A lot is written and broadcast about transgender people.

From the Cambridge University academic who was attacked by a charging stag to the Lancashire teacher who committed suicide, transgender people are often portrayed as victims with the term ‘sex swap’ used to headline news stories on them.

But New Yorker Paul Lucas is on a mission to change perceptions and selected Bridport as his starting point.

Paul devised Trans Scripts, a series of monologues similar to the Vagina Monologues, written to give a positive, empowering voice to trans people.

Trans Scripts is based upon Paul’s interviews with trans people on their struggle to feel comfortable in their own skin.

The interviews took Paul across the US, Europe, Cuba, Australia and India.

Paul said: “For the past three years, I have been interviewing transgender people, those whose gender identity or gender expression does not match their assigned sex at birth.

“This condition has been much in the news of late, in fact, my friend Laverne from Orange is the New Black became the first trans person to appear on the cover of Time magazine shortly before we arrived in Bridport.”

Trans Scripts debuted at the Lyric Theatre in Barrack Street, Bridport, in June, with seven actors travelling from all over the world to take part.

The tiny Dorset theatre was selected because Paul had struck up a friendship with its artistic director Niki McCretton when they met in Edinburgh in the late 90s.

Paul said: “When you’re in a big city you think that people in smaller areas are narrow minded.

“But wherever you go these issues are prevalent.”

Paul said he was ‘moved and surprised’ by the audience reaction in Dorset.

“Bridport is very much a ‘buy your tickets on the night’ kind of town, so by the first night, half an hour before show time, we still had no idea whether anyone would actually be coming to the show.

“But then they started streaming in. In fact, we had to add a few more chairs at the back to accommodate the crowd!

“The audience settled in, the lights came down, and from the first line that was spoken, it was apparent that the audience was “with us.”

“Their attention was fully engaged by the material, which is, by terms, surprising and dense, fascinating and universal, and funny and painful.

“But it is certainly not easy stuff. Yet there they sat, an audience of people far from London, engaging with challenging material and loving it.”

Question and answer sessions were held after both Bridport performances.

Paul said: “This audience wasn’t going anywhere. Other than two people, everyone was in for the long haul, asking intelligent questions and offering fascinating insights and personal anecdotes.

“After about 45 minutes, we took our last question, but the one-on-one questions and discussions continued in the bar.

“I learned a tremendous amount from these sessions, but I was also moved and surprised at how this issue had had a personal effect on so many and how it opened the eyes of the uninitiated so widely.”

The positive experience in Bridport buoyed the cast and crew as they took Trans Scripts to The Actors Centre and Upstairs at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End.

Paul also spent time in London meeting with directors, producers and theatres who are interested in the show.

Trans Scripts will eventually become a fully staged production in Adelaide, Australia, in November and plans are afoot for a New York reading later in the year.

Now back in New York, Paul said: “I hope to return to the Lyric in the wonderful town of Bridport, to share the finished project with the people who supported me from the beginning.”

Niki McCretton, artistic director at the Lyric, said she is delighted that Bridport helped launch Trans Scripts’ success.

She said: “It was wonderful to have such a talented team of international artists in Bridport to stage Transcripts for the first time here at the Lyric.

“To see inside the lives of the transgender was both fascinating and challenging and the audiences that came to the performances expressed how much they had enjoyed the play and were very keen to talk with the actors, writer and director afterwards.

“We hope to be able to continue working with the team to bring it here again, after it is seen in New York and Australia.”

  • Zakia’s story, featured in Trans Scripts.

“It takes a lot of nerve to make that choice, ‘this is who I’m gonna be. I’m not gonna let anybody deter me from that’. Doing what you want to do and being happy with who you are. That takes a lot of strength, a lot of courage.”

See transcripts.org