Safeguarding Failed Us

Trigger Warning – Rape, Self Harm, Child Abuse, Alcholism, Scuicide, Over Dose

About a month ago – I was sitting in a cafe in my home town. It’s not one I like, in fact I actively dislike it. It is far to expensive and doesn’t serve drinks I like. But I went there to work, it has a good quiet and calm atmosphere. After procrastinating I open a document I am working on. ‘Principles of supporting young people in relation to sexual health and the risk of pregnancy’. It’s actually really interesting. But I had hit a wall, something I couldn’t answer. I hoped going to this new environment would help. I opened up the NSPCC website and found the information I needed.

And then I started crying.

It wouldn’t stop.

I was crying as I left the cafe. I got on a bus a spent the evening at my ex’s house, as she was the only one who understood why.

I work with young people, which means I need to have a knowledge of safeguarding. Safegaurding is when you think a young person is at risk, being abused, or a danger to themselves or others you must report this. To whom you report it to depends on your work and where you are in your organisation. The concern will be escalated to the right people, such as social services, a safeguarding lead (person in charge) of your organisation. Safegaurding happens EVERYWHERE, and applies to those 18 years and younger.

I have been working with young people for some time but it was not until recently that my understanding of laws and procedures improved. It was also around this time that I started to recognise and deal with my own abuse.

You probably didn’t know about this. Until now only my therapist and my ex girlfriend did. And that’s not because I wanted to keep it a secret, it was because I didn’t recognise it for the abuse it was.

A few weeks earlier – I am at a work, for a study day. I have the same document open. I ask my manager for help with a question. He says the words ‘sexual abuse’, and I start crying. Why do you have to cry Alex? Why can’t you stop?

I am at my parents house, and I find a diary from when I was 16 years old. I read it hesitantly, knowing I had mental health problems. But it’s all fine. Then I find something, and it’s not fine, somthing I apparently made myself forget. It’s not the biggest deal. But to me, to have a missing memory, to realise how much I re-wrote my past. It’s really scary.

Here is a short time line of how safeguarding failed me –

About 14 years old – I tell a teacher I am self harming. I end up seeing the school doctor, who says ‘I am like a smoker who wants to quit but isn’t quite there yet’. Soon later my parents find out. I assumed the school told them. I found out about a month ago it was my best friend. I continue to self harm on and off until I am 23.

About 15 years old – I start doing musical theatre with a company full of adults and only a few people my age. We are supposed to have chaperones but don’t. Even though many of us have family in the cast, we are still supposed to have them. I thought this was great, I didn’t want to be followed around and patronised.

About 16 years old – I am touched and communicated with inappropriately by an older man in a show I am in. There are no chaperones. He has known me since I was 15, and clearly waited until I was 16. My diary tells me details about this time I had forgotten.

About 20 years old – I am at my first university and very mentally ill. For some reason I am called into a meeting with three of my tutors. One of them says that they ‘bet I blame my therapist for my problems’. They do not refer me to anyone else or any other support within the university.

OK break from the timeline.

13 Reasons Why SPOILERS

I was watching 13 reasons why, which I very much enjoyed. Well, enjoyed is an odd word. But I got a lot out of it. I watch the extra segment at the end, and one of the creators says something that hits home. He say’s

‘The challenge for Hannah is that she would have had to have the strength to describe what happened to her and the courage and determination to label it as rape, to get [the councillors] attention. And she was not able to do that. And that is not her fault. Sexual assault comes with so much shame, on top of the pain, on top of  the violation, that for victims to talk about it is incredibly hard …’

And something that had been going around in my head cam to the surface. And I decided I  needed to have the courage and the determination. So I called someone and told them, before I became to scared to say it.

Back to the timeline.

About 23 years old – I am raped. I thought it was just sex I wasn’t that into, but looking back it is not. I drank a lot to get through the sex. I drank a lot after as well. I take two over doses that year. The hospital refers me to no one.

Even though in some of these later incidents I am over 18, it was still the institutions responsiblity to look out for me.  And they didn’t.

I have been reading and watching a bit about child abuse cases, and it made me realise, it’s ok that we were failed. Obviously I don’t mean it’s ‘ok’, like it was fine it happened. Stay with me. There are hundreds of us that were and continue to be failed. And we did nothing to deserve that. Either our service wasn’t working well, or we weren’t noticed. But it’s not because we aren’t worthy, it’s not because we don’t matter and it’s not because our problems are too small. I don’t know why it is, but it was nothing to do with us.

