INT: If you would like to introduce yourself?
S: I’m Sarah, doing the interview as, well, interviewee.
INT: Thanks, Sarah. So, how old are you, Sarah?
S: I’m 31.
INT: How would you describe your gender?
S: I identify as a trans woman, all my pronouns are feminine.
INT: Thanks. Why are you taking part in the Brighton Trans*formed project?
S: Because it seemed like a really interesting idea, having that kind of oral history being recorded and also because Brighton’s been a huge part of my life for the last few years. So, yeah, I’m just kind of looking to take part in interesting projects.
INT: So, now you’ve just said it makes me want to go straight into questions about interesting projects, so maybe I will if that’s all right with you. What interesting projects have you been aware of, been involved with since you’ve moved to Brighton?
S: Well, the most interesting one is the one that I’m kind of most involved with and that’s Trans Pride. A few years ago, when I first came here, someone invited me to a meeting, a Trans Pride meeting, where they were trying to get the first Trans Pride started in Brighton, and I couldn’t make it but I thought it was a really, really interesting idea. I couldn’t think of anything else remotely Pride-worthy about the trans community, about that there weren’t any kind of Pride events in the trans community, and Brighton has this reputation of being really kind of trans-friendly. So I thought it was a brilliant idea and said that I’d give her a hand and see if we can make it happen. And that happened last year – it was the first one. I think in the run up to it there were about 10 people who were instrumental to making it happen, and in the run up to it we were like, “Ah well, we’ll be happy if 300 people turn up, that will be amazing if 300 people turn up” – and for the last act of the day there was hardly any room in New Steine gardens for people to stand right at the front. I think we had a footfall of over 1500 people. So, yeah, I was blown away by how popular it was.
INT: That’s a lot of people.
S: Yeah! I just – I don’t know, I’ve been to main Pride and I just didn’t feel that it was really inclusive of trans people, it just seemed to be an event for gay, lesbian and bisexual people and the trans bit felt like it was just kind of stuck on the end. And a load of trans people aren’t gay or lesbian or bisexual, so they don’t really feel included by that either. But at Trans Pride it was like everyone who was gender-variant said that they felt that this was a Pride for them, you know. I was I’m really pleased with the atmosphere as well.
INT: And do you think that Trans Pride needed to be in Brighton, or just that it happened to be in Brighton? Do you think there’s any relevance to Brighton in that?
S: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think Brighton definitely has a reputation for being trans-friendly, you know, one of the reasons I came here was because it had this reputation for being accepting of trans people. And it could have happened in London, but I think Brighton gave it that extra special kind of atmosphere that it would have been lacking anywhere else. I don’t know, I just think people in Brighton are very aware of gender-variance and they’ve given it the thoughts that other people around the country haven’t, it just seems to be more of an in-depth subject here, I think.
INT: I think you just said that you moved to Brighton because it was quite an accepting place, was that correct? Have you found it being an accepting place to be?
S: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, I moved here, and I kind got offered a job at a bar almost immediately, and I thought “Oh, that’s all right”. I moved and I had somewhere to live – I was homeless for a while and I had a place to live in a women’s space, almost immediately as well. And I know that, you know, I came from south Wales and before that I came from Jersey and I know that it would have been impossible for me over there to kind of have the opportunities that I’ve had here. Just people walking down the street don’t really stare at you, like they do elsewhere in the country. People see someone who’s obviously trans and they just don’t react, they just go about their daily business. I think elsewhere in the country you’re more likely to get a reaction out of someone for being obviously trans.
INT: And had you always wanted to move to Brighton or was it a spur of the moment thing? Like what actually brought you to Brighton aside from there’s a side of it be it accepting, where did that come from?
S: Well, I don’t know, I was kind of weighing up places to go and live and I knew two people here and I was visiting them and it was in October, and there was this really warm Indian summer happening, and so I just happened to be down here anyway and I remember sitting on the beach and there was the smell of barbecues in the air and the sun was going down and I just remember sitting there, thinking “I could live here, it seems like a really cool place”. And I think on the beach I actually made up my mind to come here. Didn’t know nothing, just, you know, it reminded me of home, similar atmosphere of, you know, chilled out people by the beach, but it’s got this big city kind of vibe to it, if you go look for it as well.
INT: Sounds like classic Brighton.
