Brighton trans*formed project nears completion

Besi Besemar June 17, 2014

The Brighton Trans*formed oral history project goes from strength to strength as it moves in its final months.

Brighton trans*formed

The Heritage Lottery Fund has backed the project which was set up by community publisher QueenSpark Books to document and record the histories of contemporary trans people in Brighton and aims to preserve the stories of some of Brighton’s trans residents at what many hope is a tipping point in trans history.

The project is unique in that it is the participants who are setting the editorial priorities and making the decisions about how their stories, and the stories of their peers, are treated. Twenty-three oral histories have been recorded with participants aged from 18 to 81.

The editorial team, led by Dr Sam Carroll of the University of Brighton and Maeve Devine of Transformers (Allsorts Youth Project), are currently editing the interviews for the book, due to be published in September. The book will be illustrated with a specially-commissioned series of portraits from the photographer Sharon Kilgannon, with design work from Fox and Stella Cardus.

Volunteers are also working with curator E-J Scott on an Exhibition Trail which will run over the weekends of Trans Pride Brighton and Brighton Pride.

Highlights of the Exhibition Trail will include shop fronts of St James’ Street being filled with Brighton Trans*formed portraits, the Cabinet of Curiosities at The Marlborough Pub & Theatre, featuring artefacts of great significance to participants, and a photographic and audio installation at the Jubilee Library, where you can take a deckchair and listen first-hand to people’s experiences.

Darcy Heston
Darcy Heston: Photo by Sharon Kilgannon,

Darcy Heston has been involved in many different aspects of the project.

He says: ‚ÄúThis project has given me the opportunity to¬†record a very personal part of my life, in a way that I have control over.¬†Our community is often misrepresented in the media and erased in¬†conventional histories. This project actually gives us a voice and I’m¬†proud to be part of that‚ÄĚ.

He goes on to say, ‚ÄúIt’s been great to see a wide section of the trans¬†community work together¬†on this; it’s amazing to see it all coming together now! Working on the¬†exhibition is super-exciting and I seriously can’t wait to see our faces¬†and stories all over Brighton! I hope this will encourage more trans¬†people to take control over their narratives in Brighton and beyond‚ÄĚ.

Alice Denny
Alice Denny: Photo by Sharon Kilgannon,

The poet and activist Alice Denny has been involved as an interviewer, interviewee, book editor and has also been learning how to edit audio and radio.

She says: ‚ÄúWithin and beneath each interview in Brighton¬†Transformed lies a whole lifetime experience of joy and pain; frustration,¬†humiliation, struggle, determination and triumph presented with a¬†rarely-seen unadulterated intimacy and honesty that has been a privilege¬†to be entrusted with. It has been a moving and energising experience.‚ÄĚ

To find Brighton Trans*formed on Facebook, CLICK HERE:

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To find out more about QueenSpark Books, the UK’s oldest community publisher, CLICK HERE: 

For full details of the Brighton Trans*formed Exhibition Trail, CLICK HERE: