I think some people think that Drew and I are quite mad to have agreed to have our story published in The Sunday Mirror. To leave ourselves open to the negative comments that unfortunately and predictably accompany an LGBT story in the press, seems like utter foolishness on our part. I wanted to write something, to clarify our reasons and intentions for agreeing to let them publish our story.
Coming out as a transgender man was made most difficult by the fear of the prejudice and persecution I might face. What helped me to have the courage was seeing brave Trans people in the media, in papers and on television, coming forward and telling their story and standing proud against the prejudice they faced. This inspired me to face my fear and find the nerve to begin life as the man I knew myself to be.
Inspired and helped by others peoples open honest sharing, I decided to also make my transition public. Sharing my very first YouTube video was a very scary moment, but what followed changed the whole way I felt about myself. I began to get incredible comments of support, of people relating to my story and this helped me to be able to move into a greater acceptance and pride in my Trans identity.
As time has moved on, I have continued to share openly, beginning to introduce written pieces alongside in this blog. As I have shared in a previous blog entry, I find such passion in supporting and encouraging other people which is why I also study psychology. I have a hope of somehow finding a way to combine these two passions though as yet I don’t know what form that will take. All I do know is that I have a huge drive and passion to support and inspire others. Opportunities have arisen to enter into public speaking and to share my story and it feels the next right logical step for me in my passion to make a difference in some way.
The Mirror article has been mostly well received, there have been negative comments but there would be no point doing it if there wasn’t. It is exactly those views that I hoped our story may challenge so the negativity doesn’t worry me. What has been really wonderful to see, is the amount of brave people replying to those comments in balanced and well thought out ways, which will help to challenge those negative views.
Where the article hasn’t been well received is in people expressing concerns about it being in the Mirror. Some comments have been along the line of that as we should have chosen a” better paper”, with the Mirror being seen as a “trashy” paper. I do understand where people are coming from with this, as I said in my previous blog entry, I am not a fan of the tabloids; they are often responsible for spreading propaganda and sensationalising events. However, I don’t think that being selective of the type of audience is very productive in what we were trying to achieve with the publication of our story.
Besides, by deeming readers of one type of paper as one type of people, isn’t that as bad as the negative commenters on the article condemning all Trans people? What makes one type of paper better than another? Certainly in an academic article you wouldn’t have the comment trolls, but then what would be the point of putting it in there where the majority of ill-informed people wouldn’t see it?
Whether or not the view of the tabloids as “trashy” and the broadsheets as “intelligent” is right, the fact remains that the tabloids have a huge audience. And that is what is needed, a medium that is easily accessible and will be seen by a wide demographic. The tabloids are easy reads that you find in waiting rooms, left on trains etc. If a person picks it up and recognises their own story, or a parent of a Trans child reads it and realises that being Trans doesn’t mean a life of misery, then it might make a real difference to someone’s life.
I do think that we need intelligent articles in mainstream news, discussing the complexities of gender and sex and sexuality, about the biology behind it and so on, but I think we also need positive real life stories alongside. Real life easy read stories are accessible and relatable; a more in-depth article might be ignored by people that are not looking to learn about those issues. In sharing my story, I don’t present myself as someone with a huge knowledge base; I just simply share how it is to live. Visibility is a huge part of gaining acceptance and Trans lives being seen as normal. It is far easier to read a simple story of a Trans person facing life and getting on, people relate to that. Even if they don’t understand Trans issues they understand what it is to struggle, to fall in love, to get by. And by relating to those things they relate to us and in that relation dawns the realisation that we are just regular folk.
I am passionate and believe strongly that this is part of the solution in helping to work towards the further acceptance and normalisation of transgender people. I only have the freedoms I do today because of brave Trans people of the past who came out publicly. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for the growth in acceptance and understanding and access to treatment we have today. Now I want to pay that forward and work to foster more change for the next generation. I don’t think for one minute that it is every Trans persons job to put themselves out there, of course not. However I think we should support the ones that do and most importantly understand that they are human, they make mistakes, and that their intentions are honourable.
I want to help my community in any way I can, so please know that whenever I share publicly it is for that reason, to help foster greater acceptance and understanding so that we can all have the freedom to live a life without prejudice and persecution.
Thank you to everyone who has left such kind and supportive comments for us, and has had the courage to write responses defending us and the Trans community. It means the world and reminds us we are doing the right thing.