string quartet, percussion, narrator (doubling electric bass) 8-9'
Commissioned and premiered by Playground Ensemble, June 9, 2018 for Denver Pride Week.
A collaboration with trans writer, artist, and programmer Miriam Suzanne, on gender and identity. Like journal entries, its short, epigrammatic statements are deeply personal explorations of gender and identity: poignant, humorous, challenging, startling. My score for string quartet, percussion, and electric bass grooves with elements of pop and minimalist music.
"I don't believe in authenticity, but I do believe in pain, and doing something to survive it."
Words and Music by Nathan Hall and Miriam Suzanne
Text: (the live video makes it difficult to hear)
We have a story in my family. My brother is young, nursing his favorite doll. He says “I'm going to be a mommy when I grow up!” Mom is proud but corrects him – Boys grow up to be daddies.
He sets down the doll, and never picks it back up.
Cis doesn’t mean simple, he tells me now, a father of two.
I keep my dolls much later in life, an unexpected aunt.
I never felt like a girl. What do girls feel like? I didn’t always know, and dream of wearing dresses. I wasn’t consistent, insistent, or persistent.
I was frustrated.
A friend asks me what it means to be a woman. I have no idea. What does it mean for you to be your gender?
Hanson is on the radio. Why is Hanson on the radio?
If I had a story like that, maybe everything would make sense. Maybe I could string this together into a narrative: beginning, middle, and end. Life doesn't work that way.
A visiting trans friend asks where I get my Testosterone.
I make it inside my body, I tell him.
I’d give it to you if I could.
Hormones are slow magic.
In my dreams, I’m transgender.
In the mirror, I’m uncertain.
In public, I’m a woman.
In Colorado, your chosen name has to sue your given name for the right to exist.
I don’t get to put all the pieces together.
“Passing” is not something I do, but something that happens to me — not a way of presenting, but a way of being seen. Fickle. In a single moment I can be seen and not seen, gendered and misgendered. Ungendered, and undressed.
I don’t believe in authenticity, but I do believe in pain, and doing something to survive it.
Trying on clothes to see if they fit is way better than trying on clothes to see if your gender fits. I didn’t know there was a difference, until everything changed.
I can finally hate my body for the normal reasons.
Video by Andrea Mauro at Pixel Lustre.
Sarah Whitnah & Leslie Smucker- violin
Don Schumacher- viola
Richard vonFoerster- cello
Rachel Hargroder- percussion
Miriam Suzanne- bass guitar and narrator.