The Highs and Lows of an Intersectional Easter
For Christians there's a sense of re-birth in the air, but Easter brings its own reflections for this non-Christian trans woman. I'll be away this coming Easter holiday, to be with people still trying to come to terms with my identity.
I read somewhere that to come out as trans is to take the leap of faith and launch yourself from a mountain cliff. Maybe, but I'm not sure I can apply that kind of move to every aspect of my experience. Life, I think, is an endless series of negotiations. I present as Gina everywhere I go now, but I'm not Gina to everyone who sees me. Yet I am not immutable or without heart even when it saddens me: in my own secular version of Lent, I won't be wearing any skirts or dresses where I'm going. My look will be grunge, of jeans, long cardigans and T-shirts, a consciously compromised look. Does this sound to you like selling-out?
Let's broaden these Easter reflections for a bigger picture. I attended a panel event a few weeks ago on intersectionality, where a panellist talked about her conservative, Senegalese parents. Her homosexuality is never addressed with them, just quietly left unsaid. Intersectionality, came the message, is an awkward thing, even if it's sometimes necessary. I think so too. In the Western media, everything seems so tribal, but the truth is, our lives comprise a series of different tribes, based on friendships and family and the workplace to name but three domains harbouring their own rich complexity. Life is a series of negotiations of these domains, and it's that which annoys me when Slavoj Zizek (1999) or Mark Lilla blame identity politics and minority identities for holding back left-of-centre movements. There's an assumption that trans people live their own narrow lives, thinking trans thoughts, talking trans subjects, unable or unwilling to go beyond these limits. Taking shots at minorities is the easy option when things go wrong politically, of course, but it's also ironically narrow-minded and shows a lack of understanding of how life works. No person inhabits just a single world, given the interstices of our lived-in daily lives. Or as Audre Lorde said, 'there is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.'So this Easter, I will be me, and will love people who may not able to accept that. Perhaps it's the only way the world can function. Happy Easter everyone.