Trans* Pride looms. It's the weekend after next. Specifically Friday 25th July to Sunday 27th July. In Brighton. The main open-air events, I am told, are at the New Steine, which lies between St James's Street in Kemp Town and Marine Parade (the road that runs eastward, overlooking the sea).
This is its second year. Last year's inaugural event showed so much promise that it will be bigger and better this year, and who knows, may become another staple fixture in Brighton's already impressive collection of events throughout the year. I can remember a time when there was only the London-to-Brighton Veteran Car Run. You know, Kenneth More in scarf and goggles nursing Genevieve along. No longer!
You can get an instant flavour of what it's meant to be like this year from the front cover of July's G Scene:
The girl is Nicole Gibson, and inside the magazine she has half a page to herself:
Not heard of her? Why, she had a fashion spread in the Daily Mail - see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2506211/Meet-transgender-model-star-Ideal-Homes-lingerie-catwalk.html. This is an example of a Young Glam Woman and no mistake. I noticed that my friend Alice also featured in G Scene, another kind of glam:
So: Trans* Pride means intelligent girls and women who are getting somewhere, and have much to express. Ditto intelligent guys. There is much to be proud of. And there are exhortations aplenty on me to attend Trans* Pride, and celebrate being trans*.
Are you as irritated as I am about that asterisk after 'trans'? And yet it has a noble intention. It's meant to enhance the plain word 'trans' to conveniently cover all kinds of persons who might otherwise describe themselves as trans-something, such as 'transsexual', 'transgendered', 'transqueer', 'transwoman', 'transman', 'transfriend', 'transgay', 'translesbian', 'transbi', 'transasexual' - and quite possibly, if you have large canine teeth and a bloodsucking habit, 'transylvanian'. Anything but 'transparent', it seems.
I don't know how you distinguish, in speech, between 'trans' and 'trans*'. Perhaps you say 'transasterisk'.
Interested bystander: I say! Could you please tell me what kind of trans person you are? I thought you might be simply transgendered, but the badge you're wearing suggests you might actually be 'transgreen'. Or 'transnudebikerideparticipant'. Or even, now that I notice your rather fetching kilt, 'transindependenceforbonnyscotland'. Oh, do enlighten me!
Trans* person: Transasterisk, mate.
Yes, I suppose it might have its uses. But I fear that someone - or some committee more likely - has had a Bright Idea that seems super-fair to all, and we are all now stuck with this invented word. Sigh.
And there's a difficulty. Supposing you were once something else, then became for a while what used to be simply a 'trans person', and are now something else again? I'm in that boat, and I am most definitely not alone. My present 'something else' is just 'me' - or if you press me, 'a woman'. Nothing else. There is no need in my daily life for any further definition. 'Woman' is perfectly sufficient, and nobody in my world disputes my preference for the most straightforward personal description possible. So I don't feel the trans* label is my label. And if not, what is the point of going to a trans*fest?
My presentation in daily life is a woman's, and not that of a trans* person. So they might whisper 'here comes that very pleasant but slightly eccentric woman' when I go shopping in Waitrose, but they certainly don't say 'here comes that out-and-proud trans* person', because that is simply not my presentation. I don't see how I could begin to lead a normal life if I stopped everybody I met, held their gaze, gave them an explanatory leaflet, and informed them that I was trans* and mighty chuffed about it. Or looked and behaved in such a way that nobody could doubt that I was very definitely, beyond doubt, trans* to the eyeballs. It would stop me integrating into the Ordinary World. And everyone would think I was trans* and nothing more. Indeed there is such a thing as the 'professional trans* person', meaning somebody who has found their niche, and a subject they can expound upon endlessly.
So I feel a bit uncomfortable at the idea of attending Trans* Pride, even if all I do is to turn up for one hour, and chat quietly to some friends. And unless the whole thing resembles a genteel village fête, I am certain that I will look and feel out of place. As much as if I attended Glastonbury.
I will probably go out of friendship, having more-or-less said that I will keep the afternoon free, and will make the effort. I also want to make the occasion a success, if the presence of an extra body can help. But personally I have nothing left to make a big fuss about. I've done my celebrating. I've ticked off all the big moments. I've remembered all the anniversaries. But I've stopped doing it all the time. It's history now. My eyes are on the What Next, not the What Was. In short, I've moved on.
If I'm at home around 20th November, I will make an exception for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony. It's held to commemorate the dead, the murdered ones. Sleazy, sordid deaths in the main. People who couldn't escape their fate, who didn't have my advantages and choices. I owe them, at the very least, a couple of hours.