And Then There Was Eve Tickets On Sale

If you’re going to be in or near LA on 6/18, or just really really really want to attend the world premiere of my wife’s movie, you can now buy your tickets!

A Year

Last year on May 19th, my mom died at the age of 86 on what would have been my father’s 88th birthday.

Here they are being about as much as a 1950s couple from Brooklyn it is possible to be.

I miss them both so much.

Leslie Feinberg

It’s so much harder to read, read about, and teach Stone Butch Blues than it used to be.

I still miss Leslie Feinberg being in the world, such a spirit of fight and determination and work and brains. Working class hero and writer that you were, Leslie, and I will always miss your presence in my world.

But I will say: it is so nice, too, to spend the time with hir words. At least that.

We watched this talk, in which all of their wisdom & warmth is apparent:

“If the weatherman said it’s going to be hot and hot and hot and then it’s going to be cold I would have had no idea how to dress.”

RIP Sandra Cole

I’ve just gotten the news today that Sandra Cole, who many of you know from Fantasia Fair, died today surrounded by loving friends and family.

She was a kind woman who did a great deal of work for wives and partners of crossdressers and transitioning women over the years, running the first workshops and support spaces for us when I entered the scene in 2003.

She dedicated all of her trans books a few years back to the University of Michigan and to the Kinsey Center, adding to the vast collection donated by Dallas Denny.

Thank you so much for your empathy, dear lady.

The old guard is going, one at a time, and I hope we have done all the interviews and collected all the resources and said all the thank yous to these first helpers of trans community.

 

 

The First Year Without

I was going to wait to post this on the first anniversary of my mother’s death, but I know so many of you out there who are missing your moms today – whether it’s your first mother’s day without her or your 20th – so I wanted to share this to say: I see you. I know. I’m not really sure how I’ve survived this year but you fellow sufferers have been particularly helpful. A special big bunch of love to Ade & Hanna for having been so tender with me.

You don’t always make the best decisions in the wake of a death. Sometimes you have sex with someone you’ll never have sex with again because it seems like he right thing to do. You might drink too much. You might spend too much money on clothes or dye your hair a new color or get a tattoo. You might decide you’re working in the wrong industry all together and quit your job or move clear across the country.

You might sit in your room at 3AM and watch Deep Space 9 for 4 hours solid.

You might wonder about that guy you dumped 25 years ago and wonder, too, how it was you managed to keep sleeping with him despite your inability to agree with him about anything and realize you haven’t had sex that good since then. Nearly, in some instances, but not.

You might surprise yourself by spending an hour digging out your middle school yearbook only to remember when you’re shoulder deep in boxes sitting half in and half out of your closet that you lost that particular yearbook years ago.

You might wonder if your mom got buried with that ring she found that she was convinced he’d bought her for Christmas that year but that you were convinced he’d bought for their 60th anniversary which he didn’t make it to.

You wonder whether or not you will be younger or older than your mother when she gave up on living.

You wonder how it is she didn’t remember the entire year after her husband died, and you wonder if you’ll remember this year that’s now ending. You are pretty sure you don’t want to.

You stop dead in the street when you see a cardinal in a tree. You try to remember what that means and in what culture it means it. It’s a sign that your loved one is nearby, but is that in some symbolic sense, or is the cardinal supposed to be some reincarnated version of your loved one? Are cardinals always representatives of dead people, or are they just birds sometimes? Because I live where they live so either I’m being plagued by dead people or it’s just spring where I live.

You eat whatever you feel like eating. A muffin for dinner seems reasonable. A turkey pot pie for breakfast is also reasonable.

You work out in a regimented, unenthusiastic way but discover after four weeks that you can actually do 100 pushups, that it worked, but you don’t really care of feel any sense of accomplishment.

You feel disposable.

You wonder when someone tells you that you look beautiful whether or not they can tell you’re dead inside, too, or if being dead inside is part of what makes you beautiful.

You remember every disappointment, every betrayal; every loss from a death reminds you of 15 other losses; that guy who said he’d be there for you but who wasn’t there for you once you weren’t sleeping with him, OR the guy who was there for you but who wasn’t after he realized you wanted to sleep with him.

You save muffin wrappers for your old cat who has discovered an explicable joy in muffin wrapper licking.

You drink too much.

You wonder if you think about your mom being dead too much, enough, or not enough. You wonder if you have unresolved feelings about her even though you’ve spent most of your life realizing unresolved feelings for her.

You think about the joy on her face when she gave you your first bike.

You think about that really terrible jacket she gave you for Christmas one year, a jacket so horrendous you checked the tag on the present in hopes that you’d mistakenly opened someone else’s present because please god let no one who loves me think I would like that horrible jacket. You remember your sister watching you try to surreptitiously check the tag from across the room and how she tried to stifle her laughter while you calmly put the jacket back in the box and hoped that no one else saw any of that.

You wonder if that guidance counselor who asked your mother if you were in a cult because you were wearing African mask earrings is still asking parents stupid shit like that. Your mother bought you the earrings, of course.

You wonder if you will ever stop feeling sad.

You wonder if the friends who are there for you are there because they like you or because they feel bad for you.

You wonder if people who really like and admire you are just deluded and whether their feelings for you would be the same if they knew how you spend your time alone.

You wonder if now, with both parents dead, there is some astonishing reality about yourself you are about to uncover. You hope there is. You hope there isn’t.

You think about calling or emailing someone who really let you down to give them what-for.

You listlessly scroll down Facebook liking everything and posting dumb comments or you listlessly scroll down Facebook wondering why people spend so much time on really dumb shit.

You wake up, as if from a trance, after watching 20 minutes of goat videos. You do not feel better, but you are sure you do like goats.

You wonder if your cats can tell when the dead are visiting and simply choose not to notice them or inform you that they are present. Occasionally you are certain they can see the ghost of your loved one right behind your head because they are obviously staring at something that is just to the left of your right ear.

You assume that other people maybe don’t have as much sexual regret in their lives or that they have a lot more or that for some people sadness doesn’t mean reexamining your sexual orientation, your sexual choices, or excoriating yourself for not sleeping with that very cute woman when you could have. She wanted you. You were scared she wanted a girlfriend. You couldn’t be her girlfriend so you didn’t sleep with her but you wonder if you should have anyway and whether you really should stop considering every last ethical ramification of every possible flirtation, crush, or love affair you’ve ever had.

You wonder if there is anyone in the world who might understand how it feels to hear your mom’s voice on your voicemail still, her beautiful singsongy way of talking, the message she left you only a week or so before she died. You are still amazed at how much she radiated happiness on the phone even when she wasn’t, and how, when you were a kid, she could go from screaming about what a mess this place is to answering the phone with the joy and melody of a bluebird as if she had become a different person in that split second.

You realize you will never hear her say anything new again to you. She won’t see any of the new clothes you just ordered online. But you’re happy she did see that you finally found the perfect raincoat and that a year later you still love it.

You wonder if anyone knows that you kept your hair blue for a year because it was the last color she saw it. No one would have noticed if you’d worn black every day. You know she would appreciate you taking the time to live out this Catholic rite even if it was with blue hair instead of black clothes. You know she would especially like that because she especially liked you.

You wonder if you remember the rosary and if it really would make you feel any better as she insisted it would so many times in your life. Your grandmother did, too, and you wonder how long she’s been dead because once you’re mourning your parents every ghost of your life pays a short visit at least once. It feels like there’s a party but everyone at it is a dead person you’re only remembering.  You don’t even bother to try to find the rosary she left you.

Here is the blanket my grandma crocheted. Here are my mom’s pajamas I wore when I slept in her assisted living facility with her. Here is my father’s sweater which is still surprisingly cooler than almost every other sweater I own.

You don’t clean the catboxes as often as you should and you don’t clean the house ever except for every once in a while when you realize you have to clean something because you have no idea what is clean and what isn’t. You do the bare minimum which is even less than what the bare minimum used to be.

You take a lot of baths or you forget to bathe for days at a time and then having to try to remember when you last took a bath as if the difference between 3 or 4 days ago is somehow not negligible. If you realize it’s only been 3 you decide you can wait another day. You come to all the same conclusions a day later because memory is no longer your strong suit and you walk around on a lot of Wednesdays thinking it’s Tuesday and vice versa.

