The past several years have seen the growth of a frightening aggression within the British media, and even in the voices of outspoken UK celebrities. That aggression is pointed at the country’s transgender community. The UK is becoming known as the world’s anti-trans hotspot. This is a disappointing and saddening fact, but it simply means that more work needs to be done to support the UK’s transgender community.
The best way to begin is by following, reading, and watching the UK’s transgender activists and online influencers. From authors to YouTubers to social media giants, these are some of the UK’s best trans rights activists and advocates.
Paris Lees has been a prominent and uplifting voice within the transgender community for some years now. She made history by becoming the first trans journalist with a column in Vogue. Beyond journalism, she has also worked as a TV and radio presenter for BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4. Outside of Vogue, her writing has also appeared in national newspapers including The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Independent. She is the author of What It Feels Like for a Girl, which is soon to be a BBC drama.
Working closely with Channel 4 as a transgender activist, Lees consulted on the documentary My Transsexual Summer. This came after a campaign by Lees and Trans Watch Media for Channel 4 to remove any and all transphobic material from its broadcasts. Her activism has earned her several awards and accolades, having appeared at the top of the Rainbow List (a list of the most influential openly queer individuals in the UK.
So much fun visiting book stores to celebrate paperback publication of WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL with @PenguinUKBooks— Paris Lees (@parislees) July 8, 2022
Find individually signed copies at:@Dauntbooks @Foyles Charring Cross @WaterstonesPicc@Waterstones Gower St@gaystheword@BrickLaneBooks@pagesofhackney pic.twitter.com/M31Ud11Q5j
Another trans writer and activist to make the Rainbow List is Charlie Craggs. Originally from London, Craggs is perhaps most famous for her book To My Trans Sisters, a collection of letters penned by a selection of trans women. In 2020, a trans flag emoji was added to the growing list of emojis curated by Unicode. This was thanks to Craggs’ campaign for one, which began back in 2018.
Craggs is the founder of Nail Transphobia, a trans and queer awareness website. But Nail Transphobia is also, predominantly, about Charlie traveling around the UK with a pop-up nail salon. She invites people to sit down, ask questions, become better informed, and receive a free manicure in the process. In this feature piece for Nesta, Charlie explains: “I sit down with people and answer any questions they have. They go away with a manicure and new perspective.”
Jake Graf is a trans rights activist, as well as an actor, screenwriter and director who specializes in creating short films that explore trans experiences and issues. His 2015 short film, Brace centers around a love story with themes of change and acceptance, both on a personal and a societal level. The film was written by Graf, and he also stars in the film opposite Harry Rundle. Inspired by Graf’s own experiences as a trans man, the film is an intimate exploration of queerness in today’s Britain.
As an actor, Graf has also appeared in the 2018 film Colette, starring Kiera Knightly and directed by Wash Westmoreland. In the biographical film about French author Colette, Graf plays Gaston Arman de Caillavet, a prominent French playwright.
Munroe Bergdorf is a trans model and activist. She made history when she became the first British trans woman to model for L’Oreal. As a powerful voice in the transgender community and a continuous campaigner for trans rights in the UK, Bergdorf has worked as the LGBT adviser for the Labour Party and makes frequent appearances as a guest commentator on Good Morning Britain.
By speaking out during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, Bergdorf was appointed to a UK Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board for L’Oreal. For her tireless work campaigning for trans rights in the UK, Bergdorf has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Brighton.
Perhaps less of an activist and more of a performer, Travis Alabanza is nevertheless an inspiration to many. Born in Bristol, Travis works as a performance artist and writer within the UK’s theater scene. As a trans non-binary theatremaker, Travis is quickly taking the UK by storm, with the Guardian newspaper posing the question in a 2019 interview: Is Travis Alabanza the future of theatre?
