Pablo Alamá has been performing this June the play ‘Manual para follarse a macho con vagina’ (Manual to fuck a macho with a vagina) (in the theatre El Umbral de Primavera, in Madrid), written and performed by him. Experiences of a trans man. His story. With four performances left before the summer break, we talked to him. About trans, cis,terf, affection, Grindr, theatre, emptiness and accumulations, phallocracy, followers and Diogenes syndrome, about how invisible trans men are.
Valencian, 31 years old. In Madrid since 2015. He has some roles in films and series, such as in the film “Poliamor para principiantes” (2021), by Fernando Colomo.
This month was released on Netflix’s “La noche más larga”, an action thriller series set in a psychiatric prison where Pablo Alamá is playing a trans inmate. A fantastic performance.
Three years ago, after a couple of auditions for plays about masculinities, he got motivated and decided to tell his own story, in his own way and with his own language. “If I did it myself, it made me feel more confident; besides, I was at a time when I wasn’t so sure about coming out in such a public way”. The result, ‘Manual for fucking a macho with a vagina’, a very natural, direct, and spontaneous text (you can tell he studied Journalism), without making a big drama about his story, trying to normalize.
This is your story, Pablo…
There are fictionalized parts, but the essence is all real. For example, all the audiovisuals are recordings that I made from the beginning of my transition when I started to become hormonal, when I was 23 years old, eight years ago.
Was the change clear to you?
A lot of people ask me that. And yes and no. I kind of had an intuition, but I didn’t have much information either, until I was 20 years old I wasn’t very clear that transsexual men existed. Female transsexuality was very visualized, trans women, but until recently there were no references to trans men. And then I said to myself: OK, a woman can be trans, but then what am I? When I entered university, I started to read more and meet more people. And I started a process of saying to myself: I don’t feel like a woman, I don’t know if I’m a man or not, I’m in the middle, I don’t care what gender I am… It was something fluid and as I started to have references of trans men, which I mainly found on YouTube, guys from the USA and other European countries.
There are still no famous references in Spain for trans men…
Right now… (He thinks about it…).
If none come to your mind quickly… Well, we have Paul B. Preciado.
(Still thinking). Of course, there are some, but, well, well known by the general public, like Jedet in a woman, I can’t find…
In the play there is a very tender scene with your mother… It’s very natural, it’s very natural, it’s a very light-hearted scene; when you try to tell her that you feel like a man… By the way, it’s spoken in Valencian.
That’s where I wanted to bring out the normalization. You are trying to tell your mother something, but what your mother wants is to feed you; she expresses that maternal love through food. As if to say: look, it doesn’t matter what happens to you, in the end, I’m making you a bowl of baked rice, you eat it and we’ll sort it out. My mother, who was a seamstress, used to say to me: Yes, of course, I know what it’s like to be transsexual, because I fix the trousers of a woman who has a penis, and I fix them because her penis doesn’t fit properly there. That was her reference point as a trans person, a woman whose trousers were fixed so that her penis would fit properly. So my mother’s first reaction was: ah, you’re a bit like this woman. That helped me, the fact that my mother had a reference point… But my family did go through a grieving process, which lasted a few months like they had lost a daughter until they accepted it completely. But at no time was there any drama or anything negative.
What about your father?
It was funny because when I told him about it, he said: ah, well, I always wanted to have a son. Look how good, how easy…, how easy…
(laughs). Then there have been our ups and downs; now we get on well, it’s not a very intimate relationship, but it’s good. My mother passed away. I was even surprised by my grandmother’s reaction, on my father’s side. I used to upload these videos on YouTube telling her about my process and how I felt about the changes. And one day she came to me crying because she had seen them; she and an uncle of mine found one of those videos on YouTube, and why didn’t you tell us about it, we started crying with the video… We accept you, we are going to call you Pablo, we are very happy for you… I was surprised because my biggest fear when it came to making the change was how to tell my family. And that’s what I wanted to reflect in this work: the stories are not always sad, there is not always rejection, there is also acceptance, and it is interesting to generate references, to normalize it.
This is one of the great virtues of the play. That it’s very natural… Pablo, when you start to become hormonal, do you have a bad time physically, how does your body react? Tired, grumpy?
When you start to become hormonal it’s like living second adolescence, with all that that entails. In the beginning, there are symptoms such as hot flushes, emotional changes… Like any teenager; suddenly you are more irascible, testosterone increases aggression, libido… But it’s nothing serious or anything that prevents you from functioning normally.
And do you notice any differences in your character?
Well, yes, but I don’t know if it’s the hormones or if I’ve matured. There’s something there… I think I’m still me, my essence is the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago. Maybe it has taken away… I don’t know, for example, I used to cry a lot, and now it’s very difficult for me to cry. I don’t know if it has to do with hormones… But now it’s very difficult for me.
That must be my age; it’s happened to me too.
(laughs). It’s also true. When you’re 15 you make a world out of everything, everything is very intense. And at 30 you learn to relativize.
Are you feeling well?
What do you think of the debate that has been going on for more than a year about the Trans Law and gender self-determination, and the fact that everyone has to give their opinion about what others do or don’t do, that everything, even the most personal and intimate things, is subjected to public debate and, sometimes, to public scorn, as happens with TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists)?
