I cannot be non-binary without being queer and brown

Photo by Zaksheuskaya from Pexels

Rami Yasir is a writer, comic creator and musician. They also lead Gendered Intelligence’s Colours youth group for trans, non-binary and gender diverse people of colour aged 13-24. 

Their personal essay looks at the interaction between race, gender and sexuality. 

I was always told what it means to be a man, but being a man never sat comfortably with me.  First because of my queerness; the way I love doesn’t mould itself to any concept of masculinity I could lay claim to.  Next, my actions, my make-up and mincing, my limp wrist and elastic voice.  And finally, my race, my skin, my heritage.

Recently, I took part in a training exercise with Gendered Intelligence.  In it, participants were asked to describe their trans journeys, from childhood to the present day.  As I sat staring at a capped pen and a blank page, it occurred to me what a tangled mess that journey is; it hikes through different terrains – race, sexuality, and gender – all connected by the imprint of my feet.  To walk through my gender is to swim through my race; to understand what I am is to make sense of where I’ve been.

I cannot be non-binary without being queer and brown.  They are parts of a matrix, things which have influenced and informed each other.  And while I’m grateful for the exercise that allowed me to babble for ten minutes about who and where I was, ten minutes is not enough to shape those thoughts into something useful.  Even now, as I take the effort to think and digest, to pick apart the knots of my history and reshape them into a narrative that makes sense, I am almost at a loss.  But that’s okay, I think I’ll always be at a loss with gender, and right now the act of speaking matters more than being understood.

I was born in Jordan as a Sudani citizen and raised in England from the time I was nine months old.  My mother is a Palestinian-Jordanian woman and my father a Sudani man.  My birth certificate is in Arabic, a language I can only read with hours of work and access to Google, and my childhood took place on the border between cultures.  I was raised with tea and mint leaves, fish, chips and ful medames.

By eleven it was fairly clear to me that I would never marry a girl.  By twelve I hated myself for it.  Bombarded as we are with representations of queer hating Arabs and Africans it seemed my only course for salvation was to assimilate into the world of white tolerance.  I shied away from my parents and the heritage they represented, only to find myself still different, still brown, still carrying the weight of history in my skin.

But I was still a boy; effeminate, insecure, but still a boy.  At that point in my life I had yet to question my gender in any meaningful way, as I had yet to question my race and what it meant.  But it is not an accident that as I delved into one questions surfaced about the other.  For me, it was at Uni that I learned to worry the roots of my identity.  Having the safety net of my middle class allowed me to explore those questions in an institution designed for people like me, at least once I was living away from home and until my parent’s income took a hit during my dad’s battle with cancer.

Every trans journey is a personal one.  Gender is not only how the world understands you (or, for many trans people, how it does not) but how you interact with and understand the world.  I cannot sit here and say that my journey is typical for any group, only that I can use it to highlight how gender, race and sexuality feed off each other.

What I can say is that gender is a cultural construct, that much is no secret.  How you locate your gender or even what genders there are varies with time and place.  And the context we find ourselves in now is important, especially for black trans people and other trans people of colour.  When Shaadi Devereaux, a black trans writer, highlights how black women are only ever seen to imitate petite and white “true beauty,” she points out that any confrontation with gender is also a confrontation with whiteness.  Today, black women and men are hypermasculinised, East Asian men and women are hyperfeminised, Muslim women are denied respectable womanhood, and whatever non-white race or gender you are, you are hypersexualised.  In every case, when the context is here, now, in this country, in this language, gender is gatekept by whiteness.

So, in my experience, manhood has always been out of reach.  The discovery of my queerness caused a rift between myself and any version of masculinity I could claim.  I could not be a man by the standards of my parents, despite the long history of queer sexuality before the arrival of western colonialism, and neither could I be one by the standards of the country I grew up in, where the only wholesome masculinity is white.  The men who looked like those in my family were always the terrorists or the thieves, the abusers and patriarchs.  They were always, somehow, corrupt.

And besides, I was both African and Arab.  I was British but I was foreign.  I was not wholly anything.  Doesn’t it make sense, for someone who lives straddling those identities, to turn that questioning gaze inwards?  When older white people stare at me, wondering where I’m from and how I got here, how far of a leap is it to turn to myself and ask where I belong?  Not in Jordan, Palestine or Sudan, but neither completely in the Britain which has assured me of my otherness.  Not in the masculinity of my father, silent and reticent, or even in the subtle strength of my mother’s femininity.  And never, of course, as the white British man or woman I should aspire to be.  I am just as much adrift in gender’s seas as I am in the ones surrounding continents.

