Finding a voice

Man with a Megaphone

I read an interesting article about transmen in India this week. It was about their invisibility within the LGBT community, and their inclusion in the Bangalore Queer Film Festival. Gee Ameena Suleiman, a film-maker and a researcher whose docu-fiction “Kalvattukal”, portraying the lives of transmen, was screened  in the fest last year, was quoted as saying: “As trans-men, apart from our personal battles in the society, we face a double oppression – firstly being born as a women to find our economic and social independence in the society shaped by patriarchy and secondly as trans-men.” This made me wonder whether, to a lesser or greater degree, what Gee says about the double effect of being born female in a male-dominant society, and then being a transman, makes FTMs less pushy, less vocal, and less visible the world over.

Just a quick Google using the terms “transgender” or “transsexual” will reveal disproportionately more stories about MTF transitions than about FTM transitions. This maybe because the transition from man to woman is, arguably, harder and more dramatic. Predictably, when this happens in someone’s life, the media tend to latch onto it for its shock value, and that becomes the headline. (As I have said elsewhere in this blog, I don’t get why this is still the headline, over 60 years since Christine Jorgensen made the New York Daily News’ front page, but there we are…)

I was therefore really pleased to read about a new play being staged at the Rose Wagner Center for the Performing Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah called Eric(a) by Matthew Ivan Bennett. It’s the blistering, honest, and aching testimony of someone who spent 50 years as a married mother before embarking into the life of a man for three years and counting. It sounds like a really well written and researched piece so I wish them every success with it.

This side of the pond, the B.B.C.’s Transcomedy Award hit its deadline for submissions this week, and I got my effort into them with plenty of days to spare. I don’t feel very confident as the judging panel and the posts on their website seem a bit MTF-centric, but I did my best for the boys. And, maybe, that just goes to prove the point I was originally making? Perhaps I should be more confident about my submission; perhaps I should assume that it has just as much right to an award as anyone else’s; and, perhaps I should have the courage to say my voice is a good voice that has something interesting to say. But, I guess I’m just not made that way.

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