Meet the trans manicurist exchanging awareness for a free shape and polish



So you’ve seen a few episodes of Transparent and Orange Is The New Black, but what do you really know about trans men and women?

Charlie Craggs is a 23-year-old UK-based trans activist who believes the intimacy and relaxing atmosphere of a manicure is the perfect opportunity to educate and inspire people on trans issues. It all began as a university project for Craggs, while she was working towards a degree in creative direction while beginning to transition. This combination sparked her Nail Transphobia campaign to “fight transphobia fabulously” with a mobile nail salon. Clients who want to become more socially-aware are treated to a free manicure while Craggs discusses her transgender experience and further explains trans identities. She has even recruited other trans nail artists to host trans pop-ups at London Pride and the Royal Academy of Art, amongst other places, to spread awareness about transgender issues.

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“It’s bad nails for a good cause,” explains the untrained nail artist. Usually the clients receiving Craggs’ special treatment have never met a trans person and their perceptions are limited to sensationalized portrayal. She takes this opportunity to normalize transgenderism and bond on topics ranging from bad television to pop stars. Craggs believes it’s important that “they see I’m just a nice person like them.”

Despite the negative portrayals of transgender people in the media, she believes the media is still an indispensable tool to spreading trans acceptance. The same month Craggs came out, Laverne Cox got her hit television role and Paris Lees earned the title of the most influential LGBT journalist. “It was just amazing to finally hear inspirational stories,” explains Craggs, “It took me a long time to accept myself as transgender because there were no positive stories of transgender people in the media; the only time you would hear of one would be in an exploitative tabloid article or a trans person being made a spectacle of on Jerry Springer.”

“When you type in ‘transsexual,’ all that comes up is porn or the death rate, so it’s like, wow. Either I’ve got to choose to be a prostitute or be murdered, or be both.”

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Every 29 hours a trans woman is killed, which is crazy to me. I wanna do something about this. I wanna put up a fight.”

While trans women are starting to grace the covers of international magazines like Vanity Fair and become the focus of major films such as The Danish Girl, equality has not yet been realized. Craggs hopes to take Nail Transphobia from a one-woman project to talks, panels and self-defense classes involving more transgender women. For Charlie Craggs, this is more than an outreach project featuring nail art – it’s a movement of creating trans allies who can save lives.