The Only Emmy-Nominated Show Starring Trans Actors Is the One You’re Not Watching

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.

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Careless Journalism Costs Trans Lives

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.

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Charring Cross Gender Clinic to Migrate Away From Mental Health Trust

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

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Why The Nike Advert Isn’t A Step Forward For Trans Rights

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.

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Atlanta Mayor Makes Historic Appointment of Trans Activist to City’s Review Board

The Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed has made a historic appointment to the city’s Atlanta Citizen Review board. Mayor Reed appointed an out trans activist to the board, praising their “lifelong” trans activism.

Mayor Appoints Trans Activist

The appointment is believed to be the first time a trans person has served on the Board openly.

“I am pleased to appoint Tracee McDaniel to serve on the Atlanta Citizen Review Board,” Mayor Reed said in a written statement.

“As a lifelong advocate for the transgender community, Ms. McDaniel will bring an important perspective and a lifetime of experience to this role.”

Reed added that he thought the appointment would be useful amid tensions between police and Atlanta residents.

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Trans Sports Clubs: When Swimming and Playing Football are Revolutionary Acts

Trans Sports Clubs: All Roberta Francis wanted was a peaceful place to swim. But, writes Kashmira Gander, what she has created has transformed into so much more.

It’s a Friday night in Lewisham and ten people have gathered for a weekly swimming club at the inner London borough’s modern leisure centre, an oasis of calm beyond which city life grinds on. Reflections from the red light of the emergency exit sign dance on the water of the dimly lit pool where Roberta Francis, the club’s head honcho, plays catch with another swimmer. Others are reclining at the water’s edge, their eyes closed and legs drifting outwards; some still chat quietly and catch their breath between laps. There’s no music, only the gentle murmur of chatter and the slop of water in the pool vents.

So, a bunch of people have gone swimming on a Friday night. Nothing remarkable about that. Look at the lifeguard’s bored face. Except that these people are trans (the term used to describe a person who does not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth) and simply popping out for a quick swim can be fraught with difficulty. Dedicated groups like the Trans and Gender non-conforming Swimming (TAGS) group in Lewisham take months to organise, and are only possible because of years of LGBT activism.

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Laverne Cox says it’s ‘wonderful’ to be a ‘black, trans woman’ cast in CBS drama Doubt

Laverne Cox has said she is proud to play her character on CBS legal drama ‘Doubt’.

Laverne Cox

Of her character, an Ivy League-educated attorney, the Orange is the New Black star said: “What’s so exciting about [the role of] Cameron and being on CBS is I’m an avid TV watcher and, growing up, I did not see people like me on television.” Speaking at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Cox added: “It’s wonderful to get to play a character like that. And to be a black transgender woman in that position on CBS feels really special.”

It was announced last February that Cox had been cast in the legal drama by CBS. 

The casting was hailed as a milestone for diversity on US TV, and the role was created specifically for Cox.

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Trans Inclusive Jewish summer-camps are pioneering a gender-neutral form of Hebrew

Seven Jewish summer camps across America are rolling out a more trans inclusive gender-neutral form of Hebrew. The new form of Hebrew will be rolled out across the Habonim Dror summer camps.

Trans Inclusive Summer Camp

All seven sites across North America will use the form, which includes words like “chanichol”, which is a gender neutral form of the Hebrew word “chanich” for boys or “chanichah” for girls, meaning camper.

Traditionally, there is no gender-neutral form of Hebrew and nouns are divided into genders, much like many other languages like Spanish, French and Russian. Hebrew is more of a challenge than most gendered languages because you cannot speak in the first or second person, without indicating a gender. For example, the English phrase “I want a drink” would be literally translated into Hebrew as “I female-want a female-drink”.

“It really reinforces the impact of summer camp as a safe space,” Sara Zebovitz, the North America director for Habonim Dror told the Washington Post.

“Camp has always made it okay to say, ‘I can be myself here.’”

The new form of Hebrew also includes cheers of each child’s age, typically heard in group settings.

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