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


Updated: Mar 31, 2020

My skin art was a punishment.

I wanted to hurt. I wanted to actually feel something. I wanted to bleed.

I hate needles. Needles have been a constant in my nightmares since childhood. Even as a heroin addict I could not watch people use needles. Needless to say I was a bit of a shit smackhead.

I got tattoos when drugs were taken from me.

I got tattoos when you were taken from me. You can only sleep inside my dreams.

I got tattoos when I stopped crying.

I got tattoos to feel the guilt of abandoning you forever.

I got tattoos to never forget you.

My tattoos mean my blood and skin are now scarred with love.

written by shelley


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