Coming to the Sydney Opera House: “Trannie,” an exploit/hate musical-comedy

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — It’s one thing to share a laugh at our expense behind closed doors, but it’s an entirely different ballgame when one creates an entire theater production for the sole purpose of making money by utilizing the hatred or disdain some in our society have for transgender people and exploit it for the purpose of making money.

The production of “Trannie” is coming to the Sydney Opera House (yes, that iconic building). The following is a description of the production from the SOH website:

“It really is a hard-knock life for ten year old little orphan Fannie. His parents left him in a basket on the doorstep of the Sutherland Shire Children’s Orphanage with nothing but a bracelet and a bottle of Stoli. Now he is desperate to get his long-overdue gender reassignment surgery, but there’s so much standing in his way: including that boozy matron Miss Trannigan who has just been listed on the sex-offender registry, and is bitter from years of Logie losses. Thank God Fannie has a bunch of foul mouthed orphans and his/her trusty ex-sniffer dog to help him/her survive.”

Miss Trannigan? Sex-offender registry? The person who is behind this production is Trevor Ashley. We’re not likely going to stop him from making money exploiting us, but we can try to put a Shroud of Shame over the Sydney Opera House.

Switchboard: +61 2 9250 7111

Box office: +61 2 9250 7777

Tours: +61 2 9250 7250

Fax: +61 2 9251 3943

Fax International:+61 2 9251 3843

Mail: Sydney Opera House
GPO Box R239
Royal Exchange
Sydney NSW 1225

Trevor Ashley in Trannie – An Adults Only Panto.

(Thanks to Indi Kelley Edwards for the tip!)

While this photo has been photoshopped, it is factually correct.


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39 replies

  1. Can someone set up and link a petition against this? That way, we could get support from around the world in a way that’s convenient for people, and would have a hell of an impact. In other news, I doubt the opera house would go anywhere near a musical named “Fagg*t of the Opera”, so why is “Tr*nnie” deemed acceptable? From what I can tell, it’s basically a musical tribute to every negative stereotype about trans people. WOOO, INCITING TRANSPHOBIC VIOLENCE THROUGH SONG AND DANCE ROUTINES!

  2. Good idea. I just read a couple of reviews and wondered if they realised the irony of their words. Evidently Ashley will jump any hoop, tread on anyone’s face to make a few bucks. Then Ashley aims low… yup – he strikes me as being gutter-life

    “Highly entertaining, a deliciously campy romp… Ashley will jump through any hoop to keep you entertained.”
    Herald Sun (Fat Swan)

    “Ashley and Scott aim low for their laughs, seldom straying above the waist”
    The Sydney Morning Herald

  3. This is looks like total tasteless trash from. Who wrote this? Felicia from Priscilla? Let’s a have a black one while we’re at it and call it Nigger. And Jewish one and call it Kyke. What an immature, degrading and potential dangerous thing to put out there. Pathetic.

  4. Maybe this highlghts, again, a failure under the trans umbrella. Trevor seems to have made a career for himself as a fairly outrageous drag artist. And this is certainly far from the first time i’ve encountered such types currying to cis prejudice in an attempt to make a fast buck.

    Not sure where that takes us, rhetorically or any other wise, beyond the fact that within other minority communities, there don’t really appear to be quite such divisive tendencies…or where they are, they are very very clearly out on a limb.

    Whereas this? We-ell, having got close, journalistically, to some real trans kids, it doesn’t feel like comic material much/at all…

    jane x

    • I agree, Jane. This shows a complete disconnect of the “T”, from the “LGB” umbrella. I have seen that some gays don’t really get what it means to be transsexual. The thought that we (trans women) are just “really, really, REALLY” gay guys come to mind.

