A transgender woman is challenging Chicago’s definition of the female breast

The Washington Post 
by Meagan Flynn
November 29, 2018

 

The performance begins with Bea Sullivan-Knoff emerging on stage with a brown paper bag over her head. It says, on all four sides, “Touch Me.”

Sullivan-Knoff, a 26-year-old transgender performance artist in Chicago, appears fully nude, inviting the audience to objectify her, she said. It’s supposed to be ironic, a literal depiction of the way she and other transgender people feel when the government dictates the terms of their bodies: deeply vulnerable, sometimes terrified.

“There was something empowering about being able to do that and being fine at the end of it,” she told The Washington Post.

But in 2016, a venue where she was scheduled to perform called with disappointing news, Sullivan-Knoff said. She could neither perform fully nude nor, as Sullivan-Knoff proposed alternatively, only from the waist-up, because a Chicago ordinance prohibited it.

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