We have seen a lot of negative media coverage of trans people this year. But these stories are not the only ones that exist. As this terrible year comes to an end, we reflected on some of our favourite trans media from the last 12 months. This list is by no means exhaustive, but compiles 15 entries of our favourites, listed in no particular order. The suggestions were fielded from Gendered Intelligence staff members, volunteers, and youth group members.
Adventures in Time and Gender
Content warning: Mention of surgery
Recommended by Jay Stewart, CEO of Gendered Intelligence
In March 2019, a group of researchers held a series of workshops and conversation in Bristol for young trans and non-binary people. These meetings explored the ideas of the sexologists working in Europe and North America in the late 19th– and early 20th-century. The young people also recorded oral histories with older trans people, to draw out how ideas formulated a hundred years ago still affect the way trans people are treated by the medical system today.
A group of young trans and non-binary people then worked with Gendered Intelligence’s Jason Barker to develop a script for a stage show based on some of the stories that they had encountered. Due to the pandemic, the stage show became a drama podcast, directed by Krishna Istha and featuring a cast of trans and non-binary performers, musicians and sound designers.
“…A young non-binary person and a talking Suitcase travel through time, space and Ikea in search of trans history…”
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Type: TV Show
Recommended by Finn the Human, Director of Youth & Communities Services
2020 saw the 5th series installment of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the animated story of Adora, a teenager who can transform into the heroine She-Ra. The show’s themes cover transformation, alter egos, and true selves, and have thus found favour among the LGBTQIA+ community. This fifth season also introduced the trans character of Jewelstar, voiced by transgender actor Alex Blue Davis. The show is currently available on Netflix.
We are here because of those that are not
Content warning: Mentions of burial, lost history, deadnames, hormones, misgendering.
Recommended by Cara English, head of Public Engagement
London-based artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley’s latest project, WE ARE HERE BECAUSE OF THOSE THAT ARE NOT, is an interactive digital archive video game. Through its trippy and hypnotic landscape, it conveys themes of memory and loss to the player, based on the player’s identity. In the opening frame, it explains:
WELCOME TO THE PRO BLACK PRO TRANS ARCHIVE. THIS INTERACTIVE ARCHIVE WAS MADE TO STORE AND CENTRE BLACK TRANS PEOPLE TO PRESERVE OUR EXPERIENCES, OUR THOUGHTS, OUR FEELINGS, OUR LIVES. TO REMEMBER US EVEN WHEN WE ARE AT RISK OF BEING ERASED. YOUR OWN IDENTITY WILL DETERMINE HOW YOU CAN INTERACT WITH THE ARCHIVE, AS WELL AS WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO ACCESS. THIS IS PRO BLACK PRO TRANS SPACE. THIS IS NOT YOUR SPACE. THIS IS OUR SPACE.
Gender Explorers: Our Stories of Growing Up Trans and Changing the World, by Juno Roch
Recommended by Isa Sallinen, Youth Worker
Juno Roche’s latest book is a collection of interviews with young trans people, and offers valuable insight and advice into what has helped them to flourish and feel happy in their experience of growing up trans. As Roche writes, “I believe that children who are questioning and exploring their gender are the gender bosses that we all so desperately need. I believe that they are our future.”
Winter Support Hub, Sabah Choudrey
Recommended by Sasha Padziarei, Senior Mentoring Practitioner
Gendered Intelligence’s own Sabah Choudrey has created a winter support hub on their blog, built with queer, trans, people of colour youth in mind. It includes lots of handy support and links for help with mental health, self-care, gender dysphoria and much more. As it says on the blog: “…find what you need, take what you want and look after yourself.”
Recommended by: Cara English, head of Public Engagement
Trans 20:20s, is a beautiful eight–part series of podcasts created by leading writer, filmmaker and trans stalwart Juliet Jacques. The series features interviews with some of GI’s young people, looking at life for young trans, non-binary and gender diverse people from across the UK and beyond, at the start of the 2020’s. The series shows trans young people for who they are: the articulate, reasoned people we all knew they would be.
Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen
Age rating: 15
Content warning: transphobia, violence, sexual violence
Disclosure is a documentary directed by Sam Feder and executive produced by Laverne Cox, exploring the history of trans representation on screen. Clips from films and television depicting trans people are played, and trans activists and artists provide nuanced and critical responses to them, including how race, colonialism and capitalism intersect with trans issues. The documentary offers necessary context on how the current norms of trans representation came to be, how they’ve changed, and how much is still to be done. Trans people were prioritised in every aspect of production – for roles where they were unable to find a trans crew member, a cis crew member would mentor a trans fellow. It’s currently available on Netflix.
