sunnuntai 15. joulukuuta 2013

Total Belly Dance day

On Saturday the 14th December I had a real belly dance day. In the morning we had the great Christmas Show to children at Leppävaara Sport hall in Espoo. It was my first public performance as a belly dancer. Our training group at Luhtavilla dance studio.  Our dance number was Makina by a Turkish singer Emir. It tells about a woman without feelings and behaving like a machine. However our message for the children was just a dance of the Northern lights.


We had to be ready quite early in the morning so I decided to be practical and dressed to dancing outfit at home, adding only a cardigan and my winter coat for freezing weather. In this case it was rather easy because we had only black leggings and black shirts with scarves on our hips in various color symbolizing  the Northern lights. And consequently it was easy to get ready in dressing room, just brushing my hair and finish the makeup. The latter contained rather strong eye lines and heavy lipstick and blush. Unfortunately I totally forgot the mascara, but it didn’t seem to make any harm.

There were five brave dancers in our group who dared to dance publicly. In the other group there were only two who seemed to be quite advanced as basic group members – or at least very fast learners. They also had awesome dance costumes.




I have planned not to dance in front line so that no one would watch only me and not the whole group. My plan failed because there is a transition in the choreography where the back liners will change to the front line. Fortunately it happens just in the end of the dance so I think I didn’t catch too much attention.  Our performance was taken very positively though it was not a first class take. I noticed much uncleanness in my dance and in the end we lost the walking lines which lead us too close to each other and made my dance very confused for a while. Anyway it was so fun to be there as one of the belly dancer ladies.


video



                     

One nice thing was there were so many little children performing their dances and it seemed my appearance didn’t wake any confusion in their minds, at least in their behavior. So it seems the kids have no precautions toward people like me – as far as someone is teaching them the opposite.  


I returned home to fix something to eat. Actually I had made a delicious lunch of Baltic herring in a cheese sauce on Friday evening. After that we prepared to go to big belly dance show organized by the Helsinki belly dance studios together. It was the Oriental Bling show in Helsinki East City. The show contained many different styles of the oriental dance and even the cross over styles. I must say I prefer the “clean styles” that have some cultural history behind them. Anyway we saw the nice show and my teacher Marinka dancing among others and my band percussionist Asta playing the dara buk drum.      


                                         At the Oriental Bling show. This was the first time 
                                         Anukatariina had pants and she wore a dress.

There were a tiny market place for oriental dance costumes and accessories so I took an advantage and bought a rather heavy black coin belt, shown in the picture two days later. The belt also reminds me how much I still have to learn: When doing shoulder shimmys the belt should be totally silent but it isn't... 



  

sunnuntai 1. joulukuuta 2013

The Political November

In November I took part to two political events. The first was TransHelsinki happening, especially the working life seminar organized by our organization The DreamWearClub. 


We had high class guests, including the Finnish Ombudsman for Equality, the president of the Equality Advisory Board of the Finnish Parliament and people from trade unions and national employer organization. The issue was the discrimination at workplaces, especially concerning the right to express one’s inner gender. 

In Finland it is already forbidden to stop an employee to wear clothes that feels best for the gender he/she feels, except it is somehow regulated in a certain dress code. In Sweden even this is forbidden, which was realized last summer: The train personnel was not allowed to wear shorts even though it was too hot for long pants so they decided to wear pants. The Finnish employers say there are certain reasons the customers may not like personnel wearing “wrong clothes” but they seemed to be reluctant  to specify the cases. The legislation that is in preparation is approximately the same that is already applied in Sweden. The employers  try to remove these issues the law which has less stringent sanctions than the equality legislation.

After the seminar we went to snack in a pub. We were lucky to get one, because it was  Pikkujoulu (“Little Christmas”) time and the restaurants were crowded. After that we went to movies  to see some trans shorts. The Movie Theater was the one Kaurismäki brothers once owned and the feeling was still there…



            At the Cinema with Hanna-Maria and Aija Salo, 
                           the head secretary of Seta

 After the movie we still went to “L-world club”  to have fun just among women.


