“I understood transphobia in the same way I understood homophobia – I saw us as the same”

BY LUCY HUTSON. IMAGE HOLLY REVELL/BOUND.

The first trans woman I knew lived a street away from me when I was a teenager. She was a friend of a family I spent a lot of time with, and so I got to know her a bit.

She was an angry person and we all inferred this was down to the abuse she received. I never saw this abuse – she never told me about it – but I was sure it happened.

I was sure in the same way that I made sure not to say I was gay at school. There was an understanding that certain things made us unsafe. I understood transphobia in the way I understood homophobia in a way that made sense to me – that bigots might hate us.

I saw us as the same.

In a world of silence and secrets and homophobic classrooms, she was my ally whether she knew it or not.

I think I’d been a feminist for around 10 years with no real understanding of the history, just a desire for equality before I researched the movement.

There was 10 years before I found out there was a divide around trans issues; I can remember clearly the shock and disappointment because it hasn’t gone away.

I didn’t have to lose my identity as feminist because I was supplied with many sub-groups to choose from and I easily found some that covered my politics. Recently, I’ve been hearing the phrase “lesbians vs. trans.”

I feel this dichotomy like a knot in my stomach, I refuse to have to take a side.

l love the word lesbian – it makes me feel cool and sexy. I take a lot of pleasure in referring to myself as a lesbian. The idea that I am verses a section of society that I have always felt in league with, fills me with sadness and I think most lesbians I come into contact with feel the same way.

I also have a complicated relationship with my gender, you see.

I was a little girl who people mistook for a boy. I was the little girl who wondered if I would grow up to want to be a man. I was the teenager who stared at boys’ bodies with jealousy and I am now the adult who is happy to be a woman but has a firm interest in experiencing and being accepted in male spaces.

But I never want to have to lose my identity as a lesbian.

Lucy Hutson performs Bound at Camden People’s Theatre, London, 6-7 December 2019. For tickets cptheatre.co.uk/production/bound.

Bound is a show about the slippery nature of identities, the ones you give yourself, the ones forced upon you and the ones that once, were strong and now you’re just clinging on… More specifically it’s a show about breasts, gender and using urinals but mostly it’s about baring all and coming clean.

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