Why the recent NUS policy changes are offensive



This is in response to the National Union of Students recent conference and the policies which they have voted in. There is a quick summary of that here.

An even quicker summary of these policies are:

  • ‘Dear White Gay Men: Stop Appropriating Black Women’.
  • ‘White gay men are the dominant demographic within the LGBT community, and they benefit from both white privilege and male privilege.’
  • ‘To issue a statement condemning the use of crossdressing as a mode of fancy dress’
  • ‘To encourage unions to ban clubs and societies from holding events which permit or encourage (cisgender) members to use cross-dressing as a mode of fancy dress’.


Unpopular opinion time. I find what the NUS is doing all shades of offensive. First off, how dare they ban crossdressing! For years I myself identified as a crossdresser, my first time in public presenting as female was at a Halloween fancy dress party, I’ll never forget it as one of the most liberating experiences of my life and it set in motion a path which led to transition. By banning gender fluidity the NUS are actively discriminating against gender variant people who are yet to fully understand their gender, those who are still in the closet.

Yes for some crossdressers it is a fetish thing but don’t tar them all with the same brush. Even having fetishes isn’t necessarily  a bad thing, I have made some very good friends from both the fetish community and the TV/CD community, but the holier-than-though mindset some people seem to have is the most damaging issue facing the landscape of diversity and equality in the twenty-teens.

People always forget about the gay teen living on the streets of Saudi Arabia, the trans woman being exploited in Russia, now that in the UK we have laws to protect LGBT people there is a lot less to be truly scared of. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some massive inequalities, 25% of homeless 16-25 year old’s are LGBT, 46%  of trans* people attempt suicide to name just two statistics. But by focusing on things that really aren’t a genuine problem to peoples everyday lives the NUS are actually contributing to the polarisation of the battle for true equality rather than looking at the bigger picture and trying to find some common ground we can all agree on. Why aren’t they passing policies that tackle real problems?

For the NUS to pass a policy demanding that white gay men stop acting like black women really shows a distinct lack of awareness, that statement assumes that all women of colour act and talk the same, which is kinda racist in itself and the statement also reeks of homophobia. I agree that any white person, male, gay, straight or whatever claiming to have an ‘inner black woman’ is offensive but it’s also wilfully ignoring how global social influences have resulted in a blending and exchange of language and cultures. What right does the NUS have to set arbitrary limits on what is right and wrong? Can one single group honestly claim total ownership on entire parts of language and behaviours?

Saying that white gay men are have all the privilege is erasing those who are not ‘manly men’ as well, try telling the white gay man who has just been abused and beaten up in the street for being ‘too flamboyant’ or ‘too gay’ that he should have just used his privilege to appease the attackers.

Also, going to a large national conference, saying that the applause is triggering and demanding that everyone use jazz hands is exactly the same as walking in to McDonalds on your local high street and demanding everyone in the restaurant throw away their Big Macs and only order salad because you are on a diet. Just sayin’.


What do you think? Let me know in the comments…

The UK Government is killing trans people

I do not make such claims lightly but I can’t keep quiet this time. The UK Government is killing trans people. David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, Simon Stevens, virtually every single politician and the NHS are all complicit in the deaths of transgender people in the UK. They are responsible for the broken lives of the families and friends of gender variant people, it is their fault that the mental health concerns of gender variant folk are ignored and exacerbated, forcing people like me into ever worsening positions, marginalised by the very people who are supposed to look out for us.

NEARLY HALF OF YOUNG TRANSGENDER PEOPLE HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE read the shocking headline in The Guardian today.

A survey found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the last year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so.

By comparison, about 6% of all 16- to 24-year-olds say they have attempted suicide, according to the Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey.

The figures on suicide attempts by trans youth were higher than those found in previous studies across all age groups. A US study in 2006 found that 32% of all trans people had tried to take their own life. And the Trans Mental Health Study of 2012 (pdf) found that 35% had attempted suicide once, and 25% a second time.

