Month: May 2006

Thanks to Deborah

Posted by – May 31, 2006

I just wanted to especially thank Deborah for her kindness and help with my ongoing insanity. I’ve developed some major neck/back/shoulder pain (a combination of a bad computer setup, one fallen arch, and – oh, stress, for some reason) and we all know how hard it is to get a doctor on the phone! But Deborah is always ready with advice and help.

She’s done it before, too, and I’m insanely grateful. I literally couldn’t work for a few days there – leaning forward at all was incredibly painful but is oh, just kind of required when one is writing and editing.

Hello Cruel World

Posted by – May 31, 2006

Kate Bornstein’s next book, Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws is coming out soon, and here’s the lovely cover:

hcw

You can pre-order it at Amazon, or at Powells.

There’s also a website with previews and more info.
(& a Five Questions Interview with the author in a few weeks, promise!)

Betty (Not) On the Rag

Posted by – May 30, 2006

Poor Betty. The other day while wearing her trademark summer thongs, she bumped her toe really, really hard. Her doctor predicted the toenail will fall off in not too long, and so she complained to me tonight that “just as it’s about to be summer, my season for wearing flip-flops, I’m going to be missing my toenail, and I like having manicured toenails.”

Oh, sad, sad day.

I said: “Wow, it’s a good thing you’ve never gotten your period at the absolute worst time, eh?”

She stopped complaining pronto. We will buy her pretty band-aids to cover up her lack of big toenail, instead, if it even falls off, which I doubt it will. (Did someone say Drama Queen?)

Happy Memorial Day!

Posted by – May 29, 2006

A very happy Memorial Day to you all, with especial good wishes to anyone who has lost a loved one in a war – current, recent, or past. (I was relieved to find out my own cousin quit the Navy, & so is no longer stationed in Iraq.)

I would personally like to thank my great uncle, who stormed the beaches at Normandy – because he kept so mum about it when he was alive that I only found out about his service after his death.

And since we often “remember” the dead of our wars, but not the post-traumatics and the permanently injured, a shout out to all of them too, for sacrificing a limb or their sanity for our sake.

Pope Maledict Rides Again

Posted by – May 28, 2006

Apparently our current pope – who I prefer to call Pope Maledict - has called LGBT relationships “weak love.”

Sometimes I wish I could take people and shake them, or – as Jim Johnson of Straight, Not Narrow points out: to tell them to shut up when they don’t know what they’re talking about.

I could have never explained to anyone before Betty started presenting as female what it’s like to live in the world as an LGBT couple, and I thought I knew. I really did. Faghag for years, lesbian hangabout for years – but really, I didn’t know. Weak is not the word for it.

There is some good news, though – the religious left is on the rise. (Where have you guys been?)

Humorless Feminist

Posted by – May 27, 2006

Like everyone, people frequently forward me dumb jokes that someone has forwarded to them, & on & on.

And often I’m offended by jokes that other people laugh at.

There’s this one, say:

A woman from North Dakota and another from the East coast were seated side by side on an airplane. The woman from North Dakota, being friendly and all, said: “So, where are you from?” The East coast woman said, “From a place where they know better than to use a preposition at the end of a sentence.” The woman from North Dakota sat quietly for a few moments and then replied: “So, where are you from, bitch?”

I understand that the joke is based on the woman’s rudeness, but I’m also tired of jokes about East Coast women, and educated women, etc. They tire me. I’m an educated East Coast woman, you know?

Don’t get me started on blonde jokes.

But what amazes me is that someone would actually send me these jokes. Not a stranger, either. Someone who knows well enough that I’m blonde, from the East Coast, and educated. Shoot, they even know I’ve taught grammar.

And I can’t figure out if this is weird passive-aggressive stuff, or if people just don’t think.

Either way, I get pissed off – probably more pissed off than necessary – and if I say anything about it (to the person, or to someone we both know) I get accused of being “too touchy” or “humorless” or “sensitive.”

Well, yeah, so I am. When people tell jokes that I’m the punchline of, remarkably, I feel offended. So sue me. But either way, it’s very hard for me to like the person who sent it much.

We Don’t Really Know

Posted by – May 26, 2006

Since we got the boys when they were already somewhere around 16 weeks old, and we got them in September, we really don’t know when their birthday is – except that we know it’s sometime around now.

Happy 6th Birthday to Aeneas and Endymion, then!

baby kitty boys

In this picture, they’re about 4 months old. See those big ears and big paws? Ah, the shape of things to come.

Upcoming Blog for LGBT Families Day

Posted by – May 25, 2006

Mombian has had the clever idea to start an LGBT Families Day, and I wanted people to know about it before it came and went.

