X-MEN & THE TRANS COMMUNITY

 

X-Men_The_Animated_Series_Title_Card

From the comics I read as a kid, to the nineties Fox cartoon and then the X-Men film franchise that has been running for the last twenty years they have been there. At college we use to go to the local chip shop during dinner and play on the arcade game there. I was always Nightcrawler, my favourite at the time. (Well there was also Wolverine but my mate was always him)
Wolverine can of course be considered one of the most popular of the X-men. Hugh Jackman has played him superbly in the franchise with three solo movies and a number of cameos. But for me it’s a team thing. The comics, the series, even the X-Men games I still have for the Playstation it’s a group. Cyclopes, Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Beast. Just a few of my favourites.

Now since starting this blog I’ve written a few posts on heroes. From the role models I’ve had over the years such as He-man and Spiderman to looking at Batman, Supergirl and the themes of identity. The X-men then also provide a personal meaning to me. They are a minority group. Created in the sixties it seems obvious that Stan Lee took themes from the racist attitudes that existed. They became metaphoric for people who were treated different because they were different. A theme still relevant in the eighties and nineties with homosexuality and the AIDS crisis. A theme still relevant now because of the issues with Trans people.

iron-man-cyclops-mutant-fear-uncanny-x-men-3.png

Let’s take a look at the X-men or more precisely the mutant community. Outcasts, feared for being different and not fitting into what people consider the norm. Many of these mutants don’t have the great powers of the X-men or their enemies. Their mutation may be just something small. A little bit different in their identity and all they want to do is try and live a normal life, try to fit in with society.
This is what most Trans people want. When people shout about Trans women using women’s toilet the argument always have someone say ‘Why not have separate toilets for trans women.’ Well apart from the impracticalities, such as establishments having to fit an extra toilet area, the fact remains it marks someone out as different.

4748ba89fdf7a4dbb8293e2ce11f0001

A Trans woman is a woman, a mantra often repeated by many but with good reason. They don’t want to be seen as something different. They are just trying to get on with their lives as the person they are. They just want to go for a pee. There shouldn’t be any reason why they should have to enter through a door marked just for them, a door that advertises to those around that this person is different. A talking point. Someone to stop and stare at. A person who is now open to attack and ridicule. The toilet might as well just have a big flashing sign across the top. What this separate toilet does is force that person to identify themselves just because they need to pee.

giphy

Ok, mini rant over but we’ll be coming back to identity later. On Twitter it is almost like there is a war going on. Trans people and their allies one side. Cis people and allies on the other. Arguing over rights, safety, respect or even the meaning of words. It’s the same as the world of the X-men. A minority group fighting for their rights, sometime to even exist, in the world and the other side against them. Or even just confused by it. In X-men 2 there is a scene where Iceman’s mother uses the line “Have you tried not being a mutant?” It’s a line that has been used against both homosexuals and Trans people. A mistaken belief that it is a choice. Something that can be turned off.
And like the world of the X-men there are different factions. Many are those just trying to live. Others are more outspoken, activists who like the X-men put themselves out there to fight and be visible. Munroe Berkoff, Paris Lee, Dr Rachel McKinnon. Sadly there are others as well who are more like Magneto’s team, willing to use violence (speech) to achieve their aims. The more extremist side. But the same goes for the other side. Many of those fighting against Trans people are just people with concerns about safety, fairness and loss of rights. There is misinformation and there is fear. But there is a few that are more hateful. Rather like the Mutant Liberation Front they don’t think Trans people should exist or if they do they should be segregated from the rest of society. And rather like scenes we’ve seen in those comics, movies and cartoons there are those who would use violence against individuals. Who are quite proud to announce on social media about what they would do if they came across a Trans person. It’s a scary world out there. To think there are people out there who I’ve never met, never spoken to who hate me for who I am and would beat the shit out of me if they came across me.
I’ve seen posts that advocates for Trans people to have to wear a symbol to mark them out in society. Even for there to be a registration. An idea I pointed out at the time was similar to the X-men.

