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TRANS*ACTION Summer 2017 - Issue 2



Interview with London’s Ash Palmisciano

HEALTH TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF MINDFULNESS Tiffany Grimes discusses how mindfulness can have a profound impact


CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE Not everyone’s transition follows the same path

MEDICAL SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT Finlay Games gives us an honest account of phalloplasty



SOCIAL from the


Welcome back to another issue of the Trans*Action magazine! The three months between the first issue and this second issue have passed within the blink of an eye. I was grateful and humbled to see the great reception of the first issue and I hope that the magazine enjoys continuous success as it grows. This platform can only exist when our community is united. In today’s world, it becomes easy to dismiss a part of a community because you don’t share a particular experience. We’re trans, we live in a world that still doesn’t always recognize us as the full human beings that we are. Community is so important.

often I have seen the trans community split into sub-groups. It is then that we become unwilling to listen to the voices of those not within our circles. That’s when we lose the sense of community and with it, our collective strength. This magazine is a place where we come together. Everyone brings a piece of themselves to the magazine and makes it the best it can possibly be. All of this would not be possible without community involvement. Let’s nourish that.

It is so important, in fact, that it was one of the main motivations behind the creation of this magazine. Too transactionmagazine transactionmagazine transactionmag


contribute: If you’d like to contribute to the magazine, drop us an e-mail at transactionmag@gmail. com with your details, letting us know whether you’d like to be a regular contributor or if you’d rather write a once-off article.

feedback: If you’ve got any suggestions on how we could make this magazine better or what articles you’d like to see next, please send us your feedback to transactionmag@gmail. com.

credits. MANAGING EDITOR: Daniel Zagórski DESIGN & LAYOUT: Daniel Zagórski, Hannah Burton COVER PHOTOGRAPHY: Jenn Collins PARTNERS: Transgender Equality Network Ireland

CONTRIBUTORS: Alex Lawson, James Peach, Tiffany Grimes, Cody Sweeney, Zach Brookes, Richard, Sara R. Phillips, Syluss Da Silva, Jamie O’Herlihy, Sky-Roxas Byrne, Finlay Games, Wenn Lawson, Beatrice Lawson, Jessica Marie Dean, Phoenix Clearwater. 03


TRANS*ACTION MAGAZINE This magazine has been written and put together by trans people for trans people. It’s a collection of interviews, opinion pieces, informative articles and some creativity. I hope you’ve enjoyed the content featured this issue.


06 this issue’s letter!

07 MUST SEE: find out who or what made our list this season.

38 words on makeup and a look idea.


40 everyone’s journey is unique.

COMING OUT: Cody, Zach and Richard

42 honest account of phalloplasty.

10 MINDFULNESS: try something new! 16 share their stories. 20



08 it from taking over your life.

ASH PALMISCIANO: the actors tells us his thoughts and future plans.



WRITING (AND TRANSITIONING) TOGETHER: a couple’s journey. REVIEW: this issue it’s Trans Voices by


48 Declan Henry.


49 WELLBEING: tips to make you feel good.

GIANTS: this issue’s history article.

interview with this issue’s cover star.

THE SELF MADE MAN: a tattoo artist

34 recounts his career and identity journey.


50 SANCTUARY: this issue’s creative submission.


SUMMER IN LONDON interview with actor, Ash Palmisciano, his thoughts on the industry and future plans


CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE Everyone’s journey is unique and that’s okay





If you’ve been living under a rock this past year, Arisce Wanzer can be found strutting down the catwalks of LA, NY and Miami. She’s featured in publications such as Vogue and Forbes and last year, she was the first transgender cover girl for Spiegel, an American retail catalogue. Currently, she’s represented by Slay Model Management, an agency that works exclusively with trans models. The agency was featured on Oxygen’s Show ‘Strut’ which was produced by the legendary Whoopi Goldberg and followed the professional and personal lives of trans models.


Finlay Games gives us an honest account of phalloplasty




Alex Lawson is a 21 year old trans man from Dublin, Ireland. He serves on the board of TENI and has a particular interest in mental health.

Dear parent of a trans person,


t’s hard to let go. You have this future envisioned for your kids. And no matter what age they are, they’re always going to be your kid. Adult or not.

I can’t speak for parents. I don’t have that experience. I can’t empathise with you about the plans you had for your child, the loss you might feel when they come out, having to grieve for a future they’ll never have… What I can do, though, is tell you to seek out other parents of trans people and get talking. Sometimes you need to be supported in order to provide a support system for your child. That’s okay.

Transitioning is extremely personal – it’s about preference and personality, needs and wants, pros and cons. When your child comes out to you, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean set things – there is no singular trans experience. That can be scary. You want to be able to anticipate what comes next, to be prepared, to be able to support your child. Transitioning is an opportunity for you to understand your child’s authentic self, to understand their priorities and to get to know them on a more profound level. It can bring you closer in ways you never imagined. A great source of support can be the community. Look to members of the community – engage with your local trans organisation and look at the figure heads, look at the examples of grown, successful, happy trans adults. Sometimes it’s hard to see into the future because it feels so uncertain.

Know that being trans isn’t an awful thing – we’ve all heard the statistics about self-harm and suicide, bullying and discrimination. What we tend to hear less of is the joy that can be found in transitioning. I’ve never been more at peace with my body and myself. I have grown as a person through my transition.

Remember that all around you there are examples of happy and healthy trans people.

Transition is a complex thing with many layers. Some people want to socially transition right away. Others want to wait a while. Some people need to medically transition and others don’t. Legal transition could be a huge deal to one person, or a tick in a box to someone else.

Trans people in love. Trans people empowered. Trans people living. Trans people are capable of and are leading fulfilling, successful lives. We have a future.


MUSTSEE Find out who or what made it on to our list this issue.

If you have any suggestions for this feature, e-mail us at TV Show



This issue it’s all about the media! We feature a new single, a TV show, a play and a new documentary. All of these projects have become a reality thanks to the many talents of trans people within our community. Check them out!

Produced by Whoopi Goldberg, Oxygen’s TV Show ‘Strut’ offers an insight into the every day professional and personal realities of transgender models. The show follows the models as they navigate the industry and personal conflicts that crop up along the way. This issue’s cover star, Arisce Wanzer, features in the series. It’s a must watch for everyone!


Can’t Wait

‘Can’t Wait’ is a single that has recently been released by Laith Ashley. Laith is based in New York and has built a platform as a trans man in a modelling industry. He was one of the first transgender male models to appear in a national campaign. Aside from modelling, Laith is a singer, songwriter and dancer. He recently appeared on the TV Show ‘Strut’. Check out his single and his work at:


Chasing Capri

The film captures the coming of age story of teen trans activist Capri Culpepper, best known for her triumph over the South Carolina DMV in 2015 after she was denied a license based on her appearance. ‘Chasing Capri’ also documents the struggles currently facing the broader LGBTQ community in the southern United States, including the infamous ‘bathroom bills’ and the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting. To support and watch the documentary, go to:


Summer in London

An all trans cast show is coming to London this July! It’s described as a cross between the Inbetweeners and Pretty Woman. Without spoiling anything, we can reveal that the plot revolves around four broke guys in fierce competition for the affections of a beautiful Fillipino girl. A must-see romcom. Tickets at:






If you know the date of the next step of your transition, try counting down to it! Trust me when I say it certainly makes the wait go a lot faster. A bit like in the movies (except don’t expect the wind to blow down 30 at a time). Sometimes there’s a lot of waiting but a visual can help.

As much as we all hate cleaning, it has been scientifically proven to help with bad thoughts. Clean environment, clean mind and all that! It helps distract your brain with menial tasks, giving you a break from it all for a few hours.

LISTS, LISTS! Write a list of the things you love about yourself. Whether it be your beautiful eyebrows or the way your facial hair is coming along, write it down! Think of as many as you can and read it back to yourself when dysphoria hits. It’ll remind you to be kind to yourself and that it’s not all that bad!

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVED ONES Talking to family members or a partner can really lift your spirits. Usually, your loved ones are just as excited about your transition as you are and can notice the little things that you can’t. Allow others to be there for you. Give it a go!

#GOALS Setting goals can be a great way of taking your mind off what’s getting you down. Where do you see yourself in six months? How can you get there? Set a plan in motion and figure out how to stick to it.

