I’m currently working my way through Angel and, inevitably, they’ve arrived at ‘The Body Swap Episode.’ That’s the episode in every sci-fi and fantasy show where at least one of the main characters has a body swap with either another main character, or an incidental one-episode guest character. Specifically, Angel‘s episode is a ‘Grand Theft Me,’ as was the similar episode in Buffy. (As usual, TV Tropes can explain it better than I can, and gives so many delightful examples, so you should just check out the above links if you want a better explanation.)
I really hate the body snatch episode. Really really really. I hate it when it’s used for humor, I hate it when it’s used for drama, I hate it when it’s used to teach the good guy a lesson, I hate it when it’s used to teach the bad guy a lesson. I just hate it. And I think I’m starting to realize why. It’s a mishmosh of reasons, but I’ll try to make them coherent…
I feel like I’m in a permenant body swap, and I’m terrified I won’t be able to swap back. That I’m the character being taught the lesson about ‘appreciating what you have,’ or ‘having sympathy for others,’ or whatever lesson the body swap plot device is being used for this episode. But that the lesson never ends, and I never get to go back to normal. That somewhere, there’s someone walking around with my body, using it and doing things to it and I’m stuck in this horrible body that fits all wrong and doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, that I never asked for and don’t want. I’m terrified that the body I have will forever be “my” body, that I’m stuck with it.
And, as is so often the case with the transition, I’m scared everyone will know my fear and realize that I have no idea what I’m doing, and point at me and laugh.
This has gone somewhere different than I intended, as I didn’t initially have a goal with this post beyond “brainstorm about why I don’t like the ‘body swap episode’,” but I’m realizing so much bigger than that. I so rarely go into any amount of self pitty, or self-loathing, but it’s all there.
And I am at the end of my rope and I don’t know that I can handle this… want to be done with the body swap episode; to be done being trans. I want to go back to my body, that’s nice-shaped and pretty, that doesn’t require taking pill after pill every day for the rest of time along with thousands of dollars of hair removal, that learned how to put on makeup and pick out an outfit… I want to be done. I want to swap back and have the little lesson about this bullshit or that, and have the episode be over.
And I can’t. I don’t get to. As Cedar pointed me to hir post, Risk, Danger, and Internalized Transphobia, I actually have to embrace all the bullshit and danger and institutional hatred to be who I want to be. I just finished reading the post (and, as ze said, it made me cry) (more than I already was from stupid Angel) and I can’t decide if I feel better or worse. If I want to go out and fight the world, or crawl into a hole and die.
But I’m still breathing. I hope.