Three Ways Cis People Can Support Trans and Nonbinary People


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Wanna be a good ally to trans and nonbinary people? Here are three simple things you can do that will make a difference.

1) Respect our pronouns. When someone tells you their pronouns, use them without question. If you have questions, or need clarification about a certain set of pronouns, Google it instead of asking a trans/nonbinary person to spend spoons explaining things to you. We often have fewer spoons for this than you think, and you may be the tenth person to ask us to explain our pronouns that day. Unless they tell you they’re not out in certain contexts and need another set of pronouns for those times, use their pronouns all the time, not just when it scores you points to do so, and please don’t slip into using the wrong pronouns when you think the right pronouns might raise eyebrows. Part of being an ally is standing up for a person or group when the going gets tough. If you don’t you’re just a jerk and you make it harder for the person you’re claiming allyship to who then has to go and correct those people when they use the wrong pronouns you’ve taught them.

2) Make a habit of telling others your pronouns. When introducing yourself say “Hello, I’m [name] and my pronouns are [blah/blah/blah]”. When you’re asked for a biography for a work or whatever, put your pronouns in it. This will help cis people who don’t meet trans/nonbinary people often to make sense of their pronouns when they do, as they’ll already have come across someone who announces their pronouns as part of their introductions.

3) This one’s really important, so listen up. In your excitement to support trans and nonbinary people, please don’t throw other minorities under the bus. Trans and nonbinary people of colour exist, and being trans and nonbinary intersects with many other identities, so don’t assume all trans people are white, able-bodied, etc.. And please don’t trot out that tired old “Would you treat a black person this way?” line, or anything similar, when defending trans/nonbinary people against discrimination. Racism is still a thing. Don’t erase that. Yes, I’ve done this when I was a baby activist, but I listened to people of colour [content warning for racial slurs and a passing reference to rape] and I know better now.

So, there you are: do these three things and you’re on your way to being an ally to trans and nonbinary people. Of course, this doesn’t give you the right to crow about how wonderful you are — this is the bare minimum of being decent to us after all — it doesn’t entitle you to congartulations and pats on the back from trans and nonbinary people, and it doesn’t excuse you if you’re a jerk to us in other ways, but it is a start.



Sausagey was my dog. He jumped into the car after a day at the beach and stuck around.

When people asked me what colour he was I said he changed colour, but I usually imagined him as black with a shaggy coat.

My mum spelled his name wrong, and my aunt bought me a tile she said depicted him, but it didn’t look anything like: that dog was smooth and brown; Sausagey was jagged and never brown, but perhaps the “sausage” part of his name made her think of a Daschund?

Gods Are Not Just Good to Worship, They Are Good to Think


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Recently, an eight-year-old student of mine asked me if I believe in God. I said I don’t (well, I mostly don’t), and she said she doesn’t either, and dismissed God as “just a fluffy cloud”. I replied that, for some people, God can be a useful idea for thinking about things. I hope that I got across the usefulness of a concept of God to other people, even though she doesn’t find it useful herself, and that God as an idea has value even to those for whom it is not a reality.

Later, I did some more thinking about this. Much like Claude Levi-Strauss’s famous statement that “animals are not just good to eat, they are good to think”*, a concept of [a] higher power[s], God[s], or deity[ies], can be a useful metaphor allowing us to think in ways we may not otherwise be able to think without that concept. Much like watching the function of an anthill can help us towards a concept of a co-operative society or the similarity in the way we feel when we meet, say, a tiger and a potentially abusive member of our community warns us that both are to be feared, the idea of — eg — a judging, benevolent, loving, or vengeful deity can help us to make sense of a moral dilemma, or decide what to do in certain circumstances.

Reflecting on how and when my fleeting belief in a God shows up, it’s very much present as a metaphor to help me with my thinking.

*Totemism, 1962.

Adventures in Cursive and More Zines!

Eight days into February and I’ve been prolific in my zine-making: the sequel to Food on the Move, Hot Food on the Move is ready. It contains three vegan recipes for hot food to heat before you leave and eat as you travel, put in a Thermos flask or heat at your destination. There’s a soup, curry and chilli recipe. They’ve all travelled well with me.


 My other zine finished this month is a 27-page A4 tome entitled This Zine Was Hard to Write because it was hard to write! I started writing it in August and finished on 1st February, so you get the idea…

This Zine Was Hard to Write is a collection of writings reflecting on consent. It’s really personal, so I’m only selling two copies for now. Here’s an extract from the intro…

In these pages you’ll find some personal reflections on my experiences with consent and its absence. I have written about times when people have behaved well or badly with my consent, but also about a time when I did some things I’m not proud of. It’s helpful to reflect on these things, as I would be deceiving you if I didn’t give you the whole picture.