IN THE LAST ISSUE OF TRANS*ACTION: AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN An exclusive interview with the first issue’s cover stars, Hannah Winterbourne and Jake Graf. Charismatic, talented, compassionate and charming - those two have it all. Keep an eye on their stories!

REAL BOY Real Boy is a documentary about transitioning, relationships and selfgrowth. Trans*Action interviewed director, Shaleece Haas, and the stars of the documentary. It’s not one you’ll want to miss.

PAINTED FOR THE GODS Put on your favourite shirt or dress. Do your makeup to beauty guru standards. Take 500 selfies because you deserve it. You are a beautiful, independent human being who deserves to feel attractive, loved and deserving.

DEALING WITH DYSPHORIA Being transgender can certainly have its downfalls and for some, dysphoria is at the top of that list. In this issue, James Peach walks us through a few little tips on how to beat it!


EAT Eating your favourite foods or taking time to cook your favourite meal can really help lift your mood! Who doesn’t like having a binge out now and again?

STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS Trans people haven’t just appeared. We have been here for decades. We have a history. Sara R. Phillips shares the forgotten stories of trans pioneers from the past.

Do something you enjoy! Whether that be sports or shopping, watching TV or going for a walk. Taking a few hours out of your day to really enjoy your own company and give yourself some breathing space can seriously help with the thoughts and feelings of the dreaded dysphoria. Have time to be you.


ON FLEEK Geordan Woolfenden is a 24 year old trans woman and makeup artist from Brighton, UK. In the first issue, she shared with us some useful tips on how to put together a basic makeup look.



For this issue’s mental health section, Tiffany Grimes discusses the impact of mindfulness on our minds, bodies and souls. She offers a beginner’s guide to anyone not knowing where to start.



indfulness is the latest craze that has been with us for eons. It is the practice that begs us to pay attention to this moment – to feel, see, smell, hear, and taste without any self-judgment of what we should be doing, or shouldn’t be doing, how it could look or might be. It is the simple idea of connecting to our experience of living. Before you roll your eyes, before you recall that one time you tried meditation and nearly lost your marbles after sitting for only 30 seconds – promise me you’ll read this. Why? Because the trans community is one of increasing pain. Every day transgender people face growing discrimination, rejection by family and friends, victimization, violence, and an elevated prevalence of suicide attempts. Additionally, transitioning is often a complicated and confusingly long process requiring staggering amounts of money, patience and tenacity. We are surrounded by demands that take us away from the present moment. We are increasingly stressed out and sick by the moment.



And stress takes its toll. According to the American Psychological Association, 34% of Americans reported an increase in stress. Stress is connected to major health issues including heart disease, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and exacerbation of cancer. It also takes credit for daily discomforts like eye twitches, sleeplessness, and headaches. According to the CDC, when we add social inequality to the mix, health stats drop more when compared to our non-queer counterparts. To be clear, mindfulness practice will not result in floating serenely on silver-lined clouds with raindrops of joy. It will not suddenly make the world use correct pronouns, nor will dysphoria magically disappear. However, its increasingly growing list of profound well-being benefits cannot be overlooked. Studies continue to point to mindfulness practice as treatment for anxiety, pain, and depression. Recent research out of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, demonstrate that mindfulness practice has the ability to calm the brain’s amygdala – reducing the time we spend in our stress-inducing survival mode, known as fight, flight, and freeze. Also, mindfulness practice has been connected with improved memory, better sleep, mood stability, ability to make decisions, cognitive function, and an over all improvement of our ability to handle stress. So while mindfulness is not a magic wand, it does reduce our physical and mental load, allowing us to honestly and intentionally experience our existence. Any mental load we carry diminishes our ability to fully experience the present moment – we become less exploratory and more exploitatory. Dr. Bar, a Neuroscientist and Professor at Harvard Medical School, explains that our brain normally switches


Mindfulness strengthens our ability to be present. between these two states, exploratory and exploitatory. When we are focused on being present (say in new situations or while traveling) we naturally switch to an exploratory state – we are open to new experiences, learning, becoming more creative, and being willing to take risks. However, in exploitatory mode we tend to rely on what we know and do what we think is predictable and safe. When our minds are full and our bodies are stressed, we function in the exploitatory state. We lose creativity and curiosity. When we practice mindfulness, we are able to force stress’ death grip to ease up and live a life that looks less drone like. And with creativity piqued we have a better chance of finding solutions to problems we had given up on. Of course, the goal is not to aim for exploratory functions 100% of the

time. We need predictability and comfort zones. The issue arises when we realize how much stress we carry and how many hours of every single day we carry said load. We get comfortable with stress and after a few years (or decades) we look up to realize not only have we not been in exploratory creative mode for a very long time – In fact, we can’t return at will. Starting a mindfulness practice can seem daunting. Our minds and lives are full. The good news? Mindfulness can be built into daily activities we are already doing. To boot, the practice is forgiving. For example, having drifting thoughts that distract from the present moment is not failure, not concrete proof from the universe that you are not made for this. Rather, the practice of realizing the drift is success. Each and every moment 13

we practice mindfulness, it strengthens our ability to be present, to release a bit of stress, and find our way back to exploratory states. Here are three habits to build your own mindfulness practice. OWN YOUR BREATH Deep breathing alerts the parasympathetic nervous system to activate its anti-fight or flight serum – in essence, calming down your sympathetic nervous system. Deep breathing also gets your vagus nerve involved, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, while focusing energy and inducing calmness. WHAT TO DO: Find a comfortable position you can stay in for 2-5 minutes (probably sans binder, because there’s no comfort there). Next, pay attention



to your breathing. REALLY pay attention your breathing – Feel it as it enters your body, your chest, and your belly. Deepen your breathing and continue to take notice of how your body feels during the inhalations and exhalations. Your mind WILL wander. Great! Invite it back to the experience each and every time it gets distracted. Afterwards, consider how this can be built into a daily practice – Your work lunch? Before you get out of bed? While you wait for the coffee to brew? OWN YOUR EXPERIENCE Emotions are normal. Negative emotions are healthy. Mindfulness is not about living in an eternal state of happiness. Rather, the practice brings awareness to an ever-changing emotional state and allows you to choose a response. By naming and experiencing your emotional state in the present moment, you prevent the denial of, and packing in, of intense emotions that nearly always result in less than ideal situations. WHAT TO DO: Bring awareness to intense emotions with RAIN: Recognize: Press pause on the chaos and recognize the intense emotion. Without judging yourself or identifying as good or bad, simply turn towards the emotions. Acknowledge: Ease the mental resistance to the current situation. Acknowledge that whatever is happening, is happening. You don’t have to like it or even approve of it – just honor that it is your current reality. Investigate: Approach the situation with curiosity. These questions may help: How does this feel in my body? What do I need right now? What self-nurturing step can I take to stay present?

Non-Identification: Gently remind yourself that you are not, nor are you defined by, your emotions. Instead, you are awareness, stillness, and perspective. OWN YOUR TIME The average person checks their phone over 150 times per day (Fields, 2016) and consumes an average of 13 hours of daily media per (Williams, 2017). Every time you check email and scroll social media you open yourself up to surrendering focus and energy. You may, for example, be feeling creative and inspired, only get completely sidetracked by an email notification regarding some family issue. You’re reminded of the situation, become frustrated, and respond to the email. It’s gone – that moment of creativity and inspiration. You gave it away. WHAT TO DO: Where appropriate, turn off your “push” notifications on email, facebook, youtube, twitter, instagram, etc. Consider turning off text and phone calls during times you want to fully engage with something. Choose when and how you will engage with these platforms. They are amazing and wonderful AND designed to suck you in and monopolize your time. These three small choices can become transformative mindful habits. Being mindful can be the difference between blowing up at your boss for using the wrong name, or calmly reminding them of the change. It can be the difference between drowning in anxiety and dysphoria, or calmly formulating a plan. Remember, the more you practice mindfulness, the better you get. Engaging with the present moment is a powerful gift to yourself and quite honestly, the world.


Tiffany Grimes provides powerful trainings on building resiliency, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness. Her focus is to influence human behavior through creating an understanding of modern neuroscience and ancient practices. Find her at:



Coming out is never just one event. We come out to our family, friends, partners and many other people that we encounter throughout our lives. Experiences will vary but we’ve all got some stories to tell.


