the craft

Every Day Horror Day 22: The Craft

Apr 23, 2019, 4:04 PM EDT (Updated)

It's October 22. I don't really have any Hallo-witty things to say about the number of the day or the month or the year. You still watching horror movies? That's cool. We are, too. But real life is starting to bleed in and that's gonna show a little more today than usual.

On today's episode of Every Day Horror, video editor and staff writer at io9, Beth Elderkin joined me to talk about The Craft and a little about witchcraft in pop media, too.

For a lot of people who experienced adolescence in the '90s, The Craft is a seminal film, and not just because it's about four young women doing cool, witchy things in their Hot Topic best (as I think we all wish we could, both then and now). The Craft is important because it's about outsiders, especially women, finding their power outside of what's expected or accepted. It's about how you deal with the hurt the world feeds you when you don't fit in where you're told you are supposed to.

The Craft is a power fantasy for those who feel powerless because of their race, economic standing, mental illness, or physical malady. I love it and I'm so glad Beth chose it.

During the course of our conversation, Beth asked me what I would do if I was gifted with the kind of transformational power that Sarah, Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle gain — what would be my one, witchy wish?

That's easy: I wish my body would look the way I have always felt inside. Without getting into all the gory details, I medically transitioned to presenting as female over a decade ago, but health, money, and family problems made it impossible to keep going. Sufficed to say, my detransition has remained as has my male presentation because my body will no longer cooperate with what I know I need and who I know I am.

I am a prisoner inside my own body and it's killing me, little by little, every day. I guess you could say that's my real everyday horror, ha, embittered, ha.

I hadn't expected to be talking about this during a podcast about The Craft, but Beth asked the question and I'm glad she did. I didn't know when we recorded this episode last week, but it wound up being something that needed talking about.

The New York Times revealed in an article on October 21 that there is a memo by the Department of Health and Human Services and under the authority of the Trump Administration that is attempting to define gender "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable."

In other words, the intended goal is to redefine gender solely as the one you are assigned by your parents' attending physician at the moment of your birth... despite the fact that more than two physical, primary sexual configurations exist, and despite the hundreds of studies unequivocally showing that gender is far more (and, please, pardon the oversimplification here) about what's between your ears than what's between your legs.

As someone who has carried the weight of gender dysphoria since the moment they could comprehend their own existence, the very thought that science and society could leap so far back is scarier than anything else I can imagine.

When I first watched The Craft, I related to every one of those girls because of the exclusion and the alienation I felt and experienced. And rewatching it now, I understand just how well The Craft speaks to common elements within the trans experience.

When Sarah shared her self-mutilation, I understood, intimately, how and why she struggled with suicidal ideation. When Rochelle was attacked by a racist, white girl in the bathroom, I remembered every pretty girl who laughed and hurled bigoted slurs in my face when I first tried to publicly live my trans identity. Bonnie's scars fell away from her skin like crepe paper and I cried tears of joy because her wish to live in a body she felt confident and safe in came true.

But today (even more so than so many days that came before it) I relate with Nancy and her unsilenceable rage specifically because of this despicably anti-trans memo. I know, I know: We're not technically supposed to root for Nancy, but, honestly, the thought of her hurling Skeet Ulrich's character out the window is feeling like pretty satisfying resistance right now.

All of which is to say, if you haven't watched The Craft in a while, you probably should. You're not gonna get a much more relevant time. And also listen to this podcast where Beth and I talk about it at length.

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