Monday, 23 April 2012

RIP Aerie

As I mentioned in my first ever blog, one of the first things I did when I first arrived in the UK was a visit to Manchester for a weekend event called Sparkle. It’s like the trans version of a gay Pride event, but more sparkley. One of the first people I met that weekend was someone called Aerie. I remembered mostly her brightly coloured hair and her cider drinking, potty mouth. At over 6 foot tall in heels Aerie liked to stand out. I got to know her that weekend and shared a ride back home with Bobby and was struck by how quiet this person became. Maybe it was the hangover, maybe it was because Aerie was how Bobby preferred to express herself, either way, I’d already decided that I thought this person was pretty cool.

Over the next few months Aerie came up in conversation a few times and in person once or twice and I learned a bit more about how he lived his life. He came from a rough part of Cardiff and his family, by all accounts, had a reputation for being typical rowdy Welshmen. Bobby was different. Bobby was also Aerie. Unlike most other transvestites, he was open to his family about his weekend hobby. I was once told a story that when Bobby told his family that he liked to dress as female occasionally his brothers told him “that’s OK, just don’t do it round here because we’ll have to get into fights defending you.” Even Bob’s Facebook page bore both his male and female name, Aerie wasn’t ashamed of who he was. Why can’t more people be like you, Aerie?

Aerie was liked by almost everyone she met, reading through the comments people left after hearing of the sad news, a theme emerged; ‘I’ve only met you a few times and wish I’d have got to know you more’. Aerie left an impression in so many peoples lives. I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for the way Aerie lived, at a time in my life when I was just starting to come out, here was someone who lived with the openness I wanted for my life. We shared a love for swearing too much, drinking too much and we shared some demons too.

When I think of Aerie I will always remember that weekend in Manchester, and like others, I wish I’d have had the chance to get to know her more. I hope that in death he finds the peace he was looking for, he will be very sorely missed by very many people.

Trans on TV, A Word Of Caution

Since the airing of My Transsexual Summer and the enormous reaction it caused, both in the trans community and the wider public I have been aware of a number of other production companies who have been pitching ideas to trans people about including them in a new television show. I’ve heard from people asking for advice from me and I’ve even spoken directly to one production company, resisting their attempt to extract contact details of people who may be helpful to them and trying to find out more details about how they would represent anyone who might be involved.

Whilst I understand some trans peoples eagerness to get involved with these projects, maybe an attempt to try and emulate the success of MTS, I cannot help but be very suspicious of any TV company who is seeking out trans people to make a show with. During the run up to starting filming for MTS and throughout the production and editing process all of us involved went to great lengths to ensure that we would be shown with dignity and respect, not some kind of freak show to be made fun of. And we still didn’t get it perfectly right.

You really do dance with the devil when you get involved with TV. Trans people in the past have had to flee their homes in the middle of the night because of the reaction they received from opening up their lives to national TV cameras. I am aware of a few examples of trans folk that deeply regret their involvement with television.

My Transsexual Summer raised the bar considerably when it comes to how trans people are represented on TV but that’s not to say it was a total game changer. There still will be production companies that mean well but are just looking to the trans community to make a quick buck, to exploit us and sometimes even to make fun of us.

By all means, get involved with a television show but please approach with extreme caution. Be aware that the tone of the show will mostly be set by editors you may never meet. Take into consideration where you live, how people you have never met will react to knowing you are trans. Be prepared for a negative reaction. The night MTS went out was the most nervous night of my life, I thought I had prepared myself for idiots on Twitter laying into me, I was wrong. Some of the things written about me was really upsetting and it was a steep learning curve for me to be able to cope with that.
Seek written assurances from the production company about how they will represent you. Speak to Trans Media Watch and GIRES, ask for their help. If the production company has never heard about these groups, let alone asked for their guidance then be EXTREMELY cautious about getting involved. This is your life they are asking to broadcast to the world, stay in control.

Since MTS there have been a few shows on TV covering the trans genre and one or two of them have been quite positive but this does not mean all future ones will be. Approach any TV project with open eyes and an inquisitive mind. I am all for the trans community to be represented in the media more and wish anyone thinking of getting involved with it my very best. If anyone wants some advice please do not hesitate to contact Trans Media Watch or myself.

Friday, 6 April 2012

I Didn’t Fuckin’ Choose This! (Dating)

So I have been chatting to this guy online for a while now, he is an artist, a graphical designer and seemed an all round interesting kinda guy… He had been asking me for a few weeks to meet up with me for a drink and today, I thought to myself ‘why not, what have I got to lose?’ I agreed to meet him in a pub on a busy Brighton street, somewhere I could easily slip away if it didn’t go well and I would be safe enough if he turned out to be a nutter. Now, I like to think of myself as a good judge of character, I hope I can ‘read’ people well and see the motivation behind the way they act, this weekend marks my thirtieth year on this planet and I genuinely hope I am street wise, mature enough to know when someone is playing me.

