CW: Partial Nudity, Discussion of Fatphobia & Transphobia
Trans Joy is a blog series celebrating the positive side of trans experiences, in an attempt to bring some balance to contemporary trans discourses. This week I’m talking about my first bikini.Continue reading “Trans Joy – Bikini”
CW: Discussion of Kink
Trans Joy is a blog series celebrating the positive side of trans experiences, in an attempt to bring some balance to contemporary trans discourses. This week I’m talking about lingerie.Continue reading “Trans Joy – Lingerie”
This week’s Sinful Sunday photo and haiku are based on a god-awful pun and no I’m not even a little bit sorry.Continue reading “Pea Slut”
For those of you who don’t know, today (14th July) is International Non-Binary Day, it also marks 2 years since I came out as non-binary on social media. I think it’s fair to say that since then I’ve been pretty open about being trans. I already produced a video for today in collaboration with Non-Binary Leeds, talking about passing and trans hypervisibility. But for this blog I wanted to share something more personal. Lets talk about coming out.
I first came out to my parents as bisexual almost 7 years ago. I knew I wouldn’t be chucked out of the house, but I was still scared. The result was not the immediate acceptance and support I hoped for; the acceptance was hesitant and my relationship with them grew strained. A little over 2 years ago I came out to my parents again, this time as non-binary. And again things got a little strained. I should be clear that I recognise that many queer people are far less lucky than me, I’m not writing this to seek pity. Often coming out is (ironically) treated in binary terms, you come out and either you are supported or you face bigotry.
But that’s not where the story ends. Hannah Gadsby talks about how the stories we tell can shape our memories, and in turn our memories shape the way we view the world. So lets tell this story right. I came out and it wasn’t perfect. I came out and my parents found it hard. I came out and I was still loved. All of these things are true.
What comes next matters too, because in the moment I came out my parents were unprepared, they didn’t understand or know the affirmation I needed to hear from them. Because they are human and therefore imperfect. But they are also able to change. And guided by their love for me they have changed. Over the years they’ve become more accepting of my queerness and better educated about it. And they aren’t perfect, sometimes they still get my pronouns wrong or use my old name, there’s still more for them to learn and unlearn about my transness. Simple stories are compelling, but they limit what we see. I want to make space for complexity, because my parents cannot be reduced to a single moment of surprise, I accept their imperfect acceptance of my queerness and trust that the love they hold for me will guide them to a better understanding.
Coming out stories are important, but the immediate response isn’t the only thing that matters. Let’s make space for complex, imperfect, human stories. And where there is love and a willingness to learn, let’s make space for us to grow.
P.S. I’ve talked a lot about making space to improve understanding and accept imperfection. This was right for me because my family were (and still are) willing to learn and grow. Their love for me wins out over any doubts or hesitancy they might hold. If that’s not the case for anyone reading this, then it is not your duty to compromise who you are. Giving space only works if they’re prepared to learn. And if they aren’t then sometimes it is best to break contact.
This week for Sinful Sunday I’m sharing a picture which makes me feel a little vulnerable.
I was relaxing in the bath and took a few pictures, initially I posed with my wineglass over my cock. It was nicely composed, cute, and just the right amount of elegance mixed in with the filth. It was a good photo, but it wasn’t honest.
I have a complex relationship with my dick, both because of intermittent dysphoria around it, and the body shaming which is frequently aimed at small cocks. But I don’t want to let that anxiety control me, I don’t want the internalised body image issues to win.
Posting this was a little bit scary, it felt exposing in ways nudity normally doesn’t for me. But if it’s not challenging, if it’s not honest, then what’s the point of sharing it?
CW: Transphobia, Street Harassment
In the last couple of weeks the UK has started to unwind lockdown (a fucking stupid idea, but that’s not the point of this post). I live near the city centre so food shopping involves going through town. And on top of the anxiety from so many people not wearing masks, I’ve got another problem. The stares are back.
For 2 months nobody yelled at me while walking down the street, nobody pointed and laughed at me for what I was wearing, and I was less afraid of getting attacked. And now with the reckless drive to “return to normal” street harassment is coming back along with clothes shopping and pubs. It hit me harder than I expected, facing a hundred stares after 2 months without continuous desensitisation.
CW: Discussion of Transphobia and Sexual Assault
For my Trans Tuesday post this week I talked to some of my fellow comedians to talk about being trans in the comedy industry. This article brings together several peoples experiences within the comedy industry and have an honest discussion about what its like. It’s worth noting that I’ve only spoken to trans people who are still working in the industry, its possible that other trans people have left the industry because they’ve had worse experiences than us. With thanks to Red Redmond, Jonny Collins, Harry-Anne Bentley, Darcie Silver, and Ben Hodge. Y’all should check them out and give them work 😛
The overall impression is that, while there are some people in the industry who are actively shitty about trans people they are relatively few and far between. Red summed this up as “it can be hard to be a trans person in our society, but the comedy scene is no worse than most places”. Ben and Darcie did talk about how audiences have doubted their identities due to a level of passing privilege, and Jonny mentioned that they’ve been misgendered by MCs and other acts while working. But in general the picture painted by these interviews is at worst one of ignorance and mistakes, rather than hatred and persecution.
