New Standards of Care

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2011

World Professional Association for Transgender Health Welcomes IOM Report
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Board of Directors welcomes this week’s release of a new report on disparities in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Health from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). This important document marks the first time the IOM has directed inquiry into the health status of and barriers experienced by LGBT people. The report authors recommend further support for methodological research relating to LGBT health and the systematic collection of data regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Dr. Walter Bockting, the Association’s President, said, “For transgender health in the United States, the release of the Institute of Medicine report on LGBT health is a true milestone. The fact that the report acknowledges that transgender health is an important area of study and intervention holds much promise for improving access to quality transgender care. As WPATH President, it was an honor to serve on the Committee that prepared this report. Now is the time for our members and the larger scientific community to help carry out one of the report’s main recommendations: To implement a research agenda that expands all aspects of the evidence base for transgender-specific health care.”

Disparities in health and access to health care for transgender people have been documented in a number of needs assessment studies and community surveys, but a lack of recognition has limited the applicability of these early studies. The IOM report calls for “a comprehensive research training program that would raise awareness of LGBT health issues among researchers.” WPATH agrees that such a program would greatly benefit transgender and transsexual people and lead to better application of research, and better health outcomes for the clients and patients our Association members serve. We look forward to seeing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) response to the recommendations in the report, and are hopeful that the report’s recommendations will be implemented in the near future.

WPATH

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GENDER TRUST BLOG: Draggy Halloween!

Yup, it’s All Hallow’s Eve, Christmas for Goth’s and my favourite day of the year – October 31st. To celebrate, I’ve compiled a list of pop-culture’s draggiest witches. Don’t say you’ve never had your suspicions….

WINIFRED “WINNIE” SANDERSON

(Hocus Pocus, 1993).

BEST QUOTE: “Oh look, another glorious morning. Makes me SICK!”

SUMMARY: Ever the showgirl, Bette Midler is scarily good at this whole witch thing, and her fantastic performance of I’ll Put a Spell On You is total carberet. She’s arch, musical and intensely funny. But if I wasn’t 100% sure it was Ms Midler… well. Also, watch out for a fresh-faced Sarah Jessica Parker doing her best fag-hag impression….

VERDICT: “Pure Drag”

DRAG RATING: 5/5

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Winnie cooks up a treat in Hocus Pocus

GROTBAGS

(Emu’s World, 1982)

BEST QUOTE: “I know that you stupid overgrown lizard… take that!”

SUMMARY: No wonder gender variance is on the up. Did nobody stop to think about the effect .We know Grotbags, we know….

VERDICT: “Camper than Christmas”

DRAG RATING: 4/5

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Dragalicious Grotbags – favourite childhood witch of 20-30 year olds

LAMIA

(Stardust, 2007)

BEST QUOTE: “Has your mind become as decrepit as your face Empusa?”

SUMMARY: How Halle Berry can look Michelle Pfieffer in the face – even with her Oscar – I’ll just never know. But it’s not just Michelle’s Catwoman the world loves. We heart this wicked and glamorous contribution to the Hollywood witch folklore. Mind you, she’s played a saucy sorceress before, alongside a fairly-draggy-in-her-own-right Cher. Clearly she took notes.

VERDICT: “Not as draggy as bygone witches”

DRAG RATING: 3/4

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Charmed, I’m sure…

T-BAG

(T-Bag Adventures, 1985-1992)

BEST QUOTE: (Shreiks): “20p for a cup of tea!”

SUMMARY: Star of shows likeT-Bag Bounces Back and T-Bag’s Christmas Ding Dong, is there really any question about Tallulah Bag? Character actresss Georgina Hale really helps T-Bag puts the T in transgender. And again, this was on kids TV, warping kids minds – not to mention the one of that poor little lad she bosses about. Out for herself, she’s glamourous and has diction to rival Joan Collins. Classic panto dame…

VERDICT: “Decidedly queenish”

DRAG RATING: 5/5

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Bafta-award winner Georgnina Hale as T-Bag

MALEFICENT

(Sleeping Beauty, 1959)

BEST QUOTE: “Oh, they’re hopeless. A disgrace to the forces of evil.”

SUMMARY: Our gal sure knows how to work that purple eyeshadow, and she has a healthy dislike of youth and beauty… when it’s not her own. She’s got a big chin, gorgeous eyes and a croaky cackle, and boy does she knowhow to make an entrance. That doesn’t convince you? Well, the name’s a bit of a clue….

