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Transgender Awareness Month: “I already feel victimised and marginalised enough due to my sight loss, let alone my gender identity”

We are in Transgender Awareness Month (November), which is recognised worldwide as an opportunity to raise awareness about the issues faced by transgender people, advocate for trans rights and celebrate the trans community.

Riley Yeomans and his guide dog

“With everything that’s going on in the press and politics at the moment, I think it’s more important than ever to stand up for trans and non-binary rights,” says Riley Yeomans, a 27-year-old transgender blind author, blogger and Creative Writing PhD student. Riley raises awareness for other young people going through similar experiences and, after writing his first crime novel Faith Remains, is working on his second. On his blog Blind Man’s Bluff n’ Stuff he writes about his experiences with vision impairment, gender transition and mental health: “I want to raise as much awareness as I can to the young people experiencing it now. To let them know that they’re not alone.”

Riley opened up about how sight loss impacted his transition.

“When you have a visual impairment, you draw a lot of attention to yourself, so I’ve also always been hyper-vigilant of how I look,” he adds. “But this became even more heightened after I came out and became conscious of presenting myself in a way that I’d be recognised as a man and that people would use my correct pronouns.”

Trans people are more likely to experience violent attacks and increased rates of suicide, with hate crimes targeting transgender people rising 186 per cent in the last five years, according to research by the LGTBQ+ charity Stonewall.

Riley reveals that his second crime novel follows a blind character as she investigates a murder, intentionally without any visual description.

“I write about representations of blind and visually impaired characters in crime fiction, how they’re often perceived as either inspirational, or vulnerable and pitiful.”

He adds: “Including transgender characters is the avenue I want to go down next, as I want to fight against the prejudices that exist right now. Because I already feel victimised and marginalised enough due to my sight loss, let alone my gender identity.”