Today's blip is another in my occasional series celebrating the volunteers I work with and who inspire me every day.
This is Vikki-Marie who is a proud trans-activist and a credit to trans-people everywhere as they work with their friends towards creating a more equal and diverse world.
Vikki was born a man, joined the army, became a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver and taught outdoor pursuits. She enjoyed it all in most respects but after years 'in the closet' about her real identity, years in which she relied on alcohol to get her through and attempted suicide more than once, she made the brave decision to begin a 'new' life as a woman.
She lost her job as a truck driver during this period and fought a long legal battle before a tribunal found in her favour on the grounds of sex discrimination and awarded her compensation.
She has also lost friends and faced violence and discrimination from the public and the police and has been assaulted on a number of occasions - she still has a scar on her forehead from the stitches following one attack.
Despite these experiences Vikki has continued to be active in the community and works as a beauty therapist (including Indian Head Massage, Hot Stone Therapy and Aromatherapy) and a trans-awareness trainer. She's also recently gone back to work as a truck driver. I got to know her through the work she does to ensure that trans-people have equal and appropriate access to health and social care services.
Vikki's tattoo celebrates the 'Two-Spirit' traditions of the Navajo people and other First Nations / Native American peoples who recognise that gender does not necessarily have to be a binary male/female thing but exists on a more fluid continuum.