Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The impulse to create

It occurs to me more and more nowadays that a high proportion of trans people are very talented and very creative. I see trans people who are wonderful artists and photographers. I see trans people who write brilliantly - not just blog posts, but scripts and poetry and books. And trans people who speak well and compellingly in public, and read or perform to rapt audiences. I see trans people serving diligently in public life. And trans people assiduously fundraising for charity.

Were they always like this? Some must have been. But I suspect that in many cases the restrictions of the old life held them back, sapped their self-confidence, and made it seem safest to quell all that talent and creativity. And it may be too that the old life was so full of ordinary responsibilities that there was simply no time for an outpouring of personal expression. For instance, I wrote a lot of poetry in my troubled teens, when I was solitary and had ample time. But almost none at all in the adult years that followed, because other people, and the job, filled up my life and there was no time.

But transition changes everything. One of its normal effects is to drastically reduce the richness of one's personal life through an enforced change of circumstances. Estrangement from family and friends, life without employment, unfamiliar accommodation, a feeling of not belonging any more, all bring back a sense of separateness and strangeness and vulnerability not felt since young. And possibly also a desperate solitude that is hard to bear. Some go under. Others assert themselves. To fill the void, to ease the pain, to make sense of what has happened, perhaps even to explain it, there is often an impulse to set it all down in some form that others can share.

It can all be expressed. An outlook, a point of view, a lamentation for loss, a cry of pain, a defiant laugh, a celebration of something positive emerging from the chaos - all these can be expressed in words or pictures or voice, or just movement or action of some sort. I am not at all surprised that some of my friends write poetry and read it to an appreciative audience. They may never have 'performed' in their old lives, but have every reason to do so now. They know they have something to say that will touch the lives of everyone willing to listen.

I do it, publicly, through my blog posts (here on Blogger) and my photographs (over on Flickr), but also by having plenty to say for myself on social occasions. Sometimes a little too much! It's easy to dominate a conversation if you have the gift of the gab. But mentioning such verbosity merely illustrates my main point. Transition has made me cast off the old reticence, made me bold, made me confident, and loosened my tongue. I wouldn't dare to stand up on a stage. But yapping away to friends over a drink is not much different to beguiling an audience in a more formal setting. I just hope that what comes out sounds original and creative. (Probably not, but it's jolly good voice practice all the same)

3 comments:

  1. I think you make a lot of sense in your suggestions Lucy. I read recently that trans-gendered folk are indeed a notch or two above their peers in that talent stakes and furthermore tend to be very artistic and creative in one way or another in comparison to their average peers too. I can't however claim that my transition has had any real effect on exposing any hidden talents I hitherto had not used or had previously developed, nor has it had any effect in developing new ones though I do admit it has removed the barrier that hid the real me psychologically speaking.

    Shirley Anne x

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  3. Transition can change many things but I'm not sure it is fair to link it to reduced richness of personal life, estrangements from family and friends, life without employment etc. All those things can and do happen and I have experienced some. However on balance the process can be a positive one otherwise why take that path? It can have downsides but loss of richness in the personal life certainly should not be taken as normal.

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Lucy Melford