She is not a number. She is Charlie.

I wake up all too often these days and see newspaper stories of trans kids. Children plastered across the front of a paper with the single purpose of making sales, and making money.

What’s my Charlie?

She isn’t one of a growing number of trans cases. She isn’t a statistic in your papers. She isn’t a prize to be discussed or a story to be told. She isn’t a case to be studied, or a prop in a some sort of drama. She isn’t weird or part of a media circus; she isn’t a subject on display. She isn’t a child on the verge of meltdown, or person in the wrong body. She isn’t to be feared, not to be dismissed. She isn’t scared of change, and she isn’t scared to be her.

What is my Charlie?

She is part of a growing number of children who are free to be themselves. She’s part of a generation who are being fierce and bold. She telling her own story, the way it should be told. She is her own wee person and her soul is more precious than most. She is brave, kind and courageous; and she is as stubborn as a mule. She’s funny, she’s quirky, she’s spoiled and cute. She’s only just a child who is perfect beyond all words. She has a fantastic body, it’s hers and it’s unique. She just needs a little adjustment.

She is a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a cousin, a niece, a daughter and she is mine. So dear newspapers be careful what you say, these children have a force behind them…

Do not be scared of my Charlie. She isn’t infectious, although I wish everything about her courage was. Do not be afraid of what you read in the papers “sex change clinics” don’t exist. These trans men and women want exactly the same as you. They just want to be free.

I will celebrate the growing number of children being themselves, they are ferociously brave in a world which is so outrageously cruel. We tell our children always to be their own person and never to conform, then we must stand by that.

Charlie isn’t perfect but she is perfect to me.

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The Weinstein Effect

I’ve been doing a dating blog and some research this month, but it’s sex and relationships on my terms. During this period the world seems to be flabbergasted that a man in power has used his might to sexually abuse women. I say abuse because that’s what it is. It’s hard for a woman to make it in this world and if you think women are equal then you’re so off the mark your hitting the wall.

I love being flirty when I fancy someone, I love kissing, I love laughing at jokes and I love feeling desired. What I don’t love is feeling objectified, cornered and unable to say anything because the man in person wields power. In my job there have been men, powerful men, who have made me cry myself to sleep. Men who have taken my outgoing personality as a geeen light to talk to me like some poor girl from a cheap porno. Why did I cry because I could do nothing about it. If I said something it would cause a huge problem and I was terrified I would be black listed. Even worse I was horrified that people would think it was my fault. I’m blonde and I wear makeup, I’ve had a boob job and fillers; so it must be right? Even now I wonder if it is, it shouldn’t be, but maybe it is. Maybe I have to realise that even 2017 isn’t a place I can be myself without harassment.

Typing this now the tears are falling down my face.

How many times did I go to bed wishing I could run away? Too many. Even as I type this I’m frightened someone is saying “she’s such an attention seeker”. Do you know what it’s like to have to avoid a corridor in your place of work because you feel sick to your stomach? Do you know what it’s like to hide tears from your children because you’re scared you’re never going to be more than the blonde girl? Do you know what it’s like to worry you will lose your job because you can’t take “flirty banter”? Do you know what it’s like to cry to your friend and beg them to let you quit your job because men cannot behave? Do you? Do you think this is self pitty? It’s not. It’s abject fear for the future of girls, my girls, your girls, all girls.

when I was 14 years old my friends brother slid his hand up my top and I vomited for a whole day. I told my parents  and they made sure something was done. My mother and father told me it was never ever my fault that someone had mistreated me, and that it never would be in the future. This incident has made an indent on me so much, that regardless of who you think I am, I find intimacy a struggle until I have deep trust.

I work for a wonderful MSP. So many times I’ve heard stories, here are some: He is fucking her. He employed her because, well look at her. He is into her. She only got the job cause she’s a flirt. Let me set the record straight, my boss has more integrity in his little finger than most men I have ever come across. He is kind, loyal and respectful. So let the rumours come back to bite you, that’s what karma does.

