Author Archives: Bear Cub

Disability

bear cub

 

I was born with a physical disability called Arthrogryposis which if I quote Wikipedia is ‘.. also known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (AMC), is a rare congenital disorderthat is characterized by multiple joint contracturesand can include muscle weaknessand fibrosis. It is a non-progressive disease. The disease derives its name from Greek, literally meaning ‘curved or hooked joints.’ You can get this in both of your legs or arms or both. I have it in my arms which if you have a sense of humour means I look like a T-Rex, which is what I have taken to telling young children when they ask ‘What happen to your arms?’.

May I apologise now if I go off on a tangent or offend anyone.

Anyway, my disability has never really been an issue, yeah I’ve needed help with a lot of stuff growing up such as opening certain things or getting dressed but over all I’m pretty independent. My parents had a choice of sending me to a ‘special’ school or mainstream school, they chose to send me to a mainstream school and I’m grateful for that. I’m lucky enough to not need a great deal of help so going to mainstream school was pretty easy and I fit in, my disability was never an issue at primary school or high school. It doesn’t define me, it’s just a ‘thing’ about me. Due to myself and others around me never seeing it as an issue I’d never really sat thinking about it. Of course I’ve had things shouted at me in the street from anyone of any age and gender but you soon learn to get better at come backs, believe it or not when I get ‘spaz’ shouted at me in the street it doesn’t offend me, I call myself that and I’ve said a lot worse about myself. So have my friends for that matter.

The reason I wanted to write about disability is mostly down to recent events over accessibility when it comes to disabled folk going out on the town or just generally leaving the house to do every day stuff. As I have said I’m quite lucky enough to be independent not to need a day to day carer so I can wander into town for a few hours by myself and not worry, well that is before I’ve been to the toilet a number of times. I don’t have something wrong with my bladder, it’s more down to not being able to go to the toilet on my own in town without the need of someone unfastening/fastening my trousers. Before transitioning, on nights out with female friends it was easy to go to the toilet with them as I looked like one but now I have transitioned being a bit drunk and needing a slash when I’m with a female friend is hard work, like actual effort to go find the manager of a bar or club to ask them if they have a disabled toilet so I can use that and not have the awkward conversation/argument I’ve had with many toilet attendants stating that I’m going to use the female toilets cos I have to, due to the club not having an accessible toilet. Even if the place has an disabled toilet most of the time it isn’t fully accessible due to cleaning equipment being in there or it not being big enough to fit a wheelchair in, yes really!

A few weeks ago some friends of mine in Scotland had gone out in Glasgow to celebrate getting an award for their contribution to further equal rights for LGBT people, they decided to head to a placed Polo Lounge but were refused entry once the bouncers saw that Robert was in a wheelchair due to him having Cerebral Palsy, the bouncers reasons for refusing him entry? ‘..no facilities for him at their venue’. I mean what the fuck, first it’s blatant discrimination due to him being disabled and secondly the bouncers just assumed that he wouldn’t be able to manage. Robert told the bouncers that it was OK and he didn’t need help so to prove his point he got out of his chair and pulled himself into the doorway where the bouncers called the police to have him removed. Nathan, who suffers from arthritis, asked to go sit with Robert but the bouncers picked him and moved him away from the front door. Sadly when I read this on their facebook’s I wasn’t surprised not only down to the clubs lack of accessibility but the door staff being complete wankers to them. Unfortunately for Polo Lounge they picked on the wrong guys, Robert and Nathan have since received an overwhelming amount of support from friends,families and strangers who have all promised to boycott Polo Lounge.

This blog is long sorry.

Something else I have noticed since being with my girlfriend (yes, I’m talking about her again) is that we get stared at quite a lot. It doesn’t bother me but I do notice it. I’m not sure if they are staring because I’m disabled or cos I’m white and she’s Jamaican. Who cares. The reason I’m bringing it up because we were in Nottingham a few weeks ago walking back to the hotel where we past a bunch of ‘lads’ (dick heads), when one of them saw us holding hands and when he past us shouted at his mates to look at us. This is clear that he found it hilarious that a disabled person could have a partner. Believe it or not we don’t just sit in our homes waiting to die. We can love and have sex, shocking as it may seem to arseholes like him. It really bothered me that he felt the need to point us out, usually I can ignore people but he really pissed me off that night.