1691819-ageofx004

It’s here that we can return to the point about identity. Why do Trans people need to wear something to mark them out? Why is it important for people to be able to recognise them in the street? There is only one answer and it’s because they are seen as wrong. They are seen as dangerous. “Oh right, yeah you can exist as a woman but we need to know you were born male.” Is it so you can stop your children conversing with someone Trans? Is it so you know not to walk on the same side of the street? Does it matter that such a move would identity Trans people out to the more extreme elements of society, resulting in bulling, beatings and possibly death. Where is the concern for safety now?
The only thing such actions such as separate toilets and wearing symbols does is it makes it easier for people to identify. There has already been cases where women have been accosted in restrooms by people who believe they are trans. A woman accused of sexual assault in America resulted in some on Twitter pointing her out as Trans. When I argued what evidence they had for this the reply was “My eyes, she looks like a man.” Even Kira Knightly has come under scrutiny with some believing she is secretly Trans because of the way she is built. Fear and hatred allow such things to happen.
These themes in the X-men comics have been going for fifty years, I’m hoping it doesn’t take fifty years before Trans people are allowed to live in relative peace. Hopefully we can find a common ground. A way to provide safety where needed for both sides while allowing Trans people to live the way they want. It’ll never be perfect. Last year (2018) a man refused to sit next to a black woman on a plane. Gay couples are still refused rooms in some hotels or cakes made for their wedding. There are still calls for conversion therapy.

God Loves, Man Kills-02

I spoke in the previous blog about how I hope X-men movies still get made and with the wealth of stories out there why there is no reason they couldn’t. One of my ‘favourite’ stories is God Loves, Man Kills’. It’s hard hitting. From the very start two mutant children are killed and strung up just for being different. There is hatred spread throughout. It’s emotional, it’s hard and it deserves a movie version. It ends both on a note of hopefulness, An act of kindness from one human, and a bittersweet note as the fight to exist is only temporary halted before it begins again. The battle won but not the war. A brief respite before the arguments begin again on whether they should be allowed the same basic rights as other human beings.

capture-2.pngs3_-2
For those that are not X-men fans and are more DC then I would recommend the latest season of Supergirl. (Season four) It currently has the same themes although between humans and aliens. There is an obvious parallel with themes of immigration but also those themes of being discriminated against for being different. Given that it now features a Trans woman as a superhero it certainly highlights these themes and out of the four CW series at the moment it’s the one that I’m most into at the moment.

The X-men, Supergirl or any number of super hero stories out there can highlight injustice in the world. Call out hate and bigotry and gives us role models to look up to. But it also has to be said someone doesn’t need to have super powers to make a stand. To give respect to others and fight for peoples right to live in this world.

SPG414B_0244b

The Photoshoot

 

IMAG0924

 

For a couple of months now, still in a bid to discover myself I have been looking into doing a more professional makeover and a photoshoot. After a bit of research I went for Girls are Us situated in Bristol, run by Jenny Wave, a qualified make-up artist.
As she offers both make up lessons or a makeover and photoshoot I was unsure which option to go for. I really need some more help with doing make up but the chance to have a proper makeover to see what was possible was too big to miss and I definitely wanted photos of the day so with a quick conversation with Jenny we went for the latter option. I figured if all went well I could book lessons in the future.
As this was my first time I had no idea what to expect and I admit to being nervous. Jenny however was very friendly and as we chatted over a cup of tea I felt my nervousness quickly dissipating. She was very good at putting me at ease. Jenny is really friendly with a good sense of humour. The tea wasn’t bad either. She gave me a quick tour and then allowed me some time to change into some of the clothes she has. After choosing a nice dress and a pair of shows I fell in love with, and that she was lucky to get back at the end, I was ready. A complement from Jenny on my choice of style really boosted my confidence.
With this done Jenny began on the make-up. This was understandingly a long process which much more time and effort going into it then I had ever done myself. Jenny explained the different processes as she went on. At times there was moments where I had to stay still, something I was very bad at but Jenny has plenty of patience. The worse part was when she had to apply the eyeliner. I have never been able to do this bit myself and am very sensitive around that area. All the time I was sat there I was not allowed to look in the mirror. This was left until the very end.
The result was a bit of a shock as well as amazing. I had an image in my mind on how I look after doing my own makeup. What I saw in that mirror was a completely different person. I was totally lost for words and it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Version 2
After this it was time for the photoshoot. That was a lot of fun. Jenny has a room set up for this complete with backdrop and lighting. Several shots were taking from different angles. I also, under direction, was able to try and different poses with Jenny being able to give me tips on what works and what doesn’t. Time flew by with a costume and wig change during the shoot. It just didn’t seem like two hours had really past. We had a quick look at the photos at the end of the session, after I had changed back to my own clothes, and I was pleased with the results. To have more time for photos I elected to travel home without removing the makeup. That in itself was a nervous but freeing experience. It’s not the first time I’ve driven in full make up but not that early in the day and in busy traffic.

IMG_2095
All in all it was not only fun but very eye opening and certainly something I was glad I went through with despite my nervousness. I picked up a lot of tips as well as learnt more about myself. It is an experience I would recommend to anyone thinking about it and I would certainly recommend Jenny.
A few tips then for anyone thinking of booking a session with Jenny.
1) Communication. Make sure she knows what you are after so that the session can be tailored to suit your needs.
2) Enjoyment. You are going to get out what you put in. You’re paying for this time so use it. So remember to enjoy yourself.
3) Deodorant. Use some or take some with you. Jenny does have some on hand but you may prefer your own. It gets warm during the makeover and Jenny has to work very close to you.
4) Anticipation. Definitely don’t be tempted to take a sneak peek during the make-up session. That reveal at the end is an amazing experience by itself.
5) Above all preparation. Make sure you are ready for this. Being clean shaven on the morning of the session is a must. As is taking a memory stick with you in order for Jenny to send you the photos (luckily I had one spare in the car) Taking your own clothes is allowed so make sure you take anything you wish to wear if you have an outfit in mind.

IMG_2292.JPG

 

So after all this did I find what I was looking for? Not quite. As amazing a job Jenny did when I looked in the mirror it didn’t feel like me. I think however this was more down to the wigs, when I wore my short red wig home I felt more like me. But I do want to go back again. I still want the lessons and I do want another photoshoot now I know what to expect. If Jenny is willing I’d love to try out an eighties style look and maybe a bit more on the drag side.

 

IMG_20181113_153739

Trans Matters

trek-transporters_1024

No not that kind!

 

stock-photo-word-cloud-made-of-words-regarding-trans-gender-topics-on-rainbow-colors-flag-537307339

 

Ok this following piece is going to be a very personal one and will deal with issues of Trans Gender and cross dressing. If this is not your cup of tea (or you know me personally and think that this may be too much information, yes you!) then I would recommend going no further……..

Ok. Are you sure? Then we’ll begin….

There is four things that have always fascinated me. Doctor Who, the supernatural, exploration of the self (both psychological and philosophical) and fetishes. I really don’t know where the fascination for fetishes has come from. I remember reading a book in uni on it and just got engrossed in learning why certain fetishes appealed to people as they did. But my interested started a long time before that and maybe it was because of some of the fetishes that I enjoyed myself. Ones that I would often feel guilty about, as if it wasn’t normal. I’m not going to go into details about which fetishes I like or don’t like except one of them was cross dressing. I began to want to understand what made such things fetishes. Was it something inherent or caused by something in our childhood? Maybe it’s just my interest in psychology and philosophy wanting to know how people and the world think and work. Or maybe I just wanted to know I’m not the only one out there. That what I like does not make me abnormal.

bb854340ec3a2049d0f828f6a3cc35e0
And as long as such things don’t affect other people then is there really any harm? What happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. But what happens when it’s something more than that?. For over a year now I have been considering my gender identity. It no longer is simply just a fetish, something I do now and again but now an impact on my everyday life. Like many times before I have done research into transgenderism. I have read articles, watched You Tube videos and am an active member on a LGTB forum. Many of the You Tube videos I’ve watched have documented the tubers transition. I feel at the moment I’m in a position where I don’t know which way, if any, I want to go. It is a very confusing time for me as I swing from one feeling to the other. Or there’ll be times when I’m out somewhere and wished I’d gone more feminine or less.

