Sydney Opera House ‘TrAnnie’ panto outrages trans Australians

Drag artist Trevor Ashley’s pantomime for Christmas 2012 lampooning the musical Annie has been attacked as transphobic and sexist

Sydney Opera House ‘TrAnnie’ panto outrages trans Australians
09 October 2012

Transgender activists in Australia have criticized Sydney Opera House for a pantomime called ‘trAnnie’ which they say is transphobic and sexist.

Australia’s most globally-famous cultural institution is planning to stage the panto later this year, despite publically apologizing and saying it is not intending to disrespect trans sensitivities.

‘TrAnnie’ is the brainchild of 42-year-old Australian drag artist, Trevor Ashley.

It is claimed to be a play on words, combining a lampoon of the musical Annie about an orphan who comes good with the first two letters of Ashley’s name. This is then put into the pantomime musical-comedy format for a pre-Christmas audience.

The plot, according to Sydney Opera House’s own site, associates transsexualism with issues of under-age sexual attraction, sexual offending and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

It is the story of ‘10-year-old little orphan Fannie’, whose parents abandoned ‘him’ (sic) while just a babe. Fannie, aided by ‘his/her (sic) trusty ex-sniffer dog’ is now desperate to fund ‘her (sic) sex change’. She proposes to do this by taking part in a ‘very arty’ photo shoot for multi-millionaire and amateur photographer Daddy Warlow.

Along the way she must evade the clutches of boozy matron and sex offender, Miss Trannigan (Rhonda Burchmore).

Indi Edwards of Trans Menace Australia says she was left almost speechless when she saw advance publicity for the show.

Speaking to Australia’s Gay News Network, she described herself as ‘gutted’, and called on the show’s writers, Phil Scott and Trevor Ashley to ‘dig deep’ and understand how shows such as this promote a ‘continuum of trans hate and violence’.

Sydney Opera House have responded with an apology, but add that the work shows the transgender character ‘in a positive light’ and ‘hopes to encourage more understanding of the transgender community’.

Ashley adds: ‘Although I appreciate that the word may brush some transgendered people up the wrong way, the intent is not to harm, but take the sting out of what I’m sure could be a painful word for some.

‘Being a part of the GLBTQI community for many years, we are people who can reclaim words that have been used in harmful ways towards us in the past.’

According to Sally Goldner of Transgender Victoria: ‘This seems very much about ego.

‘We are not saying that artists should avoid subjects of this kind, even in comedy. We are asking that they be prepared to listen: doubly so, when it is clear that their actions are causing significant offence and humiliation for a particular group.

‘We have a long history of working with writers and artists on transgender issues. We have put out an olive branch to Trevor, but so far, it has not been taken up.’

Goldner also highlights the problem of individuals not of a particular minority putting themselves forward as representatives of that group.

She says: ‘My understanding is that Trevor is a gay man closer to drag than any wider sense of sex or gender identity. He is in no position to comment for people who do experience gender issues. He is not speaking from our perspective.’

Transgender campaigners in Australia claim Sydney Opera House has not engaged with them further about their concerns.

A number of people have now complained about the show to the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board.

One petition on change.org, now closed, asks Sydney Opera House to think again, warning that this play is likely to contribute to the death of trans children. Now a new petition has been put in its place which you can see here.

See the promotional video for TrAnnie here:

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Three steps to the perfect James Bond shave

Everything your dad never told you about shaving which all well groomed gay men should know
No thumbnail available

Michigan lawmaker: Schools teaching 'it's OK to be gay' should be liable if kids get STDs

'School officials should be held legally liable, individually and in their official capacities, financially and maybe even criminally'
No thumbnail available

Australian equal marriage campaign to target 50 MPs on gay rights

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) have sent roses to 50 federal MP for Valentines Day – letting them know they’re going to be targeted to change their votes on same-sex marriage
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Miss Universe pageant owner Donald Trump tells married gay pageant co-host he's still against marriage equality

But says of Russia's anti-gay laws: 'I think that I'm going to do something about it'
No thumbnail available

Mel Spencer

Family Editor for Gay Star News
No thumbnail available

WWE wrestling star Darren Young comes out as gay

US sporting professional is believed to be the first in WWE wrestling to come out and continue competing professionally
No thumbnail available

NYC officer turning into viral media sensation

The former Marine admits that when he's on duty he gets noticed as 'the cop on Facebook'
ISIS fighters trick men into dates to prove they are gay

ISIS fighters trick men into dates to prove they are gay

Some men can buy their freedom by paying a ransom, but most face death by being thrown off a roof
No thumbnail available

Mormon allies and uniformed scouts march in Utah Pride Parade

400 Mormons marched in yesterday’s Utah Pride Parade and around a dozen boy scouts marched in their uniforms despite being told they were banned from doing so