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Transgender activist Shakina Nayfack announces NC tour in response to HB2

by Kashif Stone

Transgender actress and activist Shakina Nayfack is bringing her upcoming Manifest Pussy Tour to the Tarheel state. Made possible through a crowd funding campaign on YouCaring.com, the tour is an oppositional response to North Carolina’s recent passage of HB2, better known as “The Bathroom Law,” and the message of exclusion it carries. With planned stops all across North Carolina, all funds raised at the shows will be donated to local LGBT organizations.

Originally from Southern California, Nayfack built a career as a performer, director, writer, producer and social activist. Civil disobedience has been rooted in her political and artistic identity since her teenage years. “I came out as gay when I was really young,” said Nayfack, “and I didn’t know what Trans was at the time. I was forced to live my life in retaliation to a community plagued by ignorance.” She stopped acting in college because she didn’t want to be seen on stage as a male. However, when she transitioned nearly 15 years later, she created her first solo show about her transitional journey as a way to educate her friends and colleagues. In 2015, Nayfack became the first transgendered woman to receive a Lilly Award recognizing her remarkable contributions to the American Theatre made by women. “I joke that I realized two dreams at once: I finally got to become a woman and an actress.”

Over the years, Nayfack has spent a lot of time fighting for non-discrimination policies in California and became disheartened when news of HB2 began to make headlines. “I think the biggest problem is that people are focusing on the bathroom component of the law and ignoring the larger issue of protection against discrimination,” said Nayfack. “If someone is fired from their job, kicked out of their apartment, or even bullied at school because they are LGBT, they no longer have protection under the state law. I think folks who support this bill are short sighted in their understanding of civil rights, social justice, and the Declaration of Independence.” Following the large response of celebrities cancelling shows and events across North Carolina, Nayfack felt it her duty to fill the empty space of those cancelled events with much needed transgendered representation and empowerment; it’s one of her many reasons for bringing her tour to a state in need of political and social justice.

Manifest Pussy is an original rock musical that tells the story of Nayfack’s gender transition. “The idea first came to me when I joked about going down to North Carolina to pee in all the wrong restrooms,” said Nayfack. The mission of the tour is to inspire and empower transgender people and their allies who are suffering from the ramifications of the HB2 law. Nayfack hopes the show will radiate joy and a positive sense of community during their time of struggle, and so far the odds have played in her favor. The response to the tour has been overwhelming. Along with traveling to eight different cities across North Carolina, Nayfack and her band are also staying at people’s houses throughout the state and being fed pot-lucks and cook-outs organized by supporters of the tour.

Remaining strong in her belief that HB2 is unconstitutional and unenforceable, Nayfack believes the law will be struck down by the courts. She also believes the law will be a source of historical embarrassment for generations to come. “The passage of HB2 is not only hurtful, but has much wider implications than most people realize,” said Nayfack. “I very much appreciate the vocal and quick actions taken by such people as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, and Stephen Schwartz and companies such as PayPal, Google, and the NBA, in their strength to stand up and speak out. I find my strength by bringing my story to the very place that my community has been excluded.”

Hoping to spread her message of civil quality for all, Nayfack wants her legacy to reflect that she is a badass and virtuosic performer, and that she never wavered from using her artistic work and social platform to advocate for the causes she wholeheartedly cares about. !

WANNA go?

The Manifest Pussy Tour comes to Greensboro on June 16 at The Crown at the Carolina Theater (310 S. Greene St.). The show will kick off at 8 pm. Tickets are $10, all taxes and fees included. The box office will be closed the night of the show, but tickets will be available at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at www.carolinatheatre.com.

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