Gendered Intelligence team recommend their favourite trans & gender related books for International Literacy Day

There are more and more brilliant books being published that have trans themes or look at gender diversity. You can find some comprehensive lists online, but here a couple of members of the Gendered Intelligence team have shared titles they have enjoyed lately.

 

Peter, Gendered Intelligence volunteer

Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal is a debut YA novel by Lisa Williamson.The structure is clichéd – two schools, one posh, one ringed by barbed wire in the middle of a London council estate; two students, one trans but definitely not out, one gay and definitely not out. But the path by which they meet rings so true. Best of all is the alternative Christmas dance organised by the ‘others’ shunned by the official School event. It’s funny, scary, moves at a pace and explores all the issues without being heavy. What’s not to enjoy?

 

 

Jamie, Communications and Project Officer

Man Alive by Thomas McBee

I first came across Thomas McBee’s writing at The Rumpus – his Self Made Man essay series explored the emotional terrain of transitioning in ways that seemed new and evocative to me. I was excited to learn that he was releasing a memoir in 2015. It didn’t disappoint. Man Alive works through the impact of two traumatic encounters with masculinity – the first in the form of McBee’s abuse as a child at the hands of his father, the second when he is held at gun point as an adult in San Francisco. Against this backdrop of troubled manhood, McBee is deciding whether to transition. It is a beautiful and philosophical book. Moreover it raises an important question for trans men, and all men – how can we create new ideals of being a man that reject violence and toxic masculinity?

Content Note: Reference to sexual abuse, violence, trauma 

 

 

 

#TravellingWhileTrans

Travelling While Trans: Jamie shares his story

The Summer holiday season has got into full swing  and our annual camping trips are coming up fast. We’ve been thinking about the potential challenges of travelling as a trans or gender variant person, inspired by our short survey about trans and gender variant people’s experience of using airports in the UK. We’ve had some insightful responses. 

Below Gendered Intelligence’s Communications Officer Jamie shares his recent experience of flying through an airport in the US. 

In June, I travelled to the US to attend Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. After a short trip to New York, my partner and I flew back to London through JFK.

You might not be aware that all passengers who travel through airports in the US are obliged to undergo a fully body scan as a security check. In times of increased surveillance at airports, travellers from marginalised communities, including trans people, have reported facing an uncomfortable degree of scrutiny while flying.

There is no reason that anyone should find the experience of a full body scanner comfortable, but for trans and intersex people there can be added difficulties. The scanner is calibrated to recognise “female” or “male” bodies. Any body parts that cannot be mapped on to those figures show up as anomalies on the security system.

While you stand inside the machine with your hands above your head, an image of your body is checked by security personnel.  Depending on the system in use, this image is either an accurate representation of your naked body, or a cartoon-like figure.

If an anomaly is detected, the passenger is then subjected to an additional security procedure – which generally means a pat down and a hand swab to check for explosive material.

I had travelled through airports in the US a few times before and gritted my teeth through several scans – for some reason, my body had never registered as an “anomaly”. This time, I wasn’t so lucky. Once I exited the body scanner, a security officer gestured to me to step to the side, instead of passing through to collect my hand luggage.

The security officer proceeded to give me a pat down. As he passed his hands over my chest, a look of surprise registered on his face: “What is that?”. I haven’t yet had top surgery.

“I’m transgender”.  The officer seemed mildly confused. I told him that I was “born female”.  These aren’t the words I would ideally use to describe my situation, but I wanted to avoid further confusion.  It worked – the penny dropped. The officer smiled sheepishly as he swabbed my hands.  He turned out to be kind, and almost puzzled that I had got myself into this position, as if I could have made the situation easier for myself.

Unfortunately, airlines do not provide you with a guide to being “trans at the airport” to navigate the current system.  Travellers who do not match conventional expectations of gender have to rely on airport staff to have sufficient knowledge and act sensitively in response to it.  As the #TravellingWhileTrans (or #TravelingWhileTrans) hashtag attests, many airports are spectacularly far off of the mark.

