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Transgender Awareness Week

Posted on November 05 2019

Transgender Awareness Week is a one-week celebration from November 13th - 17th leading up the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This #TransWeek we’re working alongside some incredible people to help raise the visibility of trans and gender non-conforming people, and begin to address the issues the community faces as well as celebrate our local queer community by raising fund for ELOP, LGBT+ mental health and wellbeing grassroots charity based in East London. 


Tangerine x Zodiac 

The first of our fundraising events is with our good friends Zodiac Film club, who are hosting an evening of film for Transgender Awareness Week on Monday 11th November, with a screening of the incredible film Tangerine (2015). 

Sean Baker's improvised day in the life of two trans sex workers, played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, is a colourfully chaotic screwball dramedy with a tender friendship at its core. Underneath the frantic and raw energy, this film is a portrait of friendship and human connection and rather impressively shot on entirely on an iPhone 5.

Join us from 7 pm for free drinks and a few zodiac surprises. Tickets are on a sliding scale with all profits going to Elop, with a standard donation or low wage donation. 

Navigating Style Through Gender

To commemorate the end of Trans Awareness Week, on Tuesday 19th November we’re teaming with several artists and activists from London’s queer community. With special speakers Jamies Windust, William Dill Russell, Tobi Norman and Erik Pascarelli.

As well as this, we’ll be celebrating with free drinks, makeup masterclasses from Emily After and a DJ set from our very own Xoey, with every penny raised going to ELOP. Tickets are on a sliding scale, with a standard donation or low wage donation. 

We spoke to our speakers to find out a little more about what they do, their personal style and everything in between!


Jamie Windust

An EVER INSPIRING non-binary activist, writer, model, speaker AND editor-in-chief of Fruitcake magazine. 

Hi Jamie, tell us about how Fruitcake magazine began...

Fruitcake started in 2018, for my final year at university. I was asked to create a new business, and the summer previously I’d interned at stonewall. This, and the poignant spike in anti-trans media, I knew I wanted to do something for the queer community, but I just didn’t know what. 

The response I got from social media was overwhelmingly promising, it felt that this was a magazine that people wanted and people needed. Once receiving funding, it became a reality. 

Its run by me, but the premise is mostly contribution-based. We only have one issue a year, and my only stipulation is that entries are fun, quirky and able to be printed. It's incredible how many young people approach me, I get 13-14-year olds sending me amazing ideas, so I have the chance to give them a platform to speak. And it feels the need for the magazine is still very much present.


How would you describe your personal style?

For me, there’s no one way to look non-binary. The way I decide what to wear comes from me not believing in the rules. I’ve never cared for rules like what is “day” or “night” appropriate, so just wear what I want, when I want. I love anything fun, I definitely like 80s clothes in particular, and look for pieces unique to me and my identity. 

I first started experimenting with my personal style with vintage clothing. Growing up with rural Dorset, when an independent vintage store opened nearby, I started spending my whole evening there after school. 

Coming to London, there were so many shops to discover! Beyond Retro Soho was one of my favourites, it felt like opening Pandora’s box! I was amazed at how much there was and how accessible it all felt. I love finding vintage pieces and making them my own too. I came to a leather painting event in Beyond Retro with Alice Dean, and I gave her an old leather jacket of mine to paint ‘Nancy Boy’ on the back. It's now one of my favourite pieces, and it makes something truly yours when you can upcycle it. 


Fashion and gender have a complicated relationship. Could you tell us about how your personal style reflects your identity?

In the beginning, when I was experimenting with fashion, I was exploring my identity at the same time, so the two came hand in hand. In fact, I feel I have learnt a lot about my identity through fashion. When I first found out about the idea of non-binary, I had just moved to London. I began to fully experiment with the way that I look, and the gender experimentation and style experimentation fed each other. Now that I feel confident in my identity, I don’t think about my style as interlinked as it once was. 

You’ve spoken a lot about the concept of safe-spaces, and have done so much important work in creating those for gender non-conforming, non-binary and trans people. 

Something we love about vintage fashion is that it acts almost like a safe space for those marginalised groups to explore their identity - vintage fashion is like a toolbox for the exploration of your identity. With vintage clothes, you can always find something that feels so unique, and so you. 


What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like? 

I sometimes work for fast fashion brands on their social content or on a consultancy basis, and their lack of transparency makes me want to balance and counteract it, so I tend to shop predominantly with vintage stores. You find pieces that are more representative of your personality, you can begin to make fashion more relevant to who you are, rather than just piece, to allow you to wear your personality on the outside. 


What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

One of them is definitely my graduation dress that I got from Beyond Retro - it's one of those pieces that is always in my wardrobe, sometimes ill wear it just around the house! It’s a navy sequin halterneck, fitted to the floor, with a little train. Something very special! 

My second piece is unusual but another personal one for me. When I passed my driving test, my driving instructor noticed I had an individual style, so she gave me a jacket of hers from the 80s that she thought I would like, and I still wear it all the time.


Tobias Norman 

YouTuber and makeup artist, breaking down the binary ways in which we view masculinity.

Hi Tobia, tell us about yourself.

I'm a 20-year-old Queer Transgender-man advocating for open expression free from prejudice, sharing my views here on the internet, under my YouTube persona Laddie. The words are simple, but getting there is hard. And as I've recently entered the world of a trans-male makeup artist, I know this all too well. So, let's talk about it, and hopefully, the discussion will get us a little closer to where we want to be!

I started my YouTube page about three years ago under the (rather cringe) name of CallmeLaddie. It didn't start off as an LGBT+ oriented channel, but when I saw the support and encouraging response when I made my first video speaking about how I identify all those years ago, sharing my experience for the benefit of others became a constant part of my content. I have made transition timelines/updates, in-depth behind the scenes documentaries of top surgery, funnier content and have now moved on to MUA work as I began to delve into the makeup world. The most important part, however, is that YouTube has helped me to be a more confident person, exposed me to so many opportunities and I will always be grateful to my amazing supporters!


How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is a few words. Unique. 90's. And never the same.

It was once described by my mother in the best possible way "You're just something that can't be defined" and with my style, I really like it that way. I buy clothes from the men's section that I can make feminine and from the women's that I can make masculine. Whether it be dungarees and big white platform boots - to ripped jeans, graphic T's and beanies, I love any 90's or unique style. As my masculinity often fluctuates so does how flamboyant my style is and I love to experiment with that! 


When did you being to explore makeup?

It surprises many people to know that I only started exploring makeup properly again just 5 months ago. I was so caught up with my dysphoria and ideas of "what a man really was" that I didn't dare let any makeup go near my own face, I just practised my love for it on my friends. But as my transition made me feel more comfortable and confident in my own body, I tried a little bit of eye-shadow, and it all went from there - gradually doing more and more makeup on myself until I started my first MUA Instagram to show it to the world. My style definitely leaned to the more extravagant and flamboyant during this time but it was fun to explore! Many people ask but I can't quite describe why I don't feel dysphoric when I wear makeup - and I shouldn't have to - I feel fierce, and that's all that matters.

Fashion and gender have a complicated relationship. Could you tell us about how your personal style reflects your identity?

I would say that my identity and style are very different but some it of that shines through. I am a transman and sometimes my expression would lead people to believe that my gender is more in-between that of male and female. My expression always fluctuates between the masc and fem ends of the spectrum but my gender remains constant, however, I think the "uniqueness" of some aspects of my style helps me embody my queer (pansexual) sexuality and trans identity a little on the outside. 


What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like?

I've based a lot of my more recent looks on 90's iconography and I’m OBSESSED! It's my new favourite era of fashion and edgy clothing that really compliments my personality and I completely agree that vintage fashion can help me explore uniqueness without boundaries. Sometimes I even look back to even earlier era's if I want to expand the areas of style available for me to explore. Fashion trends never die, they merely have a nap.


What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

I would for sure say my favourite piece of vintage clothing in my wardrobe is my lush Denim Dungarees, pair that with the original 90's white platform Buffalo's shoes and we have a winner! (also don't forget a trusty beanie from UO).



William Dill Russell 

Fashion designer changing the way we think about gender non-conforming fashion.

Tell us about yourself and your fashion label.

I’m a non-binary designer, originally from Wolverhampton, who’s currently based in London.

