LJMU welcome Charlie Craggs
It has been a very busy week here at LJMU!
On Tuesday I had the honour of welcoming Charlie Craggs to deliver a guest lecture to our Level 6 students on the Body Politics module.
After first discovering Charlie on Instagram, I added her book To My Trans Sisters to our reading list on Body Politics.
The students were delighted when I announced that Charlie had accepted my invitation to join us. I was also very excited!
I always think that marginalized groups should be given the space and platform to represent themselves. We don’t ‘give people voice’ : they have voices! But we may be complicit in reinforcing the structures that prevent other people from being heard.
Charlie spoke about growing up alongside her brothers in the hyper-masculine environment of her council estate. It was immediate that she spoke about the intersections of class and race with gender: the experience for Charlie as a working-class Trans women is very different to those with middle-class privilege. Likewise, Charlie recognizes that her experience is very different from her friends who are Trans women of colour.
Charlie spoke about the media construction of Trans people, that they are mainly seen in talk shows as an object of spectacle, and shows such as CSI where a murdered Trans sex worker is played by a male actor.
The cultural tipping point for Charlie was 2015, when Laverne Cox had the cover of Time magazine in its 2nd best-selling cover of all time. Charlie asserted the importance of feeling reflected positively in the media.
We have used clips of Janet Mock debating with bell hooks in our Body Politics class, and Charlie recommended Mock’s ‘Redefining Realness’.
Charlie spoke about her amazing Nails Transphobia work. She said that to hold someone’s hands in yours in a very intimate thing, and that if you cannot feel someone’s humanity in that moment, there is something seriously wrong! We would love to have Charlie back for one of these workshops, so watch this space.
Religion was another concept that Charlie spoke about. Born and raised a Catholic, Charlie felt that being Trans means you are often rejected by organized religion. Charlie’s Nan was very religious, but embraced Charlie fully when she accepted herself as Trans (I haven’t said ‘come out’ here, as this is not how Charlie defines it). After the lecture I took Charlie to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral for a wander and some food. Next time we can also take in the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral, the galleries, and St. Brides Church.
Charlie’s talk was important: a modest estimate is that 48 percent of Trans people have attempted suicide. Every 29 hours globally a Trans person is murdered! This was a figure that shocked and horrified both the staff and students in the room. Transphobia kills!! We need to start listening, and learning how to be allies to the Trans community.
Thank you again to Charlie for coming all the way from London, and we hope to welcome you back soon.