The Pace research also found that 59% of transgender youth said they had deliberately hurt themselves, compared with 8.9% of all 16- to 24-year-olds.

The thing is though, these figures are not shocking to trans people, there have been studies that show time and time again how we are many orders of magnitude more likely than anybody else to attempt suicide, harm ourselves and have our mental and physical health suffer. We know these dreadful figures all too well, we live this every single day of our lives.

Imagine if the headline read “almost half of nurses have attempted suicide” there would be headlines on BBC news, outpourings of support from charities and everyday people. Instead the above Guardian article didn’t even make their front page, it’s hidden away under a ‘transgender’ section where only the people who have searched for it can find it.

The reasons why transgender people try to kill themselves are also well known, the NHS failing to properly fund gender identity clinics despite clear increases in demand, 11% year on year increase in referrals by GP’s and a 50% year on year increase in referrals for people under 18 to these clinics. The waiting lists have spiralled out of control, people now regularly wait more than 18 months to even see a gender specialist, waiting times for surgery are even more out of control, the doctors acting as gatekeepers, making us jump through impossible hoops to fit their dangerously outdated definitions of what it means to be transgender and worthy of their treatment.

People are dying and the government doesn’t care. Any human with an ounce of decency would read these figures and be shocked to their core yet the people in charge of gender identity services do nothing. You would think that the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt would be shocked to hear how high the attempted suicide rate is for trans people, you’d think that these numbers would be so shocking to see that the head of the NHS, Simon Stevens would implore PM David Cameron to take action to stop the harm that is being suffered by UK transgender people, you’d think that any MP would kick up a fuss about this, you’d think at least something would be done, wouldn’t you?

The UK government is killing trans people by their inaction, it is the governments fault that the NHS gender identity services are in a chaotic crisis and failing UK trans people, it is their fault that our mental health needs are ignored, the government is responsible for the shattered lives of so many people.

Am I transgender?

A question I get asked all the time over email and during interviews with the press goes along the lines of the very simple ‘am I transgender? What next?’

I think that if a person is asking themselves if they are transgender in the first place then that means they are at least feeling a bit uncomfortable with their current gender role so the answer to this question is yes. The word ‘transgender’ is a bit of a catch all word to describe anybody who feels that there is a difference between how you experience your own gender and how everybody else perceives your gender to be. If gender is a wide panorama of possibilities rather than the restrictive, over simplifying male or female boxes people would have you believe, then transgender or gender variant can be used as terms to describe a heck of a lot of people.

If the answer to ‘am I transgender?’ is yes, it’s important that you know that this can mean almost anything you want, but most importantly, it doesn’t mean you have to do anything. Identifying as a transgender person doesn’t mean you will be forced to do something you don’t feel comfortable with, you don’t have to have surgery, you won’t even be forced into transitioning by some trans ninja mafia or something. Although these steps often help people who feel uncomfortable with their gender, there are no rules to being trans.

One of the things that I struggled to understand for years was that my experience of being trans didn’t fit the stereotype ‘trapped in the wrong body’ narrative, I just knew that the people I met everyday perceived me as male yet I knew that was wrong. Realising that I didn’t have to force my gender expression to fit into somebody else’s jelly mould was the one magic lesson which finally brought me some peace. Speaking to other gender variant people helped me come to this realisation, hearing their wide and varied stories about how they experienced and lived their individual gender showed me how we all must dance to the beat of our own drums if we ever want to be happy in our own skin.

If the answer to ‘am I trans? is yes then it’s also important to mention how for some, this means a long and difficult journey ahead. For the people who’s internal gender is so different to their external bodies that they will need to come out to their family and friends, transition and deal with all the challenges it brings. Transition is a period of time we talk about when somebody begins change their external gender expression, for me this meant that I changed my name and started to live my life as female. Transition is another open-ended term, for some this is a set period of time after which they will have finished and moved on to another state, but others believe that life is one big transition and the lines are a bit too blurry to say where one gender ends and the other starts.

