Meet the trans performance artist who’s asking you to stop portraying her as a victim


    Meet the trans performance artist who's asking you to stop portraying her as a victim
    (Picture: Lee Baxter)

    Edinburgh Fringe performer Kate O’Donnell may be 52, but that isn’t going to stop her bringing her first smash hit play as a transgender woman to the showcase.

    You’ve Changed, which is an autobiographical show set in the 30s, looks back at the fourteen years since O’Donnell transitioned.

    Why has no one written a powerful letter on Instagram about loving this curvy house?

    The show intends to joyously encapsulates the performer’s celebratory journey – and celebratory is the right word.

    ‘Even though it was difficult, a lot of the time when the story of a transition is told, the response is “ooh, you’ve gone through so much hardship”,’ the performer told

    ‘And yes, it has been difficult, but there’s a lot about trans communities to celebrate, to be positive about.

    ‘As trans people have gathered a voice, I’ve gathered my voice.

    ‘I don’t want to have the same conversations I’ve had for fourteen years. I want people to move on from those. The show makes the audience to do a bit of work. I want to ask the audience whether they’ve changed.’

    Meet the trans performance artist who's asking you to stop portraying her as a victim
    (Picture: Lee Baxter)

    Even though 14 years ago may feel relatively recently (aka the year that The OC came into our lives), O’Donnell said that transitioning was still ‘quite underground.’

    ‘I transitioned in 2003, but it felt more like the 1930s, hence the reason why the play is set during that time period,’ says Kate.

    ‘No-one had a clue,’ she says.

    ‘It was quite underground, and things were quite hidden. The internet was around but it wasn’t quite around. There isn’t a lot of help.’

    ‘Like the scene, I was underground and quiet myself.’

    In order to diversify the scene and offer trans people more acting roles, Kate has established Trans Creative, the first trans-led theatre company in England.

    ‘If I go for auditions, the only roles available for me are as a sex worker or a drug addict,’ said Kate.

    ‘What people fail to realise is that being trans can also be incidental.’

    As Kate transitioned later on in life, she found herself in the centre of a progressing community which allowed her to give up her day job and go into performing full-time.

    ‘I came back to performing to create work for trans people. I did that as I entered my fifties. I gave up my job, I feel so positive about it. There’s a need. That’s a sign of the times. I’m doing it confidently and I’m supported to do that.’

    Meet the trans performance artist who's asking you to stop portraying her as a victim
    (Picture: Lee Baxter)

    Kate says that times are still changing when it comes to trans rights, and hopes that those transitioning today won’t feel the need to apologise.

    ‘I’m excited for people transitioning now. Get on board with the creativity. There are so many brilliant support groups out there now. The trans scene is so vibrant, and now we even have our own Trans Pride.’

    ‘If I transitioned again, I’d be a bit more honest. We don’t need to apologise. The more trans people can accept what is happening to them, and ask for help, the better.’

    ‘And my best advice, worry less about other people, and worry about yourself,’ she advises.

    Discussing the recent surge in trans rights and accessibility, Kate says that the time is nigh for transgender people to achieve equal rights.

    ‘We’re so hot right now,’ laughs Kate.

    ‘This is as good as it’s ever been, so we have to face the music and dance.’

    Kate’s show is part of the Northern Stage at Summerhall programme at the Fringe, and will run until 26th August. Tickets can be purchased here.

    MORE: Transgender men are laid bare in beautiful photoset dubbed ‘Work in Progress’

    MORE: Transgender doll has been made to teach children about gender identity