becoming

Feeling BADD ass

My friend Philip blogged today about Blogging Against Disablism Day – BADD (well worth reading) and I started to wonder a bit about the proliferation of events that try and raise consciousness through a catchy acronym and a single day focus. I worry sometimes that our year is too short to include all of the special days, maybe it’s time to move to Saturn (29:1 earth year – over 10 000 days should be about right). The feel good vibe runs hot and people love to get in on the action, hit ‘like’, have their thoughts challenged but if it is just through reading then I’m unsure about the actual engagement with the ‘real’ world (for want of a better word). Do people actually DO anything different? I’m skeptical.

Blogs also tend to reach those already interested or thinking about the same things, so sometimes it’s a case of ‘preaching to the converted’ or seeing your own thoughts rehashed through another lens but kind of the same ideas. Maybe that is the point of it, like Philip mentions ‘law of attraction’ perhaps that is how momentum is started, by sharing something, with a wider network of people.

Getting stories and voices ‘out there’ is not enough for change, and while consciousness might be raised for a moment the next click of the screen could be something that convinces you that there are more important things to worry about. That has been one of my frustrations recently – seeing the ‘transgender-bathroom’ debate be hijacked and minimised in the name of promoting bigger issues.

So my contribution to BADD day is this – you have a body – it has and always will be in a state of becoming differently functional ‘fluxtional’ is my new word. ‘Disability’ does not exist – complexity of functioning does. Therefore every day I am against the normative idea of ableism (again see Philips blog) because it denies the very real richness of diversity that infiltrates every level of connection we have to each other. Please let us see MORE body-function diversity in media, all forms. For a start can we please get someone signing the news? Because quite frankly I have one sign to give NZ television networks with their representation of diversity and it only needs one digit.

 

Flowing with the go

I’m in this fluid space, where fluidity is contained and made safe. A place of becoming aquatic mammals, bodies directed into rooms to transform, emerging and submerging revealing skin and hiding eyes behind artificial lenses, protected and vulnerable. Directed and patrolled spaces of chaos. A warning light and siren but no one is afraid a groaning, yawning mouth transforms the liquid medium into a new force, a slow moving wave, bodies scatter and flow into new territories. New flows, surface tensions break there is laughter and screaming, delight and concern a new uncertainty. Tossed, jumbled, scattered at the mercy of surges and flows both visible and invisible densities changing. Silence, the mechanical maw closes and order returns.

Through the door lines and lanes define spaces a clock is marking time. Lessons to learn bodies talking the unfamiliar with new movement, new patterns. Order and purposeful disciplined and regimented repetition with variation encoding technique. Separated and segregated together under the watchful gaze of instructors.

A strange disjuncture on the other side of the glass, an empty space, no water. Concrete and tiles dry, framed in fencing. A disabled space, functionally impaired now without a purpose, closed to the public and hidden from view awaiting to be rehabilitated, to be use-full again. Without the refraction of water I notice the slope of the floor beckons a flicker of recognition – 1970’s California drought and the birth of pool skating, a moment in time that ruptured and broke free enabling new movement to occur, deterritorialised and re-territorialized, this concrete cousin born after that time will never feel rolling urethane. I glance at the diving platform and the chasm below suggestive of an abseil tower. What it could become but will not. Out of order.

Yes I was at the pool today and I didn’t swim but I was fully immersed in my thoughts with Deleuze and Barad keeping me company in a strange exhilarating intra-action, or maybe it is just the chlorine fumes.

 

Vanity (un)Fair

With Caitlyn Jenner splashed all over the news tonight and awkward references to ‘not having had surgery yet’ there seemed to be an unnecessary personalised moment of attachment to the idea of no longer having a particular attachment from one male news reader. I’m not sure what his intentions were. I don’t think he would have even registered that drawing attention to the implications of ‘having surgery’ rendered transgendered identity in that moment to losing or gaining a piece of anatomy. Even mentioning this has yet to happen somehow suggests Caitlin is not a ‘real’ woman yet.

My conversations with trans people over the last few years and especially young people beginning their own questioning and working through making sense of not fitting the pre-set mould they have been assigned, have helped me to see that focusing on the physical changes limits and diminishes the complexity and adds to the invisibility.
There are so many excuses made for not including diverse representations in collecting socially significant data such as a census. When you are not given a box to tick, or have to tick a box you do not fit that is a moment of disavowal that does as much harm as bullying, harassment or hate speech. We can expect extreme religious views to take a particular stance – that shouldn’t shock anyone really. But to be quietly denied your existence or forced to pretend that you are something you are not that is a form of identity cleansing or gendercide.

It might not seem like a big deal changing pro-nouns for those of us trucking along with the same old same old, but for the young trans people I know – asking and then using their preferred name and pronoun is like being re-cognised and real-ised. They become, they matter and when someone matters they can find a foothold on the precarious landscape of validation.

Caitlyn Jenner has done more than gain a foothold, she has thrown pointed passion and bounded with track spikes of truth over many hurdles. Well she did have a bit of a head start, who is going to ‘keep up with’ her now?