If you think you are transgender you will need to help yourself though, I won’t sugar coat it, life is tough at times and there will be setbacks in the future. You’ll have a better chance of being happy if you reach out to other trans people, speak to people on the internet or even better, find a local support group where you can meet and chat with people who have similar experiences, working out who I’m not was far more important for me than working out who I am, if that makes sense. Speaking to a specialist gender identity doctor might be the next step, in the UK that will probably mean first asking to your GP for a referral to the NHS Gender Identity Clinic or if you can afford it, getting a private appointment with a specialist.

Gendered Intelligence have a great resource section if you would like to read more.

Please add your own links in the comments and I’ll edit them into this article over the coming days!


Challenging transphobia

When I started thinking about writing a children’s book that dealt with the subject of gender and trans people, one of the bigger issues I had to take into consideration was transphobia and how to challenge it. I try and be as positive as I can, still like to have faith in humans and didn’t naively think that a book that challenges traditional stereotypes would be completely without detractors. But the viciousness of these transphobes has taken me by surprise today.

I saw a link to a poorly written transphobic article by Kathy Shaidle, a professionally outraged writer, which used very abusive language so I called her out on Twitter. I won’t link to the ‘article’ as it’ll just give you a headache and the site owners more traffic.

Now I’ve called out a few people on their transphobia in the past and usually they are reasonable, I’ve blogged about some positive encounters and it’s always nice to feel that you’ve helped to change someone’s views or gently educate them about trans issues. But I didn’t expect the level of bitterness and hate that took up my afternoon today.

You name the tropes, Kathy Shaidle wheeled them out. Predictably I was called a “man,” “it,” and variations on the T word, culminating in her referring to me as a “future suicide” which was left a particularly bad taste in my mouth considering that it was World Mental Health Day today and how well known the suicide rates are for trans people across the world.

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Kathy knows what she’s doing, it doesn’t take an idiot to work out that using language such as this is offensive, she was deliberately using transohobia as a vicious weapon, carefully picking the words she imagined would be the most hurtful. What kind of person does this? What does it say about someone when they deliberately set out to try and cause as much damage to a stranger on the internet as they can? There’s not even any attempt at humour or intelligence behind this, just a common garden bigot and their professionally outraged attempt at courting controvesy.

This is the kind of thing some trans people have to face everyday. This kind of transphobia kills people. This is why a childrens book that teaches children it’s OK to be transgender is so important. I want nothing more than the next generation of adults to know that being gender variant is nothing to be ashamed of, rather that it’s simply a part of their being human which makes them unique and something to be proud about. My book is all about challenging bigotry and ignorance, promoting greater understanding and education as this is vital to empowering trans people to enjoy full, happy lives.

Of course Kathy would have an opinion on it…

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 13.40.18

Brainwash other people’s kids? LOL! I just believe that children should be given the opportunity to explore their gender identities, to talk about stereotypes and to come to their own informed opinions. I believe that children should be encouraged to stand up to transphobia, just as they are taught about the harmful effects of homophobia, racism and other attacks on the more vulnerable members of our society.

Here’s a link to pre-order a copy of my book,

Together, let’s wipe out transphobia,

Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?

are you a boy or a girl a5 small version

Here is a link to the Kickstarter page for my book!


I am proud to announce that the crowd fundiing project to raise the money to print my first children’s book starts on Tuesday! Readers of this blog can get access to a limited number of discounted pre-orders, 30% off by ordering from Kickstarter.com on Tuesday 30th September!

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for more updates.

‘Are you a Boy or are you a Girl?’ is unlike any kind of children’s book you’ve seen before. With your help, we can talk gender creatively and with confidence, and assist parents and teachers the world over.

The problem with most of the books currently on sale for children is that they portray gender, something most of us know to be, in fact, quite flexible, to be fixed at birth.. And yet at least 1 in 100 people are born gender variant in some way and for some, not being open about their true gender can lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering. Psychologically speaking, children need the space, freedom and encouragement to express themselves fully, before they can grow into happy adults.

