Ms. Rachelle writes:
I’m just back from being “writer in residence” at an undergrad program at Goddard College.Because they have a TG cadre in the program I gave a workshop which was a discussion about people’s trans experiences. One very post-transition transguy said how in the group he was in if someone seemed to stop somewhere in the middle they prodded him to continue through because they found that most of those who did not ended up dead. So now he was seeing this new generation of genderqueer kids and is fascinated. I talked about the idea of going beyond all categories to a kind of Nothing, but having to start at the right place, to be able to fly but only if you first find the ground under your feet.
But here’s something interesting, that you might appreciate. I also gave a workshop on writing, and the time flew by and there was a lot of exciting things to discuss but with the TG one, while it was lively, there also were times when I would check my watch and see how little time had passed.
Possibly it was just that the writing one was in the morning, and the tg one in the afternoon, with an expedition into town planned for afterward (the consignment shop was having a great sale–Goodwill prices for a couple of very nice things).
And I responded
Of course the writing seminar was more compelling than the trans one. That was about people working to find some novel, unique and deep expression, where trans seminars are often about parroting the narratives we have already polished, narratives most often formed for functional reasons, parroted regurgitations designed to rationalize and justify our choices.
I, for one, am less interested in campus trans expressions than where it leads. I see the separation of trans expression as acceptance, embrasure & engagement and trans expression as rejection, denial and acting out as a key difference. So many of the young genderqueers are empowered by embracing women’s studies, rejecting patriarchy and claiming a politically correct kind of wildness. That’s cute when you are 21, but not so cute at 31. As you get older you have to be able to claim who you are, rather than just who you are not.
I remember a workshop in Amherst (Northampton) where people claimed to be men while rejecting manhood in general as a sexist construction. I imagined what happened if I claimed woman while rejecting womanhood, separating from feminists; I’d be beaten up badly.
Not that this is limited to transpeople assigned as female at birth or shortly therafter. Crossdressers and drag queens claim womanhood when they are merely rejecting manhood, too. I often ask transpeople born male what women they admire, who they model bits of themselves after, and find that they have no idea, that their expression of woman has no deeper context in the world of women than what they saw and liked in a catalogue or TV show.
I’m much more interested in people who take on trans as creating identity & expression rather than just rejecting it, more interested in anyone creating honest & potent expression, which is why I suspect that I too would prefer the writing workshop to the trans one.