Now when the organisations I work with take safeguarding so seriously, sometimes, oddly it makes me feel sad. Because I wonder what could have happened if I had that support.

With out it I have been left with a career in jeopardy because I become upset when sexual abuse is mentioned. I have a history of problems, that may have been a little shorter if I had been safeguarded. But now, again I need the courage and the determination to keep talking about these things and be part of these conversations, so that I can do my job effectively.

A couple of weeks ago – I have to leave the room while grooming is discussed. I cry so much. Please. Stop. Crying.

I shared this I think so that people understand their rights. So they see there are people out there who care and are effected deeply by safegaurding. And to get it out there. The more I talk the less scary it it. The less I’ll cry. Hopefully.

Go forward with courage and determination.

Thank you so much for reading.


How To Make Jake’s Sandwich From Adventure Time

How to make Jake’s sandwich

I like Adventure Time, and I like sandwiches. Here is a realistic recipe for Jake’s sandwich from the episode Time Sandwich. There is the original recipe, a vegetarian recipe and an attempt at a vegan recipe. I have provided links for any odd ingredients.

Original Ingredients

You will need –

  • Toasted baguette or ciabatta
  • Cream cheese
  • Dill
  • Rosemary and thyme
  • Pickles (best you can get)
  • 2 eggs
  • Half a cucumber
  • Tomatoes (specifically Roma)
  • Sweet yellow onions, organic (or just normal ones, whatever you like)
  • Steak
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • Chicken (instead of bird from the window)
  • Salt (or tears whatever floats your boat)
  • Dressed lobster. I recommend John West. (Instead of lobster soul).

Vegetarian Ingredients

You will need –

  • Toasted baguette or ciabatta
  • Cream cheese
  • Dill
  • Pickles (best you can get)
  • 2 eggs
  • Half a cucumber
  • Tomatoes (specifically Roma)
  • Sweet yellow onions, organic (or just normal ones, whatever you like)
  • Quorn steak
  • Rosemary and thyme
  • 3 slices of vegetarian bacon. You can buy Quorn but I think there bacon is a bit rubbish. I recommend the cheatin bacon which is also vegan (see vegan recipe).
  • Either Quorn chicken slices OR beancurd/tofu. I think beancurd will be nicer but is harder to come by, you can get it any Chinese supermarket.You could also get it from the cauldron range. It needs to be ready to eat. (instead of bird from the window)
  • Salt (or tears whatever floats your boat)
  • A couple of suggestions for lobster replacement. If you can get to a Chinese supermarket you can buy vegetarian fish cakes. If not just get some nori (seaweed) you can get this from any supermarket and it has a fishy flavour.

Vegan Ingredients

NOTE Vbites/Cheatin is available online or at Holland and Barrett.

You will need –

Follow the order in the video. I don’t eat meat, so I have NO IDEA what he is doing with that steak. Have fun working it out. And remember to play a bit of classy violin music while you are cooking.


LUSH Make Up (and other general bits) For Non-Binary, Androgynous or Gender Non Conforming People


I have been thinking for a few weeks about the make up  I use when I don’t want to look to ‘made up’ but still want my skin to look nice and thought I would share it for those interested. Two disclaimers –

ONE – I work at Lush. I don’t mean to sound like I’m advertising them or anything, but Lush is what I use, so that’s what I know to recommend. Some of the stuff on this list can be bought from other shops (such as face masks), some are unique to Lush. But for the purposes of this article I’m referring to Lush because that’s what I know and can guarantee.

TWO – You should not feel like you need to do any of this. If your non-binary and you like rocking a full face of make up or none at all, thats totally cool. This is for you to use as you like and I would hate to tell anyone how to express themselves.

So lets get going.

I really like my skin to look good and taken care of. I normally wear very thick foundation from stargazer but it’s very much the ‘you look like your wearing make up’ look. And some days thats not right for me. So I started by trying to make my skin look lovely so I could wear no make up if I choose.

No Make Up Look 

I had a bit of a break out so I used a face mask and then about 3 days later did another. I used BB Seaweed and Cupcake but which face mask you should use really depends on what you have going on with your skin. After a few days of this plus a Full of Grace, Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise, things were much better. Again, in terms of the skin products you use, it just depends on your skin. I hate going out with spots full on display but I didn’t want to cake foundation over them.