For those of us who want to have this conversation with our children the hard part can be finding the right words. How do you explore concepts like; gender binary, biological sex, psychological gender, transgender, GenderQueer, and all those others lovely complex things to a child who thinks sticking a bean in their ear is the apex of awesomeness? The truth is that our children get a very binary experience of the world and trying to show them options other than Action Man or Barbie can seem an insurmountable task. ‘Are you a Boy or are you a Girl?‘ will simply open the dialogue with your child.Where that dialogue ends up, much like our gender-free protagonist, is up to you!

I would love for this book to be in every school, nursery and library in the world so am working with a wonderful charity called Gendered Intelligence to create an educational resource pack to send to schools, to equip them with the tools they need to better educate children about gender.


The Big Stonewall Meeting

My internet exploded today when news broke of The Big Stonewall Meeting With Trans People™ happening later this week. For those of you who been living in a tent on the island of Sark for the last few months, I’ll give a quick recap: The UK’s biggest LGB organisation is called Stonewall, they have a history of not supporting gender variant people, giving awards to transphobic journalists and more. Well, they’ve got a new Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, and she is keen to make some changes with how the charity interacts with trans people, starting with meeting some actual trans people. I think this sounds like a great place to start.


I’ve known about this meeting for a while after I wrote to Ms. Hunt earlier this year, we set up a chat on the phone and I wrote about here. A couple of days ago I was sent an email with details of the meeting and list of people going and it was good to see almost fifty names of gender variant activists from all over the country, all of whom I respect and some I have had the pleasure to meet over the last few years. There is a broad mix of gender variant people who have all dedicated a good deal of their time, energy and skills to supporting the wider trans* communities, mostly unpaid, I must add. Stonewall have even paid for the travel and accommodation of those who can’t afford it. I don’t know how they decided who would be invited or not but from a quick look there seems to be a good representation of all minorities, there are some who have disabilities, people of colour, both binary and non binary, in fact the only cis people there will be three or four Stonewall employees. Here’s a list of them.


So, back to the exploding internet shenanigans. Predictively, there is chaos, this is the first time some have even heard of such a meeting and given the opportunity, they would have liked have had some input. I understand those reasons but am pretty sure Stonewall don’t intend for this to be the last consultation with gender variant people and even their resources are limited and hosting a meeting for fifty people doesn’t come cheap. Please, give it time and your voice will be heard, nothing is not going to change over night, this will hopefully be the first step of many and all options remain open.


Gender variant people in this country are beaten down from so many angles right now, the NHS gender service is in crisis, hate crime and harassment is rampant, the suicide, self harm and general mental health failings are taking their toll on all of our lives. We need all the help we can get and it seems that the biggest thing that helped lesbian and gay acceptance in the nineties was that straight allies started taking notice and standing up against homophobia. Stonewall wants to talk to us, nothing more, nothing less.


Let’s talk…

Why Jersey States members are homophobic and transphobic



Yesterday the States of Jersey (the local government) voted to delay the introduction of equal marriage laws because they want undertake a study to look into it’s long term effect. Eighteen States members voted for equality, integrity and respect, nine didn’t bother whilst a whopping twenty four voted for homophobia, transphobia and bigotry.

I do not call these Jersey States members homophobes, transphobes and bigots lightly. Those are words that should be only used when a person truly deserves it but I feel that in this case my use is appropriate. Voting to delay equal marriage is sending a clear message that the right to love and marry another person is only for straight people, and that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents of Jersey do not deserve that right. The Senators and Deputies are saying that people who are LGBT are less equal, they don’t deserve to marry their partners.

These Jersey States Members are hiding behind a flimsy excuse, do they think that their (expensively publicly funded) study is going to uncover some previously unknown effect of equal marriage? Seven hundred million on this planet live in a place where they can marry whoever they love, and what, the States of Jersey thinks that their study is going to find out something new? Their refusal to make a clear stand on supporting equality and justice says it all. Equal marriage exists all over the world and society hasn’t collapsed, the moon hasn’t exploded and the Alderney hasn’t won the Murratti.

