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Attitude Pride Awards: The trans activist winning hearts and minds one manicure at a time

Charlie Craggs and her pop-up nail salon Nail Transphobia are tackling transphobia up and down the country.

By Steve Brown

Charlie Craggs has been honoured with an Attitude Pride Award for her incredible activism, which has seen her travel up and down the country changing hearts and minds with her pop-up salon, Nail Transphobia.

When she was four, Charlie started verbalising the fact that she was trans by telling her mother that she ‘wanted to be a girl’ and prayed she would wake up the next morning as a girl.

It was during puberty that her body started changing, and she began to struggle with suicidal thoughts, depression and body dysmorphia.

“I really resented my femininity and my transness and I really tried my absolute best not to be trans,” she says.

“And I removed, like, all the parts of me I hated so all the feminine parts of me. I was 21 at the time and I looked in my mirror and I was like, dead behind my eyes.

“I’m going to kill myself, like, this is going to kill me. And I was like, I need to transition. I need to do this and I know it’s going to be hard, but like, transition. And if you can’t hack it, kill yourself.

“Which sounds really dark, but it’s the truth.”

Like many trans people, Charlie has suffered transphobia since her transition which made her a target for transphobic abuse.

She continues: “I would say a ‘Hail Mary’ before I left the house every single day, because I was just being attacked that much, like physically, verbally, sexually. 

“Like, I was having bricks thrown at me where I lived.”

After a night out with friends, Charlie was attacked at a bus stop after a man, who did not realise she was trans, started to flirt with her.

Fearing for her life, she told the man that she was trans and he – along with three other drunk men – started to become physically abusive. “He came up and grabbed my boobs,” she says.

“After it happened, no one even, like, asked if I was OK.”

This attack led Charlie to become an advocate for trans issues and created the pop-up nail salon, Nail Transphobia, which offers free manicures and through conversations try to dispel misconceptions about trans people.

“So usually the people sit down with me are quite wary at the start, stand-offish and a bit, ‘Ergh, I’m not sure about this.’ They might be calling me ‘he’, they might be asking rude questions,” she says.

“But, also, this is the perfect time to make those mistakes and to ask those wrong questions and say those wrong things because I can teach you in this safe space that is my salon.

“If you can’t feel my humanity when you are holding my hands and we’re talking and having a conversation and I’m looking into your eyes and your asking about my childhood and I’m telling you about how I was attacked.

“Like, if you can’t feel my humanity then, like, you’re a psychopath, but I can’t win you over, it’s not going to happen.”

Listen to Charlie’s story below: