Scottish Transgender Alliance seek trans and intersex artists

Cross-posted because art is cool.

Please forward to Trans* and Intersex Artists and their Allies

Are you interested in potentially submitting work (e.g. short films, visual art or pieces of writing), or performing in trans*, queer and LGBTI+ multimedia arts events in Scotland?

Scottish Transgender Alliance (http://www.scottishtrans.org) and Zorras (http://www.blissfultimes.ca/cachin.htm) are working together to create a new online resource to help event organisers link up with trans* and intersex artists and their allies.

You can be resident anywhere, as long as you are interested in receiving enquiries and invites from people and organisations who are creating trans*, queer and LGBTI+ events in Scotland (and potentially also other countries across Europe).

If you wish your information to be considered for inclusion this resource, please provide the following information in the body of an email to zorras [at] blissfultimes.ca with the subject line TRANS ONLINE RESOURCE:

1. Please tell us what kind of artist you are (list as many titles as you like). Examples: visual artist, musician, performer, dancer, writer, composer, choreographer, filmmaker, painter, photographer, punk band, other. You can also be more specific if you like (e.g. drummer/singer).

2. Where are you based?

3. Please submit a maximum 200-word artist’s bio.

4. Please submit up to 200 words highlighting any ways in which your work explores or relates to trans*, intersex, feminist, queer or intersectional equality and diversity themes.

5. Please submit a recording, photo sample, published article, or video link that best represents your work. Do not send files for this; only send links.

6. Please submit up to two additional website links (e.g. website, Facebook page).

7. Please submit a 300dpi photo that’s no larger than 8cm wide or tall. Please tell us the photographer’s name.

8. Please list the contact info you would like to make available to the public. (e.g. your phone number, email address).

NB Not all submissions are guaranteed inclusion in the online resource, depending on the relevance of your work to trans and intersex issues.

* Here we are using the term trans* in its widest and most diverse sense. We intend it to also include all those who identify as any of the following: transsexual, transgender, transvestite, cross-dresser, bi-gender, third-gender, gender variant, non-binary, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, two-spirit, androgyne and/or non-gendered.

 

This isn’t about us

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This day isn’t about our pain

This day isn’t about our struggle

This is for the dead.

It’s very easy for Transgender Day of Remembrance to become about the challenges trans people face in everyday life: fears of violence, abuse, harassment.

But we are the living, and we have a voice – however quiet – every day of the year.

This is for the dead. They have no voice.

If we don’t acknowledge their passing, it may be that no-one will. If we don’t offer respect, it may be that no-one will.

And so today is for the dead. We acknowledge their passing and offer them respect. Their lives will have had a depth and meaning that their killers could not possibly comprehend. We mourn these lives, and do not forget.

Trans Media Watch European Conference

Trans Media Watch are running a conference in London on Saturday 27th October.

They say:

This event is designed to give members of the trans and intersex communities the chance to find out more about how the media works in the UK and abroad.

Panels and discussions will run from 10am to 4pm, with guests from the world of journalism and broadcast media, including Jane Fae, Evan Harris and David Allen Green, there to discuss how their industries work and how they might better serve trans and intersex people. There will be opportunities for you to air your views and to network. This is a chance to make your voice heard and help shape the future of the UK media.

In addition, guests from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland will be there to talk about how the media treats trans and intersex people in their countries. We hope that this will be a useful learning opportunity for everyone involved.

More information can be found here.

A space for our voices

A couple of blog entries posted on the same day earlier this week have been making me think about the power and importance of “trans space”.

CN Lester wrote about Andrew Hodges’ biography of Alan Turing. They picked out a passage that beautifully illustrates the sheer emptiness, isolation and alienation that can come with growing up queer:

“The deprivation was not one of laws but of the spirit – a denial of identity. Heterosexual love, desire and marriage were hardly free from problems and anguish, but had all the novels and songs ever written to express them. The homosexual equivalents were relegated – if mentioned at all – to the comic, the criminal, the pathological, or the disgusting. To protect the self from these descriptions was hard enough, when they were embedded in the very words, the only words, that language offered. To keep the self a complete and consistent whole, rather than split into a facade of conformity, and a secret inner truth, was a miracle. To be able to develop the self, to increase its inner connections and to communicate with others – that was next to impossible.”

