Caitlin Jenner’s biggest challenge seemed to be what to wear.
Cole Meyers is an actor and writer currently consulting for Shortland Street, which has found favour with a long-running storyline of trans person character, Blue, played by trans person Tash Kerry.
The 29-year-old is transmasculine. He has a professional as well as activist approach to how trans people are characterised in drama.
“The first trans images I saw were in the movie Boys Don’t Cry. What I learned was that transmasculine people are raped and murdered. And transfeminine characters were prostitutes, murder victims or psychos.”
Cole says the visibility explosion for trans people over the past couple of years has proven that not all publicity is good publicity. “Caitlyn Jenner suddenly had all this media attention but didn’t seem to know about the trans community. Her biggest challenge was deciding what to wear.
“No one in New Zealand can afford to pay for multi-million dollar private surgery. They mostly live in poverty with little access to basic services, so there was no connection apart from people asking about Caitlyn.”
Cole came out three years ago. It was that or kill himself, he says. “I both knew what was going on with me and didn’t.
I didn’t want to die but knew I would rather be dead than live how I was.”
This included years of mental health issues and active addiction. “Looking back, I was obviously trying to numb something,” he says.
On the edge of committing suicide,
Cole tracked back through his life and pieced together what brought him to this moment. A big pointer was the numbing of pain but there was also the theme of the literature he read. It was all warrior girls dressed as boys. “My overall lack of selfawareness until coming out was testament to how difficult it was, and still is, to be trans.”
Cole is bewildered by those who dismiss being trans as a fad, a lifestyle choice. “There’s so much attachment of shame, pain and invisibility around being trans, why would you choose that?”
He also cites the nosiness of strangers who ask about his genitalia, what sort of toys he had as a child, what his real name is, and what gender he has sex with.
“I know people want to understand, but there is a line. Just accept that I am me.”