Maps: Confessions of a Trans Woman

This year is good — by all accounts. I count years by the academic calendar. I mean, politically it is a nightmare (this is why I avoid the calendar year — I’m always out of sync). And COVID is just the harbinger of how we cannot deal with climate change. But it’s okay, I’ve made my peace with it. No matter what we do, Earth will eventually become part of the Sun’s swollen coronasphere, and we will be ash and memory. So why not now? Why not expedite it? But this year has been a good year gauged by the personal metrics of neoliberal self-actualization. I bought a house — and I think I just broke the induction hob…I cook on magnetic fields! I got a new shiny vagina, and I finished my research-masters in a country I’d never even been too. Isn’t it the dream of so many North Americans to return to Europe? Reverse colonialism. I’m starting my Ph.D. I’m married, I get good psychological support. My family loves me. And yet, five minutes ago, I just heated a knife in my cast-iron pan via magnetic fields — or something — and burnt three marks into my upper arm. It was kind of absurd, it’s so much easier on a gas range — and here I reveal my muddled English, my cosmopolitanism.

So why did I add three lines to my already heavily marked arm? I guess because I can. I mean, I’ve been doing it for 25 years. But unlike the first bites and cuts I made as a ten-years-old, I know exactly why I made these marks, and the dozen other burns I’ve made in the last five years. I want to die. But I can’t. I can’t do it. Every little sling and arrow has become a volley of missiles, and every time I compromise. Why? Those slings and arrows are constant, each one cuts, and each one accumulates, on my flesh and in my mind — what outrageous fortune. No, really. The state of the world — and you can see I think it’s grim, but just the transphobia, and the TERFs. But also the little things.

Now these little things, that grow and accumulate, are my own fault. I live here and there, and I am she, her, them, and he variously across space and time. How is the bank to keep up? Why shouldn’t I go in, smiling, and explain this to the teller? That’s what they expect. And Paypal, well they don’t know how far I am in my transition; but they are sensitive to my needs — but maybe the law says they will have to call me by his name. No, I say, I know the law, but it doesn’t matter. The individual is dead, society is dead, long live the market. And me, I’m an atom — superimposed here and there. A woman, but man leaks in through the servers. And yet. And yet, I have all of this stuff. But then there is She-who-must-not-be named, and the defence of her essay by seemingly good people on Facebook; and my mom says I could be an educational tool for them — fuck!


It’s Pride. And I leave Primark with my cycling shorts, which prevent my fattened thighs from rubbing together, and there are Harry Potter tote bags beside Pride flags, fuck. I just can’t take it. And I feel like no one can see this apocalypse brewing around me. The BBC assures us that discussing the existence of trans people is a matter of public discourse and I just want to fucking die. Channel 4 agrees. Mock microaggression if you will, but constantly being told you aren’t valid is cumulative. It builds upon the flesh, it makes me mad — 10 mg, not 5. It cuts maps and lines of longitude and latitude across my arms, legs, and torso. Some contour lines appear on my breasts — in the valley between. I become fragile, the simplest thing can send me over the precipice, like a cat and a vase on a ledge.

I think about my next article, about my pussy, and the unreality of my life. Literary references no one gets appear. They only serve to amuse me. And in this, I understand my fleshy cartography that stays my hand. I am amused. I find this all so fucking amusing.

I am a trans doing her PhD in gender/critical theory.