June 1, 2016 § 2 Comments
March 16, 2016 § 1 Comment
UPDATE: It’s funded! Thank you all so, so much. Come Home will come out at the beginning of November 2016 – available on my website, iTunes, Amazon, and for free on Spotify. Hoping to do you proud.
A few things have changed since then – a few things haven’t. I have a book coming out this year – I’m (slowly) getting used to being on television, to pitching shows for national venues, to giving speeches and papers and interviews.
The things which haven’t: being trans, being a trans artist, is all too often seen as an exploitable hook rather than an aspect of self to be respected. I would rather play community shows where I’m not paid but I am heard, than succumb to the offers to appear on reality TV where I know I’d be used for other people’s profit. I don’t want to sell my pre-transition photos, and I don’t want to be reduced to a sob story or someone to be pitied. I don’t want that for myself, and I don’t want it for the message it would send about trans people, about our shared lives, the shared understanding of those lives.
But when you don’t want to play the mainstream media game, it’s harder to get your voice heard – and harder to get projects publicised and funded. I’m not saying this to ask for sympathy – far from it – but to say that, as an independent trans artist, the work I make is founded in my idea of community and, in turn, relies on my community for support. I’m not claiming to be perfect – but I’m trying my best. I know that that’s appreciated by more than a few people – and I want to give more.
New track ‘Teachers’ – live from The Colour House Theatre
Come Home is my third studio album, and my first album about love. Reviewers have called my previous work ‘atmospheric’ (The Advocate), ‘ethereal’ (Polari) and ‘achingly beautiful’ (For Folk’s Sake) – I’ve tried to be all of those things with Come Home, but rawer, realer and more vulnerable than I’ve let myself be before. We’ve recorded the music: vocals, harpsichord, grand piano and acoustic bass. Now we just have to mix, master, create the art, pay the licensing fees, put it all together and print copies.
Writing that number down is scary, to say the least – but I think, I hope, it’s possible.
£1000 is 200 pre-orders of the £5 digital download – which works out to 4% of subscribers to this blog.
£5 is how much a pint of lager will cost you at the pub around the corner from me – and my self-esteem is just good enough to assure you that you’ll get more for your money with my album than you will with a London pint.
There are other options, of course: discounted lessons (I specialise in composition and training trans voices), merch and private gigs.
You – Aether (2014)
If any of my music or writing has touched you in the past then please – take a chance on Come Home. I’m doing my absolute best to make it the best I’ve done so far. But I can’t do it alone.
My previous albums are on Spotify
You can read what my fans have to say here
Thank you for listening – in all the different ways
December 18, 2015 § 10 Comments
So, the reason posting here has been light of late is finally out in the open – my first book is set for publication November 2016, from Virago Books (Little, Brown).
I’m incredibly excited (and somewhat overawed) to get this chance. Thank you all for your support for my writing over the years – I hope to do you proud.
For total clarity: I’m (still!) not a woman – but Virago Books has always published a small number of works by male feminists in addition to their central aim of promoting works by all women (obv. including trans women). I’ve been bowled over by the team’s knowledge and support of trans issues and the need for real trans justice (including their very real acceptance of me as a genderqueer person). Feeling especially lucky to be working with my editor Ailah Ahmed from an intersectional feminist perspective. I’m still writing up, and I hope to have covered all the most pressing points – but if there are resources/points you want to send my way because IMPORTANT then I am very much all ears.
Official press release below, and links to my publisher’s and my agent’s websites.
Writing here will be light while the book is finished – but I think it’s going to be worth it. Thank you again.
Virago Press has acquired an agenda-setting title by CN Lester, a leading British LGBT activist specialising in transgender issues.
Commissioning Editor Ailah Ahmed acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us by CN Lester from Laura Macdougall at Tibor Jones & Associates.
CN Lester takes the reader through the most pressing questions in the transgender debate, combined with a charged personal narrative of what it means to be a transgender person today. TRANS LIKE ME shows us how we are all defined by ideas of gender, whether we live our lives as he, she or they, and how we can strive for authenticity in a world which often seeks to limit us by way of labels. It also covers hotly contested topics such as the rise in referrals for gender variant children, feminism’s treatment of the trans community, and the mainstream media’s ‘trans moment’, among much more.
Virago nonfiction publishing has aimed to be at the forefront of discussions about gender identity and politics and so welcomes this title which expands our understanding of the new conversations around gender for a wider audience. Virago has always had a broad definition of what a feminist is and wants to ensure this book will reach a wide market.
CN Lester is an academic and activist who has acted as a consultant on trans issues to a broad range of organisations such as Channel 4, the BBC and the Huffington Post. They have written for New Statesmen, New Internationalist and the Feminist Times. Lester co-founded the first ever national UK group for young LGBT people.
TRANS LIKE ME: A JOURNEY FOR ALL OF US is scheduled for publication in November 2016.
