Tuesday, 28 June 2011

And now for something completely different...

Yes, I am a fan of Monty Python.

Anyway, a quote I read today made me think. A genderqueer performer, CN Lester, who identifies as neither male nor female, and seems to have something to do with opera, did an interview with the Pink Paper, about talked about transphobia and descrimination they'd experienced. This follows on:
"It’s enough to keep you indoors…

Well…. I think we’re so f**king hard on ourselves anyway. I don’t know a single trans person who doesn’t spend every single day sort of going: “Am I OK, am I allowed to go out into the outside world, Oh God, Oh God, it’s all so tragic!” I sometimes even wonder what will happen if I’m in a terrible accident."

This is why I stopped - I just can't be arsed with all of that crap. I used to think that "matching the inside with the outside", ie. presenting in the way that I identify (whatever that may be) was a big deal. I got over it. Now I feel like what's on the inside is not really anybody's business but the people I choose to share it with, and that the outside doesn't matter all that much anyway. I'm still of queer/alternative/non-binary/whatever the hell I don't know and I don't care gender, I'm just not as loud about it. It's not a big deal any more, and that makes my life so much easier. I never got the kind of harassment that CN Lester describes (maybe they do a better job of presenting how they want to than I ever did) but I'm definitely less paranoid now. I have no desire to be the centre of attention, and now that I'm not obviously "gender freak" I'm not, or at least I don't feel I am. Unless I want to be, which would be around friends, and often my presentation could change then anyway.

I think my deciding it wasn't a big deal tied in with having bigger deals to deal with: being ill and having surgery, and actually paying attention to being ill - I think gender provided a great distraction from my health when I was getting sicker in London (in retrospect, distraction/denial didn't work out great, but maybe needs must, coping mechanisms etc); being in Germany, a new country where my language wasn't great. It was a lot better than my partner's, so I had to communicate for the two of us for a while. Finding my feet in a thoroughly new job, working out how to fit in and understand Germans (not the language, the people). And, other than the other half, being totally independent. Bigger deals.

I'm happy enough, but I still feel like I miss queer stuff, queer spaces, and it's been over two years since I was last at NUS LGBT which, despite its bitchiness and cliqueyness, had wonderful people and felt like home. Bar Wotever, places where nobody cared - I miss that.
Stay Beautiful, a club night for beautiful people of every gender (I don't know if that's their tagline, but it fits) is coming near us soon so we'll get glammed up/transed up and try not to care what we look like and have fun. I love make-up, in a performative way. Like Michael Stipe (out of off of REM).

However, here's a quote with a different perspective, a comment from an American article about transphobia:
"In the mean time, a very few of us try to combat transphobia by being publicly gender-transgressive while yet maintaining acceptance by friends, family, and colleagues. It's an awkward balancing act that few find personally satisfying."
I do sort of feel, occasionally, like I'm letting the side down. By being so fitting-in, by no longer making my gender a statement. I long for the world to change, yet I'm not really helping. I do other things: I can educate, and next time I'm at the GUM clinic (I'm on GUM/HIV/Infectious Diseases currently) I want to talk about why the clinic is so gender segregated and why that works for everyone.
When I was challenging stereotypes, and more than that challenging general gender perceptions, I guess it was something I was little bit proud of. In a "look, I'm doing my own little bit to help change the world, broaden people's experiences of people, and make things slightly better for the future".

But as the quote says, few find it personally satisfying. I know some who do, and good for them. They've got bags more confidence than I'll ever have. Maybe I'll get back to playing my part and not letting the side down a little more in the future, when I'm more settled and more confident, and less trying to fit in.
Hospitals and medical school definitely don't encourage being different. It's like being the odd one out, and I'm clearly that already, particularly in my year where I know very few people (ok, I know 1/6 of the year. Not much). Maybe it's just that I feel an odd one out, and that's a harder thing to get out of your system.

Anyway, enough waffle. Reasons to be, and not to be, openly, actively and obviously of queer gender. And why I'm not, but sometimes wish I was. My identity isn't a whole lot different, I just don't spend time thinking about it - it still confuses me. I think it always will. No big deal - I've got bigger deals to focus on.

I've just read another quote that fits in to this quite nicely. It's from a trans awareness article, linked to by the previous article:
"she belives that transgender people should have the right to "exist without definition". The only thing I do know is the fact that I don't know," she says. "I live my life not knowing, but that's OK"."
Oh look, I'm not the only one. Always nice.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Look at me I'm such a prolific writer

The title is heavily sarcastic since I'm still struggling on with writing the applications.

