Anxious Breath

An Autoethnographic Exploration of Non-binary Queerness, Vulnerability, and Recognition in Step Out

in Screen Bodies
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  • 1 Malleable Meltdown, Germany larissa.bochmann@gmail.com
  • 2 Karlstad University, Sweden 3rinhampson@gmail.com
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Abstract

This article is a theoretical, audiovisual, and personal exploration of being a trans and non-binary person and the challenges this position produces at the moment of entering the outside world. Getting ready to enter public space is a seemingly mundane everyday task. However, in the context of a world that continuously fails or refuses to recognize trans and non-binary people, the literal act of stepping outside can mean to move from a figurative state of self-determination to one of imposition. We produced a short film project called Step Out to delve into issues of vulnerability and recognition that surface throughout experiences of crossing the threshold into public space. It explores the acts performed as preparation to face the world, and invokes the emotions this can conquer in trans and non-binary people. Breathing is the leading metaphor in the film, indicating existence and resistance simultaneously. The article concludes with a discussion of affective states and considers them, along with failed recognition, through the lens of Lauren Berlant's concept of “cruel optimism.”

Contributor Notes

Lara Bochmann recently completed their Master's Degree in Psychology, in which their research has focused on the self-care practices of trans people. They continue to be a student in gender studies and cultural studies. Their research interests are situated within the field of gender, sexuality, and queer theory, with special interest in trans studies and nonnormative forms of relationships. They are based in Berlin and a founding member of the queer arts collective Malleable Meltdown, creating zines, films, and other art projects on queer, trans, and mental health topics. Email: larissa.bochmann@gmail.com

Erin Hampson is a Master's student in Gender Studies at Karlstad University with a background in psychology and sociology. Their research interests include gender, trans experience, sexuality, and queer theory. They have published research on asexuality and have written articles on queer- and mental-health-related topics. They are based in Berlin and are a founding member of the queer arts collective Malleable Meltdown, producing and combining poetry, zines, and film. Email: 3rinhampson@gmail.com

Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

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