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
literature

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

Categories
literature

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