Transgender Life

I don’t want this site to be solely about being transgender. From my experiences so far, it’s not even something I could write about every week – being in the closet is far more intense and frustrating and writeable. However, there are moments when things happen, unique to trans people. I’d like to share those moments with you, and let you into the mystery.

Learning Curves

Mad-Com-image

Learning Curves: speaking at my first conference

This post could go one of two ways, narcissistic or focused on the bigger picture. I spoke at Edinburgh Mad Con yesterday – the conference of Madness, Mental Illness and Mind Doctors in 20th and 21st Century Popular Culture. I spoke about the moral panic caused by the issue of transgender women using women's public toilets. The speakers were almost exclusively experienced lecturers or those involved in the arts.

My paper was important, blending a topical issue with pop cultural and historical facts, and hopefully some interesting observations. But to get things off my chest, with this being a diary and all, my public speaking skills were awful. I had prepared too many slides for my 20-minute slot; everyone else was using 7-8 slides, while I had prepared 24. I tried to fly through it, finding it difficult to coordinate between my speaking notes, the computer controlling the slides, and the microphone. When I'd finished, I sat down and wanted the floor to swallow me whole, a feeling exacerbated by the quality of the other speakers.

I got my reprieve at the panel afterwards, no longer tied to slides and notes. I relaxed and talked about my specialism and finally was able to enjoy the experience. But this diary post is for me as much as anyone: from now on, no more than 10 slides for a presentation; plan for 15 minutes not twenty. And plan around the physicality: standing is so much worse than sitting; get me a stool to relax on. Public speaking is a holistic experience: it's not just your message – though that should be your priority – but how you cope with the physical logistics, as well as the presentation structure.

Moving on from this, it was nice to talk about issues of intersectionality on the panel, of confessing to how white and middle class (and trans-female) my presentation felt. This weekend I'm going to book-review the brilliant anthology I read last week, Trap Door (Ed. Gossett, Stanley & Burton, 2017), about the experience of African American and Latino trans people in the US. Because of the economic intersections, being trans outside of the white, middle-class zone is a different experience. The questions from my own white, middle-class position are these: how do you respond to this structural complexity? How do you effect change for people generally? Naomi Klein, in her book No Is Not Enough, speaks about anti-capitalist coalitions. This doesn't necessarily mean destroying capitalism, but giving it a serious overhaul. In the meantime, at a practical level, the issue of trans rights really feels like white, middle class trans rights, and fighting for something so narrow hardly seems laudable. What it does do is put my conference experience into context. I need to learn lessons on presentation skills, but I can't sink into a morass of self-pity. In the grand scheme of things, it's just part of the learning curve.
What's On (my lips)
To have or not have cosmetic surgery
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

April 28, 2019

Gina's Moving Castle

Saturday afternoon 27.04.19 Enough with marking papers. Enough about conferences. Outside is a blue sky. There's a book shop nearby, my temple, its owners are trying to remove stickers of transphobic messages pasted on their door. Yesterday I met a guy who'd been set upon by a group of 17-year-olds. He still had the scars, and the trauma. They saw ...
Girl
April 14, 2019

Girl

April 14, 2019

Girl

It's a film I watched weeks ago, uncertain that I wanted to review it, the gruesome, horrific ending overshadowing anything positive I was able to take from it. Girl (2019), a Belgian production directed by Lukas Dhont is apparently inspired by the life of contemporary dancer Nora Monsecour . It's a film I had hopes for, really wanted to like, and ...
March 09, 2019

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

in Books

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi The author, Akwaeke Emezi, calls herself trans but also Ogbanje, a spirit depicted in Igbo culture as inhabiting a newborn baby soon to die, though possibly allowing it to live. These are dark conceptions already, embracing fatality and negotiating both intrusion and malevolence, and they contribute as themes to Emezi's ...
March 02, 2019

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

in Books

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein This may be one of the most important books on the 21 st century state of the world, an analysis of the global socio-economics that makes sense of the chaos of post-9/11 Iraq, of the collapse of democracies of Latin America since the 1960s and 70s, and the democratic false dawns of Russia and South Africa since the...
February 17, 2019

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel A week has gone since I watched Alita: Battle Angel . It's a film that left me feeling similar emotions to the cyborg-driven techno-fireworks in Ghost in the Shell (2018), the emotion of 'almost.' Visually, there's a lavish sci-fi splendour to the film, bearing the wonders you desire in a mixture of escapist sci-fi and fantasy: ...
February 03, 2019

A Brexit Feminism That Fears And Excludes

This article follows a number of events that shook me this week. First of all, the filmed harassment by two Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminists (TERFs) of trans woman Sarah McBride at McBride's workplace. I watched it online and thought: that could be me, caught out, disoriented. How do you respond to the equivalent of door-stepping, as out of the...
Vice
January 26, 2019

Vice

January 26, 2019

Vice

Vice A lukewarm reaction from critic Mark Kermode and a condemnation from political writer Simon Jenkins are a strange way to start this review of the Dick Cheney biopic Vice , given that I really enjoyed it. Jenkins's is peculiar, believing it reduced the U.S. invasion of Iraq to the work of a few shady men in the U.S. administration. But wasn't i...
January 21, 2019

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven I entered a dark, candle-lit auditorium, finding a dining table stretching the length of the floor, draped in a pristine white tablecloth, with candles and cutlery. Audience members trickled in, free to sit in the auditorium or at the table as guests of a transgender Jesus. Queer, and just a bit contro...
January 20, 2019

Queer Two-Spirit Poetry: Fabian Romero

in Books

I can't remember when I ordered Fabian Romero's chapbook*, sometime in September or October 2018. The investment made, the months went by, enthusiasm slow-cooking into defeat, guessing it had got lost in the mail. Then last week I found a soft white envelope in the post. Fabian Romero's chapbook, Mountains of a Different Kind , waiting for me. I re...