I found my experience at JFK embarrassing at worst.  If I was more vulnerable, or was treated in a less respectful way by the security offer, it could have been traumatic. We can’t be expected to depend on the benevolence of individual security staff or having had a particular type of surgery in order to feel safe.

IMAG2633

Jamie, GI’s Communications Officer

 

 


 

Gendered Intelligence is planning to take 70 young trans people camping this August. It’s a massive undertaking by our team, but we know that the camping trip has a huge impact on the young people who take part. 

To make the two camping trips happen, we have to raise £12,000 by the 12th of August.We need your support. We’re over halfway there, but there’s still a steep climb until we reach our target. 

Quote by Alex, 16

 

 

 

 

Camping Trip Picture 4

A young trans person shares their story of our camping trip

Gendered Intelligence is planning to take 70 young trans people camping this August. It’s a massive undertaking by our team, but we know that the camping trip has a huge impact on the young people who take part. 

To make the two camping trips happen, we have to raise £12,000 by the 12th of August. We need your support. We’re over halfway there, but there’s still a steep climb until we reach our target. 

Jamie, a 20-year old young person who attended last year’s camp, has written about their experience and why it was so special.

Camping with Gendered Intelligence meant so much to me. I’d only had bad experiences of camping on previous school trips, so I had no idea what to expect. However the GI camp was nothing like I’d ever been involved in before.

Everyone who was there wanted to be there. All the volunteers wanted to help and were brilliant in doing so. If you ever needed advice they’d try their hardest to guide you – even if it was the simplest task like finding the toilets at night!

I was really nervous about the camp at first because I actually have social anxiety, and so making friends and even encountering social situations in general is difficult. However camp really helped me. There was always someone to talk to, and the volunteers made sure that you were never left out. I made some good friends at camp; people I’m still in touch with now – a year on!

I think one of the best things about GI camp is that it is so accepting. You have so much freedom there. No one pressures you to do anything you don’t want to do. You can sit out of activities if you like (although I really liked kayaking!) You can have a timeout from socialising if you need it. No one judges you either. You can wear whatever makes you feel comfortable in the swimming pool. You can use whichever bathrooms you want.

You can talk openly about how you’re feeling. In this protected space you can be yourself, whoever that is or turns out to be.

I think for me, actually leaving to go home was the hardest part of camp. I remember getting asked, rather jokingly, by a family member if I was ready to come back into the ‘real world’ now. I remember feeling like this was such a surreal and ironic thing to ask, seeing as I’d felt camp was actually one of the most ‘real’ experiences in my life. In camp you got a very valuable opportunity to learn and understand others’ identities, and (perhaps more importantly) your own identity. For me, camp helped massively with self-discovery.

Three days may not seem very long but the time I spent with the others, and the memories I gained from this whole trip stayed with me for much, much longer.

Coming back from camp made me hopeful that the ‘real world’ would one day incorporate all the love, freedom, acceptance and self-expression that I experienced at camp.

Name: Jamie(/still discovering)

Age: 20

To donate to the camping trip, click here

Gendered Intelligence’s view of the Government’s Trans Inquiry response

Gendered Intelligence welcomes the Government Response to the Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality.

We support the Government’s commitment to review the Gender Recognition Act.

In particular, we welcome the move towards self-determination of gender. The Government’s commitment to address the ‘unnecessary bureaucracy and to assess the need for medical checks’ within the 2004 Act sends a message to the general public that the role of the state and medical establishment in deciding an individual’s gender identity is excessive, and should be reduced.

At its inception, the Gender Recognition Act was a progressive piece of legislation and a reflection of dedicated campaigning by trans activists in the UK. However, there is now a global movement towards legal self-determination of gender and we believe that the government must follow the example of countries like Ireland and Argentina.

Gendered Intelligence works extensively in the education sector including Higher and Further Education. The Government’s response to work with Universities to include trans students in their learning environments, in part by addressing bullying and discrimination, is fundamental to many of our young members.

In 2015, Gendered Intelligence wrote guidance aimed at service providers who work have transgender customers, clients or service users . This guidance was well received by the business community. However, more needs to be done to ensure that trans people can access services without prejudice alongside everyone else. It is imperative that all trans and gender variant people are respected as their self-identified gender while using public and private services.

Recognition of everyone’s right to determine their gender will only come through a wide-spread effort to educate, inform and train members of the public, from students at school to employees in the public and private sectors.

We sincerely hope that the Government will take decisive action on the points it has raised in its Response.

About Gendered Intelligence

Gendered Intelligence is a Community Interest Company, that provides activities, support and resources for the trans community. We work with trans community and all those who impact on trans lives; specialise in supporting young trans people 8-25.

We do Trans Youth Work, Work in Education, Professional Services and Public Event.

More about us:

Read More

Trans inclusion in Education

GSA

There has been a flurry of media interest recently regarding our work in education around trans inclusion and celebrating gender diversity. The interest came following a conference at the Girls Schools Association  on Thursday 16th June. It was a fantastic day, a part of which was dedicated to transgender students. It featured Jay Stewart from Gendered Intelligence, two head teachers (both of whom are working with Gendered Intelligence) as well as a young person who is a Gendered Intelligence youth group member and student at a GSA school! It also became clear in the Q&A that many of the schools represented there also had transgender pupils. Consequently more and more schools are thinking about ways in which they can fully support all of their students, including their trans students.

Gendered Intelligence has now developed a range of services for all schools, colleges, Universities and other educational providers. These include mentoring, workshops and assemblies, staff training and consultation.

The panel finished with a huge round of applause.

Whilst the media interest has been a bit reductive in its focusing on gender neutral language, it has given Gendered Intelligence an opportunity to share our services to other educational institutes and young trans people.

Gendered Intelligence provides a non-judgemental service that supports all educational settings to develop and improve their trans inclusion and gender diversity good practices.

Here is a list of media pieces:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/19/dont-call-girls-girls-advise-gender-neutral-headmistresses/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3649181/Don-t-calls-girls-girls-young-women-case-offends-pupils-questioning-gender-identity-schools-told.html

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/girls-cant-be-girls-private-schools-told-2q25nvnv7

The GSA have also written their own statement:

https://gsa.uk.com/2016/06/news-transgender-pupils/

If you would like to know more about how your school, college or University can be more trans inclusive  or if you are a trans student and you feel that your education institute could benefit from what we provide do get in touch:

e mail: jay.stewart@genderedintelligence.co.uk

Office telephone: 0207 832 5848

 

P.S. If you want one of our cool posters just get in touch!
schoolsposter (2)

 

 

FA Guide to Including Trans People in Football

Including Trans People in Football – new FA guidance

Over the past year we have worked closely with the Football Association on their new guide to including trans people in football – and we’re delighted to announce that it’s now available online.

The new guidance is based on the FA’s core ethos that ‘Football is for everyone’.

The guide covers:

  • Terminology
  • Laws that protect trans people
  • How to tackle discrimination at your club
  • Making positive steps towards inclusion
  • Issues around ‘fairness of competition’
  • Supporting trans people as managers, players, supporters and other football roles
  • Testimonies from trans people who play, watch and coach football

To accompany the guidance, Gendered Intelligence has produced a short film about trans people playing football. We hope the video will lead to greater understanding for people who play football and are involved in football at semi-professional and grass-roots levels.

This video is about showing you that trans people play football too and we want you to include us in the beautiful game – Jen Kitney, Trans People in Football (film)

Watch the film:

 

Transacting Project Workshop

10 things we learnt from the Transform panel at #Flare30

Two weeks ago the Transform panel at BFI’s Flare brought together film maker Campbell X and author and journalist Juliet Jacques, chaired by  Gendered Intelligence’s director Jay Stewart. They were set the task of discussing how far trans representation has come in film and TV.

