Before You Ask Me About My Fascinating Body, Ask Yourself First
by Simcha Halpert-Hanson
After a recent rash of poor interview approaches by some unmentionable journalists, I feel compelled to respond to the overarching theme I sense throughout some of the frustrating interviews and articles done with/released about Schmekel.
My bandmates and I occupy bodies and beings not recognized by society and thereby possess experiences that mainstream society cannot deftly categorize in its imagination of a human life.
In the press, I notice the focus is on our bodies in a way that strikes me as indicative of the hetero and cis-normative background of the folks questioning us. The focus of these interviewers lack safety because it is coming from a place where the interviewer has likely been unconsciously socialized to feel badly about sex, bodies and gender expression. Maybe Interviewer A grew up female and always felt a little uncomfortable with the princess birthday parties her parents threw her as a child, but never knew why. Maybe Interviewer B really liked his penis as a boy, but stopped liking it when his peers laughed at it in the locker room and hasn’t thought about it since. Maybe Interviewer C was yelled at by her mother when she was caught masturbating in her room and was scared to touch herself ever afterwards. When I read the articles derived from these interviews, I am shown the fruit of living in mainstream society without scrutinizing it. That profound lack of awareness and self-acceptance is in turn projected onto myself and my bandmates and whereas in real life, we’re quite an empowered group, in print we’re rendered as self-loathing outcasts without gender, without biology, without being.
Not scrutinizing the terms of society- an entity we technically create and uphold collectively, even if it disadvantages us- makes for oppression like transphobia. Makes for questions like “Do you miss your period?” which assumes that innately trans men are really women who have quite sadly, from the perspective of the interviewer, lost a marker of their inherent woman-ness. Not scrutinizing makes for questions like “When did you decide to be transgender?” which assumes that a trans person’s gender or sex is a statement and not as innate as the gender or sex of the interviewer. Or asking “What did your parents name you?” and “Did you change your name?” which assumes that the authority for our gender and our sex is with our parents and not with us as well as desires to pry into the mythical “real” person trans people “actually” are.
From the heterosexual, cis-gender press I would genuinely like to know:
Do you identify with the name your parents gave you? Do you ‘feel’ like you are what you are named?
Do you have a penis? How do you feel about it?
Do you have a vagina? How do you feel about it?
Do you have sex with your penis or your vagina? Does it feel good for you? If it doesn’t, why not?
How do you feel about your body when you have sex?
How do you feel about your breasts or your nipples?
Do you like your semen/vaginal juices/menstrual flow?
How do you urinate? How do you feel about the method that you use to urinate?
Is there an association for you between your body and the authenticity of your self?
Are you authentic? If you feel like you are, how do you know?