Ulelli: Tell me your name.
Kate: I’m Kate McEwan.
Ulelli: And you’re from?
Kate: I’m from Trinidad and from elsewhere, I grew up here since I was 3. I was born in England, my mother is Trinidadian, my father is Scottish.
Ulelli: Ok so, tell me what is like living here and a bit about the LGBT community here?
Kate: I don’t really know what it’s like to live anywhere else, I just don’t have anything much to compare it to but you know I have a good time, like I have friends. The community itself is small but fairly close in a sense; if you know someone, they‘ll know someone else, that kind of connection. And for me it’s like I enjoy my community, but I know maybe that’s not everybody’s experience. Some people are not friendly or whatever but for me I’ve never had that experience. I think most of my close friends are LGBT. I have maybe, I could probably count on one hand the number of people I consider close to me that are straight. And growing up here, well it’s my experience, is not going to be the same as everyone else’s because I’m visibly different - like I have light skin, most people assume I’m white, foreign particularly, because of my accent and the way I look so, my experience is a lot of being perceived as foreign but not being foreign.
Ulelli: What is it like for you with the way you present yourself, the way you dress, how is it and your hair?
Kate: That’s up and down, I can actually give you an example of what happened five seconds ago, I was just walking through that mall over there, and a lot of people are there because today is SEA, the primary exam, so there is a lot of primary school children who just got their exam results and going out to celebrate and there was one in particular who was watching me as I came by and like I was able to hear her asking the adult, is that a man? And then as I get closer she walks up to me - she’s about my height, quite tall for primary school child, although I’m not very tall - and she just walks up to me and said excuse me, are you a man and I’m like, I get this quite often and I hate it, I hate when people think it’s their business to come and ask and I was just like mind your own business and her adults around her was like start saying that’s a woman, that’s a transgender, I’m like oh god I just want to get out of here. That happens sometimes, it doesn’t happen all the time but like with family they know it’s me, they don’t particularly make any fuss about the way I present myself. Friends either but just people in public, I get weird looks. I was getting on a plane the other day and the security guard was checking my ID and he asked me to hand it back to him after he checked it the first time because my presentation is a bit ambiguous, he didn’t believe the name and gender marker on my ID actually made sense. So, it can be unpleasant but it’s manageable. I don’t necessarily fear going out to the point where I would avoid doing something. I definitely would sometimes manage my presentation if I’m not sure about the environment. (Interruption)
Ulelli: Where were we?
Kate: I was just saying that sometimes I would tone down the ambiguity, particularly if I have to be identified, like going on a plane, I would make sure that I’m wearing a shirt that doesn’t disguise my trans too much so the security people just don’t give a shit. Apart from that, I don’t necessarily make too many other changes to the way I present myself.
Ulelli: How did it feel just now when this happen?
Kate: I mean, it was like borderline kind of scary because I didn’t really want to have to face a group of people because there are 2 or 3 adult men there and then this child just being clearly into my business, it was kind of an invasion of personal space kind of thing and coming to pass through them, I’m hoping they are not there when I have to pass back.
Ulelli: Was it like shocking to you that she came and ask you this, is it something that happens?
Kate: It’s happened before, like I’ve been at work for instance, where I used to work [on an industrial estate], I’ve had work mates walk up to me in the middle of a working day and they are doing something, I’m doing something, and they will stay something like 50 feet away from me and in a lousy moment, one of them was kind of looking at me as I passed by but I didn’t think anything of it because I was working, they are working; I didn’t think anything was going to happen but as I passed back, one of them approached me and said... like trying to attract my attention now, because of where I work, I assume they are just trying to attract my attention because I had a valve open or something like that, a safety concern. So I was like going to stop and turn around, there was nothing visible but he approaches me still and says, “You a girl or a boy?” I’m like, “Why you asking?” It’s like, he doesn’t introduce himself, we had no reason to interact so I’m fairly used to people just taking it upon themselves to find out.
Ulelli: Ok. What you want to say to those who doesn’t know much about transgender expression, what you would like them to know?
Kate: I think in my case, I will like that it’s not something they can need to feel entitled to know about, it’s not anyone’s business whether someone is a man or woman and they should really just let it go, that would make my life a lot easier.
Ulelli: Anything else you want to add?
Kate: I like being I guess an example for kids, like showing them that this a possibility that you can exist with this. I hope that people will affirm children who are unconventionally expressing themselves.
Ulelli: You hope people?
Kate: I hope people affirm children, it’s alright to be unconventionally gender presenting, and children are given permission to be gender non-conforming.
Ulelli: Thank you.