Trans rights are human rights…

This month’s Charity of the Month is the wonderful Scottish Trans Alliance . If you’re not mad about the current discourse surrounding trans rights then this probably isn’t the blog for you.

Scottish Trans Alliance logo

The mainstream media in the UK is nothing short of vile to and about trans people and the government (uk) refuses to protect them. The political climate is repulsive. It feels very much like we are reliving the late 80’s persecution of gay people. Obviously both groups have been discriminated against outwith these periods, but there is a mirroring that I find particularly disturbing. We’ve been here before; we know those views are wrong and disgusting. Yet, here we are. Demonising, endangering and excluding people who have already had to fight too hard just to exist.

The Scottish Trans Alliance do incredible work in trying to ensure we live in the world in which a person’s gender identity, expression and history do not lead to discrimination. They participate in campaigning, legislation consultation, fund research and hold conferences/other forums to connect and support trans people in Scotland.

For the record, you are not a feminist if you do not support trans rights. Equally you are not fighting for diversity or equality if you want to remove letters from LBGTQ+. If like me, you know that trans rights are human rights please donate to Scottish Trans.

A protest with placards saying Trans Rights Now

Charity of the Month

Given the leak from the Supreme Court regarding overturning Roe Vs Wade turned out to be accurate, choosing a cause to support this month was easy. I am horrified at the implications this decision will have.

Telling half the population they have no right over their own body is barbaric. This is a death sentence for so many people. As with most of these hard right agendas, it will disproportionately impact poor people. Those with money will always find ways to access abortion services. It isn’t possible to ban abortion, removing legal access only makes the procedure unsafe. Make no mistake, this will kill people. Be clear also, that the right will not stop with abortion. This is the start of an erosion of the rights of women & those with ovaries.

You can’t ban abortion. You can only ban safe abortion on rainbow background

If you are in the states I urge you to contact your representatives and let them know how ardently you oppose this move. Where ever you are in the world, if you have means please consider donating to organisations who help people access abortion care.

National Network of Abortion Funds

Fund Texas Choice

Planned Parenthood

Naral Pro Choice America

Abortion Rights

Alliance for Choice

Abortion Support Network

Boost a booster…

Since the emergence of omicron I have been increasingly relieved that I have had acesss to two vaccines & a booster. As a chronically ill person I can’t afford to be blasé about any variant. It also leads to me think about those who don’t have free access to these life saving jabs.

As a result this month I have decided to support Care International’s campaign to fund the cost of covid vaccines for the world’s poorest & most vulnerable families. Care put the cost at £22, but you can donate more or less. It is disgusting that the most vulnerable people do not have access to these vital vaccinations. If we are in a position to make a donation I really feel we have a responsibility to do so.

Please give of your can.

Charity of the month…

It’s been another weird lockdown month & i’m only just catching up with myself. I’m getting round to my charity of the month at the last minute (again).

For March I have chosen to support the PDSA. As animal lover I’ve always thought the PDSA do excellent work, but recent months have shown me just how essential they can be. Bronan, my cat, was diagnosed with Diabetes about 8wks ago & man alive are those vet bills adding up.

PDSA in green & pink letters. Help a vet help a pet in green letters

I’m lucky to have pet insurance, even with what I thought was a comprehensive policy, there is so much that isn’t covered. It’s really highlighted just how much an ill pet can cost. With insulin, needles, sharps disposal, regular blood tests & examinations I can easily see how it could quickly become unaffordable. I am so glad the PDSA are able to step in for those in financial need. I can’t imagine being forced to make treatment decisions for a much loved pet based purely on finances. Given covid & all its implications so many more people are likely to be in this position. Hence, the PDSA are feeling the strain. Please give whatever you can spare.

Black & white cat sleeping on purple sofa

Since we’re talking about my beautiful boy I’m want to share the symptoms that first raised the alarm. The problems he had were fairly minor & I would never in a million years of thought they indicated such a serious issue. The first thing I noticed was him limping on his back right leg. Next he began to go outside much less & was just not quite himself. My first though was that he had injured himself. When he didn’t improve after a couple of days I thought perhaps it was wear & tear on his joints. I consulted my vet mainly thinking he needed some pain relief. I am so glad I acted quickly. The longer it takes to diagnose diabetes the more damage can be done. So, here are some signs to look out for.

Limping, unsteadiness particularly in hind legs.

Increased appetite & thirst.

Issues passes urine/ unusual toilet behaviours.

Sleeping more often than usual.

Confusion.

Take care of your four legged friends & if you can make a donation to help the PDSA look after lots more.

Black and white cat with his paw holding women’s arm

And his hunger burns…

I already shared my October Charity of the month, but this week’s Tory bullshit has compelled another post.

I cannot bear the thought of children (or anyone) going hungry. It makes me feel sick, enraged and teary all at the same time. It would never be ok, but it’s worse when we can absolutely afford to care for those in need. Further compounded by the fact that our government has created this poverty. A decade of austerity has hit those with the least hardest. I cannot fathom the cruelty of voting to withhold food from poor children.