I found the process of writing all this down very helpful, and I hope you can use my experiences to help you make sense of your own.

As well as the reflection pieces, it includes a list of resources and support organisations. There are trigger warning at the top of each piece (I hope I’ve covered all potential triggers. Apologies if I’ve missed anything).

These two zines, a couple of others, and some knitted bow ties are available on my  Etsy Shop

Now, to the cursive: hopefully, you’ll find in the photos above that my handwriting is now legible and beautiful. My handwriting was [is] terrible and not especially legible, and I hold to pen too tight, so I can’t write for a long time. I thought I’d go about trying to fix it, so bought a good fountain pen cheaply on eBay and a pad of nice writing paper, and found a children’s handwriting tutorial, and got on with practicing. Here are some photos of my practice writing…

I really like the way capital J looks and feels to write, as well as lower case r.

Contrast with my old handwriting on the front of Food on the Move.


I’ve since found this cursive tutorial for adults by the same people who wrote my children’s tutorial, which might be better.

Pomegranates: a reminiscence


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Every Wednesday my Grandma would walk into town for the weekly market. With her list and bags, she visited each stall: a paper bag of wine gums–she called them joobjoobs–pulling out fat rolls of fabric for a dress for a grandchild; a bit of cod–bump into a friend and stop to chat–scouring pads; and shampoo. Then came the fruit stall–I remember it being near the mini roundabout, in front of Quick Save, but I don’t think the market was a that end of town, so I must be mistaken–“Hello, Linda,” the stall holder calls. Oranges–she had one on her muesli every morning–kiwis; lemons–for the homemade squash my Grandpa liked–grapes–for the muesli again–and, in winter, round, dark pomegranates, bigger than a fist.

I’m sitting on the long bench in front of Grandma’s kitchen radiator, listening to her and Mum discussing the day’s best market bargain, or some bit of news. Grandma is cutting open the pomegranates, their dark juice running down her fingers–there’s an opulence about it–pulling out the pith, and scraping the seeds with her fingers into three bowls. Occasionally she pauses in her cutting and chatting to wipe her sticky hands and knife on a juice-stained tissue.

I watch the seeds fall from her fingers. Most a deep, dark red I can imagine whole worlds inside; some a smaller, translucent rose-petal pink; and a few tiny, almost colourless. I remark that they’re like jewels, and Grandma quotes a line from The Terrible Turk, where the titular character threatens to turn his wife and ten daughters into pomegranate seeds.

Daughters. Pomegranates have long been associated with women and fertility. I dig my spoon in, breathe the tangy pomegranate scent, and crunch down on that first sweet-acid, refreshing taste, as I listen to the intimate chatter of my mother and her mother.

The complexities of being out, semi-out, and not out at work: some experiences of a nonbinary peripatetic music teacher


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very belatedly, but I’d forgotten about it until now, the wonderful Rainbow Teaching published an E zine for and by LGBT+ school staff in the UK back in September, including a piece by Yours Truly on navigating the complexities of being out or not at work. You can read the zine for free online.

More Shameless Self Promotion: My Dick Wins — A Zine


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So, I made another Zine. This one’s called My Dick Wins and is Available on my Etsy shop.

It explains how to play the game “My Dick Wins” in which cis men are invited to pit their mere flesh dicks against my Ourple Penis of Queer Silicone Glory and–inevitably–lose, painfully and with plenty of humiliation. There’s also a smut interlude.
It’s a bargain at 75p. What are you waiting for?

Policing the Line Between “Worthy” and “Umworthy” Music: a Raw Twitter Rant


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Earlier today I ranted on Twitter about how the line is policed between “worthy” and “unworthy” music. It got a bit long and eventually I stopped tweeting and noted it down to put here later. Here are the collated tweets (with corrections to typos and missed out words) with the extra end bit in an easier to read format, but it’s still essentially raw, unedited, rant…

Music and racism/classism rant coming up…

The way the imaginary line between “real”, “serious” or “worthy” music and “that other music which has little value” is policed by (mostly) white European and North American formally educated middle class musicians and audiences is damaging not only to musicians who fall on the “wrong” side of that line, but to those who fall on the “right” side too.

One of the ways the line is often policed is through how repertoire is passed from one musician to another: if it is notated it’s probably “good”, “valuable” or “worthy” music, if it’s passed on aurally it’s probably “bad”, “worthless”, “frivolous” music. The way it’s notated is a factor too: 5 line stave = “worthy”, guitar tab, lyrics and chord symbols, or notations such as Ethiopian meleket or notation in the Jewish liturgical tradition where marks are written above or below text to show which tune it should be sung to = “unworthy”.

