A Trans Duet
June 20, 2015 3:08 PM   Subscribe

"I found this song I started working on last year before I started hormones, and I decided to sing a duet with my Pre T self." posted by heatherann (31 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Alexander James Adams has done more than a couple of "duets" between his male self and his female cis-self on several of his albums. This is not a new thing. It's just new to those just now realizing that trans musical artists exist.
posted by hippybear at 3:20 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Gorgeous. When some of us can't carry a note at all, it seems almost unfair that one person would have such a beautiful voice twice over. :)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:26 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Even if it's not the first time somebody has done this, it's a fantastic idea and an absolutely lovely performance.

Has anybody done one of those "one picture a day" videos while they were transitioning? Whoever does that first is probably going to have one hell of a viral video.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:58 PM on June 20, 2015 [7 favorites]




Yeah, there are loads of "1 photo every day" transition videos. When I was younger, I found them inspiring and I still recognize they can be valuable on that level, but I have more complex feelings about them now.

Anyway. This is nice, and a neat idea. He has a beautiful singing voice with just a shade of Conor Oberstiness in it. Haunting.
posted by byanyothername at 4:22 PM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hippybear even though I was obviously aware that trans musical artists exist, I had never seen a duet done like this.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 4:22 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is not a new thing. It's just new to those just now realizing that trans musical artists exist.

That is the most ungenerous possible framing of this post. Nobody said it was a new thing; it's just a beautiful thing.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:41 PM on June 20, 2015 [32 favorites]


Very beautiful. Thanks for this heatherann and Nikolas.
posted by anadem at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2015


Whoever does that first is probably going to have one hell of a viral video.

This is kind of precisely why I have mixed feelings about trans YouTube. It's invaluable for trans people, can be useful for cis people, especially parents and partners of trans people, but at the same time, I wish it didn't have to be public so that videos couldn't go viral because what is it but people gawking?
posted by hoyland at 5:20 PM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, what is any video but people gawking? Whether it's a clever crow, otters holding hands (awwww cute!), a little girl who can SING, someone dancing etc, they go viral because it's COOL or cute or awesome.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 5:39 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


> what is any video but people gawking?

Well yeah, but that same relationship between viewer and video takes on a different significance depending on the video, right?

OTOH, the world can't go from *normative to *representative without something bearing the uncomfortable attention of "first".

..and I'd like to believe that there's something deeper than gawking - where you don't click over to another tab, you just go to cry, for a walk, to write a song..
posted by Jack Karaoke at 5:50 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there are loads of "1 photo every day" transition videos.

Huh. I'm trans myself and I thought I'd seen every kind of trans video there was to see, but somehow I totally missed this. Go figure. Searching now, I find plenty of videos of F2M transitioning, but only two (so far) of M2F. There were a number of "timeline" M2F videos, but just a couple of "picture per day" videos. I wonder why the F2M videos are so much more common. I can't think of an explanation.

I wish it didn't have to be public so that videos couldn't go viral because what is it but people gawking?

People who post these videos are making the choice to share a relatively objective and straightforward visual record of their transition. People seeing the clips will react in their own ways. Some of them will be supportive, some will gawk, some will be hateful. I don't see how it's better for people to not "go public" with this stuff. If you are asking for people to not post things like this, aren't you in a way asking for less representation? Isn't that kind of saying, "I don't want transitioning people to be so visible, because some people will see it and react in ways I don't like"?

(Apologies if that comes across as holier than thou. Gender is endlessly complicated and fraught with confusing contradictions, and I can't pretend I have my own feelings about this stuff sewn up nice and tidy.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:07 PM on June 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


With respect to the photo-a-day photos... mm, I see why hoyland is feeling uncomfortable, because I have had instances where I put things onto the internet which I was thinking of as directed entirely at people within my community. When people who did not identify within my community saw them and commented on them, I felt exposed and pitied and weirded out. I'm still untangling why I feel that way. I have very complicated feelings about my first blog, which was and is much more raw than I write about now. But I think some of it came down to... I wasn't writing to be pitied, I wasn't looking for validation from people outside my community, and it feels strange to be someone else's teachable moment when you're not expecting to.

