Silent T – Harry Taylor

Silent T

Harry1
Making a film is hard work. From script to screen, the process consumes you; How are you going to shoot it? What lights do we need? Is thisscene necessary? Will people like it? Throughout my years making films I have never made a film as difficult as this one, and this is a film I said I’d never make.
It wasn’t until I came to university in London where I found my courage to be who I truly am. To put the situation into context, I had only come out to my parents as FTM transgender a few months previously. To say they were dealing with it would be an overstatement. Things were and are still, very difficult, but we’re getting through.

I wasn’t suHarry3re how university would go, as to be expected, my anxiety had been very high – I had no idea who I’d be sharing a flat with, what their opinions would be on LGBTI issues and whether I’d have to suppress myself for even longer. Luckily, I have the best flat mates I could wish for. One flat mate in particular, Ross, is a YouTuber and is passionate about equality. After many long, deep conversations explaining my anxieties, experiences and gender expression with him, I started to build confidence within myself.

As we are both film-makers and passionate about LGBTI issues, we decided we wanted to make a film. The perfect excuse came along in the form of Campus Movie Fest, the world’s largest student  film festival where we had to make a short film under five minutes about any subject.

harry2This was an incredibly difficult film to make. For someone who is extremely conscious of body image and their voice, it still surprises me that I’ve managed to put this film on the internet to share with the world, because five weeks ago, I wouldn’t have thought that would be possible of myself. Ross and LGBTI society at Westminster have been incredible supports, and I owe this film to them really, it wouldn’t have been made otherwise.
Whilst looking at short films on trans* issues, I noticed that a lot were very vague. I guess this is mainly because a lot of trans* people don’t want to discuss their inner turmoil, which I completely understand. Being a film maker though, I wanted to speak the truth in a way that wasn’t too abstract, that cis people could relate to and understand. We wanted to speak to the people who didn’t understand gender, to help them accept and understand trans* people. Changing the stereotypes of trans* people in the media is what I’m passionate about and sometimes, great art comes from great sadness.

Not only was the script difficult to write, but everything about this film was emotionally draining. For  a lot of the time in the edit I made odd hand waving motions and hid behind my laptop at the noise of my own voice. It was not the deep, and strong voice I have been craving for my lifetime. It must have taken about an hour for me to even take my shirt off to reveal my binder for the mirror shots. I was so close to stopping the film there and then, but I’m glad I didn’t. In hindsight, I realise that the more honest I am about my troubles, the more this speaks to the audience. If this film has helped, inspired, or has related to individual, then Ross and I have done our job.

The amount of positivity that has come out of this film has been staggering. It’s so satisfying to know that this film speaks and changes some of the opinions of cis people. It helps them to understand gender identity and by prHarry4esenting this crucial issue in an alternative way, it exposes the trans* community in a positive way. Although this is was a difficult film, it’s increased my confidence. It’s important for trans* people to share their stories, as there’s so many scared and vulnerable individuals out there suffering, thinking they’re alone. If this film reached just one of those people, to let them know there are people out there, willing to aid them, it would make us very happy.

Harry.

 

I Want You

I’m Reena Leigh Gibson, a songwriter and lead singer ofReena Leigh Gibson - Milestone Road
the Birmingham rock band Milestone Road. Yeah I’m a 44 year old mtf transsexual and I sing in a rock band, how cool is that?

As a songwriter, I tend to find that all of the songs I write are about truth, and about life. To me the idea of connecting with a song and being able to perform it to the best of my ability is all about having lived through it, whether the experience was good or bad, being able to tell a story and deliver it in the best way possible to the audience before me, that’s just the way that I connect with songs and it’s lyrical content. And yes, I’ve performed many songs in the past by other artists but I just never get that connection as I do with singing my own songs with the band.

Well moving on, as any transsexual will tell you, being trans for a lot of us, isn’t the easiest thing in the world. And sometimes, for those of us who have partners, we can get so wrapped up in our own issues and how we have to learn to deal with them, that we can sometimes forget about the ones closest to us that we love so much too.

It was in June 2014, and as an effort to write even more songs for the band,  that I came up with our latest track “I Want You”. It tells the story of being trans from the other perspective, from the point of view of the partner who in their own way has to go through their own pain, loss and suffering. Most of the time they have to go through it alone, in the silence and in the darkness, with the tears from the pain that is very rarely seen by those around them and closest to their hearts. They can’t in many aspects turn to their loving partner, how can they when they’re so wrapped in their own emotions of coming out and dealing with the ups/downs and pitfalls that transition brings? It’s a sometimes scary world that just like parenting doesn’t come with a guidebook or a map telling you which way you should turn next. On both sides of the emotional fence you have to try and figure things out for yourself, and a lot of the time you’re very much alone.

