"I’m a 22-year-old transgender woman from Bristol, who is going into her final year of an undergrad in Production Arts at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
I've been out publicly since my first year of A Levels, and my journey has seen me access both young people’s and adult gender care on the NHS. Since then, I've been politely making a small space for myself in a society that still seems to see me as a second class citizen.
I grew up in a village in South Gloucestershire. Politically we're a 'Blue' safe seat, and I always felt like I was the only person like me for miles around. Hopping on a bus to Bristol as a teen was such a lifeline. This city is where I've met most of my close friends, and it's the first place I ever felt celebrated.
Here, I'm not the first trans patient a doctor or nurse has treated, some even consider it routine. No one has yelled the T slur at me here (yet), so far I've only been cat-called in the way most women are. That's quasi-acceptance if I ever saw it: 'harassment for all women! Even the transsexual ones!' (Can you feel me rolling my eyes yet?)
Like anywhere though, I have to acknowledge my privilege. That I feel confident and safe enough to walk down the street is due to how I look - which includes being white. Basically Bristol, I love you but you can do better."
"Hey! I'm a non-binary person!! I like coffee, cats and spring!I'm a queer journalist living and working in Bristol. I am currently working for Bristol24/7 and have bylines in publications including Metro UK, Rife magazine and Circus Journal.
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."
"My name is Siân and I am a very proud trans woman of colour! I've been out as trans now for a few years, although it took me a very long time to feel comfortable enough to get to this point.
Quite possibly, I talk a bit too much about feminist theory and listen to a bit too much 140. Also, over the past couple of years, I've also been involved with some activist-y stuff, although getting involved with more explicitly trans stuff has been a much more recent thing.
"Unfortunately, when trans people are invisible, it means that the only representation that we have comes in the form of crude and ugly stereotypes. These stereotypes only serve to stigmatise trans identities. At least personally I can attest that the repeated exposure to these stereotypes and ugly depictions is quite frankly trauma inducing especially to young, closeted trans people
Visibility is the first part in the process of undoing transphobia, be that internalised or otherwise. Positive visibility means that we are not seen as scary trans people, or ‘TRA’s’ but actual people.
I remember many years ago seeing Paris Lees on Question Time. It was the first time I’d ever seen a trans person on TV who was not the butt of a transphobic ‘joke’ and who was not ashamed, but proud to be trans. For me, that was the first part in undoing the many years of internalised transphobia that I had long since harboured. That’s what visibility means to me."
"Hello! I’m Tim Lo, artist name TIM LYTC. I’m a genderqueer Southeast Asian inter-disciplinary movement artist, writer, researcher, director, producer working in theatre, film and creative tech.
My favourite thing to do is listen to Queer legends like Hayley Kiyoko, HOCC, Rina Sawayama and Mamamoo, while doing the laundry and taking care of plant babies with my SO. I’m a huge animal lover, particularly a fan of cats (though I’m deathly allergic to them). I also love animated anything, especially 2D animations such as films by Studio Ghibli.
Visibility means representation, it means an opening up of possibilities. It means seeing “yes” for the first time, after being told “no” so much in so many ways throughout your life.
Sometimes all you need is that one person who presents themselves, or has experiences and lives in a similar way to you to be given a spotlight. Their existence and that you are able to see it, might be all the “yes” you need to live the life you need to and want to live. To exist in such a way that’s healthiest and happiest for you.
For me, there were many “yes’s” that helped me understand my gender and sexuality. They showed me how a different way of living to the societal heteronormative binary norm is possible, and how it can be celebratory. My first yes was HOCC (Denise Ho), the first ever female singer musician in Hong Kong to “come out” publicly. She sang about Queerness in all its glorious forms and was my introduction into the Queer world."
(OR THEY/THEM IF YOU'RE FEELING SPICY)
"Hi! My name is Gabriel Willem and I'm studying at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School to get my MFA in Acting. I am American and originally from Indiana, but lived in Champiagn-Urbana for the last few years while I did my undergrad degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am an actor, artist, translator, activist, and avid coffee drinker. As an artist, I am very passionate about more trans representation on stage and screen. I want to be the person I wanted to see in media when I was a kid.
Being trans is amazing. It's finally feeling like myself in my body, understanding who I am as a person, how I fit into other communities, everything. I love being a resource for other queer people, in fact there are a lot of people that talked to me in the early stages of them coming out, and I call them my trans babies. I am so honored to be that person for people and it truly is my favorite thing about being trans.