I started my fashion label in 2016 to generate income as I was unable to afford the internship year during my studies. Since then I have created 3 collections which I have retailed online. I have had the pleasure of working with some incredible people such as Tilda Swinton, Tim Walker and The Metropolitan Museum of Art during their 2019 exhibition ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’.

My collections usually tell a story of an individual, a problem I feel I need to address or empowerment I feel we need.

 

Where do you find your inspiration for your collections?

I predominantly find inspiration from history. I enjoy watching documentaries and reading about ancient characters. I’m often drawn to people in history who I either feel an affinity with or that I feel are a caricature of people in our current times. Therefore, I like to develop my collections as extensions of what I feel these characters would wear if they existed now.

 I’m also incredibly inspired by the queer community. Instagram is a fabulous (often sometimes scary) way of finding inspiration. Seeing how people across the world style themselves, do their make-up or even how they talk about queerness is so inspiring and motivating. This does sometimes develop into an obsession with someone I don’t know in real life. As I don’t know them personally, I create a character of what they might be like in my head which I develop into a person within my collections. This is the same for people in ‘the real world’. I love seeing how people dress practically. When people are travelling on the tube in London, I love to see how they carry their bags, or how they fasten their coat or what angle they wear their hat at. All these things filter into my design process where I often drape things to re-create these amazing people. 

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is often very historical. I love a skirt with too many meters of fabric and ruffles on every inch of the hem paired with a fleece. Often my clothing is second hand or vintage, therefore things often fit strangely on my shoulders or waist. So, I have to try and style things to make them not just look like they don’t fit me correctly which often results in some amazing ideas!

 

Fashion and gender have a complicated relationship. How do you feel your work explores gender and identity?

I’m of course inspired by a lot of incredible LGBTQ+ who have all had their own take on clothing and their identity. I, therefore, take their points of view, along with mine and people I know to try and create clothing which isn’t specific to binary gender identities.

This means I have to look at design elements such as the silhouette or the materials used for a garment. But it also means I need to look at how a garment is cut across someone’s chest or crotch, which way a garment fastens and where the garment’s hem is. All these things can make people of different identities incredibly dysphoric so I really try to talk to people to see what they would feel most fabulous in.

Generally queer folk find it more difficult to reach higher-paying jobs, therefore they don’t have the disposable income to spend on incredibly expensive clothing. Therefore, I try to keep the prices of my pieces as low as possible, and I’m looking into more intimate ways of creating clothing so that pieces can be altered to fit an individual’s needs along with offering payment plans to allow people to buy a high quality, personal piece of clothing which they can wear forever. 

What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like? 

I have always loved vintage clothing. Whether it be vintage things I bought when I was a child to go in my fancy-dress box, or whether it be the Victorian clothing I have in my wardrobe. I’m so inspired by the construction, materials and techniques used in vintage clothing that I can only hope to create such interesting pieces in my career.

I also like that vintage clothing is often accessible for people whether it be bought from a car boot sale or a vintage shop. I feel this allows people to create their own sort of ‘archives’ of pieces that they love and cherish whilst helping them to appreciate clothing and the longevity of pieces as appose to fast fashion items. 

What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

I have the most incredible vintage Schiaparelli hat which I got for my 18th Birthday, which I adore. I have some vintage coats/ dresses which have slowly disintegrated as I’ve worn them and I find the natural way they distress and the different silhouette it creates so interesting.


Erik Pascarelli

Queer hairstylist working in both fashion and in-salon, specializing in colour. Erik mainly works with his fellow queer and trans clients to offer a comfortable salon experience. 

Tell us about yourself Erik, and your work as a hairstylist.

I started training at Bleach London around four years ago. Before this I'd never really considered hairdressing as a 'real' job that I'd end up doing, I'd just done bits and pieces for me and my friends. It started with me cutting my own hair because I was fresh 'out' as trans and every hairdresser I went to tried to give me a 'feminine' cut. This lead onto me cutting my other trans friends hair, and then branched out further to anyone! I had no idea what I was doing, but it was a lot of fun and gave me the confidence when I started training professionally to really go for it and try to learn as much as I could. Before hair I'd always thought I'd have a career in fine art, but now I have a job I really enjoy and still get to express myself creatively, whilst still being able to make money, 


How would you describe your personal style?