The other political event was the representative assembly of the Finnish LGBTIQ organization Seta. There were both the official part and less official workshops. I chose the group leader and transgender support centre workshops and think the choices were rather good. And while it was a weekend, Saturday evening there were sauna evening, of course. I skipped the sauna but had nice and interesting discussions with numerous different GLBTIQ people.




The busy reperesentative

sunnuntai 10. marraskuuta 2013

Backflashes from October: Eternal emotions, Mediterranean flavors

In October we decided to conquer the city we haven’t visited before. The City was the eternal town Rome.  We had three complete days (from Wednesday noon to Saturday afternoon) to do it. We hired a bed and breakfast place for our purposes and used metro for our actions.

Visiting Italy, we of course had to try local pizzas. The first one was a pizza slice in a suburban take away pizzeria. It was a boletus mushroom pizza and I asked the sales girl if she had heard of Dalla Valle, the man who imports these mushrooms from Finland to Italy and told her I pick them too. She shook her head and replied these cannot be such, and asked the chef what’s the name of the mushrooms. She then came back and said there were something like bolet…

The first day we did only the preliminary scouting in downtown. However he result was convincing: Lots of lovely views and nice contact with Roman hospitality in a tiny shop. When we told our interest in some dresses we were immediately guided downstairs to dressing room areas where we commented our findings with local ladies. The total result was a dress with a bolero for both of us, however very different in style.



In the evening we went for supper near our hotel. I wanted to eat something small and tried to explain I only wanted some fried vegetables. The waitress replied he’ll have something nice for me. When he served our meals I noticed I did get some fried vegetables – with a huge beefsteak!!


On Thursday day we had Vatican as our destination. We visited the St Peters Church and the Vatican museum which was an astounding experience: How on earth did the popes want to collect, rob or commission such huge treasures. I heavily doubt it was not done in the honor of the God…   Anyway it was a great lesson of art history, including ancient art and the renaissance and later masters, as Rafaello, Michelangelo, Chagall and Dali.










Our pizzas of the day was claimed to be a huge one but we get a normal size and quality under the average. So we decided to have something better in the evening and went to a fish restaurant near Via del Tritone. We ordered a gilthead bream with some vegetables. The taste was a bit like our bream but much richer in flavor.  On our way back to hotel we still saw a nice fountain, one of the numberless fountains in Rome.




On Friday we concentrated on ancients places like Colosseum and Pantheon. Unfortunately the Forum Romanum was closed because of the strike. Because of the strike also the buses and trams didn’t go but fortunately our mode of transport, underground wasn’t striking.




After the Pantheon visit we still did some shopping tour and accidentally ended up in front of the shop we have visited two days before. I went in and found the sales lady who had served us to thank her and tell we were satisfied for our dresses. She was very delighted for that.

On Saturday we still had a lot of time to find new … I mean ancient places to see. So we went to the Circus Maximus area and from there we walked to Caracalla bath. The dimension of the places were huge, the old Romans really had room for having fun. 



We walked even further along the Roman wall through the nice villa region to see Roman pyramid which was unfortunately under construction. So we returned to Rome main station area to have our last Roman lunch – and it was not a pizza.

On our way back to Finland our concern was we had tickets with only hand packages, maximum 8 kilograms. There were very strict rules to regard almost any other items as an extra package with extra charge. Fortunately it turned out the ladies handbag was not included to that category so we could divide our things neatly to two bags per person J


The temperature in Rome was between 15 and 27 Celsius degrees. When we got to Helsinki airport it was a bit below zero and the streets were a bit icy after a rainy day. So I was very happy that I had already changed the snow tires.    

Updating the fall

This fall I haven’t blog anything so far. That’s partly because I was so busy doing things instead of telling about them.

Among other things was the Hauho meeting. This time we had a member of parliament Annika Saarikko as our political special guest. For her our issue was not very familiar and she seemed to be quite nervous at the beginning. However she was very curious and wanted to hear our personal stories about being ourselves and about difficulties we meet during it.


                    Annika Saarikko


Just arrived me with gorgeous Jaana                                      


Another special guest was Taina Kinnunen, a gender researcher from Tampere University.


