Miracles of Love

I need a miracle.

In the last year, or maybe in my recent life, I’ve fallen into my bed many a night and asked for a miracle. Asked for Charlie and Skye to have better health, that their lives wouldn’t be filled with so many trials and tribulations. I’ve begged God, whoever he may be, to cure my mother who is deeply tortured by mental health issues. I’ve closed my eyes and asked him to let me live when I was seconds from dying. Now, I’m not sure if it was God who saved me, or if it was my ridiculously stubborn will power but here I am; just being here isn’t the miracle though I think it was the details that saved me.

When I was taken into casualty I was assigned a specialist stroke nurse who was strong willed, feisty and spoke when I couldn’t. I will never forget her whispering in my ear ‘if you take this drug you will die’; I didn’t take it and I lived. Her love, care and compassion was my lifeline in my darkest hour. There were so many micro-miracles that its hard to place them all in my foggy memories; the joiner who installed a tone of rails in my house free of charge, the food which just appeared to feed my children and the constant love which would fall on me when I would least expect it.

Earlier in the year I took a trip to Italy, I went alone and spent so much time in reflection, my wee mum is sick; she is so poorly I often wonder how she opens her eyes every day. It was in Italy during some of the quietest moments of my life that I begged for a miracle. I wanted my mum to be able to annoy me again, to tell me my fake tan was too dark, to instruct me on the art of laundry or to simply sit in my home watching me live my life. Instead of feeling miraculous the allegations of sexual harassment started to tumble out across Scotland, and while far away from everyone I loved, my own memories were swirling around my brain like a storm of dark nightmares. I started to get sick. My face started to freeze and I was miles away from home. There was a night which was so dark that I wondered how much more of life a person could take when the mountains seemed so inexplicably high. I told the young hotel owner that I would be taking to my bed for a day or so and not to worry if he didn’t see me, I explained that I had been sick and I needed a rest. At eleven that night there was a loud bang on the door and his mother instructed me to drink some holy water for my pain, it wasn’t the water that brought me back to life it was her love and kindness. The next morning when I opened the shutters I kept thinking that I had been missing the answers all along. Nothing was exactly as I had planned in my life, but being so deep in my own worry had led me to miss the amazing things that happen around me every single day. I was having my own personal pity party.

I’ve recently got to know a young mum of three, a care experienced girl who beat the system and got her degree; was married and pregnant when her world came tumbling down around her. Husband left, rent was too high, benefit cuts too deep to let her survive. My sister took this family into her heart and she told me that they would fly. Homeless, alone and with nothing. We asked for a miracle. It wasn’t a blinding light, it wasn’t a lottery win; it was Councillor Cannon making sure she got the right caseworker, it was the people of Wallacewell who wouldn’t let her sink, it was in my friends who are painting and decorating her new wee home, it was in my sister who believed in her. It was in the hope that life could be more. Those were her miracles. On Friday this girl didn’t even have food in her cupboards but on Saturday night she was thanking the world for her wonderful new life. You see, she has her eyes open to what love is.

Charlie started her hormone journey today. I sat in the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids listening to her medical history as it was read out to me, heart defects, epilepsy, diabetes, depression; and now her body is going to have to battle so hard to be what it should be anyway. Just to be who she is on the inside. As I sat I kept thinking about all the current right wing press condemning these young trans people. I thought my heart would shatter. Who would pick this? I wanted to pick her up and run, run as far as I could; but she didn’t want to run, she wanted to stand up to this and to carry on. As we walked out the hospital we passed kids, some of whom were so sick they couldn’t walk and my heart felt like it was going to explode. Wandering through the corridors with Christmas trees and cheery festive music I was sure my emotions were going to betray me, seconds from tears and my stomach in knots we walked out to see a rainbow so big and bright we both stood for ages, eventually burst out laughing. You see we cant change our problems but we can change how we react to them. We can choose to let them topple us or we can decide to make our broken moments make us stronger. Dolly Parton once famously said ‘Storms make trees take deeper roots’.

To that end I’m going to be doing something to make micro-miracles for others. James (the boss) is collecting toys for local charities but I will be collecting (and begging) for small gifts for young women just like the girl in my blog. Women who have been given so little in life but who deserve a little hope. If you could donate a small, wrapped gift for a young lady then let me know. Ill be giving them to WAVES on the Southside and to the women of Wallacewell. It’s time for me to open my eyes. If you are struggling with life, and if miracles seem like a fantasy, let someone know. People in this country are getting poorer, austerity isn’t killing the debt, its killing people; but I believe in good. I believe in hope. I believe that Jo Cox was right when she said “there is more which unites us than divides us”. If you cant donate to my precious ladies that’s ok, we all have budgets but try and give something. A hello to a grumpy neighbour, five minutes babysitting to the single mum in your street, dinner to an elderly relative; change will come of that I have no fears but until then we must look out for each other. If your give a little, even if it’s just your time, then eventually you’ll be your own miracle.

