(uplifting electronic music) – Being trans is not that hard. It’s being trans in a world that doesn’t like trans people; that is hard. Transphobia’s hard. We’re such a small community. We can’t fight this battle ourselves.
When I do people’s nails, it’s about hoping that people go away with more than a manicure. They go away an ally. (inspirational electronic music) I’m Charlie Craggs, and I’m a trans activist and author.
Nail Transphobia is a campaign I run where I travel around the UK with a popup nail salon, and I offer the public free nails for the chance to sit down and have a chat with a trans person. When people sit down and get their nails done by me, that’s my way of showing that trans people are just human.
As a child, I knew that I was different, and I knew that I felt like a girl. I really tried to repress it, and I was so angry at myself for being feminine. I wanted to be like the boys in school so I wouldn’t be bullied anymore.
I’m Irish, working-class Catholic. I had a lot of cards stacked against me, and I was like, “It might be hard transitioning, “but I’m gonna kill myself if I don’t.” (mournful music) My life became a lot, lot harder when I came out as trans in a way I didn’t even anticipate.
In my early transition, after a night out, I was at a park bus stop. These guys came over. I saw one of them look at me. He was like trying to flirt with me. I could tell he didn’t realize I was trans, and then he was like, “Oh, my god.
“That’s a man.” He grabbed my boobs, and then it kind of became a bit more physical. After it was done, I’m a mess. No one came over and asked me, “Am I OK?” No one looked at me. I was dirt, and that, I don’t wanna cry.
But that’s like– (exhales) It just really showed me like what people think of me. It really, really hurt that no one asked if I was OK. I just realized, I was like, “We need allies,” not just in the fight for our rights, but the fight that’s our everyday lives.
When I started the campaign five years ago, I was like, “Why is no one aware “of how hard it is to be trans, “how much abuse I’m getting and the fact “that, when I transitioned, my chance “of being murdered went up to one in 12?” What I do with Nail Transphobia is about humanizing an issue.
I hire other trans people to come do nails with me. You’re getting different stories and different narratives. It’s about sitting down, one-on-one, person-to-person, holding hands. You can’t get more human.
If I was to sit there with a table full of brochures about trans people, they’re not gonna interact, whereas if I’m offering nails, people love a free manicure. People are gonna be interested. I want to reach that straight boy who has never met a trans person, or even an LGBT person, before.
I wanna reach the old lady who doesn’t even know what LGBT means, so that, if they’re out and the see someone being attacked, they might say something, ’cause then they have that emotional link. Most times people will ask the wrong question, but it’s the perfect time to ask that wrong question.
I’ll be like, “Oh, babes, we don’t ask that yet.” Well, I’ll have to explain why, but I explain in a nice way, in an accessible way. I’ve done probably 10,000 conversations, and to know that like they’re on-side now.
They go away, and they love me. They’re like, “Oh, you’ve really changed “my mind about this.” And to think that they will now raise their kids to be decent, non-transphobic people. That’s so exciting to me, knowing that ripples make waves, and you’ve put an ally out into the world, and allies make other allies.
It really makes me happy to know that trans people won’t have to all go through the same thing that I went through. I took the negative and I turned it into something positive, and I feel like that is often the only way to get through life.
I’m very proud to be trans. Someone’s gotta be. (classy electronic music)