Fifty Shades of Gender podcast graphic with Kit Rackley (2)
This is the second conversation with Kit for the podcast – you can find the first one from February 2019 (episode 1) here if you’d like to listen to that first.

Another conversation with Kit Rackley

NON-BINARY, TRANS-FEMININE, DEMIGIRL, GENDERFLUID

Recorded on 22 September 2020. Duration 52 mins approx.

Kit’s pronouns are they/them, and they identify as non-binary, trans-feminine, demigirl and genderfluid. Find out what that means to Kit in this episode.

We also talk about football, privilege, teaching, altruism, politics, the NHS, finding common ground in unexpected places, and what it’s been like being publicly and visibly trans.

“For anyone out there who is visible and being their genuine selves, they probably do not realise they are probably changing at least one person’s life for the better just by being who they are.”

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TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]

Esther: Hello! Welcome! What’s your name?

Kit: My name is Kit. My pronouns are they/them. I am a transfeminine, non-binary, demigirl. At least somewhat gender fluid, but I think I have settled on…funnily enough for someone who is gender fluid to say ‘I have settled with that’ but it has been a while now, so!

Esther: Yeah it has been about a year-and-a-half since we last spoke.

Kit: My goodness!

Esther: So what has been going on for you?

Kit: A lot, yeah, quite a fair bit. So actually, it is my birthday in a week’s time, and it is my ‘second’ birthday because it will be two years to the day since I came out as transgender publicly.

Esther: Ah wow!

Kit: And I decided to do that on my birthday. So yes, the last time you spoke to me I had only just recently done that, so only about five-six months later on, but now it is coming up to two years since that date, so yeah. And then in this year-and-a-half a fair bit has changed; a lot of flux and of course everything that is taking place at the moment with the ‘big C’ and everything like that — so the less said about this the better — I have had a lot of changes because of that just as much as anyone else, but I am doing good, I am doing good.

Esther: Has anything major happened for you in your gender journey? Because obviously you are still using pretty much the same labels, although you said the gender fluid is still applicable, but a bit less so?

Kit: Yeah, I think it is more of a case of…yeah, when I gave myself the tag of gender fluid before, and I remember telling you about certain situations, which would make me feel perhaps more stereotypically masculine, or what society would say was masculine, and what society would say was feminine. I do recall that conversation we had and, it is not so much, you know that all still happens, and I still get…I played walking football last night, for example, and I got just as competitive as ever and felt my male-self.

But actually…not really, to stick with the walking-football thing last night, I was pretty warm in the jersey I was wearing, and I was wearing my sports bra underneath. And I was getting so fed up, because I am quite competitive and I was just too hot and I just tore my jersey off and threw it at the side, completely didn’t care that I was wearing, well a sports bra is not exactly lingerie is it? It is just basically a crop-top, isn’t it? And then yeah, I felt like I had a little more finesse, a little bit more guile to me, a little bit.. and actually I ended up banging in two goals just by running around in my sports bra and my shorts so! Walking around sorry!

I know in the previous podcast I talked about playing football as one of those things [where I felt more masculine]. On my team there were three girls, so it is like…! So I have come to the conclusion really, gender fluid is not so much about masculine/feminine kind of thing it is just the societal differences there.

That is the only tag that I have kind of dropped, because it is just my personality just swaying from one situation to another.

Best to say that I have kind of let that fly off in the wind that label, that cloud, if it decides to hang around me fine. The other ones: trans-feminine, demigirl, definitely non-binary, they have gone the other way, they have stuck to me like glue now. They feel very comfortable, like a warm blanket, those ones.

Esther: They feel like home?

Kit: They most certainly do!

Esther: Lovely. So as you just said, you are almost two years, almost two years into your journey after having come out, so what’s that been like?

Kit: It has most certainly, certainly, been a journey. So I am pretty much, I gave that little antidote about walking football, basically that’s how my approach is, it is not that I don’t care, or I am not bothered any more about how I present myself, it is just the case that I have become so much more comfortable with who I am that I, almost 100% of the time, present as who I feel should be.

So, almost all the time now, my wardrobe is almost exclusively feminine, kind of on the spectrum between androgynous to feminine-style clothing. I have got a range of different season stuff now, obviously I am going through my summer stuff at the moment, I have been enjoying wearing all of my summer stuff; but I have got all these lovely, cosy, fleecy dresses ready for the winter and all this kind of stuff, so I am pretty established with all of that.

Of course I have been visible walking around town, I have been visible online quite a lot because I have been doing, what has changed actually quite a fair bit, since I last spoke to you, I no longer have a full-time job, but I have been doing a lot more work with my education blog, a lot more freelancing as an educator, and as a teacher trainer, and I have been doing almost monthly video blogs about educational issues, particularly current affairs that could be related to geography education. So I have got a YouTube channel now and I am completely 100% visible on those as well, without a second thought, you know I don’t think, ‘how am I coming across to other people?’, I am just presenting as myself.