In some ways, I think this is a necessary law to protect trans people, both binary and non-binary so that they can decide who they want to be. And it is important, because this decision for people who decide to have surgery or hormones involves going through doctors and, if it is not legislated, it makes it very difficult for them to have access to the social security system. I have plenty of debate left over; I have plenty of that. It happens with gay marriage, with abortion. And many of those people who give their opinions should be told: but, let’s see, how does it affect you, if it doesn’t take away your rights, it only means giving rights to others who see their rights diminished.
Democracy, rather than the authoritarian power of the majority, must be constituted as the defense of minorities. The focus, the debate, and, as I said, even the mockery, have also been placed on men who transition to women, with such outlandish arguments as that they do so in order, for example, to be able to rape women in prison. No doubt a strong argument for attacking the law… But there is hardly any talk of women making the change to men. As if for TERFs there is only a one-way change…
The reality is that trans men are much more invisible than trans women, and I have the theory, and I say this also with a bit of humor, that within the LGTBI collective, those who have a stick are more visible than those who have a vulva. Those who lead the LGTBI movement end up being homosexual men and transsexual women, which I don’t think is a bad thing, but it does make an important part of it invisible.
Do you have a reference group, or do you carry out any kind of activism?
I have always been quite individualistic. I have many friends involved in associative activism, but I don’t think I don’t function well there. I think it’s necessary, and that there are people who do it very well and achieve great changes, but I don’t see myself there. I’m of the opinion that my way of changing things a bit, or at least around me, has to be more through my personal life and my work.
With this play, you are already an activist in a way. There is another scene I want to discuss with you: the one that criticizes medical care.
Yes, absolutely. That scene in a gynecological clinic is real, more or less. It’s already difficult for a cis-gender woman to access gynecological check-ups in the public sector, and they often end up in the private sector, so imagine for me… I asked for it through my GP, I couldn’t get it, I called a private clinic, and this happened to me: I can’t give you an appointment because you’re a man and the computer system won’t let me.
Well, I haven’t been going for check-ups for years; fortunately, I haven’t needed to.
And another scene that caught my attention: is the one in which you tell about the moment of flirting and going to bed?
In that scene I want to show how I have experienced it; I know that there are people who have experienced it in other ways. I’m talking about my experience, without wanting to generalize. In the end, I think there have been more conflicts that have been inside my head, about what others will think, than what really happened afterward. Everything has developed in a more natural way. I also think that I choose well who I relate to. When I like a person before I take a step, I try to get to know them better, to see their ideology, and values, then I say: here yes or here no. If I suddenly meet a woman who tells me that trans women are not women, well, that’s it, I’m done, because I know I won’t like you, I don’t want anything. I think I have come to choose my environment well so that I feel safe in it. I have also noticed, from when I started until today, that now there is much more visibility of all this; almost everyone knows what it is, and you are not seen as a freak or a freak, there is much more acceptance and it is simpler. Ten years ago it wasn’t like that.
You are bisexual…
Yes, and within the homosexual world, I have encountered more problems.
More problems when it comes to flirting with men than with women?
Yes, I think there is a very stereotypical thing about gay men, that everything is about sex, that you meet someone through sex, rather than emotionally. I’m speaking as a generalization, eh, of course, there’s everything. But it’s quite widespread that the only thing they want is to fuck, and they want to fuck a penis, not a person.
The cult of the phallus.
That’s what it is. And coitocentrism. Everything has to go through penetration. You’re either passive or active. I don’t know, let’s get to know each other and see how we work, right? It’s communication and intimacy. So, within a certain group of homosexual men, I’ve come across this… All the messages that are projected at the beginning of the play are Grindr messages. I made a profile for the play, with the typical photo of the headless torso and introduced myself by just saying: “I’m a trans man”. That’s it. I let the messages come in. And they are… messages like ‘I would love to fuck a male with a vagina’, which is what gave the play its title, or the questions ‘but do you sometimes dress as a woman, are you operating?
Yes, Grindr is famous because the second question is usually: ‘active or passive, and the third: ‘how’s your cock’… Are you already thinking of writing another play, Pablo?
Yes, with a totally different theme.
On the Diogenes syndrome.
Why this topic?
From a close experience, which especially touched me. About people who try to fill their emotional emptiness with stuff. An accumulation disorder. I have been documenting myself and I have been very interested in the emotional factor that exists in this disorder. Filling emotional emptiness through material things. And I think we all, in some way, do it, although without it being pathological.
In other words, the fear of loss, of emptiness, of absence?
Do you know that Diogenes was the opposite, that he was the first minimalist in history?
Yes, he was the Marie Kondo of the Greeks.
And look how his name has gone down in history. For the opposite. A monumental historical injustice.
In this case I would like to direct the play, not perform it. I want to continue exploring the subject, because, in reality, this Diogenes syndrome is something that many more people have than you might think. To explore the digital Diogenes. The amount of photos on our mobile phones that we are not able to delete…
And accumulating followers on networks like an obsession. Another kind of rubbish in our lives… Very interesting, Pablo. I hope to interview you again.
‘Manual to fuck a macho with a vagina’. Written and performed by Pablo Alamá. Directed by Miryam Diego and Tania Marte. Last performances before the summer: Today, Thursday, and Mondays 4 and 11 July at El Umbral de Primavera Tomorrow, Friday, at DT.
In September it will be revived in Madrid and in some other cities, such as Valencia.
Interview by Rafa Ruiz.
Translated by Deepl, artificial intelligence.