But as a cis person watching the videos... well, I took great joy from the two linked. Not because I was gawking at the physical changes that each person went through as they completed their transitions, actually--because I really wasn't, those weren't the things that caught my attention. I was watching the change in their baseline emotions in the photos. The trans woman zompist links in particular started to have more flashes of just laughing and relaxing and clearly enjoying herself in those photos.

It wasn't just the obvious episodes of breakout joy, the thing that stuck out to me was what their baseline "neutral" expressions turned into. I saw a release of tension in their faces. That, that happiness and the sense of a neutral which was more relaxed than the starting photos.... well. I might be gawking a bit, and I hope that if the subjects of this video see this comment by some coincidence that they don't feel exposed. But it made me so happy to see them at the end, settled into their own skin and with neutral expressions with a little bit of smile, a little bit relaxed, as opposed to the beginning tenseness. Maybe that's projection--after all, there's an imposed narrative on videos like that--but... nevertheless, I think it's valuable to see?

I don't know. I'd really like to hear some of the complex feelings that byanyothername and hoyland mention, because I think they sound interesting and thoughtful.
posted by sciatrix at 9:25 PM on June 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I have seen a ton of transition journals, picture a day type things, or videos with spaced out photos from every few weeks or every month or whatever. I think maybe the reason there aren't more "tons and tons and tons of photos posed exactly the same in the same place that morph into each other" videos is that those videos require a significant time investment and technological know how and it's relatively rare to have space in your life for a project like that.

Same thing with the specific gimmick of the duet that we see here. Music made by trans and queer artists is super important to me, I love HIRS and Downtown Boys and Aye Nako, but I hadn't seen this particular type of song before.

For better or worse, a lot of media about trans people focuses on transition. This can be an invaluable resource for people who are at a point in their life where they're very focused on transition. For people who are older, or who identify as trans but choose to undergo very little physical changes, or who are just at a different point in their story, it can sometimes be alienating.

If I have those feelings I usually just try to go seek out some photos or writing that I do feel represents me. It's important for all trans stories to be told; maybe we don't need less positive trans-created media around transition, but more stories from people that we don't hear from as often.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:39 PM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


When people who did not identify within my community saw them and commented on them, I felt exposed and pitied and weirded out.

But can we just assume that the people who posted these videos had the same experience you did? If they had a negative experience, they could take their videos down or make them friends only or whatever. But they haven't done that.

maybe we don't need less positive trans-created media around transition, but more stories from people that we don't hear from as often.

Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me.

I think maybe the reason there aren't more "tons and tons and tons of photos posed exactly the same in the same place that morph into each other" videos is that those videos require a significant time investment and technological know how and it's relatively rare to have space in your life for a project like that.

But it looks like there are a whole lot of these videos for trans men, but relatively few for trans women. I don't think we can assume trans women as a group have less time or technical knowledge (or less of an impulse to show off!) than trans men, so the disparity is really puzzling.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:56 PM on June 20, 2015


Wow. Just beautiful. Thanks for this.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:10 PM on June 20, 2015


But it looks like there are a whole lot of these videos for trans men, but relatively few for trans women.

I was just addressing the disparity between morph-timelapse videos and other transition chronicles, I definitely didn't mean to imply anything about the difference in numbers between genders! I can see how it could have been taken that way, and for that I apologize.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:17 PM on June 20, 2015


that was very beautiful, thanks for posting.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:53 AM on June 21, 2015


I can see how it could have been taken that way, and for that I apologize.

No, sorry, I didn't mean that! I was just elaborating on my original question.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:10 AM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


With respect to the photo-a-day photos... mm, I see why hoyland is feeling uncomfortable, because I have had instances where I put things onto the internet which I was thinking of as directed entirely at people within my community. When people who did not identify within my community saw them and commented on them, I felt exposed and pitied and weirded out.

I have had experiences like this as well (hello, early 20s blog!). Thank you all for this discussion. I wonder if this is part of what hippybear was reacting to above.

There is a transman who I occasionally check in on on Instagram because I knew him a long time ago when we were young, pre-transition. I don't follow or like or comment because it feels like that would be intrusive. It's his community space and I'm not part of that community. Plus my feelings on his transition are complex — I support it completely, I'm glad to see him so happy and getting more comfortable in his skin, I'm shocked and thrilled to see his parents come around after a long silence ...and I have to focus to remember to say "him" in a way that I don't with trans friends who I met after transition. But that's for me to deal with.