As always, being trans is exhausting, and that's the hardest part. I purposely use my Instagram as a place where I can teach people about our experiences, so that way I can limit myself in person from feeling like I need to answer personal questions to any random person who asks."
"I’m Greyson. I’ve lived in Bristol all of my life bar this past month after moving to Brighton for university.
Visibility, to me, means the idea of fitting in and being recognised & respected in society. I believe the best way to support the trans community is through acceptance and understanding. It is important for collaboration that we can listen and learn from each other.
I think a lot of people think it will be offensive to ask trans people questions as they’ll be seen as ignorant for not knowing. But that’s not true! I’d rather answer a question than confuse people."
"I'm Erin, a 22 year-old engineering student who loves houseplants, playing the accordion and listening to ABBA Gold (Anniversary Edition) on repeat 24/7. And I'm non-binary!
I discovered I'm non-binary over lockdown and it's been quite the journey. I feel much more confident now that I know myself better. I don't know many non-binary and trans people, so lacking this exposure and awareness meant that I have been trying to figure myself out for years, sometimes forcing myself into certain stereotypes to fit my interpretation of what labels mean. Inevitably, those views were largely influenced by the society I grew up in and the people around me.
After more research and exploration, I realised that the umbrella term of "non-binary" really matches the non-specific nature of my gender presentation and experience. I like the implication of the term regarding not conforming to (what I believe to be) pretty baseless societal constructs of 'gender.'"
This photo of Mair is part of a long-term collaboration where we'll be documenting the impact of hormone therapy over time.
"Over the years I've collected names, ones given to me and ones I've chosen for myself. Coming out as trans brought into focus how I use those names, and what a name can mean particularly in terms of relation to gender and identity. I currently use Mair which is the name given to me by my parents.
I haven't always been comfortable with my given name. In Wales it's recognisably a girls name and it made me feel uncomfortable for a long time. I was given the nickname Mush at high school and I used that name from 14 until my late 20s. I'm also known as Bill in certain friendship circles, or Gwilym which is the Welsh version. I may choose to change my name legally in the future, but I don't want to do that just because its expected of me. Personally I feel that too many things are expected of trans people, in fact all people, to conform to the gender binary whatever their assigned gender at birth. I respect whatever names and pronouns that people choose for themselves regardless of the reasons behind that."
"I'm a software engineering manager working for a well-known company founded in Bristol. When I'm not helping folks sling code and fight (metaphorical, software-based) fires, I can be found curled up on the sofa watching my favourite YouTubers (current faves include Khadija Mbowe, Folding Ideas and The Financial Diet), researching something for my next baking experiment or singing - either with a local chamber choir or just loudly at home (possibly about Bruno, as everyone is right now!).
"I'm quite newly out - after thirty years of wearing the "female" gender like a poorly fitting pair of shoes, I've enjoyed being barefoot and exploring myself afresh. Being involved with projects like this helps me feel like I'm becoming more of a part of the community, and remind me that there's no one correct way to be non-binary - I don't need to "pass" as non-binary to be valid."
"I'm a disabled nonbinary trans man, living in a wonderful household of poly trans people. If I'd seen someone like me when I was much younger, I think my head would have exploded from the realisation that I could exist like this.
I very rarely see trans people who look like me on social media and the like, but I know we are out there and do exist and if some photos of me make someone else feel less alone, that would be amazing. I also want to be able to show the world that bodies like mine that are disabled and trans and fat are radiant and worthy."
"I’m Travis (he/they). I'm a Black, queer, trans non-binary, gender non-conforming person. I wanted to take part in this project for visibility, as although Bristol can be seen as a diverse place, often the queer and trans events I go to are very segregated. I’m often the only Black person in the room, or one of only a handful.
Transitioning is a strange word. I see it as growing into myself and becoming. As I get further along in my journey ( I started T almost 2 years ago) I realise how much my experience as a Black person, and particularly being socialised as a Black woman for 3 decades of my life, informs how I experience and celebrate my gender as a trans person.
This is because like trans bodies, Black bodies and particularly the bodies of Black women have been dehumanised and policed for centuries. Colourism and racism are often used as tools to dehumanise and strip Black women of their femininity, and that’s why my experience of my body as I transition is undeniably tied up with race, as because of racism I’ve had to fight to be seen as any gender (outside of fetishisation) since I was born. As a child, race was how the other kids identified and described me,
before gender was even considered. To them, I was neither boy nor girl, but Black. Because of this, in some ways fighting to be seen as the gender I am as I transition is nothing new."