  5. I’m becoming less and less a fan of Australia… what is happening over there?? Shame on you who endorce this! Australia needs to do something positive for the LGBT community and fast…

    • … Maybe u should do something positive for your own countries GBLT community instead of worrying about mine which you obviously know nothing about & really shouldn’t concern you at all..We are all fine over here & would rather you keep your uneducated opinion to yourself.
      Trevor Ashley is a talented, highly acclaimed musical theater performer who is respected and respects the GBLT community which if u had bothered to research would know.
      Google Carlotta, Les Girls, Simone & Monique’s Playgirls, Priscilla Queen of the Desert & a current tv show called I Will Survive ( )

      • No Vickie, things are not ‘fine’ over here. Transphobia is systemic in Australian politics, culture and society. As an Australian I am glad that other people in other countries are prepared to lend a helping hand. If you must voice your opinion please do so only for yourself. Please do not be so arrogant as to assume to be able to speak on my behalf.

  6. The write-up seems to suggest that paedophilia is considered a suitable basis for humour in this production too…

  7. I’ve written to the Opera House directly. Here’s their contact page

  8. Thanks Jane, I have done the same. Disgusted doesn’t even BEGIN to cover it.

  9. @Thia.I think that’s possibly slightly unfair comment (the paedophile jibe) in the sense that its a pretty natural direction to take given the pedigree of the original combined with the nature of the humour being attempted here. Let’s try to deconstruct…

    The original plot of Annie was always a tad dodgy given our current concerns over paedophilia and the Daddy Warbucks role would, if played straight, be very suspect nowadays. So if you’re doing the sort of “let’s take the piss no matter what”approach that this work seems to, that’snatural.

    What i think IS cheap is that there is no obvious reason to transpose this into any sort of trans frame of reference at all, beyond the fact that the original is called Annie, so allowing for truly juvenile humour about Trannies and Fannies.

    Its the sort of humour that goes: oh…these two words are similar, let’s make a joke, rather than looking for anything more interesting and structural. Like…if you wanted to write a comedy that would touch the hearts of the LGBT community, what’s wrong with playing around with the themes in Shakespeare’s”As you like it”, which includes cross-dressing, and some truly awesome lesbian/gay confusion.

    Nah…this is shoddy work…but the paedophile bit is possibly the least of its worries…

    jane x

    • ‘Jibe’ Jane? I think that’s an unfair attempt to diminish something that’s an entirely valid observation. Yes, the original, seen in today’s light, might arouse a hint of suspicion and yes, in that, you’ve managed to hit on what is obviously the inspiration for the escalation of this theme.

      Now, either paedophilia is something we can mine for it’s rich vein of comedic potential; without a second thought for the young lives it blights and destroys, or for the extremely volatile public mood that tends to attach to the subject; or it’s something we really don’t want to take too many risks with.

      With me so far? It’s pretty obvious that paedophilia IS being played for laughs here – it’s should also be pretty obvious that, in the public psyche; while it’s one thing to take the piss out of trans people, paedophilia is anything but a joking matter. I’m simply pointing out there’s a trump card here – and one that with a little imagination can be played in a number of ways.

      Of course, this also has the potential to worsen the downside for us. If the equation is made that “Drag Queens = Trans” and “Drag Queens = Paedophiles” then “Trans = Paedophiles”; then that’s bad, very bad!

      And yes, WE know that in total, this heap of crap (“shoddy work” is really overgenerous of you, in my opinion!) is based far more on the denigration of our kind than it is on it’s twisted sense of humour about paedophilia. Yes, we want to educate the uninformed cis masses that that’s the real calumny here – but the fact is that they’re much more primed to reach for their pitchforks and firebrands over the other issue. The debate needs to be about how we handle that, not about how we forget it’s there!

  10. Im not offended & think the show sounds fabulous .
    You people really need to lighten up & get a grip on reality & then maybe things might change a bit for you.
    Im 21yrs post-op from Australia & have never had or know of any other trans who has had the problems alot of you seem to have. Throwing your gender in ppls faces isnt going to help the cause and nobody gets respect if they don’t respect themselves ..
    You want people to accept you & not pre judge but you have just done that with your comments about this show & sending complaints . Thats nuts..
    How does this show even effect any of you ?
    Are any of you even from Australia or know who Trevor Ashley is?
    The show is on at The Sydney Opera House for christs sake not some back block theatre. & im a offended that some of you are offended .
    Stop thinking ur the voice of all transgendered & everything with the word tran in it is an attack on you..
    You are expecting 2 much from ppl and am guessing that not many of u are very passable either.You may live as a female, have had SRS & your birth certificate changed but if u still look masculine you can’t expect life to be all roses. If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck then its a duck….