Perhaps that is what they are scared of, gay marriage changing the social fabric of Jersey so much that we become rubbish at football and Alderney takes the cup forever more. Because I can’t think of another even slightly more logical reason.

The arguments for and against equal marriage have been gone over far too many times, battles have been fought and won in the highest courts of the world and it has been proven over and over again that the result of equal marriage is simply that more people get married to the ones they love.

I put it to you that ANY argument which tries to assert that gay couples should not have the same right to marry the person they love, just the same as straight couples is intrinsically homophobic. History will show anybody who makes a stand against equality to be the homophobic, transphobic bigot they are.

I wish I could be in Jersey this Saturday for the first ever LGBT rights parade Hopefully soon the local government will see the error of their ways and fix this.


These are the names and email addresses of the politicians who voted against equality should you want to let them know your thoughts, as a regular tax paying voter, on the matter.


Votes for delaying a decision on equal marriage –

Senator Sarah Ferguson – s.ferguson@gov.je
Senator Ian Le Marquand – i.lemarquand@gov.je
Senator Francis Le Gresley – f.legresley@gov.je
Senator Ian Gorst – i.gorst@gov.je

Constable John Gallichan – j.lesueurgallichan@gov.je
Deputy Anne Pryke – a.pryke@gov.je
St Clement
Constable Len Norman – l.norman@gov.je
Deputy Gerard Baudains – g.baudains@gov.je
Deputy Susie Pinel – s.pinel@gov.je
St Peter
Constable John Refault – j.refault@gov.je
St Lawrence
Constable Deidre Mezbourian – d.mezbourian@gov.je
Deputy John Le Fondré – j.lef@gov.je
St John
Constable Phill Rondel – p.rondel@gov.je
St Ouen
Constable Michael Paddock – m.paddock@gov.je
Deputy James Reed – j.reed@gov.je
St Saviour 
Constable Sadie Rennard – s.rennard@gov.je
Deputy Rob Duhamel – r.duhamel@gov.je
Constable John Le Maistre – j.lemaistre@gov.je
St Helier
Deputy Jackie Hilton – j.hilton@gov.je
Deputy Richard Rondel – r.rondel@gov.je
Deputy Mike Higgins – mr.higgins@gov.je
St Brelade
Deputy Sean Power – sp.power@gov.je
Deputy John Young – j.young@gov.je
St Mary

Deputy John Le Bailly – j.lebailly@gov.je

Stonewall UK and trans people

As regular readers of this site will know, I have written to Stonewall UK in the past asking about the way they have treated trans people, I received a response at the time but to be honest it was just a long winded fob off and it annoyed me too much to publish.

Ben Summerskill stood down from the position of CEO earlier this year and in the aftermath I was aware of trans people speaking in hushed tones about whether Stonewall would change their view of the T in LGBT.  I decided to write to the new acting CEO, Ruth Hunt an email to send out the feelers and try to gauge her reactions about the trans question. She called me yesterday and we had a long chat about Stonewall UK’s future and I was pleasantly surprised  by her position.

Ruth was keen to say that she and Stonewall do not want to act on the trans communities behalf, from the sounds of it they are not going to suddenly hire some token transgender people and call themselves an LGBT organisation. They want to draw a line under the past, move on and open up a conversation about how best to enable the trans fight for equality, allow us as a community to continue leading this process and actually listen to our concerns.

This seemed to me to be genuine, I told Ruth that this sounded like a very well thought out position but I that can’t speak for anybody else. In my experience holding grudges only causes more harm than good, Stonewall UK have changed their leadership and their new CEO sounds like a breath of fresh air. I’ve included my email to her below.

What do you think? How should the trans community react?



Dear Ms Hunt,

As a somewhat militant trans woman I felt I must write to you for three reasons, first it would be rude not to congratulate you on your new role. I have never met you but a person has not got to where you are now without being passionate about the same rights and equality issues that are close to my heart, so you have my respect and best wishes.

