At a time when transgender people are often featured in news and popular culture, and often with hateful headlines and reactions, I refer back to a line from the introduction of poetry collection Before You Step Outside [You Love Me] by Travis Alabanza: “You are a warrior”.
Originally from Bristol and now living in London, they’re an exquisite performer and wonderful person. They also identify as transgender and non-binary.
Recently, musician Sam Smith came out as non-binary and BBC Points West featured a couple raising a gender neutral child and the noise surrounding trans people, especially those who identify as non-binary, has gotten even louder than usual.
I spoke on BBC Radio Bristol earlier this week about being non-binary on a show focused on trans identities, because it’s a difficult topic and can often feel like treading on eggshells for those who identify as cisgender.
For a broad definition, someone who identifies as being non-binary feels as though their gender does not fit into the neat boxes of male and female. Most, but not all, non-binary people also identify as transgender, as their gender does not match the one they were assigned at birth.
After speaking on the radio and having a positive reception, I want to continue creating a positive, constructive conversation about trans and non-binary people. We are the people you walk by in Cabot Circus, the people you bump into in Bristol Sweet Mart, a friend you meet for an after-work drink at the Watershed.
We are not freaks or ‘snowflakes’, we are people who have finally learnt the language to identify in the way we have always felt. We are your sibling, colleague, child. We are the same as you.
Through working at Bristol24/7, I am lucky enough to meet people from all walks of life and through my additional role as LGBTQ+ Editor, I get to meet people from across the city’s queer community.
Through the people I’ve met, from a trans hairdresser to a gay holistic massage therapist, I know that the LGBTQ+ community in the city is a welcoming and accepting one – not only for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and questioning people, but those who identify in any way outside of the cisgender, heterosexual ‘norm’. I believe that this is reflected within Bristol more widely.
I did not grow up here. I moved two days before my 20th birthday and utterly fell in love with the city I am lucky enough to call home. I love the neighbourhoods, events and, most of all, I love the people.
I have never felt so accepted and welcomed with opened arms, from anybody and everybody. In challenging times, I hope that Bristol can continue to be a loving and caring city, for non-binary people, those in the wider LGBTQ+ community and everybody else.
In the words of Travis: “I am hoping for a world that doesn’t just tolerate me, but actively loves me, uplifts me, protects me and celebrates me. It is not enough to just be tolerated, I want to feel loved.”
Lowie Trevena works for Bristol24/7 and is also the publication’s LGBTQ+ Editor.
Main photo by Emily Lloyd.