You become certain that taking a probiotic/vitamin C/valerian/fish oil/whatever really has made a difference in your health.

You say “I hate children” with a hint of rage even though you don’t actually mean it and regret it for weeks and wonder if you should explain that you really don’t to the person you said it to or if that would be protesting too much. It’s not children, anyway, it’s how sticky they are and how the world revolves around them that you hate. You decide to explain what mourning is like to that person who you told you hated children to so that they can realize you’re just full blown crazy. You add a smiley face to the email as if that will make you seem less crazy though the opposite is probably true.

You wonder again about unresolved issues.

You can’t seem to fake a smile or even work up the energy for anger, your most stalwart emotion. You feel mean and unapologetically so except the next day when you wish you could be a nicer more upbeat person.

You realize no one wants to have sex with a sad person, not even you.

You wonder why so many people like Klingons so much when they’re just so patriarchal.

Robin Williams was once told that coke makes you more like yourself and so asked, “but what if you’re an asshole?”  Mourning is the same as coke, then.

You know you’re fine especially when you aren’t at all.

I still don’t know how to do this, to live in a world where the woman with the brightest voice and the brightest smile who was fearful in a way that made her so old and yet gave you a glimpse into how she must have been when she was 7 is dead. I am still in that room with her, sitting and holding hands with her, the TV on or off, the trees and flowers blooming outside as she lay dying in the spring. She loved spring so much but the sun on her face almost hurt her skin at the end, and the cool breeze was an affront that no sweater could ameliorate.

She was already in mourning the whole time I was waiting to be.

I am pretty sure I don’t know how to do this and probably never will. I am also sure I will be doing this for the rest of my life in one way or another.

“Extraordinary Breakout Performance”

You saw the trailer here yesterday, but the rest of the news about my wife’s film is this: it will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Sunday, June 18th.

If you can come, please do. I will most definitely be there.

The blurb/review on the ticket page describes says the film features “an extraordinary breakout performance from Rachel Crowl” (and some other nice things too).

Here’s the full blurb:

Alyssa, a successful photographer, wakes one morning to find her apartment ransacked and her husband mysteriously missing. Left without even a photograph to offer the police, she turns to his colleague Eve, a talented jazz pianist with a flirtatious charm and disarming grace. Eve helps her confront her husband’s longtime struggle with depression and to, over time, accept his absence. While getting to know this woman through such unusual circumstances, Alyssa is surprised to find herself falling in love again.
 
Featuring an extraordinary breakout performance from Rachel Crowl and an evocative jazz score by Robert Lydecker, Savannah Bloch’s directorial debut is insightful and original, both an engaging psychological thriller and a uniquely frank depiction of the difficulty of retaining one’s own identity within the confines of a romantic relationship.

And Then There Was Eve Trailer

You, Take Care

Hey, all. The news that’s coming down about what will probably happen tomorrow prompts me to write. Tomorrow may be a difficult day for many of us in the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s more likely that you’ve heard the new healthcare plan could define sexual assault, domestic violence, having had a c-section, and post-partum depression as pre existing conditions. Surprising to no one is that these pre existing conditions focus morbidly on women’s health. An insurance company could deny you coverage – not just a claim, COVERAGE.

What you may not have heard about is that that the “religious liberty” EO, which may or may not be like the draft we first saw in February, which will sanction discrimination against LGBTQ+ people if a person’s belief system warrants it, will be signed. (I can’t use his name.) I don’t really even know what that means but I do know it will be a dog whistle to all the haters out there. Keep yourselves safe. Keep track of each other. Know that you are loved and valuable and essential to the world.

Please don’t minimize what this means. Please don’t read sources that make your heart pound. Please do take some time out for yourself, play with pets, eat good food, listen to music, whatever it is you do to feel a little better and better loved and more centered in the world. BUT DEFINITELY CALL YOUR GODDAMN REPRESENTATIVES AND SAY NO.

 

Please call your representative bright and early tomorrow morning. (202) 224-3121, give the switchboard your zip code, and ask your representative to vote no on the AHCA and against the “Religious Freedom” EO.