Before the discussion began, Campbell offered a libation to the space, to honour our predecessors and those trans people who are no longer with us.  This ritual set the tone for what was a powerful discussion about power, community and visibility.

Over the past couple of years, trans actors and story lines have finally gained prominence – Rebecca Root starred in a BBC sitcomOrange is the New Black is a phenomenon, and Transparent was Amazon’s flagship show.  We can celebrate this success, but it is representative of gains being made across the industry, behind the scenes?  Are we now in the position to tell our own stories?

Here are some of the powerful points that we learnt (or were reminded of) during the panel:

  1. Visibility can be hollow

The presence of trans people on television – in fiction or documentaries – can give the impression that mainstream media is really invested in our communities.

We should ask how many trans people work behind the scenes – who is being paid to write, produce and commission our stories? It was argued that the media is structured to preserve white, cis male and upper class dominance.  Trans visibility will be tokenistic until that changes. Trans people on-screen have to be matched by trans people at executive level.

  1. There are real barriers to trans people making media

Getting on in the industry as an actor, producer or writer means you have to network.  Networking relies on self-confidence and making use of contacts who help you out – basically exploiting your social capital.  Existing inequality means that trans people, especially trans people of colour, aren’t present in the media in sufficient numbers to help out other trans people.

Gendered Intelligence’s TransActing project aims to create a network for trans and non-binary actors that connects them to industry professionals.

  1. Money talk$

Making web series and film is expensive.  Many marginalised film makers are not in the position to self-fund their work. We have to work towards more resources and funding for aspiring film makers.

  1. Finding a diverse cast/crew is not that hard

Campbell X’s feature film Stud Life had trans people working both in front of and behind the camera. Upcoming LGBTQ web series Spectrum East includes actors with a broad range of backgrounds and identities.  If small-budget productions can achieve this, can’t we expect more from big production houses and studios? Jill Solloway’s Amazon series Transparent has led the way by hiring trans director Silas Howard, as well as trans producers and writers.

  1. Trans actors can play any role

It would be fabulous to see more trans actors in non-trans roles in the future.  Trans actors are brilliant and can bring something special to any role.

  1. Look backwards as well as forwards

Trans people are not a 21st century invention. The mainstream interest in the “first trans person to x” erases our past and the people who made modern trans life possible.  The panel said we should celebrate our cultural legacy – film makers like Kristine Clark who was making ground-breaking trans documentaries in the 80s.

  1. Progress is not a given

Juliet Jacques commented that we expect progress to be followed by more progress, but it is not linear.  It isn’t the case that things will continue to improve just because we have already made some gains – we can go backwards.

Indeed, going backwards is a real risk when people outside our communities continue to dictate how much, and what sort, of mainstream trans visibility is desirable.

  1. Don’t wait for mainstream media to represent you

Campbell X told the audience that we have to stop waiting for recognition from mainstream media  – fundamentally we have to recognise ourselves and appreciate that our stories are real without that external validation.

  1. Lean on your community

We heard from one 26 year-old trans audience member and aspiring film maker who felt despondent because he isn’t getting on in the industry.  He finds networking difficult and feels he is not being taken seriously. The panel advised him to keep going with the work he loves and reach out to other trans film makers for more advice and support.

Juliet Jacques shared advice that a friend gave her when she contemplated abandoning her dream of becoming a writer – “You’re only a loser when you give up!”.

  1. Let’s support trans creators

If you want to see more work from trans film makers, actors and writers, especially those who are the most marginalised, we have to put in the effort to support their work, go to their shows/screenings and encourage our friends to do the same.

