The Trans Revolution: Fighting for Transgender Rights

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


| Summer 2016



Third Gender

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/www.flickr.com/photos/zedzap/

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.