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The power of our history is the comfort, well-being and joy it gives Trans+ communities
Trans+ History Week Transgender

The power of our history is the comfort, well-being and joy it gives Trans+ communities

Marty Davies
Marty Davies

We are so close to the first ever Trans+ History Week, which begins Monday 6th May. It marks three key moments. 

It's the 91st anniversary of the Nazi raid on the world's first gender and sexuality clinic.

It's also one year since I wrote my first article for QueerAF about the raid. It quickly became a tool to shut down the 'transgender trend' myth on social media. That’s when I realised we needed to surface more of our history.

And crucially, it's the week the Nazi’s tried to erase us. So it’s fitting that it’s now the week we will be remembered.

I can’t wait for you to dive into the historical stories we commissioned from the many submissions - over 100 - we received in response to our open call.

To mark the first week, we've invested in 31 Trans+ creatives: six audio producers, seven writers, eight illustrators, and ten spoken-word performers. We’ve produced art, articles, a podcast series of mini-documentaries, and a spoken-word poetry night.

All next week, together, we’ll be making space to learn Trans+ history and surface learnings from our trancestors. But why are we doing this? 

The interesting thing is that the answer to this question has changed a lot over the past six months since we announced the week. In that time, more than 20 volunteers have each approached me to say, “Can I help?” – I’ve said, “Of course”.

This project began its life as a response to the lie that harms our community: the dismissal of our identity as a modern fashion or a trend. Lately we’ve seen this dismissive attitude degrade further, into more extreme dehumanising and dangerous language like “social contagion.” 

At first, the idea was that simply geeking out over Trans+ history could be a powerful tool to combat the hate. Thjat to fight the lies we should lead with the truth: We’ve always been here.

But what I quickly realised was that the primary power of Trans+ History Week was actually the potential to instil a great sense of wellbeing among the Trans+ community itself. 

Learning about my community’s history and learning that we’ve always been here made me feel that I belong here—right here, in May 2024. And we really need to hear that right now. I observed this feeling in our volunteers, too. 

So although the catalyst for the week may have been its power to shut down a lie, the primary focus of Trans+ History Week is now one of delivering wellness in our present, and investing in Trans+ futures so that we can thrive.

From our commissioned creatives, you’ll learn about the Trans+ people who’ve pioneered electronic music, the transgender couple who fell in love and escaped the Nazis, the transgender priestesses of ancient Rome, the Hijra people of the Indian subcontinent, the history of trans activism in Leeds and so much more besides. There’s an awful lot for you to immerse yourself in - all delivered by passionate and talented trans+ creatives - and all sent directly to you via the QueerAF newsletter, skipping any algorithms that filter queer content.

We had intended only to commission seven illustrators, one for each article. But as we developed a national outdoor awareness campaign for the week (look out for billboards in your city from Monday) we uncovered something quite curious. 

It was incredibly difficult to find images of Marsha P. Johnson that were rights-free and easy for a grassroots not-for-profit organisation to use. 

Money should not be a barrier to celebrating our history and remembering our Trans+ trailblazers.

So we set out to fix that. We commissioned one additional piece of art from the artist Sunday Avanti: a portrait of Marsha P Johnson that we’re making available through a Creative Commons licence for any not-for-profit organisation to use for free. It’s one way we’re hoping to pay back the community for supporting our week with so much enthusiasm. Look out for the release of that on the 13th. 

We’d love to hear your reflections on all the stories we’ll publish. And I’m sure all our creatives will too. Share their work far and wide. Let’s make the first ever Trans+ History Week one to remember.

📆 Add Trans+ History Week to your calendar

- Trans+ History Day 06 May
- Trans+ History Week 06 - 12 May

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Support Trans+ creatives

So much of the rhetoric that surrounds the all-out attack, amid a culture war on Trans+ rights and LGBTQIA+ identities, is based on misinformation that claim we're somehow a modern thing.

When we surface and help people understand that we've always been here, that lie is countered in a powerful way, with stories of love, endurance and power. 

The week is designed to play a part in the fight back against anti-trans narratives - but it's not for them.

It's for us, to celebrate our history, to be moved by it, to learn lessons. It's for the Trans+ creative talent - 31 creators in total - who have been paid, mentored and provided with equipment. It's for you, to take power from the enduring resilience of our identities.

We've run this initiative, our first-ever launchpad project, as an investment in the community and its beautiful creative talent. And we don't want it to be our last project of this kind.

So this week, as we invest in the community, we're asking for your investment in us. Sign up as a QueerAF member to help us support Trans+ creatives tell our stories, all year round: