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stop_being_naughtyOK, so now that I have my legitimate ticket for the fabulous Maria Lewis’ #WhosAfraidToo book launch in like 3 weeks time, I have a confession to make.

Prior to the #WhosAfraid book launch, I’d been to album launches, exhibition launches and gallery events, but I had never been to a book launch before (this is not the confession).

Here it is though: I crashed her book launch.

Sorry, Maria. I know it’s probably not good form.

But…let me explain.

I was in Kinokuniya buying CC a birthday present & I saw this amazing party happening which I assumed (from the stands of copies of Who’s Afraid) was a book launch. The book looked like exactly my kind of book, so I picked up a copy & I saw that Maria Lewis was the author.

The name rung a bell, so (of course), I checked Twitter & found that, while we did not follow one another, I knew her avi & I was certain we’d interacted at some stage. She was also following/followed by a few of my author tweeps.

I thought “Wow – this is so awesome! I wish I had seen this advertised before, I may have been able to find a way to get invited!”

While I was standing & looking around the crowd to see if I could see someone I knew, one of the bar staff said “Hey, do you have a wine?”

I looked down at the lovely rope separating me from the party and said “No, sorry, I don’t have an invite.”

“Don’t worry,” they told me. “Come in anyway!”

OK then. So I stepped to the other side of the rope, I was handed a wine and I started chatting to some people. I figured if I OK thencouldn’t find anyone I knew, I’d perhaps make some new friends in the publishing industry.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t work so well.

The folks I was chatting to initially were nice, but seemed a bit blasé about this event I was SO EXCITED to be somewhat illegitimately in. They did comment on how many people were in the event to which I mentioned (without revealing I was one of them) that the bar staff were letting anyone in.

“OH! WELL!” decried one. “So much for the invites!”

The others all sighed and agreed what a waste of time organising was if it was just going to be an open house.

Oh fuckMy stomach suddenly felt pretty much the same way it used to when I was a kid and I’d pinched a biscuit only to have my Mum walk in the room at that moment.

I stopped talking and quietly slunk away.

Not long later I started feeling VERY HOT. Like sweat pouring from me in my actually rather breezy, floral summer dress. The aircon was clearly not coping with the number of people and I was DYING.

Perhaps my fear at impending discovery as an interloper wasn’t helping either.

Then I spotted this gorgeous woman in blue, black and purple with blue hair and a huge wolf necklace and I immediately recognised her from some of the pics I’d seen of Maria on Twitter. I stood staring for a moment as she breezed and chatted as only a master networker can do.

“Have we met before?” I heard her ask.

I was a little shocked because it SEEMED like she was…no, she was definitely talking to me.

“Hi. Um…not in real life, but I do tweet an awful lot and I think…”

“Yes!” she said. “There are loads of people I know from Twitter here!”

We chatted for a short while and I congratulated her on an AMAZING launch (look if you weren’t there – you’re among the few who weren’t! It was HUGE!!) and told her (very honestly) that I couldn’t wait to read Who’s Afraid.

Sidenote: Who’s Afraid is an EXCELLENT read and both Co-Consul and I read it really fast (which is normal for CC, but not me – I read at a glacial pace usually) & we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Maria & I said “see you later” and I stood for a moment a little stunned. Mainly because Maria is just SUCH an amazing personality it’s hard not to be struck by her energy and positivity.

But here I was at this launch to which I’d not been invited and, though I kind of almost knew to author through Twitter and meltinghad now officially met her, I was MELTING. It was mid-summer and I had walked a long way to get to Kinokuniya. I really just needed some fresh air and/or an ice bath.

Standing there, sweating and unable to bring myself to attempt networking again, I panicked, paid for my two books and headed home.

On my way down the escalator from Kinokuniya, I opened Twitter up and followed Maria and had a look through her hilarious, inspiring feed (SHE’S FOLLOWED BY JULIA GILLARD!?!).

I do have regrets in my life because I believe that without regrets, we don’t learn. Leaving Maria’s Who’s Afraid book launch early is something I do regret. I should have just sweated it up, smelt JUST DELIGHTFUL and stuck around.

But I didn’t.

From the regret I felt not staying at Maria’s Who’s Afraid book launch I learned that I needed to go to more book launches and, while I have NO contacts in the industry and rarely see promotions for book launches and I still haven’t been to another book launch, I DID see the promotion for Maria’s next book!!

And I have a ticket.

Maria, I really hope I’m still allowed to come after this confession.

— Is

 

rippage_smallSo five people nearly drowned at the beach near CC’s parents’ house today.

I was one of them.

This beach is beautiful, isolated, generally very calm and tranquil and is not patrolled (so no flags, no life guards).

If you look at the picture here (which I took later), a lot of people would think this is a pretty safe, normal section of beach.

It’s not.

When CC & I arrived with our 3 kids and 3 of her brother’s kids, we quickly noted that there was a strong rip around 50 metres from the rocks. We also know (from experience) that there is a permanent, more gentle, rip right next to the rocks.

We saw a family swimming happily between the two rips (there was plenty of space), so we chose to plonk ourselves in the same spot and swim. I assumed the family swimming there knew exactly why it was important for them to stay where they were.

Apparently I was wrong.

CC & I took shifts looking after the kids in the waves and the youngest cousin (2yo) on the sand, making sure all the kids knew where the rips were and to stay in-line with our beach towels and beach bag we had set up right in the centre of the saferippage_annotated zone.

While we were swimming, I noticed the Dad and the son of the other family straying dangerously close to the rip. I assumed they were just testing it’s strength from the sand bar.

Apparently I was wrong.

A few seconds later, the son (who looked about 10 or 11) was sucked out into the rip. Then the Dad dived in after him.

I immediately yelled to our kids to stay where they were and I went after the Dad and the son. I could see from the way the young fellow was struggling already that he would not last and, while the Dad looked OK and was trying to calm his son, he looked like he did not know what to do.

As I went, I yelled to the two young girls who were also approaching the rip to “get back over near the other kids over there” (pointing to our kids who I had just left in the safe water).

At first I tried to reach my arm out, with my feet on the sandbar, to take the hand of the young son, but he was too far away – less than a metre away and I couldn’t reach him.

So I dived into the rip.

Sidenote: I am a very strong swimmer. I have extensive beach experience and I know how to deal with being caught in a rip, I’ve been caught in a couple of them previously (only a couple – remember, I know how to spot them) and swum out of each one comfortably. Just FYI: rescue is a VERY different proposition.

All of that said, I figured it was better to have two strong adult swimmers helping the struggling kid than one.

