Top surgery, and in fact almost all medical interventions for trans* people are spoken about with such rose tinted glasses, it's hard to find a story about the difficulties or sad times. Particularly the social aspect of transitioning and the impact of surgery on these things. So rather than a simple before and after I want to share with you journey of this.
Those two approaches are not the only options, though. The best option is to allow someone to explore their feelings, support them in gaining self-understanding, and accept their identity whatever it turns out to be. It is not complicated, and it's only scary if you are still holding onto the belief that being either autistic or transgender - or, perish the thought, both - is a terrible thing to be. Which it's not. I am, along with countless others like me, living proof of that.
I write this piece not to overspeak or cisplain the horrific attack on the Trans+ community which just occurred, but in the hopes that by sharing my experience it may amplify the many trans voices screaming against the dark, so that those who attempt to deny their voice will know that they are supported by the rest of the LGBT+ community.
Trans people, including trans young people, don't want to face abuse, we don't want to have our identities questioned on national media, so why on earth do people still believe we "choose" to be trans? Why would anyone choose to go through all this? What we need is support. We need allies, we need our human rights to be respected.
What these films usually have in common is a lack of understanding towards trans issues, where harmful and misleading stereotypes about trans people are enforced. Not surprisingly, trans people are tired of being the subject of ridicule, disgust or are shown for the shock effect value and usually don't involve an actual trans person playing the role.
In a country where a trans* woman is jailed with men, we are not living in a country where trans* identities are considered equal or valuable. It may seem incidental, an accident, something you see in passing in the newspaper, but the story of Jenny Swift's death is a tale of how invisible trans* people are and how much work there is still to be done.
2016, aside from being the year when your favourite celebrity died, has been a seminal year for those who identify as "other" when it comes to the question of gender. Thanks to high profile stars and activists, from Laverne Cox and Janet Mock to Ruby Rose and Miley Cyrus, we now have the chance for young people to be aware that gender - the great societal binary - isn't so binary at all. In fact, like most things in life, gender operates as a spectrum and everybody's identity is valid without denying anybody else's.
Instead the new year will bring a different kind of new me. I will fashion a new me from actions and words, a new form sewn out of relationships and strengthened with self confidence. I will endeavor to look in the mirror and like what I see, or find something each day to like. I will try my best to love more, to love stronger, to be kinder.
This is Token, the podcast I present with my colleague Freddy McConnel. We just recorded our Christmas special, with guest Mona Chalabi from the Guardian video series Vagina Dispatches. I am a mixed race, Jewish, northern woman, and Fred is a trans, queer white guy from down south. So between us we have a fair bit of experience of being tokens! Normally the episodes focus on gender, identity, race and culture, but this episode was strictly vag.
Instead of only considering what happens if we treat the child and then that child changes their mind years down the line, must we not also consider what happens if we refuse to treat that child?What happens to the MTF child who is told she must go through a male puberty before she will be taken seriously?
Not so long ago I was living on social security, worrying if I had enough money left to buy enough food to see me through the week. A few months later I'm rubbing shouders with rock 'n' roll royalty, making headlines around the globe for simply doing my job and now have over 60,000 followers on Twitter. Bizarre - and all because I got a birth defect sorted out.