Gender Journeys: Brighton showcases Museum of Transology

[This story was published on July 27 by etc Magazine. Read the original story at http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?eid=f4d0df61-a140-46e1-a41b-c475c60ac72a&pnum=84.]

Celebrating hope, ambition, and determination, an important exhibition is set to showcase the experiences of trans people living in the UK.

Launching Be Bold, a series of collaborative events and exhibitions to be held in Brighton this summer, the acclaimed Museum of Transology will visit the city’s Museum and Art Gallery.

Curator E-J Scott, by Sharon Kilgannon at Alonglines Photography.jpg

[Image: Curator E-J Scott, by Sharon Kilgannon at Alonglines Photography]

A profound collection of artefacts, photographic portraiture and film, this mobile museum started life as a collection of donations from Brighton’s own vibrant trans community. It now comprises a crowd-sourced treasury of around 120 objects and is the largest collection representing trans people in the UK – and possibly the world.

“The exhibition has been made possible by those who donated their stories and personal objects”, said E-J Scott, Museum of Transology collector and curator. “Most of the display items are accompanied by a handwritten narrative by their donator”.

A number of objects, including a ‘first binder’, a ‘first lipstick’, are displayed with a paper tag revealing the story behind the object. Even a train ticket, dated June 16, 2016, tells a story, evoking a trans person’s memory of meeting his Canadian girlfriend for the first time as her boyfriend, rather than as her girlfriend. Trans Pride badges are featured alongside a bright orange non-binary packing sock and a testosterone dosage box: all objects with a story to tell.

Non-binary packing sock by Katy Davies, (c) Fashion Space Gallery.jpg

[Image: Non-binary packing sock by Katy Davies, (c) Fashion Space Gallery]

Those visiting the Museum of Transology, which is set to be held in the Spotlight Gallery, will also be invited to leave their own tag describing their personal gender journey.

Intended to reflect the experiences of the city’s LGBTQ residents, a special rendering of the Museum of Transology collection has been designed specifically for display in Brighton. The exhibition, which will open on July 20, initially reflects a typical domestic sphere before moving into the medicalised realm of the hospital.

E-J continued: “This is a highly intimate display that challenges the idea that gender is fixed, binary and biologically determined, by exploring how the objects I’ve collected reflect people’s self-determined gender journeys. It addresses issues including violence against trans people, intersex and non-binary identities, fashion’s shaping of gender identity, medical transition and the spectacularisation of trans peoples’ lives by the mainstream media.”

A variety of artefacts and artworks will be showcased in the exhibition, which is set to feature Bharat Sikka and Sharon Kilgannon’s photographic series of 100 studio shot portaits of trans people, many of which were taken at Brighton’s Trans Pride event.

Grayson Perry’s film Born Risky, which includes behind the scene footage from the artist who is known for his ceramic work, will also be shown alongside examples from My Genderation, a collection of films created by Fox Fisher and Lewis Hancox.

The exhibition will also showcase Sexing the Transman and Mr Angel, groundbreaking documentaries by adult film star Buck Angel, along with a soundtrack featuring music by around 20 trans artists and bands.

Assistant Curator Colin Lievens_ by Sharon Kilgannon at Alonglines Photography

[Image: Assistant Curator Colin Lievens, by Sharon Kilgannon at Alonglines Photography]

The display is part of Brighton Museum and Art Gallery’s 2017-18 programme, which aims to celebrate and connect with LGBTQ lives, histories and culture.

This series of projects, exhibition, displays and activities, which includes Be Bold, as funded by Arts Council England and organised in partnership with Brighton and Hove’s LGBTQ communities, commemorates an important date for the LGBTQ community.

2017 marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, a significant legislative change which enabled important strides towards equality.

The Museum of Transology acknowledges the importance of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, whilst acknowledging that there is still much work left to be done.

After a ‘transgender tipping point’ was declared in 2014, it seemed that trans narratives were finally receiving due attention, but, with statistics showing how vulnerable trans people can be to issues such as harassment, abuse, and inadequate medical care, it is important for the LGBTQ community and those around them to continue the fight for trans rights.

Celebrating and commemorating the lives and experiences of LGBTQ people is an important part in enabling this movement towards equality.

Undefinable gender by Katy Davies, (c) Fashion Space Gallery.jpg

[Image: Undefinable gender by Katy Davies, (c) Fashion Space Gallery]

“I want this exhibition to get people to understand the reality of being trans, to see our diverse experiences and stories”, commented E-J. “In addition to looking back over the past 50 years since decriminalisation, I also want trans people to look at the five decades ahead of us. We still have such major issues – we live in fear of losing our jobs or access to our children, we have a huge problem with homelessness, violence has tripled.”

In addition to acknowledging the continuing fight for equality, E-J said, the Museum of Transology celebrates the gains made by the trans community over recent years: “It explores our journey towards equality, and celebrates where we’ve come from.”

The Museum of Transology, open from July 20 until summer 2018, is free with admission to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.
For more information, visit the website at brightonmuseums.org.uk/MOT.

 

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