Thursday, 31 March 2022

Transgender Day of Visibility

                                                        


31.03.22 marks the international Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV)where trans people all over the world are able to celebrate their contributions to society.

 

First held in 2009 as a counterpart to the Transgender day of remembrance, where the discrimination abuse and murders of transgender individuals is spotlighted, the TDOV is seen as a positive event to showcase prominent Transgender  role models  in all walks of life. 

 

As you may know, I have identified as Transgender for many years and strive to show the TG community in a positive light. 

The individuals I look at being my role models are people who many may have never heard of, but have had an impact in the normalisation of transgender in the community.  Here are a selection of some of the British TG individuals that I look up to : - 

 

Going back to the 1700’s was the Scots James Barrie who worked as a military surgeon and became the inspector general of hospitals. It was later found after their death that James was a female and thus probably the first qualified female Dr in the UK  - 

 https://www.history.com/news/the-extraordinary-secret-life-of-dr-james-barry 


Following on from this in the 1940’s was Michael Dillon, who was a Navel surgeon and underwent the first female to male surgery. In later life he became the first European to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk,  - 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dillon

 

Roberta Cowell was a former WW2 RAF spitfire pilot and a prisoner of war, who transitioned from male to female in the early 1950’s. She was also famous for being GP racing driver which she continued after her transition. - 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberta_Cowell

 

April Ashley MBE, transitioned in the   1960’s and became famous due to her marriage and devoice to a peer, which resulted in long term barriers being imposed on all members of the TG community until recently  - 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Ashley 


Eddy Issard, a comedian and actor who has always been a visible member of the TG community, standing out in her clothing style and presenting in both male and female garb. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Izzard

  

Christine Burns MBE, and Stephen Whittle OBE, activists who advisees the government on transgender issues, instrumental in the Gender Recognition act amongst other things. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_Burns

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Whittle

 

Catharine  Burton – transitioned from male to female while serving as Senior BA pilot and now an activist involved with advising media on transgender issues. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-47803416

 

Bobbi Pickard was the first openly TG in BP and has been awarded in numerous areas for her work in diversity awareness and support

https://www.bobbipickard.com


Ayla Holdem - transition while serving as a helicopter pilot in the RAF, now works as a police helicopter pilot 

https://www.bustle.com/p/ayla-holdom-is-the-only-female-helicopter-pilot-on-the-uk-police-force-but-shes-used-to-breaking-barriers-9272426

Outside of the UK there are many prominent transgender individuals who are leading the way forward in all walks of life.

 

In recent estimations it was found that over 1% of the UK population identify as Transgender,  So you may have not knowing met someone who is transgender, but that doesn’t mean you have not come into contact with a trans person. 


We are here in all walks of live and are proud to be ourselves. 



Friday, 28 January 2022

LGBTQ+ Awareness - my world wide presentation !

 Recently I was asked to give a presentation on LGBTQ+ to the company who own my oil platform. 

At first I thought it was just a simple powerpoint that would be posted on the company website with some simple information and explanations; however one of the directors had other ideas and wanted this to be a ‘learning at lunchtime’ session broadcast live to all the company world wide ! YIKES!! 

So I revisited my powerpoint and added more links and expanded the narrative, with deeper research into the background and history of the community. 

This lead to lots of thinking on my situation, being TG and open about my lifestyle, and how I was to put this over to an international audience with different laws and religions. 

I had lots of good questions around the presentation, with discussion points on my experience working offshore as an Out and Proud and TG, as well as the new research into the management of HIV/AIDS. Some of the comments were very touching in the support the oil and gas industry now gives to all members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Below are the slides and notes from the presentation, which hopefully make some sense out of context from the meeting. 

Presented in Dec 2021. 


























Monday, 17 January 2022

Out and Proud

 


As those who have been following my various posts will know, I am a nurse on an oil and gas platform in the Northern North Sea, and have been out to the crew for some time, and am lucky in having good support and acceptance from the majority of the platform population. 

In a previous post, I discussed being supported by my manager on the platform and how that affected me, I took the step to nominate the manager for an in-house award for diversity which he duly won.

On the back of this, I was invited to join the company diversity team which had been recently established, and began to contribute to the group with material which was relevant to my transgender status, highlighting aspects such as transgender day of remembrance, the international AIDS day, and supporting transgender individuals in the workplace. 

This was noticed by one of the senior managers, who asked my help in submitting an article to OGUK, the industry governing body,  for publication on their diversity website and other media. 

The following is a slightly edited version the article published. (xxx added in place of names ) 



''Born and raised in Wiltshire, xxx   has represented Great Britain in canoeing, cycled around the world and now works as a medic on offshore installations, currently on the EnQuest Heather Alpha for MCL. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Being transgender, xxx had a hard time growing up and struggled to feel comfortable in his identify at work. That was until a colleague at EnQuest reached out to learn more.

I realised I was transgender from a very early age. Growing up wasn’t easy, and I tended to keep my gender issues to myself. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my identity with anyone until I was in my mid-20s.

After I left home, I served as a nurse in the RAF for 11 years. As an accomplished canoe racer, while working with the RAF I regularly took part in regattas and races across the world, representing Great Britain. For a spell while in Japan, I also worked with the country’s women’s Olympic canoe team as a coach.

I love a challenge. And so, in the 1980s, my partner and I decided to cycle around Europe. We sold and gave away everything we owned (including the cat) and cycled through Europe for a year. But we were enjoying the trip so much that we decided to extend the route, finding ourselves in Thailand, and then Japan, before arriving in North America and flying home from Los Angeles. Over a period of six and a half years, we covered 36,000 miles and about 40 countries.

In pursuit of a new challenge and a different quality of life, I went to Aberdeen in search of work opportunities in the offshore energy sector, quickly securing a position working as a medic for a drilling company – flying out to The North West Hutton for Santa-Fe the next day.

Over a period of 40 years, I’ve worked on floating and fixed platforms, dive vessels and an onshore project in Mongolia. However, throughout this time, I struggled with my gender identity, which is very much a part of me. It’s not a lifestyle choice and not something I can simply put aside. I was unable to feel comfortable in my identity at work for decades, until a few years ago when a senior manager reached out to me directly to talk about it.

I was incredibly grateful when my manager at EnQuest asked me into his office to talk about my identity one day. He asked how I’d like to be addressed and how he could best support me at work. The conversation had a huge impact on me, boosting my confidence and making me much more comfortable in my working environment. Before then, I never experienced this level of support or opportunity to talk about my situation – either inside or outside work. It was always a taboo subject.

The offshore industry can be perceived as a ‘macho’ environment. However, the vast majority of those working in the industry may be unaware or simply not know how to talk about more sensitive issues, such as gender identity and sexuality. Nonetheless, they are incredibly compassionate, supportive and tolerant.

We are all unique individuals and have our own stories. Only by taking the time to understand who you are working with, what they require to feel valued and supported, and what their needs and fears are, will you get the best out of those you work with.

For those working with people who are different, never be afraid to ask questions and take the time to listen to them. Ask how they are, about their family and home life. Understand what makes them happy or unhappy. It will build an understanding of the complete individual. After all, everyone is ‘normal’ until you get to know them.’'

OGUK website - https://diversityandinclusioninenergy.co.uk/news-articles/being-transgender-in-the-oil-and-gas-industry-today/ (OGUK now called OEUK - Feb 2022) 

...........................

Not long after the publication of the article, our company diversity team was nominated as one of the finalist in the OGUK annual awards for diversity, which was a great honour and I was happy to be able to contribute a small part towards. Sadly we did not win the award but were overwhelmed to be a finalist. 

I have been offshore since 1987 and have seen immense changes in the industry, where the first drilling managers I worked with ran the rig with bullying and intimidation, safety was just a byword and getting the job done quickly was the only priory. However this has largely been replaced by a more modern way with a respectful and appreciative approach from management being the normal way of work nowadays. 

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the industry would be in such a position to encourage diversity and have some one like me publicly share my story with my peers. 