    • We had this discussion on Facebook Vickie. If you want to be forever called a “tranny” that’s your problem, and you are clearly out of date.
      By the same token, you stop thinking you’re the voice or reason. Again, you wave around “post op” like it’s some kind of competition and that it some how makes you better than everyone who isn’t. What, do you go around showing your genitals to strangers do you? To “prove” to Cis folks your legitimacy? Your bullshit assertions are offensive in the extreme for people that don’t live in the Doris Day magical world you seem to. There are all sorts of awesome genderqueer individuals out there. Your words show no respect. Speaking of respect. Grip on reality? What your small minded, limited and out of date concept? You are an apologist and cap doffer to all those who would otherwise call you a freak and not a real woman. (Oh but you’ve had SRS so you must! Be!) The show affects all of us *Sweetheart* because these things don’t just exist in an untouchable bubble, they are words that get passed around society and used against people. As has been mentioned numerous times, would you be okay with a show called Nigger? Or Faggot? Grow some goddam brain cells and realise that this kind of cheap, tawdry crap, coming from a Cisgender guy with no idea of Trans issues, but instead a resume full of Drag, is no different to someone doing blackface.

    • Vickie, I am a post op transwoman from Australia and I find your words offensive. I also find this play to be offensive. Your ‘quacking’ is part of the reason Australian transwomen are treated so appallingly by cis males like Mr Ashley.

  11. I’ve written to Trevor Ashley via his FB page to ask him to give an account of the reasoning behind the show. I’m so aghast that I question if my initial reaction was wrong. Surely no one can stage a show this bad? Can they? I mean it is 2012 or did we lose a century? If he replies I’ll post it here or somewhere for your attention. I’m not in favour of lynchings and I’m biting back a lot of anger – don’t get me wrong! BTW there are two Jane’s posting!

  12. artemis ppl like u arnt happy unless u have something to whinge about.If things are that bad for you in the real world being trans, why continue? Things arnt going to get easier for you . The shit u carry on with causes this Transphobia thing. Ppl arnt scared of u , well they may be in daylight. You just want to play the victim & would rather blame ppls ignorance for your problems instead of looking in the mirror and realizing that unless u wear a burqa people will know ur a bloke

    • You know nothing about me. My life is great, and probably a lot more real than yours! You are a fool, and a presumptuous one at that. It’s not about people being scared of “me.” You still don’t get it do you? (oh they may be in the daylight!! chuckle chuckle! oh I must be so ugly and not *pass* like you! cos you’re a *real* woman). I’m a lot younger than you and I’d easily wager far prettier, you can check out my responses on the FB page and see, not that it even *matters.* Like any pathetic point scoring elitist, you’ve taken to making personal attacks because your argument isn’t worth shit. Not only are you trivial but you can’t spell, and seem to be racist on top of it. How pathetic. It’s not about me you elitist, point scoring windbag, it’s about society as a whole. I don’t care about what people look like. Obviously you do. You’re such a cap doffing bowing and scraping Cis pleaser that it is pathetic. I’m talking about everyone, *including you* but you don’t get that. Again, if you were black, would you be cool with a musical named Nigger? Made by a white person? Or if you were a cis gay guy would you be cool with a musical named Faggot? It’s about public perception at large. It’s not about you or me. Stop this pathetic bickering, I have no interest in it. And for god’s sake grow up and have some respect for other people in your community instead of trying to compete with everyone all the time.

