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.
8 comments on “Trans*”
Question those absolutes, Daniela! Like those dispensed by hierarchically-oriented doctors who feel that all medicine can be boiled down to cause-and-effect when science tells us differently–and truthfully. Projections are for movie houses, not people, and assumptions are bad medicine.
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Yes! Thank you! ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿
I’m sorry you missed your reading group, Daniela. That doctor–grrr. I used to have a “I wait for you for 20 minutes max” policy, but there are times when I just can’t huff out of there. And how high is your blood pressure by the time it’s checked? I hope that the members of your group will fill you in on the conversation or, better yet, someone will have recorded it.
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Lol my blood pressure was perfect…as always…further proving that fat bodies don’t always equate poor health! Because it was such an ordeal to get another doctor, having already fasted for the day, and my hectic schedule (not knowing when I would be able to take care of this chore) those are the reasons I stuck it out.
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Oh, I hope you didn’t interpret my “your” regarding blood pressure as referring to you. I was referring to the collective, including me.
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Oh no, I took it as you meant it, as a collective. If there was any anger in my last comment, it was totally directed at this doctor/society that sees me as a math equation that needs to be “fixed” as far as my weight is concerned. But I wasn’t lumping you into that larger societal spectrum, if that makes sense.
Daniela, Glad you are recovering ok- please let me know how else I can help ❤ Glad that despite the trauma, you are still reading– still moving forward, progressing. It is admirable!
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There are more pressing matters…like this final edit of my press release for my upcoming solo show in NYC. I definitely am in no short supply of stressers.