Tag Archives: #diversity

Presentation at Zurich Insurance Group

Yesterday, I was invited by the Zurich Insurance Group to give a presentation on diversity, inclusion, and transgender, combined with reading from my book Paralian. There are no quick fixes, no recipes, no instruction manuals. But I do believe there is nothing more valuable than personal experience. So that’s what I gave, as always striving to be straightforward and honest… and simply sharing my journey whilst leaving space for people to come to their own conclusions.
It was a great evening!
The organization was superb.The audience was delightful and the questions I was asked during the Q&A session were thought provoking. Thank you so much to my awesome audience, to Zurich Insurance Group, and to the PrideZ team in particular, for welcoming me with such warmth and enthusiasm. This was definitely a highlight for me as a public speaker and an event to be fondly remembered!

This is to you Dad

2002 dad liam and sami

For my Dad. I love you.
Check out my story here on Bored Panda.

Or, of course, you can read it right here:

When you were little, you had a tame chicken, then a crow, and later an Alsatian. You named them all ‘Jakob’. No points for creativity but, most definitely, for purity of heart.

When your wife couldn’t have children of her own, yet craved to be a mom, you said “yes” to adopting me from an orphanage, even though at the time you weren’t even sure you wanted to be a dad.

While I grew up, you struggled with responsibility, your marriage, and your sexual orientation. You weren’t a poster book dad during those times. But being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world and you did the best you could.

After school, I frightened you many times with my rather adventurous career choices. You voiced your concern but never tried to press me into your mould. You let me be my own creation. And, no matter what I did, even if it took me far away from you in every sense of the word, you told me you were proud of me.

Whenever I was impatient with you, even when I was cruel and judgmental, you forgave me. You beamed when you saw me and had tears in your eyes each time I left.

During the many times I couldn’t handle my financials, you lent me money. And when I was too broke to pay it back, that was ok, too.

When I told you I was transgender, you struggled for a while, but nevertheless gave me my very first straight razor and a bottle of Davidoff Cool Water early on during my hormone therapy, long before there was any facial hair to shave off.

Whenever I fell in love, even if sometimes it must have been obvious to anyone but me I’d run headfirst into a wall, you didn’t question my decisions. You let me discover the bewildering universe of relationships for myself.

When I wrote my first book ‘Paralian – Not Just Transgender’, you paid my rent for a year so I could stop working at my day job and write full time. You trusted me. This even though I lived halfway around the world and, when you asked, I didn’t give you a clear description of what I was writing. All I said was, “It’s going to be a book about my life.”

When Paralian was finally published two years later, you read it. I was authentic, at times painfully honest. Amongst other things, I outed you to the whole world as gay. You weren’t upset. “This is a great accomplishment,” you said, “Amazing really. I am so proud of you.”

My wife and I travel over to see you once a month now. You instantly accepted her and love her with your marvellous, warm-hearted open-mindedness.

I’m still haunted by my childhood memories at times. When they come, like dark clouds covering the sun, I can’t help being angry, or impatient and too tough on you even now. You can be so naive, so utterly out of this world. It’s your greatest strength and Achilles heel all wrapped into one.

No matter what though, I know who you are Dad. You’re my best friend. My true family.

You are a thoroughly authentic man with the kindest heart I’ve ever known.

I love you.

And I am immensely proud of you, too.

Shuffle Those Cards and Start a New Game

2008 liam and milo

The other week, when giving a presentation about my life journey, someone asked, “Why did you go and work in, for example, muslim countries, and travel worldwide to places where, as a transgender person, you were often potentially in danger of becoming the victim of a hate crime?”

The answer to this is really quite simple: “Why not?”

First and foremost, I am a human being who loves life and values his freedom. I greatly enjoy traveling all over the globe. I don’t think about being trans all the time. It doesn’t factor into what my next move will be. Rather, I look at a map and ponder which corners of our gorgeous planet I’d like to see next, where the best dive sites, the best wildlife encounters, the most beautiful landscapes are, and which points on my bucket list I want to tackle next.

I love connecting with people along the way, no matter what their background. The more diverse the better. There is so much we can learn from each other. And good people can be found anywhere. Going on an adventure together (like here in Palau with one of my best friends), or enjoying a cold beer with a couple of like-minded souls on a hot summer evening, chatting about our experiences, thoughts and dreams, is as close to heaven as I can imagine.