Ailah Ahmed says, ‘This book blew me away by answering all the most topical questions about the new gender debate. Time magazine declared 2014 the year of the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’, and the experiences of those affected by these issues have now entered the mainstream. Virago is delighted to welcome CN Lester to the list with this ground-breaking new exploration of trans lives. TRANS LIKE ME has all the power of Living Dolls by Natasha Walter in really engaging with the zeitgeist. It is also a very moving account of what it means to be a trans person today. ’
CN Lester says, ‘So many of my formative feminist moments came through reading Virago titles – I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining them as an author. As a trans feminist, it was vital for me to find a publisher and editor who understand the broader implications of the current trans movement: how gender affects us all, how the fight for trans rights fits into a feminist debate, and how important it is to take an intersectional approach. I’m proud to be working with a team who have (quite rightly) already included trans women in their remit, and who support authors such as myself – genderqueer people, cis and trans men – who are working on issues of gendered oppression and justice. TRANS LIKE ME is, quite genuinely, a book for all of us – I’m so grateful to both Ailah and my agent Laura for believing in it.’
Laura Macdougall says, ‘I’m delighted that Virago will be publishing CN Lester’s ground-breaking TRANS LIKE ME. It’s a combination of author and publisher which I’m sure will make this a landmark publication in 2016. In TRANS LIKE ME, CN Lester helps us navigate a rapidly changing field of gender identity and debate, delving into the historical, biological and psychological concepts that inform our sense of what sex and gender are and in doing so provides an exciting new way of looking at the world.’
For more information about CN Lester and their work, visit their website at http://www.cnlester.com/ and follow them on Twitter
For US rights please contact Laura Macdougall (email@example.com) and for foreign rights please contact Charlotte Maddox (firstname.lastname@example.org).
September 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
An amazing post from a dear friend – READ!
So one of the reasons I’ve been really quiet on here in the last few months is that I’ve been being a dating columnist for SheWired, a queer women’s website based in LA. A lot of it was pretty interesting stuff despite the clickbaity format, and I liked the job, We eventually fell out over gender-neutral pronouns (I liked them, the site didn’t) and then this article for Bi Visibility Day. They were generally very nice to me despite the ideological differences, so no vigilanteism please, but here is the article that proved the final straw.
10 things bi girls wish lesbians knew about
In honour of bi visibility week, here are some things this bi girl really wishes lesbians knew about being bi and attracted to women. You could probably condense it into ‘We exist! We’re not making up our attraction to you! Please be nice to us!’…
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September 12, 2015 § 3 Comments
If you’re a trans person in the UK, you might well be waking up to a rather unpleasant email from the Ministry of Justice, in response to a popular petition demanding that trans people of all genders be able to legally define our own status. The full text is here – I’m a little too upset to do it justice, but mealy-mouthed, lazy and inhumane is a start:
Buried at the end of the text are these choice lines:
The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination if it arises from their being perceived as either male or female. We recognise that a very small number of people consider themselves to be of neither gender. We are not aware that that results in any specific detriment, and it is not Government policy to identify such people for the purpose of issuing non-gender-specific official documents.
As a genderqueer trans person, it beggars belief that the discrimination and abuse I’ve suffered not be considered “specific detriment” – and a lot of other people outside of the binary feel the same way.
Please – if you’re able to, fill in this document and spread the word. Beyond the Binary, a UK-based organisation for all people who don’t fit the gender binary, are collecting responses.
Tweet with the hashtag #SpecificDetriment, email your local groups, stick it up on Tumblr – anyway you can spread the word is vital.
They can refuse to acknowledge us – but like fuck will they lie about what we suffer.
September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
*Not an Aunt, not an Uncle, but something much harder to pronounce, and far more genderqueer.
I’m delighted to say that I’ve joined the team at Beyond the Binary magazine as their advice columnist, dealing with questions around gender, transitioning, discrimination, relationships..anything that intersects with the huge umbrella of trans-related things.
So far we’ve discussed with fear of change in transitioning and coming out in the workplace (while dealing with families). A new column comes out every fortnight.
Questions? Advice sought? You can email email@example.com and I’ll do my best. I don’t claim to have all the answers – but I am here to listen, and to point anyone interested towards resources that can help.
Please do share with any groups you think would find this helpful. Thank you so much.
August 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
Taking a regularly scheduled break to reblog some vital thoughts from a dear friend – UK people, please listen.
I don’t necessarily consider myself completely certain that ballot box communism will never work (although not in the near future certainly) but I believe that the far more important work is that which we do in our communities to fight austerity, not the work we do in convincing people to vote for a political party. The promises often made to those who are the most vulnerable in society, that consistently get broken. I believe building community activism, working to develop a political theory based in praxis, and fighting to improve conditions for people abandoned by the political parties is more important, and generally has more of an immediate effect, than focusing on party politics. I do think we should do both, to a limited extent, but I believe that amount of work we do outside the ballot box and in our communities should exceed the amount of work we do…
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