Trans Pride Brighton – A Retrospective

TransPrideBrighton

Trans Pride Brighton

Another year has passed and once again I’m sat in my living room, wearing pyjamas in the afternoon and welling up with pride thinking of all that happened over the last few days. Every year in the stressful few weeks before Trans Pride I mutter to myself that I’m never doing this again but in the days following each year, I’m reminded why we all work so hard to give our communities this one weekend to celebrate who we are and I cannot imagine life without it.

When some people on social media talk about Trans Pride Brighton they often mention Fox and me but seem unaware of the monumental effort put in by all the other committee members so I just want to take a moment to give some deserved credit to these people. We all volunteer our time through the year, this adds up to hundreds of hours of commitment and lost sleep.

In no particular order; our project manager, Phoenix Thomas who has motivated me more than anyone before, stepping down this year to concentrate on bigger and better things. We wish you well, Phoenix, without you Trans Pride Brighton wouldn’t be where it is today. Thank you.

Stephanie Scott, who works tirelessly with the local trans communities isn’t given enough credit either, they have been with Trans Pride since the very beginning and has steered the committee through tough times and good. Thank you.

Vern Collins is our Chief Volunteer Wrangler which is another thankless task, this year was especially difficult with volunteers going AWOL but Vern rose above the stress and handled it wonderfully. Thank you.

Angela Green is new this year but she has settled in quickly helping to arrange the acts on stage and the gig on Saturday evening, her help with putting out the last minute fires made sure that Trans Pride was a storming success. Thank you.

Darren O’Donoghue managed the stage for the second year, his organisation and people skills made sure that the afternoon ran smoothly and I hope we can use more of your skills over the winter. Thank you.

Kai Moore is another new member who has proved themselves invaluable this year, Maeve Devine with her Allsorts hat on helped with making Trans Pride family friendly, Christina Niewiadowski brought great energy to the committee, Roni Guetta and Giorgia Dainese organised the amazing Traumfrau afterparty, Sharon Kilgannon, Christina Bentley and Kate Adair taking photos and film to document the now historic Trans Pride. Thank you.

To those who I’ve missed out, I’m sorry, my brain is still all melted and forgetful. Thank you too. The support we’ve received makes it worthwhile, when we started out I remember us deciding that the first Trans Pride Brighton would be a success if 300 people turned up and now we have an attendance well into the thousands.

With Trans Pride growing so fast comes another set of problems though, how do we keep our ethics without selling out? The vultures are beginning to circle. This year we had some people turn up from North Wales to sell a trolley full of rainbow flags and typical Pride tat, they turned up and asked to be allowed on site, promptly misgendered two committee members and said it was OK because they had a gay son. Just one example of how we must guard ourselves from being exploited.

I saw a poster with the phrase “Nothing About Us Without Us” and I think that sums up the whole committees feelings well. One of our policies is to make sure that any community group we work with has a provable history of directly helping trans people, we will not allow ourselves to be exploited by someone who wants to make themselves look good but can’t back that up with actions, or by those who want to make a quick profit from trans people without feeding it back into our communities.

The committee have always wanted Trans Pride to be able to pay back into the community, from simple things like being able to help with the volunteers lunch and travel costs to bigger projects which make the every day lives of trans people better. More than just one weekend in July. To do this we must solve the funding issue, the donations from our communities haven’t increased at the same rate as the attendance numbers but because trans communities are so marginalised we are way more likely to be poor. We must explore other methods of fundraising, awards and grants in the future to keep our event a grassroots, community effort.

The vision set out for Trans Pride has always been to be different from other Pride events around the country, for us to never become commercialised, sponsored by some corporation with dubious ethics and a spotty trans awareness record. We must protect our communities from being exploited and also keep up with the continued growth of our amazing event.

The future for Trans Pride Brighton is looking rosy, we are so thankful for the outpouring of support from trans people and their allies. We will continue to improve whilst keeping in mind that phrase, ‘nothing about us without us‘.

 

Five Things I’ve Learnt In Five Years Of Transitioning

This week marks the fifth anniversary since arriving in England, taking a leap into the unknown and burning all my man clothes, my tranniversary, as I like to call it. It’s been a crazy five years but the five before that were pretty crazy too, I’ve never had a normal life and I kinda like it that way. I’ve heard people use the phrase ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to describe a few of the things I’ve been involved in since transition, My Transsexual Summer, the book, Trans Pride Brighton, etc. But I’ve always believed that people are offered these opportunities surprisingly often and that taking a chance isn’t the same as taking a risk.

So without further adoo, and if you’ll excuse the odd cliche, here’s the five biggest lessons from the last five years.

  • Transitioning is the best thing I’ve ever done. 

I know this might be stating the obvious but we talk about the negatives so often, it’s easy to forget just how awesome living true to yourself is. I’ve heard it said that if you think you’re trans, you probably are and I think that’s true, transitioning was the last unanswered question in my life and facing that head on has allowed me to actually see a future for myself. I wake up and I don’t hate everything, I look in the mirror and I’m starting to really like myself, transitioning is literally the best thing ever.

  • You don’t have to kill him

The biggest thing that held me back from transitioning was thinking I’d have to stop doing certain things I loved, Formula 1 and bacon on a Sunday morning, getting muddy and climbing trees… I’ve learnt how important it is to make peace with the person I was before transition, I can’t deny that person ever existed just as much as I can’t deny my excitement over this Sundays British Grand Prix.

  • Cis people are patronising as hell

“Aww, I just wanna tell you how brave I think you are, y’know, being a transsexual…” Shut up, I think you’re brave by showing me how you really feel about me. I imagine that people with visible disabilities can relate to this, a pitiful pat on the head, a ‘you could never be as normal as I am but well done for trying.’ It usually comes from cis people who actively support the trans cause so instead of challenging it, I just grumble under my breath and pretend it didn’t happen.

  • Social transition blew my mind

People who think that trans people or transitioning is all about genitals are idiots. I lived for 18 months without any kind of medical intervention but my identity was fully accepted by everyone I met. It’s easy to focus on hormones, surgeries and the nitty gritty of transition but the realisation that my dysphoria was more about how other people perceived my gender changed everything.

 

  • Never hold back

Back to these once in a lifetime opportunities. The first morning after arriving in the UK I woke up in Swansea and within half an hour I was sitting in front of a TV camera answering questions about my identity that I hadn’t even begun to think about. I am not a morning person and as I awkwardly tried to answer these strangers who had camped out in my bedroom it occurred to me that if I was gonna do this transition thing, if I was gonna do this documentary thing, I had to let go of my own issues. I knew that I would make mistakes, that I would look back in the future and wish I could have done some things differently but I had to throw myself into this experience and hope for the best. I’m so glad I did.