S: I know [LAUGHS] All the cliché shit!
INT: No, but I mean these ideas, you know, don’t come out of thin air.
S: Exactly, yeah, yeah.
INT: So, if I may ask about kind of when you were growing up and was it Jersey…
S: Jersey, yeah.
INT: How, how did you find growing up on Jersey and were you aware of your gender identity when you were growing up?
S: Well, I grew up in a high control religious group, called the Jehovah’s Witnesses and I knew that I was different from everybody else about my gender identity when I was first aware of it about 5 or 6. I also knew that I had to hide this, I couldn’t show this secret to anybody, so I kept it to myself and I learnt to compartmentalise my feelings and I learnt to hide who I am from everybody and, yeah, I did it well.
But then, as I grew up, I left the religion when I was 17 because I just couldn’t stand lying to everyone, I wanted a life where I could be who I was, who I wanted to be and then slowly I accepted that I had to transition, but not for want of trying not to! I think I tried every other option to me possible, before I could transition, even eloping to Las Vegas with a girl that I’d met six weeks before to get married. And yeah, I tried everything to not transition, but eventually it was the only option left to me and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
INT: Was there sort of a crunch moment that made you decide that you couldn’t keep hiding anymore and you had to make that change, or was it just a bit more gradual?
S: Well, I knew that I couldn’t transition in Jersey, that was… I was absolutely sure about that. Because Jersey’s 9 miles by 5, it’s tiny. I was aware of other trans people over there, I’d never met them, but my friends knew of them and, you know, they were always know as – excuse my language – but they were known as “that tranny”, you know, and I didn’t want to be that person.
I couldn’t – I knew that I’d be making loads of mistakes, well, I knew that I’d be wearing the wrong clothes for my body shape, or, you know, I’d be doing things that would stick in other people’s minds as a cliché or a stereotype and I didn’t want that, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get any work over there, if I transitioned, because all I ever did was manual work. And then I was searching for some way to get to the UK and I did it from meeting people on the internet and chatting to them and I met someone in South Wales and she said, “Come and live with me, I’ll help you transition”. So I was like “Okay then”. I sold everything, got rid of everything,jumped in my car, went to south Wales, and that didn’t work out. So, I jumped back in my car and went back to Jersey, and then I was living in my car on the beach, because I’d given up everything, I had nowhere to live. And then, when I was in Wales I met another guy and he said “Oh, come and live with me”. So I spent two months in Jersey, living in my car, before I got the money together to get the boat fare back to the UK. It was kind of a convoluted story about how I came to the UK.
INT: And, are you likely to ever go back to Jersey?
S: I’d love to [LAUGHS]. You know, it’s my home, it’s where all my friends are. But again it’d be so difficult for me to find work over there, it’s so expensive to live compared to here and I wouldn’t be able to see kind of any of the activism and the work that I do over here, it’s just non-existent in Jersey. You know, the third sector just doesn’t happen. So I’m kind of stuck over here at the moment, but I’m just going to make the most of it, you know.
INT: And it seems like you have been making the most of it quite a lot with Trans Pride.
S: Yeah, really, really proud of Trans Pride.
INT: You mentioned that you came from a religious family, are you still in contact with your family or how’s your relationship with them?
S: Jehovah’s Witnesses preach that if a family member leaves the religion then they should be shunned, they should be cut off as a lesson to them. And so, when I left when I was 17… I wasn’t actually shunned completely, my mum and my littlest sister were always really, really kind to me and fought to still to have a relationship with me. My dad, my oldest sister and my little brother never really bothered to speak to me or to have any relationship with me. And then 10 years later, when I came out to them, when I transitioned that was the final nail in the coffin with everybody, apart from my mum. My dad has banned all contact with me, so my mum still keeps in contact, but she calls me, you know, once every couple of months at the moment.
It’s shit, but, you know, I can’t do nothing about it, I’ve got to live my life.
INT: Yeah. So, in terms of living your life in transition, how do you see your transition?
