For many, the month of February marks a month of romance, a chapter of the year where couples cocoon themselves against the winters bite within crimson sheets of passion. A time to further fuel the embers of love with the velvety lips of a rose, a tribute to our patron St Valentine. However, for the LGBTQ community February observes a month of free love, honouring the history of gay rights and other related civil rights movements. ThePalaceOfTheDogs was invited by Crisis (National charity for homelessness) to be a panel guest on their discussion on the LGBTQ experience. We graciously accepted the invite and sent our very own, Drew Dalziel-Mckinley to represent us; to share her experiences of being a trans-woman and working in the creative industry. Check out the highlights of the evening in the video below:
We caught up with Drew to talk about how it went and to further understand her experience of transitioning.
First of all well done!!! We’re all super proud of you. How did you feel sharing your story and experiences with people you don’t know?
I felt super confident to share my story. I could tell the people were very intrigued, as they may have never come across a Trans person before. I’m all about breaking down the barriers that divide us. I could tell once I sat down at the table people did not know what to expect. We got talking and they asked so many questions. They began to feel comfortable and I could feel it.
Tell me about the first time you stepped outside as Drew, how did you feel, what happened?
The first time stepping out as Me was such a scary moment. I had to work, so I sent out an email to all my colleagues the night before telling them what was about to happen. Sitting on the bus I was so nervous, I just didn’t know what to expect. People were staring but I think it’s because I looked super hot. That is what I tell myself anyway. I got through the day and here I am.
Transitioning is quite a physical thing on the outside, but Im sure is also hugely internal. How do you balance your privacy and protecting the emotional aspect of transitioning?
You have to remember why you started. I started this journey for me and for me only. It was never about acceptance. If it was I would still be living a life that wasn’t really mine; I’d be the gay man everyone told me I was. I get emotional when I am misgendered or looked at like an alien, but I still come back to the fact that I am doing this for me not for anyone else. I often notice that my confidence scares people; However, there are people who want to understand and they ask questions and I am open. There are also people who want to remain ignorant. I embrace both because I embrace and accept myself for who I am first.
Recently you were in the newspapers because of your experience on the phone with a bank, where your account was blocked because the operator didn’t believe you were who you said you were; what were the responses like once the news released?
The online response was so bad, especially on Twitter, but keyboard warriors are lame. I laugh at the responses because they do not pay my bills. I have to thank my friend who works for the paper who published my story. If it wasn’t for them I would have been locked out of my bank account a lot longer.
How has your YouTube channel helped you and what are your plans for the future with it ?
My YouTube allows me to literally be me through and through. It’s acts almost like a diary. I’m allowed to say what I want freely and hopefully not offend anyone while doing it. It’s fun to do my makeup, get all hyped and just entertain in my truth. It allows me to notice my imperfections, love them and grow from them. It’s all confidence building and self love. I really want to make “drinks with a drew” a proper chat show. That would be amazing.
How have your relationships with your friends and family changed since you’ve started this journey?
There are a few people I am no longer friends with. There people who I thought understood my journey or at least wanted to, but things are said and their true feelings become more apparent the more I progress in my transition. It has also formed stronger bonds with the people who’ve remained loyal, they’ve been so compassionate and encouraging. It’s also a testament to my own character as I must have done something right in life to have gained so much support.
What has it been like dating?
It’s been awful, Trans-women are more of a fetish to cis men. I’m excited to have bottom surgery which I feel will complete my transition. It will hopefully stop me being fetishised by men, be noticed as woman and be treated with the respect. I am also aware that cis women go through similar issues also and I feel we can all do better to look after each other more as women.
How and why did you choose the name Drew?
My mum chose It; Ultimately our parents choose our names and I wanted to include her as much as possible. Also If left up to me I would be called Britney Jean Spears LOL.
What has been your most memorable moment since transitioning?
When I first received my passport and it stated female.
Also when I went to a club and I showed my female I.D and I got in for free and was just treated like every other girl.
What advice would you give to any young boy or girl who may be questioning there gender?
Take your time, experiment with clothes and confide In your closest friends. Keep a diary and write how you feel. Read and watch other people’s journeys. There is no time limit, so make sure this is for yourself and yourself only.
Words by Daniel Bailey
Video Interview: Drew Dalziel-Mckinley