For the trans person like myself you’re left with a do or die situation, for the partner however, they just want things back to being “normal”, whatever normal may be these days. It’s learning to cope with that ever present lack of “normal” that tends to be the most heartbreaking moment of all, realizing that everything you had built, hoped and dreamed of for so long has now been torn from under you. As much as you might wish and pray that things were different than what they are right now, you finally start to realize and try to come to terms with the idea that what is, just simply is…

The version of the song you’re about to read and hear below is the demo that was recorded by myself and put forward to the band, I was lucky enough that they loved it from the start and it wasn’t cast aside to be forgotten about. As a band we’ve performed it live on 4 separate occasions now, the first time ever though was at Derby Pride on the 13th September 2014. In my own admission I’d never been to a Pride event before, but being able to perform this song at such an event was one of my proudest moments ever.

Reena xx

 I Want You

It’s been hell since you left
Since you walked away
It’s left a hole in my heart
And it’s tearing me apart

Not a second chance
To fix this broken romance
Oh what am I to do
I was so in love with you

I want you to hold me, love me
If it’s just one more kiss
It’s you I really miss
So please touch me, and tease me
The way you used to do
All the ways you used to

Now it’s faded and grey
And the pain’s here to stay
Thought I’d never know
This heartache that hurts me so

All the pleasure and pain
Caused by our silly games
And all those words that you said
Oh that I misread

 

Fitness and Exercise

Recently on our Facebook group, the topic about general health and exercise was discussed, and how, as Trans individuals, we have found creative ways to keep our bodies and minds fit within our set of unique circumstances.

Two recurring themes came up, one was due to HRT many have to work really hard to keep weight under control, and the other because of dysphoria many Trans individuals find it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to be able to go outside to exercise. Never mind the scary thought of having to go into a gym. As can be well imagined putting these two together is totally counterproductive, add to that the fact that any Trans woman that would want to go for GRS would have to be under a certain BMI to get surgery.

Different Types of Exercise

Overall during the discussion quite a wide range of exercises came up these included cycling, running, walking, dancing, swimming, yoga, Pilates and the occasional trip to the gym. Safety was also mentioned that it was best to try and take a friend while doing outdoor exercises, also if you are doing cycling running and so on to know your route and if you are doing this alone to let somebody know what you will be doing.

During the discussion a lot of individuals mentioned going out and walking, this not only had the added benefit of being able to burn up calories but also gave individuals the chance of getting fresh air and change of environment, which helped to clear their minds and give the added ability to focus better.

danceDancing also came up as a way of keeping fit also had the added benefit of the ability of socializing and also gave a change of environment. This also worked well for many age groups as movement and pace is controlled by the individual.

Swimming was also mentioned, also with both London (TAGS) and Brighton having Trans swimming groups this is a good opportunity for many individuals in these areas to get the added benefit of being able to swim without feeling exposed.

The ability to do exercise via gaming consoles also came into the discussion as both the Xbox and the Wii consoles have some nice exercise games. These also give the added benefit of not having to go outside as this can be an issue due to dysphoria.

Calorie Counting

Having the ability to also control the amount of daily calories also had a great benefit to many individuals. Also eating less processed foods and more healthy alternatives like fruit and veg can also have a great benefit on individual’s health and well-being.

Within the discussion the use of calorie count apps came up. This App has the ability to calorie count for you, making it easier to understand daily calorie intake.

Exercise for Mental Health

Also brought into the discussion was the added benefit of exercise is good for mental health.

runSome people talked about running using apps like zombie run to help with motivation. Others found running peaceful giving them the ability to think clearly, also the sense of well-being and the warm afterglow from exercise, what is known as the runners high.

This state of euphoria, is due to the brain being flooded with endorphins and serotonin as well as several other chemicals the body produces during extended levels of exercise. Thought called the runners high this can also be achieved via other workouts, from swimming, gym, biking and so on.

zenPhysical activity helps to reduce levels of anxiety, depression, stress and improve the overall well-being as well as helping to maintain bone and muscle density, which in turn helps to maintain a healthy and well body. Also physical activity helps promote and maintain healthy sleeping routines.

In conclusion, it was agreed that exercise and physical activity has a lot of added benefits for us as Trans individuals and it is up to us to try and keep our bodies and minds as healthy as possible.

Angela xxx

Talking about talking therapy

Finding therapy that works for you

[content warning: mentions suicidal ideation (mild)]

I really like using gender and sexual minorities (GSM) an inclusive, cohesive and appropriate label, rather than LGBT. Often I talk of finding a “pink” therapist, and signposting to appropriate therapy was our number one concern in our poll on our facebook group recently.

Copyright transiness 2014

Growing in isolation

Some people need therapy to help manage transition, for others it’s about finding a therapist who understands the way that your transiness intersects with other parts of your health and wellbeing.

You might want to start here, but remember that client recommendation is probably the best way to find a therapist. What’s paramount is *the relationship* you have with your therapist and often people say that the best course is to try one and not be afraid to move on if they don’t suit.

But how do you know they don’t suit? Here are a few pointers, pulled from my own experiences and wider reading:

* You find yourself having to explain why you found transphobia upsetting.
* Your therapist comments on what you are wearing and tries to undermine you or ask you to wear something else.
* Your therapist thinks that previous life experiences are the reason you are wanting to transition, not the fact that you had those experiences because you’re trans.
* They start talking about surgery, straight away, and how much it must hurt.
* You feel like, or actually struggle not to throw yourself in front of a bus afterwards.

How do I know my therapist is good for me?

Flower copyright transiness 2014

Flowering

* You find yourself having a deeper and clearer understanding of your issues.
* You feel like you’re exploring something together and trying different approaches.
* You feel validated and supported.
* Sometimes therapy can be difficult/upsetting but your therapist notices when things are too much and steers you away if you need it.
*They are registered under the BACP or the UKCP.

Comments welcome!

Rebecca x

A video

I recently came across this video whilst searching for something else and it really struck me because her experience in many ways resonated with mine. I had been feeling a bit down and it really cheered me up and gave me a more positive sense about the journey I am on. It made me cry some of those happy tears.

When she mentions about having people tell her she ‘should not exist’ and street abuse, that reminds me of a phase I had to deal with, and I’m aware many others go through the same. It made me feel more positive because it made me realise how far I have come, and I feel it is inspiring – I wish I’d had someone say that to me back when I was going through that. The gradual change she shows through her clothing and voice are of course something I have also experienced and it’s wonderful to see that condensed into a few minutes in such a creative way.

Jo

New Beginnings (warning, this post is all warm and squishy)

I’m a person who’s partner is trans. For much of our journey I created blog posts, which I’ll be sharing here from time to time. If for no other reason than to share what goes through my head, and maybe explain a little bit of what it is to be a partner of someone who transitions. 

Sat in Pink on Pink

Natasha Law

It is done! We have moved and are reasonably settled into our new home. The strange thing is, that even though it is rented, it feels like home. Perhaps it’s because it’s a house, rather than a flat and it has a garden and it’s just us. I think if I were to buy a house, it would be just like this one.

The move itself was interesting for lots of reasons. Firstly, just having men around who were helping us move brought into sharp focus the difference between having men around and not. The male smell with all that testosterone was far from attractive to me, and the fact that there was so much of our stuff that was completely unfathomable to them, like my beautiful new coat stand shaped like a woman, our mugs that are bone china and painted by Natasha Law, who as Wikipedia puts it, “is known for her sexy line drawings which lie on the boundary between art and fashion. Her work also features strong and evident erotic undertones…”. Ahem. Exactly.

I suppose it seals the deal, for me there is no turning back to ‘hetero-land’. It is more than just the mugs and the man-smell though, it’s the realisation as I saw everything that we have collected as we’ve built our life together, she is the one. The only one. And as much as we sometimes have our little spats, the reality is that fundamentally deep down inside we are connected. We are a single unit. The trans thing doesn’t matter, the history doesn’t matter, we are who we are. And we are better together.

I think the key message I would like to scream from the rooftops, is that no matter how much she changes from the hormones, the voice training and all the other changes that have happened and are due to happen, she is the same person. She is my person. And I love her to bits.

(Originally Dated 09/05/2012)

Keeping Safe

For the past couple of weeks our Facebook group have been discussing personal safety and keeping yourself out of potentially difficult situations, especially now that the nights are getting darker earlier.

The lamp
Of course no one wants to be alarmist, but we are all (and especially women) at risk from at least the threat of violence, whether verbal or physical.  Most commenter’s seem to agree that spotting and avoiding trouble in the first place is the best option.
Here is a brief summery of what we spoke about.