Gifts can be handed in to our Glasgow Cathcart office on Clarkston Road, or alternatively shoot me an email at rosa.zambonini@parliament.scot

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My God is Proud of Pride 

I’ve not written a blog in months but I think now, with this very short one, is a good time to start. With pride on in Glasgow this weekend it got me to thinking why we should be proud of our LGBTI community, but more importantly why we should love them, and of course each other.

One of my most read blog posts was around the issues of Christian politicians, and if they can serve the LGBTI community. However, I suppose as a Christian mum, the bigger question is why can’t ALL Christian’s love the LGBTI community? The bible was written in times that were very different, there was interpretation and cultural influences on everything that was written by MEN, God passed on his word; but ultimately the bible was written by humans who have opinions. A pastors wife recently said to me that we would never dream of sacrificing children to God and yet that was a practice discussed in the Old Testament, it was a thought provoking statement and true.

As a mum of a trans child all I want is for her to be happy; almost weekly I’m reminded that her life will be harder than everyone else’s. She will always be “different”, she will always have “battles” and she will also have “hurts”. However Charlie also has a great big God who loves her. In the bible the word love is mentioned almost more than any other, over and over and over it tells us to love EVERYONE. This “love the sinner and hate the sin” chat is also rubbish, imagine if christians went to church and said “I love you even though you said shi*t and you’re a big fat gossip”, it’s unthinkable. We are told not to judge and that means YOU! If you’re a Christian reading this just don’t.. ok? No one likes pious nonsense and it brings no one closer to God.

The God I know is loving, he is kind, he is giving, he catches me when I fall, and he is always near. I understand why many don’t believe in his presence because life is hard right? Look at me: a diabetic trans daughter, another with cerebral palsy, almost choking with a stroke at 35… so you could say it’s hard to believe he’s even around, but I think he is otherwise I don’t think I’d be able to put one foot in front of the other. What I also believe is that God loves everyone and I mean everyone. No one is excluded from the love of Jesus, Jesus didn’t die on the cross and rise to say believe in me and you will live (apart from the gays, they’re out). 

God loves everyone even the gays whether you like it or not. In Glasgow we often hear “let Glasgow flourish” but often we miss out the second part “by the preaching of his word and the praising of his name”. Last year at Pride the only thing that upset my Christian daughter charlie was when a group of “evangelists” hurled abuse at her while she walked proudly, even though she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. So I’d like to ask them this: will God judge me for loving or will he judge you for hating and making a very fragile 13 year old girl cry by telling her that her own God has disowned her? 
Glasgow welcomes the Gays, the trans and everyone in between this weekend. Glasgow will flourish by the very beautiful and colourful spectical that is pride. God will be there because pride is a place of love and where there is Love there is peace….

Happy Pride Glasgow 

Just TIE me up in love

Recently there have been figures being banded about on the wait times for CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services). I don’t have the answers but I do have a thought. My daughter Charlie was self harming, slashing her arms till they looked like they had been clawed at by a wild animal and contemplating taking her own life. It took love, support and many weeks at Camhs before we got to the root of the problem…. She was trans.

Camhs were an exceptional tool and I know the Scottish government are committed to reducing wait times, however like every other illness, I think we should be looking at prevention where possible. A cure is good but prevention is always better, and nine times out of ten more cost effective. That’s where TIE (time for inclusive education) comes in. Many of the young LGBTI young people I’ve met during Charlie’s journey were in the same boat, the  story is so often repetitive. Fear of being who they are, fear of being bullied, fear of telling parents. Hatred of themselves, hatred of who they are, hatred of their own flesh. Then comes a Camhs referral, an opening up and finally acceptance…. not always but most of the time.

TIE aims for a better understanding of LGBTI issues, a reduction of bullying and a removal of stigma. If you think “hey I’m gay/trans/lesbian but that’s ok it’s as normal as being left handed;” then wouldn’t you be less likely to hate yourself? I think so! It’s about seeking to engage everyone from the straight community, the LGBTI community and the educational departments to ensure young people don’t resort to horrific acts of violence on their own precious skin.

