny and anyone else north of Wessex their snow is slightly grey and boring by now but for us native Southerners it remains exciting. A bright, crisp carpet to raise our spirits and depending on those spirits to either send us back under the duvet or searching for coats and wellies and scarfs and gloves to get out there and make the first foot prints! How many people secretly checked to see that their lockdown puppy hadn’t suddenly changed colour.
I hope that wherever you are and however you enjoy these things you found some light refreshment in the change to the scenery we have been looking at for the last nine months, here in Southampton it has all disappeared as it is wont to do so very quickly, but that freshness in the air remains and despite all I see the sun shining and I look towards the summer.
I’m also looking back today, into the past of the 20th Century, to the Holocaust. Wednesday the 27th January is Holocaust Memorial Day and a day to remember when the Nazis tried to eradicate all deviants from the Aryan race: the queers, the Jews, the disabled, the Romany Gypsies. In the 1930s Germany was the place to be, the place to be queer, the place to be trans. A burgeoning culture of acceptance and understanding shining a light against the darkness of discrimination and denial. There was a growing interest in studying queer sexuality and Magnus Hirschfeld was breaking ground in discussing sexuality as a topic of academic study rather than as a shameful thing, recognising that authenticity was everything and being LGBT+ was natural. Hirschfeld, a gay Jew who coined the term transvestite was not only a researcher but a person who had been fighting for sexual emacipation since the late 19th Century, canvasing politicians and other notables for their support and touring Europe promoting inclusion and understanding. After the first world war he succeeded in getting the subject of LGBT+ liberation discussed by government but in 1933 Hitler’s brownshirts broke into the Herschfeld Institute and burned his books, rare literature and studies that were irreplaceable. The first books burned by the Nazi’s were on queer theory and it is highly likely that this loss and the work of the Nazi’s to obliterate the homosexual emancipation movement in Germany put back LGBT+ rights in the west for decades and so this week I take a moment to contemplate the scale of the devastation wrought by the Nazi’s, and by their supporters in other countries. An ideal of purity and isolationism that I sincerely hope we have seen the back of. This year is another of deadly virus, of homeschooling and staying close to our small support bubbles but for me it’s really important to make sure I get out of my head sometimes and go find out some new stuff.
And last, but definitely not least, this week is also one for looking into the future. A future where everyone is accepted and respected and can seek the medical attention they need without fear or favour. Do you have a good GP practice, have you received lots of support? Would you like to praise them? Why not drop us a message, we’d love to hear from you and build our records of good places and people. Why am I talking about GPs? Because this week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and Chrysalis is working with trans and LGBT+ organisations everywhere to raise awareness that if you’ve got a cervix then you’re at risk from cervical cancer and that trans people may need extra support or consideration in accessing testing. Has your surgery sent you a letter recently for a smear test? If they have been super efficient and changed your gender on their records then they may have missed you off the regular reminder letter list, it’s worth giving them a ring and checking this out. Are you worried about the smear? That’s OK, it’s an odd procedure at the best of times but even worse when it’s going to trigger your dysphoria, is this something you can speak to the nurse about? Did you want to ask for a male nurse, or for someone to come in with you? Don’t be afraid to ask the practitioner to use your preferred name for your genitals, it’s OK if the word vagina makes you feel awful and is definitely not a word that’s related to you. If you worry that you’ll lose your words when it comes to the appointment perhaps prepare a card with the essential information on to hand over. And do remember to tell them if you’re on T because that is likely to make both the test and the process different. Finally remember that you are in control, if it all gets too much then you can say stop, that’s OK too, it’s your body and you are in control. If you want to find out more then check out The Eve Appeal, there’s some great information on there and if you need Chrysalis to speak to your practice, to give them some tips or some training then let us know.