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Ivie Bartlett, We Exist
Ivie Bartlett, We ExistCourtesy Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl

Trans Day of Joy is raising urgent funds for trans people across the UK

The event features performances by Bimini Bon Boulash, Juno Birch, and Crystal Rasmussen, music from BBZ and Pussy Palace, a film by Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl, and more

Today (February 27) the trans grassroots organisation and healthcare fund We Exist is holding a star-studded event to raise urgent funds for trans people in need across the UK. Titled Trans Day of Joy, the event was “conceived out of the fact that all other significant days in the calendar for trans people are often based on our trauma and not on our joy,” We Exist tells Dazed. “We wanted to make an event that focuses on trans excellence.”

Accordingly, Trans Day of Joy brings together a stellar, all-trans lineup of performers, musicians, filmmakers, and artists from its trans residency with The Koppel Project (meet some of those artists here). Among the performers are Drag Race and LFW’s Bimini Bon Boulash, Juno Birch, Victoria Sin, Travis Alabanza, ShayShay, Crystal Rasmussen, and Rodent. DJ sets come courtesy of Pussy Palace, BBZ, and more.

The Hackney-based DIY queer film fest Fringe! also presents Unstoppable Gender Abundance, a programme of radical queer short films, alongside the premiere of a new film by Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl, titled We Exist (which documents the story of the fund and its resident artists).

Tickets are available on a pay-what-you-can basis, and all funds raised will go toward We Exist’s healthcare fund. “Our fund is mainly meeting the needs of primary healthcare costs such as hormones and private counselling appointments,” the organisation explains. “But due to the pandemic, with so many trans people working in hospitality, art institutions, the gig economy, and sex work, we are also now meeting basic needs such as food and rent.”

“This wasn’t the initial purpose of the fund but because of the pandemic we have had to adapt and meet the growing needs of our trans community. Trans people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and access to healthcare has been a clear indicator of this.”

In the wake of the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown, the LGBT Foundation reported that 16% of LGBTQ+ people had been unable to access healthcare for non-COVID related issues, while 23% were unable to access medication, or were concerned that they might not be able to.

We Exist adds that its healthcare fund has provided over £10,000 to trans beneficiaries to date, but still currently has over £100,000 in outstanding requests. “We need people outside the trans community to stand up and practice active allyship and solidarity.”

Trans Day of Joy runs from 4pm on February 27 to 1am on February 28. Tickets to the all-day event are available here.