Trans Happiness Is Real round one: evaluation

I need to find a way to be clearer about what the message is and why we need it.

Towards the community, it’s about inspiring hope, because so many of us are going through grim struggles and have mental health problems, and we need the love and support; ‘trans kids need to know that they have a future’. Specifically towards those who aren’t out to others or themselves yet, it’s about combating the message that being trans will lead to nothing more than rejection and struggle (when really, coming out to yourself is the only path that leads to being at peace with yourself).

Towards cis people (people who aren’t trans), it’s about combating the message they usually get of trans people all always being disasters and tragedies, who get surgeries that they all regret, or who are murdered too young, or who spend their lives on the outskirts of society never fitting in or finding love or respect. It’s reminding them that we are people and hopefully getting some compassion in the process. Towards transphobes, it’s about yelling in their faces that there’s nothing they can do about the fact that we can and do thrive and find happiness and love and respect.

T shirts

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  • screen printing and foiling worked well, and survived the washing machine well thus far (been through several washes at 40C)
  • effective in initiating conversations with people, eg at work, and therefore in promoting communication and compassion
  • lots of people want to buy one: I need to figure out how to make some for sale. Sizing is an issue here – make to order? Sourcing t-shirts is also an issue because I don’t necessarily want to buy Primark t shirts to sell. Potentially could source from charity shops and just offer for sale whatever sizes I find (like @tessa_perlow), which has the up cycling/recycling advantage, but also is labour intensive (gotta search for em), not necessarily cheap, and will likely limit my ability to offer a wide range of sizes in appealing styles.

Bags

  • also worked well with the screen printing!
  • shadowing the letters in a different colour produced a very dynamic effect, plus it allowed for an element of chance as the shadow was at a slightly different angle/distance each time
  • I do really like how the badger looks printed, but several people have asked what it has to do with the message, and it doesn’t seem to gel apparently. For me, it’s part of the ‘gritty positivity’ vibe, a bit punk, a bit aggressive, and on par with the smaller ‘die mad about it’ text. But I think I need to clarify whether I’m directing the message at the community or at cis people + transphobes. I think the ‘die mad about it’ is clearly an after-speech directed at anyone who has a problem with the primary message (no-one ha been confused or asked me about what it means anyway), but the badger is just one step too far and isn’t clear for the viewer. So I’ll probably leave it out of future renditions (save it for my own jacket patch 🙂 ), which will speed up the printing process as well

Jacket

  • I was not able to screen print on the back of my denim jacket like I originally planned, because it was too thick and lumpy to fit under the screen. I could have tried to take it apart, print on it, then put it back together, but I wasn’t convinced I could pull that off neatly. Instead, I just printed on separate fabric pieces so I could sew one of them on later. This turned out better even because I could do a few different versions and now compare how they look before I attach them, and also I could always remove them from the jacket later.

Moss graffiti

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  • survived surprisingly well considering the warm spell we had whilst we were in Berlin and I couldn’t water it at all
  • altho the moss doesn’t appear to have rooted, and I don’t know if it will nor how long it will take – I’ll have to keep an eye on it
  • I’m shocked that 2-3 weeks later it hasn’t been taken down yet. I don’t think it would be hard to pull it off the wall if someone wanted to, so I think the Y tail and the ‘is’ that are missing probably just fell off
  • it’s a cool novelty and people liked it online, but it was time consuming and difficult to get it on the wall, and it’s not really big or vivid enough to attract attention (ie to achieve the purpose of street art). To make it large enough to make a proper statement, I’d need a huge amount of moss and probably a ladder, and I think I can achieve much more using that effort for other avenues. Plus, making it bigger would make it more likely to get it taken down, then all that effort would be wasted (rather than eg using the effort to put up 100 posters all over town, which would be much harder to remove)

Small sticker labels

  • surprisingly effective given the low budget and effort input! I’ve had several people tell me they’ve been noticing them, so I guess the smaller size isn’t an Achilles heel like I worried it might be
  • 3 weeks later, a lot of them are still up. The one on the bus is still there even; someone peeled the sticky back plastic off but didn’t bother to remove the whole sticker, so I’m shocked because I thought whoever cleans the bus would have to take it off.
  • Where the sticky back plastic is still in place, they’re pretty effectively water proof, and it seems to have been a good prototype solution. But where it’s come off (and it doesn’t look hard to remove), the rain washes the letters right out it looks like – eg on the postbox. For further developments I think I need to investigate a method of weatherproofing which is more securely fixed to the sticker – get some stickers made by real people perhaps? (ask Lola where she got hers)
  • getting the stickers made online would also necessitate making some digital designs for them, which should allow me to make sure that it’s clearly legible. This’d be better cos the hashtag on some of the handwritten ones isn’t super clear, and it gets less clear with the rain too.

Posters

  • love these!! Didn’t get arrested or fined too, which is nice. Plus, it looks like only the ones on the Cornmarket scaffolding have been officially removed, so I’ve learned that the placements I chose (electricity boxes, phone booths, etc) are acceptable and allow the posters to stay up a while
  • conversely, I have had a problem with random people trying to take them down or cover up the ‘trans’ with their own stickers/posters. In some cases, they’ve only managed to peel off a corner or half of the poster, and couldn’t get the whole thing, which is encouraging in a way cos it shows my wheatpaste is an effective + strong way of sticking them up. If I use thinner paper for the next round, the wheatpaste should be able to sink through all the layers of the poster so they won’t be able to peel off even the top or corners.
  • the design is clearly eye catching because several people online and in person have mentioned them to me, and they’ve attracted both positive and negative attention (trolls) online. I’m questioning whether the ‘die mad about it’ adds or detracts, but I think in the face of the negative attention I do still think it adds to the message.
  • this first round was kind of expensive to produce because I bought the rainbow paper. That’s not repeatable, partly because of the cost, and partly because the shop-produced rainbow paper is too thick for the wheatpaste to penetrate. I need to find a way to create a colourful eyecatching design myself, so it’s cheaper and can be on thin paper, but also one that doesn’t take forever, so that I can still produce lots of posters.
  • A4 is a good size, because it does attract attention but it’s still small enough for me to fit it on electricity boxes etc

I’m not surprised that people tried to tear them down. Nola’s flyposting campaign in She’s Gotta Have It (reboot) (‘my name isn’t ay yo ma’ etc) gets violently vandalised, somebody spray painting ‘c*nt’ etc all over it. I am surprised that some other people are surprised that people tried to take down my posters or remove the ‘trans’ part. I guess that shows that I’ve gotta be clearer about why I’m pushing this message. At least push back illustrates what I’m pushing against.

.
Other street art (hand-drawn sharpie)

  • advantages: very mobile and flexible (just take the pen out ya pocket and draw it on), quick, easy to change the message (unlike eg with screenprinting), cool to ‘collab’ with other street artists
  • disadvantages: small and not particularly eye catching
  • I could fix this disadvantage by using spray paint?

Instagram account/online engagement

NB: apparently as well as people trying to take down my posters, somebody has been putting up transphobic stickers in town every day for the past week or so. This is even more motivation to prepare a second round of activity. Clearly we need the message.

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