Reflections are always better shared

Well done everyone! We’ve nearly made it halfway through January. Snow may be coming but so is the sun, it’s getting just that bit lighter as tiny car and I make our way into Warsash each morning.

I’m always pleased when someone comments in real life about words I have said in this blog, I do hope that you are getting what you need when you read about these busy weeks in the life of Chrysalis.

Preparing for the AGM on the 26th January means quite a lot of reflection, of looking at where we were just nine months ago on the 21st April 2018 and measuring out how far we’ve travelled. Like everyone’s transition Chrysalis’ is taking time. Something I have learned this year is that change is always slower than I would desire. You’d think that after eight years working with trans+ people I would have known that, and I suppose I did, but it is one thing to know and quite another to experience, to live through.

This incredible charity would not be where it is without our core service volunteers, without the passion imbued by being there as people become their authentic selves. Watching as lives change for the better. As everyone grows and learns to love themselves just that little bit more and in so doing becomes a person who can spread that love out a little bit more. Offering one-to-one counselling and peer support groups means that Chrysalis can really help those who come to us for support, breaking down the barriers caused by the isolation experienced by practically every trans+ person.

People talk about whatever is closest to their hearts in a safe, confidential space with their counsellor, working through both their dark and light things, and also get the support, advice and camaraderie of their peers.
Everyone sets their own goals and travels at their own pace. Most of our beneficiaries having originally signed up for eight sessions of counselling go on to take at least 16 and often 24. I am proud Chrysalis offers long term counselling since coming to know your authentic self is not something that most people can do in a limited few sessions.

Chrysalis counsellors are a wonderful mixed group of professionals, both qualified and trainees on placement, trained in working with gender diverse people and their significant others. Last Thursday I was again delivering training to counsellors at our regular monthly Trans Awareness and Working With training sessions (if you’re interested please do message Dawn info@chrysalis-gii.org, we do student discount), I love doing these training courses, there is always something new to explore.

You may remember that last Monday I was off to London town with Joanne Lockwood, one of our dedicated volunteers? Joanne had invited me to an event by about the Chevalier D’Eon. We didn’t really know what to expect but since I’m a bit of a history buff and the Beaumont society takes their name from D’Eon we were intrigued. Well! It was most definitely an interesting event. Did you know that people used to be able to insure pretty much anything they fancied? Yep – those of you who know your Pratchett will get the reference to Inn Sewer Ants. Back in 1771 it was indeed possible to take out an insurance policy on what someone’s gender was! In total over ¼ million pounds was bet on D’Eon’s gender. And this is for a woman who said when she finally came out that “I am now able to live as the woman I have always been”, which she did for the last 20 years of her life, choosing authenticity over all else. Yet her gender was a subject for puerile curiosity. I said that this week was one of reflection well that certainly got me to thinking about how far the world has turned. That we are all closer to understanding that gender identity is not something determined by genitals and more importantly I think that we are moving away from our obsession with stranger’s genitals.

So what else happened last week? Tuesday was one-to-one meetings and then a made dash to Office Depot for some printer labels so that we could prepare our collection tins for the Southsea Co-Ops (www.co-operative.coop) if you are out and about then please do drop a penny or two in our purple pots to bring our dream of opening in Portsmouth that bit closer. Thanks to Anna-Marie the Co-Op Pioneer for organising this.

Wednesday was the slightly delayed monthly report deadline, thanks to Kevan we have a shiny new reporting style with exciting things like cost centres. If this interests you perhaps you’d like to get involved with Chrysalis as one of our trustees? (www.chrysalis-gii.org/governance)

Friday was another good day. I’d like to welcome back Sam Bax our Office Administration Assistant with a focus on fundraising. Sam is the power behind the campaign. Check out our Just Giving https://www.justgiving.com/chrysalis-jg for new campaigns and a crafty way to get your AGM raffle tickets. Remember you’ve got to be in it to win it and those prizes are still coming in.

What’s on for this week? Well today is words day, nominations for volunteer awards and work on our new Business Management Officer’s schedule. Awa joins the team next Monday and will be working on the AGM, our conference (9th April www.chrysalis-gii.org/conference) and strengthening our business management processes. In preparation for Awa joining us there have been some changes to our staffing here at Chrysalis HQ and for the first time I’m joined on Monday by a team member. Hi Dawn, it’s nice to have some company, and hopefully this means the office will warm up just that bit faster.

Tuesday is a Southampton day, an ideal opportunity to get my bike out and cycle in to where not only have the chosen Chrysalis to be the beneficiary of a paid intern placement but the staff LGBTQ+ network have arranged for the University to donate the use of their first class, award winning conference venue for the 9th April and members of the network are providing us with professional support! I really cannot thank them enough.

Wednesday I’m back in the office, planning for the AGM with Dawn and then meeting with Ted to look at his role as a valued office volunteer. So many changes, one that would never have happened without his support. Ted continues to give this charity such dedication, even on the coldest of days.

Thursday is a trans awareness talk to the Dementia Friendly Care steering group and last but not least Friday is the Shaping Portsmouth Together conference and then work on our financial management systems with our new volunteer Neil.

Joanne and Andi @LloydsofLondon

Andi Maratos and Joanne Lockwood stood outside Lloyds of London either side of brass plate saying Lloyd's Register of Shipping