VERDICT: “Doesn’t get draggier than this”

DRAG RATING: 5/5

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Hagtastic Maleficent

GLINDA

(Wizard of Oz, 1939)

BEST QUOTE: “Let the joyous news be spread – the wicked old witch at last is dead!”

SUMMARY: We usually think ‘nasty’ when looking for drag queens (after all, trans people are inherently wicked). But there’s something about which reminds us of a certain Grayson Perry. And come off it, what do you think she’s singing about with lines like: ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are’? Friend of Dorothy’s? You bet….

VERDICT: “More of a friendly TV”

DRAG RATING: 2/5

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Glinda the Good Witch/ Glinda the friendly TV

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Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry, dressed as his alter ego Claire

THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST

(The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

BEST QUOTE: “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”

SUMMARY: She’s caked in make-up, pernicious, and a total drama queen… nuff said. And to be honest she was kinda cool till she sold out and did those Orange adverts, setting a disappointing precedent for other evil celebrities like Jonny Rotton and Iggy Pop. Trendsetter.

VERDICT: “The voice gave it away”

DRAG RATING: 4/5

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The original and some may say the best – the Wicked Witch of the West

THE WITCH

(Simon and the Witch, 1985-87)

BEST QUOTE: “I’m headteacher now, the last one got sick. Sick and tired of YOU!”

SUMMARY: Doesn’t the title music sound like it was done by Culture Club? Shame she didn’t take some make up lessons form the Boy too. It’s been a while since this scruffy spellster graced the nation’s telly screens but a return to TV via Ten Years Younger might just give her the look to go with that acerbic tongue…

VERDICT: “More glamour please”

DRAG RATING: 1/5

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Come and have a go if you think yer hard enough!

VESTA SPELLMAN

(Sabrina the Teenage Witch, 1996)

BEST QUOTE: “Please, I don’t plan – I scheme”

SUMMARY: Again, the clue is in the name. Hilda, Zelda and their adolescent protoge never quite camp it up enough to make our list, but ‘Aunt’ Vesta definitely has a past. Played by the ever glamorous Raquel Welch, Vesta is one hot older woman – with some bitchin’ outfits. She also has fabulous legs, the kind which clearly come from another dimension. Case closed.

VERDICT: “Raises suspsicions”

DRAG RATING: 3/5

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Raquel Welsh vamps it up as Aunt Vesta

THE GRAND HIGH WITCH

(The Witches, 1990)

BEST QUOTE: “Everywhere I look, I see the repulsive sight of hundreds, thousands of revolting little children…”

SUMMARY: The more one watches this clip the more similarities seen between her coven and transitioning trans women. So the fact this scared me so much is slightly unsettling, pointing towards internal transphobia. That said, the GHW is definitely in drag territory. Look at how she holds a room. Lucky witch.

VERDICT: “Total drag queen”

DRAG RATING: 5/5



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Beautiful, but then …make up can make a big difference to drag artists…

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Happy Halloween y’all. Enjoy dressing up!

Paris Lees

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

THE GENDER TRUST BLOG: Hello Hello Harass

Believe it or not, I don’t actually like moaning about being trans. It’s just that there’s so much to moan about.

Transgender life is much like cisgender life: we face exactly the same problems as the rest of society (apart from that pesky SRS business), though it’s usually significantly magnified.

Let’s take your stereotypical ‘unconvincing’ trans woman. Generally, I don’t see merit in categorising trans women on their ability to ‘pass’. But for my purposes here it’s useful to recognise that some girls are more passable than others. Life, for Noticeable Trans Woman (NTW), is a series of hurdles much like anybody’s. Except she has to jump higher. Take going to the corner shop for instance: this may be a minor inconvenience for most, or even just a nice excuse to stretch one’s legs.

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But for NTW it may be a trial, requiring special planning and preparation if she’s to avoid being called ‘tranny’ by the yobs at the end of the street. And she’s not exactly safe inside the shop either. Although most people are happy to think ‘Oh: a man buying beans’ when they see a cis man buying beans, or ‘Oh: some woman buying toothpaste’ when they see some woman buying toothpaste, the trans-look rarely illicits such mundane responses. Unfortunately, a noticeable trans woman buying a pint of milk often induces onlookers to keep-on onlooking. Frequently this is performed with a stupid grin on their faces, whilst thinking ‘is that a man or a woman’ – sometimes out loud. So that’s the milk run.

And being trans can make a host of situations just that little bit shittier: from getting denied medical care in hospital, to simply turning up to work. Even popping home for Christmas can be a struggle.

So, sadly, we weren’t surprised when Mina (real name changed) contacted the Gender Trust to tell us about her experience with Norfolk Police. She’s describes herself as ‘totally passable’ – but that didn’t protect her from some distinctly unpleasant transphobia.

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An doctor from India, Mina has lived in the UK for many years – keeping an unblemished driving license. But on July 25 she inadvertently jumped the traffic in Great Yarmouth when distracted by her sat-nav system. The police sergeant who stopped her initially said she’d get three points on her driving license, which he’d checked was in order. But, as Mina told the Gender Trust, it wasn’t to be that simple: ‘When he mentioned that my insurance is in a male name, I realised my mistake. With the stress of new job, exams, and moving place it escaped to the back of my mind that my insurance is still in my past name’.

Though it didn’t take her more than three minutes to amend the name via a phone call the following morning, the damage was already done.

As a ‘completely transformed woman’ living in deep stealth, Mina believes that if she had said she was driving her husband`s car, the police would probably have released her: ‘One of his juniors hinted at that later (he wasn’t joking) but it was too late. The moment I told him the truth about me, I was aghast that his whole attitude towards me changed so dramatically. He stopped treating me like another human being’.

The officer arrested Mina in order to ‘prove’ her identity and, she insists, he treated her like a criminal from then on. At this point she broke down in complete anguish.

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Mina, who fears the effect dealing with the police could have on her career, pleaded with the officers to allow her to prove her identity. But they refused to take visit her flat for the relevant documents: ‘So determined was he to humiliate me, all my begging and protests fell on deaf ears. He also accused me of obtaining the driving license by fraudulent means… my car was seized, my phone and master card confiscated and I was taken to the police station to answer embarrassing gender questions, and get thoroughly frisked’.

Her mug shot was taken, and she was forced to give a DNA sample for the national database while her car was searched. Mina says that asking for a solicitor was a big mistake: ‘Not only was he not so trans friendly, I didn’t even get the feeling that he is trying to sort out things for me. Worse, he was keen to grab all the credit for the inevitably positive ending. He said I’d been evasive in answering questions when all I’d told the truth from the word go – that’s what landed me in trouble in the first place’.

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She told us how she was later handcuffed and taken to her flat in full view of her neighbours: ‘The constable wouldn’t even let me wee in peace in my own flat. I regretted asking “Officer, can I close the door please” after he made me cringe with his sarcastic, insensitive reply: “It’s OK doctor, I’m not gonna see your genitalia”’.

In the end she left without using the toilet, and was taken back to the police station and locked up again – by which point Mina claims her bladder was ‘bursting’.

Mina feels lucky that her documents had been returned to her a few days previously by the Gender Recognition Panel: ‘If not, I would probably have been locked up for eternity until I could prove my identity beyond all doubts’.

She was eventually released from custody without any charges being pressed, but Mina believes there’s only one moral which can be taken from her story: ‘Just don’t tell the police you’re transgender’.

Now if you came from the estate I was brought up on you’d probably know not to tell the police anything, but let’s face it, that’s no way to carry on. If you are unlucky enough to experience unfair treatment by the police you can contact the Independent Police Complaints Commission here.

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But remember, the police force is (slowly) changing, and as the National Trans Police Association shows, it’s not impossible that the next officer to pull you over might be themselves transitioning.

I’m just glad I don’t drive.

Paris Lees

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

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.

**************
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)

The Gender Fluidity Project

New Trans Therapeutic Support Groups at London Friend

Pathway is a new therapeutic group held by London Friend. Run by qualified, experienced and trained counsellors Olivier and Emilyn, Pathway is a group for all MtF, transwomen, and gender queeryers. The group will be made of 12 participants maximum over a period of 8 weeks, meeting on a weekly basis. London Friend is committed to provide a respectful and safe environment to explore challenges and questions around your transition and other matters. This will be a place to share, care for yourself and find emotional support. A minimum contribution of £50 (for 8 sessions) will be payable in advance. Contact London Friend for a free individual meeting to find out if Pathway is for you.

Outward is a new therapeutic group held by London Friend. Run by qualified, experienced and trained counsellors Olivier and Emilyn, Outward is a group for allFtM, transmen, and gender queeryers. The group will be made of 12 participants maximum over a period of 8 weeks, meeting on a weekly basis. London Friend is committed to provide a respectful and safe environment to explore challenges and questions around your transition and other matters. This will be a place to share, care for yourself and find emotional support. A minimum contribution of £50 (for 8 sessions) will be payable in advance. Contact London Friend for a free individual meeting to find out if Outward is for you.

