The Trans Revolution: Fighting for Transgender Rights

Tracking the course of transgender rights and their liberating potential for us all.

  • In recent years, the meaning of what it is to be trans has expanded, along with strategies for dealing with ignorance, transphobia and their impacts.
    Photo by Nick Kenrick/
  • Marchers in a Trans Pride parade in Berlin.
    Photo by Franz Iska Neumeister

The sun streams in through the open windows of a corner house in Old Street, East London.

Inside people are milling about, making coffee and tea, rifling though second-hand clothes — including an original Vivienne Westwood T-shirt. Buying hand-knitted bears, home-made cakes, and getting their nails done.

Most are teenagers, a few are parents, some are volunteers. The teens chat about the usual things — music, social media, college courses. And puberty blockers, hormones and transitioning. “When did you start?” “How is it going?” One is impatient for results. Another tells them that it takes time.

These are transgender — or trans — youth and the event is a fundraiser for a camping trip organized by Gendered Intelligence, a group set up to help youngsters navigate a world dominated by very fixed ideas about gender and also “to spread a bit more intelligence” about it.

In one part of the room, a screen is showing video blogs. Young trans people talk to camera about a range of issues that concern them — voice, language, make-up; the use of “they” instead of the pronouns “he” or “she”; the impact of austerity policies on health services. And they give advice.

What I am witnessing here looks like a gently evolving social revolution. Some in this room are clearly trans boys, some trans girls, some it would be hard to place too precisely on the gender spectrum. But they are expressing themselves authentically, talking about future plans, making their own way in what is, in this space at least, a supportive environment.

1/21/2019 2:17:26 PM

After over 50 years living as a "trans" person, I see this age-old desire of some to separate one's "gender" from one's sex to be a symptom of a deeper problem. If our culturally dictated definitions of what constitutes "masculine" and "feminine" weren't so superficial and pointless, there would be no reason to insist obsessively on this or that "gender identity." There's a big difference between, for example, a man who says, given the choice, he would rather have been born female, and a man so libidinally obsessed with being female, he's willing to give up family, friends, career, and often health to achieve what can be at best a simulation of womanhood. This depends, of course, on how one chooses to define "woman," but with the exception of the intersexed, the anatomy is pretty clear on the meaning. So sure, great, let's reject those rigid binary definitions. But let's not let "non-binary" become it's own obsessive need for an defined identity on the so-called "gender spectrum," complete with its own specialized pronouns! Oops, too late. Here we are. What could have been a liberating rejection of the meaningless social trappings of gender has become a whole collection of rigid gender identities. Leave it to human beings to complicate a good idea that should have made things more simple. If your your little boy wants to wear dresses, and ribboned pigtails, and have stuffed animal tea parties, for Pete's sake, just let him! No "gender identity" label required. We've had very little problem for decades letting little girls wear jeans and run around getting dirty playing cowboys and Indians, of football. It's no accident that males were the first and still the more likely to obsessively pursue "sex change." We enforce rules of gender identity to the detriment of our mental health, and that includes the new rules of the assortment of "non-binary" identities. Sorry, folks, I will not call you ze, ey, co, fe, fi, fo, or fum, and I predict in 20 years or less, no one else will either.

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