      • Look I totally get where ur coming from & what u are wanting to achieve but alot of you are 2 easily offended by any word with Trans in it & have made a way bigger deal out of this show than what it is. I’m really not a heartless bitch & know how u all feel but Trevor ashley isn’t the one we all have problems with. He is 100% on our side & it never crossed my mind for 1 sec that this show was in any way an insult to any transgendered or an exploit for $$$..I wouldn’t put up with anybody I thought was putting my gender down & would fight those ppl with u guys.
        I do get it & I know the shit we go thru & how it hurts. The only reason ive said prior I was 21yrs post wasn’t to brag , it was so u would know Ive been thru alot of shit too but got thru it.
        I was 13 when I told my folks I was trans & my nrl football player father gave me 2 the circus to toughen me up.
        These transphobic people.that give you a hard time, why r u wasting ur time caring so much about changing & educating them.? They arnt going to change so why bother.U achieve more saying and doing nothing with those types. There is no Transphobia. There are just lots of people in the world who are deadshits & will try and make life hard for everyone so they feel better about their piss-ant exsistance..
        The majority of guys that give trans a hard time only do so in a group & its usually because they have something to hide. people who judge others rely on guilt to come to their conclusion…..

  13. Just had this reply from the Opera House:

    Dear Jane
    Thank you for your email and for taking the time to write to us of your concerns.

    The title “TrAnnie” is a play on words. It is a play on the musical Annie and combines the letters of Trevor’s name into the title. It is also a play on the fact that the central character is transsexual.

    The show, while being a comedy, shows the transgender character in a positive light and hopes to encourage more understanding of the transgender community.

    Trevor Ashley said, “Although I appreciate that the word may brush some transgendered people up the wrong way, the intent is not to harm, but take the sting out of what I’m sure could be a painful word for some. Being a part of the GLBTQI community for many years, we are people who can reclaim words that have been used in harmful ways towards us in the past.”

    We apologise the title of this performance has caused you offence.

    Kind regards, Paula

    Paula Giokaris
    Head Of Patron Services
    T 02 9250 7188 M 0413 093 771

    Good of them to reply, I look forward to hearing back from the man himself as this is just publicity-speak.
    And guys – keep your spiteful vitriol to yourselves: there’s enough hate in the world without having it here too…only saying

    Jane (UK)

  14. Yes. I’m not the Jane from the UK who has contacted the SOH…on the other hand, i might drop them a line soon, at which point it will get very confusing.

    jane x

  15. It’s not just the title that is offensive . . . there’s this, from the description of the musical:

    “. . . including that boozy matron Miss Trannigan who has just been listed on the sex-offender registry,”

    At least we’re being heard, but hitting them in their pocketbook is where it counts the most.

  16. I was in a rush to post that letter earlier: not surprised it is cut n paste.
    Coming back to the content, it still just doesn’t wash. How can a parody of transgendered people help? There is no doubt it IS parody when you see that clown face used for the publicity: what does this do except parody? The general public is not familiar with issues in the same way that LGBT people are, so all it is going to do is reinforce the stereotype. As for ‘taking the sting’ out the subject – for who? Not us, no it takes the sting out of any guilt the general public might have felt by laughing: “Oh trannies – fucking laugh they are mate.”
    Ashley claims to be part of the LGBT community but this is a case of familiarity breeding contempt: he has clearly lost any perspective. This is not the right time for an adult transexual pantomime.
    The Nigger comparison fits perfectly here: we did not chose to be TG, we are. Those old shows were rightly banned and for the same reasons, so should this. How could there be a ‘good’ Nigger show?

  17. [comments deleted by moderator — insulting everyone for disagreeing with you isn’t civil discourse.]

    • [Sally, I deleted your comments because we really do not want question if somebody is trans or not. Most of your comment was aimed at the previous poster which I just deleted so it is no longer needed. Thanks.]

      • u arnt very intuitive are you Sally? I am not involved in the gay scene & live a very normal and successful life . I just get pissed off with all the PC crap some of you go on with so u can blame everyone else for your problems . Freaks !

  18. Happened to visit the Opera house site and notice this youTube

    and that the show is now called “Trashley”
    A very minor concession but I don’t really want to reignite all this bile venting – this is just for your information

  19. I seldom drop remarks, but after looking at a few of the comments on this page Coming to the Sydney Opera House: Trannie,
    an exploit/hate musical-comedy LEXIE CANNES STATE
    OF TRANS. I do have some questions for you if you tend
    not to mind. Could it be just me or do some of these remarks look as if they are left by
    brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional social sites, I would like
    to keep up with everything new you have to post. Would you list of all of all your social community pages
    like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or
    twitter feed?

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