A BUNDLE, (A)BRIDGE
In the last four years, there were 816 documented trans murders worldwide. But violence against transgender people is concentrated along race, class and gender lines. According to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, more than one trans woman (usually a trans woman of color who is often a sex worker) is murdered every other day. As a white trans man, I grapple with what it means to be safe, to be complicit, to grieve other bodies and lives, to grieve my own. To pass, to have a voice.
I invited the audience into this shifting (sometimes treacherous) landscape by creating the site-specific installation, performance and reading, “A Bundle, (A)bridge,” at the culmination of a month-long artist residency at Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. On the most basic level, I walk through the woods when I compose and it’s in the woods that I experience the most physical convergence of noise, nature, violence, serenity, resiliency and strength. I hung the poems I had written during the residency, sections from A Troubling (a manuscript that engages with trans-violence, both personal and systemic), on the walls of my studio and then filled it with 816 sticks.
In order to get to the poems, the audience had to walk on the sticks—to hear them breaking, to consider bones and on whose bones we are standing, to consider the 816 trans women—their bodies, their deaths and their lives. To engage with the ambivalence of what is natural, the violence we each (trans or cis) survive, the violence we each (trans or cis) inflict, the bodies we have inhabited, the bodies we have lost. To create the sound of traveling over—passing—what bridges do and are made of. Passing as movement, safety, privilege. To experience the instability (both euphoric and threatening) of my trans body—of standing on a handmade bridge. The feeling of being carried over a terrific and terrible, gaping maw.
Voyager, Gloria Anzaldúa says, there are no bridges. One builds them as one walks.