Sunday, 8 January 2023

A Transgender Perspective

 


As a request to provide some information on TG for an offshore industry network focus group that has an aim to increase awareness of gender related issues within the offshore industry, I produced the following article that was upload to their Guest Blogs area this week. 

Its a little more formal than my usual approach and a lot less wordy (which may be a good thing !) 


A Transgender Perspective - by Dawn Wyvern 

I have identified as Transgender all my life. Away from work, I live my life part-time as a woman, with a supportive partner. 

 

I qualified as a Nurse in 1979 and have been working as a Medic offshore since 1987 on various offshore and onshore assets.   

 

At the start of my career, I kept my Transgender identity to myself. I believed that I should not share my gender identity, as at that time diversity was not an acceptable notion. In common with other industries of that period, not aligning with the "macho" norm was not deemed acceptable.

 

However, in recent years I have been able to be much more open about my individual needs and have been able to share my personal Transgender identity with others. 

 

Ironically, the turning point on this for me was largely due to an incident in 2005 where a manager removed me from a platform upon discovering my Transgender status. I was lucky enough to be in a supportive company, and they quickly found me another position offshore - with a more forward-thinking team. 

 

Since that incident, I have been very open about who and what I am. I have had great support from the offshore and onshore managers, who have taken time to understand who I was and took measures to support me at work. 

 

I have immense support from the regular crew on the platform who all know about my Transgender identity. They may not understand all the meanings, and this has led to many discussions around gender and diversity in general. I am an active member of the company’s diversity team and support others who are struggling to come to terms with their situations. 

 

I can safely say that I am truly comfortable in my workplace. I feel that I give more in my day-to-day work. Being accepted as ‘me’ is something you can’t put a value on. 

 

As Shirley Bassey once sang... ‘I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses.’   

So, take time to look beyond the cover and see the uniqueness of the individual underneath.

 

Transgender – what’s it all about?

 

Transgender can be a topic met with mixed reactions - fuelled by politics, activists and the press.  You may believe that you have a good understanding of what it is all about, and you may even know that the T in LGBT+ equates to Transgender … Here are a few more quick facts to get you up to speed: 

 

  • Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their sex assigned at birth.  
  • Transgender – often shortened as ’Trans’ – is also an umbrella term covering transsexual, transvestite, crossdresser, non-binary, bi-gender, gender queer, pangender, genderfluid, agender, etc. (there are over 30 terms under the Transgender heading, so it’s a very complex term). (Ref 1) 
  • Other definitions of Transgender also include people who belong to a third gender, or else conceptualize Transgender people as a third gender. 
  • Not all Transgender people wish to undergo surgery or take medication to develop secondary sexual characteristics; but may live in their preferred gender role. 
  • Not all Transgender people wish to, or are able to, live full time in their preferred gender. 
  • Being Transgender is independent of sexual orientation.  
  • The term Transgender is also distinguished from intersex 
  • The opposite of Transgender is cisgender, which describes persons whose gender identity or expression matches their assigned sex at birth.
  • Gender Dysphoria is the distress a person may feel due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. This may require individuals to seek medical intervention for support. 

 

For more on the distinction between gender and sex, we love the genderbread person.

 

So that’s as clear as mud – right? 

 

Many Transgender individuals know that they are different at an early age, others have a ‘bell go off’ in middle age and are compelled to act on it.

 

Some people are able to take positive steps to live in their identity. However, others often try to suppress or ignore these feelings in the hope that they will grow out of them, attempting to fit in with their family or societal expectations. This can lead to internal conflict, depression, anxiety and even suicide. The UK national average of suicide attempts is 41% within the Transgender population, compared with 2% in the general population. (Ref 2)

 

Being Transgender is not a choice. We are all unique and have different lifestyle influences. Being Transgender is not a lifestyle choice like following a football team or having a favorite fashion style, it’s more like your eye colour. You can wear contact lenses and hide your true eye colour; however, your true eye colour will always remain unchanged... It’s something that you have been born with and must live with. 

 

What does it mean to me in the energy industry? 

 

Depending on which statistics you read, 1 in 100 of the UK population is Transgender. The Government Equalities Office estimate that there are 200,000 to 500,000 Transgender people in the UK, and Stonewall puts this figure at 600,000 (Ref 3). It is accepted that these figures are likely to be higher due to the methodology and difficulties in obtaining the data. It is very likely that we have all met, worked with, or know someone who is Transgender. 

