Friday, September 04, 2009

"If there's lessons to be learned..."

Hey good people!

This week has gone by in a shot. Mind you, having the extra long weekend certainly helped... as did a bit of extra leave tacked on the end. I've hardly been at work this week, but at home with the family instead. Good stuff.

I had originally written "Larks, this week has..." but it felt a little too Blackadder II. Still, if Hugh Laurie can go from playing The Stupid Prince to a hard edged surgeon, I guess there's hope for us all in re-invention. :-)

Here in Nottinghamshire, school is open once more and it was time to make some sarnies, pack a bag and try to find the missing school shoe. How is it kid's shoes seem to repel each other? You put them together in the hall and by Sunday night, one has mysteriously moved. Perhaps it's the same force that hides one of your socks. Domestic devilment indeed :-)

School and re-invention? Two concepts that have somehow collided in my subconscious and made their way out on to this blog. Truth be told, this is my second attempt at a Friday night post. The previous one was about a trip I had to a far away University, but it was so twee - despite being about race (never an easy subject) - that I canned in. It just didn't read right.

So school, or more accurately, university has been on my mind this week. As I made my way around the city, I noticed an increase in the number of students. People looking for houses, trying to find where the less well known parts of town are, etc.

University, or 'poly' for me (Ed: Lynn was never that academic), was - without wanting to sound too dramatic - a bit of a life saver. It enabled me to get away from my home town, meet new people, learn about life and start living on my own. Where I went, there were hardly any student hall placements, so it was out into the Big Bad World with you: bedsits, shared housing or a lodging for some folk.

I felt that in some way I'd escaped. Broken away from some of the more toxic *ahem* friends I had. Not sure someone who outs you to anyone who'd listen can be called a friend, but you live and you move on. :-)

No-one knew me at poly. I had a clean slate. No baggage of who I'd been nor judgements based on who I was. It was very liberating. I could, for what felt like the first time, just be myself. I met some interesting people over my time there. Some I've stayed good friends with. One I fell in love with and a handful of years after college, she became the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones.

Ironically with all the freedom and chance to explore myself (Ed: not like that), I didn't do that much dressing up. I'd bought a few things and while I kept my legs smooth and my hair very long, cross-dressing didn't feature that much. Indeed, as I've pointed out in previous post, I purged what little I had in an effort to 'go straight'.

Why did I do it? Looking back I can't remember. I think it must have been a few thoughts that built into something larger. Maybe part of me hoped it really was a phase and I could put it all behind me. Still, we all know how little story arc turned out don't we? :-)

So what about the students of today, how will they fare? Technology seems to be at the fingertips and we all seem so inter-connected: mobiles, social networks, tweets, blogs, etc. What about those folk under the radar: students who are trans and who are growing up. I wonder how they will get on. Will they bury it all or will the local LGBT society / Internet forums lend a hand?

Just last month I had an email from a tutor asking about trans resources for one of his students. Gabrielle (of My CD Life fame) and I have been chatting about various things and one subject that came up was 'making a difference'. Part of me wonders if there was a trans group at college, what could we - the trans community - do to help. Maybe another email is in order.

Take care
Lynn
x

[ Today's lyric: Sweet About Me by Gabriella Cilmi. (what a voice!) ]

7 comments:

  1. Interesting to read about your time at university. I wasted (er I mean spent) five years of my own life at the place*, although for me it was a rather mundane experience, as the university I went to was situated in the same city I lived in; therefore, going there every day simply entailed me getting on my bike or a bus, and taking a relatively short trip into town. In a lot of ways, the experience for me was just like going to school, only with a lot more freedom (which I unfortunately tended to abuse).

    Funnily enough, in contrast to your own experiences, the year I first went to Uni (1991) was also the year I started wearing items of female attire in public. Only a few weeks before I started there, I found a nice gold satin jacket in a second hand clothes' store, and while my initial plan had been to simply wear it in the privacy of my own home, it wasn't long before I'd decided there was no reason I couldn't wear it in public instead. (The thing that inspired me to make this monumental decision was actually that line from the movie 'Dead Poets' Society' about most men living lives of quiet desperation - I decided that if I kept my CDing a furtive activity, I'd be condemning myself to such a frustrating existence myself.) Doing so proved surprisingly easy (and largely free of negative consequences), and by the year's end, I had a couple of other nice, shiny pieces of ladies' attire I wore in public without fear. I got my ears pierced that year too, as well as my nipples!