We can help. We shouldn’t have to shoulder the responsibility that a morally bankrupt Conservative government refuses to carry. However, the alternative is to allow children to starve. If you can spare a few pounds please consider donating to your local foodbank. You can also add food/toiletries to collection boxes in many supermarkets, drop off at foodbank centres or have items collected.

You can give to Trussle Trust in a variety of ways, all of which are detailed here.

Typical food parcels contain the following:

List of food and toiletries required by food banks

I also like to consider things like dietary requirements (gluten free, dairy free etc) and add treats. Surviving on food parcels is tough, little luxuries go a long way. With Halloween & Christmas on the horizon I think it’s especially important to donate some sweets or small gifts. Little ones should always be allowed to indulge in a some magic.

Image of children approaching Jesus.  Text read,  don’t send them to me let them suffer. Tory Jesus

Black Lives Matter.

June’s Charity of the month is a no brainer. I’m joining the chorus of white voices proclaiming that we must do better. It’s not enough to say ‘I’m not racist’. We have to act. We have to listen. We have to educate ourselves. We must fight both with Black people & against our own participation in their oppression.

We all benefit from centuries of white supremacy. It is our responsibility to teach ourselves about the institutional racism that makes our lives easier and the historical wrongs that created our current system. It is our duty to listen to what Black activists ask of us, to always pass the mic. It is essential that we act; sign the petition, write to your repressive, boycott brands who don’t walk the walk, protest & donate whatever you can.

This month I have chosen to support three organisations suggested by Black Activists.

Philadelphia Community Bail Fund does exactly what the name suggests. The American bail system is set up in way that means people without means often spend time incarcerated before they are ever brought to trial. Bail funds are even more important at times like this.

I learned about cruelty The Loveland Foundation from the work of Rachel Cargle. Their therapy fund for black women & girls provides access to mental health services that would otherwise be out of reach to their service users. As a person who has lived with mental illness my entire adult life I know how important treatment is. I am eternally grateful that I found people who could help me via the NHS. The work that Loveland do is life saving & changing.

Finally I gave directly to the family of George Floyd through Gofundme. The family intend to use the funds to cover a variety of essential expenses. Funeral costs, legal bills, therapy & of course for the care of his children. To have a loved one murdered in such brutal, public & racist way is deeply traumatic. This family deserve our support.

I urge you to seek out & amplify Black voices. Reading posts like this does not count as doing the work. I am a white women with much to learn. Please follow, read & support the tireless work of Black activists, educators & creators. Social media timelines are full of recommendations, if yours isn’t it is time to ask yourself why. And do something about it. Here are some incredible people whose work I consume.

I also want to point you towards this list of organisations doing anti racist work. I hope to donate to more in the coming months. I hope you will give if you can. Monetary Support for Anti Racist Action. *

*I did not compile this list.

We can speak louder than ignorance…

We are living in a, frankly, terrifying world. The march to the political right, climate chaos, human rights violations, erosion of reproductive rights are just the tip of the nightmare. It is easy to feel powerless in the face of such monumental issues.

I feel especially frustrated when my health limits my participation in protest. Signing petitions, sending emails & sharing information doesn’t feel like enough. In an effort to feel like I am trying to facilitate change I put my money where my mouth is.

For a few years now I have tried to pick a different charity or organisation each month to donate to. It’s not always a huge donation, but I think every little helps. It also really helps me deal with life to feel that I am supporting action that betters the world.

It occurred to me that I often discover people doing amazing work via social media, friends raising money and the content I consume. Thus I have decided to share the groups I am supporting each month in the hope that others might also feel moved to donate.

Immigration policy on both sides of the Atlantic are alarming. The American situation is beyond compression. Facist dehumanising techniques are in full force & repugnant acts are being committed. Raices are on the ground in Texas fighting for asylum at the border. They support those who have been detained, try to reunite separated families & advocate for unaccompanied minors. This work is vital. We can do nothing whilst sickening acts are waged against desperate people seeking safety. If you can, please consider making a donation.

Snow is falling…

It’s been a fast year, but December has really put its foot down. We are riding swiftly towards the big day, which means it is time for more festive primping & seasonal giving.

It’s the third week of Xmas (advent, whatever), so it’s it apt that it took three attempts to get my nails right. I really wanted to be adorned in delicate sparkly snowflakes, but try as I might, I could not pull it off.

ly h Kerr nail art

Each attempt was clumsier than I wanted. In the end I abandoned my snowy vision & opted for some glittery presents. You can’t go wrong with a well wrapped gift, right?

ly h kerr nail art

This week I turned my charitable attentions to Glasgow Women’s Aid. An organisation doing wonderful work with women & children who have been affected by domestic abuse. Women’s aid provide a number of services from refuge centres to training for service users & therapy for their children. Two women a week are killed by their partner or ex partner in the UK, so it is vital that women (& their children) have access to this help. You can help in a number is ways. A donation can be made via the website or you can follow your local Women’s Aid on social media for updates on what goods, clothes etc are required. Often women have to leave everything behind and start from scratch, so please check before you throw away anything that could still be useful. Obviously at this time of year toys & treats are most welcome. Even small donations can change lives.

If Bronan can suffer the indignity of being cat Santa, you can get your purse out.