Like CN, this resonates with me as I reflect upon my own experiences as a trans teen. It was hard to find any representations of trans people, let alone any that weren’t deeply problematic. It was even harder to come by writings, art and stories by trans people, in which trans lives were rendered intelligible, human, possible. I felt like a freak, I felt like I was broken, ill, wrong. And I suffered largely in private. Needless to say, this wasn’t particularly good for my mental health.

This is why I feel that it’s so important to have trans people who are out, and trans people who produce art. It’s why I agree so strongly with Kat Gupta’s post about the trans tent at Nottinghamshire Pride. Kat writes:

There was something magical about being in a tent and being able to listen and watch people who articulated some of my fears and anxieties and desires. There were trans* people speaking and singing and playing about trans* experiences, and cis performers adapting and selecting their work to speak to us. Not us trying to eke out a trans* interpretation of a song or a poem, but them finding the points where we could understand each other. It was people exploring gender and all that came with it; negotiating the NHS, the harsh realities of genital surgery, the misery and joy we find in our bodies. […] In this tent we were able to do something special, and create a space that was visible and proud and joyful and intersectional and defiant.

In my previous post I waxed lyrical about how wonderful various acts were, and how much fun I had playing there myself as part of a band. Kat captures the totality of this experience, and the importance of having a space in which we can come together to share our stories and develop the self, avoiding the fate of Alan Turing.

Crowd outside the trans tent at Nottinghamshire Pride. Photo by Eriw Erif

Members of my family occasionally ask why I bother organising or contributing so much to queer or trans spaces. After all, isn’t there a larger audience for events with more of a broad appeal? Plus, since the goal is to achieve equality, surely it doesn’t help to just segregate ourselves?

I think these perspectives completely miss the point. Spaces centred around straight and cis people are everywhere. These spaces are automatically about straight/cis art, straight/cis voices. Queer spaces are relatively rare, and trans spaces rarer still. It means a lot to go to one of these rare, beautiful spaces knowing that your story will be told. This is why I wrote with so much enthusiasm about Poltical: A Gender last year,  and a similar vibe can be found in CN’s post about the Trans* Education and Determination conference (TRED). It would be wonderful if such spaces were less rare.

Moreover, many trans organisers and performers are very aware of the dangers that come with shutting ourselves off from the world. This is why spaces such as the trans tent, Political: A Gender and TRED are very deliberately open to all, and it’s why we are so often open to contributions from cis allies. It’s why trans issues are just one part of the lyrics I write for my band, and it’s why I’m always keen for us to play “straight” venues as often as possible.

So let’s continue to expand the possibilities of trans space and trans art. The trans tent alone featured poetry both epic and personal, acoustic music, hip-hop, opera, burlesque and punk. There’s so much that we can share! It doesn’t matter whether you’re an artist or a consumer of art, an organiser or an attendee, trans or cis. Come and join us in celebration. There’s so much we can build together.

THT publish sexual health guides for trans people

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has published two groundbreaking booklets on sexual health for trans people. Each one contains basic – yet valuable – information on trans bodies and health needs.

Each booklet tackles a whole bunch of common questions, such as: do post-op trans women still need prostate examinations? and: can trans guys get pregnant after going on T? There’s some trans specific information on HIV prevention, and also some more general health advice.

