Life as a Trans Opera Singer

June 15, 2019 § Leave a comment

170512 HGO's L’incoronazione di Poppea

Playing Nerone for HGO’s L’incoronazione di Poppea – photo by Laurent Compagnon

 

The National Opera Studio asked me what it was like, to be a trans opera singer – and how we could all make our industry better.

So I wrote them this – I hope you enjoy it.

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Where is our trans history?

June 5, 2019 § Leave a comment

What we find is not just the erasure of trans history through denial, shame, and lack of inclusion: it is an historical record of erasure, a pan-global register of undoing and enforced forgetting.

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My new essay, A Future Without a Past –  trans history, erasure, and possibilities – is now live at FreeWord as part of their groundbreaking series, All the Ways We Could Grow.

I really hope you enjoy it.

 

NB: a major new podcast

April 1, 2019 § 1 Comment

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Writing from the trashfire that is the UK’s current media landscape, it is such an unbelievable joy to be able to share some good news.

And this is really good news.

Writer/filmmaker/performer Amrou Al-Kadhi and presenter/producer Caitlin Benedict have gathered together some of the most exciting trans and/or non-binary creatives and campaigners in the UK, and made a SEVEN EPISODE LONG series for the BBC.

NB – BBC Sounds

Made by trans people, featuring trans people, covering the topics trans people want to discuss, without compromise – all on one of the biggest media platforms in the world.

This is the trans media I’ve been desperate for. And it’s so, so good.

We’re such experts at sharing the worst transphobia the media has to throw at us (see epic twitter thread here).

I’d love to see us put in even half that much energy into sharing a triumph like this.

Happy listening.

What’s the difference between Channel 4’s Genderquake and Jerry Springer?

May 10, 2018 § Leave a comment

Optics, not content. Writing for The Huffington Post on the exploitation of trans people and out of date controversy. Read it here:

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/genderquake-channel-4-propped-up-old-prejudices-and-dressed-it-up-as-controversy_uk_5af40b2ee4b09bb419e527c8?cf5

An incredibly busy year

April 16, 2018 § Leave a comment

There’s a reason why there was no blogging for the rest of 2017…or for the beginning of 2018, and I think it’s a good one: I’ve been on book tour, on album tour – and writing and speaking everywhere else but here. Only so many hours in the day – and a lot to try to remember – but I’m finally remembering to fill everyone in on the blog.

2017 was UK based: book festivals, community events, training days, university conferences, scratch nights and book shops. The kind of things I’ve been talking about – trans lives, gender, change and hope – are all featured in the BBC Radio 4 show below  – and in the accompanying article.

Word of Mouth

CN Lester on language and gender identity

For the Photographer’s Gallery, I wrote about the challenge of the cis gaze – in the street, and backwards and forwards in time:

Being seen

And for the Barbican: the struggle to understand other trans people without collapsing their realities into our own.

Trans lives: whose words?

 

The highlight of 2018 so far has to be the trip to Sydney to speak to the All About Women feminist festival as part of a trans panel featuring Sally Goldner, Jordan Raskopoulos, and Eddie Ayres. I’m still processing how transformative the whole experience was – but the panel is on YouTube for all who want it:

Feminism Beyond Gender Binaries

And I had the best interview experience ever with SBS…

SBS CN Lester

 

The rest of 2018 is shaping up to be just as full: shooting an art project with Daniel Barter, recording the audiobook for Trans Like Me in May, getting ready for American publication in June , preparing for the most ambitious Transpose ever in December, and gigging/speaking around the country. And trying to finish my PhD.

Twitter and Facebook are best for more regular news – but I’ll try to update here more often. Enormous thanks to everyone who’s read this far – and in particular the people who’ve been reading for years, and the book besides. Onwards and upwards. And, finally, in white tie and tails…

 

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credit to AbsolutQueer photography

The Production of Ignorance

July 25, 2017 § 4 Comments

What the media gets wrong about trans people, how misinformation is perpetuated, and what we can do about it. The first chapter of Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us – in all good bookstores now.


 

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Daily Express, January 2011: ‘“Half Man” gets new breasts (and guess who’s paying £78k).’

Courier Mail, October 2014: ‘Monster Chef and the She Male.’

The Times, February 2016: ‘I’m just a bloke, says sex-change soldier.’

Daily Mail, October 2015: ‘Children as young as FOUR being given transgender lessons.’

 

We’re often the butt of the joke: The Sun’s 2011 game ‘Tran or woman?’. There’s an air of the freak show about us, an invitation to peer into the bizarre realities of our lives: ‘Transsexual, 44, elects to die by euthanasia after botched sex-change operation turned him into a “monster”.’ Even when the intent is celebratory, we are marked out as different and strange: CNN’s list of the most influential people of 2014 described actress and advocate Laverne Cox as ‘The Gender Bender’.

Here are a few of the things the media shows, and has shown, trans people to be: confused, deceitful, delusional, damaged, predatory, brave (sometimes), pitiable, pathetic. A punchline, a warning, a mistake.

Here are a few of the things I am: a singer, a teacher of music, a good (if forgetful) friend, a loving child and grand- child, a loved and loving partner. I am a doctoral student, a decent cook, too ambitious, too anxious, a composer of all kinds, and someone who tries, at least, to be better than my worries would have me be. And I’m also transgender.

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Questions to Answer?

July 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’ve been touring with Trans Like Me for about a month and a half now, and we always run over time in the Q&A sessions. So, it made sense to do an online Q&A – a video for people who like vlogging, and a transcript for those who don’t.

Any questions about trans activism, history, feminisms, futures? About taking a book from inspiration to publication? Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best.

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