Thursday will likely be a very hard day for LGBTQ+ people. Please don’t argue or minimize what this EO means. Please do tell us you love us. Please do call your reps and publicly state that you stand with LGBTQ people.

We are ready to fight, but we are also scared tonight. But we are, also, us = and as ever, full of fight and fear and love and steadfastness.  Love to each and every one of you.

 

A Tale of Two Americas

Two pieces of news. First, the Dems re-introduce the Equality Act:

Democrats including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer are gathering Tuesday morning at the Capitol’s Rayburn Room to announce the re-introduction of the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination nationwide….

… but VP Pence could be the only winner:

President Donald Trump has invited conservative leaders to the White House on Thursday for what they expect will be the ceremonial signing of a long-awaited—and highly controversial—executive order on religious liberty, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

(Please, if you haven’t sent a check to the ACLU recently, please do. They are our best bet to fight this hateful idea. )

I’m a little astonished at how we are so obviously, as a nation, going in two different directions at once. The basic rights that have not yet been granted to LGBTQ Americans are still up for argument.

Medium

I decided to try out having a presence on Medium.

Tomboys, Gender Non Conformity, & Trans Identity

A few more thoughts about that NYT tomboy article, the various rebuttals, and my post from yesterday.

I have to own that I wanted that mom to be right. For starters, because the world is transphobic and I am too – not because I mean to be but because it’s so easy to be so. It’s how the world is structured.

For example, some folks immediately objected to my using ‘he’ pronouns for this child, but only trans people objected to the child being referred to as ‘she’. And I think that’s precisely because most people still think biology is destiny, and thinking the child’s gender assignment at birth is more natural than the child being trans is, basically, transphobic.

Any assumption that the child being a trans boy is a worse or ‘less real’ outcome than the child being a tomboy is also transphobic.

While all of that may or may not have caused me to be cheering on this tomboy, it’s way more than that, too.

What was disappointing about that article is the way she presented trans and GNC as if they are mutually exclusive opponents of some kind. They are not.

The thing is, I want company. I’ve been gender non conforming in one way or another for most of my life; even when I was as feminine as I could manage – and I tried, I swear I tried – I was often assumed to be a lesbian. These days, when people know that me or my wife is trans, they assume I’m the trans one — though I’m honestly never clear which direction they think I’ve gone/am going in, to be honest. I’m personally thankful that the trans movement has made my own liminally trans/GNC gender a little more legible, but as a result I face another dilemma: people assume I’m trans because I’m GNC.

And that’s the nut of why I and so many others wanted that mom to be both honest and right: because gender non conformity is policed all the time, and it seems sad that the only way to convince others that your gender non conforming behavior or appearance is real is to identify as trans yourself. Gender stereotypes and gender role enforcement are bullshit for everyone whether you’re trans or not trans. A trans woman feeling forced to be stereotypically feminine is as bullshit as a non trans woman who experiences the same patriarchal pressure.

Here’s the thing: I know I’m not trans. Some crossdressers know they aren’t. For the same reasons we trust trans people to know their own gender identities, we know what ours are too. And mine just isn’t binary or nameable or whatever. Sometimes I like Ursula LeGuin’s “bad man” idea. Other times I remember I produce more testosterone than most people born with ovaries. I also choose not to identify as trans because I am married to my wife, who did transition, and who lives with a world of bullshit that I do not. That is, I don’t identify as trans because I respect the authority of the people who I know to be trans, and I am sure my experience is nothing like theirs. That is, I have cis(sexual) privilege, despite not being normatively gendered.

I really shouldn’t even have to explain that but I feel, often, that I do. I’m not trans because I’m not, just as my wife is trans because she is.

But right now my gender identity (GNC) and her gender identity (trans) are supposed to be part of the same big trans umbrella. Originally the word transgender was meant to be an inclusive term that included transsexual people (along with many others) but transgender has since supplanted transsexual and now that it’s been shortened to trans that’s even more true.