S: Well, my gender identity has kind of evolved over the years. One of the things that held me back from transitioning was the thought that I had to have lower surgery. And then I got to used to that, that I had to have it and then I transitioned and then I kind of learnt that not all trans people kind of live to this binary and I learnt that some trans people only go so far in the medical transition. Some trans people do go all the way, you know, and that was a completely eye-opener to me because I’d been reading on the internet for years about how the NHS will kind of dictate this route and if you deviate it from a little bit, then you’re not trans. And, so that’s been a complete eye-opener to me. I mean now I don’t even bother to try and change my voice, I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin, just because of the hormones that I’ve got, it doesn’t really kind of matter – the insecurities that I’ve got about my body are outweighed by the feeling of happiness that the hormones give me I guess.
INT: Are you through the NHS for treatment?
INT: So, you were saying with the reading these sort of horror stories on the internet – in what ways have your personal experiences married up or not married up with what was being said on the internet? How are things different?
S: Yeah, it’s completely different. [LAUGHS] I mean my only kind of access to the trans world was through the internet, so I think years ago my idea of being trans was a little bit warped by the horror stories you read on the internet. It took me 18 months of living full time as female before I got onto hormones, because I was moving about so much and I didn’t get to Charing Cross. But I’ve been to Charing Cross twice and both times have been with doctors who are supposed to be terrible and both times they’ve been really, really nice, they’ve been really personable. I’ve been able to approach them with any concerns or worries that I’ve had and they’ve just said to me, what do you want out of this? And I said “Well, I want some hormones, please.” And they were like, “Well, okay then, come back in three months, you seem to have filled the criteria so far and you can probably have some”. And that was just like, “What?! I’m wearing trousers, you know!” So I’ve been completely blown away by it, by how different my perception was and how the reality actually is.
INT: And I think there’s a really interesting thing in that, is that traditionally there’s this idea that in order to conform with the gender identity clinics you need to pass as this traditional female, whereas actually, obviously there’s modern femininity includes wearing trousers and jeans and stuff like that.
S: Yeah, I’m not really one for the twin-set and pearls brigade, you know.
INT: And how have you found being on hormones?
S: Amazing actually. I had the injection – the anti-androgen injection – which lasts for three months and apart from really kind of decreased sex drive I didn’t think I felt all that much, to start with. So, I stopped, it was for three months and then I stopped taking it for three months just to see – because I couldn’t really tell a difference, I don’t know maybe it happened so gradually. So, I came off it for three months and then I felt the testosterone kicking back in, and then all of the feelings that I used to have came flooding back. So, then I had an extra injection, and then I came off them again, for a month, just before Christmas, just to make doubly sure that I knew what I was doing and it was the right thing for me. And within a month this time I knew, I knew that I’m doing the right thing. They’ve made me just feel calm, they haven’t really changed my body that much at the moment but they just kind of bring a sense of serenity about myself, you know. It’s the subtlest of differences, but it makes – it has such a huge effect. So yeah, I’m really happy actually.
INT: Sounds really powerful as well, yeah. And do you have any sort of wants with the future for your transition or are you quite happy where you are now?
S: Well, I want to… I want to at some point stop wearing wigs! Some kind of facial surgery and hair… something to do with my hair, probably plugs or something like that. But obviously that’s kind of dependent on getting some money. But you know, for me my dysphoria was about my body shape and how I was perceived, and it’s about my face as well, a little bit. But, at the moment I’m surviving, I’m carrying on without it, but if I won the Lottery I’d get some facial surgery and I’d get my hair fixed, but that’s kind of it really it.
INT: I won’t dwell on transition, because obviously it’s not the whole of sum of us as trans people, but I think it’s really important to bring out those experiences of transition. So, coming back to community and you talked about Trans Pride what place do you think that trans people have in the broader LGBT community?
S: Well, I think the idea of an LGBT community is already outdated. I think gender and sexuality, although they are different I think LGB people need to help the TQIA people. I think the idea that these minorities should all kind of be separate, because there’s two schools of thought, isn’t there, there’s one that’s kind of, you know, it’s nothing to do with sexuality, trans people shouldn’t be lumped in with them. But I think there’s – and I hate word – intersectionality. I think people should look after each other. If you see injustice, if you see something that isn’t right, you stand up for it and you join the fight, you help these other people to have a better life and so I think that the LGB community is key to getting the trans community, the intersex, the queer, the questioning, everything I think is to do with being, you know, a minority community and I think that we all have so much in common it would be stupid to ignore the LGB community and to say “Oh, we can do this on our own”, you know.
