Categories
LGBT literature media

2020 highlights

As we near the end of a tough year, we want to highlight some of the more positive developments from 2020.

5 Trans women continue playing rugby in England

Rugby Football Union went against the devastating World Rugby ruling and cleared trans women to continue playing domestic women’s rugby in England at all levels. We hope that in the new year this will be reflected internationally too!

4 #TrusstMe halted a further roll-back on trans rights

Although the GRA response was overall disappointing, we want to recognize the enormous campaigning efforts that stopped plans to further exclude trans people from public life. Over 44,000 people mobilised through #TrusstMe and contributed to protecting trans rights in the UK.

3 So many showed up for the trans and non-binary communities!

It’s quite reassuring that we don’t even know where to start! The Trades Union Congress, with 5.5 million members, came out for trans rights while condemning LGB Alliance. More than 200 UK and Irish Publishers signed a letter in support of trans and non-binary rights, and they were joined by over 100 major companies who came together to say that trans rights are human rights. Thousands of ciswomen wrote an open letter to Liz Truss to show their support and solidarity with the trans community. Many celebrities also stood up for trans rights, including Nigella Lawson and Melanie C.

2 Non-binary people are now protected by the Equality Act

Earlier this year an UK employment tribunal ruled that genderfluidity and non-binary identity are covered under the ‘gender reassignment’ protected characteristic of the Equality Act. This could be a ground-breaking precedent and mean that, for the first time, there is explicit protection for non-binary people from discrimination!

1 This year is FINALLY ending!

Frankly, we can’t think of anything better. We are ready for this year to be over! Thank you for all your incredible support, solidarity and energy during this difficult year.

Categories
LGBT literature media

Goodbye, 2020!

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
http://adventuresintimeandgender.org/
Type: Podcast

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
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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
https://blacktransarchive.com/

Type: Game
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
https://pigeonbooks.co.uk/products/gender-explorers-juno-roche

Type: Book
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
https://sabahchoudrey.com/2020/12/12/winter-support-hub/
Type: Blog
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.”

Trans 20.20s
https://www.studiovoltaire.org/exhibitions/archive/trans-2020s-juliet-jacques/
Type: Podcast
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
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disclosure:_Trans_Lives_on_Screen

Type: Documentary
Age rating: 15
Content warning: transphobia, violence, sexual violence
Recommended anonymously.

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?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000p7b3

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
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10636622/
Type: TV program
Age: 18+
Content warning: partial nudity; references to drug use and addiction; strong language.
Recommended anonymously.

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!

First Day
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000ly4c/first-day
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.

Gender Reveal
https://www.genderpodcast.com/
Type: Podcast
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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPrtb5-dqxQ
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
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_of_Us_Part_II

Type: Playstation Game

Age range: 18+
Content warning: graphic violence, swearing, deadnaming, transphobia, misgendering
Recommended anonymously.

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. 

Little Girl
https://www.curzonhomecinema.com/film/watch-little-girl-film-online

Type: Documentary
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
http://material-s.blogspot.com/2020/10/laurel-uziell-t.html
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…”

Categories
bodily autonomy policy trans rights trans youth

Bell v Tavistock outcome

Today’s judgment may initially appear disappointing for under-16s, but goes some way in confirming that 16 and 17 year olds are presumed to have full legal capacity to consent to medical treatment. Importantly:

“Doctors can continue to prescribe puberty blocking treatment if the patient is Gillick competent. The court found that the patient must understand not only the consequences of puberty blockers, but also the consequences of later, optional treatment which they may choose not to have when the time comes” (link).

The judgment will cause anxiety for people currently undergoing this treatment and their families, but we would like to reiterate that the Trust has stated it will continue to support patients. What this will look like remains to be seen, but it is not hyperbolic to say that it would be inhumane to abruptly cease any treatment. Clinicians have a duty of care to continue prescribing for those young people who have started hormone blocking treatment, and to offer support routes for any person denied treatment as a result of this ruling.