’m 18 years old and from Waterford. I come from a very supportive family I have one sister (19) and two brothers (13 and 15). Growing up was a challenge. I didn’t feel comfortable in my body. I always wanted to be like my brothers and I was jealous of them. I knew since the age of 7 that there was something really wrong. I didn’t like my body and I questioned that. I always wanted to be a boy. At the age of about 10-11, while researching the word transgender came up. I realized ‘that’s who I am!’. Growing up and keeping it a secret became very hard. It was especially difficult going through puberty. I am the kind of person who doesn’t show my feelings. At the age 15, I became very isolated. I was depressed and I was self-harming. I got talking to trans people online that were not even in my country. It felt like I was the only transgender guy in Ireland. I pushed my family away and stayed up in my room all the time and didn’t engage with anyone.


After almost a year I said to myself that it wasn’t getting better, only getting worse. I really wanted to come out to my family but I just didn’t know how to. I came to a solution with the decision to 16

come out to my auntie because I felt really comfortable with her as she is a complete tomboy. I came out to my auntie around Christmas time of 2015. I remember saying to her that I didn’t feel comfortable with the body I was in and wanted to be a boy. She told my parents after a long chat with her on text. This was the time when I was incredibly nervous. I didn’t know whether my parents were going to accept it or not but they did. My parents are really supportive and so are my brothers and sister. A few months after coming out, I started to become more and more myself. My family started calling me Cody and using male pronouns. It was the best day

using male pronouns. It was the best day ever. In 2016, I was diagnosed with gender identity dysphoria. After a few weeks of counselling, I ended up getting referred to Loughlinstown Hospital in Dublin to get Testosterone. There will be a 10 month wait to get my hormones. However, I’ve always dreamed of this and I’m so happy to know that I will receive them in November of 2017. Further on, I will be considering top surgery. I’m so happy now seeing how fast my transition is going and that I have a very exciting few years ahead of me. I would like to thank my friends and family for being so so supportive!


ince I was little, knew I was stuck in the wrong gender. When I started playing tennis, I was mentally and physically trapped because I felt I couldn’t come out to my coaches. I was worried that the coaches that taught me might not accept my feelings of being transgender.

Tennis has changed my life so much since I started my transition. I’ve become stronger, mentally and physically. I’ve been nominated for an LGBT award for a positive role model at the National Diversity awards in September. If you could spare a minute, I’d appreciate your vote!

I was inspired by a trans woman called Renée Richards who was the first transgender woman to compete in tennis. Her story inspired me to promote my legacy for our generation. When I was kid I was diagnosed with autism and as being on the spectrum. During that time, I struggled to express my feelings to my parents. Once I was 19, I started explaining to them that I’m transgender. They told me that they already know. I asked my mom to write my performance coach a letter regarding this. The coach really accepted me and supported me all the way. Since I’ve began taking testosterone, I’ve been really focusing on my goal of becoming the first transgender male to compete in INAS International for people who have a learning disability. I’m also incredibly proud to be preparing to represent my city in the National Special Olympics event in Sheffield this August.




was a child who never felt strictly female. As a child, I was always a “girl” because that is how everyone saw me. That is how I saw me – sort of. In my house at least, everyone was expected to be the sex that was assigned to them at birth. Gender identity, you see, was not thought to be different. Looking back over my childhood, I just went with it. I did not give it much thought. I did not realise that how I was experiencing gender identity was not quite how every other boy and girl were experiencing theirs. I just existed and did not feel strongly as either a boy or a girl. I did not feel strongly to be any gender. A few months before I turned 17, I still felt this way about my gender. My body, people around me and even my legal documents told me, “She’s a girl.” I never tried to think about it. I did not know that this feeling was anything unusual. That was until one morning in a Dublin flat.

I was alone as my mom and sister were out. The telly was on in the background. That is where I heard the word I had never heard before. Not knowing what this word meant, I went to the internet and found out. It was the first time I saw a world of definitions and others with strikingly similar experiences of gender identity as myself. Now, it has been just over six years since I came out to my mom, sister, and aunt. Six years exactly since I got involved with LGBT related things. I have wanted to come out to the rest of my family. That is the tricky thing. My family is as mixed in personality types as it is big in numbers. After six years, I feel ready for them to know who I am and how I experience this. I wrote them a letter I wanted to send but I never sent it. You can read the letter on the next page.


Don’t possible. s a r a le c ep hts out as he type to have de g u o h t y et m en’t t appro g this to g u and I ar e a more k li l e fe r er. I am writin nothing wrong. Yo h this eith kes a lette s ’ it a e w r m e t t h o t a p , h s y r w e wor on th er. It’s ns togeth lan on putting you io s s u c is d ’t p elf. I ans. I don bout mys a g in h t priate me e efore nown som plain something b k e v a h I , rs ex It is st few yea harder to ant to do. Over the la e this with you. It is that’s not what I w m r re it is: I a y, a e ll h h s ra o u t S to a t ? N t n . wa first , righ what it is en explain you know r to state it first, th sie always ea ions er. ose quest d h n t e f g o s e n n ra O t s is ions. ave quest hat mean he t h t y a a h m W u ”. ? on t nd that yo der mean ale based m fe I understa hat does transgen s a the e “W defined m lly) was different to d at s r to c o might be, d e a e ychologic tity and sex assign s born, th s a w (p I y it n t e n h as e w I identify nder iden gender id . e t y g o m e n h t o T u d . b , they body t birth d to me a ost people. For me e n ig s s a sex rm atching fo birth are m tity and nder iden e g t a man. a h one is t noted is der some e n b e /g ld x u e o s d h e s gender an fers to th at I think r e h r t la y u g t li ic in t a h r u t a One t. Sex gap re differen nder refers to bein a y t li a u x se nsge to but tra . attracted and elf e Richard ense of s s m a n n w o e h r y t u yo gone by d on all m e e v g a n h a I , h s c r in of yea s been pronouns t number uns. This name ha d s n la a e e h t m r a Ove rono this n he/him p ou to use d y e s e u k li e v ld a u h wo uments. I understand this. legal doc I hope you . e r u t fu e th ily,

Dear fam

From, Richard


ASH PALMISCIANO Hollywood tells us that they cannot find trans actors. Ash Palmisciano joins us to disprove this. He is the first trans actor to be employed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. 20

The discussion around trans actors – or rather, actors who happen to be trans – has been gaining some momentum. People within the community often find themselves dissatisfied with the casting of cis people for trans roles (specifically the casting of cis men as trans women) and those outside the community continue to excuse this by saying that trans actors are hard to find. We reached out to one of the many actors we know, Ash Palmisciano, to prove how wrong that perception is. He talks about his views on the industry, the beginning of his career and his upcoming show, Summer in London. Ash, it’s a pleasure to meet you. To start, tell us: was acting always the plan? How did you get into it? It sounds cheesy but when I was a kid I was always putting on performances or practicing award ceremonies. Embarrassing but it’s true! On weekends, I’d perform for my grandparents and I’d wear my granddad’s hat and suit jacket. I loved acting and then life got in the way and I lost my confidence. I spent a lot of time performing the role of a female. It has been one of my most challenging roles to date. Once I transitioned, I finally had the passion and confidence to pursue what I’d always wanted. I attended a trans acting course at the Central School of Speech and Drama ran by the Gendered Intelligence charity. The course was fantastic and rekindled my passion for acting again. It led to some amazing auditions including Eastenders, Casualty, Hollyoaks and Boy Meets Girl.


And has transitioning impacted your acting career in any way?

Tickets for Ash’s upcoming show are available at:

I would have pursued acting a lot sooner if I had transitioned. Before I was so busy trying to play the role of a female I didn’t



have time for much else. Now that I’ve transitioned, I finally have the confidence and headspace to pursue acting. There’s lots of trans roles being written at the minute so being transgender and an actor might go in my favor, although there needs to be a lot more parts that aren’t just about the start of a transition. On that topic, what do you think of instances where cis people are cast in trans roles? I wish casting directors would take a chance and cast more trans actors or, at least provide more training opportunities. I loved the Danish Girl and I strongly believe that the best actor should be cast to play the role. However, I do feel that a trans actor would be better at portraying a trans character as they would have real life experience to bring to the role. In the future, I’d like to play cis roles also and it should come down to who can do the best job. So what advice would you give to someone looking to get into acting? If you want to get into acting, get yourself on an acting course. It’s great to get as much practice as you can – whether that’s theatre shows or making a show reel and performing in front of a camera yourself. You will need to get some headshots and send them off to as many casting agents as possible and invite them to anything you do. Be prepared to take rejection because you’re not going to be right for every role but with enough passion and patience the right role will come up.