Light Make Up Look

I find Lush colour supplements very light and natural, which is what I want when trying to achieve an even skin tone but nothing to over the top. I use Light Pink because my proffered skin tone is ‘pale as possible’. They have a range of colours and it goes on like a light  cream.

I then add a bit of Charisma Skin Tint, to give my face a bit of colour to it after washing it out. I’ve never like blusher or bronzer, I always feel I look a bit like a doll with round cheek circles after I use it. Charisma blends in nicely, and I don’t feel to pale, but I don’t feel self conscious either.

I finish off with Emotional Brilliance Face Powder. It covers my face nicely, and makes me feel like everything is set in. Some days if my no make up is not quite right but I don’t want to use this much, I’ll use it by its self.

Instead of lip stick I use Lip Scrub (Bubblegum is my fav!). It stops my lips looking pale in comparison to the rest of my face, and plumps them out a bit. This is a big recommendation from me. I find lip stick tricky and scrub kind of by passes all of that.

Hair Care 

If you have short hair but want to do nice things with it I really recommend Mr Dandy’s Hair Candy, and Hair Custard. I use Mr Dandy’s to mould my hair how I want it, then Hair Custard to keep it there and add a really good smell! I have found myself looking in the mirror thinking ‘why does my hair look rubbish?’ then realising I haven’t put my products in it yet.

Aromaco (Solid Deodorant)

Since coming out as non-binary deodorant has caused me more trouble than I would have imaged. I’ve like Lynx but I find it’s marketing and associations problematic, and I don’t want to smell to flowery, I like the musk edge on men’s deodorant. Buying it really sucks as well, when you go into a shop everything is arranged in a really gendered way. I gave Aromaco a try and I’m super happy with it, the smell is quite light and neutral and the block is lasting a really long time. Its solid which means I don’t feel wet after using it or like its going to seep through onto my clothes. It’s also easy to put on if you already put your clothes on and forgot to use deodorant first (which I do all the time).

Shopping At Lush 

I mentioned above that shopping can get awkward. At Lush nothing is gendered. Sure products are bright pink and flowery but nothing says it’s ‘for women’. There is a beard and facial wash but it’s not in a men’s section and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a facial wash. I especially love this in regards to the perfume.

Story Time. I stayed in Bristol in the summer overnight, but hadn’t planned to (this was before I worked at Lush). I was going to a group where we talked about trans stuff that day (I had never done anything like that before) and got some clean clothes from Primark and went into Lush to give myself a spray of some thing so I didn’t smell of hostel and sweat. I had used Dirty styling cream before so I kind of knew the smell. I sprayed myself with the Dirty perfume, and as the day went on I realised I felt like me, I looked like me, and I smelt like me. I was 100% me, no compromises and that felt great.

Photo on 15-02-2016 at 16.05




What Trans People Want You To Know About ‘The Danish Girl’

Hello, a tiny bit about me before I start. I’m Rhi/Alex and have been out as trans for just over a year (yay) and have a lovely girlfriend who is also a trans woman. I have just started volunteering with Gendered Intelligence, a charity for young trans people and was lucky enough to go to the trans network youth conference this year. I say all this just to let you know I’ve met many trans people of different ages and background. And oh yes. I have heard every view , from cis people, about The Danish Girl. Your opinion of ‘it’s just a movie’, ‘it’s good exposure’ or ‘they cast the best actor for the part’ is not unique. BUT I’m going to stop being grumpy and tell you what transgender people (not all of us we’re not a hive mind) want you to know.

I’m probably going to go and see this movie, and a best enjoy it as a movie and at worst get super pissed off and tense at how badly it handles everything. It is possible to enjoy this movie as a story and thats cool. But when it starts to spread bad information, thats a problem. (There is also the problem of a man cast to play a trans woman but thats another kettle of fish, I have written a 3000 word essay on the subject).

I’ll give you an example of boy meets girl, which I enjoyed. However they used the wrong terminology (I think it was ‘biological woman’ and ‘used to be a man’). I heard my parent use ‘biological woman’ shortly after watching it. Channel 4 use this expression to and its an incorrect and offensive turn of phrase.

Chanel 4 also made a TV show called Girls To Men, and they guys in it seemed cool and nice but the narration was so inaccurate and hard to watch. Was it better that the world saw these great guys at the expense of correct information and promoting the view that trans guys ‘used to be girls’? I think no, I think most trans people think no. It’s ok if your an ally and watching it because you will know they messed up, or be informed of it. But the general public won’t.