Our reading of the judgment is that:

  • For anyone 13 and under, it is theoretically possible to commence hormone blocking treatment, but is practically impossible through the GIDS pathway
  • For 14 and 15 year olds seeking to commence hormone blocking treatment through GIDS, it will be a very difficult journey and they may have to go to court to seek permission
  • 16 and 17 year olds are less likely than younger people to face difficulties in access, but they may too have to seek court permission if a clinician deems it necessary

NHS England has updated its service specifications around this already.

As with so much of what is discussed about trans young people, the judgment seems to come from a place where a transition of any kind is a last resort, something entirely medicalised and highly stigmatised. This is not what we know to be true at Gendered Intelligence. From our trans youth service and mentoring support work in schools, as well as from our lived experiences as a trans-led organisation, we know that being supported socially is most important, along with building wider understandings of what it is to be trans.

The judgment claims that “it is the role of the court to protect children, and particularly a vulnerable child’s best interests” as though a child’s being trans is in and of itself a vulnerability. This is not just offensively ill-judged, but attempts to render all trans young people as in need of protection through virtue simply of being trans. Whilst we would say that being trans, in a systemically transphobic society creates places where you could be vulnerable to damaging discourse, a trans child is not inherently vulnerable. To the contrary, most trans children we know are incredibly strong, resilient, intelligent and understanding. What they need is timely, robust, and less onerous access to healthcare, not to be patronised and stonewalled by judges who believe they know better than medical doctors and clinicians.

What we do know is that the bar is so high, that the only people who can currently access hormone blockers are those who present as in extreme distress, and as extremely knowledgeable about what the potential outcomes could be for them following treatment. These are the young people who are likeliest to have not just parental support, but the financial ability to fall back on accessing puberty blockers through the grey market. These young people are of course likeliest to be the ones to go on to take cross-sex hormones, through virtue of their existent absolute surety as to who they are — this does not mean that one leads to the other on a straight path for all people. It must be understood that transitions, social and medical alike, are unique and individual – some will decide that cross-sex hormones are the right choice for them, and others will cease hormone blocking treatment entirely. There is no one way to come to personal and individual realisations of one’s relationship to gender and transition, as much as this judgment suggests this were the case. What we need is a better support process for young people to explore all their options and implications of medical intervention with adults they trust and are, in turn, trusted by society.

It is a good thing of course that young people are armed with as much information as possible so as to make informed and rational decisions about their own healthcare. The problem arises when a paternalistic judgment states that “it may be that Gillick competence cannot be achieved, however much information and supportive discussion is undertaken” and this is applied across the board. There will be people who cannot ‘achieve’ Gillick competency and those who can — a clinician is the best person to resolve this, not a judge with no obvious understanding or qualification in trans matters.

It is those who have no parental consent and no financial resource that the system has historically failed, and upon which this judgment delivers another devastating blow. Whilst hormone blocking treatment is likely to continue regardless for a determined few, via channels other than GIDS, our concern is that this simply pushes people into a grey market where they cannot undergo robust medical monitoring. Trans young people without access to hormone blocking treatment either via GIDS or from the grey market are not going to become any less trans. They will simply become disillusioned with the understanding that the press, the judiciary and the commentariat did not speak up for their right to autonomy when they could and should have.

We anticipate that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust will appeal the decision, bringing the challenge to the Supreme Court as a next step. If the appeal is granted, we expect the process to take at least a year until a judgment is reached, which may simply confirm the judgment as laid out today.

As a trans-led organisation, let us say that we are not just in shock at this decision, but appalled. It seems that for each step forward we take as trans communities, we take two steps backward in turn. At some point in the near future, the judiciary will have to level with the fact that trans children aren’t going anywhere, and that the best thing for all parties is to allow space for individualised decisions to be made by experts, not roll out confused diktats. Until then, know that Gendered Intelligence stands with all trans people, young and old alike, and will offer any support we can to keep our young people with us. If you need to speak to a dedicated youth worker, please email: youthwork@genderedintelligence.co.uk