                                                          Taina Kinnunen

As our entertainment program I also had asked my belly dance teacher Marinka Nyqvist with her colleague Sari Puolimatka to have an introductory dance lesson and a little dance number. I think both numbers went marvelously and the audience seemed to be happy.


A better dressed me                               Marinka and Sari starting their encore 

Talking about belly dance lessons, I have continued the hobby in different studio but still under guidance of Marinka.
 
We have completed one choreography and just started a new one. It is planned to be performed in December. 
video

sunnuntai 22. syyskuuta 2013

The international evening


Last Friday I went to Amnesty Finland event. The issue was the situation in Uganda. The key note speaker was a Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera  and the co speaker was Canadian-Somali Hassan Shire Sheikh.  They told about the situation in Eastern Africa and especially in Uganda. Homosexuality is still a taboo in most parts of Africa, due to various reasons. One is increasing influence of Islamic fundamentalists. In Uganda the reason is more relied on Christianity strongly supported by hard core Christian missionaries. So there’s a law prohibiting being a gay that might sentence you for a long time to prison. It was meant to include even the   death penalty to the bill but it was finally dropped because of strong international opinion against it.

Anyway the life of gay people in Uganda is terrible. They said it is not the authorities. it is the other people. Local tabloid newspapers began a hate campaign in 2006, publishing the names and photos of homosexuals with captions such as ‘homo terror!’ In 2010, Nabagesera’s name was mentioned in the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone in an article headlined: ‘Hang them: they are after our kids!’
However the main message for us was we should carefully listen to the local activists and not make our own conclusions what to do; in many cases the wrong actions may only make the situation even worse.
I found out the situation of the trans people varies hugely in Africa. In some areas trans people are appreciated highly due to tribal traditions. On the other hand in many cases trans people are regarded as gay, no matter what their sexual orientation is.

After the discourse we went to the hang out at the office of the Rainbow family organization. There I had an opportunity to chat with LBGT people from other countries. The Greek lady told me about the bad situation of trans people in her home country. And one of the Iranian guests told interesting things about the situation in Iran. One thing was the situation of trans women is not so bad as it could be: Ajatollah Khomeini laid down the bill that let the trans women do their sex-reassignment. The background of the bill is it is severely prohibited for men to have sex with a man. But if the partner is not a man…. The bad news about that was many gay men are forced to make the sex-reassignment against their own will. The situation of lesbian women is a bit easier because the life of women is partly covered from religious polices and on the other hand it is more natural for women to live together. However the pressure will increase if you seem to be too lazy to try to get married.

We also talked about the other implication of the gay sex in Islamic countries: There's a tradition to kidnap a boy to a dancer in Northern Pakistan and in Afghanistan. They are forced to dress as a girl and dance to men and finally have sex with them. And men are not having sex with other men, the boys are actually girls, you see... It practically ruins the boys' life and it is common that they commit a suicide. How awful, it is so hard to even think about it.  

Our domestic issue was the “Hetero Pride” demonstration next day. It was organized by some retarded religious and extreme right wing politicians. They have introduced the word homosation to express the fact that homosexuality is issued rather commonly in media. They claim it is even not allowed to tell someone is married or have kids…. The most horrifying situation has happened when one of these lads heard his son naming him “homo father” after watching a soap where there was a homosexual character. How an awful situation for homophobic people!!

We were wondering the claimed problem there’s sooo much homo issues in media. So we planned to propose one of the Finnish journal to edit one number of the paper in such fashion as “In the film a hetero man is trying to get an attention of the hetero dame.”, “Hetero politician has said he’s against any hidden agreements with other hetero politicians” etc.

And  what comes to Hetero Pride implementation, it was not a particular success… There were about 50 participants and even more policemen and anti demonstrators. It was said to be a merry (should I say gay….)  pro family event but there were almost only men. And after the demonstration some of the organizers were posing with Nazis with Nazi greeting!!


So it was not a merry family event for sure!  

BTW

The last week I also became a granny. It is a marvelous feeling, my twin granddaughters are simply fantastic!!