Do you have any role models within the acting industry? I do – quite a few; I’m a massive fan of the likes of Robert De Niro and Leonardo Di Caprio. I’d love to work with Shane Meadows who was behind the This is England film and TV series. I love his style. It would be a dream come true to work with him and play the main in a gritty British transgender story. I love how he encourages his actors to improvise scenes. It’s so natural and real. And so far, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? I’ve had some cool moments over the past few years – from reading with a fantastic actor Lacey Turner on the set of Eastenders to firing the world’s biggest medieval catapult. Though, the best achievement of all time is coming out and being true to myself. Transitioning is the hardest challenge I’ve ever had to face and I’m proud that I’ve taken the massive steps to become free. So what can we expect from you next? I’m moving to London to start rehearsals on ‘Summer in London’ which opens on July 8th. After Summer, I’m hoping to pick up some more TV roles and work on more trans activism through the media and my own projects. Also, for the 23

first time, I’m working on a trans summer camp as a volunteer and I’m really looking forward to it. Finally, where do you see yourself in five or ten years time? In an ideal world, I’d be in Hollywood [laughs]. In ten years time, I see myself happy and content within myself, still working in the media and surrounding myself with lovely people. One of the things on my bucket list is to road trip America so hopefully I’ll have done that by then. I want to continue to help change the world by showcasing what it means to be trans and help normalize it. I’d love to be a role model for others going through similar things. It gets better and you can do anything you want with your life. Where can we follow you and find more information on upcoming projects? You can follow my rehearsals for the upcoming show on snapchat (ashpalmo) or instragram (ash_palmo). Summer in London is a romantic comedy full of emotions and an amazing soundstrack. It aims to help normalise what it means to be trans. I can’t wait to be a part of this fantastic cast and story. It runs from the 8th to the 29th of July. If you’re interested, tickets are available at: See you there!




SARA R. PHILLIPS has been a trans activist for over 20 years and is currently the Chair of Transgender Equality Network Ireland. She is also the curator of the Irish Trans archive.


s the debate in global media and among the political elite on trans rights increases and trans visibility empowers more of our community to demand equality, respect, and our human rights, it is important to reflect on how this cause has taken so long to come to the fore. For many, this is a new fight. For many, trans people did not exist in Ireland pre-2005. We suddenly appeared from outer space demanding to be recognised. Before then, Lydia Foy was the only trans person in Ireland, or so the media assumed.

Following on from our story about Eliza Edwards in issue 1, we continue with the theme of social inclusion, the few pioneers that dared to live in their true gender and were sometimes ridiculed when found out. Brave pioneers such as men like Albert D.J. Cashier 1843 to 1915 from Clogherhead in County Louth who fought for the Union Army in the American Civil War. Albert D.J. Cashier was born in Killybush, Clogherhead, County Louth. Albert was born on December 25th, 1843 to parents Patrick and Sallie. Not much is known about how he moved to the United States or why he enlisted in the army. The only first-hand evidence was provided by Albert himself in 1913. At the time, it was said that Albert was suffering from dementia.

Grant. We know that Albert, on August 6th, 1862, enlisted in the 95th Illinois Infantry under the name Albert Cashier and was assigned to Company G. From accounts of his fellow soldiers, we know that Albert was a brave fighter and a good soldier, gaining distinction and admiration for heroic actions and undertaking dangerous assignments. He fought in approximately forty engagements, including the siege at Vicksburg, the Red River Campaign, the Battle of Nashville and the battles at Kennesaw Mountain and Jonesborough, Georgia. Described as ‘the smallest man in the company’, he was of light complexion, blue eyes, and auburn hair.

However, through much research and continued interest in Albert, there is a wealth of information available about his story. Evidence of Albert’s war record is easy to come by from the Army of Tennessee under the command of Ulysses S.

One account told the story of how Private Cashier participated in the Siege of Vicksburg in May 1863, during which time he was captured whilst performing a reconnaissance mission. He escaped by wrestling a gun away from a Confederate and was chased on foot, narrowly making it back to Union lines. Albert served


a full three-year enlistment with the regiment until they were disbanded in August 1865, and he was awarded a full soldier’s pension. After the war, Albert returned home to Belvidere, Illinois and worked as a labourer for a while. He then moved to Saunemin, Illinois in 1869. Throughout his life Albert held many different jobs, including farmhand, church janitor, cemetery worker and street lamplighter. He worked for and was particularly close to the Chesbro family, who built him a small house and set aside a space in the family plot for his burial. As Albert was respected as a Civil War veteran, and could receive a pension, earn twice as much money as a woman, be free to work and live as he chose rather than be dependent on another, have a bank account and even vote, his decision to live in his true gender meant freedom. But Albert’s story does not end happily. In November of 1910 he was hit by a car driven by his employer State Senator Ira M. Lish and broke his leg. A physician discovered his secret in the hospital, but did not disclose the information. The accident left Albert disabled and on May 5th, 1911 he was moved to the Soldier and Sailor’s Home in Quincy, Illinois. By 1913, Albert was infirm and in mental decline. While the staff were aware of Albert’s history, they never broke his confidence. His mental and physical state had begun to deteriorate by then and due to the onset of dementia he was transferred to Watertown State Hospital for the Insane. Whilst there it was discovered that he was female-bodied when staff were giving him a bath, at which point he was forced to wear a dress. His doctor in the hospital, Dr Leroy Scott began to document Cashier’s tales of his life and by 1914, his story had been leaked to the press and the sensational headline of a woman in the Union Army became widely publicised.

Albert’s legacy was eventually recognised. The town of Saunemin, in 2009, rebuilt Albert’s cottage and replaced his gravestone which originally had his birth name with his name Albert D. J. Cashier. Many articles and books have written about Albert’s story, such as the one written by Lon P. Dawson, a fellow resident of the soldiers and sailors home - How One Young Irish Girl Joined the Union Army During the Civil War. Audio documentaries such as the one by Linda Paul highlights and respects Albert’s story for what he was, an incredible man. Men like Albert Cashier walked before us, blazing a trail for the acceptance and understanding that has been achieved today. Albert Cashier lived his life the way he wanted but in the end was not given the respect for his decision.

C. W. Ives was saddened by his visit to Albert, stating “I left Cashier a fearless boy of 22…when I went to Watertown, I found… a frail woman of 70, broken because, on discovery, she was compelled to put on skirts”. Friends and Albert protested this himself but the hospital was adamant. In early 1915, in the face of strong evidence, the Pensions Bureau had no choice but to declare that the elderly woman in the hospital was indeed Albert D. J. Cashier and continue the pension payments.

Trans activists in Ireland have fought for visibility, healthcare and a right to be recognised since the mid 1970’s. All our pioneers, such as Dr. Lydia Foy, need to be recognised as Albert should. It has taken over 40 years to see change and today we stand on the shoulders of giants and they have brought us to where we are today. The Irish Trans Archive hopes to record and recognise the struggle, the stories, the pathway and the individuals that make our history a colourful one. Should you have any information, press cuttings or audio or visual media or your own story to share, we would be delighted to hear from you. Email

Albert Cashier died on October 11, 1915 a broken man. He was buried in the uniform he had kept intact all those years and his tombstone was inscribed “Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf.”[2] It took W. J. Singleton (executor of Cashier’s estate) nine years to track Cashier’s identity back to his birth name.








If you’ve been living under a rock this past year, Arisce Wanzer can be found strutting down the catwalks of LA, NY and Miami. She’s featured in publications such as Vogue and Forbes and last year, she was the first transgender cover girl for Spiegel, an American retail catalogue. Currently, she’s represented by Slay Model Management, an agency that works exclusively with trans models. The agency was featured on Oxygen’s Show ‘Strut’ which was produced by the legendary Whoopi Goldberg. Arisce, to begin, what made you decide to get into the modelling industry? Me and my family used to watch Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show together. It replaced the TV spectacle that was the beauty pageant. At fourteen, I thought ‘these people look so happy just by being pretty, I would love do that’. What you don’t realize is the work that goes into it. The contracts, the shady backroom deals where people are sabotaging you because you’re trans or black or you’re a minority of any type. It’s not this beauty contest you think it is, it’s no different than any other job. Your body is your job, your face is your job. Being a model and being trans, that’s double the stress. How did you deal with that?

