The Metro in Greenwich
The Metro has played a huge part in my life since I moved to London. They offer, amongst other LGBT services, counselling and a weekly mental health drop in with advocacy help. Over the years I have used their services to help me find some balance and security in my life. Their Drop In facilitators and volunteers have always been empathic and non judgemental. To put it plainly, no matter how I felt or where I was at with my gender/sexuality or my mental health (bi-polar) I found being there within their walls enabled me to feel safe and welcome. I was able to just ‘be’. https://www.metrocentreonline.org/
My Garden and my cat!
My garden is incredibly important to me. It is my little oasis amongst the noise and rush of London. Whenever I am overwhelmed or feeling lost I like to either sit out there or basically just tend it. It isn’t a tidy or regimental garden, nor am I a talented gardener, but it suits me, and attracts lots of wildlife from squirrels in the twisted hazel tree to tadpoles in the pond. I love growing flowers and vegetables. Being out there helps me to feel grounded. My cat Hizzy has been my friend for over 10yrs. He doesn’t care what gender I am, he has helped me when I have been lonely, desperate and at rockbottom. I know that the day I brought him home was one of my wisest decisions. This space also allows me to shake off any pressure I might feel in public, to behave a certain way for example. I swim and usually feel okay showing my chest scars, but I feel safe, free and more comfortable removing my shirt in my garden without potential quizzical staring.
London Pride 2014
This was the second London Pride Parade I have taken part in and I was so proud to be able to do so walking with my group banner. My group is incredibly important to me, not just because of the amazing support the members give to each other but for what it has given me. A sense of purpose and direction. My hope was that if the banner in the parade would reach even just one person who might be questioning their gender and be feeling lost and alone then being there was worth it. About 20 years ago I felt like that, and I had no one to turn to. I don’t want anyone to feel like I did.
My Group TMSA-UK
From my home in London I started a support and advice Facebook group for Trans men in the UK in November 2011 not thinking for one minute that it would grow to over 600 members. It is truly an amazing group, totally peer led with a fantastic team of six moderators. We all spend a lot of time contributing and I know I can speak for the other moderators in saying I could easily lose days answering posts, helping members out 1to1 or just finding out information to go into the files. This group enabled me to realise where I should be going to turn my life around.
Lambeth College, Clapham Common
Going back to education aged 48 was a bit daunting, but in 2013 I embarked on a level 2 Counselling course. I then went on to complete level 3. I am currently waiting to begin a level 4 diploma which will take two years to complete. Having this opportunity to literally begin again with a new direction is amazing. To do it as Alec feels great! I don’t think I have ever felt so passionate about something in my life. The training is helping me explore my gender history and come to terms with my later in life transition. Of course my drive is to have a career and a better future as years of being unwell with bi-polar have hindered all progress, but also I want to give back to the Trans* community.
All photographs © Copyright Alec