 

In the energy industry, there is a large multi-national workforce and a wide diversity of members. Our gender expression is just one facet of this diversity, and we can expect Transgender identities to become more visible as understanding and acceptance continues to improve. In fact, Gen Z are more likely than any previous generation to identify as Transgender and non-binary (Ref 4).

 

There are great role models for Transgender in the energy industry, with individuals such as Bobbi Pickard (BP), and Samantha Jayne Nelson (Shell), who have been paving the way for others to follow, not just in the UK but worldwide. 

 

What can I do?

 

Be kind! Being open and supportive to a colleague goes a long way to being a good manager or co-worker, and this is even more so when with someone is Transgender. 

 

 

Dawn Wyvern

MSc, BSc, DipHE, RGN, SEN – Medic/Occupational Health – HSEC 

  

 

References:

1. Boult, A., 2016. Government asks schoolchildren to define their gender. [Online] 
Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12127280/Government-asks-schoolchildren-to-define-their-gender-and-gives-them-24-options-to-choose-from.html

2. McNeil, et al., 2012 - Suicide risk in the UK trans population and the role of gender in transition in decreasing suicide indention and suicide attempt

3. www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/information-and-resources/truth-about-trans

4. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/10/science/transgender-teenagers-national-survey.html


Posted on the Axis site 06.01.2023 - - found here 

https://www.axisnetwork.co.uk/post/a-transgender-perspective


Sunday, 27 November 2022

She’s Got To Be, So Retro ...



If you have taken a peek at any of my previous posts you may have noticed that I enjoy retro fashions and events. Goodwood Revival is pinnacle of these with the largest, most elaborate and exciting event of its kind. However with that comes high cost and the need for accommodation. The last time we attended the event, we could have gone on a 2 week trip across Europe for the cost of the weekend tickets alone !

So it was time to explore new venues and see what the less expensive options had on offer.

I found a retro event being held near Newbury in Berkshire over a summer weekend, which had some good reviews, with a whole weekend ticket, camping and passes to special events for less than one day ticket for Goodwood. Granted that there would be no motor racing or flying displays, or that the static displays would be smaller, but there where 4 music areas and lots of stalls to wander round. So I took a gamble !

My partner was unable to attend due to a prior commitment so it was just me on my own for the first time at such an event!




Getting all set up to took a little forethought in that I was going to be driving to work then going to travel to the show on my way home – so Cornwall to Aberdeen, offshore for 3 weeks at work, then back to Cornwall via Newbury !

At the time I had no idea what the weather was going to be like, how the campsite was going to be set up or if there were any facilities available on site. So had to prepare for everything !!

I stated to organise my packing by trying on all my various retro outfits to see what looked ok after the covid lockdown and found that my frocks had missed me so much that they all hugged me tightly…! After sorting them out, I had to choose about 3 outfits for each day of the event, morning, afternoon and night time, with matching hats, bags shoes and gloves. Added to this pile was my make up and jewellery, underwear and stockings… I popped in a rain coat … just in case, and some casual clothes as well for the journey to the rapidly growing mountain on the bed !



Next, I had to set up the landrover for the event, fitting the 270’ awning and sides in case of poor weather, some staple foods and a new gas bottle, as well as filling the water tank with nice fresh Cornish water.

As I was going to work, I needed to take my work kit and then pack all this into the back to the wagon.

That done and squared away I set off up to work and away offshore for my 3 week trip. The drive up was on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK and it was 39’c by Gloucester. I was glad I was in a long cool summer dress for the journey and that the air con was working in the landrover!




Coming off the platform was delayed due to the scorching hot weather in the south of the UK causing fog and grot in the northern north sea. (warm air + cool seas = fog !.) It's one of the facts of life offshore, however I was only delayed overnight but was on my way south late the following day.

On arrival in Newbury I had missed the first night camping, but as the event only started on the Friday it was not too much of a concern. The camp site was massive and full of caravans, campers and tents of all shapes and sizes. I was put in a nice spot not too far from the entrance and ablutions at the end of row with some lovely people who were very friendly.

Setting up Poppy (the landrover) aways creates some interest and I soon met the neighbours who popped round to see the setup. I always think that this is a good thing for security as you know who is with each pitch, and can spot people who are not supposed to be there.

After a shower and a quick change into something stylish, I made my way over into the main site to see what was going on and get my bearings for later in the weekend.




The site was well set up with grass aeras and paved footpaths. The grass was baked hard due to the extended period of hot weather, so no risk of heels sinking into the mud !
Lots of vendors were setting up their stalls and I made a mental note which ones to visit the next day.
Back to Poppy and made some dinner siting under the awning, and had an early night.