This happens all the time. The only show I can think of that I have seen portray trans people in a non offensive way with no mess ups is made by My Genderation. It was the first time I ever saw a non-binary person on a mainstream platform. It was made by a company of trans people, including Fox Fisher who I was lucky enough to meet. So out of a lllll the stuff out there its one thing that has been ok (and the one thing that has been the project of trans people). After all of that we get a bit pissed about how we are portrayed. We get annoyed that we are some thing to gawk at to cis people, and that there obsessed with what gender we ‘used to be’, and our hormones and surgery.

I looked at my gf the other day as she was changing clothes (I have permission to say this) and i though ‘this is what all the fuss is about’ as i looked at her body. all the documentaries, the harassment, the mystery of transgender. She has a lovely body don’t get me wrong, but its just a person under there. And when stories like the danish girl are told incorrectly we get away from that message, that trans people, especially trans women who face so much violence, are people. That message gets lost under the fetisisation of being transgender that hollywood puts in its stories to sell tickets.

Some trans people are hostile towards movies like The Danish Girl, they feel how they do about it because of their every day experiences leading up to the exasperation of trans women’s stories being told wrong, again, for the profit of cis people. The public want to see a cool movie and learn something, and that would be ok, as long as they did some serious googling afterwards to find out the right info and terminology (which they won’t do). I’m probably going to watch the film, and take it like a bed time story, but I also ordered Lili Elbe’s autobiography.

What we really want is respect and being erased by cis actors is not respect, being told how to feel about our own stories is not respect, having poorly researched documentaries to the level that they are insulting as the only form of representation is not respect. I want to see the film because I love trans stories and i’m not going to let anything ruin them for me. But cis people/people without trans people close to them, won’t see the flaws in works like the danish girl, and will leave worse than they came in, creating more work for trans people and their allies, as they try and correct the misinformation.


(Don’t use the expression ‘man into woman’ , or the terminology ‘sex change’ this book is from the 1930’s) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-into-Woman…/dp/0954707206



Who Should Play Transgender Roles?

Who Should Play Transgender Roles?


When considering the question ‘who should play transgender roles?’ when working in television, film and theatre it seems the answer should be obvious. However, unless the director or writer is trying to make a creative statement, most roles are filled by people of the same gender as the character and in the case of transgender characters, cisgender actors are largely filling these roles.


It has only been in recent years that transgender stories have been told in mainstream media, with the recent success of Orange Is The New Black, Transparent, and Dallas Buyers Club to name a few. However, in the majority of these recent productions the transgender characters (almost always transgender women) have been played by cisgender men.


There has been much debate as to whether cisgender men should play transgender women characters. The loudest voices in these debates often arising from transgender individuals frustrated with their lack of representation in acting roles, from LGBTQ people or straight cisgender people who have worked on pieces with transgender narratives.


Discussions and debate comes down to personal opinion, defensiveness of the work created, anger at misrepresentation and not considering LGBTQ experiences when casting. We can hope to improve this situation by examining what has worked well up until now and why it has worked well. We can also look at the nature of gender and how its performative nature can be worked with in an ethical way to best represent transgender people.


Transgender narratives are rare in media and theatre and when they are told, transgender women are often portrayed in a negative light.

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Media Defamation (GLAAD), a US LGBT media monitoring organization, examined transgender television representation over a ten year period and found transgender characters were cast in a “victim” role at least 40% of the time. Transgender characters were cast as killers or villains in at least 21% of the catalogued episodes and storylines. Transgender characters were most often depicted as sex workers, ‘a fifth of all [transgender] characters were depicted as 20%’

It is important that transgender women actors have access to realistic transgender roles. If the only roles available to them are stereotypes and damaging to the LGBTQ community, they are forced to choose between work as an actor or ethical representation.


Only this year has a transgender woman played the role of a transgender woman in a television show in the United Kingdom. Bethany Black plays Helen in an episode of Channel 4’s Banana, which tell the story of a woman who becomes the victim of revenge porn. Helen’s story is not overshadowed by her transgender identity, unlike many other popular portrayals of transgender woman. These progressive roles are so rare and when they do come along they are not being given to transgender people to play as positive representations and role models.


