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Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

Sir Derek Jacobi learns his lines
The final part of my weekend in London was the Schools & Families Day put on by Schools Out at the Museum of London. Whereas on Saturday I had been mainly supporting trans friends, and speaking myself, on Sunday I got to see new stuff. I had a fabulous day.

One of the first thing I noticed on arrival was a book stall. It turned out to be run by Letterbox Library, who specialize in books for children that have equality and diversity themes. I immediately encouraged them to get in touch with Fox and Sarah about stocking Are You a Boy or are You a Girl?, but I was delighted to see that they had 10,000 Dresses and I snapped a picture to send to Marcus Ewert. The day sort of took off from there.

Stuart Milk was due to read from the children’s book about his uncle, so I wandered along to say hello and ended up doing gopher work as he was expecting some people to come to interview him. I was passing through the museum lobby when I spotted a familiar looking gentleman looking a bit lost. So I introduced myself and took Sir Derek Jacobi up to where our event was taking place. He was due to read some children’s books later in the day, and to my delight he picked Marcus’s book as one of the ones to use. I snapped the picture above and sent it off to go viral, which it duly did.

Then it was back to the lecture theatre to catch up with Juno Dawson. I’d not read any of her stuff before, but having now heard some of it I can thoroughly recommend it. She’s also lovely. We had a bit of a chat about transitioning in the public eye.

Sir Derek was up next, and I managed to get a quick chat with him. I told him how his old friend Claudius had been responsible for making the Rites of Attis part of the official Roman Religious Calendar. (There’s even an official Castration Day, when Roman trans girls got their op done.) His readings of the kids books were fabulous. There was video taken, so hopefully one day I’ll be able to share his reading of 10,000 Dresses with you.

Little did I know that Chris Riddell was also in the audience. He did a few sketches, including this one (thanks to Marjorie for the link):

Next up I went to see a great presentation by Subodh Rathod about gender fluidity in Hindu religion. Vishnu has a female avatar called Mohini who is, naturally, incredibly beautiful. She has a famous dance. Obviously Mohini is of great interest to the hijra community. Subodh was assisted by Kali Chandrasegaram who performed the dance at the end of the talk.

That was at least 2000 years of living trans history right in front of our eyes.

Sir Derek Jacobi learns his lines

I also got to meet the fabulous Juno Roche, got to hear my new pal Laila El-Metoui talk about the amazing work she does on diversity in adult education, and saw the Gay Men’s Choir perform. All in all, it was a pretty fabulous day.

Huge congratulations to Niranjan Kamatkar and his team for putting on a great weekend, and to Sue Sanders for the fabulous work that she does making these things happen. Bristol has a lot to live up to. No pressure, eh?


Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

On the BBC World Service, on Monday. Thanks to Farah for the tip off.

As it is World Service it should be accessible everywhere. And it will be on iPlayer afterwards if you can’t tune in live.

Crawford Award Results

Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

I’m a bit late with this — sorry Gary — but the results of this year’s Crawford Award (for a debut fantasy book) have been announced. The winner was The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson which is indeed a very fine book. With so many books to cover these days, not all of the judging group gets to read every book, but I can also recommend The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Natasha Pulley), The Grace of Kings (Ken Liu) and The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Seth Dickinson). The Devourers (Indra Das) was only published in India but will apparently be out in the USA this year so I’ll snap up a copy. I know nothing about The Daughters (Adrienne Celt), but those who read it spoke highly of it so I’ll look for that one too.

Maybe this year I can get started on the reading list early. Hmm, what’s this All the Birds in the Sky thing…


LGBT History Festival, Up and Running

Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

The London Hub of the 2016 National Festival of LGBT History is well and truly underway. On Friday night we were at Islington Town Hall for the Civic Launch. It was splendidly municipal bling. Roz Kaveney was a star for reading a poem rather than giving a speech, therefore helping get the event back on track after various political people had droned on a bit. The rendition of Labi Siffre’s “So Strong” by the Diversity Choir that closed the evening was superb.

Today we were at the V&A. I attended talks by Stuart Milk, Sabah Choudrey, Fox Fisher and Bisi Alimi, all of which were very good. My apologies to Jana Funke and Travis Alabanza, both of whom I would have loved to see, but they were scheduled against each other and that was the only time I had to sit down with Stuart and go over plans for his visit to Bristol.

Fox had an amazing piece of film with him. If you have seen the My Genderation films you may remember one about an young trans lad called Ruben who was filmed just before he stared on testosterone. Fox has now done an update a couple of years later. The contrast is amazing, as is what has been done with the footage.

By the way, I understand that Sarah Savage will have some previously unseen film footage in her talk at Bristol in two weeks time.

I did my Michael Dillon talk. It wasn’t the best talk I have ever done, but it seemed to go down OK. Also I got some really exciting news about Dillon after the talk which I hope to be able to share soon.

Tomorrow I’ll be off to the Museum of London where I will hopefully get to meet Juno Dawson. Sadly Gandalf appears to be off the bill, but the Emperor Claudius will be there instead.


Launching Twilight People

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Twilight People collage

I am in London, for their leg of the 2016 National Festival of LGBT History. The first event was last night at Islington Museum. It was the opening of Twilight People, a photographic exhibition of trans people of faith.