I have always said that gender never really made sense to me, but then again, how could it?  Nothing about my identity ever has done.  But it was nice to feel pretty; it felt good to do my nails.  I allowed myself a break from the expectations of masculinity and I liked it.  So my thoughts began to shift, I started to reassemble my identity from the bottom up.  And I’m still in the process, still working to pick away the detritus of life from the person I want to be, but I’m getting there.

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How not to make trans people safer

Earlier this week we were alarmed to read Labour’s LGBT+ Advisor Anthony Watson advocate for the creation of seemingly separate “transgender zones” in UK cities, where trans people would allegedly be protected from hate crime. It is misguided to ask trans people to live separately from mainstream society for their own safety. We would ask for this policy to be reconsidered. 

Like anyone else, trans and non-binary people want to go to school, work and enjoy socialising among their friends, family and peers. It’s undeniable that there is a lot of work to be done before trans and non-binary people will no longer experience daily discrimination and bullying in education and the workplace. Indeed, it is unacceptable that anyone should have to be fearful of violence and harassment in public, which too many trans people –  41%, according to reporting – continue to experience. The answer to this problem is not for any political party to advocate for the ushering of trans people to designated, separate zones for their own safety. It should not be an acceptable choice to ask any group to segregate themselves for their own safety.

Historically, LGBT people have created spaces where they could be together and form communities. Our communities have always sprung from adversity. We believe there will be value in trans-only spaces, such as our youth groups and annual summer camp residential for trans youth, for as long as gender diverse people are misunderstood and punished by wider society.

As an organisation, we firmly believe that education and training is key to improving society’s understanding of diverse genders and sexualities. As trans-inclusive practices become more commonplace, public life is in turn becoming more straightforward and safe for trans and non-binary people. No one should have to avoid using a toilet or changing room because they are afraid of the reception they will receive. In the latest edition of our Transforming Spaces podcast, based on our 2018 conference, inclusive hairdressing space Open Barbers and cosmetics company Lush talk about how they are making the High Street safer and more welcoming for gender diverse customers and employees alike.

With the recent appointment of the Government’s LGBT Advisory Panel, we hope that the voices and ideas of trans people will be at the heart of all decisions made about our lives and livelihoods. It is heartening to see trans, LGB+ people and lifelong allies in this important group, as these are some of the people who can speak from real experience. It is imperative that the Government, The Opposition and all other decision makers include trans people and organisations in any and all decisions that affect us. To fail to do so will result in well-intentioned but ultimately harmful policies for all trans and non-binary people. Gendered Intelligence welcomes the opportunity for conversation with all parties. Our door is always open.

Nothing about us without us.

 

The usefulness of gender neutral language

Simon Croft, Director of Educational and Professional Services at Gendered Intelligence, shares his thoughts on how using gender neutral language can help to make everyone feel included and how small changes to the way we address people can make a big difference. 

Gendered terms are some of the most common words we use – pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘she’, titles like ‘Mr’ and ‘Miss’ and honorifics like ‘Sir and ‘Madam’. Gender is also present in collective terms such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’, ‘girls’ and ‘lads’.

There’s nothing wrong with using gendered terms, once you know what a person’s chosen terms are. Before we have that information, then gender neutral, or to put it another way, universally inclusive, language is how to ensure we don’t misgender anyone.

Misgendering means referring to someone with a gendered term that doesn’t match their gender identity, for example referring to a trans woman as ‘Sir’, a trans man as ‘she’, or a non-binary person as ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’.

Many trans people find it extremely validating when their chosen gendered terms are used.  I can still remember how amazing it felt when people first said ‘he’ to me, even though it’s now over 20 years ago.  So using gendered terms correctly can be a really supportive thing.

Having other people refer to you with the correct gender is something that most people take for granted and therefore never notice.  If you aren’t trans (or someone who is regularly misgendered), it’s quite likely you haven’t noticed just how often other people decide what gender you are and then use corresponding gendered language, but if you make an effort to try and notice for a day or two, you’ll see how pervasive it is.

