As a young transgirl growing up in the 80s, I didn't see myself reflected anywhere in the world. So I picked up my intellectual flashlight, and began digging caves into the depths of my consciousness. Better to live underground than to be murdered, I thought. I brought with me as many musky books as I could find. I began an intense research program in which I aimed to find glimpses of my nature in the arts and humanities.
Meanwhile, on the surface I occupied myself with apprenticing in all forms of art I could lay my hands on: I learned to draw from my maternal grandparents (both fabulous visual artists), I acted and studied playwriting, I excelled at the cello and received an undergraduate music degree from Boston College, and I studied modern dance at the Merce Cunningham Studio and Ailey Schools in NYC. The only "out" transwomen I had ever seen were avant-garde performers, so I assumed that track was the only path to being myself in the world.
Then, after years of inner and outer labor, something began to shift. My inner world demanded to be integrated with the external. I moved to San Francisco, and my suppressed life began to stir. This process was aided by a four-year meditation on the morphology and movement behavior of plants and animals, which gave me the strength I needed to proceed. Once you've fully submerged yourself in the well of non-dualism, it's impossible to see the world the same. After you have found your common roots with acres of aspen trees, grasshoppers, and the mountains, the subtleties of gender expression seem rather non-consequential. My work shifted from studying the work of my predecessors to picking up my pen and writing my own truth. This truth began to emerge in the form of chamber music, works for theater, writing, and drawings, which continue to this day to be my primary expressive channels.
Then in 2016, at long last, I decided to surface my buried cognition. The motivation came in the form of a suicide note of the young trans martyr Leelah Alcorn. She walked in front of semi truck, but not before making a cogent request for us to "fix society". I couldn't stand idly by within the safety of my buried inner life while trans children were killing themselves. I knew the time had come to show up, with all the complexity and inner beauty of our trans psychology, and make space for our unique variance.
During my surfacing I doubted if I would retain any interest in the arts at all. These forms of expression had long sustained me, yet had also muffled my voice. I had used the arts to keep myself alive, but also buried my truth in endless layers of abstraction. Could I find a way to reappropriate this technology?
I soon began to write my story, which brought vitality back to all facets of my life, including my relationship to art. I picked up my pen and began composing, crafting a theater work, and drawing as though my life depended on it. Flowers. Monsters. Liberation movement luminaries. I had long used the arts and humanities to carve out inner rooms in my soul, yet I quickly learned that we can use arts technology to create public space for our dreams. We can draft the worlds we have always wanted, and work together to make them a reality.
Which brings me to now; this moment where I write, draw, coach leaders and connect with others to build tomorrow.