Was that six months ago? My last post? Yes… a little more than six months ago I wrote a Facebook post that became a blog post. A sort of self-affirming, goal-refreshing and mission-setting piece, that you can read here. In that post I set out my revised goals/mission for both myself and for Express YOUR Gender, in light of my recent graduation from the Social Entrepreneurs Elevator Award Programme. When I started xYg, my mission was to make Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) services accessible to transgender people in Ireland. I thought at the time that all I needed was a steady income, not funded by the service user but through some other revenue stream, and I would be able to work full time giving free SLT to anyone who needed it. Lovely. But not sustainable, personally, economically or socially. I still want to make SLT accessible for the trans community, that is still my mission, but not by delivering all the services myself. I LOVE my work, but I also have other goals for myself, other professional interests. No. Instead, I want to make sure that all the SLTs in Ireland (as many as possible, but let’s shoot for the stars and say ALL of them), are empowered provide services to trans service users. Wouldn’t that be some legacy? And talk about sustainable impact! So that’s the plan. Well that and a few other things…
This was what I narrowed it down to in October last year:
1. Reach more clients, either 1:1 or in groups, for speech & language therapy. transgender clients, and general voice clients (more on this to come…)
2. Reach out to speech & language therapists and empower them to provide this service to trans clients, through training, mentoring, and resources (more on this to come…)
3. Deepen my practice, through study, personal development and travel (india is calling me, more on this to come…)
And where am I now?
1. I try not to think about numbers too much (small numbers make me feel like I’m not having enough impact) but I have worked with about 15 new clients since October, through 1:1 therapy and a confident voices group, co-facilitated by the talented speechie, Sinead Waldron. 15 lives I’ve been a little bit a part of, and which have been a part of mine too. My approach to this work continues to evolve as my understanding of gender and identity becomes more and more nuanced, and I know that this learning journey will be lifelong. I hope to be offering the Confident Voices group programmes again this Autumn. I am currently pressing pause on my trans voice clinic until September, so that I can write my Master’s thesis and focus on completing that. Mental energy is at a premium these days. I have never actively taken a break from therapy work so this feels very mindful and self-care-ish. This Saturday will be my last clinic day at Insight Matters until September. Of course, feel free to contact me if you want to inquire about voice and communication therapy or if you would like to book in for the Autumn. Existing clients will be able to work with me through Skype. I’ve also been lining up my ducks so that I can get my general voice therapy practice off the ground (this would include services for people with voice disorders like vocal nodules, muscle tension dysphonia, and so on). Jeepers there’s a lot in it. I’m mad about voice and I’m developing my own voice, as a health professional, as a social entrepreneur, as an academic, as a (shy) radical, as a person. I have SO many ideas on what this service could look like, but I’ve learned from the Express YOUR Gender journey. Small, slow, steady, suussssstaaainable. Anyway, there’ll be more on that in the Autumn. It’s nice not feeling like it all has to happen TODAY!
2. I’m focused now on empowering SLTs to apply their existing knowledge and expertise to working with trans clients, and also on promoting the role of the SLT in trans healthcare among other health professionals and among trans service users – if no-one knows what we do, why would they ask for our help? So I have presented to SLTs at the Irish Voice Special Interest Group and to a Multi-disciplinary audience at the Temple Street/CAMHS Academic Programme, as well as to undergraduate Occupational Therapy students in University College Cork (that was a lot of fun, exploring the role of the OT and how SLTs and OTs would work really well together to support trans service users). Working with students is so inspiring, because I feel like I might be impacting on future service providers and achieving a lasting impact on Irish services. To that end, I am gently seeking out opportunities to talk/lecture on various aspects of equality, diversity and gender, in 3rd level institutions and in workplaces. More to come on this…
3. Deepening my practice through study, personal development and travel… Well, I will be finished the Masters in August. I keep on discovering new areas of interest (did you know there is a ‘throat chakra’ that is all about communication and self-expression and truth? I have to stop myself from reading all about this right now). I have booked my flights to India, thanks to the Credit Union! I’m heading at the end of December after Christmas, for a month. I always find Christmas a difficult time for many reasons, but at the same time I didn’t want to always run off and avoid it. I have a little niece here in Dublin who I am mad about and I thought, how about stay for Christmas and then have something booked for new years? I’ll be waking up on New Year’s day in an Ashram somewhere near Mumbai, and I really look forward to it. I often deal with the black dog around that time of year so who knows, this might be the start of something new. I’ve also been thinking a lot about life design – how do I want my life to BE? What matters to me? What would an ideal calendar and life look like? I’ll write on that again, but heading away for new years and having scheduled time off is an important part of it. Oh, and I deleted my personal Twitter and Facebook and do not have the professional ones on my phone. That’s been GREAT!! I always encourage my clients to have a Facebook account because it can be helpful in accessing community groups and making connections, especially in the early days of embracing the gender journey, but man, it can be a real time sucker. I still find myself opening my Whatsapp randomly, such is my ‘screen addiction’ but I’m definitely improving.
So that’s it really. I think it’s good to do these exercises every so often, even once or twice a year, to keep track of where you’ve been and where your instincts are pointing you. Actually I think my three goals are going to stay put – reach more clients, empower SLTs, deepen my practice. Other opportunities will come and go, but that’s the key work. Yeah, I’m happy with that! I’ll probably be even more quiet on the xYg Twitter and Facebook (sure I’m hardly on there anyway) as I knuckle down to my thesis. I actually read a really cool article about whether we even need social media for our businesses to be a success? I love the word of mouth approach. I love the thought of my reputation doing the work (with the website there for reference) so I don’t know, maybe all the social media will be gone by end of 2017… I need to think about that a bit more (and I don’t consider LinkedIn social media..).
I’ll be around though. Give me a shout!
P.S. The reason I am sharing all of this is because I like to be really honest and transparent about what I’m up to. I don’t have a board of directors to report to, investors, anything like that. But I did make a commitment to this project, and a lot of people have got behind me on it in some way, so this serves as a sort of a progress report. And also, I suppose, I am often motivated about other people’s strategies for life and work and their decision making and personal development journeys, so I am putting it back out there – maybe someone else will be motivated by mine. AND, I don’t think it’s particularly healthy for anyone to believe that healthcare providers have it all sussed out. We don’t. Mental note: Write an article about imposter syndrome and rejection hypersensitivity and how it has impacted on my career, social enterprise journey and life in general…