I thought that during my online chats with this guy he was interested in me as a person, the fact that I happen to be trans didn’t even factor into his attraction to me, in fact, I thought that I had gone out of my way to make sure that I wasn’t some kind of ‘fantasy shag’ to him, a box to be ticked off on his list of sexual conquests… This all flew out of the window when he said to me “I just want to explore my bi side, you’re not gonna have ‘it’ chopped off are you?”

My body is not some vessel for a random stranger to use as experimentation with. I am not something for you to satisfy your curiosity with. I am a fucking person who wants to be treated as such. If I had ANY other choice I wouldn’t be this way. I would have lived my life the way I was born and would have been happy with that. I didn’t choose to be trans. If I hadn’t have transitioned I would be dead by now, and that is not me being a drama queen, that is stone cold fact.

So as I sat alone on the bus home, my eyes leaking as I realised that this dating game is bullshit but maybe it’s just my fears manifesting themselves in other people, maybe this guy actually did like me for who I am but was just incapable of communicating with some semblance of empathy. Even so, those words cut, they cut fucking deep and, as much as I doubt it, I hope I never hear them again.

Monday, 12 March 2012


Something hasn’t been right in my world for some time now. Somehow, something was niggling away at the back of my mind… Unfortunately these fears came true recently and a person has taken advantage of me. It’s not about money, it’s about trust, honour and, at it’s very basic, being a nice, kind human being. I even remember a conversation with this person where he was told that he wasn’t expected to help for free, he was welcome to take a wage if the money was there, the only stipulation given was that he was honest about it. Sadly he couldn’t even do that. I’ve had a few people email me since with the truth about this person and I regret not acting sooner.
Discovering the lies and betrayal of trust by this person has upset me greatly and has shaken my faith in people. It’s not something I wish to discuss with anyone, I have said all I will say on the matter and want to move on with my life.
Something that has struck me recently on the travels I have been on and the people that I have met along the way. I have got to know a few people, from beauticians to charity workers who earn a living from helping people. And what’s more, these people I’ve met are all lovely, well rounded individuals. They go to work in the morning and by the time they’ve come home they have made some kind of positive difference in another person’s life. And they get paid to do it.
This has been quite a revelation for me, I always hated working for some corporation, making other people rich through my hard work. I’ve always wanted a job that gives me satisfaction, a sense of worth, to feel good about going to work in the morning. To find out about this kind of work has been a surprise to me, back home in Jersey these kind of jobs simply do not exist, the island is too small and there jut isn’t the need for the scale of charity work found here on the mainland.
I know I will need to volunteer for a charity for a while and hope that paid work comes up but I have decided that if I am ever to genuinely enjoy working, this is what I must do. I’m gonna start researching who I want to work for and looking for volunteer work that’s local to Brighton.
New rule for life: Be nice and nice things will happen.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Witch Hunts and Tabloid Scum

So I read that a man from the UK with trans history has given birth and that the gutter press are searching for him. It’s become quite a frenzy to be honest. There have been some shockingly transphobic articles from the Daily Mail’s Bel Mooney and The Telegraph even changed their headline overnight to a more provocative scarehead. The Sun even went as far as encouraging it’s readers to ‘shop’ this new family to them for financial gain!

How is this even newsworthy? A person has used their body to create another life, does it really matter how, who or what their history is? This kind of thing happens every day. So fucking what that this person is trans? I can guarantee you that there has been more than a few trans women who have procreated in the past so why the big fuss about a trans man doing it?

What is the UK press obsession with all things trans? Why the hell should the simple fact that someone is trans-whatever make them a piece of public property when all they are doing is trying and live their lives like every other member of society?

It is basic schoolroom bullying at it’s worst. Pick on the odd one out. Deride, belittle and persecute them until they break then move on to the next target and repeat.

Bel Mooney, Dominic Mohan, Richard Alleyne and every other member of the gutter press in the UK are nothing more than children picking on others because they have nothing better to do with their pathetic lives than spout their bigoted, transphobic bullshit under the veil of journalism. They bring shame upon the profession and should issue public apologies for their behavior.

This comes after a week when Trans Media Watch gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry giving examples of how the press has hounded and persecuted trans people simply because they were born in the wrong body.



Every person on this planet has the right to become a parent and it is not a newsworthy event when a person with trans history exercises that right.

I copied this next part from Fox’s blog and I encourage you to spread the word.