More issues started coming up when the conversations moved on to talk about material. Most of the people I spoke with talked about getting pigeonholed as a trans comedian. Darcie in particular spoke about the expectations placed on her to speak about being trans as part of the comedy. I know that when I perform I feel the need to address my genderqueerness so it doesn’t loom unsaid over my set. And when you do talk about transness on stage it can restrict a career. Red pointed to the lack of diversity in the BBC and other big platforms, suggesting a glass ceiling restricting how high trans people are allowed to rise in this industry. And to succeed on more mainstream bills you have to prepare for a less supportive audience, and you might end up having to explain your identity before you can joke about it.
Perhaps the biggest issue though, is the transphobic jokes we have to put up with. It can be exhausting and degrading to have to listen to jokes which punch down at trans people, in the words of Jonny “prioritizing your own sense of humour over the feelings and safety of others is a huge red flag” when it comes to accountability in comedy. These jokes are of course shaped by the culture we draw from, Harry-Anne argues that it feeds through from sitcoms which have treated transness as a punchline for decades, to comedians like Ricky Gervais, to club comics drawing on it as a lazy punchline without thinking about how it affects real people. Ben also pointed out that it’s very different when trans people make jokes about our experiences, saying that “I’m talking from my life experience and about the things I go through on a daily basis, and in some ways it’s a bit of a coping mechanism”, whereas when cis people make these jokes it tends to laugh at us as something inferior.
And of course this ties into the exhaustively and exhaustingly debated question of free speech vs inclusivity in comedy. I don’t really want to dive into this debate right now because OH MY GOD IT’S FUCKING ENDLESS. If you’re interested I’ve written about it before here and here.
Looking forward, I asked what we’d like to see change for trans people in the industry. Darcie and Red are optimistic, as Red puts it “we’ve already won the culture war, most people accept us for who we are. What we’re seeing is transphobes getting increasingly desperate”. Ben and others pointed to the prevalence of transphobic jokes as a sign that we still have work to do. Harry and Red also spoke about a need for more opportunities for trans people (and more diversity in general) for more prestigious work, while Jonny argues that people need to put more work in to make events inclusive. As they put it “it’s all well and good me saying ‘Book more trans people’ but the fact is you have to make your gig somewhere that a trans person would want to be first.” In the light of recent discussions around sexual assault in the comedy industry Red also suggested that we should use more inclusive language to empower survivors of all genders to speak out about their experiences.
I also asked each of them what advice they would give to an aspiring trans comedian:
- Please join us, we’d love to have more representation!
- The industry is hard work and between hecklers and industry bitchiness it can be painful. You need to be reasonably tough to survive.
- Research the gigs you apply for and find queer friendly nights, that’s a good place to get started
- To start with you probably won’t be confident being yourself on stage, but your act will be so much stronger when you can be honest.
- This industry can be brutal and demoralising at times, find friends to support one another through the bullshit.
I don’t think for this community is actively transphobic, most people in industry don’t have an issue with trans people on a personal level. There is still work to be done to make it a more inclusive and welcoming place for trans people, but that’s true for society as a whole. The bigger issue is the content which is performed by comedians. The same people who are polite and tolerant of us in the green room, all too often go on stage to make jokes which dehumanise us and use trans people for a cheap punchline. I have so many trans friends who don’t watch comedy because it’s painful to see your identity humiliated onstage like this. Part of what’s driving this is the use free speech as an excuse to make bigoted jokes. The other side of it is that there are trends in comedy as there are in anything else. The recent popularity of transphobic jokes in mainstream comedy filters down through the industry and normalises these harmful messages. And perhaps part of the solution is to introduce more diversity at the top of the industry.
CW: Discussion of Bodies
For my final Pride Month post I’ve written some poetry about beauty standards and queering attraction.
Fuck sleek hourglass silhouettes
Or a flawless face
I want squishy bellies and stretch marks
Big boobs, small boobs, one of each
Thick thighs and epic ass
Rough hands rubbing scarred skin
Body hair and pimpled skin
Crooked teeth in a warm smile
Scruffy hair, chaotic curls
Undercuts and bare scalps
Small dicks, girl dicks
Fat pussies and boyholes
I want to kiss back and calves and feet
And show I adore your every single inch
I want the bits we’re told to hate
And people who fuck with those ideals
So,say fuck you to beauty standards
And lets queer attraction