There comes a moment, in the course of dating someone, when confessions happen. Perhaps the end of the second date is the time to discuss the divorce, introduce the subject of kids from said divorce, confess that one or the other of them is in recovery. At the end of their second date, the characters in Kevin Clancy’s “Difficult Transition” began to address the transition of “Woman”, played by trans actress Mariana Genesio, and the play begins when we meet them on the morning after their first attempt at becoming physically intimate.
This is an exciting and interesting premise for a play. The transition that’s referred to in the title is actually the transition taking place in the mind of the male protagonist, referred to as “Man”, as his experience of Genesio’s character evolves from intellectually exciting proposition, to emotional connection and, finally, to physical and visceral confirmation. Woman has not had complete sexual reassignment surgery, nor does she plan to at the stage when we meet her. We of course know that many trans folks, in fact, do not choose bottom surgery for various reasons, and their partners respect and celebrate that choice just as they celebrate their partners’ sense of humor, their patience, their beauty, warmth, or any of a thousand other characteristics that help define love and connection and facilitate intimacy. But as Man, and not Woman, is the protagonist in this play, I found myself wondering, aside from his hesitancy to relate to Woman’s legacy genitalia, what kind of person he was. 35 minutes isn’t a long time at all to get to know two characters. We know Woman a bit better only because Man is allowed to describe her back to herself.
Woman speaks, near the end of the piece, about not wanting to explore dating apps that cater to trans people, because she wants to be loved, not fetishized, and that deserves an “amen” for sure. And as an audience member I find myself wondering what Woman would like her potential partners to wonder too … who is she? What does she do for a living? Who is she as an individual, irrespective of the fact that she’s trans?
Though this one-act is certainly self-contained, if playwright Clancy does decide to explore the subject in a longer piece, it will be interesting to see what he comes up with.