You can’t move for falling over trans-related programming on Radio 4 at the moment. This is rather heartwarming after the appalling Women’s Hour program earlier this year that basically gave a notorious TERF an opportunity to spread lies about trans people.
If you are after something light-hearted I can recommend Andrew O’Neill, a cross-dresser who was inspired to become a comedian after seeing Eddie Izzard perform. Mr. O’Neill, as with many cross-dressers, is unfortunately flippant about language, but he is very funny. Have a listen to this. He skewers the whole gender thing rather well.
There’s also a documentary and a play about raising trans children. I haven’t listened to either of these yet, and probably won’t listen to the play because my life has enough family drama as it is without having to listen to someone making it up.
What I found most interesting, however, was a pair of documentaries made with the collaboration of Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic. The first show centers on trans men, and the second on trans women. The contrasts between the two are significant. There’s much more talk about discrimination in the program about trans women. Also the idea that many trans men don’t opt for any genital surgery is glossed over with hardly a comment, whereas in the case of women genital surgery is presented as something essential.
The programs are very gender-normative and binary-focused, which is what I would expect from Charing Cross, but they were still more trans-friendly that I would have predicted. Obviously a lot of the old guard have moved on since I avoided Charing Cross like the plague, but hearing James Barrett saying positive things about trans people was a bit of a jaw dropper.
What came across clearly to me from the programs was that Charing Cross knows it is under threat. The current government is not trans-friendly, and the next one will be even less so. Budgets for GICs all across the country are under pressure, and at the same time GPs are increasingly trying to force all care of trans people back onto the GICs so that they don’t have to shoulder the costs (or interact with people that many of them still believe are selfish perverts who don’t deserve help). Someone at Charing Cross has worked out that in order to survive they are going to have to appeal to public sympathy for trans people, and they are going to have to work with us to do so. You find allies in the strangest of places.
Update: Adjoa Andoh puts her acting skills to magnificent use in the documentary about her trans son. Well worth a listen.