Are You a Boy or a Girl?
Type: Radio show
Recommended by Susie O’Connor, volunteer
Radio Four Series (available on BBC Sounds app) by comedian, Sarah Keyworth. A funny and sharply observed exploration of gender identity in modern society, Keyworth explores her personal journey with gender fluidity and androgyny to shed light on why gender still remains such an important issue in the 21st century.
Euphoria: Trouble Don’t Last
Type: TV program
Content warning: partial nudity; references to drug use and addiction; strong language.
A gritty teen drama following a young woman experiencing addiction, and her girlfriend, who is trans. This follows on from the series released in 2019, with a young trans woman as a main character in a darker, grittier version of Skins (but with good acting, and good direction and script). In this episode, it focuses on the cisgender main character and her relationship with drug use. All of Euphoria is really well done and some really well written trans stories. It’s hard to describe in a way that sounds good, but just watch it and see for yourself!
Type: TV show
Recommended by Susie O’Connor, volunteer
A beautiful Australian drama about a twelve year old transgender girl, Hannah Bradford, as she adjusts to high school at the start of a new year. She must navigate the social and personal issues of her early teenage years, while also dealing with the pressures of her gender identity, which is largely private at the beginning of the series. Overriding themes include the focus on identity and belonging, and the exploration of trans rights.
Content warning: Each episode has relevant content warnings in the description
Recommended by Beth Easton (Gendered Intelligence Activist Network & Trans Spokeperson)
Gender Reveal explores the vast diversity of trans experiences through interviews with a wide array of trans, non-binary and two-spirit people. The show interviews trans artists and activists, answers listener questions, analyzes current events, and aims to get a little bit closer to understanding what the heck gender is. The show has been running since 2018, but 2020 saw interviews with Addison Rose Vinvent, Daniel M. Lavery, Morgan Givens, and many more.
How top surgery works, by NOAHFINNCE
Type: YouTube video
Recommended by Ollie, volunteer
Content warning: Mention of surgical processes, scarring and colloquial words. May be uncomfortable for some.
This is a very informative video about three common types of top surgery: double incision, peri-areolar and keyhole. Throughout the video there is visualisation of where scarring would occur after surgery, which is very helpful to see! Whilst Noah isn’t a medical professional, he clearly outlines what all three processes entail, as well as the main pros and cons of each method and who it may be suitable for. This is a great video for anyone considering getting top surgery, or for those who just want to learn about the process. There were even things about my own method of surgery that I didn’t know about!
The Last of Us, Part II
Type: Playstation Game
Age range: 18+
Content warning: graphic violence, swearing, deadnaming, transphobia, misgendering
The Last of Us, Part II is a survival game in a world infected by a zombie-ish plague. During the story, the player encounters a young trans person (voiced by a trans actor) and the character joins the team. The game received some criticism from trans people at the time as it contains some retelling of trauma (including deadnaming of the character) and the game is violent and graphic. However, the story is ultimately told in a sensitive way, thinking carefully about gender in an imagined post-apocalyptic context.
Recommended by Susie O’Connor, volunteer
A touching French documentary movie about a young trans girl. Society fails to treat 7-year-old Sasha like the other children her age – in her daily life at school, dance lessons or birthday parties – her supportive family, and in particular her doting mother, leads a constant battle to make her difference understood and accepted.
T, by Laurel Uziell
Type: Poetry book
Recommended by Georgie, Administrator
Content warning: Mention of ‘gender critical’ arguments and terminology; some strong language.
‘T’ is a long form poem from Laurel Uziell covering the ‘debate’ around trans rights, and the consequences of those arguments on the ambiguity of trans life in the UK. The poem morphs from parodies of legalese, to quoted excerpts of police ‘gender sensitivity training’, an imagined dialogue during the Rebecca Riots, and even a play entitled ‘the gender (mis)recognition, act x’.
“…Real Life is obviously fucking horrible. Just like real men, real women, real abstraction, the real economy, really existing socialism, real sex, real hair, real hip bones, reality TV, real extensions of our real limbs, real pronouns, real community, real terror, very real threats, real data, real desire, real jobs, a real family, real citizens, the real deal, fake real, the real world, which is made up of everything real and everything which is not real forced to face each other even as their backs are stuck together with real glue (which is a metaphor), holding on to the borders that could make this real, you must submit yourself to this: it is called Experience, it is not something you have or own but that which is thrust upon you even by yourself and it is real or not real and it is your fault and when you stop for even a moment it catches up with you and collapses on your throat in real time…”