|Themes:||cycling, single parent, transgender|
The extract from this story has been re-read by an actor to preserve the donor’s anonymity.
There’s a lot of need for activism, is my feeling. There’s a lot of oppressive forces. My dad was a coalminer, and it had a huge impact on me. I was 11 when the, uh, strikes were happening. And, um, that was the beginning of the end of representation of minorities and working class people being given dignity. We live in a society that’s controlled by the elite, and activism is necessary.
I was just in my next-door neighbour’s house, actually…we were talking about single parenting and they’ve just – they’ve got six kids and one of them’s just become a single mum. She’s 47, um she’s got two teenagers and um, yeah it just was kind of good to talk about it with them cause they were saying so “she’s really struggling, is it actually really hard?” And I said “yeah! It’s really hard.” And it’s hard for so many reasons, there’s so many layers of why it’s hard. There’s financial reasons, there’s social implications, there’s health implications. And I feel like being a single parent has turned me into an activist; um…largely to protect my child’s mental wellbeing and her childhood. Under the conditions that our current society is putting – parents in general – but particularly single parents.
Uhm. Cycling – feels like one of my activisms. I cycle my child to school on a very busy road. And I wear a helmet camera every day, and I get bullied by often tradesmen. Things like BT vans and contractors like Carillion I’ve had run-ins with and I’ve gone to the police with footage and, you know, the police have questioned me. And then I’ve gone higher and the people that I’ve gone higher to have stood by me and said actually, you know, you have a right to be there. The thing that happened was that a Carillion van did what they call a punishment pass. Which is when they’re behind a bicycle for a while, and the bicycle if it’s not, like, tucked in to the curb, they think that you’re in their way and that you’re doing it deliberately and when they overtake you they cut you up so that they scare you, they use their vehicle to intimidate you as a cyclist. So that’s called a punishment pass. So I got a punishment pass from a Carillion driver and, uhm, the policeman that I initially took it to said “ooh well your road positioning: you were a bit too central, you were kind of taking up more road space then then, I don’t think..” kinda thing, and stood – was on the side of the driver who – who used his tonne of metal to intimidate me. And then I went higher and I went to another police officer who’s pro – kind of educating other drivers to be more respectful of cyclists and I got an article in just some web clickbait news – thing. But it stood by me; it gave me credibility in my road position as a cyclist, and validated my right to be there, um and shamed the company van driver for intimidating me.
So, yeah, being a cyclist does kind of encapsulate quite a lot of my activism. I’m also trans, or I – am moving towards being able to identify as trans and, um, when I’m in gender-diverse-positive environments its very very clear to me that a lot of my journey and a lot of my experience in life is that of a transgender person. But when I’m back in the realm of being a single parent on the school run and – just – you know getting on with my life, it just goes under, underground again, that awareness, and I just kinda cope. Um. And it’s a scary thing to say; I’m trans. So I don’t say it very often. Because people are very confused about it, and – challenged by gender diversity.