I do know of other Transgender offshore and onshore workers in the Oil and Gas industry. Some, like Bobby Pickard and Samantha Nelson have been shining lights and are paving the way for others to follow and I hope my small contributions will help give others the courage to be themselves in the offshore world. 



Sunday, 7 March 2021

Supporting Others Wherever Needed

I had an unusual situation this time home recently with put many things into perspective for me – It’s a long rambling post so grab a cuppa !



We have lived in our home by the seaside in the South West of the UK for the last 25 yrs and have had the same family next to us all that time.

Mother and Father who have 3 boys, who are all part of a very pleasant, tight knit family.

 

The youngest lad (22) has some mental health issues and is unable to work, has mood swings and is very solitary at times, which are compounded with him and the whole family finding it very hard to cope during the covid lock down situation.… so that’s the back story and setting the scene.

 

We have never had to discuss my dressing with my neighbours. I tend to be discreet when in my home location as it’s not something that I tend to share with everyone, but I don’t hide it away. I go out often and leave dressed from home, but just pick my time and don’t dawdle.

 

While I was away at work, the youngest lad has popped round to see my partner a few times for advice on minor injuries (my partner has first aid skills) and my partner realised that he really just wanted to chat to someone about something that was worrying him – however my partner is not comfortable in supporting mental health issues as this is outside their skill and comfort zone so deferred him to his mental health team.

Later that day his mother came round and asked to chat as the lad had confided in her that he likes to crossdress and wanted some advice about how to go about it, as he was looking to buy expensive clothes, shoes, a breast plate etc., with money he doesn’t have, and the family can’t afford … 

Apparently, the next door family have known that I dress for many years and have often seen me go in and out but just accepted it as part of life!

 

Needless to say, when I got home from work a few days later, I was able to have an open and frank chat with him on his thoughts and reasons for dressing, his expectations and dressing history. He confessed to self-harming and dark thoughts, with worry about not being accepted or ridiculed. 

This was followed by a long chat with his mother. 

One of their main concern was how would the father take it.

I advised them to keep things realistic and not to rush into things and not to spend a fortune on ‘inappropriate’ clothes from specialist shops.  I recommended that he and his mother visit charity shops for practical cheap clothes that fitted him and shoes rather than online glamor shops. I also offered to introduce him to a local TG group that I have been associated with for many years after the lockdown restrictions are over. To finish up I strongly advised him to speak to his mental health team about his moods and dark thoughts. 

 

A couple of days later I had a sit-down talk with the father, (who I discovered has also had also known all about my dressing for several years) and explained the situation about the youngest wanting to dress. The father was totally relaxed about the whole thing and took the ‘my child no matter what’attitude which was very humbling. I was never part of a supportive family, so this was a wonderful thing to see.

Since then, the young lad has had a vast improvement in his mental health and has stopped self-harming, he has been attentive to his mother and his new baby and helping more at home. He has bought a couple of dresses with his mother and a wig, and we are going to have another chat when I am next at home. It's very early days yet but hopeful this may help in many areas.

 

For me, it’s been an amazing situation in that my neighbours had known that I dress and have seen me going out numerous times and have not batted an eyelid, but had enough sense to ask for help in supporting their son who was in a bad place in a situation that they had no experience in.

 

We are all role models for the people we meet as you never know who may have similar interests, or who are going through some inner turmoil about their gender identity.

 

I go out and about dressed often and meet many people from hotels, restaurants and shops, to giving lectures and advising about TG in the workplace; but everyone I meet could be someone in this situation, who needs some help and guidance. 

So being proud, polite and professional helps put the TG community in a positive light to members of the general population.

 

Sorry that this has been a rambling post – it’s just something that I feel should be shared at this time when the whole world is having mental health issues compounded by Covid 19 and many are unable to express their feminine side as often as they would like.

 

Hugs 

Dawn


Covid Management 



Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Summons

 
I was summoned to the Managers office this week .. and asked to shut the door . .. Gulp! 