But I think also trans people, gender-variant people need to have a separate identity, but they need to be able to accept help from outside, because I think I worked out the other night, I think it’s about ¼ of a percent, less than a ¼ of a percent of people are trans. This was an American study, but a ¼ of a percent of 63 million in the UK is 150,000, you know, so in reality what are 150,000 people going to really achieve to change the laws, to lobby parliament, to do outreach in schools, to do this massive kind of community assistance kind of thing. I think we need the help from the larger society to really get anywhere.
INT: And how do you see yourself in that place, both in terms of where you fit into the community, because obviously you tick the T box, do you feel like – sorry, this is actually several questions at once – do you feel like you are part of other parts or sub communities within in that? And also, tying it in with the activism, how do you fit into that?
S: Well, I identify as pan-sexual, so, you know, I straddle both communities, I guess, the sexuality and the gender community. So, well, how does that fit in…
INT: Well, you were talking about activism and sort of having that fight, the greater fight. Does that influence how you are active?
S: So… I was quite vocal in the gay marriage debate because I might want to marry a woman in the future, you know, I married one in the past. So, I just think that if I were to just focus on gender, then, you know, I’d be letting down this other huge side of me, which is, you know, my non-binary sexuality. So, I don’t know, I guess that it’s kind of important to know who you are and to be able to stand up for it, to be able to fight for inequalities and injustices.
INT: And, I mean you’re quite clearly quite an activist – what sort of particular issues do you think are really important to fight at the moment?
S: Well, at the moment, the thing that kind of strikes a chord with me is the mental health debate, because, you know, I’ve had struggles with depression and self-harm in the past, and I look at the figures for trans people, and it just it kills me seeing the number of trans people who’ve attempted suicide. I mean how can that be any good? And, for me, the best way to make the biggest difference is to help young people, so I’ve started a degree course in child and youth studies. And I’ve written a children’s book, because I want to introduce this concept of gender-variance as absolutely okay, to young people, because then they can go through their entire lives with that idea, and I just think that that’s the way to make the biggest, most lasting difference.
INT: For sure. So, where are you doing this degree course?
S: It’s an OU course. I left school at 16, because I thought that the world was going to end and everyone was going to die. So, I didn’t do any further education. So yeah, I’m doing an OU course now!
INT: Okay. Dare I ask why did you think the world was going to end?
S: Because that’s part of the Jehovah’s Witness teachings. [laughs]
INT: Oh okay…
S: It’s like an end of days, doomsday cult. It’s a high control cult. Yeah, it’s mad, especially on the tiny insular island of Jersey. They get very scared and – on a tangent – but there’s quite an active rumour mill on Jersey, within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a lot of people were talking about the millennium being the time that Armageddon comes, and that God comes down and kills everyone who isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. And, so, I left the region in I think it was February 2000, because I thought the end of the world was coming and there was nothing… I think that God hated me, because, you know, I was a… I was a raging tranny. [laughs] But yeah, I left because I thought I was going to die anyway so I wanted to have a good life.
INT: And I’m just really intrigued now that you’ve brought that up again. Do you have a relationship, a religious or spiritual relationship with a God or Goddess or what have you?
S: No. Well, I’m not atheist, I kind of believe in a higher power, I’ve got no idea what it is, I don’t presume to know, because I’m a lowly stupid human. [laughs] Humans are just animals, you know, we’re just the same as everyone else.
INT: And going back to education and so you’re doing this degree course now, how have you found re-entering the world of education?
S: It’s a lot less daunting than I thought actually, because with the OU they know that people haven’t been in education for a while so, a lot of their beginning stuff, their course work is geared towards warming people up slowly. So I found it a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. And also, because I write a lot anyway, I just found it just really easy. A few pointers that I needed from a tutor as to how to format my assignments, I mean I’m only in the middle of an access course, so it’s not like it’s amazingly taxing. But I’m definitely going to carry it on, I’m going to see if I can get it done as quick as possible as well.