 

 

  • Plan ahead.  If you are going out and know what time you will be heading home arrange for a taxi to be waiting for you.
  • If possible travel with friends!  Know what time the bus is due. That will save you standing in an exposed location waiting and alone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and scan the street ahead to avoid potential confrontation.  It is better to take a short detour than to realise too late that that group of people outside the pub are looking for a vulnerable person to hassle.

There are plenty of websites  giving advice but some seem to think that we live in an action movie and give very impractical advice.  Here are some links to some of the better ones that were posted. suzylamplugh.org  and this one.


As expected we were given some excellent advice from our members:

  • Let people know where you are going and what time they can expect yonightu.
  • Don’t panic if you are confronted, try to keep calm and walk away.  Don’t become angry or aggressive yourself, this could make the situation worse!
  • Have your mobile phone ready, if a potential attacker thinks that you have help on the way they may think twice.
  • Carry a personal alarm and keep it handy.  You don’t want to be rummaging through you handbag looking for it.

 

If you are caught out don’t be afraid to report it to the police. Most forces take LGBT hate crime very seriously.  Remember, it may not help you but it could help the next person!  zhooshbrighton.co.uk has some very good advice on this matter as does this police website on LGBT safety tips, and Stonewall’s “how to report hate crime” if you don’t want to report it to the police.

Remember that a confident person who looks like they know where they going are less likely to attract unwelcome attention than someone who looks timid and afraid.  Be careful but don’t be put off enjoying yourself.

Susan xx

About Shopping (for clothes)

We had loads of really good advice recently on our Facebook group. Shopping can be a difficult experience for anyone who doesn’t identify as the gender they were assigned, and we live in a society with really strict dress codes.  Here is a selection of the best comments for someone struggling to buy clothes…

“Start off with androgynous jeans, shoes and plain tops and slowly build up a wardrobe/ why go local ?/ get to a big city shopping centre where no one knows you/ do not be ashamed or guilty/ because you know this is right and all ok… It may be an effort but you have to start somehow somewhere …”


Primark if you can get to one….cheap so you can find a style that suits you and populate a decent wardrobe without breaking the bank, there are loads of people through there so it’s basically anonymous and the staff really don’t care. Same goes for any larger store, really. And eBay/any online clothes shop. As for sizes, just measure yourself, find out what you areShopping1 in ‘women’ sizing, remember that all shops define the sizes differently (nightmare!) and get out there.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, if they’re staring then it’s their issue, not yours. Don’t let their inability to step outside the box they live in weigh on your life and what you want to do. You’ll find, if you act confidently then you’ll get less attention, but if you act like you’re doing something wrong (which you definitely aren’t) it’ll attract people’s attention.”


“It is tough and the world is not always nice and caring for any girls and transgender girls in particular, especially, in the beginning of their journey. You have to brace yourself and learn to focus on your aims in life, one day at a time, and ignore the outside world when it actively negatively affects you. Shopping can and should be enjoyable for any lady. Relax! Other shoppers aren’t there to identify any strange (from their point of view) characters, they are (surprise! surprise!) only shopping too! Shopping assistants are only interested in their sales. so even if you were an alien or a mythical creature – they’d take your cash! Go to whichever dressing room you feel comfortable in – even if they call you a mate or anything else (that’s from my personal experience). the more relaxed you are – the more natural you are – the less unwanted attention/stares you will get! Remember that! I was walking the other day on a friday night in a fairly short little black dress to a railway station from which a crowd of drunken football fans was coming out – would you panic in such a scenario? if you would, they’d see you as a sport! the right approach is to walk right through them proudly ‘wearing your invisible crown’ and paying no attention to them chin up, nose up, smile, straighten your figure and go ahead! Conquer the world! you can do it! … xxx”


“Every stare, every comment, is them trying to stop you.
What you are doing in being who you actually are, instead of what everyone wants you to be, causes most to rethink their ideas on gender and people.
They look, because you are breaking the code.
All you are doing is being a person.
And you deserve so much better.
What you are doing should be celebrated.
It is horrible that it isn’t.
But you have the right to go into any shop, buy anything you want and be whoever you want to be.
Please know that. You are not asking for anything special.
Please keep going. You deserve the life you want. The best thing you can do to fight is keep going.
Don’t let them win.
They want you to feel like this so you can go away.
For now, listen to headphones when you are in shops.
Don’t stop. Don’t look at them. Concentrate on being you.
Eventually (and I know you won’t believe this) you will be OK.”


Rebecca x