To explain: the definition of transsexual was, in the first place, meant to describe people who had pursued medical/legal/social transition. Transgender was supposed to enlarge and expand that, to include those who couldn’t medically transition or to cover those who were socially dysphoric but not body dysphoric, etc. So it’s awesome that we have an expanded sense of what trans is except that it really isn’t. The thing is, almost every visible trans person is not only transitioned, but they are usually and often binary transitioners (meaning they go from people who are assigned one gender at birth who live as the “opposite” gender after transition). As a result, transgender often effectively means transsexual, even though we don’t use the latter term much at all anymore. The umbrella has collapsed, where every other version of trans that isn’t transition has become ‘less than’.

As many genderqueer, non binary, gender fluid, gender non conforming people, crossdressers, drag queens, sissies and tomboys will tell you: when we don’t claim big umbrella trans it’s because trans is also policed, and only those who choose either binary or medical/legal/social transition are considered truly trans. As another piece explains well, it’s really as if cis/trans has become the next binary, or an emerging binary, except that I’m not entirely sure who’s supposed to be on which side.

So that’s why I don’t identify as trans. I use “gendery” because it seems more accurate. I have a lot of gender(s), and some of them are visible and available all the time and some of them come and go. I was a tomboy as a kid.

What we’re left with, really, is a problem, and perhaps the biggest unspoken wish when I was reading that tomboy article: not only do I want company, but I want to BE, and so do a whole bunch of people like me. And while it’s true that many trans people are open to the idea of others being GNC, I’m not really sure we’re considered real, not by anyone, actually, trans or cis alike.

The reality is that trans people are FAR more comfortable with gender non conforming people than cis people are. There is no trans agenda that “encourages” children to transition. But I’d argue that transphobia is itself the reason that people may want gender non conforming children to transition or for adults who are NB to “choose one or the other” (as if there are only two). Trans/cis is not a particularly useful binary for those of us who aren’t either, exactly; I’ve written before about being cissexual but not cisgender.

Here’s the first clue: maybe a goddamned binary won’t work, because they never do.

I don’t want to feel forced to identify as trans in order for my gender to be recognized, and neither should any kid. So maybe instead of diagnosing this child, we should be thinking instead about how we make space for children and for people who are traditionally gendered or binary, those who are gender non conforming, and for those who are legally/medically trans. We can call it the gender trifecta. Trinities are always cooler than binaries anyway.

The thing is, this girl exists. This tomboy. The NYT author may have been lying or in denial or just transphobic, but even if this particular child is not a tomboy and is trans, that doesn’t mean that other tomboy isn’t out there. She is.

I was her. She is me. That child may also grow up to be a man, a gender normative woman, or any number of other gender choices. What I hope she won’t be is hostile to trans people of any stripe: this is not a contest between; it’s a distinction among. That child is the reason I’m a loud and proud trans advocate; not because I don’t believe in trans people, but because I do: I live right next door.

(much thanks to Paisley Currah and Erica Foley for providing the space and pressure to work out these ideas.)

Happy Earth Day? From an Urban Green

I’ve never really figured out how I’m supposed to love Mother Earth and am suspicious of anything as awesome as a planet being gendered, of course. That’s human silliness.

I first became green when I volunteered for NYC’s Earth Day, in Central Park, in 1990. I’d taken a great environmental biology class – and read the amazing Economy of Nature by Ricklefs – and that was that. IIRC, I sold my ‘staff’ t-shirt so I could get into Wetlands that night, an awesome little performance space that I still miss. In a year or so I was working at NYPIRG, where we organized for recycling laws, the 5-cent deposit on cans & bottles, against disposability and for environmental economic justice. (Harlem, for instance, got a water treatment plant but it also got a park to go with it, at least.)

My point, however, is this: there is sometimes an assumption that greens or environmentalists have to be crunchy hippie types. That you have to be a vegetarian. That you must own things made out of hemp, or you must be a stoner, or like folk music, or like hiking, or crystals. You can’t wear makeup or smoke cigarettes or, even, live in a goddamned city, even though city dwellers have far smaller carbon footprints than those who don’t. It honestly pisses me off that people who go hiking and live in the suburbs and drive their asses everywhere are considered greener than people in cities. I am for mass transit and trains because they’re green, and I didn’t get my license until I was 42 because I refused to participate in car culture and all of the noxious bullshit it brings.