c642ac68a616098f21be31207032088a

Sometimes I think that I would just like the chance to be out there for a short time and have considered drag act. Other times I think of if I want to actually start transitioning, begin medication and look towards surgeries. I’ve swung from thinking myself as a male to thinking of myself as wanting to be female and now lie somewhere in between counting myself for now as genderfluid. It’s gone from simply just dressing in clothes to trying out make up, wigs and I love doing photoshoots (even if they aren’t the best.) That is the other big thing for me. Would I pass? Could I pull off a feminine look. And it’s not just the look. The voice, the walk. They are all little tell tale signs of what gender someone is. And for me it’s not about wearing skirts out. I have women’s jeans and tops that overall could be seen more as gender neutral. Even if I was to simple go out as a cross dresser (something that seems to be less accepted then being trans) would I look good enough to be accepted or be stared at like I’m some sort of freak.

The novel I wrote is based around many of these themes and it has to be said that it was both helpful in allowing me to express and explore my own feelings but also brought up personal questions that I have had to face. True I have to admit I don’t feel the same every day, it is something that is ever changing which is one of the things that makes it so hard to decide what to do. Although I don’t really suffer from the dysphoria that other trans people experience, there was a time where I had to shave before I’d go out even if it would make me late and even going without earrings sometimes can feel wrong.

be yourself 2
But a few weeks ago I decided after four months of contemplating to final go and get my hair done and to have it dyed red, something that I’ve wanted to do but have held back. It is a bold move for me. Over the last year I have been pushing little bits such as painted nails and wearing earrings. No longer is the wearing of knickers something done for quick excitement but actually worn daily just because they feel right. In fact I recently figured out that I actually own more pairs of knickers then boxers! At work there are other little signs I’m giving out.

IMAG0883

Reaction to my hair have ranged from people liking it to downright piss taking. I’ve taken it in my stride, rolled with the banter, none of the comments were meant in a horrible way. It has also lead to the outcome that a couple of team mates remembered the character of Jessica Rabbit. Again I rolled with it and have now accepted the name as a nickname I use when playing. In many ways this takes away the power they have of taking the mickey because I’m not biting plus it’s putting the idea of a more feminine me out there. Personally I like it. It may not be a nickname (or alternative name) I would have chosen but never mind. Plus I have recently just started watching a You Tuber cross dresser called Jessica who has helped again to give me more confidence in myself. There does seem to be a nice symmetry there.

untitled
But I want to get more involved in the community that I now feel part of and to help others. For example I make regular donations to Mermaids. But I want to do more. I want to help not just because that’s the kind of person I am but also because maybe by getting more involved will also help me figure myself out. I haven’t had much chance to get to Pride events and hopefully this is the year I’ll get chance to go. I’m also looking at a few other events coming up. I don’t know if my home town would ever do something but it would be great to be involved.
When I started this blog I wasn’t sure where I was going to take it. I knew I wanted to look at the heroes of my past and how they had affected me and from there it’s built up into my musings and my personal journey.

872e75a40463494665fea77af3816a51
When having my hair done my hairdresser told me to be who I want to be and fuck what anyone else thinks. To do what makes me happy. It’s good advice. My friend also told me something similar on her birthday night out. But to be someone who wants to stand up for peoples rights I guess one has to be brave enough to put themselves out there. I have to take on those aspects such as Robin Hood, the Doctor, Ace Rimmer and Batman that I’ve talked about. I’ve said previously about Supergirl, how in my novel she symbolised my main character’s realising their secret self and how Supergirl herself seems to be a metaphor for coming out as you true self as she does in the pilot episode of the series. I’ve mentioned about how maybe one day I’ll have my own Supergirl moment. Something that I would never have imagined myself doing.

This month is Pride month and this is it. It’s another little step but an important one.

