Horror, as a genre designed to speak to our innermost anxieties, can be powerfully cathartic. Anxieties, however, are socially contingent: whose unique concerns and fears are represented by horror? Who does it speak to? In WHEN I DREAM, IT FEELS LIKE DROWNING, we have attempted to explore the fears and neuroses that underlie our own (and, we believe, more general) trans experiences. The haunted house genre has a long tradition of exploring the intrusion of the unwelcome into the safe; the haunting poisons the harmony between the home and its inhabitant.
This feeling is not an unfamiliar one to the trans individual: gender dysphoria, in the disconnect between external physicality and internal identity, transforms the body (on a bad day) into a hostile abode. The mental health struggles that all too often come with marginalization add another layer onto this hostile embodiment. In DROWNING’s reflection-haunted house, we explore this disconnect, creating a horror story that speaks specifically to the concerns of trans readers, without relying on the violence (both social and physical) that is often a terrifying reality for the community. Thus, we hope to give a trans audience the recognition and catharsis of fear that horror can provide.