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

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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