  

   
   


maanantai 15. heinäkuuta 2013

Rymättylä Herring Weekend

Last weekend we visited our good friends Kristiina and Irene in Rymättylä near Turku. On Friday we met a gender scholar to negotiate about the article to our magazine. The we walked a bit along the Aurajoki river banks.

It was almost six p.m. before we arrived Rymättylä. It is a tiny place in Turku Archipelago and their house is situated by a very narrow sea gulf so there wasn’t too much wind. The evening was quite warm as long as the sun was still up but after that the temperature went down rather rapidly. Because we live on quite northern latitude it didn’t happen until nine p.m.   





We had bought some Swedish herring for barbecuing. Normally all the herring we eat is salted because it has been caught far away in Atlantic. Actually the old Finnish herring fleet has been just in Rymättylä in Röölä harbor. We do eat fresh herrings but they are sub species Baltic herring. We found out that Atlantic herring tastes a bit milder than our domestic version. Baltic herring has been poor people’s food but we all think it is delicious – as well this foreign ones were.






Saturday was a warm and sunny day and we devoted to avoid any major activity except sun bath and nice intelligent talk.  I got my first bikini tan lines – unfortunately they were the red ones. Although the sea didn’t look very appealing (rather like Finnish pea soup…) we swam many times with no symptoms of poisoning.




In early evening we had to go to fetch water for sauna because the well of the house is in bad condition and the sea is salty – though not as salty as the oceans. So we went to Röölä harbor to fetch water. It turned out that there has been a “Pirate market” in that day. There were some stalls where we were enticed to buy some exotic things as Himalaya crystal salt, containing 81 elements. I thought there aren’t that much non-poisonous elements so I willingly skipped the offer.





After visiting some other seashore places we went to heat the sauna and barbecue some entrecote with vegetables. I had no problems with falling asleep after staying outdoors the whole day.



Sunday morning was almost as warm as Saturday but there were some wind that made the weather not so hot. At noon a front of clouds appeared to Northern sky so it was a good time to thank our hostesses and head for Helsinki.

sunnuntai 30. kesäkuuta 2013

Piercing with Pride

Last week I have spent quite a lot of time at Helsinki Pride 2013 events. After returning from our cottage on Wednesday I immediately went to a panel discussion about the gender diversity. I was one of the panelist, the others were a transgender and an inter-/transsexual person. There were not a specially huge audience but it was very active and seemed to be happy about our presentations and discussion following them.

After the panel discussion we went to bar for some snack, beer and reflection about the panel and our activity as a trans political commission. And after that we found our way to a “Barn Ball” though it rather  happened in pavilion restaurant. The day had been very hot and it was still hot inside so we stayed mostly  outdoors expect when we danced.

Thursday was my laundry day, including my already sweaty summer dress. The other thing I did was that I had my ears pierced. The third thing was my speciality, a mushroom pie for coming picnic purposes.


Friday was a day for picnics. First we went to SETA (the Finnish national LGBTI organization) activist picnic for some sparkling to sip. I took half of my mushroom pie with us, seeing it disappearing in rather short time.  Then we went on for a picnic for trans people in the next park! Because the mushroom pie has already run out we had nothing to bring with us there.



                                               
                                                  Me sitting at a bar after the picnic.

The evening was for the ladies club in a Kaivopuisto park restaurant. The weather was not that warm any more and I had some difficulties in getting myself warm outdoors. However I came home quite early mostly because I didn’t want to be too tired next morning…

….which was the morning of the parade day. First we went to SETA office to fetch our brand new Dreamwearclub banderol. The parade started from the Senate Square in the heat of the city. We put the banderol in the very visible place to show the other supporters of the “gender diversity”.  It was the first time we had our own block for trans people in the parade. And we managed to get together about forty people, mostly young persons. We had some Facebook discussion about the agenda and there were some very irritating persons dominating the discussion (and actually they ended up to march in pink-black block) that scared many transvestites that didn’t like the idea of marching in the quarrelling block.







Finally there were no quarrel and we marched with joy, happiness, .... and pride!! Two of our friends were dressed in specially nice rainbow costumes and were the real media magnets with interviews and photo- and video shootings. I carried the banderol during the whole march which was not very long, about two kilometers.