Once, after I’d delivered a training session where we’d spoken about the subject, my contact showed me back to reception where I handed in my visitor’s pass. “Thank you, gentlemen,” said the receptionist.  As we turned away toward the exit, my contact said “Gosh!  I would never have noticed that before…  I see what you mean!”

Misgendering is one of the most common issues trans people encounter.  For some people it happens multiple times each day, dozens of times each week, hundreds of times each month.  This has a cumulative effect.  It’s like being bitten by mosquitoes – one bite you can shrug off; a dozen is really annoying; a hundred and you’ll be feeling really unwell.

“I’m usually misgendered (miss / she / ma’am) and it’s exhausting and invalidating. I’m left in a position to either correct them which is awkward for everyone involved…, or to feel sad and invalidated…” Trans-masculine participant in a GI survey

It costs nothing, apart from a little effort and mindfulness, to change our language to be inclusive of everyone. This isn’t trans-specific – there are plenty of women who don’t like to be called ‘ladies’; plenty of ladies who don’t like to be called ‘women’; plenty of men who find ‘Sir’ too formal; plenty of people who find their first name too informal – it just shows we need to ask.

Universally inclusive language need not be clumsy. Changing ‘Good morning, ladies and gentleman” to “Good morning everyone” will go unnoticed by most people.  But the people who are not ‘ladies’ or ‘gentleman’, such as non-binary people really will notice the difference.

There are plenty of universal terms you can use.  A few might include: people, folk, everyone, colleagues, staff, workers, employees, clients, customers, beneficiaries, visitors, students, pupils, children…  If you need to talk about relationships, then terms such as sibling, parent, child and partner are very useful.  These terms include LGB people too – not assuming for example, that the partner of a woman is a man, or that parents are a male/female couple.

It doesn’t take long to come up with a set of universal terms that work for your particular setting – three or four people getting together for ten minutes is likely to produce a very workable list.

So our top tip is start with universal /gender neutral language, until you find out what gendered terms people have chosen.  That way, everyone is respected.

Transgender Day of Visibility

On being visibly trans (or not)

One of our volunteers has written about their own difficult relationship to visibility for TDOV (Trans Day of Visibility), which is celebrated every year on the 31st of March. 

It’s a quiet night (or very early morning) in the summer of 2011 and I’m sitting hunched over a laptop I’ve borrowed (stolen) from my mum for the night, on an internet deep dive into all things trans. I scroll past the faces of young trans men taking their first shots of testosterone, waking up from top surgery for the first time, even just selfies they’ve taken showing how happy they are post-‘transition’, and it’s like I’m seeing a reflection of myself, or of what I wanted for myself, in the future.

Almost in the exact same moment I make the connection that I myself am trans, I quickly and hastily decide that it’s also a secret that I want to take to the grave. Oh, not that I thought there was anything wrong with being trans, instead it was just… Not something I felt like I should share. A simple preference about what I chose to share about myself, right? Looking back, I can recognise that what I was actually feeling was a severe amount of internalised transphobia, and an unhealthy dose of shame.

I was afraid of judgement, and what cis people would think of me, and how they would perceive me from there on, and, and, and……. The ‘ands’ were endless, and each one weighed down on me so much that I went about my transition as secretively as possible. I told my closest friends at school, and my family, then went to university far far away from home, where I socially transitioned all in one go, and god forbid any cis person suggest I was trans.

Whenever I hung around the other trans people I’d met at university, it was like a breath of fresh air because for once I didn’t have to hide a huge part of myself, but at the same time it was hard not to listen to the dark voice in the back of my head was whispering ‘careful, if you hang out with these people too much where people can see, people might think you’re trans’. Past self, you idiot, you are trans. And there’s nothing wrong with being trans. There’s nothing wrong with being visibly trans.

I was so terrified of ‘cis judgement’ and thinking of things from the ‘cis perspective’ that I’d forgotten to even view things from my own trans one. I was prioritising the thoughts and opinions of an imaginary hivemind I had dubbed ‘The Cis’ over my own well-being, and it was unhealthy.

But I couldn’t help but remember how happy and free my trans friends seemed – sure they had to deal with discrimination, but it wasn’t like my closeted bubble was entirely discrimination-free. And my cis friends were nice, accepting people, nothing like the ‘The Cis’ hivemind I’d formed in my mind…

Then Trans Visibility Day came round. I’d almost forgotten it was that ‘today’, but when I checked my phone I was stunned.I saw so many happy and joyful trans people of all walks of life all over my social media feeds, full of pride and absolutely radiant. It was like looking at a (much more diverse) recreation of that same moment that made me realise I was trans in the first place.

