The Museum of Transology

Of all the letters in the LGBTQ acronym, the ‘T’ is one that is quite often invisible (although the ‘B’ is also notoriously difficult to find too). The Museum of Transology, a pop-up museum at the London College of Fashion until 22nd April 2017, looks to address this. Trans issues have become much more visible recently, due to such high-profile trans figures as Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner but the history of the trans community – theirstory, transcestry- is one that the curators of the Museum of Transology feel has been erased from museums.

I agree that trans history, trans artefacts and objects have been missing from narratives, but museums are making strides to reverse this erasure. The LGBTQ Tours at the V&A are doing this in the capital, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery has a trail exploring the L, the G, the B and the T in the seaside city’s collection and not too long ago, National Museums Liverpool held a major exhibition about April Ashley.

The Museum of Transology, however, is a different type of museum. The stories it tells are much more personal, more everyday. The labels are handwritten; this is the history of the trans community as told by the trans community.

It is incredibly powerful.

"It's a boy balloon"
“It’s a boy balloon”

When I first saw this balloon dangling from the ceiling, I thought it was a commentary on how the gender a person presents at birth isn’t necessarily the right one. In a way, it is. It was a post-surgery pick-me-up from a friend, something to bring cheer whilst recovering. Reading this made me smile. On the topic of operations, “One’s trans-ness,” the museum tells is, “is not measured by the type or amount of surgical procedures embarked upon.”

The balloon is part of the collection that founded the Museum of Transology. As is…

Breast tissue preserved in formaldehyde
Breast tissue preserved in formaldehyde

It wouldn’t be a proper museum without things in jars.

I said earlier that the Museum of Transology is very much a personal museum – both the balloon and the breasts were gifted by the same person and are artefacts from the same operation.

Brighton is known as a haven for the LGBT community, and many of the objects on display had a connection to the seaside city. These are from a Trans Pride event the city hosted.

A selection of artefacts relation to Trans Pride in Brighton
A selection of artefacts relation to Trans Pride in Brighton

Several other objects, including train tickets, an earring and copies of G-Scene magazine all link the Museum of Transology to Brighton. The Museum of Transology asserts that “the collection needs a permanent home in a UK museum, where it can be cared for properly.” Perhaps Brighton could be a good fit?

The Museum of Transology is open until 22nd April 2017 – find it in the Fashion Space Gallery just off Oxford Street.

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