In an example given in Cracked’s podcast Unspoken Stereotypes Movies Trick You Into Believing a contributor explains how the in television show Doll House, the lead character loses her sight. To play the part, the actress Eliza Dushku met with a blind woman on set. Dushku copied the woman’s movements but the director said she did not look ‘blind enough’, so she was asked to be clumsier and ‘more helpless’ so that audiences would think “ok, we believe she’s blind now”. ‘The acting didn’t look realistic, so they made her seem more helpless to conform to what people expected’. This sends a message to both the public and actors that these signifiers are what we should expect from blind people, consequently spreading misinformation.


This misinformation can have serious consequences. For example in Italy this escalated to the media sensationalism, accusing people of faking being blind, but the accusations were based on ignorance of the capabilities of blind people. This same problem can be applied to transgender representation. For many of us, our first exposure to minority groups is through television, film and theatre. It is the responsibility of these mediums to clearly show the context of their portrayals of these groups. If creating a narrative that the writer wants to be natural, realistic and believable, then the representations should correlate with the acting style. It can be argued that if transgender people are involved in the production of their stories, then the stories are more likely to be well informed and realistic.


In 2014, Jared Leto won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, although the film is a biopic, the character of Rayon was created for the film. In Time magazine, Steve Friess says of the character


She’s a sad-sack, clothes-obsessed, constantly flirting transgender drug addict prostitute… there are no stereotypes about transgender women that Leto’s concoction does not tap into….she’s an exaggerated, trivialized version of how men who pretend to be women, as opposed to how those who feel at their core they are women behave…. she’s the only figure played consistently for comic relief, as when fake-Woodruff points a gun at Rayon’s crotch and suggests he give her the sex change she’s been wanting… hilarious.


Although Leto said he had spoken with transgender women (none of which have been credited or come forward) the problem of the stereotypical transgender woman could have been avoided if a transgender woman had played the part of Rayon or transgender people had been involved in the production of the film.


In contrast, in Transparent, an Amazon online series, the lead character Moira (a transgender woman) is played by Jeffery Tambour but the series is produced with a great amount of influence from transgender individuals. The creator of the show, Jill Soloway said on the production of the show


We have one gender-queer writer and three trans consultants, … we’ve had six or so trans people come through the writer’s room and inform how we’re telling the story. I would say the most important person in creating Moira is Jenny Boylan [a transgender woman] … she really had an empathy for the late-in-life transitioner. All of our trans consultants helped us be aware of the victim or villain path that most trans characters fall into. So we just wanted to make Moira the most normal person in the family.


Soloway based the story on her father’s own transition and cast all other transgender parts to transgender people. Amy Landecker who plays Moira’s daughter said of the casting of Tambour, a cisgender man, as Moira


[Soloway] casts from a very personal place … in her mind, she would see Jeffrey through the years and he reminded her of her father and I think she felt very deeply that he was the right actor for this part.

Transparent has been received well by reviewers and the LGBTQ community, being praised by the LGBTQ website, Pink News and Time Magazine.


Tambour brings a lot to the role, being the appropriate age and able to play Moira as a woman who has not taken estrogen. He also stated that he recognizes transgender people should play transgender roles. Soloway said of his casting ‘I think he’s got a kind of gender-queerness. He’s a big tall man, but he’s very feminine and very vulnerable and soft and sweet. He just seemed to embody the contradictions that I wanted Mort to have. Mort/Moira.’ Both Soloway and Tambour, informed by the transgender community, put a lot of work into the character of Moira. Consequently, this meant that Transparent avoided some of the issues that can arise by casting a cisgender man as a leading transgender women whereas other works, such as Dallas Byers Club, did not.


When receiving his Oscar Leto was heckled, ‘Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award’. Leto asked ‘What do you mean by that?’ (It is worth noting that as someone who researched a transgender role, Leto should be aware of the meaning of ‘Trans-misongyny’). The Heckler replied ‘you don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you’re a man.’ His response was “because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part? ‘So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian – they can’t play a straight part … you’ve made sure people that are gay … people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art’.

This type of response from someone outside the LGBTQ community encourages the attitude that the opinions of minority groups about their own portrayal are equal to, or less than, those who are appropriating their identities. A Cisgender person playing a transgender character has been compared to blackface, and is sometimes informally referred to as ‘transface’. Friess compares Leto’s role and the award he received to Hattie Mcdonald’s award for her ‘authentic’ portrayal of a black woman in ‘Gone With The Wind’ for which she received an Oscar (while sitting at a segregated table during the ceremony). Society does not consider it acceptable for a white actor to change their skin colour and play a character that is a person of colour. When acting in blackface there is a significant change in appearance and voice, as well as the character being an offensive black caricature.

