Rebecca Kling has been called the starter of uncomfortable conversations, but the calm, collected tone of her voice suggests a presence that is anything but awkward. Her story is one of change, acceptance and discovery.
Kling is a person who is transgendered, meaning she was born a biological male and now lives her life as a woman. She went to prom wearing a tuxedo, but now she said she jokingly worries that she might stab herself with her eyeliner.
Her performance, entitled “Uncovering the Mirrors,” will take place tonight and Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, is not about her struggle to choose which makeup to wear. It is about letting go of the person she used to be and finally accepting what she sees in the mirror.
She said she hopes that through her honest portrayal of her life experiences and feelings, she can promote awareness for the transgendered community and send a message of change, hope and acceptance.
Growing up, Kling said she remembers going through experiences like her bar mitzvah and prom that didn’t match how she felt about herself and her identity.
“It sucks that I don’t have the same memories of prom that a lot of my friends have,” Kling said.
But that doesn’t stop her from living in a manner that brings more meaning to her life now.
“I can reconstruct my memories to be truer now,” Kling said. “We have to break this idea that these memories define who we are. It’s only as true as we let it be.”
It doesn’t mean there aren’t a few memories that are hurtful and downright humiliating.
Kling will be the first to admit that she has days when she worries people will not accept her for being who she is, that they might not like what she has to say or that she will be fired from her job—because they have actually happened.
A few years ago, Kling said she was fired from her position as a teacher because of her gender identity.
“My being trans had nothing to do with my abilities to teach that class,” Kling said. “It made me question my ability as a teacher, my identity as a woman. It took me a while to realize it wasn’t a personal attack.”
What Kling soon began to realize was that people didn’t understand what to do about her identity as a transgendered individual. It was uncomfortable, because there was a lack of understanding. Kling said her parents never stopped loving her and that they would continue to do so on one condition: She couldn’t be a Republican.
Around the age of 14 or 15, Kling said she came out to her parents and admitted it was something she knew it wasn’t something she was supposed to tell them.
However, with their support, Kling sorted through her feelings and discovered that performing was the best way she could express herself.
“I have been bombarded with images [from the media] that my body is wrong and freakish, that my story is scary or dangerous,” Kling said.
“We get to be who we say we are,” Kling said. “I get to decide who I am.”