‘To My Trans Sisters’ by Audrey Mbugua

This is from a fantastic collection of letters. The idea was conceived by Charlie Craggs, who asked trans female writers, artists and activists to write a letter to their younger sisters. By this she meant younger sisters in transition – as opposed to younger sisters in blood. It’s a fabulous, impactful read from start to finish. I first heard Charlie Craggs speak about this in 2018 at Transcreative, an event run by Kate O’Donnell in Manchester. I could have cited many of these letters, but Mbugua’s affected me. It’s the story of the journey from damage and suicidal ideation to health. It looks at family’s concerns as well as civil war in Kenya. The transphobic blocks she received: “You cannot change your name from Andrew to Audrey”. I love the feeling of political commentary and gender positioning. It’s both a difficult read and an insightful one, including the checklist at the end (I always love a list): “Learn To Do Things By Yourself, Believe In Yourself, Avoid Negative Peers and Liberals, It’s OK To Experience Loss.” and also: “Starting afresh after loss gives you an opportunity to build your foundation from rock bottom.” A clear-sighted, inspirational, fresh perspective to all those transitioning. The collection also includes letters by Juno Roche, India Willoughby, Rhyannon Styles, Roz Kaveney, Juliet Jacques, Shon Faye, Juno Dawson, Kate O’Donnell, Kuchenga and Charlie Craggs.

First Published in To My Trans Sisters, Jessica Kingsley Press, 2018

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