My mind was in turmoil as to what I had done wrong, was I being moved to another platform, had there been a complaint about my care, .. all this flashed through my mind in a nanosecond as I slipped in to the office … my anxiety crept up another notch when I was asked to sit down and pull the chair up to the side of the desk … 

As you may know, I work on an offshore oil production platform in the North Sea as a nurse (platform medic) and have been on this particular platform for over 13 yrs. We have recently had a change in the platform management team, with a new platform manager joining the company and assigned to the work with us. 



I have been out and proud on the platform since I arrived here and tend to take my Transgender status for granted, its just ‘normal’ for me and I get on well with the platform core crew as well as the vendors and visitors.
However, even though I am out and everyone knows I am Transgender. I tend to dress in a somewhat androgynous style with unisex green overalls and pastel coloured tee shirts, along with my dyed shoulder long red hair and thin shaped eyebrows; so I’m not exactly a shrinking violet then! Heels and skirts are just not done on an oil platform and not appropriate for my situation. 



Back to the office … my anxiety and paranoia were working overtime and I was sitting rather uncomfortably on the edge of the chair waiting for whatever came next… 
The new manger was a large, macho, rugby fan who had a commanding aura about him that encouraged you not to question his decisions.  

‘I understand that you are Transgender’ he says … with me taking a breath worrying what is coming next …  ‘…and would like to know how you would prefer to be addressed …’ asked  my manager… He continued with ‘I have never worked with someone who is openly Transgender before and know very little about it … so I don’t want to upset you in any way.’

Needless to say the wind was knocked out of my sails and I took a few seconds to recover my composure and explain my relaxed tolerance to how I was addressed as I presented mostly male due to my name being that on my contract etc.. with a strong feminine lean. 
I was asked how I balanced my life between male and female time, about my partner and how they dealt with things, and my own preferences and how that fitted in with my work and leisure time.  

What followed was a 15min discussion about how he perceived my conduct to be extemporary and professional, giving declarations of full support from the manager in however I wished to present myself. 

He used words like ‘pioneer’, ‘ground-breaking’ ‘complete person’ and ‘role model’, complementing me on my work ethics and my managing the balance of being transgender and professional in my conduct on the platform, which he sees as one of the most macho work areas possible, where very few Transgender people work. 
I was told to let him know if I had any issues with transphobic comments or bullying as he would not tolerate these in any form. 

Happily, I was able to explain that I had phenomenal support from the core crew team who often defended me when new people made uneducated comments about my gender status, and that they were all comfortable enough around me to have some light hearted banter without meaning anything detrimental. 


So, what was perceived as a potentially worrying interview by my paranoia, turned into an amazing offer of support in all areas of my work and private life, and a request for more information on the subject, to help him give better, informed support in the future. 

I was a little emotional after and had to take a minute to absorb what had just happened and reflect on the issues I had in the past where I was subject to a ‘constructive’ removal from a post due to an unsupportive (transphobic) manager, and how I was being offered support without asking or prompted. 



This event just goes to show that you never know where support will come from, or when, or how. It was an amazing but humbling boost to my personal and professional life from a source that I had least expected, in an area not renewed for its sensitivity but truly welcomed. 
I hope this gives some hope for others who are not in such a good position as myself, and shows that there are great managers out there and you never know where support may come from when you need it most . 

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Trans Women in Sport - BBC Documentary with Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova 

Martina Navratilova presented a BBC programme that debated the inclusion of Trans athletes in elite sports, and showed the body of research that is being undertaken at Loughborough university into transgender and the physiological affects of hormone on strength and endurance.







The study is over five years and will explore the pre-hormone period, transitioning period and post transition period, with a compressive testing of various blood levels against strength, flexibility and VO2 max with a comparable study of non-transgender individuals.

Other sports people in non-athletic fields were included and motorsports driver, Charlie Martin, was very good at highlighting areas where male, female and transgender can all compete in the same arena.

Charlie Martin 


At present, the evidence points to a marked reduction in strength and endurance in transitioning from male to female with in a few months of commencing hormone therapy. However there are cases of intersexed individuals (such as Caster Semenya) that are being reviewed to assess the validity of the restrictions that have been imposed.