As I got to them I tried to redirect them because they were both trying to swim against the current. I kept yelling to them to “swim along the beach”, but no matter how many times I yelled it, nor how much water I took on as I carried the son on my shoulder, they both seemed to want to fight the current.

Sidenote here too folks: If you are caught in a beach rip – never, ever fight the current. Don’t panic, just swim parallel to the beach and let the bloody current take you diagonally out to sea. You’ll be fine. Rips lose their strength out past the breakers and you’ll get out of the current and be able to slowly swim your way back to shore, catching the waves as you go.

Anyway…after a short while, I changed my message: “swim toward the rocks!” I yelled and they both started to change direction.

Now please don’t think that these folk are stupid – they aren’t. It’s easy to get caught in a rip and when you’re stuck in a rip and you feel like you’ve lost control, you often lose control of your good sense as your body fills with adrenaline and your brain stops making considered decisions. I totally understand their actions and here’s why…

By the time the Dad and had started swimming toward the rocks, the son was spent. He couldn’t swim anymore and I was carrying an almost dead weight. And the Dad didn’t look too flash either. I started to second-guess if we were going in the right direction (we were, I was just knackered and not thinking straight anymore).

That was when I saw the grandfather dive into the rip.

Fuck.

Sidenote: If you’re a grandparent and your child and your grandchild are stuck in a rip – PLEASE DO NOT swim out to get them unless you have a floatation device like a surfboard, surfski or bodyboard.

As I started taking on water myself, I saw the grandfather get dragged out straight past us in the rip. I realised there was nothing I could do for him. It was a horrible feeling. It was then that I thought we would probably lose at least one of us out there.

The Dad swum back to get the grandfather. I was concerned about how long I could keep going with this kid.

Then I saw a big, strong, long-haired bloke swimming into the rip. At this point I could feel my own muscles failing and I truly did welcome the help. I was glad that I had not been forced to make a decision between saving myself and saving this young kid.  That decision point had been coming fast until the new fellow got out there (turns out he was a brother or cousin. From here on I stick with cousin, but I don’t know).

The cousin (who I thought was an adult, but I later learned he was probably 15 or 16) arrived and took hold of the young son. In my fatigue, I just let go and swam next to them until the cousin yelled out to me to take the kid’s other arm (he was struggling with the weight too). Realising that I had just handed my whole burden over, I swum back under the son’s arm and took half his weight.

I was still looking behind us at the Dad and the grandfather who were some way back. They were still moving, but it looked like the grandfather was in serious trouble.

It was then I turned and saw CC about to come in.

“NO!” I yelled at her, angry that she would ALSO risk herself out here. What about our kids if we BOTH die!?! I think I swallowed a bunch of water at the same time, so she probably heard nothing.

But then I saw the bodyboard she was carrying.

The Dad managed to swim close enough to CC to take the bodyboard (of course CC was smart and handed the bodyboard with her feet planted in the sand of the sandbar and out of danger). The Dad paddled the bodyboard over to myself and the young son as the big cousin swum in to get another bodyboard CC had managed to get from another family on the beach (we only brought one!).

The cousin took the second bodyboard out to the grandfather and, with the boards, we all managed to paddle on further, given a second wind by the assistance of the bodyboards. After another good while of kicking along on the bodyboard, I thought I might be able to touch sand – I COULD!

I truly hope you never know the excitement you feel when your feet touch sand after you’ve been fighting the ocean so long you start thinking you may die. But let me tell you, it’s a pretty fucking amazing feeling.

I yelled out to the Dad that we can put our feet down and we both did, then dragged the bodyboard in with the son still gripping to it.

We walked out of the surf with the grandfather and the cousin coming in on the other board behind us.

Everyone had survived.

Everyone.

It was such a simple incident and could have ended so tragically. We all survived because CC had the presence of mind to get bodyboards out to us.

Anyway, I staggered onto the beach and collapsed on a towel. The other family were so grateful.

I nearly spewed from over-exertion.

I’m still absolutely wrecked now as I write this hours later.

It feels good to be alive.

— IEK

 

Appendix: RIPS

At every beach there are sections of the water which have a strong current pulling constantly out to sea. You cannot swim against a rip current. No one can. Michael Phelps would swim in one spot against a rip. Some beaches have 2 rips, others have dozens. It all depends.

The trick is to be able to spot them. On patrolled beaches, the safety flags will never be placed too close to a rip.

Telltale signs of a rip before you get in the water (according to Surf Life Saving NSW):

  • Rip currents will occur in deeper water, so it’s usually a darker colour compared to the white breaking waves over a sandbank.
  • Because the water is deeper, there will be fewer breaking waves which can give the appearance of a safer spot to swim
  • Rip currents can move things like sand, seaweed, or debris back out through the waves.

Telltale sign that you are in a rip:

  • You are being pulled out deep by a current

Here is the full SLS page on beach safety and rips: http://www.surflifesaving.com.au/beach-safety#Rips

Stay safe at the beach folks. If you aren’t an experienced beach swimmer and don’t know how to stay away from rips – please only swim at patrolled beaches. And please, if you get in a rip, don’t panic – try to relax and get the attention of the life guards by raising your arm.

So the latest episode in my apparent series of nondramatic dreams about celebrities I have never met (and have no idea what they are really like in person), I chanced upon Laura Prepon in a small, local supermarket.

The setting was especially weird because the store layout was not one I was familiar with (as in I’d never been into this particular supermarket before). I assumed I was travelling in the USA (because of course).

Anyway…Laura Prepon walked past, minding her own business, but was dressed in full Alex Vause costume (because of course actors ALWAYS get around town in their character’s costume…especially when it’s a prison uniform 🤔). She was chatting to the shop keeper as she went.

As she came back past me with her milk, I smiled and told her how wonderful she is in Orange is the New Black and how much CC & I were enjoying the show (as in a lot).

She gave me a fleeting, exasperated glance and hurried to the counter to pay.

I shrugged and woke up.

Clearly I was in the supermarket to buy consciousness.

— IEK

madonna_outfitIt was the big night.

I’d been waiting for this night for MONTHS. The company I worked for organised a June 30 costume party every year and theme was always announced quite a while in advance because these guys were SERIOUS about their costume parties.

The previous year, I’d embraced the idea fully, attending the Superheroes-themed June 30 as Buffy. Because of course! It was the first time my colleagues at this company had seen me presenting as I felt.

This year the theme was 80s, so I was going as Madonna. I had my fishnet gloves, my layered tutu, my leggings and I had THE ATTITUDE.

Well…I thought I did anyway (I did not win best-dressed by any means).

