MADELEINE COWARD (SHE/HER)
"I’m a 22-year-old transgender woman from Bristol, who is going into her final year of an undergrad in Production Arts at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
I've been out publicly since my first year of A Levels, and my journey has seen me access both young people’s and adult gender care on the NHS. Since then, I've been politely making a small space for myself in a society that still seems to see me as a second class citizen.
I chose to become involved in activism to increase representation of trans youth and to help advocate for the rights of those who're under 18."
Maddie also requested that we share a link to the donation page for the charity Mermaids.
"As of 2019, the waiting list for the Tavistock [the only children's gender clinic in England and Wales] is now two years long. In 2017 Stonewall published the school report, which found that 45% of trans youth surveyed had attempted suicide.
If the government truly want to protect us from irreversible decisions, they should invest in the healthcare that makes our lives liveable, rather than fuelling a media storm based in hysteria and misinformation."
Here, I'm not the first trans patient a doctor or nurse has treated, some even consider it routine. No one has yelled the T slur at me here (yet), so far I've only been cat-called in the way most women are. That's quasi-acceptance if I ever saw it: 'harassment for all women! Even the transsexual ones!' (Can you feel me rolling my eyes yet?)
Like anywhere though, I have to acknowledge my privilege. That I feel confident and safe enough to walk down the street is due to how I look - which includes being white. Basically Bristol, I love you but you can do better."
"I grew up in a village in South Gloucestershire. Politically we're a 'Blue' safe seat, and I always felt like I was the only person like me for miles around. Hopping on a bus to Bristol as a teen was such a lifeline. This city is where I've met most of my close friends, and it's the first place I ever felt celebrated.
WHAT DOES VISIBILITY MEAN TO YOU, AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
"Well, visibility can be good or bad. There are countless interviews, articles, studies, documentaries, and fictional story lines about my community. Lots are sensationalised, some are down right offensive. One bad example right now is the comparison between the use of puberty blockers for trans teens and conversion therapy.
Positive visibility allows trans youth to see people like them who have been able to transition and go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. Growing up without words for how you feel, and thinking you're the only one is horrendous. Seeing Jackie Green, Jazz Jennings, Laura Jane Grace, Juno Dawson and many others has helped me. The more trans people are seen, the less alone the next kid discovering who there are will feel."