Testosterone, as does any other hormonal agents of the human body, exercises a will of its own, and one only learns to live with its sometimes mysterious consequences. If artificially introduced to or suppressed in the body, this steroid can facilitate a so-called “second puberty” to the benefit of gender transition. 

 

Many transgender people look forward to certain growth and/or loss of hair, an index of identity, to affirm their self-image. Some trans masculine people who have only chosen hormonal transition, however, may have the relatively limited ability to produce facial hair, when compared to those who have also undergone surgical transition, especially the removal of the uterus and ovaries. With the irony of grace, these individuals may witness disproportionate amount of hair growth in parts of their bodies that they had neither expected nor wished for, but only learn to live with. 

 

In commemoration of such unactualized longings and misfired desires, this mixed media performance art piece consists of three acts. A funeral and an ablution are followed by a gesture of drag in which the performer transplants his own leg hair to his hairless chin. 

 

Of the two videos played throughout this performance, the first one plays a Korean funeral procession song whose lyrics embody the Buddhist philosophy of afterlife and reincarnation. The video displays two memorial portraits of the performer whose facial features are manipulated by the “GenderSwap Filter” available on a mobile app SnapChat to the effect of feminization and masculinization. Each portrait serves as a self-image informed by norms around binary gender presentation. The performer recognizes to have once internalized yet failed to achieve such idealized images, though to varying degrees of wishes and willingness. 

 

The second video is a short animation on loop. It begins with a syringe drawing out testosterone from a vial for injection. This syringe then transforms into leg hair, sperm, beard, and eventually burning wick. At the same time, the vial becomes a womb-turned-bomb, suggesting a necessary compromise between desirable effects and undesirable side effects that testosterone injection has on health. 

 

 

© 2020 by KAHN J. RYU