Trying to remember the first time I met Chloe only gives me blurs of the many social occasions we have been at in the past year I have known her. Chloe is an up-and-coming trans model and DJ, with an honest Instagram tagline – ‘not your natural redhead’. I initially was not able to pinpoint the level of magnetism I had towards her until she replied “I was lucky enough to come into my current position fully self-realised”, and adds a side note “as much as you can be”, in response to my question regarding day-to-day professional and social experiences. Being queer is embodying damage and through ‘addressing power and affect’ will we ‘arrive at a way of rendering love knowable that will make us mindful of its critical value in building a fuller account of gender and sexual relations on the continent of inequalities’ (Bhana 2013, p. 4). Chloe speaks about her initial openness as a child that was then policed into the “pigeonhole of gay” as the “best possible coping mechanism” to be deemed with some acceptability before moving out to have the “slow and agonising” space to process her experiences and emotions of gender transgressions in “almost trial and error”. A wounding narrative of being brave is given to us who are gender non-conforming by the same society that enacts those forms of violence and hate, which emphasises the additional survival need to educate ourselves and be in constant self-reflection. Gender roles are socially constructed and the dysphoria transgender individuals face demonstrates that they can be ‘transgressed, combined or even ignored’ (Melendez & Pinto 2007, p. 235).
When Alok Vaid-Menon recites in his poem Reincarnation, “there’s this thing that happens when you call someone a father … he ceases to be a person, instead becomes the punch line for everything that you hate about yourself”, they allude to the deep-rooted patriarchal, white, colonial belief system that has entrapped all of us (2016). In speaking about the common mainstream narrative used to understand trans bodies as being trapped in the wrong body, Chloe feels this understanding is “harmful and misguided” as it suggests self-hate and the need to pass as what society believes as female and male when “very little in trans discourse … is one size fits all”. This reinforces Tonkinwise’s idea that we ‘neglect cultural difference’ by being under the ‘assumption … that we are all at one singular point in time, the apex of the cones from which all possible futures narrowly extend’ (2014, p. 6).
In Sean’s post, he suggests the need of human empathy and the practical side of love tends to be forgotten, as we all want to believe in an intuitive nature when we are also very much procedural and where love can be knowledge and a skill to be learned. For the better wellbeing of the gender non-conforming spectrum, Chloe sees “discussing gender openly” within the education system “we would see so much change … generation by generation”. Systemic vulnerability ‘associated with discrimination, marginalisation and disenfranchisement’ is due to a ‘lack of resources and increased risk’ (Grossman & D’Augelli 2006, p. 113). As Cher sings in her anthem Believe, “do you believe in life after love”, I do believe and trust in life outside of romantic love.
Bhana, D. 2013, ‘Introducing love: gender, sexuality and power’, Agenda, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 3-11
Grossman, A. H. & D’Augelli, A. R. 2006, ‘Transgender Youth’, Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 111-128
Melendez, R. M. & Pinto, P. 2007, ‘’It’s really a hard life’: Love, gender and HIV risk among male‐to‐female transgender persons’, Culture, Health & Sexuality, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 233-245
The Laura Flanders Show 2016, Reincarnation: Alok Vaid-Menon, videorecording, Youtube, viewed 28 October 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc0i77e8nJs>
Tonkinwise, C. 2014, How We Future: Review of Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, Carnegie Mellon University, USA