Four people living in the UK explain what it’s like to be non-binary.
Recent years have seen an unprecedented increase in awareness of transgender communities among wider society. In 2014, Time magazine declared society has reached a “transgender tipping point” and figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have become household names. However, despite the welcome interest in transgender communities, some transgender identities have received considerably more attention than others. Transgender identities and lived experiences can be much more varied and complex than binary ‘male to female’ or ‘female to male’ transition stories which dominate the press.
Non-binary people can identify as transgender, but often not within the traditional gender binary of male or female. Rather, some non-binary people can identify as a mix of genders, or none at all. Some can feel their gender identity is steady and fixed, while others feel it can fluctuate by the day, by the hour or depending on the situation they are in. For many non-binary people, life can feel like being a minority within a minority.
Here, four non-binary people share their experiences of what life is like for them living in the UK and their hopes for greater understanding and visibility for the future.
J is 39-years-old and works at a university in London
How would you describe being non-binary?
Being non-binary feels like having this hole in your chest where something — my sense of gender — used to be, where you know that almost everyone else has something, and now I just… don’t. It’s not a painful lack, just a noticeable one that sets me apart from most other people.
It means people who don’t identify all of the time as a man or a woman. Maybe they switch between those genders, or feel like a different gender entirely, or they don’t have a gender at all, or something different.
At a time when representation on screen matters most, Her Story offers an authentic look at the trans experience.
At last Sunday’s Creative Arts Emmys, Her Story became the first show produced, written by, and starring trans people to have its name called onstage.
Available to stream for free on YouTube, the web series was nominated in the Short Form Comedy or Drama Series alongside such programs as Adult Swim’sChildren’s Hospital, Comedy Central’s Hack Into Broad City, and AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462. Whereas each of those nominees had network backing, Her Story is squarely indie. Funded by an Indiegogo campaign, where donors often gave as little as $1, the show was produced on a shoestring budget of $100,000. The stars thought Her Story would be something only a handful of their friends saw.
Although the award went to Children’s Hospital, Her Story is breaking important ground in how trans narratives are portrayed onscreen. Even with the progress made by shows such as Orange is the New Black and Sense8, it’s still rare to see trans characters depicted as fully formed human beings deserving of respect, love, and intimacy. It’s even more rare to see them played by trans actors.
By allowing trans women the chance to see their lives and struggles represented on television, Her Story is showing Hollywood how to do better.
The story detailed the case of a pre-schooler who is transitioning to another gender.
But the fact is that no four-year-olds in Australia are undergoing any irreversible treatment. At that age, treatment for gender dysphoria consists mainly of counselling. No other medical treatment will occur until the child nears puberty.
Read more here: https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-treatment-do-young-children-receive-for-gender-dysphoria-and-is-it-irreversible-64759
On Thursday 25th August, West London Mental Health Trust (WLMHA), the NHS Trust that hosts my full-time employer, Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic, issued a statement on its website. Entitled The future of the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic, it talked of the Trust’s pride at having been at the forefront of developing gender services and the challenge of ever-rising numbers of referrals, concluding:
However, as WLMHT moves forward it is necessary to refocus the services that we provide. The Board has made a decision that the medium-term strategic focus for the Trust will be to develop mental health services, physical care and integration between the two.
As a result, the Trust has come to the conclusion that patients requiring gender identity services would be better served in the long term by another provider, and has therefore served notice on our contract to NHS England.
Acknowledging the alarm this would create in an already stressed, often desperate group of people, WLMHT attempted reassurance: services would not be stopping, a suitable alternative provider would be found as soon as possible, staffing levels would not be reduced and patients would not have to restart their treatment again. Handover to a new provider would be made as seamless as possible, and disruption would be kept to an absolute minimum.
