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Life after My Transsexual Summer (Ch4). Trans & Genderqueer Speaker. Film-maker. Screen-printer.

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    We’ve been having chats with some movers and shakers at the BBC & Ch4. We are in the midst of creating 25 short films as part of Patchwork (My Genderation & All About Trans), some of which will be released in the next month!! In the meantime, here’s some screengrabs of some of our contributors: Luke, Sabah, Bex, Maki, Octavian, Alicia, Nathan and Oliva. All amazing people. 

    We are having a soft launch at Ch4 HQ at the very end of July and two official launches at the BBC in September. Exciting times! 

    Transpose at the Tate Modern 

    Performances inspired by surrealist & realist art. 

    I had many more questions than answers, but it was really fun to screenprint unicorns and amoeba onto people’s flesh, right in front of some of the world’s most famous works of art.

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    Why do we gender objects? 

    How “gendered” an object is —What does this depend on?

    Colour, size, texture, pattern, scent and context…

    What about objects that cross the gender dimension? Traditionally masculine in form but feminine in colour and texture?  Could any of these be categorised as androgynous or ambiguous? 

    Are we uncomfortable when we strip gender labelling from an object?  Are we unable to respond if objects are gender vague?

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    Case Study: Man Ray’s Le Cadeau (The Gift)  

    Man Ray took a fully functional object, this regular everyday object, and gave it a different purpose, and emphasis. But did he change its gender?

    In the piece, masculine and feminine are residing together turning the benign and domestic into something dangerous and violent.

    Gender, labels, form and function.  They don’t always match, when used in different combinations and differing magnitudes, they conjure different images of gender – some confusing, some soothing and some really challenging.  

    Limitations - labels and the use or words, or mislabelling and misuse of words, the frail understanding that objects (including you and I) are not static, but dynamic.  Gender labelled words – male/female, masculine/feminine (and all its connotations) appear to be static and limiting, when the form of objects especially human objects are vastly dynamic and robust.  This dynamism is not captured or reflected in labels.  

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    We are often stunted in our expression, because we are limited by words, and its connotations. Art is the higher form of amplified dynamic expression, unrestrained by words.  Labels are only as powerful/relevant as the meaning we give it.  

    Is art a place where artists can lose gender constructs and be artists rather than men or women? Or is gender integral to the kind of art that is created? Is creative expression gendered?

    As a trans artist, can I change objects simply by touching them with my uniquely trans perspective? 

    Special thanks to: Bex Wade (photos), Kate Shields (my live piece of art), and my gurus: ej scott, Emily Dubberly & Prema. Marcus at the Tate Modern, CN Lester and every one who made this event so special. 

    Queer In Brighton brought out this fantastic and extensive book documenting LGBT histories and experiences in and around Brighton.

    I had a lot of involvement with this book. I shared my life experiences with a volunteer, which was then audio-typed, and an excerpt of this was included in the book.

    I was also part of the ‘not going shopping’ queer photography group which was organised by Anthony Luvera. We played with the idea of queering the photo-booth and began a ritual of attending a b&w photo-booth after every session.

    It was exciting to see my designs & prints throughout the book, inspiring Luc’s lanyard, which was made out of my Trans* Pride Brighton flyer design, a tshirt I designed and printed at Ink Spot Press (‘By the power of T’) and an early b&w flyer for FTM Brighton.

    Additionally, I was asked to create some badges for the book, which were used on the cover and throughout, including ‘My Genderation’, ‘Trans Pride’ and ‘100% Original Queer’. 

    salutehq:

    This Sunday, after hours, there is a very special event happening. I’ve been asked, last minute, to step in and will be producing some live art. Really excited to see what everyone else is producing and it’s a dream come true to be involved with something at the Tate. More details HERE.

    Who is Tate for? Whose lives are included, excluded, defined, erased, imagined? What does the collection have to offer us?

    Four trans artists and activists take on Tate Modern. A journey in performance, reflection, inspiration – challenging assumptions on sex and gender in art.”

    Support for my transition, from my deceased Grandparents!!

     I now have an aerodynamic silver carry case, with a fully functioning handle (!!), in which I cram in my camera, lens, gold light reflector, audio recording device, mic, laptop, external hard drives, chargers, leads and batteries.

    On the 29th of Jan, I hopped on a London-bound train to London, specifically Elephant & Castle, to navigate its’ underground maze and a drink at one of the more downbeat Weatherspoons, while I waited for Lewis Hancox.

    We hoofed it through the rain to the tube to South Woodford, where we were met by Nicky, who opened the boot of a large and elegant silvery blue saloon car, to store our equipment.  We said hello to her partner in the driving seat, a trans-woman called Rebecca Sawyer, who kept the motor running. In the boot where I stashed my case, I noted folded up karate uniforms, and we discovered that Rebecca is actually a black belt (a 5th Dan!) & karate instructor. 

