Just any other guy

Casper is a 21 year old trans man. He came out almost a decade ago, and ever since then has been dreaming of ‘top’ surgery – a double mastectomy to masculinise his chest. After years of waiting, Casper’s surgery was scheduled for June of 2021. I followed his journey intimately, investigating the experience of living alongside gender dysphoria, how his family members see his transition, and what it’s like to finally feel like yourself.

Casper, June 2021

This documentary explores what it’s like to exist in a body that doesn’t quite fit you. It asks why cis people find it so hard to relate to the very human transgender experience, and it celebrates the awesome power of being at home within yourself.

‘Just Any Other Guy’ is suitable for anyone of any age, gender, and knowledge of transgender issues to listen to. Explanations of slang and definitions are scattered throughout to make sure that no one feels alienated while listening. Listen to the full episode for free here, or scroll down for some behind the scenes of this project:

Music credit: sussvarman

The Making Of…

This project was important to me for two reasons: since a young age, I’ve had multiple close friends come out as trans, and fighting for their rights and understanding is an issue incredibly close to my heart. More selfishly, this documentary was also produced as my final assessment for my Broadcast and Digital Journalism Masters. Basically, there was a lot of pressure to make it good.

My original idea for my project was to speak to a range of people about body image, alterations/surgery, and self love. Over the last year and a half, I’ve gone through an enormous change in my own feelings regarding the topics of body and food, and I’ve become fascinated with other people’s musings on their own feelings. Then I remembered that an old internet friend of mine – Casper – had recently tweeted about an upcoming top surgery. Having known him for around six or seven years, I always quietly rooted for him from afar. The lightbulb of an idea started to glow.

In preparation to approach Casper, I spoke to multiple trans people and communities. I wanted to make sure that I was going about the process of making a documentary about a trans guy in the most appropriate and ethical way possible. One priority was obvious immediately: transphobia/terfism had no place within it. In making this, I wanted to focus on the positive power of gender-affirming surgery, to help cis people understand what we take for granted, and to communicate how painful the experience of growing up trans can be. I had no interest in giving airtime to people who feel the need to debate human rights.

Luckily, Casper was on board from the offset. For that, I still owe him more thanks than I’ll ever be able to really give.

Casper after waking up from surgery

Due to restrictions in the form of money, geological location, and a global pandemic, what I would have liked to be a series of in-person interviews had to be done over Zoom. However, Casper’s vulnerability, honesty, clarity, and warmth managed to reach me, and ultimately you, through the screen. When we did finally meet in person, it felt wonderful. I know journalism is meant to be unbiased, but I really can’t help but hold Casper in the highest possible regard.

I had many goals for ‘Just Any Other Guy’. One of them was to create something that could be beneficial both to a young person who is questioning their gender identity, and to an older person who wants to understand transgender issues better. I also wanted to celebrate the joy of a transgender person. In recent years, the British media and anti-trans rhetoric have worked to sensationalise the community as harmful and outlandish. It has become normal to enjoy pointing fingers and outrage at the spectacle of gender expression instead of actually trying to explore and understand it. I wanted to provide an insight and a kindness that seems to be oft missing from mainstream journalism.

I’m incredibly proud of the documentary, even more so after being awarded a first for it. Many thanks to Casper, obviously, as well as to Fox and Meryn. My course-mates got me through the last year, so all my love to Sîan, Jasmine, and Isaac, as well as to my lecturers Clare and Julian.

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