Currently “The Sun, and apparently other tabloid newspapers are trying to find any transman who is about to give birth or who has given birth post-transition.”  ”There will be a lot of journalists poking around trying to find out names.”
Natacha Jessica Kennedy of Trans Media Watch asks for ‘every trans person, and all supporters of trans people need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on this and keep quiet, no talking to the press, no disclosures, just a magnificent solidarity in silence.’
If you are being hounded by any journalists, you can contact Trans Media Watch for support and advice: or the PCC 24 Hour emergency advice line: 07659 152656. This applies to anyone who believes they have become the focus of press attention in a manner that breaches the Editors’ Code of Practice

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Is My Fame Vacuous?

I personally hate it when I meet someone on the street or in a club and says something about me being famous or a celebrity. It makes me feel like one of those seemingly vacuous people that sell photos of their wedding or newborn child to a magazine or go on TV to moan about press intrusion into their lives or their latest marriage break up. I don’t feel “famous.” I was on a late night Channel 4 show, which a relatively small number of people watched and then moved on with their lives but it’s left me with a legacy that I can’t ignore.
I still feel like the same person that I was a year ago, I still drink too much Red Bull, stay up till 4am on the internet and wish I could have more confidence. I agreed to be part of My Transsexual Summer mainly because I was just moving to the UK and I didn’t know anyone here, much less knew another trans person or know how really to start my transition. Being “famous” was never a motivation for me and I was vaguely hopeful that some people would take some sort of inspiration from me taking part but it’s this that has become my greatest underestimation of the summer.
Last weekend I went on a trip with the other girls from MTS, Karen, Donna, Drew and a man called Paul as we were invited to open a club night in Birmingham and to attend a night in a gay friendly pub in Bletchingley, Surrey. Now, I was and continue to be uncomfortable with the idea of putting myself on a pedestal above others as if I’m some kind of Elton John-esque “star” and I think it showed, I was self conscious, nervous and a lot more reserved to how I am normally but it was a conversation I had with someone afterwards when I was having a drink to calm my nerves that hit me like a freight train.
This person approached me and begun to tell me how she had came out to her family as trans after watching me telling my mum on TV. She said that seeing how I had summoned up the courage to be honest with the people I love had made her realise that she needed to do the same and she thanked me for taking part in the show. There was a tear in my eye as I hugged her and wished her the best for her life.
The next night in that tiny but lovely pub in Surrey and with the snow falling hard outside I met another young trans woman who, she explained, had only lived fulltime as female for a month. She was painfully shy and we talked about ways to help her boost her confidence and stop worrying about whether she passed as a woman when she was walking down the street. I promised her I would put her in touch with some friends of mine and said we would be able to support her and help her out in any way we could.
Now, I have noticed a couple of comments on Facebook and Twitter from people questioning why I am attending these club openings, events and various things that I’ve been invited to, like I’m milking my “fame” or something. To begin with, even though I put this down to petty jealousy, I thought these people may have had a point, I do not wish to become some sort of “career transsexual” who trades on being on a trans TV show like some Z list celebrity personalities seem to try and milk the fact that they were once on Big Brother or something.
But last weekend has made me aware that the seven of us HAVE made a difference to some peoples lives, we have actually inspired people, given hope to some people, opened some peoples eyes and continue to do so. We still have that opportunity to help some peoples lives and still give hope to some that their personal situations can improve and it’s for this reason that I won’t feel bad turning up to a nightclub in a blacked out people carrier and standing on a stage answering peoples questions as long as I still feel like I am making a difference for the good

Monday, 6 February 2012

One Small Step For Transkind

I came across a problem that no doubt countless other trans folk have fought with last week while I was finishing off changing my name with the various companies and official documents that still bear my old name and I came to my phone contract with O2. I walked into their shop in Brighton and presented the assistant with my Deed Poll and she gave me the address to send it to which I duly did. Just as I was about to leave my flat for the weekend I checked my mailbox and saw this letter from them.

O2 seemed confused… A simple name change being made into such a kerfuffle! At one point in the letter they talk about a gender change, which, by the way was never mentioned when I asked for my name to be changed, and later in the letter they tell me when I provided them with the “certificate showing gender change” they asked for, they’ll update the name on their records….?? And what is that bit about “the copy of the Deed Poll that you’ve produced need the signature and stamp of the authority”? (sic) The Deed Poll I have was good enough for my bank, good enough for my national insurance number and good enough for everyone else I’ve had to use it with.
When I called the number to try and explain that I could only get a Gender Recognition Certificate after at least two years of living as female and, at the moment, all I wanted to do was to change my name with them!
So I decided to ask the Twitterverse as I’m connected there to lots of other trans folk who I hoped would be able to help me out with this problem. A few people mentioned they had problems with O2 in the past but I also received a Tweet from someone who happened to work for them who, as luck would have it, was at that same time was working on a project for customer services to make it easier for customers to change their name! I love Twitter!
The next day after confirming some details with O2 I received a phone call from the lovely man who contacted me to tell me that the Deed Poll I sent them was enough and not to worry, he would sort everything out. Wonderful!
Here’s the mail I received from O2 about it:

Hi Sarah,

Just to confirm what we discussed on the call earlier. I have updated your account to reflect your proper name and gender. I am really sorry that you encountered so many problems in trying to do this. Going forward, we are going to improve our internal processes so that other trans-people do not have to face the same issues.


