#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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

End of Year Round Up from Gendered Intelligence

Happy Holidays

We’ve had an amazing year here at Gendered Intelligence.

We’ve worked with more young people and parents than ever before. We’ve also delivered more training sessions, assemblies, talks and workshops on trans awareness and gender diversity too!

In December we produced an interim report of our work from June 2014 – July 2015. Here are some highlights:

  • From July 2014 to June 2015 we worked with 266 young people and delivered 63 sessions with a total of 851 attendances.
  • In the same period we worked with 99 parents, carers and family members.
  • In schools and colleges, we have delivered workshops and assemblies to approximately 1200 students.
  • 985 people attended our trans-awareness training course.

You can read more about our work in the past year by downloading our interim report.

Below you’ll find more highlights of our work in the past year.

A Parent’s Story

Debra
Deb and her son came to GI for the first time in February 2015. Below she shares the impact our support has had on their lives.

Deb, parent of a GI youth:

“I am not exaggerating when I say that getting in touch with GI was literally life-changing for both me and my son.At the beginning of this year, I had a depressed and isolated child, out of education and out of life generally. He wasn’t the only one who was depressed and isolated. I don’t know if you’ve heard the expression “you’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.” How true is that?
At the end of February, my then 15 year old told me he was transgender. I knew very little about trans issues but whilst researching, someone told me about GI. A week later, I took an anxious and reluctant teenager who had not been out of the house for weeks to the March Youth Group.
What a transformation! The group welcomed him with open arms and immediately took him in and accepted him as one of their own. Two hours later, he emerged with the biggest smile on his face and there were plenty more hugs all round! I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had seen him so happy.
Getting in touch with GI felt like a real lifeline to me and my son. He said to me the other day “I really don’t know where I would be now without GI” and I don’t know either.”

For more information about our parents and carers support group, please see the Gendered Intelligence website.

GI Volunteers Society

Two of our volunteers

Members of Gendered Intelligence Volunteer Society (GIVS) have continued their amazing work this year to support and raise funds for GI. In 2015 GIVS members have:

  • Worked hard to recruit volunteers to the trans youth group and other projects such as the camping trip
  • Run stalls at events at Southbank Centre, Westminster Kingsway College, London Metropolitan Archives and more
  • Organised activities including Clothes, Cake and Trans Inclusion in collaboration with The Circle as part of International Women’s Day, and camping trip fundraising party
  • Supported our clubs like Allotment Club and Football Club.

If you’re like to become a member of GIVS, fill in this short application form or email volunteer@genderedintelligence.co.uk for more details.

 

Football Association Partnership

group photo from our FA partnership event

In February 2015 Gendered Intelligence was commissioned by the Football Association to develop guidance around the practical inclusion of all trans people in football. The guidance sets out to support the FA’s new Trans People in Football policy.

We ran two focus groups to gather people’s views, followed by a friendly knock about on one of the astro turfs at Wembley. As part of this work we also ran a workshop about trans fans in football at the Football v. Homophobia conference.

To support the guidance we are also currently making a short film that looks to raise the visibility of trans people participating in football. Watch this space for 2016!

Stop Our Silence Success

SOS Logo

During Anti-Bullying Week 2015 in November, GI supporters signed up to stay silent for 24 hours to raise money for our youth work and take a stand against transphobic bullying. One 10 year-old young person raised £357 single-handedly! Well done to everyone who took part – you were amazing.

 

Over £1,500 raised so far

 

 

Knowledge is Power Launch

Knowledge Is Power

Knowledge Is Power

Knowledge is Power was a project funded by Awards for All that aimed to build a resource for young trans people, their families and those who support them.
We collected young people’s experiences and ideas during a series of workshops up to July 2015. One of the workshops was delivered by Beyond the Binary, where young people talked about their experiences and journeys as non-binary people.

Now Knowledge is Power is live! There’s lots of information there – it’s up to you to apply it to your life in a meaningful way and turn it into knowledge. Ka-pow!

 

Best wishes for the New Year from everyone at Gendered Intelligence.