Bespoke Suits, Bespoke Bodies
'Tailor-Made' by Rascal Miles
by Dusk Arts
Some artists communicate in layered, elaborate rhetoric. Others take a starker, more straightforward approach. In Rascal Miles’s “Tailor-Made,” a gentle but certain indie-folk song about transmasculine gender affirmation surgery, we get the best of both worlds.
On one hand, we get literal descriptions of the process: “I sign on the dotted line,” “dysphoria diagnosis letter / proof of ID / paperwork.” On the other, Miles effortlessly weaves in and out of simile: “every single stitch like dolphins swimming in and out of my body.”
Although Miles feels like a little pig awaiting the slaughter going into the operation, the music isn’t frantic or anxious; soft guitar and piano (even a horn) and lightly pulsing bass give us a sense that everything will be okay in the end. After all, they state from the beginning that “yes, [they’re] still sure” and reaffirm us at the end: “I have always been sure.” The tensest we get is the midpoint, which steps up to a louder voice and music that shows us that for Miles this ordeal is necessary no matter the risk.
We enter the operating room. I can’t stop quoting the genius lyrics (they could write their own review); Miles describes themself as “the architect’s blueprint,” their chest “the topographer’s map,” asking, “puppeteer, count me down / suspend me between sleep and death / a marionette under water / there’s no going back now.” I can think of the team of doctors it takes to make one person happier and more secure in their body (according to that person’s specifications, that is) and the title makes even more sense now. Supposing only a single doctor were necessary, Miles would still be “tailor-made.” In other words, sometimes, we must rely on others for help, particularly in an ignorant and hostile world. The struggle for trans liberation echoes here.
“Tailor-Made” considers many facets of the transmasculine community’s experience with healthcare, but ultimately, anyone needing medical help to achieve their desired body could relate. It asks us to consider how many hoops we must jump through for others to prove that we know who we are and how to achieve fulfilment. Of course, this is necessary for the safety and organization of both medical institution and patient, but at times we may feel clinically whisked through a set of procedures that treat us more like customers or experiments than people.
Thankfully, “Tailor-Made’s” indeed seamless combination of sartorial, aesthetical, and natural motifs (“leveling mountains with dynamite sticks ‘til I’m a blank slate of marble”) reminds us of a few things. As human beings we are works of both nature and nurture; we deserve to dress and modify our bodies how we please. Concerning the surgical anecdote here, despite any bureaucracy or formalism, we can always find those in whom we may trust, and it can lead to beautiful results—even some that help us realize our best selves. We may not all be surgeons, but we can always help others come into their own in various and unique ways. Surely, there’s no shame in being tailor-made.
'Tailor-Made' is available now on all platforms
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