I got myself ready at home, walked to the train station and taken the train into the city for the party. I knew I could kind of almost pass for female if people weren’t paying much attention, so for the most part, I just got the standard woops & crow-calls any woman gets when she’s out in fishnet gloves and a layered tutu (yes, it’s a pretty fucked world…you know unless you’re a white, cis, hetero male). For the most part, when I would present as the gender I felt, I would look down and hope my wig would cover my face sufficiently.

Of course on the train there were a few kids and kids ALWAYS pay attention. They were asking uncomfortable questions of their parents, so I just smiled.

Smiling at strangers is certainly something presenting as my non-birth gender has encouraged in me. I’ve found people who appear to be ready to antagonise or are giving a disparaging look don’t big_smilequite know what to do when the person they’re offended by smiles at them. And of course most people (you know – normal people) just smile back.

When I arrived at the train station in the city, I came out through the turnstiles to find a group of late teenagers chatting loudly along the wall I had to walk past to get to the party venue. My stomach immediately knotted. I knew late teens. I’d even been one (no, really). They tended not to care who they offended so long as whatever they were saying induced a laugh in the crowd they were hanging out with. I really didn’t want teasing or abuse of any sort, so I smiled (of course) and kept walking as fast as I could.

totoro_walkTo my surprise the only thing one of the said was: “Are you a DUDE!?!”

And that was it. I smiled extra wide for him and was on my way.

I arrived at the venue and was a little hot from my walk to and from the station, so I lined up to check in my jacket in the cloak room. It wasn’t a very Madonna jacket anyway. While I was standing there, a lady I’d not met before started chatting to me and after I began responding she gasped and touched my arm.

“OH! I’m so sorry!” she said. “I thought you were a girl!”

To which I smiled and just said “Thank you”.

This lovely co-worker was not the first, nor the last to believe I was a cisgendered female and every time it happened, if gave me a sense of joy.

It was around this time that I realised I needed to learn to walk like a girl.hale_walk

Now I know what you’re going to say: what the hell is that supposed to mean? Well hear me out. I’ve spent a lot of years casually observing people and adapting my own walk (among other things) to the way I wanted to be perceived and I can tell you: on average there are subtle, but important, differences.

When we swing our arms while we’re walking, it is extremely annoying (and destabilising) to bump them into things – expecially things which are connected to us. The shape of the average woman and the shape of the average man are different in quite specific ways. To avoid bumping our hands or arms into the bits which protrude from our bodies, we all hold our arms in a certain way. The average woman has larger hips, a narrower waist, smaller rib cage and narrower shoulders than the average man and so, on average, women hold their wrists and hands further out from their bodies and their elbows fall closer in than men’s do. Conversely, on average, men’s elbows fall slightly further out and they hold their hands and wrists closer in than women because of the specific parts of their bodies which are larger/smaller.

Due to the larger hips on the average woman and the larger shoulders on the average man, the movement we perceive with our eyes is also greater in those areas (because there is literally more stuff moving).

gosling_walkThere is also a difference to the way in which we hold out knees while we walk. Males tend to splay their knees to allow more room between their thighs (because the alternative can be literally painful), while women tend to keep their knees (and thighs) closer together. Women also tend to walk with different rhythm of rise & fall of their body – this is mainly because there are some things on their chests which move as a result of this rise & fall. It’s difficult to explain, but there is an element of breasts having an impact on the rise & fall, but also the woman controlling her walk to reduce the movement of her breasts & any pain associated (yes, boys – pain). Men don’t really have this, so their walk can be more jarring.

Subtle though they may be – these are purely physical differences.

Yes, there is a broad spectrum of body types and walks and I very much know the overt stereotype of both women and men (often perpetuated by people trying to appear more masculine or more feminine themselves), but the physical differences are real and they do have an effect on the way people walk as well as the way people perceive the gender of the walker.

What I’ve had to do (over time) is try my best to not over-play any particular motion. As with most thing during a transition, I got it hilariously wrong in the early stages.

Over the years, I’ve tried to adopt a more feminine gait when I’ve been presenting female, but of course, when you’re not doing it all the time, it’s easy to revert back to the more masculine manner of walking. More recently, I’ve tried to simulate broader hips by wearing clothing which pokes out from my hips (A-frame skirts; longer skater dresses), while trying simultaneously to keep
my elbows in a little more. I’ve tried DESPERATELY not to exaggerate this motion and (I think, after 20 years) I’m starting to get more of a natural flow to it. Heels help because the way they force priss_armour_2you to walk (shorter steps, butt out, straight back, heel first) is something people only ever subconsciously associate with women.

CC hates all of this. Why try to affect something which is not natural?

And I get that, I do, but…

…well…it’s because it feels better to be less noticed and in order to be less noticed, before I step outside, I have to put on my armour.

My walk is just one piece of my armour.

— IEK

knee_ouch_2So this morning sucked.

I’m sure you’ve had these mornings yourself – mornings when nothing seemed to go right, you ended up bit late or hurting yourself or crashing the car or all of the above.

To be perfectly honest, this morning wasn’t as bad as ALL THAT, in so much as I didn’t crash the car and I wasn’t especially late, but I did manage to hurt myself and I as I sat nursing a bruised and swollen knee, I decided to do a minor deconstruction of just how it happened.

So yesterday I got home from work and noticed that our garage door was slightly up (rather than fully closed). I knew what this meant – the start/stop mechanism on the motor was out of alignment. Again.

A-FUCKING-GAIN.

When this happens it means the door won’t shut, it touches the ground-level, then opens right back up again unless you physically grab hold of the door & stop it (hence slightly up). IT. IS. SO. ANNOYING.

Side note: Glideroll and I are not friends.

I didn’t get time to fix it last night, so I resolved to do it today. But first we had to get the kids to school. There were to usual protests, refusals, compromises and concessions, but finally they were all at school or preschool and I could get on with fixing the garage door before I started work.

I needed to get it done fast because I had a LOT of work to do, so I started unloading paint tins from the shed (I needed room to fit the ladder in the space below the garage door motor). Of course in my haste, I dropped one of the paint tins and, while I did save it from spilling all of its paint by half-catching it with my foot, it left a large spurt of paint on the stone.

*Sigh*sigh

At least it didn’t hurt my foot – RIGHT?

The stone is semi-porous and the paint was water-based, so I resolved to hose it away rather than wipe it away. I unhooked the hose, it got caught on things, kinked (because it’s shitty and needs to be replaced), it stopped spraying intermittently, it annoyed me, but eventually I hosed the paint away.

