While days of celebration such as the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) are important for society in broader terms, to raise awareness - as if trans people weren’t already at the centre of unwarranted and hopeless political ‘debates’ - or to remember the contribution of trans people to culture - but always relegated to a unchallenging footnote -, for many of us visibility is a daily matter. It is not easy to think what it means to be ‘seen’, ‘visible’, when we are always put under the spotlight and made invisible at once. How do we want to be seen - and how do we want to see? There cannot be one answer, because our existences are, in many ways and for many reasons, precarious. As someone noted during our online event on Transgender Activism, the relationship between non-conformity and livability is not an obvious one. While we are aware of the universal condition, that to be ‘seen’ always means to be ‘translated’, we cannot fail to notice that the terms of this translation are still not on our side. A passing occasion like the TDOV reminds us of just that.
If Trans_Muted is anything at all, it is a space of real trans* visibility - an ever growing kaleidoscope of uniquely trans* perspectives on life, the world and everything. As our friends from Tiresiə and we have reasoned during our last event at the Antigone bookshop in Rome this March, every piece of a trans* or queer publication is a bit like the fragment of a bigger mirror. In the gaze of the reader, the writer looks back at them, as themselves and the other, and different identities and experiences can echo each other in a way cisgender and non-queer people definitely do not seem to understand. For instance, “why would a non-binary amab be interested in the stories of a butch transmasculine person?” - asks the cis person - “are they not different?” This is the cis idea of visibility - a literal kind of representation, a sampler of all the possible identities, to give to each one their own and keep us content. But we have no use for this visibility. The terms of communication - of seeing and feeling seen - we establish exist beyond the cisgender logics of self-confirmation or conflict. As nothing is ignored, and no one is left out - of the journal, and of ourselves - painters, lyricists, readers, story-tellers, listeners, contributors and supporters all meet in the shades of this virtual common space. Here, it is in the aroused emotions and changes that we are seen for what we are - which is always more than what we are.
If this - building our own cultural artefacts and practices - is one of the few means for real visibility, then we must remember ourselves and each other the importance of it, against the dominant idea that sees our need for trans culture as a side-thing, a niche interest, a caprice. No. This is one of the ways we make a world that does not belong to us (yet) a little bit more ours, more human. Happy TDOV!