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.

On loving a film that others hate


 On loving a film that others hate

Instead of going to the cinema yesterday, I stayed in with my flatmate to watch a film I really like, High Fidelity (2000). How to describe the 'oh shit' moment when you realize a film you recommended is going down really badly with the other person? Following the ending, my flatmate spoke of it as if emerging from trauma, the film's protagonist (played by John Cusack) representing all the shit-men-in-need-of-saving narratives that have been made a million times already. When I gave my flatmate £1.50 this morning (the film had cost £3 to rent online), I felt as if I had made her part with £1.50 of her soul.

Well, those are the risks of committing to a film, I guess. Watching a 'friend's-favourite-film' is like meeting a friend's-close-friend. You know it should go well, there's no reason why it shouldn't. But when you meet the friend-of-a-friend, or watch the friend's-favourite-film, you can be left with the weird trauma not only of how bad it was, but what it says about your friend, and whether your friendship can ever recover from this new perspective of them.

To reflect on the film, I realize the gender politics of High Fidelity can be construed as problematic. Cusack's protagonist addresses the viewer about his top five most devastating break-ups and the way he was sometimes complicit in using the women only for sex (examples 2, 4 and to some degree 5). With his current relationship, he's guilty of being in an early middle-age rut (Cusack was 34 when he played the character) and, from what little we know, of taking his girlfriend for granted. She is beautiful and wants to enjoy life; she wants him to enjoy it too, but his failing record store represents his own mental state. She leaves him temporarily, hence his reflections on his other most devastating break-ups. From my flatmate's hatred of the film, I am left wondering if I'm too lenient towards men, and not caring enough about the women who consort with them.

I do maintain there are some wonderful moments in this film, including the comedic shenanigans of his record-shop assistant played by a brilliantly over-the-top Jack Black. There are also some poignant middle-age meditations which perhaps are why I like this film so much.

Because I underwent my own middle-age re-boot back in 2015-16, when I quit a meandering career and came to Edinburgh University, where I also came out as transgender. At one point, Cusack's protagonist talks about always waiting for something to happen, and never committing to anything, with echoes of what Lacan talks about in terms of desire: of how we always circle but never commit to the thing we want, because when you get close to it, you fear it won't be special any more. But as Cusack's protagonist says, you can't live your life forever keeping your options open. At some point, perhaps through exhaustion, you finally commit because it's more tiring not to.

Because I only ever used to fantasize, and drifted from adolescence into my 30s in a way not dissimilar to Cusack's protagonist, I relate to this film, and to Cusack's record-store assistants, who obsessively care about certain pop cultural trash in the way that I can. And while I didn't need an angel like the protagonist's girlfriend to save me, I have been blessed with one or two friends entering my life at the right time, and the right place, to give me the gentle support that I needed.

Ultimately, I love High Fidelity because whether you're cisgender or trans, male or female or somewhere in between, it's nice to believe there are people out there who will reach down to you in your rut, and with a smile, help you out of it when you realize you've hit rock bottom. This has been the story of my life as it has Cusack's protagonist, and watching people emerge from their low with the support of others is the cool transformation that I love this film for.
What's on (my mind)?
Star Wars Spirituality


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Thursday, 18 July 2019

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

June 09, 2019

Dark Phoenix, John Wick 3, Godzilla: my reflections

Three fantasy movies within three days: X Men: Dark Phoenix; John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lacanian feminist Kaja Silverman says about cinema, we go because we need the affirmation, to see the things we hope to see and fail to see in the real world. In Lacanian-speak, Silverman says we go because 'the desire ...
June 02, 2019

Personal Reflections on Transgender: Intersectional/International

Personal reflections on the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International (28-29 May) ​​Note: these reflections do not represent anyone else who contributed to Transgender: Intersectional/International I got involved with Transgender: Intersectional/International in order to create an LGBT/queer space that accommodated discussions on racism,...
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 ...
April 14, 2019


April 14, 2019


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...
January 26, 2019


January 26, 2019


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...