A Song About Getting A Vagina, And All The Shit That Comes With It

A Song About Getting A Vagina, And All The Shit That Comes With It

Lionizer's Bailey Lions talks us through a track from their debut LP, written post-Sexual Reassignment Surgery.

Perth indie-punk trio Lionizer yesterday released their debut album - New Parts Of Me - a short, sharp and powerful 10-tracker tackling some important themes and issues. The group's drummer Bailey Lions sent us the below short essay discussing one if the LP's standout tracks, I Dug A Hole, and in particular writing the track following Sexual Reassignment Surgery. We figured it far more beneficial to open the floor to Lions in the interest of hearing from marginalised voices rather than us just talking about it, so please read on below, and check down the bottom for more info on the band, their album, and shows coming up.

Content Warning: Transphobia, Suicide, Self Harm, Surgery.

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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.

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, electorol roll, bank, drivers 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 drivers 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 peoples identities.

A song about getting a vagina, and all the shit that comes with it.

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.

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Click anywhere on the embed below to listen to New Parts Of Me (track 2 is I Dug A Hole) or head to Lionizer's BANDCAMP.

UPCOMING SHOWS:

Fri 27 Oct – Indi Bar, Bunbury

Sat 4 Nov – Not Fest 5 @ Reverence Bar, Melbourne

Fri 10 Nov – The Boston, Perth

Sun 19 Nov – Mojos Bar, Fremantle

Follow Lionizer: FACEBOOK

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Need to talk to someone? Call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36, Headspace on 1800 650 890 or QLife – for LGBT+ persons – on 1800 184 527.

For advice and support networks for musicians and workers in the music industry, head to Entertainment AssistSupport Act AustraliaHelp Musicians UK or MMF and Music Support’s Music Managers Guide to Mental Health.

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