Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A break from our regularly-scheduled program.

I've regrettably relied on many outlets of American media to make me feel "home" in some way, and This American Life has never failed to reaffirm my gratefulness for the sort of programming our government (and, in larger part, wealthy donors) creates for its citizens.

Although TAL generally provides me with the sorts of poignant, important, relevant programming I crave, a few weeks ago Ira & Co. aired a show titled "Somewhere Out There": a celebration of the idea that there's one (or, in the practical calculations of one contributor, 100,000) person out there for each of us. As much as my rational side rejects this idea, I still, as an indoctrinated slave of popular love narratives, believe this is partially true.

But that's not the point.

The point is this: sandwiched between a lovely anecdote about a Midwestern man who recklessly pursued his now-wife in Tianjin in the 90s and a comedy sketch by a guy about being his girlfriend's other boyfriend was a piece about two transgendered girls who met at a trans family conference last year.

There is so much I don't understand about transgendered psychology and experiences, but this piece touched my mindstrings and heartstrings with equal weight. How telling of our evolution (?) as human beings in the United States that parents would embrace their children's innermost yearnings for self-acceptance by encouraging them to share their experiences with fellow trans kids.

Although I am thankful that I only had to deal with the fact that I'm queer, and although I still have so many questions and un-understandings about the trans community, it really made me pleased to know that no matter how far away from the hegemonic boundaries of an Acceptable Member Of Society one lies, there is a place for each of us.

I cannot emphasize how great it has been to put some distance between myself and the US. When I left Chicago, I knew this experience in China would either open my eyes to the failures of my country in the wake of a more ideal way of life, or it would force me to embrace the limited, though present, "freedoms" and "liberties" I am lucky enough to access. Obviously, the latter has happened (despite how much I have learned about the whys and hows and whats of the workings of the world, with China and the US orbiting around the same pile of money), an inevitability I have come to accept.

I'll never forget approaching the awe-striking Tianjin Olympic Stadium (the home of my new gym) on that cold March twilight, listening to the experiences of two little girls who, through the ridiculously American virtue of individuality, finally found someone who could truly say, "I know how you feel."

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