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The Museum of Transology at the London College of Fashion

SEEN had the privilege of visiting the preview of the Museum of Transology last night, which took place at the Fashion Space Gallery at London College of Fashion. The Museum will exhibit the largest collection of trans artefacts and photographic portraiture ever to be displayed in the UK, from today, Friday 20th January to Saturday 22nd April 2017.

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The exhibition will be accompanied by an events programme of youth tours, trans awareness workshops, ‘transology’ and ‘transcestory’ debates and a Trans Fashion symposium, exploring the links between gender-fluid fashion and the increasing awareness of trans issues, due to be announced in January 2017. This revolutionary exhibition has been commissioned by Ligaya Salazar and is curated by collector E-J Scott, who says:

The objects people have chosen to donate to the Museum of Transology are strikingly intimate, and make a unique contribution to broader social debates surrounding body politics, gender inequality and the continuing attachment of biological sex to gender despite three waves of feminism.  Ultimately, the exhibition is about how every single one of us deserves the freedom to fashion who we want to be. Fashion designers and communicators of the future can – and must – continue to play an increasingly significant role in challenging the constraints of gender stereotypes perpetuated by the industry.

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The exhibition portrays the many realities of modern trans life, whilst also posing a bigger question about the omission of trans lives from larger national museum collections. From boxes of hormones, to a homemade pack and pee, to ‘not the prettiest’ first bra, to real post-surgery body parts, the collection and the stories attached to it reflect the current vibrancy, bravery and increasing confidence of the UK’s trans community. It is a moving and poignant demonstration of the daily realities of trans peoples’ lives.

Over 100 objects have been crowdsourced as a way of enabling trans people to tell their own stories. Each object is accompanied by a handwritten label describing its importance to the individual’s transition. These real-life voices, touching, powerful and provocative, allow the visitor to learn from, question and understand the seemingly mundane everyday objects. Historically significant, because the collection has been collated at a time that marks a shift in our society’s definition of gender – it has the potential to fill an unrecorded gap in our museums that still use binary gendered archival systems. Visitors last night were thoroughly engrossed and appreciative of the exhibition. People were taking time to examine the exhibits minutely.

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As you would expect, the visuals were outstanding, with contributions from fine art photographer Bharat Sikka; Sharon Kilgannon, the UK’s most prolific photographer of the trans community; Fox Fisher’s My Genderation films; Sexing the Transman and Mr Angel documentaries from female-to-male adult star Buck Angel; behind-the-scenes footage from Born Risky by artist Grayson Perry; Tailors Bindle & Keep, famous for clothing for non-gender conforming clients; LCF graduate Hanni Yang; Yves Saint Laurent; Vivienne Westwood, and campaign materials featuring trans model Munroe Bergdorf.

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In tune with fashion’s increasing interest with gender-fluid fashion, the timing of this exhibition exemplifies the increasing awareness surrounding trans peoples’ lives, exploring the many ways trans people transform their bodies and reshape their silhouettes to reflect their unique gender identities, debunking rigid gender stereotypes and biological determinism.

SEEN anticipates that this timely exhibition will delight and outrage in equal measure. Visitors should look forward to perceiving the reality and poignancy of the trans life in its myriad forms. It’s interesting how fashion is now seen as one of the engines driving changes in attitude to trans issues. Long may it continue to do so.

Museum of Transology
Fashion Space Gallery
20 John Prince’s Street