As independent film makers and producers, trans people are in position to tell new, nuanced and experimental stories about our lives that will never make the mainstream cut. Trans people of colour and non-binary (trans) people are especially erased from dominant narratives. By supporting work within our own communities, we can amplify more voices.

 

Flower in a cracked pot

“We need less pity and more stories about recovery” – Jesse Ashman on why it’s important to highlight trans resilience

Transgender people are often portrayed as having sad lives, needing of pity and as having poor mental health. In this blog post I am attempting to problematise the pity that is afforded to trans people and to suggest the importance of highlighting recovery in trans narratives.

One of the first times I was made aware that trans people exist was during an A Level Psychology class. There’s a module on the A Level psychology syllabus where students are required to study the “phenomenon” of transgender people. This module is optional – for the college that is, not for the students. I had a good teacher for psychology, one who worked out that giving me copies of Psychology Today to read would stop me from distracting other students. However, she peppered her teaching of this particular module with comments such as ‘Isn’t it so sad?’ or ‘These poor people’. I was introduced to the concept of trans people as an unfortunate circumstance.

The pity my teacher displayed for transgender people was not something I’d seen in her teaching of the other modules. She had little concern for Skinner’s rats, shocked at random whilst attempting to find food, or for the people who were found to be genetically susceptible to addiction. I noticed that not everyone we studied was treated in the way transgender people were. For instance, we were taught that in some cultures people who would be diagnosed with schizophrenia are viewed as being gifted, rather than stigmatised. What we focused on with transgender people were the possible causes, coupled with some emotional-music-laden reality-TV style documentaries that the college had on DVD.

Why was it then, that we were only hearing about transgender people as a sad story in an otherwise balanced syllabus? This trend also appears in a lot of media about trans people. This is possibly because somewhere around 84% of transgender people have considered suicide. This is an old, well-known and often used statistic that was re-reported last year in the Huffington post as one of the ‘shocking facts’ about transgender life in Britain. These facts are displayed placed over smiling photos of some of the most successful transgender people in the UK..

The 84% statistic is supported by pretty much every study you’ll be able to find that records suicidal intent in transgender people. What is often left out is that after transition, only 3% report suicidal intention, a number that is in fact lower than the general population (see this trans mental health study and this suicidal behaviour study for more info – both links are PDFs). This is the same population that is a high risk group for other factors which can lead to suicidal intent. This statistic suggests an exceptional recovery rate in people who the odds are significantly stacked against. The statistics that are used to elicit pity are often ones that are only representative of pre-transition transgender people, and not a full picture of the resilience and brilliance of the transgender community.

This plays into the narrative that something must be done to help transgender people. What this, and my psychology teacher, is inadvertently doing was presenting the entire transgender population as people who need to be pitied, liberated and rescued – from themselves and their destructive inner thoughts. The reality is that transgender people are failed on many levels: social stigma and medical neglect are routine experiences for trans people. This is a community that is being failed and not one that should be pitied by the same people who benefit from the systems that put transgender people down. It isn’t sad that transgender people exist, and despite people’s assumptions, a transgender life is not automatically a sad life. We need less pity and more stories about recovery. When we talk about trans narratives in terms of only negatives, young trans people are being told they cannot recover from things like mental health problems and suicidal intent. In actuality, generations of transgender people have been and continue to be recovering, surviving and thriving.

Jesse Ashman currently works in mental health. He has a Master’s degree in Sexual Dissidence and an undergraduate degree in English Literature. Jesse has been a freelance writer, illustrator and designer for Gendered Intelligence as well as being a involved in our Speakers Programme.  

Transgender Equalities Report

Gendered Intelligence statement on Women and Equalities Committee’s Transgender Equality Report

Gendered Intelligence fully welcomes today’s Transgender Equality report published by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee and its listed recommendations.

Despite an increase in trans visibility over recent years, we have a long way to go before trans people can feel happy and safe in all aspects of their day-to-day lives.

