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

Understanding Gender Identity with Future Learn

New online course on Understanding Gender Identity with OU and FutureLearn

In October the Open University launched the UK’s first ever online training course focusing specifically on gender identity, developed in partnership with Gendered Intelligence.

The two-hour short course – Understanding Gender Identity – has been created to help organisations become more trans-inclusive and understanding, after it emerged that one in eight trans employees has been physically attacked at work in the past year.[1] 

The course is based on our 90 minute training session and is aimed at a new audience of professionals and students who are keen to access their learning online.

The course is led by author and academic Dr Meg-John Barker and Dr Jay Stewart, co-founder and CEO of Gendered Intelligence, and will be hosted on FutureLearn, the social learning platform. It costs just £25, and is open to all individuals and employers looking to increase their awareness of trans identity.

The key topics highlighted in the programme include: the core contexts of gender awareness and trans identity; an exploration of key terms and use of language; a basic understanding of legislation around rights and responsibility around trans identities; and an introduction for employers on how organisations can become trans-inclusive. The interactive content includes quizzes and video role-plays showing how to be a trans ally.

This course is the first in a series being developed by The Open University to tackle workplace bias. Other short courses will look to address similar areas of bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexuality, age, race, culture and religion.

Dr Meg-John Barker, Senior Lecturer at The Open University, said: “Few people have a good understanding of gender identity, and they can be negative or overly conscious in their approach as a result. Many trans people face discrimination every day – and it’s time for this to change, which is why The Open University has developed this short course on Gender Identity.

“This is the first in a series of short courses on bias. Bias is everywhere, and it’s essential that employers and individuals take responsibility for addressing it. By increasing awareness and understanding of the key issues both workplaces and society will become safer and more inclusive.”

Jay Stewart, co-founder and CEO of Gendered Intelligence, said: “We are very excited to have partnered with The Open University to develop our training sessions for a new audience who are keen to access their learning online. At Gendered Intelligence we are experiencing huge interest from a wide range of professionals working across public, private and third sectors who are keen to learn more about how they can ensure their organisations are inclusive of trans and gender diverse people. This short course is an affordable way to address gaps in knowledge from organisations who have only a few employees and to those with tens of thousands.”

[1] Stonewall (2018) LGBT in Britain: Trans Report

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