I am deeply flawed, insecure and sometimes I make mistakes but I am a woman who hurts. A woman who cries. A woman who has nightmares. A woman who feels deeply. I deserve to feel safe. I deserve to wear heels, lipstick and big hair in peace. I deserve kindness. I deserve respect….. and so does every other woman who walks this planet.

Where do you find them?

So I’ve decided October will be a dating month, everyone needs someone to snuggle under a blanket with right? so it’s the perfect time to start this series of blogs and to “put myself out there”. The question “where are all the men?”  is probably one of the most asked in female (and gay) history. The real question should actually be: where are all the nice guys (and girls)? 

The first time I ever “got a number” was in the Hamilton Palace. The guys name was Steven and he was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, apart from Luke Nijholt, who had the best legs on my teenage planet. Sidenote: if you don’t know who Luke is you aren’t a well fan. I digress, so I’m in the “Hugh Dallas” and Steven asks the barman for a napkin and a pen, and wrote down his HOME phone number. That’s right dolls, I had to do that amazing “oh hello is Steven in” phonecall to his maw. Swear, there is not  a nervous feeling that comes close to that phonecall but alas our young team will never know it. Yes I called, yes we dated and yes I dumped him for a hot doctor who I worked beside. I’ve always been the same, easily distracted.

It’s sad to think people will never again have to stand in Victoria’s or Archaos and will someone to pull out a napkin. I still go out in hope, dolled up to the nines, wishing that a milk tray style man will send over a bottle of champs. (Yes I can feel the rage of the feminists but this is my fantasy and I’ll think as I wanna). These days you go out and then you only need a name and you’ve got a Facebook, Instagram and credit check done on your potential date. Now it’s all internet isn’t it? I met one of the loves of my life on twitter. Yes, yes I don’t believe in one great Love, I’m an optimist. I met this man on twitter and he was lovely and delicious and funny and smart; the problem is that in real life the story can be different, a persons online persona is never the same but in this case he was as charming in real life. To be honest too charming and there lay the problem (that and a very mean ex-wife). Sidenote Im still friends with this man, and you can’t have too many of them. Facebook I hate because it’s a hunting ground for creeps, mate just because you like every one of my photos does not mean I’m gonna rush out for a Nando’s and back for a boxset. No sir. Oh and don’t get me started on the married ones, mate I only know you because I do the school run with yer Mrs! (For example…..) BOLT. 

So that leaves me with the dating apps. I’ve never tried them. I’ve heard such terrible things about tinder, grindr and the likes that I’m scared that just looking at the app will cause an influx of disgusting genital pics. FYI boys: girls hate seeing photos of your penis, if there is a woman out there who disagrees then fair enough, but I’ve yet to meet her. Sending a woman a willy pic will turn her on in the same way it would Donald Trump doing a strip tease. In other words, don’t, ever, never. 

So a few weeks ago a friend gets me on “bumble”. It’s like tinder, you swipe left and right like a human dating catalogue; this makes me feel really guilty. Seriously, every time I swipe left I think “Rosa you’re so shallow and mean, maybe he has a nice personality and a good heart”; but as my friend Joe said “you don’t walk a personality down the street”. Shameful, but true. You have to have a physical attraction, fact. So you plow on and then, out of no where you “match” he likes you and you him. You have a chat, you exchange numbers, date, fall in love and have babies. WRONG. You send a witty message only to be ghosted and then your insides fall apart because you think you’re no longer as funny or cute as you believed. Or they reply and their chat is as bright as winter night. Or you go on a date and you have to listen to the “im so wonderful, you’re so lucky to be with me” subtext of their date chat. Bumble proving to be a nightmare, well almost…..

I have had one date. It was fun, he was handsome and kind, there was beaches and walks. First kisses, hand holding and music. It was perfect bar one small detail, he lives over 2 hours away. Just my luck troops, but then that’s the joy of dating, if you could find it on your doorstep you would already have Love, but that might be mundane. If you want to go to the effort of dating then you’ll push the boundaries (and your  lease car mileage allowance) and expect nothing less than butterflies…

Wish me luck team… the month has only just begun….

