‘We’re not hiding’: Trans Voices Cabaret debuts in Minneapolis

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Members of the Minneapolis Trans Voices Cabaret ahead of their performance. Ticket prices are on a sliding scale. Masks are required at all performances.
Courtesy photo

When Hal Sansone joins a local production, chances are, he’s the only transgender person in the room. That will change with the Minneapolis Trans Voices Cabaret. 

The national Trans Voices Cabaret started in 2017 in New York City. The idea was that other cities could produce independent versions, using the same name, and showcase transgender people in their city through theater. 

Sansone knew he had to bring it to Minneapolis, so the seed was planted. Months later, the Minneapolis Trans Voices Cabaret is nearing its debut. Everyone involved in the show, from the actors and technical crew to the vendors selling items beforehand, is transgender or nonbinary.

This was, of course, intentional, said Sansone, who is directing, producing and performing.

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“What’s really important to me as the director was this tapestry of trans voices — we’re not all one kind of person. We are not all one monolith,” he said.

Performances will run Saturday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Monday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis.

There will be classics from “Guys and Dolls,” “Newsies” and “Hairspray,” as well as original songs and Disney features. Teeny Huber, marketing manager and performer, will be singing “Bet on It” from “High School Musical Two.”

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“Doing something like this … we’re not hiding the trans voices,” Director Hal Sansone said.
Courtesy image

“There are going to be songs that make you think, songs that make you smile, songs that will make you cry, songs that will make you laugh — it’s going to be a lot of different emotions within a two-hour period,” Huber said. “There’s going to be people that will come in who maybe aren’t familiar with trans people and I’m hoping they go back to their car and recognize the deep humanity that is the trans community.” 

While Sansone said he wants it to be clear, the show was made by trans people, for trans people, but everyone is welcome to the all-ages performance. It’s a part of allyship he says, something that is even more important considering Minnesota’s efforts to become a trans refugee state. 

On April 27, Gov. Tim Walz signed two bills into law around LGBTQ+ rights, one banning conversion therapy for youth and vulnerable adults, and two, protecting gender-affirming and reproductive health care for patients and providers. 

Minnesota is surrounded by states that have banned, or made it harder, for providers to give care to LGBTQ+ patients, specifically young transgender people. According to the Associated Press, at least 22 states have enacted laws banning or restricting gender-affirming care for minors. 

A person talks and raises their hand
Director, producer and performer Hal Sansone at a rehearsal for the Trans Voices Cabaret in Minneapolis.
Courtesy photo

Overall, 591 “anti-trans” bills have been introduced in the country this year. The Trans Legislation Tracker said 85 have passed, 129 have failed and 377 are still active.

Sansone said the current political climate impacts the work of the show. 

“Doing something like this … we’re not hiding the trans voices,” he said. “We’re getting on stage, we’re commanding attention in a public way. And that is important when we have trans people from other states fleeing to Minnesota like hey, we don’t hide here. We’re going to be out.”

Sandbox Theatre is producing Minneapolis Trans Voices Cabaret and funding was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

The Sunday 7 p.m. show will have ASL interpretation and live streaming. Masks are required for all shows. Tickets are on a sliding scale. Free tickets are available for the transgender community by emailing transvoicescabmpls@gmail.com.

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment‘s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.