So, my visibility has not just, I am not just visible to the people around me, to my family, to my friends, I am actually visible on the web globally, if you like, to the wider community. I have put myself out there. And I can tell you a few things about the consequences, which are mostly, mostly, positive of that really, and some kind of heart-warming things as well that I have been told and it has just vindicated everything I have been doing really.

Esther: Yeah, yeah, please do. I think visibility is difficult, well, for a lot of people to be fair, but obviously, for gender diverse people it must be even harder, obviously I don’t know. But you tell me?

Kit: I remember recalling, in the first time we spoke, that I feel that I have got quite a high level of privilege, for anyone who hasn’t heard me talk before, go back and listen! {laughing}

Esther: Obviously!

Kit: Obviously! Listen to the episode if you haven’t! But, basically, to summarise what I said, I feel like I am a person that has got a lot of privilege. So at the time as I said I was working in a place that was very, very, progressive, it is very, very, understanding, inclusive, I was a member of a LGBT staff group. My boss was completely accepting, I was even able to go to an international conference as who I truly was, and I can come back to that a bit later. I am pretty financially secure; I am highly educated. I am white, which is quite a lot of privilege in itself.

I remember talking about all these ways that I have got privilege, and, because of my situation, I have the ability to be visible to a degree that is safe for me, because all of my circumstances kind of play right into being someone who is visibly trans. It has not all been plain-sailing but compared to some things that some people have to go through, where just being who they are puts themselves not just in emotional harm’s way but puts them in physical harm’s way, as well. I completely understand that the level of privilege that I have is very high in that respect.

And of course everything that has been happening recently with Black Lives Matter, and the killing of George Floyd and I am part of a working group to try and help de-colonise the geography curriculum, for example, I have again reassessed my level of privilege and it is even higher than I initially thought as well, because of all those issues as well.

So I wouldn’t say I have ‘doubled down’ on being visible that wouldn’t really be a way of saying it, I have become more resolute in making sure that I am visible, because I have got to use this privilege that I have for those who either don’t feel they are ready to be visible, or they feel they can’t be visible because it may put them at emotional or physical risk.

And this is not to say that anyone at the same level of privilege as me should do this, I am not saying that, I am not saying ‘you should be visible for people who can’t’, you have got to go on your own circumstances and how you feel inside, because you may have a high level of privilege but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are resilient to all forms of…

Esther: It doesn’t mean that you are ready necessarily, that is your way of doing this kind of activism, I suppose.

Kit: Absolutely, maybe it comes from having a long career as a teacher and working with children and wanting to get the best out of them. I think I am quite altruistic of nature, almost to a masochistic level. Seriously! I kind of, I am trying to freelance at the moment, and I am doing a decent job of freelancing at the moment, but I actually find it painful asking for remittance, when I just used to do things to help people out, if you know what I mean? So yeah, ‘I will help you out planning this lesson, or I will give you some ideas for lesson material’, or ‘I will talk to your kids about longshore drift or climate change’ …or something like that! I used to do that just in my own time for free but now of course I have got to try and charge for those services. I am altruistic by nature and I feel that that kind of has leant itself pretty well, plus my privilege, has leant itself to being determined in being visible for the trans community.

Esther: So what has that been like? How has that been showing up?

Kit: So, what has really been interesting is, I am obviously a member of the LGBT trans-community, obviously, just by being who I am, and being visible in that respect, but I am a member of the geography teacher community. I may not be a geography teacher in the classroom anymore, but the geography teacher community, I love them to bits! I will always identify as a geography teacher, even if I never go back into the classroom ever again; a) I will always feel that I am a geography teacher; and b) the geography teacher community I feel will always welcome me. They know I am a bit of a pest, you know, and I like to…but they like that about me, they like me contributing, and they are so generous with me and they are so welcoming and everything like that. And, of course, I am visible, I am being who I am and so everything that I am doing with the geography community, as I say, doing these videos, I am presenting as a transgender person, I make no shade of it, I don’t try and hide my voice, or the way I dress or my clothes.

So of course, what happens then, looking at the statistics of all my stuff, one of my videos recently has had about 800 or 900 views, which is incredible. But I do get a lot of coverage in the geography teacher community and then, what I have found has started to happen, I have still got people messaging me saying, ‘thanks for your video’, or ‘can I use this for my students?’, or ‘do you have any further information?, I want to do a lesson’.

