“I really feel like I do, actually,” says Edalia Day when asked if they think of themselves as someone who understands love. “Throughout my life I had it in my head that if you’re openly trans you’ve got no chance of ever being in love,” the 34-year-old resumes, attaching this to media stories and online forums where trans people cite their finding love as unreachable, “a given cliché of the trans community. I had so much trouble with relationships in my teens and adulthood. I didn’t manage to have relationships or even start them. I hadn’t come out as trans; I’m quite an outsider in life generally – quite off-the-wall with my ideas, quite eccentric – and I was convinced if I came out it would be like a nail in the coffin of my relationships, that I’d never be able to have any success whatsoever.

© Elmar Rubio

© Elmar Rubio

At 26, they told someone they loved them (“or thought I loved them”) and they started going out. “They were one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. All my ideas of relationship hierarchy, people being out of your league, were blown out of the water.” However, “this relationship was a complete catastrophe.” At its lowest point, “I didn’t care anymore so came out as trans.” This was some years before the recent progress we’ve seen regarding trans rights and visibility, thus they predicted a reaction along the lines of “oh my God, you monster, I never want to see you again. But she was completely unfazed.” The relationship still didn’t work out, “but I realised for all those years I was hiding this huge part of myself, and actually what that meant was I wasn’t allowing anyone to get close to me. That’s why I was failing.” After that, they became able to form relationships, some people would be fine with them being trans and some people wouldn’t.

They met the “absolutely amazing” Leo at a trans support group in Ipswich. They’ve been together for three years. “I’d reached the point where I was fine with being single – it’s totally fine to be single. People still go ‘oh, there’s someone out there for everyone’. Well, I don’t think there is.” People talk about relationships as if you have to be in one to be happy, “and if you’re not then you’re missing something and a bit broken. I find that quite disgusting, actually. I became completely content as a single person, but then I happened to find someone. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but it is wonderful.”

Being with a trans person means the fact they’re trans isn’t something to be “put up with” as it was in earlier relationships, where it became part of the “weird debt system” which also includes cooking your partner’s favourite meal in return for them really satisfying you in bed. “People will be like ‘I don’t like it but I’ll put up with it and in turn I’ve got all these things you don’t like.’ For a while that was ok because acceptance is better than nothing, but now I’m in a really healthy relationship, where that’s a part of me that’s loved along with other parts of me – and I love that about my partner along with other parts of them – I can’t imagine being in a relationship without that.”

© Elmar Rubio

© Elmar Rubio

The Lecoq– and ALRA-trained performer’s show, Too Pretty To Punch is about being trans. It features their poem of the same name – was that the starting point for the whole 90 minutes? “The idea for the poem was,” says the banjo player. “I knew I was going to do a show on gender, and I had all these comedy songs and things I’d been trying out at open mic nights. Basically, I thought I’d stick these things together and add some poems. Then I started thinking, what’s the basic core of my feeling about gender and the problems of gender?” This led to the title, originally Don’t Kill Me, I’m Sexy, which they changed because “one of the misconceptions about trans people is ‘you’re all these weird sexual deviants’, so I steered clear of anything with the word sex in it.” The poem itself was one of the final things they wrote for the show, while walking home one December evening armed with a dictaphone. “The rhythm of your feet is good for generating ideas. Then when I got home I sat down and figured it out.”

After “a constant process of developing things, cutting away”, Too Pretty To Punch is balanced “so for every really fierce, painful bit, there are three comedy bits. A light-hearted, fun, informative show with a few gut punches.” They know it so well that they can perform it on autopilot, finding an “emotionally detached” approach helpful. When the more harrowing sections occur, “I’m a bit surprised, like ‘oh my gosh, I forgot I go to these places’, but after that I bring the audience with me to a more positive place.”

© Elmar Rubio

© Elmar Rubio

They’re originally from Swindon where “it really feels like there isn’t a lot of trans visibility and there isn’t a clear queer community. As an LGBT person living there, I felt really isolated and alone a lot of the time. I made this show for a cisgender audience who don’t know anything about trans people; here we are, we’re nothing to be afraid of, let’s talk about this in an actual, friendly, positive way. I’m not dumbing down or anything, but a lot of people don’t know anything about us.” It’s also for the trans community, members of which may live in places lacking trans visibility. “They can go and see a show where most of the audience will be cis, but they’ll be there, see themselves represented and get that confidence boost.” During a scratch performance, they were asked why queer people needed role models. Imagine a world, they say, where straight cisgender people growing up see no one like them in the media, where they’re “only referred to as a punchline of a joke. It’s almost impossible to imagine because it’s so absurd, but that’s the way it is for trans people.”

Recently there has been an “explosion of queer visibility in the media”, and excellent books such as Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele’s Queer: A Graphic History – “I wish stuff like that had existed when I was young.” If they were growing up today, they say, they would transition earlier than they did, for they would have achieved self-acceptance sooner due to a lot more acceptance from others. “The only exposure I had to trans people growing up was on Jerry Springer where they were ridiculed, or the butt of a joke in a Woody Allen movie.” They were “terrified” of revealing a fondness for Eddie Izzard in case it let on they were trans. “Even saying I was interested felt like a coming out.” So, as is common in the trans community, they pushed away any such feelings. But the more positive role models there are, “the more you can go ‘oh, I’m like that’. And one of the huge things is you see other people accepting that, going ‘yeah! I love Pose!’ And you can go: ‘if those people I know like these people, then maybe they won’t be horrible to me, maybe they’re not transphobic, maybe I’ll be accepted.’”

© Elmar Rubio

© Elmar Rubio

They are also autistic, as is their partner, and making another show – Spectacular Spacebots (suitable for ages 5 and above) – about an autistic robot which will tour small venues in autumn. They speak of a movement, which includes Autistic Pride, “to change the way we talk about disability and neurodivergence”. The effort aims to stop people being spoken about as if a burden or suffering, instead drawing attention to the brightness of their stories. “I’m looking forward to more stories which highlight our positivity,” they say. “Not just trans people, but disabled people, people of different ethnicities, of different body types.” Both their aforementioned shows are celebrations of positivity, they say, a direction in which the entertainment/theatre industry “is slowly shifting, and that’s a wonderful thing.” Even if it’s not always perfect.

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