Solitary sister

July 14, 2008

Donna Rose recently wrote about the animated movie, Wall-E. She points out that one of its themes is loneliness. The following quote from her post sort of leapt off the screen and slapped me. Hard.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that loneliness is the single-most difficult issue that many trans-people face. We often feel it core-deep and although we can fill our lives with other things to keep us busy and keep our minds off the fact that we’re all alone sometimes it can become almost overwhelming. It’s not that we don’t have friends. And, it’s not about sex either. It’s the deeper need for intimacy – for simple things like holding hands, hugging, having a shoulder to cry on – those are things so many of us long for but often our searches are futile.

I have lived a very solitary life for longer than I can remember. But it is only recently that the sense of aloneness (which I was quite comfortable with) seems to have turned into loneliness. I think it may be why I have been so despondent since my falling apart on Saturday. Talking about the personal side of transitioning is like pulling out your own heart and putting it on a silver platter for all to see. And although I have done this plenty of times before with selected friends, it’s an entirely different sensation doing it for a room full of strangers. It makes you acutely aware of just how on your own you really are – and I just wasn’t able to put that much of me out there, in front of so many people. Maybe this is why I have been feeling so emotionally raw, battered and punch-drunk in the aftermath.

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Lonely is as lonely does
Lonely is an eyesore

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Later edit (tangential): Kate Bornstein has posted quite an imaginative take on the genders of the two robots in Wall-E. She considers it from the point of view of being: “[…] a feature length cartoon about a pair of lesbian robots who fall madly in love with each other”.

The gist of her argument is that, if we consider the characters as Butch and Femme instead of male and female, then they can be assigned any gender. So they could be a lesbian couple, or a gay couple: as Kate says: “You’re the audience. You get to decide.”.

Pixar and Disney made a great many anatomical choices when they designed EVE and WALL•E to be as close to human as they can possibly be and still be robots. They didn’t give us one single anatomical clue to the gender of these cute li’l robots, but they knew we’d see WALL•E as boy and EVE as girl.

Kate thinks that this isn’t the first time that Disney has used gender variant characters.

Mu-Lan is a film about a female to male cross-dresser. And what about Pinocchio? An animated block of wood spends an entire movie trying to become a “real” boy – aided by a blue fairy and an asexual cricket. And what gender exactly was Ariel (a non-gender specific name, by the way) when that little mermaid had a fishy tail? Did she go through a gender change when she grew legs which (presumably) had something between them so she could be a “real” girl? And getting down to basics, can anyone prove that Mickey and Minnie Mouse are male and female?

Behind the humorous tone of the piece, there’s quite a thought-provoking deconstruction going on. Okay, so there’s an implied acceptance of Disney’s anthropomorphism of technology – but Coleridge’s phrase suspension of disbelief comes to mind…

A good read

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©2008 Helen G

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