That has all been fantastic, that’s great, but I have started to get messages regarding being a trans-person and some really, kind of, lovely ones as well, well, they are all lovely!  Some of them have been, ‘thank you for being you’, quite a few of them have been asking me, almost, for reassurance, because every genuine teacher out there, their first priority, and, without a shadow of a doubt, is the safeguarding and wellbeing of their students. When you become a teacher, getting them to learn stuff is not the first priority, the first priority is making them safe, secure about who they are, the students, about who they are and that is your first priority.

So I will give you an example, one of the first messages I got was from a geography teacher colleague, who said ‘I teach at an all-girls-school and this student’s parents came into the school and wanted to let everyone know that their child identified as male and was a transgender boy, a trans-man, but we are in an all-girls school. I really want to support this kid, I want to make him feel comfortable, and things like that’.

The first thing I said to this person was, ‘you just used his pronouns straight off the bat, that’s amazing, that’s already something that you are doing, so well done!’

And so that is the kind of thing. So I said to this person, ‘just be normal, just be the wonderful teacher that you are. When they come into the classroom just say, ‘hi everybody, hello’ — let’s give this kid a name, David, so they are in an all-girls-school, so— ‘how are you doing Sally, how are you doing Maisie, hello David, welcome, come into the classroom’. Just make it as normal as possible.

I am no expert on this kind of thing but I am just trying to give these kinds of [suggestions] and so that has been really, nice and I actually got in touch with this teacher a little bit later who then turned around and said how they had been working on everything, they feel more comfortable and in fact they have now started to find out that there have been more students coming to them and confiding in how they feel about their identity. And that is just…ah! And I just basically said to that teacher, ‘you are awesome, you are just doing a great job and don’t worry you will make mistakes and if you do make mistakes just say ‘sorry, I am still getting used to it’, and move on.’

So that is just one example of some messages that I have been getting from teachers, for example.

Esther: That’s amazing. I mean, pronouns, they are a tricky thing, because I know quite a few trans-people and non-binary people, I do get it wrong still, all the time, and I have to correct myself all the time.

Kit: Exactly and the thing is, as well, because pronouns are so ubiquitous, it almost becomes like, the same as a muscle memory, a normal reflex. So, one thing that I have been a bit kinder on people in the last year-and-a-half, is with the pronouns thing, because there is less, it is very unlikely to be any ill intent there, most of the time it is reflex.

Another example, from walking football actually, so I was making my way towards the goal which was a great thing and then someone behind me, he shouts, ‘don’t give him, I mean her, any space, she will…’ and then by the time he had finished that sentence I had scored. Bless him, after he finished f’ing and blinding over his defence he came up to me and said, ‘I am so sorry Kit’. I said, ‘Oh come off it, it is natural isn’t it?’ We still all say ‘man on’, don’t we…?

Esther: It is so ingrained.

Kit: It is less to do with the person, I know full well that football is not a man’s sport, I think girls play football much better than blokes to be honest.

Esther: Haha!

Kit: Ooh, that’s controversial! But the whole way that the sports culture is that you default to the male pronoun when it comes to things like football. And of course if you have got a mixed co-ed football match taking place, I have noticed that whenever I play co-ed football (so ‘co-ed’ that is an American term, co-ed [means] both and all genders taking part, not just male and female football teams). I have noticed that when there is a co-ed match taking place, almost everyone defaults to the male pronoun, which is really interesting.

Esther: Yeah, isn’t it!

Kit: So your point about pronouns is spot on, and I have been a lot kinder on that, I have got to the point, there are two things that I do quite automatically now, I say ‘oh don’t worry about it, just say they/them’. Or when I introduce myself to someone for the first time I say, ‘hi my name is Kit, my pronouns are they/them, what’s your name?’. I don’t ask ‘what’s your name and pronouns?’, because that is a little bit [difficult] for some people, and I just say, ‘hi, and you are?’ And if they offer their pronouns then great! Some people do! They didn’t think about it, but they then do.

Esther: Because you did it, because you said it.

Kit: Setting a precedent.

Esther: Yeah that makes sense. I am making a habit of adding it to things, well, I have got it on my email signature now, I think I have got it on Facebook and those are pretty much the only places I hang out online so yeah. I think it all helps; every effort is helpful. Two things I have found helpful is practicing gender-neutral pronouns, as a standard, so that is really helpful. What I struggle with I think, if someone prefers, that’s a whole other debate preferred pronouns, isn’t it?, it is not about that, but, for example, if someone’s pronouns are they use they/them, but they are also ok with either he/him or she/her. If they say to me, ‘actually, they/them is ok, but I prefer he/him’ then the binary ones I get them wrong more often. Sometimes I stick to the safety of the neutral ones which I am more likely to get right. Does that make sense?

Kit: Absolutely. So going back to the visibility thing, I would love to take a few more of these messages and stories that I have received.

Esther: Oh please do!

