Filmmakers Cecilia Golding and Nick Finegan teamed with Dazed to make this immersive mini-doc, which follows Tags (‘Trans and Gender non-conforming Swimmers’ Group) in London.
“It’s difficult for trans people to enter public spaces,” one of the swimmers says, “because their bodies are different, because there’s prejudice, because there’s misunderstanding and we wanted to find a space where trans people felt secure to swim.”
“They say that we’re unnatural, that we’re perverted, that we’re not genuine people,” adds another.
The group was created by Roberta Francis, a trans woman who felt that she and some of her friends didn’t have a place to swim where they felt accepted.
“That first jump, that first slide into the water, was a massive reclaim of a sense of power, but a sense of serene power,” Roberta recalls.
She now feels so comfortable in the space that she no longer swims in a bikini top “because my breasts are growing,” she says. “Because I’m in transition and I’m proud of my breasts and I want to show them off! It’s so exhilarating and there’s so much freedom to be in there with my top off.”
Another swimmer points to the mental health benefits: “I can go there without getting any anxiety at all, without any worries, because I know it’s a completely safe space. And that’s a small thing, but it’s a thing that can change life.”
The word ‘space’ comes up over and over again in this film. It reminds us that, while so much scrutiny is placed on the trans body, we forget to scrutinize the space in which we all exist.
Watch ‘The Swimming Club’ here: