Bailey Lionizer reflects on life post-Sexual Reassignment Surgery with reference to the band’s song, I Dug A Hole.
The Lionizer album came out this week, and I wanted to talk/rant about one of the songs on there. There’s a link below if you’d rather just listen to tunes than read a bunch of text.
Listen to New Parts of Me via bandcamp – https://bandcamp.us15.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b73eddb4d03e4af99cdc2586f&id=e54d71c1b7&e=b9b9142f22
This song means a lot to me and I want people to understand both the context and the message of it. While we normally prefer to let people make their own interpretations of our songs, I Dug a Hole is deeply personal and I want to be very clear on its meaning.
Feel free to share / use excerpts from the below.
I wrote I Dug a Hole in mid-2015 while recovering from Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) in Thailand. For those who don’t know, SRS involves turning a penis into a vagina. Puns are fun.
I never know how to write songs about being trans; it always seems like you have to start with “when I was a child…” to give people the proper context. But this one just poured out of me. Maybe it was the exasperation of still dealing with transphobic bullshit post-op, maybe it was the tramadol and the vivid nightmares that came with it, maybe it was just the constant pain.
SRS was life changing, life-saving, probably the best thing I’ve ever done, but at the same time it’s an intense and invasive surgery. Recovery is arduous; a seemingly never-ending, painful and isolating experience that grinds you down over and over again. It’s brutal – I have the photos to prove it.
For me, the end result was very fucking worth it. I finally feel comfortable in my body. I finally feel whole. And yet, as positive as the personal change is, it didn’t change much about how society treats me (and people like me).
When I came home, I had to submit a change of gender application to the government, to the fucking Gender Board (who get to decide what you really are), and then to almost every company, person or department I’ve ever been a part of. Tax Office, post office, attorney general, electoral roll, bank, driver’s license, university.
Of those, the electoral roll is the only one that actually updated their records. I still get mail addressed to Mr Mitcham, my tax bill Mr Lions. I went to renew my driver’s license recently, asked why I was still listed as male, and got told that “gender isn’t included on the cards so why does it matter?”. The lady was really sorry about this, her “son’s a crossdresser too” so she knows how tough it can be.
On the streets it’s a crap shoot, on the internet it’s worse. Shows are still awkward, though I don’t go to many that aren’t small, mates-only style affairs. I still get odd looks using the women’s toilets at shows too, even though it would be pretty damn hard to use the urinal now. I made the mistake of telling someone I didn’t know that I was trans at some work event, they then went around to all their friends loudly proclaiming “he’s a dude! could you tell?”
People at The Court ask me when I’m performing. Thanks, drag culture.
And all this, after putting myself through hell and out of pocket $25,000. What more do these people want of me? What more can I do to show that no, this isn’t some flight of fancy, that this is real and honest and who I am? That this isn’t some fucking costume that I pull off at the end of the night? That I can’t pack this away and pretend I never changed? That my gender and my body are not here at their convenience.
And so, I Dug a Hole. A song all about the fucked up and ever-expanding expectations of a society that refuses to recognise the shit I’ve been through. A giant fuck you to a whole country who still trots out the “men in dresses” trope at every opportunity.
A song about how, having done all this, having dug this hole to be happy, I’m still thinking that suicide makes more sense than screaming into this void. How clearly that trying to make positive change is a pointless endeavour, and how sick to death I am of these selfish, privileged motherfuckers who believe they are the arbiters of other people’s identities.
A song about getting a vagina, and all the shit that comes with it.
Thanks for reading. You can listen to New Parts of Me in full over at https://bandcamp.us15.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b73eddb4d03e4af99cdc2586f&id=cd0226e53f&e=b9b9142f22.
The above is my experience and story around this one song. While these experiences inform the rest of the album, they do not represent the full breadth of influences and ideas we explore as a band. I am sharing this because it is important to me, but it is not all that I am as a person nor is it all that Lionizer are as a band. Too often I see trans narratives wrapped up in a neat little package of dysphoria, transition and surgery, like that’s all that trans people are. These experiences are brutal and need to be talked about, but don’t let them be the only story you read.
And all the links/dates/helplines etc:
Fri 27 Oct – Bunbury @ Indi Bar
Sat 4 Nov – Melbourne @ Reverence Bar (Not Fest 5)
Fri 10 Nov – Perth @ The Boston
Sun 19 Nov – Fremantle @ Mojos Bar
Direct link to the song: https://lionizer.bandcamp.com/track/i-dug-a-hole
Watch new video for Violent Delights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FWCleRFsrw
Content Warning – Transphobia, Suicide, Self Harm, Surgery