Kit: Because every one of these I received, they are just so, so great. To everybody who is either thinking about ‘I want to be more visible’, or you are being visible, and you are having doubts that you are being visible…

I will put a disclaimer in here, if I go through some of these and some of them I will read out loud and some of them I won’t. Consent is absolute king for me, and I have got consent from people about these, but I am not going to read them out in a way that can identify anybody, so just to put that disclaimer in there.

…but if you are thinking about being visible but you feel you can’t, but you want to give it a go, or if you are visible at the moment and you are having doubts about being visible, when I read these out, think about these not being messages for me, personally, I know that they are, but think about this as a message that is sent to a visible trans-person. And, therefore for every one [of those received] (I don’t know what the numbers are, you will never, ever, know) but for every one of these messages that I do get, there are probably tens more of people having the same experiences but not messaging me about it. Or just my visibility is causing people to have these experiences.

There is one here [that says], ‘I am a mum and I support my children for being who they are, things have been a bit difficult, but seeing you do what you do has actually helped me to try and make sure that I don’t get their pronouns wrong or, as a family, we don’t say the wrong name and we are trying’’. Things like that and that is quite nice.

There is another one here, someone has got in contact with me saying, ‘my child is gender-questioning’ and gave me quite a bit of information there, which I won’t disclose, but basically saying that she has never worn any girl clothes really, never liked wearing a bra when she was going through all those kinds of things and then later, months and months down the line, contacting me and saying, ‘thanks to your advice, incidentally, I now have a new son’.

Esther: That’s amazing.

Kit: I know beautiful. Those kind of message fill me with joy because that is an uncertain person who has obviously got so much love for their child, and really wants to do well by them and support them, but doesn’t know how to go about it because perhaps, I guess when you have got a child or parent going through these kind of things, you get so uncertain and ‘what do I do? what do I do?’. Then, to hear what happens, later on in the story, when they have gone through all of that and they have worked through it all, and suddenly, they have come back and well obviously that child has felt so loved and supported that they have been able to start making that transition in their family. And those kinds of things just keep me going when I hear things like that.

Esther: Yeah I bet.

Kit: Here is one you will like Esther, because it actually mentions your podcast!

Esther: Oh does it? Okay!

Kit: ‘My youngest daughter and I have been listening to your podcast telling your story’, which is the first episode that we did. ‘It has really touched and inspired me, there are so many people who are ignorant to the range of gender identities for those who are maybe going through difficult times. I am humbled to know you, albeit virtually, as a fellow human being and a geographer.’ So that was really, really, nice!

Esther: Ah that is beautiful.

Kit: Yeah! And this person has a child who is doing something to do with medicine and your podcast has really helped have some fantastic discussion about gender identity and stuff like that and how that this, apparently their child went to, I did something in America, and I came across pronoun badges and things like that. So you know, it’s like wow, that’s so cool.

Esther: That is so awesome though yeah, yeah.

Kit: So that is a bit of feedback for your podcast there!

Esther: That makes it all worth it, doesn’t it? Sounds a bit dramatic, but I am doing this for… kind of for myself in a way, it is kind of my creative expression, I suppose. But getting that kind of feedback, like you say for you, it does mean so much, doesn’t it? It means so much.

Kit: Absolutely. I don’t want to rank these, because every individual message I get is somebody’s personal, close to the heart, story. But in terms of the impact they had on me, I am into my top three, shall we say. Every message I get that kind of says these things is amazing, and they really do fill me with gender euphoria.

And so my top three, in no particular order: there is one where someone got in touch with me who said that there is a member of their family who is questioning their gender, but there are some other members of their family, who were finding it very, very, difficult.

But the person who contacted me, really wanted to be supportive of their family member and, seeing me doing my stuff as a teacher, online, and all the background that I have, once being a teacher and just going about my stuff, has actually helped those family members to appreciate, ‘well, if there is someone in the profession who has gone through these changes and is being proud about who they are, then maybe this thing that our family member is going through is not so (I wouldn’t say ridiculous) after all’, whatever is going through their head and something that is stopping them from accepting this person.

And this person got back to me and said that apparently their members of the family have now warmed to it, they have got a long way to go, but now the acceptance has started coming in because they have seen that this person who was once a geography teacher. It is not this kind of thing that they just see maybe random people, young people on social media, going through a trend. If it is someone who is in their thirties and had a career like this who is experiencing this for themselves, maybe it is not a fad, maybe it is not all in the head, maybe it is something real.

And so, it is good to know that teachers, in a general sense, seem to have that sense of respect and authority in society, which is quite nice, although I know it has been a bit difficult to see for the last few months with COVID and the teacher-bashing recently…I won’t go into politics!

