Tag: music

Long Live The Stag and Hounds. 

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I couldn’t let that go by without posting something, so here’s a post.
I had a gig last night with my band, Ghost Of The Avalanche, and it was a bitter sweet show because it was the last ever gig we will play at a venue in Bristol called The Stag and Hounds, as its closing down at the end of the month. We pulled out all the stops, got some friends on stage with us and did everything we could to give the place a proper send off in true Ghost Of The Avalanche fashion and needless to say (I think it was) it was a success.

Live music for me (and loads of people I know) is a way of escaping battles in your head. It is a safe place, a place of acceptance, a place you can let go, enjoy yourself and know you won’t be judged. I’ve met dozens of people at shows who’ve said they’ve struggled all week because of whatever is going on upstairs but the couple of hours they have watched bands playing at whatever gig I’m talking to them at has totally erased all those thoughts from their head. I know that feeling well myself, and getting home after a show knowing you’ve had a few hours of ‘down time’ is a feeling like no other.

The Stag and Hounds closing down is a fucking phenomenal blow to the UK underground music scene. The bands were ALWAYS good, the beer and food is decent and cheap, the staff, sound engineers and infamous promoters are all legendary and every punter in there (at least when I’ve been there) is there for the same reason, a love of live music. Seeing it close is hard, knowing it’s one less place that people like me have to go to as a place of safety, acceptance and escape.

Last night we played a song called ‘The Park’ which is about me dealing with anxiety. I introduced it with a speech; telling everyone in the crowd to look after themselves, be open with each other, talk to your friends about your battles, that it is okay to not be okay and to look after themselves and one another.

I’m writing this to echo what I said last night. This is me talking: I am sad that my favourite venue is closing. I am scared I won’t find the exact escape I get in those walls anywhere else but I am thankful I got to spend so much time there and now it is closing, I will hold memories in that place for as long as I have the capacity to remember them. I’ve met a fuck-ton of amazing people in that place too, some of whom have become jam-mates (if you read this, waddup Matt from DC, that was fucking good fun last night!) and best friends. I love you mad people!

If you supported my bands as I played there in any way, thank you.

Long fucking live The Stag and Hounds. 

Footage of the show can be found here: https://youtu.be/R1lELlJ8sIw

Photo credit: Simon Holiday

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Bad Blood.

Today I had my first appointment at a gender identity clinic. A few people knew this and they all wanted to know how it went, so this post is is simply so I don’t have to repeat myself as well as explain a bit of what I want out of gender treatment.

So, today was like a prelim appointment before I see a specialist. I met with a volunteer at the clinic – an ex patient (lets call them J to maintain confidentiality) – and the session was a couple of hours long. It was for me ask questions and get direct answers (the internet is a dangerous place and everything I have learned from it was corrected in todays meeting) and also to give J the opportunity to explain exactly what the clinic can offer me and how everything works. These meetings essentially speed up the process when I see a doctor or a therapist as I (theoretically) will have already have had my questions and queries answered. My apologies about the excessive use of brackets, someone give me a grammar lesson!

So sometime towards the end of Summer my name will be ‘top of the list’ and I’ll be the next person to be assessed for gender dysphoria at that particular clinic (they do about two assessments a week i think). This will be done by a specialist doctor and a gender identity therapist who will hopefully officially diagnose me with the condition (although my GP has already informally diagnosed me, but then it’s pretty obvious I don’t want to solely be a guy any more, right?) and ‘suffers from gender dysphoria’ will go onto my medical record in some sort of medical record-esque way.

After this diagnosis I’ll basically then be offered a smorgasbord of treatments for me to pick and choose from with an end goal of (hopefully) my body matching what is going on in my head. I can have full surgical procedures to have bits added on or taken off (I’m not interested in surgery), HRT, laser treatment (to remove unwanted hair that HRT doesn’t take care of) and a number of other treatments. HRT and laser are my current wants; upping my production of oestrogen in an attempt to suppress production of testosterone is the normal ‘first treatment’ and will continue for the rest of my life. After that I can have anti-androgens to cease production of testosterone altogether which will render my reproductive organs more or less sexually useless as well as promoting the development of breast tissue and minimising other male characteristics like body hair, body odour and fat stores around my body.

Simply put, when I’m presented with these options, I’ll be jumping at having my beard tamed by laser treatment (it’s almost impossible to have it removed altogether) as well as taking the oestrogen boosters to minimise the ‘male drive’ in my system. If I start growing boobs while taking them then that’s a bonus in my eyes. I’ve wanted my own boobs for as long as I’ve been dressing as a girl.

That about sums up today and hopefully explains a bit more about what is happening in my head to anyone who is still trying to understand it. I have a ‘Gender Is Over’ pin badge which was on my jacket today and got masses of attention so I’ve added a picture of it along with a couple of other favourites of mine. A Google search of the slogan will direct you to their site (top result) where you can find out what it means, why it’s important and where you can buy one if you want one for yourself.

Timeline: I went to my GP saying I wanted a gender clinic referral in November 2015 and he put me in for blood tests immediately as you can’t be referred to a specialist without them. The initial test came back with a ‘prolactin spike’ (stress hormone in men and an indicator of thyroid or diabetes issues) so I was tested for all of these which took me to May 2016. I found out then I don’t have ‘bad blood’ (as my GP put it) and he processed my referral. This was accepted in June 2016 and I have been waiting since, until today (today was a volunteer meet and NOT something I had to have, I still have about four months to wait). You can do the maths; if you’re in the UK, want to see a gender clinic and your initial bloods come back okay you can expect to wait about 16 months, although this is expected to increase. I’m not getting into NHS politics.

Music: today was about 6 ours of traveling (I don’t drive so buses, trains and one of my best mates cars, Celine, were the rides of the day) so I listened to loads of music. For anyone who cares:

  • Russian Circles – Empros
  • Mastodon – Crack The Skye
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
  • Every Time I Die – Low Teens
  • Baroness – Blue
  • MUTation – The Frankenstein Effect
  • Andrew Bird – Are You Serious

I also spent waaayy to much money in Topshop and New Look while I was waiting for a connection but I got a fucking stunning dress and some other little bits so I really don’t care.

Until next time 🙂

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