Body Stories: On Trans-Poetics as Feminist Science Studies
In Spring 2015 I begin medical transition. The archive starts with a few empty testosterone vials that I line up along my windowsill. A few months later, I have a small wooden cigar box full of them. I begin to save receipts. I keep voicemails from my insurance company until the storage on my phone is full and it no longer takes photos. I store old prescriptions from before and after my name change process that could never reasonably be of use. I catalogue personal notes from visits, letters for flying with needles, my new birth certificate, all the medical letters it took to get the new birth certificate, emails. I record videos documenting my bodily shifts. A year later my little brown folder has started to bulge out at the sides. My project begins from the sticky place of critiquing Medicine while embodying lifelong engagement with it. This work utilizes my medical records as a point of departure for a conversation between two archives of transition -- one that my doctors collectively produce and one that I am making through poetic and critical response to these ‘body stories’ the documents tell. Transgender healthcare has long maintained the epistemic authority of the field of Biology in its understanding of bodies. What does my trans body have to say about and to the field of Medicine? How does poetry about my experience of transition resist the silencing reductionism of Science? This work primarily draws on Karen Barad’s notion of agential realism and Donna Haraway’s attention to naturecultural entanglements to investigate the many material-semiotic bodies trans medicine is constituted through and among. This creative piece offers interventions in my medical archive riddled with Scientific reductionism and explores what a transexual-poetics can offer as a a recuperative methodology, an instigation of conversation with and against the techno-biopolitical relations of trans medicalization. The project takes its form in three chapters. The first explores chest surgery as a site of normalization and naturalization. The second investigates the question of the ‘passive’ ingredient in testosterone, cottonseed oil, and interrogates the biomedically unseen. The third introduces the question of becoming patient both as an affective-temporal description and as a docile subject of care.
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