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submission from claude wittmann

May 2, 2013

I say that I am transgender.

I did a short performance before the Trans March at the last Pride. I was one of several “speakers” to address a small crowd in a park near Church Street in Toronto. I was dressed in black, carrying a long wooden stick with a self-made flag attached to it, which I called my “shame flag”. I had just finished a two-week long process to transform some of my shame and I spoke about shame. I particularly shared the shame that I still felt for not surrendering to the crowd, for not feeling that I belonged. As if I was not enough, as if I had not done enough, as if my story was not worth it or clear enough or stereotypical enough. When I gave the flag to a woman who volunteered to repeat my action in another context, I felt that I had “done my job”, whatever this meant. Something, somewhere had changed. What? Where?

Let’s go deeper. In the present. Today, i am dark. Right now. Right now.

As most of the times, I am in limbo. limbo is when you eat and food overstimulates you and then it makes you want to die. Limbo is when you take immense pleasure at digging a nice grave-like horizontal hole in dirt and you are elated by the beauty of dirt, crying and laughing at the same time. It is when you feel peacefully held by the hole as if for the last time. And then the light you get from the dirt makes you want to get up again. You get up and it starts all over again. Limbo is when you decide not “to do this” anymore and you walk on the edge, literally, almost falling in your mind and physically. And you can see this wall of glass in your mind. One side is fucking familiar with submission, resignation, self-beating, anxiety, fears, anger, rage and very very hidden self-love. The other side is unknown, just as unknown as death itself. And it feels impossible to cross the boundary. Limbo is when you decide not “to do this” anymore and you see the emotionally and physically painful zig zag thread that your social body is creating to keep you functioning in this society. it is like a line of fast track survival information with anchor points painfully tightening fascia at some very specific places. Over and over and over and over. And it hurts. And you see that if this could just stop, you would be quite different. Sometimes there is clarity saying that the one under is of another gender. Sometimes you listen to this information and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you think that you are just a product of this identity-obsessed society and that the one under does not care about gender.

One day later. This is where I try to face it. Gender identity. When I say that, my mind gets angry. i go in some sort of blank slate that feels like shock. I can’t face the question fully. It runs around in my mind and my mind goes in all sorts of useless directions. The question is held in doubt and circular arguments although I know that I need my heart to deal with it and I literally need to look at it as if straight in front of me. I need my heart and I also need my deepest hurt. Bring the question closer to the heart and the hurt and see if something gets clarified. Trying an experiment with myself. Ask the question and answer. Well, I can’t trust that my mind will hear what the heart and the hurt have to say. And, bizarrely enough, I haven’t trusted my art neither. When the art says “I am happy as a man”, the mind says, this is just one part of you. Can I ask the question now? Will I hear the spirit? Or maybe it is not the spirit who will know. Oh, again. I feel like Beckett in his book entitled “L’innommable”. Something is hiding and I do not know how to reach it in a trustworthy way. Of course, I should say now that I would not trust you neither if you were to tell me who I am. Am I in between then? That’s painful. Am I both a woman and a man? Right now, that seems like bullshit, or like a trick from the mind to calm me down.. What I now remember is that when I work as a bicycle mechanic, things seem way simpler. My energy focuses and sometimes I am more of a man. Rarely though. I had thought that my voice would go down there because this is what it does when I reach a truth. Oh, my hair is going up right now. Oh, I have just revealed how i could trust an answer. My voice goes down or my hair goes up…..

Some days later. I draw with the aim of approaching the question of whether my deep pain has to do with gender identity. When I looked at my drawing, I see a girl with my right eye and a boy with my left eye……

Gender identity. Am I a woman? I was. Am I a man? I will know when this exhausted part of my brain, this injured part of my brain will be repaired. I will know when the zig zag thread will stop zig zagging in my head pulling it away from centre, from facing, from seeing. Now, I am tired of all this future tense. There should be a way to look at this NOW. What if I say: there is a way. I look now: I am a human being and I am alive. I know that I am alive because some things change all the time inside. I will never be biologically male. I will never be a young boy. I will never have grown up with the entitlement that men get. I will always be a feminist. I will never completely erase the traces of my psychological pain. I will always have my doubts. I can accept that I have been a woman and that I have had pleasure in the body of this woman. I accept the woman: Oh, accepting the woman brings me right in my centre, through vagina and throat. Something comes up and I feel close to my cells, feeling every sensation as if my mind and meat were almost the same. It is incredibly new. Then, the acceptance brings me to something that is not far from self-love. I Imagine that I am a man and deep tears are called. They come from the unknown of way deeper and larger than me. I shake. Something soft comes around to hold me, all over. I relate to the usual sensations from inside in a very different way. I am calm.

One week later. I  meet with a transgendered person whom I did not know before. He explained to me how it felt in his mind when he first started with testosterone injections. I understood exactly what he said although I have never had any testosterone injections. My hair was coming up all over my body and I was feeling a small shift in identity. It was quite incredible. My being was excited but it did not take very long until I landed back into my familiar place with little energy.

Two days later. The doctor has cancelled my appointment. I have to reschedule.

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