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Bonzai Bonner Photograph: @sysglasgow

Inside the new Manchester festival celebrating trans creativity

‘Tranuary’ will feature a whole feast of arts including DJ sets, poetry workshops and a cabaret

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

What with the soaring energy bills, still-dark late afternoons and everyone telling you to improve yourself at the start of a new year, winter is a bleak enough season as it is. But for trans people, it can be particularly difficult – many folk get made homeless at Christmas or don’t have access to their birth families, for example. That’s why Liv MC wanted to do something positive for the trans community this January ‘as an antidote to how hard the last two months are’.

They came up with Tranuary: a one-day arts festival in Manchester celebrating trans and non-binary creativity and resilience. All the events, from concerts to workshops, will take place at the nightclub SOUP. ‘I didn’t want this event to be dotted far over a city using multiple venues, where visibly trans people would have to figure out how to navigate a potentially hostile environment,’ Liv says. 

The festival kicks off with a daytime workshop programme, including a non-conforming life-drawing class with trans models, a poetry workshop and an arts performance workshop. ‘All the workshops are trans-exclusive spaces, because people will be getting quite vulnerable,’ says Liv. ‘Sometimes, trans people need a space where we’re the majority, to discuss shared experiences without being subject to microaggressions or misunderstandings.’

Trans people need a space where we’re the majority so we can discuss our shared experiences

The evening portion of the event – which is open to everyone – will feature a whole feast of arts including a short film premiere, a trans cabaret and DJ sets. It will open with performances by six artists selected as part of producer I.JORDAN’s trans community mentorship initiative, Trans_Formation.

The organisers wanted to make sure the event was affordable. Thanks to funding from Brighter Sound, Homotopia, Generator and the University of Liverpool’s Department of Clinical Psychology, as well as a crowdfunder, they were able to cut ticket prices significantly.

‘We wanted it to be significantly cheaper, because trans people have high rates of unemployment, and to be able to pay artists properly,’ says Liv. ‘Nightlife spaces are our safe havens. But there’s sometimes a disconnect that club culture is an art that isn’t really high eyebrow enough [to get funding]. That’s why these spaces are needed.’

So-called ‘access angels’ will be on hand throughout the event to provide wellbeing support, while the venue staff and security will have had specialist training and taken part in a meeting to discuss how best to support trans and queer people on a night out. So far, the response to the festival has been pretty impressive, especially for a one-venue event in a small club in Manchester. ‘Someone messaged me saying they were coming from LA,’ says Liv. ‘And a few people are coming up from London and Glasgow. Eventually, we’d love to do transport initiatives, so people can come from further afield.’ 

Find out more and get tickets for Tranuary here

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