Young Suffragettes- Nail Transphobia Charlie Craggs' 'fabulous activism'

Photography by Joanna Kiely, Styling by Jilian Banjoko

It’s no surprise, then, that she’s started the initiative Nail Transphobia which invites the general public to come and “just have a chat” about trans issues in our modern society. During this little chat you receive a manicure and are invited to upload a selfie giving the V fingers to transphobia. The aim is to educate, “but not in a preachy, with-an-agenda kind-of way; [it’s] just about talking to people”.

It all started as a project for her course, Creative Direction at LCF (“the only one in the world”, she tells me with a grin), which then snowballed after giving a talk at the V&A two years ago.

“I wanted to show how creative directors [are essential] in all sectors, so I chose the ugliest” - the voluntary sector. “A lot of charities will just send someone out in a dayglo vest with a bucket in the street and it’s like, really?. Bitch, you can be so much more creative! Basically I wanted to do activism and do it fabulously”.

It’s this “fabulous activism” (a term coined by Craggs herself) which really spearheads the charity: “It’s not like I go into the V&A and set up two big tables and random chairs that don’t even match and just do people’s nails. No, it’s an event. It’s an experience: the Nail Transphobia experience”. With these ‘experiences’ already being held in major institutions such as the V&A, Science Museum and Royal Academy of Art since it launched almost two years ago, she’s had a bit of a wild ride - particularly now that Bobbi Brown and Elle magazine have contacted her, expressing a keen interest in the charity.

You’d never guess from her enthusiasm that, not unlike most of the transgender population, Craggs hasn't always accepted herself as a woman. It was only as recently as 2012 - the week that journalist Paris Lees was voted most influential LGBT person in Britain - that she realised “you can be successful and beautiful and intelligent” as a transgender person.

Despite an evident shift in the collective mindset of society (Swedish brand & Other Stories recently released an all-trans campaign and New York-based trans designer Gogo Graham debuted her eponymous label at NYFW last month) it’s evident that most don’t share the same open-minded approach. “I’m scared to leave the house most days. I’m going to go and take my makeup off now and go home without [it] on - I don’t want to be drawing attention to myself on the train home. I’ve been attacked, had bottles thrown at me, I’m called names on the street every day”, she trails off. “Although we’re not being killed here [in comparison with horrifying statistics from other countries], we’re being killed in different ways”.

The media, she stresses, is easing this: “[It’s] the most vital thing for progression”. She sees the trans rights movement as just 20 years behind the one for gay rights, which saw normalisation through TV programs like Sex and the City in the ‘90s. Now personalities like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner are in the limelight, carving out their place in society and “creating different narratives” for trans people to relate to. On Jenner: “there’s a lot of people on her back about her saying stupid things [but] whatever there is to be said about her, in my eyes, is irrelevant. The Kardashians are probably the most famous family in the world [therefore] everyone who’s watching it is learning”.

Despite this monumental shift, Craggs informs me there won’t come a day in her lifetime where transphobia will cease to exist. This doesn't phase her, though. “At least I’ll still have a job!”, she exclaims, the positivity so discernible in her character shining through once again.

Respond to this


Help us to learn about our audience

How old are you?