This Trans Awareness Week we caught up with our trans advocate Lou and trustee Vicky-Jane

Hi Lou, what can people expect from MindOut’s Trans advocacy service?

The Trans Advocacy Service works one-on-one with people, to empower and support them to use their voice to make meaningful change on issues impacting them. I work with people on a huge range of issues, both small and large, such as responding to transphobia and discrimination, and accessing health-care. We meet our service users where they are, and walk alongside them in the direction they want to go, being led by their goals and needs.

 

Why is Trans Awareness Week important to you? 

At a time when the existence our tiny and marginalised community is the topic of so called debate, in which we are an abstract concept to those who do not know us or the richness of our lives and struggles, and all the while we are at increased risk of violence and unable to access the health-care, housing, and resources we need, I think it is very beautiful to remind ourselves, to remind others, that we exist. To state clearly that we are not a discussion topic, a trend, or an abomination, but that we are here, that we always have been, and that we always will be, in our collective’s unique power and magic.

 

What do you feel is the best way to focus on trans/non-binary joy?

That is such a lovely question, as the narratives told around our lives are usually marked by tragedy, or the fight to live safely, free from violence and discrimination. For me a focus on trans and non-binary joy would be our community being supported and funded to create art, spaces and work that represents us, and gives us the space not just to be safe, but to thrive.

 

Who are your trans/non-binary role models?

Well I don’t know if she strictly counts, but Audre Lorde is one my biggest heros, an Aquarius like me, and her writing certainly talks to gender fluidity and non-conformity. Other inspirations to me are MJ Barker, Shon Faye, Indya Moore, Kate Bornstein, and well of course Mae Martin and Elliot Page – because I’m only human.

 

White appearing person whoes smiling into the camera, they are wearing a blue and white patterned shirt and wear glasses

Hi Vicky-Jane, what do you enjoy most about being a trustee at MindOut?

Becoming a Trustee has been a real privilege and just a great opportunity to work with some amazing people.  I have learnt so much about the wider community while being able to represent my own experience as a trans woman and someone with mental health issues.

 

Why is Trans Awareness Week important to you?

It’s just such a great week of celebrating the lives of trans and non-binary people.  There is real joy in being a part of this community.  Seeing people living ordinary and yet extraordinary lives is something we can all gain from.

 

What do you feel is the best way to focus on trans/non-binary joy?

There are some wonderful stories out there about people blossoming in their true lives but it seems we need to look between the lines to see them. I would say that we all need to do something we enjoy every day and share those experiences with the wider world.

 

Who are your trans/non-binary role models?

I have a lot of trans friends who have shared this journey with me and in a way they are all my role models! However, if you want me to pick I would have to go back all the way to Marsha P .Johnson.  She was there at a time when life was incredibly hard for trans people but she understood that she could use her strength to help other trans people by setting up S.T.A.R and providing a home for her “family”.  She also had the courage to stand up at the very first New York Pride and call out the lack of diversity – she got up there on stage and took the microphone right out the hands of the organisers!  Her middle initial stands for “pay it no mind” which is just such a reflection of how we are able to survive.  So yes I would love to be more like her.