Finally I went and got the ladder, wiped the spider webs off it, extended it, locked it in and stepped up ready to get this thing done fast.

Of course the ladder is also cheap and shitty and is a straight ladder, so its rungs are round and made of aluminium and my shoes were wet, so the first thing that happened as I stepped onto it was I slipped off one of the high steps, straight down and bashed my knee on the lower rungs.

And it really did fucking hurt.

I went inside, gasping and hopping, retrieved one of our ice packs and sat thinking about how it would’ve been so much – SO MUCH – faster to be more careful with the bloody paint tins.

Happy Thursday.

— IEK

PS: I’ve since fixed the garage door mechanism.

PPS: Glideroll and I still aren’t friends.

PPPS: I probably now have spiders in my wig and I’ve only just thought about it.

YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS.Up until I was 21, my experiences with presenting as the gender I felt inside were entirely contained within the four walls of my parents’ house. And only when I was the sole occupant.

In the safety of that isolated space, I learned a lot about what would work and what would not, so by the time I began to venture outside, I already had some (albeit untested) idea of how to pass.

My early experiences of going out presenting female, rare and fleeting though they were, taught me a great deal more about what goes into the ability to “pass”.

In short: a hell of a lot.

Passing, for the uninitiated, is what we trans people call being able to look enough like the gender we feel inside to be generally treated as a person of that gender. Some people call the ability to do this “passing privilege”. Some trans people have complete passing privilege and the folk out there who believe they can “tell” a transgender person from a cisgender person only believe this because there are also many trans people who’s bodies simply do not afford them the ability to pass.

I know I’m very lucky with my body in that I’m quite short (for a male…I’m average height for a female), I’ve never been stocky, nor muscular and I’ve never had a great deal of body hair. Some might say I’ve always been quite feminine for someone born with a male body. Even so, there are any number of things which prevent me from passing which is why, like most trans people I’ve spoken to or read about, my initial attempts to pass were quite ridiculous.

If we look back at photos of ourselves when we were teenagers, most of us feel at least some sense of embarrassment. The teen years are when most of us are feeling our way through society’s expectations of us – how to dress, how to behave, what to say, how to style our hair, how much makeup to apply (if any). As we learn, we hone our skills at being able to know what’s acceptable, what’s not and we gradually establish how we ourselves want to present ourselves to the world.

Imagine having to go through all that for a second time. This is what trans people face when they begin their transition. For most of us, the early stages are embarrassing all over again, only this time – for many of us – we’re grown adults feeling our way through society’s expectations. The disdain we receive from the world around us is that much more severe.

Again, despite the consequences of suppressing my gender identity for so long, I know that in many ways I’m quite lucky in the way I’ve undergone my transition. Unlike some trans people who find that they have to go full-time  very quickly for the sake of their mental health, I was able to gradually explore my gender identity, essentially revealing myself and learning about myself bit-by-bit such that by the time I began to present full-time, I’d spent close to 20 years essentially in training.

Having supportive people around me and never really giving much of a fuck what society expects has helped a great deal. Embarrassment is one emotion I simply don’t engage with.

That said, there is a big difference between not caring what society expects and being willing to deal with non-stop negativity.

Which brings us to my ongoing challenge of trying to pass.

ridiculousness

*FACEPALM*

I can only speak from the perspective of a trans woman trying to pass as a female and, though I know the trials of being a trans man are equally significant, I will focus on what I have experienced and try not speculate on the experiences of others.

When I finally found the courage to go out and buy my first womens’ clothing (at 21 years of age), much to CC’s dismay (because she is WONDERFUL and was helping me buy them), I gravitated toward the shortest of skirts, the tightest of tops, fishnet stockings, lingerie and heavy makeup. It horrified her because, as she put it later: if I was trying to appear like a woman, then this overt sexuality must be how I viewed women!

But that was not the case at all. The reason I gravitated toward all of that (generally risqué) stuff was because it was what I felt was the MOST feminine and the LEAST masculine of clothing. In those early stages, I was trying to retreat from the gender I didn’t identify with – that I’d been forced to live in and conform to since birth – and do it as fast as I could. I’ve spoken to a lot of trans women and people who work with trans women and this story is certainly not unusual for the initial stages of transition.

As a result of not only the risque clothing and makeup, but also the fact that I’d spend 21 years trying very hard to “be a man”, when I first started to presented as female, the comments came thick and fast from everywhere – from those who care about me and also those who very much did don’t. For me, of course, they were all to do with appearing too masculine.

“You walk like a man”

“Your jaw is too square”

“Your voice is all wrong”

“You look like Krusty the Clown”

“Your arms are too muscly”

“You stumble too much in heels”krusty_3

“Your mannerisms aren’t right”

“Your makeup makes you look like a clown”

“No women actually do that”

“You look like a man in a dress”

“You need to sit straighter”

“You have no hips”

“It looks like you’re wearing clown shoes”

“Your chest is too big – you need bigger boobs”

“You have man hands”

“I can see exactly where your undercarriage is”

There are a lot more, these are just the ones which stuck with me. And almost every single one has affected the way I present myself in some way or other.

Did you note the clown theme? Yeah, there’s a reason trans women are so often the comedy relief in mainstream entertainment and a lot of it is to do with trans women in their early stages of transition trying DESPERATELY to embody this sense of self they have inside. OK, yes to be fair drag queens also bear some of the responsibility and I have seen many HILARIOUS drag queens. But still, laughing at the way a person looks when they’re so vulnerable and inexperienced in the Me & Parisworld they’re stepping into really isn’t that funny is it?

If you look at all of the criticisms above you can see that this is EXACTLY the same stream of criticism young girls face as they grow up and develop into women. Of COURSE I know that this isn’t right and that society’s view of women is idiotic. I respect every single woman who has endured this bullshit and yet still grown into a functional person, but my brain-body alignment is idiotic too and I just wanted to look the way I felt.

Did I feel like an impossible Barbie doll shape inside?

No.

Would I have traded my body for ANY female body?

Yep.

No person has “the perfect body” because there’s no such thing. Everyone has flaws and I know this, but when you’re trans and every criticism feels like it’s shoving you back in that place you started, the place you’re trying to escape, the place where you’re “a man in a dress”, the need to conform to this idiotic set of standards can sometimes take over.

It’s a discussion CC and I have had many, many times – do we really want our daughter to grow up looking up to someone who tries to conform to all of these idiotic standards?

Well…of course not.

As I type this I’m sitting here in my jeans, mary janes, t-shirt dress and a Richmond Football Club hoodie (because of course), but I am wearing my wig. I have a teensy bit of eyeliner (no wings today) & a natural lipstick on. And though I’m not presently speaking, if I did, I know I’d be affecting as realistically feminine a voice as I could (which is to say not feminine at all).