    *And for all that trouble, I never did end up getting my degree, much less using it to achieve my childhood (oh OK, rebelliously adolescent) dream of moving to Libya and helping them develop a chemical weapons programme. Sniff, I was such an idealist in my youth...

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  2. Zosimus: Freedom to study? I think that's so a double edged sword :) Seemingly proven by both of our track records :) Still, what I didn't gain in a qualification, did I think, help me grow up and learn a few hard truths. I don't look back with any regrets... unusually for me :)

    Chemical weapons degree? Well, I'm sure there are some places you could study that now! :)

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  3. Freedom to study? I think that's so a double edged sword :) Seemingly proven by both of our track records :) Still, what I didn't gain in a qualification, did I think, help me grow up and learn a few hard truths. I don't look back with any regrets... unusually for me :)

    I'm sure it didn't help in my case that I entered university straight after completing twelve years of school, the last four of them at a strict(ish) Catholic college; given so much apparent freedom when I went onto university, it was well-nigh inevitable I'd end up misusing it. (Countless were the times I skipped lectures on subjects I found boring, justifying my truancy to myself with what would become an all-too-familiar lie: "I'll read it in the textbook later." :)) I also don't think going onto university straight from school was a good idea in the sense that I was probably suffering from educational "fatigue" after having been at the latter place for so long - in retrospect, I probably should have just taken a year off from study commitments of any kind. Oh well, it's not something I really suffer any regrets over. Like you, I got something out of my time in tertiary education, even if I didn't get that all-important bit of paper at the end of it. In my case, the biggest benefit was going away with a head full of fascinating (and not-so-useless) information!

    Chemical weapons degree? Well, I'm sure there are some places you could study that now! :)

    Hell, with something like that, I could have become the A.Q. Khan of the chemical weapons world, offering my expertise to all sorts of dubious countries! The excitement, the notoriety, THE POWER! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA! On a somewhat more serious note, I could never really see why so many people regarded chemical weapons (and biological ones too for that matter) as so unspeakably barbaric given all the nasty ways "legitimate" weapons killed people. I was particularly perplexed by the attitudes of those who thought chemical weapons should be banned, yet had no problems with nuclear weapons - something that scared me far more when I was growing up. I don't know if you were the same, being a fellow child of the '80s from what I can gather.

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  4. In college, I had counseling, there was a support group and a dance club in town that was all there for me to take advantage of.

    Sadly, I chose purging and denial in favor of being myself and letting my feminine side develop in a healthy manner.

    I have no regrets, but I would love to tell trans people in college to take advantage of those things and not hide who they are.

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  5. Zosimus: The phrase 'educational fatigue' rings a bell.

    Yeah, another 'child of the 80s' here too :) I do remember the fear about nuclear weaponry - perhaps a healthy one? I'm not sure.

    I suppose the worry over biological weaponry is that once released, it won't be contained. Ironically, the "best weapon" is one that doesn't kill your enemy, but leaves them crippled so they have to expend resources collecting and treating the wounded. Trite, but maybe if we spent a bit less on working out how to kill each other, better things might happen.

    Guess I would say that tho, pinko subversive that I am :D

    Jessica: They see your teenage years can be hard, but I think 20s can be tricky as well.

    Cliche again in that 'people are people' - I wonder how many of the next wave of trans folk are happier with who they are. I hope that in some way, we push the boundaries and make it easier for them.

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  6. Coming from the middle of nowhere and being slightly bookish the experience probably overloaded my circuits with all the bright lights and comparitive cosmopolitanism. Bitd there was no t in lgb and less info then today. I remember some who took the move to come out as gay sadly I didn't take enough advantage.

    Apart from being insainly jealous of them I would say to any go for it :)

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  7. Lucy: I do remember the LGB Society, but as you say, there was no 'T'. I do remember thinking about going along, but did I want to be *ahem* "Only T on Campus?" :) Not really, so like you, I kept quiet.

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