Image: Pixabay

I have a pile of assignments, but apparently I really don’t want to write today. My mind shies away from the task, alighting upon anything that isn’t writing. If I’m honest, this is pretty much any given day. I have a way to get past this: I write something else. A random scene, some notes, maybe a little journaling. I might write about the fact that I don’t want to write, or, if I’m really desperate, I might even write about writing. Here, let me show you —

There is a dictum in creative writing: ‘Show, don’t tell.’ This is…

Saturday 29 September 2018, Cairo

After the past couple days, the word that I think best describes how I feel is ‘gutted’.

Quite enough has already been said and it is banally redundant for me to add these words to the tsunami of anguish and rage spilling from millions of women today, but I can’t not. I feel poisoned. I’ve tried to look away, but I’m glued to it. I’ve tried to refocus on other things, but the thoughts, the memories, the physical effects, are too intrusive and won’t release me. I can’t sleep through the night. Even from this…

The author’s mother, somewhere in France, 1966.

I am not a huge fan of the modern holiday; I find the overemphasis on the commercial and the knee-jerk obligation off-putting. There feels to be little that is holy or honourable or intrinsically meaningful in them. As a recently constructed and highly commercialised holiday, Mother’s Day would seem to merit a write-off. But not for me.

There are and have been many different ‘Mother’s Days’ in various cultures over the millennia, but the one we celebrate now originates in America, created by Anna Jarvis in 1908. Jarvis herself spoke out against the commercialisation that came to dominate the event…

Failing to cash-in, Hallmark inclusivity-flops.

Image:’s complete line of ‘LGBTQIA’ Mother’s Day cards. (Yea, here, have some ‘feedback’…)

Searching for a Mother’s Day card for her wife, a lesbian friend complained that she was unable to find a single card that didn’t say something like ‘from your loving husband’ or have a picture of a besotted dude on it.

Out of curiosity I did a google and — what do you know! — a link to ‘’ popped.

Wow! OK. Maybe…

Now I’m not a fan of the Big H (or cards in general, frankly), but I thought —

‘Hey, maybe they’re on it after all. Paint me gobsmacked. …

This image was originally intended to be ironic; the 1975 girls’ comic from which it comes was part of the broad cultural backlash against ‘Women’s Lib’. It portrayed sexual harassment as a necessary and inevitable prelude to romance. Yep, that’s the context in which I came of age.

I remember the kerfuffle in the 1970s, as Second Wave feminism was introducing Ms to replace Mrs/Miss and was starting to dismantle the generic ‘he’ and ‘man’. Oh, the outrage. But that shift in the English language turns out to have been relatively straight forward. We face bigger challenges.

You will be familiar with current struggles to de-gender English so as to eliminate gender bias and misgendering. Efforts include increasing acceptance of the singular they* and such constructs as the Mx title (pronounced ‘məks’ with a schwa [ə]; roughly ‘mix’, if you reduce the ‘i’).

In the midst of the…

On the front page. Image: Pink News.

‘…although visibility has increased and more trans people are able to come out and live relatively ordinary lives, at the same time we are being targeted more than ever.’ — Owl Fisher [link below]

There has been a poisonous anti-trans media shit-storm in the UK in recent months, triggered by a government move to make life a little easier for trans folks. The very notion of our lives getting any easier has brought astonishing loads of focussed and funded hate out of the woodwork, all with the express purpose of vilifying, denying, and further marginalising us. The intensity and coordination…

Short answer: Yes, but you may get what you pay for. Risks may be higher, both in terms of risk to life and results.

That said, I know women who are satisfied with results achieved on a budget.

And I know women who ‘paid full price’ in the West and got poor results.

(Notice that I said ‘women’. I know nothing about transmasculine surgical options. This applies to everything I have to say.)

Firstly, increasingly, government programmes and insurers in western countries are covering transition costs. Even if you think yours doesn’t, double check, you may be surprised by recent…

On love and gender dysphoria

Image courtesy of Cody Delistraty

What the fuck happened to you?”

Cara’s raised voice and sharp language added to my anxiety — no, fear. She stood in front of the table, her fists clenched. I could feel the couple at the next table staring, but I didn’t care, not in the face of Cara’s fury.

I sat mute, trying to return her gaze, trying desperately to make my voice do something. I’d arrived early for our rendezvous, afraid that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to show up. She was half an hour late.

“I almost didn’t come. I shouldn’t have come. You tell…

The man in the mirror: Image by SergeyP, based on an original photo by Joseph Canger.

The following is a response to The Man in the Mirror, an essay by Amanda Roman, in which she describes the anguish of moving through a world that does not recognise her gender, and the devastation that causes within the self. It broke my heart.

For transgender people, the desire or need to be cisgender-passing — easily recognised and affirmed by others as one’s actual gender—is a fraught subject, one which I have made several attempts at, in the past, and failed to produce anything I was willing to publish. Amanda has provided an excuse to try again.

What follows…

Wow, what a push it’s been these past couple weeks!


The debut episode of the Alice & Mia show is now available on Soundcloud, YouTube, and through the show’s website. It will also be distributed through iTunes, just as soon as I can wade through their labyrinth.

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter.

There is also a Patreon for the show, and I recommend you ‘follow’ that to get the public postings, even if you can’t do the $1 to sign up. …

Allison Washington

Journalist & essayist. Reporting from Cairo.

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