Welcome To Trans Vegas!

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Welcome to Trans Vegas, by Kate O’Donnell, Artistic Director of Trans Creative

Trans Vegas is a trans arts festival from Trans Creative and its home will be right here in Manchester.

As Artistic Director of Trans Creative, I have wanted to make Manchester a hub for trans art since I started making theatre here four years ago. Back then I did not see or hear my story being told. Four years on and so much more trans art is being made, which is really exciting, and the next step is to show that work and to celebrate it – which is where Trans Vegas comes in.

Las Vegas was built in a desert as a place for entertainment and fun, and so Trans Vegas looks to provide some much needed life and light for trans people in what is still a bit of a cultural desert for us!

‘Telling our own stories is Trans Creative’s tag line, and this festival does just that, bringing to life over 30 trans stories across 4 events, plus a festival launch and a pop-up event. 

We have been working with young trans people in the Greater Manchester area to bring you the Young Trans Tour of Manchester Art Gallery on July 1st (3–5pm). This will be a chance to hear the experiences of the ever-increasing number of trans people under the age of 25. You can hear how these youngsters hope to make the world a better place for trans people, beginning with this event, which is free and family friendly. 

We are featuring two important trans books in the festival as spring boards for creative response and debate. Juno Roche's Queer Sex on July 2nd and Charlie Craggs’ To My Trans Sisters on July 3rd. The Royal Exchange will be the setting for the Queer Sex event where I will host an evening of music and very frank discussion about the taboos of trans desire and sex. There will be music from CN Lester and personal responses from  members of the local trans community .

Charlie Craggs (an award-winning trans activist) will be bringing her energetic fashion/beauty-focused approached to transphobia with one of her famous ‘Nail Transphobia’ events at House Of Fraser, followed by a discussion on her book over the road at Waterstones Deansgate. In conversation with Kuchenga Shenje (writer and feminist warrior) they will talk race and class and how that impacts the experience of being trans.

 

These are humble beginnings for the festival and in future we hope to grow and include international work and specially-commissioned pieces and collaborations. A taster of this comes in Boys Don't Cry, Boys Create a trans masculine collection of work performed at the Royal Northern College of Music which sees Hotpencil Press and Trans Creative work together to produce a response to the changes in trans masculine representation since the milestone Oscar-winning film Boys Don’t Cry. 18 years since that film appeared, we will be asking ‘What has happened to the trans masculine narrative?’ in an exciting evening of new multi-media performance. 

Trans Vegas is the festival I would have liked to have gone to 15 years ago when I transitioned. It simply didn’t exist back then. I believe the arts can bring great social change and make our community a happier and safer place. Two years ago I won the Be Proud award for making Manchester a happier and safer place for trans people. I want this work to continue that project and see Trans Creative offer a creative solution to the issues facing trans people and to create a space to hear trans stories told by us.

But remember: what happens in Trans Vegas stays in Trans Vegas! For 4 days only come and join in the fun, everyone is welcome.

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Phoebe Woodall