Librarians James Hudson, Julian Bernard and Greta Jursys write on the forward-pushing goings-on of the Small Trans Library Dublin
Photos by David McEneaney
Founded in 2018 as the offshoot of a Dublin Fringe project, the Small Trans Library is an all-trans collective of artists and organisers working to bring Ireland a lending library of over 500 trans- and queer-authored books, a host of trans-led events open alternately to Dublin’s trans community and to the public at large, and a radical mutual aid fund which has redistributed over €40,000 over the last three years.
The political mission of the library is at once simple and complicated: to foster community in a way that builds power. As the far right makes rapid gains in strength and mobilisation, this has never been more critical. But it can’t end there – as queer people, we know that the burden of fighting for change falls on our shoulders. But in order to fight, we have to be able to live, and live well.
Liberation does not come easily, or quickly, and it especially does not come without sustainable movements; that is, ones that incorporate joy. The Library does this via music and art, academics, and physical culture, all bolstered by a mutual aid fund which provides a buffer from the worst effects of the housing crisis and rising cost of living. Any profile of the Library should start with this: if you are a trans person on the island of Ireland, and you are struggling, we will give you money, minimal questions asked. This is the backbone of the Library. In order to make use of the fund, drop us an email or DM and a librarian will instruct you on the process.
As live events go, we began our musical journey in the early days of 2020 – a mere breath before the pandemic – with Big Trans Beats featuring DJs FiveSeven, Capricorn, Syn and Roo Honeychild at the dearly departed Jigsaw Social Centre. As the lockdown eased, we discovered a trans and queer community more desperate than ever for a dance!
In early 2022, together with Black Queer Book Club and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, we launched LUXURY: an evening of food, drinks and dancing to raise funds for Creme de la Creme House of Fame Foundation’s trans safe house in Imo State, Nigeria, with tunes provided by the unparalleled UK-based DJ GawdX. This fundraiser is still going; you can learn more and donate through our website.
In 2023, as the tenor of celebration in the city rises, and the heat of summer comes on, we have been doubling down, working with big names such as music label DIAxDEM, Cait, Bull Horris, NaoiseFalafel and many more. Yet our efforts have not been limited to the club. From an EP Launch Party Fundraiser with Mark, to trad sessions, to an upcoming punk gig with Dublin and Belfast outfits Touch Excellent and Problem Patterns, as part of this summer’s Transfusion Festival.
Our next goal is to extend the party out across the country! Hot off the heels of running a host of events including céilí lessons and disco coffee mornings across Sligo and Leitrim, we are eager to expand our reach north and south of the country.
Other Library events have ranged across artistic and cultural forms, with our longest-running and most consistent being the Small Trans Film Club. Since November 2022, the Library has hosted a free monthly film club and screened over 30 trans films in a mix of feature presentations and short film blocks with themes like trans and GNC friendship, musical performance, and trans parenthood.
Since the majority of working trans filmmakers are making short films – either by choice or due to lack of resources – the Small Trans Film Club is an opportunity for the average trans person to connect with trans filmmaking in a way you’ll rarely see it on the screen. Our screenings are directed exclusively at a trans audience, avoiding ‘Trans 101’ films in favour of films that are fun, new, weird, and just for us. For a taste, come to our shorts showcase, The Pink Stripe: Trans Sex On Screen in the IFI on June 27th for a celebration of trans intimacy and sexuality!
The Library’s offerings don’t just stop there. Our literary events include book clubs, book launches, reading groups, and academic seminars and workshops, and our range of physical events has encompassed sea swims, self-defence classes, and skateboarding sessions.
But all of our events are ultimately by and for the trans community. So if you have an idea for an event – musical, cinematic, literary, physical, academic, or otherwise – drop us an email or a DM! And if you are a cis ally, straight or otherwise, who would like to donate, support, or work with us, we’d love to hear from you.
The aim of the Small Trans Library is to cultivate a trans-led cultural scene in Dublin that is as brilliant and varied as the community itself – as a library, we may be small, but our project is immense: in the words of Connolly, we only want the earth. And we’re just getting started.