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I was born a woman, I always felt a man. I decided to move out from my parent’s house when I started the gender transition. I needed a quiet place to farewell Paola and greet Paolo, a new home for a brand new me. Did I tell you that a tear is the most precious drop of water? Did I tell you that no smile comes without a tear?
The things I brought with me
I was born a woman, I always felt a man. I decided to move out from my parent’s house when I started the gender transition. I needed a quiet place to farewell Paola and greet Paolo, a new home for a brand new me. Did I tell you that a tear is the most precious drop of water? Did I tell you that no smile comes without a tear?
Even if they loved me deeply, my decision shocked my parents. When they passed away, I had nothing but memories, grief, and guilt because the only thing I could feel was relief. They died after a long suffering: why was I so petty to feel relieved? And then I realized that what I felt relieved of was their suffering, not them.
The things I left behind me
Even if they loved me deeply, my decision shocked my parents. When they passed away, I had nothing but memories, grief, and guilt because the only thing I could feel was relief. They died after a long suffering: why was I so petty to feel relieved? And then I realized that what I felt relieved of was their suffering, not them.
I call myself a former activist. I tried, but it’s not my voice, not my path. Transgender activism today is all about non binarism, as if binarism was the source of all evil. I disagree. Could life exist without polarity? Raw or done, dead or alive, day or night: life is in the polarity and I don’t want to deny it. Duality – such as absence – you have to go through it, not refuse it.
The ripples, not the stone
I call myself a former activist. I tried, but it’s not my voice, not my path. Transgender activism today is all about non binarism, as if binarism was the source of all evil. I disagree. Could life exist without polarity? Raw or done, dead or alive, day or night: life is in the polarity and I don’t want to deny it. Duality – such as absence – you have to go through it, not refuse it.
When I was a kid, I genuinely believed that once adult I would become a man. I used to hide in the bathroom, pretending I had to shave and playing with brush and cream. Back then I was scared, now shaving is one of my happiest moments. I’m a man, now, glad it happened anyway, despite the hormones.
Elegy for a brush
When I was a kid, I genuinely believed that once adult I would become a man. I used to hide in the bathroom, pretending I had to shave and playing with brush and cream. Back then I was scared, now shaving is one of my happiest moments. I’m a man, now, glad it happened anyway, despite the hormones.
It’s six years now that I’m waiting for the surgery to remove what it is left of Paola and complete the transition. In my mixed body and shapeless soul, I still feel incomplete. Who dares to call themselves a man with no penis? How could my body feel the coziness of being true to my wishes? Can you call it home with no roof or foundations?
Paolo, Paola
It’s six years now that I’m waiting for the surgery to remove what it is left of Paola and complete the transition. In my mixed body and shapeless soul, I still feel incomplete. Who dares to call themselves a man with no penis? How could my body feel the coziness of being true to my wishes? Can you call it home with no roof or foundations?
I tell myself there’s more in me than my appearance suggests. My body is my shelter and my home, no matter how fake my penis is or how obscene my dreams are. Once I was told I’m a very seductive man, no one resists my tenderness or my wit. I want it to be true.
My wildest dream
I tell myself there’s more in me than my appearance suggests. My body is my shelter and my home, no matter how fake my penis is or how obscene my dreams are. Once I was told I’m a very seductive man, no one resists my tenderness or my wit. I want it to be true.
My parents met in Venice, where they both graduated in Russian Literature. They were avid readers and my mother especially loved to read in the garden, behind the poplar. When I leaf through their books, I feel caressed, taken care of.
All these things we’ll one day swallow
My parents met in Venice, where they both graduated in Russian Literature. They were avid readers and my mother especially loved to read in the garden, behind the poplar. When I leaf through their books, I feel caressed, taken care of.
My piano is still in my parent’s house and even if that is no longer a home, music still is. My hands are small, my body is incomplete. So who am I? I weep, I play, I feel cold and even so I feel I’m a man.
When in trouble, go Bach
My piano is still in my parent’s house and even if that is no longer a home, music still is. My hands are small, my body is incomplete. So who am I? I weep, I play, I feel cold and even so I feel I’m a man.
Laughter is my gun to shoot the pain. In togetherness is my meaning, what I learned in my life, I learned waiting for an encounter because it is in the encounter that the connection finds its accomplishment. I belong to those I love, to the memories I treasure, to the happiness I keep finding despite all the odds.
Belongingness
Laughter is my gun to shoot the pain. In togetherness is my meaning, what I learned in my life, I learned waiting for an encounter because it is in the encounter that the connection finds its accomplishment. I belong to those I love, to the memories I treasure, to the happiness I keep finding despite all the odds.
Bruno, my dad, was more for the countryside; Teresa, my mum, for the city. My mother was the most beautiful ugly woman in the world and my father loved her deeply. When I gifted you my mother’s clothes, I did it because you know the meaning and the worth of these clothes. Every time you wear them, I can see my mother lightening another cigarette with her sly smile, ready to tell another minute allusion, another subtle joke, another moment of that fond satire she never lacked. A memory shared is like a home where you will never feel alone: someone else knows, senses, keeps it alive.
Self-portrait as Bruno and Teresa
Bruno, my dad, was more for the countryside; Teresa, my mum, for the city. My mother was the most beautiful ugly woman in the world and my father loved her deeply. When I gifted you my mother’s clothes, I did it because you know the meaning and the worth of these clothes. Every time you wear them, I can see my mother lightening another cigarette with her sly smile, ready to tell another minute allusion, another subtle joke, another moment of that fond satire she never lacked. A memory shared is like a home where you will never feel alone: someone else knows, senses, keeps it alive.

Tend and befriend

Creating relationships and taking care are the most cheap and common medicine in the world, with no counter indications nor side effects. They are self-prescriptible and you can take them before and after meals, as many times every day as you want. They can cure fear, solitude, extraneousness. They can induce proximity, creativity, sense of belonging and curiosity. A daily use is advised and it’s recommended to increase the doses in every situation critical for the psychological well-being.

The easiest way to create relationships is through visual contact, and visual contacts come with a smile. The benefits of the cure are immediate, permanent and have passionate and unexpected consequences such as bonds, ideas, visions.

 

This is an ongoing project about belongingness, interpersonalness, relatedness.

Every living being reacts to stress with what we call “fight or flight” response: face the threat or run from it. Most recent studies have hypothesized that although the “fight or flight” is still the primary response to a threat, female-identifying individuals are most inclined to behave following a different pattern, called “tend and befriend” and characterized by forming strong social bonds designed to protect the self and the offspring. The stronger the bonds, the more the individual feels safe, the more creativity can thrive.

The human pervasive drive to form and maintain lasting, positive, and significant relationships is almost as compelling a need as food. The need to belong is universal, innately prepared, and appears to be able to overcome antagonistic, competitive, or divisive tendencies and it seems to me the most far-reaching and integrative construct currently available to overcome our contentious times.

Photographer

Guendalina Mantovani

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