SPECTRUM: the Gender Project Backstory

On January 21st, 2017, 60,000 people took to the streets of Atlanta as part of the world-wide Women’s March. As local Atlanta organizing group Civic Dinners puts it, “Many women believed that 2016 was destined to be the year when the ultimate glass ceiling would shatter [with the election of Hillary Clinton]. Here we are in 2017, [and] misogyny and bigotry dominate national headlines”.   Through the year we have been shown more and more cases of violence towards woman as they finally come into the limelight.  The #MeToo movement has brought to light just how prevalent sexual assault and harassment is.

We live in a time in which our perception of gender is shifting. From women’s rights to the visibility of transgender and nonbinary individuals, we have seen the start of a massive cultural shift in our understanding of what gender means. We have also seen a powerful pushback against these changes. With multiple states proposing transgender bathroom bills and the President’s attempt to ban trans service members from the military, the rights of those whose gender expression challenges the social norms are under attack.  According to ovc.gov, “one in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.”  The Human Rights Campaign(HRC) reports that violence against transgender communities is higher than it has ever been. “Sadly, 2017 has already seen at least 21 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means.”, informs HRC.   This is unacceptable. We are waking to the urgency of uncovering the attitudes, beliefs, norms and systems that allow gender based discrimination to continue.  Our work on the Gender Project seeks to contribute to all of the efforts being made to uproot this injustice.  

This show is in honor of our beloved Jacosa Nao Kato, a founding member of MakeShift who dreamed of making a circus show about gender but suddenly passed in November of 2016.