BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby BrigitDoon » Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:35 am

I'm going to hold court.

I'm going to tell you about the quieter corner of the LGBT set-up. This forum is a tolerant place and those who espouse bigotry here soon watch their seeds shrivel on stony ground.

Still, there are those who don't understand me or what it's like to be transgendered. I didn't have to let on, but then I'd have to reinvent 37 years of my life. That's a tall order, even for my imagination.

I've placed my trust, rightly or wrongly. I don't expect to be everyone's friend, but I do expect common decency. I have altered my signature to reflect the fact.

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them. - John Wayne, The Shootist."

I was head of house in a boys' prep school at age thirteen. I'd worked my way up through two years through some of the most awful bullying. I swore not to let that happen under my supervision. I saw to it with my housemaster and miscreants were brought to heel. During this time we ran the house first and second XI football teams. We cleaned up.

That ethos has never left me. I've striven for justice, honesty and endeavour with every breath that I've taken ever since.

I don't take kindly to those who treat the privilege of life with casual insouciance. I watched my brother, and no finer young man, die in the intensive care unit at Frenchay, Bristol in 1988. He was seventeen. Such a loss destroyed my life, destroyed everything my parents had worked for, destroyed any long-term prospects for the family business and scuppered any chance of grandchildren for my mother and father.

In one fell blow our family was blown asunder.

We nurse crumbs and cold-comfort. It's all we have. I tried not to make the situation worse and held off until I couldn't any longer.

I knew I was a girl at age four. I didn't have to think about it any more than any other. It was only when those around me insisted on treating me as a boy that the penny dropped.

Oh fuck. They think I'm a boy.

I can assure you it is the worst realisation that ever comes to confront you. Leaving the gas on and having the whole street blow apart might get close, but I'll not try it for comparison.

I was at a friends house at the time and our mums were sat to one side, chattering. I knew not to disturb them with such intelligence; there'd be laughter. I resolved to keep quiet until mum took me home and tell her then. By that time, I'd remember that she was in thrall to dad, she'd tell him and I'd get a leathering, such was the way of rural Somerset in the early seventies. They all did it. If you got it wrong at school, you'd have it from the headmaster. Then you'd keep quite and try not to shift uneasily on your arse at the dinner table, lest father find out and give you his own variation on the theme.

He's a hard bastard, like so many others. Grandad was gassed in the trenches having been seduced by Kitchener. That nearly did for the family business too. Grampfer was never fit enough to graft on site. It fell to Dad to put the whole lot back together. My childhood was spent on the building sites of Somerset. As soon I was strong enough to wield a tool or lift a concrete block, I was on the team. The local farmers also start them young.

When I wasn't at school, I was on the tools from age eight. My brother was also co-opted when his time came.

I remember building a swimming pool in late '76 and the November rain that only the wetlands of Somerset can conjure.

Not far down the road was the town of Bridgwater. It was close enough that dad could hire lads from their job centre and we had some great guys with a priceless sense of humour. They came with baggage, though. Sometimes, their missus would phone them in sick. There'd have been a predictable path trodden from home to pub to A&E.

No-one goes out on a night in Bridgwater unless they actually live there. Glasgow has a certain reputation, but it simply doesn't compare. Glasgow is friendly. So's Bridgwater if you know how to pull the right smile. That or they'll carve you a fresh one.

You don't fuck with these people. If you're a site foreman, you need to be firm of purpose. In time, dad expanded the business and I had the pleasure myself. Keeping these guys sweet is an art. I did alright for the most part, having an understanding of the sense of humour. That and I needed them to work for me and not have them whack the fuck out of each other when the sun wasn't shining.

We had Bridgwater folk turn up who weren't employed on our team. One lad, about thirty years old at the time when I was twenty-five, turned up from a local timber merchant's. The despatch picker was clearly new to the job and had sent a dubious wagon-load of scruffy lengths of four-be-two. We had a cut-roof to build. Dad was never going to accept anything but the finest quality product. An experienced carpenter, as was his dad, his dad, and so on for six generations, you can appreciate his attention to detail and a commitment to the standards that have seved us so well for so long.

He'd established that the driver wasn't in the best of humour:

"'right young'un, how be on?"

"unh."

"Wrong side of the bed or no jollies from the missus this morning?"

And suddenly we were on a war footing. Dad wisely dropped the subject, but couldn't ignore the substandard quality of the goods. He systematically rejected every piece. As he came to the last piece, the lad boiled over, grabbed a six-foot length of four-be-two and was good and ready to give the old man a hiding. Dad's too sharp and was already armed with a similar length before the boy could take a swing.

Still, It was a difficult situation. A thirty year old against an experienced fifty-five year old is not a foregone conclusion. We'd offloaded some scaffold tubes earlier in the morning. I picked up a putlog (five feet long and flattened at one end - it's used as a cross member to brace a structure and hold the whole to a wall) and bounced the business end in the palm of my left hand. I looked at him with a stony face. Not a word was said.

The boy knew what was coming next. No explanation was necessary. He backed down and listened to my dad's avuncular chat.

Years later, after much internal conflict, I had to tell the world how things were with me. I changed my name and pinned a note to the noticeboard in the pub. Most folk were good about it. Some weren't

A man with one arm, an erstwhile co-conspirator decided to make an issue of it. Where he'd previously used my nickname, he suddenly started using my birth name, something that the whole village had long known I'd hated. It was a clear challenge.

Beat him up? A one-armed man? Of course not. I spoke with the police who were keen to prosecute him under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. I asked them to hold off. We were both pillars of the community at that time and it would have been unseemly.

Not long after, a fellow in his mid-fifties bowled into town. He found out about me and took to calling me "young man", quite deliberately to annoy me. It took all of my reserve not to lose my temper with him.

I stand 6'0" tall, I weigh thirteen stone, I've been a scaffolder, builder and scrum-half. He was 5'7" and ten stone. What the fuck was he playing at? Why is it that they see "tranny" but miss the obvious danger of angering someone twice their size?

It came to a head in the local pub early one evening. The bar manageress had already warned him not to taunt me before I'd arrived. So he did. He was then warned several times before the bar manageress gave him the choice of apologising or leaving. He came across and made a cursory apology. He extended his hand. The landlady, my ex, and Sally surrounded him, all of us large women with no time for wankers such as this guy.

I held his hand and didn't let go.

"Thank you for your apology. It's one thing to address such to me but you'll need to make the apology to the whole community. You've been here for five minutes; I've been here for three-hundred years. I'm related to half of this village.

You are skating on thin ice and when it breaks *I* won't be under it waiting for you, but all of my brothers and cousins will be."

The colour drained from his face, his hand went limp, he retreated, finished his pint and left. He was not seen again.

Twenty minutes later, my cousin Rob turned up. I told him about it.

"As well the cunt went when he did; I'd ha' beaten the fuck out of'un".

And he would have done too.

On another occasion, I was in the same pub for a karaoke evening. I don't indulge personally, but a musically themed evening never goes amiss. As usual I took my drumsticks because merrie revellers find them better than the usual "air drums".

The pub itself is a split-level affair. I used to sit in the top bar and observe the proceedings below. I used to be joined by my friend who is now landlord there. We did a passable impression of Waldorf and Staedtler, the old muppets in the box seat...

On this occasion, though, the muppets were below. Four lads from the young farmers' club came in, nicely oiled and drew lots to see who was going to grope my boobs. The big guy drew the short straw, funnily enough. The first I knew about it was a guy who met me on the stairs between the bars. 6'2", fifteen stone and a perfect specimen of Somerset beef.

I was scared shitless and had to do some thinking. I let him get to the top of the stairs. (Grappling on a staircase presents all manner of difficulties). I reached for the drumsticks (the big Pearl 5B heavy metal sticks) and thrust one upside his windpipe and lectured him about the sex-offenders register. That slowed him up and as well. I'd stopped him at the top of the stairs. His back was facing downwards and I'd have kicked him down without any compunction. Such is the layout of the pub that he'd probably have sustained a fractured skull. That'd be his problem.

