At the theatre

Odilon Redon, the Birth of VenusI could just call you transphobic. All trans people are transphobic. I could just hate you.

Did you think I recognised you? Two days after your starring role begins, a career high, though hopefully to be exceeded. Boy meets Girl (Entertainment) 3/6. Comedy series. Leo and Judy view some provocative photographs at an art gallery which prompt Leo to quiz Judy about what exactly was involved when she transitioned. Also in HD. Wow. Half an hour to tell “what was involved in transition”- physical, emotional, social- to an audience of millions on one of the top four TV channels. Three hours of TV in total. One acclaimed Edinburgh show. I did not recognise you. I don’t watch this stuff. Had I been approaching as star-struck fan or seeking to make you a contact to get a toe-hold doing that sort of thing, I would have approached in a different way.

I could not have done it. My short pieces, intended originally as part of a one woman show, have been well received by audiences even of a hundred people- at open mics. I had a meeting with a TV producer in January, to discuss a film written by and starring me about what was involved when I transitioned. One meeting. He did not want to proceed. I still have the notes I produced for our discussion, if any TV producers reading are interested, but have no idea how to end it. Life goes on, I suppose. We go through Hell, and end up in Purgatory.

I read you. I saw a trans woman. My friend did not read you, I was not certain, and it is mostly your height that gave you away- not your grooming, possibly something very subtle in the shape of your face even though there are cis women with more masculine appearance. What I wanted was to talk of our feelings about the experience we had just shared: the play Bakkhai, in which everyone’s progress to maturity is illustrated by the metaphor of transsexual transition. And you rebuffed me. I can’t remember the conversation exactly. We established you work in the theatre.

-Do you work in the theatre?
-I would like to. What do you do in the theatre?
-I work in the box office.

At which time I decided I had been fibbed at, played with and mocked enough, and ended the conversation.

So, why be so completely horrible? One does not normally strike up conversations with strangers in theatres, but in bus queues, buses, trains, the Tate Gallery, even on the Tube, I have managed it. Most people are happy to talk. But one of the horrors of our condition is that we do not associate with each other. It is a threat. We are more likely to be read, in twos- certainly you are more likely to be read with me, everyone reads me. Or I remind you of the difficulties of transition and the sheer fucking inadequacy of most people facing it- and of your own feelings of inadequacy, fear and anger under this burden, perhaps, how you felt before transition and perhaps even now. Rather than finding sisterly solidarity, like Scots ex-pats getting together in Seattle, I become the focus of your ridicule. You don’t know me. I did not deserve that.

 ♥♥♥

I have had this emailed response:

Dear Abigail,

Thank you for posting an interesting if rather disconcerting blog. I deeply regret that I seem to have “rebuffed” you – this was not my intention. I was waiting to meet somebody after the theatre. I was distracted by the swirling throngs of excitable Japanese girls awaiting their idol, Ben Whishaw. I was very tired. I do not like being asked outright if I am trans. I was NOT being transphobic and the public accusation that I am is most distressing.

I habitually go to the theatre alone and tend to take time to process what I have just seen – I don’t like having to undertake an immediate post-performance post-mortem. This is not personally directed at you, a total stranger, who approached me from nowhere – rather, I am like this with friend, family or foe. I sincerely did not intend to make you the latter!

For the record – I do indeed work in a Box Office, and have done so for most of my working life. I have rent to pay. I am not proud and do not hide the fact that I need a day job in order to do so (until such time as my career takes off). So I was not lying to you. I didn’t want to embarrass you (or appear an even bigger dickhead than you clearly thought I was) by saying “Oh, but surely you must know who I am, haven’t you seen Boy Meets Girl?”

I would have appreciated your writing to me before posting your blog as I feel I have been unfairly depicted in the public eye and I would appreciate it enormously if you would either amend it or post a detraction, or at least quote my defence.

Thanking you, I wish you luck and happiness and peace and light,

Rebecca

 ♥♥♥

This blog is public, but very small circulation; and I have changed the post title, formerly your name, to something inconspicuous, though you remain identifiable. I have not otherwise changed what I originally wrote.

The point is (apart from my own envy and respect) there is a difference between the question “Are you trans?” from someone cis, and someone trans. I tried to allude, rather than ask straight out:

-I think we have something in common.
-Well, we’re both tall.
-er, are you trans?

I did not want to embarrass you, then. Feeling isolated among all the cis folk, for there are so few of us, I wanted to make contact, especially as I had so loved the play’s treatment of transition. But why should the question be embarrassing, if there is nothing wrong with being trans?

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