Do you know the feeling, when the weather is baking hot outside, and you rush to the fridge to grab an ice cold drink? Alcohol is of course optional.
Then, you feel the catharsis as the icy cool hits the back of your throat and your thirst is quenched. It has a good effect on your body, and makes you feel good too.
Metaphorically speaking, that is what I feel like about being a trans woman at the moment. I feel like I have drunk a thousand cold drinks and had my thirst completely quenched.
Of course, this is not to say there is not still work to do. I am, as is every human being, a work in progress. But the fact that my thirst has been quenched for now does not mean that I am becoming complacent. There is work still to do. Therefore, having had my thirst metaphorically quenched, it galvanises me to strive towards my goals.
At the moment, it feels like a good time to be trans.
I think that today, the trans community has much to be optimistic about.
Lana Wachowski, the director of such iconic films as The Matrix, has today come out as trans. As a sentence in and of itself, learned readers will think, oh well, someone has come out, big deal. But, let us consider it in context. I would hazard a guess that the majority of people have heard of The Matrix even if they have not necessarily seen it. Therefore, people involved in films in whatever capacity have a massive sphere of influence at their disposal.
The consensus amongst commentators today, appears to be that Lana Wachowski’s coming out will contribute a lot towards trans visibility, that is to say trans people in the public eye just coming out and living life. For my own part, I think it will serve to make the state of being trans and living as trans more acceptable, amongst would be trans people who have been in a state of struggle, and may be contemplating transition, or those of us who are younger and perhaps less able to be our own advocates. It provides hope, and hope can only be a good thing.
Musically, the presence of the trans community is being felt too. This year so far has also borne witness to the coming out as trans of Laura-Jane Grace, lead singer of punk band Against Me! The fact that it ended her relationship is proof positive, if proof is needed of what being trans is not. It is not fetishistic, nor a choice, nor a phase. It is a life changing, defining, and altogether completely liberating moment in one’s life.
Some people do, but I have not gone between gender roles since my transition in 2005. I am one hundred per cent committed to my life as a woman, as it is the life I yearned and ached for, always.
In the world of broadcasting too, there has been a sea change. The trans predicament seems to be a hot flavour on the tellybox right now. More4, Channel 4’s more longitudinal catch up service, is now re-showing My Transsexual Summer first aired last year. It is capturing the imagination of a whole new audience who missed out on it when it was first aired.
But having the privilege of counting the cast as my friends, I know how much they have all grown and developed in that intervening time. I also know that many others have been touched, encouraged and helped by the sharing of their collective, and individual experiences.
That series was seminal, in making trans acceptable, as well as increasing visibility of us as a part of society, and not some othered fraternity.
A documentary on Ria Cooper too, showed that whilst being trans is not always plain sailing, and people forge their own path based on individual experience, it is possible still to attain and achieve a more authentic life for yourself.
This summer also, BBC Three will break new ground with their slate of programmes focusing on The Body Beautiful unveiled by BBC Three Controller Zai Bennett.
As part of that slate there will be the documentary Jackie Green: Transsexual Beauty Queen charting Jackie’s journey through the Miss England Contest. Now to have a trans woman entering the contest is wonderful. I shall be watching with interest, and would suggest that my readers do so too, of course with an open mind and heart.
Moving away from the wider picture now, I would like to talk about something pretty lovely in my own journey.
As those who know me will know, I am a party girl and do like a drink. I had the lovely happiness of being invited to the 25th birthday of Paris Lees, META magazine editor, trans activist, and lovely person as well.
I had an amazing time, and met some incredible people, and hope to meet them again. However, I thought about something after I had slept a bit and the hedonistic mist of alcohol had evacuated itself from my brain.
I knew no one else there personally, although I had corresponded with some guests via social media. I began to mull over not only the macro changes in the trans landscape but the micro changes within myself.
One thing I believe in with a passion is writerly integrity. I never bullshit when I blog. If I did my words would have little credibility, meaning and impact.
So why the qualification? I am about to make a bold claim. This is the sort of thing I would never have done, even with the best coaxing and cajoling available to humankind. When I think about where I could have ended up, possibly in a day centre singing bad karaoke, I shudder I really do.
I used to be ultra scared of going outside. It was a major effort to get me outside and on to the bus to go to Southampton.
A birthday party of strangers would have been unthinkable. I want to say two things here. Firstly, strangers can quickly become friends if you let them. Secondly too, all that was required of me was a change of mindset.
Instead of seeing being trans as a curse, I would rather see it as a blessing and an opportunity. After all, if you squandered it and wasted it, would it not be like flushing a gig ticket down the loo after paying for it? I would also like to see what I can give to people, as well as taking their wonderful support.
So in short, it is a good time to be trans. An opportune time even to bring about everlasting social change. That is to say, trans is for life, not just for Christmas.
We are becoming a visible force, and not only that, a force to be reckoned with too. With views, thoughts and opinions, expressed with eloquence and candour.
What would I like to see going forward? Mainly less intersectionality I guess. Social movements are at their best, and effect the most change when we speak as one with a united voice.
I would also like more voice and prominence to be given to the thoughts, needs and narratives of those who consider themselves non binary. Their contributions too are valid, and need to be considered too. As a woman with a disability, I understand feelings of isolation only too well, and I think feelings of non binary and intersex isolation do exist.
I am not ending this on a moan. I just think that as the trans community is moulding itself into a really positive animal, the time is right to address these issues, whereas before it may have felt like too big a quantum leap to make.
Furthermore, I would not wish to re-write history or suggest that we in the trans community do not get bullied or victimised any longer. We do. It happens. But I think understanding is slowly beginning to trickle through to the cisgendered population.
In general, we also need to tackle prejudice. I heard a man saying to a woman on the bus this week, that just because he was single, it did not mean he was “queer or nothing”. Now, where did he get the link from and why feel the need to couch queer in a negative way? Sad.
Finally though, I feel society is moving forward. We live in times where trans people are becoming more visible in the media and in the general social sphere.
So we have a chance to grasp a nettle. The nettle of campaigning, the nettle of greater equality, the nettle of creating, and the nettle of shaping, and bringing greater understanding and empathy of and towards one another.
But above all, do you know what that nettle represents for me? Being yourself, being authentic and being alive.
I long for a time when being trans is no longer tabo0 and pathological. When instead, it is just another facet of the rich and beauty tapestry of life, just like race or disability is.
It is a good time to be trans, so let us grasp that nettle and grasp it now.