Invisible?

invisible

 

I have felt invisible for a number of reasons in my life time. Recently I’ve been feeling it again. Mainly cos I’m in a new relationship with a femme, we’re both queer but I fear we are seen as a straight couple which sounds like I’m a massive heterophobe but I’m really not.

Let me explain, before I transitioned (for those of you don’t know I’m a trans* man/was born female) I spent 18 years going through life as a female and about five years as a gay female. For most of my life I was relatively happy, minus the whole trans* thing. It wasn’t until I started going out drinking around the age of sixteen and even though I was a gay female I was still verbally abused by cis gendered men and in some cases groped, which always confused me cos I was very masculine but with a baby face and it seemed to me that there was a lot of men with repressed homosexual tendencies. Now, to me there was two lot of invisibility happening whenever this occurred, one being that men were treating me like an object due to my gender and two that I believe this to be happening cos I was an ‘obvious’ dyke so clearly that meant I was going to fulfil some kind of boring straight boy fantasy. The one incident I remember was when I was in Walkabout bar (classy,I know) with a friend when someone we were with lent through her and someone else to grab my chest and squeeze it. I was so shocked that he did this that I just stared at him then called him a fucking arsehole. This to me clearly showed his lack of respect for women and he quite clearly felt he had the right to touch me.

I was openly gay and I got a lot of abuse from wankers in town on nights out, just the usual shouts of ‘dyke’ at me. I used to feel really vulnerable and isolated like my rights as a human being to be treated weren’t there from these idiots.

As I said above I embarked on my transition at the age of 18. Things are a lot different now to what they were like back then. I had a long two year wait before I decided to pay privately for hormones where my body and appearance would change in ways I’d of ever dreamt of. The early days of my transition consisted of still being seen as female trying to look as ‘manly’ as I could without compromising who I was as a person. I felt like no what I did I still wasn’t ‘passing’ (I really hate that term) which caused anxiety and really horrible feelings. It was like I didn’t have a place in the community I knew I belonged, even though before transitioning I was a gay female I was never part of the female community cos I lived in Burnley where there wasn’t much of a community so I wasn’t about to start doing something that obviously not what I wanted from life and the gay male community was like being fed to the lions. From my experience of the gay male scene everyone is looking at each other and when you are a pre testosterone trans* boy it is terrifying cos it was like every knew I was born female. Nowadays I don’t have any issues or questions relating to my gender as I’m coming up to three years on hormones. That is something I never thought I’d say but as much as I love being me now, I don’t like the male privilege that comes with transitioning, yes I like my new body/appearance but it comes with the normality that I am now going to treat women like that guy who grabbed my chest and that I’m going to join in with this general acceptance of misogyny amongst certain men, gay and straight. So I’m in a difficult position sometimes cos of course I hear this misogyny and I do tend to call men out, mostly cos I feel like I have to stick up for women regardless of whether I no longer identify as one. It can be hard in male environments cos I do like that I was born female and that I’ve experienced hurtful comments from men which I know sounds odd. I guess I don’t like my trans* identity hidden sometimes.

Present day, I’m in a new relationship with a gorgeous femme who I adore. It’s a weird thing to be in a relationship after years of failed attempts and general fun with men on the gay/queer male scene. I mentioned earlier that I felt out of place there but now I feel I fit in. We are in an open relationship, where we have promised to have fun with others,men/masculine identified people for me and femmes for her, but we are each others primary partners and we matter first above others. When I first started looking for a female partner I knew that after years of exploring my sexuality with men it would have to be an open relationship cos I’m still exploring and I like expressing that side of my sexuality. I like knowing my girl is happy because she is doing the same and it’s important to us to be able to do this. However when we go out and go to bars I feel like our identities are hidden, which yeah OK it’s not all about sexuality all the time but when we are in gay/queer bars it’s hard to be seen as a queer couple. Though I suppose it depends on the company we have.

I apologise for going off on a massive tangent.

J x