Bruce Laker / Phaedra Kelly: Transgender campaigner, poet and musician passes away

A campaigner for the rights of those in the trans community, a musician, artist and poet, Bruce Laker/Phaedra J Kelly passed away earlier this month. The funeral service takes place on Friday. Our thoughts are with all Bruce/Phaedra’s family and friends.

bruce laker with hat

Transgender musician, poet and artist Bruce Laker aka Phaedra J. Kelly sadly passed away on the Isle of Wight earlier this month.

‘Gender transient’
65-year-old Bruce was well known in the trans community around the world and famously created the term ‘gender transient’, which was included in the Oxford English Dictionary in the 1990s.

It describes a person who does not want to be a man or a woman, but someone who experiments with both identities.

Lost the fight to meningitis
Bruce’s son confirmed to friends on Facebook that his father had lost the fight against meningitis.

He suffered two heart attacks, the first in the hospital waiting room, the second a while later, but after seven hours of holding on, his body couldn’t cope with the organ failure.

Isle of Wight Hidden Hero
Bruce/Phaedra features in the Isle of Wight Hidden Heroes exhibition at the Museum of Island History, Guildhall, Newport. It runs until May this year, so worth popping in to see.

Bruce Laker / Phaedra J Kelly cabinet at Hidden Heroes Exhibition

Bruce/Phaedra founded the International Gender Transient Affinity which worked to change laws and improve understanding of issues facing the trans community.

Musical collaborations
Founding member of the band Electro Magnetic Workshop, as well as the Ecurbrekal Poetry Band, Phaedra had a distinctive style and performed widely on the Island as well as collaborating with the likes of skateboard company, Wight Trash.

With at least three published poetry collections under her belt, Phaedra also performed at Bestival in 2017 after it moved to the mainland.

Understanding ‘gender transient’
As pointed out by Zagria in their obituary of Phaedra, several books quote her as saying:

“It’s about a discipline of duality with an open mind, without changing sex with hormones, with pills, with injections or surgery, living one’s dualism as much as possible. If I am Phaedra, I allow elements of Bruce through, and there is no self-hating or loathing going on.

“If I am Bruce I allow elements of Phaedra – it’s horses for courses, but like the transvestite, and to some degree the trans person living full time, I live with a separate identity. I have accepted my separate identity as well.”

Funeral service
The funeral service takes place on Friday 1st March, 2.15pm at the Crematorium.

Flowers are welcome and all enquiries via William Hall Independent Funeral Directors, Newchurch (898 688).

Our thoughts are with all Bruce/Phaedra’s family and friends.

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up

Thursday, 28th February, 2019 1:51pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Art, Isle of Wight News, Music, poetry, Top story

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2 Comments on "Bruce Laker / Phaedra Kelly: Transgender campaigner, poet and musician passes away"

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I met Bruce/Phaedra at the king lud pub in ryde back in 2011-12. Known since then till now. Helped me gain confidence in my singing and always made sure i did well. Absolute legend. Will truly be missed by loads of people. Fly high with the angels my friend. This isnt our final goodbye, we will meet again. Forever in my heart mate . Xxx

Mr Magoo

I met Bruce/Phaedra several times in the 2000s and thought him a complex, sincere character who patiently described a way of life I knew little about and I had difficulty understanding. I liked him and wished I had got to know him better.