P.S if you have a funny dating story or top tip, then guest blogs are welcome 

Iconic Award

Everyone has something to say about my life, often painful and hurtful things; but I guess that’s public life. However very recently something lovely happened to me. I was given an award for being a “straight ally” to the LGBTI community. The First Minister and Glasgow Provost were in my category but I won, a wee single mammy from Wishaw. I really do love this award but in some ways it’s odd, because really I’ve only been awarded for doing the right thing. My mum and dad have always taught us that if we are able, you do what you can for those around you who need a little extra love. I wasn’t able to make an acceptance speech as I was poorly but I still think it would be nice to say some thanks.

To my three Ks, three “sisters” Caz, Claire and Alison, and Conor who are never done texting me, for keeping my eyes on reality and for reminding me of who I really am. Thank you. To Amo who is my can’t live with, can’t without pal; I know you always have my back no matter what separates us. Thank you. To Jordan Daly and Liam Stevenson who always inspire me to do more for LGBTI young people, you are the epitome of change. Thank you. James Dornan MSP, my boss, my rock and my friend. Thank you. My pals across politics and beyond for always saying nice things on the twitter and fighting with trolls on my behalf. Thank you. Rhiannon V Who is the spark that makes me want to fight harder. Thank you. To my mum and dad who are sellotape that keeps my heart together when so many of my dreams and hopes shatter. Thank you. Pete and the three Gordon’s who love me and the girls and never fail to make us laugh. Thank you. To the LGBTI community who have allowed me to stand and fight in your name. Thank you.

Finally I’d like to thank my beautiful girls Skye and Charlie. They are courageous, kind and frankly the most beautiful souls to have walked this planet. Both with unique challenges and both not without struggles; and yet both so willing to allow me to use their struggles to reach others. Thank you. I’m not gay, I was born in the right body and I have a lovely life; but it is the duty of all of us to stand up for those who are unable to do it themselves. I beg of the straight community ask questions. Challenge homophobia and transphobia. Ask for your children to be educated in LGBTI issues. Be the change this world so desperately needs. If you are a man or woman, boy or girl, who is currently living in a secret, if you are scared to be yourself and you don’t know what the future holds because of your gender or sexuality then this award is for you. It’s to remind you that you are not alone and we are fighting to make this world less frightening. This award is for those who cannot be themselves 🌈

Men, Muslims and the Middle East…

Recently I travelled to the United Arab Emirates to see my best friend. Travelling to Dubai is a choice to see the girl I love, her husband and her beautiful, delicious baby. There is a lot to be said for the city of Dubai, it’s very presence is an assault on the senses, “bright lights, big city” doesn’t even start to cover it. From the thousands of restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world, to the noisy fountains, and dramatic buildings. I love a lot of it, I’m not afraid to say I’m dazzled by the beauty, and awe inspired by the maginututed at which everything grows and changes. I’m the type of person who loves shiny new things. Magpieitis.

However, every time I travel there I’m deeply concerned about the stories concerning human rights, workers rights and basically the threatment of anyone who isn’t a rich westerner or from a Gulf State. Being involved in politics you just have to check in at DBX airport and you’re being battered by the left for not having your moral compass set accurately. I just can’t imagine this is unique to the holiday town of Dubai, most tourist attractions are a magnet for those from poorer cultures who seek to gain employment in an ever hurtful economy. So is it right to travel there and enjoy the pleasures of the Middle East as long as we look after those, who look after us? I think so. The laws in the UAE are changing all the time, international travellers put pressure on the union governments to really think about their migrant workers. This happens not just in Dubai but all over the world; Mexico, resorts in Spain, Egypt…. I could continue. Even Blackpool businesses have had raids on the accommodation of seasonal workers and that’s three hours down the road from cassa Zambo!