And of course, there was a picnic after the march. And of course, I had the other half of the mushroom pie to serve there. We met lots of old friends there and acquainted with new ones.




Finally we ended our Pride tour at Mummolaakso (a union for adult lesbian ladies) ball. We had a good time chatting, drinking and dancing.























Putting off the dancing shoes                                                   With Kristiina


And when I woke up on Sunday morning I had a feeling I had experienced something special with my old and new friends during the week.






tiistai 11. kesäkuuta 2013

My Activist Spring

This spring I have been politically active in many ways. Firstly I was appointed to commission for transgender affairs in the national LBGTI organization SETA. 



There have been some important issues. For us the most important has been the preparation of new legislation for equality. The proposal contains the prohibition for discriminating the expression of one’s gender at work. That means the employer could not stop the employee wearing the clothes even if they are meant to be for the other gender. In fact they have such a law already in Sweden, where the train staff has started to wear skirts because they were not allowed to wear shorts when it was too warm.  (Just now the pressure has changed the employers’ minds and now they are also allowed to wear shorts…) 


And of course there are many other important things in the bill that is in preparation. But the right for gender expression is the most radical and most strongly opposed by the employers. Hope we are better lobbyists than they; the bill is still in process in the parliament.

Another issue in the commission has been the treating of transsexual people in process. According the current law they must be castrated before confirming the gender. The law has not changed despite of numerous official international claims for the Finnish state due to discriminating and even torturing the transsexual people. We have tried to affect the ministry of social and welfare affairs but it was very hard to make some officials change their head. Now the minister has changed and the situation looks more optimistic.

The other thing concerning the transsexual people has been the collapse of the quality of the medical process. There have been some doctors that have even demanded the right kind of walking or looked how the face looks like to judge whether the person is appropriate for the process! So there’s a lot to do just now!!!

And talking about medical things, we have been active in international classification of diseases updating process. There have been some major anomalies in current version ICD-10. The closest for me is there’s still a disease class for transvestites. The other is transsexualism is still regarded as mental illness. We have succeeded in removing transvestites from our national legislation (yes, it was our club that really made the minister in charge to do it!!) and it seems there’s no classification for us in new version ICD-11, either. But you can never be sure, so we have been active to make sure it will stay that way, too. The situation of transsexuals is not that clear, though we have tried to lobby the classification not as a disease (…and definitely not the mental one!!) but the condition demanding medical support – just as for example having the baby is.


My first “high level event” was the publishing of the European survey for violence and discrimination experienced by LBGTI-people. It took pace in Parliament house and there were a lot of high officials from many juridical and human rights and equality offices. Sadly there were no members of parliament nor any representative of ministry for education. The results strongly suggest the things must be done in different branches of education to make the situation better.


For me It was the first time in Parliament house, and of course I did it in my dress. During the congress I heard a silent repetitive sound and noticed a blinking red light above the fire alarm signs. You may see me staring to it in the picture. Luckily it turned out it was just a call for mps to go to the main hall to vote!!!  The second picture is taken at home after the long day of politics, shopping, music in the park and nice chat with some glasses of wine and nice friends.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151421695558344&set=pb.273737158343.-2207520000.1371044142.&type=3&theater



Outside our commission I have been active in citizen initiative for equal marriage. We have a new law that says if t least 50 000 names are collected for some initiative, it must be taken at least to some process in the parliament. In that case we have collected 150 000 so it has a good opportunity to pass the process. There has been another address (not the official initiative) against that organized by some fundamentalists and it has 36 000 names so far. There’s a discussion forum in that context and I have been very active arguing against the insulting homophobic and one eyed religious comments these ..erks write. At least it seems I have managed to stop the wildest claims about homosexuality as a disease, as a pre stage for pedophilia and so on. And of course I’m not the only one who has made it…


And combining my artistic tendencies (no, I didn’t say skills…) and politics I have designed a banderol for our national crossdresser society DreamWearClub. It is promised to be ready for Helsinki Pride at the end of June so we can use it in the Pride march.