In praise of trans culture

This post was originally written on Friday 2nd September.

It’s 10:20am. I’m sitting on a train in Marylebone station, marvelling at my memories of the previous evening.

I attended (and contributed a DJ set to) Political: A Gender last night at London’s legendary Royal Vauxhall Tavern. The event was organised by trans/queer promoters The Cutlery Drawer as a one-off fundraiser for trans charity Gendered Intelligence. It featured music, poetry, comedy and cabaret performances from a staggering eleven acts – or thirteen, if you count myself and sound/lighting technician Jo – over seven hours.

One of the most inspiring aspects of this night was the fact that it was, essentially, a celebration of trans art. I choose the word “celebration” quite deliberately: there was a recognition of the pain we experience and the challenges we face, but the overall event was built around an ethos of joy. The whole atmosphere was immensely positive, with the audience receptive to a wide variety of styles and stories, and each performer giving their all. The night seemed something of an arty twin to the Trans* Education and Determination teach-in earlier this year, as many of us came together in a grand articulation of (trans)gendered embodiment.

This was no separatist event though. Our cis friends were very much invited to the party, and could be found both on-stage (in a minority of the acts) and throughout the audience. This celebration of trans culture was open to all, as our music and our comedy and our poems and our stories are relevant to all. Political: A Gender was predominantly about trans lives and trans experiences, but this meant that it was also about hope, love, loss, friendship, feminism, disability, race, resistance, menstruation, velociraptors and moles. I don’t think I met a single person who wasn’t enjoying themselves immensely.

It’s not often that we come together as a community on this scale. There are an increasing number of wonderful conferences, club nights and mini-festivals organised by hard-working and caring people, but they are still few and far between. There are even less events centred around our culture, our art, and this is a real pity. In art, we recognise the reality, the validity and the importance of our experiences. In art, trans lives are not merely worth surviving, but are worth enjoying. In art, trans people do not merely earn tolerance, but instead deserve celebration.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such joy as a member of the trans community as I did last night. I certainly hope it won’t be the last time I attend such an event. We must continue to create and to celebrate, and must never forget that we all have so much to offer to one another and to the world.

4 thoughts on “In praise of trans culture

  1. Pingback: Reflections: Moulin Rage! and Political: A Gender | The Cutlery Drawer

  2. Ruth – Forgive me for approaching you thru comments but I couldn’t find an email address anywhere on your site.Steve Williams is our primary LGBT blogger and suggested I reach out to you. We are launching an LGBT Channel at Care2.com/Causes and he recommended you as a possible participant. You can reach me at cindys@care2team.com. My name is Cindy Samuels and I’m the Causes Managing Editor.

    Here is some information about Care2. Let me know….

    • Care2 is a 16.7 million member online organization comprised of progressive blogs and opportunities for action.
    • Care2 Causes is the issues side of the site and includes eleven channels*
    • Causes receive close to (and occasionally more than) 3 million page views per month – and is growing. Our daily Causes newsletter goes out to over a million subscribers
    • We work almost exclusively for non-profits
    • Prior guest bloggers or book excerpts have included
    o Geoffrey Canada Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone
    o Kathy Bushkin Calvin (CEO, UN Foundation)
    o Jonathan Safran Foer
    o Senator Al Franken
    o Senator Kirsten Gillebrand
    o Wendy Kopp Founder of Teach for America
    o George Lucas
    o Craig Newmark (Founder of Craig’s List)
    o Patti Smith
    o Richard Trumka President of the AFL-CIO

    We are able to promote the post actively through our own network, newsletter and campaigns.

    * Animal Rights, Civil Rights, Education, Environment and Wildlife, Global Warming, Health, Human Rights, International Development (pending), LGBT Rights (pending), Politics, Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Food, Women’s Rights

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you for your comment – I have sent you an email. I’m currently planning to update my “about” page, and will be including contact details so this kind of conversation is easier in the future!

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