How Rimbaud Saved my Life (Part II)

For those who couldn’t be there, here is part of the text of a speech I made on September 1st, 2017, during a giant Kiss-In, part of the Fête Arc-en-ciel de Québec (Rainbow Québec festival) in front of the Palais Montcalm concert hall, Place d’Youville in Québec City.

By Pascale Cormier

Arthur Rimbaud, 19th century French poet

I have been active for many causes in my life, except for those that touch me the most. In Matane in the 1960s, no one had ever heard of gender identity dysphoria nor of trans-identity. I was meant to be a man, and all I could hear was: “Be a man! Fight like a man!”

I did my best, but I wasn’t cut out for that role.

Later, my high school days taught me that I’d better hide my femininity if I wanted to stay alive. That’s what it was like back in those days: being gay or transgender was to live a hidden life, in shame and fear, one that often ended in suicide.

I salute all those who had the courage to stand up and confront a hostile society with unjust laws so we could live in dignity. It’s thanks to them that I’m still alive today, and I can assume my true identity in the light of day.  

In my early 30s I moved to Hull. There, my life took a strange turn. I became a translator, a trade that allowed me to earn a living without leaving home. And I met the mother of my daughter, with whom I lived for more than 13 years. We’ve been separated since, but seeing my daughter grow up and taking care of her was, and remains, the greatest joy of my existence.

She’s 20 now, and we’ve become the best of friends. When I announced my transition 5 years ago, she reacted very well. She had just one objection: she didn’t want to lose her daddy. I agreed: after all, what daughter needs two mommies?

We often shop together. We enjoy watching other customers’ heads turn when she says to me: “Well, daddy, do you like that dress?”

First seen in: Reflet de société, Vol. 27 no. 1, printemps (spring) 2019, pages 22-23.

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