Responding to Straight White Male
Part of the application process for this open call was to answer the question: How does your artwork relate to the exhibition theme? Which led me to consider how I relate to theme, as a Bisexual White Transgender Man, having never been nor will be a Straight White Male.
I started by considering my own 'Male-ness', my masculinity, what I feel about how people perceive me:
As a transgender man, I have a personal battle with the term Straight White Male.
My close friends would probably say I can be quite feminine, I tend to end up falling into the ‘gay best friend’ category with people I get close to. However, in the public eye I can’t help but try my best to appear as a straight cisgender man, kind of the opposite of a bisexual (with a preference for men) transgender man – the thought of leaving the house without my chest bound and flat terrifies me, because I don’t want anybody to see me as anything other than male.
Before starting my medical transition nearly four years ago, I had been verbally and physically abused by strangers in public spaces, and according to Stonewall four in five trans people who experience hate crime don’t report it to the police – myself becoming one of those four. 375 transgender and gender non-conforming people were murdered in 2021, the highest recorded number since records began and one in four of those people were killed in their own home (according to the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide project by Transgender Europe).
Within my practice I advocate for the social change of breaking the binary of gender and sexuality; yet personally I strive to comply to the binary for fear of being seen as less of a male because I’m transgender and possibly face more abuse for it. I identify as male and as masculine, but because I know all the lyrics to every One Direction song, can compliment someone on their nails because I appreciate the effort that has gone into the artwork and have a soft-spot for romance novels, that somehow makes me less of a man to a society that believes that gender is not a spectrum and that how someone presents, how they act, their likes and dislikes define their gender identity.
By answering the above question it led me to my artwork, depicting my inner thoughts and feelings when I get ready to leave the house: have I got tape on? Is my tape showing? Is it peeling? Does my t-shirt colour/pattern hide the tape? Does my t-shirt look too girly? Do my jeans hide that I don't have a bulge? Is my hair getting too long? Does it look girly? Am I man enough for society? I want to bring to light these thoughts.