Charlie Craggs: "Social media has diluted activism"
Nail Transphobia’s Charlie Craggs talks to Carrie Lyell about new web series The New Activists
We’re loving The New Activists, a topical HuffPost docu-series from the producers of Made In Chelsea featuring passionate young changemakers including DJ and model Munroe Bergdorf, disability campaigner Samantha Renke and Ditch The Label’s Liam Hackett. So we were delighted to sit down with one of the stars, straight-talking trans activist and founder of Nail Transphobia Charlie Craggs.
DIVA: What is The New Activists?
Charlie Craggs: The New Activists is a new HuffPost UK docu-reality series that follows me and four other young activists around as we campaign for the causes we are passionate about. The episodes go live every week day.
Why did you want to be involved?
I run the Nail Transphobia campaign which involves me travelling around the country with my pop-up nail salon to galleries, museums, festivals and unis. The exercise offers the public free manicures and a chance to sit down and have a chat with a trans person. It’s all about familiarising and humanising the whole trans thing for people who might not quite get it. I’ve been running it for four years and have painted thousands of people’s nails but the one-on-one nature of my medium means I can only speak to one person at a time while I do their nails. Therefore, I thought being a part of this series would be the perfect way of amplifying my message by doing what I do with Nail Transphobia but speaking to thousands of people at one time.
What does the word “activism” mean to you?
An activist is someone who campaigns to bring about political or social change. Although there’s only one definition of the word “activist”, there are many definitions, forms and mediums of “activism”. There’s your traditional activism – picketing, lobbying, marching etc., but there are also other less conventional but equally effective forms of activism, like my “fabulous activism” using nail art and conversation, or my friend Sarah Corbett’s “gentle activism”, which utilises craft. All forms of activism are valid, and needed, if we want to bring about political or social change.
Does social media make it easier or harder to be an activist?
Social media has been a game changer. It’s made it so much easier to spread your message and create new allies, but at the same time, I think social media has diluted activism, as there are some people who think using a hashtag makes them an ally or an activist. For example, getting your nails done by me and hashtagging a picture of your nails on Instagram with the hashtag #nailtransphobia doesn’t make you an ally, it’s what you do after I paint your nails, and after you post that hashtag on Instagram, that defines whether you are an ally.
How do you deal with trolls?
I don’t! They can’t troll me if I don’t let them *block*.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing young queer people today?
I don’t think there’s one central issue. That’s why we need all these forms of activism to tackle the myriad of issues queer people face today.
What is one thing DIVA readers can do today to change the world?
Changing the world by yourself is probably a bit ambitious. I certainly don’t think I’m changing the world, but I’m doing my bit to bring about change and if we all did our bit the world would change. My advice is to find a cause you’re passionate about and identify the skills you possess to aid your fight for that cause. I’m trans, so I’m naturally passionate about transphobia, and I can paint a fierce nail. I also have a big mouth – et voila, Nail Transphobia was born.
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