Museum of Transology – exhibition in London devoted to stories and memories of transgender people.
I turned up to the exhibition on its last day, accompanied by my friend and by my son, out of breath, not knowing what to expect but certain that we must not miss it.
My friend has just undergone the top surgery and looking forward to his first job interview dressed in a suit and tie.
My son is just about to go to University and about to have yet another assessment session to be put on testosterone treatment.
I am in the middle – or rather on the layby of this road. Not an actor but audience, deeply involved and concerned without much influence on the plot.
Each of us came with their own story and expectations from the exhibition, and each of us left saying the same thing – it was beautifully put together, with an amazing amount of sensitivity and ability to tell the stories that touched our hearts.
Museum of transology consisted of numerous objects which were important to the donors – and that importance was encapsulated on a small brown paper tag written for us to know.
There were referral letters from Tavistock, binders that went through a journey of fight, pain and adjustment. There were “first bras” and “first packing socks”. First ever lipstick – kept fondly, even though colour didn’t work. Pair of breasts in formalin jar, with a wall full of letters illustrating confusion and bureaucratic bewilderment of NHS with the request of their owner to keep them, albeit away from the body.
What touched me the most were a pair of tiny goggles – kept as a nostalgic memory of times were the owner could swim dysphoria-free, and a first pair of speedos – celebration of new life and freedom.
Both, my friend and my son are great swimmers. The former is just about to jump in to the swimming pool once given OK by the doctor. The latter is still lightyears away from this moment, not even knowing what kind of body the hormones will produce, what the long terms effects might be, will he have turned out to have inherited his Granddads non existing hairline? But still dying to be allowed to take up those risks.
There are also video clips of stories, interviews, discussions – one of them the message to the younger self, which made me cry, as I realised what my child was going through before he had figured out what is the nature of his deep unhappiness.
At the end everybody could pick up a brown tag and leave the message. Mine said:
Museum of Transology – How insignificant objects of ordinary, daily existence can tell the so-significant stories of extraordinary lives.