    Rebecca has developed her clairvoyant skills sufficiently to carve out an entirely new career, hosting psychic events. Our sole purpose for the evening was to film her ‘in action’, for inclusion in the first batch of short documentary films, in conjunction with All About Trans for Channel 4 and beyond. 

    We arrived at what seemed to be a semi-trading estate and parked, leaving Bex to have five minutes alone in the car, mentally preparing herself for her role as a psychic.

    It seemed quiet and dark in the car park and I was unsure what sort of turnout there would be at the event. We rounded the corner and I was instantly blinded by neon signs emanating from one single source, our destination for the night. The few smokers parted in the middle so we could reach the glass door to Mac’s Cafe, a diner / bar.

    There were bums on every seat in the room, alongside the bar and around every table (except for one table with a hand-written sign; ‘Reserved…Don’t even think about it’).

    In this brightly lit space, there was an element of expectation, the static before an expected event. The main purpose here was not drinking nor socialising. There was a lack of chat, no murmers. Neat orderly people. Waiting. Some people even had their coats still on. 

    We gingerly set up our cameras, excited about the evening’s events. 

    Bex walked through the glass door and immediately held court. This was a charity event on home turf and she had loads of support. Money exchanged hands quickly and expertly, in exact amounts, three pound coins, collected by the sassy owner with the red ‘do.

    After an initial segment involving tears from a couple of women right next to me, Bex said  ‘Charlie’ and  ‘Grandparents which died quite close together’ and then ‘Fisher-man’ — No one else seemed to really connect with this and I felt very close to all those clues —My sister is called Charlie. Our family name is Fisher.  Sid my grandfather had come through. 

    My beloved Grandparents had both croaked when I was 14 years old, within 6 months of each other. My Grandma died first, with the entire family around her hospital bed. She had been in the process of giving up smoking and had taken a bad fall. After my Grandma died I never saw my Grandad happy again. He was a broken man. He died six months to the day of her death, on New Year’s Eve before the new year could begin. I miss them both loads. They were great people and I have fond memories of being spoilt rotten by them.

    His approval, appeared unexpectedly from beyond the grave, and was one of the most wonderful things to experience. Sidney (my Grandad) was the type to light up a room and says I have the same gift. He teased Rebecca about being trans*. He said that I was ending a cycle. That things were looking up. That it’s about me for now and soon I will find my soulmate. The same closeness that he had with my grandma, Elsa. Amazing and unexpected that the man who had stormed the beaches at Normandy called me courageous.

    I was reminded of my chat 6 months ago with Robin Esser (Senior Daily Mail Editor) about the older generation and their inability to understand transgender issues.  Robin said ‘You can’t expect anyone over 65 to get it’ — Well my own Grandad would have been 92 if he was still alive and today he gave me his approval from beyond the grave! (Not to mention that being transgender is not a new fangled modern affliction so why would there be any age restrictions on acceptance?.)

    Often I have wondered whether my lovely grandparents  would have understood and supported my transition, who I am today, and now I know the undeniable truth. They are rooting for me. The love they had for me as a child, remains strong. 

    Here’s the incident on film. (The footage kicks in after a few minutes)

    Student Pride was brilliantly organised and it was a genuine thrill to see them focusing on the ‘T’ aspect this year. Here’s the link If you would like to watch the debate, chaired by Evan Davis (of Dragon’s Den & Radio 4’s Today show) 

    Sadly, Lewis was unwell, so our bro Reuben stepped in last minute. We were also joined by Octavian, who will also be featured in the 25 new films we are making as part of Patchwork with All About Trans.

    Earlier that day, we were interviewed by Dylan, an Irish trans-guy and film-maker. We had a fantastic chat about transition and the wave of change. Can’t wait to see the final edit. 

    LGBT History Month: Trans* Film Sunday at Jubilee Library, 23rd Feb

    On Sunday 23rd Feb, from 1.30pm at the Jubilee Library, join Lewis and I for a special FREE film event.

    Trans* comedian and actor Ben Pritchard will be introducing the following trans* based films, created in Brighton & beyond:

    Trans*Symposium:  Fox, Alice and E-J discuss gender binary & whether it is important to be “out” or “stealth” as a trans* person. Produced by James Marcus Tucker and Michael Urwin. (15 mins)

    Filmed & edited by Raphael Fox and Lewis Hancox. We will be discussing the ‘My Genderation’ film project and showing some of our work. (25 mins)

    Followed by:

    STILL BLACK: A Portrait of Black Transmen is brought to life by the stories of six thoughtful, eloquent and diverse transmen. Each man brings a colourful and complex richness as he describes his relationship to himself, as well as others in his life. (78 minutes)

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    Hope to see you there! Please share this post, thanks :)

    Queer in Brighton’s photo project: curated with Anthony Luvera, we worked on the theme of photobooth and city interaction, ie what it means to be queer in Brighton today. Brilliant project and great people to work with. There is an accompanying ‘newspaper’ which has all our images and the thought process behind it.