INT: Brilliant! And you’ve written a children’s book, is that about gender specifically, or is it…
INT: … a children’s book with that sort of subtle…
S: No, it’s brazenly about gender. Well, it’s a children’s picture book, aimed for children aged 5-7, because that’s when studies show that children become aware of gender. And the main character I don’t mention what their gender is, in fact the last page of the book is, you know, are you a boy or are a girl, and I’ve just kind of deliberately made the whole book to be dripping with stereotypes and clichés about gender roles and identity. It’s like a springboard for an adult or a teacher in a classroom, to start talking about what gender means to that child. A huge part of me wanted to write a transsexual children’s book, in large letters, but yeah, I think I’ve done enough to get people’s attention and not quite enough to really illegitimately rile anybody. [laughs]
INT: And, so there’s that and there’s just writing in general – are you writing about being trans, or being trans in Brighton or is it just an expression of creativity for you?
S: I don’t know, it’s a kind of an outlet for me. I write about myself, about stuff that’s happening, about trans people in the media. It’s just kind of something will fire me up and I’ll just vomit onto a Word document and, you know, then I’ll correct the swear words and publish it, I don’t really think about it too much. I just go kind of “Grrr!” at the keyboard and whatever comes out I publish.
INT: And how do you publish?
S: I just stick it all on my own website, I’ve got my own website, sarah-savage.com. I just write stuff on there, sometimes it’s about my past, sometimes it’s about trans people being misrepresented in the media, sometimes it’s just British Gas annoying me and me writing a complaint letter, you know [laughs]
INT: And do you get a lot of hits on your website?
S: Yeah, I think I had about 40,000 last year.
INT: That’s a lot.
S: Yeah, I’m quite pleased with it actually, I looked at my year in review, and it was about 40,000, really pleased with that. Quite a few comments as well, but yeah, I mean because I’ve got such a large social media following I guess, people listen to me, people read what I write, and they respect me and they take me seriously, which is something that I’d never, ever had before. Before I transitioned I was like this happy-go-lucky kind of layabout, you know, I never really had a proper job – well, I had jobs but they were just informal things, that people phoned me up to come and do. Nobody would take me seriously, because I didn’t take myself seriously, and now since I transitioned, it’s completely the polar opposite, which takes a lot of getting used to I guess. Yeah, it’s weird.
INT: So, social media sounds like a really important tool for you, how did you build up that many followers?
S: Well, I was on a Channel 4 documentary series called My Transsexual Summer, back when I was trying to move to England to transition, to begin my transition. I’d sent Channel 4 an email because they were asking for help with research for a documentary, so I sent them an email, they got back in touch with me and we got chatting. I said I’m coming to live in England, I intend on going full time living as female in role, and they were like “All right then, we’ll meet you off the boat” and they followed me the first three or four months of my transition and living as female. And something like, I don’t know, was it 3.2 million people watched the series when it premièred, and it’s been syndicated in God knows how many countries, worldwide, from Sweden to Israel to Australia, to Canada, all around the world, which is weird. [laughs]
INT: Yeah, I can imagine. I mean, if you can, how do you feel about that? I mean in terms of… does it affect how you are in terms of being out? Did you ever want to be stealth or…
S: I don’t… there was a lot of… there was a huge element of me owning my own story of, you know… When I was back in Jersey I didn’t want to be, “that tranny”. I didn’t like those feelings because I had no control over how other people perceive me. On the documentary show, although I didn’t have as much control as I wanted to, I still could control the narrative, I could act in a way that would kind of show me to be a certain type of person. You know, although, none of it was acted, but I knew that, I could have… I could carry myself with a little bit of dignity as much as I could, and I knew that it would be sympathetic to trans people in general. Before I agreed to do the show, I spent a lot of time with the executive producers and the producers and the camera people, and they gained my trust, I trusted them implicitly.
So, I’m glad I did it, I’m really glad I did it, it’s changed my life completely, although it’s still weird getting used to people recognising me on the bus. It’s still weird, I mean my friends in Jersey could call me a celebrity, you know, and I’m not, I took part in a documentary series, I didn’t take part in X Factor or some get famous quick type shows. I took part in this show because I remember seeing other TV shows about trans people in the past and I remember the hope that that gave me and I remember how that made me feel and I wanted to kind of have that opportunity to have an effect over someone else.
INT: That’s really admirable. How do you feel about how you were portrayed with the final thing? Because obviously there was a lot of filming went on, was it four episodes they it took it down it to?
S: Yeah, four episodes of 42 minutes.
INT: And you were sharing that with 5 other participants.
S: Six other, there were seven of us in total.