I had a busy day in the office. I finished at about 9pm and walked down to the missus. Her youngest, a noted hooligan and transphobe was in the kitchen cooking his supper. I walked in through the back door to a tirade that defies description. The essence of his sentiments were that "all trannies must die". I'm not keen on death threats at any time of the day, but at this late hour I was less receptive than usual. It had been raining and I had my golfing umbrella with me, the one with the big metal spike on the front.

"Either you can fuck off or I'll ream both your ears in one go."

I meant it and he knew it. He ran away and hid in the living room. His mam had to take his supper into him. We didn't see him for 24 hours afterwards.

Would I have thrust the umbrella down his ear?

Yes.

Would I have felt guilty if I'd killed him?

No. I'm a country girl; I despatch vermin without ceremony.

I've lost a good deal along the way and my late brother will always weigh heavily. We lost Simon, the greatest man of his generation, a few years ago. His demise, in a road accident, was central to my need to move home.

My family (mostly) don't talk to me; my mum doesn't call me by name. None of my old friends accept me and so I've lost them. The village I grew up in is now a toxic and poisonous place.

Charing Cross, the gender clinic in London reports an 18% suicide rate among its patients.

Another 10% will perish by their own hand before they get that far.

Such is society that the needs of transgender folk are not merely misunderstood, but vilified. Look no further than the pages of the vile rag that is The Sun:

"A ROOFER who murdered a trannie hooker for her secret list of celeb clients was jailed for at least 17 years today. "

That was someone's daughter. "Trannie hooker" is no way to speak of the dead, no matter what one may think of her way of life. Ours is not to judge.

You will have rightly assessed by now that I am furious. The way in which I and my fellow transfolk are treated would have any other minority group setting cars afire and throwing bricks through windows.

For my part, it was the building trade. Other t-girls try to prove themselves by taking military appointments. I know for two straight off who saw two tours of duty in Iraq. Only then do they realise that they have to face the truth.

I'm happy to explain what it's all about; 2% of the population is transgendered to some degree. You'll have one in the family if you're not yourself. If in doubt, *ask*.

I could tell of drunken nights on the Mendips, a child molester royally beaten, lurking in the shadows with a shovel with which to splinter a man's skull. I was beaten to it, or rather he was. He'd gone by that time, but the pool of blood, teeth and hair, I'll not forget.

I grew tired of the violence that I grew up with some years ago. I wish no more of it.

There are times I wish I'd never 'fessed up, but then, I need to share with friends.

Reenie xx
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby banjo » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:46 am

bd.ive got big shooders.
lean on me when youre not strong,ill be your friend ill help you carry on.i hope you find tolerance in your life now that you have came to a new place and made a fresh start and that your new friends grow to become old friends.
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby BrigitDoon » Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:12 pm

Thanks banjo. I live on my own so it's not easy to offload. I can talk to my lemon trees but they have no words of their own. I can hug my teddy bear but he doesn't hug me back.

I wish I could unlearn the forty years that have troubled me, but that's not going to happen. I know I need to get a few more years under my belt and hopefully some of this stuff will fade into the past.

Thanks for listening.

Brigit xx
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby penguinmonkey » Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:22 pm

woah Girl, sounds like someone has really pissed on your chips.
I really struggle to understand how people can react badly to physical\mental differences in people. To me It is more important that a person has a decent standard of tolerance and a few working brain cells (which seems to be a rare commodity these days) than if they act or look slightly different to myself or the established "norm".
I have suffered from feeling like an outsider for much of my life just for the way I think, so I can only be amazed by your bravery in accepting yourself and can never imagine the abuse you have to endure in standing out.
Anyway chin up I'm sure you will get plenty of support from the many on here who do accept you
It's always funny 'til someone gets hurt and then it's just hilarious
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby Its_a_gamp » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:11 pm

penguinmonkey wrote:woah Girl, sounds like someone has really pissed on your chips.
I really struggle to understand how people can react badly to physical\mental differences in people. To me It is more important that a person has a decent standard of tolerance and a few working brain cells (which seems to be a rare commodity these days) than if they act or look slightly different to myself or the established "norm".
I have suffered from feeling like an outsider for much of my life just for the way I think, so I can only be amazed by your bravery in accepting yourself and can never imagine the abuse you have to endure in standing out.
Anyway chin up I'm sure you will get plenty of support from the many on here who do accept you


My thoughts exactly but written better than I could have.