"I came out as non-binary/genderqueer last year and have been looking for ways to express myself and embrace my gender non-conformity in the public eye - as a therapeutic process for myself as well as to empower and encourage other gender non-conforming people. I am a musician who is active in the Bristol scene and I regularly perform as part of various different folk acts in spaces such as St George's, Jam Jar, Tobacco Factory etc as well as around the UK on tour.
Dress and appearance is something I like to play with, particularly when performing (e.g. I will often dress quite femme or androgynously to direct attention away from my masc features) however I rarely get the opportunity to speak about or fully express my gender in this role. It's often not relevant to the performance or I worry about audiences feeling distracted from the music or put-off entirely."
"Hi! I’m Nico (or Neeks), I’m 29 years old, black + welsh, queer + pansexual, and my pronouns are he / they. I’ve lived in Bristol for 10 years.
For me, visibility is having a wide awareness that trans people exist. That we’re portrayed in a way which shows we’re not a messed up or weird group of people, and that we have so many lush parts about ourselves and our community. That trans joy exists and there’s an abundance of it! That we’ve existed for thousands of years. That we uplift and empower ourselves and each other. Although I grew up around sexuality + gender queerness, I didn’t feel like I really had access to visibility, trans joy, or resources which allowed me to figure out my gender, so I’m happy that there’s more of this available for trans and gender questioning children and young people today, for them to at least allow figure things out.
I think as a black queer and trans person, and I think a lot of QTIBPOCs (queer, trans, intersex, black + people of colour) can agree with this, visibility for me also means seeing representations of communities of trans people that reflect the actual community, especially of darker skinned black trans folks. I feel like, for so long the trans (and queer)
community has been dominated + represented by white people. And it’s especially important to amplify the voices of QTIBPOCs + our joy within the community!"
PICTURED WITH JASPER
"Hi I’m Moss, a nonbinary, queer, autistic person! I should also introduce my dog Jasper- I decided to include him in some of my portraits because he’s been with me throughout my whole transition journey so far and ultimately, he’s my best friend (you may have already seen him on this page in the pictures from the ban conversion therapy protest!).
I was inspired to take part in this project after seeing the Bristol Trans Portraits exhibition at St Georges and attending the panel on trans visibility. I have lived in rural areas close to Bristol my whole life and the city has always been a haven of acceptance of my identity, especially in the music scene, and I wanted to show other young people who might be in a similar position that there is not only acceptance but joy to be found just around the corner. Living in villages where there’s an older, more conservative population with no other queer people has been difficult and I’ve had a fair share of funny looks and negative comments but I take great comfort in knowing there’s a great community of other people like me just a bus ride away."
"My name is Jasmine Qureshi and I'm a trans non binary queer muslim woman of colour, I'm 23 and work as a wildlife TV researcher/film maker (recently for the BBC Natural History Unit) and conservationist, alongside being a journalist of various topics and ambassador for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a speaker and seminar giver across the country at wildlife/science festivals and events, and a presenter.
I studied marine biology at University and have had a huge passion for wildlife and conservation since I was really young, this has been greatly affected by my identity and sexuality, and the reflection and understanding that I've gained of these allow me to also write articles and speak about them in depth and the obstacles I've faced in these industries, together with my interests in fashion and social justice.
I have found an incredible and amazing new world in the queer and trans community in Bristol;
easily one of - if not the most - validating, comforting and diverse spaces in terms of expression and understanding of queerness that I have ever come across. Here I’ve made amazing
friends, found my chosen family, grown so much as a person and been able to believe that I have a futureas the person I want to be. I’ve been inspired and encouraged, and even when my moments arelow and I have felt cast aside by my past and society, I know there is a stronghold here for nonconformity, radical change and better futures."
"Hey I am Liv. I am a trans masc nonbinary entity. I love gardening and forraging and climbing and dancing. I work as a caterer and love experimenting with wild food as well as flavours from all over the globe. I love to travel, but my mobility is a thing and so for now I visit cool places by flavour. I moved to Bristol to be in the media industry but found it very oppressive and soon after came out as nonbinary whilst working for a gardening app. Thus my relationship with nature and my queerness' interlinkedness became apparent. I feel my most genderless when scampering around the forest and so seek more of that in my future!
Trans joy to me started as looking at my flat chest for the first time. It transcended into the energy felt in trans spaces, and blossomed into the anger felt at protests. The anger that comes from protecting said joy. It's the feeling of someone looking at you and you know they're genderconfused just at the sight. It's being the most genuine version of yourself - usually for me because someone once told me I couldn't and so now I wear it proud on my sleeve. I don't really know where it comes from, I think it was just born from our first trans god and now it's like a golden baby we all have to cherish."