So let’s see which other one shall I choose, this one is an interesting one, this surprised the hell out of me when this happened. So, it might not surprise many of your listeners to know that, speaking of politics, my affiliation is left-of-centre, let’s just say. I am a progressive person, I am someone who has faith in science and, yes, I am left-leaning with my politics. So I was massively surprised to get a message out-of-the-blue from someone from the ‘Make America Great Again’ community, from the MAGA community.

Esther: Right!

Kit: Before I go on I will say surprised as in: there you go, that is my own prejudices right there. That someone like that will reach out to me so I have to accept and own that, feeling like that would have been based on my own prejudices.

Esther: Yeah of course.

Kit: But this exchange that I had with this person, obviously in terms of the worldview of that side of the political spectrum, there is very little that I can match with, in terms of politics and that worldview, but when it comes to human issues there are some things that we can overlap on, and this person said to me:

‘I am really struggling here, I am not getting as much support in my community as I would like, I don’t want to tell other members of my family but there is one of my children, well one of my children is already in the LGBT community but another one is questioning their gender and I am really, really, worried about it because they have heard all this information’  

people who have been demonising the trans-community really, and so out of concern for their child, they have said: ‘I want to actually to talk to somebody, would you mind telling [me] what being transgender is like for you?’.

So that was incredible, asking me, instead of just assuming my story, of assuming that I am doing it for an agenda or a trend or something like that, this person asked me, ‘I would really like to know about you, and it might help me to understand what my child is going through’.  And then they said, ‘I totally understanding if you don’t want to talk to me about it’. Obviously having read my profile, I have got a completely different worldview to this person! So I swallowed my prejudice, I swallowed my pride, and I said, ‘first of all the fact that you reached out to me shows that you are an amazing parent because you have got your kids to heart and I would be absolutely honoured and willing to tell you about my story’ …and I did.

So I went through basically, everything from the first episode of the podcast, I talked about. Then this person said, ‘I really loved reading all this context, it has helped so much. I have been reading all night and I have never come across terms like umbrella, or gender spectrum, or non-binary or things like that, but seeing you put those words into that context has really, really, helped’.

So, I mean, I have not heard from this person since, this was about a year ago, but the last message was so kind, it said, ‘thank you so much for your help, this has really helped, you are such a precious human being’.

Esther: That’s heart warming stuff!

Kit: And ‘is it okay if I share your story with my child?’ And I was like, ‘you most certainly can’. I ended by saying, ‘thank you so much, your love as their parent in supporting your children to discover who they are, that is as precious as anything you can do’.

And so we are from complete polar opposites of the spectrum and yet we found something we could come together on and both of us, me, visibly as a trans person, that person they disclosed to me that they weren’t finding much support from their community, reached out to me and we found a common ground. And we have both left this chat having a little bit more faith in humanity. So that is another beautiful one.

Esther: We could all use a little bit more faith in humanity at the moment, right?

Kit: Well I tell you what, with everything that is taking place, we know that a certain major political event is coming up very soon, towards the end of this year, and there is so much polarisation and I think everybody, there has been so much disconnect and everybody has lost sight of the kind of things that make us human and the common traits that we have. It is such a shame.

And, obviously, I have my preferences and my reasons for the way I want certain things to go in politics, of course I do, and I would argue I have some substantiated reasons for those, and this person probably will vote for Donald Trump if they are still a member of the MAGA community, but at least that is one member of the community that…what can I say? I can’t tar everyone wearing a red hat in the same brush because that is completely against my ideals and the way that I should think about the world anyway. Completely prejudiced, and if only we could just have conversations like this I guess is the short story.

Esther: Absolutely.

Kit: So then the final one is, I can’t stop thinking about this one, and this was the first, I have left this one until last but this was probably one of the first exchanges I had, and this one actually means a lot to me because this one didn’t have, because of all the ones that I have just talked to you about have been messages online, people have messaged me and said things. This one actually happened in person. This is why this is going to stick with me for the rest of my life and I am choking up thinking about it right now.

I will recall this story to the very best of my ability without giving any identities away but, part of my last job, I helped to organise a conference, I was actually the lead organiser of this conference abroad, and when I did this conference it was the first time that I had done something in public as me, presented completely as me, as a trans-gender person, so I was in front of all these academics, there were 200 academics, there were members of staff, there was… and me being me, it was the first major public event I had done that.

Then, it was the last day of the conference, and one of the people who had supported me came up to me in floods of tears. Because, by this point, the people who were helping me out with the event, we were a really close-knit team, we were so busy, we got to the point where we almost like a surrogate family just at the event. So of course I care deeply that this person was coming up to me in floods of tears. I said, ‘are you okay, is everything all right? Has something gone wrong?, has something broken?, has a delegate upset you or something like that?’ And this person was like, ‘no, no, no, it is good, it is good; can we go somewhere private and sit down?’ I was like, ‘okay, let’s do this’.