That’s why I had to get out of NY. The girl in New York was just getting smaller and smaller and I couldn’t keep up. I moved to California where they celebrate healthy bodies out here so you can work out and you can go hiking and you can live in the sunshine. I’m happier here because I’m healthier here. I’m not listening to all of the noise that these toxic agents were feeding to me. They do it to everybody, not just me. This is just the way the fashion industry is. We can celebrate great, healthy bodies and happy, healthy people. That’s what’s really beautiful. It’s not just how you look on the outside but also what you’re exuding from the inside. Happy people shine through on camera. The fashion industry has insane beauty standards. How do you confront these standards that exist in the modelling industry? There’s a saying that if the light shining on you is brighter than the light within, 28


Body dysphoria was a huge issue because of the modelling industry standards that were forced that onto me. You have to be skinny, skinny. When I was living in New York, I was 6”1 and 121 pounds and that is nothing. I was basically a bobble head, which meant the clothes looked amazing. But was I healthy? Absolutely not. I was clinically anorexic. I’ve had two eating disorders throughout my modelling career, and gotten over them with flying colours.

As you get older, you realize you’re being encouraged by people you trust to maintain this image. Agents pit you against each other. Tighten up, they say. Not lose weight, not get thinner, they say tighten up. It’s code and it goes into your head because you’re young. They use this fabulous little code which makes it sound like you’re going to work on yourself when really you’re getting an eating disorder for Christmas. Why would they point me in the wrong direction? They’ve taken my health into consideration, right? No. They’re trying to make money off of you. They know the smaller you get, the more people are going to see you. The sicker she gets, the more work she’s getting and no one knows. You’ll see girls disappear for a season. Where did she go? She was in the clinic getting better. That is actually very common.

Arisce Wanzer On a chill day, I’m wearing: my True Religion bell-bottom jeans with a V-neck American Apparel shirt and I’m wearing a camouflage do-rag. It’s fun. I’m listening to: Katy’s Perry’s ‘Bon Appetit’. That song is so addictive. My drink of choice is: always champagne. Me and Laith go to the park to feed the squirrels and I always have champagne on hand! My cheat snack is: jalapeño chips and spicy guacamole from my local grocery store. Finally, LA or NY?: LA, all the way!

you’re going to burn out. My light is way brighter from within because it took me so long to learn to love myself just as I am. No one’s going to take that away. I hear comments like ‘her nose is big’. I’m a black person, we come with big noses, big lips, big eyes. We have inflated features and I like them. I see my mother in them, my aunts, my sisters, I see my people. My family has taught me to be proud of who I am, they have been so supportive through everything I’ve done. I’m proud to walk down the runway with my mom’s face, why wouldn’t I be? It’s ironic because in the world there are more people who look like me than like Claudia Schiffer. People in Asia can relate to my features more than Christie Brinkley’s features. They shouldn’t have to pinch their noses and be bleach blonde with blue eyes because that’s what’s sold to them. We need equal representation in the media. There isn’t just this one black girl and this one white girl. There can be the blonde black girl with the blue eyes and the really light skin, to this darker black girl with the green eyes and the red hair, etc. The lack of representation can be blamed 29 27

on bad casting and I hold casting directors responsible. You need to start sharing other people’s stories.

That would be fine if they weren’t giving cis people our roles. You can’t have Dallas Buyers Club with some straight dude playing a trans woman and then not want to hire a trans woman to play a cis woman.

Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Having only white women on all billboards on Sunset is doing no one any favours. People of colour are not being represented at all. The most beautiful people in the world are from all over the world. There’s different types of beauty everywhere.

How can people in the modelling industry destroy the negative stereotypes that come with being trans? Start hiring people based on their talent. May the best woman win, as RuPaul says. We are fitting the clothes better, we are walking better, we are serving better looks on camera, just hire us, it’s not rocket science. That goes for everybody. Straight guys play gay roles all the time. You can hire gay actors to do straight roles too. They can play straight, they did it for years. We’ve all lived in a closet. We were the Oscar winners of our time. Stop type casting people because it makes you a bad casting director when you can’t see outside of the box that’s already been painted for you.

Has being a transwoman helped or hindered you in your career? Transitioning was better for work, but I did it because it was what I had to do to survive. Could I live as a boy forever? No, it doesn’t feel right, it’s not who I am. It’s either be miserable for everyone else or be happy for myself and that was an easy choice to make. I transitioned at 19 and I switched to the women’s board at my agency. They were really supportive. It’s not like it was this crazy transformation. My hair was the same, my face was the same. I just started wearing dresses. I had a lucky experience. It’s not everyone’s experience.

How would you define success? Goodness, how do I define success? It’s making goals for yourself and reaching them. I don’t care what my parents think or what people around me think. I have to be doing what I think I should be doing. My biggest accomplishment to date is definitely getting a show after living in Hollywood for only three years. I was on another show last year called Cheetah in August as a reoccurring guest star character. I’ve also been in two indie films. I’ve shot with Patrick Demarchelier. I got an opening ceremony campaign, a lingerie campaign that did really well. I’m incredibly blessed and incredibly prepared for whatever comes at me. My greatest

Being trans has helped in Hollywood because whenever they need a trans role, there’s twenty known trans people that they’re going to call in. I’m always one of them. I’ll see my name on a list with the likes of Laverne Cox, Isis King and Angelica Ross. A list of great peers who everyone knows of. At some auditions there will be many unknown trans actors and models and we all have a chance at the same role. It’s really nice to see that they are starting to make roles for us but it’s still tokenized because it’s still trans roles. They’re not giving us women’s roles.


accomplishment would be winning a GLAAD award for Outstanding Reality Series. I did that, wow. You can’t take that away, this very important moment in history is for me.

like, “What are you looking at, brah?!”. But it does make it easier. There’s a comfort there for sure. What do you think is the hardest part of being seen as a role model for trans people?

So, how did you enjoy your time on ‘Strut’?

Everyone expects you to be an activist and I’m just a model. ‘Did you hear that sixteen transgender women were killed this month?’. No, I didn’t, it’s on my radar but I don’t know the statistics. You know who knows that? Laverne Cox, she’s great at this stuff, but we’re not all these crazy activists on their pedestals all the time. I know about Oscar de la Renta’s latest line. My hobbies aren’t looking up really depressing news about transgender women. It doesn’t help me move.

We shot a lot longer than we signed on for but I had a lovely time. We had a great team that we worked with but they painted very high expectations for the show. We got a huge ad in Times Square. It was a goal of mine to be featured there and we were on nine billboards. It was fabulous! However I think the show would have done better if it were advertised in other cities. No one in LA knew what the show was! Despite this, I’m happy I was on the show as it gave me a lot of new opportunities. I met my current boyfriend on it; his name is Laith and my new best friend, Isis King. I absolutely love her, we’re like sisters. We make fun of each other constantly.

That doesn’t mean I don’t talk about it. On the GLAAD red carpet, I said that we have to talk about Chechnya, we need to help those people escape this persecution for being themselves. How can I go to a club in West Hollywood knowing that someone’s being pushed off a building for being gay? It makes me sick to my stomach. All I can do is use my platform to talk about it out loud, but I can’t be expected to be an activist for the trans community all the time. I am an activist in that I live my life through my truths and I promote everyone else to do that too. I’d love to have a billion dollars, I’d help people. Unfortunately, people with a lot of money don’t like helping people. The distribution of wealth in this country is so uneven right now. You need to start helping people. Don’t build a wall; build a longer table to invite people to because you can share the wealth. We don’t need more successful people, we need more helpers.

You mentioned Laith, he’s also trans. Do you feel like your shared experience of being trans and modelling has made it easier for you to connect? We can talk about things that could be awkward for someone who has a different experience, like surgeries and other personal things. You know, everyone has private parts except for trans people. Those are public parts because everyone wants to know about them! Our parts are private too, so let me use whatever bathroom I want and chill the hell out. It makes it easier being with another trans person because we already know the bullshit. Hater to your left, let’s go. Laith’s a little more confrontational than me. He’ll be


Another pressure comes from what people think you should look like. I now have a bunch of cis fans. Before the show, I just had trans and gay fans. I feel pressured into what I’m supposed to look like on my days off, just going to the grocery store or being seen in public. They are like, ‘She needs to have long hair again’, ‘she should wear this type of makeup’, ‘girl, have you tried the new lip-kit?’. They’ve given into the social pressures of what you’re supposed to look like. I don’t look like a pretty Barbie doll all the time. That takes a team of 12 people; a stylist, hair stylist, makeup artist, glamcor mirror, etc. People don’t just look like that when they walk out of the house! I’m not putting $40 worth of makeup to go do laundry so you can be comfortable with my image, absolutely not!

for pictures, it’s work way off camera and it’s work every single day. It’s work every time that you have to go to a family dinner and you can’t eat anything that everyone else is eating because you have to order the salad with dressing on the side. That’s your life. I’m just saying make sure you want it, because it’s not just glamour – it’s work.

