Updated: Mar 31, 2020

In March last year, my sisters and I gathered in the south of France where the youngest had moved a few months before.

It was the first time we were away together, just the three of us. Away from our parents. Away from the noise of the past.

The time of squabbling and arguing was over. We rediscovered each other over a weekend. It almost felt like I had just met these two young women.

Turns out, we really got on.

The first night, we talked and we hugged a lot.

We said that even though we now live miles away, we would always support each other. Our childhood may have been messy, but we realised we were now old enough to make our own choices.

We talked about our grandmother, on the English side of the family, and of the things she had taught us. We talked about those moments when all of life seems bad, and we laughed about the fact the three of us do the same thing: we make a cup of tea, and by the time the teabag is in place, by the time the water is boiled and poured, we already feel a little bit better. It's our Englishness.

We decided to get a matching tattoo.

We didn't talk about it much. One of my sisters scribbled on the back of a receipt from a cafe.

We would all get a tiny cup of tea, with its steam bringing warmth towards our hearts.

It's a story about a promise. A secret pact.

It's a story about becoming an adult.

It's a story about three young women realising they will never be alone.

written by ninon


Updated: Mar 31, 2020

It was my first time at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I walked into the tattoo parlour outside my hostel, asked if they could do this for me and got an appointment.

I woke up at 3am the next week to watch the sunrise from Arthur's Seat, downed a bottle of water, then made my way to get my skin changed.

I'd hated my arms because of the scars on them. It was the only thing I could focus on, especially when they caught the light.

But now, the rising sun in a goblet and a crescent moon in a drawstring bag are the first thing that people see.

As I was lying there with the artist working away, I thought:

Why would I ever want to hurt myself purposefully to create something I will always hate, when I could be in pain for a few hours to come out with something I will love for the rest of my life?

written by diggie


Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Tattoos are taboo.

Not respectable. A sign of deviance from the norm.

At one point in my life this was a truth universally acknowledged.

Nowadays, things are more complex, but the stigma remains; I, however, am changed beyond recognition.

Three years ago I realized that, despite what I had been told all my life, I was not a man.

This was thanks in large part to the growing awareness of trans issues and the visibility of trans people. Society tells us that the way we are born is immutable, permanent. For the first time, I realized that didn't have to be.

Despite progress, the process of transition is by no means a comfortable one. Bigotry and hatred run rampant. I am lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends and family, but even they cannot shield me from everything, especially when many in the British press seem intent on using people like me as a punching bag.

It has taken time, but through all this I have learnt a thing or two.

Taboos are made to be broken. Respectability is overrated. Deviance from the norm should be celebrated, not scorned.

Nothing is permanent. I may as well get a tattoo.

written by jo