A positive that I meant to add: I was reading the old posts, and how miffed I had previously been about having to give presentations in pairs when everyone else knows each other and has friends, and that I'd have a horrible time every rotation trying to find a partner... not so! In haem/onc there were 4 of us without partners who got together after someone asked (turned out there were a few others no there at that point), one of which was my previous partner, but we tactfully agreed that working with new people was better, so I worked fairly successfully with someone else. No prizes again, but the presentation was functional and practical, whilst other people's were fascinating.
Neuro we could do it in groups, so I worked with the two that is was grouped with for clinics - made life easy. Again no prizes, but I know something about the pituitary now so yay for that.
Derm was individual presentations (I presented my mum!! She conveniently happened to have a major skin thing during my derm rotation, and was more interesting than lots of the patients I met! Also I got a good insight into how it affected the life of a patient...) and ENT I have to write a case report. Which is due next week so I should get on that pretty damn soon!
Next rotation may have a presentation but things are not as cliquey as I first thought so I don't really care.

I had posted previously that I wanted a prize so I could it on academic foundation applications... well applications are now, and prizes awarded in August. So it doesn't even matter.

In other thoughts - do I shout about working for a drug company on my job applications or not? It was lots of useful experience, but evil pharma has a bad reputation. Dilemma.

Hello again

Oh look, time flew, again. Didn't feel like it at the time, as I spent months solidly working. Paid off, in that omg can-you-believe-it I actually got an A in the essay that I had previously said I didn't stand a chance at. It turns out (yes, it has taken me 5 years of Higher Education to learn this) that the trick is to write a draft, and then revise and alter and add and edit it. Who knew?!? Unfortunately I spent a month discovering this, a month that would have been much better spent on writing the project that comprises 50% of the marks for this year (the essay was 40% of 25% so a lot less). The trick of doing well, it seems, is to get really into it. Ok, so I didn't really learn how to actually do something about anxious patients frequently attending, but I had a good think about it. And I learned that Sure Start centres can be pretty amazing! Shame they're being somewhat cut.

My over-riding feeling of the mega-project is that it was a bit shit, but largely cos everything I did in the last 24 hours before handing it in (an embarassingly large amount of it) was a bit shit. I think it will take a while, and probably the final result, before I can remind myself that everything I wrote in the 6 weeks preceeding was not a bit shit.
The fact that I'm presenting it at an international conference probably helps, though is significantly terrifying.

I spent much of the project saying "this is hell, I am never doing this ever again" but yet my life plan includes doing a Masters, and I am currently applying for academic research jobs. Nutter. At the same time, the feeling of "look, I found out something, and I did it all by myself!!" is kind of good, possibly motivating, and gives some kind of rational explanation of why I might be putting myself through it all over again. Though with something I'm much more interested in.

The academic foundation applications are hell, though I learned yesterday that the non-academic foundation applications are hugely hell-er. "Describe two cases you have seen, with the same diagnosis, the differences in their management, how they were managed by multi-disciplinary teams and what you learned from this, and how you would apply this learning to your work as a foundation doctor, and what learning needs you identified. In 5 words." Ok, I made that last bit up (well, I made it all up, but the rest is accurate), it's probably 150. But when the question is almost as long as the answer, you know you don't have much hope, unless you're a professional writer. Which I'm clearly not. It annoys me how much the application depends on writing skills and not doctor skills. Hand-writing skills would be more relevant than this!

The academic foundation applications involve talking a lot about achievements. I think if you're someone with a lot of confidence, that's going to help a lot with the application, even though it doesn't necessarily mean you're a better doctor.

Enough ranting.

Other half still living a hundred or so miles away, still applying for jobs where we supposedly live.

Social life still improving. Still haven't learned how to get people to leave at bedtime, but getting better at it.

Despite not feeling like I've done all that much clinical stuff other than sitting in corners of clinics, I am actually getting better at talking to people. Keep going with that I guess...
Not better at talking to children, since I haven't really met any all year, but crossing all fingers and toes and belly button (it's kind of crossed anyway) that I'll get back to Over the Wall (www.otw.org.uk) this summer, which will help greatly with that, but in a fun way. What else could I cross?!

Anyway, back to applications in which I pretend to believe in myself and my supposed capabilities.

I feel like I should talk about non-medical stuff too, but I can't think of anything right now, without going off on political rants, which wouldn't bring anything new to the debates anyway.