This won’t just change the lives of young people but it will create generations of more tolerant adults. Workplace bullying, especially for trans women in very male dominated environments, is a huge issue. This results in many adults seeking the same support as our young people, but many often think they should be stronger, the shame overcomes them and they decide the only way out, is the unthinkable.

I’m not saying for a minute that this will resolve every issue faced in the treatment of young people and their battles with mental health, however I believe it would be a start. I speak out all the time on trans issues because I face it along side Charlie every day. This week my mum (gran sheena) realised she is wearing a  jacket in summer because she is ashamed of her own wee shape and my 70 year old mum has been researching special bras! Awesome right? But what if your family isn’t like that? What if charlie spent the whole summer roasting because of shame? That would damage her mental health beyond words. So we have to do more and in my heart I believe the schools are where we can achieve this.

I spoke at the SNP conference earlier this year where the members supported the TIE pledge (I will link the speech below). However words are not enough, if you want to reduce wait times, encourage children and most importantly save lives, then we must act. This is not a liberal versus conservative argument; or indeed church versus state; no – this is LIFE or DEATH. I urge everyone, especially the straight community who might think this will never effect you, to keep acting! The only way we can change the world is to get up and do it. Not just for wait lists, or Charlie; but for every young person in our country! Love wins. 

Growing Up Trans and Without Practice 

For most young women some of our best memories are sitting watching our mothers and sisters making them selves glam. I loved stealing my sisters lippy and using the lovely neon eyeshadows of my mothers 80s collection. Makeup and beauty doesn’t define a woman but as a glam lover, I understand the confidence that comes with a freshly painted face or nice new blow dry. 

When Charlie came out she stared to wear makeup and wasn’t quite as adept as my younger daughter Skye. That’s when it hit me, Skye’s had her whole life free to copy me and to experiment. While wee charlie had only ever been able to sit and wish from sidelines. Thankfully she is only 14 so we have plenty of time to get her glowing like Elizabeth Arden herself; but what about the ladies who only come out later in life?

It got me to thinking. No one teaches them how to blow-dry, use GHDs or do a winged liner. It would be quite difficult to go into a shop during the early stages of transition and ask for this kind of help. Trans women face many outer beauty problems, thinner hair, facial hair, different skin types; but all of this could be tackled with a little help from a glam squad. 

There is a fabulous hairdresser in Motherwell who had invented a technique to help thicken thin hair. I’ve had a lil chat with her and we are keen to have a trans night of Glam! A safe space to see hair, makeup and skin care techniques. Trans women from all over Scotland will be welcome and it will be a completely welcoming envrionment for every woman of EVERY age.

Like I say, outer beauty doesn’t define us but I think all women deserve support and encouragement. So if you would like to come to this event or know someone who would please let me know. Please share this amongst any LGBTI groups and beyond….

Beauty is only skin deep but a little rouge never hurt anyone 😘

Trans Shopping Sagas

So tonight Charlie (my trans daughter) and  I went out and  we were glammed up women. We had a contoured checks, we had a highlighter which shone from the Gods and our winged liner was so sharp it could have been classified as a dangerous weapon. Off we went into the brave old world of East Kilbride…… 

There are two types of people on a trans shopping trip, there are the people who say “hen” overly much in order for Charlie to know that they are FULLY behind her fierce woman look. Then there are the people who do everything and anything not to catch Charlie’s eye. I’m quite sure for them getting caught means they will have caused offence, or really for some they just don’t want to see “it”. However, she’s there and she’s fierce and she smashing life. We tend not dwell on these negative  people but we tend to dwell on the “good”; like the boy in Newlook who told Charlie the more she grows into her looks the more stunning she will be. Or Margaret in “HnM” who told us her excellent tips for wrapping up her body to hide her jiggly bits when she and her man are in spain; Margaret thinks “they tehniques may be a life saver for Charlie. Cause you know yeah canny have her willie showing aff if she’s still goat it”. Her honesty and warmth made us lol and laugh till our tummys hurt. 

My Charlie is brave, everyone knows that but it’s hard going out as a girl before transmeds start. While looking quite manly facially; You need ask for girls shoes in size 9, and people ask if you’re going to a fancy dress party? You need to brace yourself for every ned (after they’re 200 yards away) shouting “poof”. Although it doesn’t always go that way, you also know that it can. So trans women are the super heros of shopping. These women are confident, glam and so gorgeous because they don’t care what people think; why? because they know what it took with for them to even be a woman….. 

You go girls and us shopaholics will carry your bags!