External publication of my writing and work.
OPINION: Why we need to stop giving bigots like Barry Humphries a platform for SBS Sexuality, published 25/07/18
I get it. It’s easy asking Barry Humphries his opinions on “transgenderism”, because it’s a pretty good bet he’ll say something headline-worthy, and in a digital media economy where clicks are currency that’s often the expected approach. It’s easy to just quote whoever most recently said the worst thing and let readers do the work of turning that into some kind of politically relevant discussion.
However, when journalists and media organisations publish headlines they scored by baiting a bigot, they are quite literally profiting from oppression and hatred. We as content creators need to stop giving this kind of platform to people whose views on minorities don’t matter – even if the intent is to say “can you believe this rubbish?” – and we as content receivers need to stop being sucked in by the illusion that that content carries any kind of weight.
OPINION: Scarlett Johansson, please stop for SBS Sexuality, published 12/07/18
What “ciswashing”, as it is sometimes known, demonstrates is that, whilst we may be increasingly amenable to the idea of trans people, we are still unable to accept the trans body, the liminal or illegible body of someone who exists outside of our binary understand of sex and gender. And that allows the seed of discomfort to breed and fester, and grow into the fear and hatred used to oppress trans people.
More than meets the eye: the complexity and joy of Cate McGregor for Audrey Journal, 13/04/18
The problem is that queer and trans communities are not, cannot be, and should not be communities with homogenous views. The problem is that the people within queer and trans communities who we shun are often people of older generations, who went through the wringer of oppression before we did – often before we were born.
We forget, though, that many of these people are still in the trenches with us, fighting to be seen as equals same as us. They’re people like Cate McGregor, Caitlyn Jenner, Kate Bornstein, RuPaul – people who have made their contributions and thrashed against the system. They’re the incredibly brave trans women of colour who were instrumental in the Stonewall riots, or the gay and lesbian trailblazers who were arrested at the first Mardi Gras in ‘78. They’re people who have experiences we can stand to learn from, or gain perspective from – and they’re people who, regardless political and discursive disagreements, we owe it to, because they fought the battles that have allowed us to fight these ones.
Queer representation on stage: between a rock and a problematic place for Audrey Journal, 21/2/18
The Hayes Code in early Hollywood decreed that characters could not be shown to transgress (so, y’know, be gay or have sex or hate God) without being narratively punished (frequently by death) or being depicted as the villain – again, all to ensure the status quo is upheld.
In the same way, the insistence that problematic characters either be punished or, in the case of minorities, not exist at all, recalls the virtue signalling polemic of a kind of theatre we’re all better for having left behind. For not only does any attempt to define a single moral standard presents ethical problems – because moral arbitration will always leave someone or something out – but it also makes for boring art.
And as humans full of complexity, moral fluidity, and the capacity to learn beyond our social or political shortcomings, we are better than that.
The Faggots and The Bitchy Trans: On Community in Queer Theatre – written for Griffin Theatre Company’s blog reflecting on the 2017 production of The Homosexuals, or ‘Faggots’
On the last day of rehearsals in Sydney, we have a few drinks in the Loft. At a certain point Declan discovers that, despite my efforts to appear a cool and disaffected queer, I am also a massive musical theatre nerd. “You’re a musical theatre queen?” he laughs. “Oh my god, you are such a faggot.” And I’m touched, really genuinely touched, for a few moments until it occurs to me that that’s a weird thing to be touched by.
That moment sticks out to me, of all the moments from this room, because of the absurdity of its affirming power. What I have learned in this process is that the language of oppression is far more nuanced than the discourse of identity politics would have us believe. A word wrapped up in so much contention and violence can also contain the power to affirm someone’s sense of belonging, like a perverse badge of honour.
Trans people, popular culture, and me for Archer Magazine, 1/7/2015
The thing that sticks out most for me, when I remember watching Boys Don’t Cry, isn’t its tragedy. It’s the scene where Brandon gets dressed in the morning: everything’s going well, he’s falling in love and he thinks he’s got the girl and he’s going to make it. He puts himself together, combs his hair, and shoots himself a gleeful look in the mirror. He laughs: “I’m an asshole”.
Beyond the coming out narrative: the transphobia the media doesn’t represent for Archer Magazine 17/5/2016
One of the problems with this representation, even though it brings our attention to certain issues, is that we code punishment into stories about trans youth. If the automatic narrative response to a child realising they are transgender is “to be yelled at by your parents”, we come to see transness as being something inherently worth punishing – perhaps not consciously, not out loud, but the barrage of texts in which a trans person is othered from their family unit normalises the idea that transness is Other.
I am not at all a fan of the inspiration porn rhetoric used to talk about trans people, or queer people, often for simply living their life. It’s phenomenally annoying to have people you barely tell you they just think you’re so brave for telling them you’re trans. “That must be so hard,” they say. “That’s so brave of you to ‘share your trans journey’ with me.”
Nonetheless, it’s impossible to describe the humbling and gratifying feeling of seeing someone’s behaviour change and knowing you had a hand in that, or of hearing someone tell you your work spoke to them in a way nothing has.
It’s vital to remember your potential power to speak to a whole community of people, to become part of that community yourself, and to speak back to the endless barrage of work about cisgender, heterosexual, white, able-bodied, financially-comfortable men.
Articles (reviews and opinions) written for Honi Soit can be found here
“Pray 4 Mojo” in Intersection – a collection of monologues and scenes by the writers of ATYP’s 2016 National Studio program. Published by Currency Press, Feb 2017.