IMAG08566

 

 

Boy Meets Girl

full-5db7dc-boymeetsgirl-dvdkeyart-29_4a2d15a6-0bee-4dbb-9a31-39b1960bf90e_1024x1024

A few years ago I was set up on a blind date by a friend of mine. We had a meal at a restaurant and my friend had provided a set of topic cards to give us things to talk about. The date was very nice, the girl was nice and although to my disappointment nothing eventually came of it I had a good time.
Anyway one of the questions was on favourite movie. In typical male fashion I answered Avengers Assemble. It had just recently been in cinemas and to be honest I really liked the movie. Hers was A beautiful Mind which I didn’t know. Well I did once she had told me about it. I had watched it in the past but had never remembered the name of it. A very thought provoking drama. It was a very sophisticated answer to the question, much more than my comic book superhero action adventure. (Personally I recommend both films and if you like A Beautiful Mind I would also recommend Shutter Island.)
Anyway this lengthy and possibly irrelevant introduction brings me onto what I now consider my favourite film which would have provided a better answer to that question had it actually been made at that stage. Boy meets Girl is a movie I accidently discovered on Netflix. I watched it about four or five times over the next few weeks until Netflix took it off. I have since watched it again through other means and I hope one day the UK gets a dvd release of this film.
The story deals with Ricky, a transgender girl. For those who wants to know I’ll outline the plot, for those who would rather try and watch it without spoilers go away, find it, watch it and if you want come back and reads this. So Ricky basically starts having an affair with a woman she has just meet called Francesca who is engaged to be married. It also deals with the relationship that she has with her long term best friend Robbie. Added in to this is the story about how she also wants to be a fashion designer and is waiting to see if she gets into a fashion school in New York. That is basically the plot and if you have read this without seeing the film then still do because this isn’t the real point to the film. It’s thought provoking and the enjoyment comes from watching the drama unfold. It deals with some of the issues that surrounds people who are transgender. Would I say that it is truly representive of how trans people are treated? Given the research I have done on the area since probably not. Ricky lives in a small town and most of the people we see in the film accept her for who she is. There is a couple of confrontations but there is nothing too treating in these. There no real high tension drama where everything is at risk but simple more of a snap shot into the life of Ricky trying to realise her dreams.

bo1

Michelle Hadley who plays Ricky is great in what is her first film role and I love the character of Ricky. She comes across as confident, funny and down to earth and hot. I’ve noticed that I’ve even adopted a bit of her style with my own clothes. Part of me wants to date her, part of me wants to be her. When I watched the film I researched the actress and discovered her you tube channel where she documents her transition. It was this channel that got her the role in this film having impressed the director. Sadly she has not been in much since but I would love to see her in other things.
There are so many scenes I like from the film that it would be impossible to pick one. Right from the beginning the film is engaging with just the interactions between the characters. To compare it with another film I like A Few Good Men. That film too is a drama and not action packed and it’s great but when I want to watch it it’s the end of the film with Cruise and Nicholas in the courtroom. That’s the great part about that film. Everything else is just a build up to that moment and once you’ve watched it and know the story you can just go to that scene and watch it. With Boy meets Girl I want to re-watch pretty much every scene from start to finish. There are some good twists along the way and the film’s final message makes it end on a very upbeat note.
So yeah I finally have a drama film as my favourite film which I can talk about the philosophical aspects and social issues of. Sure the Avengers is still a good film and yes it deals with individual egos putting aside their conflicts and working as a team to defeat the bad guy. Then it’s just an action packed finish which I suppose does allow Tony Stark to finally become less self-absorbed and nearly sacrifice himself to save the world. But my favourite moment from the movie is Hulk smashing a raging Loki like a rag doll all over the ground. “Puny God”. It’s my favourite moment because it’s funny. I can rewind the dvd and watching it again. Yep still funny. There’s nothing else to the scene. It’s just a funny moment amongst the tension of the battle. Boy meets Girl doesn’t have no big final playout. It ends on a good note, a hopeful message and a great song that made me really think about things in life.   maxresdefault I like films and programmes that makes me question, think or even just inspire me. This film is one of those. It’s the film that made me really question my own feelings on gender and on how I want to express myself. It’s helped me in writing parts of my novel and it’s got me looking deeper into a world that I am finding fascinating and personal.