Those who have pissed you off don't matter. Chin up BD, and rise above the arseholes
Due to cutbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel is off until further notice!
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby munroman » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:27 pm

Hi Brigit, we haven't met (yet), but your in Scotland now, and you have a group of friends and virtual friends who, while not having your background and cares, have plenty of their own, and have got a wide range of experiences and viewpoints to share.

You sound like a remarkable charachter, you have certainly lived a life, and have much more 'damage' to do yet i'm sure. I have enjoyed many of your contributions, some have 'lost' me, but that's probably a language thing!

For those you have left behind, don't be too hard on them, the world has changed in 40 years and as for your mum, there are probably all sorts of feelings including guilt and embarrassment and worry going through her head, and probably no outlet or counterpoint for them.

I came from a 45 person hamlet, and there were 3 factions at each others throats, the Falls Road or Shankhill didn't get a look in, but now I can look back and learn from that experience, if only to be glad that my children never went through the same.

We all have good days and bad days, but remember, one of the benefits of this crazy and constantly changing world is that you don't have to be alone, and your not!

Best !

:D
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby floweredpig » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:07 pm

You make me laugh and think in equal measure BD.
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby BrigitDoon » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:08 pm

Its_a_gamp wrote:Those who have pissed you off don't matter.

That's true enough. Still, it's difficult when someone calls me "mate" or "sonny". I took the decision to transition five years ago and one ill-considered remark feels like my entire effort has been for nothing. It may seem trivial to another person, but it's soul destroying. Just about every trans person I know gets upset about it.

It's worth noting that there are plenty of older men around, complete strangers, who address me as "young lady". I'm more likely to be called "hen", "my dear", "love" or some similar epithet by those who I meet. I find that most people are perfectly decent.
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby BrigitDoon » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:10 pm

floweredpig wrote:You make me laugh and think in equal measure BD.

Thank you. That's precisely what motivates me to chat with others.
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby Squigster » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:42 pm

Keep smiling, and don't let the world get you down. Remember that you also have some real friends on here :D
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby banjo » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:03 pm

bd,when we meet ,as i am sure we will someday,what is your preferred title?
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby BrigitDoon » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:44 pm

Her Grace, the Duchess of Tealham Moor, Lady and Mistress of the Grand Order of the Wizardesses of Wedmore.

I answer to the name of Brigit or the sound of a detonator. :)

Properly, though, Irene.
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby BrigitDoon » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:46 pm

Squigster wrote:Keep smiling, and don't let the world get you down. Remember that you also have some real friends on here :D

It'll never keep me down for long. :D
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby catriona » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:45 am

BrigitDoon wrote:........

My family (mostly) don't talk to me; my mum doesn't call me by name. None of my old friends accept me and so I've lost them. The village I grew up in is now a toxic and poisonous place..........

Dear Reenie
Don't give up on your mum. She lost a child. A boy child that she loved and raised. As a mother, she will probably mourn that loss till she dies...and she probably blames herself (wrongfully) in some way for losing that child. And no, I'm not talking about your brother, I'm talking about you.
One of these days she'll come to the realisation that she ultimately raised an intelligent, brave and outspoken beautiful daughter...don't give up on her, Stay close by....a mother's love is unconditional...give her a wee bit more time.
To belittle is to be little
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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

Postby BrigitDoon » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:56 am

To be fair, my mum still talks to me, though I'm never quite sure where I stand with her. She's intelligent enough to understand what I'm going through and knows a good deal about the vagaries of the human mind (she's worked with an autism support group).

When I lived across the road from her down in Somerset, it was very useful to her to have someone to go girly shopping with (she actually bought me my first bra) but because I'm not completely girly in the way she is, I guess that's confused her. She somehow manages to address me as if I don't have a name or gender. That takes some doing...

catriona wrote:...a mother's love is unconditional...

In my case, yes, but in such circumstances this can't always be relied upon. Many mothers do not accept the loss of the son and some reject their child outright. I've known many examples of each.

Mum sent me these for my birthday.

Image
She wouldn't do this for a son.
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