I couldn’t help but remember how earnestly I had wanted to one day post my own transition photos with pride. I wondered what my past self would think of how I had made it to a point where I was proud with how much I had grown, and how far the community had come, but I hadn’t posted a thing.

I couldn’t help but wonder where I would even be as a person, if the original members of the trans community had done the same as I had, and stayed silent about their experiences.

Transgender Day of Visibility: a day to celebrate trans lives, embrace our diverse community and even raise awareness of the struggles we still face. A day to make ourselves heard, so that not only cis people can listen and learn, but so the young trans generation can see a bright and happy future for themselves.

I was struck with a thought, a dream I’d had as a young trans man, of being settled on the beach on a hot summer day with my dream husband and our circle of friends, enjoying a barbeque and laughing as we all chickened out of actually swimming in the sea. I would have been shirtless, because of course, and my top surgery scars would be visibly on show (while of course sun-screen would be well applied).

Though I had no way of knowing, in my dream a young trans person would have seen that and felt a little more hopeful about being trans. It’s something I desperately wish I had seen when I was younger, and something that I wished I could give to a young trans person out there even more.

It would be perhaps too perfect an ending to this if I’d ended my TDOV by making my own post, officially coming out and ‘accepting myself’. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t. But I did reach out to my community. I made new friendships with trans people across the world, and even started volunteering with a trans charity. I’ve been more vocal about my support of trans issues, and managed to squash down that voice in my head that always made me so wary of what ‘The Cis’ would think. Maybe I’ll even add a trans pride patch next to the gay pride patch on my jacket.

To any trans people out there reading this who are in a similar situation to what I faced: I know that there’s safety in silence, and you should think about your own well-being and safety. But there’s also joy in being vocal. With visibility, you can help the world seem like a brighter place to a young trans person in need.

 

Gendered Intelligence responds to press enquiry

Today we received a press enquiry from the Times that makes further allegations about Gendered Intelligence and our relationship with the Tavistock and its gender identity service for children and young people. We recently addressed similar allegations made by the Sunday Times. Mermaids has also responded to this enquiry.

We are extremely disappointed that our professional relationship with the GIDS team has been called into question and that the experiences of trans and gender diverse young people and their families continue to be undermined.

We have a professional relationship with the GIDS team. Gendered Intelligence has attended GIDS family days in the past to take part in panel discussions for young people and families to showcase the many varied experiences of gender. These have also involved gender nonconforming people who aren’t trans and trans people who do not undergo medical transition

Gendered Intelligence has been working with young people and their families for over a decade. As an organisation, our aim is to ensure that all young people can feel safe and supported in school, at home and in public. We take our duty of care to all young people seriously, including safeguarding, and encourage other organisations to do so too. Our support of young people sits within an established and recognised youth work practice framework.

With the right support, young trans people can flourish. We recognise that medical intervention is not right for all young trans and gender diverse young people. Young people’s exploration and expression of their gender identity is valid at all stages, no matter where it leads. Equally, access to hormone blockers can be life-saving for some young trans people. Our youth groups provide a safe and supportive space where young people can explore these vital questions. We provide space where it is ok to be uncertain – this is particularly important for young people who are constantly asked to prove their gender identity to adults.

Fundamentally, it is discrimination, prejudice and lack of understanding that creates the biggest problem for trans and gender diverse young people. Over two-thirds of trans pupils are bullied for being trans at school. When young people come to our youth groups, they find recognition, understanding and validation. They leave feeling seen, with new friends and a sense of pride.

But we can’t protect young trans people from the outside world entirely. Our task is to work together to transform society so it not only tolerates but celebrates gender diversity in all its forms. That is the only way that we will make life safe for all young people.

GI’s response to Sunday Times GIDS article

Gendered Intelligence has been working with young people and their families for over a decade. As an organisation our aim is is to ensure that all young people can feel safe and supported. The experiences of our young people inform all the work that we do and our services are centred around supporting them, their families and professionals who work with them. Young people who use our services have a wide range of gender identities and expressions and we believe all of these are valid and real.

We recognise that GIDS provides a vital service for many families who are not able to access appropriate services in their local area. We have worked with GIDS to support our shared service users for many years. This work has included invitations to take part in panel discussions for young people and families to showcase the many varied experiences of gender. These have also involved gender nonconforming people who aren’t trans and trans people who do not undergo medical transition.