It is argued that cisgender men playing transgender women are appropriating the bodies and experiences of transgender women. Leto’s response to being heckled is a good example of people’s differing views about gender, and if it is something that can and should be performed. He argues that the same argument with regard to cisgender individuals playing transgender roles can extend to gay people not being able to play straight roles. When acting with a love interest you are (most likely) acting out this attraction, no matter the sexuality of the actors coupled. When a cisgender man acts as a transgender woman they are acting as another gender and modifying their body. The portrayals of cisgender men acting as transgender women can, as previously discussed, lead to a character and performance based on stereotypes. When analyzing the problem of ‘transface’ this way, it is easy to see the parallels to blackface.

However, if gender is perceived as just another character trait that can be captured in a performance, just as any other character trait can be, does that justify cisgender people playing transgender roles? Feminist philosopher, Judith Butler, pioneered the idea of gender being performative, creating the term ‘gender performativity’ in her book Gender Trouble. Butler explains gender as ‘the repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the appearance of sub- stance, of a natural sort of being. … there is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results’. Butler means by this that gender is created by our actions and the way we present our bodies, and that there not an innate gender within us that makes us act a certain way. If this is true then a cisgender actor can act out the ‘set of repeated acts’ and stylize their body with costume, and take on a transgender role just as they would take on charter traits from any other role.

Repeating gendered acts to experience what it like to be another gender is a good starting point for cisgender actors playing transgender characters but transgender people have had an entire lifetime of repeating these acts to inform and shape their gender. It would also seem that film and television do not want a transgender women character that could not, in some way, be read as a man.

Cisgender women playing transgender women in film often ends as a shock gag, with the men who have been lusting after them throughout the narrative reacting in disgust. Examples of this can be found Ace Venture (multiple people throw up after a transgender woman is stripped to her underwear in front of them, and her tucked penis can be seen through her underwear), Naked Gun 33 1/3 and The IT Crowd (after finding out the woman he has been dating is transgender, a character starts to cry and then has a physical fight with her, despite being very much in love with her beforehand). By casting cisgender men as transgender women the audience are always being ‘warned’ of the true sex of the actor, so as not to fall into the ‘trap’ of being attracted to a gender sex or gender they would not typically be.

Other arguments that transgender characters should be played by transgender actors relate less to artistic integrity and the quality of work being produced, but instead focuses on the positive effects it would have on transgender people. Laverne Cox is currently one of the most famous transgender actresses, also well known for her work as an LGBTQ activist. She plays Sofia in the television series Orange is the New Black, her story line showing many of the realties faced by transgender people, especially those in prison. Cox is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy as well as the first to be on the cover of Time Magazine. She is a prominent face in the transgender community, as well as an inspiration to transgender people. Cox is producing a documentary about CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman in a men’s prison.


McDonald spoke about her excitement at Cox being cast in Orange is the New Black, ‘I was like really in awe that a trans woman is getting this opportunity to shine and to be put in a more positive light because usually roles of trans women are filled by cis men and also, roles that are portrayed by trans women are usually sex workers or drug addicts. So to know the story of Sophia and what she’s been through and to have it sound so familiar … to know that this beautiful strong woman who I look up to, finally got her chance in life ’.


Cox is only one actress and yet she has had a large impact on the transgender community, a community that desperately needs role models and representation. Paris Lees, a writer, and trans activist said on representation, ‘it’s looking at the matrix, the mix, where everything is happening and not seeing people like you and me … You look for people that are respected, people that are taken seriously, people that are a part of things, and that can be very isolating when you look for yourself and you’re not there.’


Statistics from a survey taken by Pace in 2014 reveal that 59% of transgender people under 26 had consider taking their lives in the last year. Having positive and visible transgender representation in media and theatre could contribute a great deal to helping young people feel less isolated, and having transgender people play these parts would provide them with inspiration and role models. Jeffrey Tambour recognized the importance of authentic transgender narratives, ‘lives are at stake, … the conversation needs to go forward, and their needs to be freedom.’


Big names in the film industry will always pull more audiences than little know transgender actors, with recent examples like Eddie Redmayne being cast in The Danish Girl as a transgender woman, after winning multiple awards for his portrayal of Steven Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Since 1988, fourteen out of twenty seven Oscars for best actor have been won by actors portraying characters that have ‘significant mental or physical barriers to what people would consider a normal life’. This has included autism, blindness, ALS and living with HIV.