In that same interview, Alabanza discusses how they came across theater and performance through everyday survival as a queer child, saying, “I had to learn really quick[ly] how to perform every day: when I could be myself, when I couldn’t, when I had to hide certain things. And I was like, ‘Damn, I’m good at this.’ Then I got into a drama class and it was the only class I was being celebrated for all the things that I was attacked for outside the classroom.”
Such a honour and truly cool to be awarded one of the Somerset Maugham Award for None of the Above by Society of Authors awards. Eeeee!!! pic.twitter.com/CmSI62ejqv— Travis (@travisalabanza) June 29, 2023
Shon Faye is a prominent writer and journalist within the queer community, currently working as an editor for Dazed and with her writing having been published in The Guardian, The Independent, Vice, and more. She has also worked as part of Novaro Media, running a video series back in 2017 called Shon This Way.
Political activist and Guardian columnist Owen Jones has called Faye one of the country’s “brilliant trans voices”. This compliment was also paid to Munroe Bergdorf and Paris Lees, who also feature on this list.
On Twitter, Faye has a biting and powerful voice, speaking out often about trans rights as well as social and legal issues surrounding trans people in the UK and beyond.
A powerhouse of a transgender influencer, Alex Bertie is a prominent YouTuber with 300K+ subscribers. Most of his video topics center around queer issues and his own personal experiences as a trans man. He is an outspoken and beloved member of the UK’s trans community.
What really projected Bertie into the limelight beyond the YouTube sphere was the publication of his book Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard. This intimate and sweet autobiography documents Alex’s transition, as well as the effects it had on him and the people around him. It’s an honest tale, written with wit and charm and joy.
Today is not just my birthday…today my book is 5 years old, I can’t believe it!— Alex Bertie (@Alex_Bertie) November 2, 2022
Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard https://t.co/bB4NUOGDdZ
I thought it’d be fun to recreate the cover all those years on…enjoy! 😅 pic.twitter.com/FLucu8Yyya
Katy Montomerie is a Bristol-based LGBT rights advocate with a prominent social media platform. Much of her writing, which appears on her website discusses social and legal issues surrounding trans rights and a variety of queer issues. Prominently fighting the online fight against the Gender Critical community, Katy can often be found on Twitter voicing her concerns and showing her support for the trans community.
Author, blogger, and writer Mia Violet is a prominent voice in the UK’s transgender community. Perhaps best known for her book Yes, You Are Trans Enough: My Transition from Self-Loathing to Self-Love, Mia uses her platform as a writer to speak out, publicly, about trans issues, trans representation, and mental health issues.
Violet’s book, Yes, You Are Trans Enough, was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2019. It documents her journey of self-discovery as a trans woman: a childhood and many years of adulthood veiled in confusion and doubt only to finally understand, at age 26, that she is trans enough. This is a raw book filled with deeply personal experiences that help the reader empathize and find a connection with Violet and her experiences.
Laura Kate Dale
Laura Kate Dale is an author, podcaster, and video games journalist. While she is predominantly known for her games journalism, having worked as an editor for Kotaku, and working as a co-host on Jim Sterling’s Podquisition podcast, she is also a prominent voice in the UK’s transgender community.
In 2019, Dale penned the autobiography Uncomfortable Labels, a book which details her journey as a gay trans woman living on the autism spectrum. She is also currently working on a collection of essays from transgender, non-binary, and intersex writers, titled Gender Euphoria, of which she is the editor. This is a book which celebrates the lives and experiences of people outside of the cisgender world.
On Twitter Dale also works as a fantastic resource for people interested in the legal side of trans issues in the UK, putting her journalistic skills to good use by explaining and discussing the difficulties faced by trans people in the UK.
Pinned Thread.— Laura Kate Dale – Mastodon “@LauraKBuzz@tech.lgbt” (@LaurakBuzz) October 4, 2022
My name is Laura Kate Dale, and I am an author, accessibility and queer representation critic and consultant, video game critic, streamer, and all around content creator.
Below is a thread of my various projects, and how you can support my ongoing work. pic.twitter.com/FU2ZvqPg7c