Thursday 30 November 2017

United In Anger

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day.

Got a couple of hours to spare? Youtube has United In Anger here - a film I had the pleasure of watching on the big screen at the Cornerhouse 70 Oxford Street

It's a fine documentary film about the rise and fall of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, a huge and high-impact campaign group which worked mostly in the USA in protest at state and corporate indifference to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. I remember - or I think I remember - ACT UP stalls at Flesh at the Hacienda circa 1992. They had some brilliant designers making powerful posters and other art.

It is well worth a watch though it makes me think I'd love to see something equivalent about the UK. Of course it'd be different - our government was somewhat more responsive to the issue ("Don't Die Of Ignorance") and while there was a lack of effective medication worldwide at that stage and a shared media hysteria at spending money on healthcare for people with HIV, I get the impression that the difference the NHS makes is huge. But like so many LGBT+ stories, and indeed those of other marginalised groups, the USA is not the same as the world and the tale here is a smidge different.

I get the impression that almost everything in the film is in New York or Washington DC, too, and I would quite like to have more of a flavour of what it was like elsewhere in the USA, what the other chapters of ACT UP were doing. Because as well as America not being the world, New York is not America any more than the bottom right-hand corner of our island is Britain.

Monday 20 November 2017

Period poverty on Trans Day of Remembrance

It's good to see talk of 'period poverty' ahead of the budget. The suggestion is we provide free sanitary products to young people in schools. 

Compared to the amount of money we are taking out of the economy through Brexit, the cost of ensuring young menstruators who need sanitary products is a piffling sum that could make a lot of lives a lot easier.

And I say menstruators rather than 'young girls' as most of the coverage of this issue does, because period poverty is also a big issue for young trans guys and many young nonbinary people. As if puberty wasn't stressful enough for everyone else it is a time of additional personal challenge if you're trans.

As a trans teen years ago, I remember how puberty feels as though your body is in open rebellion against you, doing all the wrong things and just getting worse with every passing - no pun intended - day. As a very short-sighted teenager I tried to only look in the mirror with my glasses off: I looked more like myself if things were blurry.

For trans guys, for all that it's the particular pubescent hell I didn't live through, I am sure that if you talk about having periods to anyone there's the feeling it undermines their sense of who you are as well as your own. And that can be such a hard-won recognition from others, if you have it at all. 

Doubly so in the current climate where barely a day passes without a newspaper story inciting transphobic hate.

So on Transgender Day of Remembrance, please voice your support for tackling period poverty. If you aren't already doing it for the girls: do it for the boys.