I did write this to be published a week after TDoV and then became very very busy and never did. Anyways, here it is now!
Tl;dr Being a trans dancer is exhausting and it makes visibility very difficult too.
I didn’t write something for Trans Day of Visibility this year because I’m tired.
I’m super super tired.
I feel like this is a regular theme in my life and my blogging and everything I do, but the type of exhaustion is constantly changing.
And right now, that exhaustion is the kind that more or less translates into, “I don’t have time to be trans.”
Which gets to be very frustrating when you’re a trans artist writing a blog about being trans and making art about being trans.
It’s not that I am not trans, it’s more that being openly trans takes energy I don’t have and so I end up avoiding trans things because I just can’t deal with that particular part of my life right now.
It frustrates me to no end because most of what it means is that I’m not even giving myself the chance to connect with other trans people. I’ve been living in Boston for about a year and a half now and I have not met or been part of a trans community. And now, I’m so exhausted and drained, I’m isolating myself and don’t even have the chance to connect in with other trans folks and even try.
I’ve talked a lot about the loneliness and isolation of being a trans dancer, but I also want to talk about the exhaustion. Being one of few, being isolated in your own community, also means constant exhaustion.
I set out to try to be visible because trans people like me are not usually visible. We don’t usually get representation. We are often told we are privileged, so we need representation less. That’s true, but only to a certain extent.
I also wanted to be visible because I believed it would be a way to build trans community in dance. Even if other trans dancers were isolated, they could see me, we could connect, and we could start to build the community network I need (and I think others need it too?)
But instead, what’s happening is that there are a bunch of trans dancers, but we’re all so isolated, so all we can do is just keep chugging on at our own thing without having time to connect or support each other. We have so little energy, it all has to go into making the work we want to make because even that is hard. I see them, but I don’t connect with them.
I’m so angry and frustrated about this.
I’m angry about seeing so many queer arts things being built and curated by cis people.
I’m angry about how frustratingly humiliating it is to say “I’m the only one” when I know there are other people out there, just out of reach, that I can’t quite connect with. How that lack of connection feels like my fault and I still can’t do that.
I hate how I put so much effort into telling other people I’m trans that I stop feeling trans, I just become some empty gender vessel completely disconnected from queerness, transness, my own fucking identity.
I hate how, when I do interact with trans dancers, I have to push back on everything – there’s never an aroace trans dancer, never a FAAB femme nonbinary dancer, never an Irish dancer, never anyone who fully feels or experiences the complexities of what I have to manage on a daily basis. So, when I have finally found a trans dancer I want to connect with, it’s still so far from the community network I need. I still end up having to defend and justify my work instead of celebrate that I have found other trans dancers.
I hate how, even when there are other trans dancers, I still feel alone, disconnected, and isolated.
And the worst thing is that I can’t see a way out of this. Yet.
I am watching myself and trans artists all around me struggle and I want to build a new system, but I don’t even know where to start. We can’t build new systems without connection and that’s what I’m not finding.
I don’t know.
It’s another wake up call. I have to go back to the drawing board. I have to rework my plan. I have to start prioritizing that connection I need no matter what.
Because, if nothing else, I know I’m going to do it eventually and I’m going to figure it out.
But, in the meantime, I might miss days like TDoV because of exhaustion.