We refute the accusations that GIDS is providing unprofessional care and the insinuation that our relationship is based on anything other than a mutual respect for the work that we both do to support young people.  We take issue with the use of hypothetical case studies being misrepresented as fact to undermine the experiences of young people. Gendered Intelligence believes that it is vitally important that the autonomy of each individual young person should be respected.

Trans history for LGBT History Month

Trans Portraits

Below we’ve collected links to profiles on trans and gender diverse people for LGBT History Month. We know there are hundreds more we could have featured, including community champions who are rarely recognised – leave us a comment if you would like us to add a name. The vast majority of the people featured below are from the UK or US and we would appreciate any other international links too.

We’ve tried to link to articles that avoid language that is not in keeping with how historical subjects lived their lives. So often gender diverse historical figures are reduced to their gender assigned at birth, which is taken to be more “truthful” than the gender they expressed, embodied and in many cases explicitly identified as.

Nonetheless, many, if not all, of these articles and blog posts contain references to distressing themes and experiences. These include death, sexual abuse, violence, surgery, rejection and persecution by the law. Bear this in mind when you are reading.

At the same time we see the resilience, brilliance and community spirit of trans and gender diverse people whose legacies have made our work possible today. There is so much to celebrate and to fight for.

Lucy Hicks Anderson – Domestic Worker, US (link to short film from ‘We’ve Been Around’ series)

April Ashley – Model / Actor, UK (link to Wikipedia page)

Georgina Beyer – Politician, New Zealand (link to interview on the Spin Off)

Georgia Black – Domestic Worker, US (link to TransGriot blog)

Kylar Broadus – Lawyer, US (link to personal website)

Marci Bowers – Surgeon, US (link to Washington Post profile)

Roberta Cowell – Racing driver, UK (link to Wikipedia page)

Michael Dillon – Doctor, UK (link to Wikipedia page)

Lili Elbe – Artist, Denmark (link to Wikipedia page)

Jack Bee Garland – Soldier, US (link to Wikipedia page)

Althea Garrison – Politician, US (link to Wikipedia page)

Anna Grodzka – Politician, Poland (link to Vice interview)

Alan Hart – Doctor, US (link to article in Pdx Monthly)

Marsha P Johnson – Activist / Performer, US

Christine Jorgensen – Actress / Entertainer, US (link to Wikipedia page)

Jan Morris – Author/Historian, UK (link to Wikipedia page)

Sylvia Rivera – Trans Activist, US (link to Sylvia Rivera Law Project page

Lou Sullivan – Author / Activist, US (link to short film from ‘We’ve Been Around’ series)

Billy Tipton – Musician, US (link to parenting blog)

Stephen Whittle – Lawyer / Lecturer, UK (link to Wikipedia page)

Indian flag

India’s new transgender rights bill is moving in the wrong direction

The Indian government is currently in the process of passing a piece of legislation that would drastically affect the lives of trans and gender diverse people in the country. The Transgender Persons Bill was passed by India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, on Monday 17th December 2018 in spite of multiple protests by the community against the law. There are multiple issues with the Bill including how it defines who a trans person is, the medicalised process of gender recognition and the impact it will have on the livelihoods of trans people.

The Bill originally defined a trans person as someone who doesn’t identify with the gender assigned at their birth and who is neither “fully” male or female, a “combination” of both or neither. After outrage from the community, this has thankfully been amended but the current definition is still worrying. Instead of simply using “someone who doesn’t identify with the gender assigned at their birth,” the Bill lists multiple identities such as trans men and trans women, intersex and genderqueer people and people with socio-cultural identities such as hijra. The danger is that this could be interpreted to protect only those identities mentioned specifically, rather than being taken to be inclusive of all gender diverse people.

This definition is not the only problematic part of the Bill. Although it introduces a method for legal recognition of a change of gender, the pathway it would provide is very medicalised and sets up a two-tier system that prioritises people who have medically transitioned and undergone bottom surgery. For those who cannot provide evidence that they have had bottom surgery, their application to change their legal gender would go before a screening committee, similar to the Gender Recognition Panels that we are currently trying to reform in the UK.