On June 1st, blog about your LGBT family, or blog about why LGBT families rock, or why they should have more legal rights, or whatever pertains to the subject that you need to say.

HRC has it up on their site, too.

I’d also like to point out our own little clearinghouse of information for parents who are trans.

You can get more information at Mombian’s blog post about it, and do make sure they know you’re in on it!

Five Questions With… Ariadne Kane

Posted by – May 24, 2006

Ariadne Kane has been doing transgender outreach longer than many of us have been walking – since 1972. She was on The Phil Donahue Show in 1980 and probably gave some of the people reading this a glimpse that they weren’t alone in being trans. Somewhere in there she came up with the idea of Fantasia Fair, as well.

ariadne kane < Ariadne Kane

1. Since you were the person who ‘invented’ Fantasia Fair, how did it come about? What did it take to put on the first couple of them? How has it changed in the ensuing years?

Fan/Fair (the abbreviated version) was conceived of in 1974. It struck me that we could create a dynamic program of activities that were educational, social and practical for all CDs & TSs who were willing to come out from the ‘closets’ of shame, guilt and shyness. I believed that, in a tolerant and open community, they could learn some things about being femme or masculine; get much needed help about comportment and presentation and, have truly educational experience out of the ‘closet’. It was with this guiding premise that Fan/Fair was created. It was with the help and financial backing of 3 members of the Boston Cherrystone ‘T’ Club and myself that Fan/Fair 1 became a reality in 1975.

Needless to say, we learned a lot about the needs and aspirations of the ‘T’ community, including what program elements worked in favor of our Goals for the program. Over the next 3 decades, the Fan/ Fair Steering Committee adopted a template for programming and administration, These included a balanced mix of educational, social and practical modules for the ‘T’ person who wanted to emerge from the ‘closet’ and learn the dynamics leading to personal growth and adaptability in either the feminine or the masculine gender role of choice. This template is still the guiding instrument in the design of every Fair, even today.

More

Guest Author: Marlena Dahlstrom

Posted by – May 23, 2006

I got this note from Marlena recently, and I thought it expanded on a couple of discussions I’ve been having (with myself) and ones that have happened on the boards, too. She’s also put this up on her blog.

Patsy and I recently saw Ute Lemper (a singer who specializes in German cabaret) and I was reminded of Helen’s thoughts on wanting paper lanterns by part of the chorus in one of the songs Lemper sang — Friedrich Hollander’s “Münchausen.”

Truth is hard and tough as nails
That’s why we need fairy tales
I’m all through with logical conclusions
Why should I deny myself illusions?

Obviously, one doesn’t want to live solely in a fantasy world, but like Blanche DuBois sometimes we need a little time-out from the harsh, bare bulb of fact. And in fact the full chorus makes clear Hollander is really talking about trying to maintain hope admit disappointment.

Liar liar liar liar liar liar
I’m sick and tired of lies from you
But how I wish your lies were true
Liar liar liar liar liar liar
Truth is hard and tough as nails
That’s why we need fairy tales
I’m all through with logical conclusions
Why should I deny myself illusions?

(BTW, Lemper inserted an updated section that took a rather biting look at certain politicians.)

In a way, being trans is a bit like being an actor, musician or writer. The odds of “making it” are such a long shot that it’s no surprise that many of them have titantic egos — you have to almost a willful ignorance of the realities in order to pursue your dream. The dream of many trans-folk is just being able to live a regular life like everyone else, which can be tough when all too often some people see us as freaks. (I wonder, how many of those who have stared and giggled at “that guy in a dress” would have the balls to go out in public knowing full well that they could face that sort of ridicule?) So sometimes we need illusions to keep ourselves going.

Now it turns out I’d actually misheard the lyrics initially, and (with apologies to Hollander) I actually prefer my mishearing:

Life is hard and tough as nails
That’s why we need fairy tales
I’ve reached a logical conclusion
Why should I deny myself illusions?

It’s not about a choice between harsh reality or illusions, it’s choosing that one can have both. Of course, mistaking one for the other can be problematic. But just because it can be a problem doesn’t mean it inherently is. To build on a thought from Helen: Sure it can sense to tell a kid that a Superman costume won’t make him able to actually fly — especially if he’s standing next to the window. But if all he wants to do is lay on the top of the couch with his Superman costume on and insist he’s flying, what’s the harm in letting him indulge that illusion for awhile?

After all, while Baron von Münchhausen “acquired a reputation for his witty and exaggerated tales; at the same time, he was considered an honest man in business affairs.”

Writing

Posted by – May 23, 2006

Writing is at once such brutal hard work, but so satisfying, too, when it goes right. It’s so much easier to sleep the sleep of the just when it does, too.

Good night.

