The Corpse Project and Trans Bodies in Death

[Image description: a drawing of a person holding their skin open like a coat to reveal their skeleton]

CN: mentions of death

 

In recent weeks, The Corpse Project has worked with participants through Gendered Intelligence to explore the trans and non-binary body after death. We visited several sites in the death and burial industries and learned about the practical and bureaucratic aspects of dead bodies in the UK.

Trans people must constantly self-advocate in life — for those of us with the privilege to plan for our futures instead of just our immediate survival, there is always a worry for us that our corpses will not be respected in death. Living trans bodies are the site of so much violence. We want to ease the suffering of trans people in death, in the hopes that it will ease the worry of living trans people and show our society at large that trans people are deserving of respect.

Trans people are more likely to die young: we might be denied medical treatment, the long-term effects of HRT are under-studied and may well mean we die sooner, and we are more likely to kill ourselves. While the trans corpse is not by any means the most pressing trans rights issue, we absolutely deserve respect in death as in life—and there is no reason we cannot advocate for healthcare, housing, anti-assimilationism, AND dignified deaths.

Corpse-Project-TRANS
[Image description: a landscape flyer titled “A Transfesto” in purples, greens, pinks, and blues (to reflect the colors of the trans and genderqueer pride flags) with trans symbols, raised fists, and text (written below)]

As a group we created a “Transfesto” for respecting trans bodies in death to better help the living. My film interview and a quote (in part) is featured in The Independent. Here is the full text of the image above:

The Corpse Project worked with a group of from the trans community, through Gendered Intelligence. In life, trans people fight hard to their gender and their bodies and we wanted to know about the issues for them with the body in death. This statement is the result.

1. We want a massive social change which results in awareness of and respect for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.

ACTION 1: THE INDUSTRY

To investigate levels of awareness in the funeral service industry and the training it receives, so that we can test and create trans-friendly practice. For example, we want respect for chosen gender and name, regardless of the body’s appearance.

2. We want our names, pronouns and gender identity to be respected throughout — on our death certificates, during ceremonies and at any time our bodies are handled.

ACTION 2: THE PAPERWORK

To review and potentially campaign to change paper work and processes from a trans-inclusive perspective. For example, we want to remove unnecessary and invasive questions about gender. It is also important for some people that executors can have rights over next of kin and can control what happens to the body.

3. We want trans people to be able to make informed choices about what happens to their bodies after death.

ACTION 3: INFORMATION for the TRANS COMMUNITY

To put together an accessible resource pack that will detail information, legalities and the essential preparations every trans person should make. For example, how to make a low-cost will and who to make your executors, because this is crucial to your wishes being carried out.

Response from The Corpse Project: If invited, The Corpse Project would want to offer support to Gendered Intelligence and the group which wrote this Transfesto, to see it implemented.

All findings, released on June 30, are available on The Corpse Project’s website.

 

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