It’s the day after Christmas, and I’m in Myanmar exploring a bustling market next to yet another pagoda on Inle Lake. The smells of mohinga and burning incenses fill the air while colourful longyis, shiny jewellery, and a few random crowns made out of teeth keep my eyes busy with curiosity. Though utterly exhausted from two days of hiking through the countryside of Shan State compounded by four and a half months of intense travel, I’m riding a high from the past few days filled with laughter, holiday cheer, friendship, beautiful scenery, and tons of delicious food and feel like nothing can bring me down.
I’ve been travelling for almost 4 months now. I’ve been to 42 countries in that time, 57 in my life time and people always ask me if I get scared travelling and tell me how unsafe it is for me as a trans person to be travelling alone. Generally my response is that I don’t get any more scared than I do in the US or UK because it feels just as dangerous at home as it does abroad. Last week I was sexually harassed/assaulted
Imagine. You’re in Paris for the first time after dreaming of visiting the City of Lights for over a decade. Your excitement is overwhelming – crepes, the Eiffel Tower, cheese, the Louvre, Versailles, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the countless other sites and experiences of Paris are at your beckon call. Oh and the wine. Can’t forget the wine. You are even qualified for free entry to most places because you’re under 25 and an EU resident so budget be damned, the city is yours for two full days. Nothing can stop you.
We live in a world where, according to society, trans people don't deserve to exist. The basic act of being alive - of breathing, of resisting this societal standard - is in itself revolutionary. It took me a long time to understand that and realise the value in my own life. I spent too much time believing that the path which society has set forth for trans people was the only option. It took taking a leap of faith and going on a trip with ten total strangers across Siberia in the middle of winter to truly discover that there's more to life than what is expected of me.
Being a non-binary trans person, the gendered segregation and expectations of spaces such as mosques can put me in uncomfortable situations. However, at the end of the day I need to remember that these spaces are not about me. I am travelling in a culture that is not my own, in a country where the majority population is of a religion that is not mine, and I need to not only respect that but use it as an opportunity to educate myself and do what I can to stand in solidarity with these individuals.
Music is a magical thing. It has the power to make you feel something deeper and bigger than yourself. As someone who struggles with mental illnesses, that power can be transformational. It can make you feel happy, it can help you get out a good cry when you need to, it can connect you with memories or dreams or hopes, it can ground you in the present. It’s potential is unlimited.