Obviously, this creates a problematic “us and them” attitude between different groups of musicians and casts some as a lesser type of musician and others, but it also holds back those on the “worthy” side of the line too: I learned, from the age of 5, in a pedagogy that always centred around notation, and all my musicianship came from reading then doing. Consequently, there wasn’t much listening involved for me, and when it was there it was a secondary thing to the reading and doing, and I never quite played in tune. I went through learning with my local music service, to a specialist music school (considered one of the top in the world), and two and a half music degrees without learning to play in tune. I did a lot of ear playing in this time and really got into a musical tradition that is passed on primarily by ear, but I was still wedded to notation and reading and doing before I listened. It was so ingrained in me it was too hard to undo. Then I started playing professionally and got notes every performance that I had to play passages X, Y and Z in tune, but I just couldn’t do it.

Fortunately, a few years ago, I started teaching for an organisation who teach with a focus on the western classical tradition but use notation as it should be, to compliment what we hear, and the ongoing and high quality training I have as part of that is slowly turning me into a listening-first musician. I can’t say I *always* play in tune now (I frequently don’t) but when I don’t I am much more aware of it and able to fix it.

I don’t know what it is we teach classical musicians when we train them to turn off their ears and glue their eyes to a page, but it’s certainly not music.

Obviously, the majority of my teaching goes sing->play->read, sing->read->play or read->sing->play. There’s some read->play because this is a skill we need as musicians, but only when I’m certain they’ve internalised the singing part and the notes on the stave mean sounds they can hear in their heads first, and instructions for what to do with their bodies and instruments second.

To explain (but not justify) one of the reasons “notated music is best” is perpetuated: when musicians who have always read without playing from ear are put in a situation where they have to learn aurally, they find they don’t have the aural skills to do it and, rather than admitting they have a weakness, they write off the style of music that challenged their musicianship as “not real music”. I know this because I’ve done exactly this.

It’s the same with teaching: to teach through listening first requires excellent aural skills from the teacher; music teaching is often funded by public money, which is limited, so teachers are told by managers to teach in a way they don’t have the skills or confidence to do, and there isn’t the money to train them properly to do it, so they just revert to what they know, which is teach the kids to read notation and do all the other aspects through that. If the kid struggles with reading they’re either written off as “not musical” or the teacher continues to beat them round the head every week with reading notation instead of getting on with the music and everyone involved gets miserable.

(FYI, this rant in no way contradicts or negates my rant [on Twitter] a few months ago about teachers dumbing down 5 line stave notation for kids.)

It can be hard to challenge the notation-first approach in teaching bc teachers most likely to do this are usually from the older generation when classical musicians who got as far as teaching or playing professionally were overwhelmingly white & often male, and it’s harder for younger teachers to challenge older white men, and new teachers coming into the profession work alongside these older colleagues and mimic their notation-centric approach. Coupled with inadequate training and the isolation of peripatetic music teachers, we wind up robbing generation after generation of classical musicians of their musicianship, as well as teaching them to hide their lack of musicianship behind the attitude that classical music is the pinnacle of musical achievement, far more important than all other genres.

Another problematic way the “notation over listening” approach is perpetuated is that some musicians who teach see teaching as something to do when you don’t have enough playing work and they don’t value teaching for itself, so they take the easy approach of putting a sheet of notation in front of a child and haranguing them into playing it. Again, this can only be addressed with better training and less isolation for peripatetic music teachers, alongside better pay and conditions (which have been significantly eroded in recent years in the public sector with a move to self-employment and 0 hrs contracts) to attract the best teachers.

All this is fed by racism and classism: can’t-be-bothered teachers can only get work with local authorities strapped for cash, desperate for *anyone* who can hold the violin the right way up, and wind up recruiting teachers who have the attitude that their students are “just inner city/Muslim/black/Traveller/whatever kids who won’t get anywhere with their instrument so don’t need to learn proper musicianship anyway”, while the teachers who do care are attracted away to affluent areas with offers of better pay, conditions, training, and support to teach in a way that challenges and improves their own musicianship as well as their students’. How do I know this? Again, it’s because I’ve done exactly this.

I appreciate this rant may piss off other music teachers and musicians. I don’t care: it needs to be said, and if you have a problem with it I suggest you take a long hard look at why it makes you feel uncomfortable.

I Made a Zine!


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So, I spent this weekend making a zine.

It’s called The Dapper Queer: a zine about ways I am queer (not a prescription for how anyone else should be queer) and you can buy it from my Etsy shop, QueerKnitWriter for £2 + 50p postage.

It contains writings, recipes, pictures and a knitting pattern.