I originally came upon Nik's video via Khale McHurst's Tumblr, which I read half for her comics and half for her celebration of lesbian / dandy / genderqueer / trans beauty. Within that community, Nik is part of the celebrated "us".

I certainly didn't mean to imply that it was weird or the first ever. I thought it was notable because it is beautifully done and it illustrates a cool body thing that most of us will never get to experience.
posted by heatherann at 5:42 AM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


People interested in trans musicians might enjoy this documentary: Riot Acts.

I saw it several years ago so I don't remember it in great detail, but I really liked it at the time and it introduced me to some great musicians I still listen to regularly.
posted by Stacey at 6:38 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


But can we just assume that the people who posted these videos had the same experience you did? If they had a negative experience, they could take their videos down or make them friends only or whatever. But they haven't done that.

Well, of course we can't. I'm sorry, I wasn't clear; I was trying not to project things much on to either hoyden or onto the subjects of the videos with my comment, just trying to use my experience to try and get at why the subject might be a little more complicated than it looks on the surface.

It's worth noting, though, that I have deliberately not taken down those old blog posts either. Partly that's out of a desire to leave them up as a resource to people who are in my community. Partly it's out of a desire not to break links and destroy the record of communication within my community. I haven't made them private, either, because I wrote them with an audience in mind of people I didn't necessarily know personally either and I wanted them to be available to people who might have shared experiences. I don't know if I even would have cared if people hadn't left comments to the effect of "oh I had no idea that is TERRIBLE" on my blog and made me feel a bit weird over it.

Like I said, I don't have any answers at all here. It's just a weirdness which I have a little experience with, and one which I have some complicated feelings about; and I was curious to know if something similar might be going on for a couple of people here too.
posted by sciatrix at 6:57 AM on June 21, 2015


I don't see how it's better for people to not "go public" with this stuff. If you are asking for people to not post things like this, aren't you in a way asking for less representation? Isn't that kind of saying, "I don't want transitioning people to be so visible, because some people will see it and react in ways I don't like"?

It's the in-group/out-group aspect of a video going viral rather than a representation thing. Hopefully I'll succeed in explaining. Trans YouTube is definitely a good thing for trans people. I'm sure there are some people wandering from video to video gawking, but they're not really diminishing the insane degree to which YouTube is a resource for trans people and their families. And some people have made incredibly informative videos that I wouldn't hesitate sending to someone questioning their gender or a cis person mildly curious about trans stuff, but I'd hesitate about linking them here or on Facebook or wherever because it's sort of saying "Hey, random people, go take a look at this." I don't have qualms about the idea of random cis people stumbling across that corner of YouTube and finding it interesting and watching a bunch of videos. You'd have to be pretty clueless to fail to realise that you were a visitor in that space (not to say that such clueless people don't exist and comment on videos). But that's really different than, say, Buzzfeed linking to one of those same videos and inviting the entire internet into a community that Buzzfeed isn't a part of. It's the difference between people coming across the videos organically (like heatherann seeing it linked on a tumblr with the comment "I'm glad the creator decided to share") and 'You'll Never Believe This Incredible Transformation Video!'
posted by hoyland at 7:33 AM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


hoyland, is this one of the videos you would hesitate to link here? I feel like it is slightly different because it is a song (vs a vlog), but I totally hear what you are saying and I will more consciously factor that in with future FPPs.
posted by heatherann at 8:30 AM on June 21, 2015


This is lovely, and seems like a cool experience for him. I'm glad he shared it. Agreed with byanyothername - his post-T voice does have a Conner-Oberst sound to it.
posted by aka burlap at 9:43 AM on June 21, 2015


hoyland, is this one of the videos you would hesitate to link here?

Personally, I wouldn't have linked it, but I'm but one voice of many and I'm someone who likely will never make a trans-related FPP. I think you might get a different answer from, say Juliet Banana, since this feels like the sort of thing they're much more likely to post than me.

I really don't want you to feel bad about this post. That I wouldn't make it doesn't mean someone else shouldn't. That you asked the question says that you get it's thorny and that's all what one can really ask since reasonable people cis and trans are going to disagree about what's okay to link for a general audience and even whether Metafilter is a general audience (I mean, there are an awful lot of familiar-to-me usernames commenting in this thread, so you could argue the general Metafilter population isn't reading it anyway). "What does it say that I'm linking to this?" is probably a good question to ask ourselves whenever linking to content from an individual (rather than a publication, say), regardless of who it is.
posted by hoyland at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this duet because it was musically appealing, and because it's cool to be in dialog with one's former incarnation.