Additionally, only people who have had bottom surgery could be recognised as male or female. If you were forced to submit your application to the screening panel, you would be recognised in a separate third category. This contravenes both current thinking and a 2014 Indian Supreme Court Judgement that trans people should have the right to self identify. A pathway for legal recognition should respect people’s autonomy while including a legal category of gender beyond the binary choices of male and female. While the Bill does include legal recognition outside of the binary, it enforces a dated and essentialist view of gender that would refuse to recognise many trans men and trans women as their authentic selves. It also puts a cost barrier in the way of many people who cannot afford surgery or lack medical insurance that would cover it, disproportionately affecting the most impoverished people in the community.

It is doubtful that many people would have the option of bypassing the screening panel pathway. The majority of trans and gender diverse people in India support themselves by begging as they are unable to find employment due to discrimination in society and the workplace. It is extremely worrying that the Bill will in fact ban begging specifically by trans and gender diverse people but it will not introduce any employment protections. If people are still facing rampant discrimination that stops them from finding work and they cannot support themselves as they currently are, by begging, how will they survive? This is why many are calling the Bill and this section in particular a death sentence for many in the community.

The LGBTQ+ community in India won a tremendous victory in 2018 with the decriminalisation of homosexuality. But as often happens, trans people are at risk of being left behind. The Bill has not become law yet and protests continue to be held against it, as they have been for over a year. There have already been breakthroughs, such as the changing of the first draft of the Bill’s definition of a trans person. We hope that this triumphant trend continues in 2019 so that trans and gender diverse people in India are granted the protection they deserve and a pathway of legal recognition that respects their dignity.

Policy Breakthroughs in 2018

2018 was a turbulent year for our community.

We faced challenges from the invigorated far-right but we also saw progress all over the world. It has felt discouraging at points to see a backlash in society after the ‘Trans Tipping Point’ in 2015. Yet we still saw incredible wins in a number of areas. When many loud voices in the media are shouting you down it can be easy to lose sight of the gains we have made as a community. So we’re leaving the negativity in 2018 and going into 2019 looking back at 3 breakthroughs in policy around the world  in the last 12 months:

  1. The Scottish GRA Consultation

Skimming over the media coverage surrounding the Gender Recognition Act Consultation in England and Wales, we’re going to focus on the results from the Scottish equivalent that were released in September. The Scottish Consultation looked at many of the same issues as Westminster’s such as making the process of legal recognition less bureaucratic, lowering the age limit for applications and making the process inclusive of non-binary people. But it was held a few months earlier, closing in March 2018. We haven’t received a detailed report on the consultation but the Scottish Government have released a very encouraging letter with a preliminary evaluation of the responses. Excitingly, a majority of respondents agreed with the Scottish Government’s proposals to demedicalise the process of legal recognition. There was also majority support to lower the age limit so young people aged 16 and 17 can change the gender marker on their birth certificate. Finally, almost two thirds of people were on board with the introduction of legal recognition for non-binary people!

2. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act

Pakistan passed one of the world’s most progressive pieces of legislation relating to trans rights in May. The trans community in Pakistan faces severe levels of discrimination with many people struggling to find employment. The government had previously brought in legal recognition of the khawaja sira, a gender-diverse community who have been part of South Asian society for centuries, with the introduction of an additional sex/gender marker on official documentation. The 2018 Act allows any trans person to not only self-identify under the additional gender marker, but also to self-identify as any gender. It has also established safe houses for trans people and created provisions for physical and mental healthcare for the community.

3. Non-Binary Recognition in the USA

In the face of the Trump administration’s attempted rollback of trans rights, there have been many positive policy changes at state level in the USA. People in Washington, Oregon, Maine, Arkansas and Colorado can now apply for identification documents that recognise people outside of the gender binary. Similar policies will be introduced in Massachusetts and California in 2019. At a federal level, Dana Zzym who brought a case against the Colorado State Government for its refusal to issue a driving license without an M or F marker, won a case against the US State Department with the judge ruling that the department’s refusal to issue a passport a passport without an M or F marker exceeded its authority.

In addition to the above progress in policy seen around the world, we’ve also seen a leap forward in trans representation in the media with trans characters in Supergirl and Emmerdale and the release of Pose featuring 50 trans characters, with the largest cast of trans actors for a TV series and a trans producer!

Our community has continued to see amazing progress in terms of policies, media and culture. We are supported by hundreds of thousands of allies around the world. If you look at all the ground we’ve gained over the last 12 months, there is a lot to be proud of and we can be hopeful looking forward to 2019.

