Rhyannon Styles On The Year Trans Went Pop

From Caitlyn Jenner to The Danish Girl

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Earlier this month, Will Young released his new single ‘Brave Man’ with an accompanying video that features a transgender man walking around Brighton naked. The video comes towards the end of 2015 where we have seen trans visibility in the mainstream media and pop culture highlighted like never before.  

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Let me rewind to 2011 when Channel 4 screened a documentary series called ‘My Transsexual Summer’, which followed the lives of seven transgender people of all ages at various points in their transition. This was, to me, groundbreaking. 

It was the first time, perhaps since Nadia won Big Brother in 2004, that trans people were being represented as the human beings we are - just everyday people getting on with our lives. The show put trans issues and identities into the living rooms of the nation. I watched that show and it helped me realise and embrace the person I am today.

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You see, I grew up in the 90s, a time in which you only saw trans people in tabloid newspapers, headlines like, 'Monster Chef and the She Male' or 'Her Secret is OUT.’

Transgendered people were a joke, considered freaks and as a result many would repress how they felt about it. Many would take their own lives. 

And then things began to change…

In 2013, the trans journalist Paris Lee topped The Independent's ‘Pink List,’ which rounds up the most influential openly LGBT individuals in the United Kingdom.

In 2014, the trans actress Laverne Cox made the front cover of Time Magazine with the accompanying headline ‘The Transgender Tipping Point’

And in 2015, Caitlyn Jenner (you might have heard of her) caused a global meltdown when she revealed her transition on the cover of Vanity Fair

All of these woman are icons. All of these woman will be remembered for their contribution to raising an awareness that we exist. 

How wonderful it is that in 2015 we have Rebecca Root, a trans actress playing a trans role, in the BBC 2 show ‘Boy Meets Girl’. In the States the comedy-drama ‘Transparent,’ about a middle-aged woman’s transition, has been commissioned for a 3rd season. And in theaters we await the release of ‘The Danish Girl’, a film where Eddie Redmayne plays Lile Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender reassignment surgery. 

But what about the men? Will Young’s video shines a light on the other half of the trans community that often gets overshadowed. 'This video is about taking a moment in time to explore a section of society who stand up for themselves,' Will Young tells me when we chat about his video for Brave Man. The music video is a chilling real-life portrayal of the isolation and prejudice so many in the trans community experience, while at the same time showing our resilience and power. Ultimately, the video cleverly portrays the strength it takes to be your authentic self.

 ‘What I learnt making this video, is that trans people are always the gender they ultimately transition into, but were born into the wrong shell… Our bodies are vessels and vehicles,’ Will tells me, 'I think what is evident in 2015 is that trans people are using themselves as vehicles for change.’

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