Perseverance and Endeavour by Tigger Blaize
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Tigger Blaize, actor, ski instructor, Trans Can Sport facilitator and fitness enthusiast talks about perseverance and his endeavour to find himself through sport.
I’ve always been really active, for as long as I can remember, it’s really no wonder I was given the name Tigger. I was brought up in Guernsey in the Channel Islands - a safe place with beaches and lots of opportunity to be outdoors; and from a young age I was allowed to go to the beach or “play out” on my bike or on the massive common by my house.
At infant school I can remember playing Roller Coasters every break time. Me, a boy in my class, and his younger brother used to kind of “jog” around the playground in a line, making sharp turns, dips and changes of speed for the entire 15 minutes. At junior school I was forced to wear a skirt every day, despite my protestations, even though we had no set uniform. I quickly found a solution of sorts. Every lunch time, I
changed into my PE kit and joined the boys to play football in the playground, thus alleviating a sense of gender dysphoria I’d felt for as long as I could remember, and giving me the much craved for activity I needed.
Wow, that PE kit was grubby and misshapen by the end of term! I was doing swimming club and gymnastics outside of school, and joined in with as much as I could in school, from athletics to Cycle Proficiency!
Unfortunately I didn’t pass my 11+. The worst bit (apart from the massive long-lasting blow to my self-esteem) was that I didn’t go to the brand new grammar school where the sports facilities were amazing and they had PE or Games 4 times a week. (And they had blazers and ties, rather than shirts and jumpers.) I loved school and loved PE and Games, in fact this was the very best thing about school for me. I remember
begging my parents (unsuccessfully) to reorganise a holiday, where I was being taken out of school just before the end of term, so that I could compete in Sports Day.
I was very small for my age, like wearing age 6-7 uniform when I was 12. I was taken to the doctor, but he didn’t seem worried, and I certainly wasn’t because I saw girls going through puberty all around me and I knew this was going to be at odds with how I felt and how I saw myself. I threw myself into clubs outside of school - gymnastics, sprint swimming training, football, athletics, volleyball, and probably the most stereotypically “feminine” sport, synchronised swimming! It’s amazing what you’ll do to try and fit in - but don’t underestimate those athletes. It’s hard! They have lungs of steel, incredible strength, not to mention coordination, teamwork, and resilience to ignore the piss-takers. I was that annoying kid who got picked first for teams, was captain of all the sports teams, and took it all very seriously! I won the PE Cup for Perseverance
and Endeavour in Year 11.
I realised that I was different to girls my age, I mean I could blatantly see that, but it was heightened by other people flagging it up, and of course there was some bullying. Nobody ever talked about sexuality then, let alone gender, (apart from playground bullying) so I just assumed I was a freak and put it all in my back pocket for years and years. Sport was my saviour but my natural inclination too, and I was always in my element when I was being active. Looking back, I suppose it was an extreme form of expressing myself whilst hiding in plain sight in my “boys” sports clothes at the same time. I was mostly really happy.
In 6th form - which was the grammar school I’d missed out on at age 11 - I took GCSE PE (best subject ever!) and joined in with new sports, including springboard diving. Also at the time I represented Guernsey in gymnastics at the Island Games in Aland. My interest in theatre and acting was growing, and therefore the time
I had for sports clubs diminished until I went off to further education in the UK, and my participation in sport came to an abrupt end. I used to cycle to college, but that was about it. I found this time hard, I struggled with my mental health, and my course, and received some counselling - which, whilst being really useful, each session always seemed to end with the counsellor asking, “Do you think you might be gay?”, thus setting me off on a completely dead end thought-path! After graduating, I played some 11-a-side football with various teams and suffered a few injuries. My mental health and my weight fluctuated for about a decade. And then things started to align, very slowly. I got a theatre job which was very physical, lots of movement, masks, and contemporary dance (which was completely new to me) and I lost a bit of weight and toned up. When the job ended I wanted to continue to feel this good, and with limited funds, running was the free activity I chose, as well as deciding to cycle everywhere rather than use public transport. Unfortunately I took it too far and developed a bit of an eating disorder which I now know was all wrapped up in gender dysphoria and the desire
for a more “masculine” shape. Again I had counselling, and though the eating stuff was resolved, we still didn’t get to the bottom of things. I had been saving up some money to go on a long cycle trip across Europe, a kind of dramatic “Find Myself” trip! Instead, someone suggested I do a ski instructor course, and this completely fired my imagination. I first went skiing with the school when I was 14, and had been on a handful of skiing holidays over the years, and loved it. I went to Canada in 2008 for three months and took a Level 1 and 2 course. It wasn’t really until I got a part in the Stonewall LGBT+ feature film “FIT”, that my understanding of myself careered back in time to the 5 year old I had been, the one who knew exactly who they were, and where their identity sat. It was also around that time that people were starting to talk about gender, to develop vocabulary and to share ideologies, and I was able to really see myself again.
I moved to Brighton 4 years ago, and I already knew that I was a better version of myself with good exercise and nutrition habits. The running and cycling were already in my exercise routine, when I discovered the wonderful Trans Can Sport. My work is unpredictable and so are my finances, which means that I’m not really able to commit to gym memberships, or join in with activities that are expensive. What TCS gives me, is
a chance to vary my exercise, to try different stuff, to enrich my life, and to connect with my community. They are a vital resource, a life line. And to give something back, I do some facilitating, buddying and consultancy. I’ve taken part in Circuits, Fight, Pilates, Yoga, Lift, foam roller, circus, skateboard, bouldering, SUP, kayak, climbing, badminton, street dance, running, softball, and I supplement this with a couple of weeks ski
instructing a year, a couple of runs and cycles each week (the cycles nearly always involve cake stops...), some sea swimming in the summer, and occasional walks. I need to be active, and I keep that five year-old me alive. He is a wise child.