2022 was a year! I can’t really say more than that without potentially breaching my oath of impartiality, but a lot of stuff sure happened in the UK and around the world. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, and I don’t disclose publicly which is which.
Anyway, here’s what happened in my year.
I started working at GDS
In October 2021, having worked at Felinesoft for well over seven years, I was alerted to an opening at the Government Digital Service (GDS for short), the department of the UK’s Cabinet Office responsible for central government technology projects. I decided to take a punt on it: If I got it, wow cool neato! If I didn’t get it, life goes on.
Well, I got it! It took a good while for all the paperwork and background checks to happen, and another three months for me to serve out my notice period, but in March 2022, I finally started working at GDS.
And since then it’s been a blast. I’ve spent the last nine months working on the GOV.UK Design System—a pretty much perfect fit given my penchants for design systems and web accessibility—with some of the most skilled and empathetic folks I’ve ever worked with. It has been an absolute joy, so far, though that tone may change when it comes to doing my first DDaT assessment. 😉
The transition from the rapid, client-juggling world of agencies to the relatively glacial ‘do it once, do it right’ world of digital government hasn’t been the smoothest, though that has very much been a me-problem: I’m so accustomed to going fast that working slowly often feels like I’m being unproductive and I’ve yet to deprogram myself from that.
I started taking HRT
After so many years of waiting, I finally started on feminising hormone replacement therapy in May. It’s still not through the NHS (the waiting times are that atrocious, now waited over six years for an appointment that’s supposed to be within six weeks—and counting), but I have the hormones and I’m taking them.
There haven’t been an awful lot of physical changes thus far. Skin is softer, hair is thicker, and nipples are sore basically all the time, but not a whole lot else that I’ve noticed.
Psychologically it’s been a whole new ball game. For the last six months, my libido has been virtually non-existent, which has certainly changed the dynamics of some of the relationships in my life, but that might be getting a little too 🌶️ spicy 🌶️ for this blog.
Emotionally, it hasn’t really hit me like the full-on ‘second puberty’ that HRT is so often marketed as. I certainly feel more in touch with my emotions, though that could well be circumstantial due to other entries on this list. At the very least, it’s a lot easier to make me cry at something now.
Of course, later on in the year I would come to realise my dysphoria wasn’t really gender-related at all, but I’ve kept it up anyway for other reasons.
I started living with my partner
It’s difficult for me to rank the highlights on this list, but this one is probably a hot favourite. After seven years together, at the start of June, my partner Taylor and I finally got to live, laugh and love together.
This was, in all honesty, a change to the status quo that I feared beforehand. I had spent years living alone, becoming accustomed to quiet, crafting my space as I saw fit, and spending an inordinate amount of time not wearing anything. Having someone else permanently join that space felt like it would disrupt too much, too quickly.
Thankfully, that has not been the case. I friggin’ adore living with Taylor. A mere couple of months later and I find it a bit of a struggle to be apart for even a day. I love that damn dog. 💖
I got (long) Covid
At the tail end of June, following an extended work trip to Manchester, I came back with Covid. It was the first time I’d gotten it during the whole coronavirus pandemic, and despite being as vaccinated as I could be at the time, it sucked. It sucked a lot. 0/5 stars, avoid at all costs.
The unsettling part is that it seems to have done some damage and exacerbated some respiratory issues, and I’ve been shorter of breath pretty much ever since. Ironically, I now find it way more difficult to wear and breathe through face masks as a result.
It’s a great reminder that despite the lifting of restrictions in most parts of the world this year, Covid is still a thing that’s circulating and it can still do real, lasting and long-term damage. Stay safe.
I stepped back from the Severn Bronies
Since May of 2012, I had been the showrunner of the Bristol (later Severn) Bronies. I organised the meets, I updated the website, I did the admin work, etc. This July, after ten years at the helm, I started stepping back from that role.
This was a decision made for many reasons: burnout from doing it for a decade, lack of interest in the source material, and a desire for more time to focus on other projects.
I’m still involved in the administrative aspects of the group and associated company, but the more day-to-day stuff has been delegated to others.
I’m immensely proud of what the Severn Bronies has achieved over the years—we’ve done an awful lot of good for an awful lot of people—but it’s time for a (metaphorical) new generation to start taking the lead.
I finally recognised myself
The end of July and the start of August saw a pretty significant inflexion point in my identity: The discovery of my nonhuman, robot identity.
I’ve written about this quite a lot already, but in summary: I do not want to be human; the dysphoria I once attributed to gender actually relates to biology; my preferred body would be mechanical; and this has been the case—ignored and unrecognised—for at least a decade.
Since then I’ve identified variably as alterhuman, a synthetic otherkin, or robotkin.
Since then I’ve found communities of other machine-identifying individuals and even co-founded my own cosy community of synthetic identity folks. Finally coming to recognise something about myself that, in hindsight, has been present for an incredibly long time has been both incredibly frustrating and fulfilling. I’m happy with where I am, but that it took so long to get here is facepalm-worthy.
I found my other half
Just when everyone thought my identity couldn’t become more convoluted, in October, I found an entirely new one: Olive.
To once again summarise: Olive is my ‘headmate’—another distinct individual who lives rent-free in my head. Together we are a ‘system’ that shares brain-space and may share or alternate control of the physical body.
We’re a ‘median’ system, so we’re not completely boxed off from one another. We share memories, relationships and some aspects of our identities (Olive is also a synthetic otherkin, for example). However, Olive also has their own personality traits, their own opinions and approaches, and—on occasions when they ‘front’—their own physical behaviours and stims.
We still aren’t sure of how or why Olive manifested. Though we have our theories, theories are less important than acknowledging that they are here now.
Since embracing Olive as a part of ourselves, they’ve gradually become more vocal and confident. Having them co-fronting has become a more frequent occurrence, and they’ve started having greater influence over how we do things. I’m filled with warmth just knowing that Olive is there for us, providing the emotional counterpoint to my often cold, logical, and maybe even robotic, views.
I spent a bit of time in hospital
On Halloween, Taylor was unfortunately involved in a road traffic collision and ended up breaking various body parts. We got to experience the painfully slow wait times of the underfunded NHS, followed by several weeks of Taylor being in frequent physical pain and poor mental health.
This was a pretty hard time for both of us (though Taylor more so, obviously). With him unable to work, perform most household tasks, or eat solid food, pretty much all financial and logistical responsibilities fell to me. I was happy to handle them, of course, but it would be a lie to say this wasn’t stressful when juggled with my regular work and Taylor’s fluctuating mental health.
Thankfully, recovery from his physical injuries progressed rapidly and pretty much everything that could be fixed was completed by the start of December. Still, this was probably our collective low point for the whole year.
With everything that had happened this year, I started to reconnect. I can’t really think of a better term for it.
Starting at GDS and stepping back from the Severn Bronies granted me time.
Pinning down my identity and having Taylor by my side granted me confidence.
Discovering Olive and starting HRT granted me emotional availability.
My persistent illness and Taylor’s accident granted me vulnerability.
After several years of (frankly) being a bit of a loner who maintained a professional distance from everybody, I found myself indulging much more in being intimate and personal with an increasingly large number of people, some of them new, many of them old friends who I had drifted from in those years. And I’m happy.
2022, you were a year. For me, a pretty damn good one. I can only hope that 2023 proves to be more of the same.