Trans Winter Wonderland is a safe space by and for trans people this Christmas
Niellah Arboine and Rosel Jackson-Stern, Niellah Arboine and Rosel Jackson Stern
20 Dec 2019
Photography courtesy of Li Benedetti
For many of us, Christmas is a complicated time. The expectation to spend time with family that may or may not accept our identities weighs heavily on any festive cheer we manage to conjure up. Mental health difficulties, financial hardship, isolation and homelessness all disproportionately affect queer people. In light of this, community efforts to provide support, resources and a sense of belonging are more important than ever. London-based Brazilian non-binary artist and creative producer Li Benedetti successfully crowdfunded Trans Winter Wonderland. The event, exclusively for trans people, aims to provide a crucial safe space during the holidays. You can still register and the event will take place on 21 December.
gal-dem: How did you get the idea of Trans Winter Wonderland?
Li: So, it came from a conversation with a friend of mine about Christmas. We were on the train talking about our plans and I always spend it with my family. My family are really accepting of me being trans, and I was telling them [my friend] how I always look forward to Christmas. My friend was saying how they don’t have the same experience at home because they’re not out to their family and it’s a bit chaotic. I realised I’m very privileged to feel accepted at home. And I wanted to create a space where trans people feel the way I feel at Christmas time.
Why do you think Christmas is difficult for the LGBTQI+ community and specifically the trans community?
Li: Acceptance, people aren’t out to their families. They are often misgendered and called the wrong name during Christmas. I’m part of a trans group on Facebook and a few people have said they’ve received very disrespectful gifts from family members. It’s a difficult time. With religion as well, some people feel out of place because it’s not their place to celebrate Christmas because it’s a Christian holiday. But I feel like the biggest issue around it, especially in terms of trans people, is acceptance.
What can people expect from the day?
Li: It’s going to be fab! It’s going to be a small and private event. It’s free because we managed to fundraise the money. It’s for trans people only. We’re going to have food, a short film screening, a clothes swap, a card-making workshop and a psychologist on-site giving support in case it’s needed.
What advice do you have for anyone who might be alone or not with their family during the Christmas period?
Li: Community, even if they don’t know anyone who is LGBTQ+, or trans specifically, it’s really important to feel a part of a group. There’s a lot of online communities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well – people that understand, people who are going through the same thing. I feel like it’s crucial during this time of year, especially as it’s cold and people feel down. It’s really important to not feel alone. even if it’s in online spaces
What other organisations do you like?
Li: COLOURS of Youth Festival, Tanya Compas is running Queer Black Christmas, Black Creators Matter, I really like their work. Also AZ magazine.
What’s in store for the future of Trans Winter Wonderland?
Li: I love running events and I can definitely say there will be more coming up in 2020. I do want to run it again next year but I want to run it with a little bit more structure, something that can accommodate more people. It’s basically done by me – it’s enby made, it been made by a non-binary person. My partner, who is also trans, has helped me a lot and my mum is collecting clothes donations for the clothes swap. That’s pretty much it – another trans friend is going to help out on the day. We’re a close team.
I would definitely appreciate more help next year!
Follow Li Benedetti on Twitter @libenedetti