Artistic License

TransLiberation Art Coalition founder Kaci Sullivan talks creating community and the importance of carving out space for trans and gender non-conforming people to express and support themselves.

Tell us a little about yourself—who are you?  

I am a passionate artist and activist. In 2013, I earned my first degree in game design and animation, and I’m currently back in school working toward a business degree. I am the proud parent of an autistic almost-five-year old, and I’m currently six weeks pregnant with my second child. I consider myself to be an inclusive, intersectional feminist.

What is the TransLiberation Art Coalition? Why did you decide to start it/get involved?  

The TransLiberation Art Coalition was created to generate visibility, and to empower and elevate the lives of our trans*, gender-fluid, gender nonconforming, and non-binary community. We fight erasure, hateful law making, media misconceptions, and cisgender appropriation of our narratives by reclaiming our own power and voices. We use an online community, pop-up events, and two art shows a year to endeavor toward those goals.

I created the coalition to achieve all of the above, but also to give my community space and encouragement to celebrate themselves. So often, we only get together to protest and grieve. I believe it’s critical that we realize how skilled and talented we are, that we realize how capable our community is of taking care of each other. It’s easy to feel helpless, alone, and isolated, but the truth is, we are very capable and tenacious. I want to encourage both groups and individuals to network with each other. I want to build a stronger foundation that doesn’t let anyone in our community fall through the cracks.

Why is this project important and, perhaps, unique? What do you hope to accomplish with it, and what do you hope people get from it?  

I have yet to find anything else like the TransLiberation Art Coalition that currently exists. The coalition definitely identifies and fulfills very real needs of our community. We need to be seen, heard, and validated. Safe spaces and platforms must exist. We need to be able to reach out to each other and communicate with each other and support each other. We need to know we are never alone.

I want this coalition and these events to build the confidence, esteem, and personal power of every community member who participates in a show, comes to an event, or visits the website/online community. I want artists, performers, writers, musicians, etc. from my community to have the opportunity to be heard, seen, and truly listened to. I want to continue to fill the website/online community with resources, content, and tools that may mean the difference between life and death.

The website is really exciting because of how much we can do with it. Not only can we reach out on a national and international level, but we can incorporate so many elements and develop them over time. For instance, the website has a marketplace where transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people have the opportunity to purchase goods and services from their own community. We also have an idea incubator, and eventually we want to lead our own product development. We should be the ones benefiting from the products our community consumes. We are also building a library of poems, stories, interviews, and research papers about trans* people by trans* people. It shouldn’t be so hard for us to access our culture and community—that’s exactly the type of erasure I’m so dedicated to fighting.

What are the future plans for the project, and where can people find out more?  

You can follow us on Facebook or at transliberation.space. We will have a second show in the fall. All details are yet to be announced, so keep your eyes peeled!

More immediately, we will continue to build our online space and post new content. Additionally, I am going to be documenting every week of my pregnancy via blog (alternating written and video content). I’m going to discuss everything: physical changes, emotional states, how I’m feeling, how society treats me, how my healthcare providers treat me, whether I’ll opt for a home birth or not, how I’ll go about building a breast milk network (I don’t want to use formula), absolutely everything.

I’m also inviting journalists to document the journey with me. There is virtually nothing available that discusses (in depth or at length) the experience of trans* and gender nonconforming people who are with child.