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Artists take to the stage for Trans Day of Visibility event
by Ariel Parrella-Aureli
2019-04-06

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Trans artists, allies and activists celebrated Trans Day of Visibility March 31 with an art event at Andersonville's Chicago Magic Lounge.

The art event, organized by the Chicago Therapy Collective ( CTC ), brought support, higher visibility, and a call to action to the red-curtained stage to honor the trans community and gender-nonconforming ( GNC ) community and make sure they are mobilizing change, speaking up for their rights and creating an inclusive space to be themselves.

CTC's team opened the show and celebrated the beauty, existence and love and connection that is needed, said Iggy V Ladden, founder of CTC. ( In 2014, Ladden was named one of Windy City Times' 30 under 30 for their direct service to the trans community. )

Ladden also shared CTC's five initiatives to increase trans inclusion: #HireTransNOW, a job-recruitment program to increase trans inclusion and provide stable employment from several independent businesses; get trained to be an alley and hire trans or GNC folks; strengthen trans relationships by sharing experiences through a survey; creating space for trans art to be thought-provoking and a creative outlet for better understanding called Trans Art Is; and starting all this work in Andersonville to build a strong community.

"Be visible, show up for your community and help mobilize change" said outreach specialist and core organizer Elise Malary, who was vital in putting the event together and works with community groups to implement the initiatives.

#HireTransNOW CTC representative Alexis Martinez, a prior business owner of 20 years, a wood-worker, a grandmother and 35-year-Andersonville resident, shared personal battles about not getting jobs in her past because she is trans—even though she has years of experience and an education.

"We are always told to work hard, do things the right way and you will get ahead in this country but there are so many barriers for trans people," Martinez said.

She is heading the initiative to build relationships with businesses, help trans and GNC obtain employment so they can have access to healthcare, housing and freedom. To get it off the ground, CTC is asking for donations to start the program and build an employment database.

"Every job we can get for every person means they are not going to end up on the streets, homeless or in jail," she said.

The show featured 10 performers and four speakers well-known in the trans and GNC scene; each brought a distinctive, personal and proud energy to the stage, expressing their story and why trans visibility matters to them. The acts featured burlesque, comedy, draglesque, dancing, hip-hop, a play reading, a DJ set, spoken word and an acoustic set—as well as comic relief from the two hosts.

Visit chicagotherapycollective.org/tdov2019 for the full line-up of the artists.

To learn more about CTC's initiative and to donate to #HireTransNOW, visit chicagotherapycollective.org .


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