The first group will start on 12/9/10 and will be meeting on Sundays 4pm, at London Friend.

If you are interested in joining Pathway or Outward, contact London Friend on 020 7833 1674 during office hours or e-mail office@londonfriend.org.uk .

Reporting Transphobic Crimes

REPORTING TRANSPHOBIC CRIMES

Go to:

www.TCrime.net

Please help us to publicise this new service.  We can supply posters and reporting forms if you send an order to:

info@gires.org.uk

The Home Office has awarded GIRES a grant to fund a national system for reporting transphobic crime.  Appended below are examples of the crimes that trans people have experienced.  It appears that only a few victims of such crime report it to the police.  One young trans person we know has experienced 60 criminal incidents in the past six months, which include being beaten up and a death threat.  Yet she hopes by suffering all this persecution with dignity she will teach the perpetrators to behave better without involving the police.  There are other reasons for not involving the police: the fear of being outed in Court; the lack of confidence that the police will deal sensitively and properly with the incident.  Yet we know from our work with police forces throughout the UK that many are fully aware of the needs of trans people and very keen to support them.

TCrime.net enables crimes to be reported confidentially and leaves it the individual to decide what information should be passed on to the police.

We hope that TCrime.net will reveal the true extent of transphobic crime to policy makers within the criminal justice system, enable the police to pinpoint the hotspots where it occurs most frequently and provide examples of effective police responses that will build trust with trans people. The system will also enable us to put victims of transphobic crime in touch with the many groups that can provide them with practical support

Around 30% of people in the UK do not have access to the Internet.  So, GIRES has provided both manual as well as electronic reporting facilities.  In addition, reporting by third parties and witnesses will be a key element of the system.

TCrime.net is an intelligence gathering and communication system.  GIRES recognises that the much more detailed information required to obtain a conviction should be obtained by the police.

EXAMPLES OF TRANSPHOBIC CRIME

Ø  A 16 year old trans girl, on her way to school,  regularly experienced people shouting insults from their cars like, ‘Girl with a cock’, ‘There’s the he/she/it’’, ‘Tranny boy’, and other names.

Ø  An 18 year old received 84 abusive and threatening text messages within three days after she told her former school class that she had transitioned

Ø  An older boy pulled up the skirt of a 12 year old trans girl to look at her genitals.

Ø  A trans women was discovered at a bus station by another woman who then engaged inyelling abuse, spitting, punching, kicking and trying to scratch the trans woman’s face.

Ø  A trans police officer was outed by the press under the headline “Lady Boy in Blue”. She was then threatened by a group of young men, near her home; her car was vandalised.

Ø  An elderly trans man was surrounded by a teen-age gang who shouted insults and poked him with sticks.

Ø  A 15 year old trans girl was beaten up on her way home.

Ø  A trans woman was raped at knife-point on her way home.

Ø  An assailant approached a trans woman, after realising she was transsexual, punched her to the ground, undid his trousers and forced her to perform an act of oral sex on him.

Ø  A son murdered his father on discovering he was a transsexual person.

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GT Website

The Gender Trust main website (www.gendertrust.org.uk) is currently down.  Don’t despair, we are still here.  You can contact us via telephone, 0845 231 0505 or 01273 234024 or via email info at gendertrust dot org dot uk.

We are working on the issues and will get the site up and running as soon as possible.

CRB checks

In the guidelines produced by the CRB it is advised that members of the trans community contact CRB for a sensitive check:

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/information-for-employers/guidance-on-recruiting-and-supporting-trans-people/roles-that-require-police-checks/the-crb-solution/ .

Applicants may telephone the CRB on 0151 676 1452 to discuss this matter in confidence or email CRBSensitive (at)  crb (dot) gsi (dot) gov (dot) uk. This enables the procedure to be followed but the tracking process ensures that disclosures sent to the employee and their employer will not reveal the applicant’s trans’ history.

Internal Transphobia

I’ve had something on my mind since moving to London, and it’s time to come clean.

In the summer of 2006 I threw away the last of my boy’s clothes and, a fortnight later, decided to sample the ‘transgender scene’ in London. Living in Nottingham at the time, I imagined the Way Out Club (which I’d discovered on the internet) to be a huge and glitzy affair – the transgender equivalent of legendary gay superclub Heaven. It would be filled with amazingly beautiful and sophisticated transsexual people, who’d make me feel like a mere provincial wannabe.