Masturbation Month

Posted by – May 22, 2006

I was unaware that May is masturbation month, and it’s almost over! You do still have time to participate in a Masturbate-A-Thon, but if you’re not that kind of public, you can always celebrate masturbation in some other way – privately, with candles & lube (or whatever you’re preferred accessories, even if it’s just your left hand), or you can help raise awareness by posting something about masturbation on a message board or yahoo group you belong to.

Or you could just raise a glass to Jocelyn Elders.

Thanks to JoanieC for bringing it to my attention.

A Letter from Paisley Currah

Posted by – May 22, 2006

I received this today & as an author of books on trans subject, I thought I should make it available for more of you to see. There is very little out there that recognizes good scholarship/writing on the part of transfolks.

Friends,

Some of you know that, in addition to being a transgender rights advocate, I’m also the Executive Director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS). Much of my work at CLAGS focuses on supporting writing, research, and advocacy about and for trans people.

I’m emailing you because, as activists, a scholars, or as scholar-activists, I know you’re interested in research on trans issues, and that you might be interested in supporting this work by making a donation to the Sylvia Rivera Award in Transgender Studies, a prize CLAGS gives out each year for the best piece of published writing in transgender studies. The 2004 winner was Jamison Green, for his book, Becoming a Visible Man. It probably won’t come as a surprise to many of you that there is still little recognition of transgender studies in the academy, and in publishing generally, so the very existence of this award does much to promote the work of those writing about transgender people.

I’m very proud of the work that we do at CLAGS to further transgender studies and advocacy, among other things. But here’s the thing–less than 7% of CLAGS’s operating costs come from the university that houses us. Almost all our work depends on the support of individuals and foundations. And all of the support for our fellowships, including the Sylvia Rivera Award, comes from individuals like you.

So please do consider supporting transgender studies by making a donation of any size (even a $10 or $20 donation would help a lot , $100 or $200 even more !) towards the Sylvia Rivera Award. Donations to the Sylvia Rivera Award count will also entail you to a CLAGS membership, including a subscription to CLAGSnews, other member benefits, and my undying love and gratitude.

You can make your donation online, right now. Just go to our donations page and choose “Sylvia Rivera Award” under “your support.” Or, you can send a check to CLAGS, Room 7115, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

For those of you who don’t know about CLAGS, here’s some background–CLAGS was established in 1991 at the Graduate Center campus of the City University of New York as the first and only university-base research center for Lesbian /Gay /Transgender /Bisexual /Queer (LGTBQ) issues, histories and ideas. For more than a dozen years, CLAGS has worked to foster and disseminate LGTBQ thought to the country through its public programming (panels, colloquium series, conferences), outreach efforts (free reading and discussion groups), and resources (a far-reaching newsletter, well-trafficked website, a book series with NYU Press). And in May 2005, we hosted a national conference, “Trans Politics, Social Change, and Justice.” More in-depth information about the trans conference and CLAGS in general can be found at our website, www.clags.org.

Thanks so much for considering my request.

All my best,
Paisley

Paisley Currah / Executive Director / Center for Lesbian and Gays Studies (CLAGS) / http://www.clags.org &
Director / Transgender Law & Policy Institute / http://www.transgenderlaw.org

The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) / Graduate Center, Room 7115 / City University of New York / 365 Fifth Avenue / New York, NY 10016

For more information about CLAGS’s events, programs, conferences, colloquia, and fellowships, to add to or search our directory of LGBTQ Studies, to join our mailing list, or to find out how to become a member, please visit our web site at www.clags.org.To make an online donation to CLAGS, go to our page at Groundspring..

The Plan – Two Months Later

Posted by – May 21, 2006

Ah, the result of eating turkey meatloaf is that I’ve lost 11 lbs. since I started this plan on 3/19/06, and taken off a total of 4.7″.

I admire any of you who have had to lose 25 lbs or more ever, in your life. I’ve never had this much to lose before, and I am really really sick of this sterile way of eating – measuring everything & all. I’m about a third of the way through my weight loss, so if I keep losing it at about the same rate, I’ll reach my goal weight in about four months – or by our 5th wedding anniversary.

It’s kind of nice to look forward to, but in the meantime – ugh to green beans already!

Speaking of Eating…

Posted by – May 20, 2006

Because of this whole plan to lose weight and work out more, I’ve had to teach myself how to cook. The other night I made my first meatloaf, and I’ve otherwise roasted a chicken, made my own chicken stock, then soup, and made meatballs. My father would be quite surprised.

Scene from Helen’s early teenage years: Dad sitting at head of table finishing dinner. Grandma and mom cleaning up. Helen putting away dried silverware.

Dad: “Isn’t it time she learned how to cook?”
Silence. Shocked faces on mom, grandma, and Helen. Dad still chewing.
Helen: “I’ll learn how to cook when YOU do.”