INT: Okay. Were you happy with the way you were portrayed or did you have any misgivings or…
S: I thought that they showed me to be much more of a goody two shoes than I thought I was. [laughs] You know, I was… I was quite happy with it actually. I don’t think I came across as wrong or anything, I think they showed me to be a little bit more shy than I am. But at the time I was literally day one of living as female they were filming, so there was an element, a huge element of being unsure about myself, lacking in confidence and that was what the whole summer was about for me, it was growing in confidence. But yeah, I was quite happy with how they showed me, it could have been worse. [laughs]
INT: Do you ever look back at like, on video tape, of what you were like a few years ago, because what year was that? Was that 2011?
S: I think it was 2011, yeah.
INT: Yeah, so about 2½ years ago, or maybe 3 years ago, do you look back on that and kind of think how much you’ve changed from that time?
S: Well, I never watched them, I watched the first series when it came out, but yeah, I’ve never seen them since. I know how I’ve changed, the biggest change, the most important change, has been in my head, and has been how I perceive myself in a confidence that I’ve got since, you know, it’s not really about appearance, it’s all about the change that’s happened inside of me. And I know that, I was speaking to a friend from back home last night actually, and she was like the biggest thing is how I’ve changed and how I carry myself and how I see myself. I take myself seriously, which I never did before.
INT: In a good way.
S: In a very good way, yeah. [laughs]
INT: Good stuff. Moving on, you talked about jobs that you used to do, sort of odd jobs and things like that, and now, obviously, you’re a student and you’re studying, in terms of class, do you perceive yourself to be any particular social class?
S: No. I don’t like the class system. I guess, you know, my mum was a child minder and my dad was a postman for 40 years, so, I’m most definitely working class, but, you know, I don’t see the point of the class system, it’s, it’s the one percent and it’s the everyone else. So, yeah, I don’t agree with it. [laughs]
INT: Okay. Because my follow on question, and maybe this is still a bit relevant, but maybe not, is, do you think that that has an influence on your life in Brighton in any shape or form?
S: I don’t know, there’s a lot of questions that you could ask me, I mean like similar to this, and it’s because of growing up in Jersey, you don’t really have that kind of class system, like you do in the UK. I mean in Jersey there’s two private schools and, you know, you’re either an upper class private school person or you’re an everyone else. So, yeah, because I don’t really perceive class, I don’t think it affects the way that I live in Brighton at all. It’s like politics, there’s not a party political system in Jersey, you know, it’s quite an ancient kind of system that they’ve got over there, so I moved to England and it was only kind of last year I learnt the difference between the left and the right. So, yeah, I guess I just have a different kind of perception of the world, because of the Jersey thing, so…
INT: So I guess it’s been quite a sort of a cultural change for you to move to not just Brighton, but England in general.
S: Yeah, yeah, completely.
INT: Does that… do you find that at times you don’t feel like you fit in, because of that, or… I mean how do you feel like you fit into being in England or in Brighton particularly, actually?
S: I don’t know. I’ve never really fitted in anywhere. I’m just the type of person that just floats in, you know, I do my thing, and then I float out again. Yeah, it’s a huge cultural difference moving here, to the UK. I don’t know, I’ve just always been a little bit different, I’ve always had a very different view of the world and I think people that I meet see that, and they notice that, and I think it’s refreshing for some of the ones I get on with, so yeah, I think I’m just a little bit different than anyone else in the way that I view the world and the way I interact with it.
INT: So, bringing all that together, I mean where do you feel the future is for Sarah? What’s next on the grand plan, or do you have any really long-term plans?
S: Yeah, this whole planning for the future thing is new, as well, because I never saw a future for me before I transitioned. I don’t really kind of have any plans, I mean I’d love to own a house, before that I’d love to own a car, you know. So, those are kind of my short-terms goals and they’re mostly money-related, but that’s because I’ve always loved cars, you know, and I’ve never had… This house I stayed in, it’ll be coming up for two years this summer, before this the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place was six months, before I was 18. So, you know this whole having one place to live for more than a year is an alien concept to me. So I think that effects how I make plans. So, yeah I’d like a more fulfilling life, materially because I love cars and I want, for the first time ever in my life, I want some kind of security in where I live. So, I don’t know whatever it takes, if it’s selling a load of books, so be it, or if it’s finding a job and progressing through the ranks then that’s what it’ll be. I think an opportunity will present itself sooner or later and I’ll make the most of it.