The weekend passed very nicely, with lots to see, and some retail therapy from the vintage stalls selling ‘brick-a-brack’ and clothes. I found a great vintage set of melamine plates and bowls for the camper, a hair band to match my dress for the night and a light petticoat for one of my dresses, as the weather was too hot for the ‘Hellbunny’ one I normally wear.





There where some amazing cars on display with a lot of vintage American muscle such at corvettes, Chevies and Buicks. Not to be outdone, here were some wonderful British motors there to, with MGA, Austins and Morris being well represented. On the motorbike front I found a fabulous 900SS Ducati in silver/blue which took me back to my Mike Hailwood replica that I had in the early 80’s.  







But it was the clothes that drew my attention mostly. The shopping area was very diverse within the range of outfits that fitted the ‘retro’ theme. The range of styles and colours was amazing, however I was not looking to buy, but was tempted a few times !




The evening event was a special cabaret show with a burlesque dancer that I had seen a few times before – so was looking forward to that. The event was held in a long marquee with seats and was a sell out. The show was very good and the performers were wonderful, however the heat in the marquee was such that a couple of people were feeling poorly so I intervened and asked the stewards to open some of the side walls to let some fresh air in.

Sitting next to me were a group of women who had never been to a Burlesque before, and they talked excitedly about the performance. It was lovely to see them enjoy the spectacle and I was able to explain a little about the history and technique of the performances.

 






There was music in several venues all over the site, with boogie-woogie and hip-hop for dancing, and some ragtime on the pathways for all to enjoy. I would have loved to have had a dance but I was on my own with out my partner, so had to enjoy the dances from the side lines.

 





So, what where my impressions of the event?

I think that it was great value for money with lots to see and do, good acts and good vendors, some nice motors on display and a great atmosphere.

Would I go again ?

Yes, with my partner so as I have someone to share the event with and dance with.

Any negatives ?

None really, however this particular weekend was exceptionally hot all over the UK, so the venue was very warm inside some of the hangers and marquees. It may be very different if it was wet – but that would be the same for any outdoor event in the UK !


https://www.retrofestival.co.uk/newbury/

Saturday, 26 November 2022

How Are You ...?


Seeing though the fog

The three little words ‘How Are You’ have such a key part in helping everyone we encounter. We all use them on a daily basis and they have many levels of meaning, and the ability to be interpreted and answered in numerous ways.

‘How are you’? – can been a light, simple opening to a normal conversation as in ‘How are you ??’
Or it can be a specific question on your health, and lead to an in-depth explanation on your last doctors visit or your current bout of cold symptoms such as ‘How ARE you?’.
The other aspects can be seen as an inquiry after an emotional event such as a bereavement or change in relationship after a breakup. Mental health issues such as, stress, depression and loneliness can be encouraged into the conversation as well, with the simple use of open questions such as ‘How are YOU?’


'How are you' gives a large opening to discuss having to live in an unpleasant situation where you are being bullied or abused, where you have issues with your self-identity, your sexuality or gender is something that you are dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
However, when asked ‘How are you’, some individuals put a brave face on things and just gloss them over rather than take the opportunity to open up and share that part of their life.


So, taking the time to ask the question in a more open, personable way, emphasising the ‘you’ part, and guiding the answers to help find any root issues which may be something we can all do to help our friends and colleges as well as others we meet on our day to day lives.


Remember to be receptive to any answers to your question as we all need to be more open about our feelings and not to accept ‘one word answers’. Take the time to look deeper into the person and the reasons behind the responses given.

Over the last few months I have been part of the Enquest ‘Enclusion’ Diversity Team and have developed some small presentations which have been posted on the companywide social media sites, giving information on things like the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the importance of Gay Pride, and most recently the HIV/AIDS day.

Each of the presentations has made me sit down and review my thoughts on why we mark these occasions and how to support those who are affected by them and others in the diversity spectrum.


How are they coping ? Do they have support ? Are they isolated ? Can they share their feelings and raise personal issues?
By publicising and explaining these aspects of the LGBT+ and other areas of diversity, it was hoped that this may encourage people to have conversations with each other, to ask the difficult questions and try to see life from the others perspective.

I am lucky in that I work within a supportive team, with managers and co-workers who have good understanding of Transgender and what that means to me. However I am all too aware of many others who are not so fortunate, and have struggles on a daily basis at work and at home. These people may be putting a very brave face on things, but working hard to hold things together and would appreciate someone just to take time out to ask some simple open questions …


So, How Are You ….. ?


There is always a rainbow 


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. 



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