The end of 2016 is fast approaching and what a year it has been. On a global level we have grieved over the loss of many icons, we've watched in horror at the atrocities happening in Syria and we've stared in disbelief at the USA election results. For me, and I suspect for many in the LGBT* minority groups, it has been blow after blow, losing icons, losing fights for equality and feeling the ground tilting underneath us.
It may seem that we live in a world of wide open eyes, of acceptance and equality. We have, after all, got equal marriage rights in the whole USA and UK now. (Steady there...I know it's a shocker but it really has happened!). However 2016 has been the year to prove us wrong. It has been the year of the so-called "bathroom bill" which calls for transgender people to be forced to use the toilets of their assigned-at-birth gender.
2016 was a year of changes for me too. Mostly in the right direction, I have come out more fully, begun the process of transitioning (though I still don't fully know what that will mean for me) and I now sit here with some smarting scars in the place of my unwanted breasts. I am becoming myself. So what will next year hold?
I don't make resolutions, I have found too often the pressure to execute them perfectly has driven me to anxiety and illness. In my mind I imagine I will sit here in a year's time with a buff body, slim hips, a face that passes more as a man than not. I will have aced my second year at uni and be breezing through my third. I will be married to my beautiful wife, it will be perfect. And yet, in reality, I know that only the last in that list will really happen. So you see why resolutions are unrealistic.
Instead the new year will bring a different kind of new me. I will fashion a new me from actions and words, a new form sewn out of relationships and strengthened with self confidence. I will endeavor to look in the mirror and like what I see, or find something each day to like. I will try my best to love more, to love stronger, to be kinder. And I will continue my fight to make a place in this world for me. For us. For those of us who fall between the lines, who slip between the cracks. I will shout louder and shine brighter so I cannot be ignored. This time next year I hope that I can sit here and say that, somehow, I made a difference. I brought freedom. I brought hope.
Happy New Year everybody. May the next one be even better.