You can’t change the way she feels, but you could put your arms around her…

I dreamt about an old friend last night. A friend who is no longer living. It was a lovely dream that I was sad to wake from. As I tried to commit the dream to memory I realised that whilst I thought of her often, I hadn’t spoken out loud about my dear friend in a long time. Too long a time, which is something I need to rectify. I need to talk about her. Tell her story. Share how she changed me. And that is exactly what I am going to do.

Let’s start by saying I met J because we were both ill. I was in my early twenties & struggling to deal with undiagnosed PTSD. I was trying to hold together a life that was increasingly unsatisfying with a self harm habit that was spiralling out control. J was dealing with similarly unhappy circumstances and a self harm problem that becoming, frankly terrifying. We both found some comfort in a community of sick people who didn’t know where else to turn. We were people who couldn’t ask for help or had asked without receiving the sort of assistance the we needed. No one talked about self harm then. Except maybe in the odd film where it was usually portrayed as something a trouble teen might do or a suicide attempt. Even the mental health professionals treated us like shit (sadly, some still so). If our attempts to hide the problem had failed, our families & friends were frightened ( & in some cases cruel). We were dealing with real problems; rape, abusive relationships, miscarriage, escaping from cults, drug dealing parents & a multitude of other big, scary problems. We were of course also living with mental illness. Some of us had a laundry list of labels and others had not a single clue what the fuck was wrong. But there was absolutely something going very wrong for all of us. This is where I met J. Amongst this this group of desperate people I also found a salvation of sorts. These broken people offered each other a kind of support that we couldn’t find anywhere else. We dragged each other through the kind of darkness that most will never understand. And J was kind of our leader.
J was living with pain beyond what would be considered durable. Her mental anguish was compounded by the physical horror she was compelled to inflict upon herself. J was not ok. Every solitary moment of life was a battle hard fought. And, yet, she always had time for us. She had love and support and encouragement for her damaged flock. J lived in a different time zone, but she still called day & night to remind me to keep breathing. She wrote letters and sent care parcels. She compiled lists of all the things that just might offer one us a couple minutes respite from our own fucked up heads. She replied to every ‘ I can’t do this anymore’ with such kind & convincing entreaties to keep trying, that we did. Her words worked because we knew, that she knew. We were all able to help each other because we shared a world that most people didn’t know existed. For me, j was the ultimate inspiration. If she could do this with such grace, I owed it to her and all the others who loved me to at least not give up.

Kelvingrove park

It’s such a cliché, but this goodness expanded beyond our group. She was studying to be a nurse because she wanted to help people. Everyone in her life adored her. J was that person who offered succour, but she wasn’t a martyr or a goody goody. She was fun. Her sense of humour could be wicked. Most of all she was strong. J fought to live. She engaged with mental health services that let her down over and over and over. She was still working and studying at the peak of her illness. She endured the brutality of her self harm and the callousness of those supposed to treat them. She did it all with dignity. Life beat J black and blue. This world committed an almost constant vicious assault on her. She fought back hard. She battled with and blood and heart and care and tears and wonder. She did not win.
J succeeded in taking her own life in a sad and awful way that left no doubt that she meant it. I wish with everything in my being that I could have changed how her story ended. Both the circumstances & the prematurity of her passing, but I don’t blame her. I understand that life was no longer a viable prospect for J. I hate that, but I do not begrudge her some peace. I am still angry at the professionals who failed her and the people who’s actions caused her so much pain. I will never be angry at J. She gave life her very best shot. Her suicide was neither selfish nor weak. It was just the only option she had left. It kills me that someone so beautiful was left with a choice so ugly. I understand it, though. Whilst I know it may be an unpopular opinion I can accept it. I can respect that it was her decision to make.


So, why I am writing this? What am I left with? Actually what remains is so much more positive than I could have ever imagined. Losing J was soul destroying, but life does go on. I go on and so do those other sad people that she cared for. I don’t want to disrespect those wonderful people by not acknowledging that they too saved me. We all helped save each other. In hundreds of big and small ways. After J’s death we continued to care for each other. We laughed and cried and screamed and swore together. We stayed up nights and called ambulances. We sent Xmas cards and made hospital visits.
From that group I maintain friendships with some incredible people. Some of us are entirely recovered, some still walk the tight rope; we are all still alive. We have partners, careers, babies, hobbies & passions. We all do our bit for mental health awareness. Whether that’s through writing, organising, working in the field, donating to MH charities or just supporting loved ones with their difficulties. I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to prevent others falling through the cracks. I will fight for everyone to have more choices than J. I know I am not alone. That is her legacy. She lives on through the people she touched. We endured. We succeeded. We survived.
WE LIVE

1 in 4 adult in UK will experience mental illness at some point in their lives. It is incredibly likely that you or someone you love will have to fight this battle. You can help improve the lives of suffering in a number of ways. Please do what you can to make sure more people survive.

Add mental health education to the national curriculum

Donate to Samaritans

Donate to SAMH

You an also make a massive difference by writing to your elected representatives an telling them mental health is major issue for you. Let them know that how they vote on mental health related issues matters to you. You can find your representatives here.
Find my MP
Find my MSP