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Thursday, July 25, 2024

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TOPHER TALKS: Topher interviews trans model and activist Kenny Ethan Jones

Our very own Topher has been broadcasting across the airwaves at Virgin Radio Pride studios, where he interviewed this month’s Topher Talks Guest, Kenny Ethan Jones, here’s what he had to say…..

I’ve just had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Kenny Ethan Jones in Virgin Radio studios. And it’s all about his new book. “Dear Cisgender People” is a book that’s not just important and timely—it’s totally essential. The entire experience of reading this book feels like you’re reading the diary of a friend who’s about to share their most vulnerable and honest personal experiences. It’s engaging, (very) honest, and grabs you by the emotional balls — and educates you along the way.

Kenny jumps right into it inside of “Dear Cisgender People”. From the beginning, he’s inviting us into his world, ans his lived experience, sharing his unique journey as a Black trans man. And, it really is a journey worth hearing. He writes with such honesty and clarity that you can’t help but be drawn in. He’s not just telling his story in an almost diary- like format; he’s inviting us to walk a mile in his shoes, to see the world through his eyes, and to feel what he’s felt over-the-years.

Jones talks about everything— from the nitty-gritty of personal transition to the broader societal pressures faced by trans people. And he does it all with a tone that’s casual yet deeply insightful. I found myself nodding along, sometimes laughing, and feeling a lump in your throat (I am emotional in my geriatwink twilight years) as he lays bare the struggles and triumphs of his life. Important to note this isn’t just about trans trauma, Kenny invites you into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

What makes this book stand out is how Kenny tackles intersectionality with matter-of-fact honesty. Being a Black trans man gives him a unique perspective that sheds light on issues many of us might not have considered. He clearly and beautifully articulates how his Blackness and gender identity intersect, bringing a richness to his narrative that’s both enlightening (especially to someone like me) and genuinely moving.

The book isn’t just a heavy read, however. Kenny has a way of making you feel right at home with his words. The way this book is written, is honestly like chatting with a friend who’s got the time and energy to inform you on a topic that’s so provocative in 2024, that loads of us shy away from it — through fear of offending or falling victim to fake news. It’s informing and educational – but it doesn’t feel like a lecture. It’s more like a heart-to-heart with someone who’s lived a unique experience and has the patience to tell you about it.

Personally, I think the timing is incredibly apt. We are living in an era in which certain high-profile figures (JK Rowling) seem to spend a concerning amount of time randomly bullying trans people online — and spreading harmful and often, intellectually dishonest narratives about trans people, Dear Cisgender People” is the written antidote we all need. If you are someone who struggles to think critically or maybe have fallen victim to transphobic rhetoric – this book isn’t just timely; it’s a crucial counter- narrative that reminds us of the humanity behind the sensationalism and cruelty. It’s a call for allies to step up, listen, and really understand what it means to be trans today.

Kenny also does a really good job discussing the evolution of language around gender. Addressing things I, a cis person, hadn’t considered. He lets you into knowledge like the fact that terms *do* change and that staying updated/doing the work is all part of being a good ally. Kenny’s flexibility and openness to growth are key takeaways that make the book not just informative but also makes you feel like you have someone who you can find out the information from — without getting too personal with trans people you encounter or DM.

“Dear Cisgender People” is more than a memoir—it’s a call to action and a solution for allies who want to help, want to understand, but don’t know where to start. Which is increasingly difficult in the age of fake news and people spreading hate for engagement. Kenny’s story is a roadmap for how cisgender people can become better allies.

Kenny Ethan Jones has given us a unique and moving manifesto with “Dear Cisgender People.” It’s a book that’s as much about empathy and understanding as it is about his personal experience. A thoughtful blend of a ‘How To’ for being an ally and also an autobiography. By the time you turn the last page, you’ll be moved, informed, and ready to make the world a more inclusive place for everyone. It’s not difficult to be a good ally, you just have to be ready to do a little bit of work — and this book makes that so much easier.

If you need further guidance or have questions, feel free to email me: topher@tophertaylor.co.uk
Follow my TikTok @TopherTaylor, Instagram @TopherTaylor
or X @HelloIamTopher for more.


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