If you’ve watched this week’s episodes of New Activists, you’ll know my book To My Trans Sisters, is finally out! It’s the most surreal thing ever! It all started last year, when I was fortunate enough to be offered a book deal by Jessica Kingsley Publishers after I topped The Observer’s New Radicals List. I was also fortunate enough to be given free reign with the book, so when it came to deciding what I wanted it to be about, I began by asking myself what I felt my community needed, and answered that question by asking myself what I needed when I began my own transition.
I decided to create the book I wish I had at the start of my transition.
Those early days were really tough- I didn’t know any other trans people when I first began transitioning back in 2013, so I didn’t have a big sister figure in my life to do what a big sister is supposed to do: help me with my make-up, give me dating advice, teach me how be a strong woman. This is the case for most trans people. Transition is hard enough, but it’s harder when you have go through it alone.
On top of this, back then, prior to the trans tipping point of 2014/15, there were very few positive representations of trans people in the media, if any. So as well as not having anyone in my immediate circles to look up to and learn from, I didn’t really have anyone in the media to do this to either. I was desperate for information and inspiration. I wanted to create a book that was a source of these two things, and a source of sisterly advice for the next generation of girls.
So I began reaching out to the women who’d I’d researched and looked up to throughout my own transition, asking them if they’d share a letter of advice to girls at the start of their transitions… and to my surprise a few of them got back to me. Almost 100 in fact!
From pioneering scientists to bestselling authors, trailblazing politicians to celebrated entertainers (and some straight-up trans icons too) this book features letters of sisterly advice from almost 100 incredible trans women. It’s an encyclopaedia of trans excellence.
It was important for me that this book was a source of inspiration as well as just a source of information, which is why I asked the women I did. I wanted the reader, to be able to draw inspiration not only from the women’s letters but also from the women themselves, so each letter is accompanied by a bio I’ve written up detailing the incredible impact each woman has had on the world. Positive representation is so important. Like I said, prior to the ‘trans tipping point’ of 2014/15 there were very few positive representations of trans people in the mainstream- the only time you really saw girls like us in the media was either as a punch-line or a punching-bag. This negative representation has a damaging effect on both the way the public perceive us, but more importantly the way we perceive ourselves. We are more than punch-lines and punching-bags, we have literally changed the world. From 80 year old tech pioneer Lynn Conway who’s inventions changed the way the world works to America’s Next Top Model’s Isis King who changed the world see us as trans people.
The letters and advice are as different as the contributors themselves, but there is one common thing that every letter in the book possesses and every woman in the book possesses; resilience. Almost all the letters contain stories of prejudice, rejection, hate – but despite all the hardship girls like us face, we still choose to exist, bravely, boldly and beautifully. It’s an achievement to simply survive in this world as a trans woman, but as the women in this book show, not only do we survive, we thrive.
New Activists is a new HuffPost UK docu-reality series that follows the lives of a unique and aspirational cast of young activists in real time. They are loud on social media, they are marching on the streets and they are challenging the status quo. New Activists tells the stories of the next generation of people who are changing the world