A benefit for the Kentucky Health Justice Network (KHJN) will give Louisvillians the chance to see three great standup comics, check out excellent punk rock and get a chance to whack a presidential-inspired piñata on Saturday, June 2.
KHJN began as a grassroots nonprofit committed to making sure women have access to abortions, even if their finances or new laws make it more difficult for them to do so. But just last month, the group expanded to another social justice arena of health care: trans health advocacy.
Louisville-based comedian Kate Sedgwick is throwing “TransPose,” a benefit for KHJN, so Insider caught up with Sedgwick to talk about the evening and how the comedian (who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they”) got involved with the grassroots nonprofit.
“They launched the trans advocacy in May, and so this was a perfect opportunity. … There is a whole community of people who want to fund abortion, and they just had a big fundraiser, but this part of the KHJN still really needs to be funded,” Sedgwick says.
“TransPose” isn’t the first benefit for KHJN Sedgwick has thrown.
“A friend of mine worked on the abortion fund side, so I did a fundraiser a couple of years ago, and we called it ‘The Queers of Comedy,’ ” Sedgwick says.
Sedgwick is a vocal supporter of several progressive political issues, including racial justice, abortion access and support for the LGBTQ community. If their politics weren’t enough to get them involved with KHJN, they are also genderqueer, having come out in the last few years.
As a comedian, Sedgwick used the stage to help ease them into coming out by creating a masculine character named Frank.
“The character was super sexist, and people in the audience were very uncomfortable, and then the news passed via whispers that I was in drag, and eventually the whole audience was on my side,” Sedgwick says.
Performing standup is only half of Sedgwick’s hustle — they’re a booker and showrunner in the comedy scene as well. They bring in out-of-town acts, work with local talent and run an open-mic night. It was that hustle that led to Sedgwick’s first fundraising effort.
Back in 2016, progressive Memphis-based comics Lisa Michaels and Katrina Coleman were coming to town. Sedgwick was trying to organize an event for them and stumbled across the idea of helping out KHJN. Cut to 2018, when Michaels and Coleman wanted to return.
“They were looking for a Louisville date, and our last event was so successful as a fundraiser, so when they said they wanted to come up again, I said, ‘Let’s do another fundraiser.’”
Saturday’s bill is made up of mostly trans and queer performers, which Sedgwick says is important.
“I wanted this to be a trans-specific event … a lot of times you’ll see, like, a benefit for Planned Parenthood or something that is ostensibly a majority women’s health issue, and almost every performer on the lineup is a guy.”
In addition to Sedgwick being genderqueer, Michaels is a trans woman, Coleman is nonbinary, and Bathroom Laws, the dark punk, deathrock band closing out the evening, describes themselves as “three bitter, queer, transgender people and a drummer.”
For Bathroom Laws, the timing of the benefit is somewhat serendipitous, as they are releasing a new cassette, “Pyss in Peace.” The band is basically treating the benefit as an album release show, according to guitarist Radet 5.
In addition to catching comedy and punk rock, attendees will be treated to some rad party games, complete with prizes provided by local artists.
“There’ll be plenty of time for hanging out and shenanigans and games,” Sedgwick said. “We’re gonna have a Trump piñata and privilege bingo. … Those should be fun.”
Despite careful planning, Sedgwick had a big curveball thrown in the eleventh hour — the venue, The Cure Lounge, closed in mid-May. Luckily, the Tim Northern Comedy Festival helped “TransPose” find a home at Purrswaytions, a bar and venue in Schnitzelburg.
The comedy festival and the bar recognized the importance of “TransPose” and trans advocacy in the health care industry.
For trans folks, there are multiple barriers to receiving care, and while the financial barriers are huge, the personal and emotional barriers are just as daunting, according to Sedgwick, and KHJN offers to help trans people get over those barriers.
“Just going to doctor’s visits with trans people so they’re not alone as they try to advocate for themselves, like telling their gynecologist over and over, ‘No, it’s they, not she,’” Sedgwick said. “Finding trans-friendly physicians is a feat in and of itself … a lot of it is just emotionally exhausting for people who face violence and discrimination when they go to the doctor.”
“TransPose: A Benefit for The Kentucky Health Justice Network” will take place Saturday, June 2, from 8 p.m.-midnight. Purrswaytions is located at 2235 S. Preston St. Admission is $15, and it’s suggested to bring cash for the games.