Transformers – our monthly Trans group

May 31st, 2012 by

Transformers, the trans* youth network is a group which meets once a month in Brighton and which comprises of a colourful and inspiring array of young people whom identify as trans*, gendered, gender queer or differently gendered.  We have been running the group nearly 8 months now and attendance has been great.

Transformers go bowling!

We always take time at the beginning of the meeting to talk and relax with one another and we make a point of going around the group and introducing ourselves and what pronoun we would like to use for the session.  Our aim is to create a space where young people can be themselves and feel free to change their identities from week to week or even minute to minute.  Our emphasis is on inclusion and personal expression.

Our meetings are always different and so far we have done art projects, designed flyers for the group, written up a working agreement (The Code of Conduct for Transformers).  We`ve been bowling, had a workshop run by Maxwell Zachs and attended an Event in London hosted by Gendered Intelligence.   There has been some stimulating and challenging conversation and discussion along the way and a lot of laughs…

`Okay, so when I heard Allsorts were planning to launch a trans-only youth group in Brighton, I had slightly mixed feelings. On the one hand, it seemed about time. On the other, putting a bunch of multi-stage trans* youth together in one room to socialise could go any number of ways… It turns out my fears were unfounded.  Transformers isn’t forced or awkward; it’s not scary or isolating, and it’s certainly not exclusive. It’s actually one of the most comfortable, relaxed and accepting groups I’ve experienced. There’s no pressure to be at any particular point in your transition, or your life. Everyone’s welcome, but at the same time, it’s a safe space. You’re free to be yourself and talk about whatever you want – and it doesn’t have to be trans* stuff! That’s one of the great things about a group like Transformers. No-one’s expecting you to represent “your people” and there’s a certain freedom in that.

Whatever’s going on in your life outside, you can leave it there and escape to this place where everybody’s happy to see you, (whatever you want to look like). There’ll always be someone there who can relate to you; some will support you and some may need support, but it never feels like a burden. The group’s diverse and pretty representative of the trans community. We’ve had speakers like Max Zachs, (from Channel4’s My Transsexual Summer), gone bowling and just hung out. Not to mention, there’s free food! Come down and check it out!`

Written By Sky, Transformers Young Person

At the end of April, Transformers was invited to attend an event in London which was being held by Gendered Intelligence:  The Event was called `Imagining Our Futures` and it was a fantastic opportunity for young trans* people to meet not only each other but also with a rather vast array of guest speakers from the trans community.  The aim of the event was to encourage young people to think about their futures and what they want out of life.  Something which can often be a hard thing to picture for trans youth.  It was a fantastic day, but don`t take my word for it, Eli and Nick were there and they have plenty to say…

`It’s Saturday morning. Well, it depends on how you define morning. Some of felt they should still be in bed and others were ready to have lunch. We got on the train in the afternoon, which was no more than 15 minutes later. Funny how those things work.

The train took us to the capital, the commute that thousands of people do every day. But we weren’t going to behind a desk all day (actually, we were mostly on the floor). We had gone to London to think about the future. Why go all the way there? you ask. Because we needed some encouragement. For us it can be hard to look beyond the problems that crop up daily, with getting people to use the right pronouns, the right name and trying to keep your sense of humour through it all.

Back to the future (pun intended). We imagined and drew our futures on a piece of paper. What struck me was that our futures were so commonplace. We wanted similar things, like a family, a house, a cat or a dog (or both) and a job.

One thing you need to think carefully about is your job. We were given ample of opportunity to do that. There were around ten guests visiting, most of them trans* as well, but all of them a bit older and with a job. There were teachers, academics, charity workers, parents, free-lancers, a musician, a banker, I can’t even remember all of it. It was intense and really interesting. Of course we asked question about getting employed as a trans people (and the answers were encouraging!) but we were also just curious about how to get your first teacher placement or what it’s like managing the lives of two kids as a stay-at-home dad. I think we understand that the future is not dependent on what grand things you plan (even if those are great too!) but about feeling at home in your life. Every day.`

Written by Eli, Transformers Young Person

`The day was really good fun. We had to get a train up to London and then a tube to the event.

It was amusing being on the train as we got to talk beforehand about any issues of being trans that we would want to discuss more in a session. Though not all the conversation was about being trans, some were just plain random.

When we got to the venue it was not long before we had to go through the maze that was the building to get to the room that we were going to be in for the majority of the day. At first there was a small circle of chairs that were initially laid out, though as more people came it rapidly grew bigger in size. It was amazing to see so many people in one big room, who were all different sorts of trans people.

The day was jam packed full activities in which we could talk not only about what we want to do in our futures but also about different jobs in general. One of the main events that happened within the day was that the special guests came in to talk about what they do and how trans* inclusive what they did was. The guests varied a lot: there was a fire-fighter, parents, and sexual health workers, people who were in some aspect of the teaching profession, artists and more.  It was interesting to be able to talk to all the different people and to find out their occupations.

Unfortunately the event had to end at some point, leaving every one interested and wanting to find out more about the guests, that were there and the jobs that they do. Though the one thing that was on everyone’s minds was the life stories behind all the guests that were there and how they became the people they are today.`

Written by Nick,  Transformers Young Person

*includes a range of trans identities