For female celebrities, it could just be a minute they caught her off guard when she said ‘oh, who am I going to see today? I just have to get this done’. Then the public are just like “Oh she’s garbage now!”. Sorry, I can’t have a $30,000 gown on every time I go to Trader Joe’s. No, I’m wearing H&M like everyone else because I’m tired and I really need artichoke hearts for dinner!

Finally, we’re all excited to see where you go next. What’ next on the horizon for Arisce?

What advice would you have for a trans person looking to get into the modelling industry?

Me and Isis King are filming a web series right now which will be streaming this summer. It’s staring TS Madison who’s a famous Atlanta trans woman. I absolutely love her, she’s got a new show with World of Wonder coming up called ‘Let Me Pick You Up’ and I’ll be featured on it. Robert Sepulveda Jr from ‘Finding Prince Charming’ will appear on our show also so it’s going to be fairly LGBTQ star-studded. It’s a comedy about transwomen’s dating lives because both Isis and I have really funny dating stories and our friend Brandon Smithson is the director. It’s going to be really funny! Me and Isis King have a new website coming out as well. That will be up this summer! For more updates people can follow me on instagram (ariscestocrat) and on my Facebook page as well.

It’s the same advice I’d have for anyone wanting to start a modelling career: make sure you want to do this. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. I put my heart, soul and body into this. I put my body through it. I wanted this more than anything else just to prove to myself that I could do it and that I could do it well. I came, I saw, I conquered. So, if you really love something, if you really want to do something, go and dive in head first. Be ready for everything that comes with it because it’s not all glamour. You can’t just look at everyone else’s highlight reel and think that’s their life. There’s a real life behind it – there’s heartache, pain, family problems, eating disorders, messy break ups, bad contracts and there’s all this stuff that comes with years of experience.

Oh yeah! Go listen to Laith’s new song on iTunes and buy it! It’s really good.

There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs. Step by step, you’re going to get yourself where you want to go. Make sure you really want to be here because I see a revolving door of girls and guys coming every season who thought they wanted to be a model and it’s really, really hard. It’s not just posing

As for me, personally, I’m going to keep modelling. You don’t ever have to stop modelling, you just have to fit the sample size. It’s not hard. They’ve got old models everywhere so I’m just going to be an old trans model and you’re all going to love me for it! 32





Syluss is a tattoo artist at Songbird Tattoo in the UK. He’s also the owner of the Trans-Gentleman’s Guild - an online clothing store which features his own exclusive designs.



attooing was something that always fascinated me, even from an early age. So far, I have been working as a professional tattoo artist for around ten years, and originally got started in Brighton, before jetting off to gain experience in Melbourne, Australia.

Melbourne, I discovered, is a phenomenally accepting city where diversity is celebrated, not discouraged. Suddenly, I was meeting people in clubs that identified in all kinds of ways: pansexual, transsexual, transgender – you name it. They were there and they were OUT there.

By most people’s standards, I was a late starter to the game, as I spent a lot of time travelling the world, seeking out new experiences and trying to get a sense of my own identity. However, despite being older than the average tattoo newbie, I knew it was the industry I wanted to get into, and I’ve never regretted doing so.

At the time, I was still pre-transition, and so I got involved in the drag king scene. I did a few gigs here and there with other like-minded people. It was around this time that I finally realised that it was okay to be myself and to express who I was. I found that it was a lot more liberal than back in the United Kingdom.

Brighton was the perfect place to learn the ropes as a tattoo artist. Thanks to the freedom of being my own boss, I could get out on the gay scene almost on a nightly basis, and I loved the creative freedom that the town offered. However, when the opportunity arose to travel to Melbourne, I seized it with both hands. Gaining tattooing experience Down Under was amazing. I spent three and a half years there. I believe it was a pivotal moment of the journey that led me to the person I am today.

People sometimes ask me when I knew I wanted to transition. For me, it was around the age of 11. I knew I wasn’t like other girls. I used to pray that I’d wake up as a boy, then suffered tremendous guilt, thinking there was something wrong with me. For several years, I pushed it out of my mind and focused on living the best life I could with the body I’d got. It worked until I was 21, when the urges inside me raised their heads once again, shouting ‘this isn’t you, be free to who you really are’. 35

I eventually confided in a friend and they said I was too pretty to be a boy. Back in those days, the internet wasn’t around and information wasn’t freely available – in short, changing gender just wasn’t the ‘done thing’. It was virtually impossible to find out about hormone injection treatments and what they entailed, so once again, I pushed my feelings back down.

proud of; to be able to live authentically and with tenacity, and to resist nay-sayers and negative thinkers. It’s also important to educate people – as this is the only way that attitudes will change.

These days, my appearance is dramatically different. I look masculine, and no-one bats an eyelid when they come into contact with me. Using male toilets isn’t a problem and the I WANTED TO SHOW THE WORLD pronouns used are always THAT IT’S VITAL TO BE TRUE TO correct. I feel lucky, as I YOURSELF, TO LIVE WITHOUT know not everyone has had such an easy time of it. FEAR AND TO BE PROUD OF

Thankfully, I didn’t have to keep this up for my entire life. Post-Australia, I came to Devon, UK; mainly because my Australian visa had run out. I found EVERYTHING YOU’VE ACHIEVED a job as a tattoo artist in When you’re happy and Exeter, and discovered that, content with who you are, ironically, there was a specialist gender identity clinic you naturally want to spread the word. I wanted to right on my doorstep. I couldn’t believe it – it seemed show the world that it’s vital to be true to yourself, to like fate. live without fear and to be proud of everything you’ve achieved. After much brainstorming and researchI took the plunge, booked an appointment with my ing, I realised there was a lack of transgender and doctor and started a new chapter in my life. It’s now minority group apparel out there, so I made the been almost four years since my first injection and, decision to fill this gap and spread the message. for the most part, it’s been a positive experience. The Trans-Gentleman’s Guild offers a range of I’ve always been open and honest about my transit-shirts which all feature my designs. They were tion to anyone who is interested. It’s something to be created to spread the word of solidarity and brother-


and sisterhood; and to put across a positive image of the whole of humanity as one entity. Ultimately, we’re all the same. Every human, no matter what colour, race or creed, is still just that… human. Personally, I see being transgender as being organic. We’re designed on a biological level to move with the ebbs and flows of what we need to be because that’s what makes us who we are. We seek knowledge to grow and we’re never stationary; we’re in a permanent state of evolution. When people disregard trans people, they forget that all people are in a state of spiritual and physical development. If we’re not true to what we’re meant to be (physically or mentally), then it’s our right to make the necessary changes to bring us into our correct alignment. Ultimately, we’re the rulers of our own kingdom – and don’t owe anything to anyone else. Our natural purpose on this planet is to be the best people we can be – and to live as authentically, mindfully and positively as possible.




how I felt when I applied it. I felt confident, I felt beautiful. A lot of young children like to experiment with their parents’ clothes and makeup but my experimenting continued into my teenage years. I come from a very open accepting family so wearing makeup was never a big deal.

akeup has always been super important to me. From a very young age, it has always fascinated me how people did their makeup and how they expressed themselves by using different colours and shapes. What I love is that everyone does their make up their own way. It’s almost like no one artist is the same, it’s the same for people who use make up. People always ask: “how did you get so good at makeup?” and I look at myself and I think “I’m not that good” but I suppose it took practise.

When I entered secondary school, I stopped wearing makeup as I didn’t want to be bullied by my peers for being different but I started to miss it a lot. I missed being an artist and I missed the confidence I had when I wore makeup so sure enough I started wearing it again and I felt fabulous (even though I just wore mascara and filled in my brows). It made me feel pretty and as I was in the

I started using my mom’s make up at the age of seven or maybe younger, I can’t remember but what I do remember is loving 38


closet about being transgender this was some comfort. Some people say makeup is a mask or a cover up but I disagree, I’m not hiding my face. I’m just enhancing my features.