Even now I am more worried about the ways the poor will experience environmental degradation, that the coastal cities will flood, that indigenous people who live on flood plains or islands will become refugees, that the rates of cancer will go up, that the kinds of natural disasters will become so common that we will cease recovering from them and live in places that are half broken from whatever tornado/hurricane came through last. As far as I can tell, the Rockaways and Long Island never totally recovered from Sandy, and I’m not sure anyone outside of NY knows that, or if anyone inside NY wants to admit it.

And then there’s the water table, which honestly, I can’t even think about some days because what’s coming scares me.

I do believe that some science and technology will help; humans are ingenious. But I worry too that these technologies will benefit only the wealthiest, as they often do.

I am skeptical of a lot of science, all the biases human beings bring to it, the ways we still don’t have enough women or people of color doing the work. It enrages me, to be honest, because we really do need all hands on deck, and the very best of the best, which we don’t get when we skew toward white men getting all the jobs.

So instead maybe of Marching for Science or celebrating the Earth, think of Earth Day this way: you’re marching for rationalism, for education, for creative genius; you’re marching for respect for people and cultures and health; you’re marching today for water and air that won’t kill you, for elephants and polar bears and giraffes. But to me, mostly, you’ve marching against riots over resources, for the poor, for the chance at justice.

I am not cheerful today, or optimistic. But I will be present because I have to be. You should too.

 

Dismayed: Tomboys in the NYT

So many people, including me, read that NYT piece about the mom who was proud of her GNC child who she described as a tomboy – a girl who is masculine but female-identified. Yay, gender non conformity! Yay tomboys!

There was expected pushback from trans quarters – expected and valuable, even if I thought it was sometimes beside the point. I have a problem with all GNC behavior being considered trans except for the kinds, you know, that aren’t “trans enough” – and I know you crossdressers and genderqueer/GNC and enbies know what I’m talking about, when a binary trans person claims the high ground.

But I agreed that it didn’t make sense for the mom to be so “but she’s not trans” because honestly? So many GNC children DO turn out to be trans, and the mom would need to be open to whatever path her child might be on.

There was an exceptionally good piece by Zack Ford that tried to work out the separations and overlaps of GNC and trans.

That said, it’s come to light that the child has in fact talked about being and wanting to be a boy. Here’s the line:

“As she started to announce in ways both subtle and direct that she’s a boy, and ask me questions like “Why can’t boys have vaginas and girls have penises?” the ratio of heartwarming to heart-sinking has shifted.

So honestly? I’m disappointed and aggrieved that this mom is clinging to her child’s GNC identity as if it’s somehow the last outskirts of “normal” – that she is trying to keep her kid from crossing over into scary transland.

Just FUCK TRANSPHOBIA already.

But here’s the thing: even if her kid was “only a tomboy” – which he doesn’t seem to be – the child is already trans. Maybe not transition track, maybe not interested in medical, biological changes to their body, but trans – in the sense of the trans umbrella – all the same.

So let’s all get over it, shall we? These are not teams where one side “wins” later. More tomboys doesn’t mean more/better feminist future. Gender non conforming children need support no matter where they end up, but the last thing they need is a mom proving some point (which honestly, I’m not even sure what it is at this point) or a bunch of strangers diagnosing their gender for them. What we don’t need is parents lying about their kids’ gender identities because it suits them, and that’s exactly what this mom did.

For once, please, can we all try to realize that everyone’s experience of gender is different, and that we need to hear what people say about their own, and provide environments for children to be trans or GNC or whatever it is they are.

What Comes Back

It’s been a long year of so many losses, but in a sense, this start of spring, the undoing of wintry death, reminds us too of what won’t come undone just with the passage of time, that some things, and some people, will stay dead, but that other things are still on their way, incoming bits of beauty that are awaiting just the right ray of sunshine to make their appearance known to us.

My mom loved the spring because she loved trees and plants and flowers in ways that I never really understood; she could be moved to tears at the right bud on the right flower making its way through the ground. She loved babies too, of all kinds, and I regret that she never did get to see spring in Wisconsin, the baby bunnies and baby raccoons and ducklings all in the midst of this powerful, powerful green. It’s a little overwhelming for a city kid, and my allergies are a fucking wreck, but it’s still so profound every year, the way this place comes back to life after being so frozen and so cold and so gray for months and months and months.