I must say that these views are my own here and that is because we must have a frank and honest discussion about Stonewall UK of the past and how the future is looking too. There is no point going into details but I have felt let down and ignored by the organisation. Admittedly I identify as a trans woman who is pansexual and don’t fit into the three LGB boxes which have defined it in the past, even though men and women are some of the people who I’m attracted to.

The second reason is to ask for some understanding, compassion even. Just like the LGB community, trans people are only bound by something which they have no control over, something they are born with and each live individually and as such have vastly different views. Many feel aggrieved by Stonewall UK of the past, some are hurt and some are angry and this has led to all kinds of strong words and actions in times gone by. These feelings may take some time to subside so please, take some time to understand just how much previous policies have impacted on the transgender community.

In America last year, as I’m sure you’re aware, the Lesbian and Gay Alliance Against Defamation formally changed their name to GLAAD, stating that they felt their work had expanded beyond fighting defamation to changing the culture. It was inclusive of their work both with allies and on transgender issues. A Greek philosopher once said that nothing endures but change and this is especially true for the LGBT equalities fight, even ten years ago the landscape was completely different from how it is now. There have been so many small successes over time, all adding up to a huge step forward for acceptance and equal human rights.

But for people whose gender identities and sexual orientations don’t fit into a binary, time feels like it’s passing slower than for everyone else almost like they’re being left behind. Only a small percentage of people in this world identify as LGB and an even smaller percentage of those are transgender or define themselves outside of the binaries, some trans people are straight, but they shouldn’t be excluded either.

When trans people shout about injustices it is difficult for our voices to get heard in the right places, even if it’s over similar issues which have happened in the past with the LGB community, nobody seems to listen. Transgender organisations just aren’t well funded enough to raise awareness on a wider scale, when a person transitions and their employer realises that their equality training doesn’t cover transgender issues, it’s that vulnerable person who suffers.

Which brings me to my third reason for writing this, I’m asking you to be more of an ally to trans people, can Stonewall UK move forward, evolve even, to be more inclusive? Allies are so important, especially when you’re part of a tiny minority within an already small community, The Vice President of America recently said that transgender discrimination is the human rights issue of our time and from my perspective, there is never a truer word spoken.

Our links may be tenuous, gender and sexuality are different things but our fight for acceptance and equality are so similar and to be honest, the trans community need all the friends and allies we can get.


Trans Activism, Cerys Matthews and me

I’ve noticed that there are two ways to approach trans activism, every time a trans story hits the headlines and generates discussion across the community there is always one section who are shouty, issuing rallying cries for direct action, boycotts and more. I’ve written passionate blogs in the same vein, hell, I’ve even taken part in protests and called for people to be fired from their jobs. I do this because it works.

The second theory of trans activism is often talked about on social media and follows the idea that all trans people are activists in a sense, these people argue that the most effective way of gaining acceptance and educating the cis masses is by just living your life with quiet dignity, getting on with it by interacting with the people they meet in their lives, winning them over one person at a time. Again, this works too as some of the most surprising acceptance stories in my personal life have come from people I meet in everyday life.

The problem I have though, is that both sides always seem to be absolutely certain that their particular brands of gaining acceptance, of activism, are completely right. Conformation and commitment bias run rife and sometimes there is friction between the two camps.

Recently someone brought my attention to an issue about a trans woman being talked about on the radio who had transitioned more than 40 years ago and is a successful musician. The presenter, Cerys Matthews used the wrong pronouns to describe this woman and when I listened back to the show she seemed confused in general about how to address her. A discussion followed about how to respond to this with one side literally braying for blood, saying that enough was enough, she should be sacked and it’s time to start fighting fire with fire. Maybe it was all those years of walking to school in the morning, blissfully listening to Catatonia but this time I couldn’t bring myself to go all out on the attack over this.

