My Lord, it’s a brand new feature on my early music ensemble, En Travesti. Read it here now.
Blushing, that’s what I’m doing.
Allow me to pimp myself out, just for a moment.
Did you know I have a small collection of songs available to purchase for a very low price? A lower price than a Starbucks latte – how’s that for value? Because, you see, you can listen to them over and over again – they do not disappear after a single sitting! What could be more delightful?
…soon to be appearing on the En Travesti Ensemble website. Philip has cruelly stated that I look like a certain whiny, sparkly vampire – oh, the shame.
My very favourite track of our En Travesti demo – ‘Pur ti Miro’ – enjoy.
Words and music – CN Lester
Directed – Stanislava Buevich
Always for Jony
I was kind of enjoying an article on Slate.com about a summer camp for kids who fall outside of the gender binary. It seemed openminded, hopeful – and fun. Until it got to this sentence:
The undisguisedly pretty gender-queer girl with the magic marker mustache and goatee poses with her long-haired, cis-gendered (that means normal) sister.
Leaving aside, if we can, the use of the word ‘her’ and ‘girl’ with a kid that the author concedes may not have decided on a fixed gender identity, or the use of ‘normal’ for ‘cisgender’. It was the ‘pretty’ that really struck home.
I’m glad Bedford Hope wrote this article, and I think it’ll open a fair few eyes to the challenges faced every day by (young) trans people. But one of the worst challenges I’ve faced, from being a tiny person onwards? Being called ‘pretty’. And having those around me decide that pretty must always and forever imply femininity.
I know that it sounds rude. We live in a society that rewards beauty, and god knows I’m no different from most in wanting to be considered beautiful. But ‘pretty’ never just means ‘attractive’ in a neutral sense – ‘pretty’ always comes with a price, a question, a statement – from strangers, lovers, friends, family – people that hate you or people who claim that they love you:
You’d be such a pretty woman
How could you possibly be transgender? You’re so pretty.
You’re too pretty to pass as a guy
Take testosterone? Ruin a pretty face like that?
How could you mutilate yourself when you’re such a pretty girl?
It’s such a waste when you’re so pretty
You’re hardly a usual tranny. You’re too pretty
‘Pretty’ was the reason I ever wore drag – to please the people I loved who thought it was a ‘shame’ and a ‘waste’ not to, to win their approval at the expense of my own self-respect. ‘Pretty’ is why some closet cases think they can make an ‘exception’ out of me – masculine enough to turn them on, ‘pretty’ enough for public approval and to stave off their fears of queerness. It’s a constant undermining of identity, a ‘we-know-better’ smirk – a ‘why aren’t you grateful?’ question.
That word – for me – it turns my face, that unbelievably personal part of the body, into a direct enemy of my identity. It would demand that I be divided against myself. And what should I do? Break my nose a couple more times? Have surgery I can’t afford and don’t want to have to become some stereotype of masculinity? Plenty of men, cis and trans, have large eyes, high cheekbones, curved lips. So do plenty of intersex people, cis and trans women, trans people of no particular affiliation. It shouldn’t mean a thing. And the only time I can ever accept that word is from someone that knows me so well, that loves and respects me so much that I know it means nothing more than a summation of those characteristics – nothing more.
But in general usage? I wish people would show a little more heart. It’s not a compliment to rob someone of their individuality. Don’t pretend that that word isn’t a judgement of some kind or another. Please don’t seek to divine someone’s soul by describing their ‘pretty’ face.
Nero and Poppea’s rather evil love duet, ‘Signor, oggi rinasco…’
Rebecca and I LOVE playing these two – they’re so bad. So bad that they’re good. But still mostly bad.
Have you visited the En Travesti website recently? You really should. And buy some tickets for Juditha Triumphans while you’re at it.
So, En Travesti Ensemble had a photo-shoot yesterday, in the glorious cave of wonders that is the RADA costume store. This is how I feel about photo-shoots…
But, dear god, our photographer was good. So good that I can promise you some ridiculously sexy, classy, theatrical, wonderful pictures by the end of the day. I don’t quite know how he did it. Praise be.