INT: And do you feel like your trans status has affected your financial security?
S: Yeah, I think so. Well, because, you know, if… if I wasn’t trans then I would have stayed in Jersey, and I would have got a job and I would have felt more secure in my life. And also, because you know, I haven’t… I wear a wig, I haven’t had laser hair removal on my beard yet, I think that, getting a job and having to shave everyday and having to put make up every day, it’s, it’s a lot and it takes a lot out of your skin, it takes a lot out of you physically as well, because there are trans people I know who get up, and it takes them two hours before they’ll leave the house, because they’re putting their make up on. It’d probably take me half an hour to put my make up on and an hour to have a shave, and to let my skin calm down enough.
These things are starting to appear to be available on the NHS but obviously it’s quite slow. So, I think that the being trans affected me, I would have got a customer service job, a customer-facing job because, I’m quite easy talking to people, but yeah, I don’t know, I think it has.
INT: You mentioned there sort of facing people, do you find there’s times where you are getting hostility or prejudice from the pubic or is that something that’s quite rare?
S: No, I’d say it’s quite rare, it’s more of a self-confidence thing. If I know that I look rough in front of someone that I don’t know, then I’m more likely to not say anything, not open my mouth, I’m more likely to not make eye contact. I’m more likely to try… or revert back to how I used to be, you know, a quiet kind of person who just keep to myself. And yeah, that’s not how I naturally interact, I guess, because when I’ve got a face on and I’ve freshly shaven, I just feel so much better about myself. So, I’m just so much more confident. And yet, you know, if, you know, if I’ve… I don’t know, it’s a difficult one. [laughs]
INT: Okay. Well, going onto more sort of positive questions, being a trans person that lives in Brighton, and bearing in mind you’ve talked about Pride already, but please elaborate more if you want, what’s the positive things about being trans in Brighton?
S: Well, there’s so much of a support structure here, because of the reputation that it has, as being trans-accepting, trans-friendly, there seems to be, I don’t know if it’s backed up with figures, but there seems to be a density of trans people that there isn’t anywhere else, and it’s also some trans people that I’ve met seem to be broken people, you know, they seem to be affected by their transition, and that doesn’t seem to happen as much in Brighton. People who are gender-variant in Brighton that I’ve met are go-getters, are people who aren’t afraid for people to know that they’re trans, and there seems to be that buzz around the city, it’s probably the support structure. I think Trans Pride is a result of that, it hasn’t quite contributed to that yet, but it will. That feeling of positivity and acceptance that especially is among the younger people, is just so infectious you just don’t seem to get as many people who are so beaten by being trans.
INT: Do you have any, I don’t know, funny stories or anecdotes about your time in Brighton, that relates to being trans or the trans community?
S: Yeah, I don’t know. I’m was a stand up comedian, three times, but I don’t think I’m really that funny. [laughs] I’ll to you what my favourite experience was at Trans Pride. It just stopped raining I think and I was just sitting around the corner having a quiet beer and this woman walked up to me, and with a little girl, 6 year old girl and they said “Oh, you’re Sarah, aren’t you?” and I was like “Oh yeah”, and then we got chatting. And it turned out this girl was completely obsessed with My Transsexual Summer and she was like the stereotypical, cute little girl with the short bob and two front teeth missing and she was just so happy to be at Trans Pride and everything was amazing, and then she was so happy to meet this person she’d seen on her television. And then I went over and introduced her to Fox and to Karen, who were both on the show as well, and I think we made this girl’s week, you know. [laughs]
And just seeing that joy, that having that kind of effect on somebody, is just why I do everything that I do. I think it’s just so important to be visible, because you can have that effect just by being visible, you know, you don’t have to do anything other than be yourself.
INT: That’s a really powerful message to put across. I’ve kind of, I think pretty much exhausted my sort of big list of questions, but is there anything that we haven’t discussed already or anything we have discussed but maybe not in enough detail you’d like, that you would like to talk about?
S: I don’t know, I don’t think so.
INT: Okay, well, if there’s nothing more you want to add, then we can close this interview.
INT: But thank you so much for sharing your time and if you want to add more I’m sure we can put it in at a later date.