Friday 11 May 2018

On 'trans'

The following are some thoughts that explore various semantic uses of the term ‘trans’ in an effort to view it in an expanded manner, one that extends beyond what has come to be the colloquial application of it in the context of transgender peoples. 

Perhaps most intuitively, at this point in history, the term ‘trans’ comes to reflect the term transition. Yet, related to this meaning, is the concept of transit, or in other words, the notion of journeying from one place to another. With regard to this spatial-temporal definition, comes another possibility of the application of ‘trans’, such as with, for example, a trans-national highway. With this latter use, ‘trans’ describes something that travels across, and relating to this travel, it suggests a line that occupies and transverses, way of consistent path, a given territory.

Another use of the word ‘trans’ in the English language is in the context of a prefix for words such as transfer or translate. It is with these words in mind that I link such instances of ‘trans’ with the notion of medium. That is, to transfer or translate something necessarily invokes instances and attempts at communication as an effort to deliver a message or render one conceivable. The medium thus, is potentially the trans-person, who adopts the role as mediator or moderator between two poles in order to facilitate exchange.

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