Triple jeopardy, or is it?

Sometimes, I am described as having three  elements of jeopardy about me. They are my disability, my transsexuality and my sexuality, bearing in mind that gender and sexuality are not one in the same. Fairly recently, I was asked to take part in a study, by a trainee clinical psychologist into the transgendered experience, and other jeopardies I have outlined above.

But after reflecting, I declined. This was purely and simply because I wanted to tell my story in my way. I did not want somebody telling it for academic gain. Whenever you put yourself out there, by default, you are open to interpretation. Somebody else’s interpretation. No thank you. Not what I want for me. Let me take each one in turn.

PHYSICAL DISABILITY (CEREBRAL PALSY)

Let’s deal with the biggest elephant in the room first. Cerebral palsy is the  one out of the three jeopardies which I would consider to be a true  jeopardy. It affects all four of my limbs, and means I cannot walk unaided. Therefore, I am in a wheelchair 24/7 apart from when in bed. It doesn’t affect my speech, nor my ability to feed myself, nor my ability to drink alcohol, as those who know me will testify. It is perhaps the simpler things it affects, like going to people’s houses for example.

This is because, very often, process is much more of an undertaking. Before I go clubbing, I have to book a taxi. It cannot be guaranteed that a wheelchair accessible one will be on the rank when I want it.

Therefore, the spontaneity and joy of the unplanned is very much missing for me. Just simple things like going to somebody’s house for a pizza and DVD night. Or, jumping in a car and going somewhere, well, just because.

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive condition. But this in itself is a big source of frustration. Before I had my own place, I lived in a hostel for those with physical disabilities. But many of them had acquired disabilities. So sometimes, I could see them regaining lost skills. But for me, sadly, there were none of those positives. Factually speaking, I still need the same help now as I did when I was a baby.

I like to go clubbing to The Edge cos it helps. I can feel fucking normal. What doesn’t help is coming back to a clanky hoist and a single bed.

Other people are I have to say pretty understanding. Kind and friendly. But I do want to see them more, outside of The Edge.My big target for 2012.

But the point is, however much you dress it up and try to live life to the full and remain positive, cerebral palsy is a life limiting condition. I realise this may not be a popular statement amongst my friends with disabilities but it is true.

It is life limiting for me, because it stops me from doing the things I want to do, and I suggest it stops people from taking friendships up a gear.

The hardest thing also is that I am fully aware of what I miss out on, and it is even worse now, in the Facebook ages, because you get a running commentary of people’s lives fed into your computer. The easy option would be to delete it yes, but I do not want to be lonely and bitter at all.

It is hard also when you see people over dramatise their lives, and don’t see they have a lot to be thankful for. But, that comes with age and maturity, and when you have something taken away that others take for granted.

So is it a jeopardy, a disability? Conclusively, yes.

TRANSSEXUALITY

This one is a little more ambiguous. Transsexuality occurs when somebody feels inside that they were born in the wrong body, and chooses to take steps towards living in the right one, through medication, name change, new wardrobe, and injections and possibly surgery. I am veering off the point here slightly, but it is important to clarify that not every man or woman who is transsexual will follow everything in this pathway. It is entirely their choice and decision.

My own personal view here is that gender dysphoria (literally, gender unhappiness) is more of a jeopardy than the transsexuality itself.

I remember hitting puberty and being so alarmed and disgusted frankly by what my body was doing.  Psychologically too, I knew I was different. I even remember my form tutor taking me aside and telling me I really should spend more time with the boys instead of the girls and that the boys were into computers. My then stepfather told me to toughen up and be a man.

It took many years of  counselling before I realised what the real issue was. And when I did, liberation followed.The only jeopardy for me here is that people have to be born in the wrong body, and that biologically I still have not had surgery. My disability and inability to walk and exercise are the barriers here but want to investigate again with my psychiatrist to see if these can be overcome. 2012…..be a good girl please

SEXUALITY

I am lesbian. No two ways about that. But being a lesbian with a dick does not exactly have the girls queuing up. Nor does a wheelchair. But frankly, I get my sexual thrills from imagining what I could give a partner. Not really what I would receive. The feelings of touch, and stimulus would be enough for me. But also, a disability can make you feel asexual. When you receive personal care, there is an immediate lack of privacy around your body. So, instead of your body being an object of sexual excitement, it is instead a collection of processes and procedures, things that have to be done, or done to. So the sexuality of the human body is lost amongst the bullshit and very rarely considered as relevant by the caring profession.

But that said, the biggest sexual organ of the body is the brain, and this makes difficulties generated by disability and transsexuality seem worse. Crudely put, you can have the thoughts without the action. Fucking annoying.

 

In concluding, I have two options available. I can be polite and noble and tell you that none of these things are jeopardies and it is all about how you view them. Or I can be honest.

Being in three minority groups does give you insight. But it is also a pain in the backside. What I hope I have shown is that these 3 jeopardies all interweave and link at times to create a very pleasant or vicious circle. It always changes.

Sometimes one dominates more than the other. That’s my life. But I have never felt completely at peace with that, and to be honest I would worry if I did.

 


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