On Saturday evening January 30th, Abigail Thorn, British actress and founder of Philosophy Tube, announced to her followers and the wider world that she was a trans woman. Twitter went wild! This incredibly brave woman had taken the step so many struggle to take and she did so with such dignity that I was genuinely humbled and not a little envious of her courage.
Trans representation is incredibly important in the fight to normalise trans rights, especially when it comes to ensuring that all trans people are able to access respectful, timely, and affirming trans healthcare, should they want it. So, when a talented, articulate, trans woman who’s in the public eye ‘comes out’ – something that seems to be happening more and more of late – we greet it with a mix of joy for the individual and hope for us all.
I am always encouraged by the fact that, despite the dire state of discourse around our existence and rights, trans folk are increasingly emboldened – and supported – to live their truth.
I read her statement with joy. It was powerful, it was truthful, and in parts it was predictably painful. Despite inevitable references to how hard it is to be trans in the UK, it was a positive message that struck an eloquent balance between her personal experiences and her pledge to be an advocate for trans rights – a welcome commitment, and one which we have no right to expect of anyone in her situation.
I had originally written this post in February without having watched Abigail’s widely publicised video. As outlined in my original post – I was afraid, for very personal reasons, to watch it. However, some friendly voices from the community encouraged me to be brave (you know who you are and thank you). I appreciate the advice, but my feelings haven’t changed.
My very real fear is directly related to the fact that I cannot help but compare myself to others, especially when it comes to my transition. A habit which I appreciate only serves to belittle my own experience as a trans person, and hamper my growth as an individual.
Finding a way to deal with my own shortcomings is important, so instead, I wanted to share these very simple thoughts in the hope that they may help anyone in a similar position:
Everyone’s transition is unique
There isn’t a strict timeline, in fact, a transition is often slow and hard won, there can be difficult steps backwards, as well as progressive steps forwards.
We can only take things at our own pace
Transition is a journey, and it’s different for each and every one of us. Although we might have shared experiences, we are all individuals.
Comparing ourselves to others rarely helps
However seemingly perfect things may look, others may be having their own struggles too. They may need support as much as anyone else and there is nothing to say we can’t be there to offer that support. Solidarity and shared experience counts for a huge amount in our community.
Remember every ‘win’, whatever that might be
From getting a longed-for “buzz cut” through to having our passport reflect our correct name and gender. From verbalising our thoughts about our identity to someone for the very first time, through to stepping out, with friends, into the world as the real us. There can be many moments that, in isolation, feel insignificant or fleeting against a backdrop of gender dysphoria, however, when we reflect back on them they are a really big deal and we should appreciate them as such.
Most importantly, it’s not a competition
We are valid whatever our experience may be and in time and with more and more people like Abigail being brave enough to step into the light, I believe it will become easier for those of us that struggle to find a place in which we are comfortable and where we can be supported in our journey.
Credit: Philosophy Tube
Image by Ira Giorgetti – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0