The report’s aim, to achieve full fairness and equality for trans people across the country, is poignant to many trans people and to organisations such as Gendered Intelligence.

Our work with young trans people gives us an insight into the daily struggles that young trans people face due to widespread prejudice and lack of understanding.

We are hopeful that the report’s strong recommendations in the following areas will bring about lasting change for all trans people.

  1. Recording Names and Gender Identities
  • Its consideration of the needs and recognition of non-binary people, in relation to the amendment of more inclusive language in the Equalities Act
  • The consideration of ‘x’ on passports
  • The removal of gender markers (“non-gendering”) from official records.

These recommendations work to acknowledge that gender is diverse. The practice of having only two gender options available (‘male’ or ‘female’) is no longer fit for purpose in a society where non-binary gender identity proliferates.

  1. Amending the Gender Recognition Act
  • Amendments to the Gender Recognition Act so that trans people can self-declare their gender identity

Currently, the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate can be lengthy, confusing and even humiliating. We welcome a move towards self-determination of gender that ensures full autonomy and dignity for trans people.

  1. Gender Segregated Sport
  • The report highlights the very real discrimination that lies in gender segregated sport

Trans people experience significant barriers to taking part in sport at all levels. These barriers mean that many trans people are not able to enjoy the sense of well-being that can come from participating in sports and related activities.

Gendered Intelligence is currently working in partnership with the FA to improve trans people’s access to football. We hope that the Transgender Equality report will encourage systematic change across all sports.

  1. Experience of young people at school, college and University
  • The much-needed improvement in school, college and University experience of so many trans students

We have a right to feel safe in our learning environments. At the moment there is a lack of centralised guidance to help schools and colleges put equalities legislation into practice for the benefit of trans and gender variant students.

Giving students, and teachers, opportunities to learn about gender diversity is also integral to achieving full equality and fairness.

There continues to be enormous restrictions on all of us when it comes to expressing our gender identity. We need to make the world more intelligent about gender and give children and young people the skills to navigate the complexity of gender.

Reforming trans inclusion in our education system could dismantle gender stereotypes for everyone.

The full report can be read here.

Find out more about our support groups for young trans people: http://genderedintelligence.co.uk/trans-youth/youth-group.

PSI Review – update from Jay Stewart

I’m aware that some time has passed regarding the review of the Prison Service Instruction and I’m mindful that people are keen to know what’s going on and about next steps. (Here are the terms of reference fyi: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/review-into-the-care-and-management-of-transgender-offenders)

You may know that myself and Peter Dawson from the Prison Reform Trust are independent advisers. Discussion so far has been around building up a contact list of those with whom we need to speak, clarifying what the issues are (as some may be outside our review’s term of reference) and the questions the review team should be asking, as well as devising some ways to hold a meaningful and manageable dialogue exercise.

In the first instance they have set up an email address through which people can contact the review: TransgenderReview@justice.gsi.gov.uk. This e mail address will be routinely monitored and so do feel free to share it or use it for review-related purposes.

If you do e mail you will be asked if you would like to be added to the Review’s database, in case they need to contact you again. This may be a good way of being kept informed.

In addition there will be dates set for possible visits and potential meetings/round-table/discussion events. Do e mail the above if you are interested in attending any of those. Your views and expertise are really welcome. However I imagine places will be limited, although I don’t have that information as yet.

George Barrow, who is the key co-ordinator of the Review, has stated that he is very happy for people to get in touch with him direct if that would be useful for the work in hand.

His details are:

George Barrow

Reducing Reoffending Portfolio | Criminal Justice Policy Group | 4th Flr, 102 Petty France | London | SW1H 9AJ

george.barrow@justice.gsi.gov.uk

In addition some people have already contacted either myself or Peter directly. And we are happy for that to happen. Our time is donated to this review so there is a balance to strike here around limited resources and ensuring that we can move forward on this very important matter.

Kind Regards,

Jay Stewart

Director, Gendered Intelligence