The show has been put together by my friend Surat Knan, who is amazingly good at magicking up funds and volunteers for this sort of thing. The photography is really good, and it is fascinating to read all of the stories about the intersections between gender journeys and journeys of faith. If you happen to be in London, do pop in and take a look.

The people in the exhibition come from a wide range of backgrounds including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Paganism. There are, of course, a lot of faiths missing, but Surat can only work with people who offer themselves as volunteers. Hopefully he can add to the mix in time.

I am particularly impressed with Liberal Judaism for all of the support that they give to Surat in his projects.

I managed to snag a couple of interviews while I was there. One is with Christina Beardsley who is a Christian minister. The other is with the Deputy Mayor of Islington. Surat dear, you owe me an interview, and I owe you coffee.

Tonight is the Civic Launch of the London weekend. Roz Kaveney is one of the guest speakers.


Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

I was hosting the Women’s Outlook show again today on Ujima. We started off with an interview with some football (soccer) players from a local sports club. Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls are perhaps most famous for the fact that Banksy was once their goalkeeper, but they deserve to be far more famous for the wonderful work they do in the community, and around their world. They have a slogan, “Freedom Through Football” and they have done amazing things in places like Mexico and Palestine. The main reason that they were on the show is that the Cowgirls team has just got back from the West Bank and they are going to be showing a film about their trip. What the Palestinian footballers have to put up with is beyond belief.

The club is also very inclusive, taking players of all ages and abilities. They now have netball and cricket teams as well as football. And they are fully LGB and T inclusive, and multi-ethnic.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

In the second half of the show I was joined by my lesbian author friend, Bea Hitchman. She’s doing a PhD about lesbians in fiction, in particular addressing the fact that their stories so often come to a sad end. I suggested that she talk to Malinda Lo. We were joined in the studio by my colleagues, Judeline and Frances, both of whom had seen Carol, and we talked a bit about the film.

For the final half hour we were joined by playwright, Edson Burton, and poet, Miles Chambers. They had some events to plug, and in return they joined us in discussing the legacy of Cecil Rhodes and the Rhodes Must Fall campaign currently being waged by students at Oxford University.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The music for today’s show was all Bowie, but many of the tracks were covers by black musicians. Here’s the playlist:

  • Let’s Dance – David Bowie & Nile Rodgers
  • Heroes – Janelle Monáe
  • Young Americans – David Bowie & Luther Vandross
  • Life on Mars? – Seu Jorge
  • Ashes to Ashes – Warpaint
  • Sound & Vision – Megapuss
  • Modern Love – The Sunshiners
  • Starman – Culture Club

There’s one cover that I wish I had included. The show before me played it. It is a ska version of “Heroes” performed by the Hackney Colliery Band. Here it is:

My February Schedule

Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

It being LGBT History Month, I have a pile of public engagements. Most of you won’t be able to get to them, but I’m listing them here just in case, and because it will explain why I’ll be so busy.

That, of course, does not include the three training courses I am doing for different NHS organizations (in Minehead, Bristol and Exeter), the events in London and Manchester I’m attending but not speaking at, and the whole week of looking after Stuart Milk in Bristol. With any luck, I’ll get to meet Susan Stryker, Tom Robinson and Juno Dawson. If I am really lucky I might get to say hello to Gandalf.

100 Women Making Comics

Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

That’s not a threat, it is the title of an exhibition opening in London this weekend. It is curated by Olivia Ahmad and Paul Gravett and will feature, to no one’s surprise, the work of 100 women comics artists. The women featured include Alison Bechdel, Audrey Niffenegger, Claire Bretecher, Katie Green, Posy Simmonds and Tove Jansson.

The exhibition will run from Feb. 5th to May 15th. You can find it at 2 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4BH. Further details are available here.


Le Guin Documentary on Kickstarter

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Now this is a project worth backing:

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a feature documentary, explores the remarkable life and legacy of the groundbreaking 86-year-old author.

It is serious stuff too. Seven years of filming is already in the can, and the project has a production grant of $240,000 available from the National Endowment for the Humanities. However, this is one of those matching funding type things, so they can’t get that money unless they raise and extra $80,000 themselves too, hence the crowdfunding.

This is so very much a film that I want to see. Hopefully you do too. If you are not yet convinced, watch this.

LGBT History Month Is Here

Originally published at Cheryl's Mewsings. Please leave any comments there.

It is February. The insanity is starting. I am going to be so busy over the next four weeks.

I’ll have more about my schedule in a later post, but write now I want to draw your attention to a magazine that Schools Out UK has produced to send around the country. There’s an online version of it available here. Congratulations to my pal Adam Lowe for doing a fine job with the layouts.

The magazine runs to 64 pages it in. Much of it is ads, which supports it being given out for free. However, there are lots of interesting articles. It includes messages of support from a bunch of VIPs. There’s some guy called David Cameron in it, and Jeremy Corbyn. And Nicola Sturgeon, of course. And then it gets down to the substances with things like a Bowie retrospective, an interview with Bisi Alimi, and an article by me about trans people and religion. I’m on pages 26 and 27.

Writing serious historical stuff for a magazine like this is a bit hard. I kept wanting to put footnotes in. I believe that there will be an HTML version of it available soon, with links and a recommended reading list. I’ll let you know when that goes up.