These seven bright, funny and articulate individuals, who are undertaking some of the most profound changes any human being can go through, give uniquely personal insights into what it’s like to change gender in Britain in 2011.
Each of the seven is trying to live in a society that routinely misunderstands them, regularly mocks them, and all too frequently assaults them – just because they are different.
For five weekends spread over four months, this group of mostly twenty somethings will come to a retreat - a safe haven away from the pressures of the world around them - where they can support each other, understand each other, and guide one another through the next critical stages of their journey to becoming the men and women they have always wanted to be.
We meet Max, 25, who has already undergone ‘top surgery’ - a double mastectomy and male chest sculpting. He is hoping to become Britain’s first transgender Rabbi. Former policeman Karen, 52, is preparing herself for full gender re-assignment surgery. Drew, 22, is stuck living at home, and desperate to lead a ‘normal’ life in a world that constantly asks “Is that a boy or a girl?” Lewis, 22, is looking to raise money for a double mastectomy and investigating a phalloplasty - penis construction - the surgeries he wants to make him feel fully male. Fox, 30, has only been transitioning for 6 months, and struggles daily to overcome his feminine looks. Donna, 25, is content living between genders, but navigating relationships can be hard. Sarah, 28, has just begun to live full-time as a woman and is building up the courage to tell her parents that she has changed her life forever.
For many trans people, the decision to change gender can leave them profoundly isolated – and this group of seven is no different. Though some derive enormous support from family and friends, others can find themselves cut off and many struggle to find work.
Now they are coming together to share advice and support, reflecting a growing on-line community where many hundreds of transgender people have been making contact with one another.
For many trans people, the decision to change gender can leave them profoundly isolated – and this group of seven is no different. Families have disowned them, employers have shied away from them, and friends often struggle to understand.
The retreat will make real a burgeoning on-line community where many hundreds of transgender people come together to seek advice and support.
By physically coming together, the group develop genuine friendships and give themselves the strength to overcome some of the multiple challenges of being trans in day-to-day life.