The language is broadly respectful and acknowledges the great range of trans identities. There isn’t as much of a binary division as might appear to be the case from the titles, with each booklet noting that the information contained within is also relevant to queer or non-binary individuals:

Words matter and in this introduction we are using the term ‘trans* women’ to indicate that this guide is not exclusive and is intended to speak in a  non-evaluative and non-judgemental way. It is aimed at people across the whole spectrum of trans* feminine-identified presentations and behaviours; by this we mean anyone on the gender variant spectrum who was labelled ‘male’ at birth and who identifies as female – including gender queer or otherwise non-binary people labelled ‘male’ at birth.

It’s really great that these booklets have been created – there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about trans health needs, so this kind of intervention from a respected community organisation is really welcome.

The booklets are available online in PDF format:

Trans Women: Trans Health Matters

Transmen: Trans Health Matters

They’re also both available in physical form via mail order for the very reasonable price of 40p each (to cover postage costs).

A note on the “space” issue

I’ve noticed a lot of questions in social networking spaces about the fact that there’s a space in “trans women” but not in “transmen”. People wonder why there is discrepancy between the two guides, and wonder if a mistake has been made.

A friend of mine was involved in the production of the guides and offered some explanation. Apparently each one was produced by THT with a great deal of input from two steering groups, one for each guide. The “trans women” group was very insistent on having a space between “trans” and “women”, presumably for political reasons. The “transmen” group didn’t want a space.

There will inevitably be arguments over this, and complaints sent to THT. Some favour the space because “trans” stands separately from one’s gender: e.g. I am a “trans woman” because I am trans and a woman. My womanhood is not defined by my transhood. Others favour not having a space because they argue that we should be proud of being trans, and that it is inevitably part of our gender.

We’re never all going to agree on this. I use “trans women” very deliberately within my writing because I broadly subscribe to the first argument, but I recognise that there are plenty of people who have good personal reasons for preferring “transwomen”.

THT aren’t going to please everyone. As such, I think it’s a pity that people are complaining to them about this, particularly as the language came from trans steering groups on this occasion. We should be all means continue to have these conversations about language, because language is important, but there are far more important things to campaign about than a space on a sexual health booklet.

See trans performers in London tomorrow!

Trans youth charity Gendered Intelligence are running a fundraiser at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern tomorrow (Friday 13th July).

On the off chance you’re around, you should totally come because it’s going to be amazing.

There will be performances from a whole bunch of trans artists and allies, including:

Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Bird la Bird

CN Lester 

Naith Payton

Cyndi Rogers

…and DJ sets from myself and Puja Maniar.

Entry: £8 (£6 concesssions)

Doors: 7pm – 2am

There’s a Facebook event page here.

New coming out guide for young trans people

LGBT Youth Scotland have produced a fantastic new booklet with advice on coming out for trans people. Some of the information and language is a little Scottish-specific but there’s some good stuff in there that could be useful to anyone.

Contents include general advice on coming out to friends, family and in school/college/uni etc, as well as links to further resources in terms of general advice and UK law.

You can download the guide in PDF format here:

Coming Out: a coming out guide for young trans people

Press For Change press release

(Cross-posted from the Press For Change Facebook page. For context, see All change at Press For Change)

It is with great delight that Press for Change can announce the formation of a new interim board to oversee the re-structuring of the organisation for the betterment of the trans community.

Some of the key priorities are:

To put together a set of memorandum of articles of association which will enable Press for Change to become a Limited Company by Guarantee with Charitable status.

To develop a set of clear aims and objectives as well as a strategic development plan.

To set up a stakeholder group.

That priority would be given to find funding for the legal team.

It was agreed that the interim board over time could become more diverse and none trans people who are our supporters and advocates or family members of trans people could become trustees of the new structure.

New Chairperson Appointed

The interim board are delighted to appoint Dr Lewis Turner as the new chairperson for Press for Change.

Other announcements will be made as the organisation re structures and decisions are made.

All change at Press For Change

The long-serving trans campaigning group Press For Change has released a request for new board members and volunteers alongside the announcement of a two-day “organisational development conference” in Manchester at the end of the month.

