Kai Cheng Thom
Kai Cheng Thom is a Canadian writer and social worker.
What I learned, loved and lost as a trans Zumba addict (2018)Edit
What I learned, loved and lost as a trans Zumba addict (June 12, 2018), Daily Xtra.
- When I was a little girl (but being raised as a little boy), what I wanted more than anything was to be a dancer. How I longed for it — the lights, the stage, the gorgeous costumes, most of all for the delivering grace of movement in harmony with a choreography greater than myself. Like a little Chinese Billy Elliot, I had a beautiful, impossible dream. But unlike Billy Elliot’s, mine was never realized. Transmisogyny and two left feet saw to that: I was laughed, bullied, or shamed out of every dance class I attempted.
- If there is one lesson that I have to teach you, dear reader, remember this: cute boys come and go, but The Dance is forever.
- On that day beneath the fluorescent lights of the YMCA, I was transcendent.
- For many of us, doing physical activity is a highly emotionally charged, even dangerous, undertaking. Sports and exercise are sites of intense gender policing where regressive notions about the meaning of “male” and female” come to the fore. Public changing rooms are dangerous for trans women, who are often stereotyped and stigmatized as potential sexual predators who make “real women” feel uncomfortable. Exercise clothing is frequently revealing and emphasizes our bodies in ways that “outs” us to strangers or triggers gender dysphoria. Even supposedly gender-neutral activities are actually segregated as a result of stereotypes about “feminine” versus “masculine” forms of exercise.
- As I twirled, cha-cha-ed and clapped my hands to the beat, I began to remember, for the first time in a long time, those moments I used to steal as a kid, dancing alone in my room with headphones on. Those fleeting moments when what I looked like didn’t matter, only what I felt. Only this time, I wasn’t a child anymore. There was no one who could burst in unannounced, laugh at me, punish me, force me to stop. I felt so free, so beautiful, in a way I had written off as impossible for me long ago. ... My inner dancer began to emerge from the deep pit where I had kept her all this time. I found the girlhood I was never allowed.
- There are a million tiny privileges that cisgender people take for granted that trans people cannot: access to public space, to physical activity, to taking joy in our own bodies, are among them. Finding a physical activity that I loved came at the cost of putting up with countless small acts of hostility, and finally, I had had enough.