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Understanding the trans experience through writing

Friday 5 November 2021

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Notions concerning gender have become some of the most important literary themes of the early 21st century. But how exactly do gender concepts play into literature? This panel seeks to explore writing about the trans experience, including who exactly gets to write these stories and the stories for trans audiences compared to trans experiences for cis gendered readers. What does it mean to write personal experience vs simply being the writer? What does it look like to write about trans and non-binary characters without the tragedy? What comes next?

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Moderator - Axel-Nathaniel Rose is a writer and editorfrom the Blue Mountains. He is a proud queer and transgender man, and is currently undertaking a Ph.D in Creative Writing at UNSW, researching the use of blogging as a tool of self-education and -creation for queer people. His short stories, poetry, and digital fiction have been published in Tharunka and UNSWeetened, and his plays PINK (2019) and Like a Lonely House (2021) have been performed by the UNSW Theatrical Society. His novella, ‘Stars, Hide Your Fires’, was published in AESTHETIC: A Dark Academia Anthology (2021). His works explore queer history, social media, mental illness, and disability, and he is interested in exploring the line between poetry and prose. He is a passionate advocate for arts education, and he believes that a crucial part of activism is the stories that we tell. He is the 2021 coordinator of UNSWeetened Literary Journal.


Cadance Bell (she/her) Cadance Bell is an author and a writer/producer/director of film & TV. Her debut memoir The All of It: A Bogan Rhapsody will be released through Penguin Random House publishing in 2022. Her screen credits include The Rainbow Passage for Network Ten and Screen Australia and Who I Am, the world’s first documentary exploring the intersection of gender diversity and neurodivergence. It will be released in 2022 on a major streaming platform. Cady seeks to unmake prejudice through LGTBQIA+ inclusive storytelling and has produced & directed dozens of short films, music videos & TVCs. She was a successful graduate of the 2020 PopLabs Social Impact incubator. A popular speaker, Cady performs at events like Queerstories and the Antidote festival at the Sydney Opera House and contributes articles for newspapers like The Guardian. Cady likes Pokemon Go and short walks to the fridge. She is openly transgender.


Sam Elkin (he/they) is a trans masculine writer and radio maker living on unceded Wurundjeri lands. Sam was a 2020 Wheeler Centre Next Chapter fellow, and his essays have been published in Overland, Kill Your Darlings and the Griffith Review. In 2021, Sam received an Australian Society of Authors Mentorship, and he is currently working on a memoir.  He is a co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Nothing to Hide: Voices of Trans and Gender Diverse Australia, which will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2022.

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Jo Bragg is an Aotearoa (New Zealand) born visual artist, writer and researcher currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). Bragg is the original co-founder of MEANWHILE Gallery in Wellington (NZ) and recently completed an MFA thesis by Research focusing on Gender and Queer Art Theory through Monash University, Naarm (AU).


Mika Benesh is an artist / writer / designer working on unceded Gadigal and Dharug Country. Broadly speaking, they trace relationships between cultural institutions, spirituality & theology, archives, queer / trans lives & movements, and white supremacy. Across their practice, Mika is interested in catching a small hold of many Jewish futures. As well as critiquing cultural institutions and strategising towards genuine trans-affirmating practices in the arts, his work particularly draws upon and cultivates a body of transgender Jewish knowledge and practices. Mika’s writing has been published by Runway Journal, New Voices Magazine, the National Association for the Visual Arts, and The Lifted Brow. Recently, they were a New Voices Fellow in partnership with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

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