Shannon T.L. Kearns
Shannon T.L. Kearns
About Bodies and Safety
Shannon T.L. Kearns > About Bodies and Safety
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Today’s post is an excerpt from my play The Resistance of My Skin. We just closed a production of it with Uprising Theatre Company. For context: The show is about Ayden, a transgender man, and Jess, a plus size woman. They have been dating and they think that tonight might be the night that they have sex for the first time. This brings up insecurities for both of them. In this scene an outside event has forced Ayden to confront his fears about his personal safety.

AYDEN Haven’t you been paying attention? Haven’t you been watching the news? Every single day another trans person gets murdered. Every month another law gets passed making it harder for us to get health insurance, or find a job, or housing. They try to legislate us out of existence. And when enough people talk about how we don’t deserve to be who we are: we don’t deserve the same rights, or health care, or whatever, then this type of violence is the logical outcome.

JESS I just can’t believe that this is the world we live in now. But…

AYDEN For some of us this has always been the world we’ve lived in. People have always hated us.

JESS You can’t worry about them.

AYDEN But I have to worry about them. We’re not safe anywhere. We’re not even safe in our own clubs…

JESS I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.

AYDEN It’s not your fault. This isn’t your world.

JESS No. It’s not my world. But it’s your world. And I want to be in your world.

AYDEN But you can’t be… I just mean… You’ll never know what it’s like.

JESS What what’s like?

AYDEN To walk out the door and not feel safe. To never feel safe.

JESS So you lash out at people trying to support you?

AYDEN I don’t know who’s safe and who’s not.

JESS You don’t think I’m safe?

AYDEN I honestly have no idea.

JESS How can you even say that?

AYDEN How can I not?

JESS I’m an ally. I’m on your side.

AYDEN You have no idea how many people tell me they are allies and then turn around and do really fucked up stuff.

JESS You think I’m going to do fucked up stuff?

AYDEN Jess, don’t you get it? The problem is I don’t know. I literally have no idea who I can and cannot trust. I don’t know who’s going to freak out, or put me in danger, or just say something unintentionally hurtful. Every single day I walk around on edge because I don’t know if this is going to be the day that I get assaulted. Or have to explain again what it means to be trans. Or be misgendered. I don’t know if, the moment we get naked together, you’re going to decide that my body isn’t what you want. Or that you’re going to say some shit about it. I just don’t know. Because I can’t know until we’re in it. Because people saying they are allies or on my side or cool with trans people turn around and do hurtful shit all the time. So I don’t know who to trust. Long silence

JESS That sounds really lonely.

AYDEN It is. And I’m so tired, Jess. All night I’ve been trying so hard, you know? To figure this out, to figure us out. I wanted to think that I could just be this normal guy.

JESS You are a normal guy.

AYDEN Not in their eyes. I’ll never be normal in their eyes. I just… This body. Why do people hate it so much? It’s good, you know? I’ve worked so hard to build it and to learn to love it and it just doesn’t feel like enough.

JESS Your body is a good body.

AYDEN It’s a complicated body. Like, I get it that on the one hand I am protected by all sorts of privilege, you know? I’m protected by the fact that I am white. Protected by my masculinity, by the fact that my body “passes”. But it’s also conditional. Because the second someone finds out that I’m trans; that there is a different history behind my maleness then all bets are off. And so I walk this razor wire of trying to challenge this patriarchal structure that I’ve somehow become an inheritor of while also trying to make sure that I don’t get killed because someone finds out about me and gets pissed. I can’t even go to the bathroom without looking over my damn shoulder. And yet, at the same time, I am so much more privileged than other trans people and so this line between fear and privilege; I don’t really know how to walk it sometimes.

JESS I don’t know what to say.

AYDEN You don’t have to say anything. I’m probably not even making sense.

JESS You are. I’m just realizing that there is a lot that I don’t know about your experiences. And I thought I did. I mean, I’ve tried to do my work, you know? But hearing about it from you is different. There’s so much that I still don’t know. And I shouldn’t have assumed that I understood.

AYDEN This isn’t exactly stuff I felt comfortable bringing up when we first started dating. But tonight… It seemed important for tonight.

For more about Uprising Theatre Company and our current season check out our website.

For more about my plays, check out this page.

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Photo Credit: David Kutschke Flickr via Compfight cc