A Penny From The Year I Was Born

I cannot believe it’s a brand new year, let alone a brand new decade. Wow. What a year (and decade) the last one was!! One of my New Year’s resolutions at the start of last year was to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Well…I can only figure out how to do 1 side of a Rubik’s Cube…but I can safely say that I figured something more important. Me…and my purpose.

Before we go any further, I feel I need to bring some kind of closure to my last post, which was about the protests outside a Birmingham school. A few weeks after that post was published, the High Court ruled that protests against LGBT equality lessons must be permanently banned to protect staff and pupils. This was such an amazing victory for equality and for the staff at the school, who were simply doing their job of teaching kids. The school’s head, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, was also named TES (formerly known as Times Educational Supplement) magazine’s “Person of the Year” for standing up for equality. Given how much shit those protesters caused, she stuck with what she believed in. What an inspiration and a hero.

The last decade started with me living in a new area, having taken the decision to pack everything up and move. I can’t help but feel like all the ups and downs since then have been for a reason. You know when everything seems to have a certain outcome, and just slot into place? Even the negative stuff. The second half of last decade was when things really moved up a gear. I opened up to my wife about being transgender in 2017 (and even wrote her an open letter in case things didn’t go to plan or I messed up what I was going to say) and then publicly came out fell out (more and more people were asking questions, so I actually came out before I was ready to with a photo of me that said “O’m re-branding”). I got my diagnosis in 2018 and started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but 2019 proved to be the most important year for me. I started the year with a face that I hated and, after opting for the premium upgrades, finished with one that I can finally accept – all thanks to my facial surgery and the amazing team at London Transgender Clinic. Surgery wasn’t vanity or a way to escape self-love. It was life-saving. It enabled to me to start loving myself, for the first time in my life.

My face being upgraded is probably one of the biggest physical changes (let’s be honest, you can’t really argue with a scalpel and some power tools) but 2019 hit me with some other major changes too: mental ones. Perhaps the biggest being the way I fit into the world. My purpose. I’ve always been a very private person – it comes with the territory of having anxiety, knowing your different…and being transgender. My blog started off as a rant. A way to externalise all the thoughts that were slowly killing me. It evolved into a way for me to not only tell my story, but to help others too. A way to shed light on what it is to be transgender and what we actually go through. It got to a point where I could only do so much though. I could only reach a limited audience…despite wanting to reach more. To be of more use to the community and to help more people, I needed to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. Not just expose myself to more people but to open up to complete strangers. And I did. Thanks to an awesome journalist with a genuine eye for what mattered, I told some of my story via Birmingham Live. I won’t lie, every step of the process was scary. I had to physically keep telling myself why I had to do this and to ignore the voices which were telling me to retreat back to my little bubble. I’m really glad I pushed myself to stick with it. Proof that those voices in your head don’t always have your best interests at heart. Since this article, some of my story has been told in various places, including iNews, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan in Russia (hey, Cosmo is still Cosmo right?!) and more recently, The Mirror. I even wrote an article for Metro News…so yeh, I definitely put myself out there. Go big, or go home, right?! It was an experience, that’s for sure. I quickly learned not to read the comments on these stories. No matter what, there’s always some self-righteous dickhead who insists on forcing their transphobic opinions on others, hiding behind religion or telling the world how much of an abomination we are – even trying to argue against science by saying there are only 2 genders. You can’t change the minds of people like that, simply because they refuse to see the world in a (slightly) different way. They live inside their own bubble – aka their closed mind – and take to their keyboard to wage war. One thing I hadn’t prepared myself for was the fact that some publications change the tone of the story. Something that’s supposed to offer hope becomes sensationalised. It becomes another tabloid story intended to shock or grab attention. I just had to remind myself that they needed to make money too through advertising and to draw in their readers. It still really hurts to read things that are misleading or that have been twisted in order to create what they think is a greater story. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. These changes caused my anxiety went through the roof. Despite this, the response has been overwhelming. I’ve had so many lovely and supportive messages from people around the world saying how much it’s helped them in their own relationship or given them hope. Even messages from people to say that it helped them gain a better understanding of what it is to be transgender so they can be more supportive of their transgender family member or friend. Knowing I’ve been able to offer hope or an insight to people has made the sensationalised headlines and anxiety totally worth it.

I’ve met some really incredible people over the last decade, some of whom have totally changed my life. Of all the people I’ve met, my wife has been the most important and the most life-changing. I can honestly say she’s the most amazing person I have ever met, and I would not be where, or who, I am today if it hadn’t been for her. Same goes for my best friend. I met her during the last decade too. Having them both in my life means so much to me. Easily the most important people in my life. Those of you who follow my Instagram account will also know that I’ve met some great people in 2019 too, and been inspired by them. Helen at Holier Than Thou is definitely one such person. As I said in my recent Instagram post, her attitude and care for everyone around her has been so inspirational. When I met Helen last year, she fixed my ears but during our conversations, she also fixed the way I see the world. I found her positivity to be so infectious. Helen is someone who makes you want to be a better person. Since then, I have done all I can to share her philosophy with everyone I’ve met or helped, both online and in person. Being totally truthful, it’s been such an eye-opening experience to approach life with this view of the world, which is ultimately what helped to push me to find some sort of purpose to my online ramblings.

Music has always enabled me to meet all kinds of people and last decade was no different. I met so many different people from all walks of life, especially touring with The Birthday Massacre. In fact, that tour proved to have a more permanent affect on me because it was during the post tour blues when the cracks in my life became evident. Meeting people on tour was great…but I couldn’t help but feel a fraud. Those people weren’t meeting the real me. It got to the point where the cracks couldn’t be avoided any longer and had to be dealt with. Along with a nudge from a certain idiot customer, this period of my life put me on the path to being the real me. Touring with a band whose music you love is such an honour. To make great, lasting friendships because of that tour is even more of an honour. Whether it’s the band themselves or their fans, no matter where they are in the world, everyone has been so accepting and supportive of me and my journey. I’m truly humbled. It’s this connection with people that really motivates to give back to the world and to support others the way I’ve been supported.

I started last decade an absolute mess. Full of negativity, bitterness and cynicism. Other than music, I had no hope for a future. I ended the decade as the real me. The person that was never given a chance to exist. In the last couple of years alone, I’ve outgrown who I used to be and I now have direction. I’ve been working on some other stuff during the end of 2019, and I cannot wait to share it with you this year.

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for reading my blog and for being part of my journey, and remember to always be your own kind of beautiful.

Main image: By me