The lovely Kate Beckinsale. Please can I be her?
Who is she, my inner female? She remains the same age – in her twenties – while I grow older. Over decades ‘she’ may function like Dorian Gray’s portrait in the Oscar Wilde story, but in reverse – remaining unchanged while ‘he’ grows older. The result, when crossdressing, when struggling to embody her, is that I’m wearing clothing inappropriate for a woman of my own age. Perhaps that’s part of the thrill. The teenage kick of hearing a reproving inner voice say, “You’re not wearing that, young lady!”
She is so much more than a perfect body. Of course, she has all the physical characteristics I most like in a woman, but she also has a name and a ‘personality’. She’s intelligent and educated and witty. She cries when she’s down (and sometimes when she’s up). She has a sharp dress sense. She even has a ‘job’, although it changes from year to year, depending on my current interests. Yes, she’s a great f*** – as her partners would confirm – but she’s more than a f***-doll. Yet her essence remains indeterminacy, a capacity to mutate as my imagination pleases, even as certain characteristics, like her age and stunning figure, remain fixed. I suspect my mind rounds out her ‘personality’ as a way of legitimising the hold she has on my attention. I don’t know whether this strategy sets a ‘parameter’ on her existence, or just the opposite. Given that her presence, however welcome, has got in the way of my forming relationships for over twenty years now, I fear that she’s the one calling the shots.
‘Dabrela’, I should explain, is not her real name; it’s an intersex name that she and I use for our joint communiqués. Her real name must remain secret; for names, as shamanic religions the world over teach, confer power. That praenomen is like a spell which I utter to summon up her presence. Once, I created a profile in her real name on a social media site. Big mistake, I discovered. First, after the initial frisson, I felt guilt in misleading people, who clearly thought they were talking to a flesh-and-blood woman. (Interestingly, the online penpal who was most persistent in trying to fix up a date was a self-declared lesbian!) Second, I jeopardised the autonomy of fantasy and the scope for updating my crossdreams to hit new erotic pressure-points. In replying to correspondents’ questions, I had to create a consistent back-story for my female self, which then became imprisoning.
This I know: there has to be a division between the desiring subject and the desired object. In ‘normal’ circumstances, those are two different people, so the distinction is clear. In crossdreams, where the relationship is internalised, it’s more complicated. Blanchard posits that the transsexual’s motivation in transitioning is to physically ‘become’ the object of his desire. But would anyone truly want to do that? If you subjectivise the object, it ceases to be an object; and what then happens to the desiring subject?