We talked to Jordan Gray of Tall Dark Friend about The Voice, transitioning and bullying
DtL: Can you tell us a bit about your journey so far?
Jordan: I was probably about 19 when I realised something was up…as a kid I never thought I was a girl, I just didn’t think I was a boy. I thought I was an alien. My family were, are and always will be wonderfully supportive. I’m a lucky girl. Not just lucky, but happy. Happier than I’ve ever been! ❤
I think it’s important to make this distinction as quickly and painlessly as possible; ‘gender’ is a man-made construct. ‘Sex’ is what’s assigned genetically. I was assigned XY chromosomes which took my body down one of two paths. The masculine path. And with a masculine body, society places masculine pressures upon you – the social contract tells us to accept them. But *I* am ill-equipped to deal with those pressures because I am not male in my mind and ‘soul’. I am female. Because you *are* the gender you present as. That’s it. End of.
DtL: Did you have any fears about transitioning?
Jordan: I was terrified. But it passes. Truth be told, the thought of living in misery for the rest of my life as a ‘man’ became *scarier* than the thought of change. And then change becomes exciting.
DtL: What are your most prominent challenges, and how do you overcome them?
Jordan: Having patience with other people is easy when you know that life is short, ironically. But when two or three atrocious comments appear online in the same hour or so, that patience is tested. I don’t get angry easily and when I do it doesn’t come out aggressively. But staying diplomatic in the company of bigots is a real test.
DtL: What is it like to be trans in 2016 and what needs to change?
Jordan: I think society is doing really blimmin’ well! There will always be steps to take forward (otherwise what would be the point of having a society at all) but for the most part I think it has never been easier to be Trans. It’s still really, REALLY hard, but I am grateful for the heroism of the generations before me. Because now I walk the streets without fear.
DtL: Did you ever experience bullying? If so can you tell us what happened and how you overcame the experience.
Jordan: I was bullied so hard in school. I had a big, ginger afro and was teased a lot because of people’s attitudes towards it (I dyed it when I joined a death-metal band at the age of 14). I overcame the hurt it caused me by pouring myself into what I love; music and literature. I’m now on my 8th album, 4th novel, I play across the world, on telly and people really dig what I do… somewhere along the way I must have forgotten about the people that bullied me because I can’t even remember their names today.
DtL: What advice would you give to any of our readers who experience bullying or feel like they don’t fit in because of attitudes towards their gender identity?
Jordan: Obviously the first thing to do is talk to somebody you trust. Friends. Parents. And if not them, then tell your teachers. You’d be surprised how much your teachers really do care about you. Society is changing, but it still has a way to go. Remember, nobody is evil – just ignorant. You don’t deserve to be bullied but you might be – which is sad – but pain is temporary. Making a stand, being yourself, forgiving and forgetting – these things last forever.
DtL: What has been your proudest moment so far?
Jordan: Making ‘rose angels’ live on national television after performing ‘Shake It Out’ on The Voice – in that gorgeous, tailored, fire-apple red, gender-binary-challenging pant-suit…without a care in the world!
DtL: What was it like to audition for The Voice? What were the highs and lows?
Jordan: The Voice for me (while on the BBC) had the most integrity out of all the reality talent shows. Not getting a turn at the Blind auditions broke my heart, so getting called back was like a fairy-tale. My battle-duet was one of the most emotional nights of my life. Making it through to the live performances, under Paloma Faith’s guidance, meant that I had this incredible opportunity to affect social change. By being myself on screen – being visible – I got to help so many people feel good about themselves. The Voice let me be a singer 1st, a woman 2nd and a Trans person 3rd. For that I am eternally grateful.
DtL: What does the future hold for Jordan Gray?
Jordan: My stage name for 10 years has been Tall Dark Friend. You can keep up with everything I’m doing if you search that name. My 7th independent album ‘The Baffled King’ is out now on iTunes. Spotify etc. I have a side-line Rap/Spoken-word EP coming out called ‘Cry For The Camera’. But the most exciting thing is the début single… even though I’m 7 albums-in, this will be the first single that’s going after a top 100 chart position. I’m still on tour up and down the UK, the Pride festivals are amazing and I spend as much time with my byoodeeful Czech beau as I can (which is nowhere near enough)!