embodied trans*formation

episode 1: Collecting dis-words


This story began as an effort to experience the relationship between shame and trauma. I have a number of references that I glanced at, including van der Kolk’s (2014) The Body Keeps the Score, but I zeroed in on Kalsched’s (2013) Trauma and the Soul, thus beginning a dis-word collection. Kalsched offered dis-aster, dis-association, dis-avowal, dis-ease as possible consequences of trauma. Of course, it became apparent to me that dis-ability is a part of that collection.

Next, along the way, the NY Times began a series on being disabled, in part due to the paralympic games. Including a fragment from my dissertation’s glossary I amend the title of this piece to reflect a both/and process of be(com)ing disabled. Rather than experience dis-ability as a linear breaking down of an able (supposedly “normal”) body, be(com)ing dis-abled notes that we all have a varied experience of reality, and that indeed our bodies change and trans* form throughout our lives. This is particularly validating after experiencing both a traumatic brain injury in 2009, and subsequently coming out as a non-binary trans* person.


Which brings us to the inclusion of the program essay about queering Shakespeare from The Globe’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I have a long-time friend/colleague who once spoke about research as (in)queer(y); that is, as I understand it, in the process of inquiry we critique, clarify, challenge, and transform. Thus, by facing the hetero- and mono- normativity usually presented as Shakespeare we open up a whole new world of endless gender and relationship possibilities.


Thus we arrive at a final gathering place: my proposed show Work of Body. It is offered as an acknowledgment of all of these contributions, as a performance in and of itself, as I perform my-self. It is a container for who I am, who I am be(com)ing, what brought me to this place, this moment. It will honor the shame and trauma and healing along the way. It will acknowledge the dis- words that I’ve experienced, including my dis-abilities. It will offer to the world this embodied trans* formation of my self into river, as a person and a professional, a collection of many pieces.

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