I’ve written on the blog before that the gallery where I have my fellowship has a monthly reading group. Typically reading material of related subject matter in the form of 2 or 3 essays are distributed in PDF form a few weeks prior to the meeting. This last meeting we were to read 3 chapters a soon to be released book titled “Trans*” written by Jack Halberstam. I was really looking forward to this meeting and the conversation that would follow since the author was going to be there!
I read the roughly 80 pages of the assigned chapters (which I intend to count towards my running tally). And then the day came (this past Tuesday) and I’m so sad I wasn’t able to make it. In the morning I called my health insurance to arrange a doctors appointment at a new office. I was way overdue to get blood work done for my thyroid and the previous doctor I had seen has gone M.I.A. I wasn’t happy the first appointment available was for 3pm since I knew I would have to fast, but it was the only day I could spare to take care of this. I thought surely a 3pm appointment in NJ would still be early enough to make an event in Brooklyn by 7pm.
I was wrong. I sat in the waiting room for 2HOURS before being seen by a doctor. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst of it. This doctor within moments of meeting me began unloading a whole bunch of projections on me, making assumptions based on my physical appearance and giving me wildly extreme suggestions about how to lose weight that even as a fat person I thought sounded very unhealthy. Thankfully, Borkali talked me down from a nutritional ledge (so to speak) and validated my feelings the following day. But at that point the damage was done. There was no way I could transport from NJ to Brooklyn in time for the reading discussion, nor was I in any condition to be out and about in public due to my inability to stop crying.
SO! On to the actual text! I found it very informative, easily approachable, and necessary from an educational perspective. I have a feeling that this will become a very important doorway towards conversations we should be having about gender and sex. There was some critique of the notion that gender isn’t ALL performance, for that undermines those who are trans that feel surgery is necessary for them, but it acknowledges everyone’s path is different and often in constant flux. When I think of my own gender identity, my interior self “knows” I am female (though this isn’t an absolute for everyone), but when I think of what makes me feel like a woman I come up short, thinking only of insignificant characteristics that I know don’t apply to all women. I think the take away for me is to continue to be open, empathetic, and questioning absolutes.