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T in the Life: Rebecca Kling
2012-02-29

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Identifies as: Trans woman

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Life's work

"I'm a performance artist, focusing primarily on self-written solo work exploring gender, sexuality, and identity. A big part of my motivation in the work that I do is the idea of, well, if no one else is going to tell my story then I have to."

When did you start questioning gender?

"I can't remember a time when I wasn't questioning gender. From as early as I can remember having a concept of gender, I knew 'male' wasn't right for me. It took me a long time to realize that "female" was right for me, and even longer to act on that realization, but I can't remember a time when gender seemed simple and this-or-that. Two check boxes have never felt adequate or complete to me."

What is the best thing about being trans/ gender-variant?

"Being trans has forced me to question my identity and how I present myself and interact with the world. That's been extremely difficult at times, and sometimes it would be nice to feel like I could easily fit into a box or an identity or a style of presenting myself. At the same time, I know I am who I am because I choose to be, not because I'm forced to be."

"I also feel I'm on the way to being exceptionally at home in my body. I understand my body in a way that my cisgender ( non-transgender ) friends sometimes don't seem to get. This becomes particularly apparent around sexuality - I know exactly what my body likes and doesn't like because I've put extremely long hours into deciphering what my body means to me. I think lots of queer folks go through that experience, so I'm not trying to say "Only trans people can know their bodies," but I think being trans often forces the issue."

Do you have a coming out story?

"When I came out to my parents, around the age of fourteen, my mom said, 'We will love you, no matter what.' My dad said, 'We'll love you whatever you are, as long as you're not a Republican.' I'm really fortunate in that way: I never had to doubt my parents' love. At the same time, their love didn't mean they necessarily understood."

How do you explain the way you feel about gender to others?

"More broadly, gender is both socially constructed and innate. If it weren't socially constructed, if it were purely innate and biological, all societies across all times in history would have the exact same idea of 'man' and 'woman.' That's obviously not true. Even in the last fifty years, women wearing pants has gone from something to be talked about to something commonplace. In the end, gender is what each individual decides it is, for them."

To nominate a person for T in the life, email: Kate Sosin sosin@windycitytimes.com


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