There was, arguably, some degree of ambiguity to the statement in that it suggested the timescale for a new provider would be “at least six months” and that patients from London and the South East would not be left without a service “or have to travel much further”, combining to give the spurious impression of a mysterious unnamed provider already waiting in the wings, ready to spirit the clinic off to a new location within half a year. In specifying London and the South East, it left hanging, by omission, the question of service provision to trans and non-binary people in other parts of England and, particularly, to Wales.
Dr Stuart Lorimer stated on twitter that the Gender Clinic prefers to be hosted by a non Mental Health provider.
Dr James Barrett, Lead Consultant at the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC), on behalf of GIC clinicians, said:
“The gender identity clinic is not closing.
“To clarify, we clinicians have long felt that West London Mental Health Trust is not a good fit for the unique and specific service we provide (the vast majority of those we see are not mentally ill).
“Increasingly, we feel our patients would be better served by us if we worked somewhere better able to support and develop a more tailored approach to gender.
“There are a number of options in terms of alternative providers. We would not make any move unless confident that patient care would be markedly improved.
“Until that point, current arrangements will still apply. Our aim is for any change to be a positive one, and any transition to be as seamless as possible.”
WLMHT made the following assurances:
- This does not mean services are stopping now – we will continue to provide services as normal until such time as a new provider is able to take over; this is likely to be at least six months.
- Patients from London and the South East will not be left without services or have to travel much further – NHS England as the commissioner for gender identity services will find a suitable alternative provider as quickly as possible.
- Patients will not have to start their treatment all over again – continuity of care for our patients is the number one priority for clinic staff. GIC staff will work closely with NHS England and a new provider to ensure disruption to treatment is kept to an absolute minimum.
- This does not mean we will let services deteriorate – WLMHT and the GIC will continue to deliver on plans we have developed with NHS England to improve access to and quality of services while it continues as the provider.
- We will not reduce staffing levels – while we remain the provider of this service we have an obligation to ensure there are sufficient qualified staff to maintain and continue improvements in access and quality.
- We will ensure a smooth handover to the new provider, working closely with our colleagues at the GIC and NHS England
Today I was sent this advert to review, the new Nike advert. It features athlete Chris Mosier who has been accepted onto the USA national team. He also happens to be trans.
People have touted this as a huge step forward for trans* visibility, for breaking barriers and challenging assumptions on gender. However, all it does is serve to put trans* people in the spotlight while reinforcing the age old narrative that trans people are not “real” men or women.
Because the voice over asks questions such as: “Chris, How’d you know you’d be fast enough to compete against men?….or strong enough? ….”. And yes, they may be valid questions, how did you know you were strong enough *full stop*. But it doesn’t need to be followed by “against men”, because he is a man. You wouldn’t ask that to any other male athlete, assuming that they had grown up wondering if they could compete in their gender category. The fact that these questions are asked to Chris imply that he is not in fact a man and therein lies the problem.
Society has a huge problem with transphobia, not that you would always know it. Often it is hidden in the little snide remarks (you’re taller than I expected!), at the end of sentences (You’re pretty..for a trans girl). This advert reinforces these transphobic ideas by it’s implication that Chris runs fast, for a trans* guy, and thereby its implication that Chris is not a “real” man.
New Federal mandate says bathroom access “a must” for trans employees. New regulations will guarantee trans men and women working for the federal government will be able to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
The guidelines, posted this week in the Federal Register, affect workers and visitors at the approximately 9,200 facilities operated by the General Services Administration, from federal courthouses to Social Security Administration offices (but not national parks).
BuzzFeed News reports:
Transgender people do not need to complete any medical procedure to qualify to use the restroom that aligns with their gender, nor can they be required to show proof of surgery, the bulletin states. They also cannot be restricted to single-occupancy restrooms.
“This includes all kinds of Americans,” Nash-Hahn said. “We wanted to make clear that a person can use facilities that match their gender identity, and we think that’s a good thing.”
Read more here: http://www.newnownext.com/transgender-bathroom-obama/08/2016/
Courtesy of buzzfeed