Through exposure and greater education these subjects may have become more normalized to the general public and the curiosity factor has died down. So now writers turn to society’s new curiosities, transgender people. The exposure of transgender narratives is helpful to educate and promote sympathy from the audience. However, it is these stories that are giving cisgender men recognition and awards for transgender struggles that they have not experienced, whilst transgender people are have fewer acting roles available and little recognition.


The nature of the film industry means slow progress for transgender actors playing transgender roles. Laverne Cox commented ‘It’s about business and we are in … [a] Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, so that market forces can’t be dismissed when casting decisions are made.’ Currently transgender actors aren’t being considered for roles that could instead use big name cisgender actors. However, it is possible that the breaks transgender actors need will come from the theatre and not film. There is the freedom in theatre to have greater autonomy over creative choices, especially in fringe productions. Transgender roles should go to transgender people when possible, it is clear both the transgender community and the productions in question benefit from casting transgender individuals in transgender roles. The production gains greater authenticity and avoids tired or offensive character traits, whilst the transgender community gains representation and strong role models.

If casting a cisgender person in a transgender role, it is important to follow the example set by Transparent, by consulting transgender people and having transgender people involved in the production.




BBC News (2014) BBC[Online] Entertainments and Arts BBC. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26107011 [4/6/2014]


Bregar, B. (2014) ‘The Creator of ‘Transparent’ Talks Amazon, Family Secrets, and TV Sexism’, New Republic, [Online] Available from: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116598/interview-jill-soloway-amazons-transparent [3/6/2014].


Couch, S. (2014) The Hollywood Reporter [Online] Available from: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jared-leto-heckled-accused-trans-677290 URL address [3/6/2014]



Cracked. (2015) ‘Unspoken Stereotypes Movies Trick You Into Believing’, The Cracked Podcast. [podcast] Available from: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/seemingly-harmless-stereotypes-hollywood-cultivates/ [3/6/2014].



Entertainment Tonight (2014) Golden Globe Nominee Jeffrey Tambor on His ‘Transformative’ Role in ‘Transparent’

[online video] Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtN1N6WffiI [5/6/2014].


Friess, S. (2014) ‘Don’t Applaud Jared Leto’s Transgender ‘Mammy’, TIME, [Online] Available from: time.com/10650/dont-applaud-jared-letos-transgender-mammy/ [5/6/2014].


GLAAD Glad.org [Online] Available from: full http://www.glaad.org/publications/victims-or-villains-examining-ten-years-transgender-images-television [4/6/2014].


Jefferson, C. (2011) ‘How I learned To Hate Transgender People’, Good, [Online] Available from: http://magazine.good.is/articles/how-i-learned-to-hate-transgender-people [4/6/2014].


Katz, E T. (2014) ‘Amy Landecker: Jill Soloway Cast Jeffrey Tambor In ‘Transparent’ Because He Resembles Her Father’ , The Huffington Post, [Online] Available from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/amy-landecker transparent_n_5941356.html [4/6/2014].

Kyriacou, A. (2014) ‘Review: ‘Transparent’ – the true transgender tipping point?’, Pink News, [Online] Available from: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/09/25/review-transparent-the-true-transgender-tipping-point/ [5/6/2014].


Molinari, Ml. (2013) ‘Why Italy’s Media Hysteria Over The ‘Fake Blind’ Is Misplaced’, Equal Times, [Online] Available from: http://www.equaltimes.org/italys-media-hysteria-over-the-fake-blind-is-misplaced?lang=en#.VXNzumRVikq [3/6/2014].

Poniewozik, J. (2014) ‘Season Review: Transparent Is a Change for the Better’, TIME, [Online] Available from: time.com/3446282/season-review-transparent-is-a-change-for-the-better/ [4/6/2014].


Salih, S. (2006) ‘On Judith Butler and Performativity’. SEXUALITIES AND COMMUNICATION: 55 – 67


Stahler, K (2015) ‘Laverne Cox On The Casting Of Cisgender Actors in Transgender Roles: Why It Probably Won’t Change’, Bustle, [Online] Available from: http://www.bustle.com/articles/25344-laverne-cox-on-the-casting-of-cisgender-actors-in-transgender-roles-why-it-probably-wont-change [3./6/2014].


