Tag Archives: #openmindedness

Looking Forward to ‘Sticks & Stones’

liam at sticks and stones

On June 2nd, if you are in Berlin, come to the Sticks & Stones career fair. I’ll be giving a presentation about my life and about what being transgender means to me. In short, I don’t believe in labels. We are all the sum of our experiences. I don’t ‘identify’ as anything. I simply am. I am Liam, the boy, the man I always was, regardless of outside appearances. For me, it’s all about being human. About inclusion. About respecting everyone around us no matter what their background. About loving and embracing life. And about letting go of outdated societal stereotypes that have nothing to do with who we really are. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and putting myself out there once again. I am also hoping for an engaging Q&A session after. I do not want to lecture people or tell them what to think. My aim is simply to share a few experiences, build bridges, and encourage as best as I can. I hope to see some of you there! Grab me for a beer after!

Whatever

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I continue to be amused as well as annoyed (and sometimes a bit alarmed) by the endless gender bathroom debates. I am female-to-male transgender. When I was four years old, I knew I was a boy. Being born in a girl’s body, my parents kept sending me to bathrooms assigned to female gender even though I seemed to be more like a boy from an early age. Funnily enough, I kept getting thrown out of women’s bathrooms because the outraged ladies assumed I was a little man who had wandered into their domain either by accident or on purpose.

From my late teens onwards, and after I decided to go for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgeries to fully become the real me, I always went to where I felt I truly belonged when I needed to relieve myself: to the male bathroom. I have done so ever since.

I transitioned 25 years ago… so I’ve gone to the men’s bathroom in public places hundreds of thousands of times as you can imagine. I’ve shared this space with many other men who were never the wiser that right next to them was someone who had initially been born in a wrongly-gendered body. I’m sure they’re all still fine. None of them have been traumatized. None of them were infected with a trans virus. We crossed each others’ paths. Busy with our lives. Lost in our thoughts. A moment in time.

We’re all human. I am a guy much like many others. Even a bit boring at times. And I don’t need a gender neutral bathroom. To be honest, special bathrooms for people like me remind me too much of “only white”-“only black”-water fountains. We human beings do not need any more segregation. What we need is inclusion, diversity, open-mindedness, and compassion.

So I love this bathroom sign. Exactly. Let’s think centaurs, mermaids, unicorns, aliens, and homo sapiens. Just wash your hands. It doesn’t matter who you are. Be free. Be authentic. Don’t “present”. Be.

I am who I am. I don’t “present” as anything. I strongly disapprove of this expression being so widely used lately by the media and even by trans individuals themselves. No one on this planet “presents” as someone or something. The term in itself already insinuates someone being more of an idea or a concept, instead of a human being. It suggests he, she, or they are making a choice instead of dealing with the cards they have been given, trying to make the best of who they were born to be. Thinking of people “presenting” as their gender dehumanizes them, suggests they need to fulfil certain stereotypes to belong and be accepted.

We don’t need to fulfil anything. Stereotypes are highly overrated. None of us need to tick any boxes to belong or pacify most societies’ stubborn holding-on to the gender binary and other outdated constructs.

I am Liam. You won’t even recognise me as transgender when you meet me. And even if you do, so what. I am simply one more individual in the vast rainbow of humanity, trying as best I can to navigate my existence, be kind, responsible, happy, and fulfilled.

Paralian Won “Best Debut Book”!

rainbow-winner-1

Paralian won its first literary award today. “Best Debut Book” in the 2016 Rainbow Awards!
More info on the awards and all winning categories here: http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/4932973.html
Big heartfelt thanks to the organisers and judges!
I’m stuck at home with a painful case of pink eye right now. Then snuck a peek at the glaringly bright screen of my laptop this morning against doctor’s orders… As you can imagine, seeing the unexpected winners’ rainbow brightened my day considerably 🙂
Paralian is a heartwarming, inspirational tale for everyone out there wo has ever had to face seemingly insurmountable obstacles or is facing them now. It is an odyssey to remind ourselves of the beauty of our existence. No matter how hard it might get at times, everything is possible.

Unforgettable Journeys

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Good stories touch you so deeply, your heart rate accelerates. You feel enchanted, glimpsing the entire meaning of existence for the briefest of moments.
I’m addicted to finding those kind of tales. It can be anything from true life stories to fantasy. Be it immersing myself in 3D cinematic bliss, watching movies at home, binge-watching TV series, or devouring book after book.
I don’t want to be educated too bluntly, don’t want a narrow view of existence. Instead, I want to read about all kinds of backgrounds. I want to be surprised, taken on adventures. I want to broaden my mind and be able to identify with the main characters to such an extent, I disappear for a while, imagining myself in their shoes so thoroughly the “real” world fades away.
Lately, dabbling in writing stories myself, these are the kind of unforgettable journeys I want to take you on as well. I began by sharing my own odyssey in ‘Paralian’… now what to do next? I can’t imagine only writing about being trans. It would mean going right back into the prison I escaped from so many years ago. Wide, open horizons are what I crave, what I’ve always craved…

Bedouin Brothers

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I’d never been to Egypt before and wasn’t quite sure what I’d find. One thing was sure though: after thirteen months of working full time while at the same time publishing my book ‘Paralian’ I was more than ready for a bit of adventure as well as relaxation.

Arriving at Lahami Bay resort three weeks ago, I found myself wrapped securely inside a miniature Germany-Switzerland – everything regulated and ordered, with hardly a trace of Egyptian culture detectable. The overall atmosphere was relaxing however and I hooked up with some old dive buddies to boot. Still, I had to almost force myself to ease into resort life and my traveler’s heart caught itself sighing deeply and counting the days. This place lacked authenticity, and the soul of the local people.

So my wife and I escaped the artificial resort world as much as we could and immersed ourselves underwater at the Housereef or dove in several times a day from the boat. The ocean was its deepest, most cerulean blue, with bits of sparkling turquoise twinkling around the edges.

Back on the boat for breaks between dives, I was delighted to discover the good-naturedness and fine sense of humor of our local boat crews. We got to talking and a few days later Hanna and I found ourselves walking along the beach late in the afternoon, sidestepping an armada of large hunting crabs, until we reached the small marina where all boats were anchored for the night. Ali, one of the captains had invited us to come over. As soon as we arrived, he introduced us to everyone and began preparing traditional hot beverages.

From then on we were with our Bedouin friends and brothers at the marina every day. We sat and listened, exchanged stories, cooked dinner together, learned how to roast, grind, and brew the most delicious Bedouin coffee. We marveled at the generosity and good humor of our hosts, even gazed up at the stars together late at night and shared our hopes and dreams.

This is how I like to travel, how I like to be. All that counts is the person. There is no judgment, no prejudice. There are no stereotypes, no boundaries, no labels – just human beings meeting each other with open hearts and minds. Intense eye-contact. Being fully invested in the moment. Individuals enjoying to learn from each other. Laughter, firm handshakes, sincerity, and a strong sense of self. May we meet again my brothers. Inshallah.