As a transsexual woman, I am so tired of being told, inevitably by those with more privilege and power than me, that I shouldn’t think about money, fame, power and hierarchies. As if these considerations somehow counteract my ability to love, have compassion and be tender. As if it is an either/or proposition. If I don’t think about personal success I am left with nothing but the most disenfranchised place in society. I often feel oppressed by a liberal hypocrisy. This is my lived reality of Marxist hypocrisy, which claims to treat me as an equal but does not. One example of this is I accidentally happened to work into the Occupy Mexico City protest. I was not aware of it as I was just wondering around the city. People started to throw water bottles at me and threatened me with violence. Perhaps they felt my presence or my appearance was lampooning their fight for equality… ? Yet it doesn’t feel totally appropriate to become a Republican now, does it… ? For me, a rarefied decadence —living as much and as fully with the art and through the art– has become my political stance. A lived politic of survival. I admire carriage in the downtrodden. I want to take on the aristocracy of the traumatized, the Queenliness of the Abused. There are many ways to live a life. I am generalizing but my experience is that liberals tell me I am not living a “real life.” They accuse me of having lost touch. They want to bring me into a consensus reality with their values. I find they want me to live the “reality” of my oppression as a transwoman. However, I find many conservatives admire my individualism, my desire to rise above and devotion to my practice as an artist. They can care less about gender when they see these other inner qualities which I appreciate being recognized. I feel seen by them, and I feel they see the art.
Nina Arsenault speaking at Cornell University (via odofemi