What not to say to a transgender person

Sometimes you think you’re going to handle a situation really well…and then you don’t.
That pretty much sums up my first conversation with 26 year-old Sabah Choudrey, a British Muslim transgender activist who campaigns against racism in the LGBT community and creates networks and support groups for minority ethnic trans people.

Salinger’s Spiritual Quest

In gathering the interviews for a BBC Radio 4 documentary on Salinger’s Spiritual Quest – it became clear that this highly influential 20th century writer, whose iconic book ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ still sells around a quarter of a million copies each year, did more than simple dabble in mere discussion on this philosophy.

Caged and chained in the Philippines

Trapped in cages and chained by their families, the search for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan revealed the tragic conditions in which people displaying signs of mental illness are kept in remote parts of the Philippines. Working with documentary filmmaker Simon Rawles and photographer Peter Caton – we visited several cases.

Fast food nation

 It didn’t take long before I was accosted as I patrolled the food court of Cebu City’s sprawling Ayala mall…a lone hungry foreign female in search of a nutritious lunch. “We have fried pork, chicken, fish, lamb or goat,” declared the keen restaurant host trying to lure me further inside. “Do you have anything with ONLY vegetables,” I asked – tired of hearing myself say this three times a day for at least week now.  I was getting rather exasperated at the extreme and slightly unexpected challenge the Philippines had confronted me with as a committed vegetarian of 25 years. My search for a healthy vegetarian lunch was set against a live soundtrack of karaoke pop, performed in the mall foyer by pre-adolescent Filipina girls. No one else seemed bothered by the extremely loud noise. I had recently learnt that this mall was one of the city’s key attractions, littered with American franchises and Filipino knock-offs of donut, pretzel and burger chains. It is said that on an average day, more than 85,000 people visit Ayala Centre. Whilst food options are clearly limited for the rare breed of vegetarians that must wander through Filipino malls, it was also a challenge to find anything that resembled healthy food. Of course shopping malls exist throughout Asia, mostly aimed at the emerging middle class and the wealthiest city dwellers; but Filipino malls appear to have a profoundly American flavour. I’m not referring to the diet-obsessed subculture within the States; rather it is the super-sized ‘burger and fries’ lifestyle that has firmly found a home for itself thousands of miles away from its...

New waves of migration

Across the world economies thrive on the essential role of migrant workers, but as we all know, immigration imports not only workers, but also individuals together with their cultural, social, religious and linguistic complexity.

Policing the police in Rio

Smart policing quite simply involves police officers wearing smartphones with an app that records their every movement while they are out on patrol. It aims to increase transparency, police protection and accountability.