And so we found somewhere quiet, found somewhere private and sat down and this person said to me ‘I just want to say thank you, thank you so much. When I saw you first time and you introduced yourself you filled me with so much hope and actually, my friends don’t know this, but I am actually dating a trans person who is completely lost about what to do, doesn’t know if they should start transitioning, doesn’t know whether they should be visible, doesn’t know whether they should start telling everybody and the only person that knows is me. I went home the first night and told her about you, about how you are just doing your thing and it just filled us with so much hope’. And you will probably hear it in my voice [the emotion] now, as well, I said, ‘I can understand why you are crying now’.

And I just yeah… I don’t do this for attention. I have had some negative reactions, of course when you are visible you get the rough with the smooth and I have people, mostly strangers, and a couple of people who I thought were friends saying things like, ‘you are only doing this for attention’ and things like that. But you know what? For every 10, or 100, people, most of them strangers, who say things like that, that just all gets blown away, like that, when you get that one occasion of someone come up to me and say, ‘you have changed my life’ or ‘you have changed the life of a loved one for the better’. Every single one of those negative comments they fade, they disappear, they drift away like smoke, and that’s it they are gone.

We didn’t exchange numbers, we don’t keep in contact with each other now, it was a one-off thing, because we were only there for that week, for that conference, but I would love to… I don’t have their contact details but I would so love to get in contact with them and just say, not, ‘how are you getting on with that thing, but just say, ‘hey, how did your studies go?’, or something like that and then if they provide [more]…

So now what I have been doing, as well, I have been telling members of the trans community who have been feeling under the weather, or feeling like they are not amounting to much, I have just been messaging them, or DM-ing them, or texting and say ‘you probably have no idea how many people’s lives you are changing by just being yourself. You may never know, I am just lucky to get these message perhaps, because I have an online presence, I have a blog, I have a video blog, so of course, I will get some. I am a member of the geography teacher community where we talk to each other a lot online’. So my situation just gets me these messages I guess.

So for anybody out there who is visible, and being their genuine selves, they probably do not realise that they are changing at least one person’s life for the better just by being who they are. And that is so powerful.

As I said at the beginning of this, I am altruistic by nature, I wish I could go back into the classroom because watching kids learn and grow is one of the best things I did with my life. And that is it for me. You know the cliché, if I died tomorrow, the only thing that I would want to think about is, have I made people’s lives better for them? If I can do that just by being myself, well, as hard as it may be in the current climate. I am not being so literate now, I must admit I am getting a bit emotional about it, people must know that I get emotional when I stop talking {laughing}…or stop being able to put two words together.

Esther: Yeah well it sounds like that’s exactly what’s happening, amazing. That’s a beautiful thing.

Kit: It is. I don’t know, if you get some trolls who listen to this podcast, of something like that. I will take things that didn’t happen for $100, that thing that goes round at the moment. I guarantee that every single genuine thing, I have more than that and I don’t think I did them justice because I was trying to scan read them and make sure that I read them in a way that made them anonymous. But there are other messages I could pick out. I keep those messages, and whenever I have a bad day, or if someone fills you with doubt and you start to have imposter syndrome, ‘am I trans?’ ‘Am I doing this for attention?’ All those negative, irrational, thoughts, I just go back into my DMs or into my emails and I just read those messages again and that puts me back on the path and gives me a bit of a breath of fresh air.

As I say be visible if you can, don’t go beyond what you feel is comfortable and safe for you. There are people like myself who will be visible for those who feel they can’t, or they won’t, and hopefully give you the courage to see if you can take the baby steps to being your true self in front of the world. Because when that happens, and you emerge as that butterfly from that cocoon, it is so empowering, it is so empowering. But not everybody appreciates butterflies!

Esther: That is true!

Kit: Lots of them just drift away, they pass you by, and you don’t really take much notice of them, they are quite hard to catch as well… I am kind of doing my waxing lyrical thing now, but seriously, the people who matter most to you, and after you have shed all the toxic connections and bits of your life, the people who will remain are the ones who will see you for the brightest person you are, and the brightest colours you are, so, don’t give up.

Esther: Amen to that.

Kit: Amen!

Esther: So what’s up next for you, anything exciting?

Kit: I am on the cusp of something exciting, there are a couple of bits, I am waiting for some official confirmation but there is one thing that I am really, really, excited about. And this is another thing as well, so many opportunities are still out there for me, because being trans, some people say, ‘oh doors shut to you when you are a trans person’. And yes if you are lower down the privilege ladder that is certainly true. But there is one thing that has been absolutely amazing, and that is that I have been asked to give a talk for a really, really, well-known popular, fantastic, group, they have got two offices based in San Francisco and New York and what this is, it is academic talks with a difference and their hashtag is #somethingweird.

