Statement of process

Research: trans 101, artists: Diane Torr, Split Britches, Lazlo Perlman, Renate Lorenz. Documentary - Sylvia Rivera Marsha P Johnson

Talk - Black Minstrelsy in Scotland, Black Nationalists in the civil rights movement

Actions:  

Re-enact Peggy Shaw's speech in Split Britches at Dixon Place

identify the range of people in the community - adjust first action for these different sets of people.

Micro-lab with Laura, authentic movement meets gender-bending

 

This week I think I've gotten stuck into lots of the research. There were some interesting points of natural cross-over at the talk on Black Minstrelsy - turns out the Glasgow Ladies Emancipation Society were not only pressing for abolition but votes for women (once abolition had been achieved). I went to a rather disappointing talk that was meant to outline the difference in approach between various black power leaders, unfortunately it did not do this... It gave a very watered down version of the impact of the civil rights movement, which kind of highlights the exact point of my enquiry, the need for history to be relayed and historical figures not forgotten...

 

I experimented with mimicking a speech Peggy Shaw gives in a 1992 show on butch/femme. It's a great speech, "I was born this way, I was born butch..." To try and take on Shaw's Butch swagger and physicality was fascinating and taught me a little about the way I like to/feel comfortable to carry myself. Shaw is also different to that of Torr who I looked at last week, she explores female-masculinity, whereas Torr is a drag king. But to the outsider they make appear pretty similar. This helped me with thinking about the different perspectives various categories offer on gender expression - and I made headings of these.

Butch

Trans people (FTM/MTF)

Gender Queer/Gender Fluid/Non-Binary

Gay cis-man

Cis-women (straight)

Cis-women Drag King

Cis-man Drag Queen (transvestite)

After my lab with Steven last week, we had identified the different intention behind some of the tips on binding videos I had been watching. These videos are about generously giving advice. What was the intention behind my videos? If i altered this, how would it effect the content? I tried to respond to these by seeing what I would alter about the videos I took of my first action, giving myself the same songs and clothes to work with. (Etta James, The Eurythmics, songs from Cabaret, The Shirelles). It felt difficult to know how much I was really changing with each response, and not get stuck in my head about what the community would want to see and all the different categories of gender expression/identity there are!!!

It got me thinking further about the line between Butch (masculine women) and FTM/transmen (female-to-male transpeople), and the animosity that can sometimes occur between these two groups - probably because they are both fighting for visibility and are often mistaken for each other.

Although tricky, this action was useful how ever in thinking about how I change how visible I am depending on the situation I'm in. In the Trans 101 book, it explains the different aspects that make up gender presentation as:

Appearance - hair, clothing

Body

Voice

Physicality/movement

Characteristics

 

These are all things that many people in the lGBT community have to think about in order to "pass" as straight, normal or gender-normative. I want to explore the ways I present within these aspects and the ways I would want to present, in order to heighten them. Laura and I spent some time in our lab on Authentic Movement, I moved from my own impulse and she witnessed. I changed costumes in-between, and found that the clothes began leading my movement. It was exciting, and is something I plan on doing more of next week with Bel as my witness.

So next week I want to continue working on Physicality/Movement and also look at Voice. I plan on having a more in-depth look at speeches from black power/gay power movements - like this amazing speech by Sylvia Rivera - as stimulus to help find my own voice within this. I also want to continue reading up on attempts to erase LGBTQ+  people (literally and figuratively), in order to interrogate why we struggle against visibility now. This will involve looking at aversion/conversion cures over the 20th Century, and laws around cross-dressing. Just a casual week then...