Gender is such a loaded concept, so embedded in our lives and self concept that it’s invisible to some of us, and profoundly, painfully important to others. As a multiple with male and female parts I identify as genderqueer. This has been a very hidden and at times painful aspect of my life, which I’ve only begun to explore and be open with over the past 5 or so years. Last year I was nervous but intrigued to be invited to be part of this group, creating art about gender in the context of social media.
At times I’ve struggled to locate myself within the trans community, feeling like I’m intruding into territory where I have no right to be. So I attended the first meetup very nervously, feeling somewhat like an impostor, wondering if to disclose the multiplicity and confused about how to present myself with clothes. If I dress too female will I discredit myself? I always wrestle with my sense of people’s expectations and confusion when the trans story is usually understood as being binary and involving a clear transition. As always, the more I feel the pressure to conform to a story the more I want to pull back from it – so I don’t usually wear all black to goth events and I tend to wear some signifier of feminine identity to trans events, sometimes I dress more feminine for these than I usually do… simply because there is always someone else in our system also craving identity and recognition – no matter how much one thing we may appear to be, there is so often a counter story under the surface. And because there’s nothing in the world like a multiple system for tripping each other up and getting under each others feet.
As usual, I’ve been able to claim my space by realising that I’m not the only one hiding in the wings and wondering if my experiences count. Trans identity as part of multiplicity is pretty common, and neither trans nor multiplicity resources tend to handle it particularly well. There’s tremendous tensions about visibility for trans people as well as for multiples, and in some ways I struggle with both. Being out in one area doesn’t make it easier for me to be out in another. In some ways it can be harder. So, I wrote some info about trans and multiplicity on the Dissociative Initiative website, started sharing a bit more about my experiences here on this blog, and turned up to this project.
It was wonderful in a way to be the new nervous person again. I was vividly reminded of people’s intense anxiety about attending Bridges, the face to face group I ran for a couple of years for people experiencing dissociation and/or multiplicity. Remembering what that feels like is always, I think, a valuable thing, a reminder of what it feels like to be the people I try to create resources for. I wish I had been able to be more involved in this project, I found being pregnant a really challenging time and my system went underground for most of it, along with my sense of gender diversity and trans identity. We were very afraid that there might be changes in hormones when the males parts were around that could threaten the pregnancy, so everyone stayed in lockdown – and continuing to be part of this project felt too awkward to manage at the time.
There are some amazing people involved in this exhibition, people I have deep respect for and feel very privileged to have met or worked alongside. Some I have since given talks with, or got to know more closely, or encountered at other events and I’m struck often by their courage and generosity. If you can attend I think you’ll find the same.
Opening Night Friday
28 Oct 2016
‘Raj House’ Feast Hub Central, 54 Hyde St, Adelaide
There are large prints of memes, digital art and prose, there will be DJ Marc Thomas, nibbles, drinks by Gill Kupsch… and gender-queer play as Brian North gets made-over as orange bearded Brenda. There is space for personal dress-ups if you are inspired!
We have some words from Harry Coulthard-Dare, Jenny Scott, Natalya Gee and Tammy Franks. You can buy one of our zines to prompt more reflection later… or get a raffle ticket to go in the running for a beautiful work of art by Amanda Lee Angel.
If you can’t make it you might like to come Saturday between 10-6 or attend our artists’ talk from 330-430. We’ll be drawing the raffle and awarding 3 participants with digital devices then too!
If you live too far away to visit you can see a lot of our creative activism on the inter-web at www.storiesbeyondgender.com