Classical Theatre is Trans

Back in Shakespeare’s day, theatre was already a hotbed of cultural rebellion—from the moment poor actors broke laws to dress as royals. Elizabethan politicians regularly denounced boys wearing dresses to play heroines, and later James I urged preachers to condemn the same crossdressing (on and off stage). Meanwhile, Shakespeare wrote plays filled with norm-challenging plots: Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew, Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and especially As You Like It, where Rosalind would have been a woman played by a boy dressed as a man pretending to be a woman. That is classical trans theatre.

Right now, cross-gender performance and transgender existence is being criminalized across the United States. Tennessee just passed a law that could easily be enforced to criminalize those classic Shakespeare plays we love so much. The truth is that transgressing gender roles and norms has always been part of theatrical tradition and to ban performative gender experimentation is to wound the heart of classical theatre.

We can protect trans rights right here in Washington State, so please urge your representatives to support:

  • Senate Bill 5028 which would allow trans people to seal records of their name changes
  • Senate Bill 5462 to promote an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum for public schools
  • Senate Bill 5599 which would allow shelters and other emergency centers to house teenagers seeking gender affirming care without mandatory parental reporting.
  • House Bill 1469 to provide protections for gender-affirming care 
  • Joining the state of Minnesota as a Trans Refuge State, where the rights of trans and gender nonconforming people will be protected no matter what happens in the future. 

Find your representatives here.

You can also support direct action for trans rights in Washington or get legislative updates through the following groups:

Gender Justice League

Lavender Rights Project

QLaw Foundation

Queer the Land

All art is inherently political, particularly in a time when human rights and the freedoms of existence and expression are treated as negotiable. They are not. Seattle Shakespeare explicitly and unequivocally stands with our queer, trans, and gender non-conforming artists, audience members, and storytellers, and honors their unique contributions to these classic stories and our world.