So what it is about, basically, it is not been happening recently because of COVID, but it has been online recently; usually what happens, the dance floor of a club gets turned into a lecture theatre, in a kind of sense, but with a difference. You get up and you give a talk about something academic, or scientific, or historical, or something like that, but you also tell it in a way that is quite comical, or anecdotally, or with some banter thrown in or maybe jibes, or personifying things, or turning heroes into villains and villains into heroes or something like that. The most important thing is that your audience might be undergrads or students or academics themselves, but one of the requirements is that they have a little bit of drink and they get a little bit tipsy as well.

So one of the best talks I went to in San Francisco (oh this is a thing called ‘odd salon’) but one of the best things I went to in San Francisco was on ‘the history of the public toilet’. So these were all these fascinating and interesting and historical context, stuff like that, but most of the talk was all about where the term ‘the john’ comes from, which was basically a piss-take out of the monarch, King John. And where did the term ‘spend a penny’ come from and things like that? And there were some fantastic insights about how the first public toilets in London were arranged and how they were completely ridiculous and how it led almost to people with their backs to each other!

Esther: Oh dear me!

Kit: It was hilarious! Talks like that, so intellectual, academic, talks but with that kind of funny comical twist and you are meant to get the crowd riled up and get them shouting out things and so, yeah, I have been asked to actually give one of their first international talks, which could be amazing! Which is all going to be about decay, I don’t want to say too much but it is all going to be about decay and the Anthropocene and what elements of humanity may be left if we all were to disappear and actually the things that will outlast us might be feral pigs, cows, and cats. So er…

Esther: Well cats for sure!

Kit: You cat lovers out there are like, ‘yes I told you so! Cats will rule the world’.

Esther: We knew!

Kit: But you know, going back to what you said about exciting things happening. This is happening because they think I a just good at what I do. They have seen me give my talks, they have seen me educate people, I do stand up in front of audiences and they thought it was a great idea. The fact that I am transgender obviously means nothing to them, in terms of ‘oh we better be careful with Kit’, nope ‘Kit’s a good speaker, let’s have him on’. So that has been brilliant. So going forward, exciting things.

I have had feelings that some doors have closed, but to me that is just shedding toxicity: I have lost some ‘friends’, I have maybe not been able to do things that I was able to do in the past but then, when you really think about it, do I really want to be engaging in those kinds of circles anyway? Or doing that kind of stuff if they are quite hostile or turn a nose, or an eye, at those kinds of things? But I have got opportunities like this talk to give, which is absolutely amazing, and I am so excited!

Esther: Yeah! Sounds like great fun!

Kit: And the other thing is that I might be working with children again, so, it is not official yet, but that’s quite exciting, but just got to dot the i’s and cross the t’s with that one, so I might be doing a job that involves working with young people, which is so cool! Yeah, that’s just part of my identity working with youngsters and I have so much to learn from them and it keeps me young as well, Esther, that’s the main thing, it keeps me young!

Esther: Absolutely! Ah that’s awesome, it sounds like things are going amazingly for you.

Kit: As I say, there are typical struggles, it is not all plain sailing but all the good things happening and all the lovely messages that I get, they help you build your resilience and they help you to maintain a sense of sanity and, you know, when somebody does come and say something very stupid, or troll like, or very nasty, then you find that you can brush it off a lot easier and shed it off as water off a duck’s back, kind of thing. As I say, I know my privilege helps me out quite a lot with that, so I am under no illusions with that.

Esther: Brilliant, is there anything that you want to add before we wrap up?

Kit: Not really.

Esther: Covered it all?

Kit: You know me, I kind of start off with the odd question and go off on a tangent don’t I? So I think that is really it. To bring this full circle to the beginning, it has been a year-and-a-half since we last spoke, I have grown so much as a person and it’s something that, I have still got a long way to go, I have finally (oh yeah this is a new thing since I last spoke to you!) I finally got my referral for a gender-identity clinic, that was at the start of this year. For those listeners who are not aware, the wait-times for those are ridiculously long, the letter I got said 30 months wait time!

Esther: As in 30?

Kit: 30 yes. That is just to have your first consultation, that is not to start anything, that is just your first chat. And of course, with Coronavirus, all those gender identity clinics have not exactly been a top priority, so… I imagine that it has been on pause that wait time.

So basically, I have pretty much totally gone through the social transition and everyone: friends, family, colleagues, communities, that’s it [they are like], ‘Kit is out there, Kit’s doing their thing’. The next stage now, is mopping up the things that caused the other bits of gender dysphoria regarding my physical appearance and my physical body really.