…Freak…Man in a dress…

As I type this, I know I want to show our daughter and our sons a world free of the expectation girls and women have to either refuse to conform to or go mad trying to meet, but I wonder if I can be brave enough to refuse to conform to them myself.

— IEK

editing_the_monolithSo as I work my way through Bifrost’s (almost) 3rd Draft, I’m finding it incresingly frustrating to have the version I’m working on be a hard copy.

Yes – I do love the look of my pink, purple and blue sparkly editing pens, but the fact that I’m sitting here on a bus, unable to edit because the 550-odd-A4-page monolith that is Bifrost* is too unwieldy to carry around is starting to become quite upsetting.

It became so upsetting recently that I decided “Fuck it, I’m gonna edit the soft copy from which I printed the monolith”. So I did.

Then I tried to print and integrate the edited portions back into the hard copy.

Oh.

Fuck.

Now the pages are all messed up.

So editing the soft copy is out. I get it. Thanks again, Captain Hindsight.

But what do I do? Sure, I’ve been getting A LOT more work done on my blog (perhaps you’ve noticed?) because the times I spent actually WRITING Bifrost were mostly spent in bars, on busses, in bars, on planes, in airports and in bars at airports.

I’ve been hesitant to take out smaller portions of my manuscript in order to edit them on the run because I worry that I’ll damage the pages so much I can no longer read them (I have form with the utilities bills I pay when on the bus) and also that I’ll lose bits or not successfully integrate the smaller portions back into the monolith.

But I think I have to get past this.

I think what I’m going to do is take out whole chapters. Perhaps two per bus day. So…maybe one chapter per hour of travel time. And if I have a suitcase (like I do when I fly), I’ll take the whole monolith, then re-integrate at the hotel or wherever I’m staying once I arrive.

This should allow my defective mathematical brain to be able to re-integrate the parts more easily because they’re whole chapters and I’ll just have to be more careful with the chapters than I am with our utilities bills (I think at a basic level I just don’t like utilities bills).

Hopefully this will allow me to get more work done on editing Bifrost and wishfully, I’ll still be able to get as much work done on this blog!

— IEK

 

 

*Yes, I know it’s 2 books. In fact I’m kind of vibed that it’s 2 books.

out_move_onWhen I was a young teenager (as in around 27 years ago), I was sitting watching the ABC (that’s the Australian public broadcaster ABC) and a news report came on about transgender people and the gay community. I was immediately intrigued because, known only to me, I REALLY identified with these “transsexual” people. I remember one of the gay activists being interviewed saying he had the utmost respect for trans people, calling them the “suffragettes of the queer community” because most trans people couldn’t go stealth (ie. blend in with the rest of society & conceal any queerness to avoid negativity). It’s a phrase which has stuck with me ever since.

If you’re trans or you know a trans person, no doubt you know all about the mistreatment trans people are prone to receiving. Sometimes it’s from complete strangers, sometimes their co-workers, their customers, sometimes their employers, even their family and friends. Literally as I started writing this post, I read a news story about a trans woman not being offered any more work as a casual teacher after she began presenting female. As with much of the discrimination against trans people, the argument put forward by this teacher’s superiors was “a lot of people have understandable misgivings”.

I’ve heard this argument before. Not from an employer trying to justify no longer offering me employment (which would have been an awful experience), but from a family member genuinely trying to be helpful. She suggested that I should somehow come out to people slowly & cautiously, allowing them time to process this change in the way I present my gender identity.no_fucks

On one hand I understand this, I mean I have spent decades of my life burying my gender identity within myself (see My Transcape #1) and only slowly, cautiously – GLACIALLY – coming out, both to myself and others. I know this approach is easier to digest for people than a sudden, full-time change, but we also have to weigh up how living and presenting in a way we ourselves don’t even recognise is affecting us. For me, to a certain extent I can take it – I’ve been presenting androgynous for years (even before that my style was called “eccentric”), so the idea of being referred to using either male pronouns or female pronouns doesn’t really bother me (though I do feel better hearing she/her). But I’m not everyone. I know others may not deal with being misgendered nearly as well, and so I equally understand the other point of view which is: who gives a fuck what other people think about what I’M doing with MY gender identity? This is me. Deal with it.

Though it’s a concise argument and one I’m rather fond of, the counter is strong and terrible. Quite aside from the parents who disown their trans children, brothers and sisters who stop speaking to their trans siblings, children who disown their trans parents, the friends who cut all ties with trans people the moment they come out and (as above) the employers who terminate the employment of trans employees, there are some vile people who don’t give you the option of caring or not caring about their opinion because they’re too busy abusing you, hitting you, kicking you, stabbing you, shooting you or legislating against you to pay any attention to what you care about. Though the hostility toward trans people is reducing as the general public become more educated about transgender issues, depending on where you live, there could still be anything from none of these people to hundreds of them and online the more vile people seem to bunch together.

It’s into this hostile environment which all trans people cast themselves when they come out (or as many trans people might put it: go full-time).

So why the hell would anyone transition?

Why indeed?

Well I did (and am). Gradually, over 20+ years, but I did (and am).

If you’ve read Transcape #1, you’ll know that I started out trying to “release” my gender identity by cross-dressing very early in my life, but by the time I’d gathered enough courage to reveal to anyone that even I cross-dressed, I was already 21. And I only told one person then because we had started a serious relationship and I didn’t want any secrets.

At the time I had established, from extensive reading of incorrect studies and opinions, that I was “just a cross-dresser”. The crux of the argument made by most of these fine resources was that if I did not want to immediately remove my male bits in order to escape depression and/or suicide, then I was not trans.

“Oh,” thought I. “Well, that’s a relief then. All of this fantasy about actually being female and presenting female must be just caught up in this cross-dressing thing. Great! Guess I’ll never have to face all of that anti-trans hostility then!”

And that was that. Right?

Spoiler alert: So much of no.

At 21, I was so fortunate to have met and fallen for someone who really didn’t seem to care about my dark cross-dressing secret. She was actually quite amused by the whole thing. Some of you may have heard of her – online I refer to her as Co-Consul or CC (yes – the very same, the very first person I confided in).

i_want_to_be_freeAfter this initial (and honestly TERRIFYING) confession and the resultant…well…ambivalence, I gradually came out to more
and more people because the idea of being able to more regularly present myself the way I WANTED TO made me so happy. My idea was that I wanted to make my “closet” as large as possible. Having been a pretty selective person when it came to friendships (bigot: nope, don’t want to talk to you; arsehole: nope, not you either), most of my friends were either encouraging, amused or ambivalent. Considering the expectation I’d had, it was a generally positive experience for me.

