Archives for posts with tag: Natacha Kennedy

I am so thrilled to see Paris Lees top the Independent Pink List 2013 … and Jackie Green also in the top ten at number 8. This is exactly what we need … young possibility models (the term inspirational American actress, Laverne Cox prefers to role model).

The doyenne of UK trans activism, Christine Burns, pointed out recently that the older generation of out trans people were by necessity focussed on challenging the law in order to gain basic human rights. In the UK now … though sadly there’s a long way to go in much of the rest of the world … the focus has moved on towards effecting change in social attitudes. Paris and Jackie epitomise the way a new generation have been enabled by Christine and her contemporaries to emerge from under that smothering cloud of institutional discrimination and to demand the same respect as everybody else in an equal  society … in Laverne’s words, to live out their dreams publicly.

This to me is THE change which trans kids and teenagers, growing up now, and crucially their families need to see. I don’t think we can overestimate the importance of demonstrating to the parents of trans and gender non-coforming kids that … not only can their children be safe … but the door is now open for them to go on and lead fulfilling, indeed enviable lives.

I was particularly struck by a passage in a recent blog by trans activist and author Julia Serano on Transadvocate entitled Considering trans and Queer Appropriation. For me this sums up the assumption Paris, Jackie and other young volunteers have been working on with the All About Trans project:

The more highly stigmatized a group is, the less likely it is that the dominant/majority group will even attempt to appropriate aspects of their identity or culture, as doing so will only lead to them becoming tainted by said stigma. However, if the marginalized/minority group becomes more accepted over time, there will be less of a social price to pay for associating oneself with that group. Thus, as acceptance of the group increases, so do the chances that others will engage in non-EED (erasure, exploitation, and denigration) appropriation.

Paris and Jackie are smart, bright, admirable human beings who are not only living out their dreams but who enrich the lives of everybody they meet … by which I mean everybody … not just trans people (though maybe not the bigots who are on the wrong side of history). They don’t suffer bigotry and will complain when necessary but primarily the focus of their existence is positive … breaking down barriers and I’d go so far to suggest, winning over large numbers of people who want to know them, to associate with the trans ‘group’, even to appropriate a part of our magic.

There’s others on the list who are on the same path … for example Raphael Francis Fox and Lewis Hancox whose inspirational film company Lucky Tooth Productions is starting to attract attention … also musician and inspirational blogger CN Lester. None of them could be leading the lives they are without the work of previous generations of trans activists. There’s plenty to do yet before things are perfect but these are  not just the buds. They are the blooms of a new trans generation. I think it’s hugely appropriate that this year the Pink List celebrates this. There’s a place for handing out medals for long service but, as in any field, the winners of such medals are seldom heard of very far outside their own trade association or field of activity. Paris, Jackie and their generation are already making waves in the wider world and I am in no doubt that we are going to hear so much more from them.

Some are mentioned in the Pink List some are allies but, if I could make my own list of those who are doing the most to encourage the the next generation of trans kids, it would certainly include …
Mermaids (particularly chair, Susie Green, Jackie’s Mum),
Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence,
Sue Sanders and Tony Fenwick of Schools Out
Natacha Kennedy, who is dramatically changing perceptions with her papers such as:  Transgender Children: more than just a theoretical challenge

and the best allies ever Nathalie McDermott and Alana Avery of On Road Media whose innovative work with young trans volunteers on All About Trans is truly breaking the mould.

I am proud of my friend Paris Lees. She is a hugely gifted writer for whom I (and quite a few others) predict great things.

Paris is editor of META magazine an ambitious project which has set out to do what many might describe as impossible … produce a magazine for the trans community. It’s no accident that the first question asked on the cover is “What does ‘the trans community’ actually mean?” while one article inside by Roz Kaveney discusses the problems associated with ‘Cat Herding’ and a debate between Dru Marland and Natacha Kennedy on whether the term ‘tranny’ is acceptable or not.

Also featuring are interviews with Justin V. Bond, Tomboy director Celine Sciamma, Lewis from My Transsexual Summer, Dian Torr and articles by Del La Grace Volcano, Jane Fae, Jennie Kermode, CN Lester and much more

For many years a magazine like META would have been anathema to me. I saw the trans community as something fractious … a hydra which ate its own. But META captures a new zeitgeist of confidence and assertiveness. More and more of those who make up the trans community are developing the sense of entitlement which has been so lacking in the past when most of us were grateful if we could achieve a place where we were free from constant opprobrium and just left alone to live our lives. Finally we are becoming sufficiently confident in our own identities as individuals not to rage at the mirrored image of ourselves we see in others of our kind.

I firmly believe that if things are ever to change for succeeding generations of trans people, it is essential that we stand up and are proud. Parents of trans children growing up now need to know that transition is a viable pathway whatever form it may take … binary, non-binary, gender variant. Hopefully all such terms will disappear before too long and we will all be just people.

It’s beginning to happen but until that process is complete, META is the mast we can all pin our colours to. Please buy a copy now. Apart from anything else it’s a really good read.

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