Caster Semenya 


My Thoughts 
I thought that the program was reasonable as it showed the plight of Trans athletes and sports people, and gave a lot of time to the research,  but as expected it could not give any insight as to the compromise that will have to be made if there is to be a ‘level playing field’ where Trans Women can compete in what is seen as complete ‘fairness’ against Cis women.


The programme seemed to be attempting to recover some credibility for Ms Navratilova following her unguarded comments on Trans athletes and it seems to come across that she is genuinely upset that her words caused so much anguish, and has taken steps to make amends.
worth a watch and points to ponder.

See BBC website for more info - ‘’ The Trans Women Athlete Debate ‘’

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00069nr

..............................


PS - 26.07.19 - BBC news report 

It will take female athletes "being thrown under the bus" at Tokyo 2020 before changes are made to transgender rules, says ex-swimmer Sharron Davies.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines state that transgender women must suppress testosterone levels for at least 12 months before competition.
But in March, Davies and others wrote to the IOC calling for more research.
In Tokyo, Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand could become the first transgender female to win an Olympic medal.
The 41-year-old weightlifter won two golds at the Pacific Games earlier in July.
After Samoa's Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers missed out on a medal, Hubbard's participation was criticised. 
An Olympic silver medallist in 1980, Davies - who said she has had no response from the IOC since writing to it - says the body is conducting a "live experiment".
The Briton told BBC Sport: "I find it extraordinary that [Hubbard winning medals] is where we have to go before the IOC open their eyes.
"I'm positive things will change but the problem is we will be throwing females under the bus before it does change."
Transgender women in sport is a hotly debated topic, with former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova and transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon among those who have entered the discussion.
Davies believes that reducing testosterone for 12 months before competition does not represent a level playing field for female athletes.
She says that despite those guidelines, transgender female athletes retain biological advantages gained in puberty. 
However, some transgender women, such as masters track cycling world champion McKinnon, say reducing testosterone in their bodies results in "radical physiological changes".
The IOC did not respond to BBC Sport's request on whether it would change its guidelines for the Tokyo Olympics, but said it was "working to develop new guidance" to help international federations (IFs) shape sport-specific policies and regulations in relation to fairness, safety, inclusivity and non-discrimination."
It added it was "committed to furthering inclusion, without discrimination based on gender identity and/or sex characteristics" and "is also concerned to ensure equality for women and their empowerment across sport".
  • 'The IOC is not interested in what athletes have to say'
Davies, two-time Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes and marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe - with the support of 60 other top-class athletes - wrote a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach in March asking for the body to look further into the "residual benefits" of being a transgender athlete.
But the lack of response means she does not expect anything to change before the Tokyo Games, which start on 24 July 2020. 
"We've had nothing, not even a polite letter to say thank you for your interest or your request and we will look into it," she added.
"It just says that the IOC is not interested in what athletes have to say. I find this so disheartening when sport should be run for the athletes. 
"I think it will take some situations at the Olympics and people being very distressed with what they see before we see any changes. 
"Once we start seeing well-known female athletes being beaten, then people will start standing up and understanding the situation. It will be a shame because it should be about the sport, fairness and the best we can be."
The IOC said: "Our approach to providing guidance on participation is based on an ever-evolving area of research and learning" by consulting medical, scientific, legal and human rights experts, the IOC athletes' commission, the IOC women and sport commission, IFs, and national governing bodies.
It added: "Our guidance will be subject to periodic review in order to take account of relevant developments in the area, in consultation with all stakeholders concerned."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/49110775

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Life in the Fast Lane

The Green Team
Nurse Wyvern 

I have a full time job on an oil platform in the North Sea as a Nurse (platform medic) that has been documented here in the past, but I also have a part time job as an Occupational Heath Nurse Advisor, where I advise on how to support individuals who have illness or conditions that may  affect them in the work areas, and help those who are off work get the right support and ease them back to work when deemed fit to return. 

