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These feminist comedians are fighting British transphobia with jokes

These feminist comedians are fighting British transphobia with jokes

Jordan Gray Succubus comedy evening transphobia

Last year it felt like Britain turned against trans people.

Amidst the trans exclusionary radical feminists appearing on every morning debate show with such frequency that even transphobes got bored, and left-wing paper The Guardian UK releasing an editorial so transphobic the US branch actually put them on the naughty step, it seemed like the attacks would never end.

Yet it all came to a head at the end of 2018 when TERFs, right-wing anti-trans rabble, and comedians united like terrible infinity stones and campaigned to get the National Lottery to withdraw funding from trans youth charity, Mermaids.

However, Succubus refuse to let the narrative be controlled. These comedians with a feminist spin are bringing a comedy show to make people laugh while raising money for trans charities – including Mermaids.

The event is taking place on Friday 1 February for Vault Festival in London. Run by editor of satiricial magazine Succubus, Kat Sadler, 24, alongside Billie Cooper, 27, trans and cis people alike are taking to the stage for a night of hilarity.

KAt Sadler succubus festival raising money for trans charities
Kat Sadler performing at the Succubus comedy night

Comics Jessie Johnson, Kemah Bob and double act Shelf are all on the bill, with more to be announced.

‘We are putting on a show that’s fun and entertaining, but also gives a voice to trans acts. We have a lot of trans and queer acts,’ Kat told Gay Star News.

‘The aim is to give them a space, to raise money, and to give unequivocal support to the trans community. Especially in these times. We wanted to show that we’re on their side.’

Limitless comedy

However, if you think it’s going to be a night of safe laughs, you’re wrong. Trans comedian Jordan Gray is hosting the evening and her policy is that nothing is off limits.

‘I don’t think there’s anything you shouldn’t joke about. If you do it in the right spirit and the right frame of mind. With comedy, there’s good transgender jokes and there’s bad transgender jokes.

‘It’s not that if you make a joke about a transgender person you’re a bad person. You can do it cleverly, you can do it rubbish-ly, and good comedians are stepping up to the plate.’

Jordan’s path to comedy hasn’t been straight-forward – she started as a singer. She even appeared on The Voice, being mentored by Paloma Faith in 2016. Yet it wasn’t until she got on stage to tell jokes that she actually found her voice.

‘I didn’t even know any trangender comedians before I started,’ Jordan admitted to us.

‘Obviously LGBTI comedians have existed for ages and there’s good ones and bad ones. There’s sort of an emerging transgender comedy – I wouldn’t say scene, that would be unusual – but we are popping up here and there.

‘I think our job is to pave a new way. The tendency when you are a transgender comedian is you use that as a crutch, it’s the first thing you joke about. That’s your kind of thing. But then you move on, and make comedy about everything else.’

Keemah Bob on stage succubus comedy event
Kemah Bob on stage at the Museum of London | Photo: Kemah Bob, Facebook

Succubus – a satirical website that hopes to change the way men and society treats women through laughter – hosts comedy nights once a month. There they bring a voice to often unrepresented people, such as trans women and nonbinary people.

Jordan even has a favorite on this line up: ‘There’s a comedian on, Kemah Bob. She makes me laugh every single time. If you talk to her in real life you think she’s a character. She’s bloody hilarious.’

‘I couldn’t believe that could be discredited by some guy just having an opinion.’

Obviously, the charities mean a lot to everyone involved. Money will be split between Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence and Educate and Celebrate.

The consistent campaigns against Mermaids recently hit especially hard for Kat. British comedy star Robert Webb recently slammed the charity and the Irish writer behind Father Ted, Graham Linehan, openly pressured the National Lottery to withdraw funding from Mermaids.

Kat said: ‘I picked Mermaids because when I was growing up I mentored a kid who was trans. I know how important it was to him that he had support at that age.

‘When I saw that thing with Robert Webb and how he says they are harming kids by believing they are trans… The person I was mentoring, he knew he was trans from the age of 12. He’d been dressing as a boy since 14.

‘I couldn’t believe that could be discredited by some guy just having an opinion.

‘So for me it was very personal, because there are so many kids that just need support and I can’t believe they might never be truly considered the gender they are. He would have benefited from having Mermaids if they were around.’

Succubus comedy club at the vaults transphobia
Zoe Tomalin bringing the laughs at Succubus

Comedy needs diversity to stay interesting. Everyone from mainstream comics like Dave Chappelle to up-and-comers on open mic nights, to every Joe Rogan crybaby with a comedy special called ‘Triggered’: they constantly target trans people in their shows. Decades-old, tired trans-panic jokes are not uncommon enough.

Comedians like Jordan offer some hope.

‘You can be doing jokes about subjects that are 50 years old that everyone’s doing but if you’ve got a new take on it, that’s what people want to hear.

‘They want a fresh perspective.

‘Comedy is a meritocracy. You can’t be not funny and successful. If there’s people laughing, you’re doing your job.’

See Succubus at Vault Festival at Brick Hall, The Vaults, London on 1 February 2019. Tickets here cost £10.

See also: 

Anti-trans trolls hound comedian off Twitter for period joke

Comedian Sarah Silverman is officially ‘done’ with homophobic jokes

Comedian in Singapore asks heterosexuals questions LGBTI people get