Through my writing work I’ve had the honour of meeting some incredible activists across the world. Continuing this series, I interviewed Felix McNulty this week in Manchester. We talked background activism, trans organising in the UK, food and cats.
Otter: Hey! We met through Action for Trans Health. What is your work with ATH these days?
Felix: Hi! My work with ATH has always been mainly focused on background work – so a lot of admin and email-answering, plus some fundraising efforts along the way, and helping to organise the knowledge and skill share with Mind in Camden and the London Hearing Voices Network last year (which was the link that originally put us in touch with one another I think – thanks again for setting that in motion!).
These days I’ve taken a step back from some of that work, but I run the eBay shop selling T shirts to raise money for the solidarity fund, pay my monthly dues, and am still doing some support work with incarcerated trans women that began through ATH.
O: By definition background work is always so much less visible in our communities but it’s totally essential. I feel like we need to celebrate it much more.
Next question, what is your PhD about and what is your personal connection with that work?
F: PhDs are kind of weird and hard to describe, but basically it’s about trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people and our relationships with our bodies, specifically when it comes to weight and shape. The personal connection comes from my own history with weight and shape control as a way of managing dysphoria and just generally as a way of feeling I had ownership over my own body.
A lot of research gives a limited trans = poor body image, therefore transition = one-size-fits-all solution picture of things, and I think there’s more to be explored, so that’s what I’m trying to do.
O: What motivates and inspires you to continue your work?
F: It’s a bit basic, but really just wanting to be able to look back over my life at whatever point it ends and feel okay with having tried to do the bits I could do. My mum has this saying that, for her, ‘hell’ is the regrets you feel in the moments before dying, and I think that idea has impacted me a lot. Obviously I’ll fail a lot, and the things I want to change are bigger than anything I can do on my own, but I want to know that I tried.
And aside from that, all the amazing people I know who are trying too, however that looks for them on any given day. Yourself included!
O: What other things are you involved in that you’d love more people to know about?
F: I’m part of a group setting up a project to send books to incarcerated LGBTQIA+ people called Books Beyond Bars UK (beyond-bars.org), so I’d love for people to check that out and also have a browse of our book wish list on Amazon.
O: I’m so excited that this is happening!
Last question: What is your connection to more-than-human nature in the place you live?
F: I grew up and have always lived in cities, so my experience has been pretty alienated from nature in a lot of ways, but I’ve been a cat parent for the last 6 years, so my cat Naya is probably my most immediate connection to the non- and more-than-human. She’s wonderful and weird (as you know, having met her) and like your last interviewee said, she teaches me a lot about boundaries. I also have a small family of houseplants.
O: Naya is such a total babe. I don’t even have words.
F: My research interest in foody things has also involved expanding my knowledge in this area to a certain extent; understanding how global food production works and histories of colonial exploitation of other countries for food and drink production has been a really big part of understanding the current state of things for me. So that’s definitely been a way into thinking more deeply about the more-than-human too.
O: I can’t wait to hear more about that research. Thanks for answering my questions and all the luck with your amazing projects!
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