The Cis Penance workshop brings a small group of trans, queer, and gender non- conforming people together to collaboratively create new imaginaries of our life paths. Incorporating tech toys such as path-following robots and electroconductive ink, we work together to map out intangible systems, discussing the social and institutional barriers that we face, and the means that we use to overcome them. We look for unexpected results: reversals, whereby a barrier turns out to instead be a meaningful diversion; queerings of time, whereby deferred adulthood turns into “growing sideways”; and avenues for solidarity with people who went “off-path” for other reasons, such as disability or migration.
Cis Penance is an art-research project documenting and visualising transgender experiences of waiting, based on interviews and workshops carried out across the UK. The project’s core concern is that cisnormative social and bureaucratic systems have constructed and enforced a narrative of gender transition that harms transgender and other gender non-conforming people, even as these same systems attempt to integrate gender diversity into society and provide trans people with necessary healthcare services. This manifests most clearly in long waiting times for transgender healthcare and legal recognition, and stringent gatekeeping practices that further delay, and in some cases permanently bar, access to this care. Transitioning is treated as a dramatic and permanent physical intervention that must be delayed until deemed absolutely necessary – the main justification given for this, aside from austerity, is dire warnings of irreversible departure from heteronormative life paths, e.g. becoming unable to “start a family”.
About the Artists
Zoyander Street is an artist-researcher whose practice focuses on video games, but also involves other forms of media art, with a particular interest in queerness, affect, and alternate histories of technology. One focus of their art practice at the moment is "interactive portraits", or character-based video game- like pieces that document real-life interviews and allow audiences to participate as the interviewer. These works have attracted funding and residencies such as Trans Live Art in Dublin, Making Ways in Sheffield, and Creator Ikusei in Tokyo. They are one of the first 20 artists to be selected for the Freelands Arts Programme.
Jennifer Booth has lifelong experience working as an artist in marginalised communities, and has developed a unique methodology whereby public engagement itself is her sketchbook. A multidisciplinary artist with an anthropological and allegorist conceptual base, she utilises installation, video, and photographic media, organising and documenting exhibitions, public artwork, and interventions, and delivering education and engagement through client-focused, semi-structured mark-making. She works with organisations such as the Quad Derby, Children’s Media Conference, BFI, Grimm & Co, Connexions Youth Service, Heeley Development Trust, Sheffield University, and Sheffield Hallam University.