Which explains why I don’t know how to cook – because my father certainly never did. I did at least know where the spoons went, though, which is more than I could say for him. Anyway, I find it entertaining, but only when I can’t write anymore, because otherwise, I’m the type to put an egg onto boil and forget about them until they explode and hit the ceiling. I’m not kidding; I’ve done it lots of times, and I’m usually writing or reading when I hear the *pop* in the kitchen.

My meatloaf isn’t bad, either.

It’s Official

Posted by – May 20, 2006

I think I’ve officially made the category of crazy cat lady. Every birthday card I received had a picture of a cat on it.

This situation has been in the making since I was 11, when my 6th grade teacher gave me a beautiful coffee table book of cat photos which I still have. The weirder thing is that I grew up with a blue and an orange tabby, and now we have two blues and an orange tabby. I’m not sure if that means we have to get another blue next, or another tabby.

First we’d have to get a bigger place, either way.

Thanks, everyone, for the cards.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Posted by – May 19, 2006

In honor of my dad, who is the Holder of All Records Involving Eating, a photo of big Endymion, walking away full, while Aeneas continues to chow down & Aurora eyes him suspiciously.

dad

Happy 78th, Pops.

No “Them” Or “Us”

Posted by – May 18, 2006

from Dan Savage:

STRAIGHT RIGHTS UPDATE: I’ve been running around with my hair on fire trying to convince my straight readers that religious conservatives don’t just hate homos. Their attacks on gay people, relationships, parents, and sex get all the press, but the American Taliban has an anti-straight-rights agenda too. As I wrote on March 23: “The GOP’s message to straight Americans: If you have sex, we want it to fuck up your lives as much as possible. No birth control, no emergency contraception, no abortion services, no lifesaving vaccines. If you get pregnant, tough shit. You’re going to have those babies, ladies, and you’re going to make those child-support payments, gentlemen. And if you get HPV and it leads to cervical cancer, well, that’s too bad. Have a nice funeral, slut.”

After raising the alarm for months back here in the sex ads section, I was intensely gratified to read Russell Shorto’s brilliant cover story, “The War on Contraception,” in the New York Times Magazine last weekend. To readers who think I’m being hysterical: So you don’t think the religious right would seriously go after birth control? Fine, don’t believe me. But maybe you’ll believe Shorto when he lays out the American Taliban’s plan to deny access to birth control—any and all types, folks, not just emergency contraception.

“In particular, and not to put too fine a point on it, they want to change the way Americans have sex,” Shorto writes. “Contraception, by [their] logic,” Shorto continues, “encourages sexual promiscuity, sexual deviance (like homosexuality), and a preoccupation with sex that is unhealthful even within marriage.” Shorto quotes Judie Brown, president of the American Life League: “We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion. The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an antichild mind-set. So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome. We oppose all forms of contraception.” And there’s this from R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the pill… Prior to it, every time a couple had sex, there was a good chance of pregnancy. Once that is removed, the entire horizon of the sexual act changes. I think there could be no question that the pill gave incredible license to everything from adultery and affairs to premarital sex and within marriage to a separation of the sex act and procreation.”

I’ll say it again, breeders: The American Taliban is not just opposed to straight premarital sex, with their abstinence education and hilariously ineffective virginity pledges, or gay sex, with their “ex-gay” campaigns and their anti-gay-marriage amendments. The American Taliban doesn’t think married heterosexual couples should be able to use birth control. If you care about your own freedom—not just your right to have premarital sex, but your right to decide whether, when, and how many children you’re going to have—you need to read “The War on Contraception.” And don’t comfort yourself with the notion that these are just some antisex religious wackos: The Bush administration not only listens to these wackos, it appoints them to important positions all over the federal government—and let’s not even think about the members of the American Taliban that Bush has already appointed to lifetime positions in the federal judiciary.

This is some serious shit, breeders. You’re being attacked. It’s time to fight back.

Copyright Dan Savage. Thanks to JoanieC for calling it to my attention.

We Were Smarter Back Then

Posted by – May 18, 2006

From a January 1916 article in The Atlantic called “Further Notes on the Intelligence of Woman“:

“I think she will succeed, for I doubt whether any mental power is inherent in sex. There are differences of degree, differences of quality; but I suspect that they are mainly due to sexual heredity, to environment, to suggestion, and that indeed if I may trench upon biology, human creatures are never entirely male or entirely female; there are no men, there are no women, but only sexual majorities.” (Italics mine.)

Call for Submissions

Posted by – May 17, 2006

It’s not often that I put a call for submissions up here, but this one is from Morty Diamond – and he wants to put together a book by trans folks, about dating, love, sex and relationships.

Great idea, so get to writing, and click here for all the details.