Nothing and nowhere is ever completely safe for anyone. No matter what we do or who we are. So why should any of us let ourselves be limited by the cards we’ve been given? Why not take charge, shuffle those cards, and start a new game? I’ve always looked ahead and tried to make the best of things. I’ll follow my heart and I’ll give it a go. Depending on where I am, I will exercise a healthy bit of caution as well, but I don’t see any reason why I should put limits to my existence. Author Helen Keller who overcame great adversity spoke straight from my heart: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Yet Another Presentation

book reading BCG zurich 1

Last Friday, I gave a presentation and read from my book ‘Paralian’ at the offices of The Boston Consulting Group in Zurich. Thanks so much to BCG for the opportunity! Special thanks to the amazing, open-minded, and engaged audience!

The Best Of Times Is Now

2017 liam at playhouse edinburgh

Just recently, my soul mate and I saw a new adaptation of the musical La Cage Aux Folles in the legendary Edinburgh Playhouse. We had grabbed the tickets on a whim. John Partridge as Albin was a revelation. The music was uplifting and is still on “repeat all” in my head and heart two weeks later. We came out beaming like a sparkling comet and felt as light as a cloud of cotton candy. Two days later we watched the musical once more on closing night. What a charming tour de force!
Written in 1973, this piece is now as timely as ever, and always will be, because the overall sentiment “Life’s not worth a damn until you can shout out ‘I am what I am’” holds true for all of us.

And then, of course, there is this, now forever embedded in my memory, a lesson to take to heart:

The best of times is now.
What’s left of Summer
But a faded rose?
The best of times is now.
As for tomorrow,
Well, who knows? Who knows? Who knows?
So hold this moment fast,
And live and love
As hard as you know how.
And make this moment last
Because the best of times is now,
Is now, is now.
Now, not some forgotten yesterday.
Now, tomorrow is too far away.
So hold this moment fast,
And live and love
As hard as you know how.
And make this moment last,
Because the best of times is now,
Is now, is now.
(Lyrics from “The Best of Times”, La Cage Aux Folles Soundtrack)

Thank you so much to the original creator and the cast and crew of this latest, most amazing adaptation. Keep blazing and sparkling on that stage with all the glitters and colors of the rainbow! @LCAF_UKTour

 

#lacageauxfolles @LCAF_UKTour #IamwhatIam #TheBestOfTimesIsNow #UKtour #musicaltheatre #lifejourney #odyssey #diversity #freedom #happiness #mutualrespect

Writers Resist

Beginning of this year, ‘Writers Resist’ events were held all over the world. These readings were to remind ourselves of the importance of human rights, freedom of speech, and mutual respect.
Here in Zurich, on a mid-January evening, we spoke up as well, reading from many different works of literature (including our own) in front of a sincere, spell-bound audience. I’m glad I was able to do my part. Because, as I pointed out in this article by JJ Marsh in ‘The Woolf’: “Kindness, compassion, and freedom of mind are key to our existence.”

writersresist

You Always Can – A Story of Coming Home to Myself

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I have always been drawn to water. Any body of water. Oceans mostly. Wanted to immerse myself. Dive in. Explore and discover.
But, as I grew up, I developed a spastic in my legs and couldn’t learn to swim properly. Later, becoming more and more aware of being stranded in a wrongly-gendered body, I felt too shy to take off my clothes and take the plunge. Until my 30ieth birthday it was all trial and error, climbing one obstacle after another. Searching for myself, slowly changing my body so I could truly become one with it, inhabit it, come home to myself.
After my gender reassignment surgeries, I gathered all my courage. Away with the shirt on hot summer days. Exposing ugly scars that looked like tectonic plates had clashed and created a whole new set of tender, jagged mountain ranges in the process.
At 31, during one stormy October week, I learned to scuba dive in the Mediterranean Sea.
One year later, I took swimming lessons, claiming the revitalizing, unpredictable element like I had always dreamt of doing.
In the years that followed, I left everything I knew behind. I lived barefoot on a Maldivian island, spent hours every day in the water – first as a snorkel guide then as a diving instructor. Every fin stroke brought me closer to my true self.
I hovered underwater. Weightless. Effortless. Aware. In the moment. Most of all: Alive.
I navigated pumping currents with the elegance of an adolescent dolphin. I helped people overcome their fear of the deep blue. Taught hundreds of students. Grew as a diving instructor until I finally even trained instructor candidates. Travelled the world. Then went on to coach performers underwater for ‘The House of Dancing Water’ in Macau – back then the biggest aquatic show on our planet.

Bottom line: Live your life. Own it. Dive deep. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do (least of all yourself). No matter how impossible or hopeless something seems at the time, no matter how daunting the circumstances: You can. You always can.