During this time of self-expression, I ended up kind of being forced to also come out to my parents and siblings (something I would not have chosen to do).

I’d been out with friends, you see, drinking heavily (as we did) and I arrived home, very drunk, to a sleeping house and decided to spend some time on the computer dressed the way I had originally wanted to go out (but hadn’t because terrified). Anyway, the hangover I awoke with made breathing & moving feel like an extreme sport. I was in the bath robe I’d hastily thrown on after getting out of bed and
I was carrying a coffee from the kitchen, intending to sit down & stare at it while I worked up the courage to ingest anything. My older brother breezed into the room andspotted the bra I was apparently still wearing under my robe. Being a shy, retiring type, my brother snort-laughed and immediately demanded to know what this was all about. My hangover-soaked reaction of “I…I just can’t deal with this right now” was clearly not going to be a long-term solution.

So later that day, after much coffee, vitamin B pills and bacon, I explained to my siblings and my parents that I was “just a cross-dresser” (because the internet told me so). Though it was daunting, I had made so much ground in coming out to my friends that I did not want to let the fear control my life anymore. You know, because fuck it.

My parents reacted pretty much as well as I could have hoped for: they didn’t get it, they didn’t like it, but equally they didn’t kick me out on the street.

So I was pretty much completely out as a cross-dresser. My concept of having the world’s largest closet seemed to be working rather well.

Then I entered the workforce full-time and from that point, the course of my gender expression became substantially influenced by the culture of my employers.

My first full-time role was working the night shift for an ISP which just happened to have a night-shift demographic of about 50% gay or lesbian to 50% straight. It was the most open, hilarious, welcoming environment you could imagine and so I started wearing skirts, dresses and heels to work because nobody gave a shit. It was awesome. I did pretty well in that company, but found my IT skills were in high demand in the marketplace, so I moved to an insurance company closer to home for more money (win/win). Though it was certainly hilarious and welcoming, the insurance company was not nearly as open and it quickly became clear that my gender identity would have to remain in the wardrobe with all my dresses, skirts and heels.Closet

Over the next several years, I kept my female attire and my gender identity locked away, unleashing it for costume parties only, until a few weeks after I had decided to become full-time carer for CC & my newborn and had handed in my resignation to the insurance company. There was a formal event where I attended presenting the gender I felt. Once again, because of extensive ground-work laid years before, it was a great night and there was next-to no negativity. But once it was over, I went back to presenting male.

For the next 3+ years I was a full-time carer for our children and (foolishly) decided to re-train as a teacher. I knew if I wanted to be employed and survive my first years as a teacher, my gender identity needed to be further concealed, so I hid myself away even deeper, going so far as to delete forum posts, change online usernames, I shut down my website and removed any online content which hinted at being anything other than a cis male and could realistically be linked back to me. Judging by the experience of the trans teacher from the news story I linked above – this was a smart move.

Well…It WOULD have been a smart move if only I’d been able to find any work as a teacher.

In the end even as a cis male I couldn’t find teaching work any closer than 2 hours drive from my home (with 3 very young kids, a 4-hour daily commute was not an option), so in the name of being able to eat and feed our kids, I gave up & went back to the IT industry.

failureThis was a pretty dark time for me. We had just had our 3rd child, I had become seriously stressed after 3.5 years as a full-time carer (not realising that part of it was the fact that I’d been suppressing my gender identity almost completely), my “dream career” as a teacher was dead in the water and I was having to take ANY entry-level IT job  just to bring in some money. Every IT recruiter I spoke to had the misconception that 3.5 years out of the IT industry meant I had been left behind (“Oh – that’s like an eternity in IT. Everything’s changed now”).

I truly felt like I’d failed in almost every aspect of my life.

As it turned out, the first “entry-level” job I landed was hugely challenging and rewarding. Within 12 months, I had been promoted and I was training the people who were coming in to do the work I had just been doing (teaching degree came in handy for something at least)…(also – take THAT, recruiters! Turns out the basics don’t change & even the advanced stuff doesn’t change much in 3.5 years). Despite all this renewed success, for whatever reason, I still wasn’t happy. In fact I seemed to be getting angrier and angrier – particularly with my kids. I’ll never forget one night, I completely lost control of myself and was yelling, red-faced at my two youngest – who were terrified – and all because they were playing silly buggers instead of getting ready for bed. It was ludicrous.

There were several times when I was alone, I broke down and cried because I didn’t think I could handle it anymore. They were probably the only times I’d cried in ten years. I thought of leaving, just up and going – take my anger away from the kids. But I could never do that to my beautiful family. I could never leave them. Somehow I just had to do better.

Some weeks later, alone in the darkness of CC and my bedroom, I decided I would try being who I felt I was inside and see if that helped with my anger.

Why did I decide to start to transition? Because I began to find burying myself unbearable. Because continuing to bury who I was no longer hurting just me.

Over the next year I did calm down. I booked in to see a counsellor because I felt I needed help working through everything and though I ended up having only around ten sessions with the counsellor, I think it did help. In the months following my resolution in the dark, I gradually presented more and more female. I took to wearing a hat all the time to cover my male pattern baldness, but otherwise I wore whatever I felt like on the day. I eventually bought some wigs to wear instead of hats (because what? It’s just LIKE a hat!). I’m not perfect, I still get angry with the kids, but haven’t lost it like that night again and I have a LOT more patience than I had before.

Over the past six months (yes, only six months!) I’ve transitioned fully at work. My swipe card has my preferred name, my email address has my happypreferred name and I am COMPLETELY accepted as female at work. I cannot speak highly enough about my current employer. Becuase I’m still a bit privacy-oriented, I will not (at this moment) reveal which company it is. Rest assured I promote them very well in my professional life as an inclusive employer of choice for pretty much anyone (because they are).

I told my parents what was happening with me and initially it seemed as though they were confused, disappointed, but accepting. But recently it’s become clear that “accepting” is not a word I could use to describe their attitude toward my gender transition.

These days, I present as myself doing drop-off and pick-up for the kids, at the shops – you name it. I am very fortunate (or perhaps geographically selective…or both) to live in an extremely open, friendly area and I have (thus far) had nothing but support, curiosity (which is COMPLETELY FINE FOLKS!) and concern (which is usually also fine). I have actually only really explained what’s going on to a few folks, the rest I’ve just let work it out as I show up at school or pre-school presenting as myself. For most people it’s not been so much of a surprise and as an explanation to my historical style choices.

