Film will challenge issues of gender

A YOUNG lesbian and a transgender man are to make a film challenging taboos about sexuality.

Katie McLaren, 18, and Jack Cummings, 24, from Hartlepool, want to increase tolerance about homosexuality and transgender issues in the town after suffering at the hands of playground bullies and prejudice at work.

The pair, who are part of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group in the town, are in the process of planning a film about issues surrounding their plight and are due to be featured on ITV’s North East Tonight programme tonight at 6pm.

They say finding the right time to “come out” can be an agonising dilemma, with college student Katie, of Caistor Drive, on the Fens estate, knowing she was a lesbian since she was in Year 11 at school, but waited until she was in college to tell anyone about it.

She said: “I think it is difficult to come out in a small town like this because you don’t know how people are going to react.”

Shop worker Jack, of Otterpool Close, on the Central estate, is transgender and has the added stigma of people not understanding as he undergoes transition and hormone treatment.

He says it is even harder for transgender people to come out as there are no celebrities as transgender role models.

He said: “I’ve had people throw food at me on nights out just because people don’t understand. Being transgender is not a choice, it’s who you are. Without going through what I am at the moment I don’t think I’d be alive, because to live a life that’s wrong is not worth living.”

Their film is a drama aimed at older teenagers and will show life in a future society where everybody is forced to conform to the norm. They have held auditions locally and are currently planning the film, which they hope to show widely in Teesside.

Katie says she hopes the film will lead to more understanding of how it is to be different.

She said: “I just want more people to understand that everyone should be accepted. We need to get rid of the prejudice and to get rid of the bullying.”

Their project has been made possible through ITV Fixers with vinspired.com, a major campaign created by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust, giving young people between the ages of 16 to 25 the opportunity to tackle any issue that they feel strongly about.

The Fixers are given all the resources they need to make their chosen project a success, with creative help from media professionals to make their own promotional material, from DVDs to websites.