The use of trans bodies
March 18, 2011 § 6 Comments
Or a postscript to ‘more about being a singer’.
I like to pride myself on being a bit of a smart cookie, but sometimes it can take a shockingly long time for an obvious point to finally make itself heard. I had a lightbulb moment during my coaching session this afternoon – and then felt idiotic for not having made the connection before. My body wasn’t engaging as it should – singing is an intensely physical process when it’s done right – and I turned, shamefaced to my teacher, and said, ‘it just has a tendency to be lazy.’
‘Who is this “it”?’ she replied.
I can’t believe it took me this long to articulate, even consciously acknowledge, and understand what this means for me as someone whose vocation demands a constant level of physical ease and awareness. I’m don’t see myself as a unified entity. There’s me – thoughts and feelings and memory and hopes and desires – and ‘it’ – the body I got lumped with. Some parts are mine. My hands are mine, and my eyes, lips, feet, hair, jaw, shoulders. The parts that are totally lacking in gender signifiers. And those parts are loved and celebrated and treasured. The rest – I can’t even tell how much is the dysphoria, and how much is a successful act of denial rooted in the dysphoria.
Before top surgery, my doctor asked if I was concerned about keeping sensation. “What sensation?” I asked. I’d never felt a single thing there. I could have smacked myself in the nipples all day long and not cared. Now, after surgery, I have sensation.
I’ve spent so long seeking solace in what I could trust – my intelligence and my strength of character – that even with singing I mostly engaged with the music in a non-corporeal way. It’s been at the root of many of my technical problems. My lovely and extremely patient teacher has had her work cut out for her. I really have been trying, and trying – but it only became clear today, being in this state of grief for T, just what I’ve been fighting against.
As much as I can, I need to make peace with – this. Calling ‘it’ ‘me’ is going to be something of a struggle. Oh well – I did say I could never run away from a challenge.
Wish me luck, darlings.