THE GENDER TRUST BLOG: Guardian Angel

I daresay you, like me, have been too busy following the ever erudite Juliet Jacques. Ms Jacques, unlike me, has a large following in the Guardian. And good for her – it’s always heartening to see something intelligent and entertaining about trans people in the nationals, especially when written by a sister. A Transgender Journey receives the honour of our NICE Award.

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However we’re a bit peeved with the Grauniad, which also get our STOP Award for the words ‘controversial’ and ‘transsexuality’. As you read here in June, Givenchy model Lea T is a trans woman. She’s since gone onto model for French Vogue, covered in nothing more than the naked envy of a certain London-based blogist (that would be me). You could describe Lea T as a trailblazing, unusual or even just fierce, but the Guardian opted for ‘controversial’ which I personally find a bit, well, controversial.

Being trans isn’t controversial. There is of course the argument that Lea T has scandalised Catholics in her Brazilian homeland. By the same logic, Naomi Campbell is also controversial, just by being black, as no doubt she has upset BNP members by daring to pose in black skin. Never mind those dirty stones, ahem, blood diamonds. If Lea T had a penchant for snorting coke at kid’s tea-parties I’d agree with using the C-word. But let’s be clear about this – Lea T was born a trans person, and nobody gets born ‘controversial’. And transsexuality? Well, that’s just plain stoo-pid. It sounds like another of those Victorian-coined sexualities, and a good word it would be too if applied to people attracted to trans people (a group for which our language is yet to fully acknowledge). Unfortunately it’s most frequently used, incorrectly, in place of transsexualism. Next time just Google it.

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Bloody controversy.

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Now, sifting through the media’s transphobic crap, and depressing statistics every week is enough to make you feel as old as the hills, and ageing has been on my mind a bit recently. It’s taken a year or two for this to sink in but… I’m not actually teenager anymore. Ancient. Yes, gone are the days when I’d use my all day (child) bus ticket to get me to and from school, then into town where I’d go clubbing it all night (on a Wednesday, knowing I had school the next day and oblivious to what a hangover was). And the other day I asked a shop assistant, (a total bitch and a liar), how old I was only to receive a devastating 28. 28! Not that that’s old. But it’s half a decade more than my real age (which, in fairness, differs depending upon which source you consult). And it’s a lot closer to 30 than I had ever imagined was possible. Yes – ever.

Which got me thinking: most male-to-female people I know, be they transsexuals or transvestites, and tend to look older than cisgender females of the same age. Of course there’s always exceptions to the rule, and it’s not like I’ve conducted a large scale study or anything, but you must have noticed it. Yet I’ve read a thousand times how trans women are meant to look younger due to the cure-everything effects of oestrogen, a view supported by a middle-aged friend of mine who swears her HRT has had the effect of a youth elixir.

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Dame Edna knows ageing is a journey – to an unwanted destination…

So, do trans women look older or younger? Depends what you mean by ‘younger’ really. I may well look fresher than if I’d never transitioned, but I can’t help thinking I look older than my female, cis schoolmates. And then there’s the fact that trans men almost invariably look younger than their years, which for blokes is not always desirable.

Ah, but how could I forget? It’s called Sod’s Law!

Must be my age…

Paris Lees

(The views expressed within this blog are those of the author, and may not reflect those of the Gender Trust)

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