So what about the men? It’s the joke I’ve heard a thousand times. “Oh Rosa you’ll come back with a rich Arab” and “think of the fabulous life”. Maybe it’s even a joke I’ve made myself, but the cold hard fact is that many of the “tourists” in Dubai come from all over the world and that makes it the most beautiful, cultural melting pot; but also the spark of a fuse which would ignite many a crossed wire. I was followed in the biggest mall in the world for over an hour by an Arab male. My daughter was frightened and I was alaramed, but mostly pissed off at having to evade him in my very painful but gorgeous Valentino Rock Studs. When we finally asked security to do something about it the opinion was very much “you can’t blame a guy for trying and you look Russian…. you know?”. No I don’t know. I’m not frightened to lie and say while I was seriously angry I text a male Muslim friend and asked him “would this have happened to me if I was in hijab? I think not”. Boy did that open a can of worms, he very quickly, rightly and swiftly reminded me that this was man problem, a  feminism issue and absolutely nothing to do with being in a Muslim country. You see I’ve been followed by a man in a mall before, I was with my bae of the time in Manchester and a young man decided following me around till he saw my boyfriend was a “grand idea”. That happened at “home”, just a feckless man thinking a blonde would drop at his feet. Religion? Nothing to do with it. His penis replacing his brain? Maybe so. It’s easy to blame religion, culture or upbringing for being a wanker but actually the truth of the matter is we just have to push on for equality globally.

Equality, the magic word eh? So where’s wee Charlie? Why didn’t she go? The answer is simple. I cannot risk taking a transgender girl with a male passport through the immigration of a country like the UAE. This Gauls me. It burdens my soul. Every man and their dug keeps telling me I must be utterly infuriated at the very thought of it, and yes I am; but what about the UK? You see we want to blame the Muslims, that be easy, but what about the country I live in that won’t give my daughter the passport she deserves. The passport that would allow her to go to any country, a little book of freedom. I’m only one woman, so yes I think LGBTI rights are shot to shit in these countries but we’re still not there in the U.K. either….. and while I’m on it she couldn’t live in Australia because she would never be able to get married and that’s meant to be one of the most “laid back countries on earth”. It’s just another global fight.

This has been a long rambling type blog but I felt it needed to be out of my system. In this world every single human needs these things to survive: water, food, shelter, love and human rights. It’s not my job to boycott every country in the world because I don’t like their governments treanent of the vulnerable, because to be frank I’d have to live on the moon. It is our job to continue to highlight inequality when we see it. Even to write about it, notice it and address it if and and when we can. 

I’ll be going back to Dubai. I’ll be going back to my second family. I’ll travel the world but I promise in my mind I will always be thinking that “some” men are just wankers (watch for the stampede of woman are too brigade) and I will always be thinking that we could do more…. Inequality isn’t a “Muslim” problem it’s a human issue.

PS did not find husband rich or otherwise much to mammy Zambonini’s upset 

Dear Polticians We Want To See The Real YOU! 

When I had my stroke-ish-thing I came off social media and stayed away from politics in general. One day a friend phoned me and was going on about Kezia resigning, I had no idea what he was talking about. I wasn’t living in the twittersphere. You see we think as politicians (or former politicians) that Social Media is this fantastic platform for spreading the word and your opinion, and yes it can work. However, quite often the very polished photo of a politician smiling away at some event or other means nothing to Sandra, Joe or Bill when they go to the polling station. Quite often your big amazing point is only liked and retweeted by people who agree with you anyway, I’m doubtful if it changes the mind of the opposition.

My job title, when I’m not ill, is “communications manager” and yes I love it and it’s important to let people know What James is doing but what James Dornan does best is talk to his constituents when he passes them in the street. Asking old school pals how their wife and weans are. Talking to his old pal about the football. Speaking to community activists and not using it as a pat on the back photo op. What constituents don’t want are politicians who are never off twitter using words they have to a) Google or b) give a flying feck about. They just want to know you’re fighting for them and that they can relate to you.