    Lookout for the images in various places around town.

    I’m going to draw a moustache on mine! 

    The launch for Human Being; Being Human at the Jubilee was really heartfelt event, full of friendly faces and their smiley friends. cmap was creating a film about the book’s creation and there was enough cake for everyone!

    What was initially a 28 or 32 page brief turned into a flyer/poster, a 52 page booklet and 6 large panels. I thoroughly enjoyed working with cmap’s Lynne and Allsorts Youth (Transformers). There’s so much more available now for people questioning their gender or needing general support. Great to work with some friendly faces like Reuben & Teddy as well as get to know a few more of those involved with the project.

    Books like these help people to connect with day-to-day living as a young trans* person and remember that we all have dreams, passions and struggles to overcome. There are 1000 available. Get in touch with Allsorts Youth if you would like a copy. 

    Big Fish, Little Fish & Trans Swimming Club

    I was born in Hillingdon, near Heathrow Airport. Recently sifting through various childhood records, a certificate revealed I was actually baptised at Heathrow Airport. This would have made sense since the majority of my family worked for British Airways.

    When I was three years of age, my dad accepted a job working for Saudia Airlines, and six month later we joined him in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

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    We lived in a massive compound which had a generally friendly family vibe, with modest accommodation and noisy air conditioning installed. The engulfing humidity and relentless sun were a welcome change to the grey greater London and the compound boasted a baseball field, a creepy abandoned theatre (as I was later to discover) and recreation centres dotted along every five streets. 

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    The rec centres were usually equipped with a tennis court and a play-ground, (both of which were way too scalding to use) as well as swimming pool and a basic cafe.

    Every summer, when it was SUPER SCORCHIO, all the smart families would escape to cooler climates. Often, our family would stay on and we were enrolled in SWIMMING CLUB, which meant that my sister and I, and all the other bored kids, had an hour of grueling instruction (blowing bubbles, kicking our legs and holding onto the edge of the pool) followed by a forced 30 minute *free for all session* which entailed us swimming away, in genuine fright, from the monstrous instructor who, whenever possible, would grab hold of us and bite us. Or tickle us. Scary man…

    So I learned to swim quickly although I could never master the butterfly. After reading John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, I fancied myself a free-diver for pearls. In the compound there were two pools which were Olympic size and they seemed ENORMOUS.

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    I would chuck weighted neon sticks into the pool and dive into the warm water to collect them, holding my breath until I felt dizzy, pushing myself to the limit and thoroughly tiring myself out. 

    We would also snorkel in the epic Red Sea. My best friend’s family had a membership to beach club there and we would spend hours in the water, avoiding the strange spikey and jelly fish, and marveling at the colours and creatures in this cosmic under-water world. 

    Once puberty hit, I felt increasingly dis-connected with the shape of my changing body and no longer enjoyed swimming. Lessons during my one year at a grant-maintained boarding school felt like a chore, and I pretty much gave up swimming altogether after that.  After a childhood of swimming like a fish I really missed how great swimming feels.

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    Last week was the first session and was attended by around 10 people. Afterwards four of us guys left the Swimming centre, and we walked together for most of the journey home. The cold outside felt envigorating. Rare to have a trans social event which doesn’t revolve around the pub. 

    Not everyone opted to be in the photograph, although I hope it’s a feature every week, to document the event and share our fun with the world to perhaps inspire other initiatives like this in the UK and beyond. Swimming is a great way for us to feel better about our bodies in general and to see noticeable improvement in health and wellbeing over the weeks.

    A special swimming session for trans partners and friends would be interesting to trial. Perhaps we could sponsor an ally to attend, so everyone is vetted. Integration and variance in individuals makes for a more interesting group, and I would feel comfortable sharing the fun with like-minded, open-minded people. 

    These Trans Inclusive Swimming sessions are a direct result of Brighton Trans Scrutiny. The reduced rate (£2.55) makes it affordable for most and after the initial 10 sessions, it may be extended indefinitely, if there is enough interest. 

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    Gscene’s Info on Trans Swimming Sessions 

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    The Council’s Trans Equality Scrutiny recommended that sport and leisure activities should be made more accessible to trans people. LGBT HIP at Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard, the Council’s Sports Development Team, the Trans Alliance and a group of committed volunteers came together to set up trans inclusive swimming sessions. You can find all the details at http://bit.ly/transswimming