May 9th, 2019



Somebody, I swear here on DW but I can't find the entry anywhere, recently linked me to a comic titled O, Human Star. It is fantastic! Just as a story, it's fantastic, but it also had a moment, one of those incredibly rare moments where a character said something about who they were and how they felt about it, and I went "Oh, that's me!" Here's said moment. I suppose it could be counted a spoiler, but it's a side character whose personal revelation is only tangential to the main plot.

In any case, I find it almost sad, but also quite interesting, how deeply this struck me. It's a partial explanation from a background character in an obscure comic, and still it felt like the world shifted under my feet, because somebody else out there felt like me. Not even precisely like me, just very close to me, and yet...

I've had "that's me!" moments before, of course. But mostly they were of a different sort. For example frequently I find silly nerd-couple comics like Curtailed feel very "me" in certain interactions, in certain ways one half of a nerd-couple may behave. They're little personality-based "lol, so me!" moments, and I think everybody experiences those.

But I'm not sure everyone experiences the "Oh my god, that's me" moment. Before I began exploring and understanding my gender identity, I never did. Now maybe that's because I just never saw me in media at all. I mean..."tomboy" characters are all over media, but none of them clicked for me. I wasn't like them, really. And who else would I be like? Feminine characters? Hah! Men? Well...actually that's what I came much closer to identifying with, to be honest, but it wasn't a conscious awareness. I certainly didn't watch any movies starring male heroes and go "YES, ME!" They very obviously weren't me, they're just who I tended to sort of...default to in my fictional imagination. (I even have dreamed myself as male in many dreams for all my life. I used to think that didn't mean anything in particular...)

Do straight, cis, white people watch media and consciously identify with the characters? I'm not sure. I never did when I thought of myself that way. I think "people who share my identity" is just too all-pervasive, too everywhere, for any one character to draw notice or feel like that means anything for folks who are in majority groups like that. So you'd just get the little personality moments, but no identity based moments. (Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I don't think so.)

But when you're a minority group, and suddenly, unexpectedly, there's the "you" that you never see, right there in front of your eyes, saying or doing things that you never see anybody say or do, it strikes deep.

I think the me of ten or twenty years ago could never have fully gotten why school children were bused to see Black Panther. I don't think I'd have been annoyed or upset to find out that was a thing that happened, just vaguely puzzled. Why would kids need to see a silly superhero movie just because it had black people in it? Why would that matter so much that there would be programs and charities to make it happen? I wouldn't have "gotten" it. I get it now, though.

Of course this is a side character in an obscure web comic. I've never seen anybody like me star in a major, mainstream, Hollywood, Disney production. We're still at a point where "gay man who only says he is gay but doesn't do anything more than maybe hold hands" as a minor background character is considered daring in a major motion picture. (Which is dumb and sad, and we should be long past that by now, for fuck's sake, but here we are.) The point where "trans person" turns up at all in a blockbuster is probably a ways off, and a trans person starring in one further off still. Somebody occupying a non-binary trans space as a main starring character in a major mainstream picture that's not a tragic trans-centered drama*? I don't know. I don't know if that'll ever happen, to be honest.

I hope it does someday, but I may not live to see it.

*I have negative interest, anti-interest, I am actively opposed to watching gut-wrenching movies about the awfulness of the trans experience. Or the awfulness of the gay experience, or whatever. If I wanted "awfulness of this" stuff, I just have to spend a while thinking about my own goddam family. I don't need to watch that in my fiction. What I want is the trans Black Panther, the trans Captain Marvel, where somebody who is trans, and yes that matters, nevertheless does other things and has other issues, interests, and adventures. Black Panther's blackness matters, he is not just another Marvel guy painted black, but Black Panther does things other than experience racial prejudice. Captain Marvel does things other than experience sexism against women. I want trans stories where trans people live lives and have adventures and maybe there's some side moment of "fuck the haters" but seriously, I REALLY do not want to ever, ever, ever, ever watch what's available right now for "trans" movies, because holy shit they are awful and depressing and like all the worst bits of my own real life only more so, and why the fuck would I want to watch that? That they exist for cis people to see the trans experience is great, I guess, but I am noping out SO HARD on ever watching Boys Don't Cry.

P.S. I keep editing this, but really... "It's a movie about a person like me! Who gets brutally raped and murdered for being a person like me!" WHY WOULD I WANT THAT? Somebody once actually told me I should watch it because trans and I was all "WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?" at them. I think it would give me nightmares worse than watching Gremlins when I was six, but for the same reason. My Gremlins nightmares were all about the kitchen scene, where murderous monsters were in a kitchen like my kitchen and therefore my own actual kitchen might maybe have murderous monsters in it. I know my real trans life does have potential murderous monsters in it, and why the fuck would I ever want to watch that?

I don't understand people sometimes, I really don't. "You'd like this, it's about transness!" just.... ?????? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo I wouldn't.

Okay, I think I'm done adding to this now.

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