Now I know I’m a fan of the social media and very often I’m slagged for being so open. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s hindered my career progression in some ways, but here’s a story. In January I did a “diet diary”, it was literally me just moaning daily about my struggle with chocolate. I got more case work out of that than anything else. Women mailing me to say “hen I feel you, and while I’m on could you help me with my wee problem”. Why did this happen? Because it was relatable. 

Imagine if our politicians tweeted these type of things instead of the daily “smile in a group photo”

1) female politician tweets “late for committee cause the wean had me up all night with sore teeth and a sore ear”. Mothers up and down the land would be saying “on yerself doll for still getting to your work”

2) a male politician tweets “sorry I didn’t make it to the 17th gala day of the year but my wife was fuming that she’d been left with the weans all week herself so she took off to the spa”. Every man in the country with kids would be like “been there ma san”

3) young politicians “bit hungover after an amazing night out this weekend but I’ll be back on form at work Monday.” Showing young people you can actually have a life and still take an interest in the world around you.

4) single politician tweeting “do you think it would be ok for me to get on the Match.com cause tinders rotten”. Every singleton in he country would be howling and high fiving you. 

We are always talking about getting a variety of people into politics but in all honesty the political environment seems pretty hostile to the average joe out there. People would say to me “you’re no one of them hen you’re one of us” but the fact is all politicians are humans, and brave to stand up for what they believe in. I just wish now and again they would show that to the public.

When the “selfie queen” article was printed about me in the Sun I was livid at the approach; but what I failed to notice was the hundreds and I mean hundreds of young girls who said “canny believe a girl like you can be in politics”. It had its own impact.

I once watched Nicola Sturgeon notice a wee family on the door step of their house in one of the most impoverished estates in Wishaw. She bolted up and had a wee play with kids and a blether, I know for a fact that word of this action spread around Wishy like wild fire and probably achieved more than any of my pro snp election tweets.

Yes social media has its place. Yes it’s important for politicians to highlight good causes. Yes it’s important and great to raise awareness; but I’m telling you people would LOVE to see the real life of politicians. The side that wished they were good at diets but the Parliament grub is too good. The side that loves people but cries at the inequality around us. People love to relate.

When I was at work one day I was walking behind a female politician who I admired, revered, and wished I could be like. A woman who is smart, sharp and fearsome. Guess what? She had a ladder in her tights and so I loved her even more.

Can Christian Politicians Love the Gays? 

I was brought up by a Church of Scotland Minister. My dad the Rev JZ. A man of integrity, of love and of courage. We were taught love comes before everything, love, forgiveness and no judgment.

In the bible there are loads of verses which guide us on how to live. Not to gossip, not to talk ill of others, not to steal, not to be envious, not to swear etc etc. For me the bible was written when times were different and it was written by men who interpreted Gods word. The bible tells us to live our lives in ways to protect us BUT more than anything it tells us to love unconditionally. Love love love. The bible also tells us to take the plank out of our own eye before we start picking out the splinter from the eye of others. 

Is it a sin? Is it not? I actually think God has more to worry about and to be honest I really do not care what anyone does. God also told women not to cut their hair according to the bible, but I’m pretty sure God would rather I have short hair helping my community than a selfish midden with hair down to my bum! I don’t see it as a sin. I don’t. Maybe it’s because I have a transgender child and I know it wasn’t a choice, a decision but it’s the way she is. She is loved unconditionally and guess what she has more faith in Jesus and God than many “straight” christians I know.

For me the question for politicians should be this? Do you care about me regardless of my “sins” or “flaws” and will you love me enough to represent me when I need you the most? That’s the bottom line, and if they can’t then for me, they can’t represent everyone as a politician.

God shows EVERYONE incredible grace. He asks us to love each other with NO exceptions. Our lives are our own. We should really do unto others as we would have them do, even if you aren’t a Christian; because if you treat others that way then you won’t go wrong.

I love the LGBTI community not because of Charlie but because they are made by God and he knew who they were before they were even born, and the God I know makes everyone perfect in his sight!