Gifted Transgender Writers: Jamie Berrout

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Portland Diary by Jamie Berrout I never use to read short stories, but I'm glad I found Portland Diary: Short Stories 2016 / 2017 by Jamie Berrout. As a transgender woman of colour, Berrout is able to go beyond the clichés of isolation and domesticity of cisgender appropriations (David Ebershoff's nauseating The Danish Girl , for example), but also...
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Bohemian Rhapsody

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Bohemian Rhapsody It's received so-so reviews, a biopic imbued with a trashy, karaoke lack of quality. But I quite like Bohemian Rhapsody . The star turn by Rami Malek as the iconic Freddie Mercury is on the nose, projecting talent, swagger and vulnerability. His loneliness as his marriage ends is poignant, with the other band members settling down...
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San Francisco Forty-Something

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San Francisco Forty-Something San Francisco, my city. I have never been there. I met a San Franciscan last Friday in a bar, like a Catholic meeting the Pope; or a younger version of me discovering you've been to Disney World in Florida. We sit there, two forty-something cis and trans. I hang on the person's every snippet of daily existence, ad...
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Venom

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The trailer for this film was not encouraging: Tom Hardy becoming host to a slimy parasitic alien of fangs and giant tongue, with blank membrane eyes. The hero turned into unsettling CGI nightmare: is this really what I wanted for my hero? After the event, I can say that the film is better than the trailer, and progressively has its giant, sli...
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Trauma Queen: a memoir by Lovemme Corazon

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Trauma Queen: a memoir by Lovemme Corazon There are times when it's right to judge a book by its cover. Trauma Queen  (2013), the memoir of then-19-year old trans woman of colour Lovemme Corazon, has a beauty within its pages and on its surface cover that's simultaneously self-confident and obscure. As I gaze at the book's front imag...
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First Man

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First Man In an age of flag-waving white power, this film could have been a Trumpian Triumph of the Will , a paean to American greatness. But in focusing on Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling), his associates and his family, First Man is a curious thing: a gaze at the tree, rather than the forest, in a way that feels substantial. From the ...
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A Star Is Born

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A Star Is Born Before the film review, my background focus on its star. I love the work of Lady Gaga, up to and including the fluorescent brilliance of her album Artpop (2013). It coincided with an important period in my life, a year of upheaval when I realized I wouldn't live to please the norms of others anymore. Gaga's album was a sci-fi or...
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The Whiteness of LGBT+ Spaces

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The Whiteness of LGBT+ Spaces I'm not writing this in a fit of white self-hate. I've noticed recently that as a transgender white person, I inhabit mainly all-white spaces. I unconsciously select the company of those I'll have things in common with – company that's identifiable to me, company that feels unconsciously familiar. I may not like this p...
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Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain

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Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain As someone whose childhood was in the 1980s, I remember the decade with rose-tinted glasses: as a child in Wales, you knew that Thatcher(ism) was evil, and you heard about mass unemployment and factory closures – including in my home town with the closure of the local steel plant and coal mines – bu...
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Resisting Whiteness

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Resisting Whiteness (Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh) Organized by a collective of queer and trans people of colour in Edinburgh and Glasgow, yesterday's Resisting Whiteness combined both conference and safe-space for people of colour to discuss generally (but not only) LGBTQIA+ issues seldom if ever discussed in white-majority spaces. A sell-out thre...
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BlacKkKlansman

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  BlacKkKlansman In an age of the absence of subtlety, BlacKkKlansman is arguably the perfect movie to tackle the issue of racism in America. It presents a black-and-white world of good versus evil, of racism and its opposite, in a clear-cut binary relationship. The cops – with one clear exception – are reasonable, anti-racist people, while th...
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What's On (in Autumn)?

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  What's On (in Autumn)? No, I'm not going to buy any one of these £140 knitted skirts from PURE, even if they're beautiful to look at, soft to the touch, and swishy and glamorous in an autumnal kind of way. And yes, I've imagined myself wearing suede knee-high boots with these skirts, sauntering around streets and pathways covered in fallen l...
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The Other Slavery

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The Other Slavery by Andres Resendez My first feelings about the Native or First Nation Americans come in waves of visualizations. The names different tribes gave to the months: Geese Flying Moon; Strawberry Moon. They conjure up colours and movements come alive upon infinite midnight plains. The cruelty of European settlers intervenes. My reading ...
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Fragments

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  Fragments Yesterday evening I completed my move across town from one apartment to another. The experience was, and continues to be, disorientating. I guess everyone needs a place to call home. I start from scratch, again. I woke up from an anxiety nightmare early this morning. Soon after, was lying on the floor doing stre...
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Forbidden Androgynies

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Forbidden Androgynies Growing up in the 1980s, I remember particular cartoons that seemed indispensable and which even today seem impressively cool in their inventiveness. In no particular order, these include the disturbingly Satanic Thundercats with female icon Cheetara , as well as the more gently uplifting Dungeons and Dragons – with the wonder...
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Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Umoja Noble

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  Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble Should the Internet be regulated? It's a question I've never thought about, until recently, and the reading of this book. Here is my review of a book about a topic I can barely talk about without looking like those aged politicians trying to grill Mark Zucker...
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Sod's Law (Edinburgh Festival)

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Sod's Law (Edinburgh Festival) A posh young aristo, singing lectures about fisting and 'man twats,' Sod's Law is a rather wonderful exploration of the history of homosexuality from the time of Henry VIII to the 21 st century. From the court of the English Tudor monarch through Molly Houses and Oscar Wilde, we get observations on various legislation...
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Trans Pennine

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Trans Pennine (Edinburgh Festival) A gentle, generally light, small-scale drama, Trans Pennine explores family life after the death of the wife/mother, and a suppressed secret that finally comes out. Of the three-person cast, an embittered husband/father is required to confront a past he'd rather not remember, with the aid of his grown-up son and d...
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Gruff Rhys: Resist Phony Encores

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Gruff Rhys: Resist Phony Encores Haunting, disarming, his voice trembling then strong and soothing. Gruff Rhys played and talked for an hour, songs sometimes in Welsh, sometimes English, occasionally mixing recorded sounds, adding voice over voice or gentle squeaking bird calls from a tiny machine. This performance was a rare and intimate plea...
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Pussy Riot + The Estrons (Edinburgh Festival)

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Pussy Riot + The Estrons (Edinburgh Festival) You say 'punk,' I think of skinny men with psycho eyes, about to launch themselves at you with Doc Marten feet and broken beer bottles. Punk as frustrated patriarchy, turned in on itself, lashing out at anyone who comes near. I'm so glad, then, that I went to watch the mesmerizing Pussy Riot last n...
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