If London embodies anything, it’s that you can’t trust comfortable definitions. Nowhere is this truer than the broad range of identities collectively knows as trans.
Trans can mean many things. There are trans men, trans women, queers, transvestites and cross-dressers. And that’s just for starters. Somewhere in the mix are the gender queer, non-binary folks who reject established gender norms.
Some are very out and active within the trans community. Others, having transitioned, move on and are no longer visible. For them, it’s about living the gender they always understood themselves to be.
People today are generally more accepting of trans folk. But a minority still exhibit hostility that takes many forms – from discrimination, to verbal abuse, to backing someone down a dark alleyway and kicking the shit out of them. That is why, when I ask what ‘trans London’ means to trans people, they speak first of safety – by day and after dark.
Yet that is to undersell London, massively. Because what makes this city special is that it is one of the few places in the UK where critical mass has been achieved. The internet has done much to break down barriers and spread understanding, but that’s little consolation for anyone desperate to ‘come out’ in Suffolk, still ‘the only trans in the village’.
I love the richness of trans London. I travel within it. I constantly learn from it. For me, London provides variety – clubs and support groups, entertainment and debate, the opportunity to explore within a large and growing community. This city really puts the T in LGBT.