From all of us at Gendered Intelligence, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

5 UK-based trans writers to check out

Trans people are having a rather tough time of it at the moment. After it was leaked that the Trump administration were planning to legally redefine gender as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth” a few weeks ago, trans people across the USA and beyond began fearing for their imminent erasure and further discrimination in all areas of life.

Fortunately, trans people and cis allies have risen to meet the growing opposition with great success in 2018. The #LwiththeT campaign showed the world that many cis lesbians are prepared to show their support to trans women and new feminist organisation Level Up started a campaign and public survey this month to help convince the government to make LGBT experiences compulsory in sex and relationships education in schools. Elsewhere we’ve seen more and more countries adopt gender self-identification policies and ‘third gender’ options on legal documents, making trans lives easier in places like IrelandIndiaCanadaArgentina and recently Portugal. So things aren’t all looking down.

So with all this going on right now, how do we all keep up? How can we explore and understand ourselves better as trans people in an ever-changing social-political landscape? Or how can cis people learn more about trans experiences to be able to continue to support us?

Inspired by Vogue’s recent article highlighting the work of transgender writers in the USA, we decided to make our own list of trans and non-binary writers in the UK keeping us up to date on trans issues and fighting back against anti-trans rhetoric in the media using only their minds and computer keyboards.

Travis Alabanza

Since first being published in ‘Black and Gay in the UK Anthology’ in 2015, Travis Alabanza has gone from strength to strength, building an international name for themselves as a writer and performer, highlighting the impact of colonialism and the epidemic of transphobic violence on queer, black, transfeminine people. Their first chapbook of poetry and art Before You Step Outside (You Love Me) explored their experiences of public harrassment, a concept taken further in their recent sell out show Burgerz which is currently on tour in the UK. They have written for Gal-DemPaper Mag and Huck among others and just last week won the Gay Times Honour for Future Fighters Award for their work.

CN Lester

Primarily known as a classical and alternative singer-songwriter, activist CN Lester also frequently writes and speaks in various contexts about transgender issues, often doing the still much needed work of explaining basic trans 101 for people wanting to support trans people. Since being included in The Independent’s 2013 Pink List for LGBT people making a difference, they have written for The New InternationalistHuffington Post and The Barbican and this year published their first memoir-come-manifesto book Trans Like Me: A Journey For All of Us

Trans Like Me cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Pearce

Ruth Pearce is an academic writer specialising in the grossly under-researched area of trans healthcare. For those of you who are into reading more in-depth about the experiences of trans people trying to access equal healthcare in the UK from patient interviews to autobiography, her book Understanding Trans Health covers a whole lot of it. She has also published many other articles that are available from her personal website. If 280-character bitesize chunks of trans opinion and reflection and outrage is more your thing, she is also a prolific tweeter. Her current project on trans pregnancy is still underway and looking for research participants so get in touch if you’re trans and have been pregnant!

Image credit: Mart Kochanek

Sabah Choudrey

A Pakistani trans activist who keeps their identity and community at the heart of their work, Sabah Choudrey gives talks and workshops around the world at Pride events, in universities, and at conferences, as well as writing on BAME/faith inclusion in LGBT spaces. The Trans Pride Brighton co-founder also has a TEDxTalk with over 35k views and has written a handbook for GIRES titled Inclusivity: Supporting BAME Trans People giving advice to organisations wishing to be more inclusive. Further writings on the exploration of ethnicity, faith and transmasculinity can be found on their websiteBGDGsceneHuffington Post and more.

Paris Lees

Given the massive strides trans people have made in actually telling their own stories in mainstream media in the last few years, it’s almost surprising (but not really) that there are still so many trans ‘firsts’ being made, and journalist/presenter Paris Lees seems to be at the forefront of some major ones. In 2013 she was the first openly trans woman to appear on BBC’s Question Time, and as a presenter on Radio 1 and Channel 4. Earlier this year she was the firstly openly trans woman to be featured in British Vogue. As well as having frequently written for The Guardian and Vice (not only on trans issues), she is also a consultant for All About Trans, a project that “positively changes how the media understands and portrays trans people.”

Jaca Freer volunteers for Gendered Intelligence and is an agender musician and activist who spends most of their time teachingdrums, performing with their queer feminist band Colour Me Wednesday, and organising music workshops for beginners with First Timers