I’ve been amongst those who have criticised the organisation at one time or another, but it’s undeniable that Press For Change has been a powerful advocate for political change. It played a key role in pushing for the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and trans inclusion in the Equality Act 2010. It has produced huge amounts of guidance and advice for public bodies, private companies and countless individuals (most notably in the groundbreaking Engendered Penalties). At the forefront of much of this has been Professor Stephen Whittle, who is about to step down from his role in managing the organisation.

I’m therefore cross-posting the below message, and urge you to do so also.

Urgently Needed – Board Members and Volunteers

Please re post this request as far and wide as possible

The Future of Press for Change (PFC) has been in the balance for some time, with a lot of uncertainty due to various issues with individual’s health and others been able to commit to the development of the organisation for various reasons.

Press for change are having an organisational development conference in Manchester on the 25th and 26th May to look at how the organisation can be re structured and developed for the benefit of the transgender community.

This is an opportunity for activists to become involved in a well-established organisation with 20 years standing, by helping to develop and run the organisation and get involved with national & local organisations promoting Trans equality.

PFC had intended to look for more board members and volunteers at a conference that will be held at a major health equality & empowerment conference that is in the process of been planned for Feb next year to mark its 21st birthday, once the organisation had been brought up to date and had got some more structure to it, however due to recent circumstances there is a need to get more people involved at an earlier stage if Press for Change is going to continue at all.

Press for Change are looking for individuals to undertake the following:

Management Board
Website development officer
People to attend National and Local meetings and promote trans equality and feedback information/ inelegance to the network on what is going on.
Deliver Trans awareness training
Supporting survivors of Hate Crime and Domestic violence and abuse.
Press and social media officer
Telephone support
Legal case workers

This list is not limited, all ideas welcome and appreciated

If you are interested in getting involved in developing Press for Change and re shaping this organisation to enable it to become fit for purpose and an effective organisation which can advance trans equality, then please e-mail a short statement of how you think you could fit in and what experience and qualifications you have to office@pfc.org.uk and we will get back to you.

Press for change will be able to fund a limited number of individuals to attend the development conference on the 25th and 26th of May.

If you are not invited to the conference it is only due to the lack of funds available to the organisation and should the organisation continue it will be looking for more people to be involved as it moves forward as soon as it is practical as we value any input individuals can give the organisation.

Please re post this request as far and wide as possible

An observation on the growing importance of social media

I’m currently working on a document that explores the methodological approach I am planning for my research into trans experiences of (primary) health provision.

In the paragraph I’m currently working on, I note the increased importance of social media to activism within trans communities. I cite Trans Media Watch as an example, noting the popularity of their Facebook page and Twitter feed. I compare the number of people they can reach directly through social media (approximately 1000 “like” on Facebook, approximately 3500 “followers” on Twitter, acquired since the group was established in 2009) to the number of people on the mailing list Press For Change spent around a decade building (approximately 2000 members as of 2007, according to Engendered Penalties).

The point isn’t to praise Trans Media Watch for reaching a lot of people very quickly (although their impact in this respect has been very impressive!) and nor do I intend to critique Press For Change. Instead I note these figures to highlight how social media has helped transform the nature (and level of participation in) trans activism.

But then pace of change appears to be accelerating still. The figures I cite above for participation in Trans Media Watch were accurate a couple of weeks ago or so, when I last worked on this particular document (what can I say, it’s been a busy fortnight!) However, they’re now inaccurate: the group has gained around 100 Facebook “likes” and around 300 Facebook followers during this time.

No doubt the exposure Trans Media Watch have gained as a result of their participation in the Leveson Enquiry has contributed to this situation, but my first set of figures was taken some time after the group provided evidence. For all kinds of reasons Trans Media Watch is of increasing interest to an increasing number of people, and it’s social media that’s facilitating this.

I don’t really have any kind of real analysis to offer right now. I’d love to take a good look at what’s happening, but it’s sadly tangential to the general thrust of my own work. But gosh, isn’t this interesting?