Transgender issues and individual are being subjected to a heightened level of political and cultural scrutiny at the moment. That artists are in the vanguard agitating for the civil rights of the trans community (which includes those who self identify as gender queer, gender fluid and nonbinary) is not surprising.
At an upcoming event in Madison, transgender artists and musicians will take center stage to demand recognition of their rights and their very existence. The diversity of their life experiences and wide range of talents should, above all else, be apparent at the first biannual spring show of the TransLiberation Arts Coalition at the High Noon Saloon from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 15.
The coalition, created to increase visibility and empower gender-nonconforming people, is led by Kaci Sullivan, a local transman and painter. “Proceeds from the event [will help] fight erasure, controversial law-making, media misconceptions and cisgender appropriation of transgender narratives,” he said.
As the coordinator of the spring show, Sullivan has put together a provocative lineup of musicians, authors and other artists.
Highlights will include Token Minority, which refers to itself as a "queer, political, punk band," opening the show; transfeminine author Callen Juniper reading from her new novella “The Calm and the Storm”; Romana Shemayev performing “uplifting warrior songs” and Lauren Peterson playing soulful originals and covers on guitar.
This free event will also feature the paintings, drawings and photography of coalition members, educational materials from LGBTQ support groups and fresh baked goods.
Show coordinator documenting his pregnancy
Sullivan plans to display some of his own paintings, including a new one based on a recent ultrasound photo of his unborn baby. Sullivan, pregnant with his second child, has documented much of the first trimester on his blog, transliberation.space/blog.“When I found I was pregnant, I searched online for similar stories,” says Sullivan. “I was only able to find brief articles about a handful of transmen and that was it. There is nothing extensive or in depth that exists. I was really disappointed to discover this huge void, and I felt a strong sense of responsibility to my community to help fill it.”
The blog will allow Sullivan, who identifies and passes as a man, “to discuss everything: what it feels like, how people in society treat me, how my body physically changes, how my dysphoria is impacted, how health care providers treat me, my experience collecting donated breast milk, my experience deciding whether to do a hospital or a home birth, everything.”
The coalition website, transliberation.space, is where Sullivan hopes other members of the transgender community will feel comfortable sharing their stories. That’s where more information about the upcoming spring show can also be found.
Joel Patenaude is associate editor of Madison Magazine.