To me, this video is quite different from transition vlogs and photo-a-day videos, in that it is a performance, and intended for as wide an audience as will listen. There's no issue of some video intended as an insider conversation for a trans audience being gawked at, or worse, passed around as a link for mocking transphobes to laugh at.

Personally, I am super uncomfortable with those photo-a-day transition videos that sometimes go viral, and that's because the reason they go viral is that they resonate with and reinforce the dominant cis narrative of gender transition, which is that the goal of a trans person is to "switch sexes" so that they wind up looking as much like a cis person of the gender they were not assigned at birth as possible. This narrative is spoken of in terms of "passing" as a woman or man, which is highly problematic, since in all other contexts, when we say someone is "passing as X," we mean that they are not really X but just pretending. It's a narrative that also makes trans people with nonbinary gender identities incomprehensible. But the greatest issue is that I see with this focus on passing as a cis person of one's identified gender is that it equates being visibly trans gender with transition failure. It frames the visibly trans body as ugly and deserving of mockery and as justifying misgendering.

The really sad thing to me is that not only do cissexist people treat visibly trans people as pitiful failures at gender transition, but so many trans people internalize this message uncritically. That's why there is such an ardent audience for so many "passing guides" and voice training videos and the like. It's why so many trans-identified people decide not to transition--I can't tell you the number of times I've heard someone cry, "I'd never be able to pass!" It's why there are so many voices inside our community saying things like, "Facial feminization surgery is not cosmetic plastic surgery, it is necessary for the safety and success of almost every trans woman."

I'm certainly not saying that people should not make changes in their bodies that reduce their internal gender dysphoria--I think that's great. But framing fellow trans people who do not want or cannot access trans body mods as "incomplete" or ugly or pathetic is sheer cruelty. It's not our bodies that cause us to be victims of violence--it's transphobia.

The trans community is hardly alone as a marginalized group whose most celebrated members are those who look most like the privileged. But where, say, the African American community has a long history of internal community conversations about the privilege lighter-skinned community members enjoy, and a very strong critique of the idea that dark skin is ugly, the trans community's parallel critique is embryonic. I go to trans support sites, and what I encounter are post after post after post asking "Do I Pass?" and people wistfully sharing things like those photo-a-day videos of beautiful young individuals who go from looking like cis men to cis women, or vice versa. Posts like that reinscribe the idea that visibly trans people are failures, undermine our worth and validity as trans people, and contribute to the suffering of those most marginalized in our own community--but they sure are popular.

There is nothing at all wrong with having by accident of nature and fortune of social position a post-transition body that nobody notices to be trans. But I am waiting for the day when sharing photo-a-day transition videos of people who are happy to be visibly trans gender at the end of them go viral in a celebratory way.
posted by DrMew at 2:53 PM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is a ridiculously beautiful rendition of a song I already loved, and the context gives a whole new layer to my ears, between the initial "take my body" and the "find somebody like you",etc, it comes across as deeply self compassionate somehow.
posted by Iteki at 3:43 PM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Very beautiful. Thank you Nikolas. Thank you Metafilter.
posted by Thella at 10:12 PM on June 21, 2015


I am trans and intersex. My particular kind of trans, "transgender", as I personally experience it, is not about transitioning, but about remaining in between, about defying gender roles and expectations. And because of how I've engaged with the medical establishment, I experienced no change in hormones or physiology from that.

But in these kinds of works I recognize beauty and kinship. So thank you for posting this, heatherann.
posted by kalessin at 10:15 PM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


in all other contexts, when we say someone is "passing as X," we mean that they are not really X but just pretending.

I agree with everything in your comment, except this. I don't think we use 'passing as x' in other contexts at all, really - we use 'passing FOR x', which does indeed have exactly the implication you suggest. 'Passing as' to me suggests at least that you are in fact occupying the role you claim, in a way that 'passing for' suggests to me that you don't at all, and that an outright deception is taking place.

"Passing mutton for beef" suggests something a bit different to "yeah, this will pass as a curry" - the former is deception, the latter a (slightly backhanded) approval.
posted by Dysk at 6:41 AM on June 22, 2015


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