After the tipping point in which trans lives were seemingly celebrated right across mainstream media, it’s clear that this narrative had at its core mainly trans women and a scattering of trans men who almost exclusively were depicted as perfectly cisnormative and often loaded with cis aspiration.
Rippling or lithe bodies, chiselled chins or soft feminine features heralded as the dawn of a new age in which trans lives and identities could flourish. There were the models, frequently pictured in campaigns, on covers and runways who would open doors for the rest of us motley crew. And they did do some incredibly important work to shift societies perceptions of what it meant to be trans – being trans could be aspirational, being trans could mean success. That represented a seismic shift. They are aspirational and desirable, most would not look at Aydian Dowling or Talulah-Eve Brown and think otherwise.
But in simple terms, not everyone looks like a model, and we are still struggling to create structures based around the ‘average’ trans person beyond the #ThisIsWhatTransLooksLike hashtags that populate Instagram and Twitter. Many people are still utterly invisible and therefore often at risk. Being invisible can mean little or no care, and we know that being systemically ignored can lead to poor healthcare and legislative protection.
Outside of the informed community, trans men are almost entirely left out of conversations around sex, risk and HIV – be they straight, gay, fluid, poly, questioning or exploring.