I’m still not truly full-time. Or perhaps I just don’t feel like I’m full-time. Perhaps after decades of slow progress, I don’t even know what “full-time” means anymore. I also don’t know what my own endpoint is. At this stage I’m happy working toward a goal of being accepted presenting the end of the gender spectrum I feel. Perhaps at the moment, that’s my goal and perhaps, as with many things in life, there really isn’t an endpoint, just an ever-changing experience.

Whichever way, coming out to people in any capacity has usually scared me, but since I finally allowed myself to accept it, I haven’t let fear hold me back. The challenge involved in coming out is not related to the act of telling people I’m trans – I totally prefer that people know I’m trans! Rather the challenge for me is holding myself back, ensuring I move slowly – glacially – enough to continue facing my biggest challenge of all.

…but I’ll leave that for another day.

— IEK

bbq_eye
So for the uninitiated – I’m transgender. I was born with a male body, but I have always identified more with the female end of the gender spectrum. I identify these days as transgender female (as opposed to cis male or female). I present female and I like to be treated as a female (she/her), but I don’t seek to claim that “I am a woman”. There is so much about growing up female and being a woman that I can never truly know, nor know how it feels. After all these years, I don’t want to be a cis woman, I don’t long for it (anymore) – I just want to be who I am. Of course from a gender perspective, who I am is a complex equation. In fact my own gender identity is something I hope to explore further as part of this series of posts.

Just as there is so much about being a woman I could never truly understand, so too there is a lot about growing up trans, fighting it with everything you have until finally you just accept it and start to transition that no cisgendered person could truly understand. In this series, I’m going to try to put down in words my own experience so that hopefully it can help people of all types better understand the world of a person who is transgender.

I fully realise that no two transgender stories are the same and please accept that the experiences and understanding I will put down here in no way invalidate, nor prove the statements or experiences of other people. These are just my experiences and I give them as is.

Yes, this is 12-year-old me being a fucking robot. Shut up it was my first cosplay.

Yes, this is 12-year-old me being a robot. Shut up – it was my first cosplay.

I’ve been told by many people that my story is a little unusual (even for a trans person) and hell – why not? My brother always thought I was a robot!

I was born in a small city (which has a very country attitude) to middle-class family and I was brought up as a male in a comfortable, yet rather homophobic, macho, patriarchal environment. I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent and very early on (after much listening, some teasing from others and trial and error on my part) I learned that to be male, you had to be strong and tough and that anything which could possibly be considered “girly” was somehow undesirable. My experiments with tights, Barbie, being loving & attached to soft-toys, desiring the company of girls over boys and being FASCINATED by the beauty and colour of girls’ clothing and school accessories all convinced me that I had to avoid all of these things (yes, all right – except the soft toys)…(and the colourful clothing – who could avoid that!?!).

I tried my VERY best to be as male as possible so that nobody discovered what I was actually feeling inside – which was that the idea of being a girl made me feel great!

Well at least until the guilt set in.

I became pretty focussed on being more male and acting tough. Yes – this is absolutely normal behaviour for a young boy, but I had a habit of over-doing it. I tried to stand tough, walk tough, sit tough, talk tough. My Dad used to record our family saying “hi” and talking about our lives for his brother and their family who were living in the USA and when I heard the recording of my voice, I usually became upset that my voice sounded so high & girlish – so I re-recorded my part & tried to speak with a lower tone. I was probably six. When every boy in my class’ voices were breaking rather violently in late primary school (elementary school for US folks), my voice still sounded like a bird chirping, so I faked a voice break and started affecting a deeper voice. In the end, I never actually had my voice break, it just gradually became deeper (so again, I forced it to go further).

As I grew older, my muscles were not developing NEARLY as much as I wanted them to, so I started going to the gym every day. Well apparently my genetics really aren’t conducive to huge muscles and (thankfully, in hindsight) I just ended up with much stronger spaghetti arms and chicken legs.

Right when I started puberty, my desire to change the way I looked became too strong to ignore and I began to experiment with dressing and presenting female…to my mirror. When nobody was home. I had a tiny box of clothes I’d made myself which I would sneak out if I was ever by myself in the house – ONLY if I was absolutely by myself in the house. I became an expert at concealing what I was doing. Before I took out my box from under my bed, I ensured that I knew exactly what was in front of it, what position everything was in and where it needed to be in order to most quickly return it to its position. Nothing was overlooked. Though I longed for a day when I could finally begin to be female outside my own room (preferably full-time, outside my own house), I was so absolutely terrified that someone would discover my secret that I hid it deep under my bed and even deeper inside myself.

I had seen the isolation, abuse and hate transgender people experienced and I wanted no part of that. My life was pretty good and despite the fact that I felt my body was all wrong, I didn’t feel losing my family and all of my friends was a reasonable price to pay to change that. What I really wanted was to find some magic amulet which allowed me to change in an instant.ranma_2

Oh how I envied Ranma Santome.

Many times, for whatever reason (hormones, some experience of the day, whatever), I would feel such guilt about my secret box that I would take the entire contents and throw it away, being careful, of course, to ensure each item was concealed in the bin, wrapped individually in garbage so that no one could ever find it. Of course shortly after throwing away all of my carefully collected and modified clothes, I would feel the need to dress again, to be myself again and I would have to start creating new clothes from scratch and  would inevitably feel stupid for getting rid of them in the first place.

Now here’s where it gets tricky – there are many people in the world who are cross-dressers and not trans. I do think, though, that as being trans becomes more common, understood and accepted in general society, people like myself who are trans and would have turned to cross-dressing in private as a means of expressing who they are because the world was too hostile will more commonly accept that they’re actually trans much earlier. We can only hope.

As much as any trans person can suppress what they feel for a time, they can never get rid of it, no matter how much they or the people around them may want to. Being trans isn’t a choice, it’s just who we are.

Since puberty, I have been through many phases of suppressing and alternately embracing my transgender identity, buying dresses and high heels, hiding them at the back of the cupboard or throwing them out, dressing as a female for a costume party and feeling so happy and comfortable, then crashing back to Earth the next morning (usually with a raging hangover to boot) and pushing those feelings away for months. Of course by the time I started attending costume parties, my hair had mostly fallen out (thanks, testosterone) and I had resigned myself to the fact that I could never realise my gender identity.

I convinced myself that I could get by dressing occasionally as my “release”. I always chose a female avatar in computer games (in those 5 games in which I could choose one), I always chose female rollplaying characters and I ensured I was gender-neutral in web forums. I came out as a cross-dresser to most people I knew (including my family) in order to allow that “release” more freedom of movement. Interestingly, the overwhelming reaction to the revelation of “my dark secret” was amusement more than anything else.

