Shon Faye’s Transgender Issue – a call for compassion | Company books
Many cisgender person is surprised that I, a trans person, often don’t want to read the latest trans book or watch the latest TV show with a trans character. The point is, I usually turn on the TV or open a book to relax. It’s the opposite of relaxing to watch the facts of my life keep coming back to me – at best, it’s nothing that I didn’t already know; at worst, it is badly distorted.
The transgender issue: an argument for justice, by Shon Faye, is not a relaxing read, and yet I am deeply grateful that it exists. There’s also not much that I didn’t already know, but it’s the nature of being a trans person in the UK. We are compelled, in the name of self-defense, to become experts in any subject that might overlap with “the transgender issue”, from prisons to sports to public washrooms. Meanwhile, many cisgender people live in blissful ignorance of the acute crises trans people face in this country every day.
These are the people who really need to read this book. Faye exposes in great detail the harsh realities of trans life today. She is careful, however, not to portray the trans condition as uniquely tragic or difficult, highlighting the parallels between the trans experience and that of other oppressed or minority groups. This position is clear from the first line: “The liberation of trans people would improve the lives of everyone in our society.
Faye, editor-in-chief at Stunned and former lawyer, described her professional trajectory in an interview with QX magazine: “I had a complete implosion, quit my job, went back to Bristol and came out as a trans woman. Then became a freelance writer. Known as one of the funniest trans people on Twitter, she recently tweeted in response to a troll “I’m a trans for a living,” a sentiment I can relate to. Most of the trans people I know feel to some extent that they have to be trans in order to make a living. With that comes the expectation that you are ready and willing, at all times, to stand firm on any element of the “transgender issue” that someone might decide to ask you about.
Faye uses the analogy to skillfully answer complicated questions – if being trans isn’t a mental illness, why does the NHS have to provide treatment for it? She draws a parallel with unwanted pregnancy – being pregnant is not an illness and yet abortion is a life-saving medical procedure, otherwise people are taken to desperate extremes. Likewise, a trans person needs to access a medical transition not because they are ill, but because it is necessary for that person.
Such analogies break the divide that trans people are seen as incomprehensible and separated from all other groups. As Faye points out: “The illusion that trans people’s concerns are niche and very complex is often a way of robbing them of their power.”
She is uncompromising and her anger palpable. This, I suppose, may put off some readers. Trans people in the UK are in dire straits; they face overwhelming political and media hostility, while vital health care is almost impossible to access. It is infuriating to be asked to speak politely and without emotion about what is, for many of us, life or death. I hope that readers do not respond defensively, but with a commitment to support if needed.
Trans people are so often drawn into public “debates” where we have very little say in the terms. Faye clarifies that she is not interested in getting involved, writing: “I believe that forcing trans people to get involved in these endless closed-loop debates is in itself a tactic of those who wish to oppress us. . ” When we are forced to discuss the same points over and over in vain, we have very little opportunity to talk about what is really important to us – like the fact that wait times for a first appointment in clinics NHS gender identities now vary between three and five years. A book like this, in which a trans person has the opportunity to speak clearly and convincingly on their own terms, is a vital antidote.
Faye exposes the British press’s shift in approach to trans people over the past decade, taking as a starting point the tragic case of Lucy Meadows, who became a trans woman in 2012 while teaching in a school. primary school. The ensuing campaign of defamation and harassment by the press culminated in his suicide in March 2013.
Faye writes that “while since the death of Lucy Meadows there have been some small improvements in the conduct of the press towards trans people, these gains were more than offset by the skyrocketing of another phenomenon: a huge rise in press hostility towards transgender people. as a minority group ‘. The aggressive and cruel jokes directed at Meadows were more overtly hostile than the current media coverage, which tends to be masked in milder language on “concerns” – but negative coverage of trans people is much more pervasive today. A book cannot, of course, counterbalance such a wave of continual animosity. Nevertheless, as the drops in the bucket, this book is important and heavy.