Sculpting Society’s standards of femininity: Summer Vibes:

As a binary transgender woman, makeup is something I use to make myself feel more comfortable. Using makeup really helps with my dysphoria a lot! For example, my Adam’s apple gives me bad dysphoria but I use foundation to conceal it and I feel a lot better about it. I have accepted that my face has not got all the properties of a cis woman’s face but I have developed my skills and now use my makeup to replicate the shadows and shapes to sculpt a more feminine face. I use it almost every day now and I love looking back at some old pictures and thinking I’ve really improved my skill and it makes me proud of myself.

My favourite look right now is a warm tanned colour for my foundation remembering to set my liquid foundation with some setting powder. Paired with a gold/brown smokey eye with false lashes, of course! And a strong brown lip to top it off. I think it’s really nice for the summer. Nice warm tones for a healthy glow and, of course, not forgetting the highlight for my cheeks and nose! I always include a pink toned blush for my cheeks as I think it not only defines my cheekbone but also gives a nice pop of colour amidst the brown neutral tones. 39



ransition for trans people is a huge word, and often I find myself taken aback when I really think about what that means for me. There are so many small parts of transition: social, medical, personal, mental. We are forced to think about what type of a transition we want to go through, and how exactly we want to go about achieving the goals we set for ourselves.

What is important to note, and worth reiterating is this: None of these procedures are necessary for every trans person. For me, personally I’m still figuring out what exactly I want, and I am taking my time with those decisions because they are big ones. There are some procedures that I feel are necessary for me to live my life happily - like hormone replacement therapy, for example. That decision is what will make me happy though, and it might not work in the same way for another person.

None of those possible transition routes are obligatory and it is absolutely up to the individual to decide which route of transitioning will work for them and make them happy.

If you take anything away from my two-cents, I would hope that it is that there is no such thing as “The Surgery” or “The Ops” because there is no one way to transition. If you feel that you need all of the procedures I mentioned above then you should pursue that. However, if you feel you only need/want one or two or none of them then your trans identity is no less valid than anybody else’s.

Similarly, within those different types of transitioning routes there are many other things that must be considered. When talking about medical transition (from an AMAB* person’s perspective) some of those things are: do I want hormones? Do I want top surgery? What about bottom surgery? Electrolysis? Laser hair removal? Tracheal shave? And the list goes on. After that you need to think about what you can and can not afford and how that effects your medical transition.

Your transition is yours, and it isn’t up to anybody else to tell you what it should look like, what order things should happen in, or what it should entail.

*AMAB: assignmed male at birth.


Holly Coop er, 27 “It isn’t just buying new clothes and It’s getting y getting pills our whole li . fe to where you want it.”

er ’ve nev u , 21 o e y n e r r y e oxas B oing somewh always been.” Sky-R g e ’t ’v n re you ion is “Transit exploring whe ’s been, it

Emily Jam ie, 22 “Transitionin g is about fi nding a way comfortable to be with my bod y and identi ty.”

w ion. I no s 9 s 1 e , r p n i e from d ss.” e Mack Saoirs ing saved me ad to happine ro ion “Transit al and on the rm feel no


Setting the Record Straight: an honest account of phalloplasty


had briefly looked at lower surgery information at the beginning of my journey, more for curiosity than for anything else. There wasn’t a lot of information available and what was, seemed to suggest that it was a highly risky and often unsuccessful procedure. The thought of it terrified me and I was adamant that I would never have it. However, as I progressed through my transition and settled more into an embodied

state of knowing myself to be a man rather than just thinking I felt like one, my lower dysphoria increased. A friend recommended the book, ‘Hung Jury’, it specifically addresses the negative discourse about lower surgeries and how this is mostly myth and misconception. It made me aware that lower surgery, whilst of course is a long and painful journey with risks, also had 42

fantastic outcomes in terms of both function and aesthetics. Looking at lower surgery in a new light, I managed to find guys who were willing to share their experience. There are few reliable statistics regarding lower surgery and less on long term implications. For myself though, statistics didn’t really tell me anything, I preferred word of mouth experiences from guys having gone through it themselves.


hat made the biggest impact was not so much the success stories but more the ‘horror’ stories, where despite awful complications these guys said that it was all worth it in the end. It took a year to work through all the available options. Lower surgery requires compromise, you need to be clear what your main needs are in order to be able to work out which procedure you want and what you are willing to sacrifice. I eventually settled on having phalloplasty using the forearm graft site. This would mean a

permeant, large, visible scar, but this method seemed to offer the best results in terms of what I was particularly looking for, so it was clear that this was the right sacrifice for me.

was incredibly special. The difference this made to my life was profound, I could go out without the accompanying toilet anxiety, which opened my life up in so many ways.

After surgery, you need to be fully prepared to be proactive in your recovery. Being such a specialist procedure you will often find a lack of information and understanding when dealing with medical professionals outside the surgical team. This requires superhuman abilities to deal with the frustration that inevitably arises. I remember leaving hospital with my new penis felt like being sent home with a baby I had no idea how to care for! Networking with other trans guys proved invaluable.

Both stages contained a great deal of pain and a long recovery but neither posed any significant issues. I had some small wound openings, an infection here and there, but all relatively minor problems, I appreciated how lucky I was to have gone through the process so smoothly. I received a date for stage 3 and was so excited to finally be at the end of my journey. This was where I would have the erectile device fitted but more than that, it marked a new freedom, the end of the surgical part of my

It took 3 months before I relaxed enough to stop worrying that I would turn over awkwardly in bed and lose my penis. As I became confident that he was here to stay we began to bond. Although sensation was still very minimal, I could of course feel his warmth or cold on my leg and the space he took up in my pants. This, being my own flesh, felt so very different to any packer I had previously used, my penis moved with me, my whole being seemed to be grounded and centred in this new part of my body. At night sleeping naked and rolling over, having him flop against my thigh still makes me smile. Stage two was even more life changing. When I stood in the shower for my first test pee before having the catheter removed, I squealed like a small boy! To hold my own penis and pee through it 43

journey, However, things did not go to plan. I awoke from surgery to be told I had to have an issue with my urethra repaired which prevented them completing the final stage. Then, 6 weeks later I was still having a lot of complications. I was readmitted to hospital where the decision was made to unhook my urethra and make a temporary hole under my scrotum for me to urinate from. This was to give my

surgically created urethra time to heal. Once healed I could have my urethra reconnected and only after that had successfully healed could I undergo the final stage. This was a massive blow, to have been almost at the finish line and now, as I experienced it, to be so far back. This is why it is so important in this surgery to take it one stage at a time. It’s almost impossible to plan for as the length of completion depends on so many factors, our own healing time, the waiting lists and any complications needing additional surgeries. Overly focusing on the end goal is torture, as it can be so far away. I lost sight of the moment and paid dearly for it with a shock to my emotional and mental wellbeing. Having the right perspective is vital. I’ve managed to bring my focus back to where I am now rather than where I want to be. I read a quote which really helped, “if a plan doesn’t work then change the plan, not the goal”. I have to remember that this is not a permanent problem or even a step backwards, it’s just a change of direction but the destination is still the same. I have been asked if I regret having surgery, based on how challenging the last few months have been. My answer is a resounding no. The pain, frustration, and setbacks all melt into insignificance in light of how it feels to hold my penis in my hand and feel its warmth on my thighs. My ability to be present in my body, even having not fully completed the surgery yet, gives me confirmation that this was right for me. This makes all the hard work so far and yet to come, very much worthwhile.

FinnTheInfinncible The_Finnster

FINLAY GAMES An advocate, educator and recovery champion. Sharing his own experiences in talks, film and writing, he provides support, advice and awareness in gender and sexual diversity issues. Finlay is currently studying for a BA Hons in Psychology with the Open University. In his spare time he can be found rambling, geocaching and dancing in muddy fields.




Beatrice: ‘There was also some anger because I was cross that Wenn wasn’t male. It just felt all wrong that I should be falling in love with a married woman who had 4 children and was 11 plus years older than me. Plus, as a Christian I felt God would be angry with us too.’

eatrice and I have been together through a lifetime of change. We met in 1984 when I was married to Dave, my then husband. Dave and I had four children together and as committed Christians were very active in our local community. Our marriage relationship struggled and was deeply troubled by the vast differences in our upbringing, education, marital values and life expectations.