To be honest it changes about three times a week. On the whole, right now I suppose I'd describe myself as quite 80s, big textured mullety hair and Levi’s. I've always related quite heavily to being a bit more emo or goth though, as that was the style of most of my teen years. No matter what style I'm going for I'm almost always wearing a mash-up of hand-me-downs, charity shop and eBay finds. As a hair colourist so many of my clothes get ruined, so I try to tye-dye over old colour stains or cut up and crop ruined shirts. 


Tell us more about your exploration with hair as part of a look?

Hair can either be a statement piece or complement a look. If you can't be bothered with choosing an exciting outfit every day, then colourful hair can be an easy way to stand out without much daily effort. Almost like carrying around a designer handbag. I wear quite a lot of colour these days, so I like keeping my hair a warm blonde, but I think this really goes with the 80s glam rock vibe. The same with different cuts or styling - I think you can really solidify a style you’re going for by matching your hair to what you're wearing.

Do you feel that your hair is an expression of your identity? Do your clients see their hairstyle as an expression of their identity?

I think hair is one of the most obvious expressions of identity that we have. Often you have to wear a uniform to work, but within reason can usually have your hair how you want. It's becoming so much more accepted to having colourful, funky hair. For me as a queer person as well I really feel like my hair has been so important for my self-expression. When I was younger I would change it constantly depending on how I felt at the time, every cut every colour I could manage, almost like a mood ring. Early in my transition especially; if a Gender Clinic appointment fell through or I got misgendered, I'd just shave a bit of my hair off. There are lots of things you can't control in your life, but hair is the one that you can. 


What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like?

I'd like to think I have a very healthy relationship with vintage clothing! On the whole, it never does me dirty, nothing fits the same as vintage clothes. I've actually made a pledge to only wear second-hand clothes from now on as fast fashion is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. 


What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

I have a vintage 70's cowboy-style shirt that is the absolute apple of my eye. She only comes out for very special occasions. That with my unfortunately unnumbered light blue Levi’s (if only I could find the same fit) and red cowboy boots are the most important items in my wardrobe. 



Who are ELOP?


ELOP provides dedicated, high-quality, user-centred, responsive and professional services to local lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans (LGBT+) communities, that aim to preserve, promote & improve mental, emotional, psychological and social health, wellbeing, safety and empowerment, whilst working to challenge and eradicate discrimination and inequalities faced by LGBT+ people, and others questioning &/ or exploring their sexual orientation and/ or gender identity.

This ELOP undertakes through the provision of a range of services & activities including:

  • counselling & therapy services
  • Head up – mental health action plans
  • social & support groups: young adults, asylum seekers, LBT women, GBT men, Rise Above Hate
  • advice & information
  • signposting & assisted referral
  • support & advocacy
  • community safety & victim care
  • youth group & schools project
  • same-sex families service
  • consultation, training representation & awareness raising
  • community activities, events & workshop; and
  • a range of community volunteering opportunities

ELOP started from a group of local people exploring the need for a local service and we started with a volunteer team of 2 counsellors; providing a service to 6 people a week: our counselling service now has a team of 40 counsellors: providing a service to 120 people a week. We provide a range of social and support groups: work with young people, work with families and those becoming families, work with older people, work with asylum seekers, and a range of support, training and consultancy work to support providers of mainstream services to be better equipped and meeting the needs of the LGB&T community and work with 5000 people a year.

The most important achievement has been our support to keep people alive at points of crisis and we regularly work with people at the point of desperation in their lives, whether this be due to their experiences as LGBT asylum seekers, and the horrendous ordeals they have fled from in countries around the world, people in crisis as relationships break up, people in crisis due to ongoing mental health issues, young people facing violence at home when they come out to family, older people facing bereavements and limited social connections with others, the devastation that drugs and alcohol can have on the lives of our community members and much more. 

We know that many of these issues are compounded and at times caused by growing up in a culture that is not LGBT affirmative, that does not provide enough role models, especially for sections of our community in relation to faith, ethnicity and disability and gender identity.

ELOP has a small staff team and our financial resources are small, so any support received enables us to sustain the work we do, we know that our work saves lives and provides a safe space for those that need it.