My Transgender Punk Rock Story
Tonight at 9pm BBC Radio 1 will be airing their first programme wholly dedicated to transgender issues. Presented by Paris Lees, it tells the story of Laura Jane Grace, lead singer of Against Me! who came out publically as transgender last year. A range of trans people from across the UK are also interviewed, including The Test Shot’s Jamie, our friends Open Barbers and trans* youth organisation Gendered Intelligence.
Check out the BBC programme page here.
Irreverent Dance is providing a space that opens up dance to people of all body shapes and genders. Finding a trans-positive dance class in London has been an amazing experience. Reposting this short film that we made on Amanda Leon-Joyce’s project earlier this year. <3
The New York Times published a story about Bindle & Keep, myself and our clients called The Masculine Mystique. I’m excited and thankful that the work Daniel Friedman and I have been doing for the past year and half is getting this kind of attention. I’m also excited about how statue-esque my…
Our friend Rachel Tutera’s amazing work with queer and transmasculine clients for clothier Bindle & Keep was featured in the NY Times!
Trans-friendly queer ballet? It’s Ballez you’re looking for! Check out Jamie’s interview with the founder of Brooklyn-based company, Katy Pyle, on The Most Cake
On Saturday the Test Shot got to try our hand at messing about on the river with performance poet and boat owner Ali. (Un)fortunately there was a break in the wall-to-wall 30 degree heat we’ve had recently so LGW, Ali and Colin (the dog) clambered all over the boat during the shoot. Ali is committed to a self-sufficient/low-impact lifestyle and manages to recycle a lot of interesting clothes and finds other pieces in charity shops. Ali’s aesthetic is a mixture of practical boat wear and flamboyant cabaret - a first for us!
We are really happy that Ali chose to discuss the relationship between being genderqueer and style. Genderqueer-ness is a multiple and diverse position from which to speak. We can only benefit from its articulation by each individual who experiences being genderqueer.
You can check out Ali’s poetry blog here.
1. What is the significance of your top choices?
Performance poetry is not a get rich job and I am pretty part time, so most of my clothes are from charity shops, friends hand-me-downs or indeed found in or near bins. I try and live a low impact lifestyle and it gives me great joy and personal satisfaction to find and recycle things- it feels a bit like mining the urban environment. I have just started a Tumblr myself - featuring entirely items thrown out by people and found and utilised by me. With this in mind I thought it was pretty important to wear at least one top found in a bin.
I also like to wear clothes with a personal element or significance, so I am wearing an American Girl Guides T-Shirt gifted to me by a friend. He knows I like the look of scout type wear, and was looking for an American Boy Scout shirt for me, but didn’t manage to find one. Last time he came over he gave me this top, which fits well and is pretty cool. Also, it was the one he wore as an ‘actual’ girl scout before he transitioned- which gives it a particular special nature for me, both because of my own ‘non-traditional’ relationship with gender and because it belonged to a friend in their childhood and was then gifted to me.
2. How do you define your own transmasculinity?
I’m Genderqueer. I prefer the term ‘transmasculine’ to the term ‘masculine’ because it says something more about being outside of gender stereotypes and assumed roles. I don’t use the terms masculine or feminine if I can help it- as in their original/widely accepted context they are about characteristics associated with males and females. I think that characteristics are best associated with individuals.
It seems the terms masculinity and femininity have been used to oppress women. Men attributed characteristics such as power, muscularity, loud voice and posture, utilitarian dress, assertiveness, strength, sportiness etc with masculinity and were therefore able to assert that females displaying those characteristics were ‘unladylike’ a tactic that still inhibits women from adopting certain behaviours and discriminates against women who look a certain way.
I am female and that seems to be important to me in some way, but it is also important that I am not a woman. I don’t feel that I share an identity with other females who identify as women. I never have. I went through a significant period of gender dysphoria as a child/young person, but I didn’t have access to any information and was too terrified to ask anyone about anything. It has been a complex and troublesome route to now, where I feel I have both a gender and sexual identity that feels more comfortable- I am still on a journey trying to understand who I am- but the term transmasculine has a resonance for me now for sure. I am so deliriously happy to be able to look the way I always felt I ‘was meant’ or would like to look and not feel I have let my family, friends, etc. down in some way by not being ‘girly’ enough. I am also pleasantly surprised by people’s response to the way I look these days.
3. What do you want to communicate through your choices?
We are immersed in a culture that communicates so much through clothing, we have come to make instinctive choices without knowing ‘exactly’ what we are trying to put forward- but knowing it feels right and comfortable. It is a complex social language. For me, I think I want to be seen as authentic and also for my choices have a certain practicality and simplicity- as well as hopefully a ‘smidgen’ of style.
4. How has your fashion/style evolved?
Different life phases bring with them different styles of dress, for sure. I have given up working full time in office environments and therefore been able to divest myself of lots of work suits. Also, the financial changes have brought changes- I used to have a few flamboyant and expensive things, which I have sold. I think I am slowly creeping towards a kind of ‘old man on a boat’ look- with flat caps and jackets and such. I really want high waisted old slacks with braces! I hesitate to suggest I wear more vintage things, because I don’t like the term, but I have gone back to wearing much older clothes- which is something I did a lot at university and then moved away from.
5. How would you describe your relationship to clothes?
Fun, practical and tactile. I enjoy clothes, but I don’t get stressed about them often. I don’t spend hours deciding what to wear, or spend a fortune on buying clothes, but I do love them. I love the feel of well made clothes and the textures of different materials. I enjoy the changes in clothes due to the changes in seasons and the joy of finding something that feels ‘right’. I love the story they can tell, both in myself and in those around me.