Occupational Health is the interface between people and their working environment, where potential hazards are assessed and mitigated, exposures are measured, and preventive measures are designed and imposed. 

These two sides of my professional life came together recently when I was asked to give a talk on offshore occupational health to the ‘Association of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners’ study day. 

The Association has a facebook forum that it uses as its main information and communications focal point and I am registered there under my female identity, as I don’t have an account in my male persona.
This has often been of benefit to the Association as I am able to advise on transgender issues that some practitioners come in contact with in their work areas and professional practice. 
So I planed to give the presentation en-fem, as they were expecting to see me there from the forum advertising. 

Bleak Spot Camping 


The Study Day  

The study day was arranged by one of my collogues who is the occupational nurse manager for Williams F1 - a formula one race team, and had secured four other speakers who were to give a discussion on various topics such as travel medicine, the legal aspects of Occ Health update and review new research. 

My day stated out well as I had driven from home in my Landover and found a lovely spot to camp nearby with some stunning views over the country side next to some racing horse gallops. 
After a light breakfast I dressed in some grey wide legged trousers with a wool grey roll neck top, purple shoes and my favorite Jager short purple jacket.  
The impression I wanted to give was ‘smart professional’. 

The short drive to the F1 headquarters was fine, but I had to negotiate the early morning rush hour traffic, but eventually found the main gate and was ushered in and directed to the car parking area. 
The site was large and impressive. The buildings were all ultra modern with great views, and the car park was full of interesting cars of all makes, becoming of the workforce intertwined with speed and technology  - my Landover was the polar opposite of the general theme ! 

I was met at the conference center by one of the hospitality team and directed to the area where we were the event was bing held and met some of the others who were attending. 
It was lovely to put faces to the names of people I have been working with on the forum site for several years and be accepted as one of the peers. 
My Fem side was not even blinked at when introduced, it was just taken as part of me and totally accepted. 

.... and still going after an hour ! 
Me waffling again....
My Mumble - Death By Powerpoint! 

The event stared with an introduction from the people running the study day and a quick run round of introductions from the attendees. There were about 50 people in the audience and I had not met anyone face to face before. 

My presentation was due to be the last one as it was the longest. I had made it applicable to the venue by using the F1 team as a link between the oil and gas industry and the use of hydrocarbon in the production of products that are in common day usage. 

I stared the talk by apologizing that I wasn’t as glamorous as  Danny LaRue, as funny as Eddy Isard, or as sharp as Lilly Savage – this seemed to break the ice and I explained my TG status, offering to talk to anyone about TG issues if they ever had the need. 

The talk went well and I had lots of interesting questions and positive comments fed back to me about the subject matter. Sadly I overran my 40 mins to end up at an hour .. so have apologised to the organiser as she was supposed to be giving a talk after mine which she canceled politely saying that mine was more interesting than hers would have been anyway !  (I felt very guilty and apologised several times after !) 

Myself with the formula E race car 
Geek Outing 

At the end of the day we were able to visit the heritage museum that was in the building and one of the team pit crew was able to show us around the cars on show. 
These included several world championship winning cars from the past, right up to the previous years racing car and the development cars from the new E series.

I was able to let my inner geek out and enjoy seeing all the history and technology that was on display, and tap into the mind of information that the guide was able to impart on us about the cars and the drivers who used them. 






Some of the championship winning cars from over the years 


After a quick visit to the shop to buy some gifts for the lads on my platform, I made my way out and headed south at a rather sedate pace compared to the cars in the site! 

On the way out of the gate, I came nose to nose with the large HGV lorries that were returning the race team from the Monaco Grand Prix that had been ran a couple of days previously – it was a very impressive convoy!! 


More !!

I have been asked to do another talk in the future on a relevant topic .… but I may have to be more critical on my time keeping before I get to go back ! 

Please note - my presentation has nothing to do with the teams fortunes in the current season.... hope that they get to win some points this year  ......

Hugs Dawn 
x

Humble Beginnings

As many of you know, we all have to start somewhere and this is my first jump into writing a blog, so bare with me and my misguided steps in...