D**** J******* and the Systems Thinking Project Team
O2 Customer Services.

So hopefully from now on any trans person wishing to change their name with O2 will have an easy time of it!
That’s a good result in my book J

Monday, 30 January 2012

Screw You And Your Stereotypes ( I Will Never Be A Girly Girl)

I had a conversation today with someone that ran along the lines of many, many conversations I’ve had over the years, it went something like this:

Me: “I love that the new Top Gear is on, they have the new Mclaren MP-12C and the new Lamborghini!!”
Person: “You’re not very good at this being a female thing, are you?”

I mean, really??????
When I left school I was an apprentice mechanic at the Rolls Royce dealership in Jersey, long ago I lost count but I’ve owned at least 50 cars since I was 16, I am inexplicably and unashamedly obsessed about an internal combustion engine attached to four wheels and a seat. Since when does gender have to do with that? 
When I was on day release from the garage at the local college there was a woman in my class studying with us, and to be honest, she was way better a mechanic than I ever was. What is it with people assuming that to like something you have to be a certain gender? Today I met a woman who’s boyfriend is obsessed with pink, Lauren, one of my best friends from home can kick my ass at Playstation, I’ve worked on building sites next to female plumbers and carpenters and I’ve met men who are more obsessed with makeup and beauty than I am about cars.
When will people realise that every time they try and pigeon hole one gender into a certain role they are just reinforcing outdated and needless stereotypes? This kind of thinking has to stop right now. Some young boys like playing with dolls. Some young girls like playing rough with the boys her age.
Why does one activity or another have to be gendered? Why can’t we all just BE?
Just because I am female it doesn’t mean I have to live up to what you may think I should do. I like cars, video games and finding out how things work, this doesn’t make me any less female. I also like makeup, shoes to die for and watching Loose Women but people choose to ignore this when they question me about my love of cars.
As I mentioned in a previous blog this reinforcement of stereotypes starts at a young age and I believe it takes a certain type on mind to see around it, analyse everything, ask why, question motives, this is the only way that we can embrace and promote gender variance and freedom of expression as nothing more than personal wellbeing.   

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Thing About Gender Is...

It’s been a while since my last blog (again) as I’ve been concentrating on writing my book and general boring life stuffs. Next month is going to be a pretty cool one though, I’ve been asked to go to a few support groups and charities to give talks to about my experiences as an early transitioner and give my views on lots of different things. One thing that has got me thinking though is the people at Schools Out have asked me to come give my input in a discussion panel.
It got me thinking about how gender stereotypes are reinforced from a very young age in schools, whether it be about uniform, queuing up after lunch break, playing with toys or the whole netball is for girls and football is for boys rubbish. There is so much being ingrained in these young children that I fear that societies acceptance of non-gender binary expression may never improve.
The sooner people figure out that teaching children the fact that it’s ok to express their gender however they feel, the better. Instead of reinforcing the differences between children we should be encouraging their freedom of expression. Teachers should be teaching children the fact that gender is a spectrum and not everyone falls into either the stereotypical male or female role. If we want children to grow up into well rounded, open minded adults then they need to learn how to question everything about their thought processes and the greater world around them and make informed decisions about how they react to things.
Another thing I’ve been doing since my last blog is giving up smoking. I’m at 9 days now, using one of those inhalator things… I never thought I’d have ever even tried to give up but last week I just decided to stop and went to the doctor and all of a sudden I’m a non smoker! Well, when I was out for a drink with a friend on Friday I confess to smoking a couple but they just tasted like shit which I think is the right reaction…
I broke my cars gearbox somehow too over the last couple of weeks so am confined to my flat and only going out on the bus every couple of days but at least it’s concentrating me on writing my book. You didn’t know I was writing a book? Well I am. It’s about my experiences this summer coming out to different people and the journey I went on from day one of living fulltime as female. I’m looking for a publisher if you know anyone who can help? Ideally I’m looking for a publishing house to handle printing as well as promotions as I have no experience in it at all… Contact me on Facebook or Twitter if you think you can help!!