I refuse to feel humiliated by the question. I am a worthwhile human being and I am deserving of attention, as much as anyone is, which is to say not very much.
I use this newsletter to explore questions related to trans life within a feminist frame, and often through various attempts to be funny. That means, for me:
• trans feminism shares goals with other kinds of feminism, and “trans women are women” is a descriptive statement about how we all relate to one another.
• I am not dogmatic about the nature of my transness (I barely understand it myself), and I welcome discussion and disagreement.
• trans experience and embodiment is neither new nor uniform - part of this work is to uncover historical expressions of transness in historical figures usually not associated with it. In that frame, I think about transness with a number of historical writers - Browning, Descartes, Eliot, Swinburne, Freud - as well as contemporary poets like Jos Charles.
• the business of setting down in language the truth of one’s experience, with as much precision and attention as one can, is more than enough justification for the act of writing. My theoretical claims are therefore often grounded in memoir, and a method I think of as “autocriticism” - an attempt to think through the implications and consequences of my subjective encounters with cultural phenomena.
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The phrase “The Stage Mirror” is an inversion of a familiar essay by the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. What he called the “mirror stage” is a moment in infant development where we learn to identify ourselves with an image - and therefore to separate our sense of identity from the feeling of presence - the mirror self, so to speak, is the real “us.” Trans discourse also relates narratives of disconnection and self-objectification - though Lacan didn’t, I think, very much care for us. I’ve been thinking a lot about mirrors on stages recently - how they must be angled, and what they shouldn’t reflect. A trick mirror, or else a mirror that reflects the audience rather than the character.
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The illustrator Poppers the Pony, an amazing and delightful queer artist in the Bay Area, was kind enough to design an illustration for this newsletter. It depicts me as a pangolin (my instagram handle is @grace.lavery.pangolin) looking into a stage mirror; in this case, it is a “stage mirror” because the reflection possesses a very different affect to the observer. Perhaps they are played by different actors, on the same stage. Both the observer-pangolin and the reflection-pangolin have big fuck-off glasses. I love big fuck-off glasses.
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I am British. I am very bad at Tinder. This has been extremely embarrassing. I wish you good morrow.