This was a state I spent a long time in, though the sense of myself inside became louder and louder.

Until around 3 years ago.

Call it a mid-life crisis, call it what you will, I was sitting on the end of my bed staring into my open cupboard and feeling desperately unhappy. I’d been angry with the kids and basically a bundle of rage for several months without explanation, nor understanding on my part. In that dark room, alone, the thought of having to put on a suit or a pair of baggy jeans and boxer shorts upset me so much that I decided I didn’t want to do it again.

Though my fight to suppress my internal gender identity is not the biggest challenge I face in my transcape, at the time, this fight had been the biggest and longest challenge of my life (yes, that includes being primary carer to 2 children under 3).

That night, sitting alone in the dark, I stopped fighting.

I was 38.

— IEK

Twitter_logo_whirlpoolAsk any professional, full-time author what the biggest drains on their writing time are (or would be if they let it) and social media will inevitably come in the top 5, if not sit at #1. Many professional writers and authors I’ve met force themselves to get off social media or even off the internet completely during their writing time in order to actually get something done. Now I’m not a full-time author, but I can tell you social media is pretty high on my list of time vacuums and I really don’t GET a lot of time to write!

But my relationship with social media and in particular Twitter is one coloured with romance – a romance specifically to do with getting my novel finished. You see there was a time when Twitter saved my novel from never being written and me from never writing again…

Some two years ago, I had a novel languishing, untouched for many months, at the bottom of a very deep pit of zeroes and ones (I have not done “paper” since around 1997). I had gone through long stints of serious writing and I had what I felt were probably enough words to craft maybe a single book, but none of it felt finished. It was like a never-ending saga without climax or closure, just a series of what I felt were pretty awesome scenes.howe_mark

It was around this time that my friend Grizzlee & I were dipping our respective toes into Twitter to try and engage with football (that’s Australian Rules
football
& specifically the AFL to us) fans for our new Podcast One Troll Short (now defunct)…(oh well). We started following people we found interesting who were inevitably football fans & personalities, AFL clubs or porn stars (because of course).

As it turned out, one particular cam girl Grizzlee followed (now I’m dropping him in it) posted a great deal about her general life and her friends and tweeps which I found far more engaging than many of the other adult industry folk who only posted advertising & pictures of their anatomy, so I followed her too. While I can’t even remember the name of this person (sorry), I followed her and found she had a number of conversations with an author friend of hers. This interested me immediately because I considered myself a writer (if not an actual author) and I started following the author friend (who I again can’t remember the name of).

Over time I gathered the courage to engage in a few of the threads between this author and her other author tweeps. Two particular author tweeps of this person were PROLIFIC on Twitter and they started to actually respond to me (unlike unknown original author person). Both of these folks posted hilarious tweets, links, and videos and are two of the friendliest, loveliest people I’ve met on social media. Their names are Leigh Ann Kopans & Megan Whitmer. They’re published authors now and don’t spend NEARLY as much time on Twitter as they used to (I MISS YOU!!), but back then, they were finishing manuscripts and doing an AMAZING job of building an author platform.

Megan was so engaged that she started a movement of writers sprint-writing their manuscripts of a Friday night (which ended up being a Saturday morning here in Australia). She called it #WriteClub (@FriNightWrites) and it was incredible. I joined Write Club for a few Saturday mornings until finally some more magnificent tweeps (Renee Wynne, Rochelle Sharpe & Emily Mead) started running the Write Club sprints on a Friday Night in Australia. I spent many a Friday night sprinting, tweeting & enjoying the writery company and, though I never got involved in organising it (because I had commitments most Friday nights and Saturday mornings), Write Club is truly what got me writing again.

As the months went by and my tribe of author tweeps grew and changed (essentially taking over my Twitter account), I also began to learn things about writing, about being an author, about the publishing industry and about how to do this damn thing FOR REAL.

One of the most important things I learned early on was that a full, completed first draft of a novel should be between 70,000 and 80,000 words. When I learned this, I went back and checked how many words I’d written on my own novel: oh only around 350,000 words.

3_booksWHAT!?!

FUCK – I have 3 novels here!!

That’s right. 3 whole novels already drafted, just not cut & edited. So of course, I picked a point at which I wanted to slice the story and deliver a single finished novel and started editing. And, of course, writing to an ending (something else I learned).

So now, here I am days from finishing my 2nd draft (yes, it’s taken me this long, shut up) and I just wanted to give up a thank you to all of the magnificent author tweeps I’ve met along the way, interacted with, learned from and hopefully taught a few things to (I have some skills, just not necessarily in publishing) and while I still find myself drawn away from my manuscript by Twitter and other social media, I always feel a sense of warmth toward it because social media is very much what saved me from losing writing altogether.

Every day, I interact with other writers and authors from all sorts of places and this is what I feel is the magic of Twitter and social media. The ability to connect with not just a few, but HUNDREDS of like-minded people around the world and draw inspiration, wisdom, courage and benefit from their experience to enhance your work, your life or your passion and to share your own experiences to potentially help others do the same.

So I’d just like to say thank you to my writery tweeps (those are both totally words) for their time and for their inspiration.

thank_you

SO THANK YOU SO MUCH (in alphabetical order because of course):

Adam Dreece

Angelina Williamson

Ann Bisky (wherever you are)

Antonius Hogebrandt

Brianna Shrum

Carey Torgenson

Cassandra Page

Courtney Cantrell

C. P McClennan

David (Evil Overlord)

Elyse Salpeter

Emily Mead

Erin McRay

Evan Carter

Gail Simone

Hayley Humphrey

Jason Cantrell

J.C. Lillis

Jennie Davenport

Julie Hutchings

Kate Fitzpatrick

Kate Sholty

Kathy Palm

Keira Drake

Kiz(zy Wiggle)

Kristine Wyllys

Leigh Ann Kopans

Maria Lewis

Megan Paasch

Megan Whitmer

Mike Cullen

Melbourne on my Mind

Niko Staten

Rachel Heyfield

Renee Wynne

Rochelle Sharpe

S.E. Carson

Sharon Livingstone

Soknou King

Sonya Craig

Tiffie van Bordeveld

Victor Dean Hampstead

If I missed anyone or if I’ve spelled your name incorrectly I’m sorry – I want to thank every publishing industry person I’ve interacted with, but alas there are too many (and I was a bit lax with the proofreading). Just know that you are appreciated.

— IEK

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