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.

Out Of This World: A Tribute To Brit Marling

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Out Of This World: A Tribute To Brit Marling 29.10.17

There are moments, they appear before you on screen or in a book or in a song, and they capture what you yearn for. This might be the case for anyone, and is certainly so for those who repress something. But then, doesn't everyone have something they can't have? Isn't that how the psyche works? That disconnect, between social construction and something else, the thing we sense but can't quite articulate, what Freud and late-era Lacan said in relation to our drives and our unconscious. Another us or another reality that we wish existed.

I'm drifting into abstractions already. Let me start again. I was sitting on a sofa, some four years ago in a desert city, when I saw the film The Sound of My Voice. It's about a woman who claims to be from the future, and a secret, cult-like group that gather to talk with her. It's low-budget but so well done, it has a vibe that expresses how what we know is just the tip of something greater or at least, something else.

A year went by, and I watched Another Earth, about a twin planet Earth discovered by astronomers. A young woman sees it, is watching it as she's driving home from a sterling graduation. She crashes her car and in turn kills a family. Her life is split, she goes to jail, and much later, on her release, the world learns that this other Earth is us at the same point chronologically, but an us who diverge at a key point in our lives. The woman wants to see her other self, the one who didn't crash the car.

I was in the closet when I watched those films. I wondered then about my other self, the one brave or reckless enough to come out as trans and become the person I couldn't be. It's funny thinking about the film again; I wonder now what my reality would be if I hadn't come out as trans. What if – with absolute determination – I'd focused on settling down. Somehow managed to achieve what seemed so perpetually impossible and found The Right Girl and started a family. Bring a new life into the world. Now the new films that make me wonder in this way are about those who did have children, in some tragic way – last night a documentary about the writer Joan Didion and her adopted daughter who died some years ago; or the absorbing sci-fi Arrival.

I watched a TV show on Netflix last week, called The OA. It features the same gifted blonde-haired artist in the lead part who appeared and co-wrote The Sound of My Voice and Another Earth, Brit Marling. Her show, this time, is about what's beyond this life that we live, from a non-religious perspective. I don't know which came first, my thinking about it or watching the show, but perhaps these things anyway combine. Perhaps it's being trans and feeling quite alone and how this life seems more temporary than ever. I will live, I hope, for several more decades, in a way more eventful than before, and being out as trans, I'm not hiding anything anymore at least. But then what? Will it really just be nothing? That same nothingness before I was born. Logically, why wouldn't it be that simple?

It's a thought that makes me wistful, and that's why today's diary post is about the works of the remarkable actor and writer Brit Marling. In a bar a few nights ago with two cool guys, I talked about who I'd want in the empty fourth chair at our table. It did get quite absurd. One said: Maradona. The other named someone I can't remember. I did think initially about Keanu Reeves, who in my defence would be relaxed and thoughtful company. But then my mind drifted and I also would have loved Brit Marling, whose body of work I would want on my desert island, for the way it asks questions and reflects those I-know-it's-crazy-but . . . thoughts about what's beyond us. Anyway, new questions arise: do I think like this because being out as trans has given me contentment, or a new kind of hopeless loneliness about the future? It's something that's almost impossible to talk about – what can you say? What does anyone really know, from self-experience? But for that reason, and without the desire to seek visions written down in patriarchal texts from several thousand years ago, I'm grateful for the art of the brilliant Brit Marling.
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