Strudwick, P. (2014) ‘Nearly half of young transgender people have attempted suicide – UK survey’, The Guardian, [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/19/young-transgender-suicide-attempts-survey [4/6/2014].

The Film Theorists (2015) Film Theory: Oscar Hacking pt. 2, How to Win Academy Awards for Best Actor and Actress, Film Theory.

[online video] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygVVbi1ILwQ [4/6/2014].






Transgender Representation In Film And Television, UCLA’s Feminist Newsmagazine – Antoinette Georgy


Trans Actors, Producers, Writers and Advocates Weigh In On Trans Representation In TV And Film – GLAAD


10 Facts About TransFace, YouTube – Grishno


The Rayon Effect: What Cisgender Actors Bring To Transgender Characters – E Jessica Groothuis


Is hiring cisgender actors to play transgender roles just as bad as blackface?, Quora – Sophia Hudson


Should Trans Screen Roles Be Played By Trans Actors? The Guardian, – Juliet Jacques


9 Cisgender Actors Who Played Transgender Characters – Jessica Klein

Felicity Huffman Discusses Cisgender Actors Playing Transgender Roles, The Huffington Post – James Micheal Nichols

How Amazon’s Latest Pilot Could Reshape Public Understanding of Trans People, advocate.com – Parker Marie Molloy


21 Times Actors Who Aren’t Actually Transgender Have Played Trans Characters, Buzzfeed – Rafe Posey

Cisgender Males Playing Transgender For Oscar Bait Is Still A Thing, Pajiba – Kirsty Puchko


What Transgender Looks Like in Pop Culture, U.S News – Tierney Sneed


Everyday Feminism’s Top Ten Questions About Being Genderqueer … My Answers!

Everyday Feminism published an article about being genderqueer and some of the frequently asked questions we get asked. I recommend reading the original first. Here are my answers.

1. So Are You a Boy Or a Girl?


2. No, But What Are You Really?

ummm Genderqueer. Non-Binary. I’m AFAB (assigned female at birth) but its not an excuse to treat me as female or as a woman. It’s unrelated to my gender. I have this way of thinking, If you wouldn’t treat a guy the way you treat me don’t treat me that way. If you would call a guy ‘love’ or ‘babe’ or hug them for a really long time then you can do that with me, and I know that differs from person to person. But I catch people using gendered ways to relate to me, that seem to be excused because what they are looking at looks like a woman sometimes. Another way of doing it which I also like is using both options. Like my partner will flip back and forward between calling me handsome and pretty. So do both, or do neither.

3. But What About Biology?

I really don’t want to talk about my … biology.

4. Which Bathroom Do You Use?

Woman’s/Female. Sometimes I will use the disabled if it’s a viable option. I hate having to use the woman’s bathroom but I feel even more uncomfortable with the idea of using the men’s. Ideally I would use a neutral one.

5. Are You Gonna Get ‘The Surgery’?

Next question. They say this in the article but really, don’t ask people this. They’ll volunteer the information themselves if they are keen to talk about it.

6. ‘They’ for a Singular Person Is Grammatically Incorrect!

  1. No it isn’t.
  2. You use it all the time when you don’t know the gender of someone. Example – ‘I have a meeting with my new boss today. I haven’t met them before, I’m a bit nervous, I hope they’re friendly’.
  3. I don’t care, please just respect my pronoun choice.
  4. You are not the first person to inform me of this opinion, I have done my arguing about this. So forgive me if I’m short with you but it’s a discussion I’m done with having.

7. Why Do You Have Boobs One Day and a Flat Chest Another?

Because I own one binder (because they are expensive) and the cut doesn’t go with all the clothes I own.

Because they are very hot.

And most importantly because some days I want to have a flat chest and others I don’t.

8. Are You Dysphoric?


9. Am I Gay If I Think You’re Hot?

Well, I would say if your a man and your attracted to my male-ness or a woman and attracted to my female-ness, you might have some pansexual/bisexual feelings going on. But really , no. You can be straight and find one person of the same gender you like and still identify as straight if you want to, you just like that ONE person (same with gay people). Technically because I’m not of a gender you can be opposite to you can’t be binary and be straight/gay with me. But it’s not a term I get picky about. I’m in a relationship with a woman and sometimes we say we are lesbians and it’s not a huge issue to me. I call it a ‘queer relationship’ most of the time.

10. What Kind of Sex Do You Have?

Sexy sex.