We both had quite rigid beliefs and Beatrice, being from a strict Catholic family, had more fear associated with our developing relationship, whilst I felt a sense of dis-belief and unreality.

Even though Beatrice was nearly 12 years my junior and didn’t speak English when we first met (she was 20 and I was 32) it soon became apparent that there was chemistry between us and an unspoken understanding, despite our cultural differences.

As an established author, I am now used to writing in my own time, my own way and in my own style. I rarely go over my writing and re-write a piece, unless my publisher requests it. Writing with Beatrice however, not only stirred up lots of memories, it also showed how different our styles of putting words to paper were. I write almost faster than I think while Beatrice thinks over what she wants to write, plots how it interjects with the other things she is saying and re-visits her thoughts many, many times. Our differing styles brought up lots of conflict as we tried to write together!

Beatrice: ‘Yes, Wenn was unlike anyone I had ever met. This individual seemed competent, capable and compassionate and I couldn’t get enough of our times together.’ After only 3 months our relationship had moved up several notches. When we were writing our book together (Transitioning Together: cover on next page), some 33 years later, it was quite distressing at times to look back and remember those beginning times. There was lots of confusion, lots of fear and lots of guilt.

I was keen to get the gist of our story and to elaborate upon our experiences in ways that 45

connected the reader to those things that happened for us. At times Beatrice found this too confronting and felt that her privacy was being invaded. Beatrice is a very private person and lived her life in a very closed family. I grew up in an ‘open house’ where strangers were often entertained after closing hours in the pub my parents managed. Even though both Beatrice and I are autistic, our personalities and upbringing are very different.


During the process of writing our book I experienced moments of utter frustration because the writing Beatrice placed into sections for her would change several times. Being satisfied that she had done a great job was a hard balance for her to find. In many ways though her style forced me to take stock of what I was writing, to re-visit it and see if I was presenting the story in the best way that represented what we were aiming to say. Beatrice: ‘Wenn is always on the go. He is never still and is almost moving onto the next thing before he has finished his present project. I needed to check the dates of things by looking up old letters and old diaries from the time we were writing about. In many ways I was trying to stick to the facts while Wenn was trying to add a flair to what we were saying to keep the reader interested!’ During the course of our writing together we needed lots of time to talk as, at times, our memories of some events were quite different. Being able to read letters of the period in question and go over events again was very connecting. It echoed the journey we had been on,


may not like themselves is no easy feat. I say this because love needs to be reciprocated in order to grow and develop. If one doesn’t truly welcome self to start with though, the foundations for acceptance of ‘other,’ are shaky. I would like to believe that throughout the process of writing together the cement for the foundation of self-acceptance was fortified. Today the relationship we share as husband and wife, as partners in our daily activities and as co-workers in the venture of life, couldn’t be stronger. I think writing our book and co-producing the different sides and aspects of our journey that are so personal and so different, has and is serving an ongoing purpose that increases our joy in one another and in the advent of furthering self and together, discovery.

the things we felt strongly about and the values we had in common. Although it was difficult, it was seriously connecting! Loving Beatrice and sharing a life together through raising our children, moving counties, supporting each other through my divorce, ill health and hospital, changing vocations, university study, and ultimately changing my gender is exhausting to think about, let alone write about! The process of developing our book was both exhausting and life giving. It was a timely reminder of our commitment to one another and to how much work a strong, healthy relationship takes.

Make sure to check out Wenn and Beatrice’s book, ‘Transitioning Together: One Couple’s Journey of Gender and Identity Discovery’. It is a fantastic read for trans and cis people alike, dealing with the realities of being transgender and navigating our relationships.

Throughout the documentation of our story and the continual conversations needed to put it all together, Beatrice and her commitment to my best never wavered. I always think it’s easy to love her because she is so lovely! However, loving another person who





eclan Henry begins this great book by acknowledging his motivations behind writing it. He explains that as a gay man, he was ‘ashamed’ to find how little he knew about trans people. Rather than approaching the book from a rather sensationalised and overdramatised point, he firmly states that it is regretful to find still a general lack of knowledge around what being trans means and what sort of issues trans people face. It is refreshing to see a piece of work written by a gay, cis man that highlights this problem. It is true that LGB people can still be very ignorant to the realities of trans people but I strongly believe that this book will help battle that.

As you read the book, it becomes obvious that a lot of care had been put into the process of creating it. It covers a wide array of topics, starting with simple topics as the very definition of what being trans means right down to the more gritty stuff such as the issues of transphobia, discrimination and hate crime. No chapter is without an input of trans people.

The book earns it’s rightful name of ‘Trans Voices’ as almost every single page of it contains quotes from trans people. The trans narrative is not dictated by Declan but rather those that he has interviewed - and there were many - and he lends his words beside as a support and elaboration to some of the points made by those he interviewed. This is one of the features which I greatly appreciated. Instead of paraphrasing what has been said into his own words, Declan allowed trans people to speak for themselves. Too often, trans voices are drowned out in the media - be that movies, TV or the written word. The importance of highlighting these voices therefore cannot be overstated.

Trans Voices is a great example of an LGB person recognising trans people as a very real part of the community. The content has been crafted with care and deals with trans topics and issues in a respectful manner. Whether you’re just coming out, have been out for years or whether you just know someone who’s trans, this book is a great read. It highlights the breadth of differences within the trans community and relays the authentic experiences of those interviewed. If you are in the process of coming out and know people around you who are struggling with the concept, recommend this book. This alone will be able to answer 99% of their questions.

The way the book is written makes it greatly accessible. The language is simple and the concepts are explained in a very coherent and concise manner. 48


Having started her transition 12 years ago, Jessica shares her top tips to



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1. Affirmations. I’ve found that saying affirmations is a

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great way of dealing with anxiety and stress. I would repeat affirmations that I find comforting throughout the day. Some of my favourite ones are: ‘this too shall pass’ and ‘I love and approve of myself’. You can also Google positive affirmations and find the best ones that work for you.

2. Walking. For me, it was helpful to walk at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. I

found this a great way to unwind my body and relax my mind when I was feeling stressed. It’s also a good way of getting in some gentle exercise – two birds, one stone.

3. Coconut oil. I’ve learned that coconut oil is a great way to moisturise my face

and body. You can use it simply by itself or by adding other oils like olive oil or almond oil and beeswax to make an all-over balm. It acts as a great moisturising balm for the skin and it has loads of benefits for your skin. You can also use it as a hair mask by applying a small amount to the scalp and the ends of your hair. Leave it in for half hour or overnight then shampoo as normal. This leaves your hair feeling soft and smooth. It’s also great for using to shave any part of your BEING body. I get all my DIY recipes from YouTube as there’s an endless supply of them there. You’re sure to find something for yourself.

HOWEVER, TRANS CAN SOMETIMES BRING 4. Epsom salts. Epsom salts are a great treat to my body. They really help WITH IT ITS OWN soothe aching muscles. By simply adding them to your bath or just to a to soak your feet in, they’re a great way to unwind. They’re also ADDED CHALLENGES basin helpful in the way of releasing toxins from your body as well as getting AT TIMES your magnesium intake. 5. Keeping a diary. I find that writing down my thoughts and feelings can be very

helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’ve found that it has helped with my anxiety and it’s also a good way of releasing upsetting or negative emotions. As a trans woman in my early 30s, I know that life, in general, can be challenging at times for everyone. However, being trans can sometimes bring with it its own added challenges at times. These are just some of the things that have helped me to feel at my best throughout my transition and they help me to this day. I hope that these tips can be of use or help to someone. Check in next season for more helpful advice!



Phoenix Clearwater is a 16 year old transgender gir California. This poem was inspired by the work of Haya





rl in Southern ao Miyazaki.



We hope that you enjoyed the second issue of Trans*Action magazine. Thank you to all the contributors for all the wonderful content we received this season. See you next issue!


If you know of an organisation that should feature on here or if you’re looking for support but nothing relevant features here, please don’t hesistate to contact us at IRELAND





AFFIRMNI website:




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Trans*Action Magazine - Issue Two - Summer 2017  
Trans*Action Magazine - Issue Two - Summer 2017  

The second issue of Trans*Action Magazine featuring Arisce Wanzer as the cover star. The magazine is put together by trans people for trans...