…with Future Radio – on a very crackly line. But many thanks to them.
Listen here – 26 minutes in. Music and activism and cake. So, yeah, that’s my life.
One of the things I found hardest, as a trans teenager in a cissexist culture, was the lack of visible role models. They were out there, certainly – but with the mainstream media as my guide I got a pretty strong sense that the only options open to me were tragic figure on a prurient documentary or pariah who pays the ultimate price (oh, Boys Don’t Cry).
Ten years or so later and the situation is better – my god, is it better. But still very far from perfect. So, just as a little exercise to show that trans people can do a lot more than apply makeup in front of a mirror, while tinkly background muzak reminds of us just how sad the whole thing is, may I present a whole bunch of trans people doing a whole bunch of awesome things – alphabetised for your convenience. Three points:
1) I’m afraid that this list is overwhelmingly white – see the greater ease of acquiring trans-related medical care with white privilege, and also the fact that society in general (including queer society) still focuses on white narratives to the exclusion of others. I’m sorry for that – but I wanted to make a start, somewhere. Leave comments full of amazing people?
2) I haven’t included the people I shout out to all the time (hey Roz Kaveney! Paris Lees!) because it was too easy. But if you haven’t already checked them out then do.
3) I’ve left out bloggers and activists. With bloggers – where to start? As to activism – well, many of the entrants are activists in addition to their other roles, and being out is an act of activism in itself – points for everyone here.
With all the nastiness spewed by the BBC’s “Snog, Marry, Avoid” and the fabulous kickback of #WhatTranssexualsLookLike, I thought it was high time to highlight the existence of yet another beautiful trans person. So – Jin Xing.
Ok, I’m not going to lie – I might have just a little (enormous) crush. But because, like everyone else in this series of sorts, her beauty doesn’t end or even begin with her appearance. Not even just with her courage and activism. To have so publicly and proudly led the charge for the recognition of trans people in China would be enough for one lifetime. But beyond that, to be recognised as one of the most brilliant and innovative classical/avant-garde dancers in the world? I need to keep putting on hats so that I can take them off.
I really do recommend that everyone, cis or trans or questioning, read her memoir Shanghai Tango . Daring, resolute, honest – a wonderful artist – a mother – a cultural icon. This is what a transsexual looks like.
What really sticks with me, each time I read the excuses trotted out by the people making or condoning this kind of ‘comedy’ (I’m going to run out of quotation marks), is the way in which trans people don’t seem to exist to them beyond a punchline. That because, for so long, they’ve relegated us to the roles of ‘sad mannish tranny’, ‘deceptively enticing she-male’ and ‘creepy cross-dressing pervert’ there’s no longer any mental space left to fit in the actual reality of who we are. It’s dehumanising in the extreme. It makes you wonder – do they realise that they meet trans people on a regular basis? Do they know that we come in every shape/size/flavour, pursue every kind of career, live wide and varied and different lives? Do they really think that those vile stereotypes they trot out in the name of comedy are true, and that’s all there is to us – or do they know better and don’t care, because we don’t deserve that basic acknowledgement of equality?
There’s a famous saying of Bion’s that gets stuck in my head every time this situation arises: “Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, yet the frogs do not die in sport but in earnest.”