A former student wrote to me with doubt about writing his life with a lush mother and too many bad bedrooms of his childhood. In the context of Syria, he said, who cares about my bullshit? And you know? Sometimes all we have are the human-sized losses, the ways that we can mourn what we did have and what we never had, to remember that love for each other on the day to day is the only thing that counts.

Some days I am merely thankful that my parents are not here to see what we are doing to each other in the name of freedom and peace. MOABs bring neither, but watching out for each other on a small scale might.

Keep the faith, folks. The world is already a better place than it seems to be sometimes, and so often, good things have to hibernate or disappear in order to come back.

Music: PWR BTTM

I can’t even with the news so here’s some music and cool lyrics. Sing along when the haters get you down.

[Verse 1]
There are men in every town who live to bring you down
Make themselves feel bigger making you feel small
My advice is to look incredible
As you make their lives regrettable by being your damn self
God, it’s so exhausting

[Chorus]
Curse that motherfucker who would spit upon another’s body
Who the hell gave you the right to tell me that I’m wrong
Curse every one of you who tells me that I cannot be who I want
Ain’t no fucking way you’ll fuck up my big beautiful day

[Verse 2]
There are men everywhere who cannot help but stare
When they see you ’cause they cannot understand
Within those men there are boys who have never had the choice
But to grow up and be scared to be your friend
Jesus Christ, let’s help them

[Chorus]
Curse that motherfucker who would spit upon another’s body
Who the hell gave you the right to tell me that I’m wrong
Curse every one of you who tells me that I cannot be who I want
Ain’t no fucking way you’ll fuck up my big beautiful day
My day

Baby and Bathwater

There is a tendency, I think, for those of us whose goal is creating a world that is a little more self aware of sexism, racism, transphobia, and the rest, to dismiss writers and artists based on a single opinion, utterance, work of art, song, etc.

  • Is all of Kate Bornstein’s work necessarily discredited because she defended the use of the T word?
  • Is all of Dan Savage’s work for shit because of his denial of bisexual existence and/or his transphobia? 
  • Is there any delicacy in recognizing that there was a moment in time in which being “trans amorous” was a radical and trans-positive position? 

I think about this stuff because a lot of what I’ve written over the years could be interpreted as transphobic now, or, at the very least, problematic. Some of it was at the time, too. I am not, nor have I ever been, a ‘respect your elders’ sort of person, but I’m also pretty turned off by the complete lack of historical context some seem to exist in, as if fine-tuned arguments about the nature of transphobia haven’t been happening all along: As if we didn’t debate ‘transgender’ vs ‘transgendered’. As if no one has ever called themselves a transvestite proudly. As if…

To some degree, it’s one of the reasons I feel myself not wanting to write another book about anything trans related; for starters, I think it was useful for a cis feminist liminally trans type like myself to do the work that I did at the time, but now? I think transness is in good hands for the most part, although I’m happy to pipe in when and where it’s needed.

But mostly I feel myself stymied by the idea that anything I might put into the public sphere now would be so roundly shot down on a technicality that it’s really just not worth the effort. I prefer hanging out in this tiny corner of the internet doing my thing, being read by folks who appreciate what I do, and talking to people one on one who might need some help finding resources or the like.

I’m tired of people who have opinions but who don’t do anything or create anything or legislate anything. I feel more much occupied by the work and much less interested in the debate.

Maybe it’s an older vs. younger activist sort of thing and I’m officially middle-aged, but from here on in I feel like I’m going to be asking a lot more questions of critics far and wide: well, what have you done? Who have you helped? Have you created, or tried creating, anything of lasting value? In a sense it’s an age-old problem: This doesn’t satisfy, says the critic; So what have you got? says the artist.

And out goes the bathwater, baby and all.

WI Trans Youth Study!

This is so exciting – a study of the needs of trans youth in WI. Please get the word out.

