[Image credit: Marloes Hilckmann]
I want to talk about monsters. All the time. This obsession started as a kid watching TV shows like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and performing the little kid rite of watching the same movie over and over again until our tape of Fern Gully broke. Surprise surprise, my favorite part was “Toxic Love” which probably sparked my love of skeletons and lifelong crush on Tim Curry (maybe that says more about me than I should admit in public). My partner and I go to see exclusively scary movies in theaters. Friends and family gift me skulls and Frankenstein’s monster themed gifts. Talk to me about horror, talk to me about monsters. Anytime.
This might seem like a tangent, but stick with me. I want to talk about being trans. About living in a world where self-determination about body and presentation is seen as taboo. About how so many people view gender affirming surgeries as grotesque and horrific. About how being trans places so many people on the fringe. What about the blood, the bandages, the violence that becomes part of being trans? I want to talk about the sheer EUPHORIA of being at ease with oneself, the joy of rending binaries and sex essentialism. Let’s talk about being outcasts, gender rebels, the kind of people who make the world say ‘think of the children!’
You might see where I’m going with this. Trans people identifying with monsters is not a novel concept; the unfortunate intersection of gender and horror contains trans people. Particularly trans women, reinforcing a lot of really yucky misinformation about the lives of unassuming women. However, I’m not the only trans person I know who has a love of monsters and monstrosity. Grabbing something that’s used to vilify you can feel powerful. YES, I am the monster you fear and thus you should stay away from me and my partner and my cats so we can just garden in peace.
It’s more than the sense of power in striking fear in cis people’s hearts, however. Identifying with monsters provides a way to see ourselves in the media where we are so often forgotten about. Why yes, I think I will see myself in the lighted eyes of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. I love to dress up goth dandy and be extremely overwhelming to people who don’t know me. Or tomorrow I might be the Wolfman, watching my hair sprout on my face because of my testosterone shots. Or both; I could be the son of Dracula and the Wolfman, wearing my drag ball best, sporting my new beard hairs twined with belladonna berries and oleander.
Okay, enough fantasizing about my fictional gay dads.
The purpose of merging transness and monsters arrives here: When you’re exploring yourself, looking into the depths of what you could be, think about becoming that which scares you. There’s so much electricity if you’re brave enough to grab it.
about the author:
H.P. Armstrong is a trans and queer writer who hails from the Midwest, but lives in Colorado with his partner. He is a graduate of Naropa's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics with a BA in Creative Writing and Literature, as well as a graduate of Front Range Community College. His work has appeared in KYSO Flash's A Trembling of Finches, with Punch Drunk Press, Plains Paradox, and internationally with Nota Bene. His work primarily involves the beautifully grotesque and disenfranchisement of the body, along with his experiences as a destitute poor, queer, homeless young adult and as an ex-Mormon. He is working on his first novel handling themes of the consequences of religious abuse and the lack of knowledge of one's own body.
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