Monday, 10 November 2008

First thoughts as a new Mancunian…

Regular readers will know how much I love the city of Manchester and it’s people. It’s been my release valve since 2005 from the persecution and bigotry of Uttoxeter.

Let me say straight away there are some great people in Uttoxeter after all I moved there over 10 years ago to live with one of them.

Unfortunately there are a few determined bigots mostly from my former place of work who along with their friends and family sought to destroy me.

The wanted me to leave Uttoxeter, preferably in a wooden box, because of the affront to their sensibilities of my change of gender. They ensured I was daily reminded of this terrible crime against humanity by vicious verbal abuse and “missiles” thrown from passing cars. It was incessant and I was unable to walk the length of the High Street without some incident.

I was clever enough by not reacting, varying my routes and itinerary to avoid a major incident. It helped living right in the centre of the town within CCTV surveillance but enough of them as at the end of day they are still there living their squalid little lives – I’m not!

Quite a few people have asked me how I managed to get a secure tenancy City Of Manchester Council flat and the answer is know the law and tell the truth.

I applied in 2007 after my exclusion from work but just got the lowest priority however undeterred I bid for homes. A month or so ago I judged the situation in Uttoxeter to be getting too dangerous. I think some of the factory bigots blamed me for its future closure and were stoking up further resentment as I was on paid suspension including attendance bonus. The price for that being a good kicking that with my Ankylosing Spondylitis I probably wouldn’t have survived.

So I rang Northwood Housing and explained that when I first applied they could legally discriminate against me by not giving me the housing points for living under threat of violence but as of April 2008 HM Government had made it illegal to discriminate against someone who intended to undergo gender reassignment as regards Goods & Services so I now wanted those points.

I was close to a complete physical & mental breakdown as a result of the combined discrimination of my employer and it’s employees so delay was not an option. I’d not been able to bid on some flats because of a no pets rule and the rest were for over 60s. Suddenly one of the over 60s flats was a mistake it should have been over 50s and with cats allowed (but no dogs) I was invited to bid. I did so there and then and the following day I was offered it. Just coincidence of course.

A week later I viewed it. It’s a one bedroom flat in a block of modern terraced houses. I walked in took one look at the newly fitted galley kitchen and said I’ll take it but then it was oh dear for the bedroom and living room. Four layers of wallpaper painted lurid vinyl silk cream (it was too sickly to be magnolia). But two weeks later I moved in anyway!

Still the kitchen is brilliant and the bedroom almost exactly a month later is a lovely deep lilac thanks to the help of some good friends. As I write the living room is wallpaper stripped and looking a bit sad but in a few weeks it will be a lovely neutral beige.

I love my flat it’s in North East Manchester just a short bus ride up the Oldham Road from the city centre. My flat is first floor (common secure entrance with buzzer for 4 flats) with its own private secure entrance inside. It’s a cul-de-sac so there’s hardly any traffic and opposite me is a park so I wake up and look at trees and an open space – wonderful! The living room has a huge picture window so it’s light and airy and that too looks onto the park. The view from the kitchen at the back is like looking on to the back of Coronation Street – pure Manchester I love it.

I’ve got a Netto and an Iceland as my corner shops and a Lidl at the end of the high street but the real discovery was a Morrison’s supermarket at the end of my cul-de-sac and a few hundred yards up the canal towpath. So I can enjoy the ducks and geese on my shopping trips and if I’m lucky watch a canal boat navigate the locks. I just love the place and this was a move that didn’t just save my life but gives me hope of recovery.

I’ve got an NHS dentist at the end of my road so I went in mumbling I’ve not been for six years and now I’m on the Manchester Dental Hospital waiting list for some extensive dental work. That’s sort of good & bad really as I’m a scaredy cat as regards dentistry.

Best of all on the health side I’ve got a new young female GP and of course the relationship is now governed by my female birth certificate. I’ve got to wait for the Exceptional Funding Committee again but as South Staffordshire approved my surgery it’s just a formality really as it would be illegal now to disrupt my clinical pathway. I don’t anticipate problems like I had in Staffordshire but if we do we can use the same legal arguments to defeat any prejudiced bureaucrat.

My GP made me laugh today when she said the exceptional funding committee was exceptionally slow so I expect my surgery will be in the New Year. She had no hesitation though in supplying me the requisite sick notes to be able to claim Employment Support (that’s the new name for Incapacity Benefit). I’m going to have another go at Disability Living Allowance too as my medical condition has significantly worsened since my last application.

Finally though the greatest part of this move is the people of Manchester who just simply treat me as what I am a disabled old lady. I get no abuse and I get lots of smiles and I even got seriously chatted up the other day by a rather handsome mixed race Asian man. I’ve got a long way to go on the road to recovery from the damage done to my health by the bigots of my former workplace but here everyone without exception has made me feel welcome and I’m very proud to say I’m now a Mancunian too.

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