I decided to send Cerys a tweet, no shouty shouty, just a calm message and see where that took me. I didn’t really expect a reply, I just like to speak my mind at randoms on Twitter, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

To my surprise, she answered me and we swapped a few tweets and Direct Messages…

And it concluded with:

I think we can call that a success.

As usual when two opposing ideas clash, neither of these theories are one hundred percent right or wrong. I had a very strict rules and regulation based upbringing and have always delighted in the idea that there is always an exception to the rule. Hard and fast ideologies are weak to the fact that every situation is different and deserves to be judged accordingly and we as a community need to realise that in general, people just aren’t educated enough about trans people. They don’t have the vocabulary to describe transgender issues like we do, remember that we’re are all human, we make mistakes occasionally.

What makes a person is how they respond to their mistakes and kudos to Cerys Matthews for admitting it, apologising and promising to learn from it. If the shouty shouty crowd had been listened to, there is a chance that the outcome would have been completely different.

Fundraiser for Rise video with Julie Burchill


I’ve never really talked about it much but two years ago, when my life was first splashed across national television, I was homeless for a while and eventually found a place in a women’s’ refuge. Much like when I first arrived off the boat in the UK, I had landed in Brighton with all my worldly possessions in my car, and it was my new friend Fox who suggested that I call Rise. Little did I know it but this charity had a history of being very inclusive of trans people, they had a dedicated LGBT officer and had policies in place that made sure that gender variant people’s identities were respected. I was assigned a key worker who for the first time ever, asked me how I identify and how I wanted to be addressed. It was a complete breath of fresh air.

My whole life was in complete chaos during those first few months, I couldn’t tell anyone where I lived for fear of putting the other women in danger by exposing exactly where the refuge was, the immense pressure I felt from the TV thing, the breakup of a relationship and being homeless yet again took it’s toll on me. I met some great people and it gave me the space to think and to plan a way to put my life back together so in a roundabout way, I’m glad things worked out how they did, if it wasn’t for Rise, my life wouldn’t be what it is, my confidence wouldn’t be where it is now and I’d probably be living in a tent on the Outer Hebrides or something.

Fast forward two years and the Trans Alliance, one of the organisations I volunteer with, heard that notorious transphobe Julie Burchill would be organising a fundraiser for Rise in Brighton called End Of. The reactions from the local trans and feminist community varied from quite strong ‘burn the witch’ the responses to the more moderate and although last year I had helped organise one of the wave of direct action protests against her sickening rant in the Observer, I felt that the bigger picture needed to be taken into account on this occasion. The Trans Alliance reached out to Rise and we talked about how best to manage the situation and they asked me if I would like to say a few words on the night to highlight how the charity supports women, regardless of whether they were trans or cisgender.

Rise is a charity which can only offer such a wide range of support services because of the fundraising efforts of women like Julie Burchill. Rise doesn’t discriminate who they help so of the tens of thousands raised last night, trans women will be among those who are helped to recover from abusive relationships. Wonderfully Ironic, isn’t it?

When I was deciding what to say for my time on stage in front of hundreds and hundreds of people I was very aware that I was walking a tightrope, on one hand I had to be respectful of the real needs of Rise as a charity, and on the other, I couldn’t miss up an opportunity to call out a transphobe on her bullshit. I was super nervous waiting to go on stage, which wasn’t helped when Burchill and my eyes met over a crowded corridor, she must have known that I helped organise those protests, I mean who doesn’t Google themselves from time to time, right?

In the end, I kept my protest low key, focussed on the positive that had came from my interactions with Rise but still made the point I had come to make. The most surprising thing that came fro the evening though, was bumping into a woman I had met while in refuge, her story was more harrowing than anyone can imagine and it made my week to see her happy, strong and getting on with her life. positivity rocks.

If Julie Burchill happens to read this, let me say this to you; we obviously have some things in common, the Sex Pistols and a desire to combat domestic violence for a start, is it time to drop the transphobic rhetoric? Let’s talk and see if we can find some more common ground.