WI TRANS YOUTH STUDY

Are you a transgender or gender nonconforming young person living in Wisconsin? Make sure your voice is counted in a statewide survey to understand what resources are needed to improve the lives of trans and gender nonconforming youth!

We want to make Wisconsin a better place to live for trans and gender nonconforming youth. In order to do that, the Transgender Youth Resource Network of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition are working together on a research project to learn about transgender and gender non-conforming youth’s access to and experiences with resources and support. We’re specifically focusing on what resources you’re currently using, what resources you need, and what barriers you experience in accessing these resources.

We do not anticipate any direct benefits from participating, but the data from this study may benefit trans youth by improving the resources available, removing barriers to those resources, and identifying new areas of need. There are some risks, which include slight discomfort in telling personal stories and confidentiality risk if sharing identifiable information in open-ended questions and providing contact information for compensation. Also, participants sometimes describe participating in surveys as beneficial because they can share personal experiences they may not otherwise have the opportunity to share.

You are eligible to participate in this study if you are age 12-22, identify as trans or gender nonconforming, and live at least part of the year in Wisconsin. Participation is voluntary. The survey should take about 15-20 minutes to complete. You will be paid for your time for participating.

Take the survey by copying the link (both below):

 

https://uwmadison.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9NVB75Jr4oa1R6l

 

For more information, please contact the Study Investigators:

Dr. Brittany Allen – bjallen@pediatrics.wisc.edu

Dr. Jennifer Rehm – jrehm@pediatrics.wisc.edu

This research study has been approved by the University of Wisconsin-Madison IRB.

Victim Blaming Dr. Dao

Now journalists are starting to dig into Dr. Dao’s past, as if some criminal history or other misdeed somehow “explains away” the violence done to him by United.

This is victim blaming.

I hope, if anything like this ever happens to me, no one asks me how I dressed, what I did in the past, or whether or not I have a criminal history.

I would just want people to respond to the unfair and violent way I was treated after having done nothing wrong but bought a plane ticket and gotten in my seat.

In gender studies we often use the idea of “asking the other question” – to see what kind of power structures might be at work. The obvious one here is capitalism, where it’s seen as legitimate for a company to protect its property instead of treating people with respect. But there’s patriarchy, too, which trains men to believe that violence is an acceptable way to protect property. I’d add as well racism – Dao is Vietnamese-American – and orientalism, if you read some of the descriptions of the way he behaved. (Honestly, if I see the word “unusual” one more time I’m going to scream.)

Other articles are pointing up sexual misconduct, too, and honestly, the whole thing is sickening. He was brutalized by a company he paid to transport him. That is all. There was no good reason for it, and the behavior of United should be roundly criticized by all of us who fly.

Medical Treatment & Trans Youth

I have to admit that I tend to peep with one eye over any article by the NYT, or any other mainstream media, when they cover trans issues of any kind. I expect the usual disasters: trans women being referred to as men, bringing up socialization as a means of discrediting their gender identity, mixing up the basics like gender expression and gender identity.

But this article, about current medical treatment for young trans people, is actually refreshing. It brings together not just what a lot of us have known for years – most people who transition do so successfully and without regret – as well as the current studies on the subject.

Despite all of the pushback, medical professionals and psychologists and teachers and parents are all beginning to get it. While I might quibble with Hannah being “born a boy” – the better way to say that is that she was assigned male at birth – overall I’m pleased to see a mainstream news article that starts with compassion and ends with science.

Becoming Trans-Parent: Poems

Hey all! A local mom, Annette Langlois Grunseth, whose daughter is trans, has written a book of poetry called Becoming Trans-Parent: One Family’s Gender Transition about the experience and she’s hoping to sell a bunch more in pre-sales as that will determine interest and the size of the printing.

If you can, please go buy one. 

Here is one of those poems:

Key Change

Live as if you were living already for the second time 

 Viktor Frankl

She sings her own song
a contemporary score
composed in new ways
perhaps dissonant to some
but not to those who really listen.
It’s still beautiful music.
Well-measured
it comes from the same place
but arranged in a new tune.
The melody exudes happiness
the harmony is real.
You can’t fault the composer for that.
Remember Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
shook people up in their time.
Listen as she brings you into the light
with her song, a symphony even.