“The phrase slow death refers to the physical wearing out of a population in
a way that points to its deterioration as a defining condition of its experience and historical existence.”
Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (2011)
“[T]o transpose” is to change something into another form, or to transfer to a different place or context: transmutations but also translations and alterations in modes of life and death. Transposition can be a deviation that discomposes order — transpositions are equally as destructive as they are generative.
Eva Hayward, “Spiderwomen” (2017)
I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget.
Dr. McCoy, “Space Seed”
This is a whinge. It’s obtuse and full of unexplained academic jargon, but it is my whinge, so fuck it. I have fallen through the cracks; this is not surprising. I am transposing between three legal/medical national systems. However, unlike transportation (teleportation) through the USS Enterprise’s transporter buffer, my transposition from one state and context to another is incomplete (not unlike so many narratives in Star Trek featuring the transporter). Little bits of me are in multiple places at once — transporter/transposition narcosis. This is not unusual, transpositions need not be generative, or smooth transitions — science fiction teaches us of the potential dangers of matter changing states as it crosses spacetime, bureaucracies, gender, and sex.
As far as the bits and pieces of me, there are pieces in South Korea, documentation of transmutations already undergone, pieces of information that do not translate through the transposition — so I repeat ad nauseum. In Canada, there are fragments of other legal documentation, birth certificates, passports, registering various sex markers — Ms and Xs. There too is one half of a power structure, a grid of overlaying institutions and bureaucracies, in which I find myself stuck in and pulled by. And then there is my spatial location in the Netherlands where I’m also caught in another power web, waiting to be digested, processed, transposed. Here too I am being transposed through another medical and legal system, often incompatible with the former.
The effects of this transposition narcosis are multiple as they subject me to a state of slow death. While normatively, as a white trans femme coming from a formerly well-heeled background, I would be included in the expansion of biopower which is now admitting normative, white, trans bodies — those ones which adhere to cisnormative and heterosexual standards. But as a migratised, crippled, trans femme body, I find myself outside of this calculus — this new neoliberal membership club. Unsurprisingly, I am quickly losing, or have lost, the more well-heeled aspects of my former life. I am anxious about this. Part of my transnational, transgender, transposition has been imbricated and subtended by my failing health from an accident which has given me poor health and permanent nerve damage. Thus, as I finish my current course of study, my prospects for work seem grim, as I often have to stay near bed. Additionally, as my atoms are scattered here and there, I have yet to solve the issue of having my gender officially recognized in Canada or the Netherlands. I am not sure which is worse, the chances that my automatic signification as trans in the job market will prevent me from getting work, or the fear of discrimination. On top of these fears, there is the quagmire of shit that is my current medical treatment — even after three years. I am still so scattered.
In short, I don’t fit into the club, my atoms scattered as they are, transitioning and transposing into various mutations and simulacra of a normative healthy body — whatever that might be. Perhaps the greatest effect of this is on my mental health, which has never been good. But perhaps I should fist cover the good in my life. Every morning when I wake I hug myself and feel the euphoria of my body, of my gender, of my sex. This is no small thing. But after that, I feel the weight of all of these inertias weigh in. I feel the purposeful and indifferent wearing out of my body, my life, as it is stretched and worn thin by systems — only to be discarded. The exhaustion of this exacerbates the decay of my physical health. I feel trapped. Too often I think about the train tracks heading east and south to Nijmegen. I’m not there yet, but how long can I stay transposed? Perhaps we are always transposing, there are no final states, but inertia is not transformation, it is stagnation. I am stagnating. I am deteriorating as I fail to materialize.