That’s it. Things are going pretty well socially so I think, again, another measure of privilege I think I can wait in line. I feel like that bit of Beetlejuice, in the movie, when he gets his ticket and goes to the land of the dead and it is like 900 million-billion things. If you have no idea what I am talking about, watch the movie Beetlejuice and you will know what I am talking about. That’s what we feel like in the gender identity clinic, the queuing-line.

Esther: I can’t even imagine, it must be kind of a very double-thing to feel, it is like ‘yeah,you are finally in the process!’, but then, ‘oh, how long?, oh god!’.

Kit: Yeah. My doctors surgery practitioners they are amazing, the nurses in particular, are just so lovely. I won’t name them, because obviously it would disclose where I live, but if there is anybody at my local doctor’s surgery listening to this, know that you are the coolest people ever. You work for the NHS, which is cool in itself, which is amazing in itself. But you are amazing.

I will name her, because she is lovely, so the first thing that Claire said to me, when I told her about this for the very first time, and had my appointment, she said to me, ‘Kit, a lot of us are learning about this for the first time’. We had a talk from Katy Jon Went (http://www.katyjon.com) who came and spoke to us, that is a name that some of your listeners will be familiar, I know you will be familiar with, most definitely.

Esther: Yes.

Kit: ‘Gave a talk to our surgery and really set us on a good path but we are all learning for the first time’ and the most beautiful words that she said, she came up to me, she took my hand, she said, ‘we really want to make this happen, let’s do this together’. And I was like, ‘this is so cool!’.

Esther: Ah wow!

Kit: And Claire has been amazing, she and her colleagues must be off their feet at the moment, they always are under normal circumstances, but now! I have been wanting to call up the surgery to check-in, because they told me, they said, ‘Kit if you ever want to chat’, and that is lovely of them, to have that offer, but I haven’t done so, knowing how much pressure they are under at the moment but I really should phone them up, just to check-in with the progress of things going on with me, but I just want to make sure that they know that they are still amazing. Just give them five minutes to say, ‘hey yeah, this is how I am feeling, but how are you feeling?’. I am doing it again, that is the altruistic thing! I mother people! But that’s the other thing, they have been brilliant at the surgery and again, I am lucky, that is something I didn’t think I would get, I thought they would be very formal and say, ‘we will put you on the process’, but no, there was so much humanity and sensitivity about how they went about it. So yeah.

Esther: I am sure Claire would love to hear from you, even if it is two minutes.

Kit: See, part of me is like ‘I don’t want to ring up and take five minutes away from an appointment for someone else’, that is what I am like, but I also know that you have got to look after number one. Claire said to me, ‘if you do need that chat, ring us up, Kit, that’s what we are here for’. Mental health is very important, and they know that, that’s why they said so.

Esther: Wow!

Kit: I can’t think of anything else to update everybody with.

Esther: Well we have covered a lot!

Kit: {joking} ‘If you have any more questions you can email me!’

Esther: I will put that in your bio, totally!

Kit: Bridging that to a semi-serious thing, if anybody does want to see me in action or get in touch with me they are so welcome to, they can just go to my blog which is https://geogramblings.com and they can see the videos of me, visually see what I have been talking about and what I have been doing and what not.

Then if anyone has got any questions, most people contact me for education advice but if anybody just wants to contact me and talk to me, if it is personal, as well. Hopefully, the evidence is what everyone has been hearing, I am so, so, careful with confidentiality, I always ask before I share anything. Anything you tell me, it will always be taken in strictest confidence and you can riff off me, it is absolutely fine and, yeah, get in contact, I love to listen so.

Esther: Lovely, thanks so much Kit.

Kit: Thanks so much Esther for having me back. It has been an absolute pleasure. And the podcast is going absolutely great and it has been wonderful to listen to everybody’s story. And the rainbow that you are painting, you are helping everybody to paint through your podcast, is amazing!

Esther: I love that!

Kit: What are we, ten or eleven episodes in, now?

Esther: Eleven yes, you are going to be number 12.

Kit: It is incredible how much diversity has already been shown in just those few episodes and just that we are part of the human race doing our own thing, we are all our own individual people!

Esther: Definitely! Yay!

Kit: So well done you!

Esther: Thank you and you too, let’s change the world!

Kit: Well geography teachers, that’s what we do!

Esther: {laughing} Okay!

About Kit

Kit Rackley is an ex-high school teacher and a passionate educator, blogger, author and performer – focusing on environmental and LGBT+ issues. They openly share their experience to add visibility to the trans community and help educate others on trans issues. Follow Kit’s educational work, writings and videos via their website geogramblings.com and on Twitter @geogramblings.

If you fancy watching Kit strut their stuff as a speaker and educator, they will be the first international speaker as part of an online broadcast for San Francisco’s ‘Odd Salon’ on Thursday 8th October. Details will be up via oddsalon.com soon.

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