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Alex Silverfish

Not quite. I hadn’t considered that it would attract those who struggle most with their gender identity. The Way Out seemed somewhat bitchy, and many of the girls seemed desperate for sex. Tales of their depression and nocturnal lifestyles surprised me, but I was soon to learn the reasons behind some of their problems.

As the club was emptying, a trans woman stopped me and told me I was ‘fierce’. I didn’t know what she meant, though I accepted an invitation to a post-club party at hers.

It was fun. I’d never been at a trans-only gathering before, and I was intrigued. We drank wine in the living room and chatted about London, pop music and transitioning. I slept over.

The woman putting me up was an incredibly warm, kind-hearted individual, with a thick Italian accent and faith in Jesus Christ. Her name was Alex Silverfish.

Another of the trans girls lived in the flat above, so the next day they decided to show me round the colourful districts of Bethnal Green. But what happened next came as a shock.

Hostile stares awaited us outside. An old man of Asian origin turned and followed us, shouting: “Men! Abominations! Disgusting… fake hair, fake tits: fake woman!’ but my new friends seemed unsurprised. Many other men hung around the district looking amused. I alone was flabbergasted.

“It’s OK once we get past here – they love us in the town” Alex assured me. But children on bikes followed us, shouting ‘Fucking trannies!’ and throwing bits of rubbish at us. I was livid. Alex and her friend saw this as much a part of going out as putting on one’s shoes. For them, it was.
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We encountered a few rude stares after that, but on the whole we were fine on the hot streets of Bethnal Green, with its outdoor drinkers and quirky fashion boutiques to rival Camden. But returning to the house we experienced more abuse: “I’m a lad-ee!” mouthed a large group of men whilst chasing us towards the stairwell. I was scared.

Safe inside, Alex told me such harassment was her everyday life, but the council refused to rehouse her.

She’d tried the police, but rather than a source of protection she saw them as part of the problem; indifferent and unwilling to tackle the Bengali community who were targeting her. And there was worse. She told me she’d been badly beaten once and left unconscious by the roadside. Rather than helping her, the police arrested her for suspected prostitution; then ridiculed her for being a ‘freak’. I could scarcely believe her words, but something about Alex told you she wasn’t lying. She looked like she’d suffered.

It was a hot Bank Holiday weekend and I remained her guest for almost a week. She treated me like family: cooking me delicious pasta meals and showing me pictures of all her gorgeous transgender friends. In the day we’d be abused, but at night we went out dancing and walked home relatively unmolested in the warm night air.

We lost contact after that. Two months later I’d begun University and was preoccupied with a new life in Brighton. I’d also started to feel the sting of transition, as a paranoid obsession with ‘passing’ invested my insecurities with unprecedented new powers. I avoided anything that pointed towards me being trans. I hated myself.

In the Autumn of 2007 Alex phoned me: she wanted to visit me in Brighton. Things were getting really tough and she needed a break – she sounded desperate. I lied and told her I was busy. I wanted to see her but my transphobia easily won-out. I couldn’t have such a noticeably trans woman going in and out my front door, let alone joining her. No way.

I could tell she was disappointed, and we never really spoke again. She tried to call me once but I was too embarrassed to answer.

Last year I bumped into the girl who’d lived above her. She told me Alex had died, muttering something about a car crash and promising to tell me more next time. My betrayal haunted me.

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Me, Summer 2006.

Then last January I made a devastating discovery online: Alex hadn’t died in a car crash at all. She’d killed herself.

I learned about her suicide through Project Silverfish, a London-based group which supports trans, intersex and genderqueer people through outreach work, especially those with drug, drink and mental health problems. The project also provides guidance and access to housing, benefits, education and training. It’s a fitting tribute to a lovely woman; and much needed.

To say I feel bad is an understatement. Alex might still be alive had I offered her a safe space to fly whenever things became too much in Bethnal Green. Though I’ve changed a lot these past few years, I still can’t help feeling like a shit.

Since then I’ve been researching Alex Silverfish. I knew she DJ’d, but I’d never realised how high profile she’d been both on the London scene and worldwide. I had no idea she’d touched so many people. I should have been proud to know her.

Alex, you believed in heaven. I don’t. But if you’re up there, looking down at me, I want you to know how sorry I am. I let you down, and you deserved better. I’m sorry for being ashamed of you. I’m sorry you felt the need to take your own life.

Please forgive me.

Paris Lees

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