“The thing about human rights, is that everyone deserves them. You don’t have to be nice to deserve them.”
Paris is the new fresh flavor for British transgender activism. She’s not one of those angry, placard-waving demonstrators of yesteryear. She has an unmatched flirting reflex and, not unrelated, a beguilingly bluff spoken manner.
“I have decided that I want this country to be more accepting for trans people and I will literally die trying to make that happen.”
Where the hell are we with the trans conversation in 2015?
- Boxing promoter Kelly Maloney is target practice for the sharpened end of tabloid slings and arrows.
- Transparent is really big with boring couples who define themselves by the imprimatur of their TV streaming choices.
- They killed off Hayley in Coronation Street.
- RuPaul’s Drag Race has engendered a global gay generation that thinks it’s OK to call women ‘bitches’ but have a screaming nervo on Twitter when Azealia Banks says the word “faggot.”
- Lauren Harris is a byword for dysfunctional British tragedy, and
- Laverne Cox is a mega symbol of US progress, despite it all.
- At one end of the aggrieved local media parties taking issue with transgenderism you have British broadcaster and journalist Richard Littlejohn picking on suicidal schoolteachers in Accrington
- Feminist Julie Bindel structuring theoretical arguments about what is and isn’t womanhood, two flipsides of roughly the same bigotry coin.
Well, it is enough to say that we aren’t where we should be.
“None of trans peoples’ enemies impress me,” she says. “Anybody who’s really good and achieving anything, who’s smashing it at the moment, are for trans people and anyone against us, as far as I can see, are these miserable has-beens or never-weres.”
Sure, there has been much misrepresentation of trans women lately. Paris stumbled on a Guardian editorial in which Germaine Greer referred to trans women as “ghastly parodies of women with too much eye-shadow,” Paris decided to go on a one-woman offensive to shift this all up a gear, to wallop up trans representation and reconfigure it for the modern age.
“I remember thinking, where’s the response to this? Where is somebody like me that’s given a platform in public life? The only time you saw someone like me in the media was when we were being ridiculed.”
The irrepressible modernity Paris lends trans-activism is born as much from truth as it is from humor and straight talking.
“I am actually a bit of a bitch,” “I’m selfish. I drink too much. I’m promiscuous and unreliable, motivated by greed and spite and all the mean, low things that we pretend we’re not motivated by. I’m happy to own all that stuff because I have had to confront who I am on quite a profound level and I’m not really big on telling lies to myself. I like to think if I make an impact, it’s because I’m wholly myself. I thought I needed to be whiter than white to be a trans-activist. I do take drugs. I’m just a gobby, common slag from a council estate, really. But my message is true and my message is good.”
Paris did not have an easy life as she fought to become the woman she is today.She was brought up by a single mother on a Nottingham housing scheme. Her abusive father was spun out by her young gender issues. Cottaging by her early teens, with a light prostitution habit, she found herself in a young offender’s institution by school-leaving age. There she posted a picture of her on her cell wall as Paris, to remind the boys she was bunking with who she really was on the outside. She not only charmed a bunch of delinquent inmates failed by the system, but the British media. Paris has built up a diamond-cut media profile over the last five years, writing first for the gay press, then nationals.
She’s a hot, mouthy presence on Woman’s Hour, Question Time and The Wright Stuff. She writes a popular column for VICE and became a key figure in the potent campaign group, All About Trans.
“I do not come from a background where you are taught that you can get a platform for yourself. I didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge. I didn’t know people who debated. Or go on Radio 4 and write for broadsheets. I’d won a Woman of the Year award at Cosmopolitan. It was snazzy. How mainstream is that? They took some activists down there and I wasn’t going as Paris Lees, transgender campaigner, I was going there as Paris Lees, Cosmopolitan Woman of the Year. I took my mum. We weren’t brought up to expect anything other than a job in a pub and maybe buying your council house. The fact that I’ve been imperfect in public and not tried to be anything that I’m not was really validating.”
“There are people that don’t believe I’m a woman. I’ve got horrible aunties who still refer to me with male pronouns.. Oh, we’ve all seen the documentaries. We’ve all read the newspapers. Some people are transgender. What do we think about it? Yeah, let’s respect them like everyone else. They’re getting abuse? Yeah. We should try and reduce that. They’re not getting proper medical care? Let’s sort that out. Education? Let’s start it early. Media representation? Let’s have it. Everyone’s different, everyone deserves human rights. We need to spread the love and challenge hatred. That’s it, really.”
Source: i-d Vice.com