I have just watched the BBC 3 Documentary ‘Transsexual Teen, Beauty Queen ‘ on i-player. For those of you interested in seeing it for yourself, you have five days and counting – and it’s worth the rush because this lady is exactly the way I describe her in the title.
Watch it here whilst you can:
At eighteen, Jackie Green has seen more trauma, confusion, bullying and torment than most see in a life time and yet she emerges from thirteen years of nightmare confident, serene and undoubtedly beautiful. Jackie is a new generation of transgender people, although she had to make a bit of history herself to pave the way for others. She went to America to obtain hormone blockers below the age they would be prescribed in the UK, which then enabled her to make her so successful transition to a young woman. Sadly, such treatment is far more difficult to obtain in the UK, meaning that for many the onset of puberty has already allowed the bodily changes that make authenticity difficult for them as transgender people. Jackie ‘passes’ perfectly for female – no it’s not a derogatory term, it’s a phrase many trans people use to denote someone who is so authentic in their gender role, no observer would know there had ever been an issue – and it is what all aspire to, but not so many achieve.
But Jackie is more than that, she is a real girl and that became very obvious when, on her final attempt to make it into the Miss England beauty pageant finals, she specifically didn’t tell her interviewers in the ‘personality’ round that she was transgender and give them the benefit of her back story. She was just Jackie, and judged purely as a girl against other girls in the contest.
In my research into transgender issues and whilst writing my novel following the life and transition of Will – Billie, I read many things, spoke to various people in various stages of transition and came to understand some, but barely enough of what it is to deal with this complex, challenging – and for those of us who don’t know what it feels like – confusing, condition; gender disphoria.
watch the whole video of boy to girl here:
and I have included parts of a moving plea from a US transgender website in the novel (Chained Melody – out January 18th 2013), which says this:
‘…I have had to surrender much of my life to the brutality and incomprehension of societal ignorance surrounding the phenomenon of transsexualism. That ignorance and prejudice costs lives is no new discovery, it is the bane of every age whether it shows up in war or in civil violence or in silent hatred and misunderstanding. In this case though it was my own life that has been bled away year by year in my efforts to correspond to what body may have indicated but my soul knew to be an alien fabric out of which I could never hope to weave a complete or a happy life. The only comfort I have for those lost days and years during which I was a stranger to myself frantically seeking to garb my soul in the personalities and expectations of others, is that I might be the last generation to know such pointless suffering. That is why I am writing today, to spare others lost years, lost hopes, lost lives…’
What I have learned – and Jackie, and recently also Juliet Jacques, in her Guardian blog, have confirmed for me – is that anyone living through and coming out the other side of being transgender is certainly bold, beautiful and brave – whatever they look like. Jackie, if you do compete in Miss England again next year, you have my vote!But one word of caution. Don’t think you are unfairly trading on your back story. It is what makes you a girl, but a very special girl and that story is part of what makes you special. Not because you are transgender, but because you’ve lived through the transition from male to female with grit, determination and dignity. You’ve risen above prejudice and openly been true to yourself in the face of opposition. That’s a story all in itself…
Some links of interest for anyone involved with this issue themselves or wishing to be supportive of those still struggling with it:
http://www.gires.org.uk/transbullying.php (Guidance to Combating Transphobic Bullying in Schools is a publication from GIRES, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, whose aim is to create supportive attitudes among those who can influence improvements in the lives of trans people and how they are perceived in society).
More information about Chained Melody, it’s publication date and the location of book signings as they are agreed can be found on my website:
It is launching concurrently, and with the arrival of the ‘Living my Life’ exhibition in Bournemouth. Come and see the portraits, meet the people and chat to the author – 18th to 25th January. All details will be on the website shortly.
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