Zoe Whitfield | Contributing Writer | Friday, 25 September 2015

Meet The Woman Using Nail Art To Tackle Transphobia

Meet The Woman Using Nail Art To Tackle Transphobia

The Debrief: Charlie Craggs hopes her project will teach the world that trans people can be successful and happy too...

'Childdd, they are a mess!' Charlie Craggs informs me of her current nail situation. 'I’m so busy painting everyone else’s nails that when it comes to painting my own I can’t be asked. Sorry, I know that’s the wrong answer but I’m too real, and do you know what else is real? THE STRUGGLE.' Chatting via email I can’t vouch for her talons, but the struggle? Affirmative. 

We’ve hooked up via the World Wide Web to talk Nail Transphobia, the transphobic busting campaign initially founded by Craggs as a theoretical uni project that became an IRL call of action with the support of the V&A Museum: ‘Fighting transphobia, fabulously’.

Meet The Woman Using Nail Art To Tackle Transphobia

'Yeah, it started as my final project on my degree, but then one day I was invited to give a talk at the V&A and I briefly mentioned my ideas for the campaign and then someone in the audience came up to me and asked to hear more about it. This someone ended up being the curator of the V&A and he offered me the opportunity to launch my campaign at the V&A! I.N.S.A.N.E.'

That was nearly two years ago: the first season of Orange Is The New Black had aired on Netflix and by default of Laverne Cox’s casting and the show’s popularity, the trans community’s visibility improved too. 'A few years ago, prior to the Laverne’s and Caitlyn’s there was almost no trans representation in the media at all, and this meant that people were consequently more ignorant and didn’t know what trans meant,' confirms Charlie, whose own transition period began with ghastly Google searches. 

'On a basic level this means that (now) when I meet someone and tell them I’m transgender, there is a greater chance that they’ll actually know what this means. On a deeper level, positive trans representation in the media also changes the way trans people see themselves – seeing successful, happy trans people in the media provides trans people with broader narratives for them to identity with, and lets trans people know that we too can be successful and happy.'

An editor by trade, the choice of nail art as a catalyst for change emerged from the need to be unique: 'My whole concept it fabulous activism,' Charlie asserts, 'Using nails as my medium also means I get the chance to sit down with a person who has usually never met a trans person before and bond with them while I paint their nails. They can ask me questions and I can teach them how to be an ally, but the most important part of the exchange is talking about normal things, because what I’m really trying to do is humanise the issue and show that trans people are just normal (actually pretty nice) people. I’m trying to change hearts and minds a nail at a time.' 

Meet The Woman Using Nail Art To Tackle Transphobia

A product of the 21st century, Nail Transphobia naturally began online with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter its battleground: 'The nail selfie that people take and upload to social media with the hashtag #NailTransphobia was initially the most important part of the campaign,' recalls Craggs, 'UNTIL I realised how valuable the nail painting process actually is. It dawned on me how much influence and responsibility I have during this interaction; it’s about opening social dialogue around the issue, changing minds and thus creating a safer world for trans people to navigate.' 

A solo mission – expect colour coded party rings and Beyonce focused conversation in her presence – the Nail Transphobia customer is diverse, with every race, creed, sexuality and gender turning up to the party. 'Everyone loves a free manicure honey! I love it most when children come and get their nails done; we have a little chat – they are so accepting, it gives me so much hope for the future. I know that sounds so Miss World but it’s the truth!'

Recently tapped by Bobbi Brown and having just about arrived at the stage where money is being exchanged – 'as in I’